An Open Letter To Sally Catto And The CBC: “Life Advice From A Loser: Winning Isn’t Everything” Pitch.

For those of you who are really lost right now:  Sally Catto is the General Manager of Programming for Canada’s national television network, CBC.  All good?  Then we’ll begin.


Hey, Sally!

My name is Robert “The Hook” Hookey. You may know me from the failed pitches, Nerd City, The Murdoch After Show, and of course, The Bellman Chronicles. Not one to give up easily, or until I’ve at least achieved total and utter humiliation (just ask the wife) I’ve decided to try a different tactic: A public pitch.

Yes, I’ve decided to fail with the full spotlight of the world on me. (Well, to be accurate, it’s actually three thousand or so followers, but who’s counting?) So this is a pitch for a show based on my whole life, from my childhood, through my teenage years to my workplace role as a Niagara Falls bellman, not one moment of which has ever resembled what people refer to as “ordinary”.

What follows is a single episode of my existence, as told by yours truly to the audience though a fictional book my character is writing. I realize this flies in the face of the usual CBC pitch process, Sally, but at this point I have nothing to lose anyway. Besides, it took CBC eight months to reject my last pitch, so you can see why I’d favor the direct approach, right?

And so here we go, Sally and loyal readers, enjoy my latest offering: Life Advice From A Loser: Winning Isn’t Everything.


You may be wondering, among other things:

  • “Is a guy named after a pirate qualified to write a guidebook on how to fail?”
  • “Why would anyone want with a guidebook dedicated to not succeeding? Is there actually a market for that sort of thing?
  • Isn’t screwing up pretty damn easy anyway?””

Well, in the interest of full disclosure allow me to clear a few things up. First off, my parents actually named me Robert, but since my last name is Hookey, my coworkers at the hotel where I serve the traveling public as a bellman began calling me The Hook. And yes, I’ve heard all the usual jokes about my spotty elementary school attendance record and my curved penis, thank you very much, but feel free to cut loose if you feel so inclined, I’ll wait.

All done? Good. Then we’ll continue.

So we’ve established that I’m not actually a seafaring rogue but you still don’t know why I’m the right guy to write a tome dedicated to improving the human condition, do you? Let’s start off with a little tale I like to call:

“Fifty Shades of Hook.”

Where do I come up with this stuff? It’s a dark gift. Anywhoo, this little vignette takes place in a period of human history known as the Eighties. Back then, high school kids would gather at the home of whichever set of vacationing parental units were foolish enough to leave their progeny home unattended. Such events were tame affairs compared to the current model; there were no orgies, no mass suicides, no kitchen tables stacked to the ceiling with mountains of prescription pills and most of all, no one was pouring alcohol into their eye sockets in order to get drunk immediately. (Yes, kids actually do that today. According to Dr. Phil.)

High school parties in the Eighties sound boring as hell, don’t they? Especially when you factor in the location of this particular shindig: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The Canuck version of Niagara doesn’t quite have the Jersey flavor of its Yankee counterpart, but it takes the same sort of beating when it comes to public perception. But that’s enough of the travel talk; let’s return to the seemingly-boring high school party in question, shall we?

This particular party, however, was anything but uneventful. Craig Hoover (I could tell you I’ve changed the names in order to protect the guilty but the truth is, I don’t want to get the crap kicked out of me) decided to add some extra zest to the chips ‘n dip and extremely cheap booze (to this day I’m amazed they didn’t all go blind) he had laid out by raiding his old man’s porn stash. I don’t know what Craig was thinking; maybe he thought watching porn while surrounded by a group of their classmates in Craig’s parents tacky basement rec room (decorated in early “What the fuck?”) would make the girls instantly transform into high school sluts? The only thing I know for certain is that Craig should never have popped that unlabelled VHS tape (get thee to Google, kids) into the machine without screening it first.

