5×5 With The Hook: Sarah McVie.

The best thing I can say about today’s guest is this: She’s the most underrated chick on Canadian television.

Seriously, Sarah McVie may have only been acting for seven years but she’s never given a bad performance. She leaves it all on the set. And if you haven’t seen her as Val Szalinsky on CBC’s mega-hit, Workin’ Moms, you’ve cheated yourself of thirteen weeks of yukgasms. And trust me, yukgasms are more fun than they sound.

Then again, they’d have to be, wouldn’t they?

But back to Sarah. Not only does she play the greatest leader of any Mommy And Me group in the Multiverse on Workin’ Moms, she’s really, really smart. And we’re not talking abut the kind of smart you call someone when you’re trying to be nice, like, “She’s got ginormous jugs… but she’s really smart, too!” or even, “She’s kind of a bitch… but she’s super smart, so she can’t be all bad!”

No, Sarah is genuinely smart. How genuinely smart? She’s been a lecturer in Drama Studies in the English Department at Carleton University since 2010. That’s pretty damn smart, kids.

Image result for sarah mcvie working moms

Yes!  Being on The Hook’s blog is #4 on my bucket list!  Right after contracting gonorrhea!

A native of Ottawa (Canada’s version of Washington with fewer scandals but just as many asshats) Sarah began her career in theatre as an actor at the Stratford Festival, where her roles included: Cordelia in King Lear opposite Christopher Plummer (yes, that Christopher Plummer) The Bawd in Pericles, Lady MacDuff in Macbeth, and Marianna in Alls Well that Ends Well.

Sarah was also a member of the Stratford Conservatory for Classical Theatre Training and a recipient of the John Hirsch Award for the most promising young actor. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that all the other promising young actors that year met with “accidents”…

(Oh, that Hook! Is he serious? Mad as a Trumpian hatter? Who knows? Who cares?)

If you’d like further proof that Sarah’s not just a hot Canadian chick with a rockin’ bod and a brain to match, feast on this: Over the years Sarah has worked with the Stratford Education Department to bring her intense passion for classical theatre to students across Ontario (think of a state, my Yankee friends) making visits to schools and offering workshops for teachers and students of all ages.

Giving back to this world instead of just taking is the hallmark of a true hero, kids.

Two years back, Sarah co-wrote a play called The Public Servant, which was produced and developed by Theatre Columbus. It premiered at the Great Canadian Theatre Company in June, 2015 and more than one member of the audience was heard to remark, “It’s way better than Cats!”.  (I love a good SCTV joke, don’t you? Get thee to the YouTube, young ones.)

At this point in her life, Sarah teaches and also works in film and TV as a voice-over artist, director and acting coach. Additionally, she has a full life filled with love, laughter, Workin’ Moms greatness and now a spot in 5×5 history.

One more thing: (long live Peter Falk), Sarah’s work on the aforementioned Workin’ Moms may be a far cry from her theatre background, but it has helped to change lives. This isn’t hyperbole; Workin’ Moms uses jaw-dropping humor to shine a light on irrefutable truths society doesn’t like to discuss very often. Or at all.

Moms are human.

Moms bleed. (On the inside, in their soul, people. Grow up.)

Moms are sexual beings who get every bit as horny as the rest of us.

A mom has the right to decide if she doesn’t want to keep being a new mom ad infinitum.

The list goes on but you get the point, right? Now let’s get on with the 5×5 show. Take it away, SM!

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Now that I’ve been on The Hook’s blog I feel so freeee!!!

ONE)  I might as well start off by giving the people what they want: What was your greatest moment on the Workin’ Moms set, Sarah?  (On-camera or otherwise, it doesn’t matter.)

Flouncing around in that Cinderella gown making those kids giggle with my improvised harp solo was hands down the highlight of the first season shoot.

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TWO)  You co-wrote a play; if you could work on any production, in any time period, in any role on or off the stage, what would you choose?  (And don’t feel any pressure to say Hamilton just because it’s hotter than a June bride sitting bareback on a wood stove right now.)

I understudied Lady Macbeth as a young actor at Stratford and desperately wanted to go on.

Never did. That’s my dream role.


THREE)  As an actual Professor you’re literally the smartest person I’ve ever interviewed, Sarah… who’s your favorite dead Prime Minister?

Lester B. Pearson.

