Thursday, October 29, 2009

Death, Grief, & Monkeys

Although I usually try to focus on humorous monkey stuff, existence is unfortunately not all fun & games.

I was interested in this National Geographic photo showing our 'primitive' genetic cousins trying to silently comprehend the unknown void that is Death.

Although it is impossible to completely put into words, the phenomenon of grieving loss on some level will one day be understood to exist among all social animals. As much as the death of a member of the community is a loss of another, it is also a loss of part of one's self that identified and connected with someone else.

It is a sad scene & an reminder that we are also animals made of flesh that will cease to function one day. Beyond that, it's all a bunch of speculation.

There's an article giving some background on this incident:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gigagalaxy Zoom

Nothing puts the paradox of life's simultaneous triviality & miraculousness into immediate perspective like contemplating the infinite vastness of the physical Universe.

On Neatorama I saw a link to a site I bookmarked that let's you zoom into various sections of our Milky Way galaxy. Of course, a galaxy - immense beyond human understanding - is still just a dust speck in the larger cosmos.

Gigagalaxy Zoom

Zooming into the different areas, each representing thousands of light-years, I began to think of a post I wrote about the similarity between large-scale galactic formations & the brain's neural network: "The Universal Mind."

I started imaging an unending fractal reality where 'the Universe' was actually an incomprehensibly large 'mind'... the galactic clusters forming neuron-like structures. Individual stars and planets would be nothing more than elementary particles. However once you zoom down past the level of our brain cells & atoms, perhaps whole universes are continuously contained beneath our threshold of perception. This unending progression may continue up & down the scale, ad infinitum.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Undead Dick Cheney

Halloween must be getting closer...the forces of darkness are growing!

As I caught Chris Matthews saying tonight, Dick Cheney is like Freddy Kreuger- he's a blood-thirsty monster that just keeps coming back again & trying to frighten everyone around him.

(Update: It seems that provocateur extraordinaire Florida's Rep. Alan Grayson shares my sentiment of viewing Cheney as nothing but a detestable vampire.)

On the cable news channels earlier there were clips of Cheney admonishing Obama's approach to foreign policy.

The first thing that struck me was the pure hubris of this war-mongering, oil-stealing dungeon master who has personally caused so much chaos through his brute reaction to the world.

The second thing that struck me watching montages of Bush & Cheney during their time in power was how glad I am to have those evil bastards gone from the White House. Unfortunately, Cheney at least feels the need to keep forcing his horrific scowl into the public discourse.

It was appalling to watch the group of ghoulish men such as Reich Marshall Rumsfeld & the President of Cheney's Fan Club huddle around Cheney as he accepted whatever bullshit award his fellow neo-cons were giving him.

In my head, it conjured up the image of Springfield's Republican Party on The Simpsons- which includes GOP favorites such as Rush Limbaugh, the Rich Texan (big stretch there), Mr. Burns, & Dracula...

The Abominable Art of Pageant Portraits

I've seen examples of ridiculous retouched pageant portraits being pointed out before, but my artistic pride has now compelled me to comment on this.

Following a link on BoingBoing led me to a website I saw branded on one of the photos.

Their retouching examples actually aren't bad, but I don't get this twisted technique of "enhancing" glamor portraits of kids until they look like this:

I understand the digital artist is probably just trying to appease an exploitative & tasteless white trash client who thinks this is really cute in some f*d up way, but I also find this dreadful on a number of levels.

Child pageants are grotesque enough, with South Park even ridiculing the idea. However, the idea of plasticizing your child's face into a surreal mask-like beauty portrait is just beyond my ability to appreciate.

The best part is- if you read the customer's comment for the above photo retouching, the dirtbag pageant mom from Tennessee doesn't even buy a print- but requests only the free sample even after admitting to being a total pain in the ass!!!

"Thats great. I would like the Free 8x10...I would like to just say thanks for making the changes...Sorry for all the changes. but ya'll have worked with me and are very nice and kind. I hope to receive by next weekend so I can have them for her Nationals and will let everyone know where I got hers done at:):) Thanks once again and have a nice Day:)" Candace R. - Goodlettsville, TN

Even though I think the photo work is a disgrace to Art, it's still physical labor! So to have someone be really picky, but then not even give you the business must be frustrating.

Looking for more examples of this bizarre art form, I came across this website that lets you move the cursor over the photo to see the "before" picture. Weird.

Having done alot of photo retouching for both clients & family, I can say the work that goes into it is not easy. For example, my parents' prom picture below was one of the more challenging photos I fixed up for my Mom's recent birthday slideshow. However, just because I can appreciate the time involved in such work doesn't mean I can justify the distasteful objective of the 'pageant portrait' idea.

My Parents' Prom Photo Retouched
Paul J. Micarelli & Karen
(Sheridan) Micarelli

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"The Warning" Before the "Meltdown"

The title of this post refers to a couple of excellent features from PBS regarding America's recent economic situation.

Yesterday I came home from work tired from a frantic day where I was miserable w/ a sore throat & slight fever. All I wanted to do was sleep, but I turned on the TV & ended up getting sucked into a revealing episode of Frontline. It examined the complex world of unregulated "black box" financial markets that have resembled a high-tech underground gambling den.

I've always seen Alan Greenspan as a scoundrel who was the High Prophet of Greed. He conveniently waited until he retired to publicly realize that his entire worldview of unrestrained free-market capitalism was "wrong." By then, his all-powerful deity, The Free Market, had viciously ravaged the economy of not only the entire country, but the whole world.

I also have to wonder if Obama would have surrounded himself with the likes of Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, & Tim Geithner if he had seen an exposé like this... if he didn't know about it all already.

Despite personally having a strong aversion to most things involving numbers & finance, I have occasionally commented on the state of the economy in general terms. Although the system of capitalism is an effective tool of social exchange, unregulated free-market corporatism has been proven it can be a parasitic monster. I think it's pretty obvious to the average person that the American citizens have been robbed repeatedly by financial institutions who are supposed to provide them a 'service'.

There were items in the news today that show the ideological gap between Washington, which ostensibly represents The People, vs. the bankers on Wall Street, which only represents God Money.

On the one hand you have The White House trying to grab the reigns on the ravenous capitalist beast:

On the other hand, you have the Kings of the Marketplace who want to maintain the unbalanced status quo:

"Goldman Sachs Analyst:
Income ‘Inequality’ Will Lead To
‘Prosperity And Opportunity For All’ "

Finally, on the PBS website for "The Warning" I saw a link to a feature called "Meltdown" which is a continuing look at the financial industry.

When I clicked to the page, I was pleasantly surprised to find the most recent item to be about Monkey-nomics:

Economics for Monkeys

I have this great idea for a 'Grooming-based Derivative Market'!

Monkey Business

I have been feeling pretty crappy this week & have been concentrating on serious topics in my posts - a bit of monkey humor is in order.

Seen on The Chive:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rethink Afghanistan

Awhile ago, I saw Robert Greenwald on the cable news shows promoting his film "Rethinking Afghanistan" about the complexities regarding the occupation of Afghanistan, & I finally got around to watching most it.

As our country's leadership currently debates the correct course of action, this gave me a little more insight into the different factors.

It is an incredibly messy situation with few solutions. All I know is that every time we destroy innocent life, we have lost.. because we have become the very thing we fight. That is undeniable.

The website for the film has it conveniently broken into segments:

Like the rest of his films, Greenwald is obviously approaching the situation from a progressive viewpoint. Regardless of whether we are coming at the problem of war from a 'liberal' or 'conservative' point of view, it is vital to try to understand & witness the culture we are affecting.

As Sun-Tzu declared:

"If you know the enemy
and know yourself
you need not fear

the results of a hundred battles."

One clip that caaught my attention was of Florida Rep. Alan Grayson, who has gained alot of attention for his rare mix of being a Congressional Democrat w/ balls.

I liked his humanist perspective on the fundamentals of our 'being' that are often lost in the politics and grand schemes of war.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


An ouroboros is an image of a serpent-like creature eating it's own tail & forming the most fundamental shape- the circle.

This article (titled after the mystical symbol) that I saw on Reality Sandwich is a nice summary & philosophical perspective of 20th century art.

Creating art is a metaphysical process & it can't truly be studied or understood without appreciation for the spiritual dimension of it. This is something every practicing artist already knows.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bardo Thodol

As I was writing my last post about the Mayans & looking at different videos, this one caught my eye. It is a documentary about the Bardo Thodol which I have mentioned before.

Althought the text is usually referred to as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, a more accurate translation is "Liberation through Hearing in the Intermediate State."

I have had a few near-death experiences of differing character. One time I experienced what I can only describe as a Clear Light state. There was actually no consciousness, no sense of self, no thought, just permeating white light.

Although my "bardo state" was ultimately a function of my brain activity, I came to completely understand William Blake's quote:

"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is - infinite."

Monday, October 12, 2009

2012 Isn't the End of the World! (...hopefully)

Ancient Mayan civilization is one that I never get tired of learning about. Despite the astonishment I feel when trying to understand their cosmic systems, I can't really buy into this idea that there is some sort of 'Doomsday' scenario that will fall exactly on a specified date.

Supposedly, the date December 21, 2012 is the end of a cosmic cycle that the Mayans called a baktun (144,000 days). I tend to think that this is just a measurement like our century & millenium, which means time will probably continue on after 2012- just like after "Y2K."

However, there is a part of me that wonders about the greater significance of these meticulously calculated astronomical cycles.

Western measure of time is disconnected from the longer, yet regular workings of the universe. Beyond the solar year of 365 days, our measures of time are basically arbitrary.

Despite our exponentially expanding knowledge base, I think ancient people like the Mayans had a much different sense of natural time and the infinite nature of the universe.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hating on Peace

I knew when I heard that President Obama had unexpectedly won the Nobel Peace Prize that people would be very surprised. I also knew that it would absolutely infuriate the usual unreasonably cynical cretins who simply can't stand Barack & his novel ability to speak in complete, coherent sentences.

With my own ears, I heard people questioning "What has he done?!?"... so I knew the legion of short-sighted & self-centered buffoons in the media would be predictably disparaging this amazing honor for America, it's President & it's people.

"Waaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!! Booooo-f*cking hoooo!!!!"

The idea that Obama hasn't "done enough" to deserve this award is infantile. Barack Obama has literally reversed the entire world's perception of America & it's purpose in the world. Many feeble-minded pundits have been crying that "This is just recognition for not being George Bush!" That is a perfectly good enough reason to get the award!!! We went from having a dry-drunk, half-retarded, belligerent asshole in charge of the world's most powerful military, to someone with the intelligence & eloquence to miraculously reverse the world's seething and justified hatred for the War Monkey and his money & death-worshipping neocon cabal.

The only reason an American should be opposed this honor is if they are a war-profiteering defense contractor or a partisan Republican crybaby. This is a clear win for America.

Of course, there is the fact that this Nobel Peace Prize recipient is waging two inherited wars of extreme logistical & strategic difficulty with continuing civilian casualites. Even I had to ponder the situation deeply to reconcile this paradox. Luckily, I constantly entertain paradoxes in my mind, so it's not that difficult to accept.

The Nobel committee has obviously partially awarded this as a motivation for America to pursue as peaceful and non-destabilizing of an agenda as possible. Also, the depth of vision for a progressive world that Obama has presented on behalf of mentally stable Americans has obviously inspired enough people worldwide to warrant this honor.

Predictably, this recognition, and the adulation that comes with it, will provide fodder for those who believe that Obama is really an agent of manipulative evil- & perhaps the archetypal Anti-Christ himself.

I'll be the first to say that anything is possible- he just might one day sit on a throne in the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem as the Satanic King of the World.... but I doubt it!

For now, I think Obama is an amazing leader that America & humanity desperately needs at this critical time. I'm proud to have voted for the guy & hope that he can continue his agenda of trying to reverse the massive failings of rule by America's regressive 'right-wing' movement.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


First of all, let me say that I'm a fan of Barry. His job is one that I would not want under any circumstance, because of the inhuman problems & schedules involved. I've said that I haven't been a supporter of all his policies, but I believe he's doing what he thinks he can to steadily improve things from the nearly decade-long disaster of Bush's regressive, plutocratic rule.

The worst part of the deal is the fact that it is physically impossible to please every group & faction in the country, no less every individual. Obama is getting called a Socialist, Facist, Nazi, communist, Muslim, Islamo-fascist, & whatever label sounds sufficiently anti-"American".

Like any public official, Obama's philosophies & policies can be categorized with any disparaging label, as long as a rationale can be given. It doesn't even need to be a logical or justifiable rationale as long as other people buy into it.

This whole thought process led me to wonder if Obama, the Master of Propaganda himself, could be so persuasive that he actually smoothed-talked "Socialism" into seeming like a patriotic American value!?!

I've been wanting to make a crazy sort of Bizarro anti-propaganda poster that combines iconography of Soviet communism with the red, white, & blue of the good ol' USA.

The inspirational, yet appropriate, slogan "We are All in This Together" came to me as a way to offset the negative connotation of "Socialism." Then, I heard Obama use that exact phrase in his TV health care speech! At that moment I thought, "Ok, well that settles it. I gotta make this stupid thing..." So, I sat down recently & put this poster together one night last week.

I tried to make it as visually 'American' as possible- with flag colors, stripes, stars, a font similar to our currency's. The pose & spikes of the star crown resemble the illuminating Statue of Liberty. Beams of compassion for his people stream out from the heart area while he holds the O Sun logo at his stomach, pregnant with possibilities for the Republic. (or maybe he's just playing ball in front of a crowd?...)

The patriotic & positive tone of the poster twists the perception of Socialism as a negative force against American society into a proud American virtue.

On the other hand, the stars and strong red color could also give the sneaking suspicion of Communist activity lurking just below the surface. (I might as well point this out, since Glenn Beck would probably figure it out anyway.)

The stars also form a subtly menacing barbed wire-like border, while the big star behind Obama's head make devil horns that can only be explained by the fact that Obama is The Anti-Christ. Of course, the focus of the image is our deceptively friendly El Presidenté, surrounded by the adoring Liberal mobs that blindly follow our Dear Leader. He's an evil trickster, that Obama!

Anyway, this was just an absurd, fun idea to get off my mind & into the Internets.

The link at the top of this post takes you to the product page on my Cafepress site: The Monkey Buddha Bazaar

Visualizing the Aztecs (& More)

It is amazing to watch modern technology evolve. One mind-expanding application of archaeology & computer science is the virtual reconstruction of ancient sites & ruined cities.

Like I said in my last post, ancient cultures are a huge interest of mine. Being able to directly visualize historical scenes around you would be crazy. Imagine having a neural-networked Apple iThink transmitting signals that could link right into your brain's visual system to virtually immerse you in an environment. You could walk around an ancient temple and have a 3d model superimposed on your perspective of the area.

Anyway, that would seem to be one possible outcome of emerging technologies that are being used to re-create lost cultures like the Aztecs and map existing 3D structures using thousands of photos:

Trip to Chichen Itza

So far, I've only been out of the country once- & it was one of the best times of my life. My family all took a trip to Riviera Maya in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula in 2006. I posted a summary of our vacation when I got back.

The highlight of the trip for me was our day trip to the ruins of Chichen Itza.

Ancient cultures have always been a source of fascination for me & the Mayan civilization of Mexico is one that sparks endless curiosity in my mind. I was just watching Apocalypto again at my parents' house the other night on an HD movie channel. I still think it is a stunning depiction of classical Mayan society.

Seeing the remains of this unique culture firsthand was an experience I'll never forget. I have alot of great photos that I'll have to upload soon. My brother took video of the site as we walked among the amazing ruins & has finally uploaded a couple segments he edited to his Youtube channel- MicProsVideos.

The first video shows some of the resort & the drive to the site. The second video highlights the footage of Chichen Itza itself.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Bernie Sanders Unfiltered

Both the greatest & worst thing about the Internet is that everybody can have a voice.

You have your skoalrebels giving their barely coherent opinion, but you also have voices of reason, too.

Bernie Sanders
is the Independent Senator from Vermont & the first Senator to identify himself as "socialist." Regardless of what labels he or anyone decides on, he always makes rational points regarding the issues being discussed when I seee him on TV.

On I saw a link to his Youtube episodes titled "Senator Sanders Unfiltered":