Monday, April 15, 2019

Star Wars: Episode 9 Teaser

The first teaser trailer and title of the final installment of the main Star Wars saga was finally released:

As I've talked about on this blog many times over the years, Star Wars is by far my favorite movie series and is a story that I have enjoyed since I was a kid.

It's amazing that this legendary work of fiction has endured over the years and evolved while still staying (mostly) coherent. Although I have many criticisms of the details in the movies, and most recently explained my problems with Episode 8: The Last Jedi, it remains an epic fictional world that has enthralled millions of people. Star Wars has sparked the imaginations of countless children and adults, and has been a continual influence on pop culture.

Being the final episode in the trilogy of trilogies, with a vast fictional landscape full of memorable characters, the burden to wrap up this series in a satisfying way is an immense one. Especially after the divided reactions and fan criticisms of The Last Jedi, the pressure to end the Skywalker saga effectively is the tallest order in movie history.

The immediate speculation after the teaser trailer was released included questions about the title. Who is the "Skywalker" that is being referred to? Is is Luke (whose voice is heard in the trailer) coming back as a Force ghost? Will a redeemed (or divided) apparition of Anakin be making an appearance? Is Rey going to be revealed as a Skywalker, or adopted by Leia?

I'd like to think that the term possibly refers to a new lineage of Force users who take on the legendary name of the Skywalker family. Maybe this new breed of Force sensitive individuals finds the balance that eluded previous orders & groups. The 3rd movie of the first two series ended with "Jedi" and "Sith", so maybe this new title resolves the conflict between the two ideologies.

When George Lucas created this world, he used the term "Skywalker" intentionally because of it's connotations in the shamanic tradition. The skywalker is the shaman who bridges the physical world & the spirit world, sometimes flying through the sky to retrieve the souls of those who are sick or possessed.

The heroine Rey seems to be the one who is carrying on Luke's final teachings about finding balance in the Force and resolving the dichotomy of the Light and Dark. Although I think there's been a lot in the sequels that have been executed very badly, I also think there's a lot that has been really profound.

In one of the trailers for the previous movies, and in the beginnings of Luke's lessons to Rey, he gets into the same fundamentals as real life- "Breathe, just.... breathe..." The breath is the focus of all meditative traditions, and the trailers for the sequels have opened with the focus on the characters' breath.

In this one, we hear Rey's heavy breathing as it's revealed she's standing in the desert as a T.I.E., presumably being piloted by Kylo Ren, approaches.

As it is about to overtake her, she flips with lightsaber ignited before the scene is cut. Is it a real encounter or is it a dream or vision of some sort?

There is a lot of speculation that Rey & Ben Solo (aka Kylo Ren) will finally join together to create the new order of Skywalker. However, by the way that the Supreme Leader is smashing people with his lightsaber surrounded by stormtroopers, it is far from apparent from the teaser.

His helmet is being repaired and held together by hairy hands (Ughnauts?) with a material that is glowing a Sith red. I have seen people symbolizing this as trying to put the narrative pieces back together after the deconstruction & "subverted expectations" of Episode 8.

Appearances by Leia and Lando bridge the history of the saga to the new era, and the non-human characters Chewbacca and C-3PO are seen right in the midst of the new band of heroes, Rey, Poe Dameron, Finn, as they look out onto a rough sea. In this body of water is revealed the ruins of one of the Death Stars.

As the screen fades to black, we hear the unmistakable cackle of the greatest villain in cinema history- Emperor Palpatine, the Sith Lord known as Darth Sidious. This is the detail that threw everyone on the Internet though a loop. Although referencing Palpatine bridges the previous trilogies, how exactly is his character going to be utilized? One theory I saw that I like is that his spirit is bound to the 2nd Death Star where he was killed. When the heroes go to its ruins for some yet unrevealed purpose, the apparition of The Emperor haunts or antagonizes them in a way that is almost a horror movie. I think that would be a cool thematic feel that is different than anything that has been in Star Wars, but it might scare the crap out of little kids. Another possibility is that Palpatine appears through a Sith holocron or a recording.

