Andrew Cook '15

No, that title is not a misspelling of the Holy Cross fight song… After four years, trust me that I know exactly what a “HOYA” is. Instead, it’s in reference to an honest-to-goodness idol of mine who stopped by the Hogan ballroom last night, whom I had the absolute privilege to meet afterwards.

It was none other than ultra-marathoner,  triathlete, and father extraordinaire, Dick Hoyt

It was none other than ultra-marathoner, triathlete, and father extraordinaire, Dick Hoyt!!

For anyone who doesn’t know the incredible story, Dick is the self-called “slower half” of the Team Hoyt running duo. His son Rick is severely disabled with cerebral palsy after birth complications, and as such has never been able to walk or talk in his life. When Rick was in high school, he asked his dad if he could help him participate in a charity 5k run to benefit a classmate who’d been paralyzed from the waist down; in the decades since that first request, Dick’s pushed his son across the finish line of more than 1100 races, including 32 Boston Marathons, 6 IronMan ultra-triathlons, and a “Forrest Gump”-esque run literally across the country (that’s 3770 miles at once, for anyone wondering).

Team Hoyt's slogan is the empowering belief "Yes You Can"

Team Hoyt’s slogan is the empowering belief “Yes You Can”

Dick, a former serviceman who’d never been a runner in his life, is ranked by Men’s Health Magazine as the 24th fittest man of all time — Rick was ranked 25, which Dick jokes is the only time he’s ever finished ahead of his son. The pair faced enormous adversity when they began racing in the 80s, with race organizers saying there was no place for the handicapped Rick to compete, but they’ve now risen to being one of the premier athletic duos in the world. Heroes in places like El Salvador, Germany, and Japan, the two have revolutionized the roadracing industry to the point where Dick believes that, “in the next few years, don’t be surprised if there’s races where you’ll only be allowed to enter if you’re pushing a handicapped person.”

They've even been awarded the enormously prestigious Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 2013 ESPYs Sports Awards ceremony

They were even awarded the enormously prestigious Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 2013 ESPYs Sports Awards ceremony

As someone who does his fair share of physical activity, let me just tell you that this man competes on another plane of existence; for anyone thinking they’re in OK shape, go see one of these talks and you’re in for a rude awakening. The pair have worked out an equipment system for their triathlons that allows Rick to be present for every stage of the race:

For swims, Dick literally tows his son behind him in a custom-built raft as he cuts through 2+ miles of waves

For swim portions, Dick literally tows his son behind him in a custom-built raft as he cuts through 2+ miles of waves

After carrying his son sometimes more than a quarter mile from the water to a changing station, the two set out on a specially-designed bike for 100+ mile jaunts through volcano fields. Dick pedals the bike, which can be in excess of 400 pounds at times, up craters and across vistas in heat that can exceed 110 degrees.

After carrying his son sometimes more than a quarter mile from the water to a transition station, the two set out on a specially-designed bike for 100+ mile jaunts through volcano fields. Dick pedals the bike, which can be in excess of 400 pounds at times, up craters and across vistas in heat that can exceed 110 degrees.

And then, once that’s all out of the way, all they have left to do is complete a 26.2 mile marathon run. Simple, really.

It’s in his capacity as a marathon runner that Dick is a true inspiration of mine. Both the times I’ve done the Boston Marathon, there’s usually a point circa-mile 15 or 16 where my legs start to feel like lead, and my morale bottoms out with the knowledge that I’ve got the dreaded Heartbreak Hill stretch right in front of me. Both times, however, I’ve suddenly come across the father-son pair, surrounded by a crowd of dozens of runners, and seeing their perseverance and tenacity always kicks me back into shape. It actually meant quite a lot to me being able to tell Mr. Hoyt this in person last night.

Sadly, Rick and Dick were prevented from finishing the 2013 marathon because of the bombings at the finish line they were stopped by police at mile 25 and told they'd be unable to finish that last mile to the finish line. It was supposed to have been their final marathon together.

Sadly, Rick and Dick were prevented from finishing the 2013 marathon because of the bombings at the finish line; they were stopped by police at mile 25 and told they’d be unable to finish the last mile (I can’t even IMAGINE coming that far and not being able to bring it home). It was the right call by police, and both Rick and Dick thank God for their safety, but it was supposed to have been their final marathon together.

Absolutely nothing can deter these two, however, so Dick - now 74 years young - rallied and pushed Rick in this year's 2014 running. Team Hoyt (pictured) was the largest group to ever cross a marathon finish line simultaneously in marathon history.

As I hope I’ve made clear, however, absolutely nothing can deter these two, so Dick – now 74 years young – rallied and pushed Rick again in this year’s 2014 running. Team Hoyt (pictured) was the largest group to ever cross a finish line simultaneously in marathon history.

As a runner, and more recently as a marathoner, I’ve known about these guys for quite some time, so it really was a pretty big deal to me to be in the same room. When you hear about them, father and son, facing and CONQUERING the kinds of obstacles they have, it really does put things into perspective; I’m as prone as anyone to stress during finals season, but at the end of the day, it’s really small-ball compared to stuff like this. So to leave you for now, I’ll wish you all the best of luck on your finals and/or anything else keeping you from your Yule festivities, and just remember, when it’s 3am and you think you’ve bottomed out on your paper assignment:

YES - YOU - CAN!

YES – YOU – CAN!

Last Friday was a BIG mile marker on the way to graduation next spring, one that came in the midst of a week of “lasts.” I had my last class registration last Monday, took my senior cap’n’gown portraits, and experienced my last football game on Fitton Field as a current Crusader. Throw that in with a little sister interviewing at the Admissions department and a mind-blowing lecture on the cosmos from visiting guest lecturer and astrophysicist extraordinaire Neil deGrasse Tyson *gasps for air* and it all makes for a pretty insane schedule. It was high time then, to loosen up the tie and relax – except in this case, that meant tightening the tie, actually. The bowtie, to be specific (because bowties are cool). This is all a roundabout way of my saying SENIOR BALL TIME!!

