Ken Morrison: The Beer Czar

Ken Morrison, The Beer Czar blogger, photographed at Craft 64 in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Ken Morrison, The Beer Czar blogger, photographed at Craft 64 in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Ken Morrison
www.thebeerczar.blogspot.com

Ken Morrison is a craft beer expert whose passion for the frothy drink extends to his blog, where he talks about everything beer-related as the Beer Czar. The 42-year-old Gilbert resident, who works for Bank of America as an operations analyst for workforce management and staffing, touches on everything from how to cook with beer, to coverage on where to get local brews in the Valley.

Morrison shared more about why he’s so fervent about craft beer and gave his tips for brewskie beginners. You can also hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

Winter. I was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and grew up in northern Maine. My parents moved out here while I was in college in southern New Hampshire at Franklin Pierce College. The winter we had during my senior year of college was one of the worst winters on record. I was studying fine arts and education, and on my way to student teaching one day, I did a 360 in my car in the snow. I vowed to myself that was going to be the last winter I’d ever spend in New England. I moved to Arizona after I graduated and have been here ever since.

When I first came to Arizona, I was a teacher for a few years. I then moved into finance and have continued working in that field. Continue reading

Jake Poinier: Freelance Writer and Author of ‘The Smooth-Sailing Freelancer’

Jake Poinier
www.DoctorFreelance.com

Jake Poinier has experienced immense flexibility in his role as a freelance writer and editor for the past 16 years. The publishing guru works on projects ranging from penning web copy to ghostwriting books, and he’s self-published three of his own titles: The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid, Help! My Freelancers Are Driving Me Crazy!, and the recently released The Smooth-Sailing Freelancer: How to Find, Sell, and Retain More Freelance Business.

The 48-year-old Phoenix resident shares his knowledge of the freelancing world on his website, www.DoctorFreelance.com, where he is available to answer questions and creates blog posts focused on freelancing. He shared his tips for existing and aspiring freelancers, and you can hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born in Boston and grew up in Massachusetts. After graduating college, I was working at a golf magazine called Golf Digest magazine in Connecticut. Two years later, I quit my job and attempted to ride my bike cross-country and was run over in Montana by a pickup truck, which cut that short. Even so, the first 1,100 miles introduced me to the beauty of the West’s mountains and desert.

After going back to Massachusetts after the accident, a guy who had left Golf Digest to become the editor at a magazine here in Arizona, called Golf Illustrated, called me. It was a classically awful New England night, 33 degrees and raining, and he said, “Hey, do you want to come to Arizona to be my managing editor?” I said, “What time is my flight?” I flew out and haven’t looked back since. Continue reading

Lauren Wise: Founder of Midnight Publishing

Lauren Wise, founder of Midnight Publishing, photographed at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Lauren Wise, founder of Midnight Publishing, The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Lauren Wise
twitter.com/MidnightWriting

Lauren Wise is a writing and editing machine, as a freelance writer for publications around the country, and as founder of her own Midnight Publishing, which provides editing, self-publishing and ghostwriting services for authors and businesses. The 30-year-old Tempe resident has helped edit more than 30 books, aiming to create industry experts with the power of the pen.

Wise is also a huge heavy metal fan and works with HeavyMetalTelevision.com as a host and record label contact. She shared why she’s passionate about writing and helping others hone their skills, as well as shared her most memorable moments as a journalist. You can also watch her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved here when I was 15 and went to Saguaro High School before attending ASU and getting my degree in journalism. My parents relocated, so I had to go with them. I was born in Hinsdale, Illinois, a little bit out of Chicago.

I spent my childhood all over South Florida and my early teenage years in Kansas. My dad designs golf courses, so that is why we moved so often — you go where the work is. Arizona is a perfect place for that, and the projects here he worked on include Grayhawk, Mirabel, Estancia and Whisper Rock. Continue reading

Jake Friedman: Founder of Four Chambers Literary Magazine

Jake Friedman, founder of Four Chambers literary magazine and publishing house, photographed at his home in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Jake Friedman, founder of Four Chambers literary magazine and publishing house, photographed at his home in Phoenix, with art by Carol Roque in the back left and his own drawing on the right, by Nicki Escudero


Jake Friedman
twitter.com/FourChambersPhx

Phoenix is home to a literary magazine that features proficient writers from all over the world, as Four Chambers culls quality prose, poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction and more to fill up its pages. Four Chambers was founded in 2013 by Jake Friedman, a 25-year-old Phoenix resident who started the magazine when he saw the need for an outlet for high-quality independent writing in the Valley. Now, Four Chambers is slated to release its third issue this upcoming spring — the last issue had more than 1,100 submissions. The magazine, now with an editorial staff of 20 people, is expanding as a publishing house with a new Phoenix Art Museum-themed chapbook it is currently accepting submissions for.

