No matter what, we party tonight...
Birthday
candylandcafe
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Today is my birthday. I am turning 21. Remember that age because you'll probably see it next year, too. Hahaha. I'm not revealing my real age and I'm pretty sure even if I told you, you wouldn't believe me. The wonders of looking young. Love it.

Its been a nice, peaceful day and I'm glad I got to do what I wanted today. I didn't have to deal with someone telling me how to run my day and its been nice. Watched a little 30 Rock this morning, had a nice long jet tub, went to Starbucks for a Venti Vanilla latte with caramel drizzle and got wished Happy Birthday by Justin Bieber. You know, the norm.

Tomorrow, however, is when we all get crazy...well, as crazy as we can get with four kids underfoot. I'm having the friends over for some bbq and good times. Can't wait. :) I'm going to go do something I love on my special day; Write until my sexy man comes home. Cheerio!

P.S. Little known fact: I hate chocolate cake. The only reason I posted a pic of that cake was because its cute and has two of my fave colors on it. :) Red Velvet ftw...I know its a type of chocolate but it tastes better.

Writer's Block: Words
Writing
candylandcafe
I got so bored of the mundane writer's block questions from Livejournal. I needed more of a challenge...so here it is...

Below are 3 sets of words. Use all the words in each set to write mini stories in 300 words or less:

Set 1: Paperclips, principal, lunchbox, swing, girl with a pink ribbon

Set 2: Biology, Class Card, Foreign exchange student, leaf, blood sample

Set 3: Typewriter, Filling Cabinet, Puncher, Clerk, Carbon Paper, Janitor


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Set 1

Sally was the newest student at another "promising" school for the third time that year. Her mother worked all over the world, leaving her no choice but to be moved along with her. Just as they finished unpacking, they would have to repack and move again. She didn't own too many belongings and their new, fancy apartments always came furnished with things other people had used before them. One of the many downsides to being the child of a working single mother. She knew that if her Mother didn't work the job she did, they wouldn't be able to live the way they did.

She was just tired of always being known as the "New girl with a pink ribbon in her hair". She was even more tired of going to a new Principal's office and seeing a big file on herself, all wrapped together nicely and held up by tons of paperclips. It made her feel as though she had been a bad child. In all reality, it was just her accomplishments which the school had to have faxed over from all over the world. She felt even worse that several people had to go through that much trouble for little old her.

She didn't want to sit on the swings all by herself every lunch hour with her Wonder Woman lunchbox sitting open on her lap. She watched the other kids play and be friendly towards each other, without her. She knew that she shouldn't get too attached to anyone because she could be moving again within a few weeks to another school far far away from this one where it would all begin again. She'd be the girl with a pink ribbon somewhere else with more paperclips, principal offices, on another set of swings holding her lunch box and wishing she was like every other kid in the world. Just normal. Not that she knew what normal was...

Set 2

Now in her teen years, Sally had finally had enough of being dragged all over the world by her Mother and made the really difficult decision to stay in Beirut as a foreign exchange student. It hadn't been easy for her to make but she knew it was the only way to lead as normal a life as she could. The school sent another student in her place who wanted nothing more out of life than to travel the world. Good. Sally thought bitterly. Let someone else deal with the lonely life my Mother has built around me.

Since staying in one part of the world, she had picked up the language and even picked up some friends along the way. School had even become more tolerant and she didn't feel like such an outcast. She knew that the class cards she received would stay the same for all four years of her education in that certain establishment. She had even picked up a love for biology. Whether she was studying a leaf or a blood sample, the class took her beyond any other interest she had ever had before. She just couldn't get enough.

She and her Mother still remained in touch but they didn't speak as often as Sally wished they did. It was hard to keep track of how far away they were from each other, the only clear indication of where her Mother lived was the address on the next letter she received in the mail. Sometimes, the letters she sent back would find their way into her mailbox once again because her Mother had moved without a single call to her only daughter. She didn't miss the traveling, but she did miss her Mother. Everything from her voice to the scent of her perfume. There was no win win situation for them. Either Sally traveled with her single parent or she lost the only family she knew until school was over...and even then, who knew? It was clear to her what was more important to her Mother.

Set 3

Staring at her typewriter, Sally can't believe how fast the time has flown during her adult years. She is thirty and still Motherless. After leaving high school, Sally found her Mother living in Bangkok by herself with Cancer and only two years to live. She had instantly felt selfish for leaving her Mother for so long to live a quasi normal life on her own. When her Mother succumbed to her sickness a year and a half later, Sally threw herself into her work.

She was a clerk for a company that worked with marine biologists. Sally had enough money to go to school to be one herself but after the loss of her Mother, she had also lost interest in biology. She found it too hard to concentrate when she felt so sorry for herself. She felt deep down that it was her fault her Mother was no longer around, even though she knew that Cancer wasn't a man made concept.

Instead, she sat at her desk everyday behind a typewriter doing her boss' dirty work and wishing the black film from the carbon paper didn't stain her fingers so much. Her desk was hidden behind a filling cabinet which obscured her view from the one and only plate glass window in the minuscule office. It suffocated her. She felt as though she would end up just like her Mother: Overworked and deceased by the time she could get anywhere in life. No husband, no real reason for living and one really big difference, no children. Sometimes, it made her so angry she felt like throwing her hole puncher at the janitor who always seemed so chipper about his life. Whistling while tossing out the trash.

