The Only Birthday Gift I Can Afford On My Current Salary…

On the surface this has appears to have been an ordinary day; The Biebs has escaped true justice once more, my all-too fragile form remains broken, Ned Hickson is still a putz, Ann St. Vincent is still steaming up computer screens everywhere and Robyn Lawson and The Bloggess are still making people wet themselves with laughter.

But the truth is, this is a special day. Five years ago, as we humans mark the passing of time, my fractured (in more ways than one), clan was blessed with an addition that would change us beyond measure.

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(I was fully prepared to follow “blessed” with “cursed” but a certain fifteen-year-old member of my family would have my Canadian, comic book readin’, guts for garters. And her progenitor would have a field day with the rest of me.)

Growing up, I never felt that special bond that exists between man and domesticated beast. As a father I have had the privilege of witnessing what happens when you introduce a canine companion to the life of a quiet, introverted young lass. My daughter, Sarah, has spent most of her life thus far a victim of relentless bullying and an educational system run by incompetent blowhards.

But Chelsea and her sister-from-another-bitch, Tiffany, changed all that. Tiffany is chasing squirrels and humping legs in Heaven now, but her sibling has kept the faith in her place. Chelsea remains dedicated to the fulfillment of a singular mission: To enrich our lives with her special brand of crazy.

(I remain convinced, however, that her true mission is to usurp me as the head of the household, but no one around these parts cares what Dad has to say, so disregard this statement.)

 And yes, Sarah, I know exactly what you’re thinking right now:

“You were never the head of the household, Skippy, so give it up.”

Let’s return to that special link between a sassy. modern-day girl and her dog, shall we?

Chelsea is no mere Shih Tzu, my tailless amigos, she is a human whisperer. Sarah’s sidekick knows people better than they know themselves. When Sarah is ailing Doctor Chelsea is there to sniff her weakened form and prescribe a custom treatment. Of course, it’s always the same treatment: An extensive round of face-licking followed by sleep therapy. By that, I mean Chelsea falls asleep on the patient until her heart melts, thus distracting her from her ailment.

When any of us return home after an extended absence we’re greeted by a panting, drooling animal with an offering of a stuffed toy in its heaving mouth. This is, of course, the ultimate symbol of reverence in canine culture and is guaranteed to result in a “Aww, how cute!”, every single time.

However, when I greet my wife while panting and drooling, the results are quite different, to say the least…

And if a fight breaks out? Well, Chelsea becomes a canine version of the United Nations – except that, in her case, she has the bite to back up her bark. And Dog help any prowler who ever decides to cross our threshold.

Truth be told, Chelsea has many gifts but her greatest talent leaves any of The Dog Whisperer’s furry charges in the dust. I’ve never discussed this publicly (I have no desire to spend the rest of my days in a hospital ward wearing a jacket with pockets in the back), but we share our little homestead with… shall we call them, the living-challenged? 

I know what you’re thinking: Yes, my doctor provided me with some kick-ass painkillers, but no, I haven’t been chasing them with paint thinner.

Every member of my family has heard the playful meow or our long-departed cat, Felix. We’ve caught glimpses of forms and shadows that don’t belong to the living. But these incidents are rare and fleeting – and have never been influenced by fever, drugs or alcohol.

Chelsea sees spirits every day. And she quit drinking years ago. She’ll spend hours staring at various points on different ceilings in our home. I’ll join her and I won’t even spot a cobweb, much less a ghostie.

Our little four-legged Ghostbuster is currently enjoying a well-deserved spa day. I can just picture her now: Her neatly trimmed fur glistening under the fluorescent lights as she regales her brethren with updates on her family’s shenanigans.

“You’ll never believe what that two-legged dumbass did this time! I woke up the other night, looked down from the bed and there he was, crawling along the floor on the way to the inside bathroom they use. We don’t even crawl! It’s bad enough he has two extra strange-looking legs these days, but now he’s doing things that cats would find strange!”

