What I’ve Learned As A Bellman.

I’m not what you would call a smart man. (Just ask the wife.)

However, after two decades (almost) as a bellman I can honestly say I know my way around the hospitality trenches with the best of them. And now you can share in the benefits of my wisdom for the low, low price of… nothing.

That’s a helluva deal no matter how you slice it, kids. Without further adieu, here are a few of the things I’ve learned in my nineteen years as The Hook, bellman extraordinaire, world-class tweeter, sometimes blogger, failed author and all-around indefinable mammal.

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Here we go, kids…

ONE)  Failure is nothing to be afraid of. Own it. Embrace it. Use it to expand your stockpile of self-deprecating humorous anecdotes.

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TWO)  The following items are not viable substitutes for a luggage cart:

  • Grandma’s wheelchair.
  • Grandma’s walker.
  • Grandma.
  • A baby stroller.
  • Timmy’s little red wagon.
  • Shopping carts from the liquor store.
  • Maid’s carts swiped from service areas.
  • Those cheap, crappy two-wheeled dollies people use at the airport or in court.
  • Beer coolers.
  • A barbecue.  (Seriously. This dude opened the lid, and loaded his crap in there with the intention of using the BBQ on the balcony. Until I told him there were no balconies. He was bummed. And not just because he was stupid.)

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THREE)  Hookers may sell their bodies for profit but they’re as human as the rest of us. In some cases, more-so.

82aee9a298c5df271cba89855c52b098There’s a real person underneath that shell… trust me.

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FOUR)  “Weekend Girlfriends” are more common than ever. (For the confused: WGs are hookers on extended duty.) This is further proof that we’re losing our ability to communicate and forge real relationships with each other.

And yes, I’m judging – but only for entertainment value…

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FIVE)  Fire hot!  (My daughter taught me that one, with some help from Disney, of course. Love that kid.)

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SIX)  Bringing a dead cat with you on vacation is not a sign of devotion to a furry companion… it is a sign you may require psychiatric help. Especially if you place said kitty in a cooler. Which then falls off my cart and slides across the smooth, polished marble lobby floor because corpsical kitty has become smooth as glass.

Ironically, this is not cool at all.

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SEVEN)  Women are not to be treated as less than human – on vacation or at any other time. (A guest once bit his girlfriend’s nose in the lobby. No, not in a loving way, but rather a violent, psychotic way.)

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EIGHT)  “You gotta have fun in this life while you can, Robert. Trust me on this.” Those words of wisdom were spoken by Mr. O.J. Simpson as we entered his room upon his second visit to the hotel. His knees were killing him (though I imagine they hurt more in prison) but he was congenial, unbelievably-friendly and a great tipper. Who knew?

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I prefer to remember The Juice this way.

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NINE)  Never underestimate the value of dark humor. This lesson was imparted to me by a grandfather named Howard. (“Call me, Howie, son!”) Howard accompanied me as we made our way to his family’s rooms; they were a giant brood, consisting of no less than twenty-five members, several of which were kids who were no doubt raised on the same island as the little monsters in Lord of the Flies.

These  kids were out… of… control. They were literally bouncing off the lobby walls and making spectacles of the entire family – and it did not go unnoticed by Howie.

“Kids… kids… KIDS! Come here… grandpa wants to talk to you.” he beckoned as we arrived at the elevators. Inexplicably, the little devils listened. “All right, kids… if you promise to be good, grandpa will buy you all new phones for Christmas!”

The kids shut up immediately. The parents were amazed. I wasn’t fooled. I waited until Howie and I were alone on an elevator to get the skinny.

ME:  Do you really intend to buy all your grandkids new phones at Christmas, Howie?

HOWIE:  Fuck no! The joke’s on them… I’m dying! I’ll be long gone before the little bastards can come sniffing around the nursing home looking for gifts!

Howie may have been rough around the edges but you had to admire the Chutzpah, right?

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TEN) If you desire privacy during an intimate, vigorous physical encounter, book a corner hotel suite. Otherwise, get comfortable with the distinct possibility of strangers/hotel staff overhearing your cries of passion. However, on the off-chance being overheard is your cup of erotic tea… as you were.

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ELEVEN)  It is easier to destroy rather than to create. It is far easier to judge and disparage than approach with an open mind and heart. But the hard way is worth the effort.

