from jms: benedictions

 Posted on 12/1/1995 by to

Tonight is the last night of my feed from rastb5, and I wanted to
send along a quick note to resolve the few last things remaining to be
discussed or addressed before that happens.

Since my note went up -- raggedly, here and there, due to some
problems with the server, apparently -- I have now logged slightly over
900 private email messages in my GEnie mailbox. This in addition to the
rest of the feed per se. I'm slogging through them as fast as I can,
trying to give personal responses to as many as I humanly can; if over
the course of the next week or so, if you've sent me a note, and don't
get a response, assume that either got crunched by the often cranky
GEnie newsreader system, or it didn't specifically seem to require a
response...or my hands fell off and rolled under the table.

Nonetheless, a general thank you to everyone who's sent in mail on
this. It's disturbing to realize that about 75% of all of the notes thus
far received begin with a variation on "I used to post on rastb5 (or I
just lurk on rastb5) but don't post because the atmosphere just got too
poisoned by the deranged few you mentioned." Literally hundreds of
people seem to have been driven from rastb5 by the rampage of a few
others who don't want to be attacked or abused by those few. This is
terribly saddening to realize. That they have been driven off is more of
a real issue than my being now in this position. all those who wrote, I am moved and touched by your
words, and if there were any way around this, I'd take it. I know that
some are working behind the scenes to put together a moderated newsgroup,
but I don't know if that will happen or not. The goal of any such should
not be to eliminate criticism -- heck, there's never been a lack for that
here or on any of the other systems -- but just to keep out the truly
dysfunctional. That may be a very promising route, but I'm not holding
out much hope that it'll happen.

Surprisingly, the #1 comment that has come in is, "What on earth
TOOK you so long? If I were in your shoes I'd've been out of here MONTHS
ago." Glutton for punishment, I guess. Kept thinking we could work a
way around this. But as has been pointed out by others, I guess it was
inevitable. I didn't see that because I suppose I didn't really want to
see it, or cop to it, or realize that this was running out on me. I have
vastly enjoyed the open lines of communication, have met a great number of
interesting people both on-line exclusively and even in person in many

Anyway, I wish it could be otherwise. For the most part, you're a
cute bunch, and I won't even space you for being cute.

(Oh, and speaking of "for the most part," a sidelong glance in the
direction of Robert Holland is in order, whose latest poison pen letters
are wonderfully emblematic of the problem here from the start. He has
implied since this all came out that in leaving here, I'm somehow "getting
away with something," that it's nothing to do with him or his ilk here on
the system, nononononono, can't be's just that I'm on AOL now
leaving tons of messages by his reckoning, and it'd happen regardless.
Which is so obviously boneheaded and stupid that it almost doesn't merit
response...but what the hell....

(The AOL B5 page has, maybe, 1/1,000th the number of users as rastb5;
I log on maybe every two-three days, and leave maybe a total of 5-10
messages in the course of a week. So much for his claim about the total
number of messages left. AOL is confined just to the US, and doesn't have
even a *fraction* of the coverage of rastb5. But Mr. Holland, in his usual
subliminal sleazosity, tries to find some subterfuge, some hidden agenda,
something he can point to in vague terms and wonder what I'm getting away
with. This is the game he and the others here play constantly; there is
nothing they can go after in reality, so they come up with vaguely worded
allegations with no real core to them, just designed to somehow cast a
shadow on this show or myself, specifically to get people, myself included,
to respond, defending when no real charge has been made. It's the oldest
trick in the book; get the other person to defend themselves against a
non-existent charge, in the hope of creating the illusion of smoke and
the perception of fire...and, of course, getting everyone upset in the
process. I fell for it too many times; we all did. This is the last time
I will do so. Mr. Holland belongs in the same company as the rest of his
associates. They will *always* find something to complain about, even if
it means manufacturing it themselves.)

But it's no longer my problem. Just as it's no longer the problem of
several hundred others who've logged off here in the last year due to the
hassles, and the others who have either left, or are about to leave for the
same reason: the tyranny of the petty dysfunctional.

So we turn back toward the light, and happier topics. This is, after
all, a benediction, not a jeremiad.

I'm told that the info area doesn't quite function as I'd thought,
so we'll see what can be done here. From time to time, I will try to put
together a letter from home, as it were, to send here to rastb5; I won't
see any of the responses to it that aren't emailed directly to me, but
the intent would be to send along information that might be useful from
time to time for folks to have. I'm not expecting to do this very often,
but will try to do it here and there as I'm able.

In other news...since this I guess kinda counts as such a letter...
I'm happy to note that the paperwork for the B5 fan club has finally,
FINALLY, come in in finished form. Once it's vetted by our people, we
hope to get it signed and get this long-overdue baby going. We've had
a number of discussions about this, and how to handle it, maybe a survey
of folks to see what kinds of limited-edition items they'd like to see us
make, maybe a web-page for the club, other options. (If we should start
selling limiteds on the EA pins, patches and stuff, what we'll probably
do is have them made by the same companies that supply us with the real
props used in the show, so they're absolutely identical in every way, not
just knockoffs. It's a little more expensive that way to make, and we
won't make much of anything off them because we'll keep the prices at a
reasonable level, but I think that's the way to go. Neither Doug nor I
are looking to make this into a profit center; if it can more or less pay
for itself, and help organize folks, give them something nifty from the
show, then that's sufficient.)

