May 30, 2001: The Countdown Begins… Escape from LA, Part 1

All of this started playing out 16 years ago today – thought I’d bump it back to the top of this blog to rekindle the memories…

Escape from LA
by Roger Darnell

Wednesday, May 30, 2001: The Countdown Begins

As I sat at my desk at the end of the business day (night) on Tuesday, I knew I really needed to get some sleep to be ready to start loading the truck bright and early the next morning; surveying my office, though — still largely intact — it finally also sunk-in to me that I needed to get it packed, once and for all. Fast forward to 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning: I’d worked all the way through the night, the office was 98% done, the house was a scattered array of semi-packed boxes, furniture and closed boxes, all ready for the truck, and we were off to pick up the truck from Budget in Van Nuys on Sepulveda Blvd., the same place where we’d returned our truck from the 1998 move West. This truck was a little bigger — a sign that the move was a success? — and the car carrier, destined to transport our Honda Accord back across the country, may have been the same one we picked up from New Orleans on the previous trip. Beth had slept very little as well, so the recollection of truck-packing day is a little blurry. We were smart enough to request a couple of movers to come to our house at 9 to load the truck, and by 11, they were done. By 5 p.m., Read more


May 23, 1992: Hoot Owl Holler, Episode 2

On the 20th anniversary of the best day of my life (the day I married Beth Kiefert, and she became the now-celebrated Beth Darnell), it’s a sincere pleasure to invite you to enjoy this second installment of “Hoot Owl Holler.” In this video presentation that uses more footage shot by my dear cousin Bart Ridings, you can hear some of the fun-loving wise-cracking from our loved ones who gathered together on May 23, 1992, in Greenville, Illinois, for our wedding. Also shown are too many others who are no longer with us: They are all missed greatly. On we proceed through life, still recalling the words we printed in our program, and the high sentiments which set the tone for what has so far been a spectacularly wonderful adventure together.

Joy, Shipmate, Joy!
by Walt Whitman

JOY! shipmate—joy!
(Pleas’d to my Soul at death I cry;)
Our life is closed—our life begins;
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last—she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore;
Joy! shipmate—joy!


April 6, 1992: Careful

Beth and Roger in Orlando, 1991.

Thinking back on my life 20 years ago, I have to say that today seems so much simpler. I wrote about that key personal era in “Arc of the Poet Part 6,” and although I think it makes for interesting reading, recalling those days is rather bracing for me. I had so much to prove to myself and the short list of others whose opinions really mattered to me, and although I was confident in my strengths and abilities, I was unsure about so much more. While I had come very far with the gifts provided by my family, as well as those I was earning for myself, the new chapters seemed to hold promises I was almost afraid to hope for. Within weeks of writing the poem below, I began my new role as the husband of Beth Darnell. That dream-come-true continues today, thanks in part to the instincts revealed below which made me realize that the opportunities I was facing were precious and must be handled with care.


by Roger Darnell

There could be a
limerick or something
back there,
something quick and terse —
elucidating, uproarious,

But I just want to say
everything’s going so fast;

you know, not in every way…
but in most,
it really is.

Can’t say much more
than that.
Although I can fit in

and about
thanks, and graciousness,
and pay attentions.
And carefuls.


Arc of the Poet, Part 15: Being

“Being must be felt. It can’t be thought.” ― Eckhart Tolle

Like you and everyone else of course, when it comes down to essential facts, I have my parents to thank for my existence. Following on through with my countdown ‘Ramble’ project, I end (for now) this shared journey. These words complete a poetic arc for yours truly, and looking ahead, I am aiming to write and produce new works you will find to be flat-out fascinating.

At this point in my life, I have grown to love the act of writing a poem. It’s most sacred to me… Read more


Sep. 28, 2011: Grandma’s laugh

Growing up, I had two wonderful grandmothers: Beatrice Travis-Ridings or “Granny Bea,” who passed away just a few months before Amelia was born in 2001… and Eileen Darnell-Houser or “Grandma Bam,” who left us in 2009. Back in 2010, I wrote about Granny Bea, and this post on Grandma Bam is long overdue.

