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, February 22, 2009

Theater Week

It’s been a theater week. Last Sunday we drove north to The Village Theater to watch a performance of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Our granddaughter, Nora, age 11, had several small parts in the production, including a small singing part. The cast was all children, with the major roles all being taken by high school students. The choruses and ensembles were all grade school children. I was trying to imagine how one controlled that many school age kids, how they were rehearsed and how it was all put together. My own experience with the theater was directing a one-act play at a junior high where I taught. Good grief! That’s almost sixty years ago. Anyway, we were delighted to see Nora perform. After the matinee performance we went to a fine Italian restaurant along the Everett waterfront with son, Sean, daughter-in-law, Mary Rose, and Nora and her sister, Grace. I’m sure it won’t be long before we see Grace performing and we look forward to Nora’s future appearances.

This Sunday we attended the Burien Little Theater’s production of Christopher Fry’s The Lady’s Not for Burning. Burien is a small suburb of Seattle with a population of about 37,000. But the greater Seattle Theater has many many amateur theaters so there is a large cadre of actors to draw from. The actors in this production were uniformly good. The leads had very long speaking parts. It must be a heck of a play to memorize. The play has long been my favorite, but I had never seen a production of it. It involves Thomas Mendip, returned from the war in Flanders, who has seen so much of the frailties and foibles of mankind that he wishes to be hanged. He claims that he had murdered Skipps, the rag-and-bone man. Conversely, Jennet Jourdemayne, a young woman whose father was an alchemist and who follows in his footsteps, is accused of being a witch and is condemned to be burned. And, oh, how she wants to live. I’ve had a recording on LP of the original Broadway cast and have listened to it many times. Unfortunately this Sunday’s matinee was poorly attended. But I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cal Tjader

Every night before I retire I listen to some music with headphones. My wife, Anna, has gone to bed long before me. Usually the music I choose is jazz, although sometimes it is classical, folk or world, even rock. For the last several evenings (well, actually about 2:30 a.m.) I’ve been listening to Cal Tjader, the vibraphonist. The album is The Ultimate Cal Tjader with his favorite recordings chosen by Eddie Palmieri, Tjader’s longtime friend and pianist.

Listening to Tjader’s terrific touch on the vibes (vibraphone or sometimes called the vibraharp) took me back many years. It must have been the late 50s when Cal Tjader performed for a couple of nights at a place called Pete’s Poopdeck in Seattle. The club was under the viaduct near the waterfront. It was the kind of place that gave you handfuls of peanuts in the shell and the floor was littered with peanut shells. I don’t remember a bandstand. I recall Cal playing surrounded by the tables of the customers. It was the first time Anna and I had heard or watched anyone play the vibes up close. I was impressed at how deft Cal was with the mallets. And how beautiful the sound of the instrument. I tried to follow his career from that time on. Later he became a huge advocate of Latin jazz and he pursued that until the end of his career. He died in 1982, I believe. I’ve followed other vibes players because of first hearing Cal Tjader. Milt Jackson, Terry Gibbs, Lionel Hampton, Dave Samuels, Gary Burton. Those are some of the experts on the instrument. But Cal Tjader was my first and I’ve spent several quiet early morning moments wallowing in Cal’s music and my own nostalgia.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Fringe Group

I see that Sarah Palin, esteemed Governor of Alaska, defended the shooting of wolves from airplanes. She was speaking about criticisms of such activity from environmental and conservation groups. In doing so she named the Defenders of Wildlife organization as a fringe group. So that makes me a member of a fringe group. I am elated...I think.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Opening of Training at Emerald Downs

Just a short note to commemorate the opening of training today at Emerald Downs. One horse in which we have a small share is resting and recuperating at Oakhurst Farm in Oregon after leaving the winter season at Portland Meadows. He'd run ten races since last April and the trainer decided that he needed a little r&r. Let's hope he's kicking up his heels and having a good time. He'll come back to Emerald Downs in a bit and begin training again for the meet which begins on April 17.

Meantime the barns are starting to fill. Almost 400 of the stalls are already full and horses have had a couple of sunny days to begin the daily regimen. Good luck to them all. The stalls, all 1420 of them, will be full by the opening day.