Friday, October 17, 2014

Before They Were Famous: The Oddest Odd Jobs of 10 Literary Greats

Plenty of acclaimed and successful writers began their careers working strange—and occasionally degrading—day jobs. But rather than being ground down by the work, many drew inspiration for stories and poems from even the dullest gigs. Here are 10 of the oddest odd jobs of famous authors—all of them reminders that creative fodder can be found in the most unexpected places.

#1. Kurt Vonnegut managed America’s first Saab dealership in Cape Cod during the late 1950s, a job he joked about in a 2004 essay: “I now believe my failure as a dealer so long ago explains what would otherwise remain a deep mystery: Why the Swedes have never given me a Nobel Prize for Literature.”

#2. John Steinbeck took on a range of odd occupations before earning enough to work as a full-time writer. Among his day jobs: apprentice painter, fruit picker, estate caretaker and Madison Square Garden construction worker.

#3. Stephen King served as a janitor for a high school while struggling to get his fiction published. His time wheeling the cart through the halls inspired him to write the opening girls’ locker room scene in Carrie, which would become his breakout novel.

#4. Harper Lee worked as a reservation clerk for Eastern Air Lines for more than eight years, writing stories in her spare time. This all changed when a friend offered her a Christmas gift of one year’s wages, with the note, “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please.” She wrote the first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird within the year.

#5. J.D. Salinger mentioned in a rare interview in 1953 that he had served as entertainment director on the H.M.S. Kungsholm, a Swedish luxury liner. He drew on the experience for his short story “Teddy,” which takes place on a liner.

#6. Before joining the likes of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs worked as an exterminator in Chicago. It served as a handy metaphor years later in his novel Exterminator!

#7. Richard Wright worked as a letter sorter in a post office on the south side of Chicago from 1927 to 1930, while he wrote a number of short stories and poems that were published in literary journals.

#8. Before his writing career took off, William Faulkner also worked for the Postal Service, as postmaster at the University of Mississippi. In his resignation note, he neatly summarized the struggle of art and commerce faced by many authors: “As long as I live under the capitalist system I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp. This, sir, is my resignation.”

#9. T.S. Eliot worked as a banker, serving as a clerk for Lloyds Bank of London for eight years. The job must have been a bummer—he composed passages of The Waste Land while walking to work each day.

#10. Sometimes, an odd job can actually lead to opportunity. Poet Vachel Lindsay was interrupted as he dined at a hotel restaurant in Washington, D.C., by a busboy who handed him some sheets of poetry. At first irritated by the young man, Lindsay was quickly impressed by the writing. When he asked, “Who wrote this?” the busboy replied, “I did.” Langston Hughes was about to get his big break.

There is hope for me yet!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Unforgettable hotel resorts - to say the least.

1 - Look out, Willy Wonka. You have some competition. Every chocolate lovers dream, this hotel room designed by Karl Lagerfeld at La Reserve in Paris, France is made entirely out of chocolate.
The Chocolate Room
2 -  The Ice Suite at the Hôtel de Glace in Québec, Canada is made entirely out of ice and snow. 
The Ice Suite
3 - This better-than-a-zoo resort is the Karen Blixen Suite at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya which not only houses guests but endangered giraffes that you can interact with.
Stay With The Giraffe's 
4 - If you are ever in Chile and want to try something a little different, check into the Magic Mountain Lodge, something very appealing for eco tourists.
Magic Mountain Lodge
5 - If you are a fan of mines, check out the Sala Silvermine in Sweden, an underground hotel offering accommodations such as this one. Warning: Not for the claustrophobic. 
Sala Silvermine
6 - Attrap Reves in France lets you enjoy the beauty of nature while staying in its unique Bubble Hotel. Don't worry it's heated so you won't freeze in the wilderness.
Bubble Hotel
7 - Your eyes don't deceive you. That is in fact a hotel! This is the Atomium in Brussels for those looking for something rather out of the ordinary to enjoy. You'll only like it though if you can handle communal living.
The Atomium
My favourite? Without a shadow of a doubt, would be the Karen Blixen Suite at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya. Followed up swiftly by the Ice Suite, then the Bubble Hotel. However, I'm a bit disconcerted, to put it mildly, as to how one is supposed to disrobe with no blasted curtains! 

My least favourite would have to be The Chocolate Room.  Not having a sweet tooth, especially when it comes to chocolate, I couldn't think of anything worse.

What's your favourite?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Zealand cat brings home bag of cannabis - true.

Photos / File / Thinkstock

We've all heard about cats bringing home dead birds, mice, lizards, and even odd things such as socks and underwear. But a NZ cat has taken it one furry step further by presenting its owner with a bag of cannabis.

 A statement from the policeman who dealt with the situation said:
   ''In my career I've never seen anything like this before. I guess you never really know who's keeping you honest these days, do  you?'' He also went on to say that there was perhaps potential to add feline cunning to the police armory ''We certainly have police dogs trained to detect drugs - this might be something police could explore in the future.''

As for the cat, there was no news on whether it had abandoned cat nip hits for cannabis

This even made it on the BBC!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Roland Yeomans, a dear blogging friend of mine and I suspect of many others also, is facing a challenge today. He is going under the knife. I believe skin cancer has raised its ugly head again.

So, I thought if Roland were to wake up with the mention of his brand new novel, HIBBS, THE CUB WITH NO CLUE - or perhaps even a few sales, it would bring a smile upon his face. He deserves it. The story sounds positively delightful and I for one shall be buying a copy. I hope you will also.
Mischief is Afoot
What if? Why not? Could it be? These are the eternal questions.
In a Time that could have been but wasn't, yet might still be, a young bear cub wanders a strange valley where all the myths of the world are very real … and very deadly. In this timeless fable, the small cub evokes the largest of themes - hope and belonging, desire and compassion - with the lightness of a moonbeam's touch. 

So, I shall end this post by wishing Roland, not only a speedy recovery, but numerous book sales! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A man, a dog named Spirit, and the open road ...

After losing his son Lance to cancer, Ara Gureghian, heartbroken and empty, rescued Spirit the dog. As they beetled down the open road in their motorcycle with Spirit nestled firmly in the sidecar (complete with goggles), they became best friends and partners in crime.

The video is only two and a half minutes long. You won't regret watching it. It's absolutely beautiful. 

If you love the song as much as I do, it's called Hard Road by Steve Azar

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

Deeply shocked and saddened to hear that Oscar winner and comedian Robin Williams has been found dead in his home this morning.

The NY Daily News reports the cause of death is believed to be suicide via asphyxiation, according to the coroner’s office in California.

While the 63-year-old’s publicist would not confirm it was a suicide, he issued a statement saying: “Robin Williams passed away this morning.
“He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss.
“The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

Investigators said that Williams was last seen alive at his home at approximately 10pm on Sunday.

If you have a loved one who suffers from depression, there's a lot to be gleaned from this blog post

My heart breaks. Depression sucks.

Thanks for the laughs. 

RIP Robin Williams. I hope you found Neverland.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's New Cover. What the ...?

Unless you've been living under a rock (and a very large rock at that), you would have seen the new cover by Penguin for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, featuring a young doll-like girl in full make-up.

In my opinion, Penguin has given a classic children's book a highly inappropriate and overly-sexualised cover.  
One of the original book covers
Now I ask you, is it just me or is this positively paedophilic?

I suspect Roald Dahl would turn in his grave....