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...

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.

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:

To contact me about my graphic design services, visit my Facebook page:
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.


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.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Blooming Fungus

Last year around this time, I posted about a crazy-looking, large orange fungus I saw in the woods surrounding my parents' house.

Recently, I came across another bright orange fungus growing in their woods, standing out against the grey-browns and greens of the rest of the forest. I think fungi like this look awesome and are almost alien in their appearance.

I added the photos of this interesting lifeform to my nature photo album:

by Paul Micarelli

When I came back to check it out again in a few days, it had "blossomed" into an even bigger fungal form, resembling a flower. It became a more thorough shade of orange, with some yellow, to make it appear even brighter against the drab forest background.

Here is a photo with my hand next to it, for scale. It was about 12 inches across:

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Book Review: "Magicians of the Gods"

One of the books on my summer reading list was a second book by Graham Hancock about our lost ancient history, and clues about it that are, only now, being uncovered.

by Graham Hancock

I had previously read Hancock's other book about the same topic, Fingerprints of the Gods, years ago. In that book, he presented evidence from around the world that we have an ancient cultural heritage, perhaps going back more than 10,000 years, that has been completely lost to us. I've also to listened to many talks & interviews with Graham Hancock, and think he is an intelligent, curious voice for uncovering truth in many different fields.

One of his favorite refrains is that "humanity is a species with collective amnesia." He is definitely correct to a large extent, this is obvious from the never-ending stream of archaeological finds that continually give us new insights into our past. One site that he focuses on in this book is the site in modern-day Turkey called Gobleki Tepe. Estimated to be around 12,000 years old, this megalithic site was one of the first to completely rewrite our conception of the timeline of ancient history.

In this book, Graham takes this evidence of lost civilizations and takes the next step. He tries to find an explanation for the sudden disappearance of seemingly widespread advanced culture around the time period 10,800 years ago, known as the Younger Dryas, after the last Ice Age. This was a thousand years of a dramatic temperature drop, creating a mini ice age. This period of intense cold was followed by major warming and melting of global ice, causing sea levels to rise. This tumultuous time likely gave rise to the flood stories of the biblical Noah and Utnapishtim from the epic of  Gilgamesh.

Using scientific data, and good old common sense (that sometimes defies the stubborn entrenched views of the scientific establishment), Hancock comes to the conclusion that the likely culprit for this meteorological upheaval was a large comet that entered Earth's atmosphere & broke up as it traveled across Canada and the North Atlantic, raining hell down on the globe. Not only did this create havoc for the people and other life on this planet, but the debris thrown up into the atmosphere darkened the skies and caused temperatures to plunge for decades.

I find this to be highly plausible, especially given the presented evidence. Cosmological catastrophe is one the biggest threats to humanity and all life on this planet. A comet or meteor of sufficient size could completely obliterate most living things on this planet. Even a relatively smaller one could seriously disrupt the biosphere upon impact, and in the following years. The worst part of this scenario is we are mostly unprepared for such an event, which could literally come out of the void.

In fact, the fragments from this same comet that nearly wiped out our ancestors so many millennia ago are still speeding through space, and could cross our path again someday. Hancock goes on to theorize that certain works of ancient art and architecture were warnings of this event happening again.

This is where Graham loses me a bit, because I find some of his interpretations of sculpture and oral history from antiquity to be extremely subjective. For instance, he takes relief carvings of animals from a megalithic column at Gobleki Tepe and comes up with this whole astronomical explanation that seemed to be a huge stretch of the imagination to me... and I have a pretty good imagination!

His liberal interpretation of ancient art does not take away from the solid theories and evidence he puts forth about the catastrophic period around 12,000 years ago. The main takeaways from "Magicians of the Gods" are that we know much, much less about humanity's past than we think, and that we could fall victim to the same circumstances in the future. Whether or not there's anything we can do about it, other than migrating off-planet, remains to be seen.

I recommend this book to anyone who, like me, has a fascination with ancient cultures and the lost history of our planet. It makes you realize how brief and fleeting not only our individual lives are, but the whole human species, as well. We are one cosmic instant from ceasing to exist, but hopefully that instant is far enough away that humanity will be able to survive for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Big Hungry Spider

I saw this fat spider in his web by the front porch light, waiting for a meal. So, I decided to get my macro lens and get a closeup shot of it, in all it's awesome detail, to add to my album of nature photos.

by Paul Micarelli

The next night, it was still there in the same spot- but this time it had caught a daddy long legs, or harvestman. It was preying on the unfortunate creature's body, as its spindly legs were wrapped up in the webbing.

I saw the silhouette of the spider & it's victim in the porch light and thought it looked pretty creepy, like something out of a horror movie.