And there you have it. kids, my tribute (?) to the greatest compact doggie in all the land. To be honest, Chelsea and I have had our moments; I’ll never forget the night I returned home after a twelve-hour shift to find my wife preparing a delicious repast of chicken and rice – for Chelsea.

My grill-cheese sandwich was a feast for the taste buds, by the way.

Happy Birthday, Chelsea. You’re a steadfast companion, a credit to your race and a worthy adversary. Enjoy your day, furball.

And on a personal note, thank you for drawing me out of my tibial-plateau-fracture-induced funk. I’m not back, but I’m on the right track, at last.

Posted in Hotel Life | 33 Comments

I Am A Dumbass. Here’s Why.

Where to begin?

It is a question, no, it is the question that has plagued everyone who has ever tried to communicate, from the most brilliant writer to the first caveman who scratched up a perfectly good cave wall with messages that appeared to be insane ramblings to the rest of the tribe.

Speaking of that original set of markings, can you imagine all the information the first writer/artist wanted to convey?

  • “Females are soft and warm. After you bang them over the head with a club? Not so much.”
  • “Fire… good for making dead animal taste better.”
  • “Fire… HOT!”
  • “Beware the Kardashian tribe. Me get bad vibe from them.”

But enough about the distant past, let’s talk about recent events and how they have impacted my present… and the damage they’re going to do to my future.

First of all, I am still currently employed as a bellman. My write-up and the events that led to it are irrelevant in light of… well, you’ll soon see. Let’s just say that a really bad day effects everyone, no matter how professional they normally act, and that sometimes you run into vindictive, frigid tour guides who feel compelled to make your life a living hell even though they receive exemplary service. Long story short, I lost my temper in front of, not with, a tour guide who complained to the front desk. I was written up. My career will continue. End of story.

That story, at least.

 If you’d like to read about another story, well then, you’re in the right place, friends.

You see, there was once a young man named Robert who always felt he didn’t measure up in the home improvement department… probably because he didn’t. And so, his lovely vampire-lovin’ wife, who was raised in  a home of home improvement masters, did most of the heavy lifting when it came to the handyman role.

Long story short – again – Jackie has always been the one to handle the home improvements but she’s grown tired of her role and so last Thursday, while attempting to up my handyman game, I did something ridiculously stupid that I’ll be paying for, well, for the rest of my life.

Two rotten fascia boards needed to be removed from the front and side of our garage. Sounds simple enough, right? Not for me, kids. Despite the areas of rot, these suckers were nailed in tight and so, in an attempt to gain more leverage, I climbed onto a wooden sawhorse and began to bang away with a hammer.

And that’s where everything began to spiral out of control.

My hammer bounced back. I did the same. My left knee twisted and emitted a crack that filled the air. I fell to the ground, but even though I landed in a standing position, I continued to fall.

The fall wasn’t the problem, though. That crack I mentioned earlier? That was part of my left knee impacting the other with enough force to cause it to fracture.

I didn’t know any of this until the next day, when my x-rays and a CT scan revealed the truth: While the damage wasn’t serious enough to warrant surgery – but just barely – it was serious enough to force me to wear a brace for two to three months. If I place more than a feather’s weight on my left leg, I’ll be placing my health in jeopardy.

Speaking of jeopardy, do you have any idea, my friends, what happens to a bellman who cannot work in the summertime? He can’t feed himself. He can’t shower properly. And worst of all, he can’t support his family.

I had a ladder readily available, but since the boards were a mere foot above my head, I felt confident the sawhorse would do the trick.

Clearly, I am a dumbass.

Now everything has changed. Jackie has had enough to deal with over the course of the last few years but my actions have compounded her misery immeasurably. For the Niagara region’s hospitality industry, summer is the most profitable time of the year. But not for me.

Right now, as I’m sitting in bed typing away, my wife, daughter, and father-in-law are hard at work cleaning his house next door, in preparation for an imminent sale – maybe. The truth is, my family’s future is uncertain, I’ve seen to that.

There is so much I want to say, so much I want to convey, but my mind is a maelstrom of regret, anger, failure and a million other emotions. I’ve said enough for now. In spite of my physical inactivity, I won’t be blogging for the foreseeable future.

I need time to heal. I’ll be returning to the orthopedic surgeon on July 9 with my super-hot, live-in, vampire-lovin’ nurse and hopefully, my patented brand of luck will bring good news. If my body heals quickly, I’ll be able to return to work sooner than expected. If not, well, I’ll survive but my leg will never be the same. For that matter, neither will my spirit.

The truth is, I feel like a complete and utter failure. Not only have I let down my family financially, I may have ruined my daughter’s summer. Sarah can’t even enjoy a good night’s sleep without the sound of her old man hobbling his way to the bathroom. The seemingly-simple act of urinating has become a major operation.

I can either crawl across the floor or I can bounce along on crutches, shattering the night’s silence with a series of metallic clicks. Either way, once I reach the toilet, the real fun begins. Pulling one’s shorts down with a brace in the way is not fun at all, kids. Once the deed is finally done, I have to pull myself up, putting further strain on my good leg, and repeat my pathetic shuffle back to bed.

But enough wallowing, my family has returned and so I must take my leave of you, for how long, I cannot say. In the meantime, thank you for your time and friendship.

Be well, and stay off those sawhorses, they’re killers.

 

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , | 71 Comments

Don’t Blog Angry? Yeah, Right…

Well, I’ve been at work for an hour-and-a-half and so far all I have to show for it is the news of an impending write-up and a bagel (a guest call that ends with zero dollars in the bellman’s pocket), from a Middle-Eastern douchebag.

Go, Team Hook.

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , | 34 Comments

A Little Wisdom For The Coming Week…

Here are a few fun facts:

  1. When I first became a bellman seventeen years ago, NO ONE – and I mean NO ONE – travelled with a laptop or any sort of electronic device.
  2. Blogs were slowly springing into existence and had yet to set the world on fire.
  3. People weren’t exactly nicer, but they were certainly less open about their skeletons and general nuttiness.
  4. In my seventeen years as a bellman I’ve rarely had a day as horrible as I have had today – and my shift is only half over.
  5. I began working twenty minutes before my shift officially began and the internal politics bullshit, travellers’ madness and general insanity overwhelmed me within minutes.

All that having been said, I find myself revisiting a little piece of wisdom from my past that I wish to share with you now, my friends – whether you like it or not.

My grandfather, a Polish immigrant the size of an actual European mountain, once told me, “It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you take pride in the man you see in the mirror at the end of the day.”

Of course, he also told me whiskey would put hair on my chest, which for some reason I felt was an important feature for a six-year-old to add to his bodily repertoire… so I downed an entire glass in front of a full bar of grandpa’s contemporaries.

I then yakked all over the actual bar.

And a prostitute named Midnight Mary.

(Her real name was Gladys, which explains why she felt compelled to adopt a “stage-name” as it were. No one screams, “Yeah, that feels so good, Gladys! You’re a real sexy bitch!”)

He may not have had the greatest instincts when it came to child-rearing, but my grandfather’s point about work was valid, however. You have to find a special place inside your soul where you’re a champion, a hero, a warrior-born, and you need to visit that place when times get tough, which they tend to do. Now, whenever the weight of my existence as a working-class dog begins to wear me down I do this in my head…

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 … and then I don’t feel so bad.

Have a joyous and unproductive weekend, my friends, and remember this post when Monday rolls around, okay?

 See you in the lobby, kids…

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , , , | 48 Comments

5×5 With The Hook: Susie Lindau.

I’m going to let today’s guest handle things, if that’s all right with you folks….

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 I’m like a fly on the wall today at Hook’s place. Woohoo!

If you don’t know Susie Lindau, if you haven’t been touched by her grace, her humanity, her beautiful insanity, then I feel for you, I really do. She’s a wild ride, folks, truly.

