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.