Overheard In The Hallway…

Sometimes all you need to do is cut to the chase…

And let the blogging chips fall where they may.

Here’s a snippet of dialogue I was privy to this week as I made my way past a room with an all-too thin door. Enjoy.

FYI: Add a thick-as-a-Kardashian British accent to fully enjoy this line, kids.

“Get ready, Evie… I’m about to give your lady parts a good jostling!”

I wonder if Evie survived the experience?

See you in the lobby, kids…

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Monday Morning Wisdom From The Hook.

Yes, technically, it’s Tuesday.

No, you aren’t so hungover that you slept through Monday. Again. And no, you haven’t fallen into an alternate dimension where super-intelligent dolphin overlords keep a restless human populace calm by eradicating things they hate, like Mondays, Justin Bieber, premature ejaculation, people who shame their pets on the interwebs and the Kardashians. I just feel extremely lethargic today so I’m declaring this “virtual Monday” on my blog.

That all right with you lot?  Thanks. This is why I love you all. And now, onto the wisdom portion of our program.

One must have a code of conduct from which to govern their path through this world.

Adhering to said path can be a pain in the ass. In fact, it can be a real bitch at times, but it must be done. A personal code separates us from the animals and other baser life forms.

Like joggers.

That’s it. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? What’s that, readers? You don’t have a code? Well then, time for a bonus piece of wisdom.

If you don’t have a code of conduct from which to govern your path through this world, don’t ask others to help you write one. And above all, don’t copy another person’s code.

Codes are deeply personal and attempting to emulate another individual’s code can lead to disaster. Like the time I foolishly decided to copy Mike Tyson’s code when dealing with a drunken guest. Her ear tasted like tequila; I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth for days….

The rest is up to you.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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Pearls (?) of Wisdom From The Hook.

Saturday, April 18, 3 pm.

An over-crowded hotel lobby in Niagara Falls: As I stared out at the massing horde, a specific family caught my attention. And so the following pearl sprung into existence.

“Men (and women, for that matter), never, ever date a cougar with an uber-hot daughter who likes to adorn herself in the uniform of a slutty Catholic schoolgirl. Bad things can only happen.”

Unless you have exceptional self-control, of course.

Which the poor middle-aged bastard I was observing did not posses. At all. This clueless bugger was literally vibrating as he stood off to one side, visibly drooling as his eyes scoured every… single… inch of his girlfriend’s daughter’s young, ridiculously-nubile form.

Here’s an approximation of what this guy was dealing with…

catholic_uniformTo be clear, this image really isn’t far from the reality; this girl may have been a diabolically mad genius who knew exactly what she was doing to her creator’s consort. She paraded back and forth in the lobby as her mom parked the car, all the while, her possible step-dad continued to sweat through his tweed sport coat.

No wonder I love my job.

Care For One More?

There’s always room for one more right?

A young couple was attempting to steer their brood through the lobby, but their rugrats weren’t making it easy. In fact, their youngest boy decided he was going to stop and rest.

In the middle of the lobby.

And when mom tried to move her little demon spawn?

“I’m not moving! And you can’t make me… you she-devil!”

Lord knows where this little thumbscrew picked up that turn of phrase, but it worked; his mother flung her arms in the air (like she just couldn’t be bothered to care), and basically gave up. Personally, if the little guy had called my wife a she-devil, he would have indeed stayed put… but only because his backside had been whacked beyond recognition.

Never let the parenting ship get out of control, young parents. Keep both hands on the wheel at all times and make sure every passenger knows the score. Otherwise, you’ll know exactly how the captain of the Titanic felt.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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High Praise For The Hook From An Unlikely Source.

It’s been a pretty typical day here in the Niagara Falls hospitality salt mines; plenty of over-caffeinated corporate drones,  rugrats hopped-up on Red Bull, mentally exhausted parents, well-meaning, but confused foreigners and hookers to deal with.

And Santa Claus, of course.

I’ll say it for you… WHAAAT?

No, I haven’t been spiking my morning juice again. (I learned my lesson after waking up on Ned Hickson’s front lawn dressed as Wonder Woman; a Slurpee can be a powerful drug if you spike it properly.) No, this is one of those incidents that could only happen to yours truly.

