Friday, October 31, 2014

We already won

Geek culture isn’t ‘taking over.’ That already happened.

It is with great joy I bring you the following op-ed: We won! The war is over. Go grab a nurse in Times Square and lay a big wet one on her (or him). The verdict is in. The jocks lost to the nerds, the cynics have retreated against the enlightened onslaught of the dreamers. The folks who asked “what if” got their answer while the ones who ask ‘why?’ were left behind like so many Kurt Cameron movie adaptations (see what I did there?).

Today is Halloween, 2014, the biggest official Cosplay day of the year. We’ve de-fanged the witless downers and non-believers by changing the terminology from ‘dress-up’ to cosplay, comic book to graphic novel and super-hero movie to blockbuster. But it hasn’t been an easy road for those of us who embrace fantasy and sci-fi culture. Like so many others, I was ridiculed in my early years for my love of (nearly) all things geek.

It's no secret that superhero and sci-fi films (and culture) have become the biggest entertainment properties on Earth. In 2012, I had a boyhood dream come true when Marvel Studio’s The Avengers became the single-highest grossing box office film of all time (worldwide) raking in $1.6 billion. Audiences the world over threw mad love (and crazy cash!) at Marvel’s iconic superhero mash-up film. Since I have been reading the Avengers since age 7 (thats almost 40 years of being a fan for anyone keeping track), seeing Marvel's The Avengers was one of the greatest moments of my life. 

Assembling Winners

The Avengers were hands down my favorite comic book growing up. Five years ago, you likely didn’t even know that name, not if you grew up without appreciating Marvel comics. I guess it’s no surprise that the latest Avengers (Age of Ultron) movie trailer broke all kinds of internet and YouTube viewing records. The phenomenon is just beginning. 

The explosion of Marvel’s success at the box office shows these movies resonate with many people and are here to stay. I guess I wasn’t reading “funny books”–as my mom would call them–when I was younger. Of course if Mom had ever taken the time to read Crisis on Infinite Earths, Judge Dredd, The Walking Dead, The Dark Phoenix Saga or the The Dark Knight Returns, she might rethink that terminology. 

A Future Worth Exploring

And as more people then ever in the history of cinema flock to these films of larger-than-life heroes and heroic figures, the cynics and critics keep trying to take cheap knocks at the characters I have spent a lifetime reading about, cherishing and even creating. TV shows like the Walking Dead, Arrow and Gotham continue to resonate with everyone, not just geek culture. Praying for it to end? Won’t happen. 

Give up now, join us. These shows are fun, well-handled, well-scripted, well-acted and compelling movies that only keep getting better. While I won’t be wearing any costumes this Halloween, I will be at my desk, giggling like a school girl as I pour over all the Marvel studios and Warner Brothers/DC movie news. 

My Condolences 

For those that don’t like it, I'm really sorry the optimistic young child who used to reside in you died striving against that boring, dismissive, closed-minded grump you’ve become. Just know it’s not too late to revert back to the cooler, funner, brighter-eyed you. Simply embrace the fact that this [geek] culture is here to stay and will only keep getting bigger. Join us!

Between Comicons, Cosplay, Superhero TV and movies, comic books, novels and graphic novels boring stuff–that is people and content with no imagination–just doesn’t cut it anymore. Just waive the white flag, because in case you didn’t hear, we won. 

Arthur Milano is a blogger, writer, designer and avid geek culture enthusiast who revels in his continuing role as a single Dad, ad man, and video game podcaster.

Friday, October 10, 2014

This just in: Dads aren’t dimwits.

I have noticed recently that Dads in the media are portrayed increasingly as dolts, dummies and dimwits. This post is going to attempt to alter the course of that nonsense.

How dare you!

As a single Dad to four teens, I have been the grounding voice of discipline, authority, wisdom and common sense in lives of my kids. I'm their Rock of Gibraltar. Now, I'm pretty damn far from perfect. But I can cook, I can clean, I am college educated and I'm the holder of all the highest high-scores in the family. I have the best jump shot and make the best omelet in the house. (butter, not oil).

Sit down, dummy. According to TV, women get the job done better.

