Monday, October 31, 2011

First Day of Preseason

It's preseason time - for me that means putting the trips around the country and the late nights out on hold (or at least to a minimum) and getting ready for another spring training and season. Preseason, I think, is more important than any other part of our season - it allows us 4 full months to get our bodies in shape to abuse them for the 7 month season.

Our season is a long one and strenuous one. It's true that the Big League season is about a month longer, but they also get about one off day a week and travel on planes. In a profession where your money comes from your ability to use your body - you better have that instrument finely tuned.

This is what makes our job a hard one in my mind (obviously playing baseball at a professional level is also hard from a competitive standpoint). But it's more the fact that from about September to March, minor leaguers are mostly on their own to do what they want, and it's up to us to be ready for Spring Training. It's a tough thing to do to motivate yourself to get up and go to the gym 4 times a week (for anyone who has ever wanted to get into shape - you know what I'm talking about). I don't wanna give the wrong impression though, the toughest part of my life right now is going to the gym 4 times a week - I'll be just fine.

The position players may start taking grounders and swinging the bat again by now. Some in local batting cages where they're going to become a very familiar face, and some in local parks where the little fences won't help them save money on baseballs. Pitchers are mostly focusing on working out - putting on as much muscle as they can from knees to chest - getting all the power they'll inevitably use up in the months of season. When the calendar changes to 2012, you'll start seeing more and more of us playing catch, brushing the dust and cobwebs off our arms in the preverbal migration toward Spring Training.

I just wanted to post quickly about what it means to be in preseason mode. The World Series ended this past weekend (and what a great one it was) - but with hilights still playing on ESPN about six thousand minor leaguers went back to work trying to be one of the players in next year's Series. Our job may not be year round in terms of games, and we may not have normal hours. But next time you see a 20-something kid in your local gym wearing short that look like official MLB issue - he may be working at throwing a little harder, making the first step a little bit quicker, or getting last years doubles over the fence in 2012.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why Golf Drives Me Crazy

In my expansive amount of time in the off season, I've decided to take up golf. This was supposed to be a fun endeavor that would be as easy as playing Tiger Woods on my XBox. Not so.

I've been an athlete my entire life, and for some reason the simple act of hitting a ball thats laying calmly on the ground eludes me. I'll pull off the ball and miss it entirely, or jump up and just hit the very top of the ball, or my personal favorite, hit it about 50 yards straight and then watch it slice like a Mariano cutter. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not hanging up the sticks yet. The feeling of hitting a ball pure is so seductive that even if I just hit one ball well out of an entire range bucket - I'm still gonna go back for more. I would just like to point out the difference in how easy it looks and how hard it is. 

I don't think this really applies to any other sport. The moves that DRose pulls on a basketball court look really hard to me. Kobe going up and under looks really impressive and by watching I know I can't do that. Ray Lewis pummeling some poor WR crossing over the middle is enough for me never to want to play in the NFL, and I simply can't skate well enough (plus I like my teeth) to play in the NHL. Basically that leaves baseball (which although I can do - I rarely think looks like something someone could just pick it up) and soccer (which seems easy in theory and then just exhausting in practice).

Then you have golf. I don't think just cause some guys on TV can do it, I can drive 350. I don't think I can make shots over a tree with backspin that fades around a helicopter and hits the flag - that's not what I was misunderstood about. The misunderstanding comes when I figured that because I can hit a baseball pretty well, I should darn sure be able to hit a tiny little golf ball while it just sits there. And let me tell you, when you can't hit it - there is nothing more taunting about a golfball that you just swung and missed at. I'm pretty sure if you listen closely you can hear it say "Na Nana Nana Naaaa. You can't hit meeee."

But now I've been cured of this idea that it's easy and have now joined the ranks of all the other desperate humans determined to prove to themselves that they're not so unatheletic that they can't play what looks like the easiest game in the world. I think at the end of the day, that's what draws people to golf. Not the open air, or the spacious courses, or the good times with friends - its the nagging thought that anyone who can walk and chew gum at the same time should have the wherewithal to hit a ball in a straight line at a little flag a few hundred yards away. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

The X Factor

I'm almost over the X Factor guys. It's almost lost me, tomorrow's episode better blow me out of my socks - or I'll join basically everyone else who just doesn't care anymore. For those of you that watch the show, you might know why I'm ranting about this - but for those that don't, please let me explain it to you.

I used to tune in to the show to watch people sing beautifully and watch as people were publicly ridiculed for being ridiculous (basically my perfect show). But now that it's gone past the auditions, and to the judges homes, I've basically become bored. For a little bit, I was into it, but now the songs are boring and the excitement of having someone just blow the doors off a concert hall with their voice is gone.

Finally, the most reason last week's episode might be my last is the fact that it took the producers two full hours to drop 16 people out of 32. Do you know how long it would take me to tell 16 people that they're not gonna make it? I could do it in 3 seconds.

"Alright, you 16 aren't coming. Everyone else - start singing for 5 Million dollars."

This was not the way the X Factor producers decided to do it. They decided to see how long they could keep a camera on someones face without them doing anything. There must have been 15 minutes of just watching people stare at one another. I've never  seen such a brilliant waste of time as I've seen in these last couple weeks of X Factor. The also keep introducing each person by showing footage that people have already seen (usually of their past auditions), and then instead of just letting us watch the news, they let the whole interaction take the better of 5 minutes of air time.

