I’m here to tell you a story about a dog. Not just any dog. This is a story about the legendary golden retriever, Ludo.

Ludo was born on June 28th, one day before my own birthday, in the year 2015. His natural parents, also dogs, were a beautiful, furry couple. He had great genes. My wife and I discovered Ludo online while, appropriately enough, looking for a dog. In a sense, Ludo is a 3rd-generation Cummings retriever. After the smashing success the missus and I had with Maverick and Moxie, we knew we’d get another gold. We did. We got Ludo.

Ludo was named after a character in the movie Labyrinth, whose name was also Ludo. Ludo, the movie character, was a woolly behemoth with a gentle and playful disposition. The behemoth was named after a board game on the main character’s bedroom shelf. The word which named the game which named the character which named my dog is Latin, and means “to play.”

We knew kind of early that Ludo was different. As a baby, Moxie’s favorite habit was sleep. Ludo loved to chew. On everything. Including Moxie.

As he grew, Ludo displayed signs of rebellion. He would talk back, literally, when scolded. He still does that. When Mrs C tells him, in her gruff voice, to stop chewing on his brother’s face, Ludo barks back at her in the most hilarious way. It’s wrong, yes, but we laugh. The consternation on his face when he thinks he’s right is adorable.

When it came time to trust Ludo, we did. We freed him from his baby cage and let him wander around the house when we were gone. That quickly became a problem. Maverick and Moxie had learned fairly early that chewing things up around the house to show dissatisfaction for our absence was wrong. Ludo wasn’t getting that hint.

Despite my wife’s protestations, I released Ludo several times from his trappings to roam free. Several times I lost something I wish I could get back. Like, a couch. Mrs C was right; he wasn’t learning.

Still, I continued to trust him. To give him chances. Surely, sense would kick in. It didn’t. So, the last time he ripped apart a piece of furniture:

I locked him up for good:

That last picture went viral among my friends and family. So much so that memes were invented and hilarity ensued. The hashtag #FreeLudo was everywhere. This was just before Christmas of 2016.

About a month later I was having a beer with my dear friend @dylan_andersen when he handed me two items as gifts. One was a copy of the fabulous book The Ask. The other was a sealed envelope, very light in weight.

Inside the envelope was a stack of bumper stickers. On the bumper stickers were the words #FreeLudo and the URL for my blog right below. I literally cried laughing.

I’ve passed the bumper stickers around to friends and family, so if you’ve seen it around and wondered what it meant, welcome. This is the story about a hashtag about a dog. A dog in jail.

Ironically enough, about the time I received the bumper stickers from Mr Andersen I also bought Ludo a new wire crate to replace his 5th-generation plastic one. In his desperation to escape he had ripped the interior of the original crate to shreds. When I brought the new crate into the house I treated it like it was Ludo’s new gift; his very own home. He fell in love with it.

He never fights about it anymore. When we go to put our coats on, he joyfully runs and lays down in his den. Ludo has a great place to hang out when we leave and my furniture feels safe again. Win. Win.

But “Free Ludo” has become a part of our lexicon now and it’s not going away. Neither is he. He’s a 3rd-generation angel.

He still bites his brother’s face, but his brother doesn’t mind. He still talks back to Mrs C, but Mrs C doesn’t mind. Ludo is still the most energetic and anxious dog I’ve ever had.

But I don’t mind.

Ludo is free to be Ludo, all day long.

Rambling, Man

Football is over.

Well, not forever, but just for the 16-17 season. A few thoughts:

That was such an amazing Super Bowl. I don’t have to tell you that. When the 4th quarter rolled around I turned to a room of 30-40 people and said “anybody here think Tom Brady can’t score three times in the 4th quarter?!” Nobody doubted it. I did. I didn’t think it could really happen. Not in the Super Bowl. Not the way he looked. Impossible. If he isn’t the best QB to ever play the game I don’t know who is. I thought that before this Super Bowl, and I know it now. You do, too.

Kurt Warner was selected to join the luminaries in the Hall of Fame this year. His story is among the best ever told. Rags to riches to unwanted to the Super Bowl with Arizona to the Hall of Fame. I tell my version of his story here, and I defend his induction. I love being a part of CaliSportsNews. I love to write.

In case you missed it, I also wrote about the Rams and Chargers offseasons. I think my next article will take a look at the stadium being built, but I have some other ideas, too. Look for something new around Thursday. I love to write.

I see a lot of mock drafts out there already; it’s too soon, I think. I want to do one but I think it’s just too soon. The draft is April 27th. I’ll do an official one for CaliSports a couple of weeks before that. Really, that’s 6-8 weeks away. Not too far.

