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, July 23, 2005

The Big Green Book

I was with a group of friends the other night at a bookstore called Third Place Books. It has tables for groups of people to meet and a pretty good café and coffee shop called The Honey Bear. Of course, our conversation covered many topics, but mostly books. One of my friends started to talk about the big green book. For a moment I was nonplussed and then the light bulb came on. He was talking about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. There has been a fair amount of talk about the new book on message boards, blogs and just plain e-mails. It seems you either like the Rowling books or you don't. I say it makes no difference. Obviously enough people like them to have made the author a very wealthy woman.

I’m here to confess that I have not read it yet. Why? Because I haven’t read the fifth book yet. So I’ll quit this blog right here and start Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix this very evening. You don’t need to wish me good reading. I know that I will enjoy the book.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Scots Wha' Ha'

I was listening to a recording the other day of a bagpipe band from Brittany, Bagad du MoulinVert (Pipes and Drums from Celtic Brittany, Musical Heritage Society, 515657H). They are a very good pipe band. The music was somewhat different from the music I used to play when I belonged to a Scottish pipe band. For a year or so I was pipe major. I was enjoying it immensely when the drum section stepped forward as a solo section sithout pipes. I was remembering back to the drum section we had in the Clan Gordon Pipe Band. They were the sharpest drum section in the area. I’ll admit that there were not that many pipe bands in the area in the mid and late fifties. I can still hear the crack of the snare drums when they would step out front at some of our appearances and put on a ten or fifteen minute show. They were quite spectacular and it gave we pipers a chance to catch our breath.

A couple of days later I got a phone call. "This is Jack Montgomery. Is this the Frank Denton who used to be pipe major of the Clan Gordon Pipe Band?" Talk about serendipity. Jack Montgomery was young Jock in those days. His father, Old Jock, taught the bunch of us to play the pipes and made a band out of us. We played many parades during the summertime, and were named the official Honor Band of the Daffodil Festival. We accompanied the Daffodil Queen on her many appearances. The Portland Pipe Band (OR) thought we were the greatest band in the area and invited us to their Tartan Ball each year. They even got us an invitation to march in the Rose Parade one year. That is one tough parade.

Well, it seems that this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Clan Gordon Pipe Band. There will be a celebration in September. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to attend. We will probably be traveling. It was sad to hear that many of the members of the band in which I played are now deceased. I think I was next to the youngest during the years I played. Only a couple are alive, but many have stepped in to take our place. When I moved to the Seattle area I should have sought out another band to play with. But a career change brought more responsibilities and I couldn’t quite find time. There were three bands in Seattle at the time. And likely one of them would have been welcoming to another piper. That’s all a long time ago. Memories.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Exciting Times at Borders

We just happened to visit our local Borders Book Store this evening. I was perusing a shelf of books when a woman began searching desperately for Stumbling Toward Enlightenment by Geri Larkin. I helped her find it (out of alphabetical order, of course). Seems she was taking a flight to Thailand later tonight and wanted this book to accompany her. Geri Larkin brings Buddhism down to earth. Good reading and safe journey!

When I descended from the second floor it was a little after 9 pm. And it became apparent that tonight was the night. At midnight, certainly the witching hour, the new Harry Potter book is to be released. And children and young adults in costume were already lining up for the party. I can imagine their excitement. They will dash home, curl up and probably read all night, or until sleep overcomes them. I wonder how many pages this book will be. Anyway, I wish all the children in the English-speaking world the great joy they will find in reading this new book. I wonder if translations have already been done in the other languages of the world or do those kids, Italian, Finnish, Ukrainian, Japanese, have to wait? My copy will come in the mail. Tomorrow? Or maybe Monday?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tankon Mid-Year 2005

I’ve just returned home from 6 days at our cabin near Mount Rainier. There was held Tankon 35½. Five old friends getting together. It’s been happening since 1970 and in recent years we felt the need to congregate more often than once a year, the annual Christmas get-together. Among other things we hold a film festival (of sorts). It is mildly amusing to see what shows up. You can imagine that with five individuals there would be quite a variety. Maybe not quite so much this time. Out of the Past with Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Rhonda Fleming. The Incredibles, the recent animated adventure. The Missing, a western with Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones. Two episodes of The Fish Police, an animated cartoon style. Fish characters with a detective but a lot tougher than the comic book of a decade back. The film was produced by Hanna-Barbera, I don’t know when. The Man in the Net with Alan Ladd at his most wooden being accused of his wife’s (Carolyn Jones) murder by circumstantial evidence. I didn’t believe the ending for a moment. Perhaps best of all was Laura, with Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb and Vincent Price. Most unusual had to be Rivers and Tides, portraying the artistry of Andy Goldworthy, a Scottish artist who works with natural found materials, leaves, rocks, dead bracken stems, ice, etc. All of which are destroyed by the elements sooner or later. A very unusual film. I was surprised that the guys sat still for it. Not the sort of film normally seen at one of these gatherings. They tend to like noir and westerns. Which, by the by, we watched two episodes of Have Gun, Will Travel.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Celebrating a Birthday; Not Mine

Happy Fourth of July. I just finished David McCullough's 1776. After reading this book, One wonders how Washington's army ever defeated the English. I may have more to say about the book later.

We celebrated the 60th birthday of a very good friend last evening by going to dinner with her and her husband. Nancy and Ross Weinstein eat out a lot more than we do so they chose the place. The restaurant was Volterra, which we were told is a hill town in northern Italy. It's been open about a year in the place of the former Burke's, a very good Cajun restaurant that we have enjoyed in the past. Volterra was pretty classy and a bit pricey. I said "what the heck, we don't do this often." So I ordered wild boar in gorgonzola sauce, with au gratin potatoes and vegetables. I'm here to tell you that wild boar does not taste like pork. Maybe it was the sauce. I thought it tasted halfway between pork and beef. Anyway, forget the expense. It was very tasty and I'll probably never have wild boar again. And this fine restaurant was kind enough to have Stella Artois beer on the beer and wine list. Oh, so tasty.

I'm going away for about six days so don't expect me. The now semi-annual retreat at our cabin for a bunch of old geezers. I'll repeat all their lies when I return.