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Live To Love Another Day – A College Days Story

If you want a friendship to stand the test of time, do something for that friend. Do something on their terms that they’re asking for.

I took my own advice years go to give my friendship with Jonathan Sulzbach a jumpstart. We were friends already, but friendships don’t always last. Best friendships do, though, and to give it that upswing, I invested in an opportunity when Jon needed a wingman.

Jonathan and I were in college when unwanted attention from a girl named Rachel became a game of survival. The year was 2011, long enough ago for me to feel my age. Not only were we both English majors, but we were also sharing a dorm room. Naturally, a friendship had been forged. We shared a love for good movies like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Spider-Man. Veteran movie nerds and budding storytellers, we both loved movie artwork and found criticizing less-than-visually-appealing Blu-ray cover art the ego trip for our undiscovered and unpaid artistic genius. That’s two perfectionists in a pod. Watch out, you non-opinionated, level-headed movie lovers.

Despite these obvious indicators of bonding, which I found reassuring, Jonathan showed no inspiring vote of confidence. A pessimist, Jonathan anticipated our dorm room space breading contempt. He expected me to grow tired of him in due time. Thankfully, we stayed roommates until he graduated. Years later, he’d admit being afraid of having a close friend who would leave one day. As the optimist by contrast, I was looking for a new best friend, having lost my childhood best friend to a family move. My thinking was that best friends in adulthood aren’t at the mercy of parents changing jobs. By contrast again, Jonathan wasn’t looking for a best friend, or any friend. Period. He already had one or two, and they were close enough for his taste.

So, we were two friends with polar opposite agendas when, one day, while working together on papers for an English class, Jonathan peered around his computer monitor and hesitantly asked if I would go with him to a coffee shop. At first, I interpreted that as an open invitation for deeper friendship that Jonathan was initiating, which challenged my perception of him. I thought I’d be the one to sow the seeds of this friendship. Accurate to that profile, however, Jonathan finished wording his request as a cry for help. He had committed to meet a girl named Rachel for coffee. She was interested in him, and the coffee shop was where Jon expected confirmation of his worst fears, her sending him strong, direct signals that she wanted to go steady with him.

Alert! Alert!

Unsolicited interest from the alien known as girl!

At least, that was how I pictured the alarms going off in Jonathan’s academically focused, reserved, bachelor mind. Knowing Jonathan’s reserved, collected personality, it was probably not that dramatic. Then again, all boy brains respond the same way to girls, especially the ones who go after the boy they want, social norms be damned.

Rachel’s targeting computer was locked on Jonathan, and despite all his attempts to shake her target lock, Jonathan was practically dead in the water. If he wanted to avoid going down in a pillar of smoke, he needed help. Not on my watch would he spiral.

Romance was the target, and if I had anything to get out of it, a whole new friendship would begin, whether he knew it (liked it) or not.

Cue the reversing of my turbo engines. I came to the rescue by dazzlingly creative maneuvering and positioned myself for conflict resolution, our wingtips point-to-point. It was Obi-Wan-and-Anakin-in-space, R2-D2-and-C-3PO-united. Alfred had his Batman, cape and utility belt at the ready.

As Jonathan debriefed me on the mission at hand, one thing about him became crystal clear. Jonathan was not the sort of guy to make a girl feel miserable in such a collision as unrequited love. Leading her on until she ran out of love fuel with no landing pad for safety was the last thing he wanted. Meeting her for coffee to set things straight was the right thing, except actually saying as much to her face was perhaps asking too much of himself.

So, I was ready as wingman to come petering along with wrench at the ready for sabotage and guns hot for the worst.

Jonathan was sweating bullets, looking quite nervous, when Rachel appeared already sitting down at a table in the coffee shop, coffee securely in her excited hands as she leaned forward in anticipation for the conversation to win her a future husband. She had more to learn about life. Well, in truth, we all did. Seeing her for the first time, I noticed life had not done her any favors in the nasal region. Think in the ballpark of the wicked witch of the west. The sky would outline that tip nicely.

As his wingman, thrusters on full and guns blinking red, I sat down with Jonathan to end things before things got started. Rachel looked at me with the frustration of a planner seeing their well-laid plans come against an unexpected and unavoidable variable. I smiled at the prospect of being that variable.

The whole time she and Jonathan talked, it was written all over her face that the conversation she wanted to have with Jonathan had not a chance in the world with me sharing the table space. I didn’t even get up to buy a cup of coffee. I wasn’t about to leave Rachel with Jonathan for a second.

