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.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Traveling to Reno

My absence was due to an urge to travel. We needed to get away for a week. So we decided to drive down to Reno. The need to gamble was not great. As a matter of fact, I think I wagered a total of $10. And I came home with $30 in winnings. That’s how sharp I am. We’ve been to Reno many times and there are other attractions besides gambling. The first day we visited the Nevada Museum of Art. This is a relatively new building, about two years old now. It is several times larger than the old art museum. Over the years we’ve seen some very good exhibits there, Peter Hurd, Alfonse Mucha, Andy Warhol and others I’ve forgotten. The main attraction this time was a splendid exhibit of Maxfield Parrish. The gallery had plenty of space to display some very large pieces. There were triptychs taking up entire walls. Especially appealing was one of Old King Cole, his pipes, his bowl and his fiddlers three. Another was a huge painting portraying a medieval Italian festive occasion. Many lords and ladies in exquisite finery. Even the waiters wore matching garb. This took up a large portion of our first day in Nevada. A trip to the Meadowbrook Mall to window shop, and dropping into Barnes and Noble bookstore to see what books they might have different from the local one. After a two day drive through intermittent showers and squalls and downpours, it was an easy day for we two travelers. And ended splendidly with supper of cioppino at John Ascuega’s Nugget Casino in Sparks, Reno’s sister city, just a few miles away.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

It's Been a While

I've been gone for a while. Over the next few days I'll try to catch you up on what I've been up to. Just having returned home, today I worked all day on a volksmarch, a 10K walk. What with the Memorial Day weekend and the Folklife Festival at the Seattle Center, we did not have high hopes for great numbers of walkers. Also it was hot for Seattle, in the low 80s. But they came in dribs and drabs to a building on the Seattle Pacific University campus and by the time we closed the start point at 1 p.m., we had registered 262 walkers. Much better than we expected. So at 4 p.m., when the last walkers finally came in, we packed up all the paraphernalia, signs, checkpoint equipment, brought in all the signage, ribbons, arrows and loaded them into various cars. Then ten of us drove down the street to a nice pub and had a cold beer on a hot day and then dinner and talk about what we had done well and what we had goofed on. We'll review the walk at length at our next meeting. Meanwhile we basked in the very consistent remarks from walkers about what a nice walk it was and how well marked it was. Our club has been at this for twenty years and we take pride in picking good routes with nice views and with marking them well so that nobody goes astray. All in all, a successful day.

Friday, May 13, 2005

What's in a Name?

I was thinking about the names of rock bands and even blues bands not long ago. It’s been a long time since these bands have been naming themselves. I think it must be difficult to come up with a name that’s new and original. A look at local listings provides just a few local bands: Horsehead, The Nevvers, Sledgeback, The Shackles, The Jailbirds, The Bloodbags and The Histrionics. Well, that gives you an idea. I’m sure your newspaper will give you names just as funny...or maybe not.

Blues bands seem to have names a little less inane. Nick Robinson and the Flip Flops, The Highway 99 All-Stars, The Midnight Movers, or simply the James Solberg Blues Band.

I was at a powwow at the University of Washington a few weeks ago. There were twenty-one drums. There were two host drums; one a northern drum and one a southern. The styles of drumming are slightly different and singing even more different. Each drum with its singers carries its own name. And those names are as different as the names of rock bands. Here’s a list of the twenty-one drums: Toppenish Creek, Spearfish, Big Bear, Red Bull, Young Bird, Small Town, Midnight Express, Wild Rose, 206, Pejuzda, Broken Rope, Windy Point, High Rock, Indian Nation, Dancing Eagle, Eagle Thunder, Sitting Horse, Medicine Wheel, Secret Coulee, Little Thunder, and Chute No. 8. Several names are places near where the singers live. 206, a local drum, is named after their telephone area code. Chute No. 8 must have a rodeo cowboy among their number. I was most attracted to Secret Coulee. Well, so goes some of the names on the Powwow Trail.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Rogue Male

