WHY THIS BLOG?

I AM PARCA'S CHOSEN:
Parca is the Roman Goddess of Childbirth and Destiny and after you get to know me, you will see why I believe she has, without doubt, made me her Poster Child. I deal with the odd serious issue but for the most part, my posts are just some cheeky fun, reviews of favorite shows, and true stories that will make you laugh out loud (or run screaming...I don't know you well enough to predict your behavior). You'll find satire with the odd parody tossed in....and most definitely a generous helping of hyperbole, with a dollop of facetiousness.

I am Canadian so expect a bit of politeness too. Sorry.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

OUTLANDER, RED HERRINGS & OCCAM'S RAZOR: FRANK RANDALL 'SAINT OR SINNER'?




"I am unable," yonder beggar cries, 
"To stand or move!" If he say true, he lies.
~John Donne (1572-1631)

Red Herrings.

Not since Professor Severus Snape, have skillfully placed Red Herrings lead a fandom to hate and revile a character as much a Frank Randall.
  
If you recall, Snape looked like your average 'bad guy'. A man bereft of heart and soul, a selfish, cold bastard who was wished a death by piranha in a salt bath. But then he was proven, in the end, to be the Ultimate Tragic Hero and he was afforded an immortal place in the hearts of mankind and The Seat of Honor at the table of novel history’s Most Misunderstood.


Another academic professional who oozes a near-the-surface sexual tension within a barely hidden Bad Boy You Don’t Wanna Fuck With persona, is Outlander’s Professor Frank Randall, historian, husband and Fedora Sex God, and he may well be earning a seat next to Snape.


As administrator of the largest Outlander book and Starz TV show fan club on Face Book (OUTLANDER SERIES; present membership 57,500+) I see it all…every imaginable opinion, criticism, rage, praise, you name it, I’ve read it. And the current, and let's face it usual opinion is that Frank is a real shit.


Or worse.


Most fans agree that the show portrays him in a kinder light that the books. But for the sake of clarity, I will refer to the book for the most part as it is the original, and his True Self will be revealed there and remain there for eternity. I may, however, slip into bits of the show now and then…just a heads-up.


So, Frank is written almost as a footnote in the books in that he is not vetted completely, or even a little really, and we don’t know much about his life, his war years (VERY important) and what makes Frank 'Frank'. He is never in the spotlight very long or very clearly. We see him through Claire’s eyes and we never see the story from Frank's perspective. Yet. I am hopeful (and I am also selling my jewelry, house, stocks, gold teeth and 3 of my 5 children to raise bribery money to entice Diana to write a Book of Frank).


The story is given to us in both 1st and 3rd person narratives but what we know about Frank is almost a blank page with a few scribbles. In crayon.


The scribbles that stand out for most people don’t paint a very nice picture, although they hint of a deeper color for those not color blind. For examples, lets look at a few 'facts' that fans bring up all the time which they point to as proof that he’s a massive jerk and/or a despicable cheating arsehole. I will rebut in bold font beneath them: (*yes, I enjoy debating all by myself. So much quieter and I always win.)


1) The biggie: Frank cheated on Claire a) during the war and b) after the war when they got back together c) when Claire calls him out for his affairs he says “I thought I was being discreet” d) Claire found a ‘love note’ to Frank from one of his students in his wallet. *RESPONSE: a + b combined) There is simply no proof. None. In fact, I will leave it to Diana to answer this one:
(From Diana Gabaldon's Compuserve Writer's forum)

Q: Did he admit to having a mistress, or affairs?

A. No.
Consider...what if he was still working for British Intelligence, and his absences were connected with that? Wouldn't the suspicion of his having affairs (not necessarily suspicion from Claire, but from whoever might be watching) be an excellent cover?
As for women calling Claire--almost any good-looking college professor has had the problem of female students falling in lust with him, and occasionally that leads to very overt behavior on the part of said students. Sometimes the feelings are reciprocated, but definitely not always.
Nope. Y'all just don't know enough to say for _sure_ what Frank was doing.
-Diana
She has a LOT more to say on this subject and answered a Frank-hater with this lengthy but excellent explanation of Frank and his 'affairs': *scroll down and past this if you don't want to read the whole thing but want to finish my blogging...
(once again, this is part of a post from Diana's Compuserve forum: for a full link to her forum answer, click here) 


Nov. 13, 2005 
“As to L’Affaire Frank…<g>
Geez Louise. You guys. <rolling eye>

Of course Frank isn’t “a pathetic slimeball.” Where do they come up
with these ideas? (My personal guess would be that the people holding
this particular opinion are possibly not that fond of their own SO,
and would trade him in for Jamie in a heartbeat. Ergo, they project
things onto Frank. But that’s only a guess.)