I served a very nice older couple from Georgia this morning. On the surface, they were super-friendly (naturally), polite and chatty. She was a pageant coach who was genuinely concerned about only taking on kids and moms who were serious about the field and not looking to get rich while pandering to the lowest common denominator. Not only was he was content to let her chat about her accomplishments, he appeared to be proud of her and was actually interested in what she had to say.

It was a refreshing change to meet a couple who had been married for decades and still honestly loved one another. I encounter many couples who are not-so-secretly planning to add ground glass to one anther’s meals once they get home…

But that’s another post all-together.

As for this post, well, it continued to be typical in every way:

  • I loaded their many, many bags into the trunk of their mid-size car despite the fact it was already loaded to the max with odds and ends.
  • They made the obligatory Tetris reference.
  • I received a decent tip.
  • The wife bid me a final farewell and settled into the passenger seat.
  • The husband gave me what I consider to be the greatest compliment of my hospitality career.

“Have to tell you, buddy, I wouldn’t do your job for all the money in the world! Don’t know how you do it!”

And now, some context…

After shocking me with his praise. my new friend provided me with his background. Turns out he was just inducted into The International Santa Claus Hall of Fame – yes, it’s a real thing – for the many contributions he’s made to the Santa legend since 1958. While most of us are content to take from the world while complaining about our place in it, this man has devoted innumerable hours to Toys for Tots, assorted charities, local food drives. He’s even attended the tree lighting at the Governor’s Mansion. For all I know, he’s an angel in human form who is obsessed with impersonating fat guys.

At any rate, he was genuinely impressed with The Hook, which led to my colorful response:

“You’re Santa… you get peed on! On a regular basis, no less! And yet, you still wouldn’t do my job? That may be the greatest compliment I’ve ever received!”

He laughed a great big Santa laugh, upped my gratuity and headed out – without, it should be noted, a boost from flying livestock.

Just another day in The Hook’s life, folks. See you in the lobby…

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Self-Reflection, Cheerleaders and Naughty Baked Goods.

As my fingers bounce around the keyboard it is eight am in the morning in Niagara Falls.

It is also Saturday morning and that means the lobby’s voids are quickly filling with travelers. There are families, wannabe jocks in over-sized jerseys, young tramps, cheerleaders, actual jocks, and miscellaneous miscreants of all shapes, sizes and ideologies.

The Hook is home.

So why do I feel totally disconnected from the world?

I worked eleven hours yesterday and I spent every one of them waiting.

Waiting to feel at ease in my uniform, behind my desk, or wheeling my cart around the hotel’s labyrinth of corridors and rooms. I waited to feel at ease being a lovable smart-ass bellman who puts guests in their place while pocketing coins and bits of paper. I waited… to feel.

But I never did.

Never fear, friends, I have no plans to chuck my life for a shack on a secluded beach somewhere, where The Hook will spend his days as that “crazy white devil” who terrorizes and amuses the local population. Though, that would be cool for awhile. No, I just want to feel like myself, the man I was a month ago.

But that man may have died as he watched the greatest man he ever knew take his last breaths before departing this world for whatever remains. In many ways, I’m still in that room, listening to the constant hiss of pure oxygen emitting from a loose port in the cracked, drab wall, under the dull glow of hospital lighting.

The ward was so quiet that night you could almost feel a wave of calm wash over you. The silence was occasionally broken by alarms and the presence of security personnel racing to avoid potential disasters, but otherwise, it fell to my brother-in-law, his cousin and myself to fill the room with conversations of better days when dad was strong and vital. And so we did. There was laughter. (I almost fell off my chair at one point. God knows what the nurses thought.) There was nostalgia. There was regret. And of course, there were tears.

But not enough tears in my estimation. I didn’t break down that night. Nor did I at the funeral. I’m waiting for the dam to burst but I cannot reach my grief and yank it out.

So be it.

I’ll continue to move forward, taking solace in my wife, daughter, colleagues and friends, both virtual and “real” – whatever that word even means these days. Here then, are a few tidbits of guest nuttiness I have been fortunate enough to overhear this week.

1)  “I’m from Quebec City; my English is still sleeping this morning! Help me!”

2)  “I’m never dating a banker again! He kept wanting to make a “deposit” in my ‘rear safety deposit box'”!

My response to that particular nugget?

“As long as he doesn’t make a series of ‘early withdrawals’, you’ll be fine.”

Nice to know I still have it. Let’s continue, shall we?

3)  “I don’t want a bellman to help me! I’m an accountant!”

4)  “My friend and I have a giant penis cake. Can you take it?”

Naturally, my initial response was silence – which seemed to last forever. Luckily, I quickly realized the young ladies wanted me to store their ginormous confectionery member while they waited for their room to be ready. And so I did. Of course, I made sure I wheeled it through the lobby, past the throngs of cheerleaders, blue-haired old ladies and snobby corporate drones.

Maybe I am back after all.

See you in the lobby, kids….

UPDATE:  Read this tweet and be amazed. Watch this video and be enthralled. That is all.

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Once More Into The Breach…

All right, I’m back.

At work, I mean. It feels strange to state, but life must go on. And so I’m back amongst the hookers, corporate drones, hardcore gamblers, sweet old ladies that smell like cheese and dead flowers, hockey families, nice people with no apparent issues, old men who long for the “good old days when everyone appeared to be normal for the good of society and America!”, Middle Eastern families with hearts of gold, Red Bull-addicted tweens, philanderers – amateur and serial – cougars of all shapes and sizes, big tippers, Irish lesbians, non-hockey families, wannabe Dance Moms, Canadian actors, giggly Asian teens, the odd American actor…

And Ned Hickson.

I’m back, but I’m not back. I’m not the man I was, but I’ve made my peace with the circumstances that have led me here. A wise man doesn’t resent his past, he treasures it, for each step leads us to the present. And beyond the present, my friends, lies the future.

And in the future, anything is possible.

As for the present, well, as it turns out, the hotel is immutable. The names and faces may change, but the story/song remains the same.

People are capable of anything, and observing them outside of their personal domain/habitat is a poor man’s adventure/entertainment.

For example…

First Call of the Day:  I found myself waiting in the hallway as my guests worked out some morning stress with a healthy bout of “I’ve been a bad, bad, girl! Punish me!”

Oh, how I’ve missed the life of The Hook.

At any rate, there was no point in knocking when it was hilariously clear my guests weren’t in any position to answer the door (seeing as how they were too busy exploring other positions), and so I waited. Fortunately, from the sound of things, the end was in sight. Don’t feel pity for me, though; there was a young man who found himself locked out of a room down the hall who proved to be a terrific comic foil. Use this image to fill the gap in your minds…

And so I enlisted my new young friend in a mission, one that involved two whiter-than-Brooke-Shields seniors who were waiting for the guest elevators while disapprovingly staring at the little guy with all the warmth one would expect from a pair of diehard racists. “L’il Hook” approached the couple and asked:

“Yo, old cracker-as crackers! Where the white women at?”

Mere words cannot do their reaction justice, friends. As for my little buddy, his uncle showed up and claimed him soon after. He “had a helluva time making the white people wet themselves”, and my guests finished up soon after. Everyone won. Well, the ancient racists didn’t, but who cares about them, right?

In that brief moment, I was back – and it felt good.

For the first time in a month, I’ll see you in the lobby, kids…

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50 Reasons Niagara Falls Comic Con 2015 Will Rock Harder Than Benjamin J. Grimm at a Dazzler Concert.

I’m your worst nightmare, folks… a middle-aged fanboy with a blog. ‘Nuff said, True Believers?

Everything you’re about to read is a fact. Except the stuff I made up. Of course, even that stuff may be a fact on a multiple Earth somewhere in the Multiverse.

50)  It’s in Niagara Falls, a town built around one of nature’s greatest creations. (Next to my wife, orgasms and Ann St. Vincent.) My hometown is often labelled “tacky” and “overrun with tourist traps”, but the truth is,  nothing beats a day of comics, celebrities and swag, followed by a drive along the Niagara Parkway while soaking in the beauty of the cataracts themselves. We may not be on the same level as Toronto, but we have natural beauty, kick-ass restaurants, hotels and events to compete with the best of them.

49)  This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway… THERE WILL BE COMICS!

48)  Everyone is welcome at a con. The United Nations – and the world in general – could learn a thing or two from nerds; every outcast, geek, Trekkie, gamer, fan of every variety is welcome. Bullying is non-existent. A con is one nation, united by the immeasurable power of fandom. It’s a beautiful thing, really.

47)  The Mistress of the Dark. Who doesn’t love Elvira? She practically invented self-deprecating humor, she finds the humor in the supernatural and she flashes cleavage like no one’s business. What’s not to love?

46)  The original 1966 Batcopter. Too cool for words, right?

45)  It gets me out of the house and away from the daily grind of slugging luggage for hordes of increasingly-hostile travelers.

44)  K.I.T.T.  Yes, you read that right… the actual K.I.T.T. from the classic TV adventure series, Knight Rider. Feel free to shudder with nerdy delight.

43)  Enough video games for sale to put a gamer into a coma.

42)  A 1980’s retro arcade zone. Pretty sure those gamers will be dropping like flies when they realize how close to Nerdvana they really are.

41)  The actual General Lee. I doubt they’ll be jumping any bridges while fleeing from Roscoe P. Coltrane… but we can only hope.

40)  Bacon. It’ll be there somewhere. Bacon makes everything better.

39)  The 1966 Batcycle. Anyone can have the car, but the bike? Now that’s cool…

38)  The Dr. Who Society of Canada. Feel free to scream like a Sontaran in heat, Whovians.

37)  A video game arena. Someone’s going to get a stern verbal smack-down… no doubt followed by a sincere apology.

36)  Magic: The Gathering. I’m not a card game guy – but I’m in the minority.

35)  There will be girl there. Some of them will be recognizable as girls. Females make everything better.

34)  There will be girls there. There will be nerds who pee themselves when those girls walk by them. The prospect is rife with comic (humor) possibilities.

33)  Seam Astin.  He was in the Fellowship of the Ring. And he was Rudy. How can you not root for the guy?

32)  The Ontario Ghostbusters will be there so you know you’ll safe from pesky nerdy ghosts.

31)  The 501st Legion Canadian Garrison will be in attendance. With any luck, they’ll get into a pitched battle with a crew of Trekkies. 30)  There will be Pokémon cards, merchandise and tournaments. Gotta catch ’em all – apparently.

29)  A table top gaming room. What’s old is nerdy again.

28)  The Germans love him and Niagara has landed him: the Hoff will be rockin’ Niagara Falls Comic Con. Say what you will about his acting choices and personal trials, Hasselhoff isn’t just an actor/singer, he’s a personality. And he was the first actor to portray Nick Fury and that’s one helluva claim to nerdy fame. rs_560x415-130905120936-1024.nickfury.cm.9513

27)  Billy Dee! Billy Dee! He may have portrayed his best friend to the Empire, but Billy Dee Williams has been in the biz for over 50 years.

26)  I mentioned comics, right?

25)  Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati will be in attendance, as always. As far from a boring, stuffy political leader as one can get, Mayor Diodati is legendary for his post-con throw-downs with celebrities. The way I heard it, he came thisclose to beating Shatner last year. Damn Vulcan never pinch…

24)  Alfonso Ribeiro is best known for his role as Carlton Banks on the hit television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but did you know he’s also a twelfth-level warlock? Granted, it’s not what you call a “fact” that you’ll find in “books” or from “reputable sources”, but as a bellman, I hear things. My source must remain anonymous, but I’ll say this: DJ Jazzy Jeff gets pretty chatty after a free bag of weed finds its way into his hands…

23)  They’ll have toys, both vintage and modern. To be clear, I’m referring to G-rated playthings, not the type of toys that’ll chip your girlfriend’s teeth. Perverts.

22)  Pop. Or if you’re American, soda pop. You see, the wife is trying to keep me healthy so soft drinks are verboten in my home, and so I get excited when I have the opportunity to indulge.

21)  Hershel from The Walking Dead will be there, with his head intact (as long as he doesn’t get into a battle with Mayor Diodati). Good luck, Scott Wilson.

