Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Station Of Critical Review By Kennedy Hiscox-Wormegay: The TetZoo Podcast

The pleasure of being assigned this particular review should not be overstated, and sits at my feet like a cross between a hot water bottle and a happy dog, minus the smell of new rubber. It is not often that the staff at Beware! The Zine is sent requests to appraise anything specific, but when a typed letter arrives in an unmarked envelope at 3am, well, we'd write a review about the structural integrity of quilted toilet paper if that's how its request was delivered.

Where to start? Well, we're not even sure what we're meant to call the subject of our review. It has been called, variously, TetZoo Podcast, TetZoo Podcats, Tetzoo Podcart, Petting Zoo Food Mart and Non-Christians Against Fish - though under this name, many people assumed it to be a clever hoax - it wasn't. For the sake of simplicity, we shall refer to it as 'Tezpo'. Tezpo backwards is 'Opzet', which is, coincidentally, the name of one of its presenters' pet tapir.

The short-lived TetZoo Top Trumps. 
 Tezpo is the brain-baby of zoological co-conspirators Darren 'Dawn Tyrant' Naish (apparently named for his morning temperament) and John 'Crusher' Conway, who crushed time dedicated to any given Tezpo topic to two minutes, much like a Republican Governor handles educational spending. Twitter users may recognise Naish's name from its association with the #chickensaurus event, whereby he called upon tetrapod lovers to resist a conspiracy by John R. Horner to create an army of giant 'Maximum Chickens'. Seemingly it worked, because chickens are still rather small. Those of an art-appreciating disposition may know Conway through his works of art. He depicts old things. And new things. And some unsettling things. But always beautiful things. Except for this. And this.

Being of a different time, it was of importance-absolute that I did make an effort to acquire a person familiar with the concept of internet. That person is the local postmaster's daughter, Hepzibah. She is of the Age of Digital, and owns an MP3-to-Wax-Cylinder converter, facilitating my scrutiny of these scientific lectures. The Digital Age is not so different to the Wax Age, with the exception that the Wax Age usually falters in Summer.

Collector's favourite, John Conway.
Armed with five-hundred-and-forty wax cylinders and enough navy rum to pickle a Harry Secombe, I locked myself away from the harassment of modernity, and began my foray into the world of Naish and Conway. And what a world it is. The first thing which struck me about the ears like an irate spinster was the music. It is very sensible. It lulled me into a false sense of security, for I imagined that the rest of the programme would be similarly sensible. How horrified I was to discover that this show is a blend of dry science, popular science, film reviews and humour. Yes. Humour. I wondered about what else the weary listener should brace themselves for. Interpretative dance? A lecture on why the Empire might not be a good thing, perhaps? Preservation of the Fen dialect?

With the progression of the series, each episode quickly turned into a long list of corrections of mistakes from the previous episode. O! How awful a time the receptionist at Tezpo Headquarters must have when the mail boy brings in those sacks of letters from disillusioned listeners - though, it must be said, it doesn't appear to dissuade people from listening. It is almost as if they listen for the steady stream of errors - perhaps as many as three or four each episode - in the same manner that a social outcast might sit at a bus station recording the busses which pass through like sweetcorn passes unchanged through a child. Common errors include misremembering plot elements from films of the Planet Of The Apes franchise, announcing the discovery of only one new tapir EVERY episode, and mispronouncing the names of everybody referenced in the episode. On several occasions, I believe, Naish even pronounces his own name incorrectly, uttering "nich", and commenting on how it will upset listeners in Jamestown. And maybe Boston. Cohn Jonway never mispronounces his own name, for he is the thinking-organ of this outfit, as demonstrated by the discussions which sway in his favour.

It was not long until Tezpo disciples, or 'podkittens', concocted a method by which the backlash to these errors could be softened.* A drinking game was devised as a call-to-action for weak-willed listeners to ply themselves with thee deville's fluids, numbing the brain and resulting in a fog in which they were hopelessly lost. Drink must be consumed for such incidents as Naish forgets the show is about tetrapods and deviates into a monologue about a film he doesn't like. More drink must be drunk if Conway has not seen that film, and still more drink must be swallowed if Conway then offers forth an opinion about that film which he has not seen. ALL of the drink must then be had should Conway eventually realise that he has seen the film. And this happens for every episode. In addition, there are numerous other drink-worthy elements which recur with such frequency that it is hard to be believe that any Tezpo's listeners survive to hear the wind-down lounge music which terminates each performance. The result is that no one can remember any of Naish's vicious slurs against fish or invertebrates, and no fish-lovers or arachnoculturist harbour any resentment towards him, nor his Conway. The rules for this debauchery may be found here, along with many details such organisations would usually keep to themselves. It is clear from the titles held by its members that this 'Empire' has ideas above its station, with Naish and Conway seemingly keen on elevating their band of infamy to the status of a cult. Beware.

*This is usually attributed to The Shadow Man, Mike Keesey, though, as seems fitting for such an irregular set of individuals, a 'Yodelling Cyclist' has also had considerable input. Irresponsible alcohol consumption, cycling, yodelling. Where will it all end?

The Tetzoo Podcast, hosted by Darren and John, may be enjoyed sensibly here. John Conway's art may be enjoyed and, preferably, purchased here. Darren Naish blogs at Scientific American's site, here

You can also support John and Darren at their respective Patreon profiles.

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