Posts Tagged ‘television’

One of the things I get to do on a monthly basis is to sit down with a big list of upcoming books both fiction and nonfiction and decide which ones will make it into my library branch. It is a tedious, but it lets me know what’s out there and though not everything I desire do make it, at least I know that other branches have it and I can stalk their stacks. A few months ago, I came across Vigilance in one of those lists and as I read the synopsis, at first gave me a chuckle and I knew it was only a matter of time before someone wrote about this. And then I decided … why not. But enough with the bollocks of librarian life and let’s get on with the blooming review. Yeah?

John McDean is on top of his game (literally) and the name of the game is Vigilance. Apparently, mass shootings have become as common as having cereal for breakfast in the morning, which someone decided to not only monetize this “phenomenon” but turn it into a game show. This John McDean’s Noble Prize moment. And yes, welcome to 2030 America, where your murder will be televised on ONT (Our Nation’s Truth) tv network. Yes, I kid you not, that’s name of the network … sound’s almost like OAN (but we’re not going to touch that mess … for now). To get on the show, anyone can register online and then they have to go through a “screening” process. Apparently, not just any backwater psychopath can muster the cut (to paraphrase Debra Foreman from Real Genius): folks have to have standards. Bloody hell, an actual Debra Foreman reference (Google her, folks). For those that make the cut, the rules are “simple”: if the active shooter dies, all of his contacts get one million dollars; the surviving shooter (yes, there are more than one) providing there are no civilians, other shooters or law enforcement official left alive in the “arena”, gets 20 million dollars; if a civilian or law enforcement official kills the shooter they get 5 million dollars. Now here’s the kicker, the “arena” could be anywhere at anytime on a given day. In other words people know the day, they just don’t know the when or where. Who knows, it could be the very bar that you are sitting in watching the next Vigilance broadcast (order something more than the hot wings for it might be your last meal). Or the mall. Or a metro station. Hence, this is why people are encouraged to be armed where ever they go, just in case. Hence, the name Vigilance.

Believe it or not, Vigilance is a bit of sci-fi dystopia as we deal with exquisitely vicious uses of big data, AI that produce computer-generated, ex-military, tactical commentators (yes, there are commentators during the bloody show) or can real-time CGI an armed Vietnamese girl into an apple pie Nordic American female spouting all kind of propaganda bollocks as she squeezes off rounds. Then there is virtual and holographic sex involved. Just going to leave it at that. The book is mostly centered around to perspectives: John McDean and Delyna, a waitress at the South Tavern Bar. A new game of Vigilance is about to begin and McDean is about to cream his pants as he and his staff analyzes possible game arena prospects. On the other side of town, Delyna is serving up hot wings and drinks to bunch of mostly armed patrons all gathered there to watch the next exciting game of Vigilance. Yes, hot wings, alcohol … and armed patrons … what can possibly go wrong? I’m afraid that you’ll have to read that for yourself. Trust me, it’s good.
Slightly under 200 pages, Bennett packs a ton of suspense, gore, dark humour and surprising twists (with a smattering of racism and misogyny) … all done at a decent pace. Vigilance doesn’t come across as preachy (as some might logically assume) but it entertains while subtly screaming a wake up call of sorts. It is simply a story projected into a stark future using a social plague as an exaggerated background. It is the Purge meets the Running Man meets Battle Royale. And whether you are pro-gun, no-gun or in-between you’ll start reading Vigilance with one reaction and end with another. And for the most … one can only hope that Vigilance remains condemned to the white pages of fiction (in light of all the bollocks we are enduring) and is not a harbinger of things to come. And for some, might actually give us something to think about. Bloody hell.

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Sometimes television, in its eagerness to raise ratings and create sensationalistic programs, ends up distorting the way we view subject matter or individuals. The first time I saw the reality based show, Hell’s Kitchen, my first distinct impression of Chef Gordon Ramsay was that he as brash, crude and completely marinating in his ego and an exaggerated view of self worth. However, morbid curiosity kept me watching this show and the more I watched the more certain subtle things leapt out to me that told me that I wasn’t seeing the whole picture. There was was something beneath all the temper tantrums and obsession with perfection.

Roasting In Hell’s Kitchen, brought this full circle for me. In Roasting, Chef Ramsay gives us a no holds barred description of his stormy nightmare of a childhood and what drove him into the kitchen which in turn gave him an escape from his tumultuous upbringing and past. He spares very little in revealing the cutthroat world that lurks behind all that suave, high-styled facade of the culinary industry. Frankly, you could do better with a ravenous school of piranhas. This explains where he gets his disciplined approach in working in the kitchen. The book, needless to say, is littered with the unavoidable F-bombs as was indicated by the subtitle and should not be as shocking since most of his reality show is perforated with bleeps. Oddly enough, and as much as I hate to admit (or condone) it, this works quite well in his favour. You basically hear his voice throughout the entire book as if it were an actual audio book narrated by the man himself, for he writes (in perfect English) the way he talks on his show. This adds tremendously to the emotional content of his writing and you get to feel his bitterness, frustrations, and vulnerabilities (yes, the man is very human).

At the core, Roasting In Hell’s Kitchen is one of those working man stories that you cheer for and appreciate. Instead of seeing some spoiled brat resting on the their parents’ laurels and wealth and making a complete twit of themselves, we see someone that’s been handed a sack of rotting lemons in life and with hard work, humility, and sacrifice had managed to make it into the most delightful glass of peach flavoured lemonade. I saw not an egomaniac blowhard that threw temper tantrums in the kitchen but a man obsessed with delivering a delightful culinary gift and a superb dining experience to every customer that sits at his tables. It is refreshing, that despite his fame, he still remains this grounded in his professional and personal life. The truth is, we all could learn a bit from him. I have. A truly touching memoir, that’ll probably have you cheering rather than scolding Chef Ramsay. Needless to say, I am always curious about his culinary escapades on the telly.

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