Tag Archives: io

A Prologue?

Every adventure has a beginning. Some start slow and build into the excitement. Others kick right into action within the first few moments. Either way there is still a setup, some pretext that the story is founded on. My training from iO and Second City has taught me that it’s better to start a scene in the middle and to dispense with the back story things tend to be more interesting that way as we can watch the story unfold in front of us.

At this very moment my heart is starting to slow down from a rapid pace. My brain and endocrine system are finally starting to relax from the rush of adrenaline that pumped through me earlier. I’m just happy to be here in my aisle seat electric chair typing away and listening to my favorite Mountain Goats record.

I’m heading to Austin for South by Southwest Interactive where, for the next week, I will indulge in copious amounts of learning, networking and imbibing. When I return from Austin I will only have 8 more days of work at my job of the past 6.5 years. There is a mixture of excitement and discomfort in the fact I am willfully joining the ranks of the unemployed during a recession.

My heart rate continues to slow as I sip my complementary apple juice and snack on my peanuts. I just took a minute to revised the first paragraph. “Lovecraft in Brooklyn” just came on. I love this song, I don’t really even know why, I just do.

I could tell the story about nearly missing my flight this morning, being told they were booked through the weekend and how someone I’ve never met volunteered to give up her seat making her my personal, yet thankless hero. But aside from me running unshod through Midway airport, the story really doesn’t have that much anecdotal value.

I’m looking forward to the next few days in Texas, catching up with old friends, making new ones and eating amazing food. That said, I am not quite sure what to expect. I did this once before and it was extremely enriching, even life changing, will it be again?

We’ve landed in Nashville to refuel and swap passengers before continuing on to Austin. No more Mountain Goats, moved on to Gaslight Anthem now. Stop, revise. I am fully relaxed now. Another revision.

I’ll be back in Nashville a month from yesterday if only for a day. It feels like an eternity away.

The problem with the aforementioned storytelling lesson is that it’s one of the few things from improvisation that can’t be mapped directly to life. We don’t get to just cut to the action, we’re forced to endure each beginning as even the smallest detail can be a catalyst that ripples through all of what follows. In life it’s the transitions that shape everything. The blur before something ends and another begins is arguably the most interesting moment, anything could happen that will affect the future and how we perceive of the past.

I ponder my own situation as I rewrite, revise and delete. I’m mildly frustrated that this, like many pieces I write, may sit in “drafts” forever awaiting a perfection that may never come. I switch the music again to Streetlight Manifesto to get a lyric trapped in my head out.

“We’ve all been there once before and it looks like we’ve returned once more. So is this the beginning or the end?”

I don’t know what will happen, I just know we’re landing and it’s almost time to close my MacBook.

Photo on the Radio

This morning at 10:30 AM I did my first ever live media appearance for WGN 720 AM on ChicagoNow Radio. It was a real pleasure and I was way more comfortable than I expected I would be. I think there are probably two clear reasons for this:

One of the hosts was a friend of mine: Amy Guth. Amy is stellar and that made it a lot easier than talking to a complete stranger.

The classes I’ve been taking at IO have really done the trick! It’s already made me more comfortable in a performance atmosphere. Specifically helping me maintain my composure and gaining an ability to think on my feet.

We talked about my new blog on ChicagoNow: Focal Points. As well as my experiences in Berlin, and last weekend’s Journey to the End of the Night event. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Listen here!

Leveling Up and Leveling Out

Nintendo Cartridges.

2009 has been a heck of a year. While it’s really been a year of serious ups and downs for me, it’s also been a year of growth and learning. I’ve made some mistakes, but I’ve also made some awesome friends and I’ve grown as a person in ways I never would have imagined. This year I took some life changing trips to Berlin, Paris and St. Louis that taught me how to explore and be more independent. When I moved to Chicago three years ago it was precisely for this reason. I wanted to force myself to break out of my shell and stand completely on my own. It took me almost three years but I think I finally really accomplished that goal.

Last weekend I finished my Level 1 improv class at iO Chicago (formerly Improv Olympic) and I have to say it was one of the most liberating feelings I’ve experienced in a while. In the short amount of time it took to take the class I discovered sides of myself that I had never even imagined. Improv has forced me to change the way I think and has become something I look forward to every week. On top of that, I met some great people in class I’m happy to call friends. It’s no surprise that I’ve signed up for level 2 and I’m excited already. Improv has been an outlet for me during the most stressful time of year.

Now a few random notes:

My blog with ChicagoNow has been pushed back to Q1 of 2010. More info as I get it.

Long Pork has received it’s dates and times for San Francisco Sketchfest with two shows!

The first: January 29, 8pm at the Eureaka Theater and we’ll be opening for Theme Park Improv featuring Rachel Dratch, Edie McClurg, Danny Pudi, Jessica Makinson, Janet Varney and Cole Stratton.

Second: Jan 30th, 10:30pm at The Dark Room Theater with Marvin Berry and We Are Nudes.

Needless to say, we’re pretty excited.

That’s really all for now, but things are looking good. 2010 has a lot of good things coming, more traveling, SXSWi again and the restarting of TheChicagoGuys.com and more. The future may be unwritten, but the rough draft sounds pretty good.

Thankful

Friends laughing.

Today is the American holiday of Thanksgiving and rather than be a cynic I’m going to appreciate it this year. I have a lot to be thankful for right now.

I recently had a major job opportunity with an advertising agency come my way that would have brought with it a complete change of my lifestyle.

It was a very eye opening experience that made me assess the things in my life and what was important to me. Ultimately I turned the offer down, and while it was a really hard decision I don’t regret it at all. I would have had to give up a lot of things I do outside of my job with Apple that are my true passions, things I one day hope to be able to sustain myself alone on.

I am now in my third year of living in Chicago and I’m fortunate to have a really great group of friends a really great job and a ton of opportunities.

Long Pork is doing really well, we recently got accepted to Chicago Sketchfest and San Francisco Sketchfest and we are ramping up for a run of our new show in the very near future.

I recently signed a contract with Tribune to run the first photo blog on ChicagoNow.com an opportunity that I am very flattered and excited by. More on this soon…

I’m planning to start teaching photography classes at Pumping Station One likely in January.

There is also the little things: I’m taking improv classes at iO Chicago and am loving every second and it’s really causing a shift in my thinking. Just this week I (re)launched MailServerSettings.com a very simple, small website that IT professionals and Mac Geniuses have told me they love. Not much to it but it’s a handy little tool. Lastly, I’ll be celebrating five years with Apple officially in January a milestone I’m really proud of.

More than anything I’m thankful for the amazing people I’ve met here in Chicago and continue to meet. I often say that the most important thing to me is my friends and I mean that. I’m very fortunate to be blessed by a lot of amazing people in my life. People who believe in me, people who challenge me, people who remind me to be my best, and people who I can just have a good time with. That is really what I’m thankful for more than anything.

Getting up to speed…

Whitney Hess rocking it at An Event Apart Chicago

I’ve been extremely busy for the last month and this blog has gotten the short end of the stick. I greatly enjoyed updating every day while I was in Berlin and then I dropped off. I still have yet to write about Paris or upload my photos. (It’s coming… I swear!) I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things very soon.

Unfortunately today I woke up unable to speak and given that my day job is nothing but speaking, I was unable to do said job. Well there is always a silver lining if you look hard enough so the time I would otherwise be spending in bed will be spent working on neglected projects and doing everything in my power not to get sicker.

So to get up to speed with what I’ve been doing lately…

You may have noticed a redesign of the site is under way, this is because I greatly be expanding it in the near future to encompass much more of my work and who I am. By no act of coincidence I have filed to be, and officially become a limited liability corporation. I’ve sort of followed in the footsteps of my good friend Leah Jones and Subism.com is now the home of Subism Studios LLC. (though I’ve yet to quit my job like Leah did.. she has more guts than I.) This legal status will aid me in my photographic / artistic pursuits but also gets me well setup for my next few big ventures the first of which, has been no big secret but hasn’t been formally announced until today.

Early next year I will be working with Chicago sketch comedy group Long Pork to produce their next original production. The project is still untitled but I’ve been involved in several planning meetings and the boys have come up with some really good stuff that I think people will love. I worked with the group a bit in May to help promote their show ‘Soda’ at the Apollo Theatre Studio and had a blast. Since then I’ve joined the team in a non acting role as their head of marketing which started off by redesigned their website. Taking on the producer role is to both parties a natural extension of our relationship and I’m really excited to work with them.

There are other projects I’m working on but I’ll talk about them when the time comes.

I’ve also had a few other jobs I had the pleasure of working on. The first was for Gals’ Guide where I designed the logo for the first ever Gals’ Guide Summit and acted as the official event photographer. For those unfamiliar, Gals’ Guide is a great website for career orientated women in their 20’s who live in major cities and want to start a network and connect. The Summit was their first ever gathering with lectures and information galore. All of this of course is put together by the wonderful Blagica Bottigliero who in addition to being a master organizer / promoter is about to have a baby any day now.  Her energy and drive absolutely astounds me in that regard. The event went extremely well and although I am a guy and not at all their target market I learned a lot. You can find my pictures of the event here.

The next job I had was only a few days ago and it’s one I was personally very excited about. The past two years I have attended An Event Apart Chicago. For the unintroduced An Event Apart is a conference for people who make websites. Put together by Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer, An Event Apart features the leading names in the field and offers rich content and astounding insight into where things are going. It’s been a blast every time I’ve gone, I always learn a ton and have wound up making some great contacts and friends from it. This year I got the opportunity to work the event as it’s official photographer and spent my time working on the images throughout the event and uploading them live through the show. This is something I had experimented with at the Gals’ Guide event but it had a much more profound effect at AEA, not only did my Flickr traffic go through the roof, but I had people stopping me in the conference halls to complement me on my work. This was a service I was glad to provide for the guests of An Event Apart and I look forward to more opportunities like this in the future.  You can find my photos here and Jeffrey Zeldman’s post conference wrap up here.

Lastly, next Saturday I start taking Level 1 Improv classes at iO Chicago. I’m not quite sure what my intention of doing so is but I’m really nervous and really excited at the same time.

With the exception of a few other topics that warrant their own entries (like Paris) this pretty much brings you up to speed on all things John. Look for a lot of changes to this site gradually over the next few weeks.