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ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Muse

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. 

So this week, it was time to purge. Drag them all out, dust them off, wipe down the shelve, then triage the books into keepers, getriddas, and a few specific giveaways. Stuff the getriddas into 10-cent supermarket bags. Eighteen bags in all, averaging 15-20 books in each.

It’s not easy. I was an early reader, devouring books from age three, and always an acquirer. If I loved a book, I had to own it, even if I never looked at it again. Part of that was  . . . CONTINUE READING: On Discarding Books

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Storytelling • Muse

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. . . . CONTINUE READING: A Storytelling Journey

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Storytelling • Muse

BILLY SOLO Video — Part 2

One-Man Solo Storytelling Soirée Salon

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

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"

. . . CONTINUE READING: BILLY SOLO Video — Part 2

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Storytelling • Muse

BILLY SOLO Video — Part 1

One-Man Solo Storytelling Soirée Salon

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

Part 1 includes these stories:

"Anansi"

"Dog Years: Pop, Sophie, and the West Wing"

"The Seven Lies"

"Chartres: Ecstasy at the Altar"

. . . CONTINUE READING: BILLY SOLO Video — Part 1

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Storytelling • Muse

BILLY SOLO: One-man, One-hour Storytelling Soirée Salon with BILL ZARCHY

Friday, April 20th at 7 pm / Silk Road House, 1944 University Avenue #107, Berkeley (6-minute walk from Downtown Berkeley BART)

Tickets are ON SALE NOW: http://bit.ly/billysolo OR Go to zarchy.eventbrite.com . . . CONTINUE READING: BILLY SOLO: One-man, One-hour Storytelling Soirée Salon with BILL ZARCHY

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Storytelling • Muse

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 Baltimore at the end of the week, and you’ll still be a dental hygienist. Not John Fucking Wayne.”

“Whatever. I blazed a doobie up there, lay in the sun for a while, then began to walk slowly down, through a clearing covered with wildflowers. Then, up ahead, off the trail, I saw movement in the trees. Something big and brown. Large, broad, flat antlers. Lots of points on them.”

“And you’re sure it was a moose? How do you know? You’ve never seen a live moose before.”

Jake looked at him with the same expression he might have if he’d been watching a baboon scratch its balls. “Al, I’ve seen enough ‘Bullwinkle’ episodes to identify those antlers.”

“You can’t be serious!”

“Hey, whatevs. Dude, trust me, this was a moose.”

. . . CONTINUE READING: Moose Encounter

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Storytelling • Muse

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,” the NPR show, and the storytelling of travel writer Jeff Greenwald. I’ve always liked reading my written stories in public. I saw storytelling as a way to extend that fun with different audiences. But it’s not as easy as I thought it would be, because it’s all done without notes or text.

At first I tried reading some traditional/folk tales to myself and then trying to deliver them in class, adhering as closely as possible to the words I had read. Then I tried to convert some of my own written stories for oral delivery. The tendency for newbies like me, especially writers, is to want to memorize and reproduce the pearly prose I put on paper. That’s not how they teach it at Stagebridge.

It’s more about learning/knowing the . . . CONTINUE READING: A Writer’s Debut As a Storyteller

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing

Listen to My Interview on FCC Free Radio

Radio host Lilycat interviewed me recently about my writing on FCC Free Radio.

The show ran live on September 18, broadcast from their studios in the Civic Center/UN Plaza District in downtown San Francisco. For two hours, we talked, she played music, and I read three stories from my book, Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil.

Lilycat, aka Melinda Adams, hosts a weekly show, called “Lilycat on Stuff,” every Sunday at noon. Once a month, she hosts authors like myself from Left Coast Writers.

FCC Free Radio, an Internet-based radio station, is home to over 50 original programs each week, that produce more than 1,000,000 listeners per month. Melinda recorded the whole broadcast, which is now available as a podcast.

Click here to listen to the podcast, which starts with a long musical interlude.

