Hey, Who Wants To Compose A Song For The Hook?

As much as I am a fan of foreplay, sometimes it pays to cut right to the chase.

I have a problem and I’m hoping someone out there in the blogosphere and/or the interweb can help. The short film I’ve written as a sample of what a series based on this blog would look like has run into a few problems but it’s still going ahead.

Eventually.

Word to the wise: if you’re going to schedule a film shoot, and some of your actors are a tad forgetful, maker sure you physically place the request forms they need to book the days off in their hands. Otherwise, your production day will approach and you’ll find yourself perilously short of talent and be forced to reschedule. But enough about some of my other problems, let’s focus on today’s issue, shall we?

I’ve written lyrics for a short theme song to open my film but I’m missing a few key ingredients.

Like music.

And voice talent.

And the talent, funds or ability to secure any of them.

That brings us to this post. It is my hope that one of you burgeoning singers/composers out there will be inclined to make a name for yourself by hitting this challenge so hard you give it CTE. Yes, that joke may have been inappropriate, but admit it, you chuckled, right?

Here are the lyrics. The rest is up to you. Make it a jazzy Broadway number, a hard rock anthem, a country diddy, I’m not paying, so what do I care? Feast on the brilliance that my pasty white mind is capable of:

“This is The Hook’s show, he made it, won’t you stay?

It’s really good, it’ll make your day!

This show’s so good, it’ll make your dog’s tail wag

The Hook’s a bellman… if you don’t tip him, he’ll call you a douchebag

If you’re watching this, you’ve been hooked…

You’ve been hooked…

You’ve been hooked, mutha fucka…”

And there you have it. I leave this task in your capable, musically-inclined hands. As I’ve said, I cannot afford to pay you in anything of monetary value but you’ll get full credit, you can stick your creation on the YouTube (as the kids call it) and who knows? This could be the springboard that launches your music career and leads to fame, fortune, and sex tapes.

Or not.

We’ll see, won’t we?

See you in the lobby, friends.

 

Put on a pot of coffee and get composing!

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The One Where The Hook Rambled.

Question: What do you do when you’re a blogger who is as blocked as a fat kid after eating entire triple-cheese pizza smothered in Velveeta?

Well, we’re about to find out.

If this picture of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes you feel uneasy and embarrassed to be Canadian (even though you aren’t) then congratulations, you’re now an honorary Canuck.

Image result for Trudeau in India

Yes, it’s safe to say that the Great White North’s elected leader shot his image in the nuts from the get-go, when the Trudeau delegation, including his kids, who will no doubt one day roll their eyes at photos and news clips of this mess, was received at the airport by a minister of state, not even a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.

And it all went downhill from there, faster than a camel with cement blocks strapped to its humps.

After he went to great lengths to convince Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh that the Canadian government never associates with radicals, the world and millions of groaning Canadians, learned that one such deranged goofball was part of Trudeau’s own entourage in India.

Jaspal Atwal, who at the time was a member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, a terrorist group now banned here in the land of moose and back bacon, was convicted of attempted murder in Canada in 1987 after he attempted to assassinate a visiting Punjabi cabinet minister. Incidentally, why don’t these groups ever considered naming themselves using letters that can be used to spell a cool evil name? Like E.V.I.L.? People just don’t put the effort in anymore.

Of course, JT’s government tried to distance itself from Atwal, saying it was all a “mistake”, blaming an alternate universe version of the PM for the error, or something like that. I don’t have all the details. The point is, this monumental mess-up was compounded by the entire trip’s lack of official business, excessive photo-ops (which have become Trudeau’s calling card) and his ridiculously-insensitive overuse of Indian clothing. To make matters worse, Trudeau’s tax-payer funded tour to India was actually yet another lavish family vacation — including his own celebrity chef flown in from Vancouver, Vikram Vij.

Because apparently there wasn’t anyone in India who knew how to prepare authentic Indian food.

And that’s all I have to say about that. Now take us into the next segment, Barry!

 

So what else is on my mind?

Oh yeah, this happened.

“Barbra Streisand Had Her Beloved Dog Samantha Cloned: Meet Miss Scarlett and Miss Violet.”

