Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back

So I thought this would be a cool idea. For New Years Eve I thought it would be cool to take my New Years Resolutions and see how far I got in 2013. So let's see how I did...
  1. 5 production credits: So I didn't get the five that I was hoping for but I did get a great reading and a great production of 27 Days. 
  2. Start Raising Capital: Didn't really do this one. It seemed like this year it was better for me to plan and work on making the blog better. Well you know, maybe next year!
  3. Step forward as Producer/Consultant: I got to work on the Redeye 10's Coast to Coast as the Producer for the Central Time Zone. It was fun to know I was part of a National Movement!
  4. Step out of the Musician/Performer Closet: Well I got to perform a bit over the summer with one of my cigar box guitars and I just made a new one. 
So I think three out of four ain't bad. I also got to see NewYork and the North for the first time, donated my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, and did a lot of work for the End It Movement. So when you put all of that together it's been a very eventful year. I hope y'alls year has been amazing and wish you lots of luck in the next. See you later!

Monday, December 30, 2013

11 Hours to Go...

Twas the morning before Dr. Fronkensteen came and all through the Lair the Dragyn was stirring and trying to get prepared. The stockings were hung by the computer with care cause this was a bedroom, no fireplace there. And Dragyn in her Santa hat and cover in glitter tried to distract herself with facebook and twitter. Dr. Fronkensteen sat on a bus speeding fast. It honked at the cars and tried to get past. While Dragyn did text him "only 11 hours to go" Dr. Fronkensteen wrote back "Very soon, yes, I know." At 10pm Eastern they would be reunited. "Please get here quick!" Dragyn was terribly excited.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Does an Artist Need a Website

The post needed a pic... Viola!
Does an artist need to have a blog/website?

Is that a trick question? Of course an artist needs a website. For the same reason ANY business should have a website. To get a wider audience. Having a website or blog helps you create an online presence and start working on your living resume. What is great about a blog is you can talk about your accomplishments as they happen!

A blog is an especially good idea for an artist because you can share your art and who you are as an artist. It allows for people to step inside your world and learn more about you. You can post pictures and samples of your art. Dr. Fronkensteen actually has samples of his scripts on this page. It allows for people to see your work and decide if they like it.

Again with the resume, your blog helps highlight your style of work and how much you have accomplished in your career to date. People ask you "what do you do?" You reply "check out my site. It'll tell you all about me." And if you do it right it will.Your site or blog should also be set up so people (see future employers) can contact you.

A blog is also a way for you to connect with people. As you gain a following you will find other artists or people who want to work with you. Yes it's great to create for yourself but if you want to turn art into a career you need to get eyes on your work. A blog is a self-controlled way of doing just that.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Any Day!

Merry Christmas guys and dolls! It's your favorite neighborhood DragynAlly here taking over Dr. Fronkensteen's Lounge so he can get a much needed hiatus. He wrote 3 blog posts for me it's the least I can do. I know many of you will be opening gifts today and spending time with family. A few of you might not celebrate Christmas and some of you have to work today.

That's why I want to think of Christmas as not just a day. Sure that's what the calendar says but I disagree. Christmas is every day you cherish your loved ones and respect you fellow man (woman... person). Christmas is the feeling you get when you help others and you do good deeds. Christmas is the spirit of charity and goodwill.

Yes I am kind of celebrating Christmas today. My family doesn't really have plans. However my Christmas won't truly be here until Dr. Fronkensteen is on my doorstep in 5ish days! This will be our first Holiday together. So for us Christmas starts December 29/30. We will bake cookies, watch Christmas movies and exchange gifts just like it is December 25th. Because Christmas is what you make it.

Happiest of Holidays!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The True Meaning of Christmas

So if you asked me anything about Christmas I would have said anything but being in the Christmas mood. The week before I was sick with the flu and it took me forever to get back to any semblance of normal. I missed the church's Christmas musical and missed all of the Christmas cheer. I had to buy presents for everyone very late and it seems that with the family coming in very late we won't even be opening presents until Boxing Day (that's the day after Christmas for the uninitiated)

I spent forever trying regain the will to live, much less get into the Christmas spirit. I saw a lot of people out there getting their presents ready and making cookies and feeling the joy but you don't really feel it myself. All I saw was that I didn't have the money to buy any cool gifts, we weren't doing anything special, and my holiday didn't really start until afterwards.

Merry Christmas from the Fronkensteen Lounge!

