I Love Paris in the Springtime: The Frasers Take a (Much Needed) Holiday Abroad

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So…we ended with the Frasers on a cruise ship, heading for La Belle France, with a trusty Murtagh in tow, and a baby on board. I suspect, however, that even in the 18th Century, it would still take less time to cross the Channel than it will for Droughtlander Part Deux to end. Whatever shall we do with ourselves while we’re in Outlander Purgatory? (not to be confused with MyOutlanderPurgatory.com which you should all check out BTW, because 1. I say so. 2. It’s awesome; and 3. Tracy and Carol.  That is all).  There’s just one wee problem…

Season One is over and WithOutlander has begun,,,

I thought I would take this first stretch sans Outlander TV to talk about Gay Paris.  I know, I know, no one wants to see Jamie Fraser in a powdered wig with a faux beauty mark stuck to his face. (Although, if I recall correctly, our Jamie resists that ugly temptation until Voyager). That doesna mean that there is nothing good about France.  Au contraire, mes amies.  France is a lovely country full of wonderful things, especially Paris.  And no, all French people are nae rude…they only behave that way when they’re in England (‘tho I’m no quite sure how they got into Castle Leoch) :

Things I love about Paris:

Aaahhh Paris, The City of Light

What’s NOT to like about Paris? It’s beautiful, it’s romantic, it’s full of magnificent art and architecture!  The history, the bistros, the shopping, the food…Need I I go on?   So, with so much to see and do, where should you start?  Here are this wee coo’s top 12 (just to be contrary, as coos are wont to be)  recommendations (for humans) *Coo note:  these 12 are “respectable” for all..I’ll get to my recommendations for those with more “singular tastes” a bit later.

1.  Les Cathédrales:  Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle and Sacre Coeur.  There are hundreds of lovely churches, cathedrals and chapels in Paris, but ye shouldna miss these.  No one can fail to marvel at these structures; their beauty is beyond compare. Don’t forget to check out the frequent chamber, chorale or medieval music concerts at Notre Dame (and the others). Absolutely magical. Just do it, you’ll be glad you did.

2.  Les Bateaux Mouches (a “mouche” is a type of wee midgee, en français, in case ye didna ken that).  Oui, they are touristy.  So what?  It’s a lovely way to see Paris.  Go at night and you’ll understand why it’s called the City of Light.  Magnifique et si romantique!

3. Avenue des Champs-Élysées.  Do stroll along the most famous of Paris streets from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde.  If anything epitomizes Paris, c’ést ça. Stop at one of the many outdoor cafés, have a bottle of wine, or two, and take it all in.

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4.  Les Musées.  This is a tough one. There are soooo many to choose from in Paris. The Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Centre Georges-Pompidou, the Jeu de Paume, the Musée Rodin…it can be a wee bit overwhelming.  Moo’s advice? Pick one of the biggies I mentioned and decide in advance what ye want to see (e.g. specific works of art, special exhibits, etc), since ye could easily spend an entire week in the Louvre alone. Then pick one of the smaller, more “specialized” museums of something ye find particularly interesting (ye can find everything from museums dedicated to Salvador Dali and Edith Piaf, to space museums, music museums, natural history museums…the list is endless)

5.  Le Shopping!  (I didna make that up…ye can really say “le shopping”), window or real, if ye have plenty of clink, on the Rue Ste-Honoré.  Ye can find everything from the ultra-hip (Colette, Damir Doma, Comme des Garçons),  to French status labels (Goyard, Hermès, Chanel), to shops that are a bit less pricey but every bit as stylish. If you want to shop at places a little more down to earth, try the quartier Marais (in 3rd and 4th arrondissements). If you’re a serious Power Shopper, have a sense of adventure, and good right hook,  then ye must go to the Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt, the world’s largest and most famous flea market (it’s over 150-years old!).  If ye canna find it there, you’re probably no going to find it at all, lasses).

6.  La Tour Eiffel.  Dinna argue with me.  Just go, and go all the way to the top.

7. Les Cocktails.  Do splurge and go for cocktails at the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz or Bar 228 at Le Meurice.  So shi-shi!

8. Le Château de Versailles.  Ok, not technically in Paris, but only a short train ride away.  It’s magnificent and WAY over the top in every way. The Palais is truly a sight to behold and the grounds are amazing. Take some baguettes, a few bottles of wine (don’t forget the corkscrew!), a nice assortment of cheeses and fruit and have yourself a lovely picnic.  Ye might just see Donas, Bouton and myself, if ye look carefully!

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A verra cool way to spend the day.  Here’s a link to the home page: http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage for more info.  Be wary, though, lasses…if the King’s about, ye may want to hide yer nipples.  He’s into inappropriate touching, ye ken?

9.  E. Dehillerin (metro stop Les Halles).  If you love to cook, this store will blow.your.mind. It’s also verra cool that probably every famous chef in the world has wandered the aisles at some point.  It’s worth going to ogle and drool over the copper cookware alone.

10.  Shakespeare and Company,  For half a century, this world-renowned bookshop on the Left Bank (opposite Notre Dame) has offered food and a bed to penniless authors – the only rule is that they read a book a day. A kind of book-induced euphoria takes over as ye enter. Its wee nooks and crannies overflow with new and second-hand  books (and they’re in English for those of ye that are French-challenged). Take note of the  hand-painted quotations and the wishing well, then wander up the miniature staircase to the reading library in the attic. Shakespeare and Co. is the stuff of legends. A must for all book lovers. Go. You know ye want to.

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11.  Les Jardins Publiques, Cimetière du Père Lachaise, et  ” Les Isles.”

Wanderin’ aboot Paris is one of my favorite things to do.  If yer lookin’ for a little respite from the bustle of the city, walk around the gardens (they have lots of tasty flowers and plants to nibble on). Les Tuilleries, les Jardins de Luxembourg, le Jardin de Plantes (which is no just a park, but also a Botanical garden) and Le Bois de Bologne are all beautiful places to relax and eat some grass.

Cimetière du Père Lachaise.  Ok..it’s a cemetary, not a park, but it’s beautiful and trés cool.  Some verra famous people are buried here:  Honoré de Balzac, Sarah Bernhardt, Maria Callas, Frédéric Chopin, Jean de la Fontaine, Molière, Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Marcel Proust, and Oscar Wilde, to name a few.  It’s a nice, peaceful place to ruminate.

In between the right and left banks of Paris are the Ile de La Cité and the Ile St. Louis. Ile de la Cité is the more famous of the two, since that’s where ye’ll find Notre Dame Cathedral and Ste-Chapelle.  However, just behind the gardens of Notre Dame is the Pont Saint-Louis pedestrian bridge which leads to the the Ile Saint-Louis.  It’s a lovely place to walk among the quiet courtyards of 17th-century mansions, shop in local boutiques or get some ice-cream at the world-famous Bertillon. Yum.

12.  Le Fromâge! Le Vin! Les Patisseries! oh myyyy

From a wee coo’s perspective, I could write an entire blog just about cheese (the milk, ye ken)…particularly le fromâge français. These people don’t mess around…they take their cheese verra seriously!  Did ye know that there are approximately 692 different kinds of cheeses in France (and that list keeps growing!)? Aye, ye heard that correctly. Six.Hundred.Ninety.Two.  That’s a lot of fromâge.  And it DOESNA come in pre-packaged, individually wrapped slices…can ye feel French people crossing themselves and makin’ the sign against Old Nick at the very thought!?  No…in France, one goes to a fromagerie. The next time you’re in Paris, try the Fromagerie Laurent Dubois at 47 Ter. Boulevard Saint-Germain (taste the Roquefort with quince jam, yer mouth will love ye for it) and Chez Virginie on 54 Rue Damrémont (near Montmartre).  They’re two of the best (I still have their business cards for the next time I go on holiday!).  You will think you have died and gone to Cheese Heaven. Don’t be afraid to ask for a wee taste first to see what ye like (most cheese shops are verra accomodating, even to Sassenachs). Ye can also request smaller amounts when buying from a large wheel. Ye should plan to buy only enough to eat for a day or two, and then go back and try something else. Fergus will tell ye that that’s what the French do.

