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33 posts categorized "CHICKEN SHACK"

March 29, 2011

Know thyself, or just read what festival organizers have to say about you instead

My appearance at the upcoming Connecticut Book Festival has been finalized for those interested in attending.  I will be speaking on Sunday from 10:00-11:00 AM at the University of Connecticut Greater Hartford Campus. 

I’ll then be signing books from 11:00 AM -12:00 PM.

More details to follow, including the schedules for the other authors appearing. 

In examining the The Connecticut Book Festival’s author website this evening, I notice that it describes me as:

“A writer and teacher who tends to deal with the quirky and/or rebellious individual, forced up against staid society.”

It’s so interesting (and enlightening) to hear someone else’s interpretation of my work.  While this description may not fit my upcoming book, it certainly applies to my first two books, as well as my currently unpublished novel (CHICKEN SHACK). 

And yet, had you asked me to describe some of the common themes throughout my books, I’m not sure if I would have said anything like this.

And yet if I were to ask my friends to describe some of the ideas that are important to me, the rejection of formality, convention and meaningless tradition would probably top the list.

The mind works in mysterious ways indeed. 

March 08, 2011

Book news, including MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND

I’ve had a few readers email me recently inquiring about news of my upcoming book, so I thought I’d offer an update:

My third novel, CHICKEN SHACK, which I finished in June of last year, has been slid onto the back burner in favor of my newest book.  I was about halfway done with the new book, MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND, when my agent decided to bring the partial manuscript with her to the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.  She loved what little she had read prior to the trip and wanted to share it with scouts and editors.  Thanks to this excellent decision by Taryn, the book gained a great deal of buzz at the fair, even garnering a mention in Publisher’s Weekly

Since the fair, we have sold the rights to MEMOIRS in the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, Brazil and Belgium, which forced me to bear down and finish the manuscript on a timely basis, which I did last month.  A completed manuscript is now in the hands of US and foreign editors for their consideration, and I am now in phone-watching mode, waiting for Taryn to call with more good news. 

Though I’m still anxious for CHICKEN SHACK to find its way onto bookshelves soon (it’s odd to be sitting on a completed novel and not doing anything with it), the response to MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND has been extraordinary, making it well worth the wait.

In the meantime, I am currently trying to settle on a new book.  I started one, which I like a lot, but I’ve been told (and grudgingly agree) that it wouldn’t make for a good follow-up to MEMOIRS. 

So I tabled that idea and started three other books, including a sequel to MEMOIRS, in the hopes that one of the stories would take off and assert itself as my next book. 

Unfortunately, all three have been chugging along quite well, making the decision on which to write next a difficult one.

And no writer should ever attempt to write three books at the same time.  I feel a bit like a philanderer, working on all three at the same time rather than applying all my time and energy to just one.  I have always preferred monogamy in all aspects of my life, so this indecision is not sitting well with me.

I have no date on when MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND will be released, but as soon as I know, you will be the first to know.

Thanks as always for your continued interest.

July 17, 2010

How to write like a simpleton

One of the joyous aspects of becoming a published author has been watching people in my life take a crack at writing as well. 

Today was an especially busy day in this regard.

In the span of three hours, I met with a friend about a novel that she is writing, spoke over the phone to a friend about the YA novel that he is now revising, and reviewed a possible Op-Ed piece for another friend via email. 

Quite a bit of writing suddenly going on around me.

In discussing my friend’s novel, she explained to me that one of her struggles has been with deciding upon a theme of her book.  She has several excellent, insightful ideas in this regard, and she’s not sure in which direction to take her story.  Each of her choices are broad, complex and worthy of a novel, but in terms of making a decision, I was little help.

I was forced to explain to her that I am a simpleton when it comes to these things as literary as theme.

Do each of my novels have a theme or themes?  Of course.

But did I have any idea what those themes were as I began writing?

No way.  I was clueless.

I am simply a slave to story.  My focus is upon character and action.  Nothing more.  And so far, it has seemed to work out well.     

SOMETHING MISSING is the story of Martin Railsback.  When I wrote the book, I had no thought about what overarching themes my novel might contain.  I simply followed Martin through the course of a few weeks, documenting his actions and recording his words and his thoughts.  I didn’t even know that Martin was obsessive-compulsive until other people began reading the manuscript and commenting on his condition.  I just thought he was being Martin.  Any theme that ultimately arose in the book was simply a function of the character and his story, and it had nothing to do with any predetermined plan on my part.  I take no credit.