If tomorrow's episode doesn't straighten up - I'm over the show. I'll move on to something else and maybe watch the YouTube clips if I hear someone sang something really amazing. But I'm over watching a 2 hour show that has about 20 minutes of real action in it. Plus, I'm kinda disappointed if these 16 people are really the best in the nation. That's just a poor showing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I've been hooked. I have fallen in love with HGTV and now, instead of cartoons or sports center when I wake up - I watch HGTV. Also, sports center sucks nowadays. I watched the World Series, I don't need the hilights. Football this far from Sunday is boring cause it's just people yelling at each over points that no one cares about in the first place. And I can't pronounce any of the Hockey players names.

I woke up this morning and a show called "Design on a Dime" was on. I've now been watching it for close to an hour (apparently it's one of those shows that they just run for 9 hours in the morning). For those of you who don't know the show, the premise is that a HGTV personality is brought in and asked to redesign a room in a house for one thousand dollars (NOT a dime, which is ten cents still). With that being the case - let me point out some things I saw.

1. Cost -
The show has 3  people that are leading up the renovation, and all of them are professional craftsmen and decorators or designers. This may strike you as obvious because after all, it is a show on TV and professionals make the best workers. But here is my concern - when I have a guy that is constructing a wooden lodge-type chandelier out of drift wood he "found" and floral wire, I have a problem understanding how it would cost me 45 bucks to do the same thing. No sir, it's only 45 bucks worth of materials maybe, but what would it cost to have you build it? Cause while you were learning how to bejewel a chandelier I was learning what do with a bunt down the third base line with men on first and second and one out.

I get that the whole show is based on the pretense that these types of renovations don't have to be as expensive or intrusive as one might think and "anyone can have their dream house". But in reality - you would need to hire 3 very motivated, connected, and talented professionals to come do the work for you , which I'm sure will put you over your $1000 total right off the bat. I don't know how to build a subfloor, so it won't cost me 80 dollars.

2. "Faux"
Faux means fake. That's what that means. It's French, and the English translation is 'fake'. Now, some people may be well aware of that fact - but it appears that no one on this show is. I've never seen people more excited about their "faux rock wall". Ummmmm - that means that someone hung vinyl wall paper up with ugly pictures of "rocks" on it. That does not mean you just got a piece of the Louvre to bring home. But hey, French is a nice language and it it brings a smile to these people's faces then it's good for TV and good for the show. Just remember, "omnia dicta fortiori, si dicta Latina" (look it up).

3. Reaction
Most of the time the people love the space and truly, the designers did a really good job, but I secretly hope that someone comes into the room and just vomits on the floor in disgust. I think it would be so funny to see the look on someones face when they've been completely betrayed by what their house just turned into  - and maybe even more priceless would be the look on the host's face as he tried to convince them that they'd like it eventually and this is exactly what they wanted. I'm just weird like this, I'm also PRAYING that one day when the mascot races the little kid around the bases - he beats the beats the kid by an entire base length. *For those of you who have never been to a minor league baseball game - that last sentence didn't make any sense*

Thanks for tuning in, as always. I'm back in LA now, and will probably only be posting a couple times a week now (I can hear you cry). As always, if you have any questions or comments, go ahead and leave them on the blog or email me at 

Have fun out there. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cole vs. Phiten

Phiten is not real. I don't mean that it doesn't exist. It's obviously a real company and I think a brilliant marketing scheme. I mean it doesn't do anything.

"But I did the balance test in a mall one time and I totally was better with it on."
OH MY GOD! You were better at balancing once you knew someone was going to push you over?!?! That is brilliant! In no way is that basic human instinct to resist falling - that's magical ionized Phiten metal goodness. There are no necklaces you can wear that will make you into an athlete. There are necklaces you can wear that make you look like an idiot. Braided "team color" Phiten being the best example.

"Hey Cole, what about all the athlete that endorse it and swear it helps them?"
That's a good point. Because all athletes really do use the things they endorse, not only that - that product is most likely what got them to level they're at today. No. That's not true. I was being sarcastic. An athlete's endorsement does not make something good. If you don't believe me, go try to buy the Nike glove that Halladay uses. Ya, it doesn't exist. That's a Rawlings cut that has a Nike swoosh sewn on it. Still not convinced? How bout this - McDonalds is an official sponsor of the US Olympic Team. Really? Is Michelle Kwan snacking on a 6 piece before doing a routine? No chance. Just cause athletes use it doesn't mean it's real.

"I feel better when it's on."
Yes. That may be true. But if I took your Phiten band and replaced it with one that looked the same but didn't have any magic metal in it - would you still be as magically "enhanced"? This is a perfect example of the placebo affect people. And that, unlike Phiten, is a real thing and has proved by the scientific method. Phiten proves that you will wear a really ugly bracelet if it has a Red Sox logo on it. Also, for anyone that, like me, that has worn a necklace everyday for an extended period of time, if it broke, you'd feel really weird without it on. Kind of like when people say they feel "naked" when they're not wearing their favorite ring or something. It's the same thing!!! People get used to things, and it makes them feel more comfortable - but there's no necklace that's gonna improve your balance.

Don't trust athletes about this stuff. We're talking about a group of people who won't wash their underwear, or only eat chicken if they think it's helping them win. But I don't see people getting on those trains. But hey, if you think it helps then its more than doing it's job. All I'm saying is this - don't expect it to make it run faster and jump higher.