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TWELVE)  As a traveler you should be able to unpack your vehicle in sixty seconds. Yes, it sounds crazy on the face of it, but vacation time is precious and if you’re truly organized, a minute is more than doable.

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THIRTEEN)  The following items are not viable substitutes for an actual suitcase. (Something everyone who plans on taking more than one vacation in their lifetime should purchase. Yes, they’re pricey, but if you search online you can score a deal or two.)

  •  A gym bag with ripped straps.
  •  Laundry baskets.
  •  Plastic bags.
  •  Fruit baskets. (You know I’m not making this up, right?)
  •  Cloth shopping bags. (Even from high-class shops.)
  •  The aforementioned beer cooler.

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FOURTEEN)  Seniors may be slow-moving and sometimes a bit smelly, but they’re phenomenal guests. Just check out this exchange:

ME:  (Addressing a grey-haired gentleman in his room upon check-in.) Would you like me to put your suitcases on luggage racks, sir?

GREY-HAIRED GENTLEMAN:  Put ’em anywhere, son! You think I have time to waste? I’m too old to dilly-dally, man… Death is coming!

ME:  (Completely straight-faced.)  Well, remember to greet him like an old friend rather than an enemy, sir.

GHG:  A friend? Screw that! I plan on telling him to fuck off and leave me alone!

ME:  Good luck with that, sir.

See what I mean? Old folks, rock.

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FIFTEEN)  Planning a trip is a lot like making love: The more effort you put in… the bigger the orgasm.

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SIXTEEN)  Guidebooks and websites are great, but when traveling, never underestimate the value of a local recommendation. Residents know where to eat and visit and most importantly, they know which spots to avoid like the plague  – so you won’t wind up with the plague. Or sonic diarrhea. 

That’s a thing , right?

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I’d be a fool to try to top a travel tip involving diarrhea, right? We’ll return to this topic again soon. Until then, let my unique wisdom settle in and rot enhance your brain box.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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The Hook: Parenting God.

When it comes to guiding another human being’s journey through this big ole world, there’s no rule book.

Okay, technically, there are a seemingly-endless supply of parenting rule books out there… But unless it’s a celebrity bio or a comic book, I don’t care. Anyone who has read this blog even once (but refuses to admit it) is well aware my style doesn’t conform to any known structure. There is no greater example of my unique and indefinable parenting stye than the following conversation between myself and my teenage daughter, who no doubt will never say she won the Parent Lottery. (If such a thing exists.)

The set-up is this: My daughter was invited to a get-together with other young mammals of similar age, one of whom, (the host) was not someone she considered a friend. They were in each other’s friend orbit but they were definitely not close. And so my wife was charged with providing a legitimate, foolproof excuse for my daughter’s absence. But even though they sat in the kitchen for a full hour, neither she nor my child could come up with an excuse that seemed plausible.

Enter Skippy (“dad” was never a word used in my home – and never will be) and his, shall we say, “novel” approach to such situations.

DAUGHTER:  Hey, Skippy! Help me out here, will you?

ME:  Wow, You’re that desperate?

DAUGHTER:  Sadly, yes.

ME:  You’re confidence is empowering…

DAUGHTER:  And well-deserved…

ME:  I’ll drive you over there myself…

She piped down. But she still had that, “Please, save me!” puppy dog look.

ME:  (Exhaling a long sigh only a dad can produce.)  Fine… this will work, trust me.

She looked at me expecting to hear wisdom reminiscent of the Dalai Lama.

ME:  Diarrhea.

More silence. And then a very strange, quizzical look. And then a question.

DAUGHTER:  Uh.. what, Skippy? Do you… have diarrhea?

ME:  No… you do.

More silence, though if you listened hard enough, you could actually hear my daughter’s neurons exploding in her head.

DAUGHTER:  I may be young… but I don’t have forever, Skippy…

ME:  Send so-and-so a text and say you have really bad diarrhea.

DAUGHTER:  As opposed to what? Really good diarrhea?

ME:  No one asks you to their house if they think there’s a good chance your bowels will violently explode.

My daughter pondered my “wisdom” for a moment and then ran off to the kitchen to relay my advice to my poor, poor wife. I sat in my chair in the living room and waited for the inevitable, “What the hell is wrong with you?” from my wife. A minute later…

THE WIFE:  WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

The walls actually shook.