Friedman, who works as a server at Phoenix Public Market Café, talked about how he started Four Chambers, as well as five of his favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

It was more or less of a whim. I had just finished my undergrad degree in English and philosophy at a small liberal arts college called McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. My best friend was moving out here with her boyfriend to get her master’s. I wasn’t really doing anything in Maryland, so I figured I’d come out here with them, and moved in 2011. I was born in Laurel, Maryland. Continue reading

Marcelo Dietrich: Filmmaker, Writer/Director of ‘The Horologist.’

Marcelo Dietrich
twitter.com/MarceloDietrich

Marcelo Dietrich loves telling stories, teaching, and inspiring, and he does it all through movies, as a screenwriter, director and actor.

The 37-year-old Chandler resident recently released a documentary on a talented 16-year-old dancer with Asperger syndrome, in partnership with Dancers and Health Together, Inc., called Dance Your Asperger’s Off. The touching documentary brings awareness to what it’s like to have Asperger’s, and how art such as dance can positively affect someone with special needs.

This Saturday, June 14, he premieres a short film, The Horologist., as an Official Selection at the Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival. The film is a condensed version of the first act of a feature-length screenplay of the same name, and Dietrich hopes the short film can be used to get funding for the feature-length.

Dance Your Asperger’s Off is also at the fest on Saturday, June 14. Find more information about the film festival here, and keep reading to see what drives Dietrich, who has written, produced or directed more than a dozen films and documentaries. Keep scrolling to see him talk about his favorite reasons for living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

My parents moved here from Thermal, California when I was 3 years old, and I grew up in Tempe. Continue reading

Jessie Johnson: Bully Mammoth Performer, Stand-Up Comedian

Jessie Johnson, Bully Mammoth sketch comedy troupe performer and stand-up comedian, photographed at The Gelato Spot in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Jessie Johnson, Bully Mammoth sketch comedy troupe performer and stand-up comedian, photographed at Gelato Spot in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Jessie Johnson
twitter.com/TheBullyMammoth

Jessie Johnson has been a restaurant manager for an Australian eatery, she’s been Tinker Bell, and she’s even been a little boy — all as part of local sketch comedy troupe Bully Mammoth, in which she’s the only female member. The 23-year-old Phoenix resident is a comedy veteran despite her young age, having gotten her sketch start performing with a troupe since back in high school. She’s also been performing stand-up comedy for the past two years and is gearing up to write for a new sitcom called The Palace, which she’s working on with her Scottsdale Community College peers.

Her love for mixing film with comedy is evident tonight, as she hosts a stand-up show and premiere of the six-minute short film she wrote and directed, called Charlie, at the Ice House Tavern in Phoenix. Head to the free show at 8:30 p.m., where you’re encouraged to dress up fancily, since it’s a Hollywood premiere theme. The show is part of the series of comedy shows she hosts there every first Monday. Catch her perform with Bully Mammoth Saturday, June 28, at Tempe Center for the Arts.

Read on for what inspires her comedy and to hear her talk about her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

Well, when a man meets a woman…(laughs) No, I was born here, so I’ve lived here my whole life. I went to Dobson High School and am now at Scottsdale Community College. I graduate next semester with an Associate’s (degree) in film.

Next semester, I’m working on a sitcom at the school, which will be produced by the film and theater department. There are three of us working on it right now in the writer’s room — Hunter M. Lewis, Steve Pursell and myself. Continue reading

David Tyda: Founder of Arizona Barbecue Festival, Arizona Taco Festival and EATERAZ.com

David Tyda, founder of Arizona Barbecue Festival, Arizona Taco Festival and EATERAZ.com, photographed at Dick's Hideaway in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

David Tyda, founder of Arizona Barbecue Festival, Arizona Taco Festival and EATERAZ.com, photographed at Dick’s Hideaway in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

David Tyda
twitter.com/EATERAZ

While most who know him would call David Tyda a Valley foodie, the man who’s involved in just about everything in the local restaurant scene insists he’s simply a guy who knows what he likes and isn’t afraid to share his honest opinion about it. Tyda is at the helm of local food blog, www.EATERAZ.com, along with his business partner, Rick Phillips. He and Phillips also own Affordable Food Festivals, which puts on the annual Arizona Barbecue Festival and Arizona Taco Festival. You can say hi to the 36-year-old Phoenix resident at the 4th Annual Arizona Barbecue Festival Saturday, April 20 at Salt River Fields, and keep reading for Tyda’s thoughts on the culinary landscape of the Valley, along with five reasons why he loves living here.

