5×5 With The Hook: Natalie Brown.

If you’re like me and you hail from the Great White North, this young lady has been a part of your life for decades.

Even if you weren’t aware of her presence.

No, she’s not a stalker or the world’s most gorgeous ninja, she’s one of the most underrated actresses of any age. Natalie Brown has been in the background of some of the most significant moments of my life, all while on a television screen. Natalie – who doesn’t age and apparently isn’t an actual vampire – has more film and TV credits to her name than a really smart scholar but to millions she’ll always be this chick:

As far as introducing yourself to the public, that wasn’t a bad start was it?

Natalie hasn’t looked back since then. (She really should get her neck checked.) She’s carried shows. She’s played secretaries, detectives, ex-girlfriends of werewolves, fictional vampires, and everything under the sun and among the stars but she’s never shied away from making unforgettable commercials.

Thank Dog.

While it should be noted that I am a happily married man… Natalie is unbelievably-sexy and funny as hell in this commercial, isn’t she?

Needless to say, when my fellow bellmen realized Natalie was going to be today’s guest their reactions were… enthusiastic, to say the least.

“Seriously, Hook? She’s hotter than any hooker we’ve ever had in here!”

“She’s super hot! And she can really act!”

“The ketchup chick? I’ve had a crush on her for forever!”

“Who the hell’s Natalie Brown?”

We beat that last guy, obviously.

Natalie’s work on the exceptionally-written end-of-the-world/vampire drama, The Strain has been nothing short of exceptional. No spoilers, but as Kelly Goodweather, Natalie has found a role she can really sink her teeth into. (Yes, I’m guilty of extreme punnery.)

Time to get down to brass 5×5 tacks, right? As I told Natalie before she read these awesome queries: “Yes, these questions are more than a bit quirky, but the way I see it, an actor that’s been around as long as you have (but you look timeless!) must be bored to tears by the same old queries. Luckily, I’m here to “help”.

ONE)  You’re one of the most recognized actors in our home and native land of Canada but has the rest of the world recognized your awesomeness?

I’m always surprised and amazed when I get fan mail from the U.S., Germany, and anywhere overseas. The reach that television has and the myriad ways we can now view it makes it possible for shows to resonate with audiences everywhere. My agency used to get messages in the middle of the night from Romania where apparently “Sophie” was a hit.🙂



TWO) As a bellman I’m fascinated by all things related to travel; do you have any travel rituals, Natalie Brown? (Booking a room at the end of the hall, using an assumed name, being served by a one-armed bellman, etc.)

I don’t have any travel superstitions, but I do love a window seat. Not only to rest my head against, but also for the perspective that take off provides- the rush of the world speeding by at 100+ miles an hour, and the ensuing calm of watching the chaos slowly disappear. Any problems or “baggage” I may be carrying always seem to shrink in significance.


THREE)  Above all, an actor has to be flexible in order to “sell” a character but has there ever been a role that made you go, “Yeah, right! I don’t think so! They can get Helene Joy!”

Whenever I’m up for a challenging role, my instinct is always to cast someone I know better suited to it, but these are always the opportunities for the most growth. If it doesn’t terrify me at least a little, than it’s not worth doing.

(Magnificent answer, no?)


FOUR)  If you could be any houseplant, what would you be and why?

Not sure if it counts as a house plant, but I’d be rosemary in an indoor herb garden- hardy, fragrant, spicy, delicious and capable of surviving the winter!

(Nice! Do you see why Canadians love this chick?)


FIVE)  If you could go back in time and star in any film, what would you choose?

 Flashdance 💃🏻

 (I have to be honest… I can see that. Bet Natalie would’ve killed that role.)



If you’re not a fan of Natalie Brown by now… you’ve most likely suffered a head injury. Or you’re suffering from hysterical blindness. Either way, you’re pretty much screwed and need to seek medical attention immediately, because she’s delightful, people.

My thanks to Natalie – and all of you, of course – for being here today. You’re all good eggs. One final thought: celebrities are ridiculously-busy and they certainly don’t need to make time for fans with super-small blogs with even smaller audiences.