But I still maintain to this day that the excuse was valid and foolproof.

See you in the lobby, kids…

giphyAs a dad… I make a great bellman.

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

5×5 With The Hook: Erin Agostino.

She’s an amazing young actress with a heart of gold and infinite talent.

And low standards, apparently. Which, of course, explains her presence here today.

She is Erin Agostino. She is a Gemini-nominated actor. A writer. A goddess with eyes so deep and haunting you need a GPS to find your way back from them. You can get her acting deets here. You can marvel at her majesty by staying right here and scrolling on.

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A larger-than-life pic for a larger-than-life actress.

Erin was molded from clay touched by divinity on June 27, 1985 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (We do good work in my home and native land, don’t we?) As an actress she’s paid her dues, doing voice work for various animated series and video games, writing and acting! in shorts and just being awesome in general.

As a human being she enjoys art (both viewing and creating it), wine, ballet and working out. This is a mammal who believes in flexing all her muscles, kids.

Toronto is her home base but the world is her oyster. Ironically, I think she’s allergic to sea food…

By now you’re thinking:

  1.  “If you love Erin so much, Hook, why don’t you marry her?”
  2.  “Just what is Erin doing here in the first place? She must be on Murdoch Mysteries, right?”

Well…

  1.   Erin can do much better. And I’m married. To another goddess.
  2.   I’m so glad you figured that out.

Erin portrays burlesque dancer Nina Bloom, a young lady from the other side of the tracks who captures Constable George Crabtree’s heart – and other body parts – while simultaneously eliciting a strong reaction from millions of viewers. In the words of MM showrunner, Peter Mitchell:

“Nina is the kind of character we always want on the show because she’s very polarizing. Half the fans love her and half the fans hate her, which means we want her!”

Personally, I love Erin’s portrayal of Nina; she’s strong, sultry, outspoken (like all the women of MM) and she’s rife with possibility. And mystery, of course. It is to Erin’s credit that viewers (most of them, at least) have bonded with the little burlesque dancer with the heart of gold. I just hope she doesn’t break poor George’s spirit like every other woman he’s been in a relationship with.

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 All right enough of this sappy stuff! Let’s get to the 5×5 goodness where you’ll see that Erin Agostino is a fascinating and amazing goddess among mere mortals.

ONE)  You’ve done some voice work in the past; is it easier to take a job where your biggest concern is avoiding a sore throat rather than spending several hours in the make-up chair?

I think every job comes with it’s own challenges, and I wouldn’t say one is necessarily easier than the other. They’re very different. Going to work in jogging pants and no makeup is a nice touch but there is so much that goes into voice work too. (Along with the occasional loss of voice and sore throat…)

(I’m not sure but I think Erin just schooled me. And I totally deserved it.)

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TWO)  I’m sure Peter Mitchell would strike you down with a turn-of-the-century stun gun if you revealed any spoilers, but do you think Nina Bloom has any more surprises in store for Constable George Crabtree?

Not unlike the other actors on the show, I only really find out what is going to happen in an episode when I have the script in front of me. Even when I bug Peter Mitchell to tell me, he never reveals anything! That being said, she might have a few things left up her sleeve…

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Uh oh, George…

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THREE)  You’ve been a professional actor for ten years now. (Congratulations! You rock!) Any milestones you wish to share?

Thanks! Yes it’s been a little journey so far. I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing people. Incredible directors, awesome crews and very talented actors.

A standout experience was working with Alexander Siddig this summer on After Camelot. It’s really comforting knowing that someone so talented and experienced can walk on set with no ego, knowing they’re just a piece of the machine, knowing everyone’s name and treating all the players with the up most respect. I carry that one with me wherever I go.

kennedys-siddigAlexander Siddig on the After Camelot set. I think he’s with some girl from Dawson’s Creek…

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FOUR)  Are you happy? (Sometimes the simplest questions are the most complicated. I’m not expecting you to reveal deep dark secrets or delve into your past; I just want you to share something that makes Erin the fascinating human being smile and rejoice at the beauty of her existence.)

Daily goal: Find a little moment to be grateful for something. We’ve all gone through hard times in our lives but searching for the good, even when it seems impossible, can lead to you actually finding it…and when you do find it, there’s no other choice but to be happy about it.

(Awesome answer, right?)