"♫  And as long as I got my suit and tie/I'ma leave it all on the floor tonight/And you got fixed up to the nines/Let me show you a few things♫"

“♫  And as long as I got my suit and tie/I’ma leave it all on the floor tonight/And you got fixed up to the nines/Let me show you a few things♫”

All kinds of star power going on here

All kinds of star power going on here

MVC buds

MVC buds

We clean up mighty nice

We clean up mighty nice

Cousins make the best wingmen.

Cousins make the best wingmen.

This is why I'm usually not invited to these kinds of things

It’s reasons like this why I’m usually not invited to these kinds of things

How's this compare to life abroad, Shea?

We smile for the cameras -

Blech

– but really, we can’t stand each other

Hey Mamma!

Hey Mamma!

What's about to unfold is the shortest, most one-sided fight in human history

What’s about to unfold is the shortest, most one-sided fight in human history

Miss Working for Worcester herself

Miss Working for Worcester herself

I WILL find my way into your photos, and they WILL be bombed.

I WILL find my way into your photos, and they WILL be bombed.

Harry and I with the happiest girl on campus (and fellow Disney nut) Jess Bailot

My roommate Harry and I with the happiest girl on campus (and fellow Disney nut) Jess Bailot

The Gladiator Squad, reuinted

The Gladiator Squad, reunited. Venimus, Vidimus, Vincimus.

The marathon runner and the fella who patches him up in the EMT med tents along the race course. You're (literally) a life-saver Mr. Safran!

The marathon runner and the fella who patches him up in the EMT med tents along the race course. You’re (literally) a life-saver Mr. Safran!

Ben, clearly itching to get started with dinner

Ben, clearly itching to get started with dinner

Shea and her boys

Shea and her boys

Gentlemen of Williams 506

Gentlemen of Williams 506

These dances, man. They kill you.

This is what a crash after four hours of dancing looks like.

Shaken... Not stirred.

Shaken… Not stirred.

It’s pretty surreal now that it’s all over… that’s a big senior year event now fading away in the rearview mirror. Allons-y though, and always forward and up! Thanks to everyone who made it the all-out party it was, I wish we did it more often! I’ll be checking in after Thanksgiving, so until then, happy turkey hunting!!

As detailed in the last post, the first half of my fall vacation was devoted to cramming in all the stereotypical fall activities I could think of into a few short days. That’s because the Cook family took to the skies and headed down to sunny Florida for the second half! Yes, it was time for another trip back to the Most Magical Place on Earth to take part in their Halloween festivities down there. We were all straight-out over this last summer and so didn’t have time for our usual family vacation, but between our trip down there earlier this year for the Disney Marathon weekend (you may perhaps remember seeing some of those adventures on this blog) and this last getaway, I’d say we did alright.

Besides never having been down in the fall before, we also had the novelty this trip to bring along my Aunt Kathleen and cousin Joey Goddard. They’re Disney-diehards of their own right, and they’d been asking for years to accompany us down on a trip, so we couldn’t have been more excited to have them on board.

Christmas cards all around!

Christmas cards all around!

Staying at the gorgeous (and GIGANTIC) Coronado Springs resort, we spent a whirlwind three days traveling through the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and – my personal favorite – EPCOT. Not all of what transpired therein will (or should) be shared with the general public, but needless to say, we all had as good a time as you can be expected to have in Disney… which is to say, the best time! Some highlights then:

Like I said, the hotel was a paradise. Or I'm assuming so, since a lot of it was seen through closed eyelids like this.

Like I said, the hotel was a paradise. Or I’m assuming so, since a lot of it was seen through closed eyelids like this.

Before heading off to the Parks, I needed a quick wake-up jolt. This did the trick alright.

Before heading off to the parks, I needed a quick wake-up jolt. This did the trick alright.

Or if not that, then this. Yeah. Definitely this.

Or if not that, then this. Yeah. Definitely this.

One of the main reasons we’d come down in October in the first place was to experience Disney at the spookiest time of year; in the Magic Kingdom, that meant going to “Mickey’s Not-so-scary Halloween Party.” AKA, trick’or’treating in Disney World. Which, you might imagine, can be a bit of a highlight of one’s existence on planet Earth, all things considered. Costumes being a necessity, we began plotting weeks ahead of time what to do. We wanted something we could do as a group, and with six of us, it was tough trying to find something that would accommodate everyone. But then the light went on.  “Really,” we had to ask ourselves, “could it have ever been anything else?”

Yes, we all went as members of the Avengers. Yes we did. And yes, you're jealous.

Yes, of course we all went as members of the Avengers. Yes we did. And yes, you’re jealous.

Grim grinning ghosts came out to socialize during the course of the night. This one in particular wouldn't let me get away

Grim grinning ghosts came out to socialize during the course of the night. This one in particular wouldn’t let me get away.

And then, obviously, I had to dance at a rave with Cinderella's step-sister, Anastasia Tremaine. Nothing wicked about her except her dance moves. We've all done this at some point, right?

And then, obviously, I had to dance with Cinderella’s step-sister, Anastasia Tremaine, at a rave. Nothing wicked about her except her dance moves. We’ve all done this at some point, right?

From Magic Kingdom, it was onto Hollywood Studios, where there was another kind of scary waiting for us. I'd never been to a cult gathering before, until I went to the Frozen live show there and watched as 2000+ girls power-balladed "Let It Go" in perfect unison.

From Magic Kingdom, it was onto Hollywood Studios, where there was another kind of scary waiting for us. I’d never been to a cult gathering before, until I went to the new Frozen live show and watched as 2000+ girls power-balladed “Let It Go” in literally perfect unison. Somewhere, Adele Dazeem was smiling, I meanwhile was just perplexed. Let it go, Andrew, let it go…

THIS is much more my speed.

THIS is much more my speed.

As I near the end of senior year, is it acceptable yet to pass in my employment application?

As I near the end of senior year, is it acceptable yet to pass in my employment application?

On the last day, the six of us headed over to the annual EPCOT Food and Wine Festival to partake in the native cuisine of twenty four countries there, represented by food huts in the park’s world showcase. Walking through the gates, I got the feeling that my twenty-one years had been spent in unknowing preparation for that one moment, like a runner before a race. I’ve got the meal schedule of a hobbit, in case anyone’s forgotten.

