Author Robert Hookey Answers Eight Overly Long Questions By Journalist Paul Eisenberg.

It may not always feel l like it, but I’ve been very fortunate in my life; while others have run across fearsome trolls, stalkers, and Republicans, I’ve met some truly amazing people on Twitter.

Like this guy, the one who has taken time from his ridiculously-busy schedule to join us today. There are some writers who can make anyone sound cool. Today’s guest proves that with this interview.

Paul Eisenberg, after accompanying his travel writer dad to the Peruvian Amazon, (where apparently he did not come across an ancient Peruvian idol that bestowed upon him all the powers of the jungle creatures, or did he?) had his first trip report published at age 15 in Junior Scholastic magazine and has been a fan of family travel and journalism ever since.

Paul fits right in here, doesn’t he?

He’s serves as editorial director at Fodor’s, where for nearly a decade he directed a guidebook program including U.S. and family travel titles. He has reported on travel for Barclaycard, Shermans Travel, and FoxNews.com, has written about parenting for Nick Jr. magazine and authored the sixth edition of Fodor’s Around New York City with Kids. (I’ve done nothing in my life compared to Paul.)

In 2010 his article about medical tourism received a Lowell Thomas Award, the highest honor in travel journalism. (Told ya so.) Paul and his wife live in New York City with their three children. That’s right, NYC. In a totally unelated note, my daughter, the ultimate Broadway fan, has filed for political asylum and is planning to take up sanctuary at Paul’s house in the Big Apple.

Now on with the show!

PAUL: If no one reads any further than this question, what is the one thing you would want the world at large to know about you, something that’s not obvious that might make someone’s jaw come unhinged or, at the very least, drop a little bit in surprise?

RH:  In spite of the tone of my Twitter feed and my blog posts, I’m not as cynical as I appear to be from my writing. Now that I’m in my fifties and have been through a crisis or two, I get emotional at the drop of a hat. Heck, I even cry at Kleenex commercials; ironically, there are never any tissues around when that happens.

PAUL: Let me not bury the lead any further. I read your latest work, Into the Dark: Book One of the Infinite Crossover Crisis, and will repeat here what I told you privately: Your storytelling is simply great. I appreciated how fun your story settings were — they were places I enjoyed escaping to as a reader. And, I’d like to think, I got most of the references. To that point, there are a lot of pop culture references in the book, which itself is genre-defying — it has elements of sci-fi and fantasy, a respectable amount of mystery, and wisecracks at every turn. If you were pitching this book to me in a publishing meeting and I asked you, what part of the bookstore should I put it in, how would you answer, after perhaps stifling an eye roll?

RH:  That’s a good question! (Told ya this guy was phenomenal.) First I’d suggest establishing a Superhero Fiction section, then I’d suggest you could get away with filing Into The Dark in the Sci-fi, Fantasy or even the Mystery sections. Dealer’s choice, really. The only thing keeping it from the Graphic Novels section is the lack of images. It really is a shame bookstores don’t have aisles dedicated to “Pop Culture Smorgasbords.”

PAUL:  Into the Dark is not your first book. You also wrote The Bellman Chronicles, which I think is not-so-secretly based on your life in the hospitality industry. How did this book come to pass, and for those hotel guests past and present who might be too squeamish to really dig into your book, what’s the one thing you desperately want hotel guests to know, especially in our current age of pandemic travel?

RH:  I wrote The Bellman Chronicles because I couldn’t afford therapy. Period. Being a fly on hotel walls isn’t as much fun as one would imagine. I’ve seen the very best and the unbelievable worst humanity has to offer; I can’t prove it of course, but I’m certain I’ve shook hands with more than one actual devil. And I’m not referring to O.J. Simpson. (The Juice was actually one of the nicest guests I’ve ever served in all of our encounters.) And so I desperately needed to vent while entertaining readers in the process. As far as a message to guests: “Hotel staff are people, too. Like you, they have feelings, and, like you, should be treated with respect. Cross them and you will pay a price… whether you realize it or not. I guarantee it.”

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PAUL: You and I are members of a very large, probably intergalactic club — people with “day jobs” who are driven to write on the side. And by several measures, you are successful at it, having now published two books. What would your best piece of advice be to a fellow day jobber who comes home too tired to write or perhaps lacks the drive to keep at it?

RH:  If you can only write five minutes a day, every day, you’ll reach the finish line eventually. In fact, every word you jot down, every paragraph you complete, every chapter you sign off on will leave you feeling empowered. Before you know it, you’ll be editing your first blog post or short story or novel. You can do it, you just have to believe there’s a world within you worth sharing. (Yes, it’s corny, but it’s true.) 

