The films and TV/video series of filmmaker Andrew Jenks (esp. “Dream/Killer”)

Strong Hall, KU, 2005 (one state W of Mo)

I’m usually not as interested in whole (television) series for important content as films, because a viewer has to commit so much time to one topic.

Nevertheless, I see that Andrew Jenks, who has directed at least three of his own documentary films, including “Dream / Killer” about the wrongful conviction of Ryan Ferguson , has worked as executive producer for the new Amazon series on the issue, “Unlocking the Truth”, with episodes directed by Adam Kassen.

In fact, the series stars Ryan Ferguson and Eva Nagao as journalists investigating other wrongful conviction cases.

I watched the first two episodes yesterday ($2.99 each on Amazon).

Unlocking the Truth, Andrew Jenks

The pilot, “Gates of Hell”, starts with Ryan’s account of his own sudden arrest while driving from college in Kansas City in March 2004. A high school companion had “dreamed” that he and Ryan had committed a murder while drunk in Columbia, MO. The episode shows Ryan being interrogated by police, who have a political motivation to get a conviction even with no physical evidence. The episode then breaking recounts his father’s and family’s efforts to get the conviction overturned.

Ferguson says, this can happen to anybody. I recall that about 15 years ago ABC 20/20 presented another case in Illinois about murder during sleepwalking recalled by a dream.

The episode then moves to another case in Missouri, that of Michael Politte, convicted for murdering his mother when he was 14 in December 1998.

In reviewing a series like this, I probably don’t want to get into “speculation” as to other suspects myself (as no one else has been convicted), but MTV goes into an alternate theory here which is covered in the video.

The second episode “Ain’t No Change in the House of Pain” continues the Politte case and introduces the 1995 beating of Jill Marker in Winston-Salem NC, leaving her in a coma, and severely disabled even today, with defendant Kalvin Michael Smith, as explained on MTV here.

Many of the scenes show Ryan and Eva interviewing other witnesses. It’s odd to see a “television’ series shot in 2.35:1.

It’s great to see Ryan (his fitness site, which should please “Blogtyrant”) become a journalist (like Clark Kent) after ten years in prison, years taken away from him by force.

Ryan’s story has also been covered on NBC Dateline. The “Innocence Project” has produced some important films through CourtTV, such as “The Exonerated“.

Since I discontinued use of Blogger Jan 3. three reviews of Jenks’s films there are no longer available. I’ll summarize quickly.

Dream/Killer” (2015) presents the wrongful conviction of Ryan Ferguson, who was convicted in Missouri of a murder of a sports editor based on the testimony of someone whose “evidence” was based on a dream. That concept has occurred in a 20-20 episode in the past. The Innocence Project gives some details here. Ferguson speaks to the camera in the film, which is said to have given a black eye to careless or opportunistic prosecution. The film is on Netflix now.

(Feb, 4, 2022: I found these additional notes from a review on Blogger, Movie reviews, Jan. 22, 2016, on an account I used to run):

Dream/Killer” (2015), a documentary by Andrew Jenks, takes on the issue of wrongful convictions, specifically of Ryan Ferguson, now 31, who spent ten years in prison for a murder he did not commit after being named by an acquaintance, Charles Erickson, as a co-accomplice in the attack on a Columbia, MO sports reporter Kent Heitholt on Halloween Night, 2001. I’ve covered the case in two other posts, on the TV blog Nov. 18, 2013 (a coverage of an NBC Dateline episode, in connection with the Innocence Project) and the Issues Blog, Nov. 14, 2013.

trailer for Dream/Killer by Andrew Jenks

The case is bizarre because Erickson, who did not remember the incident and had been out drinking (underage) and using drugs, and going to parties, accompanied by Ferguson and others, that night. Apparently the bars and parties were at some distance from where the murder occurred.

Nevertheless, Erickson had some “lucid dreams” and believed he and Ferguson had committed the acts. He contacted police, who, with prosecutors, manipulated Erickson into a confession and plea deal to testify against Ferguson.

Ferguson maintains he was never even at the scene (was 17 at the time) had lived normally until 2003, giving the murder almost no thought until the arrest came out of the blue.

ABC 20-20 has reported on somewhat similar case in Illinois where a conviction was obtained based on a dream.

There was no physical evidence connecting Ferguson with the crime, and the “eyewitness” testimony used for the conviction was flimsy and later retracted, as the film shows. The prosecution made some “Brady violations” and withheld information from the defense.

The film focuses on the persistence of Ryan’s father, Bill, to will his freedom. In time, Bill would hire attorney Kathleen Zellner, who worked pro bono on the case. A first “habeus corpus” appeal did not work, as the system had to protect itself, but in 2013 the Appellate court in Kansas City vacated the conviction. Zellner had to use unusual skill and cunning in handling the fact pattern to prevail. It also took a huge public relations campaign, volunteers, and billboard ads to put political pressure on the system and expose it. Was the win on final appeal just based on the law? Or “solidarity”? It’s disturbing.

The film shows a lot of court footage (I’m surprised recording and public use was allowed), both from the original trial (in smaller aspect) and even police interrogation footage, as well as later appeals footage, with many interviews of both Bill and Zellner as well as one female witness.

There are YouTube videos about efforts to free Charles Erickson, who would also appear to be wrongfully convicted.

The film also shows how Bill and his wife Leslie traveled to northern Europe, Africa, and Australia and used their street smarts to pay their way with odd jobs before coming back to Missouri and having their family. Bill has a close bond with his children and Ryan grew up to be very athletic.

The director, Andrew Jenks, appeared with Ryan on the Meredith Vieira Show on January 21, 2016. Jenks said that this kind of set up could happen to almost anyone (as does Zellner near the end of the film).

The official site for the film is here (Cinedigm). I rented it for $4.99 HD from Amazon and watched it the morning of the Blizzard of 2016, as everything started shutting down. The film was an official selection at Tribeca in 2015.

The idea that a fictitious narrative (as of a dream) can defame someone and even put someone in criminal peril has been considered on my main blog under the “implicit content label”. Self-libel in fiction is possible and can even be legally dangerous.

It’s Not Over” (2014) looks at the lives of three young adults affected by HIV and AIDS. In the US midwest, Paige was born with the infection incurred by her mother. In India, Sarang is a theater director and gay rights activist, demonstrating that modern protease inhibitors control the disease and enable normal life (and may provide clues as for more drugs to create coronavirus early). In South Africa, Lucky teaches in a country with a large percentage of people infected. In Africa, AIDS was much more a heterosexual disease when it appeared in the 1980s.