We all know that only Benny's PF Flyers do that.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fast-food Fly-By

On my way to and from the field, I pass about 5 different fast food places (in a 7 minute drive). Today, as I was driving home (yea, I get done with work at 10:30,  doesn't everyone?) I started to think to myself the different types of fast-food and then the different images each one is trying to portray. If you will - join me on my mental excursion.

Everyone knows these guys, the golden arches that mean you won't be following your diet today. McDonalds was so vilified by "Supersize Me" that decided to "change their image". Awwwww, that's adorable. They didn't really change did they? They added "smoothies" and "healthy options" and tried to make their restaurants a better place to hang out - but lets be honest, it's still poison for you body. I don't care if I'm eating a big mac in seedy busstop McDonalds where you can't put the food on the table because it will immediately get contaminated, or if I'm eating it in a two story McDonalds in Santa Monica with a view of the ocean (ya, that exists). The food is still sooooooo bad for you. McDonald's fries used to be the best ever, and now it's like ordering salt with a side of fried potato, its revolting. And my personal favorite, they're trying to take back all the morning people that left to go to Starbucks with the McCafe. Rearry? McCafe? That's the best you got? First off - this is sugar with coffee and cream (the Beastie Boys would be so proud) and second - drinking this does not make me feel like "me time", it makes me "look for the nearest bathroom". Come on McDonalds, you can dress it up all you want - at the end of the day all you're doing is putting frosting on a turd and calling it a cupcake. No sale.

I actually like BK. For me, its just more honest about the poison it's feeding me. I think the stackers are delicious and that gets me going. Also - if you're my age, then you remember when Dane Cook was funny and wasn't "acting" and did the BK Lounge bit, that's good stuff. For my money - I think BK has the best fries in the business right now, but their dessert menu SUCKS. Really, their shakes are just no bueno, and I've never actually seen anyone buy those little cakes they have out. I also like the fact that they got rid of "the King" in order to start showing the "flame broiled" side of Burger King. They did this in an attempt to keep up with the evolving market and keep in stride with the "healthy alternatives".  PS - to any fast-food executives reading this (yes, I know there aren't any). Saying that a burger has gaucolmole on it, or calling it the "California", or using words like "fresh", doesn't make it healthy. That's not how that works.

Stop. Making. The. "Burger God". Commercials. For those who have read my blog before, you may remember my take on the Listerine Commercial from a few weeks back - Carl's Jr is waaaayyyyy worse. Remember the one where they just had Paris Hilton washing a car and then taking one "bite" of a burger? Number one - your food is so bad that you don't advertise it. You can't come up with anything good to say, so you just try to get guys to do the math that Carl's Jr = Paris Hilton. Number two - this is the best acting Paris has ever done. She really sold that she was eating in this commercial, when it's obvious she hadn't eaten in weeks. Carl's Jr is the place you go when you've been driving for 8 hours, and you just passed a sign that said "no food for 400 miles". At that point, if you can't salvage from the land, you can crawl into a CJ and hope for the best. By the way - don't even get me started on this "Green Borrito" business - that place makes Taco Bell look like dinner at the Palm.

I look at Wendy's like the forgotten little sister of the fast food family. I never eat here, their burgers are square. That's not cool. Given, I would eat here before CJ, and frosties are amazing, and they do a good job with the Baconator (how could you mess it up with that amazing name). But then they start doing stuff like "we make baked potatoes" "we use sea salt" "we have chinese food". Stop it. Stooooooopppp. You're fast food, just give me a cheeseburger and regular  fries. No I don't want to hear about your specials, I'm late for going home and playing X Box.

The crown jewel. This place is the best. I love J in the B. I really do believe the ultimate cheeseburger is one of the best burgers out there - that thing is money sauce. And they also changed their fries, so they're amazing now - which is great. I'm not saying it's any better for you. Basically it's all the same garbage, but Jack In the Box has a really good menu - super diverse and it all tastes good to me. Anyone reading this on the east coast will have no idea what I'm talking about, so if the beaches and general awesomeness weren't enough of a reason to visit California, come for the culinary explosion that is Jack In The Box.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Coming Home

I was told a couple days ago that I will be going home sometime next week, I almost did a cartwheel. This, combined with the fact that the instructs and parallel league guys going home made me think of reentering civilian life after being a ballplayer. That might be an odd way of thinking about it, but I assure you - it's a harsh adjustment. I'm sure it has nothing on coming home for a tour of duty, or the culture shock of going to an African village on a Peace Corps operation - but it is a difference none the less.

If you have a ballplayer coming back into your life in the next couple days, or you had one back early in September, you may have noticed that while we are all happy to be back, and the length of the season left us all drained - we also seem a little distant and on edge. I will try to explain why this, in the best way I can, from my experiences.

Baseball is a very closed off world. In the minor leagues especially, where our lives our spent on busses, in small towns, at fast food restaurants and stingy little dive bars - we really don't have too much interrelation with the outside world. From April through September our family is our teammates, and that family has rules that really don't apply to sane people.

In a world where there are games every day and the most important things in life are doing well and winning - tempers will get high, and with that much testosterone in one room, fights are bound to happen. Maybe if you were raised in a family with 30 brother's you'll understand what this is like. Otherwise, it's kind of like the documentaries about lions on Discovery Channel. All the angst, and aggression, and uncertainty that comes with our jobs is either shared with one another for support or taken out on one another in anger.