Look. In the books, we see Claire and Frank’s relationship only from
Claire’s point of view. Which is understandably a trifle biased,
following her return through the stones.

What we see prior to her disappearance is an awkward but affectionate
relationship between two people who are married, but who are
effectively strangers-they’ve barely seen each other in six years, and
have been back together for only a few days. They’re feeling each
other out, trying to reestablish the connection they once had, and
struggling to overcome the fact that they are now quite different
people than who they once were.

Frank asks her diffidently at one point whether she had ever been
tempted to stray during the war-assuring her that he would understand
if she had. Claire-and the reader-think that his reason for doing this
may well be that he had strayed, and would feel better about
confessing his own transgression if she had suffered similar temptations.

Well, maybe he did, and maybe he didn’t. It’s actually not an abnormal
question to ask a mate you haven’t seen in six years, and one whom you
know has been working closely with hundreds of wounded (and thus
possibly emotionally appealing) men, in conditions that you know are
stressful, dangerous, and highly conducive to passionate, if
short-lived, physical attractions.

He’s trying to ask it tactfully, but-they’re strangers. She takes
offense, and he hastily drops the question. He doesn’t bring it up
again, in the time they’re together-which is fairly short. So you have
to draw your own conclusion there:

1) he hasn’t been having affairs himself, but can’t help a certain
male feeling of curiosity/jealousy about what Claire might have been
doing,

2) perhaps he had a brief fling, which he regrets, and wants to
confess this to Claire, so their marriage can resume without his
feeling constant guilt, or

3) he’s been screwing every woman who crossed his path, but would like
to find out that Claire’s had her own affairs, so he can throw it back
at her in case she ever finds out.

OK. There is NO evidence favoring any one of these three alternatives.
None. Any one of them is as likely as another. The reader’s
conclusions depend on the reader-and each reader brings his or her own
experiences and background to the act of reading.

Now, Claire disappears. No warning, no trace, no nothing. What do you
reckon happened, when she didn’t come back? A police search, no
leads-and probably deep suspicion of the husband, who is the Most
Likely Suspect. So Frank’s left panicked, then grief-stricken, while
probably being interrogated and threatened about his wife’s
disappearance. But this must obviously have all died down in the next
three years, and Frank begins to rebuild his life.

Does the rebuilding involve any kind of relationship with women, or a
woman? Quite possibly; he’s a handsome, personable man, with friends
who would think it their duty to introduce him to women.

BUT.
Claire comes back. Filthy, malnourished, and hysterical, if not
outright demented. And, of course, pregnant. She tells him an
unbelievable story, presumably the product of a disordered mind, the
result of whatever horrible abduction/captivity/rape has resulted in
her present condition. She tells him to leave her.

Does he leave her? No. Does he produce another woman and explain that
actually, dear, while you were gone, Mary and I. No. He replies
shortly that no one but a cad would leave a woman in her condition.

So, OK. HE doesn’t think he’s a cad. Why on earth should anybody else?
He does stay with Claire, not only while she’s recovering, but
thereafter. There’s no hint that he’s pursuing a love affair started
while she was gone; in fact, he takes her to Boston, so that no hint
of scandal will attend Bree’s birth. If he did have some relationship
while she was gone, plainly he’s broken it off (and perhaps the
removal to Boston is to make such a break more definite-we don’t know,
because we don’t know what he was doing during those three years).

All right. From this point on, Claire’s view of Frank is definitely
suspect, because her own state of mind makes it impossible for her to
connect fully with him, save for brief interludes of tenderness, when
they’re able to reach one another physically (like the night he makes
love to her on the floor of the nursery). Yes, their relationship is
strained-we know that, because we see it. But the relationship of any
new parents is strained (believe me on this <g>), even if the two
parties aren’t on difficult terms to start with. And these two parties
definitely are.

