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Welcome to the Monkeyhouse


In honor of the four-month mark of our new administration, here’s a look at the president’s slightly smarter cousin, the chimpanzee:

  • Washoe, the chimpanzee, was the first non-human to learn American Sign Language. She also passed on her knowledge to other chimpanzees.
  • In 2008, a chimpanzee named Anjana adopted and raised two baby white tigers named Mitra and Shiva after a hurricane.
  • Elephants and chimpanzees can display behavior patterns similar to post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
  •  Humans have the same number of hair follicles as chimpanzees.
  • Chimpanzees can identify each other from pictures of their butts.
  • The United States and Gabon are the only two countries that allow experimentation on chimpanzees.
  • Congo the chimp was a famous abstract painter in the 1950s who sold paintings to Picasso, Dalí and others for up to $26,000. 
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All Abuzz on the Western Front


The view of the western skyline from my backyard skyline isn’t exactly spectacular.

There’s one palm tree. The neighborhood is embroidered by the L.A. River Basin, better known for hosting rebels without causes and terminators without pauses than for an actual tributary that runs 48 miles start to finish.

It’s in an area my resale-conscious neighbors — even my best friend — have taken to calling Lake Balboa, though it’s really Van Nuys.

Hell, let’s be honest. It’s The Valley. America’s sweat stain.  Porn’s Vatican City. Our largest exports are porn and anal sex. It is smog-choked and traffic-strangled and beastly overgrown and…then. Right around 5:30.

The light catches right.

Or a creature turns bright.

And across the cement river there is a house full of kids. Or a daycare center. Or a park. It’s too fenced and green to see.

But not too beastly overgrown to hear: laughing and shouting and screamingtoheaven simply because their young lungs allow it.

And suddenly…

My music mixes with their laughter, and Esme gets in the mood to fetch, and I get in the mood to throw.

And suddenly…It’s not Lake Balboa, or Van Nuys, or Weedville, or Porn City. It’s not even smog-choked.

It’s home.

I take it back, what I said about that backyard perch.

It’s a pretty spectacular view.

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All the President’s Minions


It’s difficult to gauge the performance of news media during a Trump administration.

On the one hand, you’d be hard pressed to find a president whose missteps and contradictions are so quickly and clearly pointed out. Americans know more about health care, tax reform and immigration policy than any American public before it. Quick: you know the name Betsy Devos, right? Now name another education secretary, of any administration, in American history.

So it’s hard to argue the press has not made us a more informed populous. The question is what do we do with all that information.

Certainly, television news does not know. This week, MSNBC aired a story on how new polls suggest that Donald Trump would have beaten  Hillary Clinton if the presidential election were held today.

When you get into hypothetical journalism to fill a 24-hour news cycle, you’re screwed. Why not a piece on who could milk a goat faster? And interesting that the network would tout another election poll, which proved about as accurate as Miss Cleo after a bender. I’m surprised the network didn’t hawk the story with a teaser that said: “Remember those inaccurate home-phone polls of last year? Well there’s a new study out…” 

Instead, and thankfully, late night TV has taken on the role as participatory journalist. And while Stephen Colbert may live to regret saying that  Trump’s mouth as a “cock holster for Vladimir Putin,” other outlets are scoring with  political coverage that is more observational than offensive.

Take The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, a show that has improved by leaps and bounds over last year’s rocky debut. Earlier in the year, as Sean Spicer brought a stack of files to a press conference to show all the work his boss was putting into the job, it a Daily Show clip demonstrated there was nary a label on a single file.

And this week, Noah scored with a smart look at the Congressional response to United Airlines forcibly removing an overbooked passenger. He played clip after clip of lawmakers complaining about the discomfort of air travel. One compared it to riding on a “civil rights bus.”

Noah rightfully lost his shit,  noting that over the same weekend, three black motorists were shot. But no Congressional hearing. So he an anchor Roy Wood Jr. introduced a genius idea to protect black pedestrians: A sandwich board shaped like a 747.

But it was Seth Meyers (the heir apparent to Jon Stewart) who got off the best shot: “The House of Representatives narrowly passed the repeal of Obamacare Thursday. Also narrowly passing: Grandma.”

Journalism isn’t dead. It’s just practicing its stand-up.

And now, that:

  • Iran has the highest rate of nose surgery in the world per capita, since the mandatory hijab tend to highlight the female face.
  • Cinco de Mayo is not that important in Mexico and is mainly celebrated only in the state of Puebla.
  • An anonymous serial killer was arrested in 2005 after sending a floppy disk with his name and church stored on it. He asked police if they could trace a floppy disk and they said “no.”
  • Wasp used to be “waps,” while bird used to be “brid” and horse used to be “hros.” Pronunciation errors made the English language what it is today.
  • The English language has 3,000 words for “drunk.”
  • 70% of people will live in cities by 2050.
  • There are 1,459 people in Peru named after Star Wars characters.




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