More about “Lilycat on Stuff”

More about my interview

More about FCC Free Radio, from their website:

FCCFREE RADIO opened in July 2008 as a pirate radio station at 107.3 FM with 3 shows and a dream to be San Francisco’s number one radio station, but the FCC came and told them NO!! So FFR transformed into San Francisco’s #1 designation for podcasting and internet broadcasting.

When Google calls you an “Iconic Staple of San Francisco” and a “Frontrunner in Internet Broadcasting” there must be a reason! Tune in and find out why.

FFR has podcasts that range from talk, comedy, sex, health, politics, sports, indie, . . . CONTINUE READING: Listen to My Interview on FCC Free Radio

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • 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 “Frozen Dog, Iowa” also seemed rife with possibilities: a TV news story about a man discovering a frozen (human) body while out walking his dog in Des Moines; another self-explanatory headline “Frozen Dog Found in Trash in Iowa;” and a pet food site (for dogs, cats, and ferrets) called “My Pet Carnivore” which, among other things, sells frozen pet food in Iowa.

But where should I go from there? Some hard thinking was necessary. I mean, really, would anyone name a town after a medical practice? Crazy thought! On the other hand, what if the town’s most distinguished citizen had benefited from special treatments after an elbow break? Well … uh … still unlikely. Then, digging a little deeper on the Interwebs, I discovered the shocking factoid that the Pacers . . . CONTINUE READING: Pop’s Podunks

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Travel

Good Night, Irene—Confessions of a Mileage Whore

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 and crew—and had time to relax over dinner that evening.

Saturday was the first day all week I didn’t have to set my alarm for 5:30, and I luxuriated in sleeping in. I had plans to meet my co-worker for breakfast before his 3 pm flight back home to Salvador, Bahia, further north up the Brazilian coast. My own departure for the States was scheduled for Saturday night.

But when I awoke with a start Saturday morning, I had an email and several phone messages from United, warning me that my scheduled 10:15 departure that night to Washington-Dulles had been pushed back five hours to 3:15 am Sunday, because of “late aircraft arrival.” I didn’t mind leaving Brazil later, but I did the math and quickly realized that I would . . . CONTINUE READING: Good Night, Irene—Confessions of a Mileage Whore

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing

New Book Review? Is This English?

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 Bombay To Brazil is a outstanding trait and fairly appropriate creation for the low-cost price. We grant shoppers with the highest mannerism and most innovative productions in the website. You can surely procure the produce and more replacement at the cheap price with reliable transaction.

You will get Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil cut-price price after check the price. You can read more productions subject and features. This unit is high quality and rapid shipping for the market. If you are search for Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil, this unit is the best quality product and we are indeed recommend the produce!

Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil lets you cook flavorful . . . CONTINUE READING: New Book Review? Is This English?

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Travel • Production

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

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

  • “Funny, sweet, and wise…deeply moving human interest stories…the doctor in India who doesn’t charge for treating people via telemedicine, the young man in England with cystic fibrosis who has a new lease on life thanks to a portable nebulizer, and the medical student in Uganda who is tirelessly working to help his people.”—Foreword Clarion Reviews
  • “The author recalls his near ‘big break’…as a novice director doing preproduction in the Philippines for a low-budget Japanese sci-fi film…Thumbs up for this filmmaker’s collection of postcards from the edge.”—Kirkus Reviews
  • “’Shanghai Lunch’ is a funny little vignette about Westerners trying Chinese delicacies. ‘The Big Break: Malaise in Manila’ is a great little humor piece for those of you just dying to know how a B-movie gets made.”—IndieReader
  • “The book…really pulls together as a narrative about humanity in general in a very intriguing and heartwarming way, even when . . . CONTINUE READING: New Award & Reviews for SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil
  • ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Travel • Production

    SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA Now Available in Paperback and Kindle e-Book Versions

    SHOWDOWN AT SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil

    New Book by BILL ZARCHY on sale now!

