Andrew Cook '15

I’m back!! Sorry it’s been forever since I updated this thing… somehow, senior year just keeps finding ways to keep me over-busy (which is probably a good thing, now I think about it, since it keeps me distracted from the impending specter of graduation). But so much fun stuff happened over this weekend that I decided it was finally time to get my chronicler hat back on and update you all on how I’m passing my time. Your concerns are shared by my mother if you’re noticing that homework doesn’t seem to be mentioned here anywhere… but rest assured, I’m not about to trip at the finish line!

First off, Friday night was my maiden voyage into the brave new world of acting! With so many close friends raving about the Alternative College Theater’s (ACT) “Midnight Theater” event, I figured it was finally time to give the whole “all the world’s a stage” thing a try. After signing up, I was randomly assigned into a group with several other actors under the awesome direction of Heather Cannon ’16, and we we raced against the clock to learn, rehearse, and stage a fifteen minute play, all in under four hours. Since part of the framing concept meant that Heather had to include several random characters in a predetermined scenario, my acting debut character was Tommy Wiseau (director of “The Room,” agreed upon as the single worst movie ever made) as a celebrity contestant of Survivor 40: Zombie Mermaid Island. That was as bizarrely fun as it sounds, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. You haven’t really lived until you scream expletives at a cell phone in an indeterminate accent while wearing a flowing dreadlock wig, let me tell you.

One of the biggest reasons I did Midnight Theater was because of the persuasive efforts of the SUPER talented Ms. Catherine Cote '18. She knocked it out of the park in ACT's "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" this semester, and is here fully immersed in her Midnight Theater role as Yoga-in-a-morgue instructor.

The persuasive efforts of the SUPER talented Ms. Catherine Cote ’18 played a big part in my deciding to participate in the evening’s proceedings. She knocked it out of the park in ACT’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” this semester, and is here fully immersed in her Midnight Theater role as yoga-in-a-morgue instructor Jane Doa (the -a is silent).

A post-show selfie with Tommy Wiseau, an expert ghost yogi, a ghost yoga instructor, James Franco from "The Interview," and the radio announcer of the Hunger Games.

A post-show selfie with Tommy Wiseau, a surprisingly yoga-adept corpse, Jane Doa (the -a is silent, remember), James Franco from “The Interview,” and the radio announcer of the Hunger Games. First, and probably only, time that sentence has ever been uttered.

The next afternoon FINALLY brought us some nice spring weather around here, which meant it was time for a 10-mile jaunt around the Greater Worcester Area: the final “long run” and the end of the line for this year’s Boston Marathon training season. Yep, I’m back at it again – in just a week’s time, I’ll hopefully be notching my third marathon finish under my belt. Blog to follow — bet your life on it!

These puppies have brought me through many miles; as my high school track coach Phil Maia always used to say, "the hay's in the barn."

These puppies have brought me (mostly) intact through many miles, and their day of reckoning is at hand; as my high school track coach Phil Maia always used to say, “the hay’s in the barn” now.

Miles logged (and blogger showered), it was time to catch a Holy Cross shuttle into Boston for the night! The school offers free shuttle transportation on weekends to Boston, Providence, and other spots around the Worcester Area; campus remains as beautiful as ever, but it’s nice sometimes to get a change of scenery for a few hours, so I always try and take advantage of this awesome service at least once or twice a semester.

Since it'd be no fun going on my own, Catherine made the trip with me, and brought some of her friends along for a stroll through Boston Common

Since it’d be no fun going on my own, Catherine made the trip with me, and brought some of her friends along for a stroll through Boston Common…

... and right down Boylston Street to a certain finish line that *fingers crossed* I'll be seeing again in a few days

… and right down Boylston Street, to a certain finish line that *fingers crossed* I’ll be seeing again in a few days.