But then I had to make myself realize that when you strip away all of the wrapping of Christmas, all of the consumerism, all of the Christian and Pagan tradition, and all of the other stuff you get the universal truth of Christmas. Christmas is about people spending a day with the people you love and spreading peace and joy. It's about taking a day off to be with your family. Christmas is people in a world in the darkest of winter lifting themselves up and turning towards light and happy things. The best gift that you give is when you give of yourself and share the joy with others.

I had to count my blessings and realize all of the good things around me. My family will be together. We're going to have a lot of fun and have lot's of good food. I'm working and doing well in school. I'll actually be celebrating two Christmases, one at home and one with DragynAlly in NJ. We are so excited about seeing each other and we know we're going to have a great time.

So my Christmas cheer is coming a little late but it will be there. And I'm really excited to be celebrating with my family and with my babycakes. So I hope that you guys have found the same joy that I have. Merry Christmas and God Bless.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Living Christ at Christmas @AdvntConspiracy

So have you ever noticed that the only way to seemingly do Christmas well is to either get horribly stressed and caught up in the commercialism or to just "sit on the sidelines" and not really participate. And as a Christian you're already in the tug of war in the whole "war on Christmas" debate which I personally think is a whole bunch of baloney. If you're like me and you personally believe that it's more important to keep Christ in your life instead of worrying about whether He gets lip-service this time of year you may wonder if there is anyone out there who has a movement designed just for you.

And that's where you find Advent Conspiracy.

Advent Conspiracy was a Christian Movement wanting to make sure that we focus on the true spirit of giving this Christmas. The philosophy is wrapped around four concepts to help you get free of Christmas stress.
  • Worship more: Realize that if you truly believe that Christmas is all about the birth of Christ then growing closer to Him and His teachings is a good step.
  • Spend Less: This doesn't mean that you have to never give presents to your friends and family. It just means that instead of a bunch of gifts that max out your credit cards and your family won't remember next year you focus on getting them that one gift that they'll remember forever!
  • Give More: They mean giving more of yourself and money to do good in this world. Instead of wasting ten bucks on those silly Secret Santa gifts why not get the whole office to donate that money to International Justice Mission or Living Water International, two of AC's partner ministries. Or volunteer your time at a local charity. They key idea is about doing something for good this Christmas.
  • Love All: Realize that one of the key points of Christmas is "peace on Earth and goodwill towards men". That means showing the love that you claim Christ had towards all people in your life.  Instead of getting into other people's "holiday drama" be the love that you want to see in the world.
And that's it. It reduces your holiday stress and makes you spend more time doing the things that count. It's not about making sure you force people to say "Christmas" instead of "Holidays" or trying to fight a  "War on Christmas". It's living that victory that you're celebrating the birth of the person that you believe is the Master of the Universe. So live like it. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Why I stink at playing "guitar"

So I play a lot of cigar box guitars and have one store-bought guitar that I play regularly. People often seem to marvel at how well I can play, especially when they note that I "only" have five strings. And they always find it funny when I say that I'm a horrible guitarist.

Me and my Axe. I call her Katie.
The truth is that I am a terrible "guitarist". But I'm a mediocre banjo player that discovered a great tuning for guitar for the lazy musician who doesn't want to learn new things. All because I like a little guy called Keith Richards maybe you've heard of him.

Because of my Tourettes I always found it hard to play instruments in anything resembling the proper way and add to that some ADHD that made it hard for me to sit through a lesson. So that means I learned most of my music chops the unconventional method of buying whatever instruments seemed easy and playing horribly on them until something worked. I tried bass and guitar, piano, mandolin, but something finally clicked with me playing the banjo.

Well after years of playing the banjo socially, mainly at talent shows and stuff, I wanted something that sounded better playing the rock and blues songs that I liked to play on it. People liked the "novelty" of hearing twangy hard rock but I found I was looking for something more like the sound of the guitar.  So I went out and bought one.

After struggling with trying to learn even basic chords on standard guitar tuning. I immediately started looking around the internet looking for simpler tunings. And then I saw a video of Keith Richards playing for the Rolling Stones on a guitar that only had five strings. FIVE!!! Just as many strings as a guitar. And when I looked up the tuning I was shocked to find it was exactly the same tuning as my banjo. So when I changed the tuning immediately and found that (having no traditional guitar training) I was actually playing a lot of the songs I knew within minutes!

So there you have it. I still really don't know how to play guitar and have no intention of really learning. I believe playing music should be fun and easy and I'm lazy and stuck in my ways. I love playing and wish more people picked up the tuning and played it. But will I ever call myself a "guitarist"? Nope. I'm just a banjo player that learned how to cheat.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Why I make Cigarbox Guitars

So I've talked a lot about making my instruments and even posted video of me playing my own homemade instruments here but maybe you've never even heard about these remarkably primal instruments or wonder why someone would ever choose to make their own instruments from scratch and play them.  So here are some of the reasons why I choose to make and play diddley bows, cigarbox  guitars, and other homemade instruments.

