5×5 With The Hook: Daniel Reyes.

Daniel Reyes is a husband, brand ambassador, lifestyle blogger with his own site/empire, a travel aficionado, a world-class foodie, an avid tweeter and a lover of life with a more powerful positive charge than a magnet.

daniel-reyes-headshot-2Daniel really is larger than life, isn’t he?

He even has his own hashtag, #DoTheDaniel. And before you begin to ponder just what that virtual tagline means, here’s the 411 in Reyes’ own words:

“It’s the enthusiasm and ability to love what we do while providing our audience with education, entertainment and the ability to join us on our adventures around the world.”

This young devil makes the Energizer Bunny look like a slacker. (Yes, I’m more than a little jealous of his youth and vitality; I pull muscles just getting out of bed these days.)

But seriously, I contacted the Bunny for a quote on Daniel’s world-renowned energy level and the furry bugger threatened to deposit his drumsticks in one of my body cavities.

I’d say more but litigation is pending so… energizr

But back to Daniel; I’m in my Forties and I can’t even get my dog to listen to me, never mind run my own empire… so I respect the hell out of Daniel Reyes. For those of you who are murky on just what a brand ambassador is, listen/closely: A brand ambassador will receive compensation in the form of cash or swag in exchange for their honest, untainted opinion of products, services, websites and various other topics ranging from Geo-political situations to whether or not cats are truly evil.

What? You know me by now. Move on. 

One last thing before I turn this 5×5 over to Daniel: His site, Do The Daniel, is the lifestyle site for people who don’t visit lifestyle sites. Check it out and your day – and life – will be heightened exponentially. 

ONE)  How does someone so young become the head of their own Food and Lifestyle empire? (Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look like you just emerged from the womb. As a forty-something human, I’m beside myself with envy, which has made my office very crowded.)

At 33-years-old, I never thought that I would be running a successful website with staff around the world. That being said, I have always had big dreams and a determination to achieve the impossible. I studied communications in university and once I met my husband I quickly fell in love with the world of blogging.

For two years I worked a full time job in marketing while building my business, and in 2015 I quit my job to do this full time. The goal is to have contributors in major cities around the world while I build my #DoTheDaniel empire!

(Honestly, this kid makes me want to up my game. And that’s about the best compliment I can pay him.)

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TWO)  Your success can be traced back to your inspiring positivity. Does it take a concerted effort to be so happy or were you just born with DNA that wards off negative feelings like politicians ward off the truth?

I like to think that I’ve always been a positive person. There is no use in putting out negative energy into the world because I believe that the universe gives you back what you give it. Of course, I can’t deny that sometimes even I succumb to being brash and emotional.

I think life and business require a certain balance and respect, so I try every day to do just that. 

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THREE)  You seem like a man after my own heart; in other words, a big kid. What was your favorite toy as a wee lad?

My favourite toy growing up was my Jem and The Holograms Barbie. It’s that one toy that I have the fondest memories of playing with and it to this day makes me laugh. I was breaking all the rules and being myself at such a young age!

10s8wtiHey, I still collect comics, so I’m not saying anything…

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FOUR)  As a highly-successful brand ambassador do you have certain criteria when choosing partners or do you just follow the offers/cash/swag?

People are always surprised to know that I say no more than I say yes.

The brands and partners that we align ourselves with on the blog have to make sense to who we are as people. I would never endorse something I don’t personally love and use, no matter how big the paycheck. That would destroy any and all credibility, and in my opinion, it’s very obvious when people are just chasing paychecks. 

(Told he was cool.)

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FIVE)  In your informed opinion, Daniel, what’s the simplest, quickest way for someone to improve their lifestyle journey?

My best friend and business partner Catherine Sugrue says it best: “Find ways to be grateful in every moment.”

Sometimes the biggest change you can make in your life is your perspective. For example, if all you see if the negative in life and people, chances are your life will appear to be quite negative. 

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It’s official: Daniel Reyes is the type of guy you want to rescue your dull party, to motivate your staff, and to be your best bud. I want to thank him for taking time from his ever-expanding media empire to be here today. As always, I appreciate your time as well. And with that, I release you, fly free my gentle doves!

(Yeah, I over-medicated today. Can you tell?)

See you in the lobby, kids…

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Silent Sunday: Chelsea Strikes Again.

Greetings, you two-legged devils.

