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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ross's Birthday

I have just returned from a wonderful celebration of a good friend’s 70th birthday. Ross Weinstein was the celebrant, along with his wife, Nancy. Another couple, the Ginny and Randy Potter, and a good friend of Ross’s, Hans, who last name I did not get, along with Anna and I made a very lively sevensome. We met at Calabria’s, a fine Italian restaurant in Kirkland. The food was wonderful. Speaking only for myself I started with an Italian beer, Moretti’s. I followed with a caesar salad, spaghetti alla putanesca for a main course, tiramasu and coffee to finish. The others raved equally about their various dishes.

All the participants are members of Family Wanderers, a volksport club, excepting Hans. The conversation was all around Robin Hood’s Barn, or maybe it was Geppetto’s Barn. Nancy and Ross had just returned from an elderhostel in Hawaii and regaled us with stories and photos. Volcanos and exotic flowers as well as other scenery. Much of the talk was about food and restaurants in various cities. Hans suggested that he always looks before traveling to see if the city he is going to visit has a school of culinary arts. He says that he has had some very good meals there. Travel, architecture, libraries, Japanese and Chinese gardens were just some of the topics of discussion. What a fun evening. We should celebrate birthdays more often, say once a month. Especially with meals like this. Happy birthday, Ross.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Road Home

More and more I seem to be enjoying films from Asian countries. The other night I watched The Road Home which features the lovely Zhang Ziyi, who most of you will probably know from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This Chinese movie was not the slashing swords, flying warriors type of film at all. It was a rather simple love story. It opens in black-and-white as a son returns to his village from the city. His father has died away from the village and his mother wants her husband’s body be carried back for burial. The son argues that he can hire a horse and carriage but the mother insists. The film then changes to color as the story of the young girl falling in love with the young teacher who has come to the village. Then he is arrested and taken away to the city for some political crime. Ultimately he returns and they marry. He continues teaching and has been the village teacher for decades. The young woman waits patiently through the many seasons for his return. Eventually he does and the two marry. As the film returns to black-and-white the son and the village mayor have agreed to find the money to hire men to carry the teacher’s body back to the village for burial. There is a wonderful scene with a hundred people following behind the coffin as the men exchange places carrying the coffin. Behind the people walking there are five or six cars following. Former students of the teacher have heard of his death and have come to pay him homage. A simple story, a love story, and beautifully filmed.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Scottish Novels

I appear to have been on a Scottish kick in my reading of late. First it was Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly and The Monastery. Then it was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped and David Balfour. Somehow I did not remember much of Kidnapped. But I must have read it sixty years ago. So I thoroughly enjoyed reading it again and following it with David Balfour for the first time. Lots of action and adventure in Kidnapped and less so, more of a love story with its ups and downs in David Balfour. Then I grabbed a novel by Jeffery Farnol off the shelf. Over the Hills turned out to be another novel set in Scotland. I’ve enjoyed them all but I think the Scottish run is over. Except that I’m reading a two-volume biography of Scott which is probably telling me more than I care to know. But it’s one of the best Scott biographies so I will endure. Somehow I love this old stuff that was popular decades ago and sometimes, as in the case of Scott, almost two centuries ago. Currently I’m reading The Golden Scarecrow by Hugh Walpole, published in 1915.

Of course, I read contemporary stuff too. Some mysteries, some science fiction, some military novels set in the age of fighting sail.. I’ve just finished The Shape of Water, the first mystery by Andrea Camilleri, a Sicilian writer. The setting is certainly different and it gives some insight to the Italian ways of justice, somewhat different from our own.