My grandmother was his administrative assistant until she met my grandfather and had to quit, because back then women weren’t allowed to be married and have a career.

(This answer inspired my daughter to remark, “What the duck! Sounds like the Dark Ages to me!”)


FOUR)  Like all members of the Workin’ Moms cast I’m sure you’ve had a lot of feedback from actual parents, Sarah.  Can you share a memorable comment/conversation you’ve received from a fan?

A close friend was really touched by the relationship between Anne and Alice. In particular that moment when Alice folds the pizza up like her mom did, it moved my friend to tears.

(Your friend certainly wasn’t alone, Sarah.)


FIVE)  Can you use five words to describe the current state of Canadian TV?

Funny. Edgy. Underfunded. Overlooked. Undersold.

Image result for sarah mcvie working moms

Seriously, Hook? This was the best you could do? You’re no Catherine Marcelle Reitman, buddy…

On that note, I’m outta here, kids. My eternal thanks to Sarah McVie for being here and of course, to all of you, I say, thank you and good day.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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A Brief Look At The Tao Of The Hook.

People often have one question after reading this blog for the first time, can you guess what it is?

No, It’s not, “Why the hell didn’t I just log onto Redtube and watch Mercedes Carrera do… anything rather than look at this dreck?” or “There has to be a new cat video up on YouTube by now, right?”

Nice try, friends, but we all know the obvious query that springs to mind after reading of my misadventures in the hospitality trenches…

“How the hell does The Hook get away with being The Hook?”

Well, to be absolutely honest… I have absolutely no idea.


My future doesn’t look bright so let’s live for today, shall we?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I do get away with being my open, brutally-honest, take-no-effin-prisoners-self, but I can’t tell you how exactly the noose never finds its way around my neck. There are a few simple rules that make up my personal code of conduct that I’ll happily share some of them with you now if you like…

You’re good with that? No wonder we get along so well.

ONE)  Never curse at a guest.  Of course, if the guest is already indulging in the language of potty mouth, there is some flexibility to be exercised. But you have to be certain (I mean dead certain) the traveler in question will be cool with it. Ultimately, it’s a judgement call, which brings us to my next rule…


TWO)  Always keep your “guestdar” in tip-top shape!  Without my ability to gauge a guest’s sense of humor I’d be lost. Seriously, I’d have been fired nineteen years ago if I just shot my Canadian mouth off at any traveler that crossed my path. Any bellman worth his salt can tell you whether a guest is thick-skinned enough to handle an offbeat comment or two.

And incidentally, those offbeat comments can make all the difference in the world; seasoned travelers deal with the same old chit chat from hotel staff all the time and as you can imagine, they get bored pretty damn quick. But how often do such guests deal with a bellman who is willing to go the extra mile off the beaten path and take things up a notch or ten?

Or for that matter, how often do such guests deal with a bellman named The Hook? There are plenty of Roberts out there in cheap uniforms… but there’s only one Hook, baby.

And by the way, my wife likes it that way – but that’s another matter entirely.

THREE)  When necessary, be a chameleon.  If I deal with a drunken hardcore gambler I’m not going to grab a bottle of hooch from the bar and start chugging it back… but I am going to let the lush rant and rave for a few minutes.

I’ll take the lewd comments, eye assaults and the odd butt grab from cougars – and let them think I like ’em – if it keeps them happy.

Get the point, friends? The best thing a bellman can do for his guest is eliminate the “Us vs. Them” mentality that often dominates most guest/worker relations. People rarely rat out one of their own to management. Let a traveler know you’re one of them and you’ll be golden.

The obvious exception being Klansmen or Trump supporters, of course.

I hate those guys.


FOUR)  I actually hold back!  Yes, I realize you’ve just spit out your coffee (again) but it’s true. In the twenty years (almost) that I’ve been a bellman the traveling public has gone from perturbed to openly hostile. Guests indulge in public behavior that would’ve been unthinkable a few years ago.

And there’s not a damn thing anyone can – or is willing to – do about it. I push back as much as I can without actually throttling anyone but there are limits I need to respect. Especially since I’ve grown rather fond of eating on a daily basis and having a roof over my egg-shaped head. And so I hold the best insults – and my rage – in until they dissipate. Incidentally, I sometimes have to do the same thing when dealing with my fellow employees and managers – and it sucks.