Challenge. Accepted.

Challenge. Accepted.

The other side of the Christmas card

The other side of the Christmas card

For the sake of pride and dignity, I won’t delve into how much was eaten/drunk over the course of the day. It was a lot, lose no sleep wondering about it. Among some of the highlights were the Brazilian pork, the Canadian steak, the Greek gyro, the Scottish haggis and cranachan, the Hawaiian pulled pork, the New Zealand venison, the Belgian waffles… sorry, I lost control there for a second. Back now. But for the treks we did around the parks each day, I shudder to think how much weight we’d each have gained by the end of it all (or, maybe, how much MORE weight is more accurate). But the way I saw it, I had to be diplomatic; not eating at any one country would have been a major offense. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night, causing an international incident like that. Safest to eat at each and every single one of them, am I right?

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This one's for you, Bumpa. Sláinte to the motherland!!

This one’s for you, Bumpa. Sláinte to the motherland!!

Olé

Olé

Heather, clearly upset that Mom's not sharing

Heather, clearly upset that Mom’s not sharing this Belgian waffle

The one hurdle of the day came in France. If not for my iron will, I don't think I'd have been able to get down this escargot.

The one hurdle of the day came in France. If not for my iron will, I don’t think I’d have been able to get down this escargot. Bon dieu.

Eating your way around the world is tough work

Eating your way around the world is tough work

If I was the bragging type, I'd have bought this shirt on the spot.

If I was the bragging type, I’d have bought this shirt on the spot.

Mission accomplished. I should be a shoo-in for the next UN goodwill ambassador, with credentials like this

Mission accomplished. I should be a shoo-in for the next UN goodwill ambassador, with credentials like this

Even though we’ve been down a few times now, I don’t think I’ll EVER get sick of vacationing in Disney. There’s always new or added things we’ve yet to experience, and it’s always a pleasure doing it with my fellow Avengers. We all just have the best times down there, and this trip wasn’t one to break the pattern. Getting on the plane in Orlando in 90 degrees and touching down in Manchester, NH, to 50 degree temps was admittedly a little rough, and a lot of the last week has been spent playing catch-up, but it was worth every minute of it in the end. When can we go back???

Wishing a very spooky October to everyone – sorry it’s been a little while since checking in, but as is usually the case when I’ve got long gaps between posts, I filled the time with plenty of material to write about. So much so, in fact, that there are gonna be several rapid fire posts coming your way, this being the first of them. And while school is phenomenal as always, and the time before Holy Cross’ fall break saw me taking a first crack at writing children’s stories (it’s a BLAST), all of what you’re about to read happened when I headed home for some R&R. Except, if that’s how vacations are to be judged, this one wouldnt’ve ranked very highly. I’ll let you make the call if the trade off was worth it in the end…

On my very first morning back in my hometown of Lowell, MA, I hit the streets of the downtown area for a 10 mile training run with the 2014 Lowell Police Academy class. My dad’s been helping train upcoming cadets with their fitness conditioning by serving as a run instructor since the Academy began all the way back in 1997. Ever since I caught the running bug a few years ago, I’ve tagged along pretty regularly. It’s amazing to see these people – some of whom never ran a step in their lives before the Academy started session in June – completing a 10 mile loop around Lowell’s famous Merrimack River like it was cake. Massachusetts readers, rest at ease knowing that these cadets are graduating in a few weeks to guard and protect your streets!

The mighty mighty LPA training staff. OOO-RAH.

The mighty mighty LPA training staff. OOO-RAH.

For reasons you are soon to find out, my time was limited while I was at home to take advantage of the kinds of fall activities New England is famous for this time of year. Not being one to waste a single opportunity, the first few days of fall break were filled with the kind of fall sincerity that would do Linus van Pelt justice. First up: apple picking.

There was a very real danger of my not being able to participate in any more fall activities - that pose was as hard to get out of as you'd imagine

There was a very real danger of my not being able to participate in any more fall activities after this shot – that position was as hard to get out of as you’d imagine

Enjoying postcard-perfect October weather, I drove my cousin John and aunt Annie out to the Honeypot Hill Orchard in nearby Stow, MA, a town famous for its numerous apple-picking farms. The contest of the afternoon soon turned into John and I seeing who could put themselves in more mortal peril by balancing on the slimmest tree  twigs branches available to reach a single lone apple; really, I think we can all agree, an apple just tastes better if the possibility of snapping your neck was involved in the picking of it. And if a few apples needed to be consumed on the way back to the farm to lighten the load, I took it on myself to undertake that solemn task. The fresh pickin’s were then transformed into all manner of pies, crisps, and other baked goods, but I’m not usually as involved in that part of the process – I just eats them all at the end.

Finally, a Columbus weekend tradition that’s started in the last few years that I’m quite a fan of, my dad and I shouldered our packs for another mountain climb. We’ve done Monadnock, Wachusett, Watatic, the Kangamangus Highway, and continuing the pattern of non-repetition, this year was Pack Mondanock (a different hill entirely from the first one I just mentioned there). I really won’t hear any other opinions on this, you are MISSING OUT if you’re from the New England area and aren’t taking full advantage of adventures like this.

The signs were there early that we had a challenging ascent ahead of us

The signs were there early that we had a challenging ascent ahead of us

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Hardy, rugged mountain men

Hardy, rugged mountain men

The views, man, I'm telling you. You just can't beat 'em.

The views, man, I’m telling you. You just can’t beat ‘em.

Fatigued by the climb, I became delusional and thought I had already conquered the summit

Fatigued by the climb, I became delusional and thought I had already conquered the summit

Once we had reached the top, we had an amazing 360 degree perch from which to view the surrounding counties through buffets of wind gusts. We even got all artsy and such:

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And finally, Dad giving proof to the old adage that, "What comes up, must come back down."

And finally, Dad giving proof to the old adage that, “What comes up, must come back down.”

LOTS more to come, so (and this is even good by way of a coming attraction… how’s that for multi-tasking?) “See ya real soon!”

