Mar 212016
 

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According to a standard timeline, the captain of the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek series, James “Jim” T(iberius) Kirk WILL BE born on this date, 2233, in rural Iowa. This post is going to mess up my tenses somewhat. I’ve never had to celebrate a future event before. I don’t know if you can call it an “anniversary” given that it has not happened yet. The timeline and associated events have been subject to considerable change over the years since Star Trek first aired. Nowadays, Riverside, Iowa, lays claim to be the precise location. Kirk will be raised there by his parents, George and Winona Kirk. Although he will be born on Earth, Kirk will live for a time on Tarsus IV, where he will be one of nine surviving witnesses to the massacre of 4,000 colonists by Kodos the Executioner.

Kirk will be the only student at Starfleet Academy to solve the Kobayashi Maru test, garnering a commendation for original thinking for reprogramming the computer to make the “no-win scenario” winnable. Kirk will be granted a field commission as an ensign and posted to advanced training aboard the USS Republic. He will then be promoted to lieutenant junior grade and return to Starfleet Academy as a student instructor. Students will be told that they can “think or sink” in his class, and Kirk himself will be known as “a stack of books with legs”. Kirk will then be promoted to lieutenant and serve aboard the USS Farragut. While assigned to the Farragut, Kirk will command his first planetary survey and survive a deadly attack that will kill a large portion of the Farragut’s crew, including his commanding officer, Captain Garrovick. Subsequently he will receive his first command, a spaceship roughly equivalent to a destroyer, while still quite young.

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Then Kirk will became Starfleet’s youngest captain, receiving command of the USS Enterprise for a five-year mission, three years of which are depicted in the original Star Trek series. Kirk’s most significant relationships in the television series are with first officer Spock and chief medical officer Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. McCoy is someone to whom Kirk unburdens himself and is a foil to Spock. You either know the series, or you don’t. I won’t school you on it.

I was a modest fan of the series when it first came out, but, like many of my friends, I could not take it seriously. I’m not sure how seriously the cast took it. There were well known clichés, such as the new character, ensign someone-or-other, in the landing party whom you knew was going to die, and the “special effects” which amounted to shaking the camera and having everyone flop about when the Enterprise was hit by a bomb. But it was an entertaining component of my teen years. This song by The Firm gets at the heart of it all (fans hate it):

Jeffrey Hunter played the commanding officer of the USS Enterprise, Captain Christopher Pike, in the rejected Star Trek television pilot “The Cage”. In developing a new pilot episode, called “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, series creator Gene Roddenberry changed the captain’s name to “James Kirk” after rejecting other options like Hannibal, Timber, Flagg and Raintree. The name was inspired by Captain James Cook, whose journal entry “ambition leads me … farther than any other man has been before me” inspired the episode title. The character is in part based on C. S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower, and NBC wanted the show to emphasize the captain’s “rugged individualism”. Jack Lord was Desilu Productions’ original choice to play Kirk, but his demand for fifty-percent ownership of the show led to him not being hired. The second pilot episode was successful, and “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was broadcast as the third episode of Star Trek on September 22, 1966.

Star Trek: The Original Series

After the success of the Original Series (in capitals because it has holy status among fans), the story, forward and backwards, has been filled in, reshaped, and, occasionally changed. The 2009 film Star Trek introduces an alternative timeline that presents different origins for Kirk, the formation of his association with Spock, and how they came to serve together on the Enterprise. The point of divergence between The Original Series and the film occurs on the day of Kirk’s birth in 2233. Although the film treats specific details from Star Trek as mutable, characterizations are meant to “remain the same”. In the film, George and Winona Kirk name their son James Tiberius after his maternal and paternal grandfathers, respectively. He is born on a shuttle escaping the starship USS Kelvin, on which his father is killed. The character begins as “a reckless, bar-fighting rebel” who eventually matures. The alternate timeline continues in the 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, and the 2016 sequel Star Trek Beyond.

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As one might expect, akin to answering the insatiable desires of fans of Dr Who and Sherlock Holmes, you can take your pick of books and websites with recipes for all manner of items, such as plomeek soup from Spock’s home planet of Vulcan (which you can find a recipe for here http://www.buzzfeed.com/donnad/star-trek-recipes-you-can-replicate-at-home#.ch6pVzreP ). Have fun.

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Let me take a slightly different tack. It’s presumptuous to imagine what cooking in Kirk’s home state of  Iowa will be like in 2233, but maybe it will still be primarily an agricultural state with roughly the same notions of Midwestern wholesomeness that, in theory, characterize the adult Kirk. So let’s imagine that the food will not change beyond recognition. But who knows?  Could the Founding Fathers have imagined microwaves or Burger King?

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The Iowa Maid-Rite is apparently a popular favorite. Not something I would ever make. You brown hamburger meat in a skillet with chopped onions and garlic. Then you add prepared American mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, plus some water, and simmer for an hour or more. The meat should not be too moist (like a sloppy joe), but should be well seasoned. Serve the meat crumbly on a bun. Good luck !!