When had her life gone so off course? In some instances, she loved the fact that there was a filling cabinet in the way of her desk. It guaranteed her that no one could see her cry when life got to be too much.

I'm not sure why all my stories end up sad but this is what came to mind when I read those words. It just flowed out. I think I need to get out more...

Throw some glitter, make it rain
Writing
candylandcafe
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This is what I spent the past two days working on...well, the bottom row, anyway. I just sat on the floor in my office and focused on nothing else for 12 straight hours. It sounds like a lot of work but the time flew by like nothing. Even when I had to stop for the night, I wanted to keep going but apparently my eyes decided they'd get the better of me and wouldn't let me keep them open anymore. You kind of need those to write.

Those writing prompts have really helped my creativity flow and get my butt into gear. However, it's 10pm on Sunday night and I need rest for this week's edit madness. It's my goal to start looking for an agent in September with a finished manuscript. Here's to one really busy summer.

Writer's Block: Supersoldiers vs. The Others
Candy
candylandcafe
What TV show (past or present) do you think got off to a great start but then went the most off the rails? What would you have changed to keep the derailment from happening?


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When Glee first appeared on the scene, I didn't want to get suckered into it like I did with High School Musical - I have since come to my senses, relax! It was mostly for the Zefron, anyway. Like any fad, though, it was spoken about so much (and irritatingly so) that I decided to watch the show for myself and see what all the hubbub was about. I immediately loved how bright the colors were to draw in the audience, obviously it worked. The quick witted humor was the second thing to draw me in. The final thing that made my mind up about the show was Jane Lynch. I've been a fan since she was in the Forty Year Old Virgin. She definitely made this show, too as the wise cracking and sometimes overly bitchy cheerios coach, Sue Sylvester. It didn't hurt that Mr. Schuester (played by Matthew Morrison) was pretty hot for a teacher.

Every week, they seemed to have awesome songs that I knew all the words to, from "Don't stop believin" by Journey to "Golddigger" by Kanye West. Their mash ups were the best, too. I love remakes, so it doesn't bother me where it bothers others, like my husband who can't stand how Glee "butchers" all his favorite songs. Sometimes, I find they even do a better job on songs I used to hate. I can't stand Kanye West but I liked the song "Golddigger", so now I can just listen to Rachel Berry, Mercedes Jones, Finn Hudson, Tina Cohen Chang, Kurt Hummel and Artie Abrams sing it instead.

The characters were all lovable at one point or another, even if they turned out (or started out) as a bitch. You just feel empathy for all of them. I especially like how Ryan Murphy slowly added more characters instead of throwing them all at you at the same time. Background characters would slowly become main characters like Santana, Brittany, Mike and Puck and they'd interact perfectly with each other and the writers would get you addicted to the storylines.

Mr. Shue's homelife was messed up. When was the last time you heard of a woman faking a pregnancy as long as his ex wife did? You just can't help but root for him to get together with Emma, who you just knew were meant for each other. Sue Sylvester's mean spirited actions were also worth a tune in to see how cold hearted she could be towards those "pesky Glee kids" on her rampage to get their group disbanded.

Rachel was still pinning over Finn, who was with a very pregnant Quinn. The secret of whose child it really was stayed between Quinn and Puck...it was very exciting to see when Finn was going to figure it out. Santana and Brittany were still mainly supporting characters and they were sleeping with the football team instead of each other. Artie and Tina made a cute couple, even after Tina admitted that she was faking her stutter...why anyone would want to do that is beyond me but that's what this show was about, weirdos and freaks living in a cookie cutter world. Everyone could relate to one person or another. I will always relate to Brittany. God, I love that girl! She can always make me laugh, no matter what mood I'm in. I'm glad that Ryan decided to pull her from being "just" the choreographer to an actual character.

I was so excited for the second season to start until I saw the first few episodes. I had high hopes for this season, especially since us internet geeks got ourselves a Britney Spears episode - with her actually starring in it. The Madonna episode in the first season (which to this day is still my favorite episode) was amazing, so the Britney episode would have to be epic, right? No. I finally understood what my husband was talking about when it comes to them "butchering" songs. Only Britney can do Britney. It just wasn't the same. Also, where Madonna had a whole episode to herself, the Britney episode didn't have as many songs (or a separate album for that matter) and it finished off with a Paramore song. I dislike Paramore so that was kind of a piss off, too.

I was really starting to dislike Rachel's character, at that time, because she went from being that girl who was working hard to get where she wanted to go to being this insufferable snot that you just wanted to punch in the face. Her career meant that she got everything she wanted above everyone else's needs and wants. The writers would always try to make you forgive her after what she did but then she'd do it again. There's only so many chances I give out until I just can't stand you anymore and that's where I was with Rachel. Besides, the whole Rachel and Finn relationship, I've never been into. They're so different from each other that it felt like watching a train wreck. There were a lot of great relationships on this show, but this was not one and I hated that it was one of the only ones that "survived" all three seasons.