UNEPXECTEDLY, MILO is the story of Milo Slade.  When I began the book, I thought that I was writing a novel about the struggles of separation and divorce, but once again, I was wrong.  I was writing about Milo Slade.  Nothing more.  And his story veered off in a decidedly different direction than what I had originally envisioned.  The themes that ultimately arose from his story were far more complex and satisfying than what I had originally considered, and once again, they were unintended and unplanned.

When I began CHICKEN SHACK, I wanted to write a book about independence, inner strength, and the ability to survive and thrive despite the abandonment of family and friends.  Then my wife and agent read the first three chapters of the manuscript and both commented on how much they liked the fact that I was writing about the importance of family, and specifically about the relationship between brothers.  I thought that they were both crazy.  My protagonist, Wyatt Salem, and his brother, Jeremy, could not be any more different, and reconciliation between the two of them seemed impossible.  But by the time I finished writing Wyatt’s story, I had to admit that Elysha and Taryn had been correct.  It was a story about family, and specifically, a story about brothers.  And oddly enough, they knew it before me. 

I explained to my friend that the last thing I think about when I am writing is theme and suggested that she do the same.  My job is to focus all of my attention on the characters and simply watch as their story unfolds, attempting to document as much of it as possible, as accurately as possible.  In describing this process, I explained the origins of the most recent chapter of my current manuscript, one that she particularly enjoyed.  My thought process went something like this:

I need a bully in this story.  Yeah.  A bully.  Someone to be mean to Max.  And I think I’ll have that confrontation take place in a bathroom.  Yeah.  A bully in a bathroom.  Let’s see what happens.

That was it.  My fingers began striking keys and I was off.  A few thousand words later, the chapter was done.  Character, action, dialogue, done. 

I know.  I sound like an idiot.  But it’s how I work.   

And while I’m beginning see a possible theme emerge in this new book, I’ve only written about ten thousand words so far.  There’s no telling what might happen next.  To assume anything at this point would be foolish. 

So I’ll do what I have done for each of the previous books.  I’ll be a slave to the story, worrying about nothing else but my characters and the things that they say and think and do.  When the manuscript is finished, I will read it, and with luck, certain themes will become evident to me.  As I revise, I’ll look to highlight and strengthen these emerging themes, but their origins will be entirely organic, born not from me but from the story.

Story dictates theme, at least for me.  Theme never dictates story.

I think that when theme dictates story, the author often finds himself with a club in his hand, battering the head of the reader with his own thoughts and ideas rather than spinning out the story that he was supposed to write in the first place.

Either that or I’m just not clever enough to start with a theme.

July 08, 2010

Where do you get your ideas?

I am often asked where I get the inspiration and ideas for my stories, especially considering that I am fortunate enough to have so many ideas from which to choose. 

This is the kind of question that is impossible to answer with a single sentence, because I never know when I might stumble upon an idea that could make a great book.  I tend to be the kind of person who asks a lot of “what if” and “imagine if” questions, and through these quandaries, many my ideas are born. 

But since that is a relatively meaningless answer, I thought I’d give you some specific examples of how some of my story ideas were born.

SOMETHING MISSING: Over dinner several years ago, a friend bemoaned the loss of one of her earrings.  She opened her jewelry box and could only find one of pair.  I said, “What if someone broke into your house and stole your earring but left the other one behind so you wouldn’t suspect theft?”  As I gnawed on a dinner roll, I found myself trying to imagine the kind of person who could break into every home in America and steal just one earring from every woman’s jewelry box. 

Although I didn’t know it at the time, that was the moment that Martin Railsback and his story were born.

UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO:  For a long time, I wanted to be a film director.  At one point I had the idea for a movie in which three less-than-savory characters steal a video camera from a family that is on vacation in New York City.  After watching the videotapes in the privacy of their cockroach-infested apartment, the trio realizes that the memories captured on the tape mean more to the family than they could have ever imagined and decide to return the tapes to their owners.  They watch the footage in order to glean clues as to the owner’s identity, and in doing so, they become uncommonly attached to the family as a result.  This idea served as the basis for UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO. 

However, I also dipped into my own life for major pieces of the plot, including:

The separation and divorce from my first wife in 2003.