However they use him, I think the more they can connect the overarching story of the 9 movies, the better. Thankfully, this sounds like what they are trying to do. 

The one character who cannot be overlooked is Anakin Skywalker. They have to bring Anakin into this movie somehow. We already know that he is a Force ghost, so why he hasn't been incorporated somehow already into the last 2 movies is a mystery. We only get his grandson pleading for him to appear again in "The Force Awakens", but we have no way of knowing if it was really Anakin who he was communing with.

The saga was really about Anakin's redemption, and I think this and the prophecy surrounding him has to be resolved in this series. I think the perfect way to do it would be to make the new teaching of The Force be carried on by those who honor the "Skywalker" name. This way, Anakin's story is still relevant, while leaving open the possibility of future tales and evolution of the Star Wars universe.

My fantasy ending would be a cut to R2-D2 and C-3PO telling & showing the Skywalker story to future generations of Force users, or something showing that the whole saga was taken from the Journal of the Whills.

We will just have to wait & see if Disney and the team making this movie live up to the impossibly high expectations that are awaiting the conclusion of this 40+ years-in-the-making storyline. It is one I have waited all my life to see play out, and it is awesome to witness it happening.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

The Silver Surfer by John Gallagher

I've posted before about one of my favorite fictional characters, The Silver Surfer.

I came across these awesome illustrations of the wielder of the Power Cosmic by artist John Gallagher. This image really gives a sense of this power that gives him the ability to travel throughout the Universe at faster-than-light speeds. 

 These images are from his DeviantArt page. I'm telling you, look through his whole gallery- it is absolutely amazing:


Here is the link to his website:

This illustration shows The Silver Surfer with the even more powerful, nearly immortal being who created him, The Devourer of Worlds, Galactus.

Friday, March 29, 2019

"Mindscapes" by Paul Micarelli - Artist Reception

This past week, I had the honor of hosting an artist reception for my very first solo exhibit, at the Williamstown Grand Theatre gallery.

"Mindscapes" Art Exhibit by Paul Micarelli

I put together a collection of digital art, traditional media, sculpture, photography, and made a version of the board game I created, "Da Vinci's Challenge," just for the show.

The reception was great and I was humbled to be able to experience it. My family and friends came out to see my work, support me, and enjoy food & drinks.

It was awesome to seem my name in lights on the theater marquee, and it was very fulfilling to have both my parents be able to share it with me, as well as my siblings and other people I care about.

My wife Loretta is my biggest supporter, and I've some of the wonderful people who were there I've met through her. She has brought so much into my life, and I feel like we push each other to new heights all the time. Every day I meditate and give thanks for her and all the blessings in my life, as well as the strength & wisdom to overcome the challenges that inevitably arise.

Here is a photo gallery from the event:

I've uploaded a lot of my art to my website, under "Fine Art", with a link to buy prints:

The wall of my framed art prints in the gallery.

 Family & friends enjoying the reception.

 "BioTechGnosis" by Paul Micarelli
Everyone was intrigued by this mixed-media sculpture & it became known as "Techno Monkey"

The copy of the "Da Vinci's Challenge" game I made for the show.

Click the link for more photos:

Monday, March 25, 2019

Chimp Experiencing Virtual Reality

This video shows a chimpanzee popping balloons in virtual reality. It's obvious that a primate, with sensory organs and a nervous system so similar to ours, could become immersed in VR as easily as humans.

Virtual reality devices are basically just ways to trick our brain using visual & audio stimuli. As long as a living creature has similar senses, there's no reason why it wouldn't affect them, too.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

"Mindscapes" Art Exhibit by Paul Micarelli

 I am excited to announce my first solo art exhibit, on display now at The Grand Theater in Williamstown, NJ, until April 13, 2019.