By this time, the whole storyline with Rachel getting all the songs was getting old. As if Mr. Shue would be that pigheaded about letting the other girls sing the lead. Yeah, Tina and Brittany aren't that great at singing but Mercedes has always been a power house, Quinn is my favorite female singer on the show, and Santana has a good voice, too. I wasn't too shocked when Mercedes, Brittany and Santana formed the Trouble Tones in season three. Who could blame them? And guess what? They were better than the New Directions. In this show, though, no one is better than the New Directions. No one deserves to win the first prize but them. Not realistic in the least. As for the male lead, I'd rather hear Artie. James St. James was right about Finn. He sings and dances like a zombie who needs to poop. I've never thought that Finn can sing, never mind his dancing skills. He's not even the hottest guy in the group, either. Sam is, despite his trouty mouth. Puck is okay at singing but not my first choice. Mike has amazing dance skills but don't you need to sing to be in a Glee club? It took him until the third season to start singing with everyone else. Don't even get me started on Kurt's singing voice. He sounds terrible, but I enjoy him as a character, when he's not being an over dramatic douche.

Mr. Schue's storyline was becoming tired and old. Yeah, yeah, he wants to get with Emma but now she's married to Uncle Jesse from Full House but she's still a virgin because she still wants Schue...blah blah blah, I'm bored. Also, Emma's character was becoming irritatingly exaggerated. She was paranoid of everything and she didn't know what she wanted. Every time she came on the scene, I just wanted to shut off the TV. She was just too much.

Speaking of being too much, Sue's whole tirade to get rid of the Glee club was getting old. You'd think that in a year and some, she'd get used to having a limited budget for her precious cheerios and would give up on the disbandment of the New Directions. What more could she do to get rid of it? And for the parents of kids not in Glee to agree that the arts should be taken out? Excuse me? Maybe it's a Canadian thing, but we have specific WINGS in our schools for arts because it helps children expand their minds. Who the hell writes this crap?

Funny I should bring that up...While reading Jane Lynch's biography - its a great read btw - she revealed that there are three people who write the scripts within a week. A WEEK. No wonder why half the episodes are garbage. Its impossible to write anything good within a week. There's so many revisions to do and stuff to go over. Some weeks you could luck out but for the most part, not so much. Which is what I think Glee's major problem is. Why not work on the episodes during the hiatus instead of going on Twitter and revealing spoilers that may or may not happen before mentioning it to your cast? Chris Colfer, Lea Michelle and Corey Monteith found out they were leaving after season 3 on twitter. Since then, Ryan Murphy has said that these characters will still be on the show in season 4. Holy worrying someone for nothing.

There were a lot of songs in season 2 and 3 which not many people knew and I'm all for showing young adults songs they wouldn't normally know but there were just a lot of crappy songs in the past two years. I went out and immediately bought the first cd but after that, I wasn't that interested. I think I also have the 5th album, too.

The only things that saved season 2 was Artie and Brittany's relationship (which I hate that it ended), Quinn and Sam being together, Gwyneth Paltrow's amazing voice and Darren Criss. Yes, the Warblers stole my heart away, too. To quote Randy Jackson, "That boy could sing the telephone book and I'd buy the album." I am impatiently waiting for his solo cd. He's amazing. If it wasn't for him, I don't think I would have stuck with the show after Brittany and Artie broke up so that she can be a lesbian with Santana. What the hell? I understand they need a token lesbian couple but really??

Season 3, I found was just a hot mess. It became very preachy with "PSAs". Don't text and drive, don't be a bully, don't stay with an abusive man, don't do this, don't do that. Darren Criss was still a good character but now he was shoved to the back so Finn could continue to get all the solos. I hated that he left the Warblers (who now sucked with Sebastian leading them) to join the New Directions, where Finn acted a right ass towards him for nothing. The rest of the characters got singing parts but not when it counted. I loved the Trouble Tones but couldn't stand Sugar Motta. What the hell kind of name is that anyway??

The story line that completely threw me off was when Sebastian threw a cup of rock ice in Blaine's face during a Michael Jackson "dance off" in a parkade, leaving Blaine blind in ONE eye. This meant that Blaine was in bed for the next two weeks and missing from two whole episodes due to this. He was blind in one eye, it didn't mean that he couldn't sing, dance or do school work! He'd just look like Popeye for a bit. I understand that Darren Criss was off doing "How to succeed in business" on Broadway but the writer's could have come up with something better. The other way out there story line would have to be how Sue Sylvester's life turned out. She married herself and is now having a baby from a "famous" sperm donor. She says the Father is an actor but she's not saying who it is...guess we'll have to wait until Season 4 to find out that it's someone crazy like The Fonz or Tony Danza from Who's the Boss.

As graduation came up, they over played Kurt and Rachel's NYADA entrance exams. I understand its a big deal to them but what about the other characters? I was really disappointed in the last episode of this season. It seemed rushed and the ending just boiled my blood. I felt bad for Rachel, who turned out to be the main character all along, that Finn broke up with her like that but she finally got what she was being so insufferable about. Meanwhile, everyone else's story line got cut short so we could focus on her, once again. I think I could have done without Rachel Berry throughout this show. I think that could have improved this show greatly. Also, Darren Criss should have been Finn. I would've liked him a hell of a lot more and maybe that would've put way better songs on the soundtrack all three years. Also, they can't really expect me to believe that Blaine Anderson is a year younger than everyone who graduated this year. I'm not buying it.