I may not have smoked them but I'm sure as heck gonna smoke on them.

  • They're cheap: The cigarbox guitar is at it's heart a poverty instrument. You make your own guitar because you can't afford to buy one in the first place. With the tools I have in my shed (tools anyone can get at a hardware store) I can make a workable cigar box guitar out of scrap for  less than $50. A used student level guitar (that means the cheap ones) is at least $200.
  • They're easy: Shane Speal posts a wonderful series of videos on youtube to teach people how to play diddey bows and cigarbox guitars. But if you've played a guitar at all and even if you haven't you can be playing a recognizable song within 30 minutes of getting your hands on one. There's little instruction needed to get playing. In fact most of rock and blues' greatest musicians started on one.
  • They help you play better: There's no better teacher for learning how to play the guitar than making it yourself. You learn that by using this box over that one and these strings over those what sounds come out of it. It's like the strings are telling you, "you need a slide to play us" or "this is how we want to sound." By making the instrument it teaches you how to play it.
  • They sound wretched: When you want a sound that sounds like blues coming from the deepest inner screeches of the abyss you want a cigar box guitar. These instruments aren't supposed to sound like the high quality instruments that cost thousands of dollars. These guitars are meant to sound nasty and the sound is so nasty it's good. 
  • They can be personalized: I take sharpies, stickers, and paint to my guitars. They can be a full expression of my style. You wouldn't dream of doing this to a Gibson Les Paul because it would ruin the value. Cigar box guitars are basically folk art you can play. 
  • They're durable: You can beat on these things as you play them and they take the abuse. After all all what are you going to do, wreck the value of an instrument that cost nothing to make and can be fixed in your own house in little time? I think I'll take the risk. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Fronkensteen Manifesto

So ever since I started the Lounge I wanted to create my own manifesto. Essentially a manifesto is your statement of what you think your chosen craft is and how you and the rest of the world should interface with it. A manifesto is your love letter to your art. Here is mine. It's subject to being edited as I go along. Tell me what you think.

Me and my friends eating before making Theatre with the Lubberland Dance Company
-Theatre is experimentation. Theatre should be homeless an nomadic. Not focused on making events but becoming events. Not about keeping out but allowing everyone in. Theatre should be as readily accessible and deceptively easy as blogging. Everyone should be able to try and through hard work be allowed to support themselves with it. 

-Theatre should not be tied into a building but break into the places where people are. Theatre can happen on a truck, theatre can happen in a house, the stage is this world. Theatre is allowed online and in impossible spaces. The theater is you!

-Theatre should not be ashamed of making money. Theatre is not a charity case. Artists should be allowed to do what they need to support themselves and know that they still have the dignity of being an artist. 

-Theatre should be not about being "discovered" but you discovering the potential in yourself. In your everyday surroundings, and in what you do now. You don't have to be discovered to make art as long as you discover that you can make art now! 

-Theatre is blending and melding. Theatre can be a mix of all of the artforms put together. Theater should never be afraid to mingle and make friends. To collaborate and make new forms and should never be afraid to help other people get started. Theatre is always starting and continually changing.

-Theatre should not be a prerequisite to do theatre. Anyone no matter of skill level, infrastructure, or economic status should be barred from pursuing a life of good art.  

-Theatre is about citizenship and being a responsible citizen in the theatre community. Pursuing justice and charity and equality for all. 

Fronkensteen Theatre is an expansion of the Little Theatre Movement. It's a Brother of Cheap Art and a cousin to Neo-Futurism. It evolves as it is grown and changes as new philosophies are added to the family. Remember that you the artist are the new Little Theater. The World is your Stage. The Means are whatever is around you. The Artistic Life is yours to live. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Pay money for a cigar box guitar?

So I've gotten a little ticked by websites, Etsy stores, and other places where people sell cigar boxes they've made online. Now I'm not talking about custom shops like Smokehouse or Daddy Mojo Guitars that give you a custom professional axe that rivals the performance of a top shelf guitar you can buy at a music shop.   And I'm not talking about people who try to sell a great product that they made. What I have big problems with are these sites that sell these mass produced cigar box guitars and for a lot of money (like $90 or more)

I made this one this spring and I'm still constantly perfecting it!
Here's the thing, cigar box guitars are supposed to be instruments steeped in a tradition of poverty. When you didn't have enough money to even buy a very cheap guitar you went into your garage or
woodshed and you made one. These were custom things that had a sense of personality and uniqueness. These were not things you that had a million that looked just like them. These were not things that cost so much that people had to "save up" for. So why is it when I go onto the web and look at these people that I'm seeing one-strings that I can make in my own shed (That ANYONE can make) and being asked to fork over 90 bucks for it.