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FIVE)  Viewers will soon see you as Christina Onassis in the Kennedys: After Camelot mini-series. Is there a feeling of power one experiences while playing an Onassis?

I wouldn’t say I felt a sense of power when I played Christina Onassis but I definitely felt the darkness.

If you’re unfamiliar with their story, think classic Greek tragedy. When I got the role I immediately started researching, reading as many biographies as I could find and watching everything on both the Onassis family and the Kennedy’s Nemesis by Peter Evans (who personally knew Christina) brought me a lot of clarity. She was a very sad and lonely little girl. She lived in a world where she had everything at her fingertips but craved this simple love and affirmation that I don’t think she ever found. She was the last one standing as the rest of her family came to tragic ends.

I never felt the power because I don’t think she ever really possessed it but I felt the fear very clearly and the pain. I can only hope I did her justice and portrayed her with as much truth as possible.

It was a very visceral experience for me. One that took an extremely long time to shake off.

(That’s when you know an actor has truly embraced a role, kids.)

photo“Uh, Hook?  Is this what usually happens during these interviews?”

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It’s that time again, friends, time to move on with your lives and get back to the Rat Race. I need to thank Erin Agostino for being such a wonderful guest and of course, thank all of you for being here.

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

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“Bend It Like Brackenreid” Was Anything But Twisted.

Yes, I paint with words, thank you ever so much for noticing.

Let’s get right into this week’s Murdoch Mysteries recap, shall we? (This is one of those rare occasions where foreplay is unnecessary.)

ONE)  The title.  Once again, #MMX has ripped a clever title from the pop culture well. I’m loving these turns-of-phrase. Keep it up, MM gang. Not only that, but the title was intrinsically linked to this installment’s events, namely, the murder of star soccer (or “footballer”, if you prefer) player Robert Semple on the eve of the pivotal match between the University of Toronto and Galt that sent Galt to St. Louis for the Olympic Games.

This brings us to our next point…

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TWO)  Canadian history – Murdoch style!  Yes, this episode was mined from actual events (somewhat). Galt did indeed travel to the Olympics and even captured gold while there, so Peter Mitchell and Company provided us with a Murdoch that gave Brackenreid (two of them!) a reason to be giddy while recounting history in a unique and intriguing manner.

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“None of us are happy about being on Hook’s blog again, lad… just stand still!”

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THREE)  More Tom Craig at last!  The good Inspector has been conspicuously absent this season, but that changed with this ep. (By the way, “ep” is short for episode. Just in case, you’re not one of the cool TV kids who is up on the latest lingo.) MM works best as an ensemble and Thomas Craig is an invaluable part of the operation. I like to think of him as the British wingnut that holds the entire Murdoch machine together.

Sadly, by the end of the ep we were given an excuse for the Brackenreids to be away for a few weeks (depending on the timeline MM intends to use) but still, a little Brackenreid goes a long way, right?

And the Inspector returns to Toronto as an Olympic medal-winning coach which should make for some juicy viewing and character development, especially since we’ve already seen what happens when Thomas Brackenreid’s ego runs out of control. (Remember his brief political career?)

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FOUR)  Michelle Ricci goodness.  If you’re not familiar with the name, she’s the all-too-real scribe behind Bend it Like Brackenreid – and she’s spectacular. How spectacular, you ask? You’ll find out when her 5×5 runs in the near future. I’ll say this: Her passion for her job shows through in every line and that benefits every Murdochian.

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FIVE)  The worst of humanity on display.  This installment recounted a sexual assault by the murder victim on an innocent young lady who became central to Det. Murdoch’s investigation. On one hand, no one deserves to be murdered. On the other… Robert Semple had it coming, big time. The MM team handled this matter expertly, with rape victim Harriet blaming herself (as so many rape victims do) and Julia bringing her some much-needed perspective.

This topic touches me on a deeply personal level so I’m always wary when shows tackle rape, but the MM team, headed by Michelle Ricci, did all victims proud with their handling of such a disgusting, cowardly crime.

And speaking of Hélène Joy…

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SIX)  Doctor Julia Ogden: Sports MD?  Yet another occupation for the good – and super sexy – doctor? Possibly, but at the very least, Julia set the precedent and that’s always cool.

murdoch3“No looking at me bum, lads!”

page-breakSEVEN)  More Rebecca James!  Mouna Traoré killed it again last night (see what I did there?) and we got to see her outside the morgue! She even delivered another awesome line at episode’s end.

latest“I’m on The Hook’s blog again? Fire my agent!”