Happy Fall everyone! One month into senior year here, I’m trudging through such terrible tasks as film analysis of The Godfather (it’s a little Indie flick, you’ve probably never even heard of it) and in-depth dissections of the comic theory in Monty Python’s Life of Brian (of which there is a considerable amount). I am STRAIGHT OUT, I’m telling you. To prevent burnout, I’m always looking for different ways to de-stress, usually in an outdoorsy/exercise type venue. Last Friday, then, it was off on a school-organized expedition to the nearby Purgatory Chasm State Reservation in Sutton, MA! As an adventurer – why are you laughing? – the Chasm is something that I’ve always wanted to check out during my time at Holy Cross, and as you’re more than likely to discover in subsequent blogs, a big part of senior year for me is gonna be ticking items like this off the bucket list.  So with my friend Shea Maunsell ’15 in tow, it was wagons ho!

I confess, I didn’t really know what to expect going into Purgatory – incidentally, doesn’t the name just fill you up with that warm, fuzzy feeling? I had a preconceived notion of a mildly rocky nature trail, the kind you’re likely to find me running on this time of year under the New England foliage. Turns out that it’s not exactly a running trail per se, but there are a few rocks scattered here and there over the terrain, so I was right about that at least.

Yeah, right.

Yeah, right.

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I think I know why they call it "Purgatory" now

Yep, you could definitely call this one a little rocky.

Turns out, Purgatory Chasm is a pretty far stretch away from a casual leisure stroll. Hikers need to scramble up cliff faces and navigate through boulder fields to make it through the trail, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a solid upper body workout at times. And it is unbelievable. Like I said, I’d never made the trip before, and I seriously regret it now. The excursion had an hour time limit, but I could’ve kept walking around there all day if I had the chance, exploring all the different path offshoots and – to turn a phrase from Mother Superior – climbing every mountain.

It was great to go and just hang out for a while. Over the edge of a 75-foot drop.

It was great to go and just hang out for a while. Over the edge of a 75-foot drop.

"Shea?? Is that you over there?? You're on the wrong side!!"

“Shea?? Is that you over there?? You’re on the wrong side!!”

I'm the blue speck on the side of the cliff there

I’m the blue speck on the side of the cliff there

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"Mountains can do funny things to a man."

“Mountains can do funny things to a man.”

This is what I believe they refer to as "a tight spot."

I’ve heard of, “caught between a rock and a hard place,” but this is ridiculous

Take the picture, then throw down a rope. Please...

Take the picture, then throw down a rope. Please…

Shea's not about to let this cramp her style

Shea’s not about to let this cramp her style

It's always useful to have a friend along in tight spots like this

It’s always useful to have a friend along in tight spots like this

During the course of the afternoon, we teamed up with James Cannon ’17 and Hannah Solomons ’18 to fend off attacks from such ferocious woodland beasts as a miniscule rattlesnake and leaping riverbed frogs (all lethally toxic, you can be sure). At the end of the day, I can happily say we took probably the most challenging route back to the bus available. We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!

DON'T DO IT SHEA!! DON'T JUMP!!

DON’T DO IT SHEA!! DON’T JUMP!!

Thumbs-up all around for a fantastic adventure!

Thumbs-up all around for a fantastic adventure!

To anyone looking for that early-Fall stress break, then, Purgatory Chasm, for your consideration: a labyrinth of sheer rock walls and cliff formations that can keep you sweating for an entire afternoon… When can I go back??!?

Every once in a while, I can pay attention long enough to stop thinking about the latest episode of Doctor Who or my upcoming 1/2 marathon and talk about something more grown-up instead; this, ladies and gentlemen, is one of those rare times. I stopped over the other day at the annual Holy Cross Summer Research Symposium to check out what some of my fellow Crusaders had spent their summers doing, and let me tell you: if you think YOU had a productive summer, prepare for an ego check! I like to think I’ve got enough brain cells to maintain average conversation, but it was all I could do to process the AMAZING work some of my peers had conducted over the last few months. Hailing from every imaginable subject and major, the research on display ranged from potential cancer cures to the societal role of decapitation in Shakespearean drama (I didn’t even know one existed, so thank heavens a brighter soul than mine was able to figure it out). Best of all, many of the presenting scholars were some very good friends, so here today I rounded up a collection of them, to give them all the just credit they deserve!

Only just back from a year of studying abroad at the Universidad de Palma, Spain, Mr. Martin Florimon ’15 wasted no time at all and dived right into a summer research position with the Autism Speaks organization in New York City.
Martin1Focusing his study on the lower diagnosis rate of Hispanic/Latino children with Autism, Martin proposed several explanations and even solutions for this deficit. The world of psychology will only grow brighter once Martin walks across the Fitton Field stage next May!
Martin2

Next up, Ms. Meaghan McGeary ’16, who took a break from pounding the pavement around Mt. St. James with the Holy Cross Running Club and set up shop at the Lupus Center of Excellence in Pittsburgh, PA, for the summer. Meaghan1Working with a team of forerunner scientists and brand new computer technology, Meaghan conducted tests aimed at identifying early cellular indicators of lupus and other autoimmune diseases. I always knew Meaghan was science minded as soon as, on literally the first day of running club practice, she took me through the stages of anaerobic respiration our legs were undergoing as we ran up College Street.  I’m still just trying to figure out what anaerobic means.

Meaghan2

 

Next, someone who wore TWO employment hats over the summer, my fellow HC summer tour guide Ms. Jersey Burns ’16. While I came to know her as a great summer tour guide for the Admissions department (and fellow Game of Thrones fanatic), she spent her mornings in an entirely different setting.Jersey1Working with a team of peers, Jersey was engaged in – ready for this? – simulating the repair of cigarette-damaged lungs through the growth of stem cells in one of HC’s bio labs. I know she’s not keen on the spotlight, but seriously Jersey… that’s pretty cool.

One of my longest-known friends, who I met eons ago way back on the first day of high school, Mr. Vannak Khin ’15.

Vannak1
After spending last semester abroad in Vietnam, Vannak gained entry into the Mellon program and conducted research for an additional five weeks there. His presentation focused on the daily struggle of small, non-corporate businesses to maintain an existence in the Vietnamese special economic zone on the Cambodian border. Ms. O’Neil would be proud, Vannak.

