Bill Zarchy

Coming Soon

In 1778, General George Washington walks away from the winter encampment at Valley Forge and disappears, only to turn up at a dog park on San Francisco Bay in the summer on 2014.

BILLY SOLO 2020 — Tickets On Sale Now

All-New, One-Hour Storytelling Soirée Salon
with BILL ZARCHY

FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2020
from 7 to 8:30 pm / Doors open at 6:45.

SILK ROAD HOUSE, 1944 University Avenue #107, Berkeley CA 94704
(6-minute walk from Downtown Berkeley BART Station)

SUGGESTED DONATION: $10
Refreshments will be served! No one turned away for lack of funds.

Video: Telling ‘Shanghai Lunch’

I found out later that Spicy Jew’s Ear was a type of mushroomy fungus, but it still didn’t sound like something that I wanted to eat.

Here’s the video from my telling “Shanghai Lunch” at Tell It On Tuesday at The Marsh in Berkeley on January 28th. Storytelling in the oral tradition. No notes, no text.

Closed captions available.

I’ll Be Telling This Tuesday in Berkeley

In just a few days …
this Tuesday, January 28th … 
I’ll be telling a new story — “Shanghai Lunch” — at TELL IT ON TUESDAY, the monthly storytelling event at The Marsh in Berkeley.

I am also performing at LUNCHTIME STORYTELLING at Stagebridge in Oakland on February 20th.

Putting Together My First Photo Show

With months to plan, I jumped at the chance to organize an exhibit of my photographs at our synagogue.

Plenty of time for a series of interesting and sometimes costly decisions on the number, size, and presentation of pictures, as well as arrangement, hanging, lighting, etc.

I knew I wanted to feature a plethora of photos, more than the 30 or 40 I had seen in previous exhibitions in the same space, on a potpourri of subjects — flowers, sunsets, landscapes, and Judaism; travel shots from Ireland, Italy, Hong Kong, Holland, Florida; people in Israel, India, China, Scotland, and Mexico; plus a few abstracts, some baseball photos, and many from dog walks near my home in northern California.

Present at the Re-Creation: The Loma Prieta Earthquake

30 years ago today!

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?

Come See My First Photo Show

Contact me if you can’t come on November 21st, and I can arrange a private showing.

FINAL PUBLIC SHOWING & RECEPTION

Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Congregation Beth El Social Hall
1301 Oxford Street
Berkeley, California 94709
Wine and refreshments
All are welcome

My First Photo Show

My first-ever photography exhibit.
Congregation Beth El, Berkeley. Fall 2019.

I inherited my love of creating images from my dad.

He always had cameras and took photos to illustrate his books on crafts and the outdoors. I loved watching him print pictures under a red safelight in the darkroom. I oohed and aahed as images slowly appeared on the photo paper soaking in developer.

This collection of photographs is a smorgasbord of topics and styles. Faces and places, flowers and plants, and a few Jewish ritual objects. Also: some baseball shots. Because baseball is life.

Video: Telling ‘Mysteries of Travel’

We tried to make sense of what we had seen. We compared notes. We realized that we would probably never find out anything more about what had happened, and why and how.

In case you missed any of the live shows (or you’re dying to see it again!), here’s the video of my story, “Mysteries of Travel,” from the Monday Night Marsh event at The Marsh in San Francisco on April 29th. Storytelling in the oral tradition. No notes, no text.

Closed captions available. Just click on CC near the bottom of the player.

My April Storytelling Gigs

‘Mysteries of Travel’  
‘The Great Debate’  
‘The Elevator in Rome’  

I’ll be telling some new stories at three gigs this month in San Francisco and Oakland. Storytelling in the oral tradition. No notes, no text. Hope you can make it! The Marsh venue is easily accessible on BART (or park nearby). And the Stagebridge telling is free.

MONDAY NIGHT MARSH on April 15th and April 29th at The Marsh in San Francisco.

LUNCHTIME STORYTELLING on April 18th at Stagebridge in Oakland.

Video: Telling ‘The Elevator in Rome’

She looked at me, wide-eyed, with a big smile.
I knew that getting stuck in an elevator was one of her worst fears.

In case you missed the live show (or can’t wait to see it again!), here’s the video of my story, “The Elevator in Rome,” from Tell It On Tuesday at The Marsh in Berkeley last month. Storytelling in the oral tradition. No notes, no text.

Closed captions available. Just click on CC near the bottom of the player.