My life has been keeping me very busy lately. Outside of my daily activities focused on taking excellent care of my family and clients, free time has been extremely scarce. This week, my father celebrated his 70th birthday — and with my stepmom, their 36th wedding anniversary — while my big bro arrived at birthday number 48. As I thought about things I could do in their honor, I remembered the video interview I did with Grandma Bam back in 2004, and decided to share some of its contents with them and our other friends and familymembers on Facebook. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 14: Ramblings

More than ten years ago, after relocating to the Blue Ridge Mountains and making final preparations for parenthood (we actally studied The Bradley Method), Beth and I launched into this current phase of our love story. Experiencing life’s joys and sorrows together over the next couple of years, while diligently tending to my business and supporting personal projects for many members of the family, I wondered what was to come for the creative writer. In 2002, I made up an answer, in the form of a new writing project named Ramble. In it, I aimed to address my personal challenges, write simply and seek new focus. From the beginning, these words have appeared at the top: “This document will hopefully grow in the weeks ahead to represent a journey: the rediscovery of the writer inside a person caught up in his life as businessman, husband and parent.”

Going mostly on instinct, I limited each line to 38 characters, wrote the first entry 73 lines long, and planned to make each subsequent verse one line shorter. If all went as hoped, I figured the final line would be something significant, even if most of the others might be forgettable.

Leaping ahead to the present, Ramble has been somewhat miraculous to me; as you might expect, it changed dramatically over time… and so have I. For the first, longest verses, I vented in detail about momentous developments, including some of the bigger political and global issues of those days. Progressively, I grew more and more daunted in facing the need to communicate things of real importance concisely. For anyone arriving at a crossroads in life with ability and time to write, I encourage a similar writing challenge. If you don’t have years and years to devote, begin with a five-line poem, then count down four, three, two and one: In my experience, it’s a productive approach at focusing oneself. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 13: Fame and Fortune

A good number of great people have expressed at least some appreciation for my writing over the years. Since long ago, many believers have expressed confidence in these abilities, and I feel that their belief is essential to who I am. When I think about what’s to come for me as a writer and artist, I’m inspired by the idea of honoring each of those individuals, and all others interested in my words. Gratefully, I’ll carry on.

In the summer of 1995, I joined the production crew of the primetime NBC television series “seaQuest” at Universal Studios Florida, and began an adventure I’ll never forget, helping produce 13 episodes with a Who’s Who of spectacular production and entertainment industry talents. We were in Orlando, making headlines in all the top national trades well before the first episode of “SeaQuest 2032” hit the airwaves featuring Michael Ironside, Roy Scheider, Michael York and scores of other hot and rising Hollywood stars.

seaQuest 2033

Autographed by Jonathan Brandis.

I earned my job from the prolific television producer and director Steve Beers, by committing to handling script distribution and revisions for all the producers and writers, just as I’d done for him and the other producers on “Fortune Hunter” the previous year. That show for Fox had made a big splash and also involved serious heavy hitters, but seaQuest was a phenomenon… a massive franchise for NBC, Amblin Television, Universal Television and all the other industry all-stars involved. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 8: Feedback

Even before I had done any real research or taken my first steps into the legitimate literary world, the intellect, attitudes and ideas I gained through my parents and early life experiences gave me an expansive sense of entitlement. A specific delusion I suffered from was believing that the first time my work was read by any sound judge of a literary competition, my name would be affixed to the prize and I’d be on my way to fame. By the midway point of 1993, however, my steady outreach to editors covering poetry and short fiction had only resulted in a growing collection of rejection slips. Most of them were just generic slips of paper, photocopied and stuck into the required SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) without a second’s thought… but others were from manuscript competitions where I had little choice but to accept that my work had actually been read and deemed unworthy. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 7: Home Stretch

Nearly a year after our spectacular wedding, May of 1993 found me, Beth and pretty much everyone else in our family continuously thinking about my brother, his daily perseverance in recovering from his July ’91 diving accident, and his successful return to a more normal lifestyle. By then, he and his girlfriend had their own place, on my dad and step-mom’s farm and within earshot of their home. From every angle, Scott was making us all very proud, and showing the kind of resounding inner strength we all hope to have when faced with unimaginable adversity.

At one point right after the accident, my mom wondered aloud if we would ever be happy again. Illinois has always provided a powerful attraction for me around my birthday in May, and I was especially thankful while driving there on May 6, 1993, that I was feeling real joy. You can find a poem I wrote back in 1988 about those annual treks to my native homeland here. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 5: Wake-Up Call

We kept the afterburners on and blasted into 1991, with me clawing my way forward professionally and growing up further alongside my sweetheart. I wrote an original short script for producer/director Bill Waxler, and his plans to produce it brought together a very talented group of production professionals and friends. Entitled “Bumper Crop” that project gained steam through the Spring, and by June 29, we were on location, ready to shoot it on 16mm film. I’ve written about this project in the past, beginning with Feb. 22, 1991: Bumper Crop, Part 1.

Part 2 of that series recounts the unforeseen drama of June 29. Read more

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