Tagged: Diana Gabaldon

Mindy Newell’s Thanksgiving Musings

Just some musings this week…

Outlander Season Three, the adaptation of the third book in author Diana Gabaldon’s story of the 20th century English combat nurse and the 18th century Scottish Highlander (Voyager) is up to its 10th episode, with three to go, and it hasn’t disappointed. I read somewhere that the program’s ratings have steadily gone up with each episode, and Season 4 is already in production. I know that there are many who are disappointed that the show isn’t following the book word-for-word and paragraph-for-paragraph, but as I often remind my fellow Outlander lovers over at Compuserve, television is a visual medium, entirely different from the literary, and there are also time restraints. Im-not-so-ho, Ronald D. Moore and company have actually done a remarkable job bringing a densely packed historical romance/science fiction/fantasy – Outlander is one of those books and series that crosses genres as easily a pedestrian crossing a street – series to life.

And speaking of Compuserve, that venerable site is shutting down all its forums as of December 15, with no explanation given and that “e-mail, news, weather, sports, and entertainment information will remain available to you after this change.” Huh? Who goes to Compuserve for e-mail, news, weather, and et.al.? It’s always been about its forums – and as for Outlander, Diana Gabaldon, way back when, when she was first writing the original book, often posted her “what I’ve got so far,” and asking for comments, edits, and information. I just don’t get it.

I’m in the midst of answering a series of questions for an interview that fellow ComicMixer Joe Corallo is conducting with me for Geek.com. It’s funny what interviews can do sometimes. If it’s live, it can be a matter of thinking quick on your feet, especially if you don’t have a list of the questions in advance. When it’s going to be published somewhere, the interviewee – me, in this case – has a chance to think about it before writing down the answers. For instance, I discovered something about my work on Catwoman in the course of answering Joe. Consider this a sneak peek:

Joe C.: You’re also the first woman to write Catwoman. What was that like to you? Did you get to do what you wanted with the character?

Me: Was I really? I didn’t know that! It was pretty cool. My first swing at her was in Action Comics Weekly #’s 611– 614, a four-part story, “The Tin Roof Club.” To tell you the truth, I think it’s better than that Catwoman mini-series with my name on it. By the way, I came up with the title of “The Tin Roof Club” because that’s how I’ve always thought of Selina:  “What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof? – I wish I knew…just

staying on it, I guess, as long as she can” Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

With that in mind, my biggest disappointment with the Catwoman mini-series is that DC wouldn’t allow Selina to deliberately kill her pimp. I don’t know why. The guy was a fucking pimp, for Christ’s sake! The whole idea of her murdering the bastard was that it would cause Selina to forever remain that “cat on the hot tin roof.” Stuck, y’know? So I had to write it so that it was unclear. Which was total bullshit, of course.

I also made a mistake in involving nuns and Selina having a sister who was a sister. (“My sister, the sister,” as Father Mulcahy would say on M*A*S*H.) It was supposed to be an homage to Frank Miller, not only because of Batman: Year One, but also to his work on Daredevil, in which Matt’s Catholicism played such a strong role. But I think it would have been stronger, and more interesting, if I had stuck to my own roots and made Selina Jewish – after all, “Kyle” could be just a “street name” to disguise her origins.

Basically, I guess what I’m saying is that I wish I could do it all over againor have another crack at her.

It’s a nice, long, juicy interview – well, I think so, at any rate –  so I’ll let you know when it’s slated to appear. Keep an eye out for it, ‘kay?