Here is the Facebook event page for the artist reception, on Wed. March 27, 2019 from 7-10pm:

Although my profession is a graphic artist, through Paul Micarelli Design, I also create fine art that I have frequently shared on this blog.

The exhibit features prints of my digital artwork, fractal designs, photography, mixed media sculpture, traditional fine art, and a custom-made Da Vinci's Challenge board game that I created.

If you live in the area, I would be happy to see you at the reception. Below are some examples of the art that will be in the show:

Monday, March 11, 2019


This amazing video by Jan van IJken shows the development of a single cell zygote into the hatched  larva of a newt.

It is an up-close look at the miraculous forces that work within biology, in which complex systems emerge from simple self-replicating structures.

Watching something like this increases my sense of awe at the incomprehensible wonders of nature, leaving me shaking my head at the mystery of it all.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Foldable Devices & The Omega Concept

I've been seeing a bunch of news stories about the new folding phones & devices that are coming out.


This is just one of the many technologies that I predicted with the concept computer system I created over 20 years ago, as a college student:

There were several components to the Omega computer system, which were precursors to actual products that ended up coming onto the market:

• Portable computer unit that had integrated cameras & touchscreen (iPhone & all smartphones)

• Foldable keyboard

• Augmented reality eyepiece w/ headphone (Google Glass & Microsoft Hololens)

• ...and now, the folding touchscreen device is coming to the market (Galaxy Fold, Huawei Mate X)

Here is the description that accompanied my product design:


Omega Interactive Display
"Interactive: Omega Interactive Display is a flatscreen, touch-sensitive LCD monitor  that allows you to write, choose items, draw, and navigate directly using the Omega stylus. Input devices such as the mouse and drawing tablets are unnecessary with our easy to use interface.
Compact: Our 17" display is 95% viewing area, with almost no surrounding casing to take up space. You get a combination of sight and sound in one compact unit with the stereo speakers embedded behind the screen. The display also folds in half for easy transportation or storage.
Wireless: Since the Interactive Display is powered by our wireless electricity transmission and also has a wireless data connection to the Omega Computer unit, there are no cords or batteries to deal with. This means you can use it anywhere- on the sofa, in the kitchen, or outside! If you want to stay in the office, you can attach it back to its stand for a space-saving work area.
Multi-media: Our Interactive Display contains high-quality 6"x9" flat stereo speakers to complete the Omega multimedia experience. Watch video, enjoy lifelike gaming, or hear crystal clear music while computing without the burden of seperate speaker hookups!"


There are many technologies that I envisioned for this project that are only now being released or still under development. I'm still kind of surprised at how inventive "past me" was!

The next leap was 10 years ago, when I came up with a concept for an Apple branded brain-computer implant, which is nowhere near being available as a commercial product:

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Molecular Visualizations of DNA

As another birthday approaches in my life's timeline, I am in ever-increasing awe of the miracle of both my existence and that of the Universe as a whole.

The older I get, and the more I learn... the less sense anything makes! As my mind opens up to the infinite nature of reality, the explanations of the world's phenomena pale in comparison to the mysteries whose surface they barely scratch.

In traveling up and down the World Tree through all levels of existence, there are wonders at every scale of dimensionality. Contemplating the processes going on at the microscopic and quantum levels really cause my mind to short-circuit.

Visualizations through computer-generated graphics have allowed us to access secrets of the Universe in ways that were previously unimaginable. Especially in the realm of molecular biology, we are now able to model details of our own anatomy on the tiniest scales that give us deeper insights into the amazing circumstances that form our being.

This video by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research give us a mind-expanding glimpse into the continuous activity of DNA that is going on in every one of us, trillions of times throughout all our cells, at every moment. It's completely crazy, and the complexity of it all is incomprehensible in its totality.

Here is another high-definition animation by the institute, with more footage, but no narration. All I can say is WTF! How can you watch this and not have your jaw drop in astonishment?

As a side note, I totally believe that the accounts of crystalline, scintillating light serpents by shamans in trance states are their experiences with their consciousness being transferred down to the level of DNA. They are interfacing with their own genetic code on a molecular and perhaps sub-atomic level.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

This Person Does Not Exist

As a graphic designer and Photoshop expert, I am very skeptical of any kind of imagery that I see from outside sources. I know how easily and convincingly photos can be altered.

Advancements in technology are making the ability to discern what's real vs. what's not extremely difficult, if not impossible, to the casual observer.

This website (with a succinctly descriptive name) generates composites of human faces that look authentic, but are completely fabricated from databases of existing people's facial features.

This is the type of tool that could be used for any type of purpose, positive or negative. However, regardless of whether these types of AI-generated images are used, they will undoubtedly affect the social & cultural landscape in a major way.

People will begin to trust their eyes even less than they already do, especially when it comes to digital images that people are viewing online.

Here is a technical explanation of the A.I. systems used to generate these kind of images:

Insight Data Science:

The crazy thing is that this is only the beginning of the field of computer-generated imagery of this type. The results of future advancements will be the source of deceptive creations like the "Deep Fake Videos" shown below, which could lead to all types of disruptive or fraudulent creations:

Friday, February 15, 2019

Paul Micarelli Design

After helping many other businesses with their websites, I'm very excited to finally share the long-overdue website for my freelance graphic design service:

You can see many examples of my professional work- • LogosWebsitesPhoto RetouchingPromotional MaterialsVideo Production... Please SHARE if you think others may be interested in my creative services.

I also started a YouTube channel to highlight my video editing: Paul Micarelli Design on YouTube
Subscribe to see more content as I add it!

Friday, February 08, 2019

Stained Glass Monkey Lamp

For Christmas, my in-laws gave me this awesome lamp, and because it's monkey-themed I had to share it here.

It is a stained glass lamp, featuring a metal base with a monkey reading a book. When I first opened the gift, I was like "Okaaay, this is pretty weird... but cool!" (They know my taste very well!!!)

My wife and I now have it in our bedroom, and the stained glass gives off a nice pattern of light against the wall when it's lit in the dark.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

The Legend of Anakin Skywalker

by Daniel de Almeida e Silva

I saw this awesome piece of Star Wars fan art on r/imaginaryjedi and was blown away by it.

It shows a scene in the Millenium Falcon, where an older version of Anakin Skywalker's apprentice Ashoka Tano is activitating a Jedi holocron with the image of her former Master. Anakin's children Luke & Leia look on with different reactions to seeing the image of their father in his former glory as a Jedi knight. Leia & Han Solo's son Ben, who later becomes Kylo Ren, reaches out- already fascinated with his legendary grandfather.

This illustration alone is so thematically & emotionally immersive, that it makes the entire "The Last Jedi" movie seem relatively flat in comparison. I'm not one of the fans who thinks the sequels (Episodes 7 & 8 so far) have been a total let-down, but "The Last Jedi" especially seems lacking in the rich interconnected details of Star Wars lore. There are so many awesome possibilities for visual and situational storytelling in the Star Wars galaxy, but the sequels have been slightly-altered rehashes of the original trilogy.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

The sequels have been really lacking in the inclusion of Anakin Skywalker/ Darth Vader (who this entire saga is supposed to be about). Except for the scene in "The Force Awakens" where Kylo talks to Vader's helmet trying to channel his dead grandfather, there's really been no mention of Anakin at all.

I'm starting to see predictions & supposed leaks of Episode 9's details pop up online. The one thing I think is universally agreed upon by all fans is that Luke and Anakin have to figure into the plot in a major way, to wrap up the character arcs of the Skywalker Jedi.

