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Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con, I enjoyed the privilege of spending three hours in the presence of BearMcCreary, the wildly creative Outlander music-maker!
It all started in the press room. Promptly at 3pm, Bear strode through the door exuding star-power personality and boundless energy! For the next hour, he patiently walked the press line answering every question with enthusiasm and excitement. Handsome and lithe, his commanding presence leaves little doubt this is the man who has produced such a prolific body of musical work!
Soon, my turn to ask questions… Bear responded with the same focus and attention afforded each press member in the room. Enjoy our brief exchange!
Daughter, Sonatine, costumed with sword in hand, posed with papa in the press line.
Bear then joined us for a round table discussion. Press members were allowed one question per round. The following recording contains all Q&A wherein Bear offers thoughtful, candid and pithy resposes. Hope you watch in its entirety!
During the round table discussion, I commented on Sonatine’s Quest, an original vocalization by Sonatine Yarborough McCreary and scored by her father. Here, Sonatine sings her feelings about a favorite storybook. Hope you listen to this wonderful creation by his wee lass (clearly, this apple fell close to the tree!).
And, she is only four years old!
After the round table, we scrambled to a different building for Bear’s panel presentation, The Music of Monsters, open to all attendees.He informed the packed session that he became enthralled with sci-fi films and monsters at age 5, after seeing Godzilla footage in Tim Burton’s 1985 film, PeeWee Herman’s Great Adventure!
Bear then posited this insightful premise: music is critical to film because it gives monsters a voice!
He then showed several outstanding examples of iconic music from sci-fi films to support this premise. At the end of each clip, he encouraged audience participation by inviting attendees to call out feelings the music evoked. Responses were numerous, robust and exciting as a vast range of emotions were called out from the floor!
For example, he showed an iconic image from the 1951 film classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still, reminding us of the ominous feelings this music awakens.
Bear also showed a clip featuring his musical score for 2016,“10 Cloverfield Lane.” Bear’s intense and haunting music for this psychological thriller by producer J.J. Abrams establishes mood and scale, as seen in the closing moments of the film.
Bear shared footage from the 2019film, Child’s Play, scored entirely with toy instruments. He didn’t expect this approach to be welcomed by the director, but it was! He showed this bit of the creepy “Buddi Song,” written by Bear and sung in a child-like voice by actor, Mark Hamill.
Although Bear didn’t perform the music live for us, in the following splendid video, he sings the theme from Child’s Play in a kiddie’s voice while playing multiple toy instruments: watch for bells, ukuleles, harmonicas, pianos, accordion, and several toys I can’t even name! His music gradually builds from innocent childish notes to a thoroughly menacing finale. Hear the theme song in its entirety here: https://youtu.be/YNjCEimjX_4
Bear’s last clip was from 2019’s, Godzilla: King of the Monsters. He shared his first version of Godzilla’s theme and, no surprise, it was excellent! Then, he played the final spine-thrilling, spine-chilling theme, building on music from an earlier Godzilla film, which proved mighty, powerful and awesome! This underscored how critical it is to continue with music until it is right; the final thunderous score is magnificent!
Listen to Godzilla’s theme here:
And, this video is a must see! It shows the collaboration of Bear, his orchestra, Tibetan monks and Japanese Taiko drummers producing music for Godzilla: KOTM:
The session concluded with a robust Q and A. Even after three hours of non-stop shop talk, Bear was as gracious and enthused as at the outset. We were more than lucky he attended 2019 SDCC!
My apologies this post took so many days to go live. Today, April 18th, is tax day in the states; otherwise, the taxman cometh, so I had to set aside my blog for the IRS!
This year, my Tartan Affair week began under the sunny blue skies of LA where I attended the Writer’s Guild Theater’s, “A Tribute to Outlander” on March 31. Many fans stood in line for hours in order to secure good seats. Gah, concrete is rough on the metatarsals!
The WGT panel included (from L to R – next two images): Tobias, Sam, Caitriona, Matt Roberts, Toni Graphia, Anne Kenny, Maril Davis, Ron D. Moore, and the panel moderator, Anne Thompson. Sadly, we wished Ira Steven Behr could have been there.
What followed was a riveting hour of fascinating exchanges, mostly between the writers/producers. We learned many things about them including that writers often advocate for their fav character (e.g. Matt for Geillis).
The writer’s war room boasts a variety of whiskies, presumably as calming anodynes. The group starts with one of Diana’s books broken into segments that are posted on a story board. Together they re-build a story segment that is compatible with the visual medium. Surprise! They often disagree!