Vannak2

 

And lastly, the OTHER new occupant of Williams 506B, HC XC senior Mr. Joe Seebode ’15.

Joe1

With all due respect to the other presenters of the day, in terms of the one position I myself wouldn’t have minded occupying, Joe here had the winning lottery ticket. He spent his summer on the beaches of the Bald Head Island Conservatory in North Carolina, assisting nesting sea turtles. For someone who’s heading into the field of marine biology after graduation, Joe probably couldn’t have had a better hands-on experience than this one.

Holy Cross is known for a myraid of things, from athletics to community service, but events like this Symposium serve as great reminders that, above all else, this is one of the strongest academic schools around. None of these scholars were forced or pressured into doing the work they did; they chose it out of deep passion, and all of it was on display that afternoon. Just walking around the posters, I could practically feel myself becoming more and more smrt!!!

 

 

Hey everyone! A fun late summer post today, and one where I yet again get to flex my muscles as HC’s resident geek authority. It’s on a topic that I’ll wager most of you have never even heard of before, but one that’s been an enormous part of my TV-watching life all the way since high school. It’s not a question of what the show is here, it’s a question of who – Doctor Who!

Before I dive into the nitty-gritty details of this post, I’ll first give you some context and background about the show, so you can understand why my Dad and I drove all the way down to NYC yesterday afternoon for a Doctor Who premiere! A disclaimer: the show is known for being cutting edge in the sci-fi world, so if that’s not your particular cup of tea (or heck, even if it is), some of the stuff I’m about to throw at you may make it sound like I’m in an altered state of mind, but I guess that’s just part of the show’s huge appeal. Doctor Who actually turned FIFTY years old last year… its first episode premiered back in November 1963, the same week as JFK’s assassination. The reason for the show’s longevity, still one of the most brilliant plot devices created in television history, is that the main character – the eponymous Doctor – is an alien from another planet, whose biology is such that every time he’s killed, he “regenerates” into a different body. AKA, every few seasons or so, the show is literally able to kill off its lead actor and recast the role, meaning it always stays fresh. Until Christmas last year, there had been eleven incarnations of the heroic Time Lord (twelve if you’re argumentative, hello John Hurt), before lead actor Matt Smith’s time in the saddle came to a tearjerking end.
So NOW: here we are today. The youthful, teenage heartthrob Matt Smith Doctor has died, and his sonic screwdriver has passed now to fifty-six year old Scottish actor Peter Capaldi! Many fans were surprised, and even skeptical, about the casting; Capaldi’s most well-known role before his casting as the Doctor was in the lead slot of the black British political comedy The Thick of It, as a VENOM-tongued spin doctor who elevated profane swearing to an incredible/terrifying artform. Hardly the stuff of the most popular family show in British history, basically.

Realizing this, and to promote the start of his tenure at the controls of the iconic TARDIS spaceship, the BBC organized a world tour for Capaldi and his co-star Jenna Coleman to greet fans and usher in the new era. Among stops like Seoul, Sydney, and Rio, the Time Lord and his human travelling companion were slated to make just one stop in the U.S., at New York City’s historic Ziegfeld theater. Diehard Whovians that we are, therefore, my Dad and I saw the announcement, nodded our heads, and shouted “Allons-y!”

It was my first time ever attending a red carpet premiere before. Although, call me Charlie Brown I guess, it wasn't even read. Much more of a TARDIS shade of blue.

It was my first time ever attending a red carpet premiere. Although, call me Charlie Brown I guess, it wasn’t even red! (The TARDIS shade of blue was much cooler though)

Of course, we couldn’t head to New York for an entire afternoon without taking in the sights and sounds. To let an opportunity like this slip by? Fugghedaboutit. In the hours before the premiere, we walked a few blocks from the theater’s off-Broadway location into the pulsing Times Square area. I’m by NO MEANS a country boy – I’ve divided my upbringing between Lowell and Worcester, two of Massachusetts’ biggest cities – but it’s still hard not to walk around NYC with your jaw on the ground. The incredible diversity of peoples, fashions, trends that populates the streets down there is pretty incredible, and one can very easily get overwhelmed by it all. More than a few times, I wasn’t quite sure if people were dressed like they were for work, or were on their way to the Doctor Who premiere in authentic alien garb. Go figure.

Heck, I even got photobombed by someone who lives in a pineapple under the sea.

Heck, I even got photobombed by someone who lives in a pineapple under the sea.

Hailing from a different part of the Galaxy, there was another Guardian with a bad temper. He would have been right at home in the NY traffic.

Hailing from a different part of the Galaxy, we met another Guardian with a bad temper. He would have been right at home in the NY traffic.

After a quick sandwich in the basement of 30 Rock, it was back to wait in the long line wrapping itself around the Ziegfeld theater block. There were people who had been camped out since midnight the night before, so needless to say, anticipation was high for everyone’s favorite Gallifreyan to show up. Capaldi and crew did not disappoint, and the atmosphere around me as he interacted with the crowd would have been enough to power the TARDIS for a whole year (but, let’s face it, time is relative…).

 

The stars!!! Jet lag never looked so darn cool.

The stars!!! Jet lag never looked so darn cool.

From there, it was past a patrolling Cyberman into the theater itself, which, luckily for the thousands who had been standing in line outside, was indeed bigger on the inside. Some of sci-fi’s biggest names were in the audience that night, along with HUNDREDS of eager Whovians; some were in costume, some were looking bemusedly at those who were, all were just relishing in the experience of it all. The Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick was our host for the evening, and to a chorus of sonic screwdrivers, we all watched as the Twelfth Doctor’s tenure began before our eyes!
I’m mum as to actual details about the episode; it’s not airing to the public until August 23rd, and Whovians are famously set against “Spoilers…” Suffice it to say, however, that all those who had been hesitant about this new Doctor have been forever silenced by one of the most truly aggressive sets of eyebrows I’ve ever seen, an accompanying Scottish brogue, and darn near one of the best episodes of television I’ve had the pleasure to watch. It may be just the exhaustion kicking in from the whole experience, but I’ll place a fair bet that there might be a new preferred M.D. around after the coming months…

And then a REAL keeper for the memory books: Hardwick came back up on stage after the episode and began a Q&A panel with none other than the stars of the show themselves!

