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

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I just got back from watching the much anticipated Beowulf with a certain flakey ex-neighbour. In fact, this marks the first film I have seen in theatres since I moved from TO.

As there is no shortage of reviews both positive and negative, I will spare the reader a full-fledged commentary. I will, however, briefly throw in my two cents.

I can confidently say that the film will be more admired by people who have not read the Anglo-Saxon epic. Much of the film is faithful to the original, with perhaps a few too many innuendos thrown in. However, they almost ruined the film by turning Grendel's mother into a hot, semi-reptilian, Angelina Jolie who, as in the disastrous Alexander, again insisted on using a horrible Russian accent. Turns out that both Beowulf and his predecessor, King Hrothgar, did the nasty with her, and it is implied that Grendel is in fact the fruit of Hrothgar's loins. I'm not making any of this up! Beowulf himself is also far from the spotless character of the poem.

Of course, this will undoubtedly irritate readers of the poem. If, however, you are not among them, this won't be a problem.

Apologists will undoubtedly point to the film's unprecedented use of a CGI/live-action hybrid. However, as a friend of mine astutely remarked, there's seems to be little point in it. Yes, some of the sequences are truly eye-candy, but I got the impression that this has been done before (Lord of the Rings, etc). In terms of eye-candy, 300 was far more impressive.

Although I've read about people leaving the theatres, I did not share their reaction. For all its faults, I think the film is very watchable and entertaining. This film will not go down as a classic, but neither will it end up in the dollar bin at a gas station.

Ultimate Warrior PSA

When you put it that way, how can one refuse?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ipse Dixit

A slightly more arcane post which should be appreciated by at least one of you.

Some Marxist critics, such as Terry Eagleton, tend to valorize privilege "marxist" messages--such as social commentary, etc-- in works of art over everything else. In fact, Mr. Eagleton, just when it looked as if he were getting saner, recently remarked that the last two centuries of English literature has produced only one work of great art: a play by Eugene O'Neil.

If that wasn't funny enough, here's the truly funny bit: the founders of Marxism, Marx and Engels, were notoriously reticent on the subject of art. In fact, they had nothing but good things to say about it since it was an autonomous sphere unrelated to the base/superstructure. The following, which consists of Engels's unedited, unexpurgated remarks to a now completely forgotten English novelist, words that would make Eagleton and his irk squirm:

[I am] far from finding fault with you for not having written a point-blank socialist novel....The more the opinions of the author remain hidden the better the work of art

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A little learning is...

Good to see that at least some aspects of public education in Canada have improved over the last few years. Boy, I remember back when I was in grade 10 there were two teacher's strikes owing to the insane cutbacks of then premier Mike Harris.

Note to self: teach in Nunavut for a couple of years and retire.

Pathetic, but funny

The term MILF entered the cultural lexicon about seven years ago with the film American Pie. Now, get ready for CILFs. (This is definitely a "guy thing," and would take far too long to explain for those who are clueless).

Friday, November 23, 2007

Learning your A B C and DDs

Not quite sure what to make of this.

Buy Nothing

Given my combination of frugality and poverty, with a lot of isolation mixed in, this is not at all a problem for me.

In fact, "Buy Something" day would probably be more of a challenge for me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Res Ipsa Loquitur, vol. IV

I don't wanna be mean, but...

Monday, November 19, 2007

7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable

Pretty self-explanatory title. As absurd and hackneyed as it sounds, I think this piece spot on.

See-Real Mascots

This list was simply too funny to ignore. Although the analysis is facetious, one can't help but wonder if there's some truth to it.

(This reminds me: has there been a new cereal mascot in the past twenty years? I can't think of one. )

By the way, to this list I would add the Sugar Crisp bear. As a kid I thought there was something odd about him. Now that I'm an adult, I'm convinced that he is an inveterate pothead. Notice how his eyes are always half open and his voice never wavers from a indolent drawl.
Besides this, I always hated the cereal as a kid: no less than 20 minutes after opening the box, the pieces would stick together. Come to think of it, why would anyone buy a cereal with the word SUGAR in the name?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cherry Pickin'

I have decided to capitulate to demands that I reveal my halloween costume. Here it is.

Note: my costume should be easily identifiable to Canadians.

Italian Spiderman

You heard me right, though I'm 99% sure it's not real.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Manufacturing Cont'ent

I doubt many of my readers care about the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) or its athletes, and I'm fairly certain that only the thickest blockheads out there need to be informed about the duplicity of news media. However, having said all that, here is a very recent and solid example of "innocent" editing that leads one man to say the opposite of what he actually said. Especially with the internet, I'm surprised that anyone out there actually watches cable/network news. The latter is an obsolescent paradigm.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Quirky Update

I've often joked about being a hermit in the past, but I can now say, without the slightest hyperbole, that I am just that. I now understand that hermits, unlike poets, are made, not born.

I'm currently reading up on the Victorian literature component of my 19th century comp. I know I've been reading too much of it because I saw Queen Victoria in a dream last night. I don't remember anything else, and the monarch didn't look like the usual Queen Victoria, but I knew it was her (it's funny how that happens in dreams, i.e. you "know" someone is someone, even if they appear different).

On the lighter side of the news, my former sketchy neighbour next door sent me this delightful American commercial (I'll bet dollars to donuts that it's from somewhere in the bible belt).

Without getting into the asinine and pointless debate about guns, here is the full text of the infamous 2nd amendment:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Added to this is the fact that this amendment was ratified in 1791, a mere 15 years after America won its independence. I think this makes it clear what the founding fathers had in mind, though I agree that they probably should have made it a little clearer.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

How to Get Your Laid in 1977 and Your Ass Kicked in 2007

The title was so good and self-explanatory I decided to keep it.