    Introduction by Larry Habegger

    Bill Zarchy’s new book—SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA—is now on sale at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle e-book versions. SHOWDOWN AT SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil tells true stories from Zarchy’s 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. . . . CONTINUE READING: SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA Now Available in Paperback and Kindle e-Book Versions

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing

    Daniel Pinkham: The Unpredictable-ness of What’s Coming Next

    A new profile on Dan Pinkham I wrote for Varney’s Place, the blog of The Kenwood Group:

    “In college, I supported myself with a commissioned sales job at a prominent Westwood Village camera store. One day I sold a super-8 camera to Johnny Carson and had the pleasure of teaching him how to use it! That was a mind-blowing moment for a film school student, to be sure.”

    Common knowledge about personality types: humans are either left-brained—analytical, detail-minded, mathematical, and logical—or right-brained—creative, thoughtful, artistic, and open-minded. It depends on which side of the brain is dominant, right? . . . CONTINUE READING: Daniel Pinkham: The Unpredictable-ness of What’s Coming Next

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Tech

    On Predicting the Future: Roku’s Reward and Augmented Reality

    Predicting the future is a tricky business. It’s difficult to know what’s going to happen, and you never know whom you might inspire.

    Jim Samalis, who joined Kenwood as Executive Creative Director on April 1, was reminded recently of a visionary film he made years ago, and was rewarded by seeing the fruit of some seeds he helped to sow.

    The story starts seven years ago. . . . CONTINUE READING: On Predicting the Future: Roku’s Reward and Augmented Reality

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Baseball

    Writing Projects for Varney’s Place

    Recently completed pieces for The Kenwood Group, for their Varney’s Place blog:

    Giants Stadium: In the Shadow of Kenwood

    Starting Friday afternoon and 81 times in the next six months, the neighborhood around Kenwood will be transformed. Thousands of people of all ages wearing Halloween colors and panda and giraffe hats will flood the streets around our office, their shirts bearing an odd collection of names which are common nouns like Posey, Pagan, Panda, Pence, Belt, Huff, Bonds, Snow, Mays, the Beard, and the Freak, as well as unique three-syllable names like Bumgarner, Vogelsong, Marichal, Scutaro, McCovey, and Lincecum. . . . CONTINUE READING: Writing Projects for Varney’s Place

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Muse

    Roving Camera’s 2500th Facebook Like

    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

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Production

    Writing Projects: Hurricane Sandy / Trip to Taipei

    Wearing my writer’s hat, I’ve recently cranked out two articles for The Kenwood Group about some of their projects, published on their Varney’s Place blog.

    Into the Storm: Producing a Movie Marathon in the Face of a Hurricane

    Imagine planning a live event long in advance, only to have the storm of the century threaten to shut you down.

    On a recent project for NVIDIA, Kenwood managed to pull off a production just before Superstorm Sandy hit New York, but completing the project proved difficult in the aftermath.

    The plan: producing the Rooftop Films Indie Horror Movie Marathon in Brooklyn, with scary flicks and features on several HD projectors, and a live band playing heavy metal. . . . CONTINUE READING: Writing Projects: Hurricane Sandy / Trip to Taipei

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing

    Studying Spielberg: McBride’s Biography is Memorable … and Unauthorized

    Imagine deciding to write a biography on someone you had met twice, a contemporary who worked in the same industry and lived in the same state, only to learn, several months into your research, that your subject has declined your request for an interview and asked his close associates and family to do the same.

    This is the backstory for Steven Spielberg: A Biography by Joseph McBride. Undeterred by Spielberg’s lack of cooperation, McBride soldiered on. No slacker, over the next three years he interviewed 327 other people for this book, including many of Spielberg’s cohorts and relatives.

    The result is a marvelous work, an unauthorized biography overflowing with McBride’s voluminous research, crisp critical thinking, and an easy, engaging writing style that refreshes like a clear mountain stream. . . . CONTINUE READING: Studying Spielberg: McBride’s Biography is Memorable … and Unauthorized

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing

    OUR NEW BOOK—No Definite Plans: Eleven Tales of Laughter, Love, Travel—Volume 3 from Townsend 11

    I’m very excited about the publication of the third volume in our new e-Book series!

