Credit to @Heughligans for the picture

Outlandish Reflections on a Plaid Carpet Premiere

What a weekend…

Well, it’s been a few days and I’m still not down from the high of all that I experienced at the Outlander Premiere on Friday night. It’s almost hard to know where to begin, but I have heard that the beginning is a very good place to start!

First of all, for those who are a bit wary, this is not going to be a recap of the actual first episode, so those who are determined to be unspoiled on August 9th need not worry! There are some excellent episode recaps out already that have that covered. What I am going to do is give you a window into my experience. Hopefully, this will allow everyone who wasn’t able to attend to feel at least a part of the excitement.

Tell me if you’ve heard the one about 6 women trying to get ready in a single hotel room…

That’s right, you heard me. Before we could go anywhere, it was necessary for 6 of us to get dressed, hair styled and made up. Not that easy as you might imagine. Especially as all of us had brought more than one outfit and it was necessary for each of us to try everything we brought on and get the consensus of the group on THE outfit that should be worn. Through that process, we took the time to order in a lunch as we feared—and were correct—that this might be the last meal of the evening.

Appetites dealt with, it was time to begin the shuffling required to get everyone shower, mirror and straightening iron time. Luckily, we had our own personal stylist on hand. It’s always nice to be friends with someone with red carpet experience. And while there may be no ‘Words heard on set’ tweets from Maril due to the filming hiatus for the premiere, I can report that the following words were heard in our hotel room:

Suck in…Lift your boobs….do you mind if I stick my hand here and adjust this…

And the best of all…

I usually get dinner first before I let someone do this.

But, right on time, we were tweaked, looking perfect, and all ready to go! We requested our UberXL vehicle and headed out for our special night.

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Pinch me…

I think all of us were still pinching ourselves that we were really going to the Outlander Premier as invited guests and we really had no idea what to expect.  Soon enough, however, we pulled up to the Spreckels Theater to join a line of others waiting for the Will Call lines to open. Coincidentally, a band of kilted men came by to help us pass the time. I mean, really, what could be more fun and appropriate! I couldn’t resist having my picture taken with them and was given an Outlander bandana of my very own.

I won’t show a picture, but I was amazed to find that even two of Diana Gabaldon’s children were waiting in line behind us. I figure they are in store for a pretty interesting evening since I’ve heard Diana say that they have never read her books as, in the words of one daughter, “I don’t want to read sex scenes written by my mother.” However,  it doesn’t surprise me at all that Twitter0c2dc2ethey didn’t expect any special treatment.

Pretty soon it was 6:30 and the Will Call line began moving quickly. I made very sure that I stuck close to the lucky girl who actually won the tickets as I knew my +1 status was dependent on her!

Once we had our tickets in hand, we walked behind the Step and Repeat Backdrop and Plaid Carpet the stars would soon walk and entered the atrium of the theater. It was a wonderland of trees, stones and kilted men. I truly felt I was walking through the trees at Craigh na Dun. Once in the theater lobby, we were able to peruse a selection of blue vases—a la Claire’s shopping in Inverness.

I can’t begin to list everyone I met from the Outlander Twitter and Facebook worlds. As with all Outlander-related events, meeting people in person that you normally only tweet and Facebook message with is one of the best parts of the evening.  I quickly ducked into the actual theater for a moment to see where my seat was. Turns out it was in the Orchestra level in Row S. This was one of the last rows in that level of the theater, but the venue was so small and intimate, I was sure I would have no problems seeing anything on stage.

Keeping my eyes wide open…

I then went back out to the atrium to people watch as others arrived.  I had the immense privilege of speaking with several key executives including Chris Parnell (Sony) and Karen Bailey (Starz). However, the highlight by far was the chance to speak with Bear McCreary. He graciously stopped and spoke with me for three or four minutes. I wish I could remember in more detail what he said—or what I said for that matter. I do remember telling him how much I admired his use of instrumentation in his work and he said how amazed he was at all of the support from Outlanders so far. I’m also crushed that I didn’t remember to have someone take my picture with him but I did get some video of him with Kathy. I also spotted Zac McGowan, Luke Arnold and Jessica Parker Kennedy from Starz’s Black Sails walking through as well. Last but not least, I also had the opportunity to speak briefly with Jolie Lash of Access Hollywood. She is the one who has put together some of the funniest cast interview filmed during her set visit to Scotland back in February, including the “Sexiest Gaelic Words” and “What is it about a man in a kilt” videos.