“It’s Not Over” trailer, Andrew Jenks

Andrew Jenks, Room 335” (2008) is an example of “participatory documentary”.  Jenks lives in a retirement home to experience the social climate of people dealing with infirmity and old age — when he was 19.  I saw this film wile living with my mother, about two years before she passed away in a difficult time.

(Originally written and posted by me at various times from 2014-2019 on now closed sites; reposted here Thursday May 5, 2022 at 2 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

Bruckner nearly completed the finale of his Ninth Symphony; Letocart and/or Rattle’s should get performed


Shortly after my “expulsion” from William and Mary at the end of November 1961, I had come home to my parents, planning to restart my education at George Washington University in early 1962 (which I did), with somewhat strained relations with my somewhat authoritarian father. But I got a Columbia mono LP of the 3-movement Bruckner Ninth Symphony for Christmas, with Bruno Walter. Bruckner had dedicated his life-leaving symphony “to God”.

Right after Christmas, I started composing a third Sonata. I still have a lot of the sketches, which I am drawing together for a performable document. Only recently have I realized that the playful theme that starts the Exposition of the first movement has a subconscious origin in a theme from the trio of the Bruckner Ninth Scherzo, which many music scholars call the “Hallelujah” theme, by comparison with Bruckner’s Te Deum and probably his Psalm 150 (and possibly can trace back to Handel).

My own autobiographical narrative is well covered elsewhere in my three DADT books and in own music is covered in another blog (“Bill’s media reviews”) so now I want to get to the case for seeing a complete four movement Bruckner Ninth as standard concert repertoire around the world.

Before proceeding further, let me note at least two CD’s available: Rattle on WB (2011, to be discussed below) and on Naxos (1992 version, Wildner conducting, same composition team, Naxos site; Amazon link does not resolve.

Bruckner himself had suggested that the C Major Te Deum be performed if he did not complete the symphony. But, unlike Mahler, Bruckner always ended his symphonies in the same key as the first movement. The Te Deum does have material that connects to the Ninth (and other works), but is not quite as harmonically dense as the symphony itself.

(Note the Psalm 150 also, which I heard in performed in Dallas in the 1980s.

A “boyfriend” who was also a physician loved it, but others in my social cohort didn’t feel reached by the music.)

We do accept “completions” of other works: Mozart’s Requiem (Sussmayr), and Puccini’s opera Turandot (Alfono) and even the Mahler Tenth (I got to know Ormandy’s performance on Columbia of the “Cooke 1” version).. In fact, I rather like the “completed” Schubert Unfinished (Newbould, with Rosamunde music in the Finale), and the “completed” Schubert Symphony #10 in D (Bartholomee), which has a Brucknerian feel in the first two movements. I also like hearing the Mahler First with the Blumine movement included.

There is a 35-minute YouTube video by Nicholas Harnoncourt where the conductor discusses the surviving bifolio manuscript of the Bruckner Ninth finale. (The video originally offered is no longer available; this is the best available now; 2021/1/16.)

Harnoncourt takes the position that composition (as a “process piece”, to use the language of NYC composer Timo Andres in his famous 2015 twitter storm) and instrumentation are different steps. So Harnoncourt explains that the existing music thread up to the coda is almost complete, except for a few missing bars in the development, and then again after the fugue.
Harnoncourt says that note indicate that Bruckner wanted a catherdral-like coda with quotes form his earlier works, especially the Third, Fifth, Seventh (the “Jacob’s Ladder” rising theme), and Eight (the scherzo theme) symphonies, as well as the “Hallelujah” motif that occurs in the scherzo trio and then again in the slow movement. He apparently also wanted to use the descending interval motive that opens Beethoven’s Ninth (as well as Mahler’s First later), which becomes a major idea in the first movement (the “octave” motive that concludes the first theme group) and which is said to occur in the Te Deum.

I find four performing versions on YouTube. One of them with Eliahul Inbal seems truncated (although it uses the “Bruckner Pivot” to introduce the final pedal point, and I’ll come back to that), and there is another by Carragen, performed by Schaller, that didn’t particularly convince me, at least. I admit I haven’t spent much time on it, and it is covered in Wikipedia.

That leads me with the two best versions, the Samale-Phillips-Cohrs-Mazucca, which are actually about four versions (1985, 1992, 2008, and 2011, the “Conclusive Revised Edition”), performed by Simon Rattle and the Seattle Symphony on a Warner Brothers CD.

And a version, 2 minutes longer (to 24 minutes) by Belgian composer Sebasiten Letocart (he also calls himself Seba Tracotel in social media) with the Budapest Symphony performed by Nicholas Couton.

The two versions are very similar until the Coda, which starts at Minute 19 on Letocart. Both follow Harnoncourt’s analysis.

At this point, it is well to summarize the form of this Finale up to the coda.

There is a brief introduction in moderate tempo of a dotted theme, that soon leads to the first subject, which has lots of wide skipping intervals and is almost dodecaphonic. Indeed, the whole symphony, most of all this finale, explores new areas of chromaticism (written in the mid 1890s), which anticipates not only the Mahler Ninth (1909) and probably some late Scriabin, but frankly the world of Arnold Schoenberg, especially Schoenberg’s large post-romantic works before he took up 12-tone writing. Unresolved dissonances abound, which, as Harnoncourt explains, conductors would want to take out (this had happened with Brucknner’s earlier symphonies, but remember Beethoven’s Eroica and Schubert’s Great C Major were considered shocking at first to conductors). But even in the world of this finale, atonality seems like the ultimate endpoint.

The Exposition, however, has three major subjects. The second subject is more conventional Bruckner (a little like the second subject of the first movement), with its own “trio”, before this prepares us for the majestic, descending chorale theme, very chromatically harmonized from E Major, as if it should be sung as a church hymn. In many works (like if Rachmaninoff had this material), it would become the “big tune” for the conclusion, but here the descending nature of the motive argues against that outcome already.

The Development starts out in a straightforward way, but in a short time a fugue begins. Harnoncourt calls the music “wild”. Curiously, to me, the dotted rhythms and blocked nature of the clashing lines reminds me of Schubert (toward the end of the development of the first movement of the “Great”, whose clashing contrapuntal dissonances early 19th Century conductors found disturbing) The music then presents the “Hallelujah” motive, as then what sounds to my ear like a genuine Recapitulation of the original D Minor stuff starts. The Recapitulation in both versions is reasonably straightforward until it comes to the restatement of the Chorale, where Harnanoncourt (and all other scholars) admit so some controversy.

