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Archive for the ‘Awesomeness’ Category

Classic confrontations

August 26th, 2011 No comments

My brain is a rich nest of useless trivia and random thoughts. In any given day, random fluff bubbles to the surface and cracks me up for no apparent reason. There is no rhyme nor reason to most of the idiocy that streams through my skull and I very rarely share the true oddities with anyone.

For that reason alone, you are in for some serious treats today as I bring you what I like to call: character versus character.

In my gourd I find if rather amusing to imagine what a given actor/actress’ characters would do if they faced each other in a fight to the finish. Sure, it’s pretty cool when you have two combat-ready “action hero” type characters, but entirely way more amusing when they aren’t.

Let’s start with an easy one.

Han Solo vs. Indiana Jones

This is practically a no-brainer. University of Chicago trained archeologist verus the scruffy nerf herder. Before he could even clear his whip, Indy would be on the ground because everyone knows that Han shoots first. That’s an end that even Indy wouldn’t complain about. Hell, while we are at it, let’s have Han put a few holes in Mutt Williams as well. I’m not a fan.

Yeah, now you see how it works. On to more.

Doogie Howser vs. Dr. Horrible

This could be a tough one. Sure, Doogie’s exceedingly annoying medical knowledge gives him an upper hand in having all the right anatomy knowledge to kill off Dr. Horrible quickly, but, at the same time, Dr. Horrible has his freeze ray. When it all comes down to it, though, Doogie learns an important life lesson in preparing for the battle and Dr. Horrible dies of boredom while Doogie is typing into his diary. Dr. Howser wins.

Verbal Kint vs. John Doe

Ooooh, creepy. Both of these guys would just stand across the room from each other smiling scarily. Hell, they’d probably have a pretty intense conversation about polyester trousers or something equally inane yet intriguing. Then, quite suddenly, Verbal would fall to the floor in about Se7en pieces (see what I did there?). With a slight nod of his head, John Doe would exit the room.

Legolas vs. Will Turner

Yeah, Legolas is an elf. Will would be so full of holes so fast that Will wouldn’t even be aware that there was a fight on. To add insult to injury, Legolas would probably “surf” Will’s body down some stairs or something. It seems to be his thing.

Sweeny Todd vs. Edward Scissorhands
Once Sweeny Todd got done singing about how old Eddie was about to become a pile of meat for pies, he’d probably dramatically storm out of the arena. Edward, being the simple guy he is, would stand there looking comically confused and wait for the good Mr. Todd to return for the fray. Both would eventually die of either old age or at someone else’s hand because they were confused by the intial instructions. Well played, sirs.

Professor Xavier vs. Captain Picard
Oooooh, the passive-aggressive fight of the century! Picard has some serious Starfleet hand-to-hand training, but the Prof. has the ability to read and control minds. Professor X opens the conflict with his signature move of putting his fingers to his temples and Picard launches into issuing orders. As the wavy lines start emanating from Xavier’s chrome dome, Picard begins gathering up his team of officers in the “ready room.” When that doesn’t work and Picard heads out to visit Guinan at Ten Forward, Professor Xavier lobotomizes himself out of the sheer frustration of the existence of a leader who can’t make a damn decision on his own. Picard is later assimilated by the Borg and left to a lifetime trying to boot OS/2.

I never said my brain made sense.

A Century of What?!?!?

July 11th, 2011 No comments

So, yeah, this is NWTF number 100. I look back on the year and a half of my life that is documented in these posts and think: “Boy, I sure like to ramble.”

It’s true. I’ll be the last person to deny it.

What putting this blog together has proven to me is that it really is feasible for me to organize my thoughts and produce a knot of words that might even be mistaken for sentences if taken in the right context. Looking back at the general content of what I’ve written shows that I jump around a lot and have a few “impassioned” things to say about all manner of topics that I probably have no business spouting off about.

I’ve been sitting on writing this 100th posting for a couple of weeks. I definitely wanted to mark the occasion, but honestly had no clue what to address or write about other than, “Hey I write a bunch of stupid shit. Congratulate me for making it publicly consumable.”

That’s utter crap, so I’m going to experiment with some stream of consciousness drivel.

The index finger on my right hand hurts a lot in the joints today. This got me thinking about how many mouse-clicks I’ve made over the past twenty years and then how inconvenient it would be to not have index fingers.