In other words, I can't wait to see how terrible season 4 is.

Writer's Block: You're Outta Here
Candy
candylandcafe
If you could wipe one book, movie, or television franchise off the face of the planet (it never existed, nobody will remember it ever existing), what would it be and why?


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I'm going to break all the rules with this question. It did prompt me to write, but I don't really like the question and I have more than one that I want to write about...so bear with me. As a writer, I would be infuriated if someone said that my book should be wiped off the face of the planet as though it never existed. That's harsh. Every book, every movie and every franchise has a bunch of people working really hard behind it. Too bad for you if you don't like it, it doesn't give you the right to wipe it off the planet. Get over yourself. Bring me something far better and then we'll talk.

However, there are a bunch of books/movies/television franchises which could be improved. A little criticism never hurt anybody. I love hearing it, personally. You never know what you're doing wrong until you hear it, right? It may sting a little at the beginning and throw you off course for a bit, but just like every "great" American Idol, we all need to hear our inner Randy Jackson tell us we suck every once in a while.

In the last two or three years while I was stuck on what to write, I turned to a couple hundred books and actually researched what was out there in the literary world. I didn't want to come up with something that someone else had already written, so I made notes and studied certain authors behaviors with the pen. There are some really amazing writers out there who I would love to meet one day at a book launch party, but then there were the writers who seemed to give up halfway. I don't want to list who is who, but I bet if you're a reader yourself, you could probably figure it out.

This entry isn't to nitpick at certain authors because one day I would like these authors to be my peers. What this entry is about is how our young adults are being misled by books with giant loopholes which don't exist in real life, no parental supervision, drugs, alcohol and abusive boyfriends. I'm all for everybody reading, especially young people - well, younger than me - but, at what cost? Some young adult books out there are just downright terrible for these kids to read. Not that the books, themselves, are terrible but the life lessons inside those books are not good for these youngsters to read. It gives them the wrong idea of what to expect out of life.

For someone who has a more developed mind, they could probably read these following books and see them for what they are, a fictional novel. For someone with a developing mind, these ideals can embed themselves without the person knowing it. I am glad that in my high school years I read the Harry Potter series. I know that Harry Potter is usually the fallback that everybody goes to, but the books are so complex that years after you've finished them you're still finding side stories and incredible twists that you hadn't seen before and then it broadens your horizons again. I never read books more than once, because there's so many out there, but Harry is always the exception to that rule. He always will be. I can only dream about being as complex a writer as Ms. Rowling. She's an amazing writer.

Not everyone can pick up a pen and have flawless writing skills, though. I don't blame them, I understand. Its freaking hard. I am on my second year of trying to publish a book and sometimes, I just want to scream because of the workload I have put upon me. If the book these writers are writing is one in a series, that's an even bigger workload. For some, I feel as though they truly did give up halfway or got stuck without more story line, so they wing it.

These are just some of the books which I think could have some improvement (not wiped off the planet):

Twilight Sage by Stephenie MeyerCollapse )


Gossip Girl series by Cecily von ZiegesarCollapse )

I am by no means saying get rid of these books, but there should either be a serious rating system in place or they should have an edited version for impressionable minds. These authors should think about who their target audience is and what their books are teaching them. On side note, how many teenagers do you think are reading "Fifty Shades of Grey" because its supposedly a "Twilight" fan fic?

2012 Book list (so far)...
Book
candylandcafe
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These are the books that I've read so far this year.

January

1. Ruthless by Sara Shepard
2. The Wisdom of Big Bird (The dark genius of Oscar the Grouch) by Caroll Spinney
3. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Duggard
4. Hollywood is like High School with Money by Zoey Dean

February

5. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

March

6. Pretty Little Secrets by Sara Shepard
7. Two Truths and a Lie by Sara Shepard

April

8. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
9. Parenting your dog by Trish King

May

10. The ultimate writing guide for students by Mignon Fogarty
11. Snow White by The Brothers Grimm
12. Bossypants by Tina Fey

June

13. Summer in the City by Candace Bushnell (what I'm currently reading)

I usually read a lot more than this but I'm editing a lot this year. I figured that my writing career was more important than my goal of 50 books a year...even though it kills me...

Writer's Block: My Town
Music
candylandcafe
Describe one thing about your hometown that's unusual or unique -- maybe there's an interesting statue or landmark, a special event occurs there, or it's the Official Home of Something.


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Calgary, Alberta. What to say about Calgary, Alberta? I am not originally from here which wouldn't really make it my hometown, Montreal would be my hometown. I haven't been back there in over a decade, though, so I can't really write about something I remember because it might not be there anymore or I might not feel the same way about it as I did growing up there. However, I've stayed in Calgary long enough to tell you about it. Unfortunately. Being from a big city like Montreal, I'm not a big fan of Calgary. I'm used to there always being something going on. Calgary doesn't have much to do. Unless you're a child or into the arts. Which I am not to both. There is one thing all of us here in the city look forward to every year - even if we don't like the admit it. The Calgary Stampede.