Needless to say, the target was acquired, locked on, and blasted into oblivion. Barely getting a romantic word in edgewise beyond “since we’re both Christians” and “I think you’re an incredible man of integrity and articulation,” Rachel got up politely but not without outrage and defeat detectable in her tone for us blocking her from using relationship buzz words like relationship, husband, and matrimony in our discussion. She practically stormed out of the coffee shop and Jonathan’s life, leaving the reserved, happily single college student once again to his own independence.

The threat of romantic entanglement was no longer in sight.

Little did she know, let alone care, but Rachel played catalyst in the forging of a life-long friendship between me and Jonathan. To this day, Jonathan and I recall that story fondly with a pinch of “eek.”

The funny part though is how life has changed Jonathan since that day 13 years ago.

The man who wanted nothing to do with matrimony and everything to do with independence, involving a job and home life where coffee, food, video games, and movies abound, now has a wife and a daughter with one on the way.

Romance is part of life, and many find the romantic entanglement that tie them up for good, and for good.

When I saw it happen for him, she became his co-pilot, better than a wingman.

I had an opening recently for a co-pilot. It got filled 9 months and 28 days ago.

One last thing.

It’s a curious thing, the way God sets up those who avoid a thing to eventually find it – and find it in spades. While Jonathan has more responsibility now – more mouths to feed than just his own – and new challenges to face that aren’t on the Rainbow Track of Mario Kart or the wonderlands of Zelda, he experiences God’s character in his role as father and husband. As for me, I had a lot of growing up to do, which put me in a relationship with Brianne ten years later than I had wanted.

That’s life.

It took Jonathan more than a few years after graduation to see the value of our friendship. And that’s okay because I was persistent. We met for coffee and breakfast and lunch and movies and video games and writing. Relationships take time and a willingness to invest and invest continually. In time, we forged something that stood the test of time.

One last, last thing.

So, ladies, here’s a fair warning. You bring along your girlfriends for support and protection when a guy shows unsolicited interest; whereas, guys generally don’t employ the same social net, but when we do, know that it’s not at all a good sign after you’ve initiated.

Don’t give us a Death Star reason to trench your hopes of matrimony.

Ahsoka Season 1 Continued

This Again

As Ahsoka continues with episodes 4 and 5, “Fallen Jedi” and “Shadow Warrior, the story of the titular character shows no improvement. If anything, it leans hard on the same bland Mary Sue type with Ahsoka that the sequel trilogy pushed with Rey.


Ahsoka leads an ensemble cast that’s predominantly women, and they’re empowered. Yay! That means more women with no flaws doing everything men can do only better. Hallelujah. To maintain this message of female empowerment, Ahsoka, Sabine and Hera Syndulla show no emotion. Sure, their actions are driven by emotion, but the performances are so dry, they’re strong. That’s the winning formula, concocted by Kathleen Kennedy in her no-men-allowed laboratory.


To make this trainwreck even more disastrous, the writing is such that characters have little else to say besides where the plot will go next. There’s definitely a map of some kind involved, or a data chip hidden inside a droid somewhere.

It’s all quite painful to watch. Characters either state what’s plainly deductible in the scene or re-state plot details to make sure its fresh in consumer minds. A scene that stands out most stupidly when Ahsoka arrives on the planet where the star map is located. Stepping onto the platform, Ahsoka closes her eyes to sense the events of the previous scene, disrupting audience engagement with a lack of new information. Ahsoka is essentially making viewers wait until she catches up. Yeah, fun stuff. Disney has Star Wars captive to its corporate pandering for social acceptance.

The Good

Strangly enough, in a show about female characters, the gold nuggets to have us hopeless fans to gluing our eyeballs to the screen are the characters Baylan Skoll, new to the cannon for this show, and none other than Anakin Skywalker from the prequel era. Ironically, these two male characters outshine everything else, including the villain, Grand Admiral Thrawn. Skoll, played deftly by the late Ray Stevenson, embodies good writing in a show sorely lacking any. Anakin Skywalker is a delightful throwback to the years before the 2012 acquisition when George’s DNA made Star Wars Star Wars. Good or bad, it always felt like Star Wars.


So far, Ahsoka is a horribly written show in most places. Except for Skoll and Skywalker, the Disney+ show is down there with the likes of the Obi-Wan Kenobi show and the Book of Boba Fett.