Although I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the main Star Wars saga is concluded in a proper fashion. From what I've seen from the last 2 movies, I'm cautiously optimistic. The Star Wars Stories films were really good movies with quality fan service, so there is a chance the Disney will pull through and create a conclusion that lives up to The Skywalker Legend.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

"Fireside Flow" with Loretta & Paul

My wife is a nurse & a yoga instructor, and has always been very health-conscious. She has brought so much positive change into my life... I am deeply grateful for her presence, and tell her so every day.

Together, we formed a brand called "Conscious Living for You" to help other people achieve better health in mind, body, & spirit.

Besides her yoga teaching, we have begun doing workshops together that incorporate yoga, meditation, and relaxation techniques using medical & scientific research. We just did a presentation on mindfulness and stress relief practices to parents of a local school district. (I will be posting that video soon.)

Yoga has really been a catalyst for both of us to raise our physical and mental health to new levels. I try to go to as many of her classes as we can, and sometimes we practice together.

Last week, on a freezing January night, we had the fireplace going and did a "Fireside Flow". We got heated up pretty quick and started taking shirts & socks off, while our cat Bella was roaming around in the background.

Here is the full session, which is about 40min, so feel free to bookmark and follow along for a great workout when you can! It is not an easy flow, but that is how we have challenged ourselves to become better and stronger.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Absurd Creations of Alan Wagner

I love finding new artists on places like Instagram, and I recently came across the hilarious Photoshopped art of Alan Wagner:


His approach is a combination of completely ridiculous content + crappy design = two of my favorite qualities when it comes to humor.

Here are a few of his creations that gave me a laugh, but there's plenty more:

 "Time to Let's Cook!" Play Set

Fisher-Price Mecha-Soldier Exoskeleton

Babystrong™ Hookah for Pregnant Women

 Heat-Locked Chicken Nuggets

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Weird Junk- Office Monkey

My sister recently sent me this link from 1-800-GOT-JUNK with a Top 10 list of strange items that were found by their removal services:

It reminded her of all the crazy "Flea Market Finds" that our family hunts for on our outings together.

My favorite item was obviously the "Office Monkey," which I'd totally buy if I ever came across it in a flea market, or anywhere else:

Click this link to see what he looks like once he turns back to his computer and engages cyberspace:

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

The Roast of Uncle Ron

In August, my Uncle Ron turned 75, so his family decided to hold a very special surprise birthday party for him... where he would be subject to a "Roast".

Ron is one of the most sarcastic and funniest people I know, so it was fitting to have a chance for a select group of his friends and family to turn the tables on him.

When I asked my cousin who the roasters would be, she told me that I was one of the people they had my mind. Of course, I accepted & started preparing immediately to absolutely skewer my dear uncle!

I spent weeks editing and rehearsing my set, and when the roast came I was ready to make the room (including him) laugh their asses off. The whole party and roast were awesome, and I had a great time being part of it.

My brother Justin took video of all the roasters, and also Ron's rebuttal. For our Christmas White Elephant game, Justin made a BluRay of the video footage & asked me to create a cover for it. I enjoyed making the BluRay cover almost as much as doing the roasting!

(click to enlarge)
Here is my set, which starts off with an impression of him, and then I pick him apart piece by piece. I touch on his hoarder-esque basement that I call "Uncle Ronorium's Wonder Emporium", his similarities to Trump (who he definitely doesn't consider his personal hero), and his perpetual baldness, among other things.

Here is a link to the full playlist:

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

The Ups & Downs of 2018

2018 was a year of major milestones in my life, with many wonderful events and experiences. However, life is never perfect- and there were serious challenges, disappointments, and fear, as well.

In July, I got married to my best friend and the love of my life. Our wedding was everything we had envisioned, and embodied the sacred nature of our relationship.

Soon after the wedding, we moved into our first house together, and again it was exactly what we had envisioned. Being a creative professional, I am familiar with manifesting my thoughts into physical reality. I feel like both of us together take that power of manifestation to a new level, especially when it reflects the true intentions of our minds & souls. Although there are responsibilities and bills to pay, we are enjoying our life together and building a fruitful and positive future.

