Tommy Ingram's Eclectic Variety Show

How these curiosities would be quite forgot, did not such idle fellows as I am put them down.

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So Long, Bannatyne

I’ve been thinking about this site lately.

You probably haven’t noticed, because I doubt whether regular readers of this blog actually exist, but I haven’t posted here in a while. I have tried to maintain a more or less weekly schedule, but in the last few months that’s dropped off, and the last few weeks have been especially sparse. I haven’t written anything here that I’d consider fully developed in about a year. My Demon’s Souls post series kind of died off (though I still hold out some hopes of reviving it). As for the Half-Life articles, forget it. I was running on fumes for the last half of 2012—everything I posted was prescheduled capsule reviews of movies I’d watched in the summer. After that I had absolutely nothing except personal updates and two-sentence concert notices.

I started this blog when I was in grade 10. The post that is still the most popular item on the blog was written then. Mainly it was an outlet for some short fiction I was writing at the time. As it turns out, the fiction was embarrassing, and I hope against hope that all trace of it has been erased from the Internet’s vasty memory. The other stuff I wrote was criticism, which was terrible but not as terrible. Incidentally, I’m slowly beginning to realize that I have a knack for non-fiction, but it will be a long time before I’m able to write a presentable short story or novel.

As I read more and more widely and encountered different kinds of critical writing, I imitated it, which resulted in a patchwork of styles—sometimes academic in imitation of some highbrow book I had read, sometimes sardonic in the manner of countless online reviewers. The site has served me well as a writing laboratory, but I’m beginning to feel a little constrained by it. I’m beginning to see more and more paid writing projects. I’m making a good portion of my meagre income from editing. I’m also beginning to perform music and teach professionally. This site has a lot of baggage I wouldn’t mind leaving behind. I’m also extremely busy for most of the year, which means that I don’t have time for a weekly posting schedule even if I write well in advance.

The Eclectic Variety Show no longer serves my purposes, and while it may very occasionally amuse my few readers, they will no doubt find other equally interesting diversions online. TV Tropes is a good standby. I’ve heard good things about the SCP Foundation. The Last Psychiatrist is by turns provocative, intriguing, and infuriating. Rich Frye has 61 Feldenkrais lessons available for free on his site. Less Wrong is sometimes howlingly stupid, but almost always interesting and the quote threads are nice. You will probably not miss me for long.

So here’s what I’m going to do. This site will remain up until such a time as WordPress decides to close it down. I may check in from time to time to clear out the cobwebs, but don’t hold your breath. Sometime soon, I will hopefully create a new site. I will explore other venues, but it will probably still be here on wordpress.com because WP is a prime example of Doing It Right. I will operate under the name “Tom Ingram”, which is what I’ve been doing since first-year university anyway—I just left this site the same for continuity’s sake. The site will also take my name out of the title. That was something I never liked about this blog, but I couldn’t think of something better.

There will be a very relaxed posting schedule. Stuff will go up when it’s done. Ideally this will lead to more complete and more fully realized content being put on the site, even if it means there are fewer updates overall. I will make a concerted effort to do more small posts as well, though I can’t promise anything once the shitstorm that is Fall 2013 begins, but we’ll see.

Subject matter will continue to be eclectic. I will continue to talk about classical music and video games, but I also want to go into weightier issues on occasion. I took a hiatus from writing about politics and religion after I realized that all the stuff I had secretly or pseudonymously written when I was 14 was not just stupid but pernicious. Now I think I’ve gained a little perspective, at least enough to write stuff that will neither embarrass me nor land me on watch lists.

So farewell. It’s been fun and I have appreciated every comment and thumbs-up I’ve gotten over the years—even that one time I poked John Scalzi when I probably shouldn’t have. When the new site is up I will provide a link. Until then here’s some music:

Oleanna

Genre Theatre; Political
People David Mamet d.w.; William H. Macy; Debra Eisenstadt
/10 9

A professor (Macy) is accused of sexual harassment by a student (Eisenstadt) after an ambiguous incident in the professor’s office. Based on the play by David Mamet.

Before I watched this movie, I read the play and it kicked me in the face. This is a straight-up adaptation of Mamet’s controversial play dealing with sexual harassment. Human communication being what it is, an awful lot of the play’s meaning rests on the direction. Mamet has kept everything ambiguous here, having Macy and Eisenstadt play off each other in such a way that the movie can support many different interpretations. There are a couple of frilly location shots added in as concessions to Hollywood, but no significant difference in content from the text on the page.

The play is a stroke of brilliance in which, depending on how you interpret events, either the gullible student is convinced by a faceless student group to trump up a charge of sexual harassment against the well-meaning professor, or the professor is a self-justifying creep and the student takes all reasonable measures to defend herself. The text seems to lean in favour of the former interpretation, which has led some to call it a misogynist screed that presents a striking but unlikely scenario that is the exact opposite of what would happen in real life. They may be right about this—I’ve read Writing in Restaurants, and I know—but if the play is a misogynist screed, it’s not just a misogynist screed.

Everyone should experience Oleanna regardless of their likely opinion of its two characters. However, you don’t necessarily need to see the movie. If you really want to see it acted out, you could do a lot worse than watching this adaptation. But Mamet is a very intense writer, and I would recommend that you read it to get the direct, unfiltered experience.


1h19m; 1994; Colour