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Expect more turmoil in the Johnson household when the Super Bowl rolls around.

Like last year Lukas and I will be torn on who we want to win the Super Bowl. Unlike last year I won’t have to worry about my non-loving football dad yelling “Go Hawks!” and taunting me throughout the contest, and that’s not because I moved to the other side of the state.

It’s been a different sort of football offseason for me this year. After sitting through one of my worst sports viewing experiences of all-time (more on that in a bit), I vowed I wouldn’t pay attention to any NFL news. I blocked all notifications on my phone, Facebook feed, and Twitter feed about the NFL. I put my Manning jerseys on sabbatical. I focused my attention on my first love, baseball, skipping over any NFL free agency frenzy, OTA news and the draft. And then came Johnny Manziel.

Darn Johnny Football.

I don’t know what it is but he had me (and millions of others) glued to the NFL draft, waiting anxiously to see who would pick him and where he would end up. I didn’t even like the dude in college, but I was rooting for him now. I even went as far as to make my second stupid NFL bet in four months (my Super Bowl buzzcut was the first), betting a friend of mine that if Manziel drops past pick 8 in the NFL draft, I would take him in the fifth round of our 16-team fantasy draft in August. He was drafted No. 22 overall, I took him with the third pick in the fifth round of our fantasy draft, thus ruining what was a good start to my draft, and forcing me to select Carson Palmer for insurance purposes. UPDATE: Manziel has been benched thanks to a lackluster performance in the preseason and a middle-finger wave to the Washington Redskins Native Americans. Since he and Palmer have the same bye week do I drop Manziel? I’ll keep you posted.

I still vowed to stay away from football in the middle of baseball season, but eventually fantasy football preparations came around and … here we are! My third straight NFL season preview!

I’m no expert. I’m not an analyst. I don’t breakdown film. I don’t throw stats at you (which I miss because 14-year-old Kevin would pepper you with stats to prove his point. Gosh, I miss those days when the only thing I was interested in were sports and stats. Now there are three kids, attempting to please my wife, wondering when we will please each other, work, paying bills, making sure I LIKE stuff on Facebook, you know LIFE!). I do some reading about each team, and when I get my Sports Illustrated I do a lot of reading, depending on my toilet time. But mostly I’m going off of feeling.

Feeling.

Yikes, just realized I am a very “feeling” person. I am always worried about hurting people’s feelings. I wonder how people will feel about everything. I love the feeling that my favorite music gives me. I love the feeling I get when I watch my kids do whatever they may be doing. I love feeling up my wife. Feeling. I do a lot of stuff based on feelings. And after writing ‘feeling’ 11 times I am wondering if I spelled it correctly.

Last year I felt like the Seattle Seahawks would win the Super Bowl. They did (though I had them playing the Houston Texans, who finished with the worst record in the NFL). The year before I felt like the Atlanta Falcons would defeat the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl. Instead the Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers, who defeated the Falcons in the NFC championship game. Two years before that I felt the Green Bay Packers were the team to beat, turns out I was right, correctly predicting them to win Super Bowl XLV.

This year … you’ll have to wait for that answer (or skip the nonsense and scroll to the bottom of this post – JERK! I’m sorry I hope that didn’t hurt your feelings.)

Before I start, a little housecleaning items to discuss.

Gone are the days of Team 1A and Team 1B. I know that caused people a lot of confusion when the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, along with the hometown Seahawks, were making postseason runs.

“Wait, you like the Colts? But I thought you were a Peyton Manning fan?”

“Oh, jumping on the Broncos bandwagon because they’re in the Super Bowl eh?”

“Wait, don’t you live in Seattle? Why are you rooting against the ‘GO HAWKS’ and rooting for the Broncos?”

So let’s clear this up.

After the Broncos were humiliated in the Super Bowl I decided that I’m going all in on ONE team. This way it hurts less when only one team is throttled and not two. And that team?

The Indianapolis Colts.

I’ve rooted for the Colts for 10 seasons while Mr. Manning played for them. I struggled through their 2-14 season, hoping and praying to replace Manning with Andrew Luck. I rooted for them during Luck’s first season and my fandom was tested last season when the Colts and Broncos faced each other in the regular season. I found myself rooting more for the underdog Colts than my beloved Peyton Manning. And then Luck led them on that wild, incredible Wild Card weekend comeback win over the Chiefs, where I fought through every emotion possible, eventually tearing up when they pulled out the win. That’s when I thought, “That’s it! This has been my team! And this will be my team from here on out!”

I still rooted hard for the Broncos, and had confidence that they would put up a fight in the Super Bowl, but … that’s all I have to say about that. Watching that game (while living in the Hawks Nest) with some friends and family was brutal. I spent most of the third quarter watching a bootlegged version of Frozen with my daughter (Let It Go, Kevin, Let It Go!). The weeks afterward were brutal. Not since John Paxson’s dagger to the heart of KJ, Barkley and the rest of my beloved Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals, did I feel such disappointment and heartbreak while watching a sporting event. I couldn’t take it! No more “GO HAWKS!” No more blue and neon green! No more talk about how Manning choked again. Writing this makes me bring back those memories, I must stop, a new season is upon us!

I haven’t given up on Manning. I’ll still root for the Broncos. But only one team’s schedule is in my daily planner (yes, I’m a dude and use one! Leave me alone!) and on my HTC EVO Design 4G by Boostmobile calendar – the Indianapolis Colts!

IMAG1833And those Seahawks? If my buddy scores free tickets for us again I’ll dress the 12th Man part. I’ll borrow that ‘Hawks hat. I’ll bundle my No. 32 James (for ex-Colts running back Edgerrin James, who played all of seven games for the ‘Hawks before he retired in 2009) over a sweatshirt, I’ll stand the entire game, and I’ll scream while the ‘Hawks are on defense. But darnit, I can’t help but admit that I’m holding out hope that this side of the mountains are a little less 12th Man bandwagon crazy, because this team, with their Legion of Boom, and Skittles lovin’ running back, are going to be darn good again.

As I do every year I’ll give my rundown of each division, along with a not-that-bold prediction about each division. Every year there are a couple of hits (and mostly misses) that make me look like I know my football.

