Monday, December 29, 2003

I'm a Freak

I finally saw Return of the King. My favorite part was Gandalf discussing death with Pippen. For a second I wasn't afraid to die either.

I'm starting to see that acting for me is also a form a therapy. It is a great release to become someone else for a few hours. It's strange. I wonder how I made it this far in life without it.

Here's a stange thing that all of you mystics can think about and get back to me on: For almost five years I have had a recurring dream of sorts. Its not really a dream because it only lasts 2 seconds and it occurs just before I fall asleep most every night. I am at a baseball game batting. I see the pitcher and the ball from my perspective and I always make contact with the ball. Sometimes its a line drive, other times a home run. Always a hit. It ends there.

Anyway, for the last three nights the image has changed for the first time ever. I am a cowboy preparing to draw two guns form side holsters on my hip. I draw them and shoot at nothing in particular. It ends there.

I don't think that I have ever told anyone about these images. So I figured I'd share them with the world all at once.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I'm Better, a Little Loopy, but Better

I'm feeling almost completely better. It was a very strange illness. I'm happy to be well though. The kids are excited about Christmas which is helping me get more excited.

I work at TnT's Christmas Eve, Christmas, NY Eve (my ninth anniversary), and NY Day. "Welcome to the real world, she said to me, condescendingly." (A little John Mayer tribute there.) I'm pretty sure that I misspelled a word in that last sentence, but I'm too tired to figure it out. I might have misspelled "misspelled". I don't think I did, but maybe it just has one "s"...well, now I have possibly misspelled it four times. I should just move on...

Merey Christmus ta yu an yurs.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

I'm cold...I'm sweating

No, I don't have menopause. I think I might have the flu. I've pretty much been in bed for the last three days except to do a video shoot and my show last night. Tonight is the Apex Christmas service...I'm heading that way now.


Monday, December 15, 2003

What's Going On

The Saga show has wrapped. I'm glad that we did it. But I am also very glad that it is over. Directing is more challanging than I expected, probably due to the fact that I had to step in and act as well. I'll talk more about the show later. I learned a lot.

Last night was the Tony n Tina's cast Christmas party. It was a little awkward at first since Debbie and I don't really know anyone at all yet. By the end I was really glad that we went. They definately are a family of sorts. I'm looking forward to the day when I feel completely comfortable with them.

Debbie's brother Dave and his fiance Sarah are in town. We will be hanging out this week.

Gregg hooked me up with a tech industry commercial that will be filming Thursday and Friday of this week. It should be some extra $ for the holidays which will be cool.

That's about all that's new in my world...

Friday, December 12, 2003

A Christmas of Convenience

We've gotten some local press this week and a few people have stumbled upon my web log looking for information about the show.

It plays tonight, Saturday and Sunday afternoon. All of the information can be found at Or just call 702-396-8447 to reserve a seat.

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

We believe in one, holy, apostolic, catholic church.

For all of the grief that us independent, PROTESTant, "enlightened" indidualistic, "modern" (read: smarter) Christians love to heap upon our fathers...I think that got some pretty darn important ideas down with the Nicene Creed.

What if a few of us really started to believe in one, holy, apostolic, catholic church? What if we lived within the reality of that construct? Perhaps it wasn't the ideas of the fathers that got the church into trouble...perhaps it was the way they implemented their ideas. We can believe in one, holy, apostolic, catholic church without assuming the burden to MAKE it one or holy or apostolic of catholic. We can assume that God has been and still is building his church...and he builds us as ONE church. He sees one family in one Kingdom with his eyes. He builds us as HOLY-set apart and unique-foreign to the world-an outpost, embassy and foretaste of his eternal Kingdom. He builds us as APOSTOLIC. He makes us a people of the journey. He calls a mobile Kingdom of he always has from Noah to Abraham to Israel to Moses to the Prophets to Jesus and his team...always wandering, always moving, always sent forth, sent ahead and sent toward. And he builds us into a CATHOLIC church. His blueprint calls for diversity without division...a universal, world-wide family.

I've gotten out of the business of building the church. I don't really miss it too much. I was doing a pretty bad job anyway. I see some of my friends still trying to build it. I feel bad for those who are seemingly succesful...I hope that their success will not blind them to the fact that God is really the one working. Sometimes I get restless or a little bored and want to go build me a church...but I've learned to close my eyes and ask to see what God sees. It makes me want to just trust him more. I'd like to spend a few years just walking around looking for the church that God is building. I'm more of a detective these days than anything else...looking for God in the corners of my world. I saw him working last weekend at the Saga show and yesterday at Grand China. I hope to see him in the underbelly of the Rio Casino tonight...but if not, I'll just wait for him there. He always shows up...his kingdom always comes.

"And when you pray, pray like this...Our Father...let your kingdom fully come here just like it is where you live."

Monday, December 08, 2003

Ahh, Drugs.

I'm feeling mostly better. Just the nagging cough to contend with now. I have two whole nights off from performing...then five shows in a row. Two at TnT and three with Saga. So, needless to say, I'm glad to be on the road to recovery.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

I miss my mommy

Yeah. I'm officially sick. I spent 3.5 hours at "Quick Care" to find out that I have a severe throat infection. They gave me three different perscriptions including some ROIDS. I should be freakin huge soon. What happened to the days when being sick was a ticket to miss school and watch TV all day?

Having a sore throat is extra stressful when you use your voice as part of your vocation. In my case, for both of my vocations. The second of six Saga shows wrapped tonight. I'm proud of the cast.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

"The show must go on."

It's a saying that didn't mean too much to me for most of my life. Now I understand. I'm getting sick but it doesn't matter. Tonight I had to pee for the last hour of the show-didn't matter. I still had to chug five "beers" (Bud Light bottles filled with water) and stay in the room. Friday night is opening night for A Christmas of Convenience. It might be a full might be just my wife watching-doesn't matter.

The Show Must Go On.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

What a difference a year makes

This time last year I hadn't even considered acting as more than something I might want to "try someday." I guess I'm officially an actor now. This week holds 7 rehearsals and 4 performances with three different projects. Man, that happened fast.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Shall we kill a tree or support a sweat shop this Christmas?

We were supposed to go and chop down our Christmas tree today. (What can I say, I'm a hypocritical environmentalist!) We were about 20 miles from home when Eli tossed his cookies all over the minivan. So...we came home. We just returned from Walmart (what can I say, I'm a hypocritical human rights advocate!) with a $16 fake tree to put in our family room. It's hideously beautiful. It's like an obviously fake replica of the Charlie Brown tree. It's like a fraud print of "Dogs Playing Poker" on fake velvet. Classic.

Anyway, the Citizens are going to bring home a real tree for the downstairs tonight. That's the one all of the guest will see, unless you want to see ours...for a suggested $1 donation I'll get you into the back room.

Thanks to all of you who shared Thanksgiving with us: Kenny, Kelly, Jake, Gabriel, Doug, Chery, Emma, Loredana, Ernie, Nan, Katie, Sabrina and Pops, Flick, Amy, Dougie, Jennie, Greg, Rebekah, Tori, Mike, John, Kristi, Alex, Tommy and Meghann.

Thursday, November 27, 2003


for my wife.

for my kids.

for my household.

for my journey.

for my parents.

for my life-long friends.

for my church.

for my mentor.

for my talents.

for my torment.

for health.

for acting.

for stories.

for the Bengals (6-5, Baby)

for rain.

for my troupe.

for enough money...this week.

for dead theologians.

for Rich's music.

for getting paid to pretend.

for Debbie's family.

for espresso.

for my shattered dreams.

for the ten pounds that I don't have anymore.

for poker, whiskey and moderation, of course.

for my bed.

for loving me.

for being Father.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Next Saga Show Coming Soon

We only have 9 days until the opening of "A Christmas of Convenience", Saga's Christmas show. I am excited about it. If you live in Vegas please help spread the word. Here are the details:

Concept: Five strangers are held up and locked in the storeroom of a convenience store early Christmas morning.

Media: The project contains a short fim directed by our own Dale Neven and a 60 minute live theater piece directed by Gregg Stokes and myself.

When: Dec 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14 (Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 pm, Sundays are at 2 pm)

Where: The Nevada Theater Company. Click here for directions.

Cost: $10 or $8 for a group of 10 or more.

Reserve Tickets: Online at or call 702-396-8447

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Happy and Sad

I am grieving with Jeremy and Lori over the loss of their baby. We will be having a memorial service Tuesday. Meanwhile, my strange little life goes on...

Tonight was my first show at T&T's. It went really well. I had lots and lots of fun. My castmates were very encouraging and friendly. I am grateful.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Leaving Los Angeles

My Groundlings classes ended Wednesday. 16 people started the class six weeks ago. 5 dropped out. Of the 11 of us left, only one was cleared to go onto level 3. Guess who? Yep. Minnie. Not me. Minnie is great. She was definately the best in the class. My last scene was with her and it was one of the best scenes that I have ever been in.