I always look forward to it and even crave the Stampede grounds on off season, but then I get there and I loathe it. It's nothing like it used to be. When I first moved to Calgary, my parents would dress my sister, my niece and I in cowboy gear (I loathed that, too) and took us down to the grounds on family day. We would get there nice and early and stand in, what we thought at the time, was a really long line up to get a "Stampede breakfast" and sit in the grandstand seats to watch a little country concert while we ate.

I've never been a big fan of country music, unless it was Bryan White - I don't know why but my young mind had developed such a crush on him, I'm glad that's over. I couldn't deny the breakfast, though. During Stampede week, if you know where to go (and you can if you go to flapjackfinder.com), you don't need to make breakfast for yourself for the whole time. And it's free. The only part I dislike about Stampede breakfasts is actually getting the food, it makes me feel like I'm begging for food like Oliver Twist. A poor child who couldn’t afford food, begging for breakfast. I had cereal at home and my parents could make eggs and bacon, which I would trust more because my Mom is a great cook. I do like the fact that for one week out of the year, at least, the homeless in this city can eat like Kings. Its a nice thought.

My parents would make us sit through the whole country concert because they were both really big fans of country music - even if we didn't know who the artist was. Which was how I came about having my ass grabbed by Adam Gregory, but that's a story for a different day...My sister, niece and I would become restless. We could see the rides just off to our left and hear the crowd outside the grandstand - which is basically stadium seating in front of the horse races, outdoors - having a great time without us. It was sheer torture. Yeah, the rides were just starting up but, we just wanted to be part of the crowd. I was so glad when I became old enough to hang out with my boyfriend on the grounds and opt out of the country concert during breakfast.

Once breakfast (and the concert) were done, we'd vacate the seating area and go out with the rest of the crowd. My parents weren't big fans of the rides, so we usually waited til the afternoon to go on them. We'd spend the morning going through the grounds and seeing what there was. I still love going through the grounds. There's a midway with all the rides and games you can play then there's a kids section - which always has better and easily won prizes - food stands you don't normally see (like, Mini donuts!! Yum!!), and vendors showing off their new products. In the beginning, we used to go home with a bag of goodies we had been handed for free throughout the day. My sister and I used to love collecting the Sesame Street figurines they handed out in the breakfast line every year.

After a walk through the grounds, we'd go to the Round up center which was filled with tables of people selling things. Its like a big convention center with tons of different items you can buy. There's a stand with collectibles, a big lemon shaped stand where you can get amazing lemonade, a slurpee center where you can get a big cup for $2 and they have every slurpee flavor you can imagine. There are three or four booths with every radio station here in Calgary selling bags with food, coupons and trial items for $15. The bags are basically worthless but the stuff inside is worthwhile. I always end up getting a bag. The last one I got was from Virgin 98.5. It's a black messenger bag. I absolutely love it. The first bag I've bought which has lasted more than a week. I still use it as a diaper bag when we have my step grandson for the weekend. It comes in handy.

Done with the Round up Center we would have armfuls of bags with purchases we made. We would always leave buying the radio station bags til last. That's because we always do the same thing, "I don't think I'm going to buy a bag this year." but then we go through the grounds and mull it over, resulting in us going back to the Round up Center before we leave to buy one. After we're done with the Round up Center, we're starving and we're right by our favorite place to go for lunch: Weadickville.

If you ever ask any of my family members where you should go for your first trip to the Stampede, they will all tell you the same thing: Go to Weadickville. See, if there was one downside back then to the Stampede (Its still a downside but there's more than just that now), its money draining. You can't go to the Stampede and not expect to spend at least $100 and that's even if you got in for free. So, my family tried to make the best out of an expensive situation. We found Weadickville at the end of our first ever visit and have taken advantage of it ever since.

There's a little deli that sells sandwiches, hot dogs, drinks, chips and veggie plates for real cheap. We always go there for lunch, it's from Schneider's so its pretty tasty. Next to the deli is a bakery with cheaper breakfast items. A tiny makeshift Mac's sits between the bakery and a Calgary Herald stand. The only thing the Mac's sells is Slurpees, chips, cold drinks and coffee. Not fancy coffee, just plain old black coffee you can add cream and sugar to. I used to go to Van Houtte - which was located next to the Calgary Herald - for coffee because it was the stuff they had in Montreal which I missed. It has recently been turned into a crappy candy store with overpriced items. There is also an ice cream stand there, as well, which has "different" ice cream flavors like "Beer for my horses" and "Mini donuts". No, I still have not tried either of those flavors and I don't think I ever will. I'm too devoted to the real mini donuts and I don't like the taste of beer.