I watched Rogue Male the other evening. This was the 1974 movie made for British television. It starred Peter O’Toole as the British nobleman and sportsman. He stalks Hitler and draws a bead on him but is caught before he shoots. It is never clear from the script nor from the book written by Geoffrey Household whether he is merely stalking to see whether he can get Hitler in his sights or if he really meant to shoot. After Sir Robert is caught he is severely beaten, fingernails pulled out and tossed over a cliff. When the Gestapo go to retrieve his body in the morning (an unfortunate accident, they will say) Sir Robert is gone. He makes his way to a port, then finds a ship to England. But he is not home safe. He continues to be followed and hounded. Finally he decides to go to ground in Dorset. He really goes underground, digging a hole like a fox or badger, but his presence is given away by a cat. The final confrontation with a National Socialist (Mosely’s Boys) sympathizer is quite good.

I probably read the novel and many other Household novels sometime in the fifties. He wrote very exciting thriller and spy novels. I think that I read everything that he wrote. I probably should revisit them again. The film was supposed to be digitally remastered. Well, I don’t know about that. Parts of it were pretty clean and others not so sharp. Still I enjoyed seeing the film once more. Alastair Sims plays O’Toole’s uncle in two scenes both of which take place in the steam baths. He appears to have connections to the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain originally and in the later scene, with Winston Churchill. He calls Sir Robert "Bobbity" and advises O’Toole to go see Neville or Winston, speaking familiarly of them. I had forgotten what a great voice he had. Another actor shows up surprisingly. We think of Harold Pinter as a playwright; The Birthday Party and The Boxer are a couple of his plays. He plays O’Toole’s solicitor, who happens to be Jewish and knows what Hitler’s dictatorship will bring to his people. If you like thrillers you might try this one on.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


I must be getting old. I wrote a few days back about friends visiting. I scoured my brain for interesting things to do while they were here. A visit to the locks where the water is raised and lowered to let boats of all sizes and even ships leave Lake Union and enter Puget Sound, visits to several major art museums in Seattle, a visit to the Museum of Flight to look at the Concorde or the Blackbird spy plane plus myriad other planes from WWI and WWII. What did they want to do? Go bookin’. I haven’t seriously hit the used bookstores in Seattle since retired in1982. That is not to say that I haven’t acquired any books since then. One look at my house would tell you that. But I used to take one Saturday a month and visit five or six book stores. I always came home with a load of books. If I still did that my house would collapse undner the load.

So we went bookin’. Now Gobe had a list and was quite conservative in his selections. Mike was another person altogether. It seemed like he came out of every store with four or five books. Me? I guess I was in between. A lot of mine were paperbacks of mysteries by Margery Allingham. I must have picked up ten or eleven of those. We must have hit eight or nine stores in three days. And Lord knows how many stores the guys hit in Portland on the way up and between there and Seattle. It was great fun but they surely did wear me out. And when they here they vowed to hit at least two more stores that had been closed on Monday when they drove up from Oregon.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Run for the Roses

This Saturday is the Kentucky Derby. It's the first of three horse races that make up the Triple Crown. I always get excited about this time of year. It's been a long time since one horse has won all three races. And I don't think it will happen this year. I was so sure that Smarty Jones would do it last year. And Fusaichi Pegasus a couple of years back. There will be twenty horses running and with that kind of crowd anything can happen. A horse can get trapped in that bunch and be unable to get free to run. There are some good horses and I guess I'll just sit back and watch, trying to not get too excited. But deep down I'll be rooting for Bellamy Road or Afleet Alex. I watched a special on the upcoming race the other day. I visited the track Churchill Downs about seven months ago, although their fall season was not running at the time. Seeing the show the other day I was struck once again by the fact that the track sits in the midst of a very old residential district. Looking over the shoulder of the presenters of the program I could see a two-storey house with a white picket fence. The house was easily a hundred years old.

By the way, I would not care to see the race in person. Having been there, seen the track, and knowing that thousands of people will attend, I can bet that persons attending won't see much of the race, practically none of the backstretch unless one is up in the stands (Got Big Bucks?). You're much better off to see the race on television. No doubt I'll have more to say after the race.