I’ll keep up the tradition of Thanksgiving “thanksgivings” now:

  • This year, as most of you know, I lost my dad and my mom. So first and foremost, I am grateful to God, the Goddess, and the Universe for blessing me with my grandson Meyer, my daughter and son (in-law) Alixandra and Jeff, my brother Glenn and his wife Ana, and my niece Isabel.
  • I am thankful to ComicMix and Mike Gold for allowing me entrée into the comics world via my columns these past – how many years is it, Mike? Wow! And I freely admit that my column about Secretariat was a stretch, but, hey, he was a Super-Horse!!!!
  • I am thankful to Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, NJ for investing in me and investing me with a sense of home and belonging.
  • I am thankful for Robert Mueller.
  • I am thankful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, MSNBC, Frontline, Vice, CNN, Real Time with Bill Maher and other sane and responsible news organizations and programs for not faltering in the pursuit of truth, justice, and the American Way in 2017.
  • And thanks a lot, The Washington Post, The New York Times, MSNBC, Frontline, Vice, CNN, Real Time with Bill Maher and other news organizations and programs for going insane and being irresponsible and treating Il Tweetci the Mad’s campaign as a ratings grab and celebrity reality show in 2015 and 2016? Now you’re doing your job? Where were you in 2015 and 2016?

Mindy Newell: Outlander, The Scot, The Sassenach                 

July 9, 2016.

Droughtlander begins with the airing of the Season 2 finale, “Dragonfly in Amber.” Somehow millions of fans around the world must satisfy their continuing hunger for the Starz adaptation of author Diana Gabaldon’s book series that started with Outlander, first published way back in 1991.

Centering on the love story between 20th century Royal Army nurse Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) and 18th century Scottish Highlander James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser, it encompassed the lead-up and beginning of the 1745 Jacobite Rising which climaxed in the final defeat of the Stewart claim to the British throne at Culloden Moor and the end of the Highland clan culture.

Interjection: Prime Minister David Cameron delayed the premiere of Outlander before the referendum on Scottish independence, so worried was he over its influence.

The millions of fans – and I am one of them – had to slate their hunger for more, more, more! through rereading the books (up to eight now, not counting the “sideways” shorter novels, novellas, and short stories, with Ms. Gabaldon hard at work on the ninth), rewatching Seasons 1 and 2 ad infinitum, relistening to podcasts (there are so many, but 31 are recommended here), and endless discussions on message boards and chat rooms.

Outlander had a built-in audience when it premiered on Starz on August 9, 2014, but, like me, I think many, many tuned in because of the involvement of Ronald D. Moore, who had ultra-successfully rebooted Battlestar Galactica for the Sci-Fi channel (now horribly called, im-not-so-ho, SyFy) and who had “made his bones” writing for Star Trek: The Next Generation (first episode: Season 3’s “The Bonding”), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (writer and co-executive producer), and Star Trek: Voyager. He was also a consultant on the HBO series Carnivale, where he met Terry Dresbach, the costume designer. Here’s a great article about the couple from the New York Times.

Neither Ron nor Terry have disappointed.

The final episode of Season 2, the aforementioned “Dragonfly in Amber,” ended with the Battle of Culloden about to start. Jamie, believing that he will die in that battle, forced Claire, who is pregnant, to return to the 20th century (in one of the most heartbreaking scenes I’ve ever seen) for the sake of their unborn child, whom Claire will raise with her 20th-century husband, Frank. It also jumped ahead to 1968; Frank has died, and Claire and her child, now a 20 year-old young woman named Brianna, have returned to Scotland, where Brianna (named after Jamie’s father) discovers the truth of her heritage…

And Claire discovers that Jamie did not die that day on the moor.

Will she go back?

September 10, 2017.

Season 3 of Outlander premiered.

Droughtlander is over.

And last night, September 17, the story continued.

•     •     •     •     •

Next weekend, September 22 – 24, is the Baltimore Comic-Con. ComicMixers Mike Gold, Glenn Hauman, Joe Corallo, Evelyn Kriete and Emily Whitten. And I’ll be there as well!

But because I’m not sure if I’m working on Friday – yes, I’m back at work, though I’m wearing an ankle brace – if you’re looking for me, I may not be at the until Saturday. With my niece Isabel – OMG, she’s 17!?? How did that happen!? – who has discovered the joys of comic conventioneering and cosplay. I am so excited to be able to share my love of the medium with Izzy!

mine-logo-150x84-4025142•     •     •     •     •

A giant and heartfelt thank you to everybody who contributed and made Mine!: A Celebration of Freedom & Liberty Benefitting Planned Parenthood possible.

You did it!!!!