A conveniently-placed sign informed just how many days, hours, minutes, and seconds, actually

An oddly conveniently-placed sign informed us just how many days, hours, minutes, and seconds, specifically! (Btw, since I have the chance here to say it, a MAJOR shout-out to the workers inside this Marathon Sports store for their unbelievable friendliness. People like you guys are why this is the greatest running community on Earth.)

Lastly, it was time for my cousin Ben Nicholson ’17 and I to participate in maybe our favorite on-campus event of the entire year: the Holy Cross Amazing Race. All you legions of faithful blog readers maybe remember our race adventures from last year’s event; it’s based on the hit CBS show, and was just about the most fun I’d had during an afternoon all throughout my college years. We had some unfinished business to settle after last year’s race, however, so we showed up at the starting line this time with our game faces on.

Tremble with fear. Are you trembling? WHY AREN'T YOU TREMBLING??

Tremble with fear. Are you trembling? WHY AREN’T YOU TREMBLING??

Nahh – beneath our rugged, manly exteriors, Ben and I have a longstanding connection with the Toy Story franchise; when team “To In-Fitton-y and Beyond” (“Fitton” being the name of the HC football stadium) showed up ready to go, all the other competitors knew exactly what they were up against.
The only downside to an event with the name “Race” in it on *this* campus: you’re in for a WHOPPER of a hill workout. With the events ricocheting us from the top of the hill, to the bottom, back to the top, back to the bottom, and so on, I’ll wager more than a few of the racers had a nice healthy sweat going by the end. Whether Ben and I were in that crowd, I feel it best not to say.

Shea Maunsell '15 and her partner Ami Neeper '15 knew the best way to unwind after the race

Shea Maunsell ’15 and her partner Ami Neeper ’15, displaying how best to unwind after such a race

As for us toys, we had yet another great afternoon, crossing the finish line with a good place and our heads held high. Like our shoes say, we did this one for Andy.

As for us toys, we had yet another great afternoon, crossing the finish line with a good place and our heads held high. Like our shoes say, we did this one for Andy.

It's not flying, it's falling -- with style

It’s not flying, it’s falling — with style

Enjoying the post-race meal of champions, Buzz chows down on some Pizza Planet fare.

Enjoying the post-race meal of champions, Buzz chows down on some Pizza Planet fare.

As you can well imagine, I’m pretty worn out after all this adventuring, so I think I’ll call it a day for now — but stay tuned for some updates VERY shortly about all my Marathon shenanigans. In the meantime, I’ll probably be sleeping this all off (and homework, Mom… homework too!!).

Back to the written world here for a little while – I much prefer telling you all about the coldest/snowiest/iciest winter I’ve ever experienced in my twenty one years from behind the comfort of a keyboard rather than with video proof. I’ve not yet achieved David Attenborough status with this thing yet…although, as you’ll see, I’ve not exactly been idle with all these snow days, and hopefully you’ll finish reading this blog and say, “Yes, that lad is intrepid” (or mentally disturbed, the jury’s out). But incidentally, yes: I’m starting to think that the Holy Cross Class of 2015 is indeed the disaster-themed class. Our very first weekend on campus as freshmen, orientation was cancelled due to Hurricane Irene; later that year, we had six inches of snow for Halloween; my sophomore year, we faced two shelter-in-place orders, one for Hurricane Sandy and the second for Superstorm Nemo; last year saw campus in the icy clutches of the Polar Vortex; and this semester alone, we’ve already missed four days due to extreme winter conditions. To whichever weather deity we’ve obviously offended, we apologize – please forgive us before graduation day in May!

In fact, I'm writing to you right now from the second-snowiest city in the United States, with over 100 inches of snowfall. And what's the number one city, you ask? Funny story... of all the flippin' places on the continent, the only city snowier than the BURIED Worcester IS MY HOMETOWN!!!!! Maybe it's not the Class of 2015 after all...Maybe it's me!