While the show is obviously bad, it’s not obvious why Filoni under-delivered so stupendously. Not that long ago, he wrote the beloved final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. For such a divide in quality writing, there’s got to be an explanation. Is Disney’s rushed approach to generate content and win subscribers perhaps the reason for this junior-high grade writing? It’s certainly showing up elsewhere, like in Marvel with Ms. Marvel, The Eternals, and She-Hulk: Attorney at All.

It’s obvious though that Disney thinks Star Wars is its workhorse in driving stock value. Except, reality is it’s not. The fans are walking away from the franchise. They can smell the stench of its dead carcas in The Mandalorian: Season 3, Star Wars: Obi-Wan, The Book of Boba, Star Wars: Resistance, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Ahsoka Season One Review

You go, girl!

Corporate Values

Ahsoka Tano, Dave Filoni’s darling, gets her own spin-off show. Is that a good thing? It’s a safe bet that Ahsoka won’t be the show that breathes life back into Star Wars because Disney has made it clear what its values are after shows like Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett, Star Wars: Obi-Wan and The Mandalorian: Season 3.

Season 1, Parts 1-3

When Disney dropped Parts 1-3 of this 8-part season onto its streaming platform, fans found much of the same agenda in Star Wars: Ahsoka. The story, written by Dave Filoni, failed so spectacularly it was comedic, like a cold, half-eaten pizza dropped off by an Uber driver stoned out of his mind, ruining a dinner for guests you don’t even want over in the first place.

Master & Apprentice

Part One opens with a New Republic vessel receiving unidentified guests in its hanger bay. Resembling Jedi, this master-and-apprentice duo cut down the ship captain and his security detail. The Force-sensitive warriors are there for Morgan Elsbeth, to help her escape trial under New Republic law and achieve a greater goal. She’s heading operations to make possible the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn. And that’s the excitement in this episode because next on the screen is Ahsoka Tano, searching for a map – (yawn) plot device. Of course, the only person who can open it is (yawn) Sabine. Having talked with Hera, Ahsoka clearly must go to Sabine for help. Sabine might help if the map leads to Ezra Bridger who vanished years ago with Thrawn. Bringing back one potentially means bringing back the other. So, in rescuing Bridger, the heroines must be careful not to also enable the return of Thrawn. But hey, the galaxy’s in good hands.

This episode isn’t though. Sabine is the stereotypical rebel, not in the Original Trilogy sense but in the melodramatic sense. There’s a public event going on in Lothal in honor of Exzra Bridger who helped liberate the planet from the Empire. In Bridger’s absence, Sabine is expected to be there to honor her long-lost friend, but she’s not there. No, she’s too busy looking cool, listening to music and zipping away on her speeder bike, avoiding the attention. New Republic E-Wing escort fighters come alongside, attempting to redirect her back to the event. She gets away anyways because she’s cool. Yeah, you showed them, girl. Such good writing.

Ahsoka Tano arrives on Lothal and speaks to Sabine about the map, how unlocking it could lead to Ezra. With a lot of talking, it’s made clear that Ahsoka has a difficult relationship with Sabine whom she describes as “stubborn and bullish.” As if she has any insights on the matter, Hera reminds Ahsoka how difficult she was to train under Anakin Skywalker. Oh, the talking gets better. Sabine asks Ahsoka if she can take the map home with her to study it, and then, she takes it against Ahsoka’s explicit instructions. Apparently, the map is not only a chance to save Ezra but could prevent a war or something (yawn).

And of course, by taking the map with her, Sabine becomes a target, and two assassin droids raid her home, stealing the map that leads to Ezra and Grand Admiral Thrawn. No one saw that coming. Sabine even fails so spectacularly that she gets stabbed in the gut by a lightsaber, like the hero of old, Qui-Gon Jin, except… She doesn’t die.

Dave Filoni deserves some credit for really delivering some grade-A, melodrama. It’s really up there with General Hospital and All My Children, stuffed with talking, standing around, and predictable action.