There's something about the core philosophy of these instruments that I feel is wronged when you do this with these instruments. These are peasant instruments, not professional guitars. They are supposed to be a celebration of personal artistry and uniqueness. At a certain point you just totally insult that entire philosophy. Please go out and buy a good cigar box guitar from somebody who is making them personally with love. When you start getting better at your skills and start getting serious about music then you really should invest in the more costly professional sounding instruments out there made by very talented craftsmen. I know I'm planning on getting a good four string sometime soon. But when you're talking about the backyard, gut-busting guitars that sound so primal when you make them yourself...at their foundation they're a folk art. Cheap art you can play. And that's how they should stay.

Win $500! #Giveaway

So DragynAlly made me do this. She says that I have the greatest readers in the world and I agree. She also said that you deserve to win a huge prize to help you with the Christmas season. So here it is! You can win $500 in cash. That should help pay a bill or two. 

Welcome to the $500 Cash Giveaway!

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Carole P. Roman

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born.
"Captain No Beard - An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Remarkable Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. "Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience" Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. It has followed with six more books to the series. Motivated by her love of yoga, Roman has written a book that not only teaches four poses, but shows how easy and accessible yoga can be.
Her new non fiction series, "If You Were Me and Lived in..." combines her teaching past with her love of exploration and interest in the world around us. The debut book in the series, "If You Were Me and Lived in...Mexico" has won the Pinnacle Award for Best in Children's Non Fiction 2012. France, South Korea, Norway, Kenya and Turkey. They will be followed with India and Australia.
She plans to do Portugal, Greece, and Argentina next year. Writing for children has opened up a whole second act for her. While she is still working in her family business, this has enabled her to share her sense of humor as well as love for history and culture with the audience she adores. Roman lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children.

Michael Phillip Cash

Michael Phillip Cash's first book "Brood X - A Firsthand Account of the Great Cicada Invasion" is presently under consideration for a film adaptation. His well received second novel, "Stillwell - A Haunting on Long Island", has stayed on the top of Amazon's "100 Best Seller" in it's genre since its release earlier this year.
He recently released "The Hanging Tree", his first novella. Michael is currently working on a new book, Schism, which will be available soon on Amazon. Michael lives on Long Island with his wife and children.

We wish our readers Happy Holidays and warm wishes.
Good luck to all and to all a good night!

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

How to keep a Millenial interested.

Hello guys and dolls. Dr. Fronkensteen here. I just got done listening to this podcast right here from Cracked.com. I found it intriguing and enlightening but I did something right after listening that I wish I didn't. I read the comments. It was full of these people (all most likely a lot older) going on and on about how they don't like to hire "Millenials" (people born 1985 and sooner) because they're lazy, the get bored easily, they don't like the entry level work of most jobs, and they don't have any ambition. Something that I know is just plain wrong.

I'll readily admit I was a 90's kid and kinda grew up thinking that I was a Gen X-er only to have some guy in an office take that title away from me and lump me with the kids that were born after the century changed. At first I resented it. 90's kids are a weird breed. My gf says that we are the generation that was born in the 80's, grew up in the 90's, and embittered by the 00's. We were born at a time when the techno age was still dial up and AOL but inherited a 20's with Iphones and Google.  But more and more I do have to admit that I'm a Millenial at heart. So it bothers me when I keep hearing people bad mouth this generation because we don't happen to play by your rules. So maybe I can leave you some insight about how we are hardwired differently and some tips to make sure you can keep a Millenial Happy at their job.
We raised awareness about a huge social issue with a single X and all from our homes. Are we really all that lazy?

