My New Book

SHOWDOWN AT SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil

Showcasing My Book in Berkeley on Feb 3

I’ll be discussing my book and reading some stories next Wednesday evening in Berkeley.

Roving Camera Album: Click Photo

Dragon in Shanghai
Books / Writing | Production | Travel

Showcasing ‘Showdown at Shinagawa’ in Berkeley This Week

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Upcoming Book Event—Wednesday • Feb 3 • 7:30 pm

I’ll be discussing my book and reading some stories this Wednesday evening at Northbrae Community Church in Berkeley.

The stories are from my memoir Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil, about my global travels and work as a cinematographer.

Showdown features 18 tales, from the surreal Japanese bowling-for-budget match in the title story, to commiseration with President Clinton over family tragedies in “Dog Years,” to a bus trip down India’s deadly Bombay-Pune Road in “Wrecks and Pissers.”

I’ll be describing the relative ease of self-publishing, compared with the challenge of getting noticed among over one million books published in . . . CONTINUE READING: Showcasing ‘Showdown at Shinagawa’ in Berkeley This Week

Muse

Dog 3.0—Good Golly, Miss Molly

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Meet Molly.

The third in the Pantheon of Zarchy Family Dogs, she follows, in succession, Sophie the Wonder Dog and Montana Banana Zarchy, all of them delicious sources of unqualified love.

Molly is eight months old, about 45 lbs., a super-cute Boxer mix with light fawn-and-white coloring and a longer snout than the typical purebred Boxer. She was a stray found in another part of the state, without tags or microchip, then rescued from a “high-kill” shelter by the fine folks at Milo Foundation in Point Richmond. We adopted her two weeks ago, and she is making an easy transition from pound pup to pampered pooch.

(Kudos to the Milo people, BTW, who rescue over 1500 animals per year.)

. . . CONTINUE READING: Dog 3.0—Good Golly, Miss Molly

Muse

The Moon, the Snow, and Dr. Zhivago

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One autumn about a million years ago, I was living with friends in Vermont, teaching high school, avoiding conscription, and just starting my California Dreaming.

We lived on a farm on a dirt road off another dirt road. The farm didn’t grow anything. The owners lived on Guam, used it only as a summer house, and were dumb enough to have rented it to four just-out-of-Dartmouth, draft-dodging, occupational deferment, Vietnam-avoiding high school teachers.

They decided to rent it because they had been burglarized the year before when the house was empty and thought having someone live in it year-round would enhance security. They also installed a bright street light over the yard to ward off burglars.

The farm consisted . . . CONTINUE READING: The Moon, the Snow, and Dr. Zhivago

Books / Writing | Muse

This Wednesday Evening: I’ll Be Reading a Story at Weekday Wanderlust in SF

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I’m honored to be reading a travel story at Weekday Wanderlust in San Francisco this Wednesday evening 11/18, starting at 7. The story will be from my book Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil.

Weekday Wanderlust is a free monthly program where three travel writers each read a story. It lasts about an hour to an hour and a half. The other two writers in this month’s program are Kirsten Koza and Jayme Moye.

It all takes place at the Hotel Rex, a boutique hotel at 562 Sutter Street in San Francisco, a couple of blocks north of the St. Francis Hotel, near Union Square. Some of . . . CONTINUE READING: This Wednesday Evening: I’ll Be Reading a Story at Weekday Wanderlust in SF

Baseball | Muse

Present at the Re-Creation: The Loma Prieta Earthquake

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October 17, 1989, 5:09 pm

Section 51, Upper Deck

Candlestick Park, San Francisco

“It’s in the drink, man! The Bay Bridge has fallen down!”

Uh oh, it’s going to take a while to get home tonight. The man in front of me with the radio pressed to his ear continues to relay news to the fans around us. We’re here for the third game of the World Series. Five minutes ago, the earth shook, and the crowd cheered. Now we start to realize the magnitude of what’s happened. And where the heck is Darrell? . . . CONTINUE READING: Present at the Re-Creation: The Loma Prieta Earthquake

Books / Writing

This Saturday in San Francisco: Travel Writers Read at LitCrawl

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I’m delighted to be reading a story at LitCrawl in San Francisco this Saturday evening, along with five eminent travel writers.

Across the Wide World: Traveling Writers Explore Encounters with People, Places, and Cultures

Saturday, October 17, 2015 • 6 – 7 pm

Weston Wear • 569 Valencia Street • San Francisco, CA

Featuring:

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Traveling out of our comfort zones creates opportunities for discovery, transformation, and illumination. These writers bring back life lessons that are profoundly . . . CONTINUE READING: This Saturday in San Francisco: Travel Writers Read at LitCrawl

Muse | Travel

The Elevator in Rome

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“I’ve gotta get out of here!” shrieked the voice from the corner. “You don’t understand. I’m claustrophobic!”

One warm day early last summer, Susan and I had boarded an elevator in a poorly air conditioned archaeological museum in Rome, along with a dozen people from our tour group, and Rachel, our English guide.

We only had to go up two floors, but we had already climbed many step on this tour, and the elevator would save us trekking up a couple of long staircases. Rachel pushed the button and the door closed. The elevator gave a small lurch, then nothing.

I looked at Susan. She smiled at me, her eyes a bit wide. I smiled back. I knew that . . . CONTINUE READING: The Elevator in Rome

Muse | Travel

Eiffel: What Goes Up

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As the Seine meanders aimlessly through Paris, Gustave Eiffel’s work of wonder appears to glide from one bank to the other. Our Batobus commuter boat docks in the shadow of the Tower, and I shepherd my small flock to the shore.

Razi, 14, and Danny, 11, have been troupers on this first trip to Europe, and they are eagerly anticipating the Eiffel Tower.

