Archive for the ‘The Maltese Falcon (1941)’ Tag

A Few Reasons I Am Grateful   Leave a comment

I am grateful for many reasons.  If I were to do nothing but count all of them and elaborate on each one, I would spent much time doing so.  I have learned that the best way to proceed is to focus on a few at a time.

A few reasons I am grateful follow.

I grateful that experiences of great loss become opportunities of grace.

Grace is free, not cheap; it carries with it the obligation to extend grace to others.  I seek such opportunities.

Bonny died last October 14.  Her sudden, violent death has created a persistent, open wound in my psyche.  I have accepted that I will never be the person I was prior to that fateful morning.  My life changed that day.  Since then, parts of my life have been stripping away.  I have learned more clearly the distinction between the necessary and the desired.  That has been a form of grace.

And, just as I have learned who my friends really are, I have gained experiences I can use to help others experiencing their own emotional traumas.  I have begun to wonder to whom God may send me so that I may, out of my pain, contribute to healing.

I am grateful for my parish.

De facto, I have belonged to St. Gregory the Great the Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, since August 2005.  My membership transferred slightly later.  For nearly fifteen years, I have, so to speak, become part of the woodwork of my church.  I have assumed leadership roles (usually ones I did not seek) and formed relationships.  This parish has seen me through the darkest times of my life and functioned as a vehicle of grace.  Individual parishioners have also prevented me from falling too far into the abyss and proven that I am not alone.  They have taken care of me when I have needed that.

As long as I reside in Athens-Clarke County, I will remain part of St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church.

I am grateful for necessities fulfilled.

I had plans at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.  They were rational plans, not half-baked, magical thinking.  Then the pandemic and its economic fallout derailed those plans.  Through it all, I have never been at risk of going hungry, becoming homeless, and not being able to pay my bills.

The fulfillment of necessities continues by a variety of means.  Words are inadequate to express my gratitude.

I am grateful for a better understanding of what constitutes a necessity.

Simple living is a blessing.  We live, we accumulate, and we die.  Then others decide the fates of our worldly possessions.  Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions, although one does need certain possessions.  Taming one’s appetites for consumption is a good spiritual practice.

Now that I am in the midst of packing to leave my apartment, full of memories that grieve me, I am grateful to rid myself of many possessions.  My identity is in God, not my stuff, for lack of a better word.

I am grateful for the joy that comes from serious Bible study.

I have spent hours at a time studying texts, consulting commentaries, pondering what I have read, taking notes, and synthesizing ideas.  I have derived much pleasure and fulfillment from doing so.

I am grateful for wonderfully bad movies.

I mean movies that are so bad they are good.  If they make Ed Wood flicks seem like plays by William Shakespeare by comparison, so much the better.  We all need harmless, escapist pleasures, do we not?

I am grateful for good movies.

Casablanca, Citizen Kane, and John Huston version of The Maltese Falcon, among other fine films, enrich my life.

I am grateful for my intellectual nature.

I descend from a long line of bookworms.  I am suited for life in a college or university town.  I recall the intellectual stagnation and the anti-intellectualism of many of the communities and small towns in which I grew up and my father served as a minister.  I cannot honestly deny that these experiences helped to shape me both intellectually, spiritually, and politically.

I would starve intellectually and spiritually in many towns and congregations.

I am grateful for the Incarnation, the life of Christ, the crucifixion, and the Resurrection.

Thereby came the atonement.


I saved the best for last.



The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 22: A Snitch in Time (2002)   3 comments

Above:  Swedish Gangsters from the Future, Surrounded by Federal Agents from the Future

All images in this post are screen captures.


A Snitch in Time

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired March 22, 2002

Production Number = 5009-01-121


Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Main Guest Cast

Len Cordova as Detective Hector Garibaldi

Stephen Dunham as Louis Phillips

Elaine Hendrix as Kristen Martin

Von Schauer as Head Swede

Behind the Camera

Writer = Hans Beimler

Director = Krishna Rao

Above:  Grace Hall and Louis Phillips in 1945

Brief Summary

It is late July 2002.  Grace Hall has been dating Louis Phillips (Hell Mall) for several weeks.  Meanwhile, since May, a few people have been combusting, seemingly spontaneously.  Grace has written a story about one of these incidents, and found that story boring.  One day, in the offices of the World Chronicle, Louis abruptly breaks up with Grace.  Wes Freewald, Tucker Burns, and Vera try to comfort her.

