100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #69.

Today’s selection truly zeroes in on my recurring theme of “the little things can make all the difference in the world.”

A wise man once said, “It is better to look good than to feel good”. But I say, “Why not do both?”

#68: Clean Clothes.

Yes, even something as seemingly-simple as a clean outfit is worth living for, trust me.

Anyone who has ever slept in their car (even for one night) can attest to this. Or if you’ve been camping somewhere without access to showers or even a clean lake, then you know what I’m talking about. There’s a film of dirt that never leaves, it simply attaches itself to your form and leaves you feeling like you want to jump out of said skin.

But you can’t, so you’re screwed.

So need to get clean – no matter what. But even after you’ve scrub-a-dub-dubbed yourself back to humanity, there’s still the matter of your “second skin”.

That’s when you need to either crack open that washing machine or that closet door, bub. Clean clothes feel great (don’t forget that dryer sheet!), smell great (if you’ve done a masterful job adding the correct formulation of laundry detergent to the mix) and look great (assuming you haven’t washed all the color out of the suckers). I’m not allowed to do the laundry in our house anymore but if you’re not, then you’re halfway to your goal!

 

This is essentially laundry day in my house.

A crispo, cleano shirt, even if it’s one of many layers, feels amazing against your skin. Dry (moist feet are the Devil’s greatest joke) clean socks reinvigorate your tootsies and make you feel like you could walk for miles. Clean pants are essential, in my humble opinion. And clean underwear? That’s the gift that keeps on giving, my friends.

I’m not suggesting you spend hours and go into debt recruiting a fashionista to put together the perfect ensemble; most of my clothes come from Wal-Mart and comic book stores and conventions across North America and I’m a happy, (relatively) functioning member of society. But once again, clean clothes can make you feel good while making you look like someone worth taking seriously and not a raging degenerate.

And isn’t that what we all want?

So save some of those Tide Pods for the laundry room, muchachos, they could save your life.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #70.

Your mother may have warned you about them, and she may very well have been right (to a degree) but like all childhood warnings, there are a few different ways to interpret, “Don’t talk to strangers”.

#70: Everyone You Haven’t Met Yet.

When you’re a kid there are plenty of times when you shouldn’t engage with strangers, even if they do offer you candy, but only if you get into their windowless van, or enlist you into helping them find their “lost dog”. And any kid whose parental units care enough about them to dole out such advice is truly blessed; there are far too many parents these days who don’t really raise their kids, they just share a dwelling.

But when you’re an adult, or like me, a reasonable facsimile, the rules have to be adjusted. Sure, you still shouldn’t accept sweets or hop into windowless vans with strangers – unless they’re an all-girl Swedish topless volleyball team. And you shouldn’t help anyone find their lost dog unless you’re in a group and the search doesn’t take you into alleys, remote wooded areas or a circus tent. Clowns, man…

This adjustment can take you places you’ll never dream. Just think of everyone you’ve ever met that wasn’t family. They were once strangers, right? Sure some of them are douchenozzles and asshats, but most of them are pretty cool, right? With the exception of spiders and tax agents, the unknown terrifies us more than anything else we encounter in our lives, and strangers are dripping with the x-factor we all dread.

But fear is what drives many of us to contemplate suicide. Fear of being alone. Fear of failure. Fear of social ridicule, especially online.

Fuck fear.

Yes, I know I’m breaking my self-imposed rule against cursing but that’s how much I hate fear.

Take a chance. But not just on me, on a stranger. If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down, if you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown. You can go dancing, you can go walking, listen to some music, maybe just talking, get to know them better.

Admit it, you’re thinking of Meryl Streep right now, aren’t you? And since you don’t know really her, she’s essentially a stranger. My lovely bride was a stranger that I greeted with, “Why don’t you smile more?” during our first encounter. (Which explains why it took so long for her to agree to a date.) My kid was a stranger who could’ve turned out to be a total jerk but who is actually cooler than her could ever hope to be. My parents were strangers to me, but… well, actually that’s not such a good example…

The point is, you can never know just what kind of impact a stranger can have on your life. Yes, the unknown is scary, but it could also mean the difference between life and death.

So if you’re new here, allow me to introduce myself; I’m Robert Hookey, but you can call me The Hook. Everyone else does. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

See you in the lobby, friends and strangers…

 

Can you blame me? We were all thinking of it.

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #71.

For thousands of years It’s been hailed as the most important meal of the day and it is, but not just for the reasons you may be thinking of.

What? How do you know the ancient Mesopotamians weren’t scarfing down ostrich eggs before directing their slaves to construct strip clubs or temples?