In fact, I’m writing to you right now from the second-snowiest city in the United States, with over 100 accumulated inches of snowfall. And what’s the number one city, you ask? Funny story… of all the possible places on the continent, the only city snowier than the positively buried Worcester IS MY FLIPPIN’ HOMETOWN!!!!! Maybe it’s not the Class of 2015 after all…Maybe it’s me!

The craziness all started back during the second week of the semester. Until that point, it had been a remarkably mild winter; Christmas around here had been a balmy 50 degrees, I’d gone trail running around New Years in shorts, and a Holy Cross friend not native to the area had said, “Wow, I thought New England winters were supposed to be bad. It’s been no big deal at all so far!”

Famous last words.

The first blizzard to descend on us lasted for thirty six hours straight, depositing over an inch an hour at times with its freakish winds. Campus had to effectively shut down for two days as the ground changed from grass to three-foot snow drifts in a matter of hours.  From my apartment window in Williams Dormitory, I took some time-lapse photos of the storm’s effect on the grounds:

2 3 4 5

Not a bad view, though, is it?

Since then, the blizzards have kept at it hard and fast, and the snow banks go well over my 6″0 head in most places now. If it continues at this rate, I expect the grass will reappear just in time to be buried by next winter’s snows – and that’s only if summer comes at all, which, I don’t think I’m wrong in saying, many people hereabouts have given up hope over. But how are us Crusaders coping? When meteorologists warn us to stay inside at all costs or else face all the wrath of Mother Nature, what are we to do?

Go sledding, obviously

Go sledding, obviously

Getting from class to class has, admittedly, become something more of an endeavor now. This picture was snapped yesterday as I attempted to reach my 10:00 lecture, using a now-standard method of transportation around campus:

Snowshoes aren't all that bad, once you get used to them

Once you get used to them, snowshoes aren’t even that bad, all things considered

Ok, so that’s a tiny bit of a stretch, but I did go snowshoeing around campus last weekend, and it was simply tremendous. A planned snowshoeing trip to Northern MA with Holy Cross’ Outdoors Club was obviously K.O.’d by  –  you guessed it  –  another blizzard, but since we already had all the equipment necessary for an afternoon polar trek, a few of us more adventurous folk decided, “Hey, why not?”

Plunging deep into the heart of the Yukon (or the Hart Center grounds, it was tough to tell through the wilderness)

Plunging deep into the heart of the Yukon (or the Hart Center grounds, it was tough to tell through the frostbite)

Making my way across the tundra

Making my way across the tundra

Some people aren't even aware of them, but a whole network of trails criss-crosses behind the Hart Center's playing fields, and they feature  some pretty gorgeous scenery. Admittedly, all 100+ inches lay untouched back there, so it got interesting in places trying to blaze a path through

Some people aren’t even aware of them, but a whole network of trails criss-crosses behind the Hart Center’s playing fields, and they feature some pretty gorgeous scenery. Admittedly, all 100+ inches lies untouched back there, so it got interesting in places trying to blaze a path through

She can be harsh at times, but Mother Nature too remarkable to not appreciate, and the only way you can do it is to get out there in the thick of it.

She can be harsh at times, but Mother Nature’s too remarkable not to appreciate, and the only way you can do it is to get out there and dive into the thick of it.

Also, with my third Boston Marathon looming in just about two months’ time now, there’s no way I’d let something as pesky as planet Earth’s weather systems get in the way of my training schedule. So it’s an extra pair of socks and another thermal layer, and out I go!

High visibility jackets: so the plow drivers don't have the excuse of "I never saw him!" as the ambulance paramedics extract me from a plow bed with a spatula.

High visibility jackets: so truck drivers don’t have the excuse of “I never saw him!” as the ambulance paramedics extract me from their plow beds on a spatula.

8

Yep, that's ordinarily a scenic vista on my left there. The 6 foot wall of snow and ice is really putting a damper on the whole thing

Yep, that’s ordinarily a scenic vista on my left there. The 6 foot wall of snow and ice is a real killer for the MA sightseeing market.