Yet, even while there is animosity - there is also a feeling of love and camaraderie that boils down to an "us-against-them" mentality. No matter how much tension or dislike you may feel toward someone in the clubhouse, you're still going to clear benches at the drop of a hat in that person's defense. It's this type of unity that leads a good ball club, and it's a brotherhood of athletes that exists at any level in any sport. If you don't believe me, think about the people you know who played college football - and think about how often they talk about the times they had.

During season we live in a state of hyper vigilance, and while being home is nice because we're able to turn all of this off, the amount of free time is scary and a little bit unnerving. I think this is because somewhere in the back of our minds, were doing the math that if were not working at something, were no longer in the game. And that is every ballplayers worst nightmare. The rest is good, but we're in the game because we have that motor - and when it's turned off, we have a lot of excess energy that can turn into a quick temper or a distracted mind.

Another reason that it's hard to come is that clubhouse living just has no place in a civil world. Truly, were not bad people - but some of the topics of discussion that come up over the stretch of a long season would make frat boys uncomfortable. With that much time, and that many 18-24 year old minds - the conversation is likely to  go anywhere, no matter how dark or depraved the subject matter.

The best way I can describe it is this - coming home from a season in the minor leagues is like coming home from Never Never Land. While it's cool to see your family again, and be home, and see your girlfriend or all your old friends, there's always going to be that nagging feeling that people somewhere are having fun without you. That's why we might be begging to go home in August, but once we get home we feel uneasy. And then by the time Christmas hits the department stores (the day after Halloween) we're ready to get out there playing baseball again. We're just grown up kids, playing a little kids game, and the reason we're good is not because we like to - but because we have  to.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Week's Worth of TV

Monday -

1. Monday Night Football - that's so obvious. Unless it's like last week's game where no one cared about who was playing, monday night football is the best invention ever. It's like "Hey, I know that Monday's are the worst, so we're gonna give you the best part of the weekend as like a cherry on top of the turd that is Monday."

2. Dancing With the Stars - "oh but Cole....DWTS starts before MNF is over. How can I watch both?" Ummmm it's called a DVR cave person. Why don't you stop complaining and go shoot another Geico commercial? Also, DWTS is way better on DVR cause you don't have to watch them warm up and you can just skip to that annoying chick that was on The Hills and Hope Solo. No one else is worth watching - plus the judges will make you dumber.

3. Dexter - I know it's on Sunday, but I don't have Showtime out here, so I have to bootleg onto my brother's account and then watch it Monday. It's actually kinda nice, this way I can have Sunday night programming Monday afternoon (it's obvious I don't have a job isn't it?).

Tuesday -

1. New Girl - This show is hilarious, it's one camera so you don't get that horrible laugh track that makes me want to strangle small animals. Zooey (who spells their name like that?) Deschanel does a great job leading the cast, and they put the right kind of people around her so its not the most predictable thing in the world. It really does make me laugh, and even though it's a little contrived at the end with her always showing the other roommates how they can be better people in each episode, I tune in anyway. Plus - there's nothing else on Tuesdays - so I'm kind of in a bind.

2. Terra Nova - With DWTS and MNF both in the same time slot, I'm forced to watch this show on Tuesday afternoon thanks to Hulu. The first episode really wasn't that good, and secretly, I think Steven Speilberg is just trying to spend as much as he possibly can on each episode no matter what. But as a fan of cinema and production, I kinda have to watch it. Plus I can watch it at my own convince.

Wednesday - (this is when things start to heat up)

1. X Factor - Bring it. This show is the bees knees. It's the cat's pajamas. It's Luke Skywalker's dad. It's amazing sauce. On one hand, you get to see great singing - and for some reason even though not everyone knows how to sing, every human being has the ability to appreciate great singing and have it raise the hair on their arms. Also, you get to see Simon be really mean to people - which makes me feel better about myself.

2. Modern Family - This may be blasphemy, but MF might be the best show on TV right now. It's laugh out loud funny every single time AND, it can be really touching. It has one of the best top to bottom casts on TV, and with the way it's set up (having the three families be related) it will almost never run out of plot points and character development. Though it may run itself into the ground - by having the kids age so obviously and quickly, it may run it's course pretty fast.

Thursday - (best night ever)

1. X Factor AGAIN - yea, this show is on two times a week. Booya. On yo face hater. Also, I like when they ask the contestants what it would mean to win 5 million dollars, "Well, Bob, it would mean that I had 5 million more dollars. Any more brain busters?" I think journalists learn this question in the same class where they learn to ask "How do you feel about giving up the game winning home run?"  "BAD. I feel BAD."

2. THE OFFFFFICCCCEEEEE - Now, losing Steve Carell was really a sad experience for me. I'm still waiting for my dad to be able to work with him cause he is one of my all time comedy hero's. I understand why he decided to go a different way in his career, and the choice of replacing him with Ed Helms (Andy), is growing on me. This show is still my favorite show of all time. My parents never let me watch TV as a kid (they figured it would force me to read and play outside, not have a 5 nigh schedule by the time I was 22) so now, The Office is like part of my family.

Friday, Saturday I'm usually out and about (watching movies, not doing anything fun) plus I don't think there are any shows on anyway.