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PAUL: Let’s segue from writerly wisdom into fatherly wisdom. You once suggested that the cure for writer’s block was to step away from the keyboard and spend time with your family until you “annoyed them enough to inspire them to collectively yell, ‘Get back to work!'” But we both know that part of a good dad’s job is to be annoying, often reliably so. What is your best piece of parenting advice for a new dad?

RH:  Boys can wear pink and girls can play sports. When you see your kids discovering what works for them, regardless of what it is, help them embrace it. Make sure your kids, especially boys, have a good moral code to guide them through an increasingly-hostile world. There aren’t enough men out there today who truly respect women.

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PAUL: You and I came to know each other on Twitter. Since all of us — writers and civilians alike — are doomed to spend at least part of the rest of our lives on social media, what would be your best piece of advice for someone brand spanking new to Twitter, who perhaps doesn’t know what they’re in for?

RH:  Try not to get involved in cyber-feuds. (I was guilty of replying in a snarky tone before considering the consequences of my actions quite often in the early days of my Twitter “career”.) You get back what you put out in this life and social media is no exception. So be encouraging and do your best to raise people up rather than tear them down.

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PE: In addition to being a fan of the sound of my own questions, as everyone can tell, I like trying to get other writers to distill their thoughts into pearls of wisdom, in part because it is devilishly hard — for instance, whether you’re writing a haiku, a tweet, an email subject line, or something similar with a limited number of characters, sometimes, you really just have to be brief. So, to close on this on a cheerfully morbid note, what would you want your epitaph to be?

RH:  “He just wanted people to like him more than he liked himself.”

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PAUL: Anything else you’d like society to know about you, your life, or your work that my often-narrow questions may not have given you the opportunity to answer?

RH:  Into The Dark came to life as the world appeared to be imploding. The American president weaponized his followers to stage an insurrection. Whole societies appeared to be crumbling both literally and economically as their citizens fell prey to an insidious virus that some still refuse to believe even exists. It became a crime to be Black in North America.

But the Infinite Crossover Crisis takes place in a world of my choosing, one that I can control. One where my best friend killed himself. But his story doesn’t end there. A world where there may actually be a single ray of hope somewhere in the all-encompassing darkness, if my heroes are willing to sacrifice enough to find it.

There were literally 48.5 million books available on Amazon.com as of last year (I can’t type those numbers anymore, not without throwing up in my mouth a little) so there are no lack of choices for readers, but I hope people will give Into The Dark a chance. My style is unique, I cross genres – and even realities – in this book and I’ve tried to lay the groundwork for a world I think we’d all be happy to inhabit for a little while.

Into The Dark is available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, and even .MiddleEarth. (I don’t seem to have the link for that one.) Paul Eisenberg is available on his Twitter feed and TravelingDad.com. As for me, just come to Niagara Falls, ask for The Hook, he will help you. Wait, that was Kung-Fu. If you’re here, you already know where to find me, so never mind. Just take care of yourselves in the meantime, okay? The so-called real world has never been more dangerous.

See you in the lobby and the virtual bookstores, friends…

Posted in Hotel Life | 15 Comments

What’s The Hook Been Up To?

As you can see, I haven’t lost my flair for titles.

Self-deprecating humor aside, I find myself in a state of confusion where this site is concerned. I no longer write about hotel adventures – since bellmen no longer exist at the moment – and ironically, I found it too emotionally draining to write about things to live for. I kept returning to days overflowing with pain and self-doubt.

And those days are a drag.

I’ll always miss Ronnie with an ache in my frozen Canadian heart, but there was a time I’d tear up every single day with regrets and grief; mostly when I was walking to work in the early mornings as the world was still and I was shrouded in darkness.

But those days are gone.

Now my grief has become creative energy directed at achieving one goal: conquering the literary world with the first book in my Infinite Crossover Crisis series, Into The Dark. To that end I’ve managed to convince a few respectable journalistic establishments to write pieces on yours truly, as if I was an actual author or something.

(To be clear, I fall squarely in the “or something” category.)

First off, we have John Law of the Niagara Falls Review. John turned the tables on The Hook and put me in the 5×5 spotlight.

Next, I dipped a few toes in the book trailer pond and here’s the newest result.

And finally, friends, my latest media invasion involves the always-amazing Liz Braun of the Toronto Sun. Here is Liz’s take on my newest life path, courtesy of Covid-19.

