Friday, January 15, 2016

Nikola Tesla Versus Adrian Monk

Tesla Vs. Monk 

    The fictional character Adrian Monk as portrayed by Tony Shalhoub, was a freelance crime consultant and former homicide detective with the San Francisco police. He appeared in 125 episodes of the program Monk which originally aired from 2002 to 20091.

    Nikola Tesla was the greatest inventor of the 19th century. Over the years, Tesla has become an even more fictional character, a geek God. A basic introduction to his life is provided here.

    Both Monk and Tesla were geniuses. Monk directed his genius to solving crimes, one at a time. Tesla set as his goal the improvement of the lives of all humanity. Both were obsessive-compulsive with numerous phobias.

Nikola Tesla

    With Tesla it is difficult to sort out reality from his legend. Often phobias ascribed to him are lumped together as though all of these continued for the whole of his life. In a passage from My Inventions, Tesla describes obsessions he felt as a child.
During that period I contracted many strange likes, dislikes and habits, some of which I can trace to external impressions, while others are unaccountable.
  • I had a violent aversion to the earrings of women, but other ornaments, such as bracelets, pleased me more or less according to design.
  • The sight of a pearl would almost give me a fit, but I was fascinated with the glitter of crystals, or objects with sharp edges and plane surfaces.
  • I would not touch the hair of other people except, perhaps, at the point of a revolver.
  • I would get a fever by looking at a peach, and if a piece of camphor was anywhere in the house it caused me the keenest discomfort2.
He indicates that some of those obsessions have passed, saying "Even now I am not insensible to some of these upsetting impulses2." He then goes on to describe current obsessions.
When I drop little squares of paper in a dish filled with liquid, I always sense a peculiar and awful taste in my mouth. I counted my steps in my walks and calculated the cubical contents of soup plates, coffee cups and pieces of food - otherwise my meal was unenjoyable. All repeated acts or operations I performed had to be divisible by three, and if I missed, I felt impelled to do it over again, even if it took hours2.

    Other obsessions, irrational dislikes or phobias attributed to Tesla include:

Needed exactly eighteen cloth napkins in order to dine3.
Fat women, unstylish clothing on women4.
Maybugs and all insects5.
Tesla believed the number thirteen was lucky.

Adrian Monk

    In the episode, "Mr. Monk and the Daredevil," Adrian Monk declared he possessed 312 phobias6. Not all of these are listed over the course of his show and some that are mentioned overlap with others.

Those phobias which were itemized are7:

Uncleanliness: Dust, dirt, slime, spitting, touching.
Health-related: Germs, death, birth, infections, vomiting.
Danger: Risk, tsunamis, fire, lightning.
Foods and Liquids: Milk, mushrooms, egg whites, milk creamer, mixed vegetables, decaffeinated coffee, tap water.
Animals: Bees, hornets, cats, snakes, dogs, frogs, ladybugs, monkeys, mice, rats, possums, rabbits, tigers, spiders.
People: Dentists, crowds, lepers, naked people.
Objects: Needles, elevators, hailstones, round things, puppets, underwear, multi-colored pills, charcoal.
Locations: Elevators, tunnels, caves, rivers, glaciers, enclosed spaces, nature, "places."
General and common phobias: Fear of fear, imperfection, darkness, heights, noise, public speaking.
Miscellaneous: Bees in blenders, soccer riots, faces, clouds, wind, rodeos.

Tony Shalhoub as That Guy

Like Peter Falk, Tony Shalhoub provided audiences with memorable supporting roles for years until he was cast as an iconic detective. Here are three of his earlier outings.

Jack Jeebs in Men In Black: the alien who can regrow his head.

Manu in Frasier, The Focus Group. Frasier accidentally burns down Manu's newsstand while trying to find out why Manu doesn't like him.

Dr. Alexander Minion (the original Minion!) in the Spy Kids series.


Tesla, Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Henry H. Holmes are all characters in my forthcoming thriller, A Predator's Game, Rook's Page Publishing, March 30, 2016.

Back page blurb of A Predator's Game (advance copy, subject to change).

Manhattan, 1896.

When the author Arthur Conan Doyle meets Nikola Tesla he finds a tall, thin genius with a photographic memory and a keen eye, and recognizes in the eccentric inventor the embodiment of his creation, Sherlock. Together, they team up to take on an "evil Holmes." Multi-murderer Dr. Henry H. Holmes has escaped execution and is unleashing a reign of terror upon the metropolis. Set in the late nineteenth century in a world of modern marvels, danger and invention, Conan Doyle and Tesla engage the madman in a deadly game of wits.

Martin Hill Ortiz, also writing under the name, Martin Hill, is the author of A Predatory Mind. Its sequel, set in 1890s Manhattan and titled A Predator's Game, will be available from Rook's Page Publishing, March 30, 2016. It features Nikola Tesla as detective.
His recent mystery, Never Kill A Friend, is available from Ransom Note Press. His epic poem, Two Mistakes, recently won second place in the Margaret Reid/Tom Howard Poetry Competition. He can be contacted at

The above post was re-written and expanded from one I prepared two and one half years ago.


1. Monk (2002-2009)
Accessed July 23rd, 2013.

2. My Inventions, The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla, compiled by Ben Johnston, Experimenter Publishing Company, Inc., 1919, p. 15. Is it possible that Tesla's antagonism toward Einstein was due to Einstein's hair? As Tesla said in his poem, "Fragments of Olympian Gossip:"
Now a long haired crank, Einstein by name... Nikola Tesla, December 31st, 1934. Retrieved July 21, 2013.

3. Tesla: A Man Out of Time. Margaret Cheney, copyright 1998, p. 19.

4. ibid, p. 110.

5. My Inventions, The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla, compiled by Ben Johnston, Experimenter Publishing Company, Inc., 1919, p. 22.

6. A Major Study on The Psychological Disorder of Adrian Monk, In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement in Abnormal Psychology, Jennibeth D. Baculna, BA Political Science-Psychology IV, University of the Philippines in the Visayas, College of Arts and Sciences, Division of Social Sciences, Miagao, Iloilo. Copyright 2009.
Accessed  July 23rd, 2013.

7. Compiled from List of Adrian Monk's Phobias.'s_Phobias
Accessed  July 23rd, 2013.


Post a Comment