Sunday is football. All day. No exceptions. exception. I had to stop watching yesterday cause every hilight was one of my Dad's players scoring a touchdown, while all of my players were apparently taking the day off. Being down by 50 in fantasy ruined my Sunday - that's a fact, that's out there now. Maybe Forte will pick up the 48 points I need to come out victorious. That happens? .........right? ....right......?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Captions to my Life

I was looking through my phone today and I started looking back at all the different photos I had taken since I first got it in Spring Training. Some of them are just stupid, most are just funny things to text my friends, and some were twit pics. I still thought putting some of the best ones up here and giving y'all a caption for each one would be fun. So this is a little look into my life, all these picture were taken by or of me in the time between Spring Training and now.

This was taken at a shop in a mall near the facility in Arizona. It's the worst sign ever made. Still, I am happy we don't have to do that messy "birth" thing anymore - we can just buy kids at the mall like everything else. I think there's a pretty solid return policy on them too.

ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!?! They have an entire store of Lego? That's a thing now? Nick Bartolone and I came dangerously close to buying something (cause we're grown ups) but the Indiana Jones scene we wanted was three hundred dollars....I guess that's how they can have a store now.

If you look really hard at this picture, you will see a very well disguised man in the middle of the frame. He's behind the trashcan, doing a running man pose. 
This is what you get when I get a box full of all black Under Armour cold gear and give Nick the camera. *Not on film is Kyle Blair (who was all in navy blue) and I have a super hero battle in the clubhouse.*

BANDIT BUNNNNNYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!! This is my sidekick when I fight crime in my super hero outfit. It turns out that because it was all black, I was actually a super villain. Bandit Bunny and I do a "rob from the rich, give to the poor" type gig.

What up "Sons of Guns"? You aint got nothing on an all-out, apartment-wide, nerf BATTLE with no rules. There's also no way to really get anyone 'out', so we would just shoot each other a lot. Extra points were for making someone mess up while playing video games, or spill their drink. We also had Wild West shootouts.

I now understand why I only paid $5 for this steak. Boy am I gonna be full after this "Man vs Food" experience. 

This is how you say, "Were not gonna play tonight" in radar.

I'm not sure what is worse - the fact that his loved ones didn't stop this kid from putting what I think is a Nike swoosh in the side of his head. OR, that he's breakin his obvious Nike contract by rocking the Under Armour pullover. What a rookie.

Kids at home: this is why you don't miss middle-in. The ball comes off the bat a heck of a lot harder than it went in, and your glove simply isn't quick enough. Luckily, I had my ribs there. Great.

What do you get when you add:
A 10:30 am check out
A 3:30 pm bus
Cole Cook
Nick Bartolone
Chuck E Cheese
And $20 worth of coins?

A 50 cent foam rocket thing. 

Nick did not feed the deer. 

The person at the store wasn't happy when I said I had no interest in buying it, I just wanted to take a picture. But seriously, just a wad of chocolate? Don't they have Hershey bars anymore? This thing look like it got saran wrapped in the back this morning.
Nick called it a "Chunk O' Choc" - I think he should pitch that to Cindy.

Oh ya. It's real. Don't look at this picture too long - you WILL go blind.

From awesomeness...not cause it's so ugly. Stop being a jerk.

Couple things -
1. A Cedar Rapids person actually did make me measure myself cause he thought I was too tall, bet that doesn't happen every day. And as you can see - I'm the size right before "Hagrid".
2. I need to get in the sun more. Like a LOT more.

That's all for today folks. Enjoy your weekend and show your friends. Follow me on twitter (!/C_M_Cook) and Nick on twitter (!/NickBartolone), he's to blame for much of this hijinx.

If you have any questions or comments or whatever email me at

Have fun out there

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs - A Remembrance

Yesterday night we lost one of the greatest inventors ever to live and certainly one of the greatest minds of  our time. Steve Jobs death has got me thinking about a couple of things - things I would like to share with you all.

I find that more often than not, people think that the present is the only time that matters. That life is everything, as opposed to a part of a much greater whole. I think people look at the past and future as faraway places that don't affect the 'now'. It is a sobering thought, for instance, to think that the Roman Empire, one time the greatest power in the world (and now lost to the sands of time) lasted for almost 2000 years and the United States has been a independent country for less than 250. I think people forget that the present is soon to be the past, and that we will all become another piece. In no way have we reached our destination of human existence; there are still wars to be fought, regimes to be overturned, and empires to spring up.

It is with this in mind that I savor the fact that I was alive in the time of Steve Jobs. Now that may sound a little contrived for some of you - but I urge you to think about it. One day your kid is going to ask to help him or her with a  project about the great inventor of the 21st century, and you will be able to sit them down and talk about where you were the day the iPod came out. Most people in this country have benefitted of Job's genius in one way or another, be it an entire line of Apple products in your backpack or simply the easiness of the iTunes store. His creations have helped shape our world, and his life will forever be spoken in the same breath as Newton, Franklin and Edison.

We live in a time of giants. While it's easy to gaze with adoration as our grandparents recall the time they went and saw Babe Ruth play, keep in mind that we'll soon be recounting stories of watching Mariano Riveria break the all time save record. I'll be able to tell my kids about my experience in Dodger Stadium before Eric Gagne came out to close a game - it's still my coolest sports experience. We will be able to talk about where we were when LeBron left Cleveland (even though some of you don't want to ever talk about it). That's going to be a sports story for the rest of time - and we are all a part of it, simply by witnessing it (maybe that's poor word choice).