 I’m referring to her blog, of course. Perverts.

Speaking of which, Susie’s “About” page holds the best answer I can find to the question, “Who the hell is this Susie Lindau chick anyway?”

I will always be a kid at heart. Sometimes I jump in with both feet before considering the risk. That’s okay. I am an adrenaline junkie.

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After being raised in the land of happy people and cheese, otherwise known as Wisconsin, I transplanted to Boulder, Colorado which is home to the most active people in the country. My passions include family, skiing, tennis, writing, art, photography and anything that takes me outdoors to enjoy our 300 sunny days. Yep. There are 300 of them, every year.

I love writing about all kinds of adventures both real and imagined usually with a little twist and a sense of humor. Oh, and did I mention that I love to dance?

I host Use Me and Abuse Me Day virtual parties so bloggers can meet each other. Readers are welcome to post a link to their blog in my comment section and then “mingle” with the guests. It is a great place to meet up and “pick up” a few hot new subscribers! The next party will be held on Monday, April 21st, so be ready to dance! See, I told you…

I finished my first novel. It’s a paranormal thriller with a little romance thrown in for fun. It takes place in the South of France, after all. The apparitions and premonitions in my story are based onsome of my own experiences. Creepy. I know!

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, I started writingThe Boob Report. I can’t change the fact that I will always have breast cancer associated with my name, but I can try to change the way people think about the dreaded disease. I will occasionally add updates recounting my boobectomy and recovery. Boobs can be pretty funny.  Nothing could keep this Wild Rider down for long.

Be sure to friend request me on Facebook –Susie Lindau, follow me on Twitter –@susielindau, or email me at susielindau@gmail.com, especially if you need a columnist for your newspaper. A girl can dream, right?

And yes, I’m letting Susie do all the work, but that’s only because she’s so talented. And insightful, decent and gorgeous. And I’m a lazy prick.

In short, folks, nothing can keep this chick down. Not breast cancer. Not the challenges of parenthood and marriage. Not even the failure of her series of inspirational videos entitled, “So what if you’re a loser? Get Over It, Ya Prick!”

And now, kids, five questions and answers with Susie Lindau.

1)  You’ve been through the wringer recently; how do you maintain that special upbeat quality, that “Susieness,” that defines you?

   Susieness? I love it! It’s gotta be my silly sense of humor. I was born sunny-side up and am a goofball with very little shame. Somewhere along the long road of life, I learned to laugh at myself. I have a habit of over-sharing the ridiculousness. The most embarrassing things happen to me, so I have endless material. I should really do standup.

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No shame and a bad hair day on the Wild Ride.

2)  Favorite food in the known universe? (To be clear, we’re talking last meal quality grub.)

    I have a tendency to order healthy food, but at a last supper it would have to start with a pain du chocolat and end with a chocolate ganache, fruit and cake trifle. I’ll let your imagination roam through the main course.

   Yep. Death by chocolate.

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“A fly at Hooks”

 3)  Favorite guilty pleasure: music?

   Muse. I saw them in concert and their show was insane! Their set was constructed with flat screen TV’s which shifted to create different structures. They had a crazy laser light show. Considering we were in a humongous arena, the sound system rocked!

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 “Fly-Girl Susie rocks on with Muse.”

   Many of their lyrics are about fighting against oppression and winning. While driving down from the mountains, I heard Uprising for the first time.  I opened up the windows and joined in belting out the chorus.  I bet you could hear me all the way to Niagara Falls! I looked over at a car driving next to me and the family just gawked. I kept right on singing.

 “They will not force us, they will stop degrading us, they will not control us, We will be victorious!”

    When I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, many of their lyrics became my fight songs!  If Muse isn’t guilty enough, then it would have to be Oingo Boingo’s Only a Lad album.

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   The lyrics are hysterical. I memorized all of them. Lead singer, Danny Elfman, became a prolific movie soundtrack composer. I love listening to his humble beginnings as a firey redhead singing while bouncing across the stage.

