Things have changed, and they will never be the same again. Something from my childhood has been irreperably altered and I may never be able to return it to its original form. The forces of modernity and progress have claimed another victim, and a great chapter of our world passes into dust at this moment…
If you think I’m lamenting the new ‘Trek TV show, you’re wrong. But somehow it fits into this great statement my brain is trying to make. No, I’m not frightened about the state of ‘Trek and what Star Trek: Discovery is going to do it. No, I’m not a luddite fighting the pace of progress. No, I did not see your daughter there when I was pulling out of the driveway and I would like to point out maybe she was standing there because she LIKES having her feet run over by a Hyundai Accent. I’m not your daughter, I don’t know what goes through her head.
(not pictured: A Hyundai Accent)
What I’m talking about today is going to have a lasting knock-on effect to every man, woman and child (who enjoyed Post’s ‘Honeycomb’ cereal). What I’m talking about today is a sign of the times a million measures stronger than Harry Styles or his musical career. What I’m talking about today goes to the very heart of what I care about and why I care about it.
I’m talking about how Post has changed ‘Honeycomb’ cereal. Just look at the title image. LOOK AT IT! On the left is the classic, old school rondell of carbs and artificial honey flavouring known as ‘Honeycomb’. Much like the Big Red Book That Won’t Fit On A Shelf, Honeycomb was always that outsized cereal box that sat in your cabinet, dwarfing the Lucky Charms, Froot Loops or (god forbid) the Alphabits…
[Sidebar: If you’re an Alphabits or Pro-Stars fan, I respect your choices, but question your taste in artificially flavoured children’s breakfast treats]
Honeycomb was the kind of cereal that was always there, morning or night. Each morning you could come down and rest assured that there was probably enough left in that big red box for one more bowl – that big red box seemed almost endless to a 10 year old. And at night, when you snuck downstairs after Mom & Dad were asleep to watch ‘Politically Incorrect w/ Bill Maher’ (All the kids did that right? It wasn’t just me?) there would STILL be some cereal left for you to go hard, elbow deep in carbs as midnight rolled around. While not my favourite cereal (That is a yet-to-be-fought cage-match between Cap’n Crunch and Froot Loops, but I can’t offer a purse large enough to entice both parties to the breakfast table.) Honeycomb has always been a stalwart standby, tasty and non-objectionable, ready to serve as an early morning wake me up or a late night way of defeating your calorie count. So imagine my surprise the other week when I encountered this:
As stated previously, on the left is the originator, the OG Honeycomb. On the right is the ‘new w/ more honey flavour!’ Honeycomb.
They changed it. New processes, new machines, new Honeycomb. But the ‘same great taste’ so they claimed. We will see about that.
I’m sure there’s a factory somewhere with a bunch of old Honeycomb machines now rusting and rotting out back, replaced by WiFi digital Twittered Instagramming machines that connect to the internet and waste half their day playing Minecraft. It’s a sign, a symbol of progress right? The center can no longer hold, and the new Honeycomb will come slouching towards Bethlehem waiting to be born…
Let’s back up a bit. Who remembers these?
80’s babies remember that cereal. I know I did. Ate it religiously as a child while it was available. It was my first real exposure to Star Wars, especially the stickers that came in the boxes, confusing me as a child by calling ‘Return Of The Jedi’ Star Wars 6 even though even this dumb kid could count to three (now reading was a different matter…) For decades after it went out of print (pressing? What do you call it when they discontinue a cereal? Cereal Murder?) I obsessed about that taste, knowing I’d never be able to recapture it, since that magic combination of oats and honey that WASN’T the Bees property was nowhere to be found. Until some connection in my brain went off telling me that in fact, C3P0’s were Honeycomb, just in a wacko shape. (Note: It seems all the C3P0’s presses were actually shipped to Australia, since they have a cereal brand there that still holds the classic ‘figure 8’ shape – Nutri-Grain it’s called, and it sits in your bowels like thermo-crete.) What a revelation! After that Honeycomb became a mainstay, part of recapturing my magical childhood where TV reigned supreme, there were diamonds to be dug out of my backyard and the local playground was the Millennium Falcon. Finally I was able to reach out and grab something I thought was lost to me forever.
And then they go and change it. Bastards. You wrecked my goddamend Honeycomb. How could you, you heartless monsters!?! I’m sure the executives at Post are just the laziest bunch of assholes you could ever imagine, sitting around, collecting paycheques, not knowing a thing about cereal or what it means to those who eat it. They’re just greedy fat cats only in it for the money, didn’t you know?
“But Steve,” asks the voice I keep on hand to ask me prompting questions, “What did the new Honeycomb TASTE like?”
