Note: An Election Day update 11/8/2016 follows this post:
In an election year, it's hard to keep politics away from my virtual pages as I'd like to. It's divisive, and that's not what being "The Rock Father" is all about. If you'd like to be irritated about others' choices for parties and candidates, Facebook is the place for you - the unfriendly confines of uninhibited emotion and tactless behavior. The memes and insults fly fast, their impact accepted with a mix of likes and emoticons, or in some cases the dreaded "hide post," "hide all posts" or at the worst, an unfriending. I approach politics with an interesting view - the child of a former politician, and some of what I dealt with as a kid sorta messed me up to the point where I wouldn't run for office myself, despite a desire to do so*. Last night, I found myself at the Hillary Clinton rally in Vernon Hills, Illinois - not as a Hillary supporter, but as a neutral party and undecided voter in this election (I'm a registered Independent that refuses to align with any Party). Honestly, I think this is the worst field of candidates in a Presidential election that I've ever seen in my adult life - and if I had to choose today, a vote for Batman would inspire more confidence than what I'm seeing take shape for the ballot. The bigger picture is that my wife and I are the parents of two daughters, and for perhaps the first time in history, there is a real chance that a woman could become President of the United States of America, and seeing Hillary in-person was a chance to show the girls that achieving a lofty goal like becoming President doesn't have to be an unattainable dream, but that it could be a real possibility.
This year, nearly 16,000 kids and teens in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer. As a parent, the thought of one of our children being affected is absolutely terrifying. No matter who you are or where you are, we all know too many people that have been touched by this disease, and when it's kids... the urge to fight back burns an unstoppable fire. For parents Jeff Castelaz and Jo Ann Thraikill, that fire burns in honor of their son, Pablo Castelaz, who was diagnosed with bilateral Wilms Tumor, a rare form of childhood cancer. After a valiant fight against the disease, Pablo died just six days past his sixth birthday on June 27, 2009. Today, The Pablove Foundation exists to fight cancer on a daily basis, offering support for families, including programs for children living with the disease, and fund-raising efforts to aid in research. Today comes word of some events in several cities that you might want to get involved with...
There's that quote - the one attributed to Thomas Fuller that I always tend associate with Harvey Dent in THE DARK KNIGHT... "The night is darkest just before the dawn." When it comes the metaphor, it was 2010 that was one of my darkest times. My wife and I were new parents, struggling to find our way and learn how to manage life with a child, just as all new parents do. The emotions of parenthood were intermixed with my own improperly managed depression and anxiety, and there were "events" throughout the year that were just not good. Blow-up after blow-up, I was cracking - allowing myself to be influenced by others, working with the wrong people... for the wrong company, and not knowing what I was really doing... or what I should be.
This week, Life of Dad is playing host to a familiar guest on Episode 131 of the Life of Dad After Show... me! Life of Dad's Art Eddy and Ryan Hamilton spent some time speaking with me about a number of things, including the founding and evolution of this website, past adventures in television and film, current adventures in music with PRODUCT OF HATE, and the most important adventure of all: being a dad.
If you've ever wondered what the daily routine is like here at Rock Father HQ, or how the blur happens when bouncing from the West Coast back to the Third Coast while wrangling two little girls, this one is for you!
As we sit here on the edge of one year, and on the cusp of another, it's come time to reflect on all that 2015 has brought us, and everything that 2016 may have in-store. Our social feeds are filled with tales of triumph and sorrow, as our friends and colleagues both celebrate their victories, and mourn their losses. It's always this time of year, among the melancholy post-Christmas days when the "holiday high" wears off, that everyone either can't turn the calendar quick enough, or they wish to bask in a year of successes that they hope will never end. For our family, this was a great year - and professionally, it was likely my best year, maybe not from a financial standpoint, but one of adventure and accomplishment in all of the areas in which I'm hoping to achieve. Time for a little horn-tooting, because it's all downhill from here...
How did I get here? There was a moment of pause that was punctuated with misty eyes as I looked over an itinerary placing me in the same room - and the same table - with actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o and filmmaker J.J. Abrams. What really took a moment to sink in was the other name present - Harrison Ford. This is a man who was there the first time around - when STAR WARS was a new thing, and a little boy named "Jimmy" would spend countless hours having adventures with Ford's dashing smuggler, Han Solo in Kenner action figure form. It was STAR WARS that inspired me to try my hand at working in film and television, and here we are on the cusp of a new film that continues the original saga, with STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS hitting theaters on December 18th... and I've been invited to Los Angeles to cover the Global Media Days! While The Force is strong with this adventure, my journey to a galaxy far, far away is just one piece of the puzzle that includes projects from Disney, Lucasfilm, Marvel and ABC...
It was January 30, 1993. I was the 16-year-old host of a cable access show in Davenport, Iowa called "ZTV," and there I stood in the cold with my friend Scott, awaiting someone to open the back doors of the Palmer Auditorium. Holding our video gear, we were at the Palmer with the purpose of my interviewing MEGADETH frontman Dave Mustaine as the band was then in the midst of their COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION Tour. The opening act was a little-known crew that hardly matched the metal of Megadeth, but they had just hit the scene and were blowing up with a single and video called "Sex Type Thing" from their debut album, CORE. That band was STONE TEMPLE PILOTS.
I dodged a bullet this morning, figuratively speaking... but it could've turned literal. It's bothered me all day, as I really don't have a real answer of how I slid out of it.
Our family stayed at the Hyatt Place River North in Chicago last night - a special, semi-local getaway as part of a promotion that I've been working on with Chevrolet... a promotion that will bring some much-needed cheer to some families in-need this holiday season. Helping others is a large part of what I do, but that does not mean that I allow myself to be shaken down by the countless "homeless" thugs that have crept back into downtown Chicago - a societal blight that was largely eliminated under the leadership of Mayor Richard M. Daley, and one that has made a swift return under the reign of Rahm Emanuel. As a kid in the 80s, Chicago was often a big, scary city - a dirty, unfriendly place with danger lurking around every corner. As I grew into adulthood, the City changed - the place got cleaned up, and it became bright, lively and clean. You could walk around Downtown and feel safe. In 2015, safety is a memory. That became 100% clear to me this morning.
It was 20 years ago that actor Sam Waterston (LAW & ORDER) appeared on Saturday Night Live to endorse Old Glory Insurance and their excellent coverage against robot attacks on seniors. Sure, "Robot Insurance" was just a pipedream a mere two decades ago, but this week news came down that one of my favorite companies - and one that I work with on a weekly basis - has just unveiled a line of "Companion Pets" geared toward seniors... or in more simple terms, ROBOT CATS. Hasbro's JOY FOR ALL Companion Pets are their first foray into products aimed specifically at the truly oldest older kids, utilizing the animatronic technology that Hasbro has honed with products like their FurReal Friends and Furby lines. These cats "respond to petting, hugging and motion through built-in sensors," and boast "authentic cat sound effects, and soft fur inspired by real felines." Watch the video below to see it in action...
September 1, 2015 started out as a pretty normal, yet very exciting day for our family. It would be a milestone morning in which our youngest daughter, Finley, would embark on a new journey - her first day of preschool. My wife made plans to go into work early on that day, parents welcome to accompany their little ones as they took their first step into a larger world. We were in the classroom filled with the smiles of happy kids and glowing parents when one of the administrators quietly entered and asked for all of the parents to move into the hallway to "discuss an event in the community." Standing in a hallway lined with little red lockers and colorful artwork, we would learn that the school had entered lockdown for "an active shooter in a neighboring town." Information was sketchy, fast-moving and ever-changing, but what we knew was that there was an "officer down" - one who would soon be revealed to be Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz.
THE ROCK FATHER is sharing #TheIndisposables in his life as part of a Schick® Xtreme3® sponsored series for Socialstars. Horns up! \m/ \m/
It's Fall, and with my favorite time of year comes some changes in habits - and, a few that are just seasonal alterations to the regular routine. Living in The Midwest, October brings a vibe that's unlike other areas of the country during this season. While the crisp air, harvest aromas and oodles of seasonal fun can be found in many parts of the U.S., it always seems that The Midwest becomes a bit darker... and a bit spookier. There's a good reason why so many horror movies are set in The Midwest, and right here in my home State of Illinois - they're rooted in reality! Michael Myers? Haddonfield, Illinois. Crystal Lake? There is one. Elm Street? Lots of 'em. POLTERGEIST III, CANDYMAN and CHILD'S PLAY? All set in Illinois. You want to survive October in The Land of Lincoln? I'll give you five essentials - but keep in mind that these are great tools to use no matter where you might roam... It's werewolf season.
Sometimes you just have to wait for things, and even if the wait equals years, the payoff is pretty good. A prime example arrived today - the result of planning ahead, and keeping a t-shirt in a drawer for six years. Weird to think that slightly more than a half-decade ago, I was in the midst of a late-night diaper run to Walmart when I started browsing some clearance kids' clothes that had been squeezed-in near their Garden Center. There was one particular rack that caught my eye - t-shirts featuring comic book covers from the 1980s... the exact time that I became a comic book fan myself. Hanging on that rack was a single t-shirt in a size 6/7 that bore not only a favorite cover, but the exact cover of the first issue of John Byrne's THE MAN OF STEEL from 1986 - the very book that hooked me on DC Comics. For less than $2, I purchased said t-shirt, and have waited six years for today to arrive - the day that it finally fit Addie.