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 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.
Learn more here.
From Warner Bros. Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, Steven Spielberg's long-awaited adaptation of Ernest Cline's best-selling novel READY PLAYER ONE is now in theaters. Audiences are entering the OASIS for an adventure unlike any other, and now The Rock Father™ has teamed-up with Warner Bros. to make sure that you experience it for yourself... and possibly decked-out in some sweet READY PLAYER ONE gear. While we can't grant you the keys to the OASIS, one winner will score a Prize Pack that includes a Fandango Code to see READY PLAYER ONE in theaters along with a copy of Ernest Cline's book, a t-shirt and more! Are you ready for adventure?
One of my favorite games from the past year has been Zen Studios' Pinball FX3. I have it for both Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, but it's cross-platform and available for PS4, PC, and even mobile. While it captures the pinball experience perfectly, one big draw is that they have access to some pretty stellar licenses, which means tables based upon some major players in the pop culture landscape. They've done The Walking Dead, Marvel, Universal Studios (ET, JAWS, Back to the Future) along with Jurassic World and a host of Star Wars-based sets. Now the latter is expanding with the announcement of Star Wars Pinball: The Last Jedi - coming to Pinball FX3 on April 17. Check out a trailer below, and if you're on Twitch, be sure to follow The Rock Father™! I've recently started streaming there and one of the games I showcase often is Pinball FX3.
I love hearing stories about how others are doing good, and when it comes to the world of play, there's little better than hearing about the creative ways that toymakers are giving back. I wrote a little bit about that in one of my recent columns over at The Toy Insider, and today I've got another story to share - this one from a true American icon: Radio Flyer. Their iconic little red wagon has brought joy to millions of children over the last 100 years, and as they point out, those "wagons have been used to carry stuffed animals, toys, books, friends and more for countless hours of playtime" But they've also been used by children and adults alike to lift the spirits of others – and Radio Flyer is celebrating these acts of kindness in honor of National Little Red Wagon Day. With their new "Wagons for Good" sweepstakes, you could even receive a donation of 100 wagons to be given to the organization of your choice!
Spring is a great time to think about painting projects, and for those who might be fans of Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Home line, now there's paint in the mix as well. Ace Hardware has announced the launch of Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines® Paint, making the brand’s first ever exclusive paint partnership with a hardware co-op retailer. The collection features 150 timeless interior paint colors personally crafted by Joanna Gaines, all of which fall into the "modern farmhouse" style (something I'm personally a big fan of).
Tony Stewart has long been known as “Smoke” on the track - a nickname earned for his ability to smoke the competition and burn up a set of tires when celebrating a victor. Now that name is coming to life as a car - specifically a one-of-a-kind pony. Stewart has teamed with Smithfield and car builder RTR Vehicles and the man behind it, drifting champion Vaughn Gittin Jr., to build a one-of-a-kind 2018 Ford Mustang RTR Spec 3 that will be given away to one lucky fan. This 700-horsepower beast finds Ford’s 5.0-liter V-8 engine receiving 12 pounds of boost from Ford Performance’s new supercharger. In the end, Tony Stewart’s Smithfield Smoke Machine will have the sound and feel of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion Stewart-Haas Racing campaigns in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with driver Aric Almirola.
As the liquidation of Toys "R" Us officially got underway last week, the saga has continued behind-the-scenes as shoppers began visiting stores in hopes of scoring a deal. For the locations that have just begun the wind-down, many felt disappointment when met with markdowns as low as 5% (game systems, LEGO) with most categories priced at just a 10% savings. While there were some higher discounts like 20% off on Easter items and bike accessories, other areas had no markdown at all - consumables like food and diapers. On the flipside, stores that began closing operations in February are nearly wiped-out, and I visited a few this past weekend. It was a sad scene at the Babies "R" Us in Vernon Hills, Illinois - set to close for good on March 31. My wife and I ordered baby furniture from that location back when our first daughter was born. Now, it's a mostly-empty building where almost everything is for sale, surprisingly stocked with a lot of non-baby toys that I suspect were dumped on the first wave of closing stores in a warehouse purge. We picked up a couple of Flip Zee Girls (Jay at Play) that our little ones had been asking for. My big score was a stockpile of LR44 batteries - the button-style that many toys consume very quickly. Deals aside, I'd rather pay full price and have 33K jobs still intact. Elsewhere the fallout is starting to be felt.