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, February 25, 2008

Not long ago one of the book reviewers for the Seattle Times wrote an interesting article/review of a new translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Obviously he had studied this poem by the so-called Pearl Poet in college. As had I more than fifty years ago. I was intrigued by the article and sought out this new translation (there have been many) by Simon Armitage, the British poet. I found the translation to not be a literal translation but one in which the translator tried to match the alliteration of the original. It’s quite a good story. Gawain, a knight of the Round Table, takes up the challenge of the Green Knight to cut his head off. In exchange Gawain must seek out the Green Knight a year later and offer to do the same.

The original text is on the left-hand page and the translation on the right-hand. The further I read the more of the Middle English came back to me. In the end I was able to compare the original text with the translation. I enjoyed the experience greatly. I knew that Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet, had recently translated Beowulf. So I thought I might as well give that a read also. The original of Beowulf is in Old English and though the format is the same, the Old English is beyond me. Heaney’s translation is quite literal and the story reads easily. Beowulf, a Geat, comes to the rescue of the Danes when they are being devastated by Grendel, a monster. He kills him in single combat. Then he must take on Grendel’s mother, who is seeking revenge. He defeats her also. After returning home and becoming king, he is threatened by a dragon and must do combat with him. Ancient heroics.

What next? I may take on The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Charlie Chan Theater

The other day I took advantage of a Borders Rewards coupon for 40% off and bought the first collection of Charlie Chan movies on DVD. The first movie of the four was Charlie Chan in London. I've enjoyed the Charlie Chan films over the years and have many on VHS. (VCRs to play them on will soon be a thing of the past, so I hear.) I was reminded that a couple of years ago one of the local television stations began a Charlie Chan Theater and theoretically was going to show all of the Chan films available. One a week late at night. There was an outcry from the Chinese community, which in Seattle is sizeable. The series was cancelled.

This DVD series has four collections or sixteen films. There is also a Chanthology which contains another five films. But that's not all of the films. I'm not quite sure how many there are in total. I think somewhere around I have a list of twenty-seven.

Of the two actors who played Charlie I prefer Warner Oland over Sidney Toler. In London Charlie saves a man from execution by visiting a country house and finding the real murderer. The collection has good clear black-and-white images, apparently remastered. Very enjoyable. I suspect that eventually I will acquire them all.