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EIGHT)  Constable George Crabtree returns!  Jonny Harris was sorely missed last week but he made up for it last night. And that’s all I have to say about that.

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NINE)  John Brackenreid predated Beckham!  He’s had a helluva growth spurt, but John was critical to last night’s fictional match with his unique soccer style. And his father invented the wall defense (apparently) so both Brackenreids scored last night. Awesome.

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TEN)  Yannick Bisson.  You didn’t think I was going to forget the most innovative and reserved detective in all of 1904 Toronto did you? As usual, Yannick held up his end this week with professionalism and amazing talent. Detective William Murdoch is one of the greatest characters ever transposed to the small screen and Yannick is a big part of that success.

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“Yes, Sally, I really do travel back to 1904 to moonlight as a detective!  Can you blame me?  Have you seen what teachers make these days?”

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And that’s it, kids! Go back to your lives while I put the finishing touches on more MM 5x5s. We’ll reconvene next week for Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas.

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

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

5×5 With The Hook: Prop Monkey.

To Revenue Canada he is Craig Grant, but to millions of Murdochians he is known as Prop Monkey, the not-so-mad genius behind all those wonderful toys on Murdoch Mysteries.

You’ve heard of MM, right? I believe I may have mentioned it on this blog once or twice…

No, I wasn’t just struck by lightning, thank you very much.

But back to business: Prop Monkey is one of those rare creative types who has no interest in fame (hence his professional alias as opposed to his given name) or fortune (working for the CBC). No, he only cares about doing good work with Murdoch’s Props and Art Department. In fact, he prefers to let the work they do collectively speak for him, so you won’t find much of a social media footprint that leads to Craig Grant but you’ll find plenty of clips and images attributed to Prop Monkey. As a bellman/blogger/writer/hack who prefers to be known as The Hook rather than Robert Hookey, I can relate.

makingmurdoch808highvoltage03This was the last time Monkey talked back to MM showrunner Peter Mitchell…

You can get Monkey’s professional background by clicking here. The prop master with the simian moniker has worked on some pretty impressive productions like Between and a little show with a small following called Orphan Black. On a personal note, I was impressed to learn Monkey was the Property Master on the feature film, Chloe – and not just because it featured some scintillating scenes involving Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore.

Though those scenes certainly didn’t hurt the film at all, truth be told. Great, thinking of Chloe got my glasses fogged up again…

Where were we? Oh yeah, Prop Monkey’s awesomeness. I think this is a good time to share a little pic from the Murdoch Mysteries set that today’s guest was generous enough to share. Look closely at this photo, Murdochians, as there will be a quiz afterwards.

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 Notice anything interest beyond the obvious, friends?

Not only is that bike (I’m guessing it’s referred to as the “Bikeizer”) super cool, one can see Det. Watts himself, Daniel Maslany, in the background. Incidentally, I love the bar’s name. The Tipsy Ferret? Genius!

The fact is, much of Murdoch Mysteries’ appeal stems from the title character’s brilliant, far-ahead-of-its-time mind and the incredible devices that reside within. Bringing those devices to life is no small feat and so I consider Prop Monkey to be one of the most brilliant people on the planet.

FUN FACT: He has appeared in at least one episode in every season of MM.

(I’d kill to be on a single episode, never mind every single one.)

I think this is a good time to let the man/monkey himself take over. Take it away, Prop Monkey! To begin – and for a change of pace – here is a tidbit of info about Monkey from Monkey:

“I have been doing props for roughly 25 years everything from TV, commercial and movies. As a kid ( and adult) I loved building models and taking things apart to see how they worked.

I have always been into photography and at ten had a darkroom. Today I had a large collection of cameras, several hundred movie cameras , a hundred or so still cameras as well as a huge amount of tripods, projectors and anything else related. These range from the 1870’s to modern day, from 8mm to 35mm.”

Cool, right? Personally, I’m not surprised; geniuses – mad or otherwise – are always collectors. And now, on with the 5×5 madness!

ONE)  Who inspires you to up your “creating game”? Contemporaries? Family? 

On Murdoch the desire, and shall I say need, to “up my creating game” comes from both the writers and the fans.

