Tasting the strange tricks that time plays

MasterChef Canada, Philip K. Dick, and our reality TV adventure

I ran into Danielle Cardozo the other day, on Monday, at the Save-On in Cranbrook. I told her good luck, and mentioned how geared up everyone was for that night’s episode of MasterChef Canada, on which Danielle is a contestant and who has made it, as of this writing, into the Top 10, surviving elimination and under-going intense and strange cooking challenges.

As we had our brief conversation, I felt a curious sense of dislocation, like the fabric of the time-space continuum had become unglued. After all, Danielle was appearing that night on MasterChef Canada, staged in Toronto, and yet here she was, in the Save-On in Cranbrook, on her way to the Heid-Out Restaurant in Cranbrook.

Is it possible that Danielle Cardozo could be in two places at once?

Further, I understood, intellectually, that Episode 7 of MasterChef Canada had already been taped, that it has in fact happened in the past, yet the outcome is unknown to all of us. I assume the contestants are aware of the fates of those involved in Episode 7, yet are sworn to secrecy. This, combined with the high drama of Episode 7, where Danielle had to cook a cow’s tongue, Dora the cheeks and Karla the cow’s brains, etc, with Dora eventually getting eliminated from the show, added to my sense that something was not quite right with time. Was Episode 7 happening in the past, or was it really happening in the present, and my brief conversation with Danielle really happening in the future? Or did my conversation with Danielle actually happen several weeks before I thought I was having it, and when I watched MasterChef it was several days further in the future than I thought, even though the show had been taped in the past?

Gosh, it makes me dizzy. It makes me feel like having a beer with sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick, who no doubt could explain the MasterChef time slip in a way that would not only be bizarre, paranoid, and really hard to understand, but would also be damned entertaining.

But at my age, having a beer with the intemperate Philip K. Dick would not be a good idea. Besides, Philip K. Dick is dead. Or is he?

But it’s okay. I will take on time’s tricks as they come. I know we live in a spooky world, and nothing is what it seems, as Philip K. Dick pointed out over and over.

In the meantime, the clock moves on regularly and in linear fashion, as do our TV listings, for the most part, and I know next Monday we’ll be gazing at our television devices for Episode 8, for after all, we must cheer on our neighbours when they’re cooking up tongue on the tube.

In a small town, we are invested in our neighbours. We always know what everybody is up to. Our gaze is largely internal, towards our small town navels.

That being said, we are a big enough town that we want to be part of the action. We desire to be represented on a bigger stage, and are always tickled when one of our neighbours puts “Cranbrook on the map,” to use that oh so hackneyed phrase yet again.

Thus, we follow the adventures of Danielle Cardozo with a much greater sense of personal investment, than we would, say, if we were cheering on our fellow Torontonian — one out of 2 million. Here in Cranbrook, we tend to feel we know each other personally, whether we do or not (well, I feel that way, anyway, and I want to invite you all over … wait, let me think about that).

A reality TV show is not the same as a deer cull debate, or a municipal referendum, or such things that force us to confront our reality (in a different way than Philip K. Dick forces us to). But when our friends and neighbours are involved, reality TV is more than mind candy. We’re along for the ride.

We’re cheering on Danielle Cardozo in her single culinary combat. The renown she wins is renown for us all. So stay tuned for Episode 8.

And besides, I thought the tongue looked kind of appetizing.

Barry Coulter is Editor of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman, and believes no part of the animal should be wasted.

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