4)  Favorite guilty pleasure: TV?

   I am busted! The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I know! You asked. It’s like playing the lottery with a 1 in 25 chance of winning or in this case, falling in love. There’s always a drama queen in the bunch whether its guys or gals. I am a total romantic.

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    My husband Danny and I only dated for a weekend before meeting with a priest and picking a date to get married. That’s why I believe it’s possible to fall in love in a short time. Come on. They have 8 whole weeks! We didn’t spend 8 weeks together until after we were married and we’ve been happily married for 26 years!

 5)  Is there a particular memory that makes you smile that you care to share?

   There are so many. The first to come to mind was my wedding day and then the birth of my two kids. Both of them graduated from college in the last six months, so that really makes me flash my pearly whites.

    What also gets me beaming is the day of my double boobectomies.  What?  My blogging friend, Brickhousechick, organized more than 45 bloggers, including you Hook, to write #SusieStrong posts. Each blogger asked their readers to pray and send out positive vibes that day. They passed along my hope that my lymph nodes were clear. They had been swollen and sore. I was pretty worried.

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 (Believe it or not, this is the face of courage personified, kids.)

   The day of the surgery, I felt elated as if I was driving to the spa! I laughed and goofed around with the doctors and nurses all morning. I blabbed on and on about my Boob Reports.

    After the surgery, I learned my lymph nodes were clear! Woohoo!

   Then I found out my friends had blogged #SusieStrong posts. I would have dropped to the floor if I hadn’t been in a hospital bed. I was so shocked and grateful!

    My onkotype, which is the sum total of factors determining the chance of cancer recurrence, dropped from 26% after the initial biopsy to 13% after surgery. It was cut in half! I didn’t need chemo or radiation. I am living proof that miracles do happen.

    There is nothing quite like the community here at WordPress. I’ve made a lot of real friends, like you Hook!

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

I’d be a fool to try to follow Susie Lindau, wouldn’t I? My thanks to my guest for being an inspiration and a true friend.

See you in the lobby, folks…

 

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , , , , | 52 Comments

The Hook Does Comic Con!

It was a dark and stormy night… in Latveria.

(Sorry, but since my body is still under viral attack and my brain has been heavily taxed by my weekend geeky shenanigans, I really didn’t know where to begin this post-Comic Con wrap-up post, so I just went with an old nerdy standby.)

Like the heroes I worship, I’m just going to take that leap and dive right into the mouth of the beast, as it were.

My lovely wife, whom I spared the horror of attending this year’s nerdgasm event, was more than happy to navigate the convention traffic jam and drop me off Sunday morning. It was obvious from the get-go that my dream of attending a comic book convention in my not-so-secret-identity of Robert Hookey was just that, a dream that would never pierce reality.

“Was that your mom dropping you off, buddy? What are you, twenty-five-years-old?”

That lovely greeting came from a teenage Eleventh Doctor knock-off who was accompanied by two… I don’t know what the hell they were supposed to be and I didn’t care. At that moment, as I was surrounded by the moving crowd making its way to the doors Scotiabank Convention Centre, it was clear I needed to return fire – and fast.

“Actually, I’m forty-three and that was my wife. The one I had sex with last night while you guys were no doubt wearing blindfolds and jerking each other off.”

The crowd, which included two families, a pair of newlyweds in matching original generation Star Trek uniforms and three pretty girls clad in Disney princess dresses, broke up as my would-be hecklers suppressed the urge to pee themselves from embarrassment. From there, the fun kept on coming.

Forward-thinking and experience meant I already had my ticket and so within minutes I was in the building – where an amped-up security officer literally pushed me through the line as my fellow attendees were having their online tickets scanned. I made an honest effort to explain that no one had torn off the necessary portion of my ticket, but my manhandler was too busy examining the weapons of some Lord of the Rings refugees to notice me. My experience with the stormtroopers security were soon forgotten, however, once I crossed that threshold and my feet were firmly planted on the convention floor.