Who the fuck cares what it TASTES like! Who are you on-hand voice, the integrity police? It probably tastes like Magog’s taint mixed with cilantro. Maybe cow manure processed in a meth lab. What the hell does it matter what it tastes like, when they’ve gone and ruined everything ELSE about Honeycomb that made it amazing? Like its… colour… and dimensions I guess? Shut up. This is an outrage. I’m so mad I could piss glue. Seriously. First a pumpkin king president and now this? Heads will roll, like the song insists.
Okay, fine. I’ll try this ‘new and improved’ Honeycomb. When I go off the rails bitching about how awful it is, I should probably be able to outline just why it’s such an offence to humanity. So here we go, we’re gonna try it.
[Note: No photo’s seem to exist of the new cereal as yet, so just imagine the Honeycomb in this image smaller, yellow, and full of suck]
Fuck. Tastes pretty much the same. (Caveat: Not 100%, there is a reduction in relative mouth-feel that tells you this IS NOT the Honeycomb you grew up with. Guess new millennial hipsters can’t replicate everything!) Not completely, but enough that any wind in my ‘Honeycombs are the end of civilization’ rant was sucked from my sails. They changed a cereal I loved to accomodate modern manufacturing and production techniques, and they managed to do so without compromising the taste or overall experience. Go fig.
So this put me on to thinking about something else…
Points for finding a way to link breakfast cereal to ‘Trek.
This fall Star Trek: Disccovery will make it to CBS All Access and spread through the rest of the world. It’s a modern, contemporary take on the age old half-a-century franchise, with a fancy new look, made with current technology and current methods, with an eye towards telling stories in a faster paced, more intense market place. What Post did with my Honeycomb, CBS is doing to ‘Trek.
And I’m excited. I’m well aware there’s a ‘fan’ contingent out there (and I use the term only in its ‘fanatical’ sense, along the same lines as ‘extremism’) that is absolutely against this version of ‘Trek, I deal with their mouth spewing online almost daily.
I do align, or frankly, understand these ‘fans’. Sure, not every ‘Trek is for everyone, and people have favourites. I know a few folks who simly aren’t down with the sci-fi hokiness of Voyager, or the drab political commentary or DS9, or the first three seasons of Enterprise, but they choose what they like from ‘Trek and don’t worry to much about the rest. I encourage everyone to be like them: If you don’t like something, you don’t share or participate in it. That’s simple. I’m not the type to say everyone NEEDS to love every ‘Trek (but I do, and that makes me better than you) but I encourage its constructive enjoyment on all levels.
But then I deal with people screaming for a boycott, whinging about set design and wishing that the show will fail (for real, I know) before it’s even aired. They cry out that this show violates established canon and is therefore more useless than a fifth controller for a gamecube. Being the all knowing, all comprehending LORD OF ‘TREK that I am, I’ve found myself able to easily dispell and quiet any ‘canon’ arguments out of the gate. IMLO (In My Lofty Opinion) the show appears to be set to do a fine job of giving us new ‘Trek while still belonging in the original Prime timeline.
“But their uniforms don’t match those from ‘The Cage!'” they whine:
Wow. That’s a picture of two active duty Starfleet officers from the same timeline wearing DIFFERENT UNIFORMS ON DIFFERENT SHIPS!!! Who on Earth thought that was okay!?! Outrageous.
“But they didn’t use different emblems for each ship, like in TOS.”
Explanation is not as neat, but just as effective: The Starfleet delta/arrowhead has been seen in numerous locales and on ships long before this era, especially during Enterprise’s run. The occam’s razor explanation is that each constitution class starship of the era was assigned a different logo as part of a Starfleet change in procedure, but this was abandoned as too problematic logistically a few decades later.
[For nerd reference, The United Earth Space Probe Agency’ was active as early as 2067, so at the tail end of Word War III]
“How can there be a female captain when Dr. Janice Lester said that Kirk’s world of starship captains ‘Didn’t allow for women'”? This argument is stupid. Plain and simple. First off, Dr Janice Lester was a psychopath and she was talking to Kirk about her relationship with him, anything she says should be relegated to the ramblings of a mad-woman. Furthermore, Enterprise showed us that Starfleet DOES have female captains as early as the mid 22nd century…
I present you Capt. Erika Hernandez, skipper of the Columbia, NX-02, Starfleets SECOND warp 5 ship. Screen canon beats an offhand remark anyday.