Samale at al bring back the “Te Deum” idea with the full octave theme from the first movement, repeat the Chorale, and come to a violent climax (one more restatement of the Octaves) with a harmonic “Pivot” and a double take. Then the final version (2012) maintains tempo and volume, and throws the “Jacobs Ladder”, Te Deum, and Hallelujah motives together on one final pedal point in D Major. The overall mood is one of conventional joy.

The 2008 Samale-Cohrs version had, after the last dissonance pivot (with only one invocation of the Te Deum octave idea), provided a “coda of the coda” that briefly goes back to pianissimo, in D Major, quoting the Beethoven Ninth opening intervals, and building the Jacobs Ladder and Allelulah together, coming to a stop on a find fortissimo D Major chord for full orchestra. The 1992 version, on Naxos, is very similar. But in the 2011 version, after the Pivot, the music maintains its momentum and volume. It’s hard for me to understand, from the explanations in Cohrs document, why.

But it’s useful to compare to the end of the Bruckner Symphony #8, where the coda in the finale starts “misterioso” and quietly in C Minor, build up to a climax in F Minor, and then crashes on a subdominant seventh-to tonic Pivot (the “Bruckner Pivot”, although Scriabin uses it to great effect at the very end of his Divine Poem), where the music remains fortissimo, with various motives (especially the scherzo) play on top of one another until the last three octaves, E-D-C, still in FFF. (Schoenberg offers a similar Pivot to end his massive “Gurrelieder” in C Major.) The Bruckner Eighth is very satisfying and perfectly executed, since Bruckner finished it himself. Some observers note that the Bruckner Eighth is the only of Bruckner’s symphonies to have a first movement end quietly, and have even suggested that Bruckner could have considered ending the Ninth quietly, in religious resignation to a perhaps hollow Heaven (maybe like the end of the Mahler Ninth).

But Letocart takes on a different tack. His coda is in four parts (starting at 19:00). He reiterates the chorale theme, to be sure, but dot not fully requote the Te Deum octave theme (he does invoke one central jagged phrase from it in the brass, with unresolved harmony dissonances, which might be more effective in a “bare bones” sense). He, instead, has briefly quoted a key theme from the Bruckner Fifth (well known for its blazing conclusion in the brass after another fugue, recalling Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue indeed). He comes to what could be a pivot point, but in fact has prepared us for one more “misterioso” invocation, back in D Minor. In fact, the music has already turned quite dark. We know Bruckner is facing an End, his own. The music could wind down to solitude, as Letocart invokes the descending D Minor intervals originally from the Beethoven ninth. But instead, through a serious of Neapolitan chords, it explodes like a supernova, using only the “Halelujah” motive. I miss the “Jacobs Ladder” of the Samale and the Te Deum, but somehow the simplicity of Letocart’s final bars, leading to a final drum roll accompanying the fortissimo D Major chord and finally only octaves, conveys the sense of Apocalypse.

The sense of apocalypse is communicated in a shocking 17-minute short film by Narcis Aliphalic, “Anton Bruckner’s Ultimate Finale” Letocart explains the darkness of the music, and plays the descending chorale theme on the piano as if a song without words. But the film shows a parallel narrative with some young adults, including a young man and woman, in their 20s, enjoy a (Vienna?) city park. Other spectators join, include a group of other shirtless young men. As the coda turns dark, the other young men draw the first young men into a bizarre intimate, perhaps homoerotic, ritual. But then everyone is watching the sky, as a huge light approaches. The original young man is “chosen” by others to be the first to meet the returning Christ, or God, or alien spaceship. Everyone knows that they are facing their last moments on earth, but their afterlife will not be hollow. The very last shot of the chosen young man shows him facing the light with chest hair suddenly burned off. I do wonder if this film has been in a festival somewhere, like Cannes, Sundance or Tribeca.

Here’s Letocart’s discussion of the “Hallelujah.”

I’ve tweeted the New York Philharmonic, and I think they could be interested in putting on this work in the 2017-2018 season. It’s hard to say which version would be chosen. The “establishment” likes Cohrs-et al, but I think the Letocart conclusion is far more shocking and may be closer to the truth of what Bruckner thought he faced in his last days.

So, the “big tune” of the chorale is not used, and the Allelujah is a motive, not a full tune. Many post romantic works are well ended with a big tune which (as with Rachmaninoff’s second and third piano concerti) can arise from simple, playful beginnings. A “misterioso” near the end is not possible in works like that. But in the Bruckner Ninth it sounds right, and needed. It tells us what we may all face.

Here are references, to Cohrs And Letocart. (He also calls himself “Seba Tracotel” in social media, and lives in Belgium, but near Germany. He is quite active on Facebook in commenting on troubled European politics; it helps that I can read French pretty easily. With postings by another Belgian music and film artist, Timo Descamps, it helps to read Dutch, which pretty much looks like “misspelled” English and German mixed together.)

Letocart has an ftp-ed PDF of much of his score which I requested through social media, but I don’t think it’s supposed to be public.

(Posted: Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 2:15 PM EST; Reposted, Wednesday, May 4 2022 at 9:40 PN EDT)

Bruckner’s Symphony #8, with controversies

Bartje Bartmans channel gives us the score of the “Apocalyptic” Symphony #8 in C Minor (WAB 108).  This happens to be the 1890 version.  In this performance, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink plays.  In the finale note the final harmonic pivot to C Major at 1:13:07.

The coda plays the same sequence from the scherzo four times, then a subsequence three times and then the final three octaves on EDC. Earlier, the finale had begun with a version of the first movement theme on the tritone theme of f# minor before getting to C Minor.

Sebasitan Letocart bases a completion of the finale of the 9th on the idea of extracting one theme from the scherzo trio, which I will cover later.

Piano Master shows a reduction of the finale to piano and note that the last three octaves are to be played fast.

Fur bru presents the 1887 version where the first movement has a rather superfluous loud ending (14 minute mark).  The coda of the finale is not quite as compact (a dimuendo I the middle) and convincing.   Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt, Eliahu Inbal, conductor, ;licensed by UMB from Telarc.

