The Literary Salon

A free salon wherein patrons and passers-by may view or contribute ideas on literary and generally intellectual matters. The blog will strive to maintain its commitment to wit, humour and perspicuous analysis.

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Mirror Stage

I've never posted a picture of myself (in case you didn't know, the 18th century picture of the fat guy ain't me), and for those of you who are masochistic, I present one at long last. I realized that I'm not important enough to remain anonymous. (I do not accept any responsibility for the consequences of the viewing of the said item. I have hereby absolved myself of any guilt, real or imagined.)

Being a luddite and not possessing a "digital camera", my friend (in the picture) sent this to me, which was taken about a month ago.

I'm the one on the left (the shorter one). For the record, I look far more sinister and important than I really am, almost like a man possessing an artsy/fancy station in life such as a movie producer.

Whirld kup upd eight

Against my better judgment, my friend and I played another World Cup ticket (2 bucks each, so no big loss), and again, out of four games, we lost only because of one (Italy beat the Czechs; we thought they'd tie). We predicted the Brazilian and Ghanaian victories as well as an Australian/Croatian tie.

I must say that Spain has been impressive; I've never seen them play so convincingly. Could this be their year? Probably not. England is good but not great, and Brazil is shaky. The only team that has taken my breath away is Argentina.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Three things to think about

Not World Cup related, but funny nonetheless (I didn't write it, so don't blame me for ambiguities, etc):



Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that our government can track a cow born in Canada almost three years ago, right to the stall where she sleeps in the state of Washington? And, they tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate 11 million illegal aliens wandering around our country. Maybe we should give them all a cow.


They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart guys, it's worked for over 200 years, and we're not using it anymore.


The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a courthouse: you cannot post "Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery"and "Thou Shall Not Lie" in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians -- it creates a hostile work environment.

Friday, June 16, 2006

World Cup vol. II

After two paltry attempts at gambling, I've had enough: sports are simply too unpredictable, and the World Cup is no exception. A few days ago, my friend and I played a ticked on which we picked Korea to win (vs. Togo), Brazil to win (vs. Croatia), Tunisia to win (vs. Saudi Arabia) and France and Switzerland to draw. Of course, they all came through except for the Tunisia/Saudi Arabia, the latter team playing better than I've ever seen. Go figure: I predict a tougher result (France and Swiss), and the one sure shot falls through. Sports must be rigged.

Last night, the same friend and I played two tickets on today's games: on one we picked Argentina, Holland and Mexico to win, all of which came through except for Mexico. I had a funny feeling we would see at least one tie, so we played a ticket on which Mexico tied (which they did, 0-0, against Angola), but where Holland and Argentina also tied, which definitely didn't happen. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Portugal doesn't win tomorrow against Iran. I can't see Portugal losing, but I can see them drawing.

There are those people who play big money and bet on favourites (e.g., Czech republic), but the odds are so low for such teams, it's not even worth playing. I hate Proline. The people who work at OLGC are the smartest on earth: they know that the most avid follower of sports will win once in a blue moon, but otherwise, they know what they're doing.

Tomorrow's games? If Portugal wins, it'll be by one goal, otherwise they will draw; Italy should beat the USA, and the Czechs should win, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if one of those two teams draws. I don't see Italy or the Czechs losing, but either could tie.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

World Cup Update

I must say that this world cup has been the best since '94 (2002 was a disastrous joke). Thus far the quality of the matches has been superb and some excellent goals have been scored. The only exception was today's matches: Brazil wasn't convincing and the France/Swiss game was a bore.
On the bright side, my Roman friend (John) and I ventured into the world of legal gambling and played a PROLINE ticket. So far 3 of our 4 or 5 predictions have come true: We predicted that Korea and Brazil would win today and that Switzerland and France would draw, all of which finished as we said they would. We must wait for tomorrow's games, and we hope that Tunisia will beat Saudi Arabia, after which we'll both win a cool forty bucks!

The two teams that have really impressed me so far are the Czech Republic and Germany. One can see why the Czechs are ranked 2nd in the world (how the US is in the top ten just shows how ridiculously stupid and skewed the FIFA rankings are), and after a decade of embarrassment, Germany finally has a decent team, their only possible weakness being in central defence.

I'm rooting for the Latian team (that is, Italian), which I think is the best team in the tournament, at least on paper. They have greater depth than even Brazil, and their victory against Ghana (who played very well, by the way) marked an auspicious start for a team that is notoriously slow to start. With few exceptions, however, none of the big teams have been categorically impressive, the teams have only played once thus far, so we shall see. I'm still holding on to Italy as winner, and I think, with a little luck, Ivory Coast will also go far.

Friday, June 09, 2006

World cup fever

Ah, World Cup time: a time every four years when people who haven't the faintest idea what soccer is jump on the bandwagon and suddenly become experts on the subject, and people of Portugese descent remember that Brazil was once a colony of Portugal.

Being a votary of the sport in Canada, I stick out like a sore thumb: kind of like Samuel Johnson at a strip club (how pedantic is that allusion?). For better or worse, North America doesn't care a whit about this sporting event which draws something in the area of 1.3 billion viewers. At least Toronto, one of the most multicultural cities in the world, has that breath of excitement when nearly everyone on earth is watching the same games.

The 2002 tournament was an enormous travesty and a complete waste of time. I'm hoping (and predicting) that this year's tournament will make amends for the last time.

As to who will win, my guess is just one of many (though, to be fair, far better informed than most you will read since I actually follow the sport). The winner will be either Brazil or Italy: both have young, very impressive squads, and I really can't see anyone getting in their way. For some reason, many people who don't follow the sport back England, but, with all due respect, they won't win it for a long time. Granted, their team is the best it's been in some time, but you don't win a tournament with four decent players.
I think we will see a few surprise teams advance far. I can't say which ones, but I'm certain that we will see two unknowns reach the quarterfinals. There's always an upstart African team that surprises everyone: in 1990, it was Cameroon; in 1994, Nigeria; in 2002, Senegal. My guess is that this year it'll be Ivory Coast.

Although the world hates the U.S., they actually have a fairly decent team. They will not win it, but they will surprise you.

In all fairness to RK, I haven't followed Holland lately, but, after a sluggish few years, they appear to be back on their feet again. I'm amazed that Makaay, van Hooijdonk, Zenden and Seedorf weren't selected. They are in a tough group for sure.

The Czech republic is quite good, but they choke in important situations.

Players to watch out for:
Ronaldinho and Kaka(Brazil);
Luca Toni and/or Gilardino (Italy);
Ballack (Germany, and, incidentally, only one of two good players on that squad);
Lampard, Gerrard, Terry (England: by the way, Beckham stinks).

Anyone want to place some bets?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

And now presenting your weekly WTF video

For the delectation of several distinguished readers, I have linked to two interesting videos. The first is dedicated to you cat lovers (i.e., Dr. J and Zelda), but I accept no responsibility for any consequences that may result following the viewing of this video. The second is much lighter and amusing, especially for those who remember the utopian show Saved By The Bell.