My eyes were dazzled by the ocean of vendor signage, the stark black curtains separating various convention districts, the intermingling, gaudily-clad bodies of wannabe heroes, villains and creatures of all sort, the 1980s red-and-white goodness of the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1, and the various other color configurations one would only find on a convention floor. My ears were blasted with announcements for various Q and A sessions with celebrities, video game music and the symphony of human interaction that included declarations such as:

  • “Oh come on, baby, it’s Comic Con! You know it’s always been my dream to do it at Comic Con!”  (I hope it was also his dream to have his girlfriend storm off in an ultra-mega-huff during Comic Con, ’cause that’s exactly how it played out.)
  • “I’m not paying 95$ so the kids can get Shatner’s autograph, Tracy! Captain Kirk can shove a tribble up his ass!”  (More on autograph prices later, kids. Suffice to say, there was a collective groan from the assembled Niagara Falls Comic Con crowd when they became aware of just how much certain celebrities were demanding for their John Hancocks.)
  • “Is that the girl from Growing Pains? I thought she was dead!”  (Setting the record straight: Tracey Gold is very much alive and well. Although, judging from the lack of activity at her table – I spent the day circling celebrity Row and I didn’t see a single fan approach her all day – the world may not be aware of that.)

My olfactory senses were overcome by the smell of overpriced food, body odor, perfume, magic markers, faded glory and desperation. All in all, it was a typical Comic Con entrance.  I took a deep breath, readied my legs for the marathon laps to come, and began circling the convention floor. I scored some choice graphic novel collections of Marvel Comics’ The Defenders, originally priced at 60$ each, for the bargain basement price of 5$.

 I won’t lie to you, folks, my inner geek was sporting wood at this deal.

Yes, I really am that nerdy at times.

The convention was a great place to score the comics I enjoyed as a wee lad, the ones I parted with through one circumstance or another.

After an hour of scouring the back-issue bins of my local faves, Big B Comics and of course, Pulp Comics, I switched tracks and began indulging one of my favorite pastimes… the observation of the human animal in his natural environment. 

 

The sub-group I focused my attention on was one that I’ve always found particularly fascinating. In their most natural state they derive great pleasure from drawing attention to themselves. Many mammals prefer solitude over the glare of the spotlight but this breed thrives on observation. Indeed, without it, they find themselves lost and vulnerable. There were three distinct groupings of this particular breed of human and each was fascinating in its own way.

The Super Nova-Class of celebrities present at the convention included:

  • Chandler Riggs of The Walking Dead, the hottest show on television that doesn’t flash boobs, dragons or gratuitous medieval violence every five minutes.
  • The one and only William Shatner, a man whose first major TV series – a little TV show “he did as a lark for a few years” – inspired fans to begin gathering for conventions in the first place.
  • Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men.
  • Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad fame.  No actor alive has ever been considered cooler for having half his face blown off.
  • The 7th Doctor Who, Sylvester McCoy.

Interesting story about Chandler Riggs: One of my daughter’s BFFs, Katie, paid 40$ for his autograph, “and a hug!”, and afterwards she hovered around to soak in his teenage greatness. During this time, several fans of the little guy handed over another $40 to pose with their hero but a few of them, for reasons that escape me, decided to grab his little behind, prompting his mother to refund their money and cancel all further photo ops. Even the press was informed, “No pictures. He’s underage.”

As for photos of Capt. Kirk (120$ a pop), well that’s another story entirely. Shatner was blocked from view by a hulking security guard – a local beast who is actually an ex-colleague and whose local rep is notorious for reasons I won’t go into here; suffice to say, the man has a bad attitude that I soon discovered through conversations with other volunteers made itself known over the weekend. So foul is this man’s attitude that one volunteer, after being shoved in public by his fellow worker, ripped off his Comic Con shirt on the floor and “resigned” with a hearty “Fuck this!”

Every time anyone even attempted to get a long-distance shot of Bill with their own camera they were blocked and scolded by security. I watched this carefully for several minutes until I was inspired into action after a young mom and her daughter were pushed back by the Man Mountain security agent.

I went into full Hook mode and began heckling Shatner’s security duo.

“Seriously, Bill? These mere mortals aren’t worthy of gazing upon The Mighty Shat? They’re forbidden from capturing your godlike visage with their puny devices? You really need the money bad enough to go to this length? I bet Spock would allow a shot or two!”

The crowd went wild. Security moved towards me until they realized they’d be exposing Bill to the crowd. My point made, I moved on. One more thing about Bill: his “people” made reservations for him at a local pizzeria with very specific stipulations: High-end, premium cuts of steak were ordered and a certain type of salmon was fetched for the captain.

He then cancelled. That’s our Billy.

Next up, the celebrities that walk that very thin line between hot and cold:

  • Wrestler Ric Flair.  He’s probably inspired more childhood injuries that Adam West but people still love the guy.
  • Dean Cain.  He’s still super. He hunts Bigfoot. He’s still a draw.
  • Marina Sirtis of Star Trek: TNG.  She was situated beside Shatner and you could literally see the drool running down her face as she studied the size of his line.
  • Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters.
  • Hercules Kevin Sorbo.
  • Tony Todd of Candyman and a million other films where he became known as “That guy from…”.

Finally, there was the Ghost Town inhabited by those folks you remember but whose star has faded. I circled this are all day and didn’t see a fan in line once.

  • The aforementioned Tracey Gold.  People kept stopping to see if she appeared healthy but that’s as far as it went.
  • Burt Young. “Paulie” of Rocky fame.
  • Erika Eleniak of Baywatch jiggle fame.
  • David Faustino of Married… With Children.
  • Barbie Blank is best known for her time as the WWE Divas Champion Kelly Kelly.

One of Eleniak’s female handlers walked by me at one point and remarked, “She’s pretty disappointed with her turnout today.”, prompting me to pose the following suggestion:

“Why doesn’t she make out with Barbie Blank? That should get them plenty of attention.”

That suggestion did not go over well.

My observations concluded, I moved on. I stopped by Archie Comics’ artist Dan Parent’s booth and scored a signed sketchbook for my daughter. Sarah is a huge fan of Parent’s work but in retrospect, I really should have flipped through the sketchbook before handing over my money.

Sarah has become quite the little feminist and so she was quite perturbed by some of parent’s pieces.

“Hey, Skippy! have you seen some of this guy’s sketches? You can tell a lot about him from some of these!”

(Yes, she calls me “Skippy”. I’m so proud. Come to think of it, I should have scored a copy of that sketchbook for myself.)

Needless to say, I’m still hearing about this and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

After a few more conversations with my fellow nerds, vendors, volunteers and a few minor celebrities, I called it quits and headed home to scan my wares. Of course, I did that after sitting through a well-intentioned lecture on feminism as it relates to the work of Dan Parent. At least my kid believes in something, right?

By the way, click Here for my buddy John Law’s post-con report. He lays out the current state of the con pretty well, if I do say so myself. Comic Con’s Facebook page tells an interesting tale as well. Look for the comments from the former Green Ranger; he’s pretty pissed at the organizers and so he gave them a few virtual Mighty Morphin power kicks to the head.

See you in the lobby, kids… and maybe the convention floor next year?

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Why I Love Comic Cons. (I swear, the post is better than the title.)

I’m still operating at 40% power, but writing this  post is an alternative to staring at throngs of  travelers as they drag their overloaded backpacks, duffel bags, cardboard boxes, laundry baskets, strollers and various other makeshift suitcases through the lobby.

And besides, I’m only operating at 60% power on a good day anyway, so what the hell?

The Niagara region’s version of Nerdvana, otherwise known as Niagara Falls Comic Con, begins tomorrow, and so I figured this would be a good time to share some of my favorite things about my hometown gathering of the-no-longer-considered-the-lunatic-fringe comic fans and cons in general.

