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.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Concert for George

It’s been a while. What a slacker! I’ve spent the last several nights watching Concert For George, in honor of and featuring the songs of George Harrison, He always was my favorite Beatle. Don’t know why. Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Billy Preston. Jeff Lynne, Gary Brooker. And a wonderful group of Indian musicians playing a special piece composed by Ravi Shankar and featuring his beautiful daughter, Anoushka Shankar on sitar. A two-and-a-half hour concert plus and hour-and-a-half of extras on a second disk. I enjoyed it very much and will watch it again and again. Go do likewise.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I was talking with an old friend this evening. Her husband had recently had a stroke, was in a care facility, and she seemed a little uneasy about caring for him when he returned home. I asked her what sort of condition he was in. He is talking and walking, able to eat by himself. So I think things are not as bad as might be. Let us hope she is able to cope. But she didn't want to talk to me about the situation and quickly passed the phone to her sister, who was visiting briefly on her way home.

Freya (the sister) with whom I used to play folk music a long time ago, and who lived in England for a long time, played in a folk group and often appeared on BBC programs was in a talkative moods. Funnily, she wanted to talk about Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby winner who later broke a leg in the Preakness and has been in the hearts of many people ever since. He underwent many surgical procedures but last week when he was no longer comfortable, he was euthanized. I was surprised at how closely Freya had followed the course of Barbaro's procedures and ups and downs of recovery. She was truly distraught about the horse, his tribulations and subsequent death. She had written a poem in tribute to the great horse. Perhaps he might have been even greater. Might have been sire to many other great race horses.

I think perhaps the topic of conversation changed to Barbaro because neither of them wanted to talk about the situation much closer to home. Meanwhile all I can say a prayer for my friend who has had the stroke, and mourn, with the millions of horse lovers and school children, the loss of the great horse, Barbaro. I remember writing about him months ago when it was felt he had a chance to win the three races that make up the Triple Crown. It was not to be. Get well, Dick, please! Rest in Peace, Barbaro.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Scott's The Monastery

I seem recently to have had a rebirth of my interest in Sir Walter Scott. I remember back to my high school days when our English reader, Prose and Poetry, contained Ivanhoe. In those days each year we had one novel and one play by Shakespeare as well as a great number of short stories and poems that introduced us to some of the great writers. Ivanhoe may have been the first adult (grown up) novel that I read.

During our trip last fall I picked up a copy of Scott’s Waverly and read it after breakfast each morning. One of the delights of retirement is that you can read for a half-hour or so before getting dressed for the day. Just this morning I finished The Monastery. Scott wrote complex novels, most of which involved local history of the border country and the legendry of that area. This novel also involves the Catholic church, for so long the religion of England and Scotland, and the new Reformation under Queen Elizabeth and the Scottish reformer, Knox.

Part of the story concerns Father Eustace, the sub-prior of St. Mary’s monastery, a strong man at odds with Henry Warden, a preacher of the reformed faith who had once attended a college in France with Eustace. Formerly they were great friends. Another part concerns Julian Avenel, who has usurped the castle and grounds of Mary Avenel, the rightful heir. Driven from her estate, she finds refuge at Glendearg, up a dark and hidden glen. There she is befriended by Dame Glendinning, and her two sons, Edward and Halbert. They have thrust upon them the foppish Sir Pearcie Shafton, all slashed doublets and ringing high-flown speech. Scott does a wonderful job with this character.

In the end there is near conflict between England and Scotland over this fop, who turns out to be not at all what he seems. And there is a good bit of supernatural, for Pearcie and Halbert are at odds and fight a duel. Halbert runs the foppish knight through and flees. But the White Lady of Avenel heals the young man and though he shows the marks of the blade, he is completely healed.

I ramble on. There is a wonderful showdown between the Earl of Murray (Scotland) and the Earl of Morton (England). But all’s well that ends well. A fine story. But by today’s standards of writing, the syntax is overblown. It takes a while to become accustomed to the language but for me it was well worth the effort. My next breakfast book is likely to be from a more recent writer, Jeffrey Farnol. Still not contemporary, but 1920s. And after that Stevenson’s Catriona, the sequel to Kidnapped.