Frank Denton - The Rogue Raven

Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas

And a Merry Christmas to all. We do presents with the family on Christmas Eve so today was quiet. It rained pretty hard all day so we went to the movies. Saw Audrey Tautou in A Very Long Engagement. Audrey's fiancee is missing after World War I and she is determined to find out what happened to him. Beautifully shot, it shows the horror of trench warfare in that long ago time. Also some lovely scenes in the countryside and along the coast of Brittany. I recommend it highly.

I'll be away for about six days, so don't expect any blogs. Quiet time at the cabin with some male friends with whom I have been spending the time between Chirstmas and New Years for thirty-four years. Eat too much, nap, tell lies, and watch movies with the occasional argument (they call it discussion) about some piece of trivia, often movie trivia, but sometimes history, geography and other important stuff. Much fun.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Flaking Out at the Cabin

We spent a few days at our cabin near Mt. Rainier making sure it was clean and ready for a small horde, or maybe herd, which will congregate there after Christmas. We fight an interminable fight with mice. They do manage to get in no matter what we do. The fear is hanta virus which can kill. So armed with a bleach mixture in a sprayer and paper towels we wipe everything down, just in case.

Other than that we had several days of relaxation. I listened to some blues on my disc player and read almost half of The Home Run Horse: Inside America's Billion-Dollar
Race Horse Industry and the High Stakes Dreams That Fuel It
by Glenye Cain. I love thoroughbreds and racing. One of the highlights of our recent trip was attending the races at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky and visiting Churchhill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville. This is a well-written book that describes everything about the business, from buying a yearling at the sales to breeding and bringing new foals into the world. 3300 new foals every year of which 17% win less than $1000 and 9% never race at all. This book tells you how much money is involved. I could never have enough to own and support a claimer but I'm willing to lay down a dollar or two at the races at Emerald Downs near Seattle.

Meantime Anna was reading The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I had read it and recommended it to her. She doesn't often take my recommendations but she admitted that she could hardly put this aside to eat. It is a good one, indeed.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Winter Powwow Season

Winter is the time for social powwows in the urban Indian world. We've been to three in the last eight days. The social powwow is generally a one-session powwow starting with Grand Entry at seven in the evening and running until eleven. Last night's powwow at Chief Leschi School in Puyallup was an especially memorable one.

Chief Leschi was a Puyallup Indian who was hung for murder. The murder was not rightfully a murder. It was the death of a white during a battle between the white men and the tribe. A couple of weeks ago a panel of notable jurists listened to arguments at a retrial of Chief Leschi and after hearing arguments on both sides found the chief innocent. It doesn't sound like much. After all, the chief has been dead from hanging for a long time. But to the Indians it means a great deal. A woman member of the Puyallup tribe spoke very emotionally about the retrial and the finding of the judges. A small thing to redress a wrong.

My friend, John Jones, showed up. John is from Oklahoma and used to show up at many powwows in the northwest. He drummed and sang with a drum called Redstone. The the drum broke up. One member went off to the Univ. of Arizona to earn a doctor's degree. The lead singer went back to Oklahoma. And John disappeared. All this was probably five years ago. Last year in the spring I spotted him at a powwow. He said he was putting together new regalia and would be dancing again. Last evening he showed up with his new "Cherokee Tuxedo." His new regalia is splendid and it is so good to have someone dancing southern straight style in the northwest again. Most of our dancers either dance northern plains style or coastal style. There are only a handful who dance southern style and they don't show up at our powwows very often. So John is very welcome.

And someone brought a whole bin full of hand drums. Sonny Eaglespeaker just loves to sing with a hand drum. Of course the dance is most often a friendship dance, which is a round dance with a side step. So about fifteen singers took the center of the dance floor, each with a hand drum, and the round dance was done around them. I've seen larger round dances but this was a pretty good one. A lot of dancers came out of their seats to dance and Sonny kept them on the dance floor with song after song. He had a big smile on his face and anyone could tell how much he was enjoying himself.

Every third Saturday through March or April this social powwow will be held. I'm looking forward to each of them being as much fun as this one was. I'm also looking forward to a New Years powwow. That will welcome the new year in.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Legend of Earthsea

I spent a couple of evenings in front of the tube watching The Legend of Earthsea from the several novels by Ursula K. LeGuin. I must admit that it's been a thousand years (seems like) since I first read the books. So I don't remember many of the details; can't compare the television production with the novels. The young buck who played Ged or Sparrowhawk was no great shakes. But it was interesting to see Danny Glover in the role of wizard and Isabella Rosellini as the Reverend Mother of a sisterhood. The special effects were average. I met Ursula fairly early on. Along with Larry Paschelke, Anna and I visited her and her husband at their home in Portland. So I've followed her writing career and have read her books for a long time. I was pleased to see this story brought to the screen. I hope she was pleased with the results.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Scott Peterson