So why does Hollywood, TV and advertising portray Dads as clueless dolts and dopey dudes who can barely tie their own shoes, know nothing about fashion and can’t boil a pot of water without their wife or girlfriend? Give me a brake! I'm the first to admit, women offer an amazingly diverse perspective on everything from raising kids to shopping to running a household. I cherish every suggestion my girlfriend has offered over the years. But that's not because I'm some doofus who wouldn’t be able to function without some woman telling him what to do. 

I know how to iron, I know how to tie a half-windsor, I know how to bake bread, I’ve made lobster croquettes and bake a mean lemon cake (yes with lemon-shards and ground vanilla). As a classically trained artist, I can paint, build furniture, organize color schemes and cook better than most women I know. So sorry Hollywood, I’m pounding an angry fist on the BS button on your views of men!

Double tuning the carbondifibulometer with a 3” torque ratchet… thingie. 

I played organized softball, volleyball, football and basketball. I bench-press a considerable portion of my 270+ pounds. I do indeed, enjoy watching sports. Pretty manly stuff, right? But lift the hood of an automobile engine, and you might as well be showing me the operating schematics to a rocket propulsion system. In arabic. Backwards. Upside down. In short, I'm lost. 

I understand (fundamentally) how internal combustion works. But that's as far as it goes. I know nothing, repeat, noting about cars. I did not spend time as a grease monkey, huddled under a hood or a cranked ’72 Chevy Bartooga (or whatever) learning why the chronic flan-ger-ator doesn’t syphon off properly. With today’s computer-driven cars and repair systems, this seems completely unnecessary to me. 

Dad or bust.

Given the mixed messaging from society and the media, men have an increasingly convoluted picture about what it means to be a man. Or a father. Actually its really quite simple. Mothers give a caring, nurturing and loving perspective to life. And so does a man. A woman can have patience, compassion and emotionally ground. And so does a man. What women CANNOT show a child, is what it means to be man. To be there, to be engaged, to be a stern voice of authority when necessary, to show both daughters and sons what manhood really means. To take care of business, problems and your family. 

So, Hollywood, take out your notepads. Anyone can lay down and make babies. The real test of manhood is to stand up and take care of them. Everything else is a careful mix of common sense, fear, intelligence, lede expereince and blind guesswork. We all trip, stumble and make mistakes. Just admit when you’re wrong, apologize for any mistakes and pain you have caused, hold your head up and persevere when you would rather quit. I don't need a woman to help me with any of that. 

So that’s what it means to be a father and to be a man, according to me. Its not easy but its pretty simple, right? That's because it.

P.S., For the record, my Dad was never around. Which taught me the #1 most important part of being a Dad. Being there. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

18 things to remember when you're 18

On September 30th, 2014, my daughter turned 18 years old. What an amazing milestone she has reached and I will save all the “it seems like only yesterday, when…”cliches you’ve heard them all… even though they still apply.

Instead, I thought I would offer this quick reference guide for the savvy young adult entering into a new phase of life. These are (mostly) my thoughts, not borrowed from somewhere else_though if they were -profound enough that would be ok too. Enjoy. 

1. Life is a precious gift. Don’t squander it on people or pursuits that don’t make you happy. 

2. Travel. It will give you life perspective and help you understand people.

3. Don’t marry anyone before age 30. Live, love, travel. If you meet the love of your life, they will be there waiting for you at age 30.

4, Trust your instincts, they are rarely wrong.

5. Keep an open mind. You’ll be amazed at how full and rich your life will be.

6. Maintain a good sense of humor. No one likes a grumpy puss.

7. Listen before you speak. Don’t just wait for others to stop talking before you start. 

8. Your family in life will be defined by the people who stand by your side when they could have looked (and ran!) the other way. 

9. You are important and you matter. Vote. 

10. No one loves you more than God. Its true. When all feels lost, he is there to help you find your way. 

11. Do kind things for strangers. What you get back is immeasurable. 

12. Doing something you love is far more important than making a bunch of money. 

13. Never stop drawing, it promotes neuro-elasticity in your brain and enhances critical thinking. You'll need that to out-think the dimwits. 

14. Take care of your body. Its the only one you’re going to get. 

15. Your family loves you. Remember that during the tough times. 

16. Don't be too quick to judge others. Remember how much it sucks when it happens to you. 

17. Put the technology down and go outside. The sun is good for you and flowers smell good. 

18. Everything in moderation. Including moderation. Lets face it, sometimes you gotta just cut loose.