In front of Weadickville is my sister and I's favorite thing about the Stampede. Even more than mini donuts. And that's saying a lot. The Coca-Cola Stage. They put on free concerts for people at the Stampede. In the years that I've gone, I have seen Simple Plan (twice, this year I'm going for the third time), Fefe Dobson, Hot hot heat, Hedley, Lillix, Treble Charger, The New Cities, Sum 41, Good Charlotte, These Kids Wear Crowns and Wide Mouth Mason. I bet there's been more but that's all I can remember. Most of the time, its just Canadian bands and you can usually meet them afterwards behind the stage. The only downside to the stage is when people throw water bottles at the band members. Poor, David Desroisiers from Simple Plan. :( Oh, and being crushed in the mosh pit...which I'll never go in again. Way too many bruises to count from that mosh pit...and heaven forbid it rains, the mosh pit turns into a mud pit...which people don't care so they get all dirty and gross. If you've ever been to the Stampede, you know it rains for pretty much the whole week. I swear, they should push it to the week after because it's always sunny afterwards. Maybe its just a Rain on my parade kinda thing.

I used to have such a blast at the Stampede but, after a few years of going...its really not the same but exactly the same. Let me explain: All around the city there are still Stampede breakfasts that everyone goes to and receives a free pancake breakfast which usually consists of 2 pancakes and whichever pork product they want to dish the money out for. Some have quality ham, some have sausage links and some, my all time favorite sausage patties - they just taste so much better than some of the sausage links they serve. Which can range from super greasy and gross to super dried up and gross. And the patties are only good if they are made right. Which isn’t that hard to do unless they are overcooked and come out all dry.

The people cooking these meals are just people who work at whichever establishment is holding the breakfast. During the 19 years I've gone to Stampede, the breakfasts have become worse and worse. The people making the breakfasts don't really care anymore and I can't blame them. Not only do they deal with customers after the meal is done but they also have to come to work early and cook breakfast for all of them. People who go to these are the same people who usually have the common sense to tell me not to eat breakfast at Lido Cafe in Kensington…I see it as the same thing, personally…except even worse because you REALLY don’t know these people serving these pancakes and sausages, and they don't normally do it for a living.

Heading to the Stampede grounds by train is the worst experience of my life, yet I do it every year anyway because its the only way I can get there. We climb aboard a crowded and overheated train and head into downtown. We can't wait to get to Victoria Stampede station. The trains are always overcrowded for the whole 10 days of Stampede. No matter which way you’re going. If the train is heading to the grounds, you’re kind of screwed into feeling like a bunch of sardines. I hate it. Especially since women brings their mammoth baby carriages on to the train and take up a spot where 10 people can fit normally. Fold it up, goddamn it! And don't give me this crap that you can't. My sister and I actually brought my step grandson last year, by train, and we held him as the buggy stood next to us, folded up. We were considerate to everyone else.

We all get off the train and take the ramp into the grounds. The place is already swarming with too many people. It always puts me on the verge of an anxiety attack. I always get the feeling that I just want to go back down the ramp, get on a train and go back home. I hate the fact that we only get one cool thing to do a year in Calgary and it’s overrun by tourists, who have cooler things to do in their own hometowns. I think it was about five years ago that it started to get completely overcrowded, not to mention overrated.

The weather is always just as crappy as our situation. It always goes from hot to cold. So, you're constantly taking your jacket off and then having to put it back on. The sun keeps hiding or it rains. I end up getting frustrated half way through the midway.

Getting the free breakfast is out of the question unless you get up at 4am to go because there's SO many people nowadays. The line up is a mile away from the gates when my family and I show up at 8am. We can barely move without some jerk walking right into us if we don’t move out of the way fast enough or they'll stop right in front of you with no warning and then get mad at you for bumping into them. Its very hard to enjoy yourself on a free day at the Stampede.

We don’t go on rides anymore because the tickets are too expensive and a complete rip off. If you go during the week, you can get a wristband for all day rides but if you go on the weekends, which my family does, you have to buy tickets. The tickets always cost about $35 for a gift card type thing that the carnies swipe and your tickets go by like nothing. After 5 rides, you're scrounging up about $60 to get 5 more rides in. Its always more expensive at the grounds and totally not worth it. Also, I get sick on rides now…you know you’ve grown up when…

The games are even worse. You can be spending up to $20 to get a stuffed monkey you could have bought at the Dollarama and saved yourself $19. However, its like a status symbol to be carrying around a humongous stuffed dog or something to show you outsmarted the game carnies and won something worthwhile...after spending just $100 trying to get it. What's worse, you always see these humongous, overpriced stuffed animals at second hand stores for years afterwards because no one really wants them.

The Round up Center has the same tables with the same people who have been going every year since I began my Stampede experiences in 1993. In a way, its good because if you didn't have money the year before but you know you wanted that one thing, you can go back and get it next year. Which is what my sister and I do now.

There are the things we still look forward to, like the Stampede breakfasts. I still go to the Chinook Center breakfast even though I live on the opposite side of the city. The Coca Cola stage is always worth going to. Even if you have to pay $14 to get in the gate...The last time I saw Simple Plan off the grounds, it was about $60 for tickets, so I'm not going to complain about $14.

Now that we've gone to the Stampede practically every year, my sister and I know how to run our day. We plan our visits around the Coca Cola Stage and who is playing. This year we'll be seeing The New Cities on Sneak a peek (Thursday night before the Stampede officially opens, you can go in and get a taste of what's to come) and Simple Plan on July 13th. We'll get to the grounds, look around - which usually takes us two hours tops - and then we'll wait for the concert with two small bags filled to the top with mini donuts.