I've never met Steve Jobs. I've never shook his hand or listen to a speech. Still, he impacted my life with his genius. His contribution to the world, and his work is nearly unparalleled. He brought computers to the everyman and continued improving and developing products to forever push the boundaries of what we never thought possible. Maybe I'm over emphasizing the point, but I was saddened to see one of the brightest lights of humanity go out yesterday. He wasn't Mother Theresa or Ghandi, he didn't make wartime speeches or lead a charge at Gettysburg - but he has changed the world for the better, and for that - I thank him.

Steve Jobs was able to bring forth a new world simply by imagining one, and having the courage and ability to follow his dreams. We lost  brilliant mind and a brilliant man last night, and I think the whole world feels a sense of loss because of it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Carwash Video

Today I decided to not write a blog, but instead have my very first video installation of the blog. Hopefully I uploaded the video right and you guys can watch it - otherwise, it's just not going to be as exciting as I had planned. Sorry in advance for all the voices, I'm just strange like that. Additionally, the camera work is horrible - theres no excuse for that.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Abduction" Review

Today, after my short day at the field, I went out and saw Taylor Lautner's new film, "Abduction". I didn't want to see it, in fact about a month ago I tweeted that I hoped no one ever saw it. But I was in the mood to see a movie and "Abduction" had got a score on Rotten Tomato of 4%. I had to see to it now. I thought, if nothing else, I would just "review" it for you guys. So without further adont here's my rundown of the human train wreck called "Abduction".

So this movie is about Taylor Launter who plays a high school kid named Nathan who is a "wild child" and has a feeling the he's a stranger in his own life. He also has anger problems and insomnia, so he has to see a shrink. He's also super in love with the girl who lives across the street. 

So the movie opens with Lautner riding on the hood of a truck down a highway. Apparently the audience is supposed to think this is cool and that Lautner's so crazy that this is what he does. Him and his friends go to a party where they talk to no one else but themselves the whole time. The only other time Lautner makes any sort of contact with anyone else besides his two guy friends is when he tough talks his neighbor's weird boyfriend. The two of them square off and almost fight but luckily the girl gets between the two of them and nothing happens - WHEW. BTW, Taylor Lautner trying to look tough is adorable. It's like seeing your puppy growl at a butterfly.

Anyway, so after the party Lautner wakes up on the lawn with his shirt off (2 minutes of movie has passed and this idiot is already topless, I suppose it's in his contract) and starts to help picking up from the party. As he's picking up garbage, his dad comes by and brings him home. Once they're home, the dad puts on boxing gloves and trains with Lautner in the back yard. 'Training' consists of them basically slap fighting, but the director has decided to max out the sound effect volume so it sounds like they're having a war of epic proportions. Then his mom breaks them up but grounds him for a month because he was out all night and didn't call.

The next day Lautner just stares at the girl he's stalking in the hall way, and she is getting really creeped out about it. Then in class the two of them get put together on a project, and the girl makes a face like she just got sentenced to a jail term. 

The project they have to do is about missing children and they find out that Lautner is really living with fake parents. He even asks his mom if she's his real mom and she says she's not - he then "cries". Right after this, two bad men come to the door and shoot the mother and father (who it turns out were undercover CIA agents). 

Lautner runs away but then goes back when he realizes that his neighbor is in the house cause she was coming over for the project. He goes back and kills one of the Russian black ops guys who was gonna shoot Karen (that's his neighbors name). Luckily, cause his dad taught him to fight and he wrestles at school, he's able to overpower a Russian special forces combatant - as you do. Right when Lautner asks who the guy is, the guy informs that he can't say cause there's a bomb in the oven. 

Remember, this guy was sent there to kill Lautner, but he wanted to quickly tell him that there's a bomb in the oven (never mind how the HELL a bomb got there). So Lautner and Karen dive in the pool and the entire house explodes. It's a great bomb, blows up an entire house. Then rubble from the explosion fall into the pool and Karen juts a cut on her shoulder.

So the two of them go to the hospital because Karen has a cut on her shoulder. Lautner calls 911 and instead of the police, the CIA picks up. Apparently they had a tap on 911 line, where it would magically know that if Lautner called, it would just be redirected to the CIA. 

Also, the mean Russian guy who sent the assassins the Lautner's house in the first place is now staying in a hotel room with his team, and they have a tap on the CIA's call. They're apparently really good with computers or something, who knows for sure?

Anyway - Lautner gets freaked out by the CIA guy and doesn't trust him. Then magically his therapist shows up to save him and get him out of the hospital. There is negative reason why she would ever know he's there, but maybe she has ESP or something. He gets Karen (cause if you really love someone you should take them on the journey when people with guns are chasing YOU). The therapist tells Lautner that she's a friend of his real father's and that she is also a member of the CIA, and the guy that he just spoke to on the phone is her old boss and not to be trusted. The only two people in the world that he should trust are his dad and some other guy who I don't remember his name. I wondered why Lautner was deciding to trust her, and also why she didn't put herself on her own trust list. 

Then they start getting chased by the CIA, cause the CIA is everywhere and can easily find cars in the backroads on Pennsylvania whenever they want. His therapist says she's gonna slow down just enough for the two of them to jump out and then she'll cause a distraction so they can slip away. It turns out that by "slow down just enough for you to jump out" means stop and then shout things out of the car before you drive away.