And what goes well with sublime French cheeses?  Sublime French wines, that’s what. Aye, I ken verra well that in these days, ye can buy lovely wines from all over the world. But in Jamie and Claire’s time, France was the center of fine wine production, as I’m sure Jared will explain to ye next season.

There are 10 principle wine growing regions in France: Alsace, Bordeaux, Borgogne (Burgundy), Beaujolais, Champagne, Jura Languedoc, Loire Valley, Médoc, Côtes du Rhone and Provence. Personally, I prefer the hearty red wines from Borgogne and Bordeaux, but ye can find delicious wines to suit all tastes in France. I dinna pretend to be an expert (they willna let coos into the programmes to become sommeliers…can ye believe that? Hmmmphmm!), I just know what I like when I taste it, ye ken?  If you’re feelin’ a bit confused about the intricacies of French wines, just follow this wee link for a nice, fairly short, overview of the regions and the wines they produce: http://about-france.com/wines.htm  Slàinte Mhath!  Oops…I meant A Vôtre Santé! (to yer health), or if you’re feelin’ a bit more informal: Tchin Tchin!  (Here’s a wee bit of trivia for ye…do ye ken where “Tchin Tchin” comes from?  Well,  it’s from the Chinese expression qing qing (or tchin tchin), meaning “please-please” or “happy days,” which was historically used in China to invite people to drink. French soldiers coming back from China after the Second Opium War introduced it in France. However, this didna occur until after the late 1850’s, so Jaime should remind Claire not to use that expression during their time in France, ye ken?  They willna know what she’s talking about, and we dinna want her dragged off to be burned as a witch again, do we?)

Les Pâtisseries

Mon Dieu, regardes les pâtisseries!

No one..NO ONE, does pastry like the French.  I dinna care if you’re on a diet, if ye go to France, ye must eat the pastries (well, the pastries AND the bread). Bakers tend to specialize in one or the other in France, so make the effort to seek out a good Pâtisserie shop for the pastry and a Boulangerie for the bread.  (This wee coo wouldna “steer” ye wrong in this…hehehe).  Where to start with the pastries? So many classics to choose from.. the ones you’ve probably heard of: profiteroles (delicate cream puffs drizzled with chocolate), éclair au chocolat, macarons and madeleines of all varieties, pain au chocolat, beignets and milles feuille,  and those you probably havena, but must try:  pain au raisin (delicate viennoisse pastry spiraled with raisins and custard), croissants amande (croissants dusted with sliced almonds and powdered sugar, filled with almond paste resulting in a crispy, nutty, yet soft in the middle treat that will make you slip into a dream-like #PASTRYCOMA), chausson aux pommes (kind of a hand-held apple pie – NO not like our fast-food hot apple pies…don’t MAKE me stab ye with my horns!) and palmiers (made with a croissant-like dough, folded over and over and over with sugar, creating lots of flaky layers and a caramelized sugar crunch when you bite into them…simply sublime). I’m dying here right now…any of ye seen my drool bucket?

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Ok, lads and lasses, those are the socially acceptable things to do in Paris.  But there are other things to do, as well, ye ken?…Viens mes petits espèces de pervers…(et. non…ye may NOT ask me how I ken about such places. Hmmmmphmm. 

Paris After Dark: The Adult and the Unusual

Deyrolle.  Would you like to visit Master Raymond’s “secret room”…?. Paris has many unusual shops, but one of the strangest has to be Deyrolle, a 184-year old establishment on rue du Bac, not far from the Musee d’Orsay on the Left Bank. Tis no an apothecary, but a taxidermy shop.

The ground floor looks like a fairly ordinary small home and garden shop (apart from a couple of stuffed gazelles standing on their hind legs and dressed to look like humans).

Does this make me look fat? (It’s verra weird in here).

But walking up the stairs is like passing through the stones. The second story appears to have changed no much at all since the store originally opened it’s doors. It’s dusty, crazy, chaotic, and crammed with stuffed animals of all shapes, sizes, and…poses. There’s also ancient wooden cases full of insects, shells, botanical prints and a variety of curiosities. Yeah…no, it’s creepy.  Can we leave now?

AHHHHHHHH!!!! OCH…it’s me cousin Gerald!! How did this happen to ye. lad? We thought ye were on holiday in Vegas!

(WTF?) I once caught a fish “this big”…

Les Cabarets Français.  Paris is verra famous for it’s burlesque/nude reviews, and sex shows.  If ye’re lookin’ for the sexiest revue in the city, ye can spend the evening at the Crazy Horse Paris cabaret, which has been entertaining Parisians and tourists alike with its “Art of Nude” shows for over 50 years. Ye can also book a dinner-revue at the world-famous Moulin Rouge and enjoy a French Cancan show.  The club is in Pigalle (the “red light” district, known for its strip clubs and peep shows).  Aye, I ken it’s a wee bit touristique, but, c’mon!…Toulouse Lautrec used to hang out here! Other well-known cabarets in Paris are the Lido on the Champs Elysées, the très parisien Paradis Latin, La Nouvelle Eve, a belle époque-inspired music-hall, the exotic Brasil Tropical revue,  and the glamorous Folies Bergères. (Ye should know that there’s lots of nekkid women in these shows…don’t bring the bairns.  Unless yer French.)

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Musée de l’Erotisme.  Oh stop it…yer in Paris, for god’s sake!  Of course, there’s a sex museum!  Also located in Pigalle, the musée  houses Alain Plumy and Joseph Khalif’s private collection of erotic artworks as well as temporary art exhibits by French and International artists. Visitors can also find sacred sex art objects,  historical and contemporary erotic art pieces, antique sex education books, fetish photos, sex comics, rare pictures of brothels, anal jewelry, and chastity belts, among other things.

Sexy Lingerie!  Like the food and the wine, les femmes Françaises do NOT compromise when it comes to lingerie.  And, unlike in most other countries, lingerie shops in Paris dinna cater to men’s tastes…they cater to women’s. French women ken there is an art to seduction, and lingerie is an essential component of the game. If you’re looking for top-notch, beautifully-made lingerie, three of the best boutiques are Louise Feuillere (this is the best (and most fun) choice if ye want something truly unique).  Madame Feuillere does lingerie sur mesure, meaning her pieces are custom made to fit your body.  Stop by her workshop to see her pre-made pieces and get inspired, then work together with her to design something personalized to your taste!), Chantal Thomass (ye should know, this is one of the finest and most famous lingerie shops in the world.  Chantal Thomass is credited for the trend “Dessous Dessus” (innerwear as outerwear) and is famous for cutting-edge, haute coooture lingerie.  Their line is FAB!! But dinna go into CT dressed like a wee slob…they will nae pay ye any mind – think Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman tryin’ to shop on Rodeo Drive in her whuuure outfit). Ye’ve been warned. Finally, if you want something, ah, a bit more, as Mrs. Fitz would say,…(interesting, that is), ye must go to Agent Provacateur (their lingerie is of impeccable quality and are a wee bit on the naughty side!  Expensive or no, I dare ye not to buy anything.  All the sexy wee coos LOVE, LOVE, LOVE AP!). Ooh la la!

Go shopping at a Sex Supermarché

For more naughty fun in Paris, go shopping at a Supermarché de Charme Concorde. There are 4 of them (that I know of), all of which are located, surprisingly, in quiet neighborhoods of Paris.  The Concorde supermarkets are huge sex shops offering over 10.000 different sexy items for ALL tastes.  The atmosphere in these stores is much more…convivial (at least to wee coos), than sex shops in the US. (Why are American humans sae silly and prudish aboot these things? Just askin’). These stores attract a large and varied clientèle, straight, gay and other, who shop for everything from adult magazines, erotic DVDs and videos, sex toys, and aphrodisiacs to hot lingerie (not quite the same as ye find in the other boutiques I told ye about, ye ken), fetish shoes and accessories, all with the help of the friendly (usually not skanky) staff.  (Shhh..these stores also feature ultramodern private viewing booths where clients can watch more than 3000 adult movies of all kinds, if yer into that sort of thing).

