Black Swan and the White Pros: Loni enjoys a a brief moment of civility with Mike McDonnell at Meadowood before croquet hell breaks loose.

Rock ‘n Roll and Croquet? At Meadowood? You betcha.

Here’s the rockin’ outtakes in all their raw and unfinished glory (see video below). Loni meets up Mike McDonnell, the gregarious Croquet Pro at Meadowood. One thing I learned: there are only 6 of these pros in the entire country, and as Mike tells me, “it’s far, far more difficult than becoming a Master Somelier.” Gauntlet thrown.

Black Swan and the White Pro: Loni enjoys a a brief moment of civility with Mike McDonnell at Meadowood before croquet hell breaks loose.

If you’ve followed the mystery that is Stark Insider throughout the years, you’ll likely know I prefer Stark Insider TV shoots when things don’t go as planned. Or when they feature the unexpected. Or, as is the case with these outtakes here, when they feature a dynamic interviewee that just makes the whole thing so blasted fun.

The other things I learned from our interview up at the gorgeous Meadowood grounds (shot during Festival del Sole, a wine and culture festival still underway):

In the tradition of Wimbledon, you wear white when you venture onto croquet grounds. Somehow my Black Swan, Loni, didn’t get the message, and I fear yours truly is possibly to blame. “On-air talent,” after all, is never ever wrong. So it goes.

High fives, that universal of sporting celebrations, works well in croquet too. End zone dances, after a glass or two of Chard, probably too. Watch the video to find out why Loni and Mike are so amped up.

Also, I learned that taking photos of croquet players in action can result in some amusing, not-quite-ready-for-Vanity-Fair poses. When you swing a large mallet between your legs, while slightly bent over, intensely tracking down a small colorful ball, well… you get what you get. But that’s what I love: the juxtaposition of poshy environs with awkward physicality — unless, of course, you’re the pro that is Mike what with that fancy jump shot as seen in the video.

IN PHOTOS: Festival del Sole, Napa Valley

Croquet at Meadowood is not expensive. For some reason I envisioned this being a costly affair involving soirees, multi-year memberships and the like. Not so. You and your friends can take to the grounds starting from about $35 or so, depending on dates.

Look for the complete interview soon, plus more coverage from the Festival del Sole, including interviews with actress Minnie Driver, an festival organizers. And performance footage from a beat-boxing cellist not to be missed!

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Clinton Stark
Clinton shoots videos for Stark Insider. San Francisco Bay Area arts, Ingmar Bergman and French New Wave, and chasing the perfect home espresso shot 25 seconds at a time (and failing). Peloton: ClintTheMint. Camera: Video Gear