Shosktakovich used the opening theme of Bruckner’s Symphony #8 in the closing of the finale of his Symphony #7, the Leningrad.  Claudio Sanchez offers a score on YouTube, with audio from the Netherlands Philharmonic but scores from several sources documented there. Shostakovich seems to have been particularly tantalized by the loud ending of the first movement in the first version as the opening theme rises up like a call to arms.

In October 2014 I attended a performance of the Bruckner Eighth by Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic (I think it was the 1890 version — first movement ended quietly). The concert had also included Bartok’s Piano Concerto #3. In the 8th and 9th symphonies Bruckner is entering a world that seems dark and even “apocalyptic”.

In March 2018 I attended a performance of the Shostakovich at the Strathmore Music Center in Rockville MD, performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nezet-Sequin

(Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at 3 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

Furtwangler Symphony #1 – any relation to (or reference to) Bruckner #5?

Wilhelm Furtwangler was a famous conductor and apparently stayed in Germany during WWII despite opposing war. He composed three symphonies, and I have CD’s of all three, but I wanted to talk about #1, in B Minor, about 75 minutes.

Video: (no score available)

Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Alfred Walter, posted by Last-Notes, licensed by Naxos.

The first movement is marked Lento but really is more like a Moderato and is quite brooding, with two expansive theme groups.

The Scherzo says in B-minor and sometimes is lighter.

The “slow movement” in G, is very expansive and has a main theme that will sound familiar. There may be a Schumann piece that is similar.

The finale (Moderato Assai) is again very expansive. The first theme sounds capable of fugal treatment, but the second lyrical theme will dominate at the end. After the recapitulation there is an expansive Coda that is like another development based on the lyrical theme that sounds like driving up a mountain. But at almost the very end, Furtwangler seems to quote the final brass chorale statement at the very end of Bruckner’s Fifth (a half step lower in B-flat) almost literally, making the material in the two works feel interchangeable. But Furtwangler ends on loud chords with drums, not just octaves.

Some commenters on YouTube find Furtwangler’s work dense and tedious compared to Bruckner and Mahler. Bruckner was more accomplished with counterpoint and maybe unresolved dissonances.

Atkinson gives a detailed analysis of the fugal finale of the Bruckner 5th. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink.

(Posted: Saturday, April 23, 2022 at 11 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

Amy Beach’s Piano Concerto, and Symphony; why aren’t these played more?

At a time when political correctness and diversity in the arts (now with respect to female composers) is demanded, I still wonder why we don’t see large orchestras and well known pianists taking up the work of Amy Beach (1867-1944), who was married to a much older doctor for much of her life.

The Piano Concerto in C# Minor, Op. 45 (1899) sometimes sounds almost like another Brahms concerto. There is a declamatory opening theme in the most minor of all keys, with a short orchestral ritornel, before the piano enters, and soon takes us to a second theme, and then a very active development and recapitulation with lots of rich harmonies, syncopation and modulations. There is an extensive cadenza (apart from Brahms) before the movement ends with violence, reminding one of how the first movement of the Brahms Concerto 1 ends.

There is a brief “perpetual motion” scherzo, and then a relatively brief slow movement in F# Minor that amounts to a song without words. The finale starts out as a laid back rondo that gradually becomes more intense, to end with triumph in the Picardy D-flat major.

The video is supplied by S.P.’s Score Videos, performed by Joanne Polk, English Chamber Orchestra, Paul Goodwin, and licensed to YT by the Orchard (is that the movie distributor?)   I have the Vox Turnabout CD.

The Symphony in E Minor, Op. 32, (1896), the “Gaelic”, has been compared to Dvorak;s New World, in the same key.  The overall harmonic styles are similar.  But Beach’s first movement has no slow introduction, and starts with a rush in the strings, and is rather compact. Her scherzo and slow movement are apparently based on Gaelic folk songs, as is the big tune that closes the finale.

Neemi Jarvi performs with the Detroit Symphony, from score provided by TheOneandOnlyOne, licensed by Naxos.  I have the Chandos CD. 

(Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2022 at 2 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

Dohnanyi’s youthful Piano Concerto #1 with its hymn near the end

The Piano Concerto #1 in E Minor, Op. 5, by Hungarian composer Ernst Von Dohnanyi )1877-1960) was completed in 1898, when the composer would have been turning 21.

Again, the work is a white-hot testament to young male energy and virility. And it is rather long (44 min).

The overall style is somewhat Brahmsian, with a lot a spicy Hungarian rhythms and constant syncopation thrown in. But the expansive style of each of the three movements also deserves note.

The first movement begins with a slow introduction in triple time, and is said to recall the opening of Brahms’s Symphony #1.  The main Allegro has a second subject in the dominant B Major.  The movement ends quietly recalling the opening.

The slow movement (Andante) seems to vacillate around the subdominant tonality of A.

But the finale, starting out Vivace in E Minor in triple time, is indeed grand. It is episodic, with a couple of intermediate cadenza-like passages for piano and orchestra separately. The elements in the finale come together (sometimes fugally) near the end with a grand chorale E Major hymn tune, which a church minister of music believes is original with the composer but has found its way into some hymnals.  The coda, anticipating Rachmaninoff (after a big tune) ends with a flourish of virtuosity.

S.P. Scores Videos offers the score on YouTube, in a licensed Naxos performance by Howard Shelley (pianist) and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Matthias Bamert.

Update: April 20:

Look also at the Symphony #1 in D Minor (1901), composed at age 24, Op. 9 (54 min and almost of early Mahler proportions).

The work has five movements, the last an Introduction, Theme and Variations and Fugue. Oscillating rhythms mark this work. Performance by Roberto Paternostro, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz. The OneandOnlyZero provides the video on YouTube.

(Posted: Saturday, April 16, 2022 at 10 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

Eugen d’Albert’s Piano Concerto #1, inspired by the Liszt B Minor Sonata, is a teenager’s masterpiece

Eugen d’Albert’s (1864-1932) Piano Concerto #1 in B Minor Op. 2 (there were two earlier “juvenile” concerti), completed by 1884 and apparently composed when he was 18 and 19, comes across as an attempt to provide the world another Liszt B Minor Sonata, but with a desired loud and triumphant ending. But the piano writing is actually closer to Brahms than Liszt, and the syncopation and harmonies anticipate some effects in the music in Amy Beach’s Piano Concerto about two decades later. Beach will be one of America’s renowned female composers; yet this d’Albert work sounds like the work of a beta male announcing his alpha intellect (on top of pianist virtuosity) as a ticket to hyper-masculinity. (He married six times and had eight kids, so, yes, to today’s woke world he sounds so heteronormative!)

