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Old January 27th 14, 02:39   #1
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The Archeology of Dreams

I'm sad. It's been kind of a shit couple of weeks, and if I'm honest, sort of a shit year, so perhaps I'm not at the top of my game, emotionaly or mentally. Whatever the reason, though, I'm kind of glum.

When I was young we moved around a lot, and I was kind of a problem kid, didn't interact well with others, tended to get beat up a lot. The usual. And being a geek, I watched a lot of TV because TV was universal. Those episodes of "My Three Sons" and "The Monkees" and "Lost in Space" were the same in Great Falls as they were in Lincoln and Atlanta, you know? So TV was kind of my home town, and I tended to identify with characters from shows I liked more than people I knew in my life. What was the point? I mean, I knew I'd be gone in six months anyway, right? I can't remember the names of kids I palled around with in 5th grade. In most cases I never even bothered to learn there names. They were just "Red-Headed Trekie" and "Fat kid who beats me up" and "Pretty girl" and "Mean pretty girl" and "That guy who kills toads for some reason."

My wife found my obsession with 60s TV (Endlessly syndcated through the 70s/80s) odd, mostly 'cuz she never cared much for TV, but she eventually hit on the idea of the shows of a particular era (Say 1964-1971) as being essentially my home town.

Of course I've long since passed the point where I can watch these crap old shows and lose myself in them like I did when I was young. I can barely watch most, I find 'em boring now, and in some shows I can barely even tolerate discussing them, they've been so driven into the ground (Trek, Galactica, ets) Still I'm strangely obsessed with all the work that went into them.

I spent a year trying to find incidental music from I Dream of Jeanie (Failed) I track down actual plans for the sets from TV shows and things. I lament the loss of the SGC set from Stargate, which stood for 15 years. A HELL of a lot of effort went into, say, making 110 episodes of "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," and while it was undeniably a terrible show, it was a difficult show to make, with a pretty big budget, some not-inconsiderable talent, great soundtracks, and some isolated moments of brilliance randomly stuck in 'em like corn kernels in a turd. And nearly everyone connected to it is dead, and the show hasn't been aired anywhere in decades, and even *I* can't bring myself to buy the DVDs. It was, in it's day, FAR more popular than Star Trek (And admittedly dumber), and yet today pretty much only I remember it. All those millions of little stories that happened randomly between actors and crew and stuff BTS on set, or hanging out in the writers' room, or whatever, are all lost and it saddens me because so many people worked so hard on something so crappy and so....well, not lost, but it might as well be.

Which brings me to B5: All those sets, gone. All those costumes, probably gone. All those people: gone. All those props: gone. All our hopes: perhaps not gone, but fading fast. If even JMS was talking about a reboot, then clearly his own faith was waning.

I think of the big mural in the Casino: Pyramids on the left side, B5 on the right, and the history of transportation in between. It was nice. What happened to it? Landfill somewhere, I guess. Someone painted that, thought it up, measured it out, people put it up there. It stood for years, and now it's gone. It fulfilled its function, it wasn't high art, but it was something and now it's nothing, apart from images on a 20 year old TV show that no one but us watches. I think of the Zocalo and the various CGI mattes of the inside of the station, and how not only the sets are gone, but the optical elements themselves.

There is nothing more ephemeral than TV. Well, dance I suppose. Ok, apart from dance there is nothing more ephemeral than TV, and yet by its very nature TV gives the impression of permenance, so it's harder for me in my twisted little brain to fully accept the loss of the physical things the images came from. I didn't articulate that well. Nevermind.

I was waching a cartoon the other night. Early 30s. Low quality, but very long - like 20 minutes. A ton of effort for whomever made it. All those people working hard for months or years to make something people would like, and in the end it's forgotten, just filler on the end of one of those crappy "120 minutes of random public domain cartoons" DVDs. It makes me sad, you know?

B5 is the same way. It was my home town for half a decade, much like that cartoon, it's being forgotten, lost, diminished. All that effort - which meant so much to me - shrinks away, leaving little behind. And eventually nothing.

Well, anyway. It's cold and dark out and I'm depressed and probably not thinking straight.
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Old January 27th 14, 10:05   #2
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Re: The Archeology of Dreams

Your upbringing sounds remarkably like JMS'. When he writes about it he says that with all the moving around, his home was the library and the books it contained, which were the same no matter what town he went to. He also recently posted about having a lack of continuity between people during the different stages of his life.