I have miles to go and no compass to guide me; building a new universe is a challenge it’s true, but selling it to the masses? That’ll make you weary through to your bones, brother. I admire every one of my self-published author allies who have reached levels of success I can only dream of.

But enough of the future. Today is all that matters, and today is yours. So go out and enjoy it, my friends.

See you in the lobby, friends…

(Incidentally, this logo was created by Jorge O’Neill of Twitter (@JorgeONeill8), a ridiculously-cool dad and supreme Flash fan.

Posted in Hotel Life | 35 Comments

What Grabs Me As A Reader? Guest Blog Post by @TheTerribleHook #TheHookReads

Lucy Mitchell is a fellow author/blogger/all-around good egg who has graciously allowed me to set up shop on her blog for a day. You owe it to yourself to check Lucy out (you know what I mean, pervs) and see what she’s capable of. She’s dedicated her life to putting positivity out into a world that has become increasingly dark and we all owe her a debt of thanks for that.

I apologize in advance for what happens next, LM…

Lucy Mitchell

Good news if you like reading. I have decided to do a regular guest post blog post for readers and let them tell us what things in books grab their attention. All genres welcome and the only stipulation is that my guest blogger must love to read books and is happy to share their reader insight on my blog.

If you are an avid reader and fancy taking centre stage on my blog please get in touch.

I am going to introduce you to Robert Hookey, one of my twitter author friends. He gave me the idea for this regular blog feature so when I have famous celebrities beating down my door to get on my blog and tell everyone what grabs their attention when they are reading, I shall blame him…lol.

Over to you, Robert.

First off, I want to thank my host, Lucy, for opening her virtual home…

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The Hook Plays God.

Hello again, friends.

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Sorry for being AWOL for so long; my world, and the whole world, for that matter, just hasn’t been the same for a year. As humanity was forced to hit the pause button I didn’t have any interest in writing. At all. I mean, what was there to write about? I stopped being a bellman in every way that matters (that hasn’t changed yet, by the way) and the world seemed to be crumbling all around me.

Then a single comment at dinner one night that changed… well, everything.

“Why don’t you write another book, Skippy? Why not write one you feel better about? You definitely have the time now!”

My Lovely Bride.

There it was in a nutshell. It’s no secret I’ve never been anything less than ashamed of the finished product of my first attempt at book writin’; The Bellman Chronicles was a rush job – and it shows. But as my spouse said, this lockdown, as horrible and financially devastating as it has been, was a chance to reboot my life as an author.

She’s the best, isn’t she? And so, I grabbed a notebook and began to build a world from the imaginary film festival/comic con that never stops raging in my head. First I looked at all the things I love, the things that make me The Hook:

  • Comic book crossovers.
  • All the works of the great Kevin Smith.
  • The never-ending battle between light and darkness.
  • The people trapped in the middle.
  • Pondering how much darker the world seems to be these days.
  • Pop culture.
  • Nerdy films like Animal House, Avengers: Endgame, The Bourne Identity.
  • Books like Doctor Sleep, and pretty much everything else by Stephen King.

Then I built a story based around those passions. I decided to tackle the idea that there was a reason civilization has become so much darker than it used to be. Then I poured in superheroes, supernatural creatures. demons, angels, real world archetypes and made them all as “real” (i.e. dysfunctional) as possible.

And that was when things got really interesting.

I took painful memories – and the emotions they stir in me – and made them work for me for once. Like the memory of standing in my mother’s hospital room staring at her lifeless body as I said goodbye to her for the last time; the stench of death was overpowering. But I’m not afraid to revisit that moment anymore.

My recollections of my fallen brother-in-arms Rockin’ Ronnie have proven to be equally painful. We had years of good times together, but for years all I had been seeing in my mind’s eye was his funeral and a video of his last moments on YouTube.

But I’m done being afraid of the dark moments of my past.

The only reason we recognize the dark is because we know it’s obscuring the light.

I loved both these people and while my relationship with both of them was strained at times (certainly one more than the other) they’ve helped make me into the devastatingly handsome, confident bellman/storyteller the world knows as The Hook. So the past is no longer a weight around my neck, threatening to pull me under but rather a resource to be used to bring me to even greater heights.

And that, my friends, brings us to Into The Dark: Book One of the Infinite Crossover Crisis. Here’s the synopsis as it appears on the back cover:

Are you afraid of The Dark?
You should
be.

They are all around you, even in the daylight. Directing. Scheming. Manipulating. Whispering in your ear. You’d see them if you only dared to really look at the shadows, at the corners and angles where the light can’t reach.

The world you’ve been living in, one where monsters don’t go bump in the night is a lie, one created to keep the sheep content while the wolves feast.

An imbalance of unimaginable proportions has swept the world, causing the concept of good vs. evil to exist only in comic books and movies. The Balance between The Light, The Grey, and The Dark has been swept away in a river of blood.

But you can go back to your cable TV, your streaming, your Insta Tikking or whatever the hell it’s called. My team and I have your back. We’re not the heroes you’d ask for, but we’re the only ones you’re going to get. God help you.

(Actually, scratch that, She’s long gone.) Okay, fine, so there’s a good chance humanity is doomed…

Imagine a world where the controls God put into place to balance humanity’s capacity for good and evil (and even apathy), have been upended. Now darkness is overwhelming humanity. God’s AWOL and all that stands between humanity and endless torment is the most dysfunctional band of heroes, rascals, miscreants and assorted goofballs to ever walk the earth.

Yep, we’re definitely doomed.

I’m hoping my little tale will strike a chord with enough readers to help me make back what I’ve already invested in formatting and cover creation costs. Barely working for a year has left me hemorrhaging cash; this may not have been the right time to publish this book, but it felt right so I dove in headfirst.

At any rate, I hope you’ll give it a look. I’m biased, but I think it’s worth your time; my storytelling style is unique and while I have miles to go as a writer, I’m damn proud of the finished product.

Here’s the link to Amazon: Into The Dark: Book One of the Infinite Crossover Crisis – Kindle edition by Hookey, Robert. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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The Happiness Report: Shantelle Bisson.

She’s written a damn good how-to tome for parents and humans in general.

She owns a freakin’ marina. (That makes her the Canadian Aquama- er, Aquawoman, in my books.)

She’s helped to raise three daughters, been part of a successful coupling for three decades, been a devoted philanthropist, and while she’s the first to admit that she’s not perfect, she’s perpetually positive while online, something most of us can only hope to do on a regular basis.

Shantelle Bisson is the name, building a media empire of TV appearances, acting credits, writing shows and reviving beloved historical marinas (among other things) is her game. Today she’s here on my humble little blog to raise the world’s collective spirit by sharing five things that make her happy even as the world appears to be imploding.

ONE)  While living during these sci-fi Covid-19 days at our LA home I have to say that the #1 thing that makes me happy currently is being Canadian. I’m proud of how not only our government has handled the virus, but also our banks and how both entities that typically take so much from us have quickly stepped up to the plate to offer aid in every way.

Let’s just say that’s not happening so much down here. Now, I’m aware that nothing is for free and this money will be taxed, but so would any income people would be making, so to me it’s fair; and it makes me happy and proud!

As a recipient of the Canadian CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) program, I wholeheartedly agree. The Canadian government has really come through for its citizens.

 

TWO)  That I’m quarantining with two of my three daughters who LOVE to cook. This is forced labor that I happen to dislike very much, with the exception of cooking for large gatherings! So the fact that I’m stuck eating at home meal after meal after damn meal, I couldn’t be HAPPIER that they’re doing the lion’s share of the work!

 

THREE)  Maybe this should have been number one…but I’m insanely happy for my health and the health of my family and my circle of special important peeps. This is an incredible gift that is seldom lost on me, but especially right now.

It’s true; if you go out to a store for essentials al you have to do is cough to clear the aisles. Good health is a superpower right now.

 

FOUR)  I’m completely blown away at the positive feedback I’m receiving about my debut book, and that despite the weird time in history that it was released my team and I are finding creative ways to connect with readers. I’m deeply happy that people give a single fuck about it, never mind they actually LIKE IT!

It’s actually really good. I’m not the target demographic for some of the chapters but I was intrigued by the section  on “dirty electricity” (it’s not, as the name implies, about coitus involving electrodes).

 

FIVE)  Tequila and Netflix are keeping me seriously happy these days!

I don’t drink alcohol, but Netflix is a lifesaver.

 

Shantilly’s Place: The freakin’ afforementioned marina.

There you have it, folks, another round of inspiring shares from a great mom and Canadian designed to boost morale for my ten readers. You’re welcome and stay safe, you hear? My eternal gratitude to Shantelle Bisson for being so accessible and generous with her still-invaluable time. FYI: You can find her work with regards to her first book: Raising Your Kids Without Losing Your Cool at Indigo, Amazon, both Canada and US, Barnes and Nobles and Target.

The follow-up, Parenting Your Teen Without Losing Your Cool, will be available, well, I don’t know when (I’m not her agent, people!) but it’s sure to be kick-ass.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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It Ain’t Easy, But Don’t Worry… Be Happy!

