Monday, June 01, 2020

Adventure Is Closer Than You Think

Kicked off another comfortably sunny day with breakfast and Blockbusters. It started with the grandmother half of the grandmother/grandson duo going into the Gold Rush bonus round...where she proved that she is, indeed, a genius by not missing a single question. They were tackling the next solo contestant, a young woman, when time ran out.

Spent the rest of the morning making a banana-upside-down cake, a variation on the pineapple upside-down cake recipe in Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook. Replaced the fruit and fruit juice with mashed bananas and oats; sliced a banana and put that in the melted butter and brown sugar, with blueberries in the middle. The cake part came out perfectly and tasted delicious. The topping...not so much. I must have cooked it for too long. Instead of running down the sides, the topping crusted around the edges. The bananas stuck to the top of the pan. I suspect they may have been too soft to be used for topping.

Watched the 1985 version of King Solomon's Mines, which is currently running on Tubi for free with ads. Great white hunter Allan Quartermain (Richard Chamberlain) is hired by archaeologist Jessie Huston (Sharon Stone) to find her father, Professor Huston. Huston was kidnapped while searching for King Solomon's fabled diamond mines by the very German Colonel Bockner (Herbert Lom) and Turkish slave-trader Dogati (John Rhys-Davies). Quartermain, Jessie, and the mysterious native Umbopo (Ken Gampu) follow the Germans, hoping to get to the Mines first...but they'll also have to deal with warring native tribes, cannibals who think they're on the lunch menu, a pit full of hungry crocodiles, and demanding old tribal queens. Even when they arrive, the mines themselves are full of traps, and Dogati and Bockner are still after them, too.

Switched to Charlie's Angels on The Roku Channel while cleaning up the cake mess and having lunch. Former jewel thief Freddie the Fox proves to be a "Diamond In the Rough" during the second season when he tells the Angels about a gem that was stolen by an unscrupulous financier. The Angels join him in the Caribbean, with Kelly posing as his secretary, Sabrina as his trophy wife, Bosley as his valet, and Kris as his masseuse. Trouble is, Kris never expected to fall for the financier's car-loving mechanic son...

Went out for a walk after the show ended. I decided to avoid the main drag all together and just stuck to the park and Manor Avenue. I wasn't the only one. I saw a family out on a kayaking trip pulling into the park and a woman jogging and walking her dog. Charlie and Willa watered their gardens; I dropped the rent in their mailbox on my way to the park. It was a nice day for a walk, too, sunny and breezy and even cooler than yesterday, probably in the lower 70's.

Picked up my mail on my way in. The card for my disability money had arrived! I went online and activated it at Bank of America's website. The activation went fine...but it turned out that I had no money in my account yet. I had to do some searching, but I did eventually discover that the first payment is a week after you call them. Hopefully, I'll get the money tomorrow.

Worked on writing for a while after I finished fiddling with the card. Betty recognizes the small man with the glasses at the door as one of her pages, Sir Larry (Blyden). He in turn knows her, but reveals that he's friends with Arlene and Soupy the witch and warlock and won't give her identity away.

Broke for dinner around 6. John "Charlie" Forsythe joined Brett, Richard, Gene, Gary Burghoff, Fannie Flagg, and Elaine Joyce for the tail end of a week of Match Game from 1975. Fannie got to show off some of her infamous t-shirts, including one that sported a sequined Popeye, and another made to look like a tuxedo. It was a close race on Sale of the Century. All three contestants were neck-and-neck the entire game, and they all bought or won something. It wasn't until the speed round where the champ pulled ahead. He opted to come back when he learned that the prizes were about to change and liked the sound of some of the upcoming ones.

Returned to Allan Quartermain's world to finish out the night with Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold, which was free with ads at Vudu. Allan and Jessie are still living in Africa when an old friend of Allan's turns up delirious and injured one night. Though he's eventually killed, he does manage to tell Allan that his lost brother Robeson (Martin Rabbett) is alive. Though Jessie wants Allan to return to the US for their wedding, she eventually changes her mind and joins him, his warrior friend Umslopogaas (James Earl Jones) of the massive ax, the cowardly spiritual guru Swarma (Robert Donner), and several natives on a trek into the jungle. Even when they do find the City of Gold and Allan's brother, they end up caught in a power struggle between the city's two queens, it's greedy high priest Agon (Henry Silva), and his army of renegade natives, who want the peaceful city's precious metals.

B and low-budget movie specialists The Cannon Group, who did The Apple and the fairy-tale musicals I've reviewed at my musical blog, also put out these two. On one hand, they're not very good. The dialogue is terrible, the special effects are cheap (Umslopogaas' ax is obviously a plastic prop), the characters are cliched, and the plots have little or nothing to do with the Allan Quartermain books by H. Rider Haggard that these are supposedly based after. There's also the racial aspects to deal with, including the dated treatment of the natives and white gods ruling over a city of mixed races in Lost City of Gold.

And yet...for all the problems, I thoroughly enjoyed them. Chamberlain is obviously having a fine time as one of the most famous "great white hunters" in literature, and Stone's character at least has some use besides "love interest" and can even hold her own in a fight with the evil queen towards the end of Lost City of Gold. Lom and Rhys-Davies are a little too goofy to be menacing in Mines; Silva and his ladies come off slightly better. In a weird way, the cheap production and stiff dialogue almost make them feel even more like the serials of the 30's and 40's that inspired these and the Indiana Jones films.

If you're a big fan of the Indiana Jones series like me or a fan of Chamberlain and can handle the low budget and campy feel, these are both worth checking out.

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