Tucker Burns and Kristen Martin are growing closer to each other.  She gives him a key to her apartment.  Later in the episode, he tells her, “I love you,” for the first time.”  He does not yet know that she is recording conversations for Detective Dense, er, Garibaldi.  The detective really wants to nail Donald Stern (for murders) legally and to take down Grace Hall and Wes Freewald (as accessories to murders) along the way.  Garibaldi promises to work to make the law go lightly in Tucker’s case.  Kristen presses Garibaldi to persuade the District Attorney to grant Tucker immunity, but the detective will not go that far.  Kristen cooperates out of love for Tucker and out of fear for herself; Garibaldi threatens her with arrest, too.

Louis is being mysterious.  He quit his job at the architectural firm a week ago.  His boss was surprised; Louis’s designs were nearly sculptural.  Grace follows Louis to the offices of a dentist, Dr. Sheila Shelton.  After Louis departs, Grace notices that Dr. Sheldon’s body has combusted.  Grace concludes that Louis is a serial killer.  Dr. Sheldon had been the dentist for the other people who combusted.

Sal the Pig-Boy explains to Wes, Tucker, and Grace how these combustions could have occurred:  agitation of water molecules.  To demonstrate, he uses a Brownian motion accelerator to blow up a watermelon remotely.

Louis visits Grace at the World Chronicle.  He tells her that the last month has been a deliriously happy time for him, and that he has become miserable.  He also says he cannot explain why he must leave.  That night, Grace follows Louis to a mausoleum.  She is so noisy that he detects her presence easily.  Men with guns that cause targets to melt appear in the mausoleum.  Louis and Grace get away, but Louis loses a crypt key.  One of these men, listed as “Head Swede,” has the key.  The man have tracked Louis via a molar that is really temporal beacon.  Louis removes this tooth at Grace’s apartment.  She takes it to the archives at the World Chronicle.  Two hit men teleport into the archives and start shooting melty guns.  Then Donald Stern shoots them with a really big gun.

It is time for the exposition dump, so Louis sits down with Wes, Donald, Tucker, and Grace.  After the Great Polar Meltdown of 2060 left Scandinavia underwater, Swedish refugees scattered around the world.  Many came to North America.  They sold boxy cars, furniture one had to assemble, et cetera.  Some became active in organized crime and took over all the syndicates.  Louis is part of the federal witness protection from 2314.  After he saw the head of the Swedish mafia melt a federal judge “in cold blood,” Louis testified against the don in court and broke the back of the Swedish mafia.  In the future, the only people with access to time travel technology seem to be federal authorities and vengeful Swedish gangsters.  Louis has been living under the cover of an architect from Minnesota, but hit men have been pursuing him. All those who combusted (not spontaneously) were support personnel to the witness protection program.  Dr. Sheldon was also Louis’s main link to the future.  When he needed to send a message to federal authorities in the twenty-fourth century, he took that message to her.  Now the only way left for him to send a message to the future is to leave in a particular crypt at the mausoluem, one of the few buildings left intact after the Walt Disney corporation turned New York City into the world’s largest theme park in 2090.  But Louis needs the crypt key back.  Louis also sought out the World Chronicle, to look out for tips of anyone pursuing him.

Wes, Grace, and Tucker cooperate to get the crypt key back.  Where do Swedish gangsters from 2314 hide out in 2002?  At an Ikea store, of course! Wes and Tucker pretend to be a homosexual couple bickering about colors.  They also destroy a pillow.  When the Head Swede is covered with feathers, Wes gets the crypt key back.

At the crypt, Louis places his message inside the specified crypt.  Immediately, Swedish gangsters, led by the Head Swede, teleport in.  Immediately after that, federal agents from 2314 teleport in around the Swedish gangsters.  The federal agents shoot the gangsters, who disappear.