Your furry pal, Chelsea blogging (briefly) while your usual host tries to scrape together a few bucks serving mostly ungrateful travelers. I sure hope he succeeds; dog food ain’t cheap these days. Plus, Momma needs a new pair of chew toys!

But to the business at hand paw. It’s the dead of Canadian winter in Niagara Falls, but even though there’s far too much moisture in the air, the Hook’s HQ tends to get a little dry at times…

c1lno6nw8aebjxrHave an electrifying day, folks.

See you in the lobby, humans…

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Ten Reasons Why You MUST Watch Workin’ Moms On CBC.

Workin’ Moms is an ensemble comedy from CBC that examines the modern ideal that working mothers can have it all. It premieres January 10.

Now, I know what you’re thinking:

  1.  “What do I care about some show about Canadian chicks who go on dates for money?”
  2.  “There’s no room in my life for more TV shows, Hook!”
  3.  “Do the Moms ride dragons or fight zombies?”

First off, the show’s called Workin’ Moms… not Workin’ Girls. That show’s on HBO. And as far as your other thoughts are concerned…

ONE)  This show could save your life.  A reality TV star with the worst hairline in America and a legion of followers drawn from the lunatic fringe is in charge of the most powerful nation in the world. Kim Kardashian is back on social media. More people than ever are joining hate groups like ISIL or Avon. Your spouse still refuses to do that thing they did on your honeymoon – even on your birthday.

The world is on the edge and it’s depressing the hell out of those of us still capable of coherent thought. Now more than ever, you need laughter to keep the dark thoughts at bay. Luckily, the Workin’ Moms have your back, Jack. And Jill, of course.

So make the room, friends. Your life could depend on it.

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TWO)  There will be girl parts!  As far as I know, there won’t be any dragons or zombies but there will be four of the most beautiful women in the world coming at ya every week. And these chicks have girl parts. Girl parts rule.

Any questions?

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THREE)  There’s a madwoman at the helm, so you know it won’t be boring.  Workin’ Moms was created by Catherine Reitman, a Canadian actress, comedian, producer, writer, director and prophet. (Hey, you never know, right? I mean, the chick does pretty much everything else.)

Reitman, best known for her roles in Black-ish and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is bold, edgy and willing to do pretty much anything to get a laugh. And while that’s crazy, it’s the kind of crazy that makes great comedy.

Catherine Reitman is the kind of broad you want to have a beer with before taking home to commit acts that are still considered illegal in Tijuana.

Yes, I am a romantic, thank you for noticing.

workingmomscatShe looks overjoyed to be on my blog, right?

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FOUR)  I mentioned the girl parts, right?  Because they’re vital to the success of any endeavor.

page-breakFIVE)  Dani Kind is a Workin’ Mom.  According to the CBC media gang: “Toronto based actress Dani Kind stars as Jillian Knight alongside Brooke Shields and Beau Bridges in the Hallmark movie Dearly Depotted, and played Grace in the Hallmark film On The Twelfth Day Of Christmas. Kind recently starred opposite David Ferry in The River, directed by Ted Dykstra and can also be seen as Sarah in Hallmark’s hit series The Good Witch. Selected television credits include AMC’s The Divide, CTV’s Saving Hope, and Global’s Remedy.”

According to me, she rocks because she was cool enough to appear on my 5×5 series – all I had to do was promise her a kidney in the future. Fortunately, I know a guy…

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Uh, I’m on The Hook’s blog again?

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SIX)  The stories are ripped from the pages of all our lives.  Sexual misadventures. Impossible familial demands. Beating that clock. Workin’ Moms is all about my life, your life and everything in-between. So while there aren’t any dragons or zombies or robotic western gunslingers, the storylines will make you pee yourself with laughter and say, “Hey, that happened to me!” and “Hey, I need to change!”

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SEVEN)  Jessalyn Wanlim is also a Workin’ Mom.  Another graduate of The Hook’s 5×5 series, Wanlim hails from Calgary, Alberta and cut her acting teeth on  Gossip Girl and All My Children. An incident I’m forbidden by law to disclose (Oh that Hook!) forced Jessalyn to move to the City of Angels where her television and film credits grew to include The Closer, Modern Family, Bad Teacher, Matador, CSI:NY, Bones, Scoundrels, Alex Cross opposite Tyler Perry, and In My Dreams opposite Katharine McPhee, among others. In 2016 Wanlim played Evie Cho in a season-long arc on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black opposite Tatiana Maslany.

