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.
I can remember a few occasions as a kid where I participated with Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF back in the 80s, but truth be told, I haven't seen those iconic orange boxes hitting the streets here locally in quite awhile. Hopefully, that will change this year, as the iconic Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign is celebrating its 65th anniversary by joining forces with another American classic: PEANUTS, which also turns 65 this Fall. Blue Sky Studios' THE PEANUTS MOVIE will team up with Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF to encourage children to raise funds for UNICEF’s lifesaving programs. The original Kids Helping Kids® campaign—is one of the longest-running youth volunteer initiatives in America that encourages children to go door-to-door on Halloween and collect coins in support of UNICEF’s work. Since 1950, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF has raised more than $175 million for UNICEF to provide children around the world with medicine, nutrition, clean water, emergency relief and education.
An Urgent Message from Rock Father HQ: Attention Large Corporations - I Do Not Wish to Take Your Surveys.
There's a real problem with "customer service" these days, and it has nothing to do with the actual service, nor the persons providing said service to the public. The problem comes after the customer has already paid for said service or goods, the moment an obligation is placed in front of the customer with enticement in the form of a potential prize, or... a guilt trip. "At the bottom of your receipt you'll find website to take our survey to tell us how we did for a chance to win..." says the usually underpaid, overworked individual tasked with circling said url to make sure that the customer takes full note and hopefully logs a few clicks to their company website. Thing is, I don't want to take your survey, and frankly, I'm tired of being asked. If your true goal is to provide "World Class" customer service, you can start with incentivizing your employees, associates, team members, grunts, stormtroopers or otherwise frontline workers in some way other than placing a task request upon the very people who pay for the existence of your entire operation. Even worse? A follow-up about said survey.
Over the past five years or so, I've written at length about my wife and I sharing our love of STAR WARS with our girls, "The Rock Daughters." I've at times called it "Teaching The Force The Rock Father Way," but no matter what it's called, our family finds new ways to "Share the Force" each and every day. With J.J. Abrams' STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS headed for cinemas on December 18th, generations will Share the Force together - and if STAR WARS Day (May 4th) was the kick-off, we can officially deem that the action is approaching hyperspace as we head toward #ForceFriday - the day that new STAR WARS toys and merchandise will begin hitting retailers Nationwide. You've seen my daily Force Friday Countdown here on the site, but now things are getting serious. My friends at Target are opening 207 stores at midnight on September 4th, and all of their locations will have special #ShareTheForce events on Saturday, September 5th, where families will find special giveaways, photo ops, activities and more. But don't wait until then to Share the Force - you can do it now... like The Rock Father before you...
Six years ago today, Adalyn Monet entered the world - my wife and I becoming parents for the first time... on our 10th Wedding Anniversary. Sixteen years ago today, Jen and I were married in an open air ceremony that came after a two-year engagement (one that happened after just three months of dating). I say this every year, but I'd love to know what the odds are of becoming a first-time parent on the exact date of your wedding anniversary. I'm betting that the only droid that could give me an accurate number is C-3PO. It's hard to keep saying something new each year, but I always feel it important to honor this day - a dual celebration of my wife and first daughter. I don't know if I'd have ever predicted being a parent the first time - much less following-up with an excellent sequel three years later (Finley Renoir). These girls are the reason why I became "The Rock Father," and I love them more than words on this site could ever represent.
Recently, I was asked a relatively straightforward question: "Why do you love Snoopy?" Thing is, my affection for Snoopy and the entire PEANUTS gang is a multi-layered affair that dates back to the late 1970s, thus placing me in 2015 as a sort of "keeper of the torch" - tasked with helping new generations know and appreciate the creations of Charles M. Schulz. That all starts here at home with The Rock Daughters™, and that's why I took a gig as a PEANUTS Brand Ambassador this year. With the November release of THE PEANUTS MOVIE fast-approaching (get tix via Fandango), we may be about to turn the corner, but Snoopy and his friends don't seem as prominent as they were for me growing up - and I'd like to change that. I'm old-school, and that means that I get goosebumps when I hear the five-second bumper that indicated "A CBS SPECIAL PRESENTATION," which was usually code for "Charlie Brown's (insert holiday here) is coming on!" Like many, it was the holiday specials that really hooked me, but it was something else that really made an impact on my impressionable young mind... possibly 1977's most important film that wasn't called STAR WARS.