Toil and Trouble

But this riveting story doesn’t end there. Oh no. Part Two is where things really heat up with Sabine recovering from her lightsaber wound after bravely dueling Shin Hati, Skoll’s apprentice. Except for Hera who’s there as a hologram, Ahsoka and the Jedi droid are present when Sabine wakes up. There’s more talking, and then Ahsoka goes to Sabine’s home and cuts down the assassin droid, severing its head, and brings it to Sabine for her to extract important information from its memory banks. This part is reminiscent of the riveting scene from The Rise of Skywalker when Ray and co need the information stored inside C3P-O’s memory banks. Such a memorable scene…

Anyway, as predicted, Sabine gets the important information, which reveals that the assassin droid came from the shipyards on Corellia, Han Solo’s home world, but there’s no mention of Han Solo, of course, because that would mean bringing in a competent male into this story where women are empowered. We can’t have that. Of course, Tano and Hera’s next stop is Corellia where the New Republic has its shipyards. Yay! It’s good plot-driven television, not boring at all…

With the star map in their possession, Skoll and his apprentice go with Elsbeth to the planet Seatos where they find ruins crucial to finding Thrawn. Surprisingly, this part of “Toil and Trouble” is where Ahsoka Season 1 sparks genuine intrigue. These ancient stone features were not built by the Jedi, as Skoll astutely observes, and Elsbeth confirms it, further explaining that the ruins are what remains of an ancient people from another galaxy. Skoll recalls the fairy tales about Peridea shared among the younglings at the Jedi Temple, and Elsbeth hints that there was truth in such fairy tales as her loyal followers prepare a device called the Eye of Sion that by appearance is a larger-scale version of the hyper-drive ring that Obi-Wan’s Jedi starfighter used for inter-planetary travel. Skoll orders his apprentice to go with former-Inquisitor Marrok to Corellia where there’s unfinished business.

Arriving at the Corellian shipyards, Tano and Syndulla inspect the facilities and operations, assessing whether former imperial workers are liable to turn on the New Republic. After a lot of talking, they sense that there’s suspicious activity, namely the re-purposing of a Super Star Destroyer hyper-drive core that’s not the proper size for any New Republic ship. With that, imperial loyalists come out of the wood work. Syndulla gets in her Phantom II to chase after a rogue transport, while Tano takes on Marrok and an assassin droid. These experienced characters should make quick work of this trouble, but strangely enough, the trouble proves to be worthy challenges for no apparent reason. The transport gets away, but Syndulla managed to get a tracker on it before it jumps into hyperspace, and Tano takes out the HK droid but fails to stop Marrok who escapes aboard a shuttle.

Let’s get things wrapped up for this delightful trash heap. Syndulla supervises the arrest of the imperial sympathizers by the New Republic police. Tano returns to Lothal to have a short and sweet chit chat with Sabine, and together, they head to the Denab system, where Shin and Marrok took the re-purposed hyperdrive core. Coming out of hyperspace with the core, Skoll, Hati, and Marrok report to Morgan Elsbeth.

Time to Fly

Start here.

What’s Bad About It

Unfortunately, no such sign is evident in this live-action continuation of Star Wars Rebels. An amoral Jedi villain outshines the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker. He’s got presence and delivery where Ahsoka Tano conveys boredom and indifference in the arms-crossed posture she assumes in most of her scenes. She’s no master; she’s barely a character. She’s just poorly written. Or, she’s not well embodied by actress Rosario Dawson. It could be a combination of both.

Ahsoka is the tip of the iceberg of the show’s shortcomings. The pacing in these episodes feels unintentionally flat and slow, as if Filoni’s direction is misfiring on the meaning of the subtext between characters in scenes where there’s more talking to set up the action. Sabine’s motivations, carried over from Star Wars Rebels, are misaligned with the actions she takes in these opening episodes. The plot feels driven not by characters but by plot devices.

Parts Four & Five

Overall, the Ahsoka show is a dud with few redeeming aspects that barely warrant interest from viewers. The episodes Disney dropped a week later were even more dreadful. Outside Lucasfilm and Disney, no one knows how the goose is cooked, but this show seems to suggest a shift to the dark side in Filoni’s writing as soulless, girl power writing continues to spread under the watchful eyes of President Kathleen Kennedy. If not that, Filoni simply wasn’t ready to have his own show. That’s not to say that he had the best of teachers in George Lucas when Lucasfilm was an independent studio, but as it counts now, more than ever with the shelf life of Star Wars hanging in the balance, Filoni’s skills as a writer and director do not do Ahsoka any favors.

Unfortunately for fans, low ratings are not what Disney looks at anymore to decide which shows get a second season, the beauty of a subscription-based business model where gatekeepers of quality content are on the unemployment line.