I didn't move around at all as a child, and probably was happier in childhood that in adulthood. But now when I go back I find that everything has gone, or changed. My first two schools, demolished. My last school virtually rebuilt and I find barely anything to recognise there. The halls of residence that I stayed in for three years at university, pulled down. Even my old house where I spent the first 22 years of my life no longer looks like it used to. People I knew have moved away, I've lost touch with friends, I have myself moved away and home is no longer the place it was 20 years ago. But I find myself wanting to revisit my childhood, and staying fascinated with B5 is a part of that. B5 has ended, but it is still there with me and always will be. As a teenager it helped shape my world view. To be honest, I was quite content with the 5-year story ending. I'm not sure I would want a continuation or a reboot anymore because its essence would't be the show I grew up with. It would be something else.

One of the things B5 always taught was that nothing stays the same – things change, that is the natural order of life. I celebrate what B5 was and what it means to me now and meant to me as a teenager growing up and watching it, attending the conventions and buying the merchandise. B5 is of its time and it is a time that I am fond to remember and grow nostalgic about, but sadly a time that I know I can never truly recapture. So if you can't go back to the past, then look to the future. I think the best way to approach the past is to honour it by building the future that we want and that we deserve, as B5 used to teach us.
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Old January 28th 14, 02:27   #3
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Re: The Archeology of Dreams

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Your upbringing sounds remarkably like JMS'.
Yeah, or Christian Slater from "Heathers."

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I didn't move around at all as a child, and probably was happier in childhood that in adulthood. But now when I go back I find that everything has gone, or changed. My first two schools, demolished. My last school virtually rebuilt and I find barely anything to recognise there. The halls of residence that I stayed in for three years at university, pulled down. Even my old house where I spent the first 22 years of my life no longer looks like it used to. People I knew have moved away, I've lost touch with friends, I have myself moved away and home is no longer the place it was 20 years ago.
I'm not by nature a nostalgic person. Mostly I think it's because I have an exceptionally good memory and don't need to be. Everything is still in my head, still real, so I don't need to gaze back. Every once in a while, though, something will trip something truely forgotten in me. Think of it like an oldie on the radio that you hear WAY too much ("Come on Eileen" by Dexie's Midnight RUnners) which has no meaning for you because you hear it so much, compared to an oldie you're startled by because you haven't heard it in decades ("Beat's So Lonely" by Charlie Sexton). When that happens, I sort of ride the buzz for a little bit..

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But I find myself wanting to revisit my childhood, and staying fascinated with B5 is a part of that. B5 has ended, but it is still there with me and always will be. As a teenager it helped shape my world view. To be honest, I was quite content with the 5-year story ending. I'm not sure I would want a continuation or a reboot anymore because its essence would't be the show I grew up with. It would be something else.
The paradox is that whereas my old Jr. High School Library threw out old their old books, so I'll *NEVER* be able to identify the cloth-bound 1950s SF I read there back in the day and find copies of it, B5 is exactly the same now as it was when I first met it. So it gives the illusion of permanence when it's as dead as Troy.

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One of the things B5 always taught was that nothing stays the same – things change, that is the natural order of life. I celebrate what B5 was and what it means to me now and meant to me as a teenager growing up and watching it, attending the conventions and buying the merchandise. B5 is of its time and it is a time that I am fond to remember and grow nostalgic about, but sadly a time that I know I can never truly recapture. So if you can't go back to the past, then look to the future. I think the best way to approach the past is to honour it by building the future that we want and that we deserve, as B5 used to teach us.
Interesting. After a few years of getting beat up, and not being able to figure it out, I started to deliberately emulate people on TV that seemed liked by people on the TV shows. Colonel Hogan, Admiral Nelson, Captain Kirk. Bob Newhart, Secret Agent 86, #6 from The Prisoner, etc. This was just a dumb thing a dumb kid did trying to figure out social codes: making an ersatz personality. But we are what we pretend to be, and eventually those things - aspects of fictional character's behavior - got absorbed into my own self. Eaten by my soul. I got older, I got more secure, I got more socially adept, and I stopped doing it, consciously anyway. But I've still got Kirkisms and Nelsonisms and what not in my personality and behavior and outlook.