I got some kudos from my instructor. He basically said that I'll do two really good scenes and then a really bad one. I need to be more consistent. He said that I was close to moving on and should repeat the class. I made an easy decision that the class was good, but not worth another $450 and another 3,600 miles on the car. It was a good experience. I learned a great deal. I feel very close to Noah. I'm glad I did it, but I'm more glad that I don't have any road trips. I'm looking forward to some more time with my family and friends.

In other news, My first show at Tony n Tina's is Saturday. I'm nervous and excited.

Also, you can buy tickets for Saga's Christmas show online if you want. It is my first effort as a director. I hope that you will come if you can. Click here.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

I'm Thankful

God just dropped this Tony N Tina's gig in my lap. It's surreal.

I've been wanting to write about it, but it always feels kind of arrogant. It has actually been a very humbling experience. I can tell that I'm not really supposed to be in that show. You don't decide that you might want to be a (semi) professional actor in February and get a regular paying job in October. That's not normal. You don't get a call back on your first audition. You don't get a job on your first call back. That's just not the way it works. I have only two reasons that I could think of for getting this job so easily: 1. I'm so talented that the entire entertainment industry has just been waiting for me to walk into a room, or 2. God gave me this job. My vote is #2. (But you can feel free to vote #1 if you want...)

The other humbling realization is that as cool as it all is, it is an OFF Strip production of an OFF Broadway show that plays in a converted garage just OFF of The Rio's main building. It aint The Producers on Broadway.

Now that all of that stuff is out of the way: How strangely beautiful is all of this? Last night I walked out of rehearsal through a room of 300 people who just forked over $80 a pop to see the show. I left through the employee exit of The Rio to find myself on the fourth floor of the parking garage, overlooking the entire Strip at night. I saw the billboard for my show between Penn and Teller and The Chipendales. Odd.

As I drove home I thought about how Eli and I were playing/pretending/improvising for about an hour that day. We were playing candy store. He was the manager and I was the customer. His object work, character, and improv skills were perfect. All kids know how to act. They know play. The Rio Hotel and Casino will pay me enough money to pay my share of the rent starting next month. And all I have to do is play and pretend. I am grateful.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Four Unrelated Thoughts

My friend Jeremiah is staying at my house. He and his friend Chris have been a blessing to us.

I have my first rehearsal today for the new show.

We have less than three weeks until Saga's Christmas of Convenience show opens. Please help me spread the word. More info here.

Today is the day I switch from briefs to boxers....please pray for me.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Dear Mom, I'm in a Topless Show.

Well...I get topless anyway...

Rehearsals for Tony N Tina's Wedding begin this week. I should be in the show by the end of November. I went last night and was sized for my clothes (a tux when I play "Barry" and a sloppy sportcoat/slacks when I play "Michael") Most of the cast seemed glad to meet me. I am the only man that was hired, along with one gal whom I haven't met yet.

It is all very odd. It is exciting and a little intimidating. There are moments when I feel as though I'm a poser...and moments when I'm very confident about it all.

Both of my characters end up taking off their shirts before the show is over. Barry does a striptease on the head table and Michael get drunk and sings "Baby Got Back" into the microphone sans shirt. I've been on a bit of a crash diet before exposing the world (paying customers none the less) to my soft underbelly. In the moment I will be so "pretend drunk" or "dead sexy" that I will lose my inhibitions, but thinking about it makes me want to just live at 24 hour fitness.

In some ways it will be my final battle with all of those a-holes who used to pick on me in elementary school for being fat. Its a way to confront a deeply planted fear.

Its going to take a long time before this really feels like my life...but I'm excited about the journey.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Thoughts de jour

I'm busy. It happened accidentally enough. I knew that taking classes in LA for six weeks would be a challange. I knew that directing A Christmas of Convenience for Saga would take time. I didn't plan on accidentally getting a night job at the same time though. The Groundlings classes will be over in 8 days. They have been great, but I'm ready to be done. Throw in an Apex Retreat, and both sets of parents paying visits over the last few weeks and that makes Joey a very sleepy boy.

It's all good though. I'm pretty sure that God gave me this job. It's the only explanation that makes any sense. About once a day I think back to the audition room, where dozens of nervous professional actors were struggling to get any advantage they could. I remember almost leaving because I wasn't even sure I wanted the job. I remember thinking that the only reason I was there was to get used to rejection. Turns out I might have been there to get used to acceptance again.

My friend Sean Critchfield is sick. He has to have surgery again on his kidney. He was in this show that I am directing, so we are trying to figure out what to do. I'm not so much worried about the show. I just want Sean to get better.

My car, that I don't even want, is in the shop. It's gonna cost over a grand to fix it. It seems like the responsible thing to fix it up and hold onto it for a while. I'll have to hold off on my dream of selling it and buying a least until sometime next year.

Noah made a CD to listen to on the way back from LA yesterday. It was mainly Lionel Richie and Billy Joel. It made me realize how much I love my wife and kids...I realize that I do not deserve the family I have been given. Debbie, I love you and can't wait until God makes me the man that you deserve.

Wow...that was very stream of consciousness. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into the things I think about every waking second.

Peace to you, reader. Know that you are loved.

Friday, November 07, 2003

It is Done

To have faith means to wake up every morning knowing that The One has made the choice to become evil for us so evil may be destroyed forever. To have faith is to act today on what The One has done and the continuing effects of his sacrifice and love. To know that The One first loved Trinity and that from this trinitarian love he was compelled to love all who wished to choose love.

Thats why The One had to die.

"It makes sense that there is now no Matrix for those who are united with The One. In The One the life-giving way of love has set you free from the way of assimilation and death. What The Matrix could not do, because both The Matrix and people are flawed, Trinity has done by sending her One and Only Love to become Evil to destroy Evil. In doing so, the hope of a new way may be found in us, who are no longer controlled by The Matrix, but by the way of love. Those who continue to live in the Matrix will be controlled by it and die in it. But those who live in the new way of love will have life and peace."

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

God Loves Me

The Apex Retreat was really good for me. I left believing in God, which is cool. I left believing that God loves me and is interested in my life. I left wanting to leave religion behind for the hope of honest friendship with Jesus. I left excited because my friends are all talking about stuff that they used to want me to try to figure out on their behalf.

Ultimately, As I type on this keyboard at 4:57 pm on Tuesday, November 4, 2003, I have hope. It may be brief or flickering, but it is there. Hope for the life that is lived in my Father's love. Hope for my friends. Hope for all of those big and little things that fill my mind and burden my soul. I can see a day where I am whole enough to love and be loved.

Father, love me so much that I cannot help but love from the excess of what you have given me.

Hmmm...Just before I was able to hit "post" on my blog after typing the last sentence I got a phone call. It was from Tony n Tina's Wedding. I got the job.


Thursday, October 30, 2003

Vega$ Baby

I had lunch today with Jonathan Lee. He is moving here from Maryland to start a church. I was encouraged to see that God would bring him here to Las Vegas. It is cool the way that God moves people around to see his Kingdom come.

I'm only 30, but I'm starting to feel very partriarchal. Not that I am wise or anything, just that I have lived here in Vegas for 8.5 years. I read the Las Vegas Sun from cover to cover at the Med. Cafe today as I waited for Jonathan. It was the first time in my life that I ever read a newspaper and it felt like I was reading MY newspaper. Much of the news was about people I have actually met or at least seen in person. The news was about my neighborhoods and community.

I don't know if I will be in Las Vegas for the rest of my life. But I have a hunch that it will always be home.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

You know its a big fire when...

I had to miss my class today because of the fire. But I awoke this morning to find that the fire had found least the smoke had. The Las Vegas valley is full of socal smoke. It's eerie and strange. For some reason today has reminded me of 9-11. I think the physical climate of today matches the spiritual climate of 9-11.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


So...California is burning. Last night I drove the I-15 from Vegas to LA and the freeway was illuminated by huge flames on either side. It was a little frightening and strangely peaceful. Today's return trip took a few extra hours due to the 215 being shut down. Noah and I ate lunch at an Applebees in Victorville with a view of the burning mountains at sunset. Very surreal.

I feel for those who are homeless tonight.

Friday, October 24, 2003

No, I'm Not Famous Yet

So...I've gotten tons of e-mails because of my last blog. Thanks to all who are supportive. I haven't heard anything either way from my call back. Part of me wishes that I hadn't said anything about it yet, because there is a real good chance that they won't call back at all. It was a fun experience either way.

It has made me realize how much limbo there is in the world of an actor. Waiting and wondering. I'm glad that I don't need this job to pay the bills. Then it would be a very anxious time indeed.


Wednesday, October 22, 2003


Yesterday I went to my first real audition. It was an open casting call for Tony n Tina's Wedding, a comedy that plays nightly at the Rio. I was thinking, "There is no way in the world I will get offered anything, but it will be good to see what an audition is like. Plus, there will be some improv which will be fun." So I got there and signed in. I waited for 45 minutes to be called. When I finally went into the theater there were only two people there-a man and a woman. They asked me a few questions and had me read for two parts. They seemed way into my performance. Maybe that's normal. Again, I have never done this before.