Luckily, the plan works and Lautner and Karen escape into the woods where Lautner decides they have to get into the river. This is based on nothing, but get into the river anyway. Apparently they're in the river for about 4 minutes because immediately after getting in, they're back running through the forrest again and now they're cold cause they're wet. Lautner goes and steals blankets from a gypsy woman in the forrest, marking the first time they split up (which is always the best idea when you're being hunted). 

So after jumping in the river, they decide to take a nap in the largest clearing they could possibly find cause after all - they've been on the run for at least 5 hours now, and they're super tired. If you're wondering if Lautner took the "were both cold" excuse to do the super awkward side shuffle right next to Karen -- he totally did. 

So they spend the rest of the night sleeping in the clearing right next to the river, and luckily the CIA and the Russians took the night off of looking for them cause I'm thinking hunting dogs could have found them in about 15 minutes. 

It is at this point in the movie when we finally find out that the whole reason the CIA and the Russians want Lautner so bad is that his dad apparently stole a list from the Russians that contains the names of a bunch of politicians who have sold secrets to the other side. And the Russians figure if they can kidnap the kid they can leverage it for the list so the CIA wants to protect him.

When Lautner and Karen wake up they hitch hike to the apartment where Lautner's therapist tells them to go and hide out. It turns out that the apartment is Lautner's fathers place and Karen decides to make a call. Apparently the CIA answering during the hospital call taught no one anything. Shocker - the CIA picks up the call (and the Russians are again listening in) and now Lautner has to leave the apartment cause they know where he is. 

So they take the car and go to grave site of his real mother because he found the address in his father's house. They get there and she's dead (its a grave yard) but there are new flowers at the grave. Karen pushes up her boobies and uses her feminine wiles to seduce the person who works the desk at the grave yard to see where the flowers came from. Apparently they have a database that all grave-flowers are tracked through. 

When Lautner's mother's name is put into the computer, this alerts both the CIA and the Russians who had flagged it (luckily no one had typed "Linda Price" into a computer ever before, so that worked). Now Lautner is on the move again, he wants to go track down the person that sent flowers to his mom because it's one of the people his therapist had put on the trust list. 

So they can't drive because the car is "hot" by this point, and they can't fly because they would be on no-fly lists. So they go BACK to Pittsburgh and his buddy (who makes fake IDs) has made them 3 IDs EACH for different states - he makes IDs REALLY fast. Now, with these fake ID's they decide to get on a train (I don't know why they didn't just get on a plain now that they have fake identities, but who cares). 

So they get on the train and one of the Russian thugs has followed them on by tracking the car (because you can track any car anywhere just be having the license plate). So Lautner and Karen get into their little room on the train and start going at it. Apparently the excitement got to them, and they simply had to make out and throw each other around the room. Before the actual deed goes down, Karen gets her head on straight and says that they need food. So she goes out and gets some - by herself (this is the second time they split up). 

The Russian guy kidnaps her and she tells him what room Lautner is in. Then Lautner and him have a fight and during this fight he realizes that his father had been training him the whole time, not just being an abusive jerk as he originally thought. Apparently this allows him to forgive his fake parents for never telling him they weren't his real parents. So, with his high school wrestling training, he defeats his second black forces agent and throws him out the train window. 

At this point, the CIA apparently has found out where they are stop the train. Who knows how they knew - maybe they used the therapist's ESP magic. So Lautner gets off the train with Karen and the run off into the woods again. 

Magically, the CIA are on the same road the two of them are walking down and they get stopped. As they're running away the CIA guy points out that no one has guns, and that they're there to help. Lautner at first is uneasy, but then the CIA guy says, "You've been running for 22 hours. You must be hungry. Let me get you a burger and a shake." Apparently Lautner's fake dad taught him how to fight but not how to resist strange men who offer you treats to get in their car. So, after 22 hours of running and killing two people - Lautner and Karen decide to surrender over fast food. 

The CIA guy explains to Lautner what's happening and Lautner realizes that he's had the list the whole time, because he stole a cell phone from his dad's apartment and the list is on the phone. However, the  Russians have figured out where they are, and kill every CIA agent who was supposed to be working as security. However, after successfully killing half a dozen agents, they miss the one shot that counts and Lautner slips out the back door. I don't know why after staging a full scale breach they didn't put anyone on "guard the back door" duty, but these guys aren't the best group in the world. 

So Lautner and Karen are now all alone, and after stealing a car to get away from the diner shoot out (he can steal cars now) he goes back into the city. On the way to the city he tells Karen everything he just learned from the CIA guy and then receives a call from the head Russian. "Funny how cell phones can be turned into listening devices. Give me the list or I'll kill everyone you know."

It IS funny how remotely you can turn a cell phone into a listening device. That's probably the same kind of technology they used to get a wire tap on the CIA. 

So now Lautner is in a hard way and tells the Russian guy that he'll give him the list, but they have to meet at a public place. It turns out that this place is the Pirates game. Lautner gets his friend to give him tickets and bring him a Clemente jersey and Karen a hat. Reminder - this is the same friend that made them 6 ID's like 14 hours ago, maybe this guy wants a little bit more than friendship.