Its definitely not the same as it used to be due to the overcrowding but at the same time, its still the same old Stampede. Every year, we'll complain that we're never going back and yet every year when the Coca Cola stage line up is announced, we begin our plans to go. This year, we were even lucky enough to get tickets to go to Flames Central and see the line up announced live at the Coke Covert concert. The bands who were playing were supposed to be a secret but my sister and I outsmarted the Stampede and figured out that one of the bands was The New Cities. The second band was the Sheepdogs. I left after the New Cities.

This year is the centennial. 100 years of Stampeding in Calgary. I'm excited to see any changes it may go through but at the same time, I already feel suffocated by the even bigger crowd we'll be faced with. Are you ready? Cause I sure as hell am not. See you there.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my view askew on the Calgary Stampede.

Writer's Block: Going Up?
Candy
candylandcafe
If you had to be stuck in an elevator for 24 hours with one TV character, who would it be and why?


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I've watched a lot of television growing up and have an endless list of favorite characters in each show I watched but only one character sticks out for this ill-fated elevator ride: Liz Lemon from 30 Rock. We're so alike its uncanny. The things she says and does, the bizarre situations she gets herself in...however, I'm married, don't work for Saturday Night Live TGS nor do I need a specific pair of jeans to make my butt look good...

I was visiting New York for the first time ever. I just HAD to go to 30 Rockefeller Center. All of my favorite NY based tv shows were filmed there: Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, TGS. Its like a dream come true just standing outside of the building. I knew none of the shows would be filming since everyone was on summer hiatus but it would be nice to just see the sights and say that I'd been there before.

Entering the building, I am greeted by the man behind the desk. He says that the tours are over and there's only a 30 minute time limit before the place closes for the long weekend but I can quickly go upstairs and get some pictures. I thank him and walk towards the elevator banks. I am elated as the elevator doors in front of me swish open. I can't believe this is actually happening.

When I get off the elevator on the 12th floor, people are basically shoving past me to get out of the building. If I didn't know any better, I'd think there's a fire or something. It's just everyone wanting to get home for the long weekend so they can head to the Hamptons with everyone else in New York. It was why I had chosen that specific weekend to go. The streets were practically empty and I could enjoy the scenery without a thousand people around me at once.

Walking a little further on to the floor, I see that it's nothing but offices. There is nothing familiar to me at all - well, familiar from what I've seen on TV. I turn back to the elevators and spot someone who did look familiar. I looked at her as much as I could without seeming like a creeper. Did I know her from high school? A job I had? Oh, no....it was Liz Lemon. Even though she wasn't on TGS, I still knew who she was. It was my inner geek who was fascinated by other writers. Hell, I even know who Lorne Michaels is...not that many people would care who he was...I had been hoping to see him but Liz Lemon was just as great.

I want to say, "Hi, nice to meet you." but my voice is caught right underneath the breath caught in my throat. The only word that comes to mind is...

"Blerg." Liz mutters as she turns back to an office she had just come out of. I lost my chance to say anything to her. I should've been quicker. The elevator door opens and I step inside. I am trying to decide which button to press, hoping to find something worth while in my short time there. Even the Jersey Floor would be nice to stumble upon. I could party with Jimmy Fallon and Josh Meyer. I decide to press 22 - my favorite, and therefore, lucky number - when a hand stops the door from closing. Liz Lemon pushes the door open with all her strength.

"Sorry, I didn't see you coming." I finally manage to get some words out. Not the ones I planned on saying to Liz Lemon the first time I met her, but I'm making some progress. She stumbles into the elevator and collapses against the wall in the far right corner. She looks like she's had a long day.

She either ignores me or doesn't hear me because she doesn't answer. I just stare at the numbers above the door. They don't seem to be moving. "Is there something wrong with this elevator?" My voice cracks with fear. It had always been a phobia of mine to get stuck in an elevator. They make me nervous just stepping on them. Anything could happen. Especially if the building was really tall...which 30 rock is.

"Ugh. Not again!" She exclaims and presses a button furiously. She was standing in front of the keys, blocking my view of which button she had her finger on. "Damn it! Not today!!"

"Excuse me??" I am feeling faint. "You are kidding me right now...right??"

"No. This stupid elevator. There's always one that stops working every now and then...and I'm usually on it." Now I understand the weary look about her. She wasn't just having a rough day, she was having a rough life. "There's not much else to do but wait."

"Wait? For how long??" My eyes are so wide, it feels like they're about to fall out.

"I'm not too sure but we could be here until Monday when everyone returns from the Hamptons...unless they come back on Tuesday...in that case, it would be a...two day wait."

I am absolutely speechless. What am I supposed to say to that? I've gotten myself stuck in an elevator in a country I don't even live in...during vacation. I can slowly feel the time slipping by. As much as I loved 30 Rockefeller Center and Liz Lemon, all I wanted was to be walking in the bright sunlight, on my way to Starbucks or headed to Times Square. I can't waste my whole vacation in an elevator!!