 

Yes, according to Variety, Streisand revealed in an interview that two of her dogs, Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett, were cloned from her 14-year-old Coton du Tulear, Samantha, who perished in 2017. (Most likely by her own hand, er, paw, after having to endure years of listening to Streisand’s voice.) Before Samantha died, Streisand had cells taken from her mouth and stomach.

By the way, am I the only one who thinks the “Barbara” in this picture appears to be have cloned from an earlier version of Streisand? I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s freaky, isn’t it?

All right, I’ve done enough damage to your psyches for today, wouldn’t you agree?

See you in the lobby, kids…

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It’s A New Dawn, It’s A New Post…

I have decided to choose a path after being at a crossroads for far too long, my friends.

It’s taken time, more grains of sand through the hourglass than I could ever count in fact, but I’ve finally emerged from the shroud of darkness Rockin’ Ronnie’s untimely end thrust me into. So I have that going for me. Which is nice.

 

But even though he met a tragic end Rockin’ Ronnie has been and always will be a source of light in my life.

And I’d like that light to keep shining for as long as I’m here on this plane of existence, kids.

But in the early days of this tragedy I had no idea how that was ever going to happen. Then my wife, Dog bless her, hit on a golden plan.

And so, at her urging, the Bellmen and virtually every other department in the hotel opened their hearts and, most importantly, their wallets, to raise funds to do some good in the name of our fallen brother-in-arms.

I’m happy, no scratch that, I’m overjoyed to report that it took less than a week of actual effort to raise a thousand Canadian dollars (which is about $8.50 American) which we have donated to two diverse, yet equally significant causes.

Project SHARE is a Niagara Falls based organization that helps people below the poverty line keep food in their cupboards and hope in their hearts. And A.N. Myer is a local high school here in Niagara that is known for it’s students’ academic excellence. Thanks to the generosity of my fellow wage slaves we have established The Ronnie Stevens Christmas Wish and The Rockin’ Ronnie Backstage Pass For Music Education.

The Rockin’ Ronnie Christmas Wish provided five hundred bucks to ensure a six-person (two adults, four rug rats) family had a decent Christmas last year. And The Ronnie Stevens Backstage Pass For Music Education (you can blame yours truly for that mouthful) is about give five hundred bucks to one or two students who wish to pursue a higher education in the art of transmuting noises into music.

Granted, we’ve only acted on a small scale with these causes, but that’s exactly the point. My friend wasn’t a world famous rock ‘n roller. He wasn’t a philanthropist who wielded immeasurable power. He didn’t change the world.

But he was a good father and a loving husband. He was a local rock ‘n roll hero who played countless benefits in the Niagara region.

And he was my friend.

And my wife, my beautiful, amazing wife, wanted him to live on in some form and so he will. Now I have to listen to what my soulmate has been telling me for months and get back to the business of living while still keeping the ballad of Rockin’ Ronnie in my heart.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

See you in the lobby, friends…

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Only The Hook…

A recent post by the incomparable Susie Lindau was the inspiration for this post.

In Bad Luck Comes in Threes, Right?, Susie discusses her recent run of misfortune and while I genuinely felt bad for her, I couldn’t help but marvel at her brilliance. And her not-so-good luck set my own creative wheels in motion so it was a win-win situation. Dontcha love it when that happens?

So here a few incidents from my own life that should leave you thinking, “Only The Hook…”

ONE)  I had a cougar ask me, “Where can a horny bitch get a drink around here?”

It was ten am. On a Sunday.

Of course, this was the same cougar who asked me for a new life when I got to the room. This was the same cougar who told me she was in Niagara for her bachelorette party and that, “time was running out!” And this was the same cougar who, when I asked her if she had at least had one last fling before she entered into what appeared to be a reluctant union, responded with, “Are you volunteering?”

A lady to the manor born, right?

Luckily, I wriggled out of that one, but the drama didn’t end there. This same cougar stored her luggage and, at my suggestion, took off to the casino to see if she could score some alcohol. Sure enough, she returned two hours later, lit up to the gills and loaded for bear, as they say. Sadly, her inebriated state didn’t inspire her to leave me a healthy gratuity… but I escaped with my virtue (ahem) intact, so it was a win for The Hook.