After I had finished they asked me to come back for a call-back to be videotaped for the director in New York. "OK," I said. (I had just read a book that said most people do 40-60 auditions before getting a call-back so I was a little surprised.) Then they said that I would have to show up at a casting office today at 2 pm. "Oh, I can't. I have to be in LA tomorrow," I said. They looked at me like I was nuts. I guess that I should have acted more honored or something.

I left the theater and talked with a guy in the lobby. As I was speaking with him, the lady opened the door and asked that I come back in. When I got back into the theater the producer said, "I'll be honest with you Joe. We really like you for this part. What can we do to get you to this call-back tomorrow."

"Uh...I guess I could miss my class." This was the first moment when I realized that maybe some real offer would come from this. He started to talk about payment, part-time vs. full-time, availability, pant and shirt size, etc.

Weird. Just really odd. The whole thing. Today I went for the call-back and did some improv on film. They said they will call me soon.

So now I'm spending most of my free time wondering if an offer will come in...if I should take it...what it would mean for everything else. The part-time position would exactly cover my anticipated pay cut from Apex starting next year. Weird.

I am obliged to say that there is a darn good chance that I will never hear from them again. But the whole thing had made me see for the first time that maybe I really can be a professional actor and a church planter sometime in the near future.


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Good Morning

I am 1.5 weeks into my six-week experiment with The Groundlings. So far so good. What it means is this: On Mondays and Wednesdays I wake up at 3:30. That's really early. I get home around 7 pm and stay up until the kids go to bed around 9. Then I crash, which is also weird because I have been staying up past midnight for all of my adult life. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I get up around 7:30 to take Eli to school. (Those used to be my early days, now they are my sleeping in days.) On Fridays I meet my friends for breakfast at 7:00, so I'm getting up before 6:30 on my day off. Saturdays are a wild card, and I get up with the boys on Sundays so Debbie can have breakfast with her friends.

All of this to say that I am facing something most people have dealt with there whole life-a grown-up schedule. At least I waited until I was 30 to try it out.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Dave has always been my friend.

Stand Up
STAND UP: You are a natural stand-up comedian. You
watch the news with people, and when you give
your opinions, people start laughing. They are
not laughing at you, they are laughing because
what you say is so TRUE. The world is a very
funny place, full of natural comedy. All you do
is repeat various humorous things that you
notice from everyday life. Your unique
perspective on the world is what makes you so
funny. Of all the various comedy types, you may
be the funniest of them all!



How funny are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

A Tale of Two Cities

Yesterday was my first day of classes with The Groundlings in LA. I have eleven more to go over the next six weeks. It was fun. I was a little worried that I might not be able to hang with real-live LA actors, but I left the day feeling secure in my abilities and excited to learn more. My friend Noah is taking the classes with me, so we are getting lots of time to hang out.

I'm making the final casting decisions for Saga's "A Christmas of Convenience" today and tomorrow. Life is going to be quite theatrical between now and the middle of December.

My mom is coming into town this week to be with us and see the new house. It will be good to have her here.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

If we ever have a girl I wanna name her Zoe Grace

Zoe is greek for life.

Grace is english for...grace.

I think that God is teaching me to grow and to receive grace. Grace...its a funny thing. I don't know if I am strange, but receiving grace is about a thousand times harder for me than giving grace. Grace is pity. It's feeling so sorry for the broken state of another that you are moved to love and forgiveness and generosity. Grace starts in knowing that you yourself are a mess and a failure. (I've never had a problem realizing that.) Grace culminates into action when you see that the person next to you is a mess and a failure in their own unique way. You say, "Hey...they are a mess...just like, i feel so sorry for them." That's grace as I understand it as a 30 year-old American Protestant male.

I have had to ask for grace three times over the last two weeks. Twice from people who are very important to me. Once from a stranger. Asking for grace is hard. It turns you into a pathetic child. It makes you a begger. It humbles you. I have been following Jesus as best as I can for 22 years now. He promises to redeem me and give me grace. I wish that he would redeem me faster so that I could not have to ask for pity from the people I love. But perhaps his ultimate grace to me is allowing me to slowly learn how much I need a Savior.

So, thanks to all of you who have been gracious to me. Thanks to God who is patiently letting me grow up.

"Blessed are the merciful because they have received mercy."

Monday, October 06, 2003


Just got home from a great weekend with the Bay Area simple church planters and a day meandering through Hollywood. My work with the Groundlings starts next week. It will be every Monday and Wednesday for six weeks. I'll have to get up very early to get there, but should be home for dinner. So that's cool.

Many of my friends have said that they want auditon for the Christmas show that I am directing, but haven't confirmed please call or email me soon. Auditions are this week.


Thursday, October 02, 2003


Tomorrow Debbie and I leave for San Francisco to lead a retreat for some current/future church planters there. Our roomies are watching the kids for us while we are gone. I'll miss them, but it will be fun to hang out with Deb. We will be at a retreat center a few hours from the city. It's in the 30's at night. It will feel like -30 to me I'm sure.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Don't Worry

OK. Feeling better today. Thanks to all of you who write me nice emails whenever I admit to being down. This was yesterday's reading from "The Celtic Daily Prayer":

"Hurry is an unpleasant thing in itself, but also very unpleasant for whoever is around it. Some people came into my room an rushed in and rushed out and even when they were there they were not there-they were in the moment ahead or the moment behind. Some people who came in just for a moment were all there, completely in that moment.

Live from day to day, just from day to day. If you do so, you worry less and live more richly. If you let yourself be absorbed competely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly in those moments. I do not think it is lack of time that keeps me from doing things, it is that I do not want enough to do them."

-Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Bring Me a Unicorn

Monday, September 29, 2003


I'm having a rather irrationally sad day. This too will pass.
Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

I have, for the most part, always been my own boss. When Apex was at The Ridge I was under Kevin, but he pretty much let me do whatever the heck I wanted. The Apex Elders are officially my bosses, but I'm one of them and they never really tell me what to do-just a whole lot of group processing. It seems like Saga's headed in a similar direction.

Sometimes I fantasize about the simplicity of being told what to do. I really yearn for freedom and creative control. That's why my life has ended up so free and creative...but sometimes I miss being the crew buddy at the Chick-fil-A in the Florence Mall when Troy would tell me to clean the fryer...and I would just do it.

Just some sleepy Sunday night thoughts for you.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Oh Yeah

Gotta Improv Gig tonight at 8 in the southeast part of town. Click here for directions.

Thursday, September 25, 2003



Needed: M/F improvisational actors to help create and perform an original Christmas program.

The Show: “A Christmas of Convenience”, an original Saga production.

The show is mixed media film and theater in which five strangers are robbed and locked in the storeroom of a convenience store on Christmas morning. The actors will join the director and producer in creating the script based upon the characters that are developed.

The show will be staged five or six nights over the first two weeks of December, 2003.

The principals will be paid a minimum of $150. They will also receive a writing credit.

Rehearsals are key since a large part of the dialogue and action will be created through improvisation. Rehearsals will begin the week of October 20 and run twice weekly, perhaps more frequently as the show nears. Actors will also need to be available for shooting film throughout the month of November.


Wed. Oct. 8: 4pm-10pm

Thu. Oct. 9: 10am-1pm, 7pm-10pm

Mon. Oct 13: 7pm (callbacks if needed)

Call 702-396-8447 to schedule.

Auditions will be held at Apex (4874 W. Lone Mountain Road at Decatur)

Headshot and Resume desired.

Create a fully realized character inspired by one of the phrases listed below. You will be asked to improvise as this person (and possibly others). We are looking for characters that are both interesting and believable.

A convenience store clerk

A successful workaholic

A suicidal depressive

A religious zealot

A sidewalk Santa

An “out-of-towner”

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

For Fun

I took the test as if I were the book of Genesis:

My life is rated NC-17.
What is your life rated?
Everyone is doing it.

My life is rated R.
What is your life rated?

So...whatever that means.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Life is Good

Paymon's Mediterranean Cafe is my favorite restaurant in Las Vegas. I get to eat there twice this week. If it were not 25 miles from my house, I would be in debt from financing hummus and athens fries.

Monday, September 22, 2003

The World is a Stage...

Feeling a little behind the eight ball these days. We are moving the Saga "In the Beginning" show back a month or two to better prepare publicity for it. It's the first time that we have had to move something, so it feels a little frustrating, but it is definately the right decision. When I worked at the Ridge a friend of mine used to say "Fast, Cheap, Good. Pick Two." I've found it to be true with production. We could have done the show fast and cheap...but it might not have been very good.

Auditions will be held in a few weeks for the Saga Christmas show as well. Looks like we are going to call it "A Christmas of Convenience." I'm directing and excited about it. I'm leaving now to have lunch with Dale and Sean to discuss it.