The Doctor will see you now

The Doctor will see you now

Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and showrunner Steven Moffat (whom you all might now from his other show-biz responsibility as the co-creator of Sherlock)

Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and showrunner Steven Moffat (whom you all might know from his other show-biz responsibility as the co-creator of Sherlock)

The actors and the most gleefully "evil" man in TV were very gracious and appreciative of the support, and spent the night fielding questions from the audience

The actors and the most gleefully “evil” man in TV were very gracious and appreciative of the support, and spent the night fielding questions from the audience

Soon afterwards, they were whisked from the theater as if an angry Dalek were in hot pursuit

Soon afterwards, they were whisked from the theater as if an angry Dalek were in hot pursuit. Capaldi signed autographs and shook hands on his way out, and I got close enough to snag this (no zoom added) pic

Before security tackled him, your intrepid blogger even took a spin in the Doctor's seat! Watch out, Weeping Angels.

Before security tackled him to the floor, your intrepid blogger even took a spin in the Doctor’s seat! Watch out, Weeping Angels.

Outside the theater, an aspiring reporter for Doctor Who Review asked me to stop and give my thoughts on the episode. I’m a sucker for blondes, and this one charmed me right into giving an on-camera interview.

Katie Couric, I'd watch your seat if I were you

Katie Couric, I’d watch your seat if I were you

Apparently she liked the new Doctor "this" much.

Apparently the under-7 crowd likes the new Doctor “this” much.

An utterly fantastic evening all around, one that got me truly excited for the upcoming season of perhaps my favorite TV show. Having my Dad, the person who introduced me to it in the first place, along for the ride just sweetened the deal all the more; our adventures in time and space still make the Doctor’s look like practice.
I’ve got several Holy Cross friends who are as addicted to the show as I am, and I can’t wait to watch Capaldi win his way into their hearts over the coming semester. Having been in the room with him for an entire evening, all I can say is that, Peter, I’m with you all the way. Somebody, call a Doctor!!!!!

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2nd blog of the summer (and very possibly the last one I’ll write this side of 21), on a topic that I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about. It’s no secret how passionate I am about all things Holy Cross; three years in, I count this blog as a failure if that passion hasn’t shone through by now. Without sounding too doom and gloom and harping on it, the future of that passion as I head once more unto the breach is something I think about more than’d be decent to admit. So it’s always special for me – and I really do mean that – seeing that same Purple Pride in the incoming freshman class; it’s weird, but it’s nice to know HC is still gonna be fine, LONG after I’ve walked across that Fitton Field stage.

So for the 2nd year in a row, it was my absolute pleasure to help my local Merrimack Valley Alumni Association welcome the incoming Class of 2018! With an invite from fellow English major Martha McGuane, Class of ’77, it was over to North Andover’s St. Michael’s Parish this last weekend to meet with the newest members of ‘Sader Nation.

Know what, this is worthy enough for a cake. But maybe I'm not the best judge... I think waking up in the morning is worthy cause for one, most days.

Know what, this is worthy enough for a cake. But maybe I’m not the best judge… I consider waking up in the morning is worthy enough cause for one, most days.

Here they are, ladies and gents! Merrimack Valley's best and brightest, all in one convenient photograph

Here they are, ladies and gents! Merrimack Valley’s best and brightest, all in one convenient photograph

Remember these names, dear readers, because these’ll be some of the ones making headlines in the next few years (and I mean that in a good way): give the best, biggest Holy Cross welcome you can to Mr. Mike Gallaner, Mr. Joe Cataldo, Mr. Daniel Daley, Mr. Nick Guarracino, Mr. Will Cassella, Ms. Catherine Curran, Ms. Martina Umunna and Ms. Laura McElroy!

With about three weeks till freshman move-in day, and with the roommate and dorm pairings having just been announced, there were some obvious last-minute questions on people’s minds; after an entire summer answering similar inquiries in my position as an Admissions’ tour guide, it was a pleasure being able to do my part relieving any tension. To any other incoming freshman, yes – everything now DOES seem like it’s happening at once, I remember all too well. But don’t let the stress of everything overshadow one crucially important fact: you’re going to college! These are THOSE four years that everyone always talks about throughout their lives, and as someone for whom 3/4 of it has already happened, I can justifiably say, they ain’t lying one bit. So remember to enjoy every shower caddy purchase and Bed Bath ‘n Beyond splurge you’ve got coming, because it’s all gonna be worth it in just a few short weeks.

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There were also a plethora of other past and present Crusaders on-hand to welcome in the new kids on the block, and my genuine hope is that, by the end of the day, the Class of ’18 were as excited as I was to be heading up to the Hill.

This is what I believe they in the trade refer to as a “money shot.”

3

So long now to all, my hope is that I’ll be able to get back on to this in the next few weeks before move-in into Williams Dorm for a final summer check-in. If not, I hope the rest of the summer’s a great one, and I’ll be seeing you all back on the Hill soon!

Hey everyone! It feels good to have enough time to sit down and crank one of these out – the time since my last blog (Commencement for the Class of ’14) has been a little too hectic for my taste, but the upside of that is that I’ve got a whole bunch of material here to give you. The count stands at 46 days until move-in back at The Cross – not that I’m keeping track or anything – so there’s plenty more to accomplish still this summer, but just to give you an idea of how I’ve been keeping myself distracted until school starts back up again, here’s a CliffsNotes version of the summer thus far!