10)  The epic scale:  There’s something very liberating about becoming lost in a crowd of like-minded individuals. Overall, I’m a pretty well-adjusted guy but even The Hook needs to stop being The Hook for a while. (Shut up, Ned Hickson, I can practically hear you rolling your eyes at my use of the term “well-adjusted”.)

I love the idea of just wandering the convention floor and letting my senses drink in the sights, sounds, smells and the general vibe of fandom at its purest.

9)  The pretty girls:  I’m happily married, but I’m also a man and the man in me doesn’t mind seeing a pretty girl or two, especially if they’ve gone out of their way to squeeze themselves into some spandex and layered on several ounces of make-up for my benefit.

  This weekend is Niagara Falls Comic Con! I’ll be working the Cosplay for A Cure booth all weekend, making me nice and easy to find  Saturday: Query and Echo  Sunday: Wonder Girl

8)  The effect pretty girls have on some of my fellow nerds:  If you haven’t seen a grown man in an ill-fitting Batman costume pee himself when surrounded by a bevy of ridiculously attractive cosplayers dressed as slutty versions of their favorite superheroes, I highly recommend it.

It was the best fifty bucks I ever spent.

7)  These guys: 

You can’t buy this kind of entertainment, kids. Humans are at their best when they believe themselves to be invincible. At a con, anything goes, and that’s the way the world should work every day.

6)  If I’m at a con, I’m not working:  Don’t get me wrong, I love my role as the World’s Most Honest/Blunt Bellman, but a day off doesn’t suck, friends. When I’m Robert Hookey, a not-so-mild-mannered citizen, I can relax and turn off my super powers of observation and snark. I still encounter the wackiest beings the universe has ever produced, but I can approach each encounter differently.

No one can fire me when I’m a civilian.

5)  SHATNER!!  If you don’t know the name, you’re not worth my time. Even his critics – of which there are literally billions – respect at least one hundred of his thousands of accomplishments/credits. Somewhere along the line we’ve all forgotten that the Shat -Man is a classically-trained stage actor.

He’s been to space. He’s been Denny Crane. He’s killed music. He’s written several books that I’ve read and they all rock. He is no longer a man but rather, an institution unto himself. And Sunday, for a few brief hours, he belongs to the nerds of Niagara Falls.

“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE SHAT, HOOK!”

4)  Bacon:  There will be bacon at the convention and bacon makes everything better. If William Shatner smelled like bacon he’d be the most popular actor in the history of the profession. (Told you I wasn’t operating on all thrusters.)

3)  The faces behind the pages:  Neal Adams. Kevin Eastman. Leonard Kirk. Dan Parent.  These names may not mean much to you – but I’ll let it pass.. this time. All of these men are legendary artists/writers and they’ll be joined by several of their brethren throughout the weekend.. Collectively, these creators have influenced my life on a scale I cannot articulate.

2)  Comics:  With all the hype and attention we pay to the celebrities, the free swag, the video games, the horror movies and everything else going on at a con, we tend to forget about the comic book component of a comic book convention.

1)  I get to be a kid again:  You know that sense of wonder that most people sacrifice when they cross the threshold to “adulthood”? They infuse it back into you when you set foot on a convention floor – whether you like it or not.  Fortunately, I’ve never been an adult, although I do play one in the so-called real world. Still, attending a con allows me to truly geek out with best of them.

That having been said, there are no geeks at a con, only fans. There are no freaks, only devoted acolytes. If Jonah Hill called anyone a faggot at a con, he’d be dead in fifteen seconds flat, most likely from a proliferation of phasers to the rectum.

A con is a safe zone for the world’s outcasts. A con is a place where dreamers gather to marvel at the beauty, complexity and diversity of dreams. Period.

And that’s all I have to say about that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need some aspirin and and some rest before I embark on The Hook’s Great Adventure.

See you in the lobby – and the convention floor, kids.

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