Category Archives: my acting audition

Reid Ewing’s recent podcast interview ties a lot of themes in psychology and art together

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I found an interesting podcast recorded by Dr. Dave Verhaagen and his Champion of Mental Health award, of actor Reid Ewing.  The article is here, and the podcast, running 40 minutes (worth it to listen to in entirety) here.

Reid was known as the handsome, lanky and goofy character Dylan for some time on Modern Family. He has starred in several comedies, in the horror “Fright Night”, the web sci-fi comedy TV series “The Power Inside”, and has made a number of music videos, like “Traffic Jam”, and an intriguing three-part series of short films “It’s Free” in mockumentary style, but somehow tied up with a company Igigi Studios.

Reid, now 27, got media coverage in November 2015 with his essay in the Huffington Post disclosing a previous issue with body dysmorphia.  He also announced on Twitter, almost as an afterthought, that he is gay, saying “I was never in”, Advocate story.

The podcast is interesting to me for several details.  I’ll leave the reader to listen to Reid explaining his own account of the experience, as well as his situation now as a college student and his circumstances in the film world (toward the end of the interview). If I understood right, his father of the same name is a well-known professor of city planning in Utah.

Also, before moving on with my own perspective, let me note that some of this is not about Reid (or me),  It’s a biological fact it takes until around age 25-28 for the brain to be fully grown.  Chess players reach their biological peak at about age 30.  By the mid 20s, people often wonder how they were taken in and manipulated by others promoting certain ideas (about body image, for example) when they were teenagers.  He even mentions wanting a “conversation with his younger self”, right out of relativity.

Now, I did want to note that as a young man I experienced a kind of dysmorphia, but it was expressed in almost a flip-side manner of what he describes.  While I was sexually attracted to young men who fit a certain cultural stereotype of “masculinity”, I was surprisingly disconnected from awareness of my own personal appearance and of my own body most of the time.  By the time I started paying a lot more attention in later middle age, it was already “too late”, as I had melted away.  Reid’s own report of dysmorphia might seem surprising in light of his MF YouTube video “Imagine Me Naked” (2011), not as well known (also from Modern Family) as his song “In the Moonlight (Do Me)”, which actually works as a music prelude if you play the music alone by ear on a church organ (without the words). The “naked” does have telling lyrics, talking about never having to “fake it.”

His comments bear a certain relevance to the topic of psychological growth, the way it has been discussed at the Ninth Street Center in New York City, now known as a remnant, the Paul Rosenfels Community.  Rosenfels had developed the theory of character specialization or “polarities” (masculine and feminine, power-love, right-truth, objective-subjective, unbalanced-balanced, fun-pleasure, masochism-sadism, guilt-shame, and other axes).  Rosenfels’s analytic writing style follows from Eric Hoffer, and is best known for his 1971 book “Homosexuality: The Psychology of the Creative Process” (earlier review ).   In 1986, the Center made a black-and-white video “The Paul Rosenfels Video Anthology”, of which it printed a DVD in 1998, about an hour of talk-group footage.

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The Center opened in 1972 and remained so until 1991, between 2nd and 3rd avenues on E 9th Street in the East Village.  (I think Matt Damon and Anderson Cooper live somewhere in the general area and may be familiar with the history of the place.) The space had two basement rooms.  Originally, there were talk groups on Wednesday and Friday nights, and an acting class on Mondays, and potluck suppers on Saturday.  Over time, the talk groups expanded.

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Reid mentions acting as if it were therapeutic, as he can become someone else and leave his own issues with the self and body image.  I have heard other actors (mostly stage) say similar things, especially at the Center in NYC, and later hanging out with IFP-MSP in Minneapolis and later Reel Affirmations in Washington (and even when visiting Mark Parrish [“Jerome’s Razor” and “Mustang Sally”] one time in Boston).  Reid expresses a healthy skepticism of established authority, as to “what truth they are speaking to”.  (Moral “right” is complementary to human “truth” in the Rosenfels polarity system.)