The first big occasion of the summer saw my dad Patrick hitting the half-century mark; yes, the Big-Man finally turned the big 5-0. Naturally, the rest of the family had to observe the event with all due pomp and circumstance, and so set about with the HERCULEAN effort of trying to pull a surprise party over on him. Dealing as we were with a man who got his career started in crime reporting and who is more attuned to the power of social media than his 17 and 20 year old combined (he had a Facebook and Twitter account before I’d even heard of either), this was actually much harder than you may be thinking. But after months of planning and several acts of light espionage, we were able to pull it off in the end, and the result was a better afternoon than any of our scheming could possibly have wished for.
We toyed around with the idea of inviting master red carpet photobomber Benedict Cumberbatch to the event, but alas, the man was too busy solving crimes, and more than a few of the womenfolk (hi Heather) may have been a bit distracted by his presence. The heavy, heavy burden therefore fell on to my shoulders to add a certain je ne sais pas to the photos taken during the party. As a result, the afternoon has been recorded for posterity as essentially a record of my ruining otherwise-perfect photos.
Just to provide some examples of my finer work:

50th1

50th2

50th3

It’s a month later and it’s already been said, but happy birthday (again) Dad, here’s to the next 50!

Party preparations out of the way, it was time for some unwinding. I rang up two of my cousins, blog veteran Ben Nicholson (HC Class of ’17) and blog newcomer John Blake (son of Anne Blake, née Nicholson, HC Class of ’86), and we headed off to go catch America’s most romanticized game in its most romanticized venue – yes, it was this year’s first trip to Fenway Park!

"Sweeeeet Caroline BUM BUM BUMMMM"

“Sweeeeet Caroline BUM BUM BUMMMM”

We're all Sox fans in the family, but as the night went on we found ourselves rooting for opposing Cubs' pitcher Jake Arrieta, as he made it all the way into the 8th inning on a no-hitter.

We’re all Sox fans in the family, but as the night went on we found ourselves rooting more and more for opposing Cubs’ pitcher Jake Arrieta, as he made it all the way into the 8th inning on a no-hitter.

The Sox have fallen a bit from grace this season, but we’re all still riding pretty high on the blazing cloud of bearded glory that was last year’s championship.

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One of these two is old enough to grow hairs on his chinny-chin-chin. The other one is wishing realllllly hard.

One of these two is old enough to grow hairs on his chinny-chin-chin. The other one is wishing realllllly hard.

For the past five summers, actually, my time’s been pretty occupied by baseball. My sophomore year of high school I started working at the Red Sox’s single-A affiliate team in my hometown, the Lowell Spinners, and it’s a gig I still retain. It’s hands-down one of the nicest single-A ballparks in the entire country, and even better, it’s a FRACTION of the price of its big green brother 30 miles southeast. The last two summers have seen me in a close working relationship with the Spinners’ mascot, the Canaligator (so-named for Lowell’s expansive network of canals – the 2nd largest in the world, only behind Venice, in terms of the amount canals it has – fun fact for the day). It’s the perfect summer job, and one that I’m lucky to have!

Mr. C. Gator himself. He gets cranky some days, and takes it out on his handler. I just hope one day he doesn't send me the Steve Irwin route.

Mr. C. Gator himself. He gets cranky some days, and takes it out on his handler. I just hope one day he doesn’t send me the Steve Irwin route.

Even on some of my tougher nights, I just have to say to myself, "Hey: I'm working in a ballpark." Could be worse, I'm telling you.

Even on some of my tougher nights, I just have to remind myself, “Hey: I’m working in a ballpark.” Could be worse, I’m telling you.

But maybe the only thing more American than baseball? The 4th of July! *accepts award for best segue of the year* It’s a yearly tradition in my extended family to commemorate the birthday of America with a two-mile roadrace in the neighboring town of Chelmsford. This go-around marked the first time my aforementioned cousin Ben laced up his sneaks for the event, and I want to put it out there for all the Internet to see,  he CRUSHED it out there! Here’s to the start of a long, prosperous career of distance running Ben!
Just as cool, in a crowd of as-near-as-doesn’t-matter-to-2000 runners out there, I still managed to bump into not one, not two, but three Crusaders before the race had even started!

Representing the old guard, two of the recent Class of '14 graduates, and my roomates for the past year, HC Track stars Tom Santa-Maria and Sam McGrath

Representing the old guard, two of the recent Class of ’14 graduates, and my roomates for the past year, HC Track stars Tom Santa-Maria and Sam McGrath

And the new kid on the block, incoming Class of '18 Crusader Liv Paulo! Keep an eye out for Liv, she'll soon be making the rounds in HC's running circles!

And the new kid on the block, incoming Class of ’18 Crusader Liv Paulo! Keep an eye out for Liv, she’s soon to be doing big things up on the Hill!

Ben, you earned every hot dog, burger, and rib you ate that day. Heck, I'll even give you a pass for the day afterwards too.

Ben, you earned every hot dog, burger, and rib you ate that day. Heck, I’ll even give you a pass for the day afterwards too.

Exercise in, it was time to get all spiffy-ed up, for this year’s annual Middlesex Community College Celebrity Forum. My Dad’s been working at MCC now for nearly a decade, and Celebrity Forum has consistently been one of their biggest events of the entire year. Previous Forum alums include actor Michael J. Fox, comedian and talk-show host Jay Leno, and ex-First Lady and First Daughter Laura and Jenna Bush, just to name a few. This year, though, MCC brought in perhaps one of their highest-ranking stars ever, in the person of Hollywood legend Robert Redford. Redford’s incredible career spans four decades at this point, from earlier his iconic roles in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting (both alongside Redford’s dearest lifelong friend, Paul Newman) to his more recent roles in last year’s Oscar-nominated All Is Lost and this year’s (my favorite movie of the year so far) Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Beyond acting, Redford’s equally known for his philanthropic endeavors, founding the Sundance Institute and Film Festival to give starter film productions a venue to showcase their work in and almost single-handedly raising global awareness towards a staggering amount of environmental issues.
You heard it here on this blog first, though, that through it all, Redford could not possibly be a more grounded, less egocentric individual. It was an absolute privilege not only to meet him, but to hear him interviewed over the course of the evening (by my Dad, no less. Dad, you rocked it *taps nose*). My personal favorite of the night’s stories came in his recounting of a particularly long, expensive sounding practical joke between him and Paul Newman that involved a crushed Porsche and a block of sculpted metal – the rest I’ll leave unsaid. Anyone would be lucky to have a friendship like their’s seems to have been.