The Fox and the Hound is thirty years old. Unawares to me, this film represents the transition from Disney’s original “nine old men” to a younger generation of animators. It was this movie that caused Don Bluth to quit Disney and go off and form his own studio that put out such gems as “The Secret of NIMH,” “Space Ace,” and the animated chunks of “Xanadu.”

Bamboo Paper for the iPad has been a serious lifesaver. Scraps of paper with random notes scribbled on them have been my method of thought/process organization for the past fifteen years. Being able to “write” notes out on the iPad in a simple way is the second reason I wanted an iPad (the first being an easier way to read comic books).

I recently read that the mere act of recalling a memory alters it. For some reason, this scares the ever-loving crap out of me.

While I have really enjoyed his writing in the past, Chuck Klosterman writing for Grantland makes me want to pluck my eyes out. It’s enough to make me read Douglas Coupland. As a good friend of min succinctly put it, “I don’t have the energy or patience to read a 4000 word essay on why Klosterman’s favorite sports experience was some junior college basketball game 25 years ago.” I would have to agree.

I recently decided that french fries, by and large, are a waste of time. That’s probably a pretty un-American thing for me to say, but there are a hell of a lot more potato delivery systems that I prefer. Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple of places that I think do the fry up pretty damn well, but I would love to have a “salty starch sticks” stamp to “correct” most of the places I’ve had “fries” in over the past couple of years.

OK, that’s probably enough of that. I often have random disjointed thoughts that don’t warrant a full blog post, so now I have to decide if I should just “micro blog” (a term I utterly despise) and have a couple of lines of consumable text, or just save them all up for another post like this one. I’ll probably end up going with the former since my memory (or lack thereof) will keep me from compiling things easily.

Onward and upward!

Ahh Portlandia

June 17th, 2011 No comments

Because it is one of the most touted places in the United States for somone of my proclivities, I was elated when faced with the opportunity to flee the Texas heat last week and nestle into the cool green lushness of the Pacific Northwest.

What I knew about Portland was what I’d seen on television and heard from friends who absolutely swore by it: a hipster mecca full of vintage clothing stores, pinball machines, record stores and coffee shops. When Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s show Portlandia came along, my view was cemented.

Here’s the thing, though: Portlandia’s cliches and generalizations aren’t that far off base.

The reason for my trip was two-fold: attend the girlfriend’s mom’s wedding (that’s a mouthful) and to visit and spend some quality time with the girlfriend’s sister who is a bike messenger and musician in Portland (how awesome is that?).

After flying into the Portland airport (an interesting descent if you’ve never seen massive mountains) we met up with said sister, grabbed our rental car and started out on the highway to the Oregon coastal town of Manzanita where the wedding and activities were to take place.

Manzanita and surrounding townships were amazing. The locals were incredibly nice and the locally-sourced food was amazing. Love you some Tilamook cheese? We freakin’ drove through Tilamook! At an amazing dinner at the Rising Star Cafe in Wheeler, our newly befriended innkeeper told us where most of the veggies in our salads came from. I don’t mean “That arugula was probably grown near Nehalem,” but freakin’ “Those cucumbers were probably grown by Bob at the top of this hill.” Wow. Just wow.

On the coast we did touristy things. We drove into Seaside and played video games, pinball and skee ball at the giant arcade there, we drove past the incredible rocks off of Cannon Beach which are quite memorable from the movie Goonies and we made fires on the beach (in a roast marshmallows way, not a ‘set fire to everything’ way). Coastal Oregon was quaint and awesome. While everyone back in Dallas was melting into the pavement, I was wandering around in jeans and a sweatshirt.

After a few days on the coast we made our way back into the Rose City for some “real” Portland time.

My first impression? Portland drivers are freakin’ insane. It really didn’t help that I was given a Chevy tank as a rental car when I’m used to driving a Prius, but many of these folks are downright insane. My second impression was sheer awe at the sight of actual bike lanes on the streets. For someone who has been living in the car-centric state of Texas for the past twenty years, it almost brought a tear to my eye.

Now down to the good stuff.