Claire thinks he may be having affairs, but she doesn’t ever have
evidence of it. Either the guy is very dang good at hiding this stuff
(and unfaithful spouses almost always give themselves away)-or he
isn’t having affairs. He may well be seeking companionship, sympathy,
and ego-reinforcement from other women (he ain’t gettin’ a lot of
those things at home-but note that he isn’t leaving, either), but it’s
at least possible that he isn’t crossing the line into actual physical
infidelity. Note that Claire says that now and then she forces her
sexual attentions on him, trying to prove that he’s been with someone
else (and thus unable to respond to her)-but that every time, he does
respond to her, even if with mutual rage.

On the other hand, Frank knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that
Claire’s been unfaithful to him. At first, he most likely thinks she’s
been raped, but she goes on insisting on her absurd story. If it’s
true in any way-then she did it on purpose. This can’t do his feelings
any good. But he stays, because only a cad would abandon a pregnant
woman with no resources-and he isn’t a cad.

See, all these red-eyed readers are identifying with Claire (for the
excellent reason that she’s telling the story)-but they’d do better to
watch Frank. He clearly has a code of honor, and by God, he’s sticking
to it, dearly though it may cost him. Would a man with this kind of
code then proceed to have promiscuous affairs?

Maybe-but maybe not. His own image of himself as an honorable man is
probably as valuable to him as Claire is, at this point; if he won’t
abandon her, he won’t abandon that image, either."


So there ya go. If you still think Frank had affairs and is a bad guy, and won't even believe the author of the story, then you be need'n a Snuggie darlin':

c) Frank is a MI6 Foreign Intelligence Operative. A bloody 007 secret agent! So when Claire confronted Frank and said she had had 6 of his lovers phone to talk to him, he turned white and was obviously upset at the news. He looked ‘alarmed’ but turned flippant. I think he was shocked that people were phoning and asking about him in any manner. His true identity and whereabouts might be something he wanted kept hidden, for his own safety but even MORE SO for Claire's and Bree's. His flippancy was bitter sarcasm, not a glib confession. He wears a mask and he let it slip for a moment. One of the biggest red herrings in the story line.

"But 6 separate women phoning Claire!" you say? Okay...my theory explains some, but  Diana has an explanation, without giving any potential secrets away, that you will find most enlightening:

(again, by Diana from Compuserve)
He's a Roman Catholic, evidently fairly observant.  He's an honorable man (_vide_ assorted evidence attested to elsewhere).  He did and does love his wife.   However, he's also understandably tortured, owing to her patently not loving him, or no longer loving him in the way to which he was accustomed.   He's an attractive man, who works in an academic setting, rife with female secretaries, nubile young graduate assistants, female professors, etc.   OK. 
Sooooo, is it possible that he attracts the attention of some of these females?  Yes.  Is it possible that he enjoys the company of one or another, whether out of simple friendship, and/or finding it soothing to his bruised ego?  Yes.   Might the woman involved develop hopes of the friendship moving to a deeper level?   Seems possible.   BUT, there's that nasty little hitch about the honorable man/Roman Catholic thing--because IF Frank (being an HM/RC) found himself suddenly confronted with a young lady who thought she could make him happy and begged him to leave his wife, what would he be likely to do?   (I said you're _excused_, Emily...)

    Would he promptly assure her that he'd leave his wife (having no intention of doing so) and take her to bed?  Or would he more likely apologize for leading her to believe that there was more to their friendship than he had intended there to be, noting that he _is_ married, and (being a Roman Catholic) doesn't believe in divorce?

    If the latter...would the woman in the case meekly say, "Oh, all right, I misunderstood.  See you for lunch next week, then"?   Just as likely that she'd get mad, slap his face, and stomp off, but those are the risks you take when you attempt friendship with a member of the opposite sex.  However...if the woman was determined not to take no for an answer, what might be her next move?

     Well, Frank's not budging--he's already said he doesn't believe in divorce.   But he couldn't stop his wife leaving _him_, now, could he?   And what does the Other Woman have to lose, by going round and giving Claire an earful, in hopes that she'll believe the OW's story and decamp, thus leaving a broken-hearted-but-available Frank to be scooped up?

    See?  If you don't know the whole story from everyone's point of view...you don't know. - Diana
THANK YOU Diana.

and finally 

d) All because Frank had a love note from an admirer in his wallet doesn't mean he knew it was there. Maybe it was JUST put in the day Claire found it. Perhaps Frank hadn't even known of its existence. (I have shit in my purse I KNOW I never put in there; it seems my whole family thinks it's a junk drawer). A female admirer might have slipped it in hoping to get his attention. Or, looking at it under a more James Bondy kind of light, it could be an important code hidden in an innocent note, one any thief/spy would toss away as frivolous.

