Thursday, February 28, 2013

Three Chairs!

Just a quick and easy post to chronicle a quick and easy five-mile run through Lowell and Chelmsford.
Mostly to show you that on any given day, on any given run, you never know what kind of sights you're going to see along your course.  Always make sure to take in your surroundings, and sharpen your powers of observation as you trek through the backroads of the towns that play host to your runs.  It helps pass the time.
And always be ready to find the unexpected.
Like a slew of seemingly perfectly good office furniture abandoned on the streets of the former Julian Steele housing project off upper Gorham Street in Lowell
Seriously, we can't make this stuff up.  We feel it's incumbent upon us to document this absurdity.
Yep, Tommy and Barry, dew-rags and all, were back in the 'hood once again.  Thankfully this time, no bottles were being flung in the darkness of night.
But just in case any of you suburban types think this roadside office set-ups are distinct to Lowell, I say thee nay!  Barry found this seat of power alongside the road in Chelmsford, and it was much worse for the wear.  At least the Lowell ones, you could sit on!
Our chairful run complete, the Chairmen of the Broad headed off into the sunset. 
Chairs to you!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Got a chance to spend some time hanging with Sean Penn when he came to town on Tuesday to speak at Middlesex Community College's One World Series, detailing his efforts to help rebuild Haiti, decimated by a killer earthquake in January, 2010.

The event at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium was pulled together by the college's Student Activities Crew.  Backstage with the Academy Award winner, it was refreshing to see how unpretentious he was and how passionate he felt about the cause that's dominated his life for the last three years.
Penn has quite the storied Hollywood career, headlining movies like Mystic River, Gangster Squad, I Am Sam, Milk, Casualties of War, and of course, Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Penn wasn't in town to toot his own Hollywood horn, though, swearing off any Hollywood talk and instead insisting on keeping the dialogue with the 700 folks in attendance focused on Haiti.
Backstage, Dan Martin was keep a tight lid on things
Mary-Jo Griffin, along with Lt. General Ken Keen, who was in charge of military relief efforts on the ground in Haiti, and whose son, Ryan, is a psychology professor at MCC.
Mary-Jo shows the power of social media, tweeting live and texting back and forth with an unnamed pain-in-the-neck co-worker.  (She's does this during movies, too.)
On stage, Sean was passionate for his cause, fielding questions from a group of MCC students.
Getting the MCC swag on stage
Members of this year's class of Paul Sullivan Leadership Institute Fellows
The event can't go off seamlessly without an army of volunteers behind the scenes
The Student Activities Crew, or Gang, or whatever you want to call them.  Rebecca take note:  Melissa actually WAS in the picture at the time of taking.
Our resident Hollywood maven, Judy Burke, chats it up
Backstage, Dean of Students Pam Flaherty is beaming because Sean donned his MCC sweatshirt.
Photographer/moderator Paula Dias, and President Carole Cowan join forces with Sean.
And finally, the man on the other side of the camera lens for all of the above shots, MCC's own Argo, Kevin Harkins, he of
A great day with a great guy, he was a genuine article, and a lot of fun to be around.  My personal highlight of the day was backstage with the star, trading Steven Wright one-liners back and forth.  He does a dead-on impression of the stand-up comedian and MCC alum.
Overall, a stu-Penn-dous day!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Aw, Groton!

Another weekend during Boston Marathon training season, means another long run, and this time we headed to the wilds of Groton to log the miles, 16 of them for the longer distance runners among us.
So, without further ado, as we head down some of the most scenic roadways we've logged this winter, cue Robert Frost:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Now that we've got the literary corner of the blog out of the way, let's get to the running pics!
After connecting with all of the major state highways that bypass Groton, Scott took us to, appropriately enough, Camp Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a never-before-seen-by-EStreeter-eye wildlife sanctuary for the central checkpoint of the run.
Simply gorgeous terrain.  Too bad we had to despoil it with our salty dialogue, but if there's no one around to hear it, does it count?
Andrew takes the lead.  Although come to think of it, someone had to be in front of them to take the picture.
Getting ready for his first Boston Marathon, Andrew is a man alone with his thoughts.  Thoughts like why the hell didn't I sleep in today?
We managed to find one of the few roads actually plowed in Groton
Frozen tundra be damned, I look like the Jolly Green Giant out there.
The man without a hat, sporting his Survivor buff
Scott was the only one who knew the course, and tried repeatedly to shake us, to no avail.  We're a tenacious bunch.
Which brings us to the obligatory town line race.  Here, Andrew shows truly bad form, boasting about his win over a clearly defeated and fatigued older E Streeter.
But there were more town line battles to be won this day!  The film doesn't lie - which one claimed victory in this battle of the juggernauts?
Coming into the home stretch for John, who logged his longest run in years (north of 8 solid miles), Andrew gets some words of inspiration for his marathon training from our own version of Tony Roberts.
Breaking off to log a solid 16, Tommy and Scott are specks in the winter landscape.
Andrew, of course, takes a moment to pose for a blog picture on the same stretch.  Bright boy, that lad
Afterwords, though, comes the most important part of the run - soup!
This time, Scott experimented with an andouille sausage and bean concoction that would melt any ice still collecting on the Groton streets.
The founder of the feast himself
Afterwards, we couldn't figure out what made us sweat more, the 16 mile run or Scott's soup
Now that I think of it, it should be Miles to Go Before We Soup
And for an extra bonus, a (fool)hardy crew of us ventured out into blinding winds and bone-chilling wind chills on Sunday morning to log another 6.6 miles on the roadways of Chelmsford.
Proper facewear is always a bonus on days like this
Some, however, go commando
As Scott and Carlos try to kick off the six inches of snow accumulating on their sneakers, Tommy just stands idly by, wondering what the hell he's doing out there at all.
Sadly, there was no soup waiting for us at the end of this run.  Just runny noses and frozen faces.  For those of us without the facemasks, that is.
Coffee time!