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I’ll mention a couple other things.  Reid is passionate about animals, and adopts dogs, and his twitter feed shows life with dogs and at least one very venturesome cat. Actor Jesse Eisenberg is mentioned in Wikipedia as having a similar interest in rescuing cats.  (Dogs and cats both learn to recognize the unique electromagnetic signature of the heartbeat of their owners, and find it stimulating.)  His Twitter feed has always contained a lot of drawings and mentions of literary subjects, and lately has been communicating a lot of material from Japanese manga, especially Danganronpa, where he adopts the names of some characters.   The podcast, toward the end, mentions the Japanese film ( 2000)  “Battle Royale”, which anticipates “The hunger Games” but that has some unusual storytelling structures (my review   has already attracted unusual volume of hits).

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With Danganronpa, as with other PlayStation games, people make “movies” or “web series” out of games played out with the characters.  I suppose a movie distributor or theater chain could buy a license to offer some of these in game film festivals.  I’m not a gamer myself, simply because there isn’t time in life for everything.


A lead good guy in “The Event”  Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) is a gamer who doesn’t know that he is actually an extraterrestrial alien with powers and who will not age.

I do mean this as a complement (or complment?)  Could Reid host SNL on NBC?  As Dylan?  As Mikan or Reba?  Maybe do a satire on how so many people want everything in life to be “free”?  But the problem is, that sounds like satire that would please conservatives (or maybe pseudo’s like Donald Trump as well as the “little Rubio’s” of the world).  Or maybe libertarians, best of all.  It’s hard to get tickets to SNL if you do the Amtrak Acela routine.  I’d love to get the same hotel room in the Yotel or Iriquois.

(Published Saturday March 19, 2016 at 11:30 PM EDT; some photos come from my just-moved train set, which is supposed to model the rama-like space station for my own screenplay, “DADT Ephiphany”)

I start writing screenplays (Part I)

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I first started developing screenplay scripts for my “Do Ask, Do Tell” material in 2002 while still in Minneapolis, shortly after my “career change” had started with “The Layoff”.  I often attended a screenwriting seminar in a local college building on Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis, where we did table readings for some of our materials.  Some scripts got selected for formal table readings, as at the Jungle Theater near Lyndale and Lake St., or sometimes in one of the theater auditoriums in Block E on Marquette.

I did get one “film” shown at the Flaming Film Festival in May, 2002, shot on a Sony Camcorder.  It was called “Air Raid” or, alternatively, “Bill’s Clips”, and runs about six minutes.  The simplest way to present the films is to give the first link, here   all the way through “airraid4.mpg” and also “plane2.mpg”.  The idea is that someone is walking on the streets near the University of Minnesota campus when an apparent enemy attack starts.  Post 9/11, it was pretty effective.  The festival was sponsored by Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis (on Lyndale)

Once I came back to Arlington VA, I took at least two adult education classes in screenwriting offered by the public school system (small tuition), taught by Carolyn Perry.  I started renting films from Netflix, and the very first film I watched this way was “In Praise of Love” (“Eloge de l’amour”, 2001), a New Wave film in two parts by Jean-Luc Godard. It’s interesting because of its birfurcated, two-part structure, black-and-white and then color, the second part occurring before the first (as opposed to “beginning, middle and end” in conventional screenplays). The film is meta-styled and layered, about an author’s making a film about several couples, including a particular person with connections to the past connections to the resistance in Vichy France.  It seems scattered rather than tightly focused, and that’s an idea that comes back in my own work.

I’ll add that on a cold Saturday in early 2002, I tried out for a part in the short film “The Retreat“, by Darin Heinis, in which some allied soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge encounter ghosts of Germans, and other supernatural artifacts.  I almost got a part of one of the Nazi ghosts.  I’m not sure what to make of that.  I would eventually see the film at Bryant-Lake Bowl in Minneapolis at an IFPMSP monthly screening party.

This train of thought, regarding my scripts, will continued soon.

Published: Sunday, March 2, 2014 PM 4:50 PM