Okay, so obviously I don’t know much about history. Or biology. And I don’t know much about a science book or the French I took. But I do know that I love you, and I know that if you love me, too, what a wonderful world this would be.

Moving on…

#71: Breakfast.

Yes, I’ve already covered bacon. (As opposed to being covered in bacon. Boy that was a crazy office Christmas party for the record books.) But there is so much more to breakfast than pork fat doused in delicious lard.

You can have:

  •  Stir-fried noodles.
  •  Portuguese salted cod, egg, and potato baked casserole.
  •  Curried chicken.
  •  Steak and eggs.
  •  Turkish poached eggs in yogurt.
  •  Japanese egg custard.
  •  Irish coffee soda bread.
  •  Giant apple pancake with Dulce de Leche

To name but a few choices. I even had an uncle who used to drink his breakfast from a bottle. I don’t recommend you do that.

However, I do recommend you wake up early every morning, fetch your favorite food groups, and have a big hoking meal to celebrate the beginning of another day of your existence. If you can share this meal with someone else I suggest you do so. But if not, then at least take your time and savor every magnificent bite.

Some of my favorite childhood memories involve waking up to the sounds and smells of my mother or grandmother preparing breakfast. They weren’t just making me a meal; they were showing me I was loved.

Then there were the times I got up super early on a Saturday and “prepared” my own morning meal: a giant stainless steel bowl filled with enough cereal and milk to feed a small African village. I sat in front of the TV and watched cartoons until my eyes bled into the empty bowl.

It was awesome.

And it can be again. You may not have a mom or grandma anymore (I don’t) and no one shows cartoons on Saturday mornings but breakfast will never go away.  You can eat whatever you like but just make sure you’re around every day to do so, you hear? Fuel that furnace before your day begins and you’ll be amazed what you can accomplish.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #72.

Well, I’m twenty-eight posts into this sucker and I have to admit… I’m wavering; coming up with one hundred reasons to embrace life over death is proving more difficult than I ever would have imagined.

This is a job for someone who frolics with unicorns in their dreams and spins metaphorical rainbows everywhere they go, not a forty-something, broken-down bellman turned hack writer/blogger.

But here we are. So here we go.

#72: Facing A Snowstorm Alone.

Yes, this one is decidedly Canadian, but no, I haven’t buckled under the pressure. Ride this storm out with me, won’t you? Though being with me goes against the grain of this entry… Aw the hell with it. Here we go…

I reside a mere ten minutes away from the hotel where I (mostly) live and work (sometimes) at and so walking makes more sense than firing up the ole mini-van and trying to find a parking space four days a week. (I work eleven-hour days and get three days off a week. But you didn’t really need to know that, did you? #UselessInfo)

For five months of the year I am forced to impersonate an Arctic explorer who must brave the howling winds, icy temperatures and drifts of white precipitation in order to reach an outpost where thousands of travelers congregate to eat, drink, smoke weed (It’s legal! Thanks, Justin!) and do hookers named Mary.

I am a shift worker (who can sometimes be shifty) and so there are winter mornings where I must head out the door at 5:30 am, when the night still holds sway over Niagara Falls and the daylight’s approach can barely be perceived.

In other words, it’s quiet, devoid of life, and creepy.

But the emptiness holds a specific form of beauty.

I get to make fresh footprints on my lawn, my driveway and the frozen flower beds of any neighbors that piss me off. (The trick is to really crunch your boots down and snap the buds just below the surface.) I can close my eyes (briefly, you never know who else is out there) and really hear the winter wind in all its glory. The icy temps push me to move faster than I would normally and leave me feeling invigorated. Until I go numb.

I am alone with my thoughts as the storm, the ultimate sign of a planet’s life-force, rages.  


As a bellman I have been privileged to have met an incalculable number of people from all corners of the globe. One such individual was a veteran of the Second World War who found similar contentment in the wintry quiet.

“I just got back from overseas. I was still in my uniform and I took the bus across the border to Niagara Falls in the dead of winter. I made my way to the base of the Falls and I just stood there with my body getting colder by the minute as the mist coated me. There was absolutely no one else around, which I needed after being surrounded by so many people and so much… (his voice just trailed off as he struggled in vain to find the right words) It was something I’ll never forget.”

I certainly never did.

See you in the lobby, friends…

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The Bellman Chronicles Revisited.

I haven’t written much about my life in the hospitality trenches lately so here’s a brief look into my world.

As a bellman I have one goal to achieve while I’m on a call (in lay terms that refers to serving a guest, not yakking on a squawk box) and that’s to get the “prize”.

