Sep. 24, 2012: Granny’s Little Creek

Granny’s Little Creek
by Roger Darnell

Once, we had no sense of the free-flowing excitement,
the raw and sometimes bone-chilling coolness of the water
as it flowed there, just behind Grandpa’s Smokehouse.
Often less than a trickle, that creek was a haven of life to us kids. Read more


There we went: 2012 National Parks Tour

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been publishing stories on universal positive, beginning with Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan and PBS: Thanks for the documentary, each of which provides some background on the recent National Parks trip we’ve just completed. I’ve shared many photos on Facebook during and since wrapping up the trip, and I’m also embedding a Flickr slideshow above. I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer so far and that you are also creating some excellent memories.


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!


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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June 29, 1991: Bumper Crop, Part 2

Thanks to everyone for the feedback on “Bumper Crop,” the short script I wrote back in 1991 for my friend Bill Waxler to direct. The story is about an older man who awakens from a dream that shines a new light on a long-held misconception which had affected him deeply throughout his life. Finally understanding that he was not responsible for his brother’s accident long ago, his awakening represents a new lease on life. On Saturday, June 29, 1991, a really great group of people came together at a little, vacant, roadside gas station in Sanford, Florida, to begin shooting the film. Little did I know that, later that day, while we were trying to get our shots, my own brother would suffer his own life-changing accident, after diving into a lake in our hometown of Greenville, Illinois. It was about 1:30 AM on Sunday when my mother called with the news Read more

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February 22, 1991: Bumper Crop, Part 1

A new film school grad fresh off a six-year Air Force Reserve commitment, this time of life was alive with possibilities. I was in love with a girl named Beth — 15 months later we married, and at this moment, we’re approaching our 16th anniversary. With that solid foundation and a lot of experience, I ventured into the “professional” world of filmmaking. On Feb. 25, I interviewed for the job of Second Assistant Director with a DGA First A.D. on an indie “no-budget” feature. Landing the unpaid job, which also involved me handling product placement and serving as production office coordinator, it absorbed three full weeks of my life, and left me very hard-pressed to pay my April rent. Happily, it also was an immensely positive experience for my self-confidence, my industry relationships and my reputation. The way it hit within a flurry of sustained efforts, though I didn’t realize it, those hard days on “New Walden” paved the way for my career in film production. It just took me another handful of pro-bono production jobs, and a summer of grunt A/V gigs at Orlando area hotels, before I landed a real job on a big feature.

But on Feb. 22, a Friday, in between a day job where I did word-processing for an engineering firm, and a night job babysitting the A/V needs of the Downtown Orlando Marriott, I dropped off an original short script I’d written for my friend Bill Waxler to consider directing. Bill had expressed interest in an idea I had for a story about an aging man who has an epiphany after awakening from a nap one afternoon. My freshmen year of high school was spent in Greenville, Illinois, and near the relatively small school, there was an old gas station, operated by an even older gentleman named Hap, who had been selling snacks to kids there since my father first went to the same school 20 years earlier. It was definitely Hap I was thinking about, but in the script, he’s named Daniel Casey. I hope you enjoy it — you can download the script on the Bumper Crop website.

. June 29, 1991: Bumper Crop, Part 2
. February 26, 1993: Bumper Crop, Part 3
. December 5, 2008: Bumper Crop is now live…

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