Thursday, March 31, 2016

Graphic Design is My Passion

The title of this post is true, graphic design is my passion.

I have been a professional designer for my entire adult life, and not a day goes by where I don't strive to be creative in some way.

However, this life-long passion is not what prompted this post. It was actually another aspect of my love of creativity... my amusement by truly awful or ridiculous design.

I saw this animated GIF on The Weird Wide Web and appreciated its hilariously irony:


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Path of a Lightsaber

 
Although it wasn't perfect, "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" definitely succeeded in revitalizing the movie franchise with a engaging story featuring old & new characters.

One of the central components of Episode VII wasn't a person at all- it was Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber.

This Jedi weapon was retrieved by Obi-Wan Kenobi after the battle with his apprentice Anakin, who had turned to the Dark Side as Darth Vader. Obi-wan gave it to Anakin's son Luke, but it was lost when Darth Vader cut off Luke's hand as he tried to get his son to join him in Cloud City.

In "The Force Awakens", ancient bar owner Maz Kanata has somehow come into possession of the lightsaber. It is found by the new movie's protagonist, Rey, and induces in her a vision of the weapon's history. Even though she initially rejects it, Rey ultimately comes to acquire the lightsaber and returns it to Luke Skywalker, who has been in seclusion for years.

How Maz found it and why Rey was mystically drawn to it is still a mystery, but answers are sure to come in the next installments of the Star Wars saga.

Christopher Sherwood has edited together an awesome montage of the history behind this legendary weapon that weaves together the characters and events of the movies so far. It shows just how powerful and interwoven the Star Wars story has become.



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Dalai Lama on a Dolly Llama

I have read & listened to the wisdom of the Dalai Lama for many years, and consider him to be one of my many gurus.

However, nothing His Holiness has ever said is as profound as this animated GIF that I saw on fUSION Anomalog:


Monday, March 28, 2016

Movie Review: "Batman vs. Superman"


This weekend, I went with both of my brothers to see "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice".


I went into the movie having read critical reviews that are mostly negative. The biggest complaint seemed to be the amount of material that was crammed into the film. People seemed to think the story was disjointed, and that they tried to tell too many stories in one movie.

As the title reveals, this movie was meant as introduction to the DC comics super-team: The Justice League. After seeing the successes of the Marvel franchise that led to epic multi-movie storylines such as the Avengers, Civil War, and Infinity War, it is clear that DC is rolling out a similar cinematic approach.

Despite the negative reviews, I actually enjoyed "Batman vs. Superman" overall. The actors playing the main heroes (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman) did a great job bringing their characters to life. As I wrote in my review of "Man of Steel", I liked that movie and Henry Caville's portrayal of Superman. Although she wasn't in it as much as the title characters, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was a good representation that showed the power of the Amazonian warrior. Ben Affleck's version of Batman surprised me, because I thought it was the best portrayal of The Dark Knight in any movie, so far. "Batman Begins" was okay, but I personally thought the other movies with Christopher Nolan & Christian Bale were crap. All the older ones were pretty hokey.

My biggest complaint about this movie had to be Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. He played Superman's arch-nemesis as a long-haired, neurotic, bizarrely-behaved rich kid who ran his deceased father's tech corporation. Lex Luthor always seemed to me like a bald version of Donald Trump- a more mature, wealthy, conniving, and arrogant businessman.


Although he played a villain that's easy to hate, and he loses his hair at the end of the movie, Eisenberg's version of Luthor stood out as the only thing I really disliked about the film.

I only had a few other minor complaints: Doomsday should've had more spiky protrusions, Lois Lane still bothers me as a redhead instead of her dark hair in the comics, and the way Doomsday was created was sloppy & not as good as the comic book story. I prefer when they stick closely to the comic book representations of characters in these movies.

There were some interesting themes in the movie, like humanity's reaction to an alien presence that has the potential to destroy our civilization. Superman is viewed through the dichotomy of our current political climate, where everything can be seen to have at least 2 opposing perspectives attached to it. Some people view the Kryptonian Kal-El as a powerful savior for humanity, while others see him as a dangerous & existential threat to the world.

The movie combined elements of two stories I read as a kid, "The Dark Knight Returns" and "The Death of Superman". Even though these are very different works of comic fiction, they were somehow merged into Batman v Superman. The end result worked well enough for my entertainment, and I thought it was much better than I anticipated.  Although I knew how it was handled in the comics, I wondered how a fight between Batman & Superman could possible be believable, considering the disparity of power. Of course, there was Kryptonite involved, but their battle was still handled in a way that didn't seem completely far-fetched. Their rivalry doesn't last long, as there are more immediate threats that they have to join together to overcome.

I think the critics have been overly-critical on this one, and found myself really liking this movie. If you like the characters or superhero films, in general, I would definitely recommend "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice".

