Let’s get on track with the Spreecast livestream, James Renner, John Smith, and Twitter.
Lately I’ve seen much buzz on new listeners just discovering Missing Maura Murray. The podcast is getting more traction, with comparisons being made to the Peabody award winning Serial podcast. I’ve been saying this since the beginning. @Gootz from Twitter expressed that MMM is Serial 1.5
Officially the podcast has surpassed more episodes than Serial. I am always making parallels between both shows.
Recently I poured into Maura’s yearbook from senior year. I had a kick looking back through memory lane. The year 2000: best known as the millennium (or the title of a Backstreet Boys smash album). Maura makes appearances with friends, in the sport section for track and field, and in one picture where she adorably wears micro pigtails. West Point is listed as her college of choice. Seems like her college career was already planned out before she even walked the graduation podium. (I for one was clueless when I accepted my diploma onstage).
I further traced back to her freshmen, sophomore, and junior years. She participated in track and field for the 4 years she was enrolled in Whitman-Hanson high school, as evidenced by pictures and quotes she is tagged in. Maura echos Julie Murray in similar ways by both enlisting in West Point and track and field. In particular I noticed Julie thanking Fred Murray in her senior quote in the 1998 yearbook. Fred is noticeably absent from Maura’s description.
This all brings me to episode 12 which features Clint Harting speaking about Maura’s brief stint in West Point. Enrollment includes a 5 year military commitment and paid tuition. Clint expressed that being in WP would “break you down.” This is a classic case of college stress. Lance points out she may have gone through an identity issue. I can agree with that. The only criticism I’ll give to Fred is he may have been a pushover. Nothing wrong with wanting your children to excel but Maura might have assumed by following Julie’s footsteps, things would go according to plan. (As the youngest of three, I thought I’d follow the exact same replica in my siblings’ footsteps. Personally, professionally, socially.)
Fall 2002 semester at Umass she majors in chemical engineering, soon changing to the nursing program.
Skipping ahead to Maura’s friends being interviewed 10 days after her disappearance. I really liked how they didn’t sugarcoat her demeanor. They described her as being a “secretive person.” She didn’t express transferring from WP to Umass. I consider myself secretive and private too.
In my last blog I asked what were the little things she identified with. Maura’s friends stated The Onion as her favorite website. Bottle Rocket, a 1996 film starring the Wilson brothers, was her favorite movie. In ways she actually parallels the teenagers documented in Serial. Adnan Syed was a track and field athlete. Hae Min Lee played for lacrosse and field hockey. Maura, Hae and Adnan resided in the upper east coast. Their graduating classes were only a year apart. All were equally ambitious and adventurous. People continue speculating and commenting because we are transported back in time –1999 and 2004– while still trying to figure out motivations in the situations and characters behind these cases. The enigma persists.
I’m going to take pause and speak about the Spreecast livestream. Firstly, the chat was super fun. Two days before the Crime Writers of Serial podcast interviewed Tim and Lance. I learned the Alden Olsen videos were one of the reasons why L really gravitated to the case. In the Spreecast I posed the question as to why. He became obsessed and frightened upon first sight, refreshing videos every three minutes. In specific the ski resort ticket video posed a “Ken Burns effect” with the zoom buildup. Somehow the video reminded me of The Thin Blue Line, a 1988 true crime documentary that is surprisingly tolerable and progressive for it’s time. The doc possesses this The Jinx/Robert Durst feel. Anyways it was cool knowing L got deep in the weeds like us listeners do.
The live chat presented an effervescence in the room. My perspective changed when I heard it by audio only (episode 12). A void in expression was evident. The sidebar chat was omitted from viewing whatever topic the listeners were feverishly typing about. The discussion suddenly turned more intimate and revealing as if T, L, and James Renner were only having a conversation among themselves. People who missed the live stream did not see the transparency across their faces.
Since I previously referenced docs and podcasts, I’ve been meaning to recommend MISSING. The UK based podcast just concluded their season, where in which Tim Weaver covers 8 episodes on why people disappear. Meanwhile, I am reminded every now and then about a little Starz cable show called The Missing. I watched this in January of 2015. I’m not exaggerating or lying when I say it is captivating. Binge watched the whole thing. I couldn’t wait to see the next episode, buying my way all through Amazon. Even though this is scripted, I believe viewers will be moved by the plight of a missing child. In addition with seeing the spider web effect conflict a group of people from all walks of life.
MMM is taking a life of it’s own. I feel each new momentum when a tweet or episode comes our way. A redditor was so inspired that they created a mock poster. I was excited and hyper from seeing this beautiful creation.
Now let’s get onto episode 13. Right away I was scribbling “yesss!” to T and L saying how ridiculous it is for people to believe James Renner is investigating the case for publicity. I’m sure J.R. really relished the moment when a Swiftwater attendant threatened to bash his skull. That’s Get-Off-My-Lawn mentality. I’m reminded again about the backlash/disappointment coming from fans when he stepped down from posting the big blog reveal.
Yeah it sucks. I don’t mind J.R. silencing himself though. Naturally I’m a cynical person, so I expect these things to happen.
Episode 13 featured John Smith, a former police officer and private investigator. You can adamantly hear and see his stance for public awareness on the cold case. He is a straight talker. I personally believe John is genuine. I like that someone hasn’t stopped searching for answers. We know dormancy can make people idle and comfortable with possibly never knowing finding the truth.
I’m not going to get into the technical stuff on Maura’s crash and why she probably didn’t strike a tree. Someone far better could express that. I love hearing the humanity behind some moments though, for example when John turned down Fred’s request to investigate the case. My stomach was sensing a confrontation would happen in this story. Thankfully a scuffle didn’t occur at the Franconia supermarket.
I’m sorry if this is the 28th comparison but this scene could strike as one out of Serial.
The moment was really humanizing because John was threatened with arrest from detectives. He feared backlash and imprisonment. The issue being sensitive as it was brought disappointment to Fred’s face. Eventually they reunited for searches, dinners, and interviews. In the 11 years since grabbing this case by the bullhorns (literally quoting Fred here), John’s personal life was compromised in a few ways.
There are pits and falls. Pros and cons. Facing the music won’t always be pretty. Knocking on doors like Fred, John, and James have might sound titillating. While people vicariously wished to undertake James’ job in episode 4, we don’t wish for harassment by trolls and threat of assault by deadly weapon under our belt. Losing a long time partner because you’re so invested on a mystery like in John’s situation. Or how about a cancer stricken mother dying on her missing daughter’s birthday. Going to the grave not knowing what happened to her child.
This all really did happen.
John is one of those who wishes her disappearance won’t turn into folklore. I think developments can happen with the help of the podcast. There’s something there. We just don’t know it.