But Natalie Brown is no ordinary celebrity.

Thanks again, Natalie. You’re a helluva gal.

See you in the lobby, kids…

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments

Wednesday Wisdom With The Hook?

There’s a dichotomy to life in a thousand-room hotel, folks.

On one hand, our guests are here to relax and forget all about the Rat Race. (In theory, at least.) Their goal is to adopt a nice leisurely pace instead of racing around like headless egg producers.

To be clear, I’m referring to chickens, not decapitated farmers…

On the other hand, as a bellman, I cannot afford to adopt a leisurely pace. Doing so would result in absolute chaos. Slow bellman don’t last very long in the hotel biz.

So I’ve adopted a motto: “When you think fast, think of The Hook!”

So where does the Wednesday wisdom come into play, you ask? Well, let’s just say it’s never wise to use a catchphrase like mine before getting “romantic” with the wife.

It does not go over well. So what you don’t say is as important as what you do.

See you in the lobby, kids…


Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , | 13 Comments

5×5 With The Hook: Peter Mitchell Of Murdoch Mysteries.

Season Ten of Murdoch Mysteries is almost upon us so it’s time for a Murdoch Monday 5×5, friends.

Peter Mitchell is literally the man with the plan.

As the showrunner/executive producer for one of television’s greatest dramas of all time (set in any time period), Murdoch Mysteries, Peter is the puppet master, the captain, the guiding light that brings the cast and crew through the darkness that lies between script-readings and first airing. He’s also one of the nicest devils to ever helm a turn-of-the-century detective whose skills are ahead of their time – and whose name is William.

Hey, there’s more of those than you’d think…


Peter (far left, obviously) and his peeps.

Peter’s responsible for scribe duties on dozens of MM episodes as well as being the captain of the “Mystery Ship”. (And yes, I said “duties”. Grow up.) In addition, Pete has done pretty much everything one can do in the television industry short of hiding the bodies of interns mysteriously mauled in the execution of their duties. (Yes, he likes to be called Pete. Shut up again.)

And I can neither confirm nor deny whether interns actually disappear under mysterious circumstances in the television industry. But one can only hope, right? My point is, Peter can be a one-man-television-producing-show if necessary.

The vast majority of my readership – all ten of you – know just how much Murdoch Mysteries means to me and my family. It’s not just a TV show; it was a lifeline to my late father-in-law as he battled emphysema and it still brings us together as a family. How many family units can say they have the same taste in television programs, never mind being able to spend sixty minutes together in front of the screen without exploding into violence?

Peter Mitchell has a lot to do with that and so my clan will be forever in his debt. Of course, being the humble, understated man he is, Pete would say he has some help each week (some guy named Yannick, among others) but at the end of the day, the weight of MM’s world rests on Peter Mitchell’s shoulders and he makes that weight look light as a feather.

And he’s also one of the funniest sentient beings with opposable thumbs on Twitter. When you ignore my own contributions, of course.

Peter is apparently quite the taskmaster too…

murdoch1“I swear I’ll take direction better next time, Peter… can I go home now?”

All right, let’s get right to the point, shall we? I asked five queries and Peter, in spite of his ridiculously-busy schedule, graciously answered, so here we go…

ONE)  The Canadian television industry is under fire from multiple sources these days (an innumerable number of platforms, the CRTC’s disturbing lapses in judgement, government interference and cuts) but you’ve been in the business awhile; what’s the most positive change you’ve seen in the biz so far?

I’d say the two most positive things in the business is the awareness Canadians have about Canadian shows. The second is the proficiency and quality of work the crews can do.


TWO)  If you could be any form of aquatic life (from real like a piranha to fictional like Nemo) what would you be and why?

A jellyfish, you float around and food comes to you and you can kill your enemies without moving.

(Personally, I think Peter’s a genius.)


THREE)  Murdoch Mysteries has covered a lot of ground in ten seasons; are there any mountains you’d still like to conquer with the show?

