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, December 29, 2006

'tis the season

Well, here I am in TO, getting ready to head off to Montreal tomorrow (Saturday). I will only be staying for about 2 days, returning sometime Monday evening. Have no idea what I'll be doing, but it beats going to a certain event, i.e., the most boring event in the universe (only one or two of you know what that is).

As I predicted, I'm fairly bored here in Toronto (thank goodness for a handful of friends). I'm not only bored but also lethargic. I have found some solace in reading bits of Erich Auerbach's magisterial Mimesis (again, an arcane reference). It is one of the most interesting works of literary criticism of the 20th century. It may appear old-fashioned at times, but it has an immortal, insightful quality that no sane reader can deny.

I was just reading his chapter on an episode from Gregory of Tours's History of the Franks. Though I haven't read the book (I'm aware of it), I was genuinely interested to see what Auerbach would say, so I kept reading. He is one of those few critics whom a reader genuinely cares to read; one actually really wants to see what he has to say. This is a quality shared by few critics indeed, Frye, for instance.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Three Christmases

Well, I'm back in Toronto now. I'm not a huge fan of the city, but it's nice to see my family again and to eat proper meals. Boy was it a long term!
The first day of class is January 4, but I won't be returning to Ottawa until the 6th, which is our (Armenian) Christmas day. My family celebrates Christmas eve (January 5); it's one of the few traditions we take seriously.
Recently, I was speaking to my supervisor-to-be and a few of his colleagues over a pint of Belgian beer in Ottawa, and the topic of Armenian Christmas came up. He believed the date was January 6 because of the calendar change, but I was convinced it had a greater significance. I was right about one thing: the original date of Christmas for all Christians was indeed January 6. Very early on, the Pope changed the date from January 6 to December 25 in an effort to extirpate a popular pagan festival. Since the Armenians had no corresponding festival at that time, there was no need to change the date.
In the case of the Greek Christians (and later, Russian Orthodox), who celebrate Christmas one day late on January 7, it is merely a matter of calendar change. That their Christmas is one day after the Armenian one is mere coincidence.
I found a very informative article that discusses all this and a whole lot more. Enjoy.

I'm heading off to Montreal on December 30th with my younger sister. Montreal's a cool city, but it sucks that I have to travel there, back to Toronto, then back to Ottawa. I've really become, for the first time, the traveller.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I finally found what I've been looking for all this time: Transformers Public Service Announcements:

This one video contains, I believe, all the PSAs (note: these are not parodies like the famous GI Joe ones).

I just found this site today: you can watch the intros and other goodies from old shows/cartoon. For instance, I just watched the intro to Thundercats: great cartoon! Look around: you'll be surprised.

Watching those PSAs, I couldn't help but feel a little sad at the current state of things. When I was growing up, we had positive role models, even if they were cartoon characters or wrestlers (Hulk Hogan, for instance). At least one of the reasons kids are messed up these days is because they lack positive role models; they have no one to look up to. I mean, if Britney Spears and Paris Hilton are the current role models for children, are we expecting miracles?

Back to my paper, which looks at a dialogue between Roland Barthes and Emile Benveniste (if you haven't heard of either, especially the latter, don't worry). I just made a minor breakthrough with my essay, which was becoming stale and pointless.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Dr. Phil

I don't watch the show, but I saw this humorous clip online today: Dr. Phil invited the creater of Bum Fights on the show ostensibly to "figure him out." I am aware of the Bum Fights series, although I've never seen one, but I think the creater of the series did well to expose Dr. Phil as a hypocrite. First, this was clearly a set-up: why on earth would Dr. Phil invite him to the show with no intention of talking to him? Listen to what the guest says near the very end: he's dead on.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Looks like I've been tagged, that is, I need to provide a list of five songs that reflect "how I feel" right now. As a track listing would be unintelligible to most, and I don't know what I feel, I will provide a discography of the most recent albums I've been listening to:

1) Paul Van Dyk, Politics of Dancing Vol. 2

Famed Euro-Trance DJ. Nowhere near as good as Volume 1 though

2) Haddaway's "What is Love" and "Life"

The former is best known for being featured in the movie Night at the Roxbury. I just downloaded the songs a few days ago, and don't know what persuaded me to do so.

3) Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" off X & Y

Overplayed when it came out 1.5 years ago, but a solid song nonetheless.

4) I don't listen to Christmas music, but the only two songs I ever listen to that don't make me want to kill myself are "Little Drummer Boy" w/Crosby and Bowie, and "Carol of the Bells" as performed by Trans Siberian Orchestra

5) I am currently listening to Symphony X's The Odyssey. This is one of the few good progressive metal bands out there. As the title suggests, there is a 25 minute (yes, twenty-five minute) song called the Odyssey, which is based on Homer's epic. Great song. I'm still listening to this album after four years, a rarity.

I know most of this music sounds "gay," but number 5 should redeem myself :-)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Funny dorky anecdote

Just thought I'd share an amusing anecdote with y'all:

I recently ordered my very own copy of Derrida's Of Grammatology from (I'm not a theory nut, but it's a text worth having). The bookseller emailed me soon after placing the order and told me, despite the advertised new condition of the book, there was some "inked through" underlining, etc, near the beginning. I told him no problem, as long as it is still legible.

I received my book in the mail today, and it is a tight, unread copy (though that didn't prevent the previous owner from stamping his name. I wish people would at least read the book first before they claimed ownership, but that's another story). I did not find any pen/pencil in the book, and then it dawned on me: he was referring to Derrida's habit of crossing out words (such as an X through Being, Thing, etc). It didn't occur to me at first that that's what he was referring to; I thought it was amusing.

Now I'm officially a dork!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Strange cunning

I received the following email in my inbox this morning. It looks like spam, but a kind of spam I've never seen before: spam personal ad:

I greet you!Sometimes the world seems so big and you feel like a grain of sandin a desert... The life seems so good and you have everything -friends, good job, parents who love you... The boss values you a lotand praises you, you have respect and everything... but there is onebig thing that your heart misses a lot... it's LOVE!!! I miss it somuch!!! I am here writing to you because I hope that maybe you'llnotice me and decide to reply... And if you wish we will do our bestthat the correspondence will grow into something bigger...I am looking forward to your reply forward to get a note from you!Valya

Needless to say I've never met this person, nor have I subscribed to any personals web sites (seriously!). So I clicked on the link, and it looks genuine. I don't know what sense this makes.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Another pic

I know, you guys are starting to think I have a one track mind, but he is my nephew after all (the first new addition to our family). Besides, he's cute.

This picture's great: the look on his face (during changing, probably) is priceless.

10 years of Friends in 90 seconds

This funny video delivers what it promises. Most of us know what it's going to look like, but it's good to see it well done.

From what I can remember, the first couple of seasons of Friends (which I never saw until well after the show was cancelled) weren't half bad. How on earth the show went on for ten years, however, I'll never know.