My improv troupe performed Saturday night. We have another gig this Saturday at 8 pm. Click here for directions.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003


I miss the Petersons...hopefully they will read this and come visit.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

See Joe Improv

I have a few small improv gigs coming up if anyone is interested. This Saturday at 6pm Unlikely Probability will be back at the "intimate" venue: Art for the Heart Coffee Shop (Tenaya and Alexander). This show is free! Reserve a seat by emailing Rolan.

We have another show the following Saturday. Here's the skinny on that one:

Saturday Sept. 27th 8pm

Katherine Gianaclis Park for the Arts

5690 Boulder Highway

(Boulder Highway just south of Tropicana, corner of Boulder and English)

Admission: $5

Because he isn't who you think he is.

Because he is radical, rebellious and revolutionary.

Because he is wiser than Master Yoda, more powerful than Gandalf the Gray, and more beautiful than Nicole Kidman.

Because he parties with mobsters, philosophizes with drunken sailors, and accepts generous financial considerations from known whores.

Because he preaches without a church, pontificates without a theology degree, and pastors without a paycheck or a 401(k).

Beacause he dances at weddings, cries at funerals, and goes mental at religious flea markets.

Because he loves the unbearable, heals the unimportant and befriends the unclean.

Because he is my friend, hero, master, big brother, and reason to get up in the morning.

Because he's all I know. That's why I love him.

Friday, September 12, 2003


I have accidentally put together a very busy week. It concludes tomorrow with a day-long workshop with Central. I'm tired. I have much work undone. So I had better quit blogging and get it at.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003


I did an audition with The Groundlings in LA to gain entrance into their training center. It wasn't for a job or anything, more for the right to give them money. But it was interesting to do my first Holllywood audition. I found out that I was accepted to study Improv with them and will probably begin in October. It will involve traveling there and back in the same day with my friend Noah. It feels like the next step toward the mystery I'm walking into.

I had a mildly depressing day today. I just felt sad and sleepy. I freak myself out whenever I have a sad day because I don't want to become the Joe of years past who was constantly depressed. I feel like the alcoholic who has been sober for nine months and wakes up one morning really wanting a drink. I feel better now. I'm learning how to be a content person with some sad days instead of a sad person with some content days.

This week is busy. A storytelling gig, leading a retreat, finishing the "In the Beginning" script, and an all-day staff meeting with Apex. Should be both exciting and exhausting.

Peace to you.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

My Family is Home

So now I'm complete again.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Group Project!!!

My wife is still in Indiana with her family. She gets back Monday. She seems to be doing very well overall, but today was a sad day for the family.

Please click here to finish this statement: "I love Debbie because..."
I Love Jesus

I've had a few people quote scriptures at me lately to try to persuade me that I am too wordly. Maybe they are right. I've noticed that it is never Jesus they quote though. I feel very OK with Jesus these days. St. Paul might have a word or two with me...who knows? I'm still a little confused on some of his stuff.

Just trying to be faithful. There is nothing harder. Being faithful to God is the most difficult process that I have ever entered into. It's surprising how many people are so sure that you are not being faithful by looking at your life from afar. It is ironic that the very things they see in you as unfaithfulness are the very results of some previously scary and difficult leap of faith.

I'm not a normal Christian anymore. I piss off most normal Christians if I spend too much time with them...not because so much of what I say, but because of who I am. I have no desire to piss them off. I'm so done with the religious rebel persona. It just happens...

And now some of my friends are experiencing it too. I wish I could take it away, but I can't. They will grow through it.

Father, forgive them (and me)...we know not what we do.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

We are all pilgrims

Being friends with actors is hard. They move around a lot. My friend Adrian is leaving for Chicago friday. We had our farewell dinner tonight. Noah may move with him if he can get a job there. I'm excited for both of them. My friend Blaine moved to NYC to try to make it there a few months back. Now he may be moving to LA for ten weeks...

I'm staying in Sin City for at least 4 or 5 more years. I feel grounded here. It's home. I'm a little jealous of my friends moving to exotic places, but I love my community here more than a man should be allowed to love anything.

I was able to hang out with four new actor-friends tonight: Paul (who looks exactly like Jason Biggs from the American Pie movies), Griffin, Doug and Irene. We laughed a lot. I hope to get to know them before they move away too!

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Lonely in Las Vegas

I miss my wife and kids. It always hits me at the end of the day. Whenever they are gone I make myself very busy doing the things that I wouldn't feel right doing if they were waiting on me to come home: hanging out with my single friends, reading a book at starbucks, seeing a movie, etc. Complete autonomy is quite attractive to me...but only for a few hours at a time. Then all at once I get lonely.

So, sleep well tonight, honey. And night-night bubba-boos. Daddy loves you.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Long Day

Must get sleep...It's 2:45 in the a.m. and I came by the office to send some emails that had to go out tonight. Today was eventful. It started in Indiana...went east to Cincy to catch a flight to Vegas. Got home. Bought some new pants. Went to the hizouse. Took a shower and went to my impov show. It was hella fun. I wish I could have performed more. My class did really well. The advanced students were great-they gave us something to shoot for. Since then I've been hanging out with the whole Las Vegas Second City community. For the first time I started to see us become genuine friends. They are a gift to me.

The time with Deb's family was good, but rather uneventful. I think that everyone was all "mourned out" when I got there. I was content to be quiet and think about Angie in my own way.

I'm considering taking these five lifetime vows...a thought that bombarded me on the plane:

1. Fidelity-faithfulness to God, my wife and kids

2. Community-sharing all I am and all I have with my friends

3. Simplicity-removing the distraction of unimportant things

4. Honesty-valuing truth and never manipulating others

5. Prayer-being with God everyday

We'll see what happens

Thursday, August 28, 2003

If you care...

I had a root canal today and I feel better. here to see our first ever review from a theater critic. It seems pretty fair to me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Bye Bye Family, Hello Dr. Calhoon

Debbie and the kids are in Indiana now. They left this morning. My friend Dawn got me into see a really good dentist today: Dr. Calhoon. His office is in the same mall as the Apex office. He saw my rotting tooth and promptly made me an appointment for a root canal tomorrow morning. It's still costly, but its my own darn fault for being too cheap to go to the dentist for the better part of a decade. He has a nifty 12 months same as cash program...I wish he could throw in a plasma TV, but I don't think it works that way. You know you are in pain when you are excited about a root canal. That's pretty much where I am.

Thanks to everyone who read my blog and tried to help me find a better dentist. Please continue to pray for Debbie's family as they prepare for Angie's funeral.


Angie Colbert, my sister-in-law and friend, died tonight after a nine year battle with brain cancer. Debbie and the kids are leaving tomorrow to be with our family. I will meet them friday night. Please Pray for Debbie's brother David.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Pain Fragments

I'm in it. Constantly. I just returned from the dentist with hopes of somehow leaving my pain there. But no luck. I have 2 cavities that have hit a nerve. They told me that I would have to see a specialist to get a root canal. Sounds bad...but not as bad as waking up every 15 minutes in pain all night long. So I called the Specialist. September 9. That's the earliest I can see him. And that's just for a consultation to set up a time to do the root canal. Two more weeks of pain. So I went back to the Dentist and begged for pain killers. He looked at me like I was a junky. But he gave me 16 pills....and the "recommended plan." It came to $3,500 after the insurance paid its part. I can't afford to be in pain. That "lower" price also assumes that I stretch it out until next year because my insurance only covers $1000 each year. Which is weird. Because I pay like $500 into it a year.

Eli started pre-school today. He's growing up. More pain.

My sister-in-law is dying. This week probably. Debbie's brother Dave is in real pain. My pain is a joke compared to his. We are going to be with them Friday night. Pain is supposed to be shared.

Without pain there is no hope of pleasure.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

The Show

After months of writing, rehearsing, planning and promoting...Five Dollar Funny opened last night. Overall, it was a success. The bad part about being an actor is a sketch comedy show is that it is virtually impossible to get a feel for how the overall performance is going because so much time is spent backstage. People laughed. Thats a good thing for a comedy show. Overall I was struck at how the actual performance wasn't that big of a deal to me. Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed being on stage and performing, but it seemed secondary. Here were some of my favorite moments of our first performance:

1. Jeremy. Early on Jeremy wasn't so sure about my dream for Saga. It took me a long time to communicate to him why I thought God was leading me to be with theater people. He showed up six hours early and ran the technical end of the show. He was backstage all night with a huge circa 1982 set of headphones. It was fun to watch him use his attention to detail to help all of us.