Before the 2012-13 season I predicted that the Colts will rebound from their 2-14 season and actually surprise people (they surprised me, by earning a playoff berth), and predicted that the 49ers were the best in the West but that the Seahawks will return to that spot in ’13 (49ers outlasted the ‘Hawks in 2013, then finished 13-3 in 2014 and blah, blah, blah!). But I also stated that Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis will rush for 1,000 yards each (Charles 1509, Hillis 309, do I get bonus points for closing in on 2,000 yards?) and that Aaron Hernandez would have a better year than Rob Gronkowski (not only did Hernandez battle injuries on the field, but he battled demons off the field, and is now sitting in prison).

Before last season I said Manning will test Patriots quarterback, ol’ what’s his face’s single-season touchdown record. Nailed it! Manning 55, Gisele’s Babies Daddy 50! However, I countered that by saying that Cleveland running back Trent Richardson will finish as the No. 1 or No. 2 running back in all of fantasy football. Richardson was traded to the Colts before Week 3 and was a complete disappointment. I’m still all in on Richardson in 2014, but won’t be making any bold predictions about him this season.

Quit yapping Kevin! Let’s get to those predictions!

Oh, and to make it more fun, Lukas wanted to throw in his playoff predictions, so I’ll add those to the bottom of this post.

AFC East
New England Patriots (2)
Miami Dolphins (6)
Buffalo Bills
New York Jets

No surprise here! I’m taking Miami because rumor has it they beefed up their O-Line, nearly made the postseason in 2013, and didn’t feel excited about Cincinnati, Baltimore or those Houston Texans. Buffalo, despite what could end up being an exciting young receiving core, and the Jets are still a solid quarterback away from a postseason berth.

AFC East Not-That-Bold Prediction: Kenbrell Thompkins will be singing Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” this season, earning Tom Brady’s trust and passes, and leaping him into the hearts of fantasy owners.

thompkins

AFC North
Pittsburgh Steelers (4)
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns

Once again it’s a crapshoot with the AFC North. I’m taking Pittsburgh because they came on strong towards the end of last season, have a solid back in Le’Veon Bell, and well, they are the Steelers, they can’t possibly miss the playoffs in three straight seasons can they? Any one of these teams can come away with this division – except the Browns. With Josh Gordon suspended for the season, their fans clamoring for Manziel (wait until Week 5 Dawg Pound), and Manziel not being ready for the hype and speed of the NFL, the Browns are still about a year away from serious postseason contention. Look out for their defense though…seriously.

AFC North Not-That-Bold Prediction: Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are known for their D’s. However, Cleveland will be the best defensive team in this division. Too bad about that offense eh? Expect a lot of 17-13 games when these four teams face each other.

Karlos Dansby leads what should be a good Cleveland defense.

Karlos Dansby leads what should be a good Cleveland defense.

AFC South
Indianapolis Colts (3)
Houston Texans
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

As mentioned I’m all-in on the Colts – once again. I want to pick them as a No. 2 seed, but they have a couple of tough games, plus, despite the so-called improvement on defense, and on the O-line, I’m still not sold that it will lead to improvement. The Colts are still an 11-5 squad, Andrew Luck continues to amaze everyone, which is good enough to get by in this lackluster division. The Texans will be vastly improved, but need a quarterback. I like what the Jaguars are doing (give them a couple more years) and the Titans … will they really have a backfield of Washington Huskies (QB Jake Locker, RB Bishop Sankey)?

luck

AFC South Not-That-Bold Prediction: Ryan Mallet or Kirk Cousins will be the Houston Texans starting quarterback by year-end. EDITOR’s NOTE: This note was written three days before the Patriots traded Mallet to the Texans. Now for Mallet to take over the QB job from Ryan Fitzpatrick and I will have nailed my first prediction before midseason.

AFC West
Denver Broncos (1)
San Diego Chargers (5)
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders

The Broncos did everything they possibly could in trying to assure themselves a return to the Super Bowl. DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and Von Miller the entire season will help the defense immensely. Manning will regress a bit (he can’t possibly throw for 60 TDs could he?), but the addition of Emmanuel Sanders will counter the loss of Eric Decker. After watching the Chiefs fall apart in against the Colts in last year’s Wild Card game, and really since their bye in Week 10, it’s hard to pick them to rejoin the playoff picture. With a strong offense and decent defense, I’ll take the Chargers to earn the sixth-seed. Oakland’s just a mess, I mean are you seriously going to start Maurice Jones-Drew and back him up with Darren McFadden?!

Mr. Manning has a new toy this year!

Mr. Manning has a new toy this year!

AFC West Not-That-Bold Prediction: Fresno State alum, second round draft pick and soon-to-be Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr will be the rookie quarterback we’ll all talk positively about by the end of the season. Seriously, they can’t go with Matt Schaub all season can they? UPDATE RIGHT BEFORE I PRESSED ‘PUBLISH': Carr is starting Week 1.

AFC Wild Card Round:
Indianapolis easily over Miami
San Diego over Pittsburgh

AFC Divisional Round:
Indianapolis over New England
Denver over San Diego

AFC Championship:
Denver over Indianapolis

Denver Broncos v Indianapolis Colts

When last season ended I was quick to throw out a Colts – Niners Super Bowl in 2015. But the offseason happened (and in Denver really happened), the Broncos improved a ton and Manning, still burning from this year’s Super Bowl debacle, will earn another shot at that elusive second ring. Meanwhile, as disappointed as Colts’ fans may be about losing to Manning, they’ll realize that what they have in Andrew Luck may be more special than what they had in Manning. Heck, Manning didn’t continue to take them to three levels of the postseason in his first three years did he? Psst…the answer is no!

NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles (3)
Washington Redskins
New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys

Think the Eagles were fun to watch last year? Welcome to Year 2 of the Chip Kelly era. The Eagles will be high-flying, their defense, already strong, will be improved thus making them a tough match-up for everyone on their schedule. The Redskins, will still be trying to find their way on offense, as will the regressing New York Giants. How ’bout them ‘Boys? They’ll be fun on offense, but unable to stop everyone on defense.

NFC East Not-That-Bold Prediction: Tony Romo will nearly double Eli Manning’s touchdown and interception numbers.

tonyeli

Interceptions on the field. Not-so-much off the field.

NFC North
Green Bay Packers (2)
Chicago Bears (5)
Detroit Lions
Minnesota Vikings

I must be a Detroit Lions fan because every year I want to take them as a No. 5 or No. 6 seed, but the NFC is so tough, I’ve got to leave them out. Odd to say because in years past it’s been all about the D, but the Bears offense will be fun to watch. I’ve gone all-in on them in fantasy, targeting Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and tight end Martellus Bennett. Still, how can you pick against a healthy Aaron Rodger, Eddie Lacy and Packers defense? I’ll take them in what could be a tough division battle. Oh, Minnesota … I got nothing.

NFC North Not-That-Bold Prediction: A healthy Jay Cutler means that Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte end up as the top receiver and running back in football.

We gonna have fun this year!

We gonna have fun this year!

NFC South
New Orleans Saints (4)
Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Buccaneers
Carolina Panthers

I wanted to pick the Falcons to surprise people (Why?! Why do I always pick the Falcons?!), but there are just too many holes. The Bucs are well-improved both on and off the field. The Panthers went 12-4 last year, but just have only one offensive weapon, and though Cam Newton can both run and throw, he can’t catch his own passes either, so I’m picking the steady Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, and their too-many-to-name running backs as the division champ. I have them as a four-seed just because this division may be the toughest in football.

NFC South Not-That-Bold Prediction: Too late to call out sleepers, but Saints’ wideout Brandin Cooks will win Offensive Rookie of the Year.

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NFC West
Seattle Seahawks (1)
San Francisco 49ers (6)
Arizona Cardinals
St. Louis Rams

Odd to say, but thanks to the loss of Aldon “Da Bomb” Smith (for nine games), and Navarro Bowman, it’ll be the Niners offense that gets them into the playoffs – barely. They’ll need to hold off conference-mates Arizona, along with the Falcons, Buccaneers and Lions. Meanwhile with another ACL tear for Sam Bradford, the Rams will be looking toward Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in next year’s draft.

NFC West Not-That-Bold Prediction: Welcome to the Wild Wild West! I know ex-All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez said the Denver Broncos will go unbeaten. Wrong! The Seattle Seahawks will flirt with the ’07 Patriots and ’72 Dolphins as the only unbeaten teams in league history. Seattle plays most of its non-divisional tough games at home (notably, Green Bay and Denver) and only have to worry about division foes Arizona and San Francisco on the road, along with possibly the Eagles and Chiefs, if you consider those two teams tough. I don’t. Meanwhile, Denver goes to two of the toughest places to play, Seattle and New England.

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NFC Wild Card Round:
Philadelphia over San Francisco
New Orleans over Chicago

NFC Divisional Round:
Seattle over New Orleans
Green Bay over Philadelphia

NFC Championship:
Green Bay over Seattle

Green-Bay-Packers-Seattle-Seahawks

Just like the AFC title match, these two Week 1 opponents will face each other, this time with a Super Bowl appearance on the line. Knowing what I know about the 12th Man, Thursday night’s opener against the Packers will be more raucous than the NFC Championship game, meaning Green Bay, despite a close loss in Week 1, will be tested for the title bout. Aaron Rodgers seems like he handles pressure better than some quarterbacks I’ve come to admire, and has enough swagger to counter the cockiness of the Legion of Boom and their fans.

Super Bowl:
Denver Broncos over Green Bay Packers

Back to the original line of this post. Lukas, for some reason (favorite color green?) likes the Packers. You all know I love Manning. Once again we’ll have opposite rooting interests. This time I feel I will actually be smiling after the game. Thanks to Denver’s D and Manning dreading last year’s result, I’m taking the Denver Broncos in what might be Manning’s last ride into the sunset.

Lukas’s Predictions:

As mentioned Lukas set up his own playoff bracket and here’s what he has in store for this season:

AFC Wild Card:
New England over Kansas City
Cincinnati over Houston

Why Houston? “Their defense is stinkin’ good.”

NFC Wild Card:
San Francisco over Philadelphia
New Orleans over Tampa Bay

Why Tampa Bay? “That was a tough one. They’re the only one that might be good.”

AFC Divisional:
Denver over New England
Indianapolis over Cincinnati

NFC Divisional:
San Francisco over Seattle
Green Bay over New Orleans

San Francisco OVER Seattle? He blamed that on experience stating, “Just because the 49ers have been to the final four three years in a row.”

AFC Championship:
Indianapolis over Denver
Green Bay over San Francisco

Super Bowl:
Green Bay over Indianapolis

Despite having the same prediction as SI’s Peter King (King has Packers over Colts too), Lukas admits that he had this predicted after last year’s Super Bowl, and that he thinks it’s the Colts and the Packers time.

See you in February!

Moving On …

It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday … but I’m looking forward to what tomorrow brings.

I leap at any opportunity to use a line from a Boyz II Men song in any one of my nonsense posts – and this time it was somewhat fitting. Of course the second part of that first sentence wasn’t actually in their 1991 hit “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” but who’s counting anyway?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VastXQ_hPb0

NOTE: If you didn’t read my prior post then SPOILER ALERT, the Johnson 5 is moving across the state to a suburb of Spokane called Liberty Lake.

NOTE II: We finally got internet so even though this was written a few days back I finally have a chance at posting it! I’m so excited!

This past week has been filled with all sorts of emotion, a little bit of stress, frustration, and some hope.

IMG_5110Our weekend opened up with our annual church camp-in.

Saturday night the church recognized Lis and myself for our dedication and service to the church. We were honored with a beautiful quilt, and two photos of me and the yutes I spent every Wednesday for the last two years hanging out with.

IMG_5092

The mini-ceremony (not really a ceremony, just Pastor gathering everyone around and then him making me cry as they said nice things about us, so whatever you call that, that’s what that was, um kay?) was emotional, as this was the church I became a Christian in, the church we returned to four days before we learned of Lis’s cancer diagnosis, the church we served in, and the church that became a second family for us. Oh, and the church Lukas and I were baptized in … more on that in a bit.

I attempted to express my gratitude but, in this aspect I’m my father’s daughter, I became too emotional to fully convey the message I wanted to convey. I hope they all understood what I was attempting to say under the blubbering mess I was. I have no idea how Pastor Jeff does it. So calm, cool and collected. I guess that’s why he’ll always be one of the best speakers in the business (or any business). Not fair!