Our writers deliver such great concepts (and in their minds) wholly-formed ideas, that I always feel that my creations must live up to that,or be so odd and off kilter that the audience won’t question what they are actually seeing.

Our fans have come to expect a level of cool and realism ( which I hope I am providing). Knowing that we have events and interactions with the fans every year and that brings people up close and personal with the props, I try to make them that much better and full, they aren’t just items for one shot but possibly pieces to look at for years to come.

(Told you this guy/simian was cool.)

7Craig offsets his income by operating a rickshaw service – Murdoch Mysteries style…

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TWO)  If you could be any of your creations, which would you choose?

If I could choose to be any of my creations, I have two and a half that I would choose.
1.  The Weaponized Capacitor. This is one of my favorite props I have built over the 10 seasons. It (IMHO) has a great look and feel, and it serves a definite purpose. It has elements of Tesla and Steampunk, yet feels like it could be very real.

2.  The Pendrick Bullit. I like speed and to be the Bullit and be a futuristic car, racing past all of Fords noisy gas fueled beasts would be awesome. Gliding around with speed and style.

maxresdefaultAnd this was accomplished on a Canadian TV show budget, kids…

2.5  This is a bit of a cheat as it is only half a prop and majority wardrobe, but I would love to be/ have the Pendrick Flying suit and be able to soar through the sky like a flying squirrel. ( Too chicken in real life to try a wing suit.)

latestAnd only ten interns perished testing this thing… A new CBC record!

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THREE)  As a behind-the-scenes genius, fans don’t really know much about the Man behind the Monkey. (Yes, that sound a bit weird. Just go with it. People expect that from me.)  Please tell us something about you that may surprise us.

I am known as The Prop Monkey or just Monkey, because I wear a small finger puppet of a monkey on my Walkie Headset, The backstory behind this is that after my first child was born I was working on a show near a toy store and wandered in at lunch and saw the monkey and thought it was cute, so I bought it. Later that day I kept dropping it out of my pocket as I pulled stuff out, so I stuck in on the walkie in order to not drop or lose it.

Seventeen years later that Monkey is still on every show with me and has traveled all over Canada and parts beyond. Since then I have had people give me monkeys over the years and have a very strange collection of monkey related things.

(We’re going to stop at “very strange monkey related things.” I like to keep the mystery alive on this blog.)

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FOUR)  You must ridiculously-long hours raising Murdoch Mysteries fortunes. What is your go-to food between creating sessions?

Like every mad scientist, I have weird eating issues. (Just ask anyone who knows me.)

I am a meatetarian. I believe that pulling a vegetable off a vine or out of the ground is Vegicide and is just as wrong to me as eating bacon (which is one of the greatest foods in the world) is to others.

Although none of that has anything to do with the question, its just that sometimes I ramble.

(I knew there was a reason I loved Monkey so much; we’re kindred spirits. Yes, I  know what I just said. Shut up.)

My go-to food if we are talking about actual nourishment, would be a meat pizza. But 99% of the time my go to food between and during creative sessions is COFFEE. I have an Espresso machine in the prop room along with a grinder and a cold brew slow drip coffee maker as well. There is always coffee brewing in my room.

tumblr_mctalkoIt’s funny… because it’s true.

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FIVE) As a bellman I am fascinated by all things travel related. What is your dream trip? Feel free to let your wonderfully-creative mind wander to any destination or time period.

After everything I have seen, researched and learned on Murdoch in the past 10 seasons, I think my dream trip would be to around this time period.

To be able to interact with Nikola Tesla, William Dickson (invented Edison’s Movie tech) and George Eastman. To travel to France in 1902 and see the filming of Georges Melies’ Voyage to the Moon.

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FUN “FACT”: Georgina Reilly absconded with the “Vital Motion Plus” when she departed the MM set for good…

screen-shot-2014-11-30-at-1-31-33-pm“Craig… is a… genius! I’m… never… getting up again!”

Well, as much as I love all my Murdoch guests, this has been one of my favorite 5x5s of all time. My thanks to Monkey for being here – and for being awesome. Thanks to all of you, of course, for being here and being equally cool.

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

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

The People In Hook’s Neighborhood: Sunday Edition.

(Yes, I realize it’s Friday. Shut up.)

“Why Sunday? What makes that day so special, Hook”, you ask?