My wife and I created a brand together called Conscious Living for YOU. Our intention was to create a resource for people who wanted to improve their quality of life in mind, body, and spirit. It also represents Loretta's yoga teaching practice, and my design services for health & wellness companies and services.

I have also been growing my creative businesses. My freelance graphic design and marketing business is Paul Micarelli Design. I have learned a lot over the past year being self-employed, and worked with some awesome clients on many different types of projects- branding, web design, social media graphics, promotional materials, and even some 3D rendering.

I've also been getting more bookings for my photo booth & custom portrait business, Fantasy Photos. Although this is more of a side gig right now, I love meeting new people and providing the entertainment for their events. I never get tired of Photoshopping people of all ages and backgrounds into fun pictures.

Unfortunately, there have been some real struggles to go along with these successes. Making enough money to make ends meet is the biggest challenge, and I'm hoping as my businesses grow and Loretta and I become more successful together, these difficulties will diminish.

During the holidays, I have faced some really difficult circumstances that have ended the year on a very stressful note. The major issue has to do with transactions made through PayPal. In the summer, I agreed to accept several payments through PayPal for a third party through my main client, who provided me a lot of work, but claimed he wasn't able to use PayPal at the time. I took a cut for my design services, and the client got the rest of the money. Just before Christmas, the third party put in claims against me & recalled all the funds, claiming the work was not done. Now all the money, over $10k, is being held against my PayPal account, basically freezing it until the matter is resolved. This is outrageous, since I am basically guilty until I prove myself innocent and being penalized for it. To make matters worse, the client (the one actually contracted for the work) refused to provide any documentation that could help my case when I finally demanded it.

I spent the time between Christmas and New Years compiling all the information on my end proving that I had, in fact, done the work and provided it to the client. As a result of this whole fiasco, I have cut ties with the client, who was keeping me busy and a source of revenue, although it was fairly unreliable. Now, I am going to try to pick up the pieces and see if I can generate enough business through other clients to keep going. If not, I am considering other avenues as well in the short term.

This has been one of the most stressful experiences in my professional career, and I am hoping that PayPal and the claimant's financial institution accept the clear evidence that I am not at fault for this. In the meantime, my PayPal is tied up with this negative balance and it was one of the ways I got paid quickly by clients. This has given me a whole new outlook on these banking services and how to process payments from clients. It has also made me re-evaluate how I conduct business with all my clients.

As icing on the 2018 cake, on Christmas Eve, my Facebook page got hijacked through one of my secondary email addresses. The password was changed & I was locked out of my account. I spent the afternoon on Christmas Day cleaning up this mess, recovering my accounts and changing passwords. The hacker tried to get into my Facebook page again the other day, but thankfully was unsuccessful this time.

Despite these serious setbacks, I have tried to keep a positive outlook. I am still alive, after all, so there is always the potential for things to get better. These tough experiences will make me wiser, stronger, and better able to handle obstacles in the future.

On a global scale, there are much crazier things going on than what I am dealing with. For instance, we still have this jackass as President of the United States, tweeting out nonsense like this on New Years:

It's truly unbelievable and disheartening that this is real. The scary thing isn't that this ignorant buffoon is in the most powerful position on the planet and has the mentality of a toddler.. it's that so many people still admire him and don't think there's anything remotely wrong with it. If you looked at his Twitter feed without knowing who it was, you would think this person is severely mentally ill.

As I get older and another year goes by, the one thing I can count on is that the world is absurd and will never stop producing weird & crazy shit. We can curl up and retreat from the craziness in fear and horror, or we can take a deep breath, smile, and realize that it is all only temporary, so we might as well enjoy the ride (as our wise leader says), with all it's beautiful scenery, uncomfortable bumps and unexpected detours.