My best friend killed himself because he was sad.

It was a sadness that infected his very core; it may have been neurological or psychological, I’ll never know from where it emerged. It’s the same sadness that I see permeating our society today. We have been told that in order for society to move forward… we must all stand still.

On the surface, it’s a small sacrifice but people are creature sf habit and as such, tend to react badly to change.

So I thought I’d ask some people, some of whom are Canadian icons (and yes, that still counts) to share what makes them happy. That’s it. I’m hoping this simple act will make us all reflect on what makes each of us happy.

I know what you’re thinking and yes, I feel my genius is unrecognized as well. 

My first victim, contributor is the other divine Miss M, I mean Ehm, specifically, Erica Ehm, the noted Canadian writer, actor, songwriter, entrepreneur and TV host. And to be clear, she may even be a demi-goddess; the chick just doesn’t seem to age at a normal rate.

She is best known to Canucks like myself as a pioneering video jockey at the Canadian cable television station MuchMusic, which used to be the coolest music network on any continent. And most importantly, she’s a good person.  

Yep, she’s met some cool folks over the years…

 

Seriously, she reminds me of my daughter; they both care deeply about making sure our society recognizes women for the kick-ass, take-no-prisoners warriors and leaders they really are. Can you imagine how this current crisis would’ve unfolded or been handled if more women were in positions of political power?

But enough of this sappy stuff. Here are five things that make Erica Ehm happy. Read the list, then make your own. That’s an order.

ONE)  Being creative. Making something from nothing. 

My creative engine isn’t as efficient as I’d like, but I have started my first-ever fictional novel so there’s that. It’s all about a  man who battles hordes of slack-jawed zombies to seize the ultimate prize. I call it, “My Trip to Shoppers Drug Mart For Toilet Paper.”

 

TWO)  When my kids are happy I’m happy. Same goes for my husband.

Personally, my wife is happy when she’s teasing me mercilessly.

 

THREE)  Going for a run and feeling healthy, strong and powerful.

My idea of a workout these days is waking up before ten am. Bu that’s just me.

 

FOUR)  Working alongside like minded women who know how to get it done.

I actually miss the motley crew of bellmen I work with. The guests, not so much.

 

FIVE)  Being at my cottage away from responsibility.

I don’t own a cottage but writing is a great escape from responsibility and reality in general.

 

And there you go. This one’s short and sweet but powerful and effective. (I hope.) Take what you will from this and stay healthy, friends.

See you in the lobby again someday, kids…

Posted in Hotel Life | 35 Comments

Self-Quarantine Tips From The Hook.

So the whole world’s gone mad with Corona fever (metaphorically speaking, of course) and you’re in self-imposed quarantine.

Now you’re thinking: “So what the hell do I do now, Hook?”

I’m glad you asked.

ONE)  Sit down and examine your finances with a fine-tooth comb. Most of us humans never plan for this sort of thing so if we’re off work for an extended period we’re basically screwed. But if you have a few pennies in the bank that you can use to keep yourself occupied, you can continue reading.

If not, then you better see which family members you can lean on until this storm passes. And I’d be breaking out the brass knuckles and seeking out any friends that owe you a few buckies.

 

TWO)  See if your pot dealer (stores are still too expensive, or so I’m told) is willing to make deliveries in bulk. And see if he’ll pick up a skid or two of Doritos and Mountain Dew in multiple flavors for you as well.

Note: The Hook does not endorse the use of recreational drugs. However, The Hook knows some people use them and always will, so…

 

THREE)  Don’t, and I cannot stress this enough… BUY MORE TOILET PAPER THAN YOU ACTUALLY NEED!  COVID-19 DOESN’T ACTUALLY GIVE YOU DIARRHEA, SO BE REALISTIC, YOU ANTEATERS!

 

FOUR)  Get yourself a shit-ton of Popsicle sticks (you can buy them without having to gain a hundred pounds in water weight now) and build a big-ass cottage or even a whole wooden community – which will be empty because everyone in it is forced to self-quarantine. Still, you can build a little hospital that will be overrun with hypochondriacs, an unemployment office that will be set on fire by angry residents who can’t get relief fast enough, a Walmart that will be out of toilet paper in minutes, and any other building you see fit to create.

And then you can blow it all to high heaven with a few firecrackers.

 

FIVE)  If you’re stuck indoors with your offspring of various ages it may be difficult to take advantage of the most obvious way to pass the time with your partner.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Various excuses that you could employ include:

  • “We’re going to be moving furniture upstairs so just sit here and watch Disney Plus for two hours like good little rugrats, okay?”
  • “Here are the keys to the liquor cabinet. Stay downstairs and have fun!”  (This is for older kids, obviously. Unless your little tikes are seasoned drinkers, that is.)
  • “Mommy and Daddy are going to be conducting a seance upstairs. Don’t open the door, no matter what you hear, or you’ll release spirits into our world that will consume your souls like you consume Skittles. Disturb the rainbow, die by the rainbow!”
  • “Daddy and Mommy need some ‘alone time’. Need I say more?” (They’ll be too horrified/scarred to give you any lip.)

Hey, I just realized something: Is the world ready for the inevitable baby boom this crisis is going to create? I think not.

 

SIX)  You can stream everything on every service available, from Rooku to Netflix to Disney Plus until your eyeballs bleed and your mind is reduced to cottage cheese. Have fun.

 

SEVEN)  Puzzles are a great way to pass the time. Unless you have a short attention span and a bad temper. In that case I suggest you advise other family members to do the puzzles but only after you’ve hidden at least one piece.

What happens inevitably will be the gift that keeps on giving.

 

EIGHT)  Clean out your house, and if it’s warm enough, your garage and yard. We’re all guilty of hoarding to a degree and of course, of putting off various jobs around the house. I’ve been married for a quarter-century and I have jobs my wife has requested of me that will never get done.

Don’t be me. It’s not as much fun as it looks.

Use this downtime to scrub those tubs, paint those rooms, clean out those attics or basements, and whatever else it takes to elevate your home’s appeal. DIY sucks if you’re not handy like me but it’s something to do, so have at it!

 

NINE)  Make lemonade!

Of course, in this scenario the lemons are a flu-like-virus… So I’m not sure this tip is worth following.

 

TEN)  Do whatever the hell you want to! Read a book. Write a book. Start a blog dedicated to cat herding. Take up knitting. The sky’s the limit (but you can’t actually fly) so let your mind free and see where it take you, people!

And that’s all I have for you.

See you in the lobby but not the toilet paper aisle, kids…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #17.

When I was a schoolboy in the Canadian public education system (yes, the same one that produced Justins Bieber and Trudeau, sadly) I wrote a gripping series of  stories about mythological heroes and superheroes of my own creation meeting in a multidimensional adventure that predated DC Comics’ Crisis On Infinite Earths.

Of course DC’s version was infinitely more successful and better drawn. But that’s neither here nor there. I was first, so suck it DC.

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, my glorious tale of heroes and villains of different eras and worlds coming together. In retrospect, it may have sucked but the point is this: I hadn’t discovered girls so my creative engine was humming at full throttle.

Then I blinked and it was February 25th, 2020 and I was fifty years old.

#17: Time.

It is our most precious resource. Next to Kraft dinner, of course. And like KD, we rarely savor it as we’re enjoying it. No, we just gobble it up and cry like babies when it’s gone. My mother was terrified as she lay dying from bone cancer and would’ve given anything to have more time. Though to be honest, we all know she would’ve wasted it; that’s what people do. Sure, we all say we’re going to make the most of our limited time here on this temporal plane but then we forget how limited our time actually is as we get on with the business of paying bills, trying to get laid, making dinner as the kids are screaming, and just trying to survive.

Even as I write this inspiring post I know it’s effect isn’t going to be lasting. How could it? People that make the most of every second of their lives tend to live very short lives. I’d rather waste a shit-ton of time working hard and providing for my family than gallivanting from one adventure to another as I burn out faster than a dollar store sparkler.

That’s not to say that I’ve wasted that much time over the course of my existence. Not at all. I’ve:

  • Read a buncha comics.
  • Attended more conventions than I can remember
  • Watched more television than human eyeballs should be able to tolerate.
  • Interviewed and met a celebrity or two. (Including O.J., who was unforgettable.)
  • Traveled a bit though not nearly enough.
  • Met and served tourists from all over the world who will never forget me.
  • Dated a young lady or two. (Though I’ve been rejected more than accepted.)
  • Conned the greatest gal in the universe into marrying me.
  • Had an awesome kid. (To be fair, my wife did all the hard work.)

And lest I forget, I met and forged a familial bond with my brother, Rockin’ Ronnie.

None of these things would’ve been possible if I had sacrificed my allotted time and dove into the seemingly-endless waters of Niagara Falls as a teen. No judgement here; I understand better than most what can drive a soul to want to end their time when it becomes too painful to endure another second but here’s the thing about time…

You never know what it holds in store for you.

