A Note: When has “my music” really been performed in public or private?

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For the record, I thought I would make a note of when any of my own music compositions have been performed publicly.

The little Minuet in E, many times around 1959 as it won a prize.

The Sonata in A (15 minutes, 1958) and much bigger Sonata in D Minor (1960)  I think I performed these before an audience at my second music teacher’s home in the late spring of 1960.  I played the slow movement other times.  I had more technique then, and could actually pull this one off (even the finale).

I would play them in a piano room at Ewell Hall at William and Mary in the fall of 1961,  The friend liked the little one, and claims he played it by ear before an audience in Pasadena, CA before an audience over Christmas 1961.  He loved the “scale theme” in the first movement.

There may be something to this.  During the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC in 2012, the festive A Minor music played before the shows sounded so much like the finale (Presto, A Minor) of my little Sonata, arranged for strings.  Maybe the music stuck in someone’s mind over the decades.

I would play one other piece, “Bubbling Brook”, at the Morris County GAA in Morristown NJ before an audience at a talent show in the fall of 1973.

All of this is a long way from Poisson Rouge or the 930 Club.  But I bring slowly make the shorter pieces into fully publishable form.  But self-teaching of Sibelius takes time.

(Published: Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 11:45 PM EDT)

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”)

A little lesson in Kickstarter and in screenplay selling

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Screenwriter Ashley Scott Meyers of “Selling Your Screenplay”  interviews director/writer Jody Wheeler from “The Dark Place”  (my Blogger review was here  ) (See also April 18, 2014 here) with executive producer Steve Parker.

Wheeler does talk about getting jobs writing screenplays for other people’s projects. One of these turned out to be a script that the production company could modify to make two movies, one for a heterosexual and one for a gay audience.  You seem to have to get outside of your own narrative to “write what other people want”. But in “Dark Place”,  one of the selling points of a “mainstream mystery” with gay male characters was that the characters are likeable and inspire rooting interest.  The film is closer to Truffaut than Hitchcock.

He does talk about the Kickstarter process (or similarly Indiegogo) which he says works best for budgets under $200,000.  More than that amount you need to find investors who feel they are accomplishing something by helping you with your project.

In the second video above, actor Timo Descamps “pimps out Kickstarter” for this film (released in late 2014).

Here’s a glossary of all the personnel involved in film production.

On Sunday, March 20, the Washington Post Business Section ran a story bt Asha Bhattrai, “Crowdfunding by day, cleaning by night“, about freelance artist Brianna Mercedes Weidner.

(Published: Friday, March 18, 2018 at 11 PM EDT)

Three films about nuclear Armageddon from the 80s

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A few films in the 1980s, the Reagan years, do recall the horror we used to feel at nuclear war.

In November  1983, ABC aired a two-part “The Day After” on a Sunday and Monday night. It was directed by Nicholas Meyer and written by Edward Hume.

The US has maintained an underground SAC base near Lawrence, Kansas and the University of Kansas (where I went to graduate school).  After international tensions, the US launches them within sight og the campus, and the Soviets nuke Kansas City.  People are shown turning to skeletons in the blast downtown, as the first part ends.  In the second half, people search through rubble. Jason Robards, JoeBeth Wiliams, and John Lithgow star.

People were told not to watch this alone.  I watched in my apartment in Harvey’s Raquet in Dallas with a medical resident next door I had befriended.  He had gotten used to treating PWA’s already.

 

Another film in 1983 was “Testament”, directed by Lynne Litman (Paramount).  A mom (Jane Alexander) in a suburb in Marin County and her kids learn that San Francisco has been nuked from an emergency news broadcast, and they await the end of their lives from radiation sickness.  (It’s a little hard to believe the broadcast could have gone off in the first place.) The film is available to rent on Amazon.

 

In 1982, NBC aired a 3-hour, 2-part “World War III”, by David Greene and Boris Sagal, written by Robert L. Joseph.   In retaliation for a grain embargo, the Soviets attack the US oil pipeline in Alaska.  This was a big deal in the years after the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973.  Rock Hudson, to die of AIDS five years later, plays the president.

(Published: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 1:30 PM EDT)

DC Indie Film Festival QA for “dramatic shorts”

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The DC Independent Film festival presented a QA for three of the “dramatic shorts” in the Burke Auditorium of the Navy Memorial in Washington DC.  (detailed review here.)

Peter Mc Quinn, from Ireland, discussed “Staccato”
and here 

Lisa Ford discussed  “The Wish Horse” here, then here

 

and here.

Richard T. Fields discussed “Courting Lewis Baker”

here,, then this longer clip.

and finally this wrap-up.

(Published: Monday,  March 14, 2016, at 12:30 PM EDT)

ABC’s series’s on Herman Wouk’s World War II novels

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I do recall being somewhat “swept” by the two big ABC miniseries on Herman Wouk’s massive novel duet, “The Winds of War” (1983) and “War and Remembrance” (1988)., giving a complete chronicle of World War II.  I even recall the majestic D Minor opening theme by Bob Cobert, and the montage of images from around the world subsumed by the War.

The first series aired in 1983, while I lived in Dallas.  It ran for 15 hours and was divided into seven episodes.  The first episode was titled “The Winds Rise”, and the second was “The Storm Breaks”.  The final was “Into the Maelstrom”.  The hero is commander Victor Henry (“Pug”), played by Robert Mitchum. He learns of the Hitler-Stalin pact, and travels the world meeting world leaders. His middle son, the idealistic Byron (Jan Michael Vincent) works for a member of the Jastrow family that will always be fleeing the Nazis. The series ends with the attack on Pearl Harbor, the way the 2001 movie by that name begins.

The second series started in late 1988, which I could watch shortly after I had moved back to Arlington VA from Dallas, with a downsized lifestyle.  Mitchum continues as Pug, but Vincent is replaced by Hart Bochner.  For Aaron Jastrow, John Houseman was replaced by John Gielgud.  I remember the entire series being rebroadcast in the mid 1990s, around 1996, when I was living in a larger place in Annandale and working on my first book.  The mood of the series often inspired me.  I would sometimes watch an episode before going out on a weekend evening (like to “Tracks”).  The series is much longer, with twelve episodes.  As it progresses, the plight of the Jastrow family gets increasing emphasis. There is a long sequence in the “Paradise Ghetto”, Theresienstadt, in Czechoslovakia, where Aaron participates as an elder running the artificial “colony”.  But eventually, starting one chilly afternoon in late October, all are transported by train to Auschwitz. The journey takes longer that it should according to geography, and encounters early snow.  When the prisoners arrive, the scenes resemble those of the 2016 Academy Award winner “Son of Saul”. The women’s hair is cut (and the men’s bodies may have been shaved).  The next to last episode ends in a gas chamber.

The series also dramatizes the assassination attempt on Hitler.

Wouk’s earlier novel, “The Caine Mutiny” (Edward Dmytryk, Columbia), became a long-running film in 1954, at the RKO Keith’s in downtown Washington. I remember “hating” Lt Commender Queeg (Humphrey Bogart) who takes over command of a ship and is tried for mutiny (a touch of “Billy Budd”).

(Published Wednesday, March 2, 2016 at 3:30 PM)