A Welcome Addition It's a dog's life.

A new member of the family arrived in our household a little over a week ago. He has completely upended our idyllic life. His name is Rocco and this little puppy has cuddled his way into everyone’s hearts.

For as long as I’ve known her, my step-daughter has wanted a dog. Unfortunately, it was not possible in the rental properties we were all living in at the time. With the move now complete to the club of proud owners of our own home, the next logical step was finding the perfect opportunity to give her the dog she has desired. Her birthday in July made the most sense and after navigating the web, an appropriate breeder was found within a day’s drive and she picked him out immediately.

Rocco is a combination of the Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise dog breeds and is commonly referred to as a teddy bear (or Shichon or Zuchon). He’s quite affectionate and loves getting his belly rubbed. As of this writing, he’s nine weeks old and teething like crazy so he’s constantly gnawing on his chew toys.

He’s just the cutest puppy ever.

Everybody else in the house has owned a pet of some kind before. Me… not so much. No dog, cat, hampster, beta fish, etc. My neighbors around the house I grew up in all had little dogs. My uncle had a large black labrador named Star. My other uncle had a small little dog named Sammy. Lastly, my brother’s family had a dog for a long time with Ozzie just recently passing away after living a long, great life.

I’ve never had a dog.

Of course, technically the dog is my step-daughter’s 100%. She’s the one taking care of the dog nine times out of ten. Still, Roccco is dominating our household. For the better, I might add.

I thought buying a house was going to be the biggest adjustment I was going to face this year, but I think living with Rocco is taking the cake. I never knew how much fun it would be to have this dog chasing after chew toys, rolling over for belly rubs and watching him learn his name and get acclimated to his new surroundings. After these first few days, this pup has done nothing but put a smile on my face and everyone else’s face for that matter.

A welcome addition.

Simple and Low Key Happy Birthday to me.

Milestone birthdays are supposed to be remembered and cherished. On my 16th birthday I drove to the mall by myself. On my 21st birthday… no idea. Probably at some bar watching a band. On my 30th and 40th birthdays… I do not recall anything special or memorable. Birthdays simply have never been a big deal for me.

When I was growing up my family would have a nice dinner, a cake, my grandma would come over, and I’d have a card and a present or two. It was always a pretty low key affair. I don’t recall once ever having a birthday party with a bunch of friends at the house.

Today, however, is a milestone. I want to remember it. I want to cherish it. Yes, I turn 50 today. I don’t feel 50. I guess I feel younger, but I’m wise enough to know I’m most certainly not younger nor am I getting any younger.

I woke up to Happy 50th Birthday decorations that my wife and step-daughter hung up around the house. It was a pleasant surprise and one I really appreciated. Tonight we meet my parents for a birthday dinner at an Italian restaurant. I’m looking forward to getting together and enjoying the evening.

Simple and low key.

Back and Forth: The Enablers

Bernie Miklasz, formerly of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and now with The Athletic, has covered the St. Louis Cardinals for a long time. He has a radio show and occasionally writes columns for an ESPN station, 101SPORTS.com. His most recent column for 101SPORTS.com airs out the frustration of a million Cardinals fans.

He opens with this bon mot:

Can’t do it. Can’t hold back. Can’t take a deep breath and cruise into the weekend without airing out my frustration, confusion, and disappointment in baseball men who are doing nothing to intervene as a precious civic treasure sinks lower into mediocrity and loses prestige.

Sharing with my fellow Cardinals fan, Grant Chastain, I felt another Back and Forth coming on. Grant is in Cardinals Red and I’m in Cardinals Blue.

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Back & Forth: MLB Expansion, Realignment, and More

Here’s a new idea I’m starting called Back and Forth. I take a topic, news item, debate du jour and we exchange long, hopefully not rambling, emails to each other and I turn that into a post.

For the first one of these, I asked my best friend Grant Chastain, to weigh in on a recent article published by The Athletic and written by Jayson Stark called, How MLB expansion could lead to realignment, a new playoff format, a universal DH and more. He follows Major League Baseball far more closely than I do and I figured he’d have a strong point of view. After the emails were over it dawned on me that not everyone would be able to read the article since you need a subscription to read it. However, I think the title likely tells it all. This isn’t any kind of endorsement of The Athletic site, but I do find the content well written and with excellent insight.

Grant is in a jaunty shade of red violet. I’m in indigo.

Continue on friends…

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The Ultimates Better than the Avengers.

This story speculating on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe offers us an idea that I’ve been having ever since the Black Panther movie was so well received and the Captain Marvel movie is on the horizon.

That idea is The Ultimates. The team that debuted in 2015 and looked like this:

The article gives an excellent outline of who is who in this version of the Ultimates. As the article points out, it is important to present this as something new and not Avengers 2.0. The fact that there isn’t a white male on the team is also groundbreaking and something new and different in today’s super-hero landscape.

The only thing you’d have to do is change Blue Marvel’s name to something like Ultramarine and you’d be good to go. Although, to be honest they kept Rocket Raccoon for Guardians of the Galaxy so maybe all bets are off on that front.

 

Cobra Kai Not really the nostalgia trip you might imagine.

I can’t emphasize enough how much I enjoyed the latest installment in the Karate Kid franchise. Cobra Kai is well-written with fun nods to our favorite bits from the movies and well-acted with Ralph Macchio and William Zabka turning in great performances.

However, the real star of the series is Xolo Maridueña as Miguel Diaz. His story arc is what the entire season is about. From nerdy kid to “strike first, strike hard,” he anchors the the Johnny and Daniel story viewers thought they were getting. In fact, it provided way more of a generational feel than, say, another nostalgic trip looking to add new, younger characters to the fold like Star Wars Episode 7 and 8.

The Ringer outlined what made the first season so great. Be sure to catch it on YouTube Red when you get a chance.