Anything is possible in the future if you’re just willing to wait for it.

See you in the lobby, friends…

 

Unless you have a TARDIS, time is too precious to waste, kids.

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #18.

You know, while it’s great to have dreams and goals to strive for, to help keep us on the path of life rather than the road to ruin, it occurs to me that sometimes we may reach a point where the best thing we can do… is simply stop trying.

No, I’m not switching tracks and taking the “Not” out of this series’ title, I’m going to ask you to ponder this:

What if this is it for you, pally? What if your existence has reached its maximum potential?

#18: Accepting Your Fate.

I am a (almost) fifty-year-old white male who, in spite of having a lifelong dream of being  a professional writer, has been a Niagara Falls bellman for over twenty years. (My God, that number really lands with a thud in my consciousness when I ponder it.) I have fought to be recognized by innumerable publishing houses, agents, fellow bloggers, the CBC, and even the odd celebrity or ten. I write a blog and I even self-published a book once.

In every instance I have failed. I have failed like Nancy Pelosi trying to be gracious at the State of the Union.

And the worst part? As a (sometimes) taxpayer, I help fund the damn Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and they still took eight months to respond to my last pitch, so that really stung. To make matters worse, I’ve been watching dozens of my fellow bloggers gain ground in their fight to realize their dreams while The Hook stays behind.

And IBS has become a cinder block strapped to my neck, weighing me down and impacting areas of my life that I never could have dreamed would be disrupted. My worries range from failing to be an inspiring father to surviving the early morning walk to work. (Those horny skunks are deadly, man.)

But who gives a shit?

It’s no big deal, Jack.  Trust me.

 

I am a (almost) fifty-year-old white male who, in spite of having a lifelong dream of being  a professional writer, has been a Niagara Falls bellman for over twenty years. So I’ve had the same job for over twenty years. In Justin Trudeau’s Canada that makes me a winner!

I have fought to be recognized by innumerable publishing houses, agents, fellow bloggers, the CBC, and even the odd celebrity or ten. I write a blog and I even self-published a book once. So I’ve learned all about rejection and how to survive it. (Of course, I’ve been learning that lesson ever since Cindy Day started turning me down in elementary school. And junior high.)

And IBS isn’t that bad. Okay, so it is. But at least I have constipation IBS and not the other, ridiculously-messy variety.

So I’ve failed. I’ve lost. I’ve been rejected.

Big whoop. At least I’m alive, goddammit!

And I intend to stay that way. Until God decides otherwise, of course. And at least then I’ll see Ronnie again so it won’t be all bad. (Fair warning, Ronnie: I intend to kick your ass for leaving me so soon.)

Accepting one’s fate is freedom. I have friends, a hot wife, a cool kid, and a crazy-ass dog (Yes, I realize even homeless people have dogs. Don’t take this away from me.) Sure, I miss my hair and my IBS has given me a gut but I’m not completely bald (yet) and my bellman’s uniform is basically a tent that hides my gut, so it’s not completely hopeless. I’ve been told I’m quite amusing when there isn’t a camera aimed at me and (most) guests find me hilarious once they accept that that they’re not drunk/high/hallucinating and I’m really saying the things I’m saying to them.

I am battered, bruised and certainly broken. But so is America and it keeps going. My life is too small to change the world and that’s a good thing; who needs all that pressure?

A home. A family. A fully-stocked fridge. A reliable wi-fi signal. What else does a man really need these days?

Celebrities lead glamorous lives – on the surface. The rich are usually more tortured and screwed up than any of us “lower class” folk. Power corrupts. A big life brings big problems. A supposedly-small life is more manageable. So take stock of your blessings and hold ’em close to your heart, kiddos, they’ll give you a reason to keep living.

Dreams are for suckers. Reality sucks worse than a two-dollar prostitute but just like the prostitute, at least you know what to expect so you really can’t be too disappointed.

See you in the lobby, friends…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #19.

A horse walks into a bar. The bartender immediately calls the Humane Society while wondering how the horse got the doors open in the first place.

Okay, so I may have told that joke incorrectly but there’s an 18% chance you’re still laughing as you Google the correct interpretation of that timeless bit of mirth. Either way, it’s a good start to this installment, right? Okay, it’s a start. Shut up.

#19: Humor.

(Or if you’re Canadian like me… Humour.)

 

My buddy, Rockin’ Ronnie (rock on, brother!) loved to laugh. I mean, he loved it. All my best memories of Ronnie involve his wide-as-Wyoming smile that inevitably followed his constant recycling of the same-old-but-still-awesome jokes, followed by his signature, “Yeah, yeah, yeah!”