Oh...and we're investigating the possibility of licensing the damned
videotapes ourselves, producing them pretty much at cost. Don't know if
we can pull this off or not, but we're going to try.

Michael York is currently shooting with us in "A Late Delivery From
Avalon," and doing an amazing job. This may turn into one of our best
episodes, from a performance and emotion perspective. I had a few doubts
about the script -- it has a kind of writing style I don't use very often,
and very stylized in appearance -- but it's coming out great.

Script 15 is entitled "Interludes and Examinations," and has a plot
turn I hadn't seen coming, but which fits perfectly into the arc; I think
you're going to be stunned. (I was.) As I write this, I've just started
writing "War Without End, Part One," #316, the first part of the two
episodes that bring Sinclair to Babylon 5, which we'll shoot sometime
after the first of the year. It's been touch and go, but we've finally
been able to schedule all of the guest cast members from "Babylon Squared"
for this one, which is the flip side of that episode. It's probably going
to be the most expensive show we've done yet, due to the hideous production
requirements for this one. It's also the one I'm most nervous about
writing, even more than "Fall of Night," because an awful lot happens here,
and it has to be done just right. It's going to be probably the toughest
writing job of the series to date.

I'll be putting Sinclair and Sheridan together a lot, which is
shaping up to be an interesting combination. We're also going to see
Minbar for the first time.

(We just now got the finished copy of "Voices of Authority" in; man,
do I wish we'd had this early enough to run in place of PTG, great as that
one is. The EFX are terrific, eye-popping.)

Oh...speaking of eye-popping, I've gotten a copy of the B5 Screen
Saver/Limited Edition Entertainment CD Rom, and it's nifty. I suggest it
to everyone, with a caveat: if you're not a computer neep-neep kind of
person, have someone help you install the thing. It took me several
passes to figure everything out. And once you DO install it, even though
it says "do you want all the images?" and you say yes, it doesn't put them
all on. Once you've finished -- and I'm putting this here because as far
as I can tell this isn't documented *anywhere* -- go to the setup menu,
and hit install. Make sure your CDrom is in the drive. Go to the
Images subdirectory on the CDrom, and you'll suddenly see 150 or so
images that were *not* installed. Highlight all of them, copy them over
to the pdesk/images subdirectory on your hard disk, then add them, and
select them. Most neeps out there could probably figure this out, but I
couldn't, so I pass this along for those who are as computerchip
challenged as I am. Once it's all *there*, and actually even before that,
it's gorgeous...the images are crisp and brilliant, the full-motion video
stuff is terrific, there's music and sounds and other stuff...I can't
commend it highly enough. (Oh, yeah, I think it sometimes bumps up
against Norton Desktop, but it's only happening on one of my two Dell
machines running ND, so it may be something I'm doing wrong.)

For those who asked about books...there's going to be a Creating
Babylon 5 book out from Boxtree Books in the UK this summer. I just
finished proofing it, and it's pretty good. I think the photo selection
could be better, but the actual text is quite good.

(A pause while jms tries desperately to remember if there's any
other real hard news to pass along here...and the brain goes blank.)

We're going to be shooting through December 14th, at which point
we break for the Christmas hiatus through January 2nd. I hope to take
some of that time and catch up on scripts a bit. We'll probably debut
the first season 3 gag reel at the party. (Then run like hell.)

OH...yeah, and before I forget (again), to those who asked about
the Stephen Furst item in TV Guide...he's doing the Chicago Hope show in
a two-parter, he's not joining the cast of regulars. The piece in TV
Guide is ambiguous and can be read that way, much to Stephen's chagrin.
He'll be doing more shows for us this season.

There's a conference in the Compuserve Convention Center on Saturday
from 2-3 p.m. Pacific time. Just me at this point.

Knowing this is the last note I'll be sending for a while, I'm
tempted to keep shoving stuff in here. I just realized that I wish this
didn't have to stop. But it kinda does, doesn't it? those of you who have been terrifically helpful to me over
the term of this long the Rangers for filtering out the
feed and protecting me from story Sherry for the great analyses
of episodes, and Orso for his cogent thoughts...actually, I shouldn't be
singling people out because I've been forever astonished and gratified at
some of the brilliant and insightful observations that have floated across
my monitor in the last year or so. I've been delighted, amused, impressed,
floored, dumbfounded, intrigued, awakened, and occasionally horrified
(usually in a good way).

It is my abiding hope that in return, I've given something of use
here. I feel strongly that we cannot hope to control or influence o
improve a dragon with as many heads as TV until and unless we understand it
first. I hope that I've helped a little to demystify how it all works, so
that folks have a better chance of getting what they *want* rather than
what some producers or studios want to shove down your throats. If it has
served that purpose to any degree, then the exercise has been worthwhile.

My best to all of you. When I can, I'll try to post messages in a
bottle and send them along to the group as occasional updates. Meanwhile,
take care, don't fight, and remember: if you do not choose to lead, you
will forever be led by others. Find what scares you, and do it. And
you *can* make a difference, if you choose to do so.

Babylon Control, clear.