Thank you all again for the advice and wisdom - it helps!
By watching that video (Silver's one above) I know that I do not cast with the reel that far tilted outward on the backcast, but I DO tilt it slightly...which is comfortable to me and I seem to do fine getting a straight backcast (i.e. no curve that Lefty says tends to happen if you do this).
And the v-grip posted above looks basically identical to how I grip the rod. This is FAR more comfortable to me than the thumb directly on top.