Titles Are Hard…

Forty-four years ago today I fought my way through a swamp of biological fluid, emerging in a world filled with merriment and madness.

It should be noted that this month also contains the wife’s birthday and our anniversary, but out of respect for my love’s privacy I have decided to skip the obligatory posts commemorating those occasions. Not everyone has web fever, my friends. Nevertheless, I love you, Jackie. Your love is the glue that keeps me from coming apart at the seams. 

Where was I? Oh yeah, my grand entrance. Let’s see… a guy in scrubs slapped me on the behind, I screamed like a banshee, and it was all uphill from there, kids. Many of my friends – like the ultra-gifted Daile – have used their piece of virtual real estate to share some tasty tidbits about themselves with the world. But that’s not my bag – on most days, that is.

But this isn’t just any day.

So here we go.

1)  Other than Casa de Hook, my favorite place in the world is my friendly neighborhood comic book store.  Technically, Pulp Comics and Big B Comics are tied for my loyalty but in the end, everyone wins, so I’m fine with being caught between two worlds. Book stores in general have always brought peace to my oft-troubles soul. There’s no substitute for surrounding oneself with the collective works of the human mind. Especially in all their four-color, glossy glory.

2)  I don’t drink, smoke or pollute my pasty white form with any recreational drugs, not that I’m judging anyone who does, mind you. The hardest thing about this world is living in it and our weaknesses have been put into place to test our limits.

3)  I’ve learned more from sinners than saints.

4)  Believe it or not, I find peace in the simple act of placing one foot in front of the other in the great outdoors, whether it be the urban jungle or the natural one. The most peaceful time of my day? My walk to work where I let the tunes flow into my brain box while I contemplate my life’s many mysteries. I love my family, but I spend my days surrounded by thousands of people and so a little solitude is a gift that goes a long way, my friends.

5)  I have no problem sharing my hotel adventures, but I’m not comfortable writing about myself, although I’ll make an exception or two, obviously.

6)  My childhood had its share of darkness but my mind rarely returns to those moments. I prefer to walk in joyful memories like this one:

   The years was 1984. It was a beautiful, clear day in March and I set out from my grandmother’s apartment on Westchester Avenue in St. Catharines for a journey that would span several miles. And yes, as always, I made this journey alone.

   I miss the Eighties. A lad like me could embark on an all-day adventure that wouldn’t end with his face splashed on a milk carton or a Walmart bulletin board. (Yes, I realize that Walmart didn’t open their first store in Canada until 1994. Shut up.)

  Anyway, I made my way, surrounded by fresh air and a sense of hope, to Diana Sweets restaurant on St. Paul Street for a plate of fries with gravy and a Coke in a tall glass. Diana Sweets had an eight-feet candy counter that allowed a kid to overdose on a seemingly-endless variety of confections. They had milkshake machines, wall-to-wall mirrors and more atmosphere than a thousand modern-day establishments. It was Nirvana surrounded by cheap wood and vinyl seats.

   After filling my belly for less than the cost of a single modern comic book, I continued on, reaching Len’s Odd and Ends within a few minutes. Heroes walked the aisles of  Len’s, their adventures radiating from brightly-colored periodicals. One book in particular struck me like a blast from Iron Man’s repulsors that day: All-Star Squadron #31 from DC Comics.

   I won’t bore the comic book challenged among you with all the details, but suffice to say the story involved in a gathering of World War Two-era heroes who have gathered their entire membership for the first time to protect the United States from all its enemies.       

   Naturally, there is a twist in the form of the embodiment of the American spirit (Uncle Sam, ‘natch), who appears to persuade the heroes to travel to an alternate earth under the thumb of the Nazi regime.

Heroes in every color and form imaginable, Nazis getting punched in the face. A philosophical debate amongst the greatest heroes of WWII. All for under a buck. What more could a kid ask for?

Needless to say I was enthralled and my imagination soared. The rest is Hook history.

