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.
Goin' Back to Cali: THE ROCK FATHER vs. ANT-MAN & THE DESCENDANTS (and that's only the beginning)...Written by James Zahn
When I became "The Rock Father" upon the birth of our first daughter back in 2009, I had no idea that being a parent and launching what would evolve into THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine would actually be the catalyst to pull me back into - and keep me in - a realm that I'd had some adventures in before: the world of movies and television. It's where I belong, and completely weird how things go full-circle. My first gig as an entertainment writer was way back in 1992 (23 years!), and even through countless reinventions and "past lives," I've been covering press junkets for a very long time. But when I first paid a visit to Los Angeles, in what truly does seem like "a lifetime ago," I was there as many, if not most, are - as a screenwriter and actor. Those pre-parenting adventures - speeding down the Sunset Strip in my dear, departed friend's Cadillac while blasting MOTLEY CRUE (seemed appropriate at the time)... singing Sinatra while doing karaoke in Burbank (and subsequently jumping off the stage)... and taking fruitless studio meetings (for what eventually became a comic instead of a film)... all somehow led here - to my life as a "grownup." Pop Culture is my passion, and thanks to a few folks like my friends at The Walt Disney Disney Company, I'm fortunate to be able to head back to Los Angeles a few times a year to cover and bring back news and features on some of the coolest projects out there. This week, I'm goin' back to Cali again, and at the center of the adventure is MARVEL's ANT-MAN, and that's just the start...
I think it was last year that I said it (being nearly six years into parenting, things blur together), but I’d referred to the mid-year months as our “first true summer break.” Thing is, it’s not really a “break” at all. Gone are the true three-month runs of warm weather adventure that my wife and I knew as children - the ones filled with days that seemed to last forever. My first “back-to-school” pitches were hitting my office before June 1st, and the reality of the matter is that with kindergarten ending in June and the kids back at it in August, the summer is a blip, and a busy one at that.
Since being acquired by Masrani Global back in 1998, my friends at InGen Technologies have taken their pioneering research in the world of genetic research and cloning to new heights that have led to genuine, real-world applications. Answering the age old question of "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" (Answer: The egg came first), their team has been able to focus on creating a world of tomorrow, today. After making off-hand jokes about it for many years, the possibility of creating a high-quality clone of myself is finally a reality, which means that more work could be completed here at Rock Father HQ, leading to more time with my family, higher income levels, and the ability to truly be in two places at once... or three, four, five and beyond.
It's nearing midnight, and I'm sitting here in my office at Rock Father HQ with tears in my eyes. No, I'm not crying, but the eyes are definitely misty with happy tears as I type these words and assess my current surroundings. A Hasbro STAR WARS Millenium Falcon sits a few feet away, flanked by a trio of Fisher-Price Little People riding horses. They look as if they're about to board the ship, while LEGO Spider-man is about to speed by on some sort of motorcycle - a deeper look revealing that he's being chased by LEGO Batman on a Jet Ski. Nearby, a variety of Disney Princesses hold court, while an overturned Step2 stool sits near the girls' art desk, on top of which lies remnants of a few in-progress masterpieces from earlier today. In front of me, three empty cans of Diet Mountain Dew, an almost-empty Coke Zero, project notes scribbled on white paper, and a pile of CDs and DVDs that will probably never be reviewed thanks to the increasingly mythical element known as "time" (or lack thereof). It's nights like this that I realize that each day brings our family closer to the end of these "happy messes," and I don't like it. Kids grow up, and even though ours are technically still little, the reminders are like jabs in the gut. Tonight, The Tooth Fairy will be paying our oldest a visit for the first time, and that's something that I've dreaded.
Funny thing happened when I looked at a school calendar on the fridge earlier this month while the whole family was gathered around the table for dinner… I realized that we have an official “Spring Break” now. While Spring Break has always been there, it’s a new thing for us since Addie is in kindergarten. This is the first year of “big girl school,” so it seemed like the concept just crept up on me with no real fanfare. Since I work from home and still have Little Finn here as well, I think we should celebrate by doing something… I’m just not sure what.
Three years ago, I celebrated one-year tobacco-free with a journal entry about my personal journey. Then, in 2013, I posted again, celebrating the two-year anniversary of coming clean (cigarettes are a drug), followed by another post in 2014 documenting year three, and how I couldn't get Philip Morris/Altria to leave me alone (they since have, but only after I threatened legal action). Today I am posting once again, as it's the four-year anniversary of kicking the habit. As I've done previously, I am re-posting much of my original entry here on THE ROCK FATHER, along with a few alterations and timely updates. Philip Morris/Altria and R.J Reynolds: The targets on the backs of your companies and leadership have grown...