 

Even after twenty years in the hospitality trenches, I don’t have my people skills down pat… but that’s only because people keep getting loopier by the second.

 

TWO)  I’ve transported some unique items in my twenty years as a bellman, including antlers, drunken bridesmaids, goldfish in their bowls, a dead, frozen cat, and now…

 

THREE)  I’m reasonably certain I’m the only bellman in Niagara – and possibly the world – who has been chased through the lobby by a golden Labrador Retriever wearing dark green winter booties during the height of the Sunday morning check-out frenzy. I am happy to report that my bad knee held out and I made my escape (while laughing my head off at the absolute absurdity of my situation) before I became dog chow.

“Killer” was quickly brought back under control by his owner, who was equally amused by the situation. She slipped me a few bucks, “for my trouble” and we parted ways. Truthfully, this incident was worth its weight in blogging gold so I would’ve happily slipped her a few bucks, as opposed to the cougar, who I wasn’t about to slip anything.

 

I still think canines are awesome…

 

FOUR)  And finally, only The Hook could serve a group of African-American twenty-somethings from NYC whose luggage consisted of plastic bags, crazy-funky, ridiculously-over-priced sneakers, sleeping bags and ten cases of orange and grape soda, and survive the following exchange:

NUBIAN SISTA:  Are we a stereotype or what, Mr. Bellguy? You’re probably thinking, ‘These people are crazy!”, right?

ME:  Well… you haven’t really fully reinforced any stereotypes…

Just then, her boyfriend emerged from the other side of their big-ass SUV… with a watermelon and bucket of KFC. I swear it. Don’t ask me where he scored a watermelon; I’m assuming they brought it from New York, but either way, I was speechless.

For two seconds.

ME:  Okay… so now perhaps you’ve veered into stereotypical behavior… but it’s awesome, so who cares?

 

And that’s it for now. Admit it, you’re sooooo jealous of me, aren’t you?

See you in the lobby, kids…

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What’s Going On, Hook?

Like my high school girlfriend told me when I announced my plans to move to Los Angeles and star in a series of adult films titled, “You’ve Been Hooked!”… it’s time to get real.

I’ve been horribly blocked for some time now – and not just internally. (IBS rules!) And so this post is a lame attempt to write… that’s it… I’m just going to write and see where we wind up. Let’s look at the news, among other topics, shall we?

How do I feel about ongoing renovations in the hotel?

Truth time, friends: the only thing worse than staying in a hotel under renovations is working in a hotel under renovations. It’s a major pain in the backside. Between the longer elevator wait times, ignorant construction workers with zero clue how to interact with guests, and the new, ridiculously-complicated paths I have to navigate just to get into the building, my nerves are as fried as my home and native land is going to be after Justin Trudeau legalizes marijuana later this year.

But the worst part of these changes are all the Management bodies that keep coming around to check things out. You see, friends, front of the house hotel employees such as myself do things our own way (I certainly do) and so we prefer to stay away from big wigs and upper-tier managers for fear of what they’ll uncover or say. (Not that there’s anything going on. *Cough*.) It’s just like how you feel when you’re driving and you see a cop in your rear-view mirror.

 

Yep, it’s just like this.

The stock market has dropped faster and deeper than my heart when my wife tells me we’re having spaghetti for dinner.

The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 1,100 points yesterday as stocks took their worst loss in six and a half years. Two days of steep losses have erased the market’s gains from the start of this year and ended a period of record-setting calm for stocks.  This is according to the poindexters in charge of these things.

Now I’m the first to admit that I don’t understand these things but here are my tips for handling this situation.

ONE)  Don’t panic! I’m sure the slammer helps, right? But seriously, there are so many other things about your life that are fucked up that this isn’t even worth your time.

TWO)  Buy, buy, buy! Break open that piggy bank and purchase some stocks while they’re in the crapper. That way, you’ll be laughing when the market inevitably course corrects.

THREE)  Just do what the stock guys do: call your dealer, your mistress or your local liquor store to see how soon they can send over whatever you need to get you through this mess.

FOUR)  Relax! This only happened because I just got into the stock market. Everything will be fine once Mistress Fate gets tired of screwing me.