2. My Improv Team. Rolan, Noah, Adrian, Nikki, and Chris. (Sarah will join us this friday.) It was very cool to see these new friends interact with my community. I saw Nikki and Debbie talking in the hallway. I saw Sean doing white boy slam/rap with Noah and Adrian. I saw Rolan always looking out for Kelly to make sure she had her mic on time. The biggest moment was the backstage prayer. I was standing between Adrian and Noah when everyone held hands. For a moment I thought nothing of it. I have been in thousands of prayer circles in my life. But then I realized that I was holding Noah's and Adrian's hand. "We're praying people," I whispered to Adrian. "Yeah...I've been preparing for this all day. I thought this would happen." He said it in a funny if he were a little nervous...but not offended. Jeremy prayed. I saw a glimpse of what could be.

3. After the show I drove home by myself. I have a bad toothache and maybe an ear infection too. The pain was unbearable. I had been flying on the energy of the show, but then it all went away and the pain came in. It was the worst pain that I can ever remember having. I wanted to rip my head off of my body. I cried. I beat the stearing wheel and asked God to take it away. I drove 90 mph to get home and take a Loritab. I thought about how a simple thing like a bad tooth could turn me into a desperate fool. I thought about how I just wanted to be home so Debbie could try to help me, even though I knew she couldn't. I thought about Tom Hanks in Cast Away using an iceskate to knock out a tooth. I thought about Fight Club and the lye and a previous conversation that I had just had with Sean about the pain of his kidney stones. I made it home, took the pill and felt almost completely better in 45 minutes.

4. My favorite part of the night was from 11pm-1am. My housemates, the Petersons, the Stokes, Sia and Dale sat around the dining room table and talked about the show, about Gregg's appearance on Star Search, about Gregg's choice of undergarments, about upcoming shows and ideas. After everyone left, Kenny and I quickly counted the money. There was almost enough to cover the expenses of the shows. "Well...this is fun, but we'll never get rich doing it this way." I said in a sleep deprived, Loritab induced stuper. "I was just thinking about how rich we are." Kenny replied. "Rich in friends and experiences."

He was right. Rich. Filthy, stinkin' rich.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Build it out of gopher barky barky...

A few days ago our city was flooded. To be accurate, about 2 square miles of our city flooded. The rest didn't even get wet. Which would be somewhat less than interesting, except that two very important families to me live in the flooded area. The Carders and the Stokes.

Gregg, Heidi and the girls have been bunking at our house until they can get back into their place. When I came downstairs this morning Heidi was sewing a dress for Kelly for the show tomorrow. I hated that she couldn't be relaxing in her own home, free of mud and mold. But I also secretly loved waking up with her in the house. It's addictive...having your friends nearby. It's like a drug. I don't even remember saying hello to Heidi as I left the house, but I remember feeling lucky to be close enough with them that they would stay at our house in a pinch.

So...I'm going over there now to see if I can use this free hour to shovel some mud out of their living room. If you know the Stokes or the Carders, please contact them to see what you can do to help. They both have the tendancy to help more than be we have to make them let us help them.

FYI-28 hours, 15 minutes until Five Dollar Funny opens!

Tuesday, August 19, 2003


This is Funny

Five Dollar Funny

My friends and I have been working very hard to see this Five Dollar Funny production hit the stage in three days. I would say that this is the hardest that we have ever worked on anything, communally speaking. We are all a little (or a lot) nervous at this stage: What if nobody comes to the show? What if lots of people come and we suck? What if we miss a cue or a line? What if I forget everything?

I'm nervous too. That's part of the joy of the stage. But there is something deeper here that we must acknowledge. Two weeks from now there will be no more shows to do. Two weeks from now we will look back and wonder if it was all worth it. I want to take the time to say that it was worth it. Even if nobody comes, even if we give a terrible performance, even if we "fail."

It's worth it because we have done it together. It's worth it because we love each other more now than when we started. It's worth it because we have nurtured an encouraging atmosphere. It's worth it because my friends have been at my house more than normal. It's worth it because my kids have been loved by this renegade Bohemian community. It's worth it because I'm praying for my friends every morning these days. It's worth it because we can't stop laughing. It's worth it because God is pleased with his children when they love each other...when they create...when they worship.

Yes. I would prefer two sold-out performances and great reviews. I'm only human. But no matter what. For me. It has all been worth it.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Good God

My house is Bohemia Central. The kids are in bed and I've slipped away to the office to write a bit. There are more than a dozen artists roaming through my house. Some are making a short film, a few are making dresses and some others are just relaxing in my living room. I know its not the normal American Dream...but it is my personal dream...realized in front of my eyes. Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven would be seen among us. Tonight it is all I can see. I came home from "church" tonight to find heaven in my house.

The spiritual fathers and mothers speak of moments of transcedence. Moments when God appears. Moments when eternity invades time. Moments when heaven comes to earth. They say that some men search their entire life to touch God.

My search is over.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Saga Press

Click here to see an article appearing this weekend in The Las Vegas Sun newspaper.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Creator. creators.

Creating sounds so fun and easy. It is often fun. Not always easy. Yesterday I watched Dale, Sia, Doug, Kenny and Kelly work for over six hours on what wll amount to less than one minute of a film project for Five Dollar Funny. Today I know that Kenny is working hard on promotional stuff for the show, and I know that I have logged many extra hours over the last few weeks. Sean has been at rehearsals nonstop for a month. Heidi is throwing herself into a dance number that will be over and done in five minutes. Gregg is going to log hours in front of his computer to edit a video that will make people laugh for a moment. The rest of my friends are memorizing lines and giving up evening after evening to create one huge piece of art with their friends.

Creating is hard. What are the options though? Not creating? Please. C'mon people. What kind of life is that? Like everything worthwhile in life, art is that confusing mixture of romance and repulsion...ecstacy and and pain. As for me, I choose the life of an artist not because it is easy or practical or profitable or respectable. I am an artist because I cannot imagine not being one. I am an artist because my God is an artist. It's how I worship.

On a practical note, if you would like an sneak peek at the improv team performing at the show, drop by the "Art and Coffee" this Saturday at 6:00. I'll be performing there with my Second City friends. (NE corner of Alexander and Tenaya)

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

A Few Unrelated Thoughts

That was close. Somehow I accidentally erased the entire html code for my blog. I'm happy to say that it has now been reconstructed.

We are definately in pre-show mode for Five Dollar Funny. Lots of rehearsing, lots of promoting. There is a sick part of me that really loves the last 10 days before a show. The panic that leads to art is a beatiful thing. It's fun to panic with your friends! The show will be great and people will come...hope to see you there!

On a sad note, Jennifer Palmer died this morning. Please pray for Mark and his family. Death makes me angry. I believe in Jesus, in large part, because he promises an answer to the problem of death. Mark and Jennifer's faith has astounded me through this whole process.

Friday, August 08, 2003


Every Friday I have lunch with three friends who have become my brothers. Today it was just me and Chris, whom I call Ernie. Greg is on vacation and Doug must have forgotten all about us after having to adjust to actually working this week after three months off. Being an introvert I still get a little nervous whenever I am alone with someone, even a good friend. I feel naked and awkward, especially when I was expecting more than one person to be there and only one showed up. There are very few people who I am completely comfortable with. My wife is one. These three guys are the others. I'm sure there are a few more, but you get the idea.

Today it was just Ernie and me. What a gift. Most people as screwed up as I am have to pay $100 to hang out with him for an hour (he's a therapist, not a prostitute.) He asks me questions that most people don't have the wisdom or the courage to ask. And unlike virtually everyone else in my life, I like it when he asks me personal questions. I first met Ernie when we were 13. We became the best of friends in college, some 12 years ago now. I'm an only child so the concept of brotherhood has been difficult for me to understand. But I think I'm getting it. A brother is someone you just can't shake...someone you love more than your friends even if you don't see them as much...someone who sees into your soul and isn't appauled by what he sees...someone who remembers you as the fat kid, the cool kid, the success, the failure, the tormented one, the clueless one, the arrogant one, and the content one...and has for 17 years addressed you the exact same way every time he sees you: "Hey, buddy."

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Intentional Living, Part 1

A number of people have asked me about my current living situation. Most people seem simply curious. A few, like myself in years past, seem very interested in pursuing intentional living themselves. And of course, a few have been obviously repulsed by the concept. My friend Pat asked me to share some thoughts on the subject via my blog. Being my first specific request for a blog topic, I could not refuse. The truth is I haven't said much about it for two very good reasons: 1. We are very early into the whole process and 2. Much like my relationship with my wife and kids, I never want this web journal to become a sounding board for anything that might make the important people in my life feel invaded or attacked.

Tonight I will tackle one oft-asked question: Why did you decide to live in an intentional community?

Ah, this is a difficult question. It is very complicated if the "you" is plural. Why did we, the twelve of us, decide this? That is a question that is the synthesis of six adult answers and six, probably better, kid answers. Why did I? That I can make an attempt at answering. Here are my reasons in no particular order:

1. Because I am selfish. A time had come for me to put myself into selfishness rehab. I needed to force myself to share more of my life with others.

2. Because I wanted to be a witness against the prevailing American ideals of individuality and isolation.

3. Because I was stuck in a rut trying to live out some of the simplest commands in Christianity, particularly the economic mandate to share everything on a daily basis.

4. Because I wanted my kids to grow up understanding that Christain community is a daily reality, not a programmable event.

5. Because almost all of my heros lived communally: Jesus, Francis, Patrick, Luther, Nouwen, Mother Theresa, Rich Mullins, my friends at Vineyard Central in Cincy.

6. Because it is the historical norm for followers of Jesus outside of our day and age.

7. Because rich white suburaban Las Vegans in gated communities deserve a hippie commune next door to them.

8. Because my wife, who was 100% against the idea, became more excited about it than I was.

9. Because I'm 75% sure that Jesus told me to.

10. And...because I fell head over heels in love with my housemates and would have regretted it my whole life had I not approached them to think about it.

Having said all of that, don't you dare do it for the first seven reasons if you can't honestly agree with the last three. Sometime soon I will blog about why it is so wonderful and difficult at the same time. Until then, 'nite john-boy.

Monday, August 04, 2003

No Business Like Show Business

I love telling stories. It, as best as I can discern, is what I was put here to do. It's my unique contribution to the beauty and chaos of creation. I like live theater as a form of storytelling. As a performer, it is my favorite way to tell stories. What I have yet to decide is if I like promoting my theatrical events. Part of it is fun, part of it is very awkward and vulnerable: "Hey, you don't know me, but come see this show I'm in...and, oh yeah, give me money for the ticket."

Until we are a big enough deal that I can sit in a dark room and be creative while some salesman drums up audience members, it is my lot to promote. Here's the truth: This show is going to be good.

All of this to let you Las Vegans know that you can now purchase tickets for Five Dollar Funny, a sketch comedy and improvisation show, online at Also, if you are interested in helping your buddy Joe promote this thing, let me know and I can get you whatever you need.

Break a leg.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

We had church last night

I am recovering this morning from our open house yesterday. I have no idea how many people came, but it had to be over 100 throughout the entire day. It was good to see old friends and meet new ones. God has really blessed us with an amazing extended family. By 11:00 pm the crowd was down to Sia, the Stokes and the Petersons. Debbie and the kids were already in bed. It was then, after it was less chaotic, that I grew thankful.

Sometimes I look at my really close friends...and I feel the same way that I do about my lovely wife. I wonder what they see in me. I wonder why they choose me to hang out with. I find myself feeling proud and honored to live my life beside them.

This, I think is life in the Kingdom. Life in the Family. I think this is Church....the called out ones...the divine assembly...the life like no other. Most people couln't see it, but I could.

The hymns were the voices of the children.

The sermon was a large house shared by 12 people.

The offering was given and recieved. Gifts coming in, soda and burgers going out.

The eucharist was beer and hummus.

The prayers were silent, but audible. "Thank you God for this family."

Friday, August 01, 2003


I just wrote a huge post on why I loved Jerry Seinfeld's show. And then my computer went wiggidywack and deleted it. So...The show was fantastic. He inspired me and made me laugh.

Rest assured, that my previous post would have made you think that I am incredibly clever and witty. But this one will just prove that I am way to lazy to retype it.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

What's the deal with...

I'm going to see Jerry Seinfeld tonight! Thanks to my friend Paul Evans and the sacrificial heart of Gregg Stokes who gave his ticket to me. I'm trying to hide my excitement and be cool, but imagine what band or sporting event would most excite you and that's how I feel about Jerry.

"That think tank thing's gonna be big. Mark my words."

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Come One, Come All!

All of you are cordially invited to the following events in my life. You should come to at least one of them because you want to be with me...and another one because you feel guilty about not coming.

1. Saturday, August 2: Our Housewarming Party!

It starts at 3 pm and goes until all hours. Shoot me an email if you need directions. We will be feeding people around 6 pm.

2. Saturday, August 16: Introducing "Unlikelty Probability"

This is a new improv group that has formed with my friends from Second City. We will be performing at the Art and Coffee, which is located in NW Vegas at the intersection of Tenaya and Alexander. $5 gets you a coffee drink and the hour long show. It starts at 6:00.

3. Friday, August 22: Five Dollar Funny

This is Saga's comedy romp. It's going to be great. 8 pm at the Clark County Theater in the Library located on Flamingo at Maryland. Tickets are $6 in advance, $8 at the door. Check out the website for details.

4. Friday, August 29: Five Dollar Funny

Same as above.

5. Monday, September 1: Second City Student Showcase

This is a graduation of sorts from third level training. The show is at 10 pm at the Las Vegas Little Theater (3844 Schiff Dr. Call 362-7996 for directions.) Tickets are $5.

Friday, July 25, 2003


The following is an improvised story. A practice in stream of consciousness writing. I have no idea what it will be about. When I have finished I will only correct spelling and grammar. The story will be left unchanged. Lets see if this works:

Four crickets sat on a leaf. To them the leaf was a boat in the middle of a chaotic lake filled with vile creatures and vast wilderness. The leaf was safe. The leaf was home.

One day a most remarkable thing happened. "I'm moving," said the smallest cricket, a dark brown personality with brilliant yellow eyes.

"Moving?" The largest and most popular cricket laughed as he spoke. "Where would you go? Look at would not survive one day in the wilderness. You are small and not very bright. Besides, The Great Cricket has clearly taught us that movement is futile. Only staticity draws us into oneness with the universe." The lead cricket closed his golden eyes and began to meditate. The two other bugs followed his lead.

"I'm still leaving!" The irreverent rebel interupted. "I'm leaving and you can't stop me. There is no Great Cricket. I've never seen him anyway. All your religion is good for is creating boring non-eventful lives. I would trade one day in the wilderness for a lifetime of days on this leaf."

"But you are so young," the oldest cricket belched. "Be patient, young One day you may be ready for such adventures. When I was your age I nearly left the leaf as well, but a wise old cricket reminded me that youthful decisions are always regretted. So I stayed...and I haven't left since. It will pass, my son. Let it pass."

"I will not let it pass." The young cricket grew angry and loud. "I will not make your mistake. I will leave. Today, if I must."

The small cricket hopped to the edge of the leaf and began to leap.

"Wait!" the last cricket chirped. All bug eyes turned to him. He was frail and old, nearly as old as the third cricket. He rarely spoke and when he did nobug really ever listened. He lifted his head, "You must go, my son. It is your destiny."

"And who are you to speak of destiny? You are the least in the colony?" The lead insect spoke in a deep voice.

"I am the voice of experience," the enigmatic cricket said. "I have been in the wilderness. I have left the leaf."

"You left the leaf and yet you returned?" The young cricket chirped. "How...why?"

"There are those who never leave and condemn those who do," the sage said as he eyed the leader. "And there are those who leave and never return...But there are also those who must leave so that they can find the joy in the journey home."

With that the old prophet smiled at the young journeyman. And with one leap the tiny traveler began his journey home.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

L ve: i or o? Its the same thing.

I had a great lunch with Jimmy today. I'm glad that we are friends. We are very similar and very different at the same time. I was thinking today about all of the people that I have met since we came to Vegas over eight years ago. So many people, literally hundreds, probably thousands. I think about all of them and wonder how I ended up sharing my life with the people that I do. Of all of the thousands, today I had lunch with Jimmy, today I live with the Parkers and Citizens, today I talked about everything under the sun with Sean and Heather. Who knew? Who could have guessed?

I think about what would have been if I had become a gen-x megachurch pastor like I wanted to a few years ago. I wonder if I would have less friends. I think that I would know thousands but only truly love a few. Right now I know almost everyone in Apex...I should say that I know almost everyone who comes to the Sunday Gathering. There are lots of people in house churches that have no idea who I am. But I love those 150-200 people who make an effort to come on Sundays. I love almost all of them...all except for Tommy. Ha.

I feel overwhelmed with friends. I'm a very blessed man. This strange life of mine is the life that I want. How many people on planet earth in 2003 get to actually live the life they want? Too few.

Last year, both for me and for my larger community, was a year of death. No one really disputes that. It was painful, difficult and scary. It was boring and confusing. This year, praise God, (search every entry I've ever written and you will find that I never say 'praise God' so I must really mean it because though part of me wants to delete it, I'm not going to.) This year is post-death. And yet we live. This year is the year of resurrection. This year is heaven. This year made last year worth every painful second. This year there is peace. This year there is life.

Wake up, sleeper. Rise from the dead. Cause the King is shining on you like the sun.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Comedy's Comin...

Rehearsals start this week for Five Dollar Funny, a Saga Comedy Show opening August 22. Tonight I officially turn into Joe the Promoter. Please, please, please tell all of your friends about the's gonna rock. Click Here.

Friday, July 18, 2003

I Have A Dream, actually I have quite a few...

