Frequently Asked Questions
Terzo's MEWSical Society
Plenty of Paws & a Flurry of Feathers
Q. Whose idea was this?
A. All the creative ideas at Simon Teakettle Ink come from Terzo. The fact that Bobbi teaches an online course called Tapping Your Innate Creativity is just a coincidence.
Q. So how did it begin?
A. When Terzo was still a kitten, he formed a small band with his pal, Jazz, a Maine Coon, on piano, and Mrs. Doyle, a grey parrot who was born the same week as Terzo. Mrs. Doyle didn't turn out to be much of a singer, but developed a unique form of drumming, which meant our combo was heavy on percussion.
We soon expanded into a much larger musical society, with members not just across Canada but into the U.S. and abroad.
Q. How many members are there?
are 33 cats and a parrot, with several Emeritus members (who have
crossed the Rainbow Bridge since the Society was formed), and some
new additions to replace them.
We also have a chorus which offers caterwauling of the highest order. They are backed up (quite handsomely) by The Camelid Chorus (see below).
Shooter Stephanson was our first Director of the Main Chorus. He got us off to a great start with his experience interacting with other species, including chipmunks. His Abyssinian heritage guaranteed that musical selections will cover all nationalities.
In 2013 we added an Opening Act (the famous AcroCats) and a Special Guest Performer, Aragon the Cat.
Q. How were the cats selected?
A. The cats were PURRsonally chosen by Terzo from among his vast array of feline friends. Careful attention was paid to geographical distribution and origins, with a careful formula that ensured there were a sufficient number from Ottawa (in honor of the Ottawa Humane Society, where Bobbi found Terzo), that most were adopted from humane societies, there were a few ferals (in honor of Tiki), and some came from breeders or loving homes.
Q. Where are the cats from?
A. Many are from the Ottawa area, three (including Terzo) from Quebec, from other cities in Ontario, from Edmonton, Alberta, and from the NorthWestTerritories. There are cats from Massachusetts, New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Chicago, Texas, and California. Two come from Greece and one from Cairo, Egypt. One lives in Israel, another in Aukland, New Zealand, and one from Malaysia. One was born in Holland, although she now lives in London, England.
Q. Why are so many of the cats black?
A. The first Simon Teakettle was completely black, with not even a tiny patch of white. So the logo for the company became a solid black cat (like the cover of MEWSings/Musings. The second Simon (Tiki) had just a tiny white locket, so it seemed fitting that we admit more black cats than any other color. There are also many black-and-white cats, all of whom aspire to understudy Terzo.
Q. How about the other colors. Why are there more brown tabbies, for example, and so few white cats?
A. All cats are actually tabbies, with brown more common than grey. A lot of this is explained on the Cat Facts page. We tried to obtain a distribution of colors that reflects the general population, along with a few "exotics" like the lilac-and-white tortie LaPerm. We've added a few more white cats in the last year.
Q. Do all the cats live with writers?
A. No. One lives with a multi-talented TV producer, broadcaster, actress, teacher and artist, all rolled into one person. Another lives with a psychologist who is also a writer, one with a travel writer who has a criminology degree, and one with a writer who is also a certified reflexologist. Several live with award-winning artists.
Q. Do all the writers belong to the same organization?
A. No. Some belong to the Periodical Writers Association of Canada, some to the Cat Writers' Association, others to Canadian Authors Association, the Media Club of Ottawa, Ottawa Independent Writers, the Travel Media Association, the League of Canadian Poets, and the Cassell Network of Writers.
Q. Are some of these humans Certified Animal Behavior Consultants?
A. Yes. Steve Dale, Darlene Arden, Amy Shojai are three members of IAABC.
Q. What is the age range of the humans?
A. The youngest was a fourth-grader when the Society began. The oldest has a great-grandchild!
Q. Why aren't the cats' ages listed?
A. Because cats remain playful, alert and lively for many years. We don't think age should matter.
Q. Do any of the cats live with dogs?
A. Oh yes. We love dogs. We just don't like the way they sing.
Q. What's a parrot doing in this group of cats?
A. Mrs. Doyle is a very special parrot. She was born the same week as Terzo, and they've had a very close relationship ever since. We invited her initially into our small combo (just Terzo on percussion and Jazz on piano) because we thought she could be the Girl Singer. When we discovered she couldn't sing, but was a talented drummer, the idea of the MEWSical Society was born.
Q. Is Mrs. Doyle completely grey?
A. No, she has beautiful red tail feathers, whose pigments are unique to parrots and are called psittacofulvins. She's an African grey parrot, a breed that comes from the Congo.
Q. Does she talk?
A. Of course she talks! She gets very excited when she sees squirrels, and announces "Squirrels!" to the household. Also, when the family returns after leaving her alone, she sometimes says, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm just a parrot."
