Seeing ‘Donnie Darko’

Drawing of a stylized rabbit head with fangs.

Rabbit rabbit, you’re following Donnie around town instead of him following you physically down a hole, but it’s a different kind of following since Donnie follows your instructions how to avoid the end of the world, strange indeed to go along with the advice of a person wearing a rabbit suit, yet to keep this world alive and kicking — including, of course, your family and friends — following that advice would be worthwhile, and perhaps we shouldn’t care if nobody else can see Frank (or Harvey in another life) or the liquidy columns stretching from some people’s chests and hardly anybody believes in time travel, because if those things are important enough to you that you believe in them while some people scoff at their existence (like the Easter Bunny, unicorns, hope), then believe in them with your heart—we need comforting things around us while some people demean things, perhaps merely to feel superior.

copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Phony Foam Phone

Drawing of a girl holding a large, fake phone

Get that phony foam phone
away from me,
since I gotta call
Frank in Philadelphia,
on a real phone.
We’re supposed to go
fishing on Phil’s farm.
Where’s my cell phone?
I put it here a minute ago.
You didn’t sell it, did you?
Frankly, I don’t know what the heck
you’re doing with that goofy
phony foam phone anyway.

Copyright © 2020 Dave Williams. This poem is in my book, The Dancing Fish.

Pool Story

Photo of water ripples in a pool. The text on top of the water is also rippled, and the text is Pool Story by Dave Williams

One saying is “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” That’s kind of the gist of how this story and video were created.

My mom and I were on a trip when my minivan broke down on the highway. We were towed to a mechanic’s garage in a nearby town. We spent the night in a hotel and waited the next day for the minivan to be fixed. It was an opportunity to spend more time with my mom and chat about the old days, and I enjoyed listening to stories of when she was growing up.

During our wait, I filmed a four minute video of the hotel’s pool. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with the video, just that I thought the water’s ripples made for interesting visuals.

Later, I had the idea to write a story. Not about hotel guests splashing about the pool, but of the water in the pool, about what could be going on with it.

So I narrated the story and paired that with the video of the water, and here it is. If you’d rather watch the video on YouTube, click here.

Frederic Brown’s ‘Knock’ Story and Inspired Films

Photo of a door. Most of the door is in shadow, and there's a spot of illumination from sunlight coming through a window.
by Lillian Grace/Unsplash

“The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…”

A two-sentence horror story by Frederic Brown. To me, it’s an example of brilliance in brevity. The first sentence creates an image in my mind, then the second introduces an unexpected sound, then the ellipses serves as a springboard for my imagination.

While the little story can sit on its own, Frederic Brown wrote beyond it for a fuller story. It was published in the magazine, Thrilling Wonder Stories (December 1948). The larger story dives into the science-fiction genre, with aliens coming to Earth. If you’re interested in reading a plot summary, that’s on Wikipedia.

I like that many directors have put together short films inspired by the two-sentence version of the story. Neat to see different approaches for the same, basic story. I watched a handful of films — there were more available! I can see how Brown’s story makes for a good idea for student-made films.

The films are on YouTube, just click on the producers’ names to see the films. 

  • Sergeii Studio. Bleak, foggy images of various exteriors before we pop inside the room.
  • Rafael Zambrano. Animated, in a painterly style. The shortest film of this group, at a little more than a half-minute.
  • Rocktor Productions. A teenager walks around a high school, trying to find the source of the knocking. With hardly varying action, this film still puts together a plot beyond the two sentences.
  • Erick XCX. Animal Crossing-style animation, with a storyteller relaying the story to a small group of people.
  • Korven production. A kid is alone at home, and since he calls his dad, he’s not the last person on Earth. The creepy level goes waaaaay up on this one.
  • Cutting Edge film. This one feels more “realistic” to me, since it has candles and flashlight instead of electricity that’s still running, so the last man can flick light switches and watch TV.