Now, to be fair, adult films in the Eighties weren’t exactly the polished, well-written features they are today… but this flick was ridiculous. There were no credits, no soundtrack and no flimsy introduction. There was simply a “title card” scribbled in magic marker on the back of what was obviously a pizza box – and then the action began. “Naughty Heidi Meets Doctor Feelgood” was the title and the action – which had to have been recorded with a home camcorder – began with an all-too-close-up shot of Heidi’s nether regions as her MD “took her temperature “. With his “internal thermometer”.

The only sound was Heidi’s ridiculously-high-pitched moaning merged with Dr. Feelgood’s ragged breathing. That went on for a few excruciating minutes and then the camera pulled back to reveal the actors in all their glory. By this time the guys were giggling like drunken, horny hyenas and the girls were incredibly uncomfortable. No one spoke which meant everyone could clearly hear me as I began to embarrass myself for the first time that night.

“Wait a minute… this is obviously a homemade tape… who pulled the camera back?”

Of course, that was of little interest to my compatriots – especially when I decided to ignore the fifty sets of eyes that were focused on me by noticing yet another glaring detail of this particular skin flick.

“Hey, Craig? Isn’t that your mom?”

All eyes turned back to the Sears brand wooden console television. The camera had pulled back enough to reveal Heidi in what remained of her “costume” and Doctor Feelgood in his stethoscope – and nothing else.

“And that’s your dad!”

Craig’s girlfriend, Valerie, had made that particular deduction, which I’m sure was a high point in their brief but certainly-memorable courtship. The next few minutes were a bit of blur but not because I had been drinking. Rather, young Mister Hoover moved at a pace that would’ve made Barry Allen proud.

(Yes, I’m a nerd. You’re shocked, aren’t you?)

giphyWhat do you think so far, Sally?

  • The assembled teenage horde all moved in for a closer look at the screen- especially the females.
  • Craig pushed his way past the crowd, among howls of, “Craig, you’re mom’s a porn star!” and “Hey, where’s your mom now, Hoover? Get her over here so we can ‘examine’ her!”
  • His parent’s VCR sputtered and clanked as Craig ripped the tape out as fast as he could.
  • A carving of an Eskimo hunter harpooning a whale became an instrument of destruction as Craig smashed “Naughty Heidi Meets Doctor Feelgood” to bits as we all watched in a mixture of titillation and empathy. To be honest, since we were all so young, it was mostly titillation.
  • Waves of humiliation sent Craig off to his room, Valerie in tow.

There were two accounts of what happened next. Craig claimed to have “porked Val’s brains out for at least thirty minutes.” While Valerie claimed that Craig used his public shaming as an excuse to slowly position himself on top of her as she comforted him. Unfortunately for Craig, the attempted humping ended with a whimper rather than an bang. According to Valerie, her boyfriend dry-humped her for two minutes before moaning in a fashion similar to Doctor Feelgood and Heidi. He then spent the next twenty minutes apologizing and telling her, “I couldn’t hold back because I love you so much, baby. Our burning love overwhelms me sometimes.”

At this point you’re probably thinking that Craig Hoover is the loser in this tale rather than yours truly.

But you would be wrong.

Not that Master Hoover didn’t earn his failure wings (he dry-humped himself into the Loser Hall of Fame that night) but I gave him a run for his money, courtesy of a young lady name Lisa Tibado. She had short brown hair (picture a Beatles cut with way more body), ocean blue eyes, sexy chipmunk cheeks, a thin frame of girl flesh on an average sized skeleton and a backside worth dying for. (Yes, I do paint with words, thank you very much.)

I had lusted after Lisa for a year but never had the courage to approach her and start a conversation, much less ask her out. As a wise man once sang, “I was a high school loser, never made it with a lady.” I was a thin, tall, awkward teen with no real hairstyle or style. Yep, I was an ultra-cool chick magnet.

