Monday, March 12, 2007

M is for Monkeys-See, Monkeys-Do

For Christmas, I received the entire run of Get Smart on DVD (M is for Max!). This show is one of my earliest memories of comedy and understanding its importance. It is a very silly show, but smart silly, and I enjoy even the dumbest parts.

However, I recently saw an episode that included a chimpanzee. Why have so many sitcoms eventually resorted to the chimpanzee episode? Writers must think that other people think chimpanzees are funny. Maybe they’re right. It just seems lazy to me.

[Spoiler alert!] The use of the chimp in this Get Smart episode wasn’t too overdone; he didn’t get that much screen time. The chimp was used by a killer to lock a trailer from the inside after a murder. Still, they resorted to the chimp joke.

None of this has anything to do with monkeys, of course, as chimpanzees and monkeys aren’t the same thing. But no doubt that episode put me in a monkey mind frame as the letter M rolled around here.

The few monkeys I have personally encountered (monkeys-see) are nothing like the funny, friendly chimpanzees of stage and screen.

I once spent three days at a birding lodge in Belize. My body is never happy about traveling, and it was a rough trip, but being there was one of the most spectacular things to ever happen to me. We were in a rain forest, and not only were we surrounded by amazing birds—there were also spider and howler monkeys about. When we checked in, we were told that we’d hear the howler monkeys overnight. I asked what they sounded like. Oh, I’d know them when I heard them, they assured me. That night I heard lots of unfamiliar jungle sounds, including something I figured was a big cat. That turned out to be the howler monkey.

Mostly, we watched groups of spiders and howlers in the trees. They were close by, but binoculars greatly enhanced the experience. A couple of times we were really close to groups of spider monkeys in treetops right above us; they never seemed bothered. Once, though, Tim and I wandered into a particular howler monkey’s territory. He (the monkey) was none too pleased and very vocal about it. I was as intimidated as he intended me to be as he followed us from so many feet up. I may be bigger, but it’s likely he could have taken me in a fight. He’d have the dropping-from-the-sky advantage, too. They look like very good droppers.

The only other monkey I’ve met lives a couple of miles away, in the wilds of my neighbors’ house. He’s a pygmy marmoset named Chiclet: tiny, with a perfect feathery-fur mane. When out of his cage, he is diapered and tethered to one of his owner’s shirts—usually Ed’s. Chiclet likes the warmth between shirt and skin, so we rarely actually see him, even when he’s in the room. He’s not friendly to the rest of us—in fact, it’s clear he’d be happier if we weren’t around—but he’s completely devoted to his owners.

It seems monkeys-do not like me.

That’s okay. Deep down, I know the birds don’t either. But they’ve seldom shown outright hostility.


Helen said...

Wow, that pygmy marmoset is a strange-looking creature.

I've had some run-ins with birds. I once had a pigeon swoop down and land on my head (if you saw my hair you would find it understandable that a bird might mistake it for a nest). Another time I was standing under a tree waiting for a ride; at the same time the crow overhead was waiting for an outhouse to arrive, and mistook my head for one. It wasn't one of those little white splashes you sometimes get on your car, it was a huge disgusting dump, sort of like a cow patty. And when we were in Australia in some park somewhere, we had to wear buckets on our heads to protect ourselves from magpie attacks.

Deloney said...

"(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" by the Monkees.

Oops, wrong blog.

Mali said...

LOL! I LOVED that post. Everything. Get Smart was one of my earliest TV memories too ... I loved the doors closing in the credits ... and I'm sure the fact that 99 was so much brighter sparked off some of my earliest feminist tendencies.

Loved too being there in the rain forest with you.

Based on this, you've convinced me - I'm going to do an Alphablog when I've finished my x365!!

PS Loved Helen's magpies too. I also remember my dad (and my little sister on his back) being chased by angry geese.

Sewa Yoleme said...

One of my favorite photos of my mother, taken about 15 years before I was born, shows her on a trip to south Florida where, at a nature preserve, she encountered a monkey. The picture shows the monkey on her shoulder, pulling her hair and getting himself quite entangled in the long tresses, and Mom in obvious distress, trying desperately to disengage the critter.

Cedar Waxwing said...

What a fun post and entertaining group of comments. I have nothing at all to say about monkeys. Except for the time a member of the primate family (monkeys are not primates are they? Or are they?) caught a bird in mid-flight at the National Zoo.

And ate it.

Indigo Bunting said...

Helen: The only time I was attacked by a bird was on a beach when I got too close to a tern's nest. I have been pooped on several times, but I have chosen to believe it was random. Once it was even purple, from some exotic species in an aviary in Pittsburgh.

Deloney: How could I have missed an opportunity to talk about the Monkees?

Mali: An alphablog from you? Yay! Glad to find a fellow GS fan.

SY: Please show me this photo!

Cedar: (Yes, monkeys are primates.) And you may have just said the most intriguing thing so far.