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.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Geri Larkin's New Book

Anna and I drove downtown today to attend a reading at the Elliott Bay Book Store. We parked several blocks away so I could get a bit of a walk in. I can’t walk very far these days without pain but I need to walk or the consequences are likely to be more pain. We passed a store with dry soda displayed in the windows. This is a drink prepared by a woman in Tacoma who saw a need for a drink to occupy people’s hands but who are not wine drinkers. There was a recent article about her in the Seattle Times. We saw at least four flavors; kumquat and lemon grass are the ones I remember. Not for me but I wish her success. Next we passed a fine wood furniture store where a simple bench was priced at $950. Beautiful things but one should be prepared to pay for them. I saw a lovely rocking chair but was afraid to go inside and see the price. I might have fainted dead away and never reached the reading.

The reading was for Geri Larkin’s new book, The Chocolate Cake Sutra; Ingredients for a Sweet Life. I’ve read all of Geri’s books which are Zen in nature. She attended a Buddhist seminary in Toronto where she was ordained. She was given transmission (permission to teach) by a Zen Master in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I had thought that she might be a little reserved. Not so. She was very welcoming, very outgoing, easy to smile, laugh and tell jokes on herself. She has recently moved to Seattle after being the founding teacher for a Zen Buddhist Abbey in the inner city of Detroit called The Still Point Center. She answered questions readily, read a couple of sections from the new book. She currently is not teaching but she said "Who knows what the future will bring?" I was struck by her very down-to-earth nature.

We celebrated a fine Seattle afternoon by having dinner at Dinos, a fine Italian-Greek restaurant near our home.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Dreamer; Inspired by a True Story

Being the thoroughbred racing enthusiast that I am I watched the movie Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story the other night. It starred Kurt Russell as the father, Elizabeth Shue as the mother, Kris Kristofferson as the grandfather, and Dakota Fanning as the child. The story is that a horse trained by Russell breaks a leg during a race. The manager not only fires Russell but wants to put the horse down. Russell takes the horse as part of what he is owed. Any dolt can see where the story is going. It’s nicely filmed but I can’t say the racing scenes are great.

I was more intrigued with which horse was the inspiration. Indeed, there was a horse that came back from a broken leg to win a Breeders Cup Race. The year was 1995 and Mariah’s Storm was the horse. She is also famous for being the dam of Giant’s Causeway, one of the recent great horses. But I’m afraid the resemblances between reality and the film story end there. The film is pure fantasy. But I’m a sucker for racing stories so I sat back and enjoyed it.

In looking through the web I note that there are many other folks who also enjoy horse and horse racing stories. I found several lists of horse movies and have jotted a few of them down. I also found that some folks really enjoyed putting Dakota Fanning’s acting down. I found her facial expressions quite charming, a more than passable actress. I think she needs work on her diction. Some of her lines I could not understand. I’m anxious to see how she does in Charlotte’s Web, just recently released.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Gift of a Set of Kipling

I’ve been away too long. It’s easy to get lazy. But I shall resolve to do better. A while back I was writing about the visit of a friend and a gift that he gave me. But I said that there was more. The friend is Mike Horvat, who, by the way, recently sold a huge fanzine collection to the University of Iowa Libraries. Many of the fanzines in that collection were my fanzines and those of many other people in the science fiction and mystery worlds of fandom with whom I had exchanged zines.

Mike has been recently trying to put together matched sets of authors he has enjoyed. Sometimes he gets carried away. The second gift that he gave me was eighteen volumes of a matched set of the works of Rudyard Kipling. These were published by Scribners. I have since learned that the complete set runs to thirty-five volumes. At first I thought "well, I can attempt to fill in the missing volumes one or several at a time." My second thought was that I might try reading these eighteen volumes and if I’m still alive then I might search for the others. Probably the second thought is better. Whatever the outcome, I need to thank Mr. Horvat publicly for the fine gift. Now what about those Stevenson and Scott books you were talking about?

I seem to be on a kick all of a sudden of reading older authors. I’ve recently read books by Robert Louis Stevenson, R.D. Blackmore, Sir Walter Scott and Eden Phillpotts. My current after-breakfast book is The Monastery by Scott. It’s interesting to get involved in books of this sort which move more slowly and use a much different syntax than the current books being published, be they mystery, science fiction or mainstream. The payoff is that they are truly good stories and there is a sense of accomplishment when you are finished.