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:

Instagram:

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.



Thursday, December 20, 2018

Photopea- Free Online Image Editor


As a graphic designer, I've used Adobe products for most of my career- mainly Photoshop & Illustrator.

Almost 2 years ago, I somewhat unexpectedly got laid off from my graphic design position at a small local studio, where I had been working for over 15 years.  As I collected unemployment, I began to build up two of my own businesses: Paul Micarelli Design & Fantasy Photos.

Obviously, being on a tight budget meant that I wasn't really looking to pay the monthly subscription costs that Adobe now requires. As I was looking for open source or free alternatives for image editing software & vector graphics, I was already familiar with GIMP, which I use for my Fantasy Photos business on my laptop to do simple photo editing.

I also found Affinity Designer, which combines many of the features of both Photoshop & Illustrator into one program. There was a one-time fee to buy the software that was less than $100, so after testing it for the free trial, I purchased it. It has been my main graphic program ever since, with about 90% of the functions I need on a daily basis for my design work.

However, despite it's versatility, there are alot of editing features in Photoshop that Affinity Designer is missing. GIMP is useful, but the interface and tools can be cumbersome.

Recently on Reddit I came across a comment thread about a free online photo editor called Photopea, created by sole developer .


I gave it a shot & it is really an awesome program. It has many of the features used in Photoshop that are either missing in Affinity Designer, or are a pain in the ass to use in GIMP. The only downside is that you need to be online to use it, but when I'm at my desk working, I'm always online anyway- so it's not that big of a deal. (After just looking at a support thread, I found out that once you load Photopea into the browser, you can actually use it offline.)

I'm not going to get into all the features, but I'm just going to say that it's the closest thing to a free version of Photoshop that I've found, and I'm starting to use it alot. I was just using it today to create animated GIF banners, which is not possible or feasible in the other programs.

If you are a designer, photo editor, or creative professional looking for a Photoshop alternative, I would highly recommend checking out this free, yet powerful, photo software.

Friday, December 14, 2018

"Morphomechanoids" by Paul Micarelli

I have a large archive of abstract imagery to share online, and also create prints for exhibits & sale. This is one of my pieces of digital abstract art.

by Paul Micarelli

The blobs of interconnected, artificial sentience bubbled through each other, to perceive the carbon-based life form in their presence...



  "Morphomechanoids" 
by Paul Micarelli
**Buy Prints & Products With This Design***
The Monkey Buddha Bazaar:


Monday, December 10, 2018

Bella on Catnip

This weekend, our cat Bella got into the catnip, & things started to get a little weird...

I've never had any cats growing up, but when my wife & I moved in together she insisted that her cats (which were previously staying in the basement of her mom's house) would be coming along. I knew how much she loved them, so I couldn't say no. 

Luckily, her cats Bella & Tude are pretty chill and aren't too much trouble. I've pretty much adopted them at this point, and Bella is hanging with me by my desk as I write this! I call him my "office cat" & he likes to follow me around the house, and is usually accompanying me when I'm at my computer.

Usually he's curled up in the corner of my office, under the table with my handmade Da Vinci's Challenge game.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

The Beatles Tribute at The Vault

*Fun Fact: This is my 2000th post here on The Monkey Buddha blog, since I started it back in June 2005! It's been a "long & winding road"!


Last weekend, I went with my family to The Vault at Victor Records. It is a small club that also holds an archive of master recordings of classic music.

Talented musicians Graham Alexander, Zachary Harski, and Keith Hohing form a tribute band that plays the music of The Beatles live, faithfully recreating the sound of the studio tracks using all types of instruments and techniques.

I've been there previously to see a show featuring songs from Revolver & Rubber Soul. This time, we went to a show celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles' Abbey Road.

The band is awesome and it was as close as getting to hearing The Beatles play live as I'm ever going to get. Hearing a band play the music live gives a whole new dimension to these amazing songs, and gave me a deeper appreciation for their genius.

As a teenager, my Dad was in a band called Black and the Blues, and was highly influenced by The Beatles, so I grew up being indoctrinated with The Fab Four's music. I think any musician or person with a knowledge of music history would have to recognize the undeniable impact they had on music & the world.

If you live in or near southern New Jersey and love The Beatles, I would highly recommend coming to see one of these shows.