Les Clubs Libertin. Looking for a little more adult fun?  Paris is home to (allegedly) more than 500 clubs libertins (aye, that would be sex clubs…for swingers, ye ken?)  One of the most famous (said to be frequented by the rich and powerful) is Les Chandelles at 1 rue Thérèse. It’s kind of a legend, but caters more to the over 40 crowd.  Another “club échangiste” is Le Mask, which has a slightly younger crowd (mostly 30 somethings).  As the name suggest, they encourage people to wear masks, both for discretion, and to give the experience that “Eyes Wide Shut” feel.  There doesna seem to be much “swinging’ going on…more a place to watch other people having sex (or having strangers watch you!) than swapping. Most of these clubs are private, so to even have a chance to enter, ye must be dressed properly (at least until ye get inside).  Oh, and pants are discouraged for women, just so ye know.

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Do ye think I’m sexy?

Well, mes enfants, I guess that’s enough to to get ye started….what are ye waitin’ for?  Vas-y!  Paris is waiting…

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“I Just Want This To Be A Pleasant Experience For Us Both”

Like many people I was dreading this episode the most.  On the one hand, I had a very definite set of expectations about it, and on the other, I had no idea how they would include the wealth of material remaining in the story, while dealing with the extremely difficult subject of Jamie’s rape and torture.  Based on the series as a whole, and the Wentworth Prison episode in particular, I did not think that Ron Moore, Anna Foerster and Ira Stephen Behr would be gentle about his ordeal, to paraphrase Jamie. They weren’t. In spite of how brutal it was, and as strange as this may sound, I found this episode to be incredibly beautiful. Oh, Lord, maybe Black Jack is rubbing off on me.

The finale was brilliant.  Once again, all of the actors outdid themselves, especially the three principals.  But this episode belongs to Sam Heughan, hands down.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a performance that raw (and I’ve see a LOT of films/shows/theater).  He was ridiculously good.   It took a lot of guts to allow himself to be that vulnerable and exposed.  He held nothing back. Very few actors are willing, or able, to put everything on the line like that. In doing so, he gave us the gift of an incredibly powerful performance.  I’m a wee bit in awe of you right now, Sam.

On to the show…there has been a lot of complaining about specific scenes that were left out from the book. Enough already. Please hear me out.  Were there some things I would have liked to see? Yes, of course.  Here are the very few things I missed, and why (not just because they were “in the book”):

  1. I missed Jamie and Claire finding their way back to each other physically. I would have liked the scene where Jamie crawled into bed with Claire, both of them scared to death: her fear of it being “too soon”, and his of being able to respond to her sexually without seeing Randall. A very slow, tender. love-making scene would have been cathartic to the characters and to the viewers.  That scene was very powerful in the book and important in bringing him back to her.  They could have even incorporated the end of the fight scene with that, having the two of them weeping after making love, with Claire telling him “to lay his head, man.”   However, given the time constraints of the show, I understand why this was left out.  Since there was not a lot of time spent on Jamie’s recovery, that kind of intimacy between them would have been incongruous and unrealistic.
  2. The scene where Jamie explains that Randall has completely destroyed his “secret fortress” and then later, as he recovers, telling her that he’s managed to build a little lean-to with a roof.
  3. The exchange where Jamie is examining his hand and crying. Claire sees him and misunderstands, apologizing for not doing a better job.  And then his reply to her, that he was crying with joy that he still had a hand with which to hold her, and oh yeah, she also gave him back his life and his manhood.

(I’m still secretly hoping they manage to add some version of all of these back in to the beginning of Season Two…hint, hint Ron and Maril). I think these omissions could have been included if they had combined The Watch and The Search episodes into one.  As much as I enjoyed both of them, the time would have been better spent on an additional hour of To Ransom a Man’s Soul: the hour we had, and an hour for a much slower recovery time for Jamie at the Abbey.  Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda. Just my opinion.

That being said, I went into this episode with an open mind.  I took Diana Gabaldon’s advice to heart;  I PUT THE BOOK DOWN. As of this writing, I’ve watched the episode probably eight times, each time paying careful attention to the details and references to scenes from the book, of which there are many. You just have to allow yourself to notice them.

This episode, like the last, was harrowing and intensely uncomfortable to watch. But, as I said in my last blog post, I think it was necessary to see what really happened between Randall and Jamie in that dungeon, especially for the non book-reading viewers.  I don’t think it was “too much” or exploitative. The critics (just regular people, not the professionals) have mainly commented that (1) it focused too much on Randall’s pleasure/Jamie’s pain and not enough on Jamie and Claire, and (2) the final “encounter” with Randall was upsetting because Jamie “participated in it,” “consented to it” or “enjoyed” it. Seriously, people?

I don’t normally do re-caps, but for this episode, I felt like I needed to go through the episode in order to address these comments. Perhaps some people simply don’t understand the concept of torture and rape and their effects on a victim, especially in extremis.  I plan on using a lot of stills from the episode, so if you were offended by the show, you won’t like these images either.

We open with a the British fife and drum corps greeting the new day, thus informing the viewer that Jamie has been with Randall for a good 12 hours (if you recall, it was about dusk the day before when Randall pushed Claire down the corpse hole).  The camera then focuses on a naked and battered Jamie in the dungeon, looking a bit like a corpse himself.

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The frame draws back, and we see that Randall is in the bed with him, also naked, so we know “the deed’s been done.” Randall looks like a he just had a great one-night stand (if he could have high-fived himself, he would have). The look on Jamie’s face?  Vacant, dead, in shock… (Were you getting as sick a feeling as I was at this point?)  This opening shot was pure cinematic genius.  It told the viewers volumes without a word being spoken.

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Randall gets up and starts to dress.  Jamie reminds him that he owes him a debt (to die). Randall takes out his knife, seemingly to oblige Jamie’s  request.  But, he’s distracted by a strange noise out in the corridor.  He leaves to investigate. Jamie’s voice hitches in his throat seeing Randall leave…he whispers something in Gàidhlig.  I don’t know what he said, but it broke my heart.

Focus on Randall in the corridor, trying to figure out what the hell that noise is….He looks.. and IT’S THE COOS!!! (And boy were we pissed! We trampled that son of a bitch and left him in a puddle of his own blood.  I actually did a little happy dance during this scene).

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Murtagh, Rupert, and Angus rush in to Jamie’s cell and find him on the floor.  It’s clear from the looks on their faces that they know what’s happened to him. Murtagh gently covers him, hoists his godson over his shoulder and they get the hell outta there.  The barely contained rage on his face says it all.

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In the wagon on the way to the Abbey, Rupert notes that Jamie reeks of lavender oil.  Claire says it’s used to relieve pain. (Author’s note:  It’s also an oil…i.e., a lubricant. A fact which will be significant at the end of the episode), Jamie is hallucinating and sees Randall when Claire leans over to check his injuries. He freaks out and tries to strangle her.  Serious PTSD, or as Claire would know it, shell-shock. They race off to the Abbey where the monks have offered them shelter.

Claire is alone with Jamie. He keeps flinching from her and telling her not to touch him. She asks him again what Randall did to him.  He replies, “Too much. And not enough.” His face is just…lost. (You’re killing me, Sam).

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Jamie flashes back to the dungeon.  Randall offers him a drink and then pries the nail out of Jamie’s hand, the pain of which causes him to vomit and fall to the floor.  Randall picks him up like Mary’s evil twin brother and lovingly tells him what a “magnificent creature” he is. He assures him that “the worst is over.”  NOT.

Pietà – Michelangelo

Coincidence? I don't think so...

Coincidence? I don’t think so…

Randall kisses him, but Jamie’s having none of it.  He reminds him that his men can have Claire brought back within the hour and that they have an agreement. Jamie says it was that he wouldn’t resist. Randall responds, “So that’s your plan, to submit, like Christ on the cross?  We’ll see about that.”

He hoists Jamie up on the stool and pries his legs apart, trying to arouse him with his hand and his mouth.  He explains “Jamie, I just want this to be a pleasant experience for us both.” (I think I just threw up a little in my mouth).

