James Zahn is not a journalist, nor a blogger, though he may be credited as such by others, or even accept the title... depending on the circumstance. Instead, he considers himself largely to be an "entertainment and lifestyle writer," bringing 25+ years of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries into the family realm as THE ROCK FATHER™.
As a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur, James now finds himself raising a pair young girls - The Rock Daughters™ - along with his wife from their Illinois home.
He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, a writer for the Netflix #StreamTeam, and serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. Current special projects include promotional campaigns for PJ Masks (eOne/Disney Junior) and Beat Bugs (Netflix).
Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for Napalm Records' PRODUCT OF HATE.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.
Learn more here.
In addition to my work here on The Rock Father™ Magazine, I veer off in many directions. As some of you may know, I am a member of The Toy Insider's extended family - contributing to their website as a member of their Parent Advisory Board, and a frequent participant in their excellent toy-based Twitter Parties. When it comes to the holiday season, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Holiday Gift Guide as expansive as the one that The Toy Insider puts together, one that exists in print (together with Family Circle) and online, with selections chosen by a team of experts and sorted by age and interest. Even I chip in with a "Rock Father Pick!" Now, despite the fact that we're often swimming in toys here at Rock Father HQ (much of which we donate), my girls do have a small "wish list," and with that The Toy Insider sent a surprise. In fact, all of the Toy Insider parents received a mystery box, and with ours we did a little early preview of Christmas morning here at home. With just four items, the response from all girls is all that a parent could hope for - and one that makes me really think about the "less is more" approach to Christmas. A few well-targeted gifts will beat the "piles of stuff" any day, and the video below shows just that. Take a look at the video, and then read on for some thoughts on these four Hot Holiday Picks!
The holiday season brings with it a host of magical experiences and opportunities to make family memories that will last a lifetime. At the pinnacle comes the annual visit with Santa Claus, and this year the folks at HGTV and Macerich Shopping Centers have teamed-up for an all-new experience aimed at bringing holiday magic to kids and grownups alike with some flourishes that have been upgraded for the social media age. HGTV presents Santa HQ - open now at 15 different locations, including the Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont, Illinois - not far from Rock Father™ HQ! My wife and I recently took The Rock Daughters™ to visit Santa HQ first-hand, and you're going to want to schedule a visit, too!
One of the best toy lines out there for kids ages 3-8 comes from Mattel's Fisher-Price. Imaginext are exciting, themed toys that are age-appropriate for a younger audience that craves action and adventure, but they're crafted to aid in development. Little ones can feel like a "big kid," while exploring colorful worlds through incredibly detailed figures, playsets, vehicles and accessories. We first got into Imaginext a couple years back when our youngest daughter asked Santa for "a Space Station." What she wanted was the Supernova Battle Rover - something that Santa not only delivered, but a playset still enjoyed two years later. For Holiday 2017, Fisher-Price has some new Imaginext collections, and two of the best are their DC Super Friends and Treasure Hunters series'. Not only are they fun for kids, but they're also fun for grownups as they tap into interests like Justice League and Indiana Jones. Here's a look at some of this season's must-haves, sent to us for review as part of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine's 2017 Holiday Wish Guide™!
Wonder Crew dolls are something I've been writing about for ages. In fact, I first shared news of these toys nearly three years ago - back in March of 2015. Fast-forward a bit, and what we have is a repeat entry into my annual Holiday Wish Guide™ - a 2016 selection that's back for 2017. Launched independently via a successful Kickstarter campaign, Wonder Crew was eventually acquired by PlayMonster, and they've slowly begun popping up on shelves at more and more retailers as the movement has grown. They're dolls that were designed with boys in mind, but intended for all children... girls and boys alike.
My wife and I have been intrigued by the idea of a neighborhood library for awhile - an interest piqued by the growing Little Free Library movement. Perhaps you've seen them around - little boxes or buildings placed in a yard, each encouraging neighbors to take a book or leave a book for their neighbors to enjoy. Until now, those libraries were either built buy their caretakers or ordered from craftsman - but for inexperienced builders such as myself, none were really simple or affordable enough to make me pull the trigger. Then came some news out of Ohio that the team at The Simplay3 Company were working on a solution - a simpler option "for folks wanting to make a positive impact in their community." Their new Simplay3 Sharing Library is the end result of designers who found themselves inspired by the Little Free Library movement and wanted to get them into as many neighborhoods as possible.
One of this year's fantastic releases is the Pearl Jam concert film, Let's Play Two. Filmed live right here in Chicago at the iconic Wrigley Field in August of 2016, the film serves as a beautiful documentary that celebrates the band and their fans during the year that the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series. This week, the film got something unexpected - a companion video game. The vintage, 8-bit game recalls my many days playing baseball on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) back in the day, featuring the band members as baseball players in a "home run derby." Play the game online via Pearl Jam's website, and be sure to stick around at the end to hear 8-bit versions of "Alive" and "Jeremy."