When meeting Hollywood royalty, I OF COURSE had to represent Holy Cross. Purple and white all the way!

When meeting Hollywood royalty, I OF COURSE had to represent Holy Cross (the tie). Purple and white all the way!

One of these guys is an absolute legend. The other is a Hollywood actor and philanthropist.

One of these guys is an absolute legend. The other is a Hollywood actor and philanthropist.

And finally, the Circle of Life added a new member into its midst; a BIG congratulations to our dear family friends the Vergadoses/Simoneaus on the birth of their new baby, Desmond! Knowing (and sharing) the family’s love of the TV show LOST, I couldn’t let my first meeting with the lad go past without slipping in a reference to one of the potential inspirations for his name.

"See ya in anutha' life, brutha."

“See ya in anutha’ life, brutha.”

Even more importantly, I think I started Desmond’s initiation into Red Sox Nation. Coming as he does from a family of Yankees fans, I figured I’d make a claim for Desmond’s fandom early on, and so save his soul. Desmond, we’re glad to have you buddy!

DesmondSimoneau

That about wraps it up; if I continue on, this blog will stop being a mid-summer check in and become instead a summer send-off! It’s been a lot of work and some pretty sweltering heat so far, but as you can see, I’ve hardly been idle, and the next month doesn’t seem like it’ll be any slower by any means, so until the next post, stay cool, and have a nice summer!!!

 

Hey again, all! These blog posts have been coming fast and furious lately, but hey, it’s been a productive start to the summer – it’s so unlike me, it’s weird. Wanted to talk a bit about the big event that just happened down on Fitton Field last week, which I was honored to witness – commencement 2014! With the doomsday calendar ticking down to my own graduation in less than a year now, I figured it was time to go and see what I’ve got coming my way. Even just sitting there in the stands (with my awesome friend Colette Houssan ’15 keeping me company), I got premonitions as to what’s coming next May, and I can already tell… it’s gonna be a DOOZY.

With the Fitton Field stands packed to bursting – I had to park all the way up the mountain on the Hart Center lawn, it was so crowded by the time I got there – we all watched as the graduating seniors and Holy Cross faculty processed in full regalia onto the field.

They clean up nice, huh?

They clean up nice, huh?

NO time was wasted before Fr. Boroughs dived right into distributing 675 Bachelor of Arts degrees to an outstanding group of men and women, who are all headed off to do some BIG things in the world. Keep an eye out for these guys, I’m telling you!

Fr. Boroughs handing out some pre-tty impressive stationary

Fr. Boroughs handing out some pre-tty impressive stationary

Even to my friend Karina O'Friel, one of HC's BEST long-distance runners, the walk across the stage probably felt a little longer than it should have

Even to my friend Karina O’Friel, one of HC’s BEST long-distance runners, the walk across the stage probably felt a little longer than it should have

Diplomas taken care of, it was time for the speeches to begin. The first was from Class of ’14 valedictorian Jeff Reppucci, featured recently on NBC Nightly News for his extraordinary service project, Working for Worcester. A member of the varsity Men’s Hockey Team, Jeff’s done some pretty amazing things in just his four short years at the Cross, and his speech – about how community service can be done by anyone, anywhere, even after they’ve left school – gave absolutely no indication of his cooling down anytime soon. Go get ‘em, Jeff!

Jeff Reppucci 14's valedictorian speech

Jeff Reppucci 14’s valedictorian speech

"Two's company"

“Two’s company”

Next came one of the headlining events of the day, something that set the bar SERIOUSLY high for my own graduation next year: the commencement address, delivered by none other than Jon Favreau, Class of ’03. For those unfamiliar with what Jon’s been up to in those eleven years, go find one of the speeches that have come from the Oval Office since a certain Barack Obama (you may have heard of him) took office, and you’ll get your answer. The amazing talent behind those historic speeches was on full display last Friday, and all I have to say is – wow. Favreau offered advice on professional life, personal life, & the world at large, and I was leaning further and further forward as he went along. One particular chestnut that stood out: “There are two kinds of people – people who want to BE something, and people who want to DO something.” Well, Mr. Favreau, just let me be one among many to say you DID an incredible job, and I thank you sincerely.

I have a whole new understanding of the President's oratory skills...

I have a whole new understanding of the President’s oratory skills…

And after a singalong “Alma Mater” that I’m sure brought out a few purple and white tears, it was up to Kimball Dining Hall for a reception with the newest members of the Holy Cross Alumni Association. Two in particular I want to give a special shout-out to (and coincidentally, the very two I was able to snag pictures with).
1) The aforementioned Karina O’Friel! A fellow English major, I got to know Karina really well this past year after taking a Shakespeare and a detective literature class with her. She’s actually been featured on this blog previously for her prowess as a long-distance runner, and the streets of Harrison, NY, should be excited as she blazes new routes from her new place of full-time employment!

Karina, I hope the only mysteries coming your way in the future involve deciding what races to enter!

Karina, I hope the only mysteries coming your way in the future involve deciding what races to enter!

2) Sam McGrath! I’ve known Sam since I was a freshman, he’s been my RA for the past two years, and he was a roommate for the past two semesters. Besides being a school record-holder for the Men’s Track Team and 2014 recipient of the Varsity Club Norton Prize, Sam’s the biggest Springsteen fan I’ve met at Holy Cross, and his encyclopedic knowledge of the Boss’ history has fueled many a discussion. A true gentleman, an all-around nice kid, and someone I’m honored to call a friend!

"Blood Brothers"

“Blood Brothers”

Sam, Karina, and many, MANY others who I unfortunately don’t have the time or space to single out here, will be sorely missed on campus now. I know they’re each headed on to change the world in their own individual ways, but they’ve left some mighty gaping shoes to fill on campus as a result. I’ve got a whole summer in front of me to prepare for that gauntlet, but sitting in the stands at Fitton Field, I was struck by the discomforting realization that it won’t be long AT ALL before I’ll be witnessing commencement from a ground-level perspective. Here’s hoping I can live up to the potential of my senior year the same way these men and women lived up to theirs!
Good-bye, good luck, and CONGRATULATIONS to all of you!!!