Jamie is clearly in hell, wanting with every fiber of his being to resist, knowing he swore he wouldn’t in exchange for Claire’s life.

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He lashes out at Randall, telling him to “take his pleasure and be done with it”, spitting in his face. (Yeaaah, probably shouldn’t have done that, lad). Randall pulls him to his feet, drops Jamie’s kilt, turns him around and slams him (and his mangled hand) face down on the table, informing him that “one way or another, he will get a response from him.” He then proceeds to brutally rape him, so brutally, in fact, that Jamie finally screams in agony (which is exactly what Randall has wanted from him since the flogging…to hear him scream.  He clearly gets off on that).

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Again, kudos to Sam. Anyone else NOT cringing here?

That was one of the most vicious things I’ve ever seen on film.  Horrible to watch, but incredibly well-done by Heughan and Menzies.  There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind how much Randall is hurting Jamie.  Nothing pleasurable to see here, folks. At least, not from Jamie’s point of view.

Back in the present, Jamie is interrupted from his “daymare” as Claire tries to give him laudanum so that she can set the bones in his hand.  He tells her that Randall made him crawl, beg, and in the end, made him “verra much want to be dead.” He takes the bottle from Claire and tries to swallow all of it before she grabs it from him.  She realizes just how much he wants to die. Personally, I thought Jamie’s suicidal thoughts and actions in this episode were actually more realistic than in the book. While it’s true that he is a Catholic and believes that suicide is a mortal sin, it makes sense that he would have been so traumatized and depressed that he would to want to die, given everything that happened to him.  We have to remember that Jamie’s only sexual partner up to this point was Claire, the woman that he loves unconditionally. For him, love and sex are completely intertwined.  Randall decimates that belief through his manipulation of Jamie’s mind and body.

Claire sets the broken bones in his hand (while Jamie is still hearing Randall in his drug-induced stupor). When she finishes, the monk tells her to go and rest. She goes to the chapel for some quiet time when Father Anselm comes in.  He offers to hear her confession and she tells him everything that’s happened to her, including the time travel.  In the end, she also confesses that she feels responsible for what has happened to Jamie.  He absolves her of her sins (and also thinks it’s pretty cool that she’s from the future!)

Claire goes to Jamie’s room to check on him.  The monk tending him tells her that he is still refusing to eat.  She tries to be matter-of-fact with him, telling him his hand is looking better and that she can give him a regime to help restore the use of his fingers.  He tells her that she “canna save a man that doesna want to be saved.”  She is becoming more desperate and afraid for his mental state.

Screenshot (58)As an aside, Caitriona Balfe’s face is so expressive. Just like Claire, you can read every single feeling, thought and emotion on it.  Another amazing performance from her as well.

After a brief scene with “the boys” talking and worrying if Jamie is going to recover, Murtagh leaves after Willie makes a really stupid remark about how his uncle starved himself to death.  We then see him in Jamie’s room and they are having a conversation in Gàidhlig. There is no translation, but none is needed. We really didn’t need to understand the words to understand the meaning. (However, If you want to know what was said, here’s a link:  https://wordpress.com/read/post/id/63756291/2604/

Jamie starts flashing back to the dungeon again.  Not sure if everyone thought this, but in my view, this was that scene in the book that we were (thankfully) spared from witnessing (that one might have been too much, even for me).  You know, the bloody blowjob scene. We see Jamie on the floor, blood “and other things” on his face. He is gagging and spitting something out of his mouth. His upper thighs have blood on them.  Although there is no cut on Jamie’s chest, as in the book, this is that scene.Screenshot (160)

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Once again, nothing pleasurable to see here, either. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that, again, Jamie has been subjected to still more intense abuse.  Randall is sitting on the floor watching Jamie struggle. He asks him, “Am I close?  Have you reached your limit yet?” Jamie is obviously in a huge amount of physical pain, but the viewer doesn’t know exactly why.  Those of us who have read the books know all too well what Randall has done this time.   In some ways, the show version was worse; we see the blood on his face and thighs, but we don’t know from where it came.   Ughhhh.

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He then proceeds to prey on Jamie’s weakened mental state by conflating himself with Claire, playing on Jamie’s delusions, thus breaking him down even further.  It is completely heart-wrenching watching Jamie realize that he will never see Claire again.  He sobs, “She’s gone…there’s no more Claire”.

Ahhhhhhhh! Stop it!  This is just so bloody awful.  But the worst is still to come.Screenshot (70)

Not only does Randall want to completely destroy this man, now he wants Jamie to prove to him that he belongs to him by branding him…no wait, by getting Jamie to brand himself for him, the bastard.Screenshot (78)

Back to the present, Willie comes to Jamie to tell him that Murtagh has gone to secure passage on a boat to get out of Scotland.  He asks Jamie what he can do to help him. Jamie asks for his blade, to put himself “out of this black misery.” Willie, of course, refuses to give it to him.

Claire confronts Murtagh with this information.  He knew about it, but was sworn to secrecy by Jamie.  He tells Claire that he “refuses to watch Jamie waste away. To die like an animal in the woods with it’s foot caught in a trap.”  He will kill him himself, if it comes to that.  Claire collapses in his arms.

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When she comes to, she and Murtagh decide it’s time for drastic measures.  She anoints herself with oil of lavender, and holds it under Jamie’s nose to bring back the nightmare of Randall.  He tries to get away from her and the smell, but she refuses to give in. They wrestle and fight, he is on top of her, telling her he doesn’t want to hurt her.  She screams that it’s too late for that, since he wants to kill himself and he won’t tell her why. She cries “Do you want me to hate you?” She tears off his bandage and finally sees the brand, which has healed enough to now be a discernible “JR”.  Jamie confesses that he did it himself. He then finally tells her the rest of what happened.

Screenshot (88)“He made love to me, Claire.” (notice that he has not called her Sassenach at all, reminding us that he no longer feels any joy).  We go back to the dungeon in Jamie’s mind.  He is laying on the pallet, watching Randall clean himself across the room. Randall approaches him, gently moves his ruined hand, and them revives him with oil of lavender.  (Author’s note: Lavender oil is known for its calming and relaxing relaxing properties, and is used for alleviating insomnia, anxiety, depression, restlessness, and stress. It has also been proven effective for nearly all kinds of ailments, from pain to infections.)  

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Randall pours some oil on his hands and on Jamie’s genitals.  He moves Jamie’s good hand, encouraging him to masturbate. Jamie finally appears to relax as he feels some relief from the hours of pain that he has endured. Randall rubs some oil into the burn from the brand, murmuring for Jamie to imagine that it is Claire that is caressing and caring for him. There is a very interesting moment just then: Randall bends over and kisses Jaime, and in his delirium Jamie lifts his head to return the kiss. Randall pulls back, and the look on his face tells us that he knows he has Jamie; he knows that he’s won. As long as he can keep Jamie in his present mental state, thinking of Claire, he can break him.  Randall rubs some oil on himself, gets behind Jamie and enters him, gently this time. Jamie responds to him and gets lost in the pleasure he is feeling, even to the point of reaching back for Randall.  Randall whispers to him, “Say my name, Jamie.” Jamie responds and calls him Claire.  Immediately after he reaches orgasm, Jamie comes back to reality, lowers his head, and cries in shame and despair, Randall strikes the final emotional blow by telling him that Claire will never forgive him. Both he and Randall know that he has been broken.

I’m probably going to get a lot of flack for saying this, but to me, this scene was extraordinary.  It evoked so many conflicting things:  the emotional torment was completely repellent yet, disturbingly erotic in those few moments of Jamie’s pleasure. But the self-revulsion that it dredged up for him was impossibly painful to witness.  Who knew the price of an orgasm could be so costly?  I know that there are a lot of people out there that hated this scene and felt that it completely diverged from the book.  It didn’t. The description in the book was not exactly how it was portrayed on screen, but only in that it was not as detailed.  Jamie told Claire that Randall aroused him. What exactly do people think he meant by that? Jamie is an incredibly strong character.  Pain wasn’t going to break him, no matter what Randall did.  The only thing that could was a physical and emotional betrayal of his love for Claire.