New mountains appear with each horizon we cross.

(I’ll say it for you… awesome!)


FOUR)  If you actually could spend twenty-four hours in turn-of-the-century Toronto, what would you do?

Pretty much what I do now, laugh, eat, drink, repeat.

(I guess I deserve that one, don’t I?)


FIVE)  Would you be interested in solving a real-life classic mystery or is that just your day job?

Just my day job. My real life is a procedural.

(Honest and to the point. I’ll take it.)

breakI don’t know about you, folks, but this has been one of my favorite 5×5 interviews of all time. Then again, I’m a ginormous Murdoch fan so I’ll admit some bias. Many thanks to today’s guest and of course, all of you for taking time out of your lives – and YouTube cat shaming videos – to be here.

See you in the lobby – and on the CBC – kids…


Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

What’s My Day Going To Be Like?

I don’t know about you, friends, but my day can be best summed up by a single tweet:

Yes, it’s bus season again. (And yes, I look like a beautiful woman when I first wake up. Shut up.) Unfortunately, I don’t get to go all Elmer Fudd on the buses or their occupants. Oh well, the aches and pains that come with slugging bags around fade eventually. Funny thing, the bags have become heavier as I’ve gotten older. Physics are weird.

pgwliwpThis was the first GIF that came up when I searched for Mr. Fudd – but it’s wrong on every conceivable level. Still, it’s funny as hell.

See you in the lobby, kids… I’ll be the guy sweating his tail off slugging luggage around the front sidewalk while whimpering and muttering. Pray for me.

UPDATE:  Funny story; originally I used a very different GIF, but I soon realized – after the post had gone out on my Twitter feed, sadly – that the image made it look like I was going to be engaged in a very inappropriate activity throughout the day. Here’s the GIF. Decide for yourself if I made the right call switching it.


Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

The Hook, A Hooker And A Cat Named lucky.

Hypothetical Sunday Morning Situation:

Hypothetical Location: The Bell Desk.

Cci-QcBUMAAvgfJIf only I had this option…

KARDASHIAN CLONE:  I need a trolly thingie! For my luggages!

HYPOTHETICAL ME:  (HYPO ME for short)  I’m sorry, miss (I really wasn’t) but we don’t give out carts to guests. I’d be more than happy to help you though. (I really wouldn’t have been.)

KC:  That sucks! All the best hotels let you do it yourself!

HYPO ME:  Really? The best hotels make you work like a dog for minimum wage? They make you load a dozen impossibly-heavy bags onto carts designed for eight reasonably-sized bags? They make you work all year long at a job you most likely hate that pays a laughable wage which you have to use to make sure the kids have clothes on their little backs, the bills are paid and you’re not living on the street? The best hotels forget you’re not supposed to be working while on vacation? Do they do all that?

KC:  Uh… I don’t think so. But I don’t have any kids and (her voice became a throaty whisper) besides, I’m an escort… so my bills are paid in a weekend!

HYPO ME:  All right… well, while I appreciate your honesty (especially since I have a blog) but I still can’t give you a cart.

KC:  (After a moment of pondering.)  All right! You’re pretty damn funny for a bell guy!

HYPO ME:  And you’re pretty damn perceptive…

KC:  For an escort?

HYPO ME:  For a lovely lady.

KC:  Aww…

In the end, she got her luggages brought down, I got tipped large (further proof that my particular set of people skills are as sharp as ever) and believe it or not, the day only became stranger from there.

Speaking of which…


During the wee early hours of the Sunday morning check-out rush, a pick-up truck pulled onto the valet deck and shut it’s engine off.

A dead cat then fell from one of the wheelwells onto the deck.

For the uninitiated: Felines will often sleep on the engine blocks of vehicles in order to stay warm. This particular cat (who I’m willing to bet was named “Lucky”) engaged in that practice and used up all it’s nine lives in the process.

Rest in peace, Lucky.

Well, that was my Sunday morning – hypothetically. How was yours?

