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I try to keep things fun and lighthearted around here, yet the world won't let me. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to look at the news and think "didn't know them," or "don't care," but the reality is, I care... we all care. I have a bad habit of waking up to horrible news, a habit that I'm well-aware is shared by many, with 9/11 and the disintegration of Space Shuttle Columbia being two examples of where I simply opened my eyes to see the tragedy on television. Social media wasn't full-blown back then, and today I made the mistake of checking my phone first-thing... still in bed, but with my wife at my side and my girls playing. The news that something terrible had happened in Orlando -- just days after another heinous act in that city -- was unavoidable, as were the never-ending "thoughts and prayers" delivered by the tens of thousands via status update and tweet, none more insincere than those delivered by politicians, with tweets by some such as GNC Chair Reince Priebus being called out for essentially being "copied and pasted" from their statements about past tragedies. Sandy Hook, Boston, that jerk in Fox Lake - we're long-past the whole "truth is stranger than fiction" thing, because real life is more twisted and terrifying than any media created for purpose of entertainment or to be fear-provoking.  This country is a mess, and "thoughts and prayers" will do nothing to help anyone... but the proper actions and reactions just might.

Thursday, May 26 2016 23:54

Journal: Lessons from Park Forest...

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Originally Posted as a Status Update on Facebook...

Seeing Park Forest, Illinois as the #1 Trending Topic on my Facebook Feed is interesting -- seeing folks from around the country commenting on a place they've probably never heard of, but one I know all too well. Let me tell you this - there is no town or city on this planet that I DESPISE in the way I do Park Forest. I grew up there - in fact, just .06 miles (about a 10 minute walk) from where the FBI had a shootout yesterday. It was a miserable place to grow up 30-40 years ago (though I have some good memories as well) -- a place that looks and feels to me like "alternate 1985" in BACK TO THE FUTURE II... right down to the houses and streets.

Four years ago, I celebrated one-year tobacco-free with a journal entry about my personal journey. Then, in 2013, I posted again, celebrating the two-year anniversary of coming clean (indeed, cigarettes are a drug), followed by another post in 2014 documenting year three, and how I couldn't get Philip Morris/Altria to leave me alone (they since have, but only after I threatened legal action). In 2015, I posted again, and since then little bits have changed, like Cracker Barrel restaurants playing into the hands of Big Tobacco (presumably) not knowing it, and the rise of the e-cig and vape crowd. Today I am posting once again, as it's the five-year anniversary of kicking the habit. As I've done previously, I am re-posting much of my original entry here on THE ROCK FATHER, along with a few alterations and timely updates. Philip Morris/Altria and R.J Reynolds: The targets on the backs of your companies and leadership continue to grow...

March 14, 2011 is the day that I officially quit smoking. At some point on the night of March 13, I quietly took the last puff of the last cigarette in the last pack that I ever owned. Upon telling my wife that I was officially ''done,'' she took it upon herself to clean-up some of the ''smoker's mess'' that I'd created. The ashtrays of both cars were scoured. The sand-filled flowerpots that I'd strategically placed on my front porch and near my gardening shed were disposed of, along with a ton of stray butts that had made their way into the surrounding landscape over the winter months. The cleansing had begun.

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...

Monday, February 01 2016 08:47

Journal: 2010 Was a Terrible, Terrible Year...

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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. 

Thursday, January 28 2016 07:29

Listen: The Rock Father on The Life of Dad After Show

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Life of Dad After ShowThis 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...

Friday, December 04 2015 09:30

In Memoriam: SCOTT WEILAND (1967-2015)

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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.

Sunday, November 22 2015 22:59

How I Almost Got Mugged in Chicago this Morning...

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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...

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