We learned that Dragonfly in Amber for S.2 was more challenging to adapt than Outlander for S.1. Cait expressed delighted that the series gives the actors a wonderful range of acting opportunities to enjoy. Sam commented that it is almost as if he learns a new skill for each episode, and Ron noted that because the story goes in so many different directions, there is no cliché term to describe Outlander!
We heard a very charming Tobias tale about when he was bit by the acting bug…as a young lad, he attended a theatrical production of Wind in the Willows. Intermission found him in the bathroom where Badger was standing at a urinal (loved the way Tobias pronounced this word, ur-y-nal). This was a lightbulb-moment as he realized that Badger was a human actor and this set him on his path to stardom!
We learned that a production featuring magic by Merlin was the impetus for Sam to pursue an acting career and Cait was influenced by a school play in which she donned her Father’s coat and a pillow as a costume.
This event did not include a meet and greet for the admiring fans, but we did enjoy hearing from the writers about how the whole production thing works. Last but not least, we learned that Anne thinks Jamie is a bit of a caveman! what? No way, Anne! <G>
Headed back to the Pacific Northwest for one day and then off to NY Tartan Week! Let’s dissect Tartan Week, one day at a time!
Day 1 (Sunday, April 3)
Arrived in NYC. Met my roommate, and then dinner with pals at St. Andrew’s pub on W. 46th Street where I tentatively had my first haggis hookup! I felt a little Laoghaire…ooops, I mean leery, but it was surprisingly tasty! I kid you not!
Photo by JoKc
Day 2 (Monday, April 4)
Evening and we headed to the LeFrak IMAX Theater at the American Museum of Natural History for the Outlander S.2 Premier! We were pummeled by a cold rain but were quickly ushered inside. Fans without tickets waited patiently in the elements but were eventually admitted. So happy for them!
Inside the theater, Starz interviewed many fans. Turns out the interviewer reads Outlander Anatomy blog, bless her heart and its ventricles…but I did not catch her name. ?
Photo by JoKc
The evening portended well because I found myself seated next to the Outlander Herbalist! Then, we were quickly greeted with the “guess whose coming to dinner” image on the big screen!
Entertainment followed with a beautiful rendition of The Skye Boat Song, Season 2 version, performed by BearMcCreary on accordion, wife Raya Yarbrough on vocals, a bodhran and violin (sorry, don’t know the names of the last two artists).
The Premiere began with Claire on Craigh na dun (no photography allowed). By now, you all have seen ep 201 and like me, probably found yourself weeping in tune with Claire. She sure does emote a weepy, wobbly chin worthy of her grief! The first half of the episode contains some darned intense material and I couldn’t help drawing parallels between Frank and BJR. Utter silence from the audience such that you could have heard a pin drop until Jamie appeared grasping Claire’s fingers and then the entire theater erupted in shouts of joy and wild applause! Everyone I spoke with loved the adaptation of the episode…including me!
Day 3 (Tuesday, April 5)
As soon as stores opened, I promptly went for a shop in the garment district – beads and ribbons required. When what to my wondering eyes should appear but Outlander bus speeding down 7th Avenue! I ran but no one batted an eye as a grey-haired gal in snappy, red boots gave chase – it is NYC after all!
Then, three blocks later, Eureka! There it was, Outlander bus, taking a brunch break at curbside! Much more effective than a sandwich board!
We were blessed with an excellent panel discussion on teamwork, collaborations, production, costume design, set creation, and music development. Beautiful slides flashed on the screen as Tobias, Cait, Sam, Ron, Terry, Maril, Jon Gary Steele, (Production Design) and Bear added commentary. The lively discussion flowed so easily and naturally between the panelists that it felt as if we were watching a large, diverse and friendly family at work: Outlander family, that is. Thrilling! Here is a link to the panel discussion and well worth watching!
Photo by Television Academy
Outside the Skirball Center, Tobias, Caitriona and Sam patiently gave autographs and selfies to avid fans. I am not very tall, so I had to stretch to get my eyeballs in this photo!
Day 4 (Wednesday, April 6)
My first ever trip to see Lady Liberty; she had me at “hello”! Tears flowed over this one. I canna help but feel sad for her puir right arm… her deltoid muscle must be exhausted after years of holding up that weighty torch!
After waiting for several hours to be admitted to the theater (yes, it has one), we gave a rousing fan welcome to Maril, Cait, Sam and Tobias. A few narrator questions and then the audience got its chance.
I was chosen and promptly forgot my question. Hee, hee, I wonder why!
Photo by Joanne
Photo by Rachel
My question to the stars was: had they ever been surprised by a scene that ended up on the editing room floor (apparently, they don’t see scenes until edited), and if yes, which one surprised them the most? Two great answers. Cait wished a S.1 scene had been retained wherein Frank talked about how WW II had shaped him. Maril added that a scene with Fergus has been omitted from S.2, but didn’t elaborate. Thinking caps on: which scene do you think she had in mind? The next video captures some of that Q&A.
Video by Joanne
Turning girlie for a just a moment, everyone loved Cait’s classy black pumps with the wavy straps (and those awesome pins)! Oh là là là là!
After a few more audience questions, the quartet closed with a group-selfie! Quick autographs and more photo ops outside and then they were whisked away in a sleek SUV!
Day 5 (Thursday, April 7)
Rain again! Headed for Saks Fifth Avenue in the early afternoon for Outlander Season 2 window unveiling and costume display! Four windows featuring Terry Dresbach’s costuming genius were up for all of Tartan Week. Every costume was splendid with inventive details, superb workmanship, and stunning design!
A fine example is Claire’s Dior-inspired Bar Suit! Pssst: the following videos have black-outs near the bottom of each costume as the image is briefly lost…..this is where window signs video-bomb the images. You can also hear street noise. So sorry about this, but I’m a novice. Hand me a scalpel and I’m in my element. <G>
Details of the beautiful, curved Bar Suit sleeve! The oyster-shell color is both sophisticated and spectacular! Terry just posted a wonderful article about her inspiration and process; I highly recommend reading: Dior!
Next, let’s follow a video of Claire’s yellow-gloved garden number!
The next image shows a close-up of the embroidered skirt. A few images down is a video of Terry talking about this amazing fabric!
Photo courtesy of JoKc
Next is a video of Jamie’s court duds from trapezius to toes! Verra manly indeed!
This is a closeup of Jamie’s embroidered waistcoat and buttons. Love the spectacular but subtle color scheme!
But, today, the fifth and final window was unveiled to reveal THE RED DRESS!
The red-dress bodice features a flattering under-the-bosom criss-cross, a feature that is cleverly echoed in sleeve details! Add the drop-waist piping and itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie pleats and, voila, scarlet perfection! A thin band of wispy stuff follows the neckline….very tasteful, very feminine, very alluring!
Mayhap Claire’s gold-colored fan will provide a modicum of modesty to that plunging neckline… a perfect 10!
Claire’s beautiful pumps complete the incomparable ensemble. Featuring five stone encrusted buckles and four straps (skirt covers the top strap), the shoe design again echoes the below-bosom banding of this absolutely breath-taking gown. Canna wait to see Jamie’s face as he spies Claire laced up in this daring dress. OK, I saw his face in ep 202 and was so happy because it appropriately registered shock and awe!
I asked the charming Mark Briggs, Executive Vice President of Saks Fifth Avenue, if partnering with future Outlander costume events lay on the horizon. He answered that it is a distinct possibility as Saks is always seeking the “finest in fashion.” I think Saks got it in spades with Terry’s designs and this flawless window display! What say you?
Next, I asked Ron D. Moore if he would kindly comment on Outlander mars and scars. He offered an erudite explanation of how his team creates Jamie’s back scar prosthesis and other more complicated injuries. He also mentioned an injury from S.2 wherein Claire volunteers at L’Hôpital des Anges and is confronted with a patient who has a significant wound to treat! Yay, another OutlanderOwie!
Then Cait and Sam made their way down the line looking happy, charming, and drop-dead gorgeous (both of them)! Thud!
My last question was for Terry. I asked her how the anatomy of the human body informs her costume design, using a specific element of the Bar Suit as an example. She said anatomy most certainly does play a role; she even has a term for this relationship. I hope to explore this topic with Terry at a future date.
In case you haven’t heard, Team Terry made 10,000 garments for S.2! Yes, her team stitched them all because there isn’t a clothing rack of ready-made 18th century costumes available for purchase. They also created those fab 18th century shoes (check out the little puff balls on Claire’s shoes in the bar suit video above)! Like others, I am thinking there are many hard-earned and well-deserved awards in store for Terry!
Erin Conrad of Three If By Space asked Terry to comment on the wonderful fabric for the yellow-glove garden gown. Terry shared an entertaining story about going to the basement of her fav SanFran fabric store where she found the embroidered fabric for the gown (shown in the window). Listen to her delightful experience.
Day 6 (Friday, April 8)
More shopping in the amazing garment district. Found a store that carried only zippers; every size, shape, color, pull, teeth, material, and length one can imagine. Another specialized in ribbons, others in beads, another in leathers, another in threads. Whew, the eye candy was almost (almost) overwhelming!
Night time found me and friends hoofing it to the Beer Authority for beverages and a “street fair” which wasn’t on a street at all; it was actually held on the pub’s 3rd floor. Belhaven Brewery, famous for Scottish beers and ales, was a sponsor of this event as well as all of Tartan Week. Fans got a photo op with Davie Stewart, Sam’s driver!
Thank you Davie! He was a real sweetheart as, oh, several bazillion fans all wanted him to pose for selfies!
The evening was still young so friends and I hiked to Grand Central Station to await the S shuttle between GCS and Times Square: four subway cars decorated outside and in with Outlander themes. Wooie, here it comes!
We rode the shuttle back and forth a few times, glorying in the beautifully applied portraits and decorations. Even the doors were embellished!
Coach seats were decorated to look like tufted lounge seats.
Jamie’s proud and fierce portrait greeted us as we entered the first car…. Actually, it appeared in all four cars!
Elegant and serene, Claire’s portrait also appeared in all four cars!
Even Murtagh sends his dour regards. Hi Murty!
Also present were portraits of Louise de Rohan, Comte St. Germain, Mary, Charles Stewart, and King Louis. The conductor took a few moments to talk with us about the shuttle and even happily posed for our excited cameras. Outlander out-landered itself with this exhibit. Sooo impressive!
Bellies full, we removed ourselves into cold wind and freezing rain, where Charlie and Lauri Fraser assembled the Fraser banner! They were our fearless, gracious welcoming hosts who generously adopted us step-kids for the day!
We gathered outside the Algonquin Hotel while awaiting the start of the parade. We were all totally pumped despite the challenging weather. Although we numbered only a dozen or so, we were the largest group ever to march with Charlie and Lauri (in the middle) Fraser!
Photo by JoKc
The march was fantastic. Fans and well-wishers lined ten city blocks for the march up Avenue of the Americas. At the end, as we passed the Outlander Bus, Charlie instructed us to shout in unison: “Je suis prest!” That garnered us a wave and grin from Grand Marshall, Sam-the-Man!
After the parade, we stood trembling (from cold and excitement) behind the buses for another 45 minutes where we were burrrr-to-the-bone! Then, Sam made his way to a waiting SUV and we began to chant (totally hoarse) “Clan Fraser” – he turned and strode over to us! He graciously posed for photos and videos with us cray cray fans and generously doled out hugs and cheek kisses. (He really is a big lad, making a couple of us look like wee folk).
This experience recalls a quote from Outlander book:
Suddenly the inn door opened, and the sun came out, in the person of James. If I was a radiant bride, the groom was positively resplendent. My mouth fell open and stayed that way.
Haha, spot on, Claire!
Photo NY Post
We hit the after parade party at Papillon Bistro and Bar on E. 54th Street where it was standing room only! Here thirty or so vigorous Vikings from the Shetland Islands treated us to an impromptu and hearty serenade-on-the-stairs! These lads make their own armor on islands that lie closer to the North pole than any other part of the British Isles. See the wee Viking in-the-making (center front)? He wore his own armor and marched in the rain. Hearty genes!
From Papillion, to a quick deli sammy, and then to the DGA (Director’s Guild of America) Theater on W. 57th St. for another screening of episode 201. Much to my surprise, I was interviewed by Paul English for Scotland Now. He was very interested in how an academic subject such as human anatomy could mesh with the Outlander books and TV series (very easily, actually!). Paul is a very skilled interviewer so we enjoyed a lively discussion!
Photo by JoKc
The DGA screening was preceded by entertainment in the form of the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band from Ontario, Canada (see video below). We were also charmed by singer, Elias Alexander with his very bawdy guitar, and spectacular Highland dancing by Kayleigh Boardman, accompanied by piper, Andrew Forbes.
Day 8 (Sunday, April 10)
Tumbled into bed at midnight and then up for a 4:15 am shuttle to JFK. I was whipped (fortunately, BJR was nowhere to be seen)!
What a Tartan Week! I cannot express how impressed I was with the Outlander staff, producers, writers and stars during this week of marvelous magic. They managed interviews, clamoring fans, and numerous commitments with kindness, grace, and style! Thank you, Starz. Thank you Outlander productions! Thanks to a very generous NYC and it’s people. Thank you, Diana Gabaldon!
Here’s a parting memory of my fabulous 2016 Tartan Affair; don’t know how, but we made it into Sunday’s New York Post!
Photo by NY Post
A deeply grateful,
Note: If I have failed to give appropriate photo credits or identifications, please notify me and I will make the necessary corrections. Thanks to all!