 

An Old Navy store reopened Thursday after a temporary closure that came after a, African-American customer alleged he had been racially profiled.

Damn crackers.

Yes, that may have been inappropriate, but the whole world’s gone mad anyway so my dark humor is entirely justified.

 

More than 1,200 Winter Olympics security workers have been pulled off duty after dozens were stricken with a vomiting illness; military personnel called in for backup.

Later Tuesday evening, the organizing committee in South Korea said thirty-two cases of Norovirus had been confirmed and those people were quarantined after being treated. Those thirty-two cases involve twenty-one private security staff members from the Horeb Youth Center and eleven people from other locations, including three foreigners.

I told them not to serve those breakfast sausages Kim Jong-un sent over…

Yes, I said duty. Grow up.

 

U.S. cities dominate the world’s top 10 most traffic-congested urban areas, with L.A. in the lead with the most soul-crushing and environmentally-damaging gridlock, according to traffic analytics firm INRIX.

But President Trump has assured Americans he has everything under control as he rolled out plans for his solution to this crisis:

The man’s a genius.

 

This Is Us finally let the cat out of the bag with the big reveal about Jack’s death in a post-Super Bowl episode.

Okay, so I’ve never seen this show because I cry at pretty much everything these days, so this show would make me fellate a shotgun, so I’m out. But apparently Milo Ventimiglia’s character survived a major blaze at the family homestead after saving his entire clan, the dog, and several precious mementos… only to die of smoke inhalation afterwards in the hospital.

Can you say anti-climactic, kids?

 

And so as I often tell the wife, that’s all I got.. so I hope it was enough.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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What’s The Hook Thinking? (Spoiler Alert: It May Not Be Worth Your Time.)

Well, readers, it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m in the lobby, post-check-out, in Niagara Falls.

Again.

And just like Billy Murray in Groundhog Day, I can’t escape the feeling I’ve been here before… and that I certainly will be again. This winter has been particularly tough on the bellmen, as tips have been as plentiful as a straight answer from Trump’s mouthpiece Sarah Sanders. Granted, there have been a few calls to put a little coin in our pockets, but most calls unfold like this:

And no, this is not a classic case of yours truly embellishing a situation for dramatic and comedic effect; this guy was a DJ who considered himself a high-rolling spinner of tunes and sounds.

But nothing could have been further from the truth. The again, truth is subjective, isn’t it? Especially these days. The President of the United States thinks he’s got everything under control, Kevin Spacey most likely thinks he’s a victim, Hollywood thinks they can erase decades of abuse by letting a few people with girl parts hand out awards and the Kardashians still think they’re not a scourge upon this planet. This is the age of the self-written narrative, my friends, and we’re supposed to accept everything we see and read as fact.

Personally, I’m a cynic at heart. I prefer cold hard facts over third-party accounts. That said, I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the victims in the #MeToo movement sweeping the entertainment and political machines right now… I just pray no one is abusing this situation to enact revenge on those they feel has wronged them. And that’s all I have to say about that, especially since this topic is a minefield and I prefer my body parts remain attached to my skeleton.

But getting back to the lobby, post-check-out frenzy, there were over nine hundred rooms leaving the hotel today. That translates out to thousands of warm bodies and tens of thousands of pieces of luggage, including pillows, booze, extra winter wear, coolers and assorted modern travel items like video equipment, bedding with Velcro sex straps and things I don’t even want to think about.

And yet, there were fourteen luggage calls for four bellmen to share.

Just let that soak in for a moment. I know I had to when I consulted the figures.

Many of my fellow employees at the hotel have falsely assumed that the bellmen are at the top of the food chain when it comes to gratuities. If only it were so. No, I’m afraid that honor goes to the servers; those buggers can make some serious coin. But even they’re hurting this winter.

The truth is, travelers t Niagara Falls have never been as hostile, or as unbelievably-cheap, as they have been these last few years. The Summer of 2017 not only took one of my best friends with it, it showed me the value of saving your pennies whenever you can. Sure, you have to unwind and live in the moment as much as possible, but you can’t let all that living leave you so broke you consider adding Fancy Feast to Meatloaf Monday.