My breathing is becoming uneven. Liz approaches me and puts her arm around my shoulder, if I hadn't already been freaking out, this would've been when I did. "It's going to be okay. I've been through this before. I've come prepared."

She pulls a big bag of Sabor de Soledad out of her oversized work bag. I briefly remember someone telling me that the chips were infused with bull semen but I ignore that fact on the basis of it being the only food in the room to keep us going for the next two days. Its better than nothing. Maybe after I get out, I could get my stomach pumped before eating a proper meal. If I don't go into an anxiety coma before that happens.

Liz tries her best to relax me by telling me funny stories about Tracy Jordan, Jenna Mahoney and Jack Donahey. Its nice to know some of the behind the scenes details from a first hand account. I've always wanted to work for SNL TGS but didn't think I was funny enough. I tell Liz this and she admits that they are looking for another woman writer. She wanted to bring the girl power back that they had in the beginning before Tracy joined and I might be what she was looking for. She offers to interview me right then and there since we had nothing better to do in our 8th hour of being trapped in what seems like the box from Hell. We have even gotten to the point where we rolled our pants all the way up to our thighs and our shirts as far as they can go without being obscene. We must look like a big hot mess. I'd hate to see the security camera footage of this later on.

I had asked Liz within our first hour of being stuck if there were any security in the room with the camera footage and she said they'd all gone for the holiday, as well. The building was completely shut down. Only she had been crazy enough to stay and work late. She regretted that decision now.

When it came time to sleep, we took our jackets and laid them down on the floor of the elevator and I used my purse as pillow. Liz actually had a pillow in her bag. She really had come prepared. In a way, I was glad that the heat and dizziness from not eating had finally made us succumb to sleep, the bag of chips was half gone and we still had a whole other day we had to save it for. I drifted off to sleep, wondering if anyone was looking for us and if there was a search party sent out.

The next thing I knew, I was being awoken by the sounds of the elevator moving. I had no clue what time it was and had almost forgotten what had happened the night before. That was before the searing pain up my back from sleeping on the floor of an elevator. I looked over at Liz, who was stirring in her sleep. I nudged her slightly to wake her up and she screamed out, "I didn't steal those babies!!! They followed me home!!" I would love to know what that dream had been about but there was no time for stories, the elevator was moving...down. I had no idea where we were headed but Liz and I just stared, transfixed by the numbers on the lighted bar above the door, watching the numbers go down.

The doors opened into the lobby, with us still sitting on the floor with our pant legs rolled up to our thighs and our shirts tucked in a very risque way that we wouldn't normally let anyone see us do. Thankfully for us, the only person standing on the other side of the doors was Kenneth the Page who worked on the TGS floor with Liz.

"Hello, Miss Lemon...I didn't know you were coming into work today. I thought you would've been on Mr.Jordan's boat on the way to the Hamptons by now. I would've gone but I have duties for Mr. Donahey here today." Kenneth greeted us. I loved how innocent and pure he was in his southern way. "Why are y'all dressed like you've been in the swamps?"

"Everyone is going to Tracy's Hampton House? Blerg. How come I never get invited?" Liz muttered then rose her voice loud enough for us to hear. "I decided at the last minute not to go and then I got stuck in the elevator again."

"Miss Lemon, only you could have that happen." Kenneth chuckled and helped us to our feet. "They fixed the elevators yesterday. Did you press the button of the floor you wanted?"

Something in me snapped to attention when he said that. I had been startled by Liz pushing her way on to the elevator that I hadn't pressed the floor I was looking for. She had immediately slumped into the corner and never pressed a button until...

"Liz! What button did you press when you tried to get the elevator to move?" I asked incrediously.

"12. It was the only number my brain could remember at the time. I hadn't slept in over 34 hours." She replied.

"We were on the 12th floor." I laughed while Liz slowly realized what I was saying. "The elevator wasn't broken, we were."

"Oh, that's not good." Instead of laughing, she was pale. "Who's office did I leave that script in then? I thought I was on the 16th floor. It's been nice...meeting you. I really have to go. I'll be in touch about the job."

I wave goodbye as she and Kenneth disappear behind the sliding doors. Straightening myself out, I'm grateful that there are no security guards in today to see my walk of shame. The bright sunlight hits me straight in the eyes once I step outside onto West 49th Street and head to the nearest coffee shop, I need some caffeine to get my brain going again after such an experience. I stop for a second and think to myself, did that really happen?

My alternate choice is: Lorelai Gilmore, but I don't know how we'd survive 24 hours with no coffee.

Give me a second, I need to get my story straight...
Candy
candylandcafe
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I haven't started a new journal in years, I had my last LJ since I started but I decided to get rid of the private one and have a public one for once. I want to chronicle my writing process and also abuse this LJ with my writer's block prompts. It's probably not going to be very exciting, but if you find it intriguing, read on.

I am in the beginning stages of editing the first book and writing the second book in a series I am working on. I have never been published before but would like to see my name on a book cover one day. If only editing was easier than it looks.

P.S. You won't find any juicy details on my life in here - except maybe what movies and books I have watched/read...good luck blackmailing anyone with their Netflix/Shelfari lists.

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