Damn it, now I want to cry. I hate irony. Time for some more jocularity!

Apparently the Sumerians were the architects of the world’s oldest recorded joke in 1900 BC: “Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.”

I know. I too am shocked that Sumerian culture died out.

What about this 1600 BC gag about a pharaoh, said to be King Snofru: “How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish.”

Who doesn’t love a good human trafficking joke, right?

And finally, the oldest British joke dates back to the 10th Century and gives us some idea where Monty Python got their inspiration: “What hangs at a man’s thigh and wants to poke the hole that it’s often poked before? Answer: A key.”

Don’t worry, I’m not going to rely solely on comedic history to make my point; I’m going to turn things over to the pros.

She’s smart as a whip (whatever the hell that really means), she’s as gorgeous as someone who isn’t ugly, and most important of all, she hasn’t blocked me (yet) on Twitter so she actually responded to my pathetic pleas for quotes. She’s a sentient being who tells better jokes than The Hook so people pay her to do it, she’s Erica Rhodes and she actually started her entertainment career at age ten as the voice of  legendary humorist and writer Garrison Keillor’s conscience on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion. I won’t tell you what I was doing at age ten but it’s safe to say no one would have put me on the radio to do it for the public.

At any rate…

“I think laughing is a really important coping mechanism for all of us, but especially for people suffering in whatever capacity. And that’s why I try to write jokes about somewhat dark topics, because I believe there is an actual healing component there.

My Dad is in a wheelchair and we have to laugh at that to cope with his struggles and our struggles watching him struggle. He’s one of the funniest people I know. And a hero to me for dealing with an illness with such grace and humor.

I think dark topics are really important to cover in comedy. Literally during the Holocaust people were telling jokes to survive. So humor is actually a method for survival during dark times. That’s why I get nervous when we get too PC with comedy, because sensitive topics are even more important to laugh about.

I sometimes try to explore dark topics or the dark corners of my own psyche because I think there’s a lot of discomfort that needs release there. And if people relate they feel less alone in this universe that can feel really lonely sometimes.”

Ain’t she great? I couldn’t agree more with Erica on the PC thing; I grew up watching Redd Foxx on Sanford and Son, so I truly don’t understand this movement to neuter comedy.

Gail Simone is an award-winning comic book scribe (or as one of my non-Caucasian friends likes to say, “Bitch is more decorated than a Christmas tree!”) best known by non-comic fans for her work on the Birds of Prey comic, the movie version of which is currently setting movie screens on fire all over the world. Her work on Crosswind with Cat Staggs is a thing of beauty.

Anywhoo, here’s her two cents on the power of laughter:

“Aimed properly, humor is our way of spitting at fate, mocking the powerful, and keeping ourselves from getting just a little too insufferable. My advice is, aim well. It’s a big part of what makes life joyful.”

Told you she was brilliant.

No post on this subject would be complete without a few (extremely insightful) words from everyone’s favorite Modern Philosopher and professional humorist, Austin Hodgens.

“Writing has always been my escape. When I was a kid, my stepmother would not allow me to follow my dream of joining the Rebel Alliance to fight the Empire. Writing allowed me to have the adventures I was deprived of by an overbearing parent.

I went to Film School, not Medical School, but I believe that laughter is the best medicine. With healthcare costs today, it’s also one of the few medicines people can still afford.

I love to sit in the audience during a taping of The Nite Show, and listen to the crowd laugh at monologue jokes I’ve written. It makes me feel like I’ve done my part to make life a little more tolerable for people, who just like me, are sometimes struggling to get through the day.”

It can be said that life is the greatest thing that ever happened to the Grim Reaper, so many of us feel overwhelmed by life’s many challenges and look to death for some sweet release from our suffering. But humor can be a life jacket as we feel ourselves metaphorically drowning. Comedians, and even “regular folk” like myself use suffering and pain as fodder while exposing their own vulnerabilities.

And on that note, here’s a screen-grab from my untitled short film that’s sure to make you laugh (and say, “Oh, that Hook!) and cringe simultaneously. No one, especially me, noticed this wardrobe malfunction once in a six-minute segment. But my unintentional dumbassery is your gain.

Posting this pic terrifies me but it’s damn funny and I have no ego to speak of, so…

 

So to sum up: The world can be bleak and dark so try to look for a reason to smile in every situation. It may not be easy or seem appropriate in any way at all, but humor can buy you one more day and who knows what that day could bring?

See you in the lobby, friends…

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