I think if I'm honest, Captain Sheridan was the last of them. I was probably right at the end of that window where you try to define who you are, and I think Sheridan was the last 'brick of me' put in place. The last storebought one, anyway. All the others I made myself.
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Old March 19th 14, 14:40   #4
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Re: The Archeology of Dreams

This thread… I find it fascinating.

I’m sensing it began with a bit of melancholy introspection, but the insights that emerge are really interseting to me. It made me think about my own relationship with TV shows and more specifically cult / SF / Genre TV. Or just ‘being a geek’ when growing up.

Full disclosure, I was a total ST: TNG obsessive in my early teens. I taped every episode of the series on VHS, and kept a meticulous library of hand labeled tapes. I’d also try and get the cuts ‘just so’- to ensure that when one episode faded to credits, the next one cut in straight away. If I’d have had the money to buy the official videos, I would have. (In retrospect, thank god I didn’t!)

Anyway – those 42 minutes of TV were pure escapism for me. I’d always watched TOS and enjoyed it, same with Lost in Space, I was quite young at that point, maybe 8-11 years old. When TNG came along, I was in my early teens, and I was instantly hooked. TNG represented 42 minutes where I could forget absolutely everything and just be immersed in that universe. Nothing ever got in the way of that. I never did conventions or anything, but boy did I watch a lot of TNG.

Once I hit my teens, and College / High School with it, I found I didn’t really fit the template adopted by most of my peers. What definited me most at that point was music; I was first and foremost a heavy metal fan, then a gamer and an SF fan. I didn’t change my tastes according to trends and it seemed many of my friends drifted other ways and we increasingly had less and less in common. I slowly ended up being the guy who played Magic The Gathering on my lunch hour with fellow geeks in the library. So it goes.
When B5 came along, I remember being blown away by the boldness of it. Here was a show that didn’t back away from big space battles and had an amazing plot that unfolded continuously. Bizarrely, I only really cemented my love for B5 at University, as it aired in odd time slots when I first saw it!

I’ve found I always gravitate back to B5 when I hit difficult spots in my life. The same goes for gaming. Essentially, a lot of it is nostalgia – I fully realise I’m going back to something comfortable, that I associate with good times. Perhaps that’s not always so healthy, it is essentially escapism… But, when I think about the many good conversations I’ve had with other fans on forums, and the joy of binge watching the show with new viewers… well, it all balances out quite nicely.

When I see threads like this, in some ways it gives me comfort, because I know other people relate to the show in that way too. (Even if their experience does differ greatly from mine)

As a closing comment, this forum seems to have been fairly active of late, which is great. Perhaps I jumped in at just the right time? Things have been a bit kinda quiet of late over at JMS News (also a great little forum populated by lovely, interesting people). So yeah, good to finally stop lurking here and get involved.

I do sometimes wonder if there’s really much left to discuss about B5, what with no new content appearing for years… but, I’m constantly surprised by some of the threads that appear. There’s life in the old girl yet!

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Old March 19th 14, 21:32   #5
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Re: The Archeology of Dreams

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This thread… I find it fascinating.
That's what they pay me the big bucks for.

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I’m sensing it began with a bit of melancholy introspection,
Yup. Lotta' that going around. Particularly in Nebraska in winter.

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but the insights that emerge are really interseting to me. It made me think about my own relationship with TV shows and more specifically cult / SF / Genre TV. Or just ‘being a geek’ when growing up.

Full disclosure, I was a total ST: TNG obsessive in my early teens. I taped every episode of the seri[...] everything and just be immersed in that universe. Nothing ever got in the way of that. I never did conventions or anything, but boy did I watch a lot of TNG.
There are points in our lives where things just click, and they become part of the fiber of who we were. TNG was *NOT* one of those for me. Not meaning to be insulting, just making conversation, but I was about 20 when it started, and I found it unbelievably dull, poorly written, blandly filmed and lit, and just a great big heap of 'why bother.' I was surprised when it got a 2nd season. I watched it semi-frequently, mostly out of a sense of fealty, but I didn't start to LIKE it until Season 3 when Roddenberry was booted upstairs where he couldn't do any harm, and the show suddenly got really good. For Trek. Which is to say that it was more-or-less on par with 2nd season TOS.