  1. We were told we can change the world sitting down: I've often talked about the End It Movement before on this blog. The Movement originated at concert and conference called the Passion Conference. At this weekend conference and concert my first year there (basically a vacation for most of us) 40 k broke college students raised a couple million dollars to fund organizations, even a task force for Atlanta Police, to help end human trafficking. And then we sang afterwards. On our vacation we helped change the world and fund major missions to end a world problem and then went home to go back to classes the next week. What is your job doing that's more interesting than our vacations?
  2. We're more fulfilled in our hobbies: I currently work part time (10 hours a week). In my "free time" work on this blog, tinker with social media, and write/market my plays. I work about thirty hours a week on it for free. On this "hobby" in my free time I reach about thousand people or more in my social media, get about 500-1,000 unique readers on my site a month, and by putting my playwriting portfolio online I get instant feedback from people who've read my work. My gf, DragynAlly does so much better than that (because she is so awesome)! Frequently a lot of Millenials get this much attention on their blogs. I reach all those people in my (unpaid) free time. What's your job doing that's more fulfilling than my free time?
  3. We're told we have to go to college to get a job we "deserve": Anyone can find in a google search how much debt students take on to get a Bachelor's degree and even an Advanced degree.   We were told that "flipping burgers" or working a "menial" job is beneath us. So we spend a lot of money to get an advanced degree to get the job we're told we'll deserve and then we get out into the real world and we're told that we're "unqualified" for the jobs left available to us. And then we find out that there aren't as many jobs left for us in our degree field as we were told when we read the brochure. Is your job something that we "deserve"?
  4. We were told to value our creativity and independent thinking: I remember being told as a kid that I can think my way out of any problem and that I could do it alone or working in a small team. And we were also taught to multi task. I have several friends who I work with from time to time. If I make them work the same menial and tedious job in your office they're often going to get bored. But if I give them a mission and the responsibility to do it all by themselves they'll often rise to the challenge and exceed your expectations. It's the difference between "file these papers and sort these documents" and "how are you going to make us more organized?" It's the same end product but our version of it. Is your job making us cogs in your machine or do we have responsibility?
  5. We can access the information better than you can: If you start circulating a rumor you heard on the radio we can do a quick Google search and tell you that Snopes.com already declared it an urban legend. If you start badmouthing a certain public figure or a piece of legislation based on a news report we can dig up about six reports with the facts. This is how we base our worldview, by finding the facts ourselves. Give me a topic and in about a week I can get enough info free online to fill a textbook on it. Give us enough time and we can be experts on any topic. Is your job asking us to take your facts at face value or is it allowing us to make up our own minds and add to the situation?
I hope that you found this informative. There was a name that they first created for my generation that I always thought was going to stick. They first started calling us the "Mosaic Generation" because we were the generation that got to piece ourselves together from whatever remnants we could find. We were the first generation that could choose to make ourselves instead of being made by who was before us. I hope it does stick. And I hope that all the Millenials out there will smile when the read this and keep piecing themselves together. Have fun!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Shuffle #WritingPrompt

Here is a cool writing prompt from my the genius of DragynAlly. So do you like listen to music while you write. Don't let an opportunity pass you buy to use those tasty tunes to help you write your play!

Start writing and put your Ipod on shuffle. Start playing and write a scene for each song. You only have a limited amount of time to write the scene though because when the song ends you have to immediately stop that scene and start writing a new one. By the end of the session you'll at least have a cool working outline for a play with no thought required.

Bust a move and write a play at the same time? I'm in!

What are some variations for this? Well what if you're trying to create a character and you have no clue for what to make of them? Well why don't you make a playlist for that character and use each song as inspiration for an interesting quirk or character trait. I did this once for for a character of mine who was a former pastor turned heavy rocker. I started looking for songs from both the Christian perspective and classic rock songs that told me who he was and who he is now.

Songs and other media are like goldmines. They are worth their weight in story ideas and character ideas. They start these narratives in our heads that we must get out. It's our job to dig for them and use them for our purposes. So grab your Ipods, Iphones, (or in my case my Walkman) and start looking for your next ideas.

And as always have fun!

Monday, December 2, 2013

My Favorite thing about Being in the Theatre

I think my favorite thing about being in the theatre is getting all of the people together. Also seeing an empty space and knowing that in four weeks there's going to be theatre there.  I love seeing the whole process. I love seeing the day by day process of the set being built and I love seeing the journey of actors with their scripts in hand the first week and making discoveries and then making characters their own.

I have what I would call the producer sickness. That means when I walk into a room the first thing that I do is think to myself, "I could do turn this into a theatre space." And when I get a good idea I just have to get my friends together and do it. I have to get my theatre family together and do it.

It's that aspect that makes me a junkie about the theatre. It's that feeling where you would do anything to just be in the building, to volunteer to sweep the floor if that's what it takes to see this process unfold. It's seeing how this show went from words on a page to the end product that we see on opening night that makes it all worth while to me.

So everyone needs their "X" Factor that makes them want to follow their dreams. I love hearing people tell me what keeps them going in this industry. For me it's sitting on the bare stage before the first read through and knowing that in four weeks we'll soon see the space get transformed into a new space and on opening night we'll be able to share with the audience the journey we took to get there.