Ah, the beautiful insanity of life. So many dreams, so much fear to follow them. This week I have met with my friends. One who dreams of starting a church, one who dreams of producing a feature length motion picture, one who dreams of making guitars in his garage, one who dreams of making an honest living from his art, one who dreams of growing up to be a good wife and mother, one who dreams of a new vocation that helps people, one who dreams of a business that can survive and be a ministry, one who dreams of a career in music that's not money driven, one who dreams of leaving Best Buy for SNL, one who dreams of a day when her kids won't wear her out, one who dreams of enough free time to follow his dreams.

And then there's me. A compulsive dreamer. The dreamer of dreamers.

There is nothing more real than a dream. Reality is the fantasy that everyone must endure to survive to our next dream. Our very dreams themselves are our ultimate reality...not the attainment of our dreams, but the very truth that we do dream. It makes us who we makes us NOT monkeys or makes us creators.

The Creator created little creature/creators to create in his image.

Pointlessness points to a Creator. What use is beauty? music? love? It is pointless...a waste of energy. Only a Beautiful Creator would create creatures capable of creating beauty. This, today, is my ultimate apologetic. This makes me a theist. (Not atheist...a "theist".) A cosmic computer program could have never made a blowfish, a rainforest, or Michaelangelo.

Dream. Create. Dream Again.

Monday, July 14, 2003

A Friendly Prayer


Grant me Debbie's Compassion

Grant me Eli's Enthusiasm

Grant me Aidan's Giggle

Grant me Ernie's Devotion to Love

Grant me Doug P's Integrity

Grant me Greg's Commitment to Friendship

Grant me Jim's Faith

Grant me Jeremy's Passion

Grant me Kenny's Attitude

Grant me Doug C's Child-likeness

Grant me Kelly's Honesty

Grant me Cheryl's Heart

Grant me Tommy's Commitment to Brotherhood

Grant me Meghann's Selflessness

Grant me Jimmy and Nicole's Desire for Right Living

Grant me Gregg's Levity

Grant me Heidi's Maternity

Grant me Sia's Faithfulness

Grant me Allan's Enthusiasm

Grant me Sabrina's Patience

Grant me Nancy's Empathy

Grant me Jennifer's Endurance

Grant me Rebekah's Intensity

Grant me Susan's Hospitality

Grant me Lori's Sacrificial Heart

Grant me KO's Paternity

Grant me the Harshman's Generosity

Grant me Sean C's Joy

Grant me Sean O's Desire for Holiness

Grant me Flick's Contentment

Grant me Adam and Michelle's Fortitude

Grant me Mo's Riskiness

Grant me Shad and Sherry's Momentum

Grant me Keith's New Eyes

Grant me Phil's Determination

Grant me Dale's Humility

Grant me Ramon's Thirst for Righteousness

Grant me Gene's Insightful Grin

Grant me John W's Tenderness

Grant me Brent and Tari's Enthusiasm

Grant me Kevin R's Commitment

Thank you God, for my role models.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

What I Want

I want to start getting up early to exercise, pray and write.

I want to stay up late and hang out with my community.

I want to sleep 8 hours every night.

I have to pick two of the three...

Saturday, July 12, 2003


We arrived late tonight (friday). 2070 driving miles from my in-laws to my driveway. Must get sleep...

Monday, July 07, 2003

An Apology

My friend Dale Neven gave me a book to read about four years ago. I just started reading it and it is phenominal. I think that it might be a God thing that I have decided to read it now after coming to many of the conclusions on my own. It's a book by Franky Schaeffer called Sham Pearls for Real Swine: Beyond the Cultural Dark Age-A Quest for Renaissance.

Sorry Dale, I had no idea...

Saturday, July 05, 2003

My Point of View

From where I sit I can look out of a window just over my computer screen to see my family outside in Memaw and Papaw's back yard...a full acre of grass and trees. My wife is pensively swinging in the country swing reminding me of the first few times that I came here to visit her during our engagement. Eli is driving a red kid-sized Jeep that Papaw brings over from a friend's house whenever we visit. Last year he couldn't figure it out. This year, I have to say, he is a pretty darn good driver. Weaving in and out of the trees and parked cars. Aidan rides shotgun, binky in mouth. Very very content to be the year he will want to drive. They are city boys exploring the wonders of Indiana. It makes me smile.

I sit at this desk drinking McDonalds coffee, which as it turns out is the best brew in town. I'm thinking about my flight tomorrow morning at 4:30 am...whoever heard of such a thing? I'm excited about my improv class and seeing Phil who will be in Vegas when I get there. I'm amazed that I will fly home, spend over a day there, and fly back here in less time than it will take to drive back next week...such is technology. It would have taken George Washington months and months to get from here to there. And he was the President...

My sister-in-law Angie is now on Morphine with her brain cancer. I have been able to see her often and she seems in good spirits whenever I am around. It is sad though.

The family is inside now and Eli is begging to use the I'd better go decide if that's what he should be doing right now. For the record, that's one of the hardest parts of parenting. Deciding when a four-year old should be allowed to vacuum and when he should be forced to play with toys.


Friday, July 04, 2003

God Bless America

Why I love America:

1. I can try to become whatever I want.

2. I have more than I need.

3. I'm free to do whatever I want.

4. My kids are sheltered from most of the world's violent reality.

5. It's my home...everybody loves where they are from.

Why I hate America:

1. I can try to become whatever I want.

2. I have more than I need.

3. I'm free to do whatever I want.

4. My kids are sheltered from most of the world's viloent reality.

5. It's my home...everybody hates where they are from.

Happy Independence Day.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003


Now we are in Indiana at Deb's parents. The trip is going well. I'll be flying into Vegas this weekend, but since my speaking engagement was pushed back, I will only be there for a day or so to take my first class of third level Second City training. Then we will begin the journey home on Wednesday, a week from today.

I'm reading Philip K Dick now. He was a sci-fi author who wrote a few decades back. He was also influential on The Matrix creators.

My wife says that I don't blog anything spiritual or deep anymore...maybe she's right. Maybe she's not. Maybe I'm not deep anymore. Maybe deep is in the eye of the beholder.

Either way, she's right in noticing that the things I think about these days are different than they used to be. I'm happier at least. I had breakfast a few days ago with a long time friend who asked if I was less depressed because I have a peace with God or because I'm running from Him...I said, "I don't know." Maybe I'm running with Him.

Being back in the midwest has made me see how different I turned out than I should have. It has made me realize that I like the me I have become. I also realize that I used to like to come home to shock people with my differences and now I just want to hide them and get back to Vegas so that I don't have to come across as a rebel or disrespectful.

Here' s something deep: Jesus is still calling me out of religion and into the real and living Kingdom of God. The last few steps out are the scariest and most difficult. I'm not going to look very "christian" when its said and done. Oh well...such is life among the devourers of the red pill.

Peace to you.

Monday, June 30, 2003

The Hulk, LA and Central Ohio

I saw the Hulk tonight. It was nothing like I expected. I think that it was good. Ang Lee took some bold chances with the editing. The CG looked so bad on TV, but seemed to work within the film. I'm not sure what the message of the film was, but I'm pretty sure it had one...which is a good thing for a comic movie.

Being so far away from home has made me realize how close I live to LA...does that make sense at all? So, I'm thinking about taking some acting classes in LA this fall once a week to see what its like.

Columbus, Ohio. That's were I grew up and where I am tonight. It is the twenty-fifth biggest city in America...just behind #24, Las Vegas. What has struck me this time:

The insane amount of restaurants per capita. Everywhere you look, there's another Chilis, Applebees, etc.

There are no movies after 10 pm, which is kind of odd to me.

There's a $50 limit to cash back at the grocery store.

The national gay pride march is here this week-50,000 people. It seems so conservative to be so...not conservative.

Baja Fresh is here now...another restaurant but a taste of home.

The movie theater that opened my junior year of high school looks rather aged and worn...what does that say about me?

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Notes from the Road

States I've been in since Monday:

Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Kansas, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio...where I am tonight.

Miles driven since Monday:


Total miles on the new minivan:

2, 479

Today I buried my Grandfather. I was the "minister" but I so desperately wanted to be the grandson. I was able to help lots of people. That was good. I don't mind helping people. I just want to be a normal guy who loves Jesus and helps people. I'm tired of being seen as a professional pastor. I used to love it...not more than four years ago I was proud of it as a profession, but something has changed. Its more than a profession. Being a professional minister doesn't even make sense. A pro-servant? A pro-shepherd? A pro-missionary?

Don't get me wrong. I like working for Apex...I am so grateful for all of the people who sacrifice so that I can devote so many hours to church planting and encouraging church leaders. I just wish that I could explain to everyone that "my friends give me money so that I can devote my time to our common mission." Instead most people label me, for better or worse, as a pastor, or preacher (I got that a lot today in the hills of Kentucky) or a minister or whatever.

Speaking of pastor stuff, I was scheduled to speak at Central Christian in a few weeks, a big church in Vegas. I like speaking there because its fun to work the big room. It's a good dose of big church excitement and energy once a year so that I can remember why I like having church so much in Shad and Sherry's living room. I love being a part of a megachurch every 10-12 months. But...Central had to bump me for a prospective Sr. Pastor candidate. So, I'm both sad and relieved at the same time.