I did say intrepid, didn’t I? But the way I see it, you have to beat the weather or get beat by it. The story you’ll have in twenty years of that time you trekked across a frozen wilderness is much cooler (*cooler*… my comedy tour comes to a town near you this summer, don’t miss it) than staying inside watching TV for a warm afternoon; you’ll have some frozen eyebrows, but they’ll thaw out/grow back eventually! So get out there and enjoy those frozen fractals all around…and don’t let the cold bother you anyways!

At long last, happy 2015 readers! It’s into the final lap for me now, and to prep for it, I’ve been keeping it nice and relaxed for this last Christmas break. Incidentally, while I’m on the subject, this business of a 5-6 week vacation carries on into the real world as well, yes? This is something I’ll still be able to look forward to for years and years? Whew, that’s a relief.

Well anyways, one of my favorite ways to relax over break is by watching movies – seriously, who doesn’t love that?? – and since movie-watching usually takes a pretty serious hit while the semester’s in session, I made it a priority to catch up on a bunch now that I’ve got the time for it. Since I’ve been itching to get back writing here, and for lack of anything more interesting for you all, here are some quick little blurbs on all the flicks I’ve been able to catch!

 

In cinemas…

Unbroken
Unbroken
An adaptation of what my dad tells me is his favorite book he’s ever read, this one gains points on the sheer merit of its true-to-life hero, the incredible Olympic athlete and WWII P.O.W. Louis Zamperini. After running for the U.S. in the 1936 Olympics (which were held in Nazi Berlin), Zamperini joined the army to fight in the Pacific theater; his plane went down during a reconnaissance mission in 1943, and after spending 47 days adrift in a life raft, he was taken prisoner by Japanese soldiers and bounced around prison camps for the remainder of the war. The movie, decently directed by Angelina Jolie, is a long one, and to someone like me who’s never read the book, Zamperini’s hellish ordeals can drag on after a while. Jolie never really makes a point above and beyond how incredible Zamperini’s story is; while she’s not wrong, I think more could have been done with it to make his (and our) endurance actually mean something. If nothing else, at least you’ll never find me saying “I had a bad day” ever again.

 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
BattleofFiveArmies
This one’s quite personal for me, actually. My time in Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth began Christmastime 2001, when I first saw The Fellowship of the Ring in theaters. Everyone has their own defining childhood memories from pop culture – seeing Star Wars for the first time, getting your first comic book, whatever – and these movies are mine. They have become embedded into my DNA. I revisit Tolkien’s texts basically on an annual basis, I dive into the hours of behind-the-scenes bonus materials on the DVDs… heck, I only got into distance running in the first place in case my friends were ever abducted by a pack of orcs and I needed to give chase. I cherish, adore, LOVE these films, so as you might guess, I’m fairly bittersweet about it all coming to an end. It’s a heck of an end, no doubt: Peter Jackson delivers spectacle like nobody on Earth, and we’re in the safest hands from the goosebumpy opening all the way through to the end credits song. Arguments will rage over the years about the decision to expand Tolkien’s fairy story into a 3-film epic, but you’ll never hear a breath of complaint from me. From the 3rd grade to my senior year of college, following these movies has shaped me as a person, and that journey’s now made it full-circle – or Ring, if you will.

 

The Imitation Game
TheImitationGame
A stone-cold winner. Being offed by an angry bargeman within minutes of The Hobbit apparently gave leading man Benedict Cumberbatch time enough to hone a performance that will more than likely be crowding his mantelpiece with trophies in the coming awards season. His Alan Turing, the British mathematician responsible for cracking the Nazi Enigma code during WWII and the father of the modern computer, is an achievement more impressive even than his U2 photobomb at the Oscars. He’s helped by some great supporting performances from Keira Knightley and Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister, for all my Game of Thrones people) among others, and an insanely good script; when the film gets into “Turing Test” territory, exploring whether something is still capable of thought even if it deviates from what’s considered to be “normal” human brain patterns – an argument which the script BRILLIANTLY uses to examine not only artificial intelligence, but Turing’s homosexuality – it’s some of the best cinema of 2014. As the Brits say, a cracking good one.