    No Definite Plans: Eleven Stories of Laughter, Love, Travel, is now available on Amazon’s Kindle Store and Barnes and Noble’s Nook Book Store. This new offering is by Townsend 11 (my writing collective), edited by Larry Habegger. I contributed a story (“Chartres: Ecstasy at the Altar,” about my family’s odd visit to a venerable landmark), as well as one of the two cover photos.

    In this third book, No Definite Plans, you can learn how to hold it while rafting the Amazon, have an animated dream, witness a unique spectacle in a French cathedral, visit a women’s only sanctum in Morocco, and head for home in the Midwest. You will contemplate an emperor’s curiosity, discover the unexpected aftermath of adventure, and confront the inevitability of aging. And, in our first fiction offerings, you’ll meet unforgettable characters in China and India and ponder the generation gap in modern language. . . . CONTINUE READING: OUR NEW BOOK—No Definite Plans: Eleven Tales of Laughter, Love, Travel—Volume 3 from Townsend 11

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing

    Townsend 11 Publishes Volume 2: No Set Boundaries

    Townsend 11 has published Volume 2 of our new e-book series—No Set Boundaries: Eleven Stories of Life, Travel, Misadventure.

    For several years now, I’ve belonged to this collective of eleven writers (including one who lives in Barcelona). We meet monthly in a converted brick warehouse on Townsend Street in San Francisco.

    We are committed to sharing stories that enlighten, entertain, and inspire. Our work is an eclectic mix that has been widely published in major magazines, newspapers, and books, and has earned numerous awards. Now, in this age of e-books, we’ve launched a series of works to engage you.

    In our second book, No Set Boundaries: Eleven Stories of Life, Travel, Misadventure, you can witness a Catalan ritual in Barcelona, shop the Italian way, freeze on an English beach, deal with prejudice in Ethiopia, backpack down a frightening road in Cambodia, rest in a California garden, and glide along on a French canal. You’ll learn about a bent zucchini that’s not a vegetable, try to help lost travelers, break a leg on a mountain trail, and dash through an ancient city in India. . . . CONTINUE READING: Townsend 11 Publishes Volume 2: No Set Boundaries

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing

    Write What You Don’t Know

    I’ve been a filmmaker and writer for most of my life, but I’ve never written a film. There was no screenplay writing class at Stanford when I was in film school there, for some reason, and I never caught the bug.

    Now, however, Julian Hoxter, my colleague in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University, has published a wonderful book called Write What You Don’t Know: An Accessible Manual for Screenwriters. I can feel my life starting to change. . . . CONTINUE READING: Write What You Don’t Know

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Travel

    Townsend 11: Volume 1 Now in More Stores, Volume 2 Due Out Soon

    News from Townsend 11, the writing collective I’ve belonged to for years, here in San Francisco:

    First—Volume 1 of our new book series, No Fixed Destination: Eleven Stories of Life, Love, Travel, was originally published in July as a Kindle book. But now we have made it available at most e-book stores.

    Next—Volume 2 of the series, No Set Boundaries: Eleven Stories of Life, Misadventure, will be published in a few days on the Kindle Store, and through other e-Book outlets a few weeks later. . . . CONTINUE READING: Townsend 11: Volume 1 Now in More Stores, Volume 2 Due Out Soon

    Books / Writing • Travel

    My Writing Group Has Published a Book of Stories—No Fixed Destination, by Townsend 11, Vol. 1 of Our New Series

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been working with other authors in my writing group, passing through final stages of publication for our first e-Book … Drumroll !! …

    Available NOW at Amazon’s Kindle Store:

    No Fixed Destination: Eleven Stories of Life, Love, Travel

    This collection of 11 personal essays, memoirs, and true stories from Townsend 11, a group of award-winning writers, takes readers on emotional journeys and adventures from California to Croatia to China and back, Ethiopia to Egypt, England to New England, and Hawaii to Hot Springs, Arkansas. . . . CONTINUE READING: My Writing Group Has Published a Book of Stories—No Fixed Destination, by Townsend 11, Vol. 1 of Our New Series