Mindy Newell: Tiptoeing Through Geek Culture

Last of the Mohicans

Last of the Mohicans, by James Feinmore Cooper, is a great American classic. My parents had a Book-of-the-Month copy in their bookcase with illustrations by Newell Wyeth, Andrew’s father, and I first read it at about age 8. Today (Sunday), I watched the 1992 Last of the Mohicans, the one starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeline Stowe, and Wes Studi. Great, great movie, also a favorite of my buddy and fellow columnist Johnny O’s; in fact, it was John and Kim who turned me on to this particular cinema adaption, oh, those so many years ago at their home in Norfolk, Connecticut. I was familiar with the 1936 version, which starred Randolph Scott, Bruce Cabot, and Binnie Barnes, which was pretty good, but director Michael Mann’s adaptation is a gothic work of art, boasting beautiful cinematography and a romantic and haunting soundtrack.

OutlanderI’ve also been blissfully gorging on Season 2 of Outlander, Ronald D. Moore’s magnificent – im-not-so-ho – adaptation of the second book of Diana Gabaldon’s Scottish time-traveling romance and adventure series. As the season continues to build to the 1745 tragic and final confrontation between King George II’s British troops and the Jacobite rebels who followed “Bonnie” Prince Charles Stuart in the failed attempt to restore the Stuart monarchy, Claire is suffering from what we call today Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Jamie is taking on more than a veneer of the hated British army’s discipline and attitude, going so far as to flog his troops.

Thanks to the oversight of Moore and his team, including his wife, costume designer Terry Dresbach, and the lush cinematography of Neville Kid, not to mention the remarkable cast, Outlander is far more than a variation of the “bodice ripper” genre; it is a gripping tale of a culture that now exists only in books, films, television shows, Renaissance Fairs, and museums.

Captain America HydraI know that my buddy Marc Alan Fishman is demonstrating the mature side of the argument, taking a “wait-and-see” attitude, but as for me – well, there is so much that is wrong about Captain America: Hydra Agent that all I can say is:

No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! But I do have a better candidate for Hydra membership.

Donald Trump Suggests Muslim Judge Might Also Be Unfair. Candace Smith, ABC News, June 5, 2016: Donald Trump, already facing bi-partisan backlash for his comments suggesting a judge of Mexican descent is unfit to preside over a lawsuit filed against Trump University because of ‘bias,’ has gone further, suggesting that a Muslim judge would also not be able to treat him fairly…”

Trump Plays GOP for Suckers – Calls Climate Change ‘Bullshit,’ Then Submits Plan For A Wall To Protect His Golf Course From Global Warming. Page 4-5. New York Daily News, front page, May 24, 2016: “The notoriously fickle Republican huckster, who at various times has labeled climate change a ‘con job,’ a ‘hoax’ and ‘bullshit,’ has reportedly applied to build a wall along a luxury golf course that he owns in Ireland that is threatened by rising seas caused by climate change.

Perhaps it is Donald Trump who is the Hydra agent.

Mindy Newell: Take Two Aspirin And Call Me Yesterday Morning


Time won’t let me, oh, no.” • The Outsiders, 1965

“Time is on my side, yes it is.” • Kai Winding and his Orchestra (featuring Cissy Houston, Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick), Irma Thomas, The Rolling Stones, Michael Bolton, Cat Power, Blondie, Wilson Pickett, the O’Jays, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Kim Wilson, Tracy Nelson, Patti Smith, others

I just finished reading my buddy Johnny O’s column about the currently ubiquitous genre of time travel – and by the way, Johnny O, one of my favorite movies is Time After Time as well, which, by the way, was directed by Nicholas Meyer. On the strength of this he got to direct Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, thus reviving the franchise both on the big and small screens.

ST has had some great time-travel stories – “Tomorrow is Yesterday” in the first season, and of course “The City on the Edge of Forever” in the second is without a doubt the apex of the original series; The Next Generation’s “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” “The Inner Light,” (though perhaps not technically a time-travel story), and the series finale “All Good Things…”; Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise also had their share of time-travel stories. Voyager introduced the Federation’s Department of Temporal Investigations, and on DS9, Captain Sisko and crew went through “Trials and Tribble-ations” to stop the assassination of James T. Kirk.