At this point, the greeters started clearing the lobby for the big arrivals. One of these days I’m going to learn that sometimes it doesn’t pay to always follow instructions, but alas this wasn’t the day, so I took my seat.  Others who didn’t follow directions got some great pictures. As I stated earlier, there are no bad seats in this theater.

It really starts to get real or should that be reel…

I had just settled in my seat when I noticed a bit of a buzz. Ushers were escorting the cast to seats among the crowd in the Orchestra level. I would never have expected that to happen. I managed to get some video of them but I apologize for the quality and the sound as I was just a bit excited.

First up was Lotte Verbeek (Geilis Duncan).

Next, crowd favorite Graham McTavish (Dougal MacKenzie)

And entering to a great ovation, author Diana Gabaldon along with Co-executive Producer Maril Davis.

Also to the delight of the crowd, Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) and Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall) were next. After Sam was seated, I realized I had a perfect view of his face in profile from less than 20 feet away. Never in my wildest imaginings did I think I would be able to see Sam out of the corner of my eye while watching Outlander. I could actually see during the screening which scenes he paid close attention to and which were the ones where he grabbed his water bottle.

And last, but most definitely not least, one of my personal favorites, Tobias Menzies (Frank/Black Jack Randall).

Once everyone was seated, the house lights dimmed and out stepped Bear McCreary to give a live performance prior to the screening. He began with a couple of traditional Scottish folk songs: The haunting ballad Loch Lomond and then a fiddle tunes “Clean Pease Strae” and “Comin’ Through the Rye.” Next, was the very first live performance of the theme for Jamie and Claire that Bear wrote especially for the show. It was so haunting and evocative, I swear I could feel the wind from the moor and smell the heather. Lastly, Bear’s wife Raya Yarbrough took the stage to perform the song from the Outlander opening title sequence—a modified version of The Skye Boat Song. It literally gave me chills. I took a few short video clips but you will have to excuse my inability to keep quiet.

Loch Lomond -

“Clean Pease Strae” and “Comin’ Through the Rye”

Jamie and Claire’s Theme

I am also posting a video that someone else took of the entire performance and posted on YouTube. The video quality isn’t wonderful but the sound is pretty good.

Everything I thought it could be and so much more…

Once the live performance was over,  the curtain lifted and the credits started to roll. You could hear cheers and smatters of applause as names we know and already love flashed on the screen. Costume Designer Terry Dresbach received applause and cheers but the largest ovation by far was when Diana’s name was displayed. Thankfully for those not able to attend, Starz has released the opening title sequence on YouTube. Prepare to be amazed by the haunting vignettes and music. I will warn you that it is very addictive though. I’ve been finding myself singing the song for two days now.

I promised no spoilers for the episode content and I will hold by that. If you are interested in reading more about the actual episode, I highly recommend you read Candida’s A True Fan’s Review of Outlander Episode #101: Sassenach. She does a brilliant job and I understand the review has already been read and appreciated by those at the highest levels. As for my own reaction, I honestly can’t think of anything I would have changed. There were favorite lines, surprises, passion, action and humor. All of the things long time fans have appreciated about Outlander since 1991. Perhaps the best summary of my feelings is this tweet I sent to Maril Davis (@TallShipProds).

But wait, there’s more…

Not only did we get to be among the first to see a screening of the premier episode of Outlander, but there was also a moderated panel discussion afterwards. Even though jet lagged and tired from a day full of press interviews and a ComicCon panel discussion, the discussion among the participants was enjoyable and insightful. There were some great moments, especially when cheers went up for Gàidhlig tutor Àdhamh Ò Broin. Also, I think Ron Moore gave the best summary of Outlander Season 1 ever. I predict that the phrase “and that doesn’t go so well” will become a new catch phrase among Outlanders everywhere.

Here is a video released by Starz of the entire Q&A panel discussion.

The Clock Strikes Midnight

All too soon, the Q&A session was over and I knew my magical evening was drawing to a close. After lingering a bit in the lobby, trying to make the evening last as long as possible and speaking to friends, we finally exited the theater to the sidewalk outside. There we were privileged to have the opportunity to speak for quite a while with Karen Bailey, Sr. Vice President for Original Programming with Starz, and her husband, Palmer. It was great to hear some interesting tidbits about things that may be coming up for Starz and its productions.