7)  I have only recently begun to acknowledge and accept my own mortality. I feel simultaneously enlightened and bummed.

8)  They say all the world is a stage and one thing I’ve learned is that no one is going to hand you a role. You have to lie, cheat, bitch-slap and do whatever it takes to carve out a recurring role in this drama we call life that people will take notice of. And there are no Academy Awards to achieve. The best you can hope for is a standing ovation in the big theater in the sky when you finally exit stage left for the last time.

9)  I am a bellman who loves his job but hates people. I’m funny that way.

10)  Blogging convention dictates that this list contain ten items. I hate social convention.

As of this writing, my day has sucked harder than Jesse Jane on a good day. I just served three union witches who fought me tooth and nail for their own cart. I almost choked on the irony. Oh well, the wheel is bound to turn in my favor sooner or later.

See you in the lobby, kids…

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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93 Responses to Titles Are Hard…

  1. Happy birthday, Hook! I am proud to call you my friend!

  2. Hey, another Pisces! Happy Birthday, buddy!

    Between the 80s references and the information about not drinking or smoking, I have Adam Ant’s “Goody Two-Shoes” stuck in my head. It’s too early to tell if I should thank you or curse you for that.

  3. Ranting Crow says:

    Just smiled seeing Superman there. you would start to wonder if he even sleeps he has been crossing over from group to group. Yeah I do Used to read comics :D just to cool.

    If the world is a stage I rather not be an actor. :D cheers.

    Thank you for the smiles.

  4. Russ Ray says:

    Ah… I loved All-Star Squadron as a kid. Nobody understood why when there were many more famous DCU heroes/teams. I think seeing Robotman’s human brain in one of the issues and the JLA crossover with Per Degaton got me hooked. Plus, Firebrand was kinda hot…

  5. susielindau says:

    Happy Birthday my friend! I hope it rocks just like you!
    I love this- “They say all the world is a stage and one thing I’ve learned is that no one is going to hand you a role. You have to lie, cheat, bitch-slap and do whatever it takes to carve out a recurring role in this drama we call life that people will take notice of.” So true! I keep thing that I’m “here” and desperately want to be “there.” Bring on the bitch-slapping!

  6. Happy Birthday! Loved the list and my OCD is very happy that you followed social convention and had 10 items! :) Hope you day gets better!

  7. Happy Birthday, Hook! I certainly hope your day gets better for you.
    You brought back some wonderful memories of French Fries and Gravy at Diana Sweets, I haven’t thought of that place in years. Is it still there? Do people still go there for FF & G?
    The “Hi-Lite” on Queen Street in Niagara was the same…especially on Thursday nights when everyone hung out downtown. This is all before your time, isn’t it?

    • The Hook says:

      Diana Sweets is long gone, I’m afraid, Michelle.
      I even missed the opportunity to purchase a booth at auction.
      Damn.
      And no, the Hi-Lite wasn’t before my time – not really.

      • That would have been very cool to have a booth. It saddens me that it is gone. I hate when “my” history fades away. The Hi-Lite was quite the spot in its heyday it probably isn’t nearly as popular now. I have to wonder if the Regus Brothers still own it. They own Chatters on Portage and another one on St. Paul in St. Kitts.

  8. 1jaded1 says:

    Happy, Happy Birthday to you! And many more, friend.

  9. When I was a kid, I would always set my alarm to an in-between number, like 6:37, because I never understood why the social convention dictated you had to wake up at 6:30 or 6:45.

  10. Steph says:

    Happy Birthday, and thanks for sharing.

  11. Happy birthday! Hope you get a little peace and quiet…and some really good cake. I really enjoyed the tidbits of yourself that you chose to share. (Obviously, I’m very different than you in that area as I sometimes border on “overshare”.)

  12. Ned's Blog says:

    Generally, I don’t care for fish. You are a major exception. Cheers to you on this day, and the joy it has given to the many fortunate who get to follow your writings. Being a comic-geek myself, I think we should seriously consider forming our own Justice League at some point. And just because you’re a Pisces doesn’t mean you have to be Aqua-Man.

