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James Zahn

James Zahn

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, has contributed to The Toy Book and writes a regular Star Wars column - Transmissions from a Galaxy Far, Far Away for The Pop Insider. He also regularly 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. 

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 PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, 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 the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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Jerry Reed and Burt Reynolds were both national treasures as far as I'm concerned. It looks like Midland would agree, and after ripping through a twanged-up version of Reed's "East Bound and Down" from Smokey and The Bandit on the 52nd Annual CMA Awards, a studio version of the cover was immediately released. Accompanying the YouTube stream (which you can check out below), the group issued the following statement: "Eastbound & Down is a balls to the wall, honky tonk, fast tempo tornado of a song that was a great challenge to master and to make some tweaks to make it our own...It’s now one of our favorite songs to perform live and we can only hope that The Guitar Man is smiling somewhere up above with approval." I do believe a tip of the cowboy hat is in order, now crank this one up!

It's been 25 years since Cypress Hill released their landmark, #1 album, Black Sunday, and to help commemorate the milestone anniversary, the group has collaborated with premium sneaker brand Six Hundred Four on an ultra-limited edition shoe collection. The "surprise-release" will be up for pre-order today.

As toymakers look to diversify, experiences are where it's at. Now comes news that Hasbro has just entered into a licensing agreement with Los Angeles-based Kilburn Live to  to create, build and operate Hasbro-themed family entertainment centers across the US and Canada. In an announcement received at Rock Father HQ this morning, the two companies promise that "the indoor family entertainment facilities will take iconic Hasbro brands and create interactive, immersive and innovative entertainment experiences in a high-energy, gamified environment with multiple activity zones.

Getting an earlier release than previously-announced, the highly anticipated Netflix original, DreamWorks She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, is now available. The 13 half-hour episodes tells "the epic story of an orphan named Adora, who leaves behind her former life in the evil Horde when she discovers a magic sword that transforms her into the mythical warrior princess She-Ra. Along the way, she finds a new family in the Rebellion as she unites a group of magical princesses in the ultimate fight against evil." I haven't had a chance to dig in and show The Rock Daughters™ just yet, but I've always been a big fan of Hordak. Mattel's Fright Zone Play Set was a favorite for me as a kid, and in a new clip from the series, it seems as if this new-school Hordak as a very Darth Vader-eque vibe. Check it out!

I do not care for "reaction videos." That's something that I've made clear many times in the past, because despite being extraordinarily popular (and I know some folks who do quite well with them), they're just not my bag. They're fake, exaggerated and make the subjects appear to be human cartoons. In fact, I even did one that pretty much sums-up how I view every trailer, and I titled it "The World's Most Boring Reaction Video." Today, however - a slight exception in that Disney•Pixar went totally-meta and released a reaction video for their own Toy Story 4 teaser, but it's not a traditional reaction video. No, it's snarky carnival toys taking shots at Cabbage Patch Kids and Care Bears before riffing on the famous catch-phrases of Woody & Buzz Lightyear. Check it out below, and be on the lookout... I do believe we've just seen our first Easter Egg. Are those Cordoba COCO guitars on the wall?

It's officially Chicago Toy & Game Week, the annual gathering of toy industry players here on the Third Coast. Toy & game designers, inventors and innovators will be meeting with acquisition executives from major toymakers as a variety of conferences take place leading up to the annual TAGIE Awards on Friday, followed by the main event on Saturday and Sunday - #ChiTAG: the public Chicago Toy & Game Fair. Happening at Navy Pier, November 17 & 18, 2018, ChiTAG has become a Chicago tradition to usher in the holiday shopping season by allowing families to go hands-on with some of the hottest toys of the season, along with some under-the-radar picks from major manufacturers and independent toymakers alike. There's fun for the whole family, and this year there's some new additions on opposite ends of the spectrum... like the baby and toddler play area and a beer garden (with games!) for the "big kids" (21+).

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