Waving goodbye to Karen who was off to another event, I and the rest of my party adjourned to the nearby Westin hotel for a drink, some nibbles and the chance to discuss the night’s events. I sent a few congratulatory tweets to those I knew had made such wonderful contributions to the production including Terry Dresbach and Àdhamh Ó Broin.

Finally, even drinks and food couldn’t prolong the evening any longer. We hopped in our UberXL and made the journey back to Kearny Mesa, a tired but thoroughly pleased party. Sadly our group of six wonderful ladies had to split up and go our separate ways, but we have wonderful memories we will share forever. Thank you so much to Marisa, Candida, Darcy, Jen, and Kathy for sharing this fantastical evening.

Watch out world. Outlander is coming!

Credits to @Heughligans (Plaid Carpet picture) and @Candida_LN (Forest Lobby picture)

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How to Speak Outlander Lesson 12: Tha Gaol Agam Ort, Cape Breton and the Giveaway

With anticipation of the Outlander premier episode on August 9th reaching fever pitch, I have only just now realized that the series beginning will also mark the end of some of our beloved pre-show traditions. Starz has called this to our attention with the release of the final ‘How to Speak Outlander’ video. However, if this series of videos featuring Àdhamh, Sam and others has to end, what a way to go out! I predict the ringtones and notifications of Outlanders worldwide are changing right now.

How to Speak Outlander Lesson 12: Tha Gaol Agam Ort

Wow! As final episodes go, this one is a keeper. Who among us hasn’t wanted to hear ‘my love is upon you’ from Jamie Fraser?  I think Sam must have a secret though, there’s a definite gleam in his eye at the end of this video. I wonder how long he’ll keep it? Until August 9th maybe?

Meanwhile in Cape Breton…

I have been having tons of fun in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. So far I have attended a Celtic square dance and made a visit to the Highland Village museum at Iona.  I promise that I am working on a blog post that will even have videos, but I have to find some better Internet connectivity before I can upload them! In the meantime, here are some quick pictures to tide you over.

And don’t forget…

Only 4 more days to enter the first ever GreatScot! giveaway. Click here to enter!

Cabot Trail

The next best thing to Scotland…Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (oh, and the Outlander Premiere)

In my mind, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia is the next best thing to Scotland and that’s where I’ll be for the next couple of weeks. Although GreatScot! blog posts may be a little more infrequent than usual, rest assured that I will keeping an eye out for interesting tidbits to post from time to time during my vacation.

For those who may not be familiar with Cape Breton Island, it is an island at the northern tip of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. As it was largely settled by Highland Scots emigrants, Cape Breton has a rich Gàidhlig history and many aspects of that culture are still evident today. The Celtic musical tradition is especially strong and there are still places where Gàidhlig is routinely spoken. I’m looking forward to the chance to practice my limited Gàidhlig vocabulary and see if anyone can understand me.

Here are a few pictures I took from my trip last year and a video from a music festival that I attended at Colaisde na Gàidhlig (The Gaelic College).

By the way, I found out yesterday that I am indeed attending the Outlander Premiere in San Diego on July 25, so readers can definitely look forward to Great Scot! blog posts covering the event. I’m very excited to be meeting more Outlanders and having the chance to see both the first Outlander episode and attend the Q&A panel with Ron, Diana, Sam, Caitriona, Tobias, Graham and Lotte.

Stay tuned, exciting times ahead!

In the meantime, don’t forget to enter the inaugural GreatScot! giveaway. Click here to enter.

 

 

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How to Speak Outlander Catch-up and Gàidhlig Tip of the Day from Àdhamh

Due to real life and other occurrences (i.e. Outlander Retreat and MOBY), I’m a bit behind on the How to Speak Outlander posts from Starz. For those who may have missed it, or just want an excuse to watch again, here are the latest in the ‘How to Speak Outlander’ series.

How to Speak Outlander: Lesson 10 – Dinna Fash

This is probably one of my favorite Scots phrases and I always enjoy seeing Mrs. Fitz. It’s also lovely to see Àdhamh continue to allow his personality to shine through. :-)

 

How to Speak Outlander: Lesson 11 – Slàinte Mhath

Now here is a phrase every good whisky-drinking Outlander should know! Alas, I have it on good authority that Àdhamh was forced to drink water during the filming of this video. Afraid of having too many takes to get the perfect video, you ken.

