Who is Zarban?
Birth and early life
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Zarban was born a peasant in the wilds of the south of Czechoslovakia in 1819 to parents who worked the land for their lord, Zarbanus the Mad. They were called Sid and Joyce Zarbanuskiwicz. They named their son Halpert. Little Halpert Zarbanuskiwicz grew to manhood fascinated with puppet shows and gained the nickname Halpi the Odd, a name which he hated. Sick with fever one night and fed up with the treatment meted out by the local lord, he raided the mansion of Zarbanus and slew the insane lord, and so came to be called “Halpert the Mad.” Around that time, the Polish police force was organized, and the call went out for Halpert to be arrested. He therefore changed his name to “Zarban”. Evading the Polish police for several years and traveling all over Europe, he inevitably became known as “Zarban the Mysterious.”
In 1852, he married Kopinska Zarbanishitz, a young peasant girl from the same village as his parents. Contrary to popular belief, he never went by the name “Zarban Zarbanishitz,” altho the two briefly hosted a radio show called “Shitz Mysteries” which was popular mainly with people who did not own radios and which therefore did not last.
In 1893, Zarban invented a technique for commenting on zoopraxiscope presentations and puppet shows. He would travel to zoopraxiscope shows conducted by acclaimed photographer and murderer Eadweard Muybridge and speak loudly his opinions about the production. Among other things, he maintained that Muybridge’s images of nude women made him the first motion picture pornographer. This earned him the nickname “Zarban the Commentator”.
In 1894, Zarban applied his technique to Edison Kinetoscopes. It is said that his opinions on Fred Ott’s Sneeze became the template for all future cinematic criticism despite being only three seconds long. (His words were: “Fake! That was stinko.”)
In 1921, Zarban was arrested for “indecent mocking” of the Rudolph Valentino film The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. During his trial, wherein he stood on the principle of freedom of speech, he became known as “Zarban the Cinematist”. However, some reporters confused his name with his wife’s and insisted on calling him “Zarban Ishitz”. He was mocked mercilessly by the tabloid press as “Crazy Old Man Whats-his-shitz” or even “Old Shitzy.” His wife divorced him and changed her name to Klara Pölzl and was tragically sucked into a time vortex whereupon she married her uncle, an Austrian customs clerk, in 1885.
After the humiliating trial, Zarban ceased commenting on cinematic productions himself and focused on collecting the comments of others. His collection included 78 RPM records of Calvin Coolidge commenting on footage of his own first film as president (“That’s quite something,” Coolidge murmurs at one point, and later softly sings “On The ‘Gin ‘Gin ‘Ginny Shore”) and John Ford drunkenly shouting at Victor McLaglen’s image (“Open your mouth, you son of a bitch! This is a talking picture!”). He thence became known as “Zarban the Compiler”, altho nearly his entire collection of these early commentaries was lost in a rare cattle stampede in Burbank in 1970 during the filming of Chisum.
In 1989, his interest in collecting commentaries arose again with the mocking commentaries on old films that appeared on a television program called Mystery Science Theater 3000. In 2003, he began collecting fan commentaries on popular films (and, slightly later, on unpopular films). In early 2008, he created Zarban’s House of Commentaries. He secretly loves Canada more than Texas, England more than Canada, and Australia more than England. But this is based entirely on movies and television, as he has never visited any of those places except Texas and Canada.
Death and afterlife
Zarban has no comment on his apparent or chronological age, saying only that it contributes to his reputation as “the Mysterious.” However, if you’ve read this far, you deserve to know that Zarban is Derek Jensen, who contributes commentaries to Tysto.com (whence Tysto Commentaries). Zarban, Tysto, and also WhiteHouseMuseum.org are all part of the Tysto Media family.