2) Frank is more interested in his books than Claire. In their bedroom, he sits on the bed and opens a book and she is the one to initiate sex. *RESPONSE: The man is a gentleman! What do you want? Ass grabs, ripped buttons and wild jungle sex before she even kicks off her shoes? Yes, that can be fun too but the 'first time together' after 6 years calls for a little gentleness and low-pressure tactics, don't you think? I do...Frank did...and it worked. *in the show it REALLY worked! Claire couldn't get enough of him and even 'forgot' to wear her panties church! Those confessionals are roomier than they look.. (okay, that last part isn't true, but damn fun to imagine!)


3) When she scalds herself, he is not particular kind and is rather unsympathetic and even rather emotionless. *RESPONSE: Again, Frank was a British Intelligence Agent. A secret agent. Who knows what he saw and did in the frenzied heat of war? He was responsible for the lives of many people and as he said once, many that he sent out, never returned. I believe he was traumatized during the war and his backstory will reveal he suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The symptoms include an inability to experience positive emotions, or react with proper emotional responses; difficulty maintaining close relationships, feeling emotionally numb; irritability; angry outbursts or aggressive behavior.

Sound familiar?

I think he is an Unknown War Hero and can hardly wait to read it in black and white. (I am practical though and have a case of very expensive wine ready to drown my sorrows in if he isn't).



4) He spends too much time on their ‘second honeymoon’ record searching and paper chasing with Rev Wakefield in the library and study etc…and ignores Claire. *RESPONSE: See #3. PLUS, we must remember that a) Frank has a hunger to learn about his ancestry that may be a necessary plot point in future books and b) if Frank didn't research so much and talk to Claire about his research so often, there wouldn't even BE a goddamn story! Claire would have been killed with Jamie and Dougal etc...near Cock Rock (am I remembering that name right? yeesh!) at the ambush site she told them about etc... as well as a million other historic facts she knew. (*also, one can only madly screw their brains out so many times when the flesh finally needs to rest and heal. That is why God invented football).


5) He wants to take Bree away from Claire and move. *RESPONSE: He raised her, taught her how to shoot and ride and prepared her for a life that might take her through the Stones. Claire spend her life in medical books and Frank was the main caregiver, he thought Bree was safer with him, as any wonderful father would.


6) In the book, Frank never tells Claire he believes her Time Travel story and he seems to plant the fake gravestone to cause pain and suffering. *RESPONSE: Can we all say 'plot device'? If not for that gravestone, Claire would have never seen she was wrong about Jamie's death, she would have never gone back to him and we would have never had any further books to drool over. 

There a lot more that get the odd mention, but I am old, my memory sucks and my casserole is burning. So let’s move on.



‘Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem’: which means 'Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily'.


That is Occam's Razor. A principle that has, since the 14th century, been shaved and whittled down to mean, for some: "The simplest explanation for something is probably better than the more complex explanation."...which is wrong. That is not the original intent of the belief. Nevertheless…it is a flawed opinion, for one basic reason: fiction, at its very heart, is a road purposefully littered with improbability and complications, for it is our pleasure in trying to navigate that road and finding the way to the end, guessing/hoping, loving/hating, believing/disbelieving, all of this…that gives us the pleasure of reading it. IMHO


In other words, if it were simple and logical, what the hell kind of fun is that? 

This came up as one member of our group wrote that she didn't think Frank was faithful, despite the numerous explanations and theories around, because 'all the theories are so complicated. When there are too many complicated answers, the simplest is the best.'
 
I disagreed.



The more skilled the writer, the more she/he can have us ‘know’ one thing, and have that knowledge turn upside down to surprise us, shock us, vindicate us and even anger us. Red herrings, assumptions, innuendo, half-truths and different POV (points of view) with varied narrative tools (1st and 3rd person) all can be combined to weave a complicated web of necessary deceit. And we see it the way we want to see it.


I think Shakespeare called it when he said ‘Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.'


And I think my darling Frank is a Saint. I just wish that my thinking made it so.



So, have I proven that Frank has earned his place next to Snape? No. Not at all. And that is the beauty of Diana Gabaldon. Even after all my blustering, I could be dead wrong and having Red Herring for supper. 

Gaaak!

Damn you woman!!  
*shakes fist in the air in the general direction of Scottsdale, Arizona*