Lucky for me, her discomfort at watching porn while amongst her classmates made Lisa guzzle Craig’s cheap booze like it was cherry Kool-Aid. This, of course, led to a lapse in judgement that in turn led to a trip to the garage with a sweaty, bespectacled beanpole who worshiped the ground she walked on.

Yes, Craig Hoover’s parents homemade sex tape and cheap alcohol helped me hit the jackpot that night. Sort of. As far as the venue was concerned, all the rooms were spoken for and you know what they say about beggars and choice. But it wasn’t so bad; a pillow and comforter stolen acquired from Craig’s sister’s room made the floor more comfortable and the moonlight streaming in via the filthy windows filtered nicely through the cobwebs. A flickering porch light even provided a rave feel long before raves were a thing.

After a make-out session that left my lips and nostrils burning from a contact high (told you the booze was cheap) Lisa decided to let me take things to the next level. It was a good thing too; I was far too shy to take the lead. If it was up to me, we both would’ve eventually passed out after being exposed to Lisa’s breath in such a poorly-ventilated space.

And so we engaged in a bout of dry-humping that I am proud to say lasted far longer than Craig and Valerie’s. However when it came time to remove Miss Tibado’s over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder I was so out of my depth I wanted to scream. And cry. If only Google was a thing back then…

(In the interest of historical accuracy, they were more like pebbles. But who cares? They were breasts!)

At any rate, I was afraid to ask Lisa for help, lest she come to her senses. So after a few excruciating minutes of fumbling with snaps designed by a master jailer, I decided to MacGyver the damn bra. Fortunately for me, we were laying on the floor of a garage right in front of a giant tool box.

Can you see where this is going?

Between my own way-out-of-control teenage hormones, Lisa’s incessant – and awesome – moaning, the lack of fresh air in the Hoover garage and my desire to finally see a pair of actual boobs, I lost all sense of reason. My sweaty teenage fingers fumbled around in the metallic drawers as Lisa hands fumbled all over my backside. (Cheap alcohol may make a teenage cutie extremely horny but it sure doesn’t improve her sexual performance, folks.) Her diminished performance gave me the time I needed to locate the right tool for this specific job. A couple of snips later, that pesky undergarment was out of the way and the evening’s revelries could really begin. Or at least, I thought they were about to begin…

As it turns out, my companion was sober enough to hear a pair of wire cutters as they sliced through her bra. And as it also turns out, the bra in question was a ridiculously-expensive birthday gift from her grandmother. And finally, it turns out that young Lisa Tibado was less than impressed when she grabbed her intimate apparel back from me and examined it carefully. 

In later years I would grow to rather enjoy it when a woman cursed during sex but at this moment the words spewing forth from Lisa’s mouth were anything but titillating. To be fair, though, I was far too busy staring at my first pair of breasts that weren’t in a magazine to pay close attention to Miss Tibado’s rantings. One minute I was mesmerized by the bounty of her teenage bosom and the next thing I know, all three of them are walking out the door. One minute I was a few snips away from garage-groping bliss and who knows what else – I certainly didn’t – and the next thing I know, I was all alone in a garage with my… pride in my hands.

The lesson I l earned that night was a simple one. Actually, I didn’t learn anything that night; I snuck out of the party as fast as possible, went home and, well… let’s just say I pulled a magazine out from the bottom of a comic box (the last place my Mom would look) and finished what Lisa started and leave it at that, shall we? Trust me, if I hadn’t, I most likely would have died from internal distress.

Looking back though, I realize that the lesson was one I never would have been able to fathom anyway. What teenage boy is going to walk away (albeit doubled-over) from an interrupted dry-humping session with the girl of his dreams with a life lesson? As a man (in theory only) I now see that Fate was trying to tell me something and now I’m going to share it with you in the form of our first-ever lesson, which from this moment forth, shall be referred to as a Takeaway.