First prize is that oh-so-sweet cash in your hand. We’re talking cold hard Canadian currency in a handful of colors, or even some dead American presidents if you’re partial to those. To be clear, if you’re a bellman you have to be willing to fight for that prize.

The truth is, guests don’t want to give you their money. They have better things to spend it on than give it to some schmuck in a uniform that looks like it was designed by Stevie Wonder. Booze, overpriced hotel rooms, gas for  that leased car they can’t afford, ex-spouses, rambunctious kids, cocaine, legalized Canadian weed, the list goes on. So you have to charm the pants off these mothers (and fathers) and make them love you long enough to hand that cheddar over.

And make no mistake, they have that cheese. Oh sure, they may claim they’re tapped out but only a complete tool walks around on vacation without some cash in their pocket. So the cash is there.

Are you gonna take it? Are you bellman enough to take it? If you are, then you get that first prize and you walk away feeling like you just had coitus in the back of a Buick on prom night with that girl in high school who put the “head” in “head cheerleader”.

Yeah, I suck at the dirty writing. Shut up.

 

Second prize is that one breakfast food all bellman loathe, the bagel. In my world a “bagel” refers to what happens when a good-for-nothing, soulless son of a bitch guest doesn’t hand over the gratuity. It can be used in a sentence such as:

“That prick in 3201 from Jersey with the halitosis, the succubus wife and the three kids that scream like howler monkeys getting a prostate exam from a leper with fingernails that have never been trimmed just gave me a bagel! Somebody get me his home address… I’m telling ICE he’s employing undocumented workers!”

Fun Fact: I’ve given this exact speech more than once.

Third prize is you’re fired. Actually that’s not true, but a bellman that can’t close the deal and walk away with that money doesn’t need to be fired, he’ll quit sooner or later.

So in my world I need to be the smartest guy in the hotel room or I walk away with shit.

Another Fun Fact: I once worked with a young black man who, after loading up his inaugural car on the valet deck during check-out time waved at me as we were both heading back to our luggage storage room. We were separated by thirty feet, the deck was jammed, there were valet drivers, doormen and guests all over and when I yelled over to him, “How’d your first call go?” His response, first uttered almost twenty years ago, still reverberates in my consciousness:

“Man, those people didn’t give me shit!”

Fortunately, the male guest hadn’t gotten into his car yet and actually heard his bellman’s response, and knowing everyone else did too, the asshat in question felt obligated to hand over that tip.

Always be closing, kids.

See you in the lobby, friends…

Image result for glengarry glen ross alec baldwin gifs

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #73.

They say laughter is the best medicine and while I’d rather have an actual MD work on me the next time I fall off a sawhorse (don’t ask) rather than Steve Martin, there’s no denying the metaphysical healing power of yuks.

Which brings us to our next reason for embracing life over the chilling embrace of the Reaper…

#73: Kim’s Convenience.

It came into being as a play from the mind of Ins Choi in 2011 and went through changes and tours that took it across Canada and even an Off-Broadway stint in New York City. But carving out a place in Canadian theater history wasn’t enough for Choi and lead actors, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Jean Yoon, so in 2016 they set their sights on world domination. And when that didn’t work out they did what all failed world conquerors do.

They went to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, otherwise known as the CBC. (Canadians are too busy apologizing to pronounce full names.) Kim’s Convenience was retooled as a sitcom centered on the Korean Canadian Kim family who run a convenience store in the Moss Park neighborhood of Toronto. Parents “Appa” (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and “Umma” (Jean Yoon) along with their daughter Janet (Andrea Bang) and estranged son Jung (Simu Lui) carry the bulk of the weight but are supported by exceptional cast members like Andrew Phung, Nicole Power, and Sugith Varughese, among many others. They’re the creation of an amazing writing staff but everyone on this show is offbeat, endlessly entertaining and above all, “real”.

 I know what you’re thinking and yes, that loveseat would look amazing in that corner, but also, “But, Hook, television is the Devil’s mind heroin! Between the endless cat videos on YouTube and the Dr. Pepper addiction, my mind and body are already rotten enough!”

Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you (actually, I love it) but the truth is, television is transforming hearts and minds and has been for decades. Kim’s Convenience is… You know what? I could go on and on about the effect this program is having globally but who am I anyway? Seriously, who am I?

At any rate, I’ve decided to enlist a more qualified advocate for the show. Namely, the aforementioned Sugith Varughese, who breathes life into Mr. Mehta, the proprietor of a neighborhood Indian restaurant and a confidante of Appa, who plays cards with him and is one of his partners-in-crime. On most shows Mr. Mehta would be a one-note character whose potential is never fully-realized.