I’ve tried to offset my losses at work by investing in the stock market for the first time. I recently broke open the piggy bank and bought some weed stock as well as some other acquisitions.

And then the stock market tumbled on Friday.

How do you think I’m feeling about my decision now?

At ant rate, I’ve veered off into Ramble Town so I think it’s time to go. I have a whole lot of nothing to bet back to.

See you in the lobby, kids…

 

If only I could live a version of this moment over and over…

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Let’s Talk.

I’ve always participated in the Bell Let’s Talk mental health imitative but this year is different, and though I’d give anything for things to be anything but, they aren’t.

I’m a resident of one of the world’s greatest and most visited natural wonders and as such I’m privy to the untold truths of Niagara Falls:

  1.  There is so much more to this city than tacky tourist traps and cheesy heart-shaped tubs in poorly-decorated, over-priced hotel rooms.
  2.  This city is populated by decent, hard-working citizens who would go the edge of Hell itself for each other.
  3.  Every year millions of people gather at the base of the Canadian falls to marvel at its majestic power.
  4.  Hundreds of them will hurl themselves over the guard rails, surrendering all that they are to the depths of the Falls. Many will never be seen again, their forms claimed by the cataracts forever.

If you’re offended by my blunt nature, I suppose I should apologize.

But I’m not going to.

The truth is, every year on this day I read hundreds of tweets, Facebook messages and blog posts about mental health issues and while I applaud everyone who speaks out on Bell Let’s Talk day, this year I’m, as they say, sick and tired of being sick and tired. The number of people who reach out every day in an attempt to save those who are facing down the specter of mental illness is legion but it still seems like the battle is one we’ll never win.

 

I lost one of the best friends I ever had last year because too many people failed to act. The Canadian health care system failed him. Those closest to him, though they loved him dearly, failed him. I failed him.

We failed him because we couldn’t break through; he was trying to get his pleas for help out but we couldn’t decode the language he was using. The health care system simply wasn’t listening, and quite frankly, was too busy and overtaxed to give a damn. And so we lost him on an otherwise beautiful Monday summer afternoon, though we wouldn’t know it until six days later, after spending an excruciating week searching the Niagara region for him.

He’ll never know how many people were frantically searching for him. He’ll never know about all the media coverage dedicated to his disappearance. He’ll never know just how many people were beside themselves with worry as he became a version of Schrödinger’s cat, neither living nor dead. He’ll never know any of this because he made a decision that was heartbreaking in its finality.

It was his decision to make, it’s true, but my friend will never know how many dominoes were tumbled when he made that fateful choice. My life has never been the same; I’ve always been an emotional mammal but now I tear up at pretty much everything. Animated films like Coco, the sight of an old homeless guy in New York City, even Kleenex commercials. (Ironic, right?)

The week my friend disappeared authorities on both sides of the Niagara border were waiting for four bodies to surface. Think about that for one second. Four lost souls from completely different walks of life, facing completely different challenges, who made the same choice to sacrifice themselves to Niagara’s cataracts. In the same week.

This sobering truth sickens me. It makes me tired through to my bones. It makes me angry. Local politicians cover it up. The media ignores it. Very few people want to talk about it.

I get it, I truly do. No one wants to risk making Niagara a mecca for jumpers. No one wants to risk their livelihood if word gets out that Niagara Falls is so much more than a tourist attraction.

But it is so much more.

And so I implore you, if you know someone who is struggling with mental health issues, if your loved one is drifting away (the phrase, “lonely among us” springs to mind) if you can imagine, even for a nanosecond, that someone you care about is considering taking their life…

TALK TO THEM.

DO IT UNTIL YOUR BREATH IS GONE AND YOU RUN OUT OF WORDS.

Granted, a small army of us tried to talk to my friend, my brother, only to fail. In the end the outcome appears to have been inevitable. Now I have to ask myself the same two questions every day, “Why did this have to happen?” and “How many others are making the same choice right now?”

I’ll keep asking those questions but I’ll stay hopeful that the answers await me in the future. In the meantime, let’s not stay silent.

Let’s talk.

 

Yes, it’s beautiful, but if you can’t respect it’s power or see everything it represents you’ll never truly understand Niagara Falls.

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