And there you have it, a brief look at my working code of ethics. Admittedly, this isn’t my best work (I’m still dealing with more baggage than a guy who actually gets paid to deal with baggage) but I hope you found it both entertaining and enlightening.

See you in the lobby, kids…

Posted in Hotel Life | 24 Comments

Happy Easter – If You Don’t Mind The Sentiment, That Is…

Admittedly, I’m not an “Easter guy”.

Even as a kid, I never went in for the colored eggs, the hunt, the elbow-to-elbow battle among my so-called peers that was required to locate a basket full of gaudily-painted treats. It just wasn’t me.

Now if my parents had deposited me into a field strewn with Star Wars figures, comic books and bottles of pop and told me to fight it out with a hundred other rugrats? Well, I would’ve gone full Lord of the Flies and come back with a few dozen baskets and a bunch of child slaves to cart them around for me. But they didn’t. So I couldn’t.

However, as a parent I loved watching my daughter’s face light up as she raced around the house seeking candy treasure and toys. (We tried the group hunt thing but my kid has always been too smart to follow the herd, and as parents we’ve always believed in taking things up a notch. Screw convention.) But now she’s older and we just buy a bunch of chocolate crap and books – the kid loves books – and hand it over.

Easy peasy. The way parenting should be.

This brings us to the obvious question: If The Hook isn’t an “Easter guy” then why is he publishing an Easter post? When Easter’s almost over, no less?

Because I’ve been feeling depressed and down-in-the-dumps today and I needed to write something, anything, or risk a total breakdown. I’m not going to go into details, suffice to say my health issues coupled with the usual self-confidence issues where my writing is concerned have me feeling overwhelmed. Again.

So here we are.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a great life filled with love and a job that’s never boring. My bills are paid. My mortgage is non-existent. But I’m human and as damaged as the next guy. Perhaps moreso. But I’m fighting the good fight so don’t feel too bad for me; you’ve got enough on your plate.

Happy Egg Day, ya filthy animals.

But if you don’t celebrate Egg Day, please disregard this entire post and carry on with your evening.

See you in the lobby, kids…


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The Hook Takes New York: Part Two.

So we survived various levels of Airport Hell and at last we were in the City That Never Sleeps; that meant it was time for me to start achieving full Dad Mode and secure us transportation to Times Square and our temporary home, the Hilton Garden Inn New York/Times Square Central.


NYC from the skies above.  Thank you, American Airlines, for getting us there – and not beating the holy hell out of us…

My daughter was slightly doubtful.

“Are you sure you can handle this, Skippy?  I miss Mom.”

 After a walk through LaGuardia where I did my best “Dazed and Confused Tourist” impersonation, we met an airport ambassador who directed us to a city shuttle: two tickets for thirty bucks. Don’t tell me I don’t know how to save a buck while not being a cheapskate. And that brings us to a question everyone’s had ever since I announced this trip:

“Is The Hook a good tipper?  Will he use a bellman while in New York?”

Yes and no. Yes, I tipped everyone who provided us with service but sadly, our hotel, while being in a prime locale and thus an ideal place to house my asthmatic daughter, did not employ bellmen. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Shut up.

The truth is, I tipped the concierge and the porters that stored our bags so I can’t be grouped in with the cheap bastards I deal with every day. But back to our introduction to the Big Apple; once we made our way through New York traffic (just picture every racing scene in the Disney flick, Cars. But super slow and ten times as treacherous. And on acid.) we were blown away. Sure, Niagara Falls is a sleepy little hamlet compared to NY, but we’ve spent considerable time in Toronto, which is a fine metropolis in its own right. But when we finally set foot on an actual NYC sidewalk, our reaction can be summed up thusly:

We went from this….

To this…

We stood around looking like typical tourists for a few minutes before I went against the Guy Rule Book and asked for directions. Turns out we were two blocks from the hotel which made my daughter cringe, but as she soon discovered, her lungs were so infused with nervous anticipation they rose to the challenge. We soon learned to be aggressive-but-not-medieval when making one’s way through the unrelenting crowds. My daughter developed a signal whenever she felt overwhelmed: If I felt a her squeeze my arm tightly that meant she had spotted an unsavory character.

I was in serious danger of having my arm amputated because of lack of circulation over the course of those two days.

We chuckled at our hotel’s placement, snuggled between NY shops and facing a major bank’s headquarters, but we were impressed by the elevator and our floor’s key-only access.