 

At home…

A Christmas Carol (1938)
AChristmasCarol1
Check me on this, but I believe the adaptation count of Charles Dickens’ 1843 Yuletide classic is about five hundred billion. Could be more. Like I said, you should check. BUT, despite the fact that most of you reading this can quote the exchange between the miserly Scrooge and his seven-years-dead business partner verbatim, this 1938 incarnation with Reginald Owen at the helm in his nightcap and slippers is mandatory viewing for anyone who’s ever heard the phrase “Bah – humbug!” Big production values, some special effects that I’m sure were jaw-dropping in 1938, and a firm adherence to its source material earn this one high marks. But when said source material is maybe the greatest story ever penned by man, that’s certainly not a Christmas miracle.

 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
AmazingSpiderMan2
Sigh. There are so, so many good things here at work that I should really like this movie, but for some reason it’s just eh. I actually prefer Andrew Garfield wearing the web-shooters to Tobey Maguire; Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy is perfect, a living Jack Kirby girl come right off the panel; the chemistry between them would be enough to sell any rom-com on its own; to boot, this is probably the best Spidey action we’ve seen to date, the full realization of what Stan Lee was probably dreaming about back in 1962. But the fact that the rest of the film pretty much cancels out all these fantastic elements should tell you all you need to know. It’s overlong, there are some annoying creative deviations from the perfectly sound comic sources, and it doesn’t seem to know when to say “enough is enough.” This franchise has been right at the forefront of all Sony Studios’ recent woes, and for the sake of my favorite superhero of all time, I really do hope it can right itself enough to keep the web-slinger in business.

 

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
HoundoftheBaskervilles

Sherlock Holmes, but NOT Cumberbatch’s (he’s busy elsewhere, after all). Nope, this one is Basil Rathbone’s, whom a lot of Holmesians consider to be the definitive incarnation – and outings like this are the reason why. Mist-enshrouded moors, fireplace séances , murderous, bug-eyed convicts on the loose… this one’s got it all.  It plays a little fast and loose with its literary inspiration (most versions of this story usually do, for some reason), and the heavy hand of censorship required for movies of the late 30s becomes too apparent at times, but lots of this is plain and simple Holmes at his deerstalker best. Perfect for a windy winter afternoon viewing.

 

From Russia with Love
FromRussiawithLove1
As the final entry of what I suddenly realize is a predominantly Anglophilic list, I think it’s fitting that I close with perhaps the single most iconic British character from the second half of the 20th century. That’s Bond… James Bond. I’m a big fan of 007, and if you can keep a secret, 2012’s superb Skyfall is one of my very favorite movies I’ve seen in the last five years. With that outing imparting the solid advice that the old ways are sometimes still the best, I’ve been backtracking 007’s history whenever I have enough free time, and so came across this firework. It’s not the first Bond film (it’s #2, if you’re curious), but it’s what many Bond enthusiasts today consider to be the all-time best, and with good reason. Set at the height of Cold War espionage, it’s Sean Connery in his wisecracking, ladykilling prime, and it introduces most of what would later come to be staples in 007 flicks; a suitcase with more firepower than some prison armories, exotic locations in Istanbul and on the Orient Express, a KNOCKOUT leading lady, and the looming, shadowy threat of SPECTRE. With current-Bond Daniel Craig suiting up for what’s looking to be another incredible spin in the Aston later on this year, I can’t recommend enough taking a look back at this 60s classic; it’s leaner, wittier, and more downright fun than pretty much anything else you’ll come up against, I’ll wager. Mission accomplished, Mr. Bond.

 

That’s all I’ve managed for now; break still has a few weeks left, so if there’s anything you think I need to add to this list, feel free to let me know! Happy viewings!!

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?

74

64

 

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

11

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:

6

13

 

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.

3

4

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

13

"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??!?