Ah life, one minute you're an up and coming minister and the next minute you want to spend your life with struggling minute you're packing your sesame street suitcase to spend the night with your Papaw, the next minute you're packing your family into a minivan to preside at his minute you are being strong at the funeral, the next minute you weep while typing a blog.

I love you, Papaw. I'm sorry that I didn't call you very often, but neither of us liked talking on the phone at all. I know that you stuggled with God...just like me. I hope that there is a literal heaven and I hope that you are there...I'm proud of you. You were a kind and gentle man. I don't know if I am that yet, but I want to be.

I conclude this blog with the exact words that my Papaw would say if he read the above paragraph...

Bulllllshit. (This was his way to say, "I love you too.")

Monday, June 23, 2003


My Grandfather, Clifford Maddox, died last night at 9:15 eastern time. Both my mother (his daughter) and I are only children, so I was his only grandchild and the boys were his only great-grandchildren. My grandma, "Nanny", is still alive. She has asked me to do the funeral. I would rather just attend...but I'm planning on doing it for her.

So...we are leaving today in the new minivan on an 18 day journey into the heartland of America. We had planned on leaving three weeks from now, but decided to go now to make the funeral. I will be flying back to Vegas in a few weeks to speak at Central Christian, then returning to Indiana to drive the family home.

We'd appreciate your prayers for travel and for both mine and Debbie's family. (We will also be seeing Angie, Deb's sister-in-law, who is battling brain cancer.)

Life is about to get very real. Love you all.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Joe's Crab Shack

Went there for dinner tonight. I hate it. I don't know why I go back. Too loud. Too extroverted. Too much of that "I-know-your-food-is-ready-but-first-let-me-do-a-ten-minute-line-dance-to-Wild-Wild-West" attitude.

Let's get crackin'

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

It had to happen someday...

Today I purchased a mini-van. I feel obligated to pretend that I hate mini-vans on the grounds that they are too suburban or too boring or too middle-agish...but my family could use a I bought a mini-van...

I hope you all will respect me in the morning.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Am I Behind?

We are all settling into the new house. Now four of the six of us grown-ups are blogging:

Me, Kelly, Kenny and Doug.

I feel behind. Behind at work, at home, with Saga, in life...I'm 30 and should be settling into a career or something, but I am remarkably less settled than I was when I was 23...I was 30 when I was 23 and now I'm 23 when I'm 30. My life is all bass-ackwards. But I must like it that way for some reason.

Going to have Cheyl's mexican feast now. Peace to you.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Hope International University

I'm leaving on a jet plane (cue music) tonight to teach a class at Hope. The class concerns church planting in a post-modern culture. It should be fun. I'll be back late tomorrow night.

Friday, June 06, 2003


Jasper is a friend of mine from The Second City Training Center. We had lunch yesterday and it evolved into a very deep conversation regarding Christianity. What struck me the most about our conversation was one sentence that Jasper said. "I think the problem with modern Christianity is that the church is married to politics, and capitalism, and the American Dream." I was blown away at how obvious this was to a guy who hasn't been in the church system. I told him that when I say those things within the church I often get attacked. "Sounds like you're a prophet of sorts. Do they still have those? Maybe your a prophet with a little "p."

We talked some more about Buddhism. He's very interested the inward strength and peace associated with it...and so am I at some level. He encouraged me and said that he wished he had a rudder in his life like my faith was to me. At the end he told me that I was funny and should keep acting. We both seemed to leave a little deeper and more joyful than when we came into the restaurant.

I'm not sure, but I think we might have been to church without realizing it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

First Normal Day

Today is my first day back to work after the big move. Overall things are going very well. Still lots of boxes and minor issues to sort out...but a great experience thus far overall. I have loads of e-mails and phone calls to return, so be patient if you are one of them! Peace to you and yours.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

A Big Week

This is it. We are moving into the new house on Thursday. I'm excited on many levels and a little anxious as well. Mainly, I love the opportunity to restructure my life. Whenever I move it makes me want to exercise, to pray, to write, to organize, etc..

There's a good chance that I will not be blogging much this week, so you'll have to forge ahead without me. If you are a Vegas friend, we could use some help moving this Thursday. Just give me a buzz...there's free pizza and beer for the movers...and of course, the satisfaction of moving three families into one house. It's like a reality show only not a show...yeah, that's it...the gift of reality to all who wish to carry my bed, TV and blender...

Peace to the restless. Courage to the fearful. Joy to the empty blessing this week to you.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Ten Questions

My answers to the ten questions at your right ---------->

Feel free to answer them yourselves. They are stolen from James Lipton who stole them from somebody else...

1. Yes.

2. Cancer.

3. A new idea.

4. Ignorant criticism.

5. A push lawnmower from a distance.

6. My wife's cell phone ring.

7. "Damn" used as a second adjective, as in "a hundred damn dollars"

8. Actor.

9. Entomologist

10. "I'm real."

Blaine is a buddy of mine from my Second City classes. He's moving to NYC this week which kinda bums me out. He has been selected as one of the final five contestants for The It Factor on Bravo. I thought some of you might be interested in seeing him. Click Here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Thought Fragments

I'm rather mentally manic these days. I have so many ideas of things that I want to be doing...but it has been hard to craft a lifestyle that allows for such things. Tomorrow is jam packed. I have two breakfasts. One with a leader from the Mennonite Conference at 6:00 am (Excited about meeting him-not so excited about the time.) A breakfast with Noah Blair at 10 am, a new friend from my acting classes. Lunch with Doug Parks before he leaves for a few months. Staff meeting in the afternoon and house church at night...there's a real good chance that I will not blog tomorrow.

My friends Greg and Jennifer are here from NY. We had a great dinner tonight. They'll be leading worship at Apex this weekend.

The new house is ten days away!!! I'm getting very excited now.

Thanks to those of you who responded to my last blog. Today was much better. Real peace to you, reader.

Sunday, May 18, 2003


We could use some prayer. Things have been tough for us as a family lately. We aren't in crisis or anything, just weary and frustrated. Parenting is very very hard work. Sometimes Debbie and I feel like we are the worst of the worst. The last few days our kids have been very hyper and demanding of both of us. We love them so much, but we are both getting drained and a little depressed. Please just ask God to sustain us. I think of what the Palmers and my brother and sister-in-law are going through with their cancers and I feel bad for complaining about my healthy family. I know that our trials are very normal and nominal, but we just need to break out of our sad funk. I figure if you care enough about me to read this silly blog, you'd probably want to know about the simple frustrations of my life as well!

Thanks all,


Friday, May 16, 2003

Eli's Questions

Two weeks ago Eli, my three-year old, asked me what water was made of. I was rather distracted trying to get him into his car seat so I answered without thinking. "Hydrogen and Oxygen." He said "What's hilgrigin and oxelgon?" "Basic elements," I said as I closed the car door. His question haunted me that day. More acurately, my answers bothered me. I am such a materialist...such a modern...such a practical atheist...a fact junky. What is water made of? I am convinced that every pre-modern culture that has ever existed has a damn good answer that involves a beautiful narrative of one of their own recieving water from the Divine. We think that we have the right answer...H2O. H20 is BS. Its a lie that we created to forget the story of what water really is. Water is made of love and life. That's the truth. It's a gift not a formula. I made a vow that day that I would try to answer the next difficult question as a spiritual being instead of some organic computer.

The next question came about four hours ago. Eli and I were on our way home from Walmart when he noticed the eclipse. (I knew it was happening but had forgotten to look.) "What's wrong with the moon, daddy?" "It's an eclipse, Eli." Crap! Here I go again. "What's an ekilps, daddy?" It was all I could do not to explain planetary rotation, natural satellites and the moon as a reflective body. I searched my brain for a story...nothing came to mind until Eli spoke again. "I think the moon has a moon-blanket on cause he's cold." I said, "Sounds good to me, buddy. It is really cold on the moon right now." "Yeah...and the moon is far away...farther than Memaw and Papaw's house, huh?" "Yeah, really far," I answered.

We arrived home about five minutes later and Eli told Mommy, "The moon has a blanket on." She stared bewilderingly at me..."There's an eclipse tongiht." I had to translate truth into fact for her. Now if I could just learn to do the opposite for Eli.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

The Day After

I have been noticing some less than favorable reviews of Matrix Reloaded starting to emerge on the web. I think lots of people were let down. I wasn't. I thought it was great. I love the mythos most of all. For some reason I was really pulled into the love story as well. I actually left believing that Trinity and Neo were in love, which never happens for me in a romantic comedy.

So there, I am a geek. I loved Matrix Reloaded.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Joe and Phil's Book Club

My friend Phil and I will be reading Henri Nouwen's Clowning in Rome for the next few weeks if anyone wants to join in the fun. I probably won't get started until Monday. It's short and most people find Nouwen easy to read.