So Lautner goes into the game (by himself, the third time they split up) and gets a call from his real father who tells him that he has to back off because he can't win but he's also proud because he's seen seasoned agents that wouldn't have been able to handle what's been going on the past day. It is at this point I think we should get better agents, cause the kid didn't really do all that much. 

So the Russians show up, and I forget how, but the CIA knows they're there and show up too. Lautner and the Russian sit down next to each other and the Russian asks for the list, Lautner reaches under the seat where a gun has been taped - how did it get there? Who knows. Maybe his magic friend did it, even though I don't know how that's possible. As he's reaching for the gun, the Russian guy tells him that he was the one that killed his real mother and this story makes Lautner put the gun back, cause he wants to "hear about his parents". 

When the Russian is done telling the story, Lautner reaches for the gun again but it's not there!! BUM BUM BUUUUUUM. The Russian guy stole it! While he was eating popcorn! Cause he's magic!

So now he has the gun and demands the list from Lautner, but Lautner escapees by knocking the popcorn up in the air and running away. The Russian, who is a trained assassin, top secret agent, and black ops expert is not expecting this and Lautner loses him in the crowd. 

Lautner calls his dad while he's hiding in a shop and his dad tells him to bring the Russian outside the stadium by the south parking lot because, "I'm here." Lautner decides to trust someone that he's never met and has no way of knowing is his real father in the first place and lures the Russian guy out of the stadium. 

The Russian finally catches Lautner and points the gun at him (from 200 yards) so Lautner stops. They tough talk a little bit, and have some back and forth banter before Lautner's father finally takes the shot and kills the bad Russian guy. At this point the CIA shows up and arrest Lautner for stealing the list or something. 

BUT WAIT. The CIA guy's boss shows up and it turns that he has been selling secrets the whole time and one of the reasons he wanted the list so bad was because he wanted to protect himself. So now the CIA guy gets arrested and Lautner is free again. 

Lautner's dad calls him and tells him that they're never going to see each other (thanks for the call dad). Then Karen shows up out of no where, apparently she knew where he was going to be, and to top it off the therapist shows up again (maybe Lautner has a tracking device on him somewhere). So now that he has no family, the therapist says she can live with him for as long as he wants, and that apparently makes everything better. 

However, instead of going home with the therapist, he goes back to the game and him and Karen have a heart to heart about how he's "ready for her now" and "what a great first date it was". 

That's how the movie ends. With them kissing in an empty ball park after the game. Apparently now that he has a foster mother/therapist/ex CIA agent to live with, the fact that the people who raised him and his birth mother being dead are fine. Also the fact that his father is alive and well but doesn't ever want to see him is fine - because now he has a girlfriend. 

Basically, if it weren't for this blog, I would have walked out in the first 10 minutes. Today was a long one, and I'm sorry, but if you're still reading go ahead and leave a comment, or email me a question (colecook.soc@gmail). Have fun out there 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bieber Poster

Today, because I'm tired and a little bit sick AGAIN (thanks Arizona weather), I'm gonna keep this quick. Take a gander, if you will, at the following picture.

I took this picture as I was passing a part supply store in Goodyear. Looking back, maybe it's weird that I took a picture of a Justin Bieber poster, but I promise - there's a good reason. 

I didn't know what this poster is supposed to be advertising, or promoting - but I've come out with a few possibilities. 

1. This is a party for Justin Bieber and he is a VIP. The language really is very confusing. Based simply on the English language, that's what this poster means - but I don't think that JB needs to outsource his party posters to "Party City" in Goodyear. I'm sure he has people for that. Also, if JB had his own party (which is exactly what a Justin Bieber VIP Party would seem to be) wouldn't he probably already be a host? I mean - it's HIS party.

2. This is a Justin Bieber themed party. I understand that this is most likely what this poster is referring to. I'm not even gonna touch on how absurd a Justin Bieber party is, and instead skip right ahead to the part that says - "VIP Party". Is the whole party a VIP party? If that's the case, then it kinda ruins the whole point of having a VIP if everyone at the party is one. OR, even worse, is this poster placed somewhere in a bigger JB themed party, and only the cooler 10 year old kids are allowed in this section? "Sorry Sally, you're not allowed in the VIP Party. You didn't share your gel pens with Kate last week. You're not on the list."

3. This is just a regular party poster, but they're letting Justin Bieber know that if he shows, he'll be a VIP. I would think this goes without saying. Doesn't he have three platinum tracks and a grammy or two? OBVIOUSLY he's going to be a VIP. Maybe the hosts of the party just hang this up in case JB rolls by and wants to get down. In which case he'll know that he'll get a warm reception at this particular shindig. I'm sure this works, I hear JB hangs out in the Goodyear area A LOT.

4. It's a warning against the growing occult of popular culture in our society. And by making JB huge, and having ships and airplanes appear to be tiny in comparison, the makers of this poster are saying that we are promoting a culture in which we are creating false idols. And instead of light hearted poster about a 10 year old's birthday party. In reality this is a cautionary, propaganda poster warning about the demise of our culture at the feet of these false gods. And by exalting these false gods, and thereby breaking the Third Commandment brought forth by Moses, we have created a reality in which pianos are no longer linear or small, but instead are monstrous and wrap around the sea and the sky in a way that breaks the laws of physics and creation. 

I'll concede that number 4 is a stretch. But I still think this poster is stupid. Drew Rynienwicz made "Baby" a way better song anyway.