Friday, August 29, 2014

Monkey Buddha Chalk Art

Last week I was on my 2nd family vacation, at Slaughter Beach, Delaware.
My family is a bunch of beach bums & we had a great time relaxing, eating, spending time in the sun, having drinks & making fires at night, and just generally enjoying ourselves.

After we left the house on Saturday, my girlfriend & I went with my brother & his girlfriend to a few different places on the way home.

Our first stop was the Dogfish Head brewery, which was really cool. They offer free tasting of their excellent craft beers & a tour of their newly-upgraded facilities.

 After that we went to a place for lunch that the tour guide from the brewery recommended. She said their employees go to the Backyard restaurant for lunch, so we tried it out.

The food was awesome & they have a backyard with cornhole games & a chalkboard for people to use.

Of course, I had to use the chalkboard to put up a drawing of The Monkey Buddha. My brother drew a crazy devil character. 

Here's a pic of the whole board with other fun drawings.

The final place we went to was a winery. However, I didn't like their wine at all, so I'm not even going to recommend it.

It was an awesome day to end an awesome week, & I was wiped out by Sunday from having so much fun! Summer is almost over, but I feel like I've definitely made the most of it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Life is Absurd

Whenever things seem serious & overwhelming, we should maintain our sense of humor with a deep realization of the absurdity of our situation.

This graphic I saw on FFFFOUND! states it very simply:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: "War God" by Graham Hancock

 On vacation this year, my summer reading of choice was "War God: Nights of the Witch".

Author's Website:
"War God", by Graham Hancock

I've also read Graham Hancock's excellent book about lost civilizations, "Fingerprints of the Gods". That book was a non-fiction investigation of ancient history, but "War God" is a novel, set in Mexico during the Spanish conquest of the Americas.

I am very interested in Mesoamerica cultures, such as the Aztecs, Maya, and Inca, and have studied them for many years. Before starting "War God," I read a book about the writing system of the Maya and how it related to their rulers. "A Forest of Kings" by David Freidel & Linda Schele was a scholarly read that was very detailed with archaeological  & ethnographic information.

Despite all the knowledge you may gain about a given culture, nothing helps you understand the lives of the people of the time like a good narrative or story. A character-driven story puts you mentally into the experience of the culture, like a virtual trip into another time & place. I believe video games can do the same thing- more so than movies or TV, in which you are a passive observer. The Mel Gibson movie about the Mayan culture "Apocalypto," however, is an example of a movie that effectively puts you into the setting of a certain time period. "War God" would also lend itself to an awesome cinematic rendition of a historical culture.

Anyway, "War God" is definitely a good story, and is engaging from the first chapter. Although I took periodic breaks from reading it over the last month or two, I was always looking forward to picking it back up & continuing the trip back to the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

Although I was very familiar with the history of the Aztecs (or as they called themselves, the Mexica) and the conquistadors, Graham Hancock has presented their story in a way that kept me wondering what would happen next.

The book takes place from the perspective of many different characters, including major historical figures such as the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, and the Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés. These powerful personalities are joined by the experiences of more "common" characters- such as Tozi, a young girl who has magical powers, or Pepillo an innocent boy who joins the expedition as a page for a sadistic Inquisitor priest. Despite the number of characters, their various perspectives are integrated very well, and give a sense of an all-encompassing view of the story's events.

There are many deep questions Hancock addresses in this novel- including the opposing human characteristics of brutality & compassion, the influence of religious ideology on people's thinking, the dynamic between two clashing cultures, the nature of the visionary experience, and the effects of the individual upon human history.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading "War God" and found myself looking up much of the historical information presented in the book, to gain a better understanding of this era.

This is the first book of a trilogy, and I look forward to reading the sequel, "War God II: Return of the Plumed Serpent", a reference to the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, or Kukulkan to the Maya.

If you have any interest in Mesoamerican cultures (especially the Aztecs or Maya), American or world history, or just an enthralling narrative, I would highly recommend "War God" by Graham Hancock.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Letter Clock™"


This is a funny idea I had awhile back... to make a clock using the 1st letter of each number's name (like "T," for "Twelve")

After extensive research online, I was astonished to discover that this idea hasn't already been created... so I did!!!

*It is now available in The Monkey Buddha Bazaar on Cafepress, in different styles:

"Letter Clock™"
by Paul Micarelli

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Space Eye

After my last post about the fascinating space objects that are finally being beheld by the human eye, I came across this cool animated GIF.

Here's another one I found:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Space Encounters

There have been some very interesting images released lately, showing encounters with bodies in outer space.

It is hard for the human mind to grasp the practically infinite expanse of space- which contains countless stars, planets, moons, comets, and trillions of other bodies slowly moving throughout the Universe, over endless eons of time.

The first photo is the space probe Rosetta's rendezvous with the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is 2.5 miles wide. Humanity now has its most detailed look ever at a comet up-close. The Rosetta probe is now orbiting the giant mass of ice & rock, but is scheduled to actually land on its surface soon!

European Space Agency:
Rosetta Arrives at Comet Destination

The lack of visual context in the photo above makes it look like a giant boulder, and I really didn't realize the size of the comet nucleus until I saw the photo below. It shows the comet in comparison to the city of Raleigh, NC.