August 24 Post

It’s been a while since I have posted anything on this blog. A couple things have happened.

I moved to Bellevue, closer to my girlfriend. Now, we live within minutes of each other. It’s a massive improvement to the hour-long commute we had to live with for months. I lived previously in University Place under a year-long lease agreement. To moved out early because of a generous offer. I sighed when I completely the move. I had lived with troublesome roommates for longer than I wanted. Now, I wake up to silence, no roommates playing music at ungodly hours.

The other news is that I own my car. I paid monthly on a loan through BECU beginning in 2016. I paid it off in June of this year. To grip the steering wheel with that sense of ownership feels good. I hit the road with the knowledge that I owe no one to get from A to B. The 12th of the month, my original monthly payment date, no longer claims a portion of my income. It’s now a day to celebrate.

Looking ahead now, I see NaNoWriMo in November. Every year, writers from around the world share the same challenge – write a novel in a month, or 50,000 words in 30 days. I get excited for this challenge each year. All my writer friends participate in the challenge. We type on our laptops together in a writer’s room or online over Skype. The creative energy is in the silence where fingers dance on keyboards and creative gears churn.

I can’t wait to plan financially for my writing career, to write in peace with only my girlfriend for company (no guys in their 20s acting like teenagers), and drive as a free man in my Kia Soul.

I’ll try to post an update on Wednesday, the 30th. It will be about my sci-fi novel. I’ve neglected it for weeks. With the move over, it’s time to get back into it.

Look for “Writing My First Novel.” It’ll post by 7 pm.


Babylon remains an astonishing empire in history with its wide-ranging achievements in fields such as anthropology, agriculture, and mathematics. It is an empire seemingly untouched by time. Similar to Rome and Greece, its influence persists in American culture through entertainment, architecture, and notably, religious studies. In the biblical narrative, during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Babylon was a significant force.

When Babylon invaded the Holy Land, its forces demolished Jerusalem and captured a significant portion of the Hebrew population. The captives, uprooted from their homeland by the invaders, were exiled and integrated into the Babylonian empire as a subjugated people. It was during this period that the term “Jew” emerged as a reference to those who identified Israel as their ancestral homeland.

Granted the freedom to traverse the empire and settle as they wished, the Jews established new lives in Babylon, pondering if their deity, Elohim, would uphold the covenant and accompany his people in this alien territory. Jeremiah, the prophet, bolstered their hope by penning a letter from the remnants of Jerusalem. This letter assured the exiles that their displacement would last only 70 years, after which they would return, through divine intervention, to the Holy Land to resume their devotion to Elohim.

Awareness of their time in exile provided limited comfort to their faith within the pagan culture. Challenges loomed on the horizon. As Daniel, a devout servant of God and member of the Babylonian court, gained recognition, King Nebuchadnezzar decided to erect a golden statue in his likeness. This statue was meant for all the empire’s principal overseers to revere. The king’s ego was evident.

The Jews recognized the one true God, yet defying King Nebuchadnezzar’s edict to worship Elohim meant facing death in a fiery furnace, an oven capable of vaporizing anyone within its vicinity. Complying with the statue worship was simpler, especially with the knowledge that the next generation would witness the Holy Land. Regardless of their faithfulness to God, those who arrived in Babylon as adults would meet their end in a foreign land.

Omnipotent and unwaveringly loyal to His covenant with His people, God was poised to make His presence known. Three Jewish men, fervent in their belief in Elohim, saw no possibility of yielding their will to the idolatrous embodiment of the king’s pride. Regardless of the consequences, their allegiance to God would stand firm. In life or death, they were determined to demonstrate their devotion to God, irrespective of mankind’s ability to harm the flesh.

This narrative stands as one of the most renowned in the biblical collection, and it resides on a brief roster of my personal favorites, which includes the ascent of King David and the emancipation of Israel during Deborah the Judge’s era. The extraordinary faith exhibited at the base of that golden statue that day is both stirring and heartening. The following story was my chance in 2021 to depict those valiant Jewish individuals as though the events were unfolding right before me, as a contribution to a devotional book for Kingdom Story Ministries, a non-profit entity.

Regrettably, the devotional book was shelved and remains incomplete, diverging from its original vision during my 2021-2022 contract period. Regardless of its publication status, the following story is presented as a sample of my work as a writer-for-hire. I present to you ‘In the Flames of Exile.’