“I guess Mom doesn’t have to worry about someone stealing me in the middle of the night, does she, Skippy?”

I love that kid.

We got to our room, washed off a half-day’s worth of airport schmutz, caught our breath and took a few deep breaths before heading out to join the crowds zigging and zagging across the great untamed urban jungle known as New York City, specifically, Times Square and Broadway.

And trust me, those extra lungfuls of air came in handy.

New York really is an amazing place in its own right, but Times Square is NYC for dummies tourists. Coming from a tourist town in close proximity to “Canada’s New York” (Toronto doubles for the Big Apple in most television and film productions) we were no strangers to crowds…

…But again, we felt like a pair of turtles that had been dropped onto a Nascar track. Our newfound crowd navigational skills proved invaluable as we set out in search of my daughter’s personal Holy Grail: Hamilton collectibles.

Okay, so Holy Grails would be more accurate, but more on that in a moment. First, I have to share my daughter’s reaction when the realization she was actually in New York finally set in. As I’ve already recounted, my child hasn’t always had an ideal existence. Sure, my lovely bride and I have done our best to make her life a happy one, filled with love, laughter, and plenty of toys and books (so, so many books) but we’ve never been able to insulate her from the world’s bullies and all the trauma they carry with them. Which in a way, is good to a point at least; after all, our pain defines and hopefully, strengthens us.

But too much pain can set our development back years and even cripple us emotionally.

At any rate, my daughter has moved beyond the bullies of her past and is now firmly entrenched in the present. And when that present brought her to New York to see Hamilton?

“I can’t believe we’re actually here!  I’ve dreamed of this for so, so long and now… I… I can’t even… I just can’t!  You have no idea what this means to me… I just can’t…!”

And that went on for a few hours. Even after we asked for directions from two NYPD cops (who are everywhere in Times Square, by the way) and finally made our way to the Hamilton Pop-up Shop, which may as well have a sign above the door that reads, “Promised Land: Dreamers and Madmen Happily Accepted.”

Pay close attention to this photo: A specific detail will figure into Part Three…

As for the interior of the store/haven itself…

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.2821835.1475871707!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_750/article-hamilton-1007.jpgMy daughter walked away with $250 worth of what you see pictured here.  And that’s in American currency.  Which explains all the sobbing I did afterwards…

“We see it all the time,” said the sales clerk, “one time a dad actually fainted.”

From the store we crossed the street, where, like actual New Yorkers, we were almost hit by a biker and two SUVs, to the theatre where it happened. (True Hamilton fans will get that reference.) We soaked in the atmosphere for a moment and I watched my progeny’s face light up like the Falls – but a million times brighter.


Of course, when the actual show started a few hours later, her reaction was…

Well, that’s a tale for Part Three.

See you in the not-so-cheap seats of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, kids…


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5×5 With The Hook: Kate Drummond.

I respect her as an artist and a human being but I’m just going to say it anyway: Kate Drummond is a beautiful woman.

In fact, Kate Drummond is so beautiful that’s it easy to forget she’s also an actress (film, TV, video games, stage, voice-over) a producer, a former elementary school teacher with 12 years of scars experience, a stand-up comic, a public speaker with at least one TED talk under her stylish belt and to top it all off,  she is a credit to all Canadians.

And for all I know, she’s even a super-heroine in her spare time. Wait, she doesn’t have any spare time. Never mind. Let’s just all agree that Kate Drummond is one talented chick and leave it at that, shall we? And she’s here today to star in her most challenging role to date: a 5×5 on my blog.

It’s safe to say Kate’s life will never be the same…


Did I call it or what?  Kate’s talented, intelligent and easy on the eyes, to say the least!

You can get the in-depth skinny on Kate by visiting her website, but here are a few more bullet points. In paragraph form.

Kate has been playing video games since she was a little girl and announced at the age of eight that she wanted to be in a video game one day. I have been unable to determine if she was mocked, but 28 years later, she portrayed leading female, Anna Grimsdottir “Grim” in Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Dr. Kandel in The Division. (Incidentally, Ubisoft owes Kate a bonus or two; she leaves it all in the studio.)  And so revenge was hers and one can only assume it tasted delicious, like ice cream mixed with the tears of her enemies.

Not content to take multiple platforms by storm, Kate  made her writing and directorial debut with a feature film called, Go Fish, which is had its first theatrical release in September of last year (it was one of the few good thing about 2016) and recently won “Best Feature” in the film festival circuit.