“But the Klingons!” Yeah, they’ve changed Klingon makeup in the new show. Some speculate these may be a diffrent community or breed of Klingon. I personally couldn’t care. They changed the Klingon makeup in 1979, ’87, ’93 and ’09 and now ’17, and probably will again when makeup improves once more and all of our TV’s are 16K. A cosmetic change to an alien race on a show that hasn’t been on TV for 13yrs is inconsequential at worst, and an amazing godsend at best.
“The writers/producers all suck! They don’t care about ‘Trek or the fans at all! If they did they wouldn’t be so lazy and get it right. All they want to do is rape ‘Trek and make money.” Goes the STUPIDEST process of reasoning I have ever come across. I hear a lot of armchair first officers bitching about the new ‘Trek , but you know who I DON’T hear complaining about the limited amount of information on the new show? Creators. Writers. Directors. Producers. The people who actually know what goes into making a show, giving it mass appeal, producing it on a budget and trying to make it the very best it can be. Unless you’re Brett Ratner, you care wholeheartedly about the project you’re working on. In the industry it’s simple math – People who hate what they’re working on usually don’t end up actually working on it. There are so many hard working, hungry professionals out there that there simply isn’t room in television production for ‘lazy people’ who only want to ‘make a paycheque’. The people who make this argument are the ones with the LEAST undestanding of making television, and irony of them spouting off as experts on something they are certainly not is never lost on me.
Because I couldn’t care about their bullshit. I’m not saying Discovery is going to be the greatest ‘Trek ever, because I don’t know, because it hasn’t aired yet. I’m hoping it’ll be great, and EVERYTHING I’ve seen up to now fits that assumption, but I figure before I go and start praising it, I should SEE it. Until then, I will abide.
Meaning it’s time for a lesson from my other faith, the one I am ordained in. Dudeism. There was a time when I cared THE HELL out of canon and upmost accuracy. This was also a time where I thought a whole show about a war with the Borg would be an amazing achievement. “It would be so cool!” I’d preach to my friends in high school. “If they really cared, they could put like a $1 million into every episode and REALLY give us something spectacular” I would say, terribly naive to the fact that each episode of any contemporary ‘Trek ALREADY cost more an $1 million to make, as if the money was what made it good. I was that guy once, when I was kid. But as I am no longer a child I put away childish assumptions and thoughts. I used to be uptight and rigid. Rules were rules, man. Disorder was chaos.
And then my body got older, and my experiences began to pile up. I learned how damaging hard-line, fundamentalist attitudes were not just to others but to myself as well. I needed to chill the fuck out. I needed to find a new way to enjoy the treasures from my past without letting them make me apoplectic about the future.
I watched The Big Lebowski countless times through University and years after, and found a new way to look at life – through the eyes of an unemployed underachiever, my spirit animal, my doppleganger. The one, the only, DUDE.
I connected with something in The Dude which had eluded me my entire life – I was finally presented with a ‘hero’ and example who wasn’t the quintessential action man, person of action. The Dude is the opposite, because that’s like far out and everything.
Relating and embracing The Big Lebowski made a difference to many things in my life, my hardcore nerdism was only one element that needed guidance. As I stopped trying to direct every aspect of life and instead decided to follow a single path and wind up where it led me, I became a far happier, more enlightened person.
TBL isn’t an effective guide on how most should lead their lives. I know my wife would appreciate it if I found a different role model, but it wasn’t the free time or the ‘just above the poverty line’ residence I wanted. It was the peace the Dude had in his life. His world is literally just as he wants it, just as he created it. The Dude had no need for stress, demand or expectations, so he decided to live a life where those things were a non-issue for him. He didn’t care about wealth or power. He cared about his fucking rug that really held the room together. The Dude’s world was his own, and no one could take that from him.
So I followed that example. I wanted to be a screenwriter, so I started to live the life of one, and I’ve never looked back. I didn’t wait for someone to approve of my choice or even for myself to feel ‘ready’ for it. I just took the plunge. I wanted a life where my creativity was my meal ticket, where I could bust my ass for days working behind a computer and yet still wake up with The Price Is Right and go to bed after The Daily Show. So many people want so much out of life, but never bother to actually go and get it. They think they need to accumulate approval from their current life to leverage that into the life they want, and they’ll die trying to gather enough approval to get there. I saw the Dude, realized he had it figured out, and simply wanted to emulate the stark beauty I saw there.
Old Steve would’ve freaked out over the change in Honeycombs. The Dude instead abides. They’re good Honeycomb, Steve. Even if they don’t look the same. Even if they aren’t made the same, they TASTE the same. Same effect, same product, through different means. Almost as if the people in charge of Honeycomb knew they needed to modernize and update, yet took care to ensure that their product did not fall short of its fans expectations. Think maybe this is a metaphor for Star Trek: Discovery?
The leader of the faithful does.