Plus, she has that mysterious, sultry, exotic look goin’ on, which always helps.

622faecb0cf5de2f338825b93244dfcfShe’s talented as hell- but equally beautiful.

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EIGHT)  Juno Rinaldi is the fourth Workin’ Mom.  She hasn’t had a 5×5 – and most likely never will – but Juno rocks all the same. She’s been performing since the age of six and has appeared in such television productions as Degrassi: The Next Generation, The Killing, Arrow, Supernatural, Fringe, Robson Arms, These Arms of Mine and Psych. Her feature film credits include Life, Jennifer’s Body, The Tooth Fairy, and The Linda McCartney Story.

Rinaldi is currently set to release Elbow Grease, four webisodes she co-wrote and starred in. Not too shabby, right?

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NINE)  It’s funny as hell!  I wasn’t kidding about the pants peeing thing. Workin’ Moms is a gut-buster of a show. The cast brings more girl power than The Rockettes (but with better legs). The premise is grounded in all-too-real-reality and everyone on the Workin’ Moms cast and crew is 100% committed to making you forget your troubles for a little while.

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TEN)  This is the show CBC should have aired ten years ago.  Workin’ Moms is fearless television. Period. It goes places that Canada’s network should have been exploring a long time ago. Edgy is the name of the TV game these days and this show should help raise the CBC’s fortunes and insulate them from their legion of critics.

CBC is Canada’s network and Workin’ Moms showcases the country’s best and brightest talents working toward a common goal: making you laugh while enlightening you simultaneously.

 And on a personal note, this show gives me hope that The Bellman Chronicles may someday find a place onto CBC’s schedule. But then I remember I’m me and I wise up pretty fast.

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

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Is “Super-Dad” Dead?

I’m a tremendous admirer of Cyndi Lauper.

Strange way to begin this piece, I know, but if you’re willing to travel a bit with me, all will become clear I promise. To clarify, I admire one specific Lauper song, Time After Time. It is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded, of any genre.

If you’re lost you can look and you will find me

Time after time

If you fall I will catch you, I will be waiting

Time after time

It may not have been Cyndi’s intention, but to me those lyrics embody what it means to be a parent. As creators of little humans (who we always see as little regardless of how big they get) we feel a responsibility to protect and shield them from any all pressures/dangers they may face.

Growing up, I always believed in the concept of “Super-Dad”, the ultimate personalized hero, who was ever on guard and ready to smite monsters in closets or school hallways, wipe bloody noses and provide a guiding light through the seemingly-endless darkness. (Obviously I watched a lot of sitcoms in the Seventies.)

My own father was not “Super-Dad”, to say the least.

He was the monster in my life.

So naturally, becoming a father took on a deeper responsibility to me. I was determined to stray from the path laid out for me and be the best damn dad I could be. Of course, being me means I’ve failed more than succeeded (I’m happy to report that you can drop a child several times and she’ll still become an Honors student) but I keep swinging. My daughter and I have what I consider to be a healthy, open friendship rather than the traditional parent/child relationship.

But I’ve come to realize I can’t be a Super-Dad. I don’t know if anyone can anymore. heck, I don’t even know if anyone ever was.

Has anyone else noticed just how much angst modern teens are swimming in these days? When I was a teen I certainly wasn’t concerned with my future. Not unless it involved putting my hands on a pair of breasts, that is.

Today though, kids are graduating high school with the weight of the world already on their shoulders. And if they haven’t mapped out a life plan for themselves that will ensure success? Well then, look out, because things are going to get stormy…

I’m not attempting to make light of a serious situation, far from it. Actually, I’ve seen far too much teenage angst to ever be able to mock it ever again. At this point it is important to note that while my daughter’s privacy is paramount to me, I can’t help but feel compelled to share my experiences as a father to a teen who is struggling to establish her own identity.

All my daughter wants from life is to be a writer like her old man. But a successful one. The fact that she hasn’t achieved that dream yet, at eighteen, sometimes eats away at her. Literally. As her father I feel helpless watching her anxiety manifest itself in physical form. I often feel myself suffering internally as a result of my own psychological anguish.

My daughter is an Honors student. She’s a ridiculously-talented writer. She has secured gainful employment entirely on her own and excels at her job. The kid lives at home and has two parents who are not divorced or crazy (most of her friends cannot make the same claim) and who dote on her as parents should.

But my child feels lost. And I know she’s far from alone.