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We are returned back to the present in the Abbey, with Jamie trying to explain how it “felt so good not to be in pain”. Claire has been listening quietly, letting him tell her what he has been trying so hard to hide.  She doesn’t recoil from him, She doesn’t judge him. She just tries to reassure him that there is nothing to forgive, that she understands that he did what he needed to do in order to survive, but he can’t, or won’t, hear it.  He is consumed with guilt and self-loathing because he succumbed to momentary pleasure at the hands of a man and in doing so, betrayed his vow to her.  He can barely meet her eyes when he tells her that he can’t be a husband to her anymore, and he won’t be less. The issue isn’t her forgiving him; it’s his inability to forgive himself.

He tells her “I lie here feeling that I will die without your touch, but when you do touch me, I want to vomit with shame,” Claire finally breaks down, taking his face in her hands, whether he wants it or not.  She reminds him of the promise he made to her on their wedding night, and tells him that Randall may have had his body, but she will be damned if she lets him have his soul.  I  thought this was a great change from the book, where it was Jamie who said that (as a reason for not committing suicide). In my opinion, it made a much more powerful impact coming from Claire. Screenshot (125) Screenshot (128) Screenshot (143) Screenshot (145)

This dialogue was beautifully written, with Claire crying and telling Jamie that everything that has happened to her, and to them,  only makes sense because they are meant to be together, and if he gives up and takes that meaning away from her, she will die right along with him. That finally gets his attention. He sees how much she is suffering along with him (perhaps he is thinking of when he told her that he could stand his own pain, but that he wasn’t strong enough to bear hers?). He tries to reach for her, but still can’t quite bring himself to touch her. He despairs “How can ye want me like this?” For Claire, that’s not even a consideration. She throws her arms around him, telling him she’ll have him any way she can, always, and holds him until, at last, he embraces her in return. For us, the viewers, there is such a profound sense of relief in seeing them back in each others arms, knowing that they can overcome this.

There follows a brief scene of Murtagh cutting the brand out of Jamie’s chest, literally and figuratively cutting him out of Jamie and Claire’s lives.  But I think we all know (readers or not) that a shadow of him will always be there.  Still, it’s a moment of triumph and we’re all glad to see Jamie emerging from the darkness.

The last scene of the episode finally allows us to breath…literally.  We’re outside on the beach, the wind is blowing, the sun it shining,  Claire is saying goodbye to Rupert and Angus (that little bit of comic relief was cute, but silly, in my opinion).  She, Jamie and Murtagh are rowed out to the Cristobel, headed for the safety of France.  Claire is a bit green around the gills, and Jamie teases her a bit about it, the first sign of lightheartedness between them that we’ve had.  We soon find out that Claire’s fainting spells and nausea are the result of being pregnant.  She asks him if he is happy to hear it.  At last, that smile we love, while still a bit haunted, is back.  Yes, Sassenach, he is verra happy.

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“I Will Have Your Surrender Before You Leave This World”

“I felt an intolerable weight oppressing my breast, the smell of the damp earth, the unseen presence of victorious corruption, and the darkness of an impenetrable night…”

Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness

Och, lads and lasses, I dinna think I can be witty after watchin’ Episode 115. It’s way too dark in my wee coo heid. I suspect the finale will be just as devastating. I tried in my last post to use humor, not to make light of the subject matter, but to remind myself that these are fictional characters, and to try and prepare myself for the last two episodes.  I dinna think it worked. Most of us knew what was coming.  We thought we were prepared for it. We weren’t.  It was beyond harrowing and extremely hard to watch.  I’m sure I’m not the only person who turned her head away, covered her eyes and physically recoiled at Jamie’s agony, Claire’s anguish and the revolting display of BJR’s sadistic cruelty.  But, in my humble opinion, as a fan of these books, it was important, necessary even, for us to bear witness. We owed it to Jamie. To everyone involved with this episode, you created a Masterpiece.

From what I read out in “social media world”, the reaction of both the public and the critics was, for the most part, very positive. But there were some people that felt that the writers and director went too far in the depiction of the violence, to the point of describing the episode as exploitative “rape and torture porn.”  I disagree. Perhaps the problem was in the medium, not in the material.  In the books, what happened to Jamie is given to us second hand, from Claire’s POV.  On television, Ron Moore and company were faced with the task of giving it to us in real time.  In the books, we can “see” what we want to see, and what we don’t.  We can skim past (or skip altogether) those parts that make us uncomfortable; our minds protect us from what we don’t wish to confront.  On film, however, we can’t hide from the immediacy of the images.  The rape and torture are there for us to see, visceral and brutal, thanks to the skill of the actors, director, writers, make-up artists, special effects crew and cinematographers.  If we choose to watch, we are forced to see their vision of what we have read.  If that vision is even worse than what we imagined, we find it even more upsetting.  But I say to the critics of the episode: if you think it went too far, then you should direct your anger at Diana Gabaldon, not at director Anna Foerster and writer Ira Stephen Behr.  The episode was faithfully adapted from the source material; the rape and torture scenes were not gratuitously added or made more gruesome just to generate hype and controversy.   Re-read the book; that’s how it went down, people.  And don’t kid yourselves…when we get to the finale, if Ron and company stay true to form, things will get a whole lot worse before they get better. I understand what those who didn’t like it are saying. I get it. Really, I do.  So much so that I nearly didn’t read the rest of the series after reading Outlander the first time because of what happened at Wentworth Prison.  I was so angry at Gabaldon for “doing that to Jamie.”  Even now, after having read all of them (more than once), I still struggle with her choice to build up this wonderful character, only to utterly destroy him.  I know he recovers, but it’s clear that he suffers from PTSD for the rest of his life.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in fantasyland.  I know life isn’t fair. I don’t expect everything to have a happy ending.  I’ve written things myself that are dark and ugly.  I just couldn’t understand why she felt it necessary to go there with Jamie and BJR.  Wasn’t the flogging enough?  So why?  WHY?

I guess we’ll never really know why she chose to write that into the book.  I know she’s said it has to do with plotting and structure and the “rule of 3,” but that’s really not the answer we want.  It’s a wonderful story that we all love, much as we might hate the scenes at Wentworth and the aftermath at the Abbey. But in the end, Diana Gabaldon made up these characters and it was her choice as to what trajectory their stories took. We can accept them or put the books aside and never read them again.  The more interesting question is why do we care so much? Would we have been as upset if BJR had chosen to torture and rape just some random character?  I doubt it.  We would have found his sadistic behavior upsetting, but we wouldn’t have cared in the same way. We’re invested in Jamie and Claire, so we care about what happens to them.  It seems to be human nature to care more about the pain of those we love, even when they are fictional, than about other people in general.  What does that say about us?

Another interesting question that comes up in discussions of these events is: “Why do we find it so much more disturbing when this happens to a man?”   Is it so unnerving to us because it happened to Jamie, or because the victim is male?  Let’s face it, we’re all kind of in love with him, so perhaps it is because it’s Jamie. But it’s not really that simple. Why is it that people seem to be much more appalled if a man is raped, than a woman? One reason, and Jamie does talk about this when he describes his ordeal to Claire, is that men cannot stop themselves from responding sexually, even though they are repelled by what is happening to them.

“… he hurt me -hurt me badly- while he did it, but it was an act of love to him. And he made me answer him- damn his soul! He made me rouse to him!”  The hand bunched into a fist and struck the bedframe with an impotent rage that made the whole bed tremble.”

If you stimulate a man, his body body will respond. The same is usually not true for a woman, not under those circumstances.  So, on top of the rage and pain and shame victims feel after being sexually assaulted, men have the added issue of feeling that they somehow “actively participated” in it, even though that was clearly not their intention. Consequently, it must make them question their own role in the assault with respect to “consent.” Their bodies betray them. That’s a pretty horrible burden to bear.  But does this mean that rape is worse for men?  I guess that depends on your perspective. I would posit that it is equally devastating for a man or a woman, just in different ways. And let’s face it, it’s women who constitute the majority of rape victims, both in the media and in the real world. Regarding people’s reaction, or lack thereof, to female rape, that, my friends, is more of a sociological discussion.   Hold on a sec…need to step up on my soapbox for a moment.