    Cheers and the Happiest of Birthdays to you, my friend!

  13. Robin says:

    Refuse to relinquish your happy day, turn the wheel yourself. Thanks for stepping out of your comfort zone.

  14. Happy birthday!

    Re: #3, I’m really missing running right now, but not running reminds me how good walking feels. It’s recommended I exercise 30 minutes a day right now, and it not only feels good during and just after, but I feel much better all around. I remember walking 30 minutes a day my last pregnancy, but I was moving so slow it barely qualified as moving. I wonder if my BP is better this time because I’m, you know, moving.

    Kinda re: #6, I’m reading a book you might enjoy. It’s a love story of sorts between two kids in the 80s, a love that develops over comic books. Called Eleanor and Park, it’s a quick read that I’m trying to turn into a slower read . . . on account of having paid $20 for the book!

    Most importantly, and what bears repeating? HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  15. Paul says:

    Happy Birthday Hook! As a new reader (of your post – I’ve actually been reading in general a while now) this is the first time I’ve seen you share personal info – thank you for your trust. You brought back many memories for me of hot summer days as a youngster wandering with purpose in my home town – safe from danger and oblivious to the larger evils in the world. And too, Mc Elmon’s the corner store where every dime I earned went to comics. Thanks for the memories and may your special day turn out the best!

  16. katecrimmins says:

    Happy birthday and keep those stories coming. Some of us live vicariously through you. (Yes, I know. It’s scary.)

  17. Happy Birthday Hook. What a fun trip down your memory lane. Wishing you the very best of what’s to come in wealth, health, wit, and wisdom. You’re well on your way in the wit and wisdom department, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for the other two too. Cheers to you!

  18. Sofia Leo says:

    Happy Birthday, Hook! May the rest of your day be as wonderful as the memories you shared.

  19. Carrie Rubin says:

    Fun to learn these things about you, but sorry your day has started so crappy. As for #7 on your list, isn’t that the truth? You put it succinctly, and I think your assessment is spot on.

  20. Julie says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOOK! Thanks for sharing! Hope the day brightens ups for you!

  21. Michael says:

    Happy birthday! :)

  22. Happy Birthday Hook! Here’s hoping you have a great day ahead (not that you shouldn’t have other great days) hopefully with loads of comic books and as birthday protocol suggests – a cake! :)

  23. Jo Bryant says:

    Happy birthday Hook. Hey buddy…can you go and change your settings so you see the whole post when you view it in your reader. I have taken to using my kindle, makes it so much easier to really catch up with blogs. Not so much switching around. I didn’t have it set that way either, but it helps.

    Oh and…

    from me and The Boys !!!!!

  24. Katie says:

    Happy Birthday, Hook! I wish you many rare comic books with first appearances (did I say that right)?

  25. Happy birthday, buddy. Fries and gravy is a great way to celebrate, I think.

  26. Happy birthday, Hook. May your continued journey as life’s witness entertains rather than disgust.

  27. Tom Merriman says:

    Happy Birthday, Hook! So, was All-Star Squadron 31 your first ever comic book? I only ask as I owned a copy of that book (I may still do so, somewhere…!). My first was Justice League of America 159 from 1978. I own two of those now… (I’m such a show-off!) and it took me thirty years or so to get part two of the story. Anyway, life changing moments aside, I hope you’re having a great birthday!

  28. Another great post Hook. Point (8) does it for me… And Happy Birthday man.

  29. Happy birthday, my friend!! May you have a happy day filled with relatively sane people. Present comment author excluded. :D

  30. What an excellent day to fight yourself into being. I speak of experience – many years ahead of you. Congratulations my friend. And who could imagine you being almost choked on the irony! Just proves what a special day we share!