Season 4 was a little weaker and more formulaic. Season 5 and 6 were entirely formula. I still don't think I've seen all of season 7, and that damn movie made me swear of Trek for a very long time. But for a while there - maybe two years - I was really, really excited by it.

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Once I hit my teens, and College / High School with it, I found I didn’t really fit the template adopted by most of my peers. What definited me most at that point was music; I was first and foremost a heavy metal fan, then a gamer and an SF fan. I didn’t change my tastes according to trends and it seemed many of my friends drifted other ways and we increasingly had less and less in common. I slowly ended up being the guy who played Magic The Gathering on my lunch hour with fellow geeks in the library. So it goes.
I was never that guy, I was crazy for New Wave, I liked foreign movies, I read a lot of SF, I was religious. I went to a lot of parties. I played Traveler, not D&D or Magic, I tended to hang out with engineers and date English majors (Neither of those trends were by design, I'm just either drawn to them or they're drawn to me). I was in bands, generally as the frontman. My tastes didn't change a whole lot, I just kept adding to them, you know? I never stopped liking stuff I liked, but then I'd discover, say, Ska, and just pile that on the big mound of things I loved. I was, in short, amazingly irritating to be around.

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When B5 came along, I remember being blown away by the boldness of it. Here was a show that didn’t back away from big space battles and had an amazing plot that unfolded continuously. Bizarrely, I only really cemented my love for B5 at University, as it aired in odd time slots when I first saw it!
I saw "The Gathering" at an SF Con a few months before it hit TV, and I remember being just dropjawed that they used actual physics. When the show started, I was a little disappointed, but I watched it because, hey, space ships, right? Around episode 6 they said something that I thought contradicted a fact from an earlier episode. I grabbed a paper and pen and started writing down important bits I could remember from the previous episodes and the pilot movie, just to sort it out in my head becuase I was bored and my girlfriend was out of town.

I quickly filled up ten pages with notes from memory, and realized the show had done more worldbuilding in 6 weeks than TNG had done in 6 years, and I was suddenly in love. Truly, madly, deeply in love. the fact that the Trekies hated my show just made my love for it that much stronger.

I mean, this was the first 'big boy' SF show on American TV, you know? The first show that felt like it was aimed at people old enough to kiss girls and get into bars. And it wasn't screamingly goofy, either. The acting wasn't GREAT most of the time, but it was interesting. It felt like SF, which had been attempting to copy Trek over and over and over again for 20 years, FINALLY took another step forward.

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I’ve found I always gravitate back to B5 when I hit difficult spots in my life. The same goes for gaming. Essentially, a lot of it is nostalgia – I fully realise I’m going back to something comfortable,
Everyone needs a safe place. Somewhere they know everything about. I have the whole run of those old Terran Trade Authority books. They're not very good, but I bought 'em new, and sometimes I like to just look at 'em. Sometimes I like to just hold 'em. I also have a bunch of books about the space program from 1979-1981, right before the Shuttle program started and the whole world felt like it was just about to overflow with potential.

And then it didn't.

But I still love those books, and I'll never get rid of 'em. Reading them for the thousandth time, they fill me with an optomism for a future that never was and a past we were promised but never got, and when I read 'em I'm 12 again, thinking about how cool the world is.

It's good to have a place like that to go to when my wife is sick and my special needs kid gets thrown out of school and my mom is loopy and my dad dies and my friends are far away and church isn't doing it for me, and there's nothing good on TV and I'm broke and sick and can't sleep. Damn good to be able to plug in to my younger self.

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When I see threads like this, in some ways it gives me comfort, because I know other people relate to the show in that way too. (Even if their experience does differ greatly from mine)
Hey, doesn't matter where you heard it first, everyone likes singing the same song in the end.

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I do sometimes wonder if there’s really much left to discuss about B5, what with no new content appearing for years… but, I’m constantly surprised by some of the threads that appear. There’s life in the old girl yet!
Probably. I mean, they're not still adding stuff to the Bible, but there's plenty to talk about there. And it's fun to spot references to B5 in other venues. ANd it's just fun to be around people who have a common experience that they value. Bottom line: it's good to have a tribe.
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