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We live in a rape culture. It’s everywhere: on television, in feature films, in literature, comic books, video games…and, worst of all, in reality.  To illustrate my point, Google the name Anita Sarkeesian.  For those of you unfamiliar with her, she is a media critic and blogger who has been repeatedly threatened with rape, torture and death just for having the audacity to speak out against violent and degrading images of females in video games.  Yes, really, you heard that correctly.  Over fucking, stupid, inconsequential video games. Or what about the Indian woman who was gang-raped, tortured and murdered on a public bus in Delhi?  The examples are too numerous to mention.  The pervasive depiction of violence in various media unfortunately only serves to “normalize” the sexual objectification and exploitation of women, to the point that we have become numb to it.  We barely even notice it on the screen anymore. Maybe that’s what we should really get upset about. Pretty scary that we don’t. I do have a pet theory about this episode and the upcoming finale:  maybe, just maybe, they decided not to pull any punches with the violence in these episodes as a way of reminding viewers just how damaging and horrendous rape really is. To remind us that it is not about sex, but about power and control. I have no way of knowing if that’s the case, but I like to think so.  Ok, rant over. Back to the episode…

How is it that you can love something as an amazing piece of film and still be totally creeped-out and repulsed by it? I’m not sure how they managed it, but to Anna Foerster and Ira Steven Behr: Bravo.  As for the actors, I am in awe. The performances blew me away. Fearless and absolutely raw.

“I have never met any really wicked person before. I feel rather frightened. I am so afraid he will look just like everyone else.”Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

Let’s start with Tobias Menzies. His portrayal of of BJR is riveting and so, so, SO disturbing in its oh-so-polite precision.  It was beyond uncomfortable to watch him smash Jamie’s hand, then hold him and shush him like a child, all the while putting his uninjured hand between his legs to arouse him. But no, he “won’t give in to coarse passion.” He wants Jamie to surrender to him…to “consent” to his own torture and sexual assault.  How does he achieve that?  By using the one weapon he knows will work:  Claire.  And when he kisses Jamie, after nailing his hand to the table…was there anyone not weeping for Jamie and Claire by then?.  Oh, and let’s not even talk about he back licking. Menzies’ performance made me want to: 1. shower, 2. shower again, 3. sit in a corner, curled in the fetal position, clutching a Costco-sized bottle of Laphroaig with a very long straw in it.  Thanks, Tobias.

Caitriona Balfe

“Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild; With a faery, hand in hand; For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.” ― Willam Butler Yeats, Collected Poems

I have to admit, when I first saw Cat, she was not who I pictured as Claire at all, but it didn’t take long for her to turn me around. She is amazing.  She IS Claire: independent, strong, funny, intelligent, and beautiful inside and out. And the chemistry with Sam Heughan? Perfection.  Her performances have been wonderful since the very first episode, but in this one, she was exceptional. We were right there with her in Sir Fletcher’s office, barely keeping it together, and then losing it spectacularly as she stumbled out of the prison. The expression on her face as she looked into the box containing Jamie’s personal effects, the Je Suis Prest brooch, Sawny…all those small, personal things that summed up the life of the man she loved, broke all of our hearts. It was devastating.  Later, when she was in the cell with Jamie, we all experienced her anguish over what had happened to him, and what would happen to him and how helpless she felt, knowing she couldn’t save him from the horror of Jack Randall.

Sam Heughan

“Innocence eroded into nightmare. All because of very bad touch. Love, corrupted.” ― Ellen Hopkins, Fallout

Jesus, man, you could have prepared us! I did not see that coming.  Wow.  Just, wow. Mind blown. I’m not sure Sam always gets his due as an actor, with so much attention being focused on Tobias and how creepy his Jack Randall is.  But that time is over. Sam’s performance was stunning, especially considering that he was chained up and nailed to a table for a good portion of the episode. I’m certainly no expert on acting, but it seems to me that Sam had the harder job in this. All he had to work with, for the most part, was his face.  The range of emotion that he managed to convey with just his eyes was astonishing. In just that one scene, when BJR cuts open his shirt and is caressing and licking the scars on his back, we all saw, and experienced, Jamie’s realization of just how depraved Randall was. We felt his rage, agony, revulsion, fear and finally despair, all in the course of just a few minutes, just by watching his face.  If that performance wasn’t Emmy-worthy, I don’t know what is.

As much as I was dreading this episode (and most of the next one as well), I was thrilled for the actors. They were up against some horribly dark and difficult material and they did not flinch away from it, and they did not disappoint. I’m sure the finale will be just as amazing. Masterpiece, indeed.

I Wanna Do Bad Things With You

I don’t know what you’ve done to me,
But I know this much is true:
I wanna do bad things with you.
I wanna do real bad things with you.

-JW Randall, Capt of His Majesty’s  8th Dragoons

*Disclaimer:  I ken verra well that there is NOTHING funny about rape and torture.  But in the interest of my own self-preservation, I will try to find some humor in order to cope with what’s coming.  Fair warning…there will be stuff in here that ye willna be able to unsee!

Ha!  Fooled ye, didn’t I?  Ye thought maybe I started writin’ about True Blood, didn’t ye?  No.  I just like the theme song…and it seemed apropos to use it here.  I may have mentioned in a recent tweet that I’m “freaking the f*ck out” over  the upcoming final episodes of Outlander (ye ken what I mean…WENTWORTH).  I really, really hope Ron D. Moore didn’t hire James Wan to direct the last two episodes (look it up).  I think we’ll see some award-worthy performances from Sam, Tobias and Cait, truly.  But I’d be lying if I said I wasna scairt shiteless about watching it (it was horrific enough in my wee coo heid when I read it!)  I do want to see what they do with this verra heavy material, but do I really want to see Jamie/Sam being raped and tortured (even if it is just a TV show)? Not so much.

So, aye, I’ll watch it…but I’m going to need a LOT of whisky (see previous blog for my recommendations!) and perhaps a valium…or three.  Sooooo…I thought I’d put together a little preemptive preparatory blog to deal with the post-viewing PTSD that is sure to come. So I asked myself. “Moo,what ‘s the best way to confront this?”

Option 1:  Revisit some of the worst things I’ve ever seen on film in attempt to numb myself to it… The hobbling scene from Misery (NEVER gonna unsee THAT). Prince Oberyn’s death in Game of Thrones (still in therapy).  The crucifix scene in the Exorcist…disturbing, to say the least (the “your mother sucks c*cks in hell” line was particularly memorable).  The absolute worst thing I’ve ever seen, though, is the torture sequence from the Japanese film Audition.  Still makes me cringe and squirm and cough up a few hairballs just thinking about it (aye, hairballs, I tell ye!). In fact, I’ve never actually seen the whole thing…I just can’t…it’s that messed up.  This is what I imagine Wentworth will be like.  The young woman in Audition, like BJR, totally relishes her victim’s pain.  She’s giddy with it.  She’s like a kid in a candy store. She’s surgically precise.  She takes her time about it, aye? (and not in the good Jamie way, ye ken?). But on some level, it’s a wee bit vindicating, because the victim in the film is kind of a douche.

Here’s the clip, if you’re really curious…but seriously, don’t watch it.  I’m not kidding. Just…don’t.

You watched it, didn’t you?  Don’t blame me, I told ye not to!  That’s some seriously sick shit.  But the big difference re: Outlander is that Jamie Fraser is not a douche! He doesna deserve this!  So maybe trying to become immune through violence overload won’t work. It’s still going to upset me to no end to see this happen to Jamie (and by necessity, Sam).  I know, I know…it’s a great acting challenge, yada yada yada.  I’m still planning to brush my bangs over my eyes.