Anyway, one of the biggest hits currently on cable television right now is based on a series of books by Diana Gabaldon in which a British Royal Army nurse falls through a time portal and finds herself in 18th century Scotland. That’s right, I’m talking about Outlander, now in its second season on STARZ.

The army nurse, Claire Beauchamp Randall (pronounced “Beecham” in its English transcription) and her Highlander husband Jamie Fraser have fled to France, where they are attempting to alter history by preventing the Battle of Culloden, the final confrontation between the English and the Scots in what is known as the 1745 Jacobite rising which ended the Highlander clan culture of Scotland. Jacobitism, by the way, was a political movement determined to overthrow the Hanoverian monarchy and restore the exiled House of Stuart to the British crown.

Claire also faces a more personal time paradox – she is married in the 20th century to historian Frank Randall, whose ancestor, the British regimental captain known as Black Jack Randall, is obsessed with Jamie, both as torturer and lover. If she allows Jamie to kill Black Jack before the later procreates, then Frank will never exist…

…and if Frank never exists, then she will never meet and marry him. If she does not marry Frank, she will never go to Scotland with him on a “second honeymoon.” She will never explore the ancient circle of stones on the hill outside Inverness known as Craigh na Dun. And so she will never “fall through the stones” to land in 18th century Scotland to meet James Fraser and marry him and fall in love with him after the fact and save his life and attempt to save the Highlander culture.

It’s a whirling conundrum of timey-winey stuff.

“The future is the past. The past is the future. It all gives me a headache,” said Captain Katherine Janeway in the 24th century.

And in the 18th century, in the year 1744, Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser could really use an Advil.


Mindy Newell: Outlander

“It’s just a big story, you know? The book is a big tale. It travels a lot and it goes to a lot of different places. And as I looked at it… the rights holder initially was trying to do it as a feature and I knew that it was never going to be a feature. You would lose everything that was special about the book once you stripped it down to two hours. And still, if you want to do the story justice, if you want to actually enjoy the experience the way the reader enjoys the experience, you have to take your time. You have to sort of drink in the landscape. You have to get to know the people. You need to let the moments breathe. You need to let the story just unwind a little bit. And to create that feeling in television, it just required a bigger spread of hours.” Ronald D. Moore, Executive Producer, Outlander, A Starz Original Series based on the book by Diana Gabaldon.

First, a confession.

I’ve never read the Outlander series of books by Ms. Gabaldon.

I’m not sure why. Certainly all the ingredients are there:

  • Time travel: As those of you who regularly read this column already know, and as any newbies are about to learn, mention a time travel story to me and my mouth starts watering like Pavlov’s dog – Doctor Who, various episodes of various Star Trek shows and movies, Connie Willis’s series of short stories and novels concerning the time-traveling faculty of a future Oxford University;
  • A woman protagonist who is not only a registered nurse, but a combat nurse in World War II – for those of you who don’t know, I’m an R.N., as was my mom, who served in the Army during the war, and my dad was a fighter jock in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theatre of operations, first piloting P-40s and then, for the majority of his time in service, flying the ultimate war plane, the Mustang P-51. (Okay, the Brits may argue with me on that one, defending the very worthy and impressive Spitfire, in which the R.A.F. pilots won the crucial Battle of Britain.);
  • History and great historical fiction, especially the incredible history of the British isles and the great historical fiction about our cousins across the pond – I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before here, but I’m sort of a British royal history geek, reading everything from Shakespeare’s plays to Anne Weir and Eric Ives to Jean Plaidy and Phillipa Gregory and watching every movie from The Private Life Of Henry VIII (starring Charles Laughton and directed-produced by Alexander Korda) to The Lion In Winter (starring Peter O’Toole as Henry II, Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitane, Anthony Hopkins as the future King Richard “The Lionhearted” I, and Timothy Dalton as France’s King Phillip II) to various Masterpiece Theatre productions – Glenda Jackson in Elizabeth R – to Cate Blanchett and Helen Mirren’s turns as the Virgin Queen. Not to forget Ms. Mirren in the 2006 movie The Queen.

And there was a time when I loved what are commonly referred to as “bodice-rippers,” i.e., romance novels. You know the ones I mean, the one with the covers of some impossibly gorgeous man of a past era with impossibly gorgeous pecs holding a beautiful, sensuous, and amply endowed woman dressed in a disarrayed bodice (hence the term “bodice ripper”). Also referred to as “soft-porn,” these books are formulaic, usually involving a young and innocent heroine and a rich, powerful man who she initially and distinctly H-A-T-E-S, but with whom she eventually, and eternally, fall in love. The seduction of the heroine happens frequently, and, I have to admit here, that some of the sex scenes are I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E, giving Fifty Shades Of Grey a run for its money; I can heartily recommend, for those of you interested in “genteelly” getting your rocks off, The Flame And The Flower by Katherine Woodiwiss, Sweet Savage Love and its sequels by Rosemary Rodgers, and the hottest, most licentious, incredibly sweaty and sexy Skye O’Malley series by Bertrice Small.

But The Flame And The Flower was first published in 1972, Sweet Savage Love in 1974, and Skye O’Malley in 1981. IM-not-so-HO, these were the books that really started off the craze, but since then the romance genre has been flooded with thousands of knock-offs by, again, IM-not-so-HO, too many really, really lousy writers incapable of really, really, sweat-inducing bedroom (and other places) scenes, and, again, IM-not-so-HO, the genre has suffered.

In other words… I was turned off. Not turned on.

Which is why I never picked up Outlander.

Which, BTW, was in a sub-sub-genre of bodice rippers called “time-travel romance,” which was a sub-genre of bodice rippers called “science fiction romance.”



When I read that the adaptation of Outlander was being exec-produced by Ron Moore – he of some of ST: The Next Generation’s best episodes, including “Best Of Both Worlds Part I,” and of course, of the reboot of Battlestar Galatica, my “on button” went green.

So this past Saturday, August 9th, at 9 P.M., I turned on the TV and went to the Starz channel.  And guess what?

Not only wasn’t I not disappointed… I was intrigued.

First off, the production is shot on location in Scotland. Scotland is beautiful, eerie, and full of history.

Second, Mr. Moore introduces us to the heroine, Claire Beacham Randall, at work in the field hospitals of World War II. Mr. Moore added this scene, which apparently is not how the book opens; it should have. Right away the viewer knows who this woman is: brave, resourceful, knowledgeable, and able to stand on her own two feet.

Third, the first half-hour is dedicated to the relationship between Claire and her husband, Frank Randall, a historian. They have been separated by five years of war, and are trying to reconnect through a holiday in Scotland. And by watching them reconnect, we connect to them. Plus there is some hot sex between the pair, including a scene in which Frank goes down on Claire in an ancient, ruined Scottish castle.

Fourth, we believe Claire’s reaction to being thrust back into time and what initially happens to her there because, as I wrote, we already have a sense of what type of person Claire is, and we have become connected to her through the first half-hour.

Fifth, the Scots whom Claire meets speak Scottish as well as English; a nice bit of reality.

And, finally, that ancient, ruined castle pops up again. Only it’s not ruined, it’s not ancient, and its flags are flying over the turrets; a nice bit of foreshadowing by Mr. Moore…and, I’m presuming, Ms. Gabaldon, since I haven’t read the book.

But I will.

I just ordered in on Amazon.

Now I just have to decide if I want to read it before the next episode of Outlander airs this Saturday night.


The Point Radio: OUTLANDER Is Coming – Soon!

For OUTLANDER fans, the wait is almost over. The mega big book series hits the Starz Network in just a couple of weeks (with a sneak preview on August 2nd). Producer Ronald Moore and author Diana Gabaldon talk about the road from book to camera. Plus actor Jay Hernandez, from the Fox summer hit GANG RELATED, talks about making good choices in acting roles and Marvel revives Tony Stark’s ego.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.