Tucker, who had overhead part of a conversation between Kristen and Garibaldi at her apartment door, returns to her apartment.  He does not enter.  No, he breaks up with her and returns the key she had given him.

Shortly thereafter, the time has come for Louis to depart.  The witness protection program relocates him.  Grace, initially reluctant to go accept his invitation to go with him, does accept.  First, however, she says her goodbyes at the World Chronicle.

Donald Stern comforts the staff members, who wonder what happened to Grace.  Grace can take care of herself, the tells them.  Once, in the Amazon rain forest, cannibalistic pygmies abducted her and held her hostage for six months.  Now all those pygmies are vegetarians.

Then Stern asks who has leads for stories for the next weekly issue.  Tucker has a lead about a man with magnetic skin.  Wes has head that the world’s tallest man is missing.  Then Detective Stupid, er, Garibaldi, and uniformed police officers enter the conference room.  Garibaldi serves a warrant.  Grace, it seems, got away just in time.

She and Louis went to 1945, in time to witness the famous photographed kiss on VJ-Day.

Above:  Donald Stern

Character Beats

Kristen Martin likes fruity wines.  Grace Hall does not.

Grace Hall usually dumps a boyfriend before he can dump her.

The Head Swede is homophobic, using the slur “fairies.”  Does one expect a violent criminal to be socially progressive?

Above:  Detective Garibaldi’s Raid

Great Lines


Vera:  “Men!  They’re all dogs.  Wes Freewald:  “Why are you always chasing ’em?”  Vera:  “Dogs make good pets, once they’re housebroken.”

Above:  Kristen Martin


All of the federal agents from 2314 we see are beautiful women who wear berets and sunglasses.

Did the federal agents from 2314 kill the gangsters or return them to the future?

Wes jokingkly tells Tucker that the man with an exposed brain is engaged to marry a woman with an exposed liver.  In the universe of the World Chronicle, that not being a joke is plausible.

Above:  Louis Phillips


A Snitch in Time is the twenty-second episode produced and broadcast.  It is also the last episode of The Chronicle:  News from the Edge.  Given that the Sci-Fi Channel cancelled the series when it did, The Chronicle ends on a cliffhanger.

Von Schauer, usually a stage actor, had a few other on-film credits.  Perhaps the most famous of these is Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978), in which he had such memorable lines as, “Incredible!  A kamikaze tomato!” and “God!  Who would have thought?  All I wanted was a bigger, healthier tomato.” Ah, the classics!  “Rosebud.”  “It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.”  “How fast was I going, officer?” “What we have here is a failure to communicate.’  “Incredible!  A kamikaze tomato!”

A Snitch in Time artfully combines elements of humor and science fiction.

I wish that the Sci-Fi Channel had renewed The Chronicle for a second season.




The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 5: He’s Dead, She’s Dead (2001)   2 comments

Above:  Tucker, Wes and Grace

Grace holds a package containing the ashes of her ferret, Pookie.

All images in this post are screen captures.


He’s Dead, She’s Dead

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired August 4, 2001

Production Number = 5009-01-106


Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Octavia L. Spencer as Ruby Rydell

Main Guest Cast

Elaine Hendrix as Kristen Martin

Leigh Hennessy as Homeless Woman

Shawn Lane as Reanimated Corpse

Karen-Eileen Gordon as Dr. Evelyn Elkins

Joe Nesnow as Dr. Harry Cooper

Justine Miceli as Helen Cooper

Todd Patrick Breaugh as Clark Jensen

Behind the Camera

Consulting Producer = Naren Shankar

Writers = Erin Maher and Kay Reindl

Director = John Kretchman

Above:  Donald Stern and Kristen Martin

Brief Summary

Young daredevils Brad, Todd, and Lee are drinking in a cemetery at night.  After Brad falls into an open grave, Todd and Lee flee.  They are terrified after seeing a hatted man stab a corpse then run away.