What brought you to Arizona?

School, originally. I’m from Chicago and went to ASU for a degree in humanities with a minor in art theory. I started working on the Ritz-Carlton‘s magazine a week after graduation and did that for 4 years. Continue reading

Philip Haldiman: ‘The Room’ Star

Philip Haldiman, 'The Room' star and 'The Arizona Republic' reporter, photographed at Sidebar in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Philip Haldiman, ‘The Room’ star, photographed at SideBar in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Philip Haldiman
http://twitter.com/PhilipHaldiman

As someone who always dreamed of making an impact on people through movie acting, Philip Haldiman has certainly achieved his goal — though not quite in the way he envisioned. As a star of what’s been called the worst movie ever made, The Room, the 35-year-old Phoenix native will forever be remembered for his character, Denny, a man child who couldn’t figure out social graces. The Room was released in 2003, and since, it’s been shown hundreds of times all over the world and has gained a Rocky Horror Picture Show-style cult following, where audiences shout things out in theaters and throw plastic spoons as a homage to one of the many weird scenes in the odd and bizarre film with no clear plot. Haldiman chronicled his journey as a struggling actor in Los Angeles in his new comic book series, My Big Break, which he’ll be signing at a release party this Saturday, February 23 at FilmBar in Phoenix at 9 p.m. Keep reading to learn more about the story behind Denny and The Room, and scroll down to hear five reasons why Haldiman loves living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born here in Phoenix. I have lived in a few other places throughout my youth and as an adult, but, hey, I guess I can’t stay away. Continue reading

Ryan Gaumont: Bully Mammoth Sketch Comedian

Ryan Gaumont, Bully Mammoth comedian, photographed at the Tempe Center for the Arts, by Nicki Escudero

Ryan Gaumont, Bully Mammoth comedian, photographed at the Tempe Center for the Arts, by Nicki Escudero

Ryan Gaumont
http://twitter.com/RyanGaumont

Since 2007, Ryan Gaumont has been seen on Valley stages making people laugh as one of the founding members of Bully Mammoth, a local sketch comedy troupe that has performed more than 40 shows since its inception. The 25-year-old Scottsdale resident and video editor at Sequence Media Group always loved watching sketch shows growing up, and now he and the six-member troupe craft new scenes regularly for the Arizona masses. Gaumont, along with the rest of his troupe members, can also be seen doing stand-up comedy at various venues. Catch him with Bully Mammoth at Tempe Center for the Arts Friday, April 19 and at Brigett’s Last Laugh on Tuesday, February 19 doing stand-up, and scroll down to hear what got him interested in comedy and why he loves living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

My mother’s vagina — just kidding, but yes! I’m a native. I was born in Mesa and went to Dobson High School and Scottsdale Community College. I got my bachelor’s degree in theater from ASU and an associate’s degree in screenwriting. Continue reading

Sara McClellan: Author of ‘The World Needs Hope’

Sara McClellan, author of 'The World Needs Hope,' photographed in downtown Gilbert, by Nicki Escudero

Sara McClellan, author of ‘The World Needs Hope,’ photographed in downtown Gilbert, by Nicki Escudero

Sara McClellan
twitter.com/worldneedshope

For some people, uncertainty and loss can be debilitating. For Sara McClellan, she chose to turn hard times into a positive message anyone can benefit from, by writing and self-publishing the recently released book, The World Needs Hope. The 36-year-old Gilbert resident, with about 20 years of professional writing experience, crafted 19 chapters of how hope can be interpreted, with a desire to inspire readers to integrate hope more into their own lives. The book also features art by 20 contributors, all who have lived in Arizona, who visually showed what hope means to them. In addition to writing and editing a blog related to the book  at www.theworldneedshope.com, McClellan will be releasing book-related merchandise starting Thursday, January 31. She talked about her inspiration for the book, what she hopes people take away from it, and why she loves living in the Valley, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

My father was relocated for a job, so we moved in high school, having never been in Arizona. My grandparents were here, and it was an opportunity to start completely fresh in a new climate. I was born in Wisconsin. Continue reading