Q. What are alpacas and a llama doing with all these cats?
A. They lived with Tango Katz in the NorthWest Territories, and lobbied to form a camellid chorus. We finally agreed to audition them, and agreed their humming created a wonderful background to the cats. Some of them have photos on the Society FAN page.
Q. Why aren't all the Society members in costume?
A. It was decided, early on, that uniforms would not be required. Terzo, of course, has been wearing his band uniform since he was a kitten and first discovered the array of percussion instruments beside the piano. Big Bertha, who heads the Kitten Chorus, suggested that we allow the kittens to dress up to keep them out of trouble. That didn't work, because Bailey and Cuddles immediately donned doll dresses and tried to sneak into the Kitten Chorus, although they were both far too old.
Q. Which of the cats are male, and which female?
A. There are a few more males than females. However, all the cats have been spayed or neutered.
Q. What's a Chartreux?
A. The Chartreux comes from France, where it was called "the smiling blue cat." They have copper eyes and a dense woolly coat that's very soft. Read about this breed, the Maine Coon, the Abyssinian and the Burmese on the Cat Fanciers Association website. Aimee Arden is our Chartreux.
Q. What's a LaPerm?
A. The La Perm has long hair with a curly plumed tail and often a full curly ruff.
Q. What does TICA stand for?
A. TICA is The International Cat Association, the World's Largest Genetic Registry of Pedigreed Cats. Omaste, whose registered name is Uluru BC Omaste Po of Quincunx, is a TICA Champion.
Q. Why is there a cartoon cat in the MEWSical Society?
A. Crazy Johnny is a real cat, but when he auditioned for the Society he sent us his cartoon alter-ego, star of The Pride Cartoon, along with an actual close-up of his face.
Q. Who are the AcroCats?
A. The Amazing Acro-Cats, one of four live cat shows in the United States, performs to sold-out venues across the country. Their performances delight and astound audiences of all ages. They not only perform, but also educate the public, demonstrating training techniques. The cats are all rescues, and foster cats are usually available for adoption at the shows.
Q. How about Aragon the Cat?
A. Aragon the Cat is an actor and social activist who is best known as Lord Tubbington on the Emmy Award-winning Fox series, Glee. He's also been featured on other TV programs, in commercials, and will soon be seen in an animated series. A Bengal rescue, he was on the cover of Bengals Illustrated, and is the founder of Aragon's Love, Inc., which aims to raise global awareness and resources for abandoned and unwanted animals all over the world.
Q. What is the Institute for Kitty Cat Research?
A. This is a fun collaboration by Linda Miles and Betty Wilson who conduct humorous scientific studies in the fields where most domestic cats reside - the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc. The scientists at the Institute have documented both common and uncommon positions in their field guide, Kitty Cat Positions Home & Afield. Read Terzo's review of this book HERE.
Q. Who are the Human Advisors to the MEWSical Society?
A. Barbara Florio Graham is our Producer.
Help with musical selection comes from David Lennick, who hosted the CBC radio network program RSVP where Simon Teakettle made his radio debut in 1981. David's business involves re-mastering vinyl records, and he has one of the largest collection of these in Canada.
Assistance with musical arrangements is provided by the world-famous Canadian percussion group NEXUS, who are longtime fans of Simon Teakettle. The first Simon Teakettle used to request their recordings on RSVP.
Debra Hulley is the talented graphic designer and editor who handled production for Mewsings/Musings. She serves as our Design Director.
Our Staging/Fight Director is an award-winning actor and director John Koensgen, Artistic Director of New Theatre of Ottawa and a frequent actor/director at Great Canadian Theatre Company.
Iris Ten Holder produces Terzo's calendar. An accomplished artist, photographer, graphic designer, and writer, she creates calendars from her own photographs, and produced Terzo's first calendar in 2010. She has just produced Terzo's first Perpetual Calendar and our first set of greeting cards, featuring five MEWSical Society members.
Garry Stephenson, who retired with the rank of Major from the Canadian Armed Services, is our Travel Advisor, since he and his wife travel all over the world.
Our videographer is Diana Lester, a communicator, writer, and editor, with a special fondness for cats.
June Coxon, whose cat, Tyler, was one of our first Society members, serves as the Society historian.
Eileen Reardon is our Choral Advisor.
Q. Why is the Great Canadian Theatre Company involved in Terzo's MEWSical Society?
Because Simon Teakettle Ink has been a patron of GCTC since 1982, has
many fans among the theatre folk (both onstage and backstage) who
have been part of GCTC for decades, and his photo graced GCTC's 2012
GCTC even mounted a display and sale of our books in the lobby of the theatre when they first began raising money for their new building.
Simon Teakettle has a seat in the theatre which bears his name, and is listed on a wall in the lobby and on the website.
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