• The Monkey Buddha's Official Rating: 8 out of 10





Thursday, March 24, 2016

Interspecies Space Travel with Dolphins

I'm a sponge for visual novelty. I love seeing things that are new, strange, or thought-provoking. For some reason, this image I saw on Rude Mechanicals stuck out in it's awesomeness.



There have already been other animals in space, but the idea of a dolphin floating with humans in a water-filled spacesuit is an amazing concept.

It looks like the title is (surprise!) "Dolphins in Space" by Richard J. Bartrop.

If we are to become a spacefaring species, we will have to create ways to bring other life (plant, animal, & fungal) along for the journey. Humanity cannot exist in a vacuum, both literally & figuratively.

I just noticed that the dolphin's suit has mechanical arms, which it's using to grasp the cable/tether. Perhaps we will find similarly outlandish solutions to enable other creatures to help us in various ways, instead of just being along for the ride.  Then we can have a truly cooperative interspecies exploration of our Universe.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dreams Around the World


I read this article that takes a look at how dreams are viewed by cultures as widespread as the Maya, classical Greeks, Hindus, and Aborigines.

Raw Story:

For many years, I've payed close attention to my dreams. Ever since my teenage years, I've tried to look into the symbolism and imagery behind the situations that my dream self experiences. As a window to the subconscious, I analyze these dream states and use them to better understand my own mind.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Part of the trick to analyzing dreams is to remember them in the first place. By focusing on your dreams when you immediately wake, and recording what you can remember (if possible), it becomes easier to recall them. For dreams that I find to be particularly significant, I will make a voice memo on my phone recounting the dream, while it's still fresh in my mind.

After many years of trying to cultivate awareness & memory of my dreams, I have had many interesting experiences as my body sleeps.

Probably the most striking dreams are lucid dreams, in which I have become conscious of the fact that I'm dreaming. In these lucid dreams, a person realizes they are in a dream, and can even control certain aspects of the situation or environment. For instance, during times where I realized I was dreaming & became lucid- I was able to run at super speeds, smash stone counter tops, and even fly.

Taking flight in lucid dreams have been the most exhilarating experiences that I've encountered in the sleeping state. Remembering how to fly in a dream usually feels like getting on a bike after a long time. You might be a little wobbly at first, but quickly gain your bearings. I have soared through trees, into the clouds, and it felt as real as my waking life. I always marvel at the ability of the human mind to simulate this kind of superhuman feat in such a convincing & realistic way.

I can see how people throughout time & around the world would have been fascinated by the crazy experiences that dreams bring to the human experience. The fact that there is convincing evidence that animals dream shows that dreaming is a function of the complex energetic patterns of the brain.

As we discover more about the brain, & how it gives rise to the mind, the mysteries of the dream world will be uncovered. However, I think that just as consciousness may never be completely understood, the full implication of dreams will likely remain mysterious for a long time.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Future of Food: Reducing Waste

Photo: City Fruit

I've been posting a series exploring one of the most necessary aspects of our survival, as individuals & as a species- How are we going to produce food for coming generations?

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

A huge factor in the effort to feed the people of this planet is the enormous amount of food we collectively waste.

FAO.org:

National Geographic:

I've been in convenience stores & markets and seen the amount of food that is thrown away. The fact there are people going hungry while all this edible food is discarded is simply absurd.

Personally, I produce relatively little waste and try to recycle more material than I throw in the garbage. If everyone did this on an individual basis it would be a positive thing, but a large percentage of food waste is commercial. 

Fortunately, there are governments, as well as companies and supermarkets, that are trying to reduce the amount of unnecessary loss of usable food products. It is great news that some private stores are implementing plans to solve this problem, but this is one of those situations that is big enough to warrant involvement on a national scale.

Here some encouraging initiatives being taken to prevent and reverse the trend of waste that has existed in the various food industries:

Inhabitat:


The Telegraph:


Voice of America:


Inhabitat:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Bad Packaging for Good Products

I consider myself a connoisseur of bad package design. As a graphic artist, I constantly strive to create aesthetically-pleasing design, when creating art for products or packaging. However, I also find bizarre, unappealing, or downright ugly graphics to be entertaining, even if unintentionally.

While browsing Reddit, I saw these examples of atrocious box & label designs. Interestingly, from reading the comments it appears that both products are actually really effective. So, this is an example of why you can't judge something based solely on appearances.

That post was about this Superthrive plant food. The slapped-together layout and bold graphic style scream 'cheap garden center product', but people claim it really works:


In the comments of that post, I also saw this image someone shared, for Dr. Bonner's Magic Hemp & Peppermint Soap. This is an unbelievably dense rambling mess, but would actually be a great thing to have in the bathroom for a random crazy read:


(click to enlarge)






Friday, March 11, 2016

President A$$hole

Way back in the Bush years, I was still writing on this blog and posted a lot more political stuff than I do now. I don't feel the need to continually comment on the state of the current Presidential race, but it's such a bizarre & downright crazy situation that it's hard not to talk about.