People always assume all Canadian actors want to “break out” and work excursively in the United States but Kate bucks that trend and works on both sides of the border. 

Kate can be seen in Hallmark’s new Flower Shop Mystery Series, starring alongside Brooke Shields, Beau Bridges and Brennan Elliot. The first movie of the series, Mum’s the Word made network history with its January premiere, as it finally featured an actress whiter than Brooke Shields.

And yes, I realize Kate Drummond is going to most likely kick my butt if we ever meet – but I just couldn’t resist.

c10zymguuaepk39Don’t look now, Brooke, but The Hook is writing about you.  Again.

 A “lover of anything SYFY” – and of being able to pay her rent –  Kate plays the character the fans love to hate, Agent Lucado, in the hit series, Wynonna Earp.  This show is unlike anything else on TV, is ridiculously-underrated and is more than worthy of your time, trust me. Love the sci-fi smash series, Dark Matter? (Who doesn’t, right?) Kate will be crossing into their universe soon as well.

And finally, on a personal note, KD recently appeared in an episode of one of my family’s favorite shows of all time, Saving Hope. This is the last season of Hope (I’m dying inside) so you know they’re going to be pulling out all the stops.

Incidentally, I’m not sure Kate minds me calling her “KD”, since it’s actually the short form of “Kraft Dinner”. Then again, Kraft Dinner is a beloved Canadian dish (just like Kate) so why would she mind, right?

All right, I’ve done enough damage; time to turn things over to KD!

ONE)  You’re ridiculously-busy and super talented in more areas than I can list here! Have you always been fearless and willing to dive into challenges or did you force yourself to be the Kate you are today?

Fearless? I don’t know that I’m fearless. I do a lot of things that
cause me a great deal of fear, actually. But I think that’s how I know
I have to do them. I really think that fear is an indication of something
great about to happen or something I need to do.

I was raised with a “bring it on” mentality. My parents were always super encouraging for me to try new things and go after what I wanted. No challenge was too big and my dad always pushed the “if you believe it, you’ll
receive it” way of thinking.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had an adventurous spirit. But to this day, I think the scariest decision I made, was to leave my teaching career to pursue my passion for the arts. I mean, who gives up job security like that, sells all their belongings and moves to another city for something “unknown”? I guess I do.

But no regrets.

Told you she was fearless…

TWO)  Do you miss being an elementary school teacher or is that like asking someone if they miss skinny dipping with piranha?

I miss it very much and I don’t regret a single moment of my
teaching career. It was 12 years of experience that helped shape me
to be the woman I am today. I always say that my greatest teachers
were my students.

Over the years, I taught literally hundreds of students, from all walks of life, and I was constantly inspired and learning because of them. It was such a gift to share time with these special little people. If we’re open to it, we can learn incredible lessons through the eyes of children. I also worked with amazing teachers who I’m happy are still very dear friends and a big part of
my life today.

I will say though, that writing report cards was the skinny dipping with a piranha part.



THREE)  As a bellman I find myself fascinated with travelers’ habit. Do you have any special rituals you adhere to while traveling? (Ordering the same meal in different cities. Mugging old couples. You know, standard stuff.)

What a funny question. I do actually. The very first thing I do is set
up my travel diffuser in my room and then I get a fridge. I like to keep
it stocked with snacks and my favorite foods that I normally eat at
home, because I can only take so much restaurant food.

As for mugging people, I tend to keep my crime profile on the down low.

(Told you she was smart.)

FOUR)  You’ve worked with the incomparable Brooke Shields; is she really the whitest woman in America as Eddie Murphy once claimed?

I don’t think so. I mean, obviously I feel a great sense of excitement
and pride when I work with any of the greats, from any country, but
ultimately, we’re all just people, doing this really fun job and trying to
tell the story as best as we can.

Brooke is an incredible person. We hit it off immediately and I think it’s because we didn’t just connect as actors, we connected as people… as friends. I feel blessed to have worked with so many incredible people, of all levels of experience in the industry, and I’ve made many great friendships.


FIVE)  This is an interesting time in the Canadian film/TV industry, to say the least. On one hand, the industry is stronger than ever, on the other, we’re losing brilliant shows like Saving Hope and outside forces may reduce the number of new programs coming our way; what’s it like to be in the eye of the storm as it were?