Here are some pics from the show:




Here's a clip of the band playing "Here Comes the Sun," which is the song my wife Loretta walked down the aisle to during our wedding ceremony:


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

"Symmetry" Art Exhibit

by Paul Micarelli

This month, I've had some of my artwork on display at a local art gallery. It is part of the Grand Theatre in Williamstown, NJ.



The exhibit theme is "Symmetry" & the exhibit has been extended until January, 2018.

I have plenty of abstract art that fits this theme, so I picked out some of my favorites to make prints & frame.
 

"Silicone DNA"
by Paul Micarelli

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Quantum Self-Portrait

I came across this awesome app called Moonshadow that lets you add all kinds of combinations of psychedelic effects to photos or video.

After taking some video of my head & adding some colorful waveforms, I turned it into a looping animated GIF on GIPHY.

The result is a "quantum self-portrait", where my face dissolves into patterns of pure energy...

Paul Micarelli
"Quantum Self-Portrait"

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Large Praying Mantis

Outside my back door, I saw these 2 big praying mantises (male & female?) crawling up the siding. The slats of siding are about 5 inches, so it was around that long.

After I got up close to take photos, one of them flew right by my face, & that was the end of the photo session!

I had been having run-ins with these interesting insects for a few weeks, but these are the only photos good enough to post to my nature album.

by Paul Micarelli




Sunday, November 11, 2018

Movie Review: Marvel Infinity War

 


Last night my brother had dinner & movie night at his house. Some of my family watched the Marvel Studios epic, "Infinity War".



It has already been out for awhile, so I've already seen a lot of the hype & memes that this movie has generated. Since the "Infinity Gauntlet" was one of my favorite comic book series as a kid, this film had a lot to live up to, especially considering how critical I am when it comes to movies.

The feat Marvel pulled off is pretty amazing- having many character-based superhero movies thread together & culminate in a blockbuster that ties them all together. DC tried to rush through a similar approach, but did it in a hurried manner that had nowhere near the depth that has been developed in the Marvel Universe.


Some of the casting for the superhero roles is phenomenal: Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, aka. Iron Man, might be the most perfect casting ever. Also, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Capt. America, Benedict Cumberpatch as Dr. Strange, etc. are all great choices of actors. Josh Brolin's CGI-assisted portrayal of the villain Thanos was good enough to make me forget that I was watching a motion-capture animation.

Speaking of Thanos, I think he was portrayed pretty well. My biggest complaints are superficial and more fundamental to the story. First of all, I hate the bald-headed, helmet-less Thanos. They should have saved that for the end, when he becomes a farmer or recluse or whatever, like in the comic. The armored Thanos is so much more awesome looking, I can't believe they changed his look for this movie. Especially when they had the armor in his previous cameos in the previous movies. Second of all, I didn't like how they omitted Thanos's obsession with Death, whose female manifestation is a grim reaper-like skull in a robe. The unhealthy desire Thanos had for Death and his effort to please her were the driving force for his mission to kill off 1/2 of the sentient life in the universe. The fact that this element was left out of the story is crazy to me, it defines everything about the comic book character, including the name "Thanos," from the Greek personification of death, Thanatos. You know what, there's a 3rd big criticism I have... and it's that they made the supposed "Mad Titan" into too much of a sympathetic character. He was pretty brutal in the movie at times, but he didn't have the same level of madness and aura of unhinged cosmic terror as the comic version of the character.

I think the special effects and visuals were awesome. Marvel has really developed the sense of a multiverse of worlds & locations, as well as a convincing yet amazing portrayal of the powers these beings wield. The Infinity Stones housed within Thanos gauntlet allow him to control all aspects of the universe- Reality, Time, Space, Power, Mind, and Soul. The problem I had with this plot device, even in the comic book version, is that it basically makes the user an omnipotent being who should not fall for the tricks or make the mistakes that Thanos does. It's almost impossible to write any kind of plausible scenarios for this kind of god-like power, but hey, it's just a fun fictional idea I guess. I get way too nitpicky about this stuff!

Anyway, despite my few criticisms, I think Infinity War and the entire arc of Marvel movies was done extremely well. It was a fun, exciting movie to watch, and to see all these iconic characters come together in ways that made sense and were integral to the story was impressive.

I'd definitely recommend it, especially to any superhero or comic book fans.

• The Monkey Buddha's Official Rating: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

"The Final Trip" by Paul Micarelli

I have a large archive of abstract imagery to share online, and also create prints for exhibits & sale. This is one of my pieces of digital abstract art.

by Paul Micarelli

As mind dissolves at the moment of death, consciousness takes a final leap into the fractal infinite, merging with the Clear Light.
 