Except … my wife Susan has a phobia. Elevators make her anxious, and she’ll only ride in one if there’s no alternative. Fortunately, the small hotels we have stayed in on this trip have booked us on low floors so she can climb the stairs. But the Eiffel Tower is no walk-up, and we approach with some apprehension. . . . CONTINUE READING: Eiffel: What Goes Up

Muse

A Chance Encounter

Running the clapboard. First year at Stanford film school.

Running the clapstick. First year at Stanford Film School.

Sometimes the course of your life can turn on one small thing, one chance encounter. It happened to me, many years ago, the day Beverly invited me to visit her.

Of course I had the hots for her—pretty, round face, sparkling blue eyes, long blond hair. But ever since our one blind date during college, I had known we would never be more than friends.

I ran into her at Butcher and Stephanie’s wedding about a year after graduation. She was the maid of honor and I was an usher. During the reception, at a fancy club on the harbor in Marblehead, Massachusetts, Beverly and I wandered down the hill . . . CONTINUE READING: A Chance Encounter

Muse

We Loved Our First House

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We loved our first house in San Francisco, in the Excelsior district of the Outer Mission. We loved the fact that we owned it, loved that we had managed to move quickly enough to evade eviction by our last landlady (who had suddenly decided to move into our apartment), loved that our living space had increased to include three bedrooms and two baths, loved that we now had a huge, two-car garage with washer and dryer and a concrete back yard we transformed into a garden with roses and sunflowers and paths of brick and camomile.

We loved our location across from Crocker Park, loved taking our toddler to the swings there, loved jogging around the park, loved watching . . . CONTINUE READING: We Loved Our First House

Books / Writing | Muse

Pop’s Podunks

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Whenever my dad wanted to speak metaphorically about Podunks—places that were remote and sparsely populated—he often cited Broken Elbow, Indiana, and Frozen Dog, Iowa.

I always assumed they were real places, and recently I dug around to find out how they got their colorful names. Internet research truly is the best!

Googling “Broken Elbow, Indiana” yielded a few promising results: a juicy lead about an Indiana Pacers player (Chris Copeland) who broke his elbow; an informational site for medical elbow and shoulder providers in Indianapolis; another site for orthopedic surgeons in northwest Indiana; and a news alert about an Oakland A’s player (from Indiana) who broke his elbow throwing a pitch this weekend.

My search for the origins of . . . CONTINUE READING: Pop’s Podunks

Books / Writing | Travel

Good Night, Irene—Confessions of a Mileage Whore

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Bronze Certificate, Funny Travel Category, 9th Annual Solas Awards for Travel Writing from Travelers’ Tales, March 2015

It’s not easy being a mileage whore. Sometimes you have to do things that don’t seem to make sense.

United Airlines operates a major hub in San Francisco, and I’ve whored for their miles for years now. On my trip to Brazil recently, because I wanted the mileage, I had chosen a longer United itinerary through Newark going and Washington coming.

But when things got complicated on the return, I had to decide if the miles were worth it.

We wrapped our week-long video shoot in São Paulo on a Friday night—amid much hugging and thanking with the cast . . . CONTINUE READING: Good Night, Irene—Confessions of a Mileage Whore

Books / Writing

New Book Review? Is This English?

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I just found an online page which appears, at first, to be a review of my book SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA. Then I read the page all the way through. I know these are English words, but … is this English? My favorites are learning that “SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA … lets you cook flavorful and tasty food without the hassles” and “will go a long way to discourage mischievous activities at the home or business. The one is simply the ultimate for the budget-conscious hunter that refuses to sacrifice performance.”

Huh?

Here is the whole piece, from suchwatch.com, which purports to be an “Internet online shopping directory:”

Showdown At Shinagawa: Tales Of Filming From . . . CONTINUE READING: New Book Review? Is This English?

Teaching | Tech | Travel

Why They Call It Far-go

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At 9 am Monday, I left my home near San Francisco for what proved to be one of my longest trips ever. Twenty-nine hours later, I reached my destination, after a grueling air journey.

But I hadn’t been hurled halfway around the world. I had finally touched down in Fargo, North Dakota, just halfway across the U.S., a mere 1450 miles from home.

At that rate—about 50 miles per hour—I could have driven there.

By comparison, some years before, in 24 hours, I flew from Singapore to Johannesburg to Nairobi to Kampala, Uganda—over 7500 miles. Another time I traveled 8800 miles from San Francisco to Singapore in 23 hours, including a very short overnight in Bangkok. Twice I had . . . CONTINUE READING: Why They Call It Far-go

Books / Writing | Production | Travel

New Award & Reviews for SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil

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My book SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA tells true stories from my long career as a director of photography, working on film and digital cinema shoots across the U.S. and all around the world—Japan, India, China, Uganda, the Philippines, New Zealand, France, Singapore, England, Taiwan, Mexico, and Brazil.

The book has recently been honored as a Commended Winner in Non-Fiction in the 2014 Self-Publishing Review Awards. One of the three highest non-fiction awards!

RECENT REVIEWS

Muse

For Mom, A Century Later—We Miss Your Bright Eyes and Sweet Smile

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Today is the 100th birthday of my mom, Jeanette Tulman Zarchy, who passed away about two years ago. In her honor, I am republishing this eulogy I wrote for her memorial.

I want to tell you a little about our mom, whose life mirrored our nation’s history for the last century.

She was born Jeanette Dorothy Tulman on May 4, 1914. Think about that for a minute. She was born before the start of World War One, when Woodrow Wilson was president, the first of 17 presidents during her lifetime.

Jeanette was born at home at 107 Bristol Street, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, a neighborhood of immigrants. Her family rented, then owned and lived in the three . . . CONTINUE READING: For Mom, A Century Later—We Miss Your Bright Eyes and Sweet Smile