Tucker, Grace, and Wes work on the corpses story while Kristen researches a story about the World Chronicle for The New York Times.  Donald Stern ensures that Kristen gets the story he wants:  that the World Chronicle is not a legitimate publication.  The world is not yet ready to believe otherwise, he tells Tucker.  Besides, Kristen’s story will constitute good publicity.

Three corpses have gone missing from the cemetery during the previous month.  There was the exchange student from the beginning of the episode.  He attacked Tucker in the morgue, but waited for Kristen to leave before doing so.  There was also a homeless woman, who attacked Kristen on a sidewalk at night.  The third disinterred corpse was that of Dr. Harry Cooper, who had been interested in the occult and the reanimation of corpses.

Helen Cooper, Harry’s daughter, is still angry with her father.  She still considers the reanimation of corpses immoral.  Nobody has the right to cheat death and play God, she insists.  She, therefore, cooperates with Clark Jensen, one of Harry’s few allies, to reanimate her father.  Then she kills him again.  (Talk about resentment!)  Police officers arrest Jensen, apparently for robbing graves.  Helen will probably be fine, legally, for killing the dead is not a crime.  Kristen arrives on the scene too late to witness the brief resurrection of Dr. Harry Cooper.

Donald Stern, after reading Kristen’s article dismissing the staff of the World Chronicle as delusional, breaks out the bubbly.

Above:  Helen Cooper

Character Beats

Vera has the hots for Tucker.

Tucker is desperate for Kristen to think of him as a legitimate journalist.

Grace mourns the death of Pookie, the ferret she adopted while in junior high school.  (Ferrets are illegal in New York City.)  Grace’s mother mails the ashes to Grace, who scatters them in Central Park.

Great Lines

Todd, offering an obvious excuse to flee the cemetery:  “I think I want to go home and watch Felicity.”

Wes:  “This guy is so full of holes he makes Noriega look like a Noxzema model.”

Dr. Evelyn Elkins, introverted medical examiner:  “Live people just get in the way.”


An army of vampires bent of world domination exists.

Tucker compliments Kristen on her story about Yamaguchi Wireless (What Gobbles Beneath).

Ruby has real psychic powers.  Nevertheless, Donald Stern insists that she mix false and true predictions, so she does.  Besides, people deal better with her predictions when they do not know if they are true or false.


This episode is the first so far to use the alternative, mysterious theme, instead of the standard, whimsical one.

This episode has a lighter tone (despite the alternative theme) than the previous episode.  I would rather watch this episode again and skip the previous episode during subsequent rewatches.

Pookie the ferret was a delightful companion, I am sure.

Kristen is a recurring character with an arc.  I am not a militant anti-spoilers person.  Rosebud was a sled.  There, I said it!  The Maltese Falcon was a fake.  There, I said it!  And this series is two decades old.  The statute of limitations on spoilers expires long before twenty years.  Nevertheless, I choose not to reveal Kristen’s character arc in this post.




Spiritual Life Movie Series of 2018   Leave a comment

Above:  Church Sign, Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, April 22, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor


In late 2014 the Spiritual Life Committee of my parish asked me to revive the dormant movie series at church.  I accepted, obviously, and relaunched it in January 2015.   Serving as director of this series has entailed showing ten movies each year, usually on the last Friday of each month from January to October.  Twice I have had to screen the movie for March on the penultimate Friday, for the last Friday has been Good Friday.  During the last two years I have dug deeply into the classics.

The selections for the 2018 series follow:

  1. January–Bicycle Thieves (1948),
  2. February–Casablanca (1942),
  3. March–The Navigator:  The Medieval Odyssey (1988),
  4. April–The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976),
  5. May–The Maltese Falcon (1941),
  6. June–Regarding Henry (1991),
  7. July–The Natural (1984),
  8. August–The Magnificent Seven (1960),
  9. September–The Verdict (1982), and
  10. October–Driving Miss Daisy (1989).

I choose not to screen a movie on the last Friday of November or December, due to Thanksgiving in November and the Christmas-New Year time in December.

If you, O reader, are of a mind to watch quality movies in search of spiritual lessons, I suggest these selections for your consideration.