The two months spent in fourth grade helping Christopher Lavelle plan his escape to an uncle’s house in Ohio.  Chris wanted to run away from home, something he had done before, and though he never made the journey that we planned in the back of the classroom (while his mother was serving as our long-term substitute teacher), I often wondered what might have happened if Chris had run away from home based upon our planning and had disappeared in the process.  How would I have felt knowing that I had a hand in my friend’s disappearance, and how might it have impacted the rest of my life?

CHCKEN SHACK:  There was once a potato chip factory in my hometown of Blackstone, Massachusetts, that produced a brand of potato chips called Blackstone Potato Chips.  The factory closed years ago and on a later trip back to Blackstone, I noted that the factory was now a funeral home (one which would conduct the wake and funeral of my grandfather).  “Wouldn’t it be great if they still sold potato chips and handled dead people at the same time?” I said to my wife as we drove by.  A moment later, the idea of a funeral home that also sells fried chicken landed in my mind and CHICKEN SHACK was  born.

Once again, I dipped into my own personal life for other key elements to the story, including:

The disappearance of my brother, Jeremy, who I have not seen since my mother died almost four years ago.

A public and (in the words of many attorneys) unprecedented attack on my character and reputation by an anonymous source several years ago.

My occasional forays into amusing and ultimately meaningless forms of vigilante justice, mostly as a teenager but occasionally as an adult. 

BUDO:  The manuscript that I am currently working on (please know that until a book is published, these are all working titles, CHICKEN SHACK included) began with a simple conversation with my student-teacher about an imaginary friend that I had as a child.  In the span of about four sentences, the idea for BUDO was born.  Ultimately, I may bring in elements from my own life into the story, or I may weave in an additional idea or two from my Ideas for Stories list, but being so early in the process (less than 5,000 words so far), that conversation on the playground of my school has been enough to get me going.

BETTY BOOP:  The idea for the manuscript that I am tinkering with on the side was born after reading about a 2009 law outlawing prostitution in the state of Rhode Island.  Amazingly enough, prostitution was legal in Rhode Island between 1980 and 2009 because there was no specific statute to define the act and outlaw it, although associated activities, such as street solicitation, running a brothel, and pimping, were still illegal.  With the institution of the 2009 law, I found myself wondering what a prostitute in Rhode Island might do now that his or her previously legal means of earning a living were suddenly forbidden.  I came up with an solution for my theoretical prostitute, and that is the basis for this book.

July 07, 2010

Which story should I write next?

In the span of the last two days, I complete revisions on my manuscript (CHICKEN SHACK), sent it off to my agent and began a new book. 

Actually, I’ve started writing two new novels since finishing the initial draft of CHICKEN SHACK.  I’m thinking of one of them (BUDO) as my primary book (at least 2,000 words a day with a goal of being finished by September) and the other (BETTY BOOP) as something that I will tinker with when I need a break from the first.

I’m fortunate, so my agent says, in that I have many, many ideas for books.  Apparently there are quite a few outstanding writers in the world who have great difficulty coming up with an idea for their next novel.  While this may someday be the case for me, I currently have about ten ideas that I’m excited about writing, so it should be a while before I’m stuck without an idea. 

I was recently asked how the process of choosing the next idea happens and how much of a role my agent or editors plays in the process, so I thought that I’d address the question here, since I’m in that between-books moment right now. 

About a month ago, as I was wrapping up work on CHICKEN SHACK and beginning to think about my next book, I sent a list of six ideas for my next novel to my agent.  These ideas amounted to no more than a few sentences of description on what I thought the plot of the novel might be, though this is always subject to change since I have no idea where a book is going or how it will end until I actually get there.  For example, the description of SOMETHING MISSING might have read:

A thief steals things from homes that go unnoticed, and as he continues to steal from the same people over and over again, he becomes uncommonly attached to his victims. 

As you can see, this description leaves out a great deal, but most of the meat of a story comes from the actual writing.  I had no idea that Martin would be obsessive-compulsive or socially awkward or develop a love interest until I started writing.  These things only emerged once I started pounding on the keyboard.  With all of my books and even my short stories, a description like the one above is all I ever have or need before I start working. 

I wrote six descriptions similar to this one and sent them off to Taryn.  A day or two later, she sent back the two ideas that she liked the best.  One was a novel very similar to the style of my previous work, featuring a quirky, misunderstood protagonist who misunderstands the world around him.  Since I have been successful with this type of story before, Taryn felt that this idea had a lot of potential.