Indeed, Portland is a mecca of everything I mentioned before. We wandered around the downtown area for a day and a half building up our record collection with some of the most amazing finds ever. Shopping for records in Portland is religion and we had descended into one of the lower levels of the temple. Albums that were on the “I would like to own this record, but will probably never even see a copy” list were knocked out left and right, and almost all for prices that really made me feel like I was stealing from the shop owner. When all was said and done, we had about 45 pounds of vinyl and sleeves packed into my amazing Timbuk2 messenger bag and strapped to my back. That was a fun one to explain to airport security when we were leaving.

I loved Portland. Hell, I can’t wait to get back. Despite the assault to my allergies and the fact that the sun is only a sometimes visitor, it’s a pretty cool damn town to hang out in. And, contrary to the generalization, most people have jobs. My one big regret was not hitting up Voodoo Doughnuts. Sure, we walked by the original location several times, but it was closed for remodelling/exorcism.

I guess I’ve got yet another thing to look forward to on my next trip…

Yoga Class 50: The Half Century

January 29th, 2011 No comments

Yup, this crazy monkey is still going strong with his practice. Today I hit the fifty class mark (woo hoo!) and it’s really caused me to look back on this past twenty-five classes with some introspection. First, Camel Pose (Ustrasana) and Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana) are now my bitch. Yeah, that’s bold to say, but both of those were some of the hardest for my inflexible spine to get into. For the first thirty or so classes, Camel made me want to throw up almost as soon as I went into the first part (hands at base of back leaning back). When I finally decided to move my hands to my heels in class forty-five or so, everything became clear and calm. Who would have thought that the full pose was that much more comfortable than the beginning motions?!?! I was totally amazed.

With Rabbit, my issue was getting my damn hairline on my damn knees. As my flexibility increased and my gut decreased, it just kinda happened. Rabbit used to make me feel really claustrophobic and those “tiny sips of air” verged on hyperventilation. Now, however, I comfortably move into the pose and watch in amazement as my belly goes in and out with normal full breaths. It just goes to show that the personal journey of one’s practice really is it’s own reward. Yeah, that’s yogic and obscure as all get-out, but it’s one of those personal victories that make me give myself mental high-fives.

So, now that fifty is in the can, what’s next? My hips are still extremely tight (damn you soccer, you sweet sweet game) and, while I can touch my toes pretty regularly in Tibetan Sit-ups, I still have a lot of problems touching my toes without bending my knees in most of the standing series. That’s something I have to work on and haven’t felt like I’ve made a lot of progress with over the past couple of weeks.

Additionally, I have apparently lost some of my focus in Triangle Pose (Trikonasana). My knees have been giving me fits for a while (one of the disadvantages of getting older and already having crappy knees), so I think I really have to focus on keeping my quads engaged to really protect my knee-caps from popping off towards the side mirrors in the room.

As I am reminded in every class, a person’s practice changes every day. I, just like everyone, I imagine, have fantastic days and some crappy days. On fantastic days, I need to push that motivation into the continuation of my practice; on crappy days, I need to borrow from those fantastic days and move on. Over this past fifty classes, I’ve really focused on doing Sunstone’s Fire class with a few Earth and Wood classes thrown in there to mix up my routine. For this next fifty, I was challenged to throw some Metal classes into my mix. Metal scares the crap out of me, but I agree with the people who challenged me that I’m ready for it. I think I’m ready to attempt King Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana) and not crack myself in half.

Here’s to the next fifty!

Categories: Awesomeness, monkey, Yoga

Scenes From Outside a Box

August 18th, 2010 No comments

Many of you might be aware that I quit my job a little over two months ago to persue a life of leisure.

There are many reasons why I finally walked away from my job of five years, but they really aren’t important to anyone other than myself. The big thing that a lot of you who come in contact with me on a regular basis is that I feel like a new human being.

No more stress over factors that irked me to no end that I had no control over; no more false senses of urgency; no more working insane hours. It’s like heaven!

I gotta tell you, for the first month all I really did was sit around and watch the games of the World Cup. Sure, I cleaned the house like a madman just because I didn’t know what else to do with my idle time, but I got to see almost every game live. That’s a big first for me.

Then, when The Cup ended, I had to start thinking a little more long term. I took a little bit of time to finalize some projects that I had been freelancing on prior to quitting, but, with all this extra time, that happened really quickly.

