SHOWDOWN AT SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil

Roving Camera Album: Click Photo

Shanghai Lunch
Books / Writing | Muse | Storytelling

Moose Encounter

(Loosely inspired by a tall and nearly true tale)

Jake rushed through the door—sweaty and disheveled—to find Al playing solitaire in the main lodge.

“Al! I just had a moose encounter,” said Jake. “Up on Bacon Ridge. It was pretty great, dude. Wait’ll I tell the guys at home about this.”

“Was it sweet and chocolatey?”

“No, dipshit! Not that kind of moose, with a U! Moose with two O’s, like Bullwinkle. Huge, with antlers. I just saw one.”

“Tell me.”

“I grabbed my camera, hiked to the top, then took a few snaps, looking down at the ranch in the fall foliage. It was right purdy, pardner.”

“Jake, you’ve gotta cut that shit out. We’ll be home in . . . CONTINUE READING: Moose Encounter

Books / Writing | Muse | Storytelling

A Writer’s Debut As a Storyteller

About two years ago, I went to a storytelling event at The Marsh in Berkeley and watched six people tell six very different stories. Some personal, some historical, all about 10-15 minutes long.

My first reaction: I can do that.

Little did I know.

The tellers were all from Stagebridge, a Senior Theatre Company housed in an old church in Oakland, so I started taking storytelling classes there. Stagebridge also offers courses in acting, directing, singing, dancing, and many other kinds of performance. It’s the only “senior” thing I’ve ever done. But close friends, both recently retired psychologists, have found new passions in performance at Stagebridge, and, so I dove in.

I’m a big fan of “The Moth,” . . . CONTINUE READING: A Writer’s Debut As a Storyteller

Books / Writing | Muse | Storytelling

My First Storytelling—Thursday March 16 at Stagebridge


Learning how to tell stories is an ancient craft, difficult to master.

I’ve been very excited for the past year to learn oral storytelling—not reading my written stories, not memorizing lines, but knowing a story, absorbing it, then telling it in my own words, without script or notes.

It’s kind of a verbal jazz, different every time, and more challenging than I could have imagined.

Come hear my first “telling” outside of class (along with fellow student Eleanor Clement Glass). Some of the stories will be funny, some poignant, all heartfelt.

It takes place tomorrow, Thursday March 16 at noon at Stagebridge, at the First Congregational Church, 2501 Harrison Street, Oakland CA 94612. It’s in . . . CONTINUE READING: My First Storytelling—Thursday March 16 at Stagebridge

Books / Writing | Muse | Travel

‘SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA’ Book Party on October 8

Wine • Cheese • Stories • Fun


I’ll be talking and reading some stories from SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil on Saturday, October 8 at Book Passage in Corte Madera.

I am a member of Left Coast Writers, and they are sponsoring the party. Come join us for a celebration with wine and cheese.

SHOWDOWN features 18 tales. We go along for the ride on a darkly funny bus trip down India’s deadly Bombay-Pune Road in “Wrecks and Pissers,” schlep through the disorienting milieu of one of . . . CONTINUE READING: ‘SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA’ Book Party on October 8

Muse | Production | Teaching | Travel

How to Succeed in the Film Business While Really, Really Trying

An old friend from the East Coast contacted me recently to see if I had any career advice for her friends’ son, a recent film school graduate who was trying make it as a filmmaker in New York City. I told my friend that, though my experience as a freelance crew person in the Bay Area wasn’t directly applicable to his efforts at finding production clients in New York, I would be happy to offer some general advice. Here it is.


Nice to hear from you. As I explained to our mutual friend, I’m not sure how to advise you, other than telling you a bit about my career.

A little background:

Though I grew up on Long . . . CONTINUE READING: How to Succeed in the Film Business While Really, Really Trying

Muse | VIdeos

Incense Cedar

As we pass the 30-year mark in our home next week, the tall tree in the right rear corner of the yard, an Incense Cedar, stands tall and true, more than twice the height of the house.

When we moved in, there were two tall trees. The left rear corner held a Monterey Pine, so enormous and overgrown that many low branches reached 25 feet across the yard to touch our deck. Others extended over our neighbor’s fence, then across her yard, to rest on the opposite fence on the far side.

The pine was a happy, magnificent, giant forest tree, but clearly it lived in the wrong part of the world. The neighbor remembered that the pine had . . . CONTINUE READING: Incense Cedar

Muse | Production | Travel | VIdeos

Showcasing ‘Showdown at Shinagawa’—The Video

Video of a presentation by Bill Zarchy at Northbrae Community Church, Berkeley, California on 2/3/16.

The author reads excerpts from four of the stories in his book, Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil.” He also discusses the ins and outs of self-publishing, as well as his background as a globe-trotting cinematographer.

The stories read:

  • “Starstruck at Cannes: Morgan Freeman on the Red Carpet”
  • “21st Century Village: Telemedicine in Rural India”
  • “Dog Years: Sophie, Pop, and Bill Clinton”
  • “Shanghai Lunch”

Please note: Video is from an iPad. Sound level is low, but audible. Crank it up!

Muse | Production | Travel

Bangkok, the Saudis, and the Jism Balls

Sunset over the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok

“I’m hungry,” said Randy, as we set up a sunset shot from the overpass near the end of our first day on the ground. “We need something to eat.”

“Okay,” Larry agreed. “I’ll get street food. There’s lots of it around.”

“Is that safe?”

“This is at least my fifth trip to Thailand. I’ve never gotten sick on street food here.”

“Unlike Mexico,” I put in, “or India, or Uganda.”

“Or other places. I think everything’s very fresh here. When you buy something, it’s usually been made just minutes before.”

Larry crossed to the other side of the pedestrian bridge, past a mutilated street beggar, to one of several food carts . . . CONTINUE READING: Bangkok, the Saudis, and the Jism Balls


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


A Chance Encounter

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