Option 2:  How about a new version of how things go down between BJR and Jamie? (ye see what I did there? #fellatio #buggery).  Here goes:

Set the scene:  Jamie is in BJR’s red room of pain, sitting on the bed, chained to the wall.  Suddenly, the door swings open, and BJR strolls in, twirling his riding crop and making little squeaky noises because of the enticing sensations from his nipple clamps.  A mash-up of  2 Live Crew’s “Face Down, Ass Up” and “Me So Horny”  is playing at low volume in the background)

Well, my fine, red-haired lad, are you ready for me to be your back-door man?

He pulls up a stool and leans forward.

BJR:  So, Jamie, do you like gladiator movies?

Jamie:  no answer, narrows eyes

BJR:  Ever seen a grown man naked?

Jamie:  Mmmmphm

BJR:  Jamie, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?

Jamie: What the hell are ye on about, a bhalgair?  I need to leave. (he tries to yank the irons out of the wall)

BJR:  Not so fast, Weasley

Jamie: Who’s Weasley?

BJR.  Forget it.  You’re going nowhere, Rusty.  Look what I brought you…this lovely board.  Here, you look uncomfortable. Lie back.

(ye didna think I would sneak that in, did ye?)

Jamie: Thalla ‘s cac!  I canna believe ye did that!. Ye are a dirty bird, Jack Randall!  So now that I canna get away, what are ye plannin’ on doin’ with me?  And who the hell is Rusty?

BJR:  I’m thinking we should get to know each other better.

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Jamie:  Och!  In yer dreams, ye bastard!

BJR: No, Strawberry Shortcake…in RE.AL.I.TY.  Remember, you promised to play with me if I let the foul-mouthed scold go…

Jamie: That’s my wife yer slanderin’..I’ll thank ye to refer to her as the lady she is.

BJR:  If she’s a lady, then I’m a Vermicious Knid.  Anyway, no harm done.  Let’s play a game!

Jamie:  Ye mean like Battleship?

BJR:  (rolls eyes) No…it’s a game I like to call Hide the Haggis.  Or we could play “Let Me Peek Behind Your Sporran”

Jamie:   My sporran, and what’s behind it, is my own concern.  And I dinna like haggis.

BJR:  You are trying my patience, Ginger Boy.  Here, let me see your hand for a moment, will you?

(ok…that doesn’t happen…but almost!)

BJR: Think fast! (tosses the Crabtree & Evelyn Lavender Body lotion at our hero)

Jamie:  Ye bastard! Ye chopped off my fookin’ hand!…now ye want to play catch? Yer such an arsehole!

BJR: You’re hurting my feelings, Big Red.  Boys only want love if it’s torture. Don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t, warn ya. You can tell me when it’s over if the high was worth the pain,

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BJR:  Haters gonna hate.  As far as below the belt, all in good time, mon petit Tête de Carotte.  Now put some of that stuff on…I love the smell of lavender in the morning.

Jamie: Why do ye want me to do that?  And it’s night time, ye clot-heid.

BJR

Jamie: Yer sick.

BJR:  Am not.

Jamie:  Ye are, too!

BJR:  Am not

Jamie: Yes, ye are!

BJR:  I know you are, but what am I?

Jamie:  Stop that!

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Jamie:  I really dinna like you.

BJR:  (put’s on “Love To Love You, Baby”)

Jamie: I dinna like disco, either.

BJR:   You don’t like much, do you?  Me, disco, haggis. How about reading?  Do you like to read?

Jamie:  Aye…(hesitatingly).  Why do ye ask?

BJR:  Have you red pubes?

Jamie:  Mmmmphm.  Yer nae funny.

BJR:  puts on Olivia Newton-John’s Physical

Jamie:  Och! Do ye no have anything decent in yer wee box?  Any bagpipes?

BJR:  Good Lord…NO. How about this. It’s English, so it must be superior (Changes music again)

Jamie:  Ye filthy sassenachs are all mad!

BJR:  Ok, Bluey…let’s get it on! And no, I don’t know why Australians call redheads “Bluey”…they’re all criminals, so what do you expect?  Now, kiss me, you fool!  (leans in to kiss, Jamie)

Jamie


Later the next day, Capt. Randall forces his junior officers to have lunch with him.  In the roll of BJR, the lovely Kim Cattrall.

Corporal Hawkins stoms out:

l5pvu

Ok…so if it went down something like that, it might be easier to swallow.

The Pleasures of Whisky “Laird Broch Tuarach, that’s me”.

Have ye ever seen anything more flippin’ adorable than drunk Jamie Fraser? (Aside from his arse, which will merit it’s own blog post…patience, my preciouses).  Almost peed my pants watching this scene.  And can we give some props to Sam? Movie night in the meadow has shown more bad renditions of actors overdoing drunk on film than I care to recount.  But not our Sam…well-played, big guy.  Well-played.  Just a touch of word-slurring, the hopping on one foot trying to get the boot off (who hasna experienced that?), the unrealistic over-confidence that only the truly inebriated possess…genuinely funny performance.  Must have been all that practice as the Tennent’s lager guy (along with the lovely and talented Tim “The Enchanter” Downie. WootWoot!)

Now, as most of ye ken, book Jamie says that yer drunk only if ye canna stand anymore.  Sitting on the bed, doesna count.  C’mon, Sam, ye lightweight!  Buck up, man, no passing out!

“Jamie,” I said, “how, exactly, do you decide whether you’re drunk?”

Aroused by my voice, he swayed alarmingly to one side, but caught himself on the edge of the mantelpiece. His eyes drifted around the room, then fixed on my face. For an instant, they blazed clear and pellucid with intelligence.

“Och, easy, Sassenach, If ye can stand up, you’re not drunk.” He let go of the mantelpiece, took a step toward me, and crumpled slowly onto the hearth, eyes blank, and a wide, sweet smile on his dreaming face.”
Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber

So all of this drunkenness and debauchery got me to thinking about the sublime pleasure that is Whisk(e)y.  the subject of this week’s blog.

So, How DO  You Spell It?

Here’s what they had to say over at masterofmalt.com (hey,  Àdhamh Ó Broin
@Gaeliconsultant, little help with the pronunciation, if ye dinna mind.  Wee coos have a tough time with the Gàidhlig, ye ken.  Especially after we’ve had a few drams.  Does make the milk taste good, though!)

“The term ‘whisky’ derives from the Gaelic usquebaugh – itself from the Scottish Gaelic uisge beatha, or the Irish Gaelic spelling uisce beatha. Uisce comes from the Old Irish for ‘water’ and beatha from bethad, meaning ‘of life’. With this in mind, whisky is etymologically linked with a great number of spirits, all of which refer to the origins of the spirit – the quest for the elixir of life.” A worthy goal if ever I heard one.

Survey says:  Whisky if you’re a Scot; Whiskey if you’re Irish.  (Oh, who the fuck cares…pass the bottle).  I’m going with the Scottish spelling ’cause I’m lazy and currently obsessed with all things Scot/Scots/Scottish/Scotch.

One Bourbon, One Scotch and one Beer Rye

What is the difference, you ask? Well, first, they are all whisky, which means simply that they are made of fermented grain mash. The differences lie in which grain is used.

Scotch Whisky

To qualify as a Scotch the spirit must be made from malted barley, with many Scotches using nothing more than barley, water and yeast.  It  is aged in oak casks for no less than three years, and must have an Alcohol By Volume (ABV) at less than 94.8%.  Finally, and most importantly, you cannot call your drink Scotch unless it was made 100% in Scotland by hot and well-defined Scotsmen with amazing pecs and thighs that can crack walnuts. Sam Heughan and Thom Evans come to mind:

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images (6)(ok, aye, I made that last part up)

For a little more on the regional differences of Scotch Whiskey, here’s Sam (taste-testing whisky at 10:30 am on a Monday – which I would highly recommend. Side note: Coos do NOT like Mondays…we want to shoot, shoot, shoot ’em all down) with the E’s Kristin Dos Santos:

Laphroaig is my current favorite Scotch whisky (NOOOO, NOT JUST BECAUSE SAM LIKES IT. JEEZ).  It took me some time to come around to it…it’s verra peaty and a wee bit of an acquired taste.  The first time I had it, dinna like it much at all.  (Of course, it may have just been that the name kind of reminded me of Laoghaire…that’ll leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth, aye?) Be patient…it’ll grow on ye.  One last thing…here’s a handy pronunciation guide for some of the more challenging Scotch names:  www.dcs.ed.ac.uk/home/jhb/whisky/pronounc.html

 Irish Whiskey

This may sound incredibly silly, but Irish whiskey is pretty much any whiskey aged in the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland.  Really…that’s what makes it Irish. I dinna ken why it’s nae more complicated..it just isna!  I never said it wasna tasty! Like Scotch, it must be distilled to an ABV of less than 94.8. However, the distilling standards are much less particular than in Scotland.