I finally caught up on my five week backlog of comic books. Believe me, for my insane habit, five weeks is a crap load of books.

I got to play a video game for two days straight. I know that’s horribly hedonistic, but it was pretty damn awesome for me.

I bleached my hair and finally got my right lobe pierced to match the left one that had been pierced for the past twenty years (it’s the little things that working for “The Man” make you really appreciate).

I slowed way down on my smoking (I’m not going to say I’ve quit until I haven’t had a single smoke for three months and I’m not doing that hot towards that goal these days), and I started to aggressively attack a “Couch-to-5K” program. If all goes as planned, I start week four day one tomorrow morning.

This lack of day-to-day responsibility has got me feeling more centered than I have felt in a very long time. I’m less grumpy, anxious, sleepy (and other dwarfs as well) and I actually feel more healthy (except for the blasted summer cold I’m nursing right now).

And, because I can’t stay idle for too long, a friend and I have started a company to book Dallas-area bands (visit ManhandlerBooking.comfor more details). This will help me turn my habit/fascination with live music into a productive endeavor without having to expose anyone to my horrible horrible musical skills. I mean it. There’s a reason I do the vocal parts of Rock Band while squeezle is out of the house. There are just a few people who have been exposed to my dabbling in karaoke who are still alive to tell the tale. It’s just badness.

Unfortunately, the one thing I really intended to do over the past two months, but really haven’t gotten around to is write. I’ve been so lax with this blog that I probably need to get in here and scrub off a goodly layer of dust and mold before proceeding.

So, here’s the deal. I’ve got more to say and I’m hoping you folks are still willing to read it. I can’t promise any of it will be heady or substantive, but it will, at the very least, give you a little brain break for part of your day.

To quote something a very wise man said upon being woken on the couch: “My mind is a sewer, and I live in a cardboard box.”

P.S. For all of you worried about that mouse up there at the top of my post, don’t worry. He’s suspended in a PFC solution, so he’s just fine.

Down Terrier du Lapin

July 23rd, 2010 No comments

There isn’t much in the world more interesting, at least to me, than subversion and secret societies. I’m not sure if it’s because I grew up in the waning years of the Cold War or that my love of history just took a random tangential turn somewhere when I was around thirteen, but the mysterious little things people do for reasons known only to themselves (world domination, free internet, kittens & porn…) fascinates me incredibly.

I’m sure I’ll end up writing several postings about the hows and whats of me becoming obsessed with the Illuminati and the Discordian Society, but this one is even more tangential.

I high school (when my obsession du jour was cyberpunk) I read a novel by Jonathan Littell called Bad Voltage. It had some pretty interesting concepts presented in it, but what really stuck with me was the presentation of the cataphiles who explore and organize mischief/mayhem/productivity in the catacombs underneath Paris.

Bad Voltage) made it even more enticing by putting a couple of maps of the catacombs in the front of the book and then proceeded to explain how it was illegal to go into the catacombs. How do you get a teenager excited about doing something? Tell him it’s verboten.

Most recently a gentleman who I am mildly acquainted with by the name of Sean Michaels spent some amount of time doing research on the catacombs and a seemingly clandestine secret society known as Urban eXperiences. Sean put his research and experiences into an incredible read for the literary journal BRICK.

Read this article as soon as you can.

What Sean uncovered is stuff you can’t make up. It was like reading a shortened version of Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. It’s got mystery it’s got intrigue, it’s got secret(ish) societies and a wildly interesting mystery man/men.

After you’ve read the article, email it to a friend. Hell, email it to your entire address book. The Atlantic originally commissioned a shorter version of this article, but killed it. They are utter morons.

Now I just need an acetylene lamp and a ticket to Paris.

The Sweet Harmonies of BRRRRZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

July 1st, 2010 No comments

Yeah, so I’ve been a little lax in the writing these past few weeks, but I’ve got a good (if not lazy) excuse. Ladies and gentlemen, it is World Cup time!

Typically a large majority of Americans have to be reminded that this grand culmination of the FIFA championship is going on. This year, however, a couple of factors have conspired to bring the World Cup to the attention of Americans.