20)  Not only will the General Lee be there, Daisy Duke – the real Daisy Duke, Catherine Bach – will be flashing that smile that turned millions of fanboys (and fangirls) to jelly back in the day. Jessica Simpson, who?

19)  The hottest member of the 1960’s Bat-family (sorry, Adam West), Yvonne Craig, Batgirl herself, will be flinging Batarangs and signing autographs.  yvonne_craig_lg

18)  Kids. I don’t know about you, but I love watching the little booger eaters overdose on sugar and run around the convention floor while freaking out at the sights, sounds and sensations of fandom at its finest. I place bets on how long it takes them to spontaneously combust.

17)  There’s always a fat kid in a Superman costume who means well but who weighs more than Krypton and Earth combined. His spirit is willing but his flesh is flabby and smells like cheese. His antics will keep you entertained for hours.

16)  Every trading card set known to fankind will be available for sale. I’m hoping to complete my “Saved by the Bell: Where Are They Now?” collection.

15)  It’s reasonably priced. A ticket won’t force you to pawn grandma’s pacemaker at your local pawn shop. Again.

14)  The lines. No, I’m not crazy. The wife had me tested. Twice. You see, I don’t mind waiting in lines when I’m surrounded by fun/eccentric people in costumes – especially when I know there’s a comic book payoff waiting for me.

13)  Ryan Hurst. He’s one of the Son of Anarchy. They ride hogs (which I have been informed means “motorcycle”, but which is still cool), outsmart the fuzz, and bang hot broads, all of which is pretty appealing to hordes of young men who still live in their parents’ basement.

12)  Luke Perry was supposed to be there but as anyone who has ever attended a convention Luke Perry was supposed to attend knows, he cancelled. He’s done that at every con I’ve ever attended that advertised his presence. The guy’s a train wreck and you know what they say about train wrecks, right? You just can’t look away…

11)  Perry’s partner-in-TV-crime, Jason Priestley, is going to be there. Apparently. We’ll see…

10)  Linda Blair is going to be lurking about. At least she’ll have a panoramic view of the proceedings, right?

(If you didn’t get that one, I’m not telling you. Watch a classic film every once in awhile, people!)

9)  A con is a great place for me to prove to my wife that I’m really not that strange after all…

8)  A con is a great place for me to try to prove to my daughter that her old man really isn’t that strange after all…

7)  You won’t find better deals on impossible-to-find comics, trade paperbacks, action figures, kidneys, power rings and assorted treasures at any con in the known and unknown universe.

6)  Manu Bennett will be there, swearing vengeance against anyone dressed as Oliver Queen.

5)  Janes Bond’s suave, wisecracking, drug dealing nemesis, Robert Davi will be charming fans. That guy rules. He was in Showgirls, an underrated classic starring Jessie from Saved by the Bell. (You got to see her… “Saved by the Bells”; how often can you say that about a sitcom star?)

4)  Garrett Wang (no offense, buddy), from Star Trek: Voyager will be steering clear of the Q Continuum’s John De Lancie.

3)  Joe Pantoliano was in Daredevil, The Sopranos, The Fugitive, Goonies, and The Matrix. Joe Pantoliano is ridiculously cool and Niagara’s got him.

2)  Superhero t-shirts, the preferred attire of nerds like me – and Sheldon Cooper – will be available in abundance and in wonderful varieties. The wife is already rolling her eyes.

1 A)  My favorite Lois Lane (followed closely by Erica Durance, ‘natch), Margot Kidder, will be misspelling fans’ names. (Again, you have to be a hardcore fan to get my humor but I believe in challenging my readers. You’re welcome.)

1 B)  My family has lost our center recently; my father-in-law was the finest man I’ve ever known and losing him has shaken us to our core. On a personal note, watching him leave this world for the next has changed me. I don’t want to speak of it at home, but I don’t know who I am anymore.

Fortunately, I’ve always felt at home on a convention floor, especially the one in my hometown. We all owe Paul Tappay a debt of thanks for beginning what is fast becoming a legendary con. 

That’s all I have to say about Niagara Falls Comic Con 2015 – for now. See you on the convention floor, kids…

Posted in Hotel Life | 17 Comments