My New Book

SHOWDOWN AT SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil


Coming November 18th: I'll be reading at Weekday Wanderlust in San Francisco

Roving Camera Album: Click Photo

Innovision Tombo

Dog 3.0—Good Golly, Miss Molly


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


The Moon, the Snow, and Dr. Zhivago


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


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


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

Muse | Travel

The Elevator in Rome


“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


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


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


We Loved Our First House


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


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


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


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

Muse | Travel



Ten of us arrive, unannounced, at the restaurant on the terrace, hoping for an outside table.

The staff seats us quickly, then waters, breads, menus, wines, serves, desserts, and espressos us in style. The service is seamless, though during the meal I notice one of our waitresses hurrying by, looking harried. But we gab and laugh and catch up in the sun on the terrace, enjoying the company, the food, and the splendid New England day.

Eventually the waitress brings the check, with amends. “I’m so sorry about the delay. Thanks for your understanding.” . . . CONTINUE READING: Unpunished

Books / Writing | Muse

Roving Camera’s 2500th Facebook Like

P1020290 - Version 2

The Facebook Page for Roving Camera: Bill Zarchy’s Blog passed 2500 Likes earlier today. It’s been my pleasure to write for you on a crazy array of subjects for more than two-and-a-half years, and I humbly appreciate your support, enthusiasm, and suggestions.

I’ll be publishing two books of my stories this summer and have more surprises in the works, so stay tuned! . . . CONTINUE READING: Roving Camera’s 2500th Facebook Like

Muse | VIdeos

My TEDx Talk: Problem-Solving and Adaptation in a Digital World


Recently I was honored to give a TEDx Talk on creative problem-solving.

Using examples from three different film projects, I talked about thinking on your feet, adapting to change, and improvising solutions—valuable skills in any era, especially our digital age. It’s not just about mastering the gear, I tell my students. It’s about releasing your creativity. The ability to acquire and propagate images with ease doesn’t make you a Spielberg, any more than learning to write turns you into Shakespeare. But creativity, inquisitiveness, and collaboration will never go out of style.

TEDx programs are independently organized TED-like events. . . . CONTINUE READING: My TEDx Talk: Problem-Solving and Adaptation in a Digital World


For Pop, A Century Later


My daddy was the strongest man in the world. My daddy was the smartest man in the world. My daddy could build or fix anything, and he was an expert on everything. That’s how I thought of him when I was growing up, and most of it turned out to be true.

My dad, Harry Zarchy, was a Renaissance man, a teacher in the New York City schools for 36 years, a skilled musician, a hobbyist and craftsman who excelled in fields as diverse as jewelry making, watch repair, clock making, furniture building, ham radio, photography, drawing, and countless others. And he was an author, the creator of over 30 books on crafts and hobbies and the outdoors for kids and teenagers, mostly with his own photographs and drawings. Between 1941 and 1973, in 32 years, he published 36 books. . . . CONTINUE READING: For Pop, A Century Later

Baseball | Muse

Confessions of a Bicoastal Baseball Fan


In honor of the A’s and Giants both winning their divisions and making the baseball playoffs:

Here’s my dirty little secret: I am a bicoastal baseball fan. I root for both the Giants and the Athletics, who play on opposite coasts of San Francisco Bay. This duality is heresy for many baseball fans, who call me a “bad fan” and consider sports loyalty an absolute, one-sided affair, even in a two-team market.

But how glorious to have two clubs to follow! When one wallows in mediocrity, the other is often a contender. One of my teams plays at home every day. If the other is on the East Coast, their starting times are staggered, and I can listen to or watch two games a day – an embarrassment of riches, for sure.

. . . CONTINUE READING: Confessions of a Bicoastal Baseball Fan


My First Paid Writing Gig


To kick off the new year, I recently came upon this joke I wrote years ago, originally published in Boys’ Life Magazine in 1961. As payment, I received a Boy Scout Handbook, making this my first paid writing gig! It’s obvious to me that I was right to choose film and video as a career (and not joke writing!)