Well, as I write this, it is my first day back since the Staycation from Hell. “What made it the Staycation from Hell, Hook?” Boy, you’re awfully inquisitive today. Here we go, though…

Why My Staycation Was Obviously Designed By Satan.

I scheduled a tooth extraction for two days before my time off was to begin.

Said tooth extraction took THIRTY MINUTES of my life. I’ve had a tooth pulled before so believe me when I tell you that a basic, simple, by-the-book extraction should take nowhere near thirty minutes.

But when The Hook is in the chair? Well then, you just know the tooth will be fused to the bone and the dentist will have to call in a back-up dentist who immediately realizes the jaw will wind up being fractured once the tooth is removed. Which it was. Sadly, I retained the ability to speak so the wife was out of luck…

s-bb716820f7c9e7e2a4e5e96186ea79cb772c9394Happy Staycation, Hook…

Speaking of VampireLover, she was an absolutely marvelous Staycation nurse. Wearing the little outfit I secured for her was out of the question but otherwise, she rocked.

I honestly have no idea how people who are suffering from actual illnesses manage it; I spent the first two hours post-extraction in total agony. I couldn’t even sit still, that’s how bad it was. Finally, the Tylenol 3s kicked in and I began to relax – a bit. I’ve spent every day since then battling waves of throbbing discomfort and breath that could take down a rhino.

Lovely, right?

To make matters worse, I developed the flu to go along with my pain. That was truly lovely. The upshot for VampireLover was having our bed to herself – along with the dog, of course. She’s actually bumming now that I’m back where I feel I belong.

At any rate, the healing process is well underway (still feels like someone took a cheese grater to the inside of my mouth, but you can’t have everything) and either way, my time off has expired so I’m back in the trenches.

Whether I like it or not.

And now onto today’s offering: a quick synopsis of the folks I’ve served on my  first day back. I’m going to present you with archetypes rather than specifics. (I’ll spend less time in HR as a result, hopefully.)

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ONE)  Hockey Families.

These folks make me wish I was back in the dentist’s chair. Almost.

Honestly, I’ve shared my feelings on these particular clans before – but I’m going to do so again so buckle up.

Hockey families are cut from the same cloth as the Kardashians. In other words, they’re selfish, rich-but-ridiculously-cheap, rude to “the help” (but I’m used to it so I remain unaffected.) and generally miserable for no good reason. Everyone assumes hockey kids are the problem and I’ll admit the little devils are natural disasters in mini-human form, but…

It’s their parents that make me shiver from the soul outward.

These people should know better. Hockey Dads especially cream my corn; here’s a group of grown men whose aggression and palatable rage are often unchecked and often consume all those unfortunate enough to be in their path. Hockey Dads scream at their families. At strangers. At hotel employees. And of course, at game officials.

Hockey Moms aren’t too bad, truth be told. They’re usually neglected by their crazy spouses so they’re very flirty, which ain’t bad at all.

Bear in mind that there are many fine, upstanding hockey parents out there.

But those folks are boring and so Fate never puts me in their path.

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TWO)  Corporate Drones.

Those of us in the hospitality industry view Corporate Drones like porn stars view condoms: No one likes them but they’re necessary for our survival.

Most companies don’t have the foresight to train/caution their staff against acting out while on retreat and so many of the conventions/conferences I serve are filled with animals in suits and sensible outfits; tearing their surroundings and each other apart without fear of consequences. Sort of explains why Corporate North America is in the state it’s currently in, doesn’t it?

Today alone I may or may not have seen:

  • Two regional managers who decided to “switch” assistants. (And from what I could tell, not just on a professional capacity.)
  • A female drone who was so drunk she actually vomited into her suitcase in the room. She then looked at me and said, “Can you take care of that for me, sweetie?” I walked into the room, straight up to her bag, zipped it up, placed it on the cart and handed her a Tic Tac.

Don’t tell me I don’t have exceptional customer service skills, folks.

kyqwziIf only I could deal with Drones in this manner…

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THREE)  Gypsy Bridesmaids.

No, I didn’t cross over into a TLC network show, I actually served three gypsy chicks who were part of a wedding party. Or maybe I didn’t? Only The Shadow knows what I’m actually up to these days.

It’s better for everyone this way.

As for the hypothetical gypsy chicks in question, they each looked, dressed and behaved the part. To a tee. They were plastering make-up on like they were mobsters burying a stool pigeon in a field somewhere by the docks. Yes, I paint with words, thank you for noticing.