This is a tough question. Because I came to the industry later in life, I
haven’t witnessed or been as affected by the changes that have
occurred over the past decades, as some of my peers. I’m fortunate
in that the industry has been very gracious to me, as both an actress
and a writer/director.

It’s definitely a big disappointment to see really great Canadian shows, such as Saving Hope, be discontinued, and my hope is that we, as artists, will always work to raise our standards of the type of television and story telling we want to come out of our country. It’s been particularly interesting to be part of the industry at a time when there are more opportunities for females in terms of writing and directing. I am inspired to be part of the
movement that creates enriching stories that celebrates our very rich
Canadian diversity.


Well, did I call it or what?  Kate’s awesome beyond words, right? Okay, enough questions, let’s wrap this mutha up. My eternal gratitude to Kate Drummond for being here today and of course to all of you for doing the same.

 See you in the lobby, kids…

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The Hook Takes New York: Part One.

Technically, it took me, but one would expect nothing less from the city that never sleeps, right?

Especially when you consider it’s my existence we’re talking about. The adventure began long before my Canadian feet ever touched US soil, but again, it’s me so…

My family rose at three am, after an all-too brief and restless collective sleep. (This trip has consumed our lives for two months.) Our ride to Pearson International Airport was a few minutes late but thrust me, you’ll consider that a win when you get through this travel misadventure, kids.

We arrived at Pearson just before seven am and despite numerous warning about the possible wait time, whizzed through US Customs in record time. (My daughter’s right ankle set off the body scanner but nothing appeared amiss so we avoided an international incident. Guess it’s a good thing I didn’t answer, “Do you have anything to declare?” with “Only my contempt for your new leader), right?)

So we cleared Customs, located our WestJet podium and waited. Our flight was scheduled to leave at nine-thirty and arrive at LaGuardia at eleven, but…

Our flight was cancelled.

My daughter’s face dropped when she heard the announcement; this trip meant everything to her, but we waited patiently as a rather cold WestJet manager we nicknamed “Eyebrows” (they looked like two dead tarantulas) took his time getting us a new flight.

That was scheduled to leave three hours later.

Which was soon rescheduled to leave an hour after that.

In the meantime, they gave us food vouchers for fifteen dollars each, which as anyone who has ever spent any time in a airport can tell you, buys diddly squat. Seriously, I’m pretty sure they’ll be charging travelers to breathe airport air soon.

Along the way we ran into the usual airport suspects: the corporate sales drones (who were drinking their corporate blues away at eight in the morning) the horny millennials who can’t keep it in their pants long enough to wait to join the mile high club and dozens of others. They were a motley crew to say the least, but they were entertaining and so they kept my kid distracted.

Until they didn’t. This trip was supposed to be a dream realized and fulfilled and it was in danger of crashing and burning.

I couldn’t sit idly by and watch my kid’s face grow more despondent so I did what any modern dad would do when faced with such a challenge.

I took to social media to complain to anyone who would respond.

Lucky for me, Meghan from WestJet responded in minutes. She issued a genuine apology and promised compensation in the coming week – then I told her that we had been delayed yet again….

So she went above and beyond.

Meghan secured us two seats on an American Airlines flight, which unfortunately for us was leaving with twenty minutes of the issuing tweet – and which was leaving from a bay at another terminal. None of this would have been a problem were it not for my progeny’s asthma, but my kid sucked it up and ran like a Kardashian chasing a camera that wasn’t pointed at them. My daughter made an astute observation as we ran through Pearson:

“This is Hookey’s Law, isn’t it?”

You’re damn right it was, kid.

Two of these were all that separated me from a fiery ball of death.

And it continued from there; an empty WestJet podium made it appear as though we missed the flight but the plane was a little behind. (A recurring thread that ran through our entire trip.) We finally made our flight but at first it looked like I was going to have to squeeze a bowling ball though the eye of a needle, that’s how small the boarding entrance was. The seats were ripped and uncomfortable, I couldn’t convince anyone to switch seats so my child and I could enjoy/endure our first flight simultaneously, and the aisle was so narrow I couldn’t get back to my seat after I got my kid situated.

Hookey’s Law, indeed.

But then, five minutes later, I felt a tap on my shoulder and a gentleman sitting across from my daughter’s seat informed he was willing to switch with me – after he had strong-armed the guy sitting beside my daughter to switch. Sure enough, I made my way to my daughter and the first thing she said?