The first of those factors are the two goals that FIFA officials robbed the US team of in the first round of play. Nothing unifies Americans faster than the thought that we are getting screwed over by some foreigner. That combined with the general hatred of referees in any sport and you’ve suddenly got Joe Six-Pack talking about the World Cup with his buddies on their bass boat.

The second, and way more important, factor has been the ever-present drone of the vuvuzela.

Never before has a two dollar piece of mold-injected plastic generated such a buzz (see what I did there?) on such a grand scale. Broadcasters have had to create new audio filters to cancel out some of the noise, whiny players (I’m looking at you Cristiano Ronaldo) have complained that is breaks up the players’ focus and doctors have been all over the media warning about potential hearing loss due to the 144 decibels these little monsters can pump out.

At first I really didn’t think twice about the hub-bub. It was kind of nice having something to distract from the inane commentary while I watched the first round of matches.  After the third day of three-match-a-day footie (and yes, I’ve been watching every single match), I just began ignoring them.

Then I tried watching an MLS match.

The play was good, I had beer and grilled meats, but something was missing. That’s right, I wasn’t enjoying my footie because it didn’t have the constant drone of the vuvuzela. In just one week I had been turned into Pavlov’s bitch.

Lucky for me, however, I had a variety of means at my disposal for faking that vuvuzela feeling. The easiest was to just get on the internet and download an mp3 of the buzz. Next, I hopped into the iTunes app store and found a couple of free apps that filled my need (plus it’s a great app for confusing people in bars).

So, damn the naysayers. I can understand banning vuvuzelas at events like Wimbledon and the US Open, but these plastic horns are here to stay. Besides, I’ve been seeing them at high school and college football games for years.

Haters gonna hate.

Watch out Starsky and Hutch

June 1st, 2010 No comments

For the past couple of days I’ve been up in the mountains of New Mexico breathing clean air (a novel concept for most Dallasites) and tromping around at an elevation that would give most Texans vertigo.

I’m not sure if it was the hypoxia or the ethereal creativity that seems to float around in the air like the damn cottonwood fluff is right now, but ideas seemed to come to me pretty easily while I was slacking off. It might have also been a type of vision quest brought on by the sheer amounts of chile (red and green) that I consumed over the three day period. Either way, I don’t care.

The first of my ideas that I was really excited to commit to paper was my ace in the hole: a treatment for a television pilot that would be a guaranteed grand-slam. A cross-cultural buddy cop dramedy hit that has the potential to change the way the world looks at itsself: “Hyde & Sikh.”

The concept is pretty simple; in a freak accident, Dr. Henry Jekyll is transported from Victorian England to the 1970′s stuck in his Mr. Edward Hyde transformation. After wandering the Earth (like Caine) for more than a decade, Hyde settles in San Francisco and joins the police force. After quickly making detective, Hyde is partnered with the new hotshot transfer from Hong Kong by way of Punjab: Vikram Gony. Together they are Hyde and Sikh: dispelling prejudices and squashing crimes in the Bay Area.

The episodes practically write themselves.

POP pilgrimage

April 30th, 2010 No comments

For the past couple of years, squeezle and I have spent our Memorial Day weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We are big fans of Santa Fe (read that as “we like to drink and eat a lot in Santa Fe, NM”), and we try and make a trip at least once a year to relax, throw the munch at some of our favorite restaurants on the planet, and spend money on art that one would usually not expect to be showcased in Santa Fe.

In fact, the Memorial Day Weekend is when we travel to Santa Fe for a very special event. No, it’s not Pancakes on the Plaza (which falls on July 4th and is pretty damn awesome), rather, it’s POP Gallery’s POP Femme Sugar Coated Strange opening and reception. Squeezle and I have been incredibly impressed with Michael and Sharla McDowell’s little shack of wonders since they opened it back in 2007. We had known both of them from their work with the Chuck Jones Gallery in Santa Fe, so we were both delighted that they cut out on their own to showcase artists and works that were more in line with their own tastes, and, subsequently, ours.

One of the best things about the Sugar Coated Strange show is that it really bucks the mentality of a typical art gallery “opening.” Sure, there are loads and loads of fabulous pieces of art, patrons swigging back glasses of champagne, but where it differs is that it really seems to be more like a reunion than an opening.

While this year’s show is just the third, it seems like it’s been going on for just about forever. Squeezle and I have been fortunate enough to meet a gaggle of very talented artists and really get a better feeling of where their art really comes from.

