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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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The holiday shopping season is officially upon us, and as promised, the #ToyWars are in full-effect with retailers stepping up to serve families who may be saddened by the loss of Toys "R" Us this year. While the big guns have been getting much of the press, there's quite a few smaller, regional retailers who are upping their game, and one is an old favorite of mine - Blain's Farm & Fleet. Family-owned and with just 39 locations across Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan, they might not be a familiar name, but they're a store that I've always enjoyed stopping at, particularly as a kid. In fact, while the closest store to us is over 20 miles away, my mom still does occasionally check out the location near her for their annual Toyland tradition, and as of today it's open for 2018 - promised to be bigger and better than ever. For over 60 years, customers have lined-up in the darkness prior to the 7am store opening, but this year there's even more fun to be had.

If you're a guitarist that's into the heavy stuff, odds are you hold a lot of respect for the late Dimebag Darrell Abbott. His playing was unique and groundbreaking and his tones were legendary. While his sound evolved over the course of PANTERA's career and into his other work with Damageplan, Rebel Meets Rebel and more, there's no mistaking the signature tones that were present on 1990's Cowboys From Hell. Now, IK Multimedia in collaboration with Dime's longtime friend and guitar tech, Grady Champion, have put together the Dimebag Darrell CFH Collection for AmpliTube. This new collection features precise models of the exact gear used to record Cowboys From Hell, allowing players to match the guitar tones from the album including Dime's personal guitar effects, amplifiers and cabinets - all running inside of AmpliTube. It's available in a convenient desktop app and DAW plug-in, so guitarists can now play and record using the same gear and settings Dime did. Check out the demo video below along with all the models included...

Two things that I've covered extensively over the years are Ghosbusters and the band Ghost. Now, aside from the name and some creepy overtones, the two don't really have much in common, though there was a pretty fantastic crossover parody image done for a "No Ghosts Logos" art show back in 2015. But what would happen if Tobias and the crew from the band Ghost did a cover of Ray Parker Jr.'s Ghostbusters theme? Watt White just answered that question with a fantastic cover/mashup/parody that gives us a clear picture of what "Papa" and the gang would sound like rockin' the theme with a bonus verse from Bobby Brown's Ghostbusters II jam, "On Our Own." Check it out...

You know those stories about the "overnight success?" As is usually the case, for Fugglers, "overnight" is actually more like eight years - a fantastic story about how a random purchase of a bag of fake plastic teeth led to a series of handmade dolls sold on Etsy that eventually wound-up being picked up by one of the world's leading toymakers. Fugglers - short for "funny ugly monsters" - spent years being produced as one-offs, each crafted with care by their maker, Louise McGettrick. Their viral success led to celebrity fans like Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker James Gunn (currently prepping a new Suicide Squad for DC) as images spread that erroneously pushed the idea that these creatures had mouths full of real, human baby teeth. Of course, they did not, but the rumors only helped the legend to grow, and eventually the Fugglers would land a new ally in Spin Master, the team behind PAW Patrol, Cool Maker, Air Hogs and other hot toys. The creatures would be refined and readied for the masses, officially infesting retailers including Target and GameStop this summer, and currently landing as one of just a few new toys to secure spots on both my 31 Days of Halloween and Holiday Wish Guide™ here at The Rock Father™ Magazine. Will you adopt one of these horrible, life-ruining creatures?

Earlier this year, REPENTANCE hit the scene with a pair of back-to-back demos, released exclusively on YouTube ahead of their live debut with Trivium. Now, the band enters fall with the release of “Enter the Gallows,” an epic display of new American metal and their first “official” single, available now on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, YouTube and more. Check out the new single below!

Halloween will be behind us, but the MONSTERS will continue to roar as Feld Motorsports returns to the Chicagoland area with the Monster Jam Triple Threat Series, coming to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois for a weekend of big thrills, November 2-4, 2018. This marks the first time that Monster Jam has made a November stop in Chicago, usually hitting the market in February. This year's action will feature eight of most intense athletes of Monster Jam as Chicago-area fans will witness a fierce battle for the championship with each competitor using customized high-powered vehicles: Monster Jam Speedsters, Monster Jam ATVs and the famous Monster Jam trucks. Want a preview of what the Monster Jam Triple Threat Series is all about? Check out the video below for some highlights of a recent show...

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