And that’s as far as I’ll delve into her life. I know it’s not my job to embarrass/scar my child but rather to lift her up.

And so that’s what I’m off to do. Excuse me while I try to hug the kid and take her to a movie, won’t you?

See you in the lobby, kids…

geek_insider_supermanspecialeditionIt doesn’t take super-hearing to be a good parent, people…

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365 Wishes For My Country In 2017.

This new year of 365 days, collectively referred to as 2017, is my home and native land’s 150th birthday.

I know, right? Canada doesn’t look a day over 80. Must be all the cardio and apologizing.  Nevertheless, here are a few things I would like to see happen in the North side of North America over the next twelve months.

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THREE-HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE)  Fewer selfies from Justin.  Don’t get me wrong, as a Grade-A Canadian smartass myself, I think Prime Minister Trudeau Mark Two isn’t doing a bad job overall. Of course, he has put the country in the hole to the tune of three billion and change. But you have to spend money – alot of it – to make money, apparently.

I just wish he would sharpen his political focus instead of his phone’s. I agree that Canada needs to polish it’s world image (we’re viewed as the nice old uncle in the sweater vest you ignore at reunions) and social media has become a tool whose awesome power cannot be ignored, but a balance needs to be struck. It won’t be long before America’s new “leader” comes calling, either on our soil or another, and Heaven help us if we look weak or vain.

(Insert irony here.)

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THREE-HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FOUR)  Perspective and strength for those who need it most.  I’ve lost two colleagues in six months to despair. This. Just. Isn’t. Right.

We can’t always see the signs of clinical depression. We can’t always know just how close someone is to the edge. So why take chances? If we listen a little more, if we spend the next year being just a little bit nicer to one another, who knows what the result could be?

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THREE-HUNDRED AND SIXTY-THREE)  An end to the “Canada is a frozen wasteland” theory.  I accept that some of you may have never had the privilege of venturing beyond your borders and discovering new lands… but come on, my Yankee friends! Take a nanosecond break from the cat videos and type “Is Canada a frozen wasteland?” into Google!

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No, this isn’t Niagara Falls in July…

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THREE-HUNDRED AND SIXTY-TWO)  A pass from the Celebrity Grim Reaper.  It appears that 2016 was the Year of the Star Killer. Granted, most of the stars were American but we lost Leonard Cohen, man! Sure, he wasn’t exactly a cheerful soul to say the least, but true prophets rarely are. I just hope Heaven appreciates his genius.

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THREE-HUNDRED AND SIXTY-ONE THROUGH ELEVEN)  Economic prosperity for all Canadians.  The divide between rich and poor has never been more visible. The nation’s broadcaster, my beloved CBC, is in under attack from multiple forces intent on slashing its funding as though the network is a child on an allowance rather than a vital source of Canadian content and cultural identity.

We have far too many people on social assistance – even though 70% of those people seem to always have money for Tim Hortons coffee while their kids are forced to wear sacks of flour for pants.

Too much? 

Never before (in my lifetime at least) have so many had to do so much with so little. And there appears to be no proof the PM’s spending spree is going to pay off. In my opinion this situation warrants the lion’s share of my wishes and so I shall happily donate them. It really is too bad Canadians aren’t eligible for sainthood, isn’t it?

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page-breakTEN)  Chocolate eclairs on the menu at every Timmies!  I know I’m not the only Canuck that loves choco eclairs, but sadly, finding one at a Tim Hortons (even though they’re on the menu) is a challenge, to say the least. In fact, you’d have an easier time finding a coherent thought in President-elect Trump’s consciousness than an eclair at Timmies. 

Hey, they can’t all be “Save The Planet” wishes…

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NINE)  Respect and equality for Canada’s film and TV production companies.  The CRTC is under fire from Canadian short-sighted politicians and regulators who simply refuse to grasp the stakes. Take away Canada’s ability to share its cultures through the voices of its people and the country itself will vanish. Period.

Yes, I am as surprised by this demonstration of emotional depth as you are. I’m sure it will pass eventually.

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EIGHT)  A stronger Canadian adult film industry.  Where are our Canuck adult super stars? Where’s our Kenna James or Mercedes Carrera? We need our national identity represented in all corners of the pop culture arena. And we need it now!

imagesBut why can’t we move to Canada?

And there you go. I’m back…

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SEVEN)  A legal system with actual teeth.  In Canada, you can abuse the living hell out animals and walk away with barely a slap on the wrist. You can sexually assault another citizen and if you’re female victim, a judge will tell you to try “keeping your knees together.” (This actually happened in a Canadian courtroom 2016.) You can pretty much get away with murder in this country.

This needs to stop. Yesterday.

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SIX)  Cellphone curfews.  Take a walk around any major Canadian metropolis and you’ll see them: “Cell Zombies”. Some are sexting, others are tweeting or checking stock quotes; but all of them are in serious danger of walking into a bus. Or my luggage cart. (Especially since I stopped moving for them years ago. I just let the collision happen now.)

Kids are especially prone to catching the Cell Virus. They’re literally clicking their lives away; half of them don’t even know what grass actually feels like. Limits have to be established- STAT! We should start a website or something…

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FIVE)  A public declaration of Superman’s true heritage.  This should’ve happened decades ago. He’s Canadian, gosh darn it!

giphyFor the record, those are Timbits…

By the way, my apologies for the salty language. I get carried away.

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FOUR)  A friend for every man, woman and animal that wants one.  Loneliness sucks. Friendship lifts our spirits and can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. It sounds corny as hell but the most heroic thing you can do is be the wind beneath someone’s wings. It sure beat the hell out of being the wind in front of them…

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THREE)  Parental figures for every child.  Blood, or for that matter, other bodily fluids, do not make a true parent. As a bellman of twenty years I’ve seen more deadbeat Moms and Dads than I care to remember. Being a father is the greatest gift – and responsibility – I’ve ever been blessed with. If only everyone felt that way. And yes, I screw up more than I succeed but luckily for me, the effort is what counts.

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TWO)  A breakthrough in my writing career.  Hey, it’s my list; I’m entitled to wish for a publishing deal! Besides, I think this country needs my special brand of smartassery now more than ever, don’t you?

bookcoverimageI promise to do a better job the second time around…

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ONE)  A stronger, greener Canada for everyone.  Xenophobia isn’t simply an American problem at the moment, sadly. We need to remember that Canada is the great global melting pot. And while this country’s air is cleaner than most, it has a long way to go. The time to choose life over feeding the industrial machine has long since passed, people. The clock is ticking… but for how much longer?

And on that uplifting note, I am out of here. Happy new year, everyone.

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See you in the lobby, kids…

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Sixteen Things That Rocked About 2016.

No one can argue that 2016 had two bolts sticking out from it’s neck. In other words, it was a monster of a year.

Yes, my punnery is truly wondrous to behold, thank you very much. I know many of us are still reeling from a tumultuous few days during which the Reaper collected some of our best and brightest, but as cold as it sounds, life goes on. (It’s life’s best quality, in my humble opinion.)

Now let’s do this thing!

ONE)  Stuart didn’t die.  Of course, this is only good news if you’re Stuart, but he was insistent he be included somewhere, and he signs my paycheck (sort of) so I had little choice but to acquiesce to his request.

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TWO)  I didn’t die.  So I got that goin’ for me. Which is nice.

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THREE)  I didn’t become a celebrity.  Which is actually a good thing, as it explains why I’m still alive. Seriously, what the heck was 2016’s problem? If this keeps up, next year the Kardashians will be the only celebrities left.

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FOUR)  The Book Outlet had their annual Boxing Week sale.  As a ginormous bookworm, this is my real Christmas. I scored two-dozen graphic novels and biographies and my daughter? Well, I don’t even want to tell you how many boxes she walked away with…

(For the record, she did the walking, I did the carrying.)

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FIVE)  My 5×5 series exploded this year!  Fortunately, no one was hurt. But this really was a milestone year for The Hook. Shantelle Bisson and that guy she’s married to. Murdoch Mysteries showrunner Peter Mitchell. Dozens of CBC personalities. There were literally so many cool folks that dropped by the blog to chat this year to recount here, in fact.

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SIX)  The 5×5 series branched out to conquer “new worlds”.  Super-cool television weather guys. Writers of both the TV and print variety. Talk show hosts. Even an adult film star. This was the year I managed to con convince all sorts of folks that my blog is a cool place to hang out in the blogosphere. Let’s just hope I can keep it up. The variety of blogging guests, I mean…

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SEVEN)  Tweets like this:

Sarah Michelle Gellar deleted Boy George/George Michael Tweet

Celebrities – and the chaos that seems to emerge from their antics – are worth their weight in gold. I’m not going to comment on whether or not Sarah Michelle Gellar should be flogged or given a pass. I’m just glad she did this; it was awesome. Humanity’s honest mistakes are far more entertaining than its successes, in my books.

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EIGHT) Boy George is still alive!  Until Buffy the Vampire Slayer gets confused again, that is.

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NINE)  I met one of my idols.  And he turned out to be even more down-to-earth and cooler than I ever thought he could be, considering how much he’s accomplished in life. All kidding aside, chatting with this cat is an experience I highly recommend.

Hook and SmithYou just knew I wasn’t done with this pic, right?

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TEN)  Meeting one of my idols ignited a firestorm. (Sorta.)  Allowing Kevin Smith to snap a pic with me (he begged, so what could I do?) ruffled some feathers at the hotel. It passed immediately but in the end, it forced me to reexamine this blog’s focus. 

I’ve always respected guest privacy by being vague, frustratingly-so at times, but the risk of reprisal from a traveler has always hung over my balding head. And while I could have stayed the course and risked a battle down the road, I pulled back and focused on 5×5 interviews, travel tips and other assorted virtual literary shenanigans.

And it’s worked out great so far. I don’t know about you, but I love it when a seemingly-bleak situation turns around, especially when it turns in my favor.

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ELEVEN)  My daughter graduated high school and got into university.  I knew I shouldn’t have blinked…

But seriously, there’s a lump in my throat typing these words; she’s grown up too fast. We can complain there’s enough time but the truth is, time is a gift we never truly appreciate or enjoy until it’s gone. And my daughter is the greatest blessing I’ve ever been given and every moment with her is a gift I feel unworthy of.

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TWELVE)  I was in moving pictures!  Granted, it was my colleague Tim Moran’s proof-of-concept short for his project, Talk Show Host, and it was a brief appearance. But I had a blast.

CVz7HOTVAAA5vQ1It’s safe to say Ryan Reynold’s status as the Number One Bad Boy of Canadian actors is safe. For now.

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THIRTEEN)  My wife still hasn’t kicked me to the curb!  Trust me when I say it took a lot of effort – and even more luck –  to win my wife’s heart, though it was certainly worth it. Sadly, the only problem with achieving your heart’s desire is living in fear of losing it afterwards. I live with this fear every day.

Well, this was an uplifting entry, wasn’t it?

tumblr_nh521zywhs1rm8425o1_500I know it’s hard to believe, but our first encounter wasn’t quite this smooth…

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FOURTEEN)  A golden age of fandom.  All new installments in the Star Wars universe. (Though one was set in the past.) Magnificent, thought-provoking Doctor Who escapades. Amazing comic book adventures that reshaped entire universes. Kick-ass action/fantasy/comic flicks. The CW’s Arrowverse. (With episodes directed by Kevin Smith, no less.)

I’ll say this: 2016 was a heckuva year to be a nerd.

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FIFTEEN)  Travelers: The Good, The Bad and The Ultra-Cheap.  No examination of any period of my life would be complete without at least a mention of the thousands of guests I frequently encounter as a bellman. Whether they’re shamelessly flirting with me (at least cougars are never boring), tipping me appropriately or throwing me a handful of change for an overloaded luggage cart, the travelers that enter my orbit all leave a lasting impression on my consciousness. 

The challenge me. They inspire me. They make me question whether humanity is fit to continue on its journey. They’ve helped make me The Hook I am today.

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SIXTEEN)  Fill in the blank!  This space is for you, my dear friends. Feel free to share at least one of your personal 2016 milestones in the Comments section. You know you’ve had a few. Never say I’m not a giver, people…

And that’s all I have for you today. And for that matter, for this year. Be good to yourselves and try not to overdo the New Year celebrations. Hangovers suck.

See you in the lobby in 2017, kids…

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5×5 With The Hook: Shahir Massoud.

Shahir Massoud is a god.

Now before you start clicking away and heading over to YouTube to watch a cat play the piano while drinking a beer through a straw… please allow me to explain. Gods provide life – and they can take it away as easily. As a chef, Shahir Massoud can prepare you a delicious meal that will sustain and energize you, thus giving you life. Or, if you incur his wrath, he can whip up a dish that will literally leave you cold as ice.

Such is his power.

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I never look that cool when I pose beside my name…

Fortunately, as the Corporate Executive Chef (a position that requires spending more time in an office dealing with suppliers, employees, guests, etc., while negotiating with suppliers to stay on top of their performance, service, and pricing rather than actually cooking) for a multi-unit restaurant company, Levetto, Chef Massoud realized long ago that with great recipe comes great responsibility.

In addition to his myriad of duties at Levetto, Massoud has also made regular appearances on various Canadian morning and daytime programs including Cityline and Breakfast Television. These appearances, coupled with the fact that Shahir isn’t exactly ugly (hey, I can acknowledge another man’s beauty and still remain the chick magnet I’ve always been) led to the young, hip chef being cast as one-fourth of CBC Television’s newest daytime offering, The Goods.

The Goods stars Shahir, the deliciously-wacky and stunning Jessi Cruickshank, the amazing Andrea Bain and a fellow native of my hometown of Niagara Falls, Steven Sabados. This show was born from the legacy of Steven and Chris, a CBC show that holds a special place in my family’s collective heart. We attended a taping of S&C years ago and it remains a treasured family memory. Additionally, my late father-in-law loved watching the interaction between Sabados and his late partner Chris Hyndman. Here was a man born in the Great Depression and he couldn’t wait for two o’clock to come around so he could see his beloved “Chrissy” in action.

My father-in-law never saw two gay men; he only saw two men who were partners in all things having the time of their lives and it made his life a little easier as emphysema ate away at his lungs.

But enough of this mushy stuff! The point is this; Chef Massoud is carrying on a legacy that goes beyond the CBC; S&C helped change the world and I’m sure The Goods will do so in its own way.

As for Chef Massoud (since this is his 5×5 spotlight, after all), his journey to food fame began in an unlikely place. Massoud ditched York University’s Schulich School of Business – after graduating –  to pursue his true passion… wild cat herding.

Yes, I’m kidding. (Maybe.) Wild cat herding was just a fad to the young Shahir; it was too political to take make a career out of. And so he moved to New York City to enroll in the famed French Culinary Institute. While in the Big Apple he worked in the kitchens of Mario Batali (Lupa), Jean-Georges Vongerichten (The Mark Hotel) and Saveur magazine. By mid-2013 Chef Massoud founded Levetto with his partners and his life has been a whirlwind of hard work, missed social engagements and unbelievable success ever since.

And now he’s reached the pinnacle of his career; an interview on my blog.

You’re laughing right now, aren’t you? Shut up! I’m very entertaining! Let’s get on with the 5×5 goodness, shall we?

 

the-goods-hosts

Good friends and a stylish piece of furniture; what else do you need for true happiness?

ONE)  The Goods is just getting “off the ground” but do you have any funny stories to share about the awesomeness/absurdity of daytime television?

There is tons of awesomeness surrounding the making of daytime TV. It sounds so cliche, but we truly do have fun every single day. When I first accepted the job, they told me to just have fun and be myself! So far I’ve already worn lipstick, mascara, and enjoyed several glasses of cheap wine.

We’re off to a good start!

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TWO)  If you could be any spice what would you be and why?  (You knew there would be a food query, right?)

Sumac: middle eastern, slightly sweet, and a bit unusual.

sumac

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THREE)  As a bellman I’m fascinated with people’s travel habits; any traditions you adhere to while globetrotting?

I like to stay in boutique hotels, ask locals where I should eat, and I always explore by foot.

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FOUR)  I can barely make scrambled eggs – much to my wife’s eternal dismay – and so I cannot begin to tell you how much I envy your talent, Chef. Any tips for a guy who has to consult Google when he wants to boil water?

Ha ha, just like my dad! Keep it simple and never forget that a few simple ingredients can be spectacular if prepared correctly. My advice is to master a simple dish, before moving on to the next challenge. Ultimately, you”ll see great cooking is all about managing temperature, time, and texture.

(I’m going to try this… but I’ll still suck, most likely.)

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FIVE)  Please use five words to describe your best meal ever. (You can even pick a meal you didn’t prepare.)

I returned for a dinner at one of the NYC restaurants where I trained (but never actually dined in) last summer.

It was: surreal, delicious, romantic, unforgettable, and classic.

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Well, I don’t know about you but I’m starving! I need Chef Massoud to whip me up something delicious, but sadly, I think I’m on my own. Cereal it is! I want to thank today’s guest for slumming here today. As a lifelong foodie, this was a real treat.

See you in the lobby, kids…

 

 

 

 

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