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

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Well, I finally wrote my long awaited Major Comprehensive exam on Friday. I will most likely find out sometime this evening if I passed. If so, then I will need to go to an oral defense tomorrow, which is almost a formality by this point.

The exam was four hours long, and to be on the safe side, I had my first Red Bull during it. Not sure it did anything, but I did feel some heart palpitations and increased nervousness/jitteriness (then again, that could just be me). After I had finished writing the exam, I was very disoriented: I wandered around the department aimlessly for about an hour. I think the part of my brain responsible for syntax and semantics is somewhat dormant now, which should explain some irregularities in my writing.

I'm moving to a better place/area in two days! I can't wait.

Here's an hilarious treat I found last night: it's a tool that translates your normal, adult text and translates it into the idiom of a typical, retarded 12 year old online user. Go ahead and try it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Juno what I'm talking about?

Humorous lampoon from our friends at on the highly overrated Juno. Reminds me (again) that in many ways the 18th century (my century!) is probably the closest to our own.

For the record, I thought the film was half-decent and amusing, but to this day I cannot understand the hype surrounding it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Extras Extras

Some of you have probably already heard of the television show Extras, which I only started watching last week (online, of course). The main actor is Ricky Gervais, whom most of you will recognize from the UK version of The Office.

After a couple of episodes, I've really gotten into it. The closest analogue I can think of to this show is another favourite of mine, Curb Your Enthusiasm. I find that Extras is like the latter, except it is more British (read: dry) and less Jewish. Also, I find the awkward or uncomfortable moments in Extras are even more acute than in Curb. The latter's tone is usually fairly light, which probably diffuses much of the awkardness, whereas I've caught myself literally wincing or covering my eyes during some moments of Extras. has links to the episodes. Check it out.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

It's not me, it's you[r books]

Humorous article from the NY Times on relationships and literary taste.

What do you think of this? Does it ring true?

I personally think it's a mixed bag. Aristotle said that friends (and by extension, I suppose, significant others) have all things in common, but this need not be true. I have good friends whose musical and literary tastes I do not share, but that does not make us any less friends. In fact, I strongly believe that some difference in taste is necessary, otherwise things can get quite boring if you agree on everything.

For me, the impetus behind one's artistic predilections is key. In other words, if the person is passionate about literature or music at all, then that is a good start. It would, however, be difficult to reconcile differences that are completely opposed. It may be a problem if, say, one's favourite writer is Shakespeare, while the boy/girlfriend's is Dan Brown or another hack writer. For me, what is important is that the person in question likes any substantial or intelligent literature (broadly defined), not that we have identical tastes.

In case you're wondering: No, my significant other need not love Adam Smith, Samuel Johnson, Alexander Pope, or their ilk; an appreciation for good writing or ideas would be nice, though.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Crazy Wisdom

I learned something last night: I came across Drukpa Kunley, a 15th century Buddhist monk from modern day Bhutan.

All that you really need to know about him is that he is remembered for enlightening people, especially women, using somewhat unorthodox methods (hint, his "flaming thunderbolt" is exactly what you think it is). Even today, five centuries after his death, people in Bhutan worship phalluses (his in particular) and they will even paint phalluses on their doors in an effort to ward off evil spirits.

Oh, he was also notorious for drinking lots of "chhaang", a Tibetan beverage very similar to beer. If I'm not mistaken, he taught that getting drunk and having crazy sex were the best ways to transcend the evils and hypocrisies of the world. Somehow I think Siddhartha Gautama, otherwise known as Buddha, would be shaking his head.

Why don't they teach this stuff in history class?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Res Ipsa Loquitur, vol. ?

Courtesy of

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Tale of Fifty Cities

According to the magazine Canadian Business, I currently reside in the best place to live in Canada. I do like this city, but you wouldn't think it was the best after living where I have for the last year, i.e., the heart of darkness, AKA Cracktown. It's especially embarrassing since Parliament Hill is about a ten minute walk away. Tsk, tsk.

On that note, I just found out today, after a long and nerve-wracking two weeks, that I've been approved by the managment company renting out my prospective apartment. I'll be moving back to the area I first lived in when I came to O-town. I move in about 26 days, probably the day after my comprehensive exam, so it's going to be an interesting end of the month! Call me picky, but I look forward to living among relatively normal people again (again, call me picky).

(FYI To Dr. J: I'm currently looking at the reception and use of the Bard in the 1790s vis-a-vis the French Revolution for an RAship . Interesting stuff).

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