“That guy’s not too happy with us!”

So be it. If it’s a choice between pissing off a stranger and sharing a once-in-a-lifetime experience with my progeny, I’ll piss that stranger off all day long. Besides, pissing off strangers is my specialty. Seat switching aside, the flight went smooth – after I got over the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that appeared when I finally realized we were about to soar above the clouds in a tiny metal box. But all went well.

Until the plane landed.

Without warning.

No, “We’re making our final approach, ladies and gentleman.” from the pilot. Nit even a “Hang onto your hats, folks, we’re about to hit terra firma!” 

We just landed.


Nevertheless, we were in New York and the adventure was about to truly begin. But I think that’s enough for now, don’t you? It’s been a few days and I’m still knackered!

See you in the lobby, kids…

We’re getting there… but not yet.

Posted in Hotel Life | 19 Comments

An Open Letter To The Cast Of Hamilton The Broadway Musical.

Good people of the revolution – and King George,

My name is Robert, but you can all me The Hook. (Everyone else does.)

On Wednesday, the fifth of April, my daughter and I did journey from our humble home in Niagara Falls, Canada, to the great sprawling metropolis known as New York to view your production concerning the life and turbulent times of one Alexander Hamilton. It was a journey that began many months earlier when my daughter, with the permission of her mother, began to save the moneys she accumulated by laboring as a hostess in order to afford the sum of two thousand Canadian dollars to spend an evening with you.

It was an evening etched in our collective memory.


But first some background is necessary. My daughter’s privacy is invaluable so I will be brief, but know this: my child was bullied relentlessly until she reached high school. Now she is eighteen and has shed more tears than a person three times her age. She has felt like an outsider her entire life as she has searched for a place to belong, a cause to make her feel welcomed. So great has her suffering been that it has manifested itself in a medical condition that normally affects less than 2% of females.

But she has found a light to guide her through the darkness.

Each of you emitted a ray of that collective light the night we watched you perform.

Several flight delays and a cancellation threatened to keep us from New York that day but my pleas to the airline allowed us to prevail and reach our destination. A smile wider than any I’ve ever seen began to form on my daughter’s face when we arrived on Broadway hours before showtime and it grew even wider when we finally took our seats. And when the show itself came to life?

I watched an ember glow to life in my progeny’s eyes as Alexander Hamilton told the tale of his beginnings. That ember became a series of sparks when Mad King George bandied about the stage spouting gibberish. Those sparks became a roaring fire when Philip Hamilton met his untimely and tragic end. That roaring fire became a raging inferno when Eliza laments her losses and vows to live on for her fallen son and husband.

My daughter and I answered the call when you asked for donations for the less fortunate and our contributions were repaid a thousand-fold when four of your company emerged from the stage door and signed autographs and posed for pictures. My child was far too star-struck to tell any of you just how much your efforts meant to her. She could not find the words to express the impact watching Hamilton has had on her soul.

So I’ll speak for her.

To Sarah, Hamilton is a tale of an outsider’s quest for friendship – which he achieves one night in a tavern after meeting the man who will become his adversary and ultimately, his executioner.

To my child, Hamilton is the story of an immigrant’s struggle to rise far above his meager station – which he does after serving under one of his new country’s greatest leaders.

To my daughter, Hamilton is a recounting of one man’s search for love – which he finds in the arms of a woman who never truly wavers in her devotion and children, one of whom is literally willing to die for his father.

To my progeny, Hamilton is all this and so much more. She has been consumed by the writings of Alexander himself. Every tome concerning your production adorns her shelf at home. The cast recording now sits in an honored location in our mini-van. (Trust me, that’s more of an honor than you’d think; my “Best of Hall and Oates” compilation CD didn’t make the cut.) Sarah spent over three American hundred dollars on Hamilton merchandise at the pop-up shop – and had to hold herself back from cashing in our tickets home to purchase more.

The fire you lit in my child began to smolder long before she arrived at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, but it overwhelmed her when she witnessed your collective brilliance for herself.

That fire still burns though, if she could, my child would watch you perform every day for the rest of her life.

And I would happily join her.

So from the bottom of my frozen Canadian heart, thank you all. And to Lin, who will always be at the heart of every performance, you have my undying respect and admiration, good sir.

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