 

Gàidhlig Tips from Àdhamh

Last but not least. Àdhamh was in a particularly teacherly frame of mind yesterday and provided us with the following Gàidhlig tip of the day:

Next to slender vowels, d, s & t become soft -see below….

‘D’ –  “deur” /jair/ (tear) : “dìolt” /jeelt/ (refuse; ‘jilt’)

‘S’ –  “seud” /shade/ (jewel) : “sìol” /sheel/ (seed, progeny)

‘T’ –  “teth” /tchay/ (hot) : “tinn” /tcheen/ (ill)

 

 

 

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All Mixed Up and Sitting on Top of the World – Outlander Retreat Main Event Part 3

When last we met, Retreat attendees were giving the new Outlander Behind the Scenes feature a rousing standing ovation. Alas, that was the end of the official presentations of the Outlander Retreat weekend. Last up in the official events schedule was the Afternoon Mixer.

Nibbles and Natterings

Exiting the main hall to the skirl of  bagpipes and still on a tremendous adrenaline high from all the fantastic tidbits and visuals of the last hour, I found myself facing a banquet worthy of Castle Leoch and Mrs. Fitz herself.

 


For the next two hours, Outlanders mixed and mingled with each other as well as with Diana and many of the Random House and Starz reps. It was a beautiful affair and Diana was beautiful and gracious as she moved from group to group. I think just about everyone had a chance to chat with her if they were patient. I had one very important question I had been wanting to ask and this was finally my chance. I knew that Diana had been listing the annual DragonCon event as tentative on her appearance schedule for a while, but I was finally able to confirm that she won’t be able to attend the event this year because of commitments in the UK.  While disappointed for myself, hopefully you readers in the UK will be able to experience the DG phenomenon in person for yourself.

As for the food, there was definitely some noshing going on. I had several bites that were delightful. My favorite was probably the smoked salmon on oatcake, but the shepherd’s pie bite was very good too.  I also tried the lavender fudge, and while it was good, I just seem to have a problem with lavender. I can’t imagine why. ;-)

Soon, though, all the food was eaten and slowly but surely everyone began to hug and bid each other farewell. I found I really had to drag myself away. Well in all honesty @LallybrochLaura had to drag me away, otherwise I might still be there. I just didn’t want the magic of the weekend to end. My last sight as I climbed the steps and stepped away from my magical weekend was this one of Kristin Matherly.

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I think she may have had the best idea of all. How much better can it get than a nice sunny spot and a great book to read?

A Meal with a View

Luckily for me, there was one last event on my unofficial Outlander Retreat agenda. A few friends and I planned a post-Retreat dinner in the revolving Sky City restaurant at the top of the Seattle Space Needle. As we were just a bit early for our reservation, Laura and I took the opportunity to visit the Space Needle Observation Deck on what had to be one of the most beautiful days in Seattle that I have ever seen.  Hardly a cloud in the sky and you felt you could see forever.

At dinner, the food was superb but the company even more so. It was a wonderful chance to sit down and really discuss all our feelings about the day and share with each other our favorite memories. You could actually feel friendships clicking and solidifying as we enjoyed our food, conversation, and revolving view. All too soon though, it was time for even that last remnant of the memory-filled day to be over. We all headed back to our hotels for the night and then back to our respective home cities and daily lives.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, like the Outlander Retreat weekend, it is time to wrap up my official Outlander Retreat blog posts. As I reflect on all the happenings of the last days, I find that it already seems to be fading into mythical status in my mind.

Did I really meet Diana Gabaldon?

Were all the online friends I met in person for the first time this weekend really as awesome as I had hoped they would be?

Do I really have in my hands the book that I have been waiting almost five years to read?

The answers to all these questions is yes. But even now, as I sit here composing this blog post, I find that I don’t want to let the weekend go.  For lack of any better words of my own, I’ve decided to include here one of my favorite songs by Scottish singer/songwriter Dougie MacLean titled ‘Caledonia’. For those who may not know, Caledonia is the Latin name given to Scotland by the Romans, and in this song MacLean is singing about being homesick for Scotland after a weekend with friends. I find this song fits my feelings perfectly because, after this magical wonderful weekend, I find myself homesick for Outlander. And just as soon as I hit publish on this blog, I will be diving right into that magical world once more.  Don’t be worried if you don’t hear from me for a bit, I’ll be in my favorite fictional world.