The first section presents the two major subject groups (after a long introduction) along with brief development. The first subject is a syncopated march, and the second subject is a long lyrical line in E Major that will sound immediately familiar to any listener.  I can’t identify the popular song or movie score drawn from it. Also, it’s unusual in any sonata form to present a second subject in the subdominant major.  I know of no other work that does this.

The development starts, and trails off to a brief pause, for the slow movement, of sorts, to start. It is in D-flat, with another memorable theme, and a middle section that sounds like an odd setting of Chopin’s Funeral March (in the same key, B-flat minor).  The main theme returns, before the music returns (a very brief pause is desirable in performance to help the listener follow the form) to the first movement themes for a recapitulation.  He gets started recapitulating the second theme in D this time, before breaking for his cadenza, which is amazing. It is a 3-part fugue, with great virtuosity, and for all its closeness to Bach and Reger, in places it is simply atonal and dodecaphonic (chromaticism simply breaks down). Then for the coda, finally in the Picardy B Major, starts put with a scherzando – so does the finale of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto.  The second theme grows and explodes suddenly in one grand but brief big tune – Rachmaninoff surely had heard this work.  The runaway coda pivots on the subdominant, a thrill trick that Scriabin would use later to great effect to close out his rather Wagnerian “Divine Poem”.

By comparison with the Liszt:  in that work, the “Grandioso” is the second subject but is triumphant the first time it is introduced.  D’Albert saves the grandioso effects for the cadenza and coda.

The performance here is by pianist Joseph Banowetz, with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted Dmitry Yablonsky, pm the channel by John Beuck, licensed from Naxos records (I have that CD hardcopy in my own collection).

I listened to this work a lot during the last two years or so of my mother’s life (she passed at the end of 2010).

For the Liszt B Minor, performed by Krystian Zimerman, channel of Ashish Xiangyi Kumar

Erolon gives the proposed loud ending for the Liszt (which Liszt changed).

Mikhail Pletnev plays the Dante Sonata quasi Fantasia, D Minor, with lots of use of tritones, and a very loud ending, channel of Ashish Xiangyi Kumar

(Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 10 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

Schoenberg’s “Gurre-Lieder”: Is it a cantata, an opera, a ‘symphony’? The ultimate post-romantic masterpiece

I want to repost some old material about large music compositions from my old blogs here in the new environment, and one of my “favorites” is the massive cantata “Gurre-Lieder” (“Songs of Gurre”) by Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), composed between 1900-1911. 

Schoenberg is often regarded as the first composer to write atonal music in the 12-tone system (to say he invented it is a stretch – go back to Liszt, for openers) but in his young manhood he wrote a few postromantic works that literally took the world of Liszt, Wagner (especially), Bruckner, Mahler, and Richard Strauss as far as it could be taken.  Others, of course, took after Mahler (Shostakovich, and sometimes Benjamin Britten and Leonard Bernstein; to my mind, Shostakovich’s 4th and 8th symphonies really give us two more “late Mahler” purely orchestral symphonies; Britten’s “War Requiem” is the requiem mass Mahler wanted to write if he had lived long enough) .

The libretto is taken from poems by Jens Peter Jacobsen, about a love triangle in medieval Denmark (translated to German).  The work  (usually about 110 minutes) has been choreographed for opera, but is usually performed with vocal soloists, male choruses and mixed chorus, as if it were more like an oratorio.  The female character, Tove, becomes Tovina in my own sci-fi screenplay “Second Epiphany”, where a plot requirement at the end is that she must become impregnated.  

But the must useful comparison might be to that of a Mahler symphony.  The work is in three parts.  Part 1 comprises 11 movements (9 solo vocal songs for three soloists, with an orchestral introduction and penultimate interlude.  The whole 52 minute part could be compared to Mahler’s “Das Lied von de Erde”, which some call a “symphony”.  The part opens in E-flat (reminder of “The Ring”) and the final catastrophic song seems to be in B-flat minor, before suddenly crashing back to E-flat minor (Prokofiev would do this later). 

Part 2 is a violent interlude in B-flat minor, with a brief vocal song by Waldemar, who curses God for what I call “the Mousetrap Paradox”.  I won’t explain further here.  But at the very end of this part, the music suddenly crashes on the dominant F Minor, as if it had been the tonic.

Part 3 will start in G-flat and end in C.   That is a tritone jump (mathematically splitting the octave in half) but it also means that the entire work progresses from E-flat to C Major at the end, reversing the scheme of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony and coming back home to C.

So the overall form is comparable to some other large “symphonies” that needed chorus, starting with Beethoven, then Mendelssohn (#2), Liszt (Faust), Mahler’s 2 and 8, Shostakovich 13 and 14.  The harmonic language is so lush that it sometimes seems to inherit from impressionism (think Debussy’s “Martyrdom”, which actually gets loud).

You can read the “plot” here, with all the vassals, the joker, and the undead spirits wanting to rise from the grave with their dead hands. The “story circle” is pretty clear here from Waldemar’s viewpoint.    The music offers “sprechstimme” with the joker (is he like the character in the Batman movies?) But the world clears with sunrise, and the final chorus literally outdoes Mahler. The conclusion must hold the longest C Major fortissimo in all of music.  This is, after all, about the virility and strength of young manhood.

Even though the work, with all its demands, is not often performed in entirety, the themes and harmonic manipulations in the work will sound familiar to the listener, most of all in the final chorus.  Hollywood knows this work well.

Performance embedded here is from Ryan Power’s channel. Claudio Abbado conducts the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and Slovak Philharmonic choirs.  Major soloists: Waldemar – Thomas Moser, Tove – Jane Eaglen, Waldtaube – Marjana Lipovsek.

(Posted om Tuesday, April 12, 2022 by John W. Boushka)

“Copenhagen”, play by Michael Frayn, and PBS Film (retrieved older reviews by me)

Review from the original DADT legacy site of 2002 PBS film “Copenhagen”.