I’ll Be Telling It On Tuesday This Month … and Other Stories

Storytelling Gigs Coming Up Soon!

On February 26th, I’ll be telling a new story — “The Elevator in Rome” — at Tell It On Tuesday at The Marsh in Berkeley.

AND … I’ll be telling other new stories at three gigs in April in San Francisco and Oakland. Storytelling in the oral tradition — no text, no notes.

Come on down! Easily BARTable. Cheap entertainment!

Tuesday February 26  / TELL IT ON TUESDAY / at The Marsh in Berkeley

  • 7 pm music / 7:30 stories
  • 2120 Allston Way @ Shattuck, Berkeley 94704
  • 1 block from Downtown Berkeley BART station

Shooting Miracles: How to Deal with Medical Locations

It’s still dark out as we pull up to the hospital on a frosty Chicago morning at six. One of the nurses greets us quietly, and we roll our cameras, monitors, lighting, and audio equipment through the bowels of the hospital to the corridor with the operating rooms.

In two hours we’ll be filming heart surgery.

We spend the time gowning up and cleaning our gear, chatting with the staff, and going over, for the umpteenth time, where to position ourselves, when to put on our x-ray protection, how often the lights will go off and on during the procedure, how long we’ll be shooting continuously. Once the nurses and techs have prepped the room and the patient, the doctors arrive and things get going quickly and calmly.

Health: Our Most Important Product

Technology companies around the world spend millions of dollars on marketing media. Many of these projects rely on real people talking about their own experiences—that staple of corporate video, the talking head.

It’s important to keep asking: what are we selling? I sometimes find it difficult to feel an emotional attachment. Enterprise systems integration or managed hybrid cloud-based solutions don’t always tear at the heartstrings.

But I’ve come to realize that health is the most important product of technology, and that patient stories make the most interesting and compelling talking heads—not corporate executives, engineers, or software designers. Here are four memorable patients

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.

On Discarding Books

How Not to Be a Library

Today we gave away over 300 books from our dusty shelves. Many bags, crammed full of books, all in excellent shape, an alarming number unread and unopened.

It started with a holiday season when our kids were away most of the time, coupled with a desire to reduce dust and sneezing, amplified by a dread of our kids someday discovering that our vast collections were both voluminous and virginal.

The latter dread, which is not uncommon for retired folks, is a byproduct of having lived in the same house for 32 years. Without regular purges of stuff, every closet, shelf, or cabinet would be stuffed. That’s why they call it stuff.

The last book purge took place a few years ago, when we discarded funky old open shelving and invested in glass-doored book cabinets from, you know, the huge Swedish place. But the cabinets didn’t close tight, the dust seeped in, and the number of books doubled.

A Storytelling Journey

I gave a talk on Storytelling at my 50th Dartmouth College Reunion last month. Following is the text of my ten-minute introduction. If you want to see the whole, one-hour presentation, including video clips and stories, click on the video player below. Closed Captions (CC) available.

I never wanted to be a performer … until I discovered storytelling.

About two-and-a-half years ago, a friend of mine had a gig playing classical guitar at The Marsh, a club in Berkeley that was hosting a monthly storytelling night called Tell It On Tuesday. She urged me to come along. After she finished playing, five people, all roughly my age, stood up in turn and told stories.

BILLY SOLO Video — Part 2

One-Man Solo Storytelling Soirée Salon

4/20/18 at Silk Road House, Berkeley, California

I guess gratuitous self-promotion pays off, eh? Every single chair was in use. I was so pleased with the turnout and the enthusiasm of the audience, even if most of them were friends!

They laughed a lot, usually at appropriate moments, and applauded each story. What fun!

Part 2 includes these stories:

  • “FDR: Fear Itself”
  • “Evelyn’s Story: Alex and the Cole Porter Show”
  • “Mendocino: The Essence of Nature”
  • “Snow Story: The Moon and Dr. Zhivago”

BILLY SOLO Video — Part 1

One-Man Solo Storytelling Soirée Salon

4/20/18 at Silk Road House, Berkeley, California

My solo storytelling show last Friday was amazing, a real peak experience!

What a fun evening! I had a terrific time and feel wonderful about having challenged myself like that. I did eight stories, about 75-80 minutes of material in all.

The place was packed. About 48 people in a medium-smallish room.

Part 1 includes these stories:

  • “Anansi”
  • “Dog Years: Pop, Sophie, and the West Wing”
  • “The Seven Lies”
  • “Chartres: Ecstasy at the Altar”

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.”

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.

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