But Kim’s Convenience is not most shows. Here’s why.

“I think our show is changing the world. By creating a family and a community onscreen that hasn’t been shown before yet is instantly recognizable. People see what they know in the show. Or they see behind-the-scenes of what they know.

Now that it’s seen worldwide people who don’t know the truth of the show still get it and translate it as their own. Our little show now connects people all over the world who all relate to it. That’s world changing if you ask me.”

Thank you, Sugith. There’s no way I could have articulated that as well. Fun Muppet Fact: Sugith used to write for Fraggle Rock, one of the greatest shows of all time! I geek out every time I think of that.

My late father-in-law, John Fisher, suffered from emphysema for years and near the end of his life it left him too weak to leave his bed or our living room (which, incidentally, were one and the same) so television became his lifeline. Shows like Kim’s Convenience are giving people all over the world a reason to hang around until the next episode. They’re tuning in to see an authentic Canadian community where citizens from all walks of life, ethnic origins and backgrounds come together to share this wonderful, often frantic journey called life. I’m not suggesting every Canadian community is perfect but Kim’s Convenience shows us how we can survive life’s challenges and heartbreaks by leaning in each other while eating from sad food groups.

(Watch the show, it’ll make sense.)

And for a final word (or two) on the power of this little under-looked televised gem let’s turn to Appa himself, a man who spends more time on social media connecting with fans and enriching their lives than Lin-Manuel Miranda himself (and brother, that’s a lot of time!) the immensely-gifted and gracious, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee.

“I can’t really speak to the positive impact our show is having on the world except for anecdotal experiences I’ve had hearing from people via social media.

But…

(Wait for it. it’ll be worth it.)

From what I’ve been able to gather, people are drawn to the show because it’s a show about love. Love of family, friends and other people. It’s about people being kind and doing their best. I truly believe that kindness and love will always, ALWAYS beat nastiness and anger. Give people a voice for good and examples of compassion and kindness and they’ll respond.”

Told ya.

Now, perhaps more than ever, it is vital to take the time to see the world through another person’s eyes. I want to thank Sugith, Paul and the entire cast and crew of Kim’s Convenience for giving us such an enlightening and entertaining collective point of view of this world of ours.

Hope is where you find it, friends.

My father-in-law found it on a television screen. Make the right choices and you can too.

 Ok, see you…

(Again, watch the show and it’ll make sense.)

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Why “A PROMISE OF LIGHT”, Should Matter To You.

To suggest that my dear departed friend and fellow bellman, Rockin’ Ronnie, and I have worked with quite a cast of characters over the years is like suggesting Lizzie Borden was merely “acting out”.

No, we haven’t worked alongside any murderous bellmen (though at least one did a stretch for running a “homemade lab” the authorities had to seize) but we have been honored enough to have served with two brilliant filmmakers.

Timothy Moran and Stephen Guest were there with me as the entire situation with Rockin’ unfolded and since I’m qualified to speak of their character believe me when I tell you that these two gentlemen are honorable, decent and touched gifted.

And now they need your money.

But it’s going to a good cause so you don’t have to feel bad about diverting your monthly allotment to “prosthetics for squirrels”. I guess I should tell you just what they’re going to do with your hard-earned funds, right?

A Promise of Light is a short fantasy film in the vein of Labryinth and The Dark Crystal, about a young female warrior named Sareen, who is forced to make her way across vast wasteland (not Jersey) of a dying planet in search of a way to save herself from a mysterious plague. Lead by a magic crystal (the fantasy film version of Alexa) Sareen seeks out a doorway which legend tells can lead her to salvation. 

With puppets created by Matt Ficner who worked on The Thing, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, and The Monster and starring Phoebe Galvan whose previous work includes Joss Whedon’s game-changing The Cabin in the Woods, this is old school filmmaking at it’s best.

Ginormous studio pictures with monumental budgets, A-list casts and tons of CGI are great but there’s something to be said for a cast and crew that evoke a simpler time when a film’s story mattered as much as it’s FX. I like supporting filmmakers that are hungry and actually care about the product they put out.

So follow the link below, learn more about A Promise of Light and rest easy knowing you’ve helped preserve a genre of film that is disappearing at frightening speed. And besides, who doesn’t love puppets?

Concept art and design by Matt Ficner.

I could go on, but I don’t want to. And why should I? Timothy and Stephen have put together an amazing team that includes one more former colleague of mine – and they’re all dedicated to bringing A Promise of Light to fruition so please, give whatever you can (no livestock please, they have ten goats already) and thank you in advance.

Click here to do something worthwhile with your $.

See you in the lobby, friends…

 

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