Unrelated to football:

Ludo has become an angel. After we brought home the new cage, he just crates right up without question. The other day I took a 10-minute nap at lunchtime (I do that), and when the alarm went off on my phone he jumped up from where he was curled up next to me, ran to his cage, and laid down. No words spoken. He knew my lunch hour was up and I was headed back to work. It’s amazing how a source of such frustration can one day, suddenly, become something so amazing. The light went on. My puppy became a dog.

I don’t like it when people refer to Donald Trump as an orange-something. I never liked the reference to the color of his skin. It’s his character that matters; his deplorable, rotten character. America blew it, but it seems to be coming around to that fact now. The value of a president has nothing to do with the color of his skin.

Maybe I’m splitting hairs here.

I didn’t mean to make a hair joke.

The illegal immigration roundups aren’t getting enough attention. In a week where we saw everyone rise to the defense of Elizabeth Warren when the establishment tried to silence her, a week where the preposterous immigration ban was stifled, and a week where more and more Americans are challenging the veracity of Trump’s belligerent claims, the rounding up of immigrants has almost gone unnoticed. Maybe that’s the Machiavellian plan, to distract us by doing so many things at once that we can’t gain the moral footing on any one of them. Maybe it’s a chaos war.

Oh well. We knew we were in for a long one. There are signs of temperance coming from inside the walls of the White House, however slight. He’s softening on diplomatic rhetoric. It’s a start. If our checks and balances push him into becoming an ordinary right-wing president, instead of a tyrannical authoritarian demagogue, then we will have won. The pendulum swings both ways, in time. That’s okay. The concern comes when the pendulum swings too far one way, gets stuck in an adjoining wall, and lets the waters of democracy seep out.

I probably could have done a better job with that metaphor. 😉

At any rate, cheers to the post-football world. I have a head cold today so I won’t be lifting spirits, but cheers nonetheless. Sorry about the rambling nature of this entry, but I’m in a rambling mood.

I’ve been at this blog thing for a year now and I still can’t get enough.

I love to write.

Go forth and be bold, friends.

For the Love of the Game

There’s a football game this weekend.

It’s a pretty big one.

I’m known to be a passionate and outspoken man, and one of my biggest passions is for the game of football. I love the game.

I fell in love with the game when I was 18, just after high school. Those were the first days of the party life for me and I’d wake up on someone’s couch most Sundays – after a hell of a good time – and flip on the tube. In the room, generally filled with recovering revelers, there would be a rousing round of cries for their football game. I had never much watched it before then, but I gave it a go.

Looking at it through the now-infamous critical Cummings eye, I broke it down mentally. I watched this chess match develop before me between offensive and defensive units. Like superhero battles in the comics I loved, each titan would square off against a rival, equally matched. But, like the Avengers versus the Masters of Evil, the individual fight was a part of a larger ballet. Each personal success or failure influenced the larger production. Defeat was not an option. Everything was on the line.

I came to love football, I suppose, for different reasons than most.

But come to love it I did. Sundays, in time, became “my time.” Eventually I married, but Mrs C would know, during the fall, that I would prepare each weekend for 9 hours of the game. I watched every broadcast, taking notes. In time, I would mimic the words of the broadcasters in the booth, delivering their lines moments before they did. There was a pattern to their game as well. I learned it. I learned everything I could about the game.

The offseason became as important as the season to me. I would produce mock drafts, trying to project the needs of every team and the most critical young player to fill it. Free agency became a new game to me in the 90s. I read every publication I could get my hands on in the spring and the summer. I awaited that glorious moment when the first foot hit leather in August. Even the preseason was glorious; 53 players or more were vying for 22 spots. Offense. Defense. War.

I’m older now, but my passion for the game remains unbroken. I don’t sit around all day Sunday anymore taking notes, memorizing lines, or building rosters. Well, not every Sunday. But I do still absorb everything about the game I can get my hands on. I still watch as much of it as I can. I still imagine conducting the orchestra and I always, always, always second-guess the call.

There’s a pretty big game this weekend. It’s a football game. It’s the culmination of all the battles on all the turfs in all the stadiums in America. And beyond. 106 players, in 44 starting positions, will lay it all on the line for the most coveted title of all. Super Bowl Champion.

I’ll be with family. I’ll have beer and snacks and football pools and party games all around me. If I can help it I won’t miss a snap. I’ll analyze every play. I’ll second-guess every call. My passion on display.

Immediately after, I’ll start planning strategic offseason moves. I’ll mock some drafts and begin the six-month journey to the next first kick. I’ll write some stuff like this.

There’s a pretty big game this weekend, one I’m pretty passionate about.

It’s the 51st Super Bowl.

I can hardly wait.