TAKEAWAY #1:  Women don’t like it when you use wire cutters to remove their bra. Don’t do it. Unless, of course, you have the funds to replace the undergarment readily available or you have a substitute handy. In that case, you’ll most likely still feel the young lady’s wrath, but at least you’ll have made an effort.

And so it begins…


There’s much more where this came from, friends. My life has been a series of “I-can’t-believe-this-guy-actually-went-through-all-this-without-becoming-a-permanent-resident-of-a-provincially-funded-institution!” fails, but that’s actually good news for you. Now you can learn from my many, many, many, many mistakes without having to experience the actual horror that accompanied them. In the end you’ll be a more beautiful human being and your soul will be resplendent with sparkly joy. So join me as we travel though my life and search for wisdom among the wreckage of my memories.

And that’s it, Sally! (And everyone else.) My content may be bold, to say the least, but in the age of CBC content like Workin’ Moms and Schitt’s Creek, this pitch is par for the exceptionally-hilarious course.

giphyAdmit it, I’ve won you over right, Sally?

I shall leave you with one final thought: Every single CBC viewer was a teenager once (or is, or will be) and everyone has been on vacation at least once. My life as a loser, while seemingly-unbelievable on the surface, is one all Canadians can collectively laugh at.

See you in the lobby and on the CBC, Sally….

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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35 Responses to An Open Letter To Sally Catto And The CBC: “Life Advice From A Loser: Winning Isn’t Everything” Pitch.

  1. Lisa Orchard says:

    Good luck! I hope this story gets you where you want to go!

  2. davidprosser says:

    It’s a sure fired winner Robert.

  3. I could see this on the big screen but CBC? Well lets hope so.

  4. nbratscott says:

    I do wish you luck, but if they DO produce your story I’ll probably have to wait ’til Season 10 before Netflix picks it up so I can see it!

    BTW- I just finished Season 1 of MM!

  5. shimoniac says:

    I, too, remember the ’80’s; not fondly either. Big hair, leg warmers, VHS tapes. My buddy showing me his Dad’s porn stash, which included 4 Polaroid photos of his NAKED MOM. I didn’t even qualify as a loser, I was a ghost. But life got better, it’s all in lowering your expectations. 😉

  6. I’m always in two minds about sexual revelations, but this made me laugh

  7. Mark Myers says:

    Thank you for a laugh to start to day. Sorry, Craig… does one ever get over that?

  8. nbratscott says:

    I just realized… every “loser” story must have a happy ending! Sally, if you’re reading this, you have control of The Hook’s happy ending. The show can take place in the present, with The Hook a successful screenwriter. He can have flashbacks to his “loser” past in order to gain inspiration for each episode’s plot.

    Whatja think?

  9. umashankar says:

    You know what, Hook, I had to come back for a second reading to fully absorb the intent and impact of your Love Song. Well, more than the 80’s and VHS tapes, we happen to share between us a curved limb and a propensity to duel with the bodices of the other sex, not to speak of rejection notes of the Sallies of the world, all of which, we know, can be more than a bother.

    And hey, you do paint with words —orgies taste like a glass of bitter-gourd in lesser hands.

  10. curvyroads says:

    Good luck Robert!

    Come on Sally…how can you resist stories like this???

  11. susielindau says:

    Oh, my God! I’m still laughing! You had me with your Hoover’s Sex Tape! What???? And the guy was turned on by that? Most of us wouldn’t have wanted any part of sex for years. MY EYES!!!

    But wire cutters??? You take the cake, Hook! Ha!
    Good luck with the introduction! You never know… 🙂

  12. The Hook says:

    Indeed, Susie, thanks!
    As for the wire cutters, what can I say?
    I was young and horny, a deadly combination….

  13. If they don’t make a “movie of the week” out of your letter, it is truly their loss… but it seems to me that there has been several movies, tv shows etc made from similar experiences. I know! Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes and your “truth” is the strangest of all! I am so glad I do not have similar stories! Poor Robert… 😛

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