The second was quite different from my previous work, a more fantastical story written in the first person that both intrigued and scared the hell out of me.  Taryn liked this idea a lot because it was the kind of book that would appeal to a wide audience, including the young adult market.  Adult-YA crossover books have been very successful as of late, and Taryn saw great potential in this book if it was written with both markets in mind.

My wife also read my list and chose the same two ideas as Taryn, so I took this as a good sign and assumed I had my winners.  I’ve since begun work on the second idea as I wait for feedback from Taryn on the revisions to CHICKEN SHACK, and though the first person narration is proving to be as challenging as I had expected, the story seems to be pouring out of me rather easily. 

I also starting tinkering with the least popular idea on my list, a book with a female protagonist who, in the estimation of most, would be difficult, if not impossible, to make likable.  Being a contrarian, I was probably drawn to this idea simply because so many people (and especially women) told me that it would not work.  I’ve written two chapters of this book so far, about 4,000 words in all, and I allowed Elysha and one other female friend read the chapters in order to get their initial reactions.

Both women grudgingly admitted that they liked the character and the story a lot.

So I’m spending at least six hours a day this summer working on BUDO unless CHICKEN SHACK comes back from Taryn with a request for further revision.  If I write 2,000 words a day, not an unrealistic goal and one I expect to surpass on many days, I should have the book done by the end of September.  Since my first three books each took about a year to write, this would be quick by my standards, but I’m never really had the opportunity to write fulltime before. 

My editor will not enter this process until it’s time to for publisher to make an offer on the manuscript.  While I know some writers and editors work closely on choosing the topic for the next book and developing the story, these tend to be authors with multi-book contracts, so the editor has a significant investment in what the author produces next.  Because I am still new to the game and working on a book-to-book basis, my editor works hard on the most recent manuscript once my publisher and I agree to terms, but in regards to the book I’m currently working on, she may ask me about the book out of curiosity but she doesn’t play any role in its actual creation.

That role currently belongs to Taryn and my small but important army of readers, about half a dozen in all, who will read my latest manuscript, chapter by chapter, and offer input.  These people are more important than Taryn or my editor could ever be.  They provide me with the immediate feedback that I crave and the commentary which helps to guide the narrative.

I owe my initial readers a great deal.

And so that is the process, at least so far.  With luck, Taryn will fall in love with the latest draft of CHICKEN SHACK, and once we decide on an actual title for the book, she will send it off to my editor at Doubleday Broadway, who will, with some luck, also fall in love with the manuscript and make me an offer I can’t resist.  And sometime in September, I will find myself needing to choose another idea again, and the process will start all over, most likely with a few new ideas added to the mix.

Too many ideas and not enough time to write them all is a problem, but it’s not a terrible problem to have.

June 07, 2010

Ultimate business conversion

CHICKEN SHACK features a funeral home turned fried chicken restaurant and was inspired by the conversion of Blackstone Potato Chips to a funeral home in the town in which I grew up. 

I’ve written about other odd business combinations and conversions, including a movie theatre turned hotel, a laundromat/restaurant/bar, and a publishing house/tutoring center/pirate supply shop and a barber shop/gun shop

And now I have a new conversion to add to the list:

An elementary school turned strip club

From the New York Times:

Signs on the wall at the old Pioneer School here seem not to have not changed much since the ’80s. A multiplication table hangs on one wall, a copy of the Constitution on another.

But near the entrance to the cafeteria, where generations from this central Illinois farming community took their school lunches, one sign reveals just how dramatically the yellow brick building’s role has shifted: “Our dancers are entertainers not prostitutes so don’t ask!!!”

There’s most assuredly a story in here somewhere.

May 20, 2010

Names

The Facts of Life was a sitcom about four girls and their scraggly old headmistress, Mrs. Garrett. It was a painfully classic 80’s television programs that proselytized and preached lessons of morality to viewers each week. It’s also one of Elysha’s favorite childhood shows, so I hear about it from time to time.

We were chatting about the show the other day and it occurred to me how offensively stereotypical and stupid the names of the main characters were.

Blair Warner, the wealthy, snobbish socialite

Jo Polniaczek, the motorcycle-riding tomboy from Brooklyn

Tootie Ramsey, the African-American, roller skating gossip

Could these names be any more cliché, hackneyed and formulaic?