The tallest of their number brought out a hair straightener  from the room and just glared at me for a moment.

“I don’t want to melt any of my bags… can you touch this and tell me if it’s too hot, sir?”

My hypothetical response was as professional and succinct as ever.

“Yeah, right! Let’s err on the side of caution and just stick it with the hot side facing up, all right?”

She thought about a moment. I swear you could actually hear the gears grinding…

“That could work!”

No kidding.

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And that, kids, was my hypothetical day in a supposed nutshell. The maybe highlights, at least.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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5×5 With The Hook: Simon McNabb

Writers are a cowardly and superstitious lot.

Wait, that’s criminals…

What are writers again? Besides perpetually broke?

Now I remember. Writers are the special breed of dreamers who reach into the ether we mere mortals cannot access, and they pluck forth dreams we could never dream and they make them whole so that we may weep at their beauty and majesty.

And yes, I just made today’s guest, Murdoch Mysteries scribe Simon McNabb, sound like a Canadian Will Shakespeare, but I dare you tell me otherwise. The man’s damn talented as far as I’m concerned and that’s all I have to say about that.

latestYou can get his full professional bio here, but among the MM episodes Simon has scribbled are:

Simon’s also done his part to further Murdoch’s fortunes as Executive Story Editor (12 episodes, 2015 – 2016) and Story Editor (2013 – 2014) as well as Co-Producer. I think he even provides baked goods for the crew once a week.

I hear his macadamia nut clusters are to die for.

As for other bits ‘n bites of info concerning Mr. McNabb, he was created and aged (much like a fine wine) in Vancouver, he holds a Master’s degree in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California (until his hands get tired and then he hangs it back on the wall). He returned to Canada in 2010 (and not at the insistence of the American government) to complete both the NSI’s Totally Television program and the CFC’s Prime Time TV Program. 

The truth of the matter at hand is this: even if Murdoch Mysteries wasn’t my favorite show I’d be envious of Simon McNabb. He. Gets. Paid. To. Write. For. A. Living. 

I would pay someone to pay me to write for a living.

Yes, my parents had me tested but I am not at liberty to discuss the results…

I think we’ve reached a natural transition point, don’t you? If I continue I risk Simon blocking me on Twitter and that list is long enough as it is.

So here we go!

ONE)  Are there any characters you’d love to revisit in the Murdochverse? Like Dr. Roberts the Popsicle MD, for instance? (My daughter is still ticked at his fate and longs for an update.)

Great question. You never want to bring a character back unless you can do something that ‘tops’ what they did last time. With someone like Dr. Roberts, I’m not sure we’ll ever find a better ending for him… though you never know.

I really can’t list all the past characters I’d like to revisit (there are too many), but here’s a small sampling: Roger Newsome (Eps 718, 805, 911), his brother Rodney Newsome (referenced in 718, not seen on screen), and their father Royal Newsome (who I just made up right now).

8fce1ebff96c6d7867fda0199cec17aeSeriously? They’re never bringing me back? Someone get me this McNabb chap’s home address…

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TWO)  Which films/TV shows do you wish you had written?

Seasons 1-6 of Murdoch Mysteries.

(Right to the point. I like that.)

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THREE)  Rock stars seem to want to be actors and vice versa; is it that way with TV writers? Do you ever wish you could be on the other side of the lens?

Since grade six I’ve been working tirelessly to ensure no one ever looks at me.

(You too?)

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Simon and the usual Murdoch Mysteries suspects…

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FOUR)  As Canadians we have a love/hate relationship with the seasons. Do you enjoy a long cold winter, or are you like me and wish global warming would hit Canada yesterday?

I’m from Vancouver, we don’t have winters. My only relationship with the cold is remaining indoors.

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FIVE)  Now that William’s going to be a homeowner how about you give him and Julia a dog? I know a certain Shih Tzu who would be great as the first of it’s regal breed to be imported to Canada…  (The wife and daughter would’ve killed me if I hadn’t included this question.)

If the Shih Tzu can solve crimes, she’s in.

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“Someone get me an agent, I’m moving to Toronto!”

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That’s all for today, friends. You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here. I want to thank Simon McNabb for elevating my little blog to greatness, and of course, thank you to all of you for being my cyber pals.

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

 

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