Copenhagen (2002, PBS/Hollywood, dir. Howard Davies, from the play by Michael Frayn, with Introduction and Epilogue by Frayn, total is about 105 min) is a conversation between physicists German Werner Heisenberg (Daniel Craig), author of the famous Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of quantum physics, and Danish physicist Niels Bohr (Stephen Rea). Heisenberg requests the meeting in Copenhagen (home of Hans Christian Andersen), Denmark (during Nazi occupation) in September 1941, at Bohr’s home. Francesca Annis plays Bohr’s wife and provides some narration. Much of the conversation consists of talk between the two men, sometimes on walks, about the whole question of science and politics. Hitler’s anti-Semitism has already cost him an edge in nuclear research, and Heisenberg insists he has no loyalty to the Nazis. The situation reminds one of conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler in Taking Sides (2001).

There is a lot of setup of the talk, though. Heisenberg’s arrival in Copenhagen by steam train and quaint travel to Bohr’s estate is carefully scripted. Their verbal encounters become contentious, as Bohr accuses Heisenberg of a little “nip” in finding fault in one of his lectures. Then they go on a secret walk into the woods, and confront each other. What they said becomes hearsay, from them. But it comes down to the join of physics, politics, and morality. Heisenberg confronts Bohr with the ultimate insight into the nature of nuclear fission (not just fusion) and critical mass, particularly when working with HEU (highly enriched uranium, U-235 isotope). Heisenberg wants to know if America has a program yet, and is debating just how involved he can get involved in what could be Hitler’s nuclear weapon’s program. We don’t know for sure exactly what was said, but restraint on their part could have prevented Hitler from getting The Bomb before America did. Later, they reunite in an empty estate, and consider Hiroshima. Bohr has worked on the Manhattan Project in the United States, and must struggle with whether he contributed to mass deaths. The two men taunt each other about who took the responsibility for doing the critical mathematical calculation involving critical mass of U-235. There is the moral point, that some of us (particularly, in Rosenfels terms, “subjective feminines”) will have the opportunity to discover and speak The Truth about great issues, to possess the proverbial Knowledge of Good and Evil. Any one person’s written work can have enormous impact on the world, for good or for bad. Hitler himself was one example. There is a certain asymmetry in this that existed well before the Internet. Where is restraint on personal opportunity and ambition called for? When is loyalty to a higher calling –faith—to be expected? There is also a parallel between the uncertainty about what they said to each other and about their friendship, and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle itself. A man is like one of those particles of uncertain position and velocity, and we are back to undergraduate philosophy. Everything is affected by the act of observing it (as Einstein said—“Jewish science” the Nazis called it)—we get to what I would call The Gawker’s Effect. (Maybe that’s why sometimes people fear being stared at.) The music background, featuring piano music by Franz Schubert (like the A-flat impromptu, which Heisenberg attempts to play on the house grand piano, and some slow movements from sonatas), as well as a theme by Mike Post, is haunting.

 A couple times in my life, I have had dinner meetings as clandestine and important (to me) as those in these films.

Review from the “Plays” Blog, 2007

On my last day as a substitute teacher in December 2005, I got to show, to an honors chemistry class, one of my favorite “films.” Actually, it is a 2002 BBC television adaptation of Michael Frayn’s stage play Copenhagen, published in book format by Anchor in 2000 (check Amazon, ISBN 0385720793). The television show starts with a twenty-minute prologue with the playwright talking about the fabled meeting between physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in 1941. (Stephen Rea and Daniel Craig play the parts in the TV docudrama, directed and adapted by Howard Davies). The play is important because it presents a serious ethical problem. Heisenberg had made an “intellectual discovery” that could give the owner of the knowledge the ability to make an atomic bomb. If he gave it to Hitler, then Hitler could win the war. Now, the moral problem, and the reason science teachers like to show this film to more advanced students, is that, while we “own” our discoveries in an intellectual property sense, there sometimes can be consequences for “publishing” the discovery.  I my circumstances, there were extra reasons why this was an ironic duty on the last day of teaching. 

Supplemental discussion from GLBT blog, Nov. 2006: Is there a “don’t ask don’t tell” de facto policy for teachers?

A small amount of testimony at the COPA trial referred to the possibility that teachers could be fired or reassigned in some cases if they discuss (“abnormal”) “personal information” with students. Does this mean that a teacher could be removed for making “personal stuff” available at a public place on the Internet where kids could find it with search engines?

 School boards regulate what teachers present in the classroom, and of course this has been politicized, especially by parents and pressure groups who fear that the religious or filial socialization of their children can be compromised by pluralistic exposure. Teachers generally have more freedom to say what they want on their own time and with their own resources, especially since they are public employees. Generally, teachers’ first amendment rights have been honored, for example, if they are seen by television cameras attending gay events.

There is a long audit trail of case law about this, both within school property and outside the school system. The issue is muddied by the Internet and World Wide Web, with the issues presented by search engines and by “free entry.” There is a balancing between the legitimate First Amendment rights of teachers (and students) and the need to preserve order and, frankly, safety and security in the school systems. There is a legitimate point that teaching, by definition, involves taking responsibility for the behavior of others who may be less cognitive and less competent in accounting for their own actions or in understanding what they find than are adults. After all, that is why the kids must go to school. The issue becomes much less important in practice for teachers who have only honors or AP students, but the reality of the teacher shortage today is that the challenge of dealing with average and special education students should be shared by as many teachers as possible.

The recent controversies, litigations, and constitutional amendment referendums about gay rights – most specifically gay marriage and civil unions – brings up a troubling point. Issues like gay marriage and the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for gays in the military draw attention to the reality that gays are often (by circularity) cut out of “paying their dues” and taking responsibility for others in normal family and service settings. Sometimes, persons who do not have these responsibilities may be expected to “sacrifice” for the food of people who do have these responsibilities. In this sense, then, gays (and lesbians) are not the equal of heterosexuals in practice.  What happens if kids ask a gay teacher about his home life? If he or she reveals a same-sex domestic partner relationship, is this violating school policy of disclosing “personal stuff” to students? A number of states have passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, and a few (like Virginia, which passed the rather punitive Marshall-Newman amendment on Nov. 7) have gone so far as to ban civil unions from any legal recognition. Since a same-sex relationship cannot have legal recognition, such an answer could be seen as an improper disclosure of personal information to students.

There have been cases in some states where teachers have disclosed gay marriages or unions in class and have not been disciplined, but these have tended to occur in states, like California, with a more pluralistic social climate. In many cases, it may be all right for teachers to “tell” if they refer to sexual orientation as “status” (Bill Clinton’s word) rather than as psychological interest or a propensity for “conduct.” They could refer to a biological or genetic hypothesis, but not to anything deeper about personal choices. That starts to sound like a content-based speech restriction.  The issue bears comparison with the military “don’t ask don’t tell” where, by law, a statement (even in private) that one is gay triggers the presumption that one has a propensity to engage in prohibited acts. Persons have been discharged from the military for disclosing homosexual orientation on personal websites or on social networking sites.

With teachers, a comparable but less draconian situation seems to exist. In fairness to school systems, one must note that their sensitivity to “personal stuff” is a community standards issue; in their world, content that is legitimate in an open adult world might be interpreted, and unfavorably legally, in their protective community, even when discovered accidentally.  There is also a similar problem if a teacher’s statements (in a public place) indicate to others (such as parents or administrators) a “propensity” to show an undue interest in the attractiveness of minors. This would be likely to affect many more heterosexuals than homosexuals (most people caught in chat room stings, as on NBC Dateline, have been heterosexual). This problem is existential: an older person who does not have an intimate relationship with someone his own age (and show complementarity) is likely to be viewed as more vulnerable to “temptation,” even though admitting to “temptation” itself is not defamatory. Teachers (even subs) could get into serious legal trouble (possibly attracting passive solicitation charges) with statements that they view as existential but that could be viewed as self-defamatory by others. There is little experience with this in the law with respect to the World Wide Web, and it is tangential to COPA, but the trial and opinion might give some guidance as to how the open access and search engine issue (and filters or labels) plays out with disturbing or ambiguous speech found by minors. For a gay person, the lack of legal equality (in recognition of adult relationships) could become relevant, because it could make a statement be regarded as “personal” and therefore indirectly solicitous or motivated by illegal intentions. On the other hand, if this legal conundrum is rolled out, we see a lot of deference to “prejudicial thinking” which amounts to a content-based restriction on free speech.

 I found, in my own case when I was substitute teaching, that it was very difficult, with certain disadvantaged students, to maintain classroom discipline (“poor classroom management”) when they did not see me as an “equal” who had faced their kinds of life challenges and “manhood” experiences. How does one answer this, as an exercise of faith? The Catholic Church has tried to build a whole priesthood culture around men who do not reproduce, to make them credible as authority figures, as long as they give up their freedom and preach only the Church’s teachings of socialization for “normal people.” Ironically, unmarried women have always been well regarded, often preferred as teachers, and “authority figures” for small children.

It is also important that, given the supposed teacher shortage, that new teachers making a “career switcher” move after retirement still have to invest about $4000 in tuition for licensure before getting a permanent job in most cases. For a gay man, in a political climate in a state that goes out of its way to say that he is not the equal of other more “manly men” as a role model, this does not sound like a sound private investment. (Of course, again there is an existential problem: if one is drawn to other men who he perceives as “better,” what does that say about him?) So there is a chilling effect. At the same time, we watch the spectacle of school districts desperately trying to recruit teachers from third-world countries because Americans are appalled by the political climate (as well as the pay) in public schools. That reminds me of the circularity problem that the military has created for itself in recruiting and keeping linguists (with “don’t ask don’t tell”). It’s important to note that some teachers (including subs) can face contingent responsibilities to deal with intimate custodial care issues (as with some special education students), and for an openly gay person, the “DADT” doctrine codified into federal law in 1993 might have legal repercussions even outside of the military. I once was asked if I would mind “helping out in the locker room” and, as a sixty-year-old man, wearing only swimming trunks myself and manning the deep end of a swimming pool on a surprise field trip. I declined. (And I don’t swim.) All of these concepts (regarding speech, legal status for relationships, and forced-intimacy occupations like the military and teaching – all becoming more important as society contemplates ideas like national service) bear parallels that are rather scary. It’s well to review the history of attempts to ban gay teachers in the past, such as the Briggs Initiative in California in 1978, or the Washington State bill in 1986, which defrocked Republican Spokane mayor Jim West had supported.

 See my footnote link note 157.  There was also a PBS show “A Hidden Life” which I’ll look up later. 

(Posted: Saturday, April 9, 2022 at 12 noon EDT by John W. Boushka)

“The Laramie Project”: Films and plays about Matthew Shepard

I have several legacy posts about the Moises Kaufman play “The Laramie Project“, about the homophobic murder of Matthew Shepard near Laramie, Wyoming in October 1998.

On Friday, Dec. 17 and Saturday Dec. 18, 2010, Langley High School in McLean, Virginia is presenting “The Laramie Project”, by Moises Kaufman, directed by Lauren Stewart and Phyliss Jafee, with members of the Tectonic Theater Project, on the Saxon Stage. I attended the performance this evening. I had substitute taught at Langley as recently as the spring of 2007, so there was a personal sense of déjà vu. The Matthew Shepard Foundation was conducting a silent auction. Thomas Howard, Program Director, conducted a QA. He started by asking the audience in what ways McLean as like Laramie. The audience was silent for a moment, before students started to respond. I mentioned the cloture vote in the Senate on “don’t ask don’t tell” due Saturday, with applause, and said that official attitudes of the Congress and the US military (and the Pope) affect attitudes in general. I may have mentioned here before that I passed through Laramie myself on Aug. 7, 1994 (before the tragedy), the day after I had made the personal decision to write my “Do Ask Do Tell” book and had spent the previous night in Cheyenne. The stage was extremely wide, with the 25 actors (many having multiple roles), spread out, giving very much a “dolby digital” effect. The centerpiece of the stagecraft was the notorious fencepost. The second half of the play was longer and more dramatic, ending with the “trials” (at which the “panic defense”, with some explicit language — “junk” — was brought up). The Fred Phelps demonstration as acted in the play came down the right aisle, and the angels came down the center.

The script mentions that Matthew was kept warm for a while by a female deer. Howard mentioned that Kaufman has a sequel script, “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” in which it seems many town residents have distanced themselves from the atrocity and see it as a Coen Brothers-movie-style drug deal gone bad. (See Nov. 14 posting for video.)The Laramie Project has this link. Tectonic Theater has this link’ The Matthew Shepard Foundation has this link. Howard said that Phelps’s Westboro Baptist Church had “threatened” to picket Saturday night in the winter cold (23 F according to my car in the parking lot as I left), but he doubted they would show up.