Bernie Sanders has been my pick since the day that he got into the race. I have watched cable news and followed politics for many years. Bernie is one of the few politicians/talking heads who I thought was authentic, principled, and had a vision that resonated with the way that I would approach the big problems our country faces. I also saw that he was (as a democratic socialist progressive or "liberal") always willing to go on with Fox News or conservative radio hosts and really debate the issues and their merits.

So, I still think he would still be the best person for the seriousness & vision that a role like the Presidency of the US should require. I'm glad he's at least giving Hillary a run for her money, because she embodies the corrupt power structure of the political & financial establishment. I think Bernie Sanders is going to keep winning, & I hope the political movement he's led will continue even after the election is over. He is the only one who will at least attempt to initiate fundamental changes in our twisted web of national interests.

On the other side, the Republican field is like a train wreck smashed into a clown car. All the candidates are horrible in their own unique ways. However, their seemingly unstoppable frontrunner, Donald Trump, is simply a human phenomenon.

He is like a weird mix of a nightmare, a comedy, and a cheesy late-night infomercial. I saw this article by Rich Lowry &, for once, I agreed with him- Donald Trump is definitely the Billy Mays of The GOP!

Politico:

When seeing his absurd press conference/product presentation after the recent primaries, I was just awestruck at the insanity of it all. The guy is touting "Trump Steaks", "Trump Water", "Trump Magazine", all of which are basically just products he supplies to his private clubs & resorts. It's all bullshit, but Trump is a media expert and knows the public will eat it up. Unfortunately, he leaves a bad taste in many people's mouths.

I thought the Dalai Lama had a wise analysis of the type of politics that Trump, especially, is bringing to the campaigns. 

Raw Story:

"Cheap" describes Trump perfectly, despite his reported wealth. He's like a piece of gaudy expensive-looking costume jewelry, that is actually made of crappy materials and has no real value. Worst of all, when you actually wear the jewelry, it gives you a horrible rash.

Donald Trump is American Ego gone absolutely berserk. He only wants to help the country and its citizens in the sense that it's good for the Trump™ brand. I hope to God and any higher power that he doesn't get elected, but seeing him stomp across the political landscape and shattering the facade of our social norms is absolutely awesome to behold.

We'll see how everything turns out... but if Donald J. Trump ends up being elected President, this is how I envisioned it:

 President A$$hole

Months ago, I knew he was striking a nerve, so I was hoping for an election between him & Bernie. That would be the ultimate race between two iconoclast symbols of the opposite ends of American political values, known as right-wing (conservative) & left-wing (progressive). 

This is my completely un-biased look at the political divide:

 
by Paul Micarelli 

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

"It's Your Nickel" by Wayne Howell

My friend Dan always shares cool tidbits with me, and I had to post this one here. He saw this awesome intaglio print at his doctor's office.

The picture is titled "It's Your Nickel" by Wayne Howell. It features a bizarre clown therapy session, with cuckoo clocks, balloons, and a mocking monkey.

After searching the web, I couldn't find a better image, so I'm just going to post this pic he sent me:

 click to enlarge

Saturday, March 05, 2016

"Steel Heart"

Each day this week, I am posting a new piece of abstract art that I've created.

I've started a new gallery, with hi-res images that I'll continually add to.


  
Here is another addition in the gallery:



"Steel Heart"
by Paul Micarelli

Prints & products featuring each design are available in my Cafepress store.

The Monkey Buddha Bazaar:

Friday, March 04, 2016

"Fractal Leaf Veins"

Each day this week, I am posting a new piece of abstract art that I've created.

I've started a new gallery, with hi-res images that I'll continually add to.

  
Here is another addition in the gallery:



"Fractal Leaf Veins"
by Paul Micarelli

Prints & products featuring each design are available in my Cafepress store.

The Monkey Buddha Bazaar:

Thursday, March 03, 2016

"Organic Metal"

Each day this week, I am posting a new piece of abstract art that I've created.

I've started a new gallery, with hi-res images that I'll continually add to.

  
Here is another addition in the gallery:



"Organic Metal"
by Paul Micarelli

Prints & products featuring each design are available in my Cafepress store.

The Monkey Buddha Bazaar:

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

"Infinite Bubbles"

Each day this week, I am going to try posting a new piece of abstract art that I've created.

I've started a new gallery, with hi-res images that I'll continually add to.

  
Here is another addition in the gallery:



"Infinite Bubbles"
by Paul Micarelli

Prints & products featuring each design are available in my Cafepress store.

The Monkey Buddha Bazaar:

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

"Angel Wings"

Each day this week, I am going to try posting a new piece of abstract art that I've created.

I've started a new gallery, with hi-res images that I'll continually add to.

  
Here is another addition in the gallery:



"Angel Wings"
by Paul Micarelli

Prints & products featuring each design are available in my Cafepress store.

The Monkey Buddha Bazaar: