Thursday, September 26, 2013

Adam Crossley- "Beautiful World"

Adam Crossley is a very talented musician who I was friends with in high school. I've posted about his shows that I go to, whenever he's in the Philly area.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

He just released the official  music video for his hit song, "Beautiful World". The video is very well done & goes perfectly with the song. This is a great song- very catchy! It's impossible to hear it & not want to sing the chorus out loud:

Sometimes I hear this song on Sirius satellite radio & can't help thinking, "Hey, I know this guy!!!"

Check out some of his other songs on Youtube, he's got a bunch of really good tunes:


Space Monkey & The Overview Effect

This monkey from The Simpsons is experiencing the "Overview Effect" while gazing on our home planet, Earth, from space.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Mind Control"

Recently while reading, I started to think about the fact that the words echoing in my head were someone else's thoughts...

Through the symbolic transfer of language, specifically the written word, you can transfer the internal dialogue from inside your head into the mind of another person.

I wrote a short dialogue, a conscious manipulation of the voice inside YOUR head, & then made the graphic below.

Click to enlarge:


"Oh my God.
Whoever wrote this is inside my mind...

I'm now thinking in my head,
everything he has intended to be there.

My eyes are flowing along,
reading these thoughts, which are not my own...

They are being placed there, intentionally,
& seemingly for the writer's own amusement!
I'm just a pawn, being led by these words-
to some unknown end.

Is this meant to prove how dependent I am 
on the influence of others?
...or does it demonstrate how easily 
my attention can be manipulated?

It is clear,
I have allowed my mind
to fall under someone else's control.

by the end of this sentence,
my mind 
will be set FREE..."

by The Monkey Buddha

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Civilization" Theme Song

This is an awesome 3 minute visual journey, through the development of Western Civilization & into humanity's future as space travelers.

It's the theme song to the game Civ IV. called "Baba Yetu" by Christopher Tin. I got a copy for my brother on the Mac, since we used to play the original Civilization back in the day. I think he stopped playing, though, because he was losing entire nights to it's addictive strategy-based gameplay. It's the kind of game where you keep thinking, "Only one more turn..." and all of a sudden it's hours later & you are still playing!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"One Way Out" by Paul Micarelli

I've added another image to my gallery of 3D art that I've been posting online:

This is unsettling image of someone in a tranquil, yet desolate, limbo of endless white space.
He is forever stuck in this featureless purgatory- looking up at the only way out, which is impossible to reach.

From 3D Art by Paul Micarelli

by Paul Micarelli

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bad Packaging- Header Cards

As a graphic designer, I've been fortunate to work on product & packaging design for some of the biggest brands and licenses in the world.

I consider myself to have an eye for good design- but I'm also very amused by the endless examples of horrible art on packages.

Sometimes, if I'm in a dollar store or a flea market, I like to check out the bad design on the shoddy imported items.

Here are a couple examples of why good graphic design can't be outsourced to people working in a different culture for cheap:

Return to Big Nature Feelings!"

 seen on fusion anomalog

Quality Products 
"Pet Thing"

seen on The Chive

Some more examples from The Monkey Buddha Archives:

•  "Sense of Right Alliance" Action Figures 

•  Specialman! 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Yama, Lord of Death

This is a composite picture that I made from a few different photos.

It's my interpretation of Yama, the god of death in Vedic mythology.

Yama is also a part of the pantheon of wrathful deities in Tibetan Buddhism.

I took the body of a Ho-Tai (laughing fat buddha) on a zen candle base, & Photoshopped in a metal skull with menacing red eyes:

The black emptiness of death envelopes him...

Yama smiles grimly down on the deceased soul, whose karma is under his scrutiny.

His glowing, demonic eyes pierce through the infinite darkness.

He sits cold & unmoving, like a granite tomb, atop a sea of blood red.

Of course, the highest realization is that, Yama, like ALL anthropomorphic deities, is a ultimately a manifestation of the mind; a figment of the imagination.

For some reason, I got the idea to make this composite photo when looking at the skull. Although I'm really not obsessed with death, I have had a few truly near-death experiences. These events helped give me a deep understanding of my own mortality & the fragile miracle of being alive.

From this comes an appreciation for Life, which we must realize is always overshadowed by the possibility of an unexpected Death.

That is why every moment should be lived consciously with gratitude, and not taken for granted.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Game Review: "Batman-Arkham City"

 A few years ago, I reviewed the ground-breaking game, "Batman-Arkham Asylum", in which Batman fights his way through the infamous asylum for the criminally insane. Arkham had become a giant trap, set by the Joker & his other arch-enemies.

Monkey Buddha Archives:

Due to the glacially slow pace at which I play video games, I've only recently gotten around to playing the sequel, "Batman- Arkham City". After beating the campaign & all the side missions, I finally found every single Riddler trophy & hidden item on all the maps. It took me a while & I finally called it quits to move on to the next title.

Arkham City was just as excellent as the first game. The same iconic look, dark mood, & mechanics in both games made it feel like a true sequel that was just as faithful to the Batman mythos. This time, instead of being confined to the grounds inside the asylum, a whole section of old Gotham City has been cordoned off to hold criminals & gangs in a "prison city". 

The leaders of the various gangs are well-known Batman villains, such as Penguin, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, and of course the Joker. All the characters, including Batman, are handled pretty much perfectly. At first I was like, "the Penguin has a British accent?!?!" ..but he's great in the game, a ruthless jerk. These games make brilliant use of the entire roster of Batman's many foes.

 click to enlarge

This is a huge complement coming from me, because I'm a harsh critic when it comes to comic book movies or games. I drive my one brother nuts, because I'm always nitpicking plot details or stylistic choices in the superhero genre. I simply know that I could do things better! The Avengers was the one movie that I thought was as close to flawless as I've seen. Man of Steel was a pretty good one that I've seen recently, & I couldn't believe they didn't release a licensed game to coincide with the movie. We'll see what happens with the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie. Ben Affleck was totally mis-cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman, but I'll wait to tear apart the decision further until after I see the trailers.

As far as a superhero game goes, the Batman: Arkham titles quite convincingly put you into the role of Batman fighting his way through the grittiest areas of Gotham.  Playing as 'The World's Greatest Detective' is an immersive experience, that combines combat, stealth, & puzzle-solving that truly uses the many facets of Batman's character. You really get into the experience of the man behind the mask.

 click to enlarge

The only major complaint I have about the game mechanics is that the melee combat always felt clunky & repetitive. The stealth aspects of the game are great, though. You're kind of forced to play silently & intelligently, since more than a couple thugs with guns can take you out quickly. Batman is just a man in body armor, after all. This recognition of Batman's vulnerability makes the game that much more convincing. The controls involved in climbing, grappling, & gliding make traveling around the many cool areas of Arkham City fun, in a way that superhero games should be.

Spoiler Alert!...
My only other complaint, about ending, is that you don't even fight The Joker. He just dies. It's kind of anti-climatic. Also, I finished the story mode when it said the game was only "40% Complete" on the save screen. I guess there are Catwoman missions that are a large chunk of the game, but I didn't download them. This percentage threw me off & thought there was alot more of the main campaign to play. I still enjoyed playing the remaining side missions, the challenge maps, & searching all the areas to find the Riddler items.

Speaking of The Joker, the voice acting by Mark Hamill, aka Luke Skywalker, is one of the best parts of these games- despite his lame demise at the end. He also voiced 'The Clown Prince of Crime' in the Batman cartoons. The portrayal of Batman's arch-nemesis in these games is the best anywhere.

Playing these games, I was thinking back to the old Batman game I had for the Commodore 64 computer. I remember seeing the neat graphics on the box & dying to play it. 

I was already jaded with computer graphics as a kid & wasn't really impressed by the game once I tried it. Even though they were trying to deliver similar elements to the current Batman games, I thought it sucked & was a pain in the ass to play, even at the time. Looking back, I was just biding my time, until the gaming technology got to its current state. 

Oh... the humanity!!!!!

The graphics on these modern games are so damn ridiculous, though, that I often find myself wandering around the open world game maps- simply exploring & finding every hidden item, just so I can see every inch of the area. I can spend as much time scrutinizing the countless details in the amazing virtual worlds as I do actually playing the game! (That's also why it takes me so long to finish a well-produced title with alot of content like this.)

Anyway, I finally had to put this great game aside & move onto my next virtual adventure- which will probably take me at least a few months, at the rate I play. 
I'll be immersing myself back into The Animus & reliving the genetic memories of Ezio Auditore in "Assassin's Creed: Revelations".

Batman: Arkham City is a definite "must-play" for any comic book or superhero fan. It's as close as you can get to the experience of being 'The Caped Crusader'. Truly an awesome & epic game...

• The Monkey Buddha's official rating: 9.0

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Improbable Images

I saw this collection of mind-bending images on BoingBoing that have been manipulated to be "unlikely"... but not totally impossible.

by Giuseppe Colarusso

There are alot of clever creations in this set of surreal, sometimes paradoxical, pictures.

Some of them really make you think, before you "get" it.

Here are 2 creations I made, with the same absurdist approach.

They are available in the Monkey Buddha Bazaar: