5×5 With The Hook: Jennifer Marsala.

Jennifer Marsala of NBC’s new smash series, Taken, holds a very special place in 5×5 history.

Or should I say “Hookstory”?  No?  How about “Jennstory”?

Fine, let’s move on.

Jennifer is not only on a hit American television series – adapted from one of the greatest action films of all time and a personal favorite of mine – she’s funny as hell, bright as Niagara Falls at night, and cuter than the proverbial button… she answered my queries in record time. (Kenna James held the previous record but someone had to take her down sooner or later.)

If all that wasn’t enough, Jennifer’s was the first 5×5 conducted publicly over Twitter. At first I was concerned the 141 character limit would prove too big a challenge for this blogging bellman, but luck and a brilliant guest saved the day.

Speaking of today’s guest, in the small-screen version of the Taken universe Jennifer Marsala is Riley, an agent with a shadowy US government agency – so you know she has a lot of secrets – but she’s been generous enough to reveal a few of her own secrets with all of us today. Ain’t she sweet? 

If you haven’t seen it yet, Taken is as big a thrill ride as its source material; the story is fleshed out and expanded with plenty of intrigue and action. Bryan Mills’ background as a special-ops soldier wired to protect others in any circumstance comes back to haunt him as his sister is murdered by a crime lord destined to become the series’ Big Bad, putting Bryan on the radar of the aforementioned government agency. Cue Riley and her cohorts, led by the awesome Jennifer Beals and plenty of gun play and nail-biting chases and battles.

But Taken is only the latest hit show to highlight Jennifer’s talents. My daughter, the world’s most passionate Grey’s Anatomy fan, was uncharacteristically excited about my blog when she realized Jennifer guest-starred on “one of the saddest episodes ever!” I was a cool blogging dad – for two minutes, at least.

Then, when my kid realized Jennifer also guested on Castle, I was the cool dad again. Briefly, naturally. Speaking of her credits, Jennifer Marsala’s acting resume is a how-to guide in how to win hearts and minds by appearing in the hottest TV shows available to mankind.

And now, friends, let’s hear from the lady herself…

ONE)  You’re the sweet-but-tough-as-nails tech support on Taken but do will we get a chance to see Riley in the field before season’s end?

Yes! Riley gets out in the field in the next episode. But she’d like to be out there more so fingers crossed for season 2!

TAKEN — “Off Side” Episode 103 — Pictured: Jennifer Marsala as Riley — (Photo by: Panagiotis Pantazidis/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

Jennifer Marsala reacts to seeing my blog for the first time, “What have I done to my career? And my life?”


TWO)  What is one of your “particular set of skills”, Jennifer?

Writing limericks, playing tambourine, throwing parties & nearly always being off key when I sing. All very useful skills.


THREE)  You’ve been married for a few years now (in case you forgot) what’s the weirdest thing about being a spouse?  (Marriage really is the undiscovered country and I’ve seen you perform stand-up so I know you have the comedic chops to run with this.)

I like being married. It’s fun to have someone around to annoy whenever you want. I just wish he cooked.


FOUR)  My daughter is the ultimate Grey’s Anatomy/Castle fan; can you share a behind-the-scenes tale from either production?

In Grey’s I played a character giving birth to twins. So I basically screamed/cried for five days straight.

FIVE)  Do agents of off-the-books government agencies still have to pay taxes?

I’m not sure. But the actors who play them sure do!

(You see President Trump? Actors may be responsible for “fake fiction” but they’re decent, tax-paying citizens who are paying through the nose to make America great again.)


Well, was I right or was I right? Jennifer Marsala rocks, doesn’t she? I want to thank JM for being here today. (We’re tight now, so she doesn’t mind if I call her JM. I hope.)

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

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I’m No Expert…

I’m no expert, but I would think shaking one’s fist at the hated plow driver after he blocks you in as you shovel (again) while cursing his mother under your breath accomplishes nothing.

Personally, I think the following plan is, while slightly more evolved, far preferable and effective.

STEP ONE:  Have your vehicle gassed up and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

STEP TWO:  Hop in, gun it, plow through your blocked-in driveway.

STEP THREE:  Follow that rat bastard driver until he gets back to the lot. (Be certain to get alongside him at some point so you can identify him.)

STEP FOUR: Wait at the lot until you see your driver leave for the day.

STEP FIVE:  Follow him home – but take no direct action against him.  (I cannot stress this enough.)


Not sure who I hate more: weathermen or plow drivers…


STEP SIX:  Locate some local punks.  (There are always some around.)

STEP SEVEN:  Pay said punks a hefty sum to return to your driver’s home in the middle of the night and egg/snowball the shit out of it.

STEP EIGHT:  Sleep the blissful sleep of the avenged.

I know what you’re thinking, but yes, this can actually work. (Trust me.) Of course, there are a million ways the plan can go sideways, but try not to think about that.

It should be noted that I am not advocating violence against plow drivers who are just doing their job – unless you want to experience bliss beyond your wildest imaginings.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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I’m No Expert…

I’m no expert but if a guy is planning on embarking on a March Break road trip with his family and several others, you’d think he’d want to pay close attention to the itinerary, right?

For example, if a middle-aged Bostonian D-Bag is told by his wife that Niagara Falls is on the agenda, and if that destination is one of the places said D-Bag regularly visits with his high school age mistress – and on occasion, some of her friends – you’d think he’d pipe up and say something like:

“I adore you and only you, honey… but I hear Niagara Falls is a focal point for that new zombie cat virus they just discovered.. and it may be jumping species to humans.”

Or something like that. Admittedly, I’m not well-versed in the art of marital deception. Let’s face it, even if I was, my luck would run our sooner or later and I’d be dead by now, and death by frying pan to the back of the skull does not appeal to me…

But back to the cheating bastard in question. This schmuck had the misfortune of encountering three separate individuals who recognized, and worse, acknowledged him in front of his spouse. (Travel Tip: Hotels will often program their reservation system to display a “Welcome The Guest Back To Our Property!” note for Front Desk Agents to utilize, so if you’re planning on ‘going undercover’ keep that in mind.)

As a bellman I’m well-versed in dealing with those who are well-versed in marital deception so I know better than to say, “Nice to see you again!” when I recognize a cheater. Sadly, I have yet to be charged with the task of creating a real world training program for new hires so this sort of thing is going to continue to happen.

But that works out well for all of you, doesn’t it?

As for the cheating bastard, I’ve no idea if his jig was up (which would seriously impair his chances of getting anything up again) but I know for certain his wife was not impressed when the Front Desk Agent recognized him and inquired where his “stunning daughter” was – especially when his spouse countered with, “We have two sons! Who’s he talking about Howard?”

Poor, poor, horny Howard. It’s tough to be a criminal mastermind when all the blood’s rushing away from your brain, isn’t it?

See you in the lobby, kids…

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The World According To The Hook.

Twenty years in the hospitality trenches and forty-seven years on this earth have left me with a lot of scars and thankfully, a few pearls of wisdom which I am happy to share with all of you.

Whether you like it or not.

Let’s begin shall we?

“When you’re a Hook, everything begins to look like a fish.”


This little nugget comes courtesy of my father, who used it to justify his serial philandering. Unfortunately, such wisdom is a poor defense against syphilis…

See you in the lobby, kids…

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Money, money, money…

To say a bellman has a unique relationship with money is to suggest Donald Trump has hit a few speed bumps in his first one hundred days in office.

Before I ever donned my first ill-fitted bellman uniform I knew money was important to one’s survival but it wasn’t integral to my existence. Of course, I’ve blown thousands on comics, junk food and miscellaneous crap after serious coin starting poring in from a family appliance business. (Yes, I was once on track to be the Appliance King of Niagara Falls… but the less written about that the better.) I once slept in my car (for one night, but it still counts) and I’ve left home and moved in with friends. I relied on government aid to get me through college – for a journalism degree I’ll never utilize. And finally, I moved in with my in-laws in order to save the necessary funds for invitro fertilization treatments for my lovely bride.

If my daughter ever tells me that I didn’t want her… I’ll brain the kid.

But for the most part, money was never the end-all, be-all of my existence.

Until I became a bellman, that is.

When you’re a healthy, well-adjusted human being (whatever that looks like) you equate a good day with a day filled with puppies, no lines of any sort, an easily-attained hairdo, orgasms, the usual factors.

When you’re a bellman you equate a “good day” with a profitable day.

For example, The Hook recently worked a shift that saw bankers, hockey families and a pack of young Jewish punks from Brooklyn swarm into the hotel like a horde of Walking Dead “walkers”, except they were hungry for human suffering rather than flesh. And trust me, they had their fill and then some.

The bankers cemented their standing as the cheapest sons of bitches on the planet. Collectively, they’re draining our net worth dry through service fees but when they travel, you’d think they all just declared bankruptcy. For the tenth time. I’ll never be able to wrap my egg-shaped head around the hubris; we’re talking about a segment of the population whose sole purpose is to handle, distribute and understand the role of money in civilization, so they know it’s value better than anyone, but they’re ridiculously-cheap and rude to service personnel.

As for hockey families, there are millions of them who are genuinely decent, hard-working clans who truly appreciate the efforts of working-class Joes and Janes and who tip these individuals accordingly.

Unfortunately I never encounter those people.

It is ever my fate to cross paths with the unabashedly alcoholic moms, the rage-filled dads, the kids with Red Bull screaming through their veins. These “people” have taken a beloved and iconic Canadian past-time and turned it into an excuse to rampage across the hospitality landscape, leaving a trail of devastation in their wake. For example, here are a few excerpts from that far-from-boring-but-anything-but-profitable evening:

SINGLE HOCKEY MOM:  I travel to hotels all the time with tournaments! I never have to take help from a bellboy! I always lug my own stuff around!

ME:  Then don’t you think you deserve a break, miss?

SHM:  No! Do you?

ME:  Now that I’ve met you… no.

SHM: (After pondering my words and her behavior.)  All right, I guess I deserve that! Here… take a tip! It’s only two dollars so you won’t be able to buy shit with it!

Yes, I was perplexed by her single status as well. And yes, the sight of the two dollar Canadian coin she pulled from her purse made me shudder; it’s not about the size of the gratuity – until it is.

Care for another?

PACK OF JUVENILE HOCKEY PLAYERS:  (As I disembark the elevator after my encounter with SHM.)  He hates Mexicans!

ME:  Who could hate Mexicans?

PACK:  Donald Trump! He hates Mexicans! Do you hate Mexicans!

ME:  Not as long as they tip me!


And that brings us to the young punks from Brooklyn. Anyone who reads this blog knows I’m not anti-Semitic… I simply refuse to suffer fools gladly. That said, these young fools took forever to allow me to unload the car (as I froze in the blistering Canadian wind) and even longer to decide on a room type. Then I arrived at the room and this happened:

YOUNG BROOKLYN PUNK #1:  Hey, Mr. Luggage Man!  (That’s a new one. Points for originality.)  Do you have a… what do you call it? A… hanging rack for the clothes?

ME:  You mean a closet?

YBP #1:  Yeah, yeah! I can’t believe you knew that and I didn’t! To be fair though, I can’t be expected to know that, right?

His buddies broke up at his… whatever he had, and I was far from finished.

ME:  To be fair, sir, a closet isn’t exactly a Gentile creation is it? Jews have closets don’t they?

YBP #1:  Uh, yeah… I guess..

And with that, he headed to the back of the room and left me standing there… tipless.

Needless to say, I didn’t file that particular memory under the Good Day File.

But mostly because I didn’t make any money.

After twenty years in the hospitality trenches I can handle pretty much anything humanity has to offer but walking though the front door with virtually nothing in my pocket after a full day’s “work”?

That just sucks.

And yes, if you’re thinking that I’ve rambled a bit.. you’d be right. But my blog, my structure – or lack thereof.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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I’m No Expert…

I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure if you travel to Niagara Falls with your buddies, you hit the rippers (i.e. the strip club) hard, hit Mickey Dees in a drunken stupor, go back to the hotel at three in the morning and harass a butchy lesbian feminist, who then knocks you out cold… your bachelor party is anything but a success.

Though it certainly will be remembered as being epic.

And if your buddies tape the whole thing and insist you press charges (after you regain consciousness after four minutes of not-so-blissful slumber) ignoring the counsel of the Niagara Regional Police officers who strongly advise you to bury the whole sorted mess… you need to rethink your life choices, friend.

I hope you enjoyed “I’m No Expert…” a new recurring segment here on You’ve Been Hooked! Admittedly, it’s brief, but as I have to occasionally tell my wife:

“Judge what just happened by the quality of the experience… not the ticking of the clock.”

See you in the lobby, kids…

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5×5 With The Hook: Alden Adair.

Today’s guest has done it all – on stage, screen and film no less.

Wait, for some reason that sounds wrong…

Let’s start over shall we?

I didn’t beg ask Alden Adair to be here today just to be eye candy for my devoted readership, no, he’s here because he’s a journeyman Canadian actor, gallivanting from medium to medium, show to show, leaving a trail of exceptional performances in his wake.

Photo by Mike Halbwachs.  Intensity by Alden Adair.  Sighs by every lady viewing this.

The condensed version of Alden’s existence both in Canada and on this plane of existence is as follows: His fight for freedom from the womb ended in Regina, Saskatchewan Canada, where he went to Athabasca elementary school and Sheldon Williams Collegiate high school. He has performed in the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan festival multiple times and has been in numerous television shows including Defiance, Reign, and The Englishman’s Boy.

But who is Alden Adair, really? Heck if I know! I’m a blogging bellman, not the CIA! But I can tell you this: Alden’s is an old soul. He is the sort of man who was mostly likely a Viking in a past life, or at the very least, a Shakespearean actor. He is kind, generous with his time, he’s obviously spent a few hours in a gym (yes, it is beginning to sound as though a bromance is forming, thank you ever so much for noticing) and he brings a genuine humanity to every role.

His work can be seen on The Expanse, Killjoys, the Beauty and the Beast TV series, Murdoch Mysteries ( yay!) and the critically-acclaimed and game-changing series, Cardinal and Workin’ Moms.

In other words, Alden as been rockin’ in the free world of TV since 2004 and has the battle scars to prove it. And now he’s here. On my blog. Well, it was fun while it lasted, right, Alden?

ONE)  If you could be any bird, what would you be?  (I believe in being different, obviously.)

A raven.

Those things are smart, and they look cool, kinda like death birds. I’d like to be a death bird, cause you’d get some mad street cred. Also, I’d get to hang with Odin maybe, you know if I put my time in and made the right connections. So ya, a raven.

(Hanging with the king of the Asgardians? You gotta respect a man with a plan, right?)


TWO)  Workin’ Moms has become more than a TV show; it’s become a movement, giving voice to the frustrations of parents of both genders. Does this put extra pressure on an a actor to “up their game”?

Good question.

I’d say no, but not for the reason you’d initially think. Acting, good acting, is moment to moment, so there’s no real time for considering anything outside of the scene when you’re on set. I think that the best thing an actor can do is to be there, with their scene partners, and then let the show and the audience form their own relationship, opinions, and buzz.

If an actor puts pressure on a scene, like “This is THE scene for the show” (even though an actor will probably know when a scene like that comes up) it’ll kill the flow of what’s working. Because, it worked the first time when we didn’t know what people would think, right? Stay the course.

THREE)  You’ve worked on some of the finest Canadian television programs in existence so you’re qualified to give an opinion: Is this really a golden age of Canadian TV or are we still getting beaten out by the Swedish Yak Wrestling network?

I really want to watch the Swedish Yak Wrestling network now, where can I find that?

Its true though, Canada has some great artists breaking new ground, and I hope it continues. It takes bold artists, but it also takes good policy, and willing producers and networks. I hope that the trend continues, and that shows get the investments they need. We have the talent and skills, we just need that money yo’. But ya, this year I’ve witnessed the best Canadian television I’ve ever seen. Period.


FOUR)  Can you share a Workin’ Moms moment that brought you to your knees? 

I think I’ve laughed the most watching the nipple piercing scene. It was brilliant, like the antithesis to the Mommy and Me openers. The pay off at the end for Jenny is huge, and the nipple milk gag had me crying. Juno’s face was priceless!

FIVE)  As an actor you’ve worked on film, the small screen and the classical stage: Does your heart belong to any one medium?

Not really. They’re all different mediums, and as an artist they all have things that are amazing. Being an audience member, excellence in any one art form can completely enthrall me.

Right now though, TV and Film are where I’m at. Keeps me in the city with my wife, which is important to me. And I get to work with all these cool artists on Workin’ Moms, which is pretty cool too 😉

Yes, Alden is one cool, down-to-earth dude and yes, I am a wise and brilliant man for making him a part of 5×5 history, it’s true. I am eternally grateful to Alden for being here and of course to all of you for taking time to forego the Trump watching and cat video leering.

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

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