Monday, February 11, 2013


So, as stated in a previous post, the weekend's wild weather wasn't without a local casualty.  Sadly, me beautiful bride chose the early morning hours on Saturday to defy the laws of gravity and remind me of how she fell for me, lo those many years ago.
Normally, Jack LOVES playing out in the snow.  Loves it.  And this blizzard would prove to be no exception.  Except.....she forgot some of the basic tenets of ice and stairs, and overestimated her own agility.
Here she, is about 30 seconds before the dreadful fall, playing with Brady, who had his fill of the cold, snow, and outdoors, and was all too happy to head back inside to the warmth of his blankets and multiple sleeping quarters.
Unfortunately, as Jack walked Brady back into the house, she backed up, missed the top step, and went ass over teakettle down onto the walkway.  I was too concerned for her safety, so I didn't catch it on film, but this should give you an idea of what the end result looked like.
The outcome put a damper on the wintry weekend.  Thankfully she didn't suffer any major injuries in the fall, but her ankle twisted in an ugly direction.  The result?  A weekend on the couch, her foot elevated on pillows.
This morning, we got her to the foot specialist, Dr. John Clarity, the miracle worker who at some point, has seen virtually every foot of the extended Cook family.
Here's the patient, ALWAYS in a good mood
Here, the doctor happily delivers the news that the X-rays didn't show any broken bones.  Ligament damage and swelling and bruising, but she should be ready in time for the Patriots opening kickoff in August.
She'll be spending the next few days house-bound, with Brady and Minnie keeping her company, not to mention her in-house physicians, Heather and Dad.
Here's the wounded warrior, or as Jack calls it, her Cankle.
Sounds like a week worth of watching Downton Abbey and ESPN Sportscenter is on tap for my sweetie.
Wish her well!  Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for my best friend!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Storm Troopers

So, nice quiet weekend.
The internet's been flooded with everyone's images from the big storm, which I refuse to call by the made-up-name christened by the Weather Channel.  I've done my part on social media to keep the dialogue moving, so to wrap up a wild and wintry weekend, it's time for a Wicked Good update.
I love the winter.  I love snow.  I never complain about us getting whalloped by huge amounts of snow.  The more the better.  Unfortunately, not everyone in my family feels the same way.
After much cajoling, I was able to get Brady to venture outside, sporting, of course, his best Holy Cross swag.
Really, if he could talk, he'd make it abundantly clear, he's not a fan of the deep snow.  So hurry up and clear the walkways, dad.
Here's the view up a snow-covered Dinsmore Street
Let's take a walk around the neighborhood and see what our friendly neighbors are up to, shall we?
Elias rocking the snowblower, always in a good mood
His bride, Victoria, staffing the shovel before she laces up the sneaks (more later)
Kevin's two kids were out back making a snow fort, leaving dad to clear the way
Finally, the roadways clear, it was time for - what else- a nice run around the neighborhood!  Here's Victoria, finishing up her blizzard jaunt
A short while later, it was time for Tommy and I to elicit the comments of "freaking idiots" from our Belvidere neighbors.  No beeping horns, though, because the driving ban was still on.
How quiet was it?  Check out Tommy running straight down Route 133, Andover Street.  Not a car in sight.  Take that, John and Scott!
The roadways were clear, so time to take advantage of running where no man is allowed to run
And finally, the obligatory Middlesex Community College shoutout, complete with the winter gear to brand it!
Sadly, though, not everyone made it out of the weekend unscathed.  While taking Brady in and out of the house, Jackie took a backwards dixie off the front steps, and likely tore some tendons in her foot, leaving her laid up for all of the storm.  Not going to share her rehab picks.  That's a post for another day, but here's praying for a speedy recovery for my favorite snow bunny.