  "The Final Trip" 
by Paul Micarelli
**Buy Prints & Products With This Design***
The Monkey Buddha Bazaar:

Friday, November 02, 2018

34 Most Disruptive Technologies


I have an Instagram page for my Fantasy Photos business, and the endless feed of imagery doesn't allow much time for absorption. It's just a constant stream of visual content that the user just tends to scroll through, occasionally hitting the "Like" button.

However, I recently stopped to look at the infographic above. It highlights some of the "disruptive" emerging tech that has the potential to drastically re-shape society and our individual lives.

It's really interesting to see these various areas of research and development that are emerging simultaneously. I have touched on some of these topics in this blog over the years, including quantum computers, human augmentation, virtual reality, and brain-computer interface with my Apple iThink concept, which is now 10 years old and still nowhere near being fully realized.

I love science & tech, but I honestly don't even know what a few of these mean! Individually and in combination, there are some really mind-boggling concepts here, and we have no idea how it will affect us as they come to fruition.

Here is the direct link to the Twitter post by the creator of the graphic, Dinis Guarda founder of IntelligentHQ:




Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Swarming Ants Eat a Spider


 Here's a creepy scene just in time for Halloween...

On my back deck, I saw a swarm of ants crawling over a seemingly dead spider. I got out my macro lens to get some closeup shots of the gruesome scene.


I added a photo to my gallery of Nature Photos & uploaded the video to my YouTube channel, MonkeyBuddhaVids.

At one point, I saw the spider's legs contract, but I'm not sure if that was because it was still alive or not. In the second half of the video, the ants are trying to rip one of the spider's back legs out.

Video & Editing by Paul Micarelli

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Spider-Man vs. Amazon Box Robot Dance-Off!

In addition to being a graphic designer, I also own a side business called Fantasy Photos - that specializes in custom photo portraits, & The Fantasy Photo Booth for events.


This past weekend, Fantasy Photos was at the Pitman NJ Autumn Fest, in the Total Turf Experience, for a 2-day weekend event.

During the costume contest, one of the actors in a Spider-Man outfit got into a dance-off competition with a kid in a creative robot costume, made of Amazon boxes!

 
I thought it was hysterical and had to record some video of it!


Here's another video of the event, including the Fantasy Photos booth and my lovely wife & partner Loretta:


The Fantasy Photos booth:

 Me (Paul) & my wife Loretta at the event:

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ancient Earth Globe

My Dad & I were having a conversation about what the Earth looked like millions of years ago, and I was explaining how continents as we know them today have shifted over the eons.

The next day, I found this website that lets you pick any time in history, and see where the tectonic movement of the Earth's crust caused land masses to form. It has overlays of the current outlines of countries and US states, to help visualize where the areas are now.

It's an awesome interactive tool that reveals just how dynamic our planet is, and also demonstrates the vastness of the geological scales of time.


http://dinosaurpictures.org/ancient-earth


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Conscious Living for YOU Website


I have posted here previously about the joint venture that I've taken up with my wife Loretta, which we have branded Conscious Living for YOU.

We created the brand & the blog as a resource for people who want to lead a healthier lifestyle.

In addition to being a creative professional and being interested in spirituality & meditative traditions, I have a science background and love to learn about everything.

Loretta is a nurse and a yoga teacher with a RN, BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing). She has a strong background in science, health, nutrition, and a passion for naturopathy and an integrative approach to medicine.

After working on it last weekend, I'm excited to announce the new website for Conscious Living For YOU is live!


It will be the central location for all info on Loretta's yoga classes, as well as a source for my graphic design for health & wellness businesses.

We hope to inspire others to improve their state of being, mental & physical. We also hope to inform on the best practices of both science & spirituality.

 Please check it out, and share it if you think others will be interested. Thank you!

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Paul Micarelli Design- Portfolio Promo


 As a professional designer, I specialize in all forms of branding, print media, digital & web design.

My clients are usually startups & small businesses, but I have also worked with some of the biggest brands & properties in the world.

I have been a freelance designer for almost 2 years now, and I'm always looking to grow and find new clients. This week, I created a promotional video that's a highlight reel with a small sample of the professional work in my portfolio.

Please check it out, "like" & share- to help me spread the word about my business:


My Online Portfolio:
http://www.coroflot.com/paulmicarelli/portfolio

To contact me about my graphic design services, visit my Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/PaulMicarelliDesign
or through the email in the video.

Thank you!

Friday, October 05, 2018

"Mental Interference" by Paul Micarelli

I have been processing my large archive of abstract imagery. I want to share them online and create prints for exhibits & sale. This is one of my pieces of digital abstract art.

The fractal interference patterns rippling throughout the mind create an explosion of mental activity.


by Paul Micarelli
 
 "Mental Interference" 
by Paul Micarelli
 
**Buy Prints & Products With This Design***
The Monkey Buddha Bazaar:

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Garden Snail's Spiral Shell

I take a lot of nature photography, but don't often see snails for some reason. I was at my parent's house & saw this snail climbing up the wall by my Mom's garden.

The snail's spiral shell is one of the beautiful manifestations of geometric principles that manifest through natural form.

I took this photo with my macro lens to get some closeup detail.

Nature Photography
by Paul Micarelli


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Love Light Yoga & Arts Festival 2018


 Last weekend, my wife Loretta & I went to the Pearlstone Center in Reisterstown, Maryland for the Love Light Yoga & Arts Festival.

Here is a photo album of our experiences with some videos, too:

Google Photos:

We camped out from Friday to Sunday afternoon, and had an awesome time. The outdoor setting of the Pearlstone Center among the rolling hills, fields, & trees was a beautiful environment for mindful practice of yoga, and just for the joy of being alive!
 


Everything was in walking distance, and from our campsite on a hill, you could see most of the grounds, with the various pavilions & buildings.



There were dozens of classes and workshops over the course of the weekend, covering all kinds of topics and practices. I went to several different yoga classes- including ayurvedic & acrobatic/thai yoga (partnered up with my wife), and also kundalini meditations, tantric shamanism & breathing workshops. Loretta went to power & primal flow yogas, and also participated in events at the Healing Village. It's so great to have all these opportunities to try new techniques with different teachers, all in one location.


There was also a main stage with musicians and bands, playing throughout the days & nights. One set that stood out to me was singer Ajeet Kaur & Sukhmani Kaur Rayat on tabla drums. The music & vibe the artists were putting out was amazing.
 

There were also artists & vendors with booths around the concert area, selling all kinds of cool items & services.




The last night we were there, Loretta & I left the main stage around midnight & went to a bonfire and drum circle. It was family-friendly, with no visible drugs or alcohol (other than us being the only 2 with drinks in our hand, & the occasional smell of some weed being smoked out of sight.)




 
It got wild, as I ended up being shirtless & we joined the dance around the heat of the blazing fire. Finally, Loretta told me it was 2am, & we should get going so we could get some sleep for the next day. I could have partied all night, but I also didn't want to feel like garbage the next day.

Unfortunately, it started raining on Sunday, making the conditions fairly miserable. Everything got muddy & wet, but we still went to classes and workshops until we decided to head out in the afternoon when there was a brief pause in the rain for us to pack up our tents & gear.




The festival overall was a memorable and enlightening experience (even with having to pack up in the crappy weather). When the weather was nice, it was downright utopian. We met a lot of kind, loving, & inspirational people who felt like a big community. The location was idyllic and a perfect setting for a festival like Love Light.

We are probably going to go back next year if they have it there again, and hopefully the weather will be nice the whole time!



Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Large Walking Stick

I saw this big walking stick climbing up the side of my house & got some closeup photos of it for my online nature album.

by Paul Micarelli

I thought it was cool that its body was brown, but the legs were green- mimicking new shoots coming out of a branch.



Friday, September 14, 2018

Trey Trimble

I love finding new artists, and come across great stuff on Reddit, Instagram, and other sources. There are so many talented people out there creating amazing content.

After coming across Trey Trimble's art awhile back & bookmarking his Instagram page, I'm finally getting around to posting about him. He does some really cool 3D rendering, with a lot of retro 80's & vaporwave aesthetic to them.


On his website, he has a section of pieces that he made every day, over the course of 1000+ days. Despite myself being a graphic artist who creates almost every day, I have no idea how artists like him & Beeple find the time and motivation to produce this kind of output. It almost seems superhuman to me.


Instagram:

Here's his Behance portfolio with albums of his work:

Here are some examples of his work that I thought were pretty RAD:


I played most of these NES games (he rendered the cartridges in 3D) 
and can't tell you how many hours my brothers & I put into Contra alone.