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

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A gem

I found a very witty observation on Laudator Temporis Acti yesterday, and I couldn't help stealing it. The quote is attributed to a Robert Wilensky, whom I must now look up:

"We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true."
On a side note, Laudator may be interested to know that his full name appears in Tobias Smollett's 1771 Humphrey Clinker. The main, though not title, character, Matthew Bramble, refers to himself thus.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Lesbos awaits, maybe?

This was amusing, but also lame and stupid. Judge for yourselves

Nostalgia, vol. II

Most of you should get a kick out of this list (complete with the trailers themselves, of course). I disagree with the placement of the Transformers theme: I think it was "kick ass" one.

And now for something completely different: I visited my folks in Toronto for the weekend. It was nice, but I'm glad to be back. Apart from my own person, and more books, I brought with me a DVD player and a TV! I still won't get cable, but it's nice to have the option of renting DVDs, etc. I already have three that I had purchased some time ago: Monty Python's Life of Brian, Holy Grail, and "How to Irritate People" by John Cleese, a low budget, obscure production which is very funny.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Like infidels through an hour glass

This must be an old Mad TV sketch, but I thought it was hilarious and couldn't resist sharing it:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It's the thought that counts

I will follow the manner of the great Dr. J here and refrain from making any comment. What's the legal phrase? Res ipsa loquitur?

Monday, May 21, 2007

It's gettin gassy

As I do not rely on any form of transportation apart from that which my legs afford me, I have not been paying attention to gas prices, and have not done so for about a year. But one thing which irked me then and now is the constant whining concerning gas prices. To my American friends down south who are guilty of such cacophony: SHUT UP already!! People in the USA still pay far, far less than any other G7 country, including Canada. So take a look at this slide show, be thankful, and shut the hell up.

Oh, BTW, one thing this slideshow does not do is tell you the standard of living in those countries in which gas is cheap. So before you go bombing any more countries, you may want to reconsider what 17 cents a litre means to the average Venezuelan.

Thank goodness I rely on my legs: not only is it cheap, but I am no longer subject to the tyranny and caprices of bloodthirsty, oil magnate blockheads.

Snap, Crackle, and Pope

Happy 319th, Mr. Pope.

Apart from my fondness for his poetic work (and yes, he was a poet), I admire Pope's struggles against adversity: he was born a Catholic in England, which essentially precluded any future patronage or favour; born with a crooked spine (he never exceeded 4 foot 11, and in fact, needed a primitive booster seat at the dinner table); constantly complained of headaches; and made many enemies. Despite all this, he became the first poet in England to make his living solely off of his writing! His translation of Homer's Iliad made him essentially a millionaire overnight.

I agree with Johnson when he says that another poet with Pope's gift of verse will not appear for at least a thousand years.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Flight of the Navigator

Now for a serious trip down memory lane:

Yesterday I watched an obscure Disney movie from the 80s called Flight of the Navigator. Few people seem to remember this movie, but I remember seeing it a few times as a very young lad; the last time I saw it must have been well over ten years ago. This time I saw it as an adult and in its entirety, and it's actually a very interesting movie. If you are interested, you can watch it on Go to movies and click on "F" at the top and you'll find it. I remember watching Back to the Future about four years ago as an adult and finally understanding it: as a child, I thought parts of the movies (as well as those of others) were "cool," but never really payed much attention to the plot. It's an interesting exercise, much like reading a book now that I first read in high school or first year of university.

It also reminds me that the 1980s was an optimistic decade: sometimes after 1990, everything and everyone got pessimistic. Whether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen.

My goodness, I'm starting to feel old: I'm talking about a movie that was made twenty years ago!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Guitar Regain'd

Ten years after buying my first one, I bought another guitar the other day. This time it's a classical, so I can serenade all the ladies :-)

Recently, upon being asked what else I did apart from reading, I realized that I seriously needed a hobby that has nothing to do with my work. I already knew how to play guitar (though it had been about 2-3 years since I played), so I decided to get a playable one and keep at it. So far so good: I've learnt a couple of pieces by the greats, such as Tarrega and Albeniz.

One guitar related internet phenomenon, however, has made me feel old: nowadays, tabs (tablatures for guitar, i.e., instead of sheet music) are created and read using free programs you can download, such as PowerTab. In my day (the late 1990s), there were no such things: tabs were basic .txt files which, in retrospect, must have been a pain to produce. A tab created in the late 90s would have looked exactly thus:


This is only if you wish to denoted the basic E chord on the guitar; it gets more complicated depending on the song. Things have come a long way. I feel old because I say to myself, "in my day, tabs were like this...."

One thing that still bothers me about tabs is that they must always be taken with a grain of salt, program or no program. Don't get me wrong: I appreciate the efforts of people who wish to disseminate music free of charge, but I can't believe how tone deaf some people are. In some extreme cases, people can't even get the key right! For instance, I was looking for a tab of Albeniz's "Malaguen~a," which is surprisingly hard to find (unlike, say, Leyanda), and the piece is clearly in the key of B, but a tab I read yesterday had it in the key of A. Big difference!

Strange coincidence alert: as I mentioned earlier, the last guitar I bought (or last major guitar related purchase, for that matter) was at Steve's music in Toronto in 1997. This time, ten years later, I went to Steve's music in Ottawa. Weird, huh?

The course on 18th century London taught by Professor London is going well, but the reading for next week is brutal: we are doing Fielding's /Ameilia/, which is damn near impossible to find, on Tuesday, and Sarah Fielding's /David Simple/ for Thursday, which totals nearly 900 pages! To make matters worse, it's been a couple of years since I've read a novel, much of what I have read in the meantime being in the form of drama, poetry, theory, and criticism. Fortunately, things get a little lighter afterwards.

As a side note, I was prompted to consider Google Adsense, so I'm toying with that right now. I must, after all, have some sustenance in order to persist with my wit and humour :-)

Monday, May 07, 2007

New Level of Crazy

This is not as funny as the Angry Manager clip, but definitely more extreme and psychotic. It's a little long, but you will at least chuckle.

Listen here.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Here's a low-res webcam pic of my name tag from the Frye symposium this weekend. I only attended Friday's presentations, which included a keynote address by Alvin Lee, one of the two biggest Frye scholars in North America.

Not sure why I got a name tag as I was not one of the presenters, but it made me feel important :)

I don't really feel like going into the symposium itself at this point, but if anyone wishes, I can tell them about it. I'm still recovering from the wine 'n' cheese that followed, during which I was encouraged by the organizing professor to polish off the wine.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Hamlet syndrome, as my friend would call it

I've heard of people taking a loooong time, but this guy takes the biscuit.

Incidentally, I'm listening to a song off Rush's latest album, and it's quite good. The last Rush album I bought was 2112, but I may pick this one up. From what I've heard, it's their best in years.

Also, I will most likely be attending the Northrop Frye Symposium at U of Ottawa this evening. The even runs until Sunday, but most of the speakers who interest me are speaking tonight, and besides, registration tomorrow is too early. A wine and cheese will follow this evenings events...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Formula explained

I got this delightful cartoon from Dr. J's blog. I couldn't post this at a more appropriate time:

(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Adult education

And now for the steamier side of things...

If you're caught reading this, you can claim that it was for educational purposes. I sure learnt a lot from this.