If you want the gravy…

…You've got to get the biscuits!


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MWFF: HARVEY MIDDLEMAN, FIREMAN – ***

Harvey Middleman Fireman

Taking off from my recently published list of my 50 most wanted films, this is the start of a new series which I’m calling Most Wanted Films Found (MWFF). As some of the films on that list are easier to track down than others, I decided that, once the list was up, I would try to start crossing films off of it. And I decided to start with a film which I had already missed one window of opportunity to see and wasn’t going to waste another: Ernest Pintoff’s 1965 comedy, Harvey Middleman, Fireman.

First, a quick rundown of the story:

Harvey Middleman (Eugene Troobnick) is a New York City fireman, living a cheerfully average life in the New Jersey suburbs with his wife Harriet (Arlene Golonka) and two young children. One day, responding to an apartment fire, he rescues pretty young Lois (Patricia Harty), and they impulsively kiss. Harvey grows infatuated with her, and the feeling seems to be mutual; meanwhile, he begins to lose his temper at Harriet and his co-workers more frequently.

While trying to decide just what to do about his feelings for Lois, Harvey decides he needs professional help, and consults Mrs. Koogleman (Hermione Gingold), a psychiatrist working for the city health department, who seems more than a bit preoccupied with her own affairs.

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My 50 Most Wanted Films

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There’s something about obscurity that has long appealed to me. Maybe it’s the fear that my own creative works will be overlooked that drives me to seek out and appreciate the overlooked works of others. Maybe I just like the feeling of having discovered something no one else knows about – hell, at one time I thought Logan’s Run was pretty damn obscure, and for a short time it was one of my favorite movies!

This article is the result of roughly two years’ work, so naturally most of what you’re actually about to read was put together in the last few days. (It worked for college.) My original plan was to cover 100 films. Then my plan was to cover 50 films in detail and list 50 additional films with only brief explanations of my interest. Then I decided to save the additional 50 for another post so I could get this one out on time (and it is, as I type this, inching toward 4 in the morning, so I’d better wrap it up).

My thoughts on the films to follow are a combination of original research, notes I made for previous incarnations of this article, and material drawn from a series of 50 posts I made on social media two years ago detailing films I wanted to see but could not, at least not as readily as I would like. So some films will be dealt with rather briskly, and others will be dealt with at length. I did not mean to give any film short shrift, but that’s the way things shook out.

And now, let us take a trip through 50 films, spanning almost 70 years of cinema history, which have especially caught my interest. Please feel free to suggest additional titles or offer leads on seeking out the films below.

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Afri-Cola Review

Normally I wouldn’t be consuming caffeine so late on a weekday. But I had a rough day today and felt like treating myself. Besides, I wanted to get around to this before it went flat, so why not kill two birds with one stone?

This is another one of my World Market acquisitions; the wholly unique shape of the bottle, the striking graphic design, and the general reliability of colas made it seem like a safe bet. So all the way from Germany, from the municipality of Bad Überkingen, it’s Afri-Cola!

Oh, and apparently this brand of cola is famous for being especially high in caffeine. So tonight should be fun. (This is what I do instead of drinking booze.)

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2018: The Books I’ve Read – Q1

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Ian Carmichael as Jim Dixon in the 1957 film adaptation of Lucky Jim.

Right after Christmas, my workplace banned cell phones on the premises, so that even during my breaks I would not be able to fiddle around on my phone (or spend half my break trying to get a workable signal, as was so often the case). This left with me with up to an hour of free time every afternoon with no certain means of filling it. I could nap, of course, or I could watch the break-room TV (I still do, especially when Family Feud is on), but it seemed to me this would be a golden opportunity to catch up on the reading I’d so long neglected. Not that I hadn’t been reading at all – I had recently finished Strange Life of Ivan Osokin, for one – but I was doing so quite erratically, taking months to finish even fairly short books.

So I grabbed Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim from off my shelf and now, three months later, have just finished my third book in as many months – and I’m starting my fourth on Monday. Here are the books I’ve read so far:

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BLACK PANTHER Review – ****

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Five weeks into its release, with over $600 million in the till in North America alone and reviews good enough to spur talk of Oscar glory, is there much left to be said about Black Panther? Is there much I can add to the chorus of acclaim, especially since, as my rating gives away, I am in tune with it? Perhaps not. What I can talk about is how my appreciation for the film grew from my first viewing to my second, and how the film, sitting as it now does atop a mountain of praise, earned its position.

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Paulaner Spezi Review

Been a while since my last soda review, but as we’re moving into spring and the weather is growing warmer, it’s going to be prime soda-drinking time for a while.

Today’s soda is one I almost had before. It’s a German soda (produced in Munich), about which I know only that World Market carries it, that it boasts a fairly nifty looking can, and that, going by the on-can description of it as “Orangelimonade mit Cola”, it’s something like a citrus cola. Beyond that, I’m going in blind. Without further ado, from the Paulaner company, it’s Spezi!

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