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Month: March, 2016

House of Cards Season 4: Reality Index

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I just finished watching the 4th season of House of Cards, or as I like to refer to this season: Below and Beyond. For a show that should feel Shakespearean in scope; Bill is nowhere in sight. The three main points I gathered this season were: no one knows their proper place/ position ( if a pipe needs fixing, ask the First Lady – she can do anything), the power of rehearsal ( an inordinate amount of time was given to people practicing their lines – I kinda like this fact because always talking off the cuff will eventually reveal how utterly out of your depth you are) and lastly how enamored the public is with speechifying  at this moment in time. Take a minute and do a quick count in your head as to how many rhetoric laced speeches we hear on a daily basis. Soapbox salesmen must be making a killing. Obviously, there’s an election going on in the show and in real life, but who knew we were so craving to hear other people soundbite our fears, hopes and dreams to the tune of billions of dollars so they can turn around in the future and slash budgets for sorely needed services because there’s no money. The irony would be delicious if it were’t so scary. Speaking of scary: scary Underwoods are way more fun to watch then feuding Underwoods, so how did they do?

Again, I’m going to borrow steal the brilliant recap format from the high watermark of all TV recaps: Vulture’s Gossip Girl coverage. (They made watching a bad show fun.) This is how it works: points are awarded when events seem believable and deducted when the events are a little too implausible. At the end, we’ll tally the score and see if our tale of the Underwoods veers into the realms of the unreal, and yes I do know this is a TV show but even TV has its limits. Warning Spoilers

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The Underwoods are nothing if not consistent. The plausibility of their actions according to their characters is always intact but the plausibility of their actions according to their stations well let’s say – what’s in a title? They are the President and the First Lady, but have a hard time getting respect from terrorists and flower arrangers alike. I’m sure, the first thing anyone would imagine themselves doing if they were ever invited into the Oval office is to sit on the President’s desk like they owned the place like Governor Conway did.

This scores him major points on the reality side: lack of respect for the position of the Presidency. In this day and age you don’t even have to have held public office for a single day to feel you’re qualified for the most powerful position in the western world. The Presidency looks like something you’d be really really good at. Perceived entitlement is the only job qualification. +100 points

Speaking of the Conways, they’re kind of perfect. They should definitely get everything they want in this life. Instagram as Norman Rockwell painting: +50 points

This also leads to my favourite line this season, maybe in the history of H of C. When asked if Claire regrets not having children by Cathy Conway, Claire responds, “Do you regret having them?” -so cold, so good. + 50 points

Plus besides, how would Claire explain to her kids why Tom the writer was always having super quiet silent breakfast time with them? Meacham is dead, long live Meachem. +50 points

A resounding 250 points in the real column! But on the flip-side…..

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When producing a TV show there are some things that are unavoidable; like what do you do when you biggest star is in a coma? Do you have them just lay their doing nothing for a couple of episodes? Solution: unnecessary dream sequences -check. You also spend a lot of money on accurate recreation set pieces so you might as well use them.Why else would you have letter-opener death threats in the Oval office? (I guess that is kind of believable). This is also the only reason I can imagine, even in this completely fantastical world, where the Conways would stay in Claire’s bedroom. It is obviously done for the opportunity for candid exchanges between the antagonists and provided for my favourite line of the series, but Claire ain’t having no rugrats jumping on her bed. – 50 points.

Speaking of people being in places they shouldn’t be. The First Lady had her finger in so many pies this season she might as well be the Vice President, oh wait..

Claire strong arming the Russian President – 50 points

Claire negotiating with the head of an international terrorist organization. Did no one watch season three when she went to negotiate with  another prisoner? -50 points

The final scene that shows every character in the Situation room. It’s like they won a  radio contest – win a chance to watch a public execution with the President live in the Situation Room. What are those people doing in there? – 50 points.

The only person not in the Situation room was a bloody translator when the terrorist goes off script. “I wonder what he’s saying? Let’s just look at one another and let him keep speaking until he says something in English again.” -100 points

Lastly, for a season so obsessed with information tracking on the net, why would a Frank smear campaign involve a photocopy billboard of his dad shaking hands with a member of the KKK instead of leaking the image online? -20 points   Oh wait, being aligned with intolerant racism is no longer the political deathblow it should be, we can scratch that last one. 0 points

300 for the unreal.

Another season, another reason to go above and beyond the limit of plausibility. As far as this show goes, it’s got nothing on reality.

Season 3  Season 2

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Common Thread

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Common Thread 2015 Digital Image

Carved Architecture

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Toronto never ceases to amaze. You’d be forgiven if the last place on earth you’d think to find this entirely hand carved Hindu temple was on the side of a highway in the 6. But there it is; shining like a polished gem on a cloudless March afternoon.

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BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a marvel to behold. Made up of over 24 000 individual stone pieces with the heaviest weighing in at 5.6 tonnes. The temple was hand carved by 1800 artisans in 26 separate locations in India over a two year period. Starting in 2005 the pieces were shipped to Canada and then became the craziest jigsaw puzzle you’d ever want to attempt. 400 volunteers over 18 months rose to the challenge and in little over 2 years from conception to completion BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir came into being  .

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The thing that immediately strikes you is the Herculean feat of it all. The level of intricacy and attention to detail is intimidating. The fact that not a single nail was used in its construction only adds to its mystique.

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They don’t allow photography inside the temple but you can see some images here. The experience is a little overwhelming to say the least. It is open to the public, but remember it is a working temple so no shoes, no cels, no talking. Don’t worry on that last point; it’ll leave you speechless.

Guildwood Park

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If you’re looking for a walk in the park, you can’t go wrong with a stroll through the Guild wood. Located along the shore of Lake Ontario on the Scarborough bluffs; you’ll find meandering paths, great vistas, a supposedly haunted house  and a re-appropriated sculpture garden.

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The sculpture garden consists of the remains of facades and architectural remnants from long gone demolished buildings from Toronto’s past. These transplanted items give off that antiquity meets nature vibe that has been the bread and butter for wedding photographers ever since.  It is nothing if not picturesque.

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The land was originally owned by Colonel Harold Bickford and his family and later the Clark family bought it and they were the ones who started the collection of facades. They also turned the grounds into an artist community in the 1930’s. Their family home over the years has been turned into a museum and Inn. At the moment the current building is in dire straits and there are plans by the city to restore it to its former glory.

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The original Inn was closed to the public in 2001 and then demolished in 2009, but before that it had the dubious reputation for being quite haunted. Employees and guests would experience mysterious footsteps, doors opening on their own and some have claimed to have seen an apparition of a tall man in a top hat and tails. I personally love a good ghost story and walks in the park aren’t too shabby either.