The sentencing of Scott Peterson has come down from the jury. They voted to give him death. Three spokespersons from the jury were interviewed shortly thereafter. The interviews were riveting. It was obvious that the long trial, and two deliberations took a lot our of the jurors. The three spokespersons were very verbal and their answers showed how seriously they had taken the trial and its aftermath. The decisions did not come lightly. I'm sure that Scott Peterson will find a new lawyer and will appeal. Then it will all begin again. I feel sorry for both of the families and especially feel for the jurors who will now try to pick up their lives. Not until today did they know each other's real names; they used nicknames throughout the trial and deliberations. You could see exhaustion on their faces. I hope they will be able to deal with the aftermath and suffer no consequences. But somehow I have my doubts. It will take a great deal of strength on the part of each one of them. Meanwhile Laci Peterson and the unborn Conner Peterson are dead. May they rest in peace.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Great Breads

I've had my nose in a book about baking for the last couple of hours. I've always loved to bake, to get myself covered in flour and have dough sticking to my fingers. The book I got from the library is Great Breads by Martha Rose Shulman. It has a ton of great recipes for great breads, American, British and others, including some Mediterranean and some eastern breads. And scones, so easy to make and so wonderfully tasty, especially when right out of the oven. My mouth waters to think of it. I have to take the book back to the library soon and I was set to copy a whole bunch of recipes. Instead I found a copy on ABE that was inexpensive so I ordered one for my own self. All I need now, during the busy holiday season, is to find some time to do some baking. Maybe an Irish tea bread first or a Llincolnshire plum bread. Oh, yeah!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Big Fish

We watched Big Fish the other night. I’m not sure what to make of it. It’s a strange tale of a man who never told his son the real story of his life. Running away with a giant, working with a circus, falling in love and vowing to marry a girl he has only seen once. Finding himself in a strange town, which dies and which he brings back to life. It was always a tale made up. Or was it? At the end of the movie Albert Finney, the father, has died and his funeral is being held. And all of the odd characters who were in those tales have come to be present. A very unusual film. It’s one I wouldn’t give high marks to but I’m glad I saw it. Jessica Lange plays the mother and Billy Crudupp is the son. Both parts were well played. Danny DeVito has a wonderful bit part as a circus ringmaster. And what about that giant? Where did they find him? I guess there's enough there to make the movie worth seeing.

Midnight at the Oasis

Midnight at the Oasis. And a brand new Dell computer. My old friend, Dan, who just happens to be my computer guru, came over this evening. We unpacked the new beast. He hooked it up and ran it through its bag of tricks. Now he has handed it over to me. And if I have any problems, they are going to have to wait until next Sunday. It’s like driving a car. I know how to do it but I don’t know how to fix it if anything goes wrong. Same with a computer. It seems to be working well. He was able to convert my e-mail addresses and my bookmarked websites to the new computer. So I am well pleased. I can now settle down with a good book and relax for a couple of hours. The current book is Steven Saylor’s The Judgment of Caesar. I’m only about forty pages into the novel but Saylor’s mysteries which take place in ancient Rome have always pleased me. In this one, however, Gordianus the Finder has taken his wife to Egypt. No doubt this one will please me also.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Radio Club and Christmas Trees

We attended the meeting of Seattle's Old Time Radio Club this afternoon. REPS (the Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound) has just gone through a bad patch. Officers have resigned, conditions were in a state of flux. All of this happened while we were away over the past two months. So I was curious to see who showed and who did not. It appears that a new slate of officers has been proposed, results of the election mid-month. So things look like they are settling down and the folks who were the problem have gone off to do their own thing, perhaps forming a new club. Personally I don't think the town is big enough for two clubs. We'll see.

On the way to the meeting we saw several Christmas trees atop cars as people began to take the season in earnest. They seem to be wrapped in some sort of plastic. My question is: were they wrapped before they hit the lots or after their purchase? I can't see someone buying a tree before they saw what sort of shape it was. As far as I know this is the first year I've seen these wrappings. Anna is talking about a small live tree this year. The truth may be revealed later.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Read Again Books

We were visiting friends up in Canada and much of the discussion was about books, movies and television shows. Somewhere during the conversation the subject of books that we feel compelled to re-read every so often. I know that I must read Stevenson's Treasure Island and Kipling's Kim every two or three years. Others don't beckon quite so often but the Conan tales of Robert E. Howard have been read several times and The Lord of the Rings is in that same category. The Fu Manchu novels of Sax Rohmer I've read at least twice and some three times. And Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore. That surely is a favorite only because I've walked all over Exmoor, where the book is set and I've been to Doone Valley, the evil home of the Doones and the farm where John Ridd lived and the church where he married Lorna. I've read it several times but I must admit that it's a long book. My friends mentioned their books that they must read again. Ashenden by Somerset Maugham surprised me. It's a book that I have always meant to read but never got around to. It's called the first spy novel but I'm not sure that Erskine Childers The Riddle of the Sands doesn't predate it. Another book mentioned was Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. Surely that's a favorite of many. If you have a book you read over and over why don't you let me know.