March 14, 2011 is the day that I officially quit smoking. At some point on the night of March 13, I quietly took the last puff of the last cigarette in the last pack that I ever owned. Upon telling my wife that I was officially ''done,'' she took it upon herself to clean-up some of the ''smoker's mess'' that I'd created. The ashtrays of both cars were scoured. The sand-filled flowerpots that I'd strategically placed on my front porch and near my gardening shed were disposed of, along with a ton of stray butts that had made their way into the surrounding landscape over the winter months. The cleansing had begun.
We all know that little kids can be little "Hell-raisers" on occasion, but somewhere there's a place where all of those children can "just be kids" - no matter which home or horror movie they might spawn from. Happy Dreams Daycare is the setting for this 2013 short from CollegeHumor that just landed here at Rock Father HQ. New to me, perhaps not to you, but I'm sharing it anyway. After all, who knew that Damien from THE OMEN, those little cuties from John Carpenter's VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED and Stephen King's CHILDREN OF THE CORN, Samara from THE RING and Regan from THE EXORCIST where such big fans of the Necronomicon at story time?
Last month, as I stepped off a ski gondola and onto the ice-packed mountaintop approach to Schaffer's Camp restaurant near Lake Tahoe, I knew that something was really, really wrong with me. Just hours before, I was standing on the lakeshore (pictured above), and now I was heading for a farewell dinner along with other members of the media and our hosts from Kia Motors America as we celebrated the launch of their 2016 Sorento (reviewed here). What I'd originally thought was the result of drinking too much coffee throughout the day was pointing to something much worse, as a few folks asked me if I was ok - a stressed look no doubt starting to show through my body language. I tried holding out, but after informing the waitress that I wouldn't be dining with the group, I nearly passed out in the washroom before quietly slipping out and taking a seven-minute ride back down the Zephyr Express in complete darkness. At the foot of the slope, I would be taken via four-wheeler back to the Ritz-Carlton for what became perhaps the most frightfully painful night of my life. I texted my wife. I got some meds from the concierge, and I shivered through the night despite the warmth of the fireplace. I should've gone to the hospital.
Teaching The Force THE ROCK FATHER™ Way: MARVEL STAR WARS Comics and The Girls' First STAR WARS ChristmasWritten by James Zahn
"Just like Daddy, I have a feeling that she'll come to love the Star Wars universe through the original trilogy... and by the time the 2015 reissue of the 1977 original takes place, she'll be just the right age to experience it on the big screen for the very first time." - February, 2012
It was three years ago that I posted STAR WARS - Teaching The Force THE ROCK FATHERTM Way. Those three years already feel like a lifetime ago, as so much has drastically changed since that cold day when little Addie and I had our first big adventure with a Tauntaun and a Wampa outside. Written at a time when THE PHANTOM MENACE was being re-issued theatrically in 3-D as part of a now-discarded plan, I'd referenced a timeline that now no longer exists - a time when a 3-D reissue of the very first STAR WARS had been slated for this year. Instead, I won't be taking my daughter to see the film that Daddy and Mommy enjoyed as children, but taking my daughters (now plural) to see a brand-new adventure that we'll all witness for the first time as a family of four. When I posted that entry, few (if any) could've predicted that Lucasfilm and STAR WARS would be sold to Disney, and the adventures in a galaxy far, far away would continue in such a dramatic way.
If you take even a passing glance at this site right now, you can see that Christmas is a big deal around here. Each year, around mid-November, I deck my virtual “halls” just as I deck the real ones here at home. As a big kid, the holidays have always been important to me as a magical time filled with sparkling lights, glistening snow and the festive sounds of the season. As parents, it's a chance for my wife and I to create lasting memories for our girls as we stake out new traditions while sprinkling as much of that “magic” into our little ones' lives as possible. Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest difference, and it's not always things that we, as grownups, make note of.
As parents, it's the little things that my wife and I do for our girls that will likely have the biggest impact on their lives – from shaping their opinions and habits, to helping guide them toward the right choices down the road. Reality is that we're winging it, just like everyone else – there is no road map for what we do, and each day brings its own set of struggles and triumphs. The constant is that we each play our own role in providing for the little ones. From my wife's long hours working outside the home to my weird schedule that often allows for minimal sleep, there's a yin to the yang that makes it all work. While the bigger whole may go unnoticed, it's the smallest parts that make the biggest differences.