IMG_5172The emotions – and tears – continued Sunday morning when I had the privilege of watching Pastor Jeff baptize my son in Lake Roesiger. Lukas accepted Christ last year, but we waited until he was positively sure he wanted to make the commitment of being baptize, to have him baptized.

I joined him as well, being re-baptized, this time on my own accord (was baptized when I was 8 years old), and by my friend, my Star Wars ally, and my pastor. I felt I owed it to myself to be baptized, not only as a Christian (and 15 years after I committed myself to Christ), but by my pastor and in front of our church family.IMG_5252

That afternoon we had our self-titled “Get Lost Johnson 5 BBQ” where friends and family came out to wish us well, tell us we were crazy, or just have fun and play volleyball.

We had a great time! It was wonderful seeing people from all walks of our lives attend. Family (well most of them, guess a non-Evite – despite a Facebook and text invite – was enough for my youngest brother and his family to skip out on visiting with us before, after and during our BBQ), old friends, new friends, church family, young adults from our youth group, basketball buddies, Toastmaster and Chamber members, our kids’ friends, kids and parents I coached with, parents we met through school activities, what a wonderful blessing to have these all of these people in our lives, and to come out and “celebrate” with us!

Thank you all for your support!

Not one to pass up on making an entrance, my buddy, and Relay For Life partner-in-crime, Jerry Dixon came rolling in after work blasting Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” before following it up with the aforementioned “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye (to Yesterday)” and my mom’s favorite “A Song for Mama”.

IMG_5355A man after my own heart, Jerry always knows the perfect song to play at the perfect time, and he nailed this one! Looking for a DJ for anything, please let me know and I’ll get you in contact with Jerry.

I laughed and, blamed the sun for the early tears. Afterwards he pulled his Bronco to the front yard, as we moved the party to the volleyball “court” and we spent the next few hours, playing volleyball, watching Lia perform “Let It Go” in her bathing suit, dancing, laughing and having a great time.

This was a blast, something I’ll forever remember, and again, thank you to everyone that joined in on the fun!

Tuesday was moving day, and I can’t thank my buddy Ian, and my wonderful mom, enough for helping Lis and I pack the not-big-enough U-Haul truck. Thank you for your immense help! Couldn’t have done it without you … well could’ve, but it would’ve taken forever and Lis and I probably wouldn’t have liked each other for a couple of days.

Thanks (don’t you hate when people just post non-stop “shout outs” to friends and family?!) also to my dad and Erik for helping pack the back-up trailer.IMG_20140805_145018

Wednesday, Mom joined us as the Johnson 5 headed on up to the east side. I had a nice little bonding moment with Lukas and Lia, as the three of us spent five hours in the cab of the U-Haul joking around, napping (well they napped, I drove), and chatting about what we were leaving behind and what we were looking forward to.

Wednesday through Saturday was some of the more exhausting days I’ve experienced. A day after loading up the U-Haul we unloaded the U-Haul. Lis was a woman on a mission, unpacking every box and attempting to organize the house within a certain amount of hours, like MacGyver trying to disarm a bomb. I’m hoping that she takes a day to just relax, regroup and find her smile. It’ll probably be a few weeks.

My parents hung out with us for a few days, helping with both entertaining the kids, and getting things organized. One last THANK YOU to both of them for all they’ve done for us – FOREVER!

UPDATE: We are finally fully moved in and I’ve started work! A job at a small insurance office in West Spokane. The commute is about 25 minutes, I like that I get to work with people and in a cozy office, I’m just having doubts thinking that maybe I should’ve spent more time looking for anything but insurance. There are a lot of businesses nearby and maybe a day or two of passing out resumes would’ve garnered something closer. Oh well. I’m sure it’s because I’m doing something new (and actually commuting). It’s only been a week but we love the area. It’s clean, it’s pretty, bike trails and parks surround us, the weather has been nice, and after two days both Lukas and Lia were playing with neighbor kids. Kinda cool, the old school way of making friends, “Knock-knock, can I play with Lia at your house?” Absolutely!  

Goodbye Sky Valley.

Dear Sky Valley,

The website I used to frequently write for, PopBlerd!, had a column I loved called “Songs in the Key of Life.” In this column writers related a song to a moment in their life.

I wrote about Lis’s battle with leukemia and how Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Cinderella” brings me to tears every time I hear it.

For the past few months Rascal Flatt’s “I’m Moving On” has been playing in the back of my mind. Lately it’s been The Jefferson’s theme, “Moving On Up” that plays in my head.

If you haven’t noticed, both songs have one significant theme (and word) in the song, “moving.”

Yes, Sky Valley, the Johnson 5 is leaving you.

For the past 22 years (minus the one year Lis and I tried to be “city folk” and lived in the Woodinville / Bothell area, and the four months I lived in Brazil with Lis), I’ve called the Sky Valley home. Twenty-two years, or 62-percent of my lifetime. That’s a pretty decent chunk of time.

I graduated in the Sky Valley, bought a house in the Sky Valley, owned my own business in the Sky Valley.

I thought I fell in love, fell in love, fell out of love and realized true love in the Sky Valley.

I found God, tried to ditch God and then got reacquainted with God all in the Sky Valley.

I had my first job, first kiss, and first (and second) kid in the Sky Valley.

All three of my kids said their first words and took their first steps in the Sky Valley.

I learned to drive, learned to love, learned to become a better writer (especially the last month or so, *wink, wink*) and learned to give back in the Sky Valley.

And I’ve built a lot of great friendships in the Sky Valley.

I know you’re wondering, “If we’ve done so much together Kevin, why are you and your family leaving us?”

It’s a long story, so we’ll keep it somewhat brief.

Last year we looked at moving our small insurance office to the east side of the mountains. We were trapped between two successful Nationwide offices (one being the biggest on the West Coast), we were located in a small town, there was no other office on the east side of the mountains.

We visited. We loved it. We decided to wait as we were still underwater (a lot of water) with this home loan. We waited too long.

A little over a year later and the east side was still in our thoughts. We again looked at moving our office, and days before we actually did, two other agents swooped in and stole our thunder. Still Nationwide thought it was the best decision – business-wise – for us to leave this small town and look elsewhere.

They looked at Hillsboro, Oregon. We looked at Hillsboro, Oregon. Hillsboro, Oregon didn’t feel right.

We looked at putting other offices in Bothell, Marysville, or further down south. Again, nothing felt right.

Meanwhile we struggled to make ends meet. Monthly income was often under our monthly mortgage payment. When looking to refinance or get assistance, financial advisors would chuckle, then ask “How the (blank) are you supporting a family of five on that?” My answer, “My wife does an amazing job at managing our money.”

And as we struggled financially, relationally we had struggles as well. Yada-yada-yada, the stress of owning my own business, and working alone, caused a lack of creativity, a dip in my interpersonal skills.

It ain’t easy starting an insurance office from scratch, in a small town, with poor signage, but it was a goal I longed to accomplish and thank the Butlers a ton for their immense support these last two years. It was a true blessing to work with them in attempting to achieve success. I have no regrets and no one, or nothing, but myself to blame.

However, after months, and months, and months of stress, frustration and financial hardship Lis and I decided it was time to pull the plug on both running our own satellite insurance office, and owning a home.

With the east side of the mountains still on our hearts and minds, a year and a half later, we decided to blow it up and start all over.

No, we don’t have family or friends over there. No, there wasn’t a dream job calling my name (though I tried a few places). Yes, I’ll still be doing insurance, but really my goal is to get into teaching, writing or youth ministry by completing school – finally.

We just really liked the area, liked the feeling that it was a close-knit community, liked that traffic there doesn’t mean the same thing as traffic here, liked that annual precipitation there is 16-1/2 inches and here it’s 99-inches, loved that the schools, elementary, middle and high, were all rated a 9-8-8 respectively on GreatSchools.org, loved that bike trails, parks and stores were five minutes away, and minor league baseball, movie theaters, Gonzaga basketball, and Buffalo Wild Wings were all 10 minutes away.

I know Sky Valley, you’ve been great to us, but sometimes it’s time to make a change. When my buddies went off to either college or the military I foolishly followed a girl around, spending all of my should-be-traveling money on gas, movies, and … I really have no idea! I’ve never been that far from “home.”

We’ve been through a lot Sky Valley. You’ve allowed me to become a better person. After Lis got sick you were there for us, and because of what her illness did to my life, we were able to work together to make a difference, not just within myself, but within the community.

It starts with the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. First, let me say, you’re welcome! Because of my partner-in-crime, Jerry “Big Dog” Dixon and myself you’re now the the ACS RFL of Sky Valley, NOT exclusively Monroe but “of Sky Valley.”IMG_1102

Lis’ victory over leukemia, thanks to prayers and support from friends and family, made me want to give back and for the past nine years I’ve participated heavily in 10 RFL events. And in doing so, it showed me a passion I had for wanting to give back and serve others. I have made wonderful memories and friendships from this event (SEE: Dixon, Big Dog), and leave knowing that I’ve put just a tiny stamp of “Kevin” on the future of this event (at least via the lip sync competition).

I look forward to joining and helping the event over there grow, knowing I can bring some experience to an event that is still in its infancy.

From the RFL I started to give back to my small church. The church I became a Christian in, the church that this Sunday, three days before we bail, I’ll be baptized in, by my Star Wars loving friend and Pastor, and the rest of my church family that I have spent 15 years with.

DSC_0154I started to give back first with events and then by taking over the youth program. I built amazing relationships with teens, and as much as I like to take credit for helping them grow in their faith, God knows that in all actuality, they’ve helped me grow more. I thank them for hanging out with me every Wednesday night for two years, and for helping me figure out that I may have found one of my spiritual gifts: The gift of hanging out and building relationships with yutes.

Thanks to the church and the youth group, Lis and I know what to look for when we begin our “new church” search. We want programs that our kids can get into, but programs that I may be able to assist with.

Once we were able to open an office in the community that we lived in, I was able to give back.

I became a Chamber member and then Chamber president (boy, was I way in over my head), I joined Toastmasters (and they too tried to make me president), I helped organize the rebirth of the Sultan Tree Lighting Festival, I coached a 3rd-4th grade basketball squad, I helped write the PTO newsletter, and I emceed the Monroe Fair Day’s Parade (multiple times) and the Sultan Lip Sync (and won twice!).

After my mom, I may miss this part the most Sky Valley.

I’ll miss how a small town like ours makes us all seem like we’re part of one big family. You know everyone that is out making a difference. I can consider the Mayor, and two of the pastors in town as friends, can wave “Hi!” to the school district Superintendent and the Sheriff has they drive by. I’m on a first-name basis with small business owners, the librarians, the dudes at the local tavern, the dudes that own the local taverns, and the principal of the elementary school. I even get a “What’s up Kevin?!” from the Highway 2 Freedom Runner as he steals honks from me in front of my office.1617128_10151993676928922_85181635_o

All this sounds silly, but when you’ve touched that many people in your life, and they’ve touched yours, it kind of makes you feel both special and maybe you’re doing something right.

Yes, this Sky Valley is what I’ll miss.

I feel I’ve made a small difference with you, and thanks to you and the experience you’ve given me, I feel I can make a small difference in my new community.

We’ve had a solid run Sky Valley. Twenty-one years. There’s been a lot of growing and maturing, and I thank you for laying the foundation for the person I’ve become.

Thank you very much Sky Valley.

In the words of The Jeffersons theme song, “We’re moving on up, to the east side…” And in the words of the Rascal Flatts song “Moving On” …

“I never dreamed home would end up where I don’t belong. I’m moving on.”

Goodbye Sky Valley. We love you and will miss you.

By now you all know that Star Wars plays a Death Star sized role in my life. Thus, Star Wars, plays a Death Star sized role in my family’s life.

Since Lis and I are embarking on our 11th year of marriage, I thought I would put a Star Wars spin on my usual anniversary post.

Last year I compared our 10 years of marriage to the vows we made when we were hitched. I’ve told the story of “When Kevy, Met Lisy.” And I’ve shared cheesy stories about how I married my “It Girl”, my best friend, my soul mate and blah blah. ;)

Star Wars fundraiser 145What I haven’t done was relate Star Wars with my marriage.

Here are 11 Star Wars phrases to describe our 11 years of being married.

Before I start … you won’t hear me describe Lis by saying, “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.” And you won’t hear me explain, “Size matters not. Judge me my size do you?” (Good thing she doesn’t.)

There are moments when I’m sure Lis thinks of me as the red R2 unit that blows up (“This R2 unit has a bad motivator!”), and times after a bad decision I’ve thought, “Who’s the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?” Both of those didn’t make the cut.

I’m sure when I got married there was, “a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.” Those voices being all the women finding out that I was off the market. Ha! As Han told Luke, “Great kid, don’t get cocky!”

I wasn’t able to use Lukas’s pick, “Let the Wookie win.” (Do you think he thinks I’m the Wookie, and Lis lets me wins sometimes, just to make me happy?) Nor was I able to use, “But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!!!” to explain my whininess when I have to do something I don’t want to do. I still blame Luke Skywalker for this unwanted trait in my life.

I kept it clean (though there were some funny dirty ones here), I kept it real, and kept it fun. And this is what I came up with (cue John Williams’ “Main Title“).

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”

Wedding pictures 002Okay, so 11 years isn’t that long ago. Okay, so Brazil isn’t in a different galaxy (but it is on the other side of this planet). But 11 years ago in the Land of Soccer (and Beautiful Women), I stood in a constrictive suit, on a beautiful day, and married the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Seriously, my lady doesn’t like to fancy up, but when she does … deep sigh, large smile … she looks nice. Nowadays she likes to complain about the way she looks, but in my mind, she will always look like the day I got off the airplane my first time to Brazil (hubba hubba), or the day we got married. Still Lis, that’s not an excuse to let yourself go. ;)

“Wars not make one great!” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Do I believe in soul mates? I don’t think so. But if there is such a thing as soul mates I married mine. I don’t have an easy personality to get along with. At times I can be a “stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!” I’m quick-tempered (quicker than most, but not as quick as I once was), I can be a jerk to my loved ones, I can be whiny and impatient. Lis has not only put up with those things, but has the perfect personality to counter my dark side. Why the line from Yoda? Because in our 11 years of marriage we’ve never gotten into a shouting match. I may yell and yell, but she’ll just turn her back and walk away (and then ignore me for a couple of days). I may yell and yell, but her response will be, “Do you want me to punch you in the face now?” Does fighting make someone or something better? Hmm…not in this instance.

“Never tell me the odds!” – Han Solo, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

The honeymoon (we never really had) was barJune 29 (2)ely over before we were given a new challenge in our marriage – cancer. Not even two years into our marriage Lis had been diagnosed with leukemia. Without immediate treatment she’d have 3-6 months to live. With chemotherapy treatment and a likely bone marrow transplant, she’d have a greater long-term survival rate. It’s likely we wouldn’t be able to have kids again, but we were happy that we were blessed with one, a son, who was five months old when Lis was diagnosed. Well the Force was strong with us. Her fight wasn’t easy, and didn’t come without any scares, but she beat leukemia, took treatment so well that she didn’t need the bone marrow transplant, and the kid we weren’t able to have? We had two more. Never tell us the odds!

“The Force will be with you. Always.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

What is the Force? Obi-Wan explained to Luke that, “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” For the purpose of this post and quote, I like to think of the Force spiritually. I like to think of the Force as our Christian faith. Sure there are times when God may use the Darth Vader line, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” But our faith allowed us to survive Lis’s battle. Our faith individually and together, has continued to grow throughout our relationship, thus allowing us to continue keeping us together and allowing us to deal with stressful situations. May the Force be with you.

“Strike me down and I’ll become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

I know, I’ve been talking a lot about Lis’s battle, but what do you expect. Go through something so life-changing, so early in your life together and you’ll continue to look back at it. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right? Cancer tried to strike us down and instead we became more powerful than even we could possibly have imagined. Not just in our marriage, but with the way we handle situations. We went from caring less about us and more about others. I love being a part of the community, our church, the American Cancer Society, and that is because of the battle we fought.

“Do or do not … there is no try.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

We’ve taken a few risks in the last few years; one being the decision to start our own business. There may be others on the binary sunset horizon. Sure, there are times where we think, “I have a bad feeling about this.” Whenever a tough decision comes my way, and I wonder if I should take the illogical risk and try it Yoda’s line pops into my head. Don’t try it … just do it. Lis and I “dated” for a year before we were married. We didn’t go into it to try it. We just do it.

“No. I am your father.” – Darth Vader, Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

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I can’t sneak through a post about our marriage without mentioning our three kids. Yes, Luke, Lia and Lando Levi. Like every parent we have our ups and downs, our good days and our bad. But what makes our marriage tick is the teamwork we put into raising our three merdinhas. Each of them extremely different from the other. Each one extremely similar to the way we once were. Lis’s stubbornness. Kevin’s impatience. Lis’s strength. Kevin’s compassion. The kids have all of these – and more! – but we love them dearly and wouldn’t change one thing about them. Okay, so maybe Lukas can cry less, Lia can ask fewer questions and Levi can be less of a wrecking ball. I guess that’s what makes them unique. I guess that’s what makes us love them.

“Impossible to see the future is.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode II – The Attack of the Clones

Lis and I learned this real fast. After we were married, we were sitting in her hot, stuffy apartment in Brazil writing down our five-year plan. Ha! The first kid came four years earlier than expected. Cancer showed up before our first travel experience. We couldn’t dictate the future then and we can’t do it now. Impossible the future is to see.

“If money is all you love, then that’s what you’ll receive.” – Princess Leia, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

We all love money to a certain extent. As the wise Jedi, Zig Ziglar once said, “I’ve had money and not had money and having money is far better.” It’s true. Except the part about Zig Ziglar being a wise Jedi. However, Lis and I learned right away the different stages of having money. After Lis got sick we went from a two income household to one. We cut some unnecessary things and survived. When I was finally making a decent income we decided to leave that and start our own business from scratch. There have been $1,100 months and $4,000 months. We’ve continued to cut down on unnecessary bills. We’ve learned that money doesn’t matter that much to us. Yes, would we rather have some than none – of course, but when people ask me my definition of success it’s to be able to support my family and take them on a vacation once a year (that includes visiting our family in Brazil, which is the price of a small country). That’s all we want to do. Fancy cars, extravagant houses, cable television, a Jedi craves not these things.

“I love you.” – Princess Leia; “I know.” – Han Solo, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

We’re not the kind of couple that holds hands as we skip through Wal-Mart, calls each other “babe” or jumps on Facebook every time we do something nice for each other to profess our love to our “friends.” You won’t hear us repeat any cheesy love quotes from Star Wars: Episode II – The Attack of the Clones. Lines like Anakin’s, “From the moment I met you, all those years ago, not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought of you. And now that I’m with you again… I’m in agony. The closer I get to you, the worse it gets. The thought of not being with you. I can’t breathe. I’m haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me. My heart is beating… hoping that kiss will not become a scar. You are in my very soul, tormenting me… what can I do?- I will do anything you ask.”

And Padme’s profession, “I truly… deeply… love you and before we die I want you to know.

Nope. We’re more Leia and Solo, and that’s why Solo’s response to Leia is even more precious to us. We love each other. We make sure to tell each other that every night (or at least the night’s where one of us don’t fall asleep on the couch watching a movie) before we fall asleep. I love her, she loves me; we both know.

“Stay on target.” – Gold Five, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

Pretty simple. We’ve made it 11 years and we’re doing fine. Let’s keep on keeping on. Let’s continue to “Stay on target.”

Here’s to another 11 years of staying on target!

When life gets you down, confused, frustrated … host your community’s lip sync event!

Things have been caddywhompus for the wife and I the last couple of months. Here, there, maybe there, maybe here again? I won’t get into too much, but I will say change is on the horizon, though we don’t know what or where that change that might take us.

Then came the 26th annual Sultan Lip Sync. An event I had participated in with my brothers, and our friend, the last two years. An event the aforementioned and I had won the last two years.

If you know me, and have read this blog for more than a couple of years, you’ll know that I love a lip sync, and for some odd reason, I seem to be somewhat good at it. I won’t get into that too much either, you can read my 2011 entry, “Behind the Music: My Life as a Lip-Syncer” here. Let’s just say I’ve participated in quite a few lip sync contests and I’ve never finished lower than second (and that was only once).

This year though would be different. My brothers either ignored my numerous requests at getting the band back together, or flat-out told me “not sure.” My wife continuously denied my requests at attempting to bring “Love is an Open Door” to the big stage (see our living room performance for the kids here), and my 9-year-old son and I couldn’t agree on something we could do together.

My 5-year-old daughter though said she’d perform “Let It Go” from Frozen, thus continuing the tradition of having a Johnson performing at the lip sync. More on that very, very soon!

I was without an act, so I decided to emcee. After all, I still wanted to play a part in the event.

I coaxed my former-Relay For Life Co-Chair, good buddy, and best darn DJ (and now hot dog man), Jerry, to co-emcee and he agreed (insert Peaches & Herb “Reunited”). We had a blast, brought some new (and much-needed) energy to the event and … more on that in a bit.

When Lia – that’s my daughter – said she’d perform “Let It Go” I was a little hesitant. Though very dramatic around the house, she had never performed before on stage, didn’t want any part of the church Christmas program last winter, and well, she’s five.

GrinCCat

Lia’s performance made me feel like a Cheshire Cat!

She did a dry run in front of me and Levi (our 3-year-old) and well … NAILED IT! I had tears in my eyes, a Cheshire Cat grin on my face, and clapped numerous times throughout her performance. The hardest part of doing a lip sync is making sure you and your mouth are believable. OK, that last sentence sounds silly, and most of us feel doing a lip sync is a piece of cake (try it!), but it’s true, moving your mouth to a song, and making it look believable ain’t so simple. Lia was a natural! She had that part down already!

The second biggest thing was the comfort on stage. She was a little shy when she performed in front of the extended family. She refused to perform in front of my youth group (there were boys in attendance!). She would twiddle her hair, or rub her nose, if she felt embarrassed. We kept giving her confidence. She still insisted on doing the performance. And, though I was hoping she wouldn’t get stage fright when the curtains opened, we were going to let her do it, as long as she wanted to. She made two last practice runs, this time agreeing to do it in front of the youth, and she showed an improved energy that she didn’t have before.

How did she do? I’ll let you be the judge, though one of the judges commented, “TORE IT UP!” and I also heard that the judges were “blown away,” and that she both “killed” and “rocked” it.

Jerry joked at the event that I was like a beauty contest mom, putting my daughter through rigorous lip sync training. Ha! Didn’t have to. She was a natural. I gave her some suggestions. She used and didn’t use the ones she thought worked well with what Elsa was trying to accomplish in the movie.

Fun tidbit, watch her performance and Elsa’s from the movie. Result, someone has watched this a little too much.

Yes, it brought tears to my eyes. I was so proud of her. This was by far her best performance. I don’t want to sound too cocky, but the best performers perform the best when they are on the big stage. They draw their energy from the crowd, from the spotlight, from the fun they are having. I know when we performed “Y-M-C-A“, our best performances were when the crowd was laughing, clapping and bringing energy. Just re-watched our “Y-M-C-A” performance. Check it out if you haven’t seen it. Friday night’s crowd did that for Lia. She received five different applauses throughout her performance. She was having fun and you could see it.

For the second year in a row one of my kids took first place in the lip sync (Lukas participated in our LMFAO performance last year). She won $50, bought a doll, saved the rest, and will perform an encore at the 2014 ACS Relay For Life. Plug: Donate to our event by clicking here.

Meanwhile, I took second place in the adult division for my performance of “Reindeer(s) are Better Than People”.

And Jerry and I? Needing a filler while the judges counted votes, we did a non-rehearsed lip sync version of the “Evolution of Dance“. It was fun. It killed. It killed us. I’m still sore!

I also did an un-rehearsed performance of “Let It Go” bringing the kids up on stage to assist. It was a lot of fun, minus the beating I received from the Lorax trees.

All this led to the most fun I’ve had in a long time, and at a time when I really needed it.

Thanks Lip Sync, I HEART you!

Every now and then I run across a picture that puts chills down my spine. Old black and white photos of Yankee legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, classic western towns, and any photo of Kate Upton (and to be fair this GQ photo shoot of my all-time crush Rachel Green from 2009, and this Princess Leia Rolling Stone shoot from 1980) normally pique my … interest.

Where was I? Oh right. On Tuesday StarWars.com released the most recent photo that heightened the hair on the back of my neck. This picture was released in conjunction with the announcement of the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII.

star-wars-episode-7-cast-announce
I know, seems silly, seeing a bunch of actors sitting in a circle about to do a first-read of the Star Wars script (I’m sorry did I say “sounds silly”, I mean “SOUNDS AWESOME!”), but something about the photo made me feel like I was part of the group. I mean look how cool and relaxed it seems. Everyone just casually hanging out, talking, knowing they’re about to kickstart something very, very cool. And then there’s Chewy (Peter Mayhew, farthest on the right), analyzing the script. Like he has tough lines or something. “Wave furry hands in the air in disgust and cry out WAARRGGHH!”

Oh, and I know that there are bigger and better things that we should be thinking about instead of this movie, but for some of us that are going through a rough patch in our life, this picture, and this news, allows us to take our mind off of the stressful part of our every day life. So leave me be!

Yes, just the excitement of seeing original cast members like Mayhew and Anthony Daniels, was enough to make me dance around like I was on Endor, and Lando and labia lips Nien Nunb had just torched the second Death Star.

Okay, so it was a bad attempt to be different. The real excitement is seeing Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in the picture confirming their return to the film franchise.

I wasn’t totally surprised that the announcement was made. If you read my prior post from Friday, you read that I felt, “big news is on the binary sunset horizon and I hope that news brings more optimism.”

Geez, back-to-back Dork Side posts. Sorry Mom for boring you!

Am I optimistic about this casting announcement? Heck to the Yeah I Am!

Adam Driver was already confirmed as the likely villain, throw a black hooded robe on him and I can definitely see a future Sith. Will creepy Max von Sydow be the old wise Sith that shows Driver the way of the Dark Side (thus setting us up for the final two of this trilogy)? Or will he play the Alec Guinness role?

Will Andy Serkis play a Gollum CGI-like role in Episode VII, or will we see him live and on-screen?

Oscar Isaac earned praise for leading the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, he can’t be so bad as Han and Leia’s son. Maybe Domhnall Gleeson, who has a Jedi look to him, and John Boyega, will be future Jedi, though both could fill the Han and Lando smuggler type characters.

As much as there was some bugaboo about only one new woman joining the cast (have no fear, I’m sure there are other actresses – and actors – that will play parts in this film), I think the one I’m most interested in is Daisy Ridley. Not just because she’s obscure, but because I have a feeling this is our hero. Whether it be as Han and Leia’s daughter, or not, Star Wars has always had that strong female character and I just feel our protagonist is going to be a female, and it’s going to be Miss Ridley. Plus, in staying with tradition, George Lucas always hired complete unknowns as his leads (SEE: Hamill and Hayden Christiansen).

Even Luke Skywalker himself is excited about this cast!

I have to second what my Star Wars-loving Pastor had to say, “I’m just excited for some new action figures.” Count me in for a Ridley and Driver 3 3/4-inch figure!

I was a little unsure when the original news broke about Disney taking over Lucasfilm. And I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about the Expanded Universe news. But hiring J.J. Abrams, a self-proclaimed fanboy, having he and Empire Strikes Back writer Lawrence Kasdan (who also penned Oscar nominated screenplays for The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist and Grand Canyon), and now this mix of old and new cast members makes me giddy!

And I’m excited that my trio of kids will have their own generation of Star Wars heroes and villains to get to know. I hope Ridley is the hero. My daughter loves to occasionally play with the 3-4 variety of Leia figures that I had when I was a kid. Lil’ Levi likes Chewie (and he’ll be back), Lukas is a Han Solo fan and me … I still love me some whiny Luke Skywalker. I can’t wait! Only 596 days, 8 hours and 57 minutes remain until I’m standing in line for the movie!

Just got chills again!

Every day I sit patiently waiting for Star Wars: Episode VII news to break.

A few months back I set Google up to inform me daily of anything with “Star Wars” and “Star Wars Rumors” in the storylines.

I’ve gotten nothing. Other than the movie is set to release in December 2015. Shooting for the film is said to be beginning next month. Casting should be completed. The only confirmed announcements are J.J. Abrams helmed as director and R2-D2 will return.

Until today when Lucasfilm announced that the Expanded Universe, the too many to list books, comic books, and video games, mean nothing to what is considered the Star Wars universe. The only things canon, as they call it, are the six films (darn Phantom Menace made the cut) and The Clone Wars cartoon series.

I have mixed feelings on this. I’ve only read a few of the Expanded Universe books. I know just the basic storylines, and was intrigued by the stories of Han and Leia’s children, and how one turns evil like Grandpa Darth and is taken out by his twin sister. The stories sounded exciting, and I was hoping to see them developed on screen.

Except they won’t. All that hard work that the writers of these hundreds and hundreds of Star Wars books put in, goes for naught. My buddies hundred and hundreds of dollars spent on EU books, oh they mean nothing now. I feel bad for those, like him, that were heavily invested in the EU and treated them like they were part of the series. And they were for awhile, we thought.

I can see why Disney would do this. They can start fresh. Create their own canon, their own storyline. Sometimes you have to blow it all up and start over (SEE: Death Star II), as the Emperor might say, “Wipe them out…all of them!”

Disney had to let those that believed in the EU know that things are about to get whacked out. There will be different characters, different planets, different stories than the ones they read in the EU books. Plus, it gives the screenwriters and director freedom to not worry about the EU fanboys that take the Star Wars universe too serious. I mean, how fun is it if we know the end of the next trilogy?

Still it’s hard to think they’re just going to wipe out 30 years of storylines and start anew. There are already four books scheduled for release before next winter’s continuation of the original trilogy – and they look interesting. Okay, maybe not “A New Dawn,” which is just trying to get us excited for the Star Wars: Rebels cartoons that Disney is producing, but a story told by the point of view of my boyhood idol, Luke Skywalker, called “Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi.”

I’m still optimistic. I feel big news is on the binary sunset horizon and I hope that that news brings more optimism. A new hope. The Force will forever be strong with me … I hope.

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