  31. Happy Birthday my friend Mr. Hook!! I hope it is a wonderful and peaceful day surrounded by those you love….thanks for giving us a little glimpse of the “real you”! :-)

  32. Jennie Saia says:

    I like alone time and candy too, Hook. Happy Hooking Birthday!

  33. renxkyoko says:

    Excellent post, Mr. Hook. I love reminisces. ( spelling? Oh, well)

  34. Happy Birthday, my friend and I think the wheel is already turning your way!! ;-)

  35. Daile says:

    Happy Birthday Hook, to you, to Jackie and to your anniversary. You are awesome and I am sending you and your family lots of love for this special month. Be well as always and thanks for the shoutout :)

  36. Amy Reese says:

    Happy Birthday, Hook! Happy Anniversary to you and your lovely wife!! I hope you have many more cosmic comic book moments. My husband is a fanatic, so I totally get it. Enjoy!

  37. Happy Birthday, Hook. the world is better with you in it. Thanks for all your tales – and hope the day improves

  38. samara says:

    Happy Birthday, Hook!
    I’d love to see a post that goes into more detail about number 3…

  39. Trent Lewin says:

    Best wishes, Hook. Thanks for the All-Star Squadron shout out, it’s been years. I got into them for a bit in the 80’s.

    For some reason, I don’t think you hate people. You seem to have too much humanity for that.

    • The Hook says:

      True. I was just embracing my emotions at that moment.
      I miss the All-Star Squadron…

      • Trent Lewin says:

        I miss comics in general. I stopped reading after the Dark Knight Returns came out. I didn’t think anything could ever top that.

      • The Hook says:

        True.
        But there’s been some kick-ass lower tier stories published since then. DC’s Forever Evil crossover is way cool, for example.

      • Trent Lewin says:

        I figure one day I’ll just get back into comics again. I always think about it, but hasn’t happened yet. Honestly, reading blog posts is what my time is dedicated to these days, and I have a blast interacting with people that way.

      • The Hook says:

        And I for one am glad to have you around, buddy.

      • Trent Lewin says:

        Too many good people and writers for me to do anything but hang around and try to sit my hat alongside theirs (and yours).

  40. Eva says:

    Hope it’s not too late to wish you a happy birthday.

  41. Happy Birthday me old chum!

  42. Oh I missed your birthday? Boo. :-( Happy belated birthday Hook! I enjoyed this more personal post. It was lovely learning more about you.

  43. bardictale says:

    Happy belated birthday, Hook^^ May you gather more good times than bad from the following years.

  44. Tom Lucas says:

    Happy Birthday, you HOOKer.

  45. djmatticus says:

    Happy (belated) birthday. I hope the day did take a turn for the better.

  46. Happy b-day, Hook!!! I hope your day was as lovely and entertaining as this post ;)
    (Thanks for sharing parts of yourself!)

  47. maurnas says:

    Titles are hard for me too. And I was wondering if you were going to interview yourself. Also, I can (and do) talk about comics all day.

  48. jlheuer says:

    Happy Birthday, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet….wait who am I talking to? You’ve seen it all.

  49. Pyx says:

    I am beating myself for missing this entry – I have good reason for the delay however – Sir Hook, happiest of anniversaries to you! You do not write like a man over 25, seriously, I thought this font was much younger *wink

  50. Cameron says:

    Happy belated, Mr. Not So Terrible. Sorry to have missed the day.

  51. bfg666 says:

    Coming in a bit late here. Still, happy Hookday!

  52. List of X says:

    Happy belated birthday, Robert! Since it’s your birthday, I would absolutely let you get away with just 9 items, just for today :).
    Seriously, I write lists of 10, but I don’t judge those who choose to break the convention and go over or under. But I judge those who write lists of 10 as competition that has to be quashed… but again, not today :)

  53. curvyroads says:

    Happy Belated birthday, Wife’s birthday, and anniversary, Hook! It was nice to learn a little more about you in this post, and I share your longing for the outdoors and alone time. :-)

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