“It must be made from yeast-fermented grain mash in such a way that the distillate has an aroma and flavor derived from the materials used”. (Aye, I know…that says absolutely nothing.  I copied that line directly from Wikipedia). From what I gather, you can use any cereal grains, but if you mix two or more it must be labelled as “blended”.  Finally, the whiskey must be aged for at least three years in “wooden casks” (apparently any old maggot-ridden wood will do in Ireland).  Och, I’m kidding! Don’t get yer knickers in a bunch.  Actually, Irish whiskey differs from Scotch in the distilling processes. The three main types are Single Pot, which uses unmalted barley along with the malted barley mash. (this type of whiskey is unique to Ireland); Double distilled and Triple distilled. The vagaries of distillation are beyond my ken.  If ye really want to know, look it up yer damn selves. I’m no yer maither!

Moo’s recommendation from Eire is Teeling Small Batch.  It’s aged in rum casks, which gives it a lovely flavor.

American Whiskys

Bourbon:  Bourbon is made with at least 51%  corn, plus rye, wheat and barley.  By law, it must be aged in new, charred oak barrels, and must be made and aged in the US (but not specifically in Kentucky, contrary to popular belief).  The taste of bourbon is often described as “spicy” and “fiery.”

Moo’s personal favorite is Maker’s Mark (which is a “wheated” bourbon).  If you want a traditional bourbon, I have it on good authority that Evan Williams Single Barrel is excellent.

The other “corn” oriented whisky comes from Tennesee and is made with corn, rye and barley (usually 60% corn to 40% other grain ratio).  It is made with the “Lincoln County Process (which involves pre-aging charcoal “mellowing”).  It has a sweet, smooth flavor with a lot of “corn character.”  Moo recommends the classic Jack Daniels Old No. 7. Dougal would love it, aye?

Rye:  Rye is more or less the same as bourbon, except that it is made with rye (Duh), not corn.  It is described as herbal, grassy, fiery and spicy. It will kick your ass, but in a good way.

I don’t often drink rye, but I once had Whistlepig Straight Rye.  It was verra tasty.

So there ye have it.  Have ye enjoyed this wee trip into the world of whisky?  I hope ye will go try it.  In the immortal words of  that witty American, Mark Twain:  “Too much of anything is bad.  Too much of good whisky is barely enough.”

Beware though…here’s what happens when you have a bit too much (thank you again, Sam)

Slàinte Mhath!

Happy Beltane: Straddling Sam and Jamie

I know what you‘re thinking…JHRC, another blog about Outlander.  Aye, I ken it, truly.  But, like many people I suffer from Outlander Obsessive Disorder (OOD). Ye can look it up; It’s in the DSM5. So in my own defense and on recommendation from my shrink, I’m here seeking an outlet for my unnatural obsession with all things OL (books and show), since my family and friends are ready to have me committed (no, seriously). However, occasionally my mind wanders to wide and varied places, grasshoppers, so you may find this blog veering off in other directions (which I will then, of course, find a way to relate back to OL). Kind of like my own version of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. To prove my point, Sam Heughan CAN be linked to Kevin Bacon (as can every other celebrity in the known universe):

Sam Heughan

was in

Emulsion (2014)

with

Tom Butcher (I)

was in

And When Did You Last See Your Father? (2007)

with

Colin Firth

was in

Where the Truth Lies (2005)

with

Kevin Bacon

(Source: Oracle of Bacon.com)

**Fair warning: this will not be a familyfriendly place. I occasionally have a pottymouth (and I’m not afraid to use it). If you have delicate sensibilities, leave now. Also, I willna give “Spoiler Alerts”. If ye havena read the books, and ye don’t want to know what’s coming, ye should also leave now. Finally, I tend to slip into “Jamiespeak” now and again. It’s congenital, ye ken? Deal with it.  So here goes…

Happy Beltane: Straddling Sam and Jamie

I decided to make my maiden entry on May 1 st . Seemed appropriate, somehow. Since I am starting this on Beltane, I thought it appropriate to give a little Beltane 101 for those of you unfamiliar with this glorious fete. I see lots of people wishing each other a Happy Beltane out in SM Land, but do they know what it’s all about?

Beltane is the ancient pagan fertility festival celebrated on May 1st (although the festivities often begin on the night of April 30th). It is the festival of sensuality, of pleasures of the flesh and of the greening of the Earth.  You may have noticed that the dates conveniently span both Sam Heughan’s and Jamie Fraser’s birthdays. It can’t be a coincidence that these happy occurrences fall on what is, for all intents and purposes, The Sex Holiday. Of course they do.  Who better to celebrate on Beltane than the two sexiest men EVAH?  And, frankly, anything that straddles both Sam and Jamie is, by definition, Good…so sayeth the Goddess.

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Sorry, lost my train of thought there for a minute...what was I saying? Oh right, Beltane.

Beltane rituals symbolically (and sometimes literally) recreate the joining of the Goddess (see Brighid, Demeter, Gaia, Bast, Isis, Juno, et al) and the Earth God (see Cernunnos, the Green Man, Pan, Bacchus, the Horned God (no,ye clot heid, he’s NOT the Devil). Och, ye should see the wee fiends at the festivities, going at it like rrrrabbits (everyone practice rrrrolling those rrrrs). Shaggers of wee beasties, indeed! But I digress…This symbolic copulation ensures healthy livestock, abundant crops, and general well being for the rest of the year in a celebration of life and reproduction in all its glory. As I can attest personally, in Celtic traditions, the coos are driven through the smoke of the Beltane fires and blessed with health and fertility in the coming year.

(Wee Hielan Coos tend to lean toward paganism, bet ye didna ken that!). And not for nothing. prancing around the Maypole and leaping over the fire under the stars of a cool Hielan spring evening in nothing but my ginger hide is pretty darned awesome. You should try it sometime.

Celebrating at Home

If ye can’t get to a Beltane Feast, ye can always celebrate at home.  Just think spring and sex, sex, sex!. Use lots of greens, as well as bright spring colors — the yellow of the daffodils, the purples of lilacs; the blue of a spring sky or a robin’s egg when ye decorate your pasture or byre.

Fertility Symbols

As ye may have guessed, Beltane is when the male god is at his most potent. He’s often portrayed with a great big cockstand. If ye don’t have one of those lying about (or it’s just not standing up like our poor Black Jackie experienced last week during the Lallybroch episode…maybe he’s just too evil for Beltane) ye can use other male fertility symbols like antlers, sticks, acorns, and seeds. Ye may even consider adding a Maypole as yer centerpiece — there’s nae much that’s more phallic than a big pole sticking out of the ground, aye?

In addition to the upstanding attributes of the god, the fertility of lasses are celebrated at Beltane as well. She represents the earth, warm and inviting, waiting for seeds to grow within her.  Ye can add a goddess symbol, such as a statue, cauldron, cup, or other feminine items.

Faeries

Finally, in some cultures, Beltane is known to be sacred to the Fae. If you follow a tradition that honors the Faerie realm, ye should leave offerings on your altar for the wee sprites…they cause trouble if ye don’t feed them.

So there you have it, a quick overview of Beltane. And now I have ye thinking about Sam’s and Jamie’s big poles (yer welcome), ye can go enjoy your Beltane.  A verra fitting holiday for celebrating all things Sam and Jamie, aye?