I have a hard time with names.  I think that naming a character is an important part of the writing process, yet I often have a hard time doing so.  Occasionally, a name will simply pop into my mind, ready-made and perfectly apropos, as did Martin’s name in SOMETHING MISSING.  But more often than not, I find myself scanning baby-naming websites and running through the names of friends and former students in my head, hoping that I will stumble across the perfect one.  This is how the protagonists of my second and third books, Milo and Wyatt, were named.  In both cases I was scanning lists of names online when I came upon these two, and almost instantly I knew that they were perfect for the character in question. 

Milo is a quirky, somewhat odd name that seemed to match my quirky and odd character quite well.  It’s also the name of the protagonist in THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, one of my wife’s favorite books, so I liked the homage that I was paying with the name choice.

Wyatt is a vigilante, a man who seeks his own unique and amusing brand of justice.  I wanted a name that was uncommon and no-nonsense, and Wyatt seemed to fit the bill.  I also liked how the name harkens back to Wyatt Earp, the famous Old West lawman who also dealt in his own brand of justice.  

Last names can be even trickier.  I have no recollection of how Martin Railsback received his last name.  Though it sounds a little silly, I think he was born with it.  The character of Martin was so completely and thoroughly downloaded to my brain that he came to me fully-formed, first and last name included.

Milo Slade received his last name from a movie poster that I saw on a Metro North train as I pecked away on my keyboard.  I liked the edginess and grit that a name like Slade possesses, and I specifically liked the way it’s juxtaposed to Milo’s first name and his overall character. 

Milo is anything by edgy. 

Wyatt’s last name changed several times during the writing of the book, and I finally settled on Salem because I thought it sounded right for the funeral home that his family owns. 

Salem’s Funeral Home.  It had a nice ring to it. 

Elysha later pointed out that his last name also caused her to conjure images of the Salem Witch Trials and the ways in which Wyatt’s public persecution is similar to the persecution faced by the adolescent girls of Salem who were unjustly executed for witchcraft.  While I love this connection, it was sadly not a conscious decision on my part. 

Perhaps my unconscious was at work.

Then again, many of my naming decisions may have been made with the help of the unconscious parts of my mind. 

Martin’s first name, it has been pointed out to me by many people (including my former therapist) is quite similar to my own, and Martin and I have a great deal in common (though I didn’t realize it while I was writing the book).

Milo’s name, like mine, also starts with an M, and the last three letters of Wyatt’s name happen to be the same last three letters in Matt as well.

Again, all unconscious decisions on my part but creepy nonetheless. 

And naturally, my newest protagonist is named Betty Grape, a name that popped into my head as soon as I placed my hands on the keyboard.  And like my own name, Betty’s name possesses a double T. 

Weird.

But not as weird as naming your roller skating African American character Tootie. 

May 10, 2010

Tick tock

This is the worst part of the writing process for me:

The waiting.

The manuscript is done, and it’s in Taryn’s hands.  I sit and wait, usually for about a week, hoping to hear that it’s absolutely perfect. 

Expecting to hear that it’s absolutely perfect.

That’s a long week.  A frustrating week. A hair-pulling, gut-wrenching week, and sometimes, it’s more than a week. 

Can you believe it?  More!

And even if the manuscript is perfect, then there’s the submission process.  The manuscript goes to my editor and publisher for review, and so begins the agonizing wait for an offer, which can take another month or more. 

Sometimes I feel like screaming, “I just spent a year writing those 100,000 words, people!  And you’re going to make me wait more than a month to find out it’s fate?  C’mon!  No eating or sleeping until you’ve read the damn thing!”

I secretly wish that Taryn, my editor, and the suits at Doubleday would just read along with me as I write, sentence for sentence, word for word, like some giant, interconnected video game, so that just as I type that final word of the book, my phone would ring.

“Hi, Matt.  It’s Taryn!  I love the way you ended the book.  So much heart!  So much humor!  And your editor loved it even more.  We were sitting here, watching you finish it together.  Doubleday’s offering a four-book, seven-figure deal.  What do you think?”

I don’t know what’s less likely: the read-along-with-me scenario or the seven-figure offer.

Probably both. 

May 09, 2010

Making my own karma

I may still be sick, but I can still be a jerk when the need arises. 

After a visit to the doctor today (where I was stuck with needles three times before they managed to draw blood), I headed to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription that the doc had called in for me.  I had thought about using the drive-thru when I arrived, but after being scolded by the nurses for allowing myself to become dehydrated (and thus having no veins), I decided to go inside and buy some Gatorade as well.