One of my favorite things about this show is that it involves artists who do an incredible amount of “crossover” work into the realm of vinyl and resin toys (one of my other obsessions), as well as other media. See if you recognize some of these names: Kathie Olivas (and, by proxy, Brandt Peters), CJ Metzger, Miss Mindy and (former Dallasite) Marie Sena.

Squeezle and I have purchase multiple pieces from each of these artists and consider ourselves very lucky to have had the opportunity to have met them and spent some time chewing the fat.

All-in-all, it’s a party with just about everything I love about a nice chill weekend. It’s got booze, it’s got green chile, it’s got art, it’s got friends and it even has tattoos (Marie is an incredible tattooist as well as an incredible artist). If you throw in a soccer match, I’d think I had died and gone to heaven.

What I’m saying is that you should go to Santa Fe and definitely go to POP Gallery. At the very least, spend some time with their website and pick out a piece or dozen you’d like to add to your collection. What, you don’t have a collection? Well, it’s high time you got in touch with Michael and Sharla to get one started for you.

If you’re there on Memorial Day Weekend, let me know and I’ll buy you a beer.

Nukin’ Chips, and I don’t mean Ponch and Jon

April 26th, 2010 No comments

There is a special place in my heart for the relationship between the microwave oven and the potato. Such an innocuous combination was responsible for the beginning of an amazing friendship and the formation of the Forkers.

With that in mind, I approached the melding of microwaves and starchy tuber after reading Savory Sweet Life’s article on “How To Make Potato Chips In The Microwave” for a new approach on things to make with potatoes in a magnetron environment.

Unlike most endeavors I undertake, I actually wanted to follow the instructions on this one. The last thing I needed to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon was to have to explain to squeezle why and how I’d managed to blow up the kitchen and set the microwave on fire. I realize most modern microwaves are smarter than I am, but I’ve been very wary of them since the incident I had with the microwave that was in our house when we first bought it that operated just fine with the door open. It took one good burn on my hand to figure out that I probably wasn’t smart enough to operate that particular machine.

We’ve since replaced that oven (a couple times, I think), and our current microwave presented me with a few “challenges” when approached from the chip-makers perspective.

First and foremost, the instructions say to turn off the rotation in your oven if it does that. Since mine rotates and doesn’t have the ability to disable the rotation, I pulled out the gigantic glass tray and elevated it using some prep bowls to inhibit the rotations. From there I was able to follow the instructions: putting down parchment paper, covering the paper in thinly sliced potatoes (thank you scary mandolin cutter), spraying the mess with cooking spray and applying a sprinkle of sea salt.

Now came the scary part. I was about 50/50 convinced that the microwave was going to implode when run for five minutes with not much other than a quarter of a potato and a sheet of paper in it. To my surprise, it did not. What it also did not do, however, was crisp up those chips. I had to add an additional two and a half minutes to the time in order to get crispy chips with the stationary setup. It was vitally important to monitor the chips after the first three minutes because they all pretty much cooked at different rates.

For the second run (you honestly don’t get that many chips down in a standard-sized microwave), squeezle suggested I yoink out the elevator bowls and let the stupid oven rotate. This worked infinitely better than the stationary chips. After about three minutes, chips were crisping up and my speed to delivery (aka, squeezle’s belly) was way faster.

One potato about the size of a pint glass generated four and a half runs through the microwave and a pretty normal serving size to go with sammiches that squeezle made for dinner. We were about to embark on a second potato, but figured the oven could use a bit of a rest since the glass tray was close to lava hot and the kitchen reeked of potato steam.

That being said, I found it a bit too easy to make these chips. They were a snap to make and remarkably tasty. Usually when I set out on a “project” such as this, I make a huge mess and usually end up hurting myself or causing some sort of trouble that I, then, have to resolve.

None of that was true with this. Even with my liberal applications of cooking spray (a potential for me seriously injuring myself in a plethora of ways), nothing bad happened. I didn’t start any fires, I didn’t cut myself on the razor-sharp mandolin, and I didn’t leave the kitchen looking like the Swedish Chef had done a guest spot.

I guess there is always next time.

Categories: Awesomeness, food, monkey, Stupidity