See you in the lobby, kids…

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Booking A Getaway? Keep This In Mind…

To be clear, the getaway I’m referring to doesn’t include your cousin Mookie sitting in a suped-up Dodge Charger on the street while you clean out a Money Mart with your crew.

No, this is another classic set of travel tips from the wonderfully-twisted mind of The Hook. So as I often tell the wife, dim the lights, crank up the Eighties tunes (Whitesnake rocks), get out the poison of your choice, strap in tight and start praying to your deity… things are about to get rough.

tumblr_mngd96aie91s3gl74o1_500I’m told this make my writing more enjoyable. (To be clear, that goes for either the chick or the booze.)

When preparing to leave one’s home for a well-deserved vacation one must never forget to cover all one’s bases, lest one look like a douche. Yes, I have quite a way with words, don’t I? It takes all the wife’s willpower to keep her pants on while I’m around the house spouting philosophical exclamations.

You’re buying this, right?

At any rate, it’s time to cut to the chase. Here are some things to keep in mind while preparing to leave your couch, folks.


ONE)  Do your homework, Poindexter!  Seriously, I don’t care if you’re out of school. I don’t care if you’d rather spend hours watching Julia Ann’s latest escapades on RedTube. (Not that I blame you.) I don’t even care if you’re tired of me repeating myself. The cold, hard truth is this: travel is more expensive than ever so you need to be certain your destination of choice is the informed choice.

Do your research, even if you have to actually pick up the phone and call the local tourism authority. Or better yet, call your hotel’s concierge. They can give you the inside scoop on the places locals eat and the off-the-beaten-track spots that will leave you breathless. (Like the methane mines.)  If your hotel doesn’t have a concierge? Get a better hotel.


TWO)  Never go to the “It” spot just for the hell of it.  We may be human (most of us) but often we’ll become sheep when it comes to keep up wit the Kardashians, as they say. Never book a trip that’s going to cost you thousands of hard-earned dollars just so you can say you went to the same spot Fran and Nate next door visited six months ago. For all you know, Fran and Nate are morons when it comes to booking trips.

Vegas is great but what if you can’t afford to lose the kids’ college funds in-between watching Britney gyrate like a cheap hooker and the flavor-of-the-month magic act?

If you think the Grand Canyon is as wide and vacant as Kris Jenner’s consciousness, then don’t go there – I don’t care how much Aunt Selma gushes about it. (Aunt Selma drinks cooking sherry like water. In the nude)

Go somewhere that makes your heart thump faster whenever you picture it.

Go somewhere you’ve always genuinely wanted to visit.

Go somewhere that won’t leave you feeling ripped off when you get the bill.

But above all, just go somewhere! I can’t have the hospitality industry imploding just as I’m getting ahead of my bills, bitches!

Sorry, about that. I get a little passionate sometimes. Let’s move on…


THREE)  Be careful when letting nostalgia guide you.  There’s nothing wrong with returning to spots that left you with fond memories that keep you warm when life grows icy, but avoid spots with bad history. For example, never take your new love to a spot you visited with an ex – especially if that ex was The One. You’ll be flooded with bittersweet memories when you’re supposed to be making new ones.

Whenever possible forge new paths.


FOUR)  Talk to your traveling companions – even if you don’t want to!  If you’re vacationing alone then pre-trip meetings are a breeze (usually) but otherwise, you need to make sure everyone is involved. Yes, even those free-loading rug rats.

Talk to everyone with some skin in the game – even if its metaphorical skin – and make sure all parties will have the best time they can have without the use of pharmaceuticals or copious amounts of alcohol.

Of course, family vacation meetings can degenerate into chaos in a nanosecond but that’s what family’s all about, right? I had an uncle who only asked one question when it came item to plan family trips:

“Will there be call girls? I’ll go if there’s call girls!”

Oh, that Uncle Phil. Everyone loved when Uncle Phil went off on a tangent about the joys of prostitution.