Another amazing image of quiet, breathtaking beauty is this one of Saturn's moons, Rhea & Epimetheus, transiting the planet with the rings visible in the background:

The final image is not as clear or detailed as the previous ones, but it is still mind-boggling in its technical achievement. The New Horizons spacecraft has taken video imagery of Pluto being orbited by its largest moon, Charon.

Daily Mail:

The spacecraft got this imagery while 262 million miles from the planetoid. The fact that we can process light into discernible photos from that far away is pretty astonishing. The scale of the Universe is truly incomprehensible...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Was the Buddha a Shaman?

 I came across this article that contemplates whether Siddartha Guatama, "the Buddha," was a shamanic figure.

In the sense that he supposedly achieved altered psychic states & then brought back a message or wisdom for other people, he could probably be considered a shaman.

Besides exploring this specific connection, the article gives fairly detailed historical information about shamanism, Buddhism, and the use of psychoactive techniques in these traditions.

In an earlier post, I talked about the connection between the figure of the Buddha to that of Jesus Christ:

Monkey Buddha Archives:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Emerging Technology

I saw this video on Neatorama that outlines some of the major technological breakthroughs that are now in progress:

As I write this, in the year 2014, the human race is experiencing an unprecedented acceleration of accumulated knowledge.

The traditional branches of science are continually branching off, into countless specializations of research and application.

New scientific fields and discoveries are snowballing into a dizzying amount of information that any single human brain cannot completely absorb.

Luckily there are now sources that can distill all this info for the generalist, like myself, to quickly appreciate the latest science news. One of my favorites is the weekly graphic summaries posted to Reddit/futurology:

As the brilliant Arthur C. Clarke stated, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." The emerging technologies of the near future would have been considered fantastic impossibilities, even in the very recent past.

If the human mind can conceive of an idea, there is a good chance that the idea can be manifested into reality. Of course, there are constraints- such as the resources, time, & effort that are able to be devoted to its realization.

The one major technological trend that people seem to be most afraid of is the merging of human biology and consciousness with machines & their digital interfaces. When our minds and bodies are eventually transformed by the synthesis with "artificial" systems, there will undoubtedly be many positive and negative aspects that will have to be considered.

However, I think it's inevitable that there will be continued use of technology to augment our senses, physical abilities, and mind. Exactly what kind of paths this direction will lead us on is the fascinating question that we will just have to wait to experience, as time flows on...

"Apple iThink"
Concept by Paul Micarelli

Monday, August 11, 2014

Deadly Facts About Water

Water is the essential fluid for life.

As a Pisces (water sign), I feel a deep affinity towards water- in addition to enjoying it as my primary drink and a medium to swim & bathe in.

I found this graphic to be extremely funny. It shows how even something benign, like water, can be twisted into a danger that is hazardous to human health.

(click for larger size)


Friday, August 08, 2014

Tool-Using Monkeys

I saw this animated GIF on that shows two monkeys using a heavy stick to crack open a nut.

The use of tools has been one of the characteristics that have been traditionally used to distinguish human superiority to the rest of the animal kingdom. 

As we discover that other living creatures also share "human" qualities- such as tool use, language, aesthetic judgement, empathy, and self-awareness- it becomes apparent that there is not a clear line dividing us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

We are animals, despite any religious or philisophical argument that claims otherwise. The human race is nothing more than a group of monkeys that have figured out more sophisticated technologies.

Not that this is a trivial thing at all, but there is definitely not as much of a gap between us and the "beasts" as we think...

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

"Meta Morphosis"

"Meta Morphosis"
by Paul Micarelli 

I've had this little crystal skull & a bunch of rocks of various shades that I've been wanting to use for this artistic side project, that I envisioned awhile ago.

The circle of changing stones represents the continual transformation that one experiences in a lifetime, while incarnate in the world of matter. 

I decided to overlay stars over the spiral design for a background. This gives the impression of the galaxy we are within, & also the dynamic "Ying-Yang" energy of creation.

This design is available on products, in my Cafepress shop. Please check out the other designs I have there, as well:

 The Monkey Buddha Bazaar: 

Friday, August 01, 2014

"Chakra Ascension" Series- Animated

(click for larger size)

Recently, I posted a series of images that I made back in 2003.

The images show a solitary, meditating figure in different environments. Each setting corresponds to the ancient metaphysical energy system within the body, known as "chakras".

I am not a chakra meditation practitioner, so I approached this as a metaphorical work of art. I finally decided to post the "Chakra Ascension" series, for other people to contemplate.

Now that I've posted all the individual entries, you can see the recap of the entire series at this link:

by Paul Micarelli 

In addition to a free e-book, in PDF format (that can be downloaded at the link above), I also made the animated GIF at the top of this post.

The animation cycles through the series, in order, which gives a better impression of the "ascension" through the different chakra levels.

Please check out the link above for the hi-res images & their descriptions. I put the images, without the descriptions, into a folder & used them as a cycling wallpaper on my computer.

I also uploaded the animated GIF to my Cheezburger account, if you'd like to give it an upvote or share it.

"Chakra Ascension"