The line at the pharmacy was long, five people deep, and once again, I thought about using the drive-thru, having already paid for the Gatorade up front, but I was listening to a good book and hadn’t been out of the house in days, so I decided to listen to Sarah Silverman narrate her memoir and wait.

A moment later, an older woman took up a position behind me and immediately began complaining.

“Can you believe the line they have on Mother’s Day?”

I pointed out to the lady that both cash registers were open, so they were doing all that they could.  Admittedly, the line was moving slow.  Someone was having a Medicare payment issue, thinking the $115 price tag on their medication should have been $1.15, but they were hardly understaffed.   

She continued to complain, further interrupting my audio book, and while my initial instinct was to tell her to address her complaints to the cashiers and pharmacists and not passive-aggressively insult them from the back of the line, I just wanted her to shut up, so I said, “If I let you cut me, will you stop complaining?”

“No, I will not cut you,” she said, raising her voice.  “I have every right to speak my mind.”

“Fine,” I said.  “But I’m sick of listening to you, so I’ll just leave.  I’m sure that karma will take care of me and you in good time.”

I walked out of the store, got in my car, and pulled to the drive-thru lane.  My plan was nearly spoiled by a man standing by the drive-thru window, but as my car came into view, his wife began screaming at him from the sidewalk and he vacated the space.  I pulled up and had my prescription in my hands in less than two minutes.

I then parked my car, reentered the store, and returned to the pharmacy area, where the angry lady was now third in line.

I came along side her, shook my prescription bag near her ear, allowing the pills to rattle around in their plastic container, and said, “I told you that karma would take care of me.”

“How did you get that prescription"?” the woman sputtered, obviously unaware of the pharmacy’s drive-thru lane.  I turned and left without answering.

When you read CHICKEN SHACK someday and wonder about what gave rise to a character like Wyatt Salem, remember this story. 

I’m still not well.  I cannot eat and have lost eleven pounds in three days.  It’s been a miserable period of time, but this was the pick-me-up that I needed to help me turn a corner and kick this bug once and for all.  I can feel it.  My white-blood cells are firing on all cylinders now, anxious to go to war and kill this viral enemy. 

Thanks angry lady!

May 08, 2010

What is an alternative lifestyle anymore?

Okay, I like The Spin Cycle Cafe, a combination cafe, bar and laundromat in town.  My newest book, CHICKEN SHACK, which I am in the process of finishing and selling, features a combination funeral home and fried chicken stand, so I like the combination-location idea a lot. 

And I’ve written about The Spin Cycle Cafe before in rather glowing terms.  

So when I saw their tweet advertising The Spin Cycle Cafe’s Alternative Lifestyle Night, I was pleased. 

“Great!  They’re forward thinking!  They’re liberally minded!  They’re tolerant and accepting of all people!  They cater to everyone!”

I was downright happy.

Then I told my wife about the tweet, and she rightly asked, “Does that mean it’s a night for gay and lesbians?  Is homosexuality even considered alternative anymore?”

She’s got a point.  We have gay and lesbian friends and hardly consider their lifestyle to be alternative.  I’ve worked with gay and lesbian individuals before, and some of our friends are married and have kids.  Last Saturday, for example, I spent the afternoon with a gay couple and their infant son, and next month I plan to play golf with one of the guys.  I hardly think of them as alternative.   

So then we got wondering what alternative might mean to the good folks at The Spin Cycle Cafe.  After some debate, we went to The Spin Cycle Cafe’s Facebook page, where we found this image advertising their Alternative Lifestyle Night:  

Some of our initial thoughts about the theme of the night included:

Women have to dress in hopes of appearing in the television series Fame?

Guys trying to resemble Vanilla Ice?

People who love the 1980’s with an extra splash of extra color?

Men who weave excessive lengths of gimp?

Honestly, I still have no idea for whom Alternative Lifestyle Night is targeted.  Are these people supposed to represent the gay and lesbian lifestyle, because they do not resemble any of my gay and lesbian friends.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still love The Spin Cycle Cafe and am pleased to have this business in my hometown.  And I think the idea of an Alternative Lifestyle Night is great, but I’m just not sure what kind of person they are appealing to. 

And I’m not so sure about the messages being conveyed in the above image.

Frankly, I think the place is a lot cooler than this advertisement implies.

I think the only solution is to attend an Alternative Lifestyle Night and find out for myself.

I’ll keep you posted.