Well, everyone except, Aunt Phyllis, that is. Then again, she apparently put ground glass in his food for years, so it all balanced out…


And finally, something to keep in mind when booking an excursion beyond your personal ecosystem…

FIVE)  If you’re afraid to view your credit report you must abort!  In other words, if you’re finances are already sketchy, don’t make them even… sketchier. Again, I sound like a broken record but this is serious business, people, and it bears repeating. As a bellman I want people to travel but as a citizen of the world I don’t want to see the economy tank because too many of my fellow humans have made their credit cards spontaneously combust.

All too often we’ll justify spending money we don’t have.

“I really deserve this trip, I haven’t killed a living thing all day and I drive under the speed limit every third Tuesday.”

“We need a getaway, something to make us forget all about the crushing debt that’s threatening to put us in a black hole we’ll never recover from. I’ve got it!  Let’s spend more money!”

“The girlfriend and I need some ‘alone time’.  Now I just have to figure out what to tell the wife…”

Get the picture?

We need to know when to spend and when to save, people. Yes, saving is boring and spending is like a night with Jenna Jameson and a crate of Cheez Whiz but a few months or even years of controlled spending can keep the wolf from your door and lead to a happier, healthier existence. Why do you think rich people are so cheap? They know being poor sucks!

And I have to agree with the rich bastards. So don’t be poor if you don’t have to be.

giphySo get on the road and have some fun! (But only if you can afford it.)


And that’s all I have for you today, friends. As I often tell the wife, “It may not have been much but at least it was free.”

See you in the lobby, kids…

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

There’s A “Bellman Chronicles: Hollywood” Series… Where The Hell Does That Leave Me?

It’s been a strange week, to say the least.

However, since the bulk of the weirdness occurred on hotel property, most of the details must remain between me and my Hello Kitty pocket diary.

With one glaring, depressing, soul-crushing exception.

Regular readers of this site and my award-winning (in my mind) Twitter feed know that I’ve been trying to get my book, The Bellman Chronicles, made into a television series. This has been a goal of mine for many years. This has been a goal of mine that I have failed at in spectacular fashion for many years.

CBC took eight months to respond to my pitch – and eight seconds to infuriate me with their response.

(Other agencies and networks haven’t even responded so I guess CBC isn’t so bad after all.)

Any and all contacts I’ve had in the entertainment industry have been too busy – or disinterested – to help me out. 

Even colleagues with similar goals haven’t been able to lend a hand.

In short, I’ve been completely adrift and ridiculously-out-of-my-league lost.

Then certain forces within the hotel became concerned this blog’s focus was going to become a problem someday. (The less said about that the better.) And so I’ve switched gears. Granted, my enthusiasm for blogging has been diminished by 99%, but I’m still here, doing… to be honest, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing anymore.  But I’m still here.

But maybe not for long.

The point of all this joy is this: I woke up one day and a colleague sent me a link to YouTube video that has left me gutted to my core.

Lovely, right?

Imagine that part of yourself that you retreat to whenever life begins to overwhelm you. Now imagine having to abandon that place because of someone else’s dream.

To be clear, I realize anyone can tell stories about bellmen. I get it. In fact, under different circumstances I’d be rooting for these guys. But under these circumstances – and nothing personal against these talented folks – I feel conflicted to say the least.

At this moment, part of me wants very much to die.

To be clear, I recognize that I have a good life. No, scratch that, I have a great life. My beautiful wife is the love of my life. Our daughter is a brilliant human being that leaves us awestruck every day. Even the dog is a helluva character that enriches our days and nights immeasurably. My bills are paid, my mortgage has been deleted, and my bank account is in the black. (For now, at least.) I believe my penis to be of slightly-above average size. 

At the end of the day I’m lucky as hell to be The Hook.

But I’m also human and it hurts like hell when it looks like my dreams are never going to be fully realized.

Still, I’m here, swinging away. Even if all my plans never reach fruition, I can only complain so much, right?

See you in the lobby, kids…

(No one’s taken that from me yet.)

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , | 58 Comments