Earlier in 2010: Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville MD performed the play The Laramie Project on Saturday Nov. 13, by Moises Kaufman. I saw the play in 2002 (I believe) at the Tectonic Theater Project at the Illusion Theater in Minneapolis, directed by Michael H. Robbins. The play comprises a lot of recitations from townspeople exploring the social factors that led to the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard outside Laramie in October 1998. There are disturbing moments, such as a fear of HIV infection by the medical attendants. The play incorporates an anti-gay protest appearance by the group from Fred Phelps’s Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS. In fact, (and ironically) the group had threatened to protest the play last night but did not show up. Counter protests against Phelps had been planned. Cody Calamaio has a story in the Maryland Gazette. Phelps did not pickett the Minneapolis performance, but he did picket the All Gods Children Metropolitan Community Church in Minneapolis once, I think in 2003. The Tectonic Theater has a YouTube video clip from a more recent performance, from 2008. I visited Laramie in August 1994. There is a review of the film “Fall from Grace” about Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church on the movies blog Oct. 6, 2010.

(From Plays on

A more recent effort play by Moises Kaufman is The Laramie Project, presented by the Tectonic Theater Project and recently performed in Minneapolis at the Illusion Theater on the rapidly renewing Hennepin Avenue. The director is Michael H. Robbins. Eight cast members take turns playing various Laramie, Wyoming residents in reliving the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard and the subsequent trial. Shepard himself is never portrayed (compared with the MTV film Anatomy of a Hate Crime). The stage is multi-furcated, with impressive backdrops of the Wyoming countryside (which I visited in 1994) projected as from a film strip. The script does tend to read a bit like a college recitation, with the various issues (homophobia, “live and let live,” smaller town sociology, capital punishment) are explored, and there is not a lot of plot-related tension among the characters as is usually expected in screen or play writing. The medical reports are particularly chilling. The fear of the attending policewoman that she could have become infected with HIV is explored and thoughtfully treated. (I was not aware that Shepard had been HIV+ but it appears that if so it likely would have remained dormant for many years and would have been treatable with the newer drugs.) The by Matthew Shepard’s father statement at the sentencing of the second defendant is most touching.

On Nov. 26, 2004 ABC “20/20” aired an interview by Elizabeth Vargas, in which Russell Henderson and Allen McKinney claim from prison that the murder was motivated more by drugs and money that homohatred, something hard to believe given the details

(From Plays on

HBO (with Good Machine) first aired a film version of this play on March 9, 2002. The link is this. The cast included Dylan Baker, Clancy Brown, Tom Brewer, Steve Buscemi, Nestor Carbonell, Mark Webber (from Storytelling, as Aaron McKinney), Joshua Jackson, James Murtaugh. The film is very much like the play: it seems like a docudrama, a sequence of interviews and incidents, and does not have as much impact as the MTV film “Anatomy of a Hate Crime.” The ambivalence or negative perception of many of the townspeople to homosexuality comes across, even as they deplore the crime. The issue as to whether Matthew “hit on” the two perpetrators first is well covered by the bartender’s interview, when he describes how Matthew used to stake out his own territory. The anti-gay protests at the funeral are quite shocking.

(From Movies on

The film “Anatomy of a Hate Crime“, directed by Tim Hunter and Max Ember:

MTV offered this film first on January 10, 2001, on a night dedicated to opposing discrimination. And right off the plate, the most compelling part of this film was Cy Carter’s performance, said by people who knew Matthew to be very true to life as to his demeanor, vocabulary, and personality. He comes across with tremendous charisma and intellectual precision in the first 45 minutes of the film, before the crime and tragedy. He is someone that I believe would have related to me. In fact, I believe that I met him once, about the time I was deciding to do my own book on gays in the military. The narration by Shepard as reincarnated or as a kindly “ghost” is effective in a manner that reminds one of American Beauty.

There are interesting details. For example, the girl-friend of one of the assailants testifies against the killer despite their having had a baby because they never got legally married. There is one scene where Matthew asks for HIV information (for asymptomatic disease), supposedly for a friend. There are a couple of scenes between Matthew and a friend that display an exciting, if reticent, tenderness. There is presentation of Matthew’s fluency in various languages and cultures.

The scenes regarding his two assassins are somewhat stereotyped, almost “heterophobic.” In truth, the film presents the crime as not so much a homo-hatred crime (even given the talk about “rolling queers”) as a “class warfare” crime. The two young men seemed to react like animals who will exert violence against those not only “different” but who also have what they “want” (money, finesse, and, believe or not even in Laramie, a certain sense of privilege and social esteem).

The actual assault scene is mercifully brief, but it contains the kind of chilling shots that marked USA’s re-release of Blood Simple – with the same kind of lower-class “hobo” characters. The last fifteen minutes, dealing with the Wyoming criminal justice system, were too telescoped to really be effective.

Of course, we want to see the studios able to invest in this kind of material on a larger scale, sufficient for a theater release. That is a goal I would like to work on some day.

As for hate crimes laws, I’ll say here that I think that they are a short-circuit or palliative to solving the real problems, which include government-sponsored discrimination, even if they appear in a practical sense to offer “relief” and a counterbalance to homophobia in the law enforcement and criminal justice system. We don’t want to send a message that the surest way to be protected by the law is to set yourself up as a class of “victims.” The law must apply equally to everyone. The law can consider malice and motive behind a crime at an individual level without hate crimes laws, and it did in Wyoming. Go back and read the words of the 14th Amendment, literally.

And, of course, the country has learned that anyone can be a victim of a hate crime.

(From Movies on

NBC airs The Matthew Shepard Story on March 16, 2002. (NBC/Focus/Alliance Atlantis, dir. Roger Spottiswood) (Lifetime aired it on Jan. 2, 2007) The NBC movie starred Stockard Channing, Sam Waterson and (as Matthew) Canadian actor Shane Meier. The film was slightly longer (2 hours scheduled air time) than the other time, slightly more narrative in style and a bit less focused. The story presentation is layered, with the current time being the trial and sentencing of the two assassins. The defense attorney tries to bargain with the parents. Then the story of Matthew’s life is told in engaging flashbacks,

Matthew appears to have exuded an unusual charisma and interest in engaging people, especially those older than him, in many kinds of discussion. One incident of interest is when young Matthew quits a retail job after refusing to dupe an elderly customer. He is totally turned off by the greed that seems to drive job performance in the workplace (at least in selling) and his boss thinks he is too “gay.” The campfire scene where he comes out to his parents communicates well the idea that no one understands what it is like to be him, to be different. He would have been a good friend had I met him. Sometimes, as when he lived in Denver, he seemed to come unhinged.

Matthew Shepard foundation.

(Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2022 at 6:30 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)