Been a long time, folks. This confounded crisis has taken the motivation out of me something fierce. No, I haven't been sick, not even one day. That might have given me the inspiration to watch a ton of movies and do reviews. No, my problem was just an apathy for doing much of anything. My apologies to those who have been waiting. I plan to get going again in the next week or so on movies. But for now I will tantalize you with a book review.
Joe Bob Briggs Goes to the Drive-In (1987) and Joe Bob Briggs Goes Back to the Drive-In (1990):
In 1982, a college friend of mine invited me to move in with him and help deliver The Dallas Times Herald to residents in a small north Texas town. Delivering a paper a few hours a day was a nice way to earn a living back in those days. Especially since I was entirely unmotivated to do much of any real strenuous work.
One of the benefits of delivering the paper was there was always an extra copy or two to take home. I admit I wasn't much interested in the world at that time. But I did enjoy reading the supplements about culture. On Fridays the weekend section always had reviews of movies that were currently in release. And one of the features was a section written by one of the writers, John Bloom. He adopted a persona named Joe Bob Briggs to write about the drive-in movies of the day.
Drive-ins, in case you are a neophyte to the halcyon days of bygone years, were these monolithic venues that showed movies outdoors. And the typical fare was not exactly Oscar material. If you've seen some of my earlier work you know I have addressed some pretty outre movies (such as the one I wrote last year for my 5th anniversary post; Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman and The Amazing Colossal Man).
Drive-in movies were pretty much horror, sci-fi, and crime run rampant types of movies. Joe Bob Briggs would review these movies, giving them a rating of 1 to 4 stars, depending on a number of elements that were present in the movies (naked breasts counts, the amount of blood that flowed, how much kung fu was used, car chases, dead body counts etc.)
The great thing about Joe Bob Briggs' column was also the insight he gave in his own private life. None of the people were any more real than Joe Bob was (he was all in the mind of his creator, Bloom, after all.) But the stories were funny in their own way. You ought to know, however, that Joe Bob Briggs would probably never get in print in today's repressive PC society, however. He even had his own run-ins with the "high sheriffs" (the editors) even in his own day. Reading Joe Bob today is still a guilty thrill for those of us who can appreciate his wit, though.
Joe Bob got into trouble finally with his un-PC attitude when he made some disparaging remarks and got canned at The Dallas Times Herald, but he just went underground. He continued on as syndicated columnist for several years afterwards and even transitioned to film, hosting a midnight drive-in show on TV where they would air some of those same types of flicks on TNT.
I used to have a letter that Joe Bob sent to me. I wrote to him once back in 1983, and he responded with a personal letter. (For all I know it may have been a form letter he sent out to all his correspondents. I can't remember, and I no longer have the letter; it got lost in all the moves I made over the years.)
Anyway, the two books listed above are a collection of his newspaper columns over the years that he wrote it. You get some insight into various hangers-on in his world, including his women (Vida Stegall, Cherry Findlay, ) and his buddies (like Chubb Fricke and Rhett ). Plus a review of a current movie in release that week that was of such quality that it could only been shown at drive-ins. (Joe Bob called the normal fare "indoor bullstuff", ie your current Oscar eligible movies.) Nothing at the drive-in would qualify for even being considered Oscar material. That, of course, didn't deter Joe Bob. He even created his own award, the Hubbies (a hubcap with the award engraved upon it) for such accomplishments as Best Breasts, Best Kung-Fu etc.
Both of these books are, sadly, out-of-print. Amazon has copies going for hundreds of dollars each. They are obviously collectors items. I happen to have bought both when they were still within my budget (the list price for the first run). And, no, before you ask, you can't borrow mine. Although if you happen to be visiting I'm not so anal that I won't let you browse them...
I appreciate the kinds of movies that were the steak and potatoes of Joe Bob and his regular readers. And when I finally get back to writing this blog I plan on getting back to the drive-in fare for which this blog was originally created. In the meantime, haunt your local bookstores or more freedom minded libraries to see if you can find these gems.