Joe Bob Briggs

Wanda Bodine opened up a Smell Store last week. It's this little shop in the mall where she sells stuff that emits AROMAS. Smelly oils, smelly herbs, smelly candles, smelly dried-flower arrangements, smelly clumps of pine bark you're supposed to stick on your desk at the office so that you'll feel better about yourself. You're supposed to go: "Wow! Smell that pine sap from the Shenandoah Valley! Makes all my corpuscles wanna dance the boogaloo today as I crank out that proposal for the new Akron plant!''

I'm not making this up. That's the whole deal. SMELLS.
I didn't believe it when she first told me about it. I had to go down to the mall and check it out for myself. But there it was. "Essences a la Bodine.'' And right smack dab in the middle of the picture window was one of those fluffy baskets of every man's greatest nightmare.

I'm talking, of course, of po-purr-ee. I can't spell it and I can't say it, but I know it's French and it has way too many vowels in it. And basically what it looks like is a big ole handful of weeds and sticks in a brown basket.

Women love this stuff. Women will travel nine miles out of their way to pick up a crate of this stuff. Women love to scatter this stuff all over the house, like a Marine Corps obstacle course, until every time you take a bite out of a baloney sandwich, it tastes like a perfumed cat.

And these are the SAME women who HATE the smell of a Cuban cigar, which is what, class? I believe that would be an HERB, right? A natural herb, nurtured out of the most fertile soil in the world, and then ignited with a low flame, just EXACTLY the same way you do with those Indonesian wahini-wheat candles that cost 26 bucks a piece.

If THEY do it, it's atmosphere. If WE do it, it's a disgusting gross pollution of the sacred hearth.

But the place where Wanda is making the really big bucks is soap and all the stuff women THINK they have to put on their faces AFTER they use soap. The soaps have names like Lavender Breeze and Herbal Oleander Oxen Juice and Black Sea Wisteria Wonder, and they're these big hunky bars that look like they were cut with a chain saw, and they cost, like, nine bucks apiece. Then, after you use the soap, you've gotta slather some "Eau de Niagara Falls'' moisturizer all over your skin so that you don't dry out and get Gobi Desert Face.

But the main thing about all this stuff is SMELL. You go in the store and all these people are sniffin' up a storm. You got a sinus convention going on, and SOME of the stuff they're smelling is JUST FOR SMELLING.

In other words, it's not soap, it's not po-purr-ee, it's not perfume, it's not moisturizer --it's just this little bottle that you stick up your nose every day, like a drug, so that the aroma floods up into your brain and makes you see psychedelic sea serpents or something.

I'm telling you, these stores really exist. I know you don't believe me, but I saw it with my own eyes. Was I born in the wrong century or something? Please tell me I'm not crazy.

And speaking of money-grubbing rednecks, this week's flick is "The Grave,'' which sounds like a horror flick but is actually a dimwits-escape-from-prison-and-try-to-dig-up-buried-treasure movie starring a WHOLE bunch of people who don't know how to do Southern accents without mumblin' a lot. As a result, I couldn't figure out the whole deal, but it does have a GREAT ending and some pretty decent comedy moments involving a maniac with a shotgun, a mortician and some idiot grave-robbers.

Craig Sheffer and Josh Charles are two North Carolina convicts who hear about this rich guy who buried millions of bucks worth of stuff inside his own grave, so pretty soon they're bribing a guard, bustin' out, shootin' cops, stealin' clothes and getting major gunshot-wound surgery at a funeral home while Sheffer tries to convince the good ole gal he left behind, Gabrielle Anwar, that this time he was planning to make her happy ever after.

Unfortunately, people keep dying in nasty, nasty ways.
My kinda movie.
Eleven dead bodies. No breasts. Prison toilet communications system. (You don't wanna know.)

Bloody rabbit's foot. Pill poppin'. Embalming-table surgery. Aardvarking. Upchucking. Baseball bat to the head. The old chained-to-the-floor-of-the-swamp-at-low-tide torture.

Massive marijuana use. Multiple gravedigging.
One brawl, with pitchfork. Finger rolls. Gratuitous Eric Roberts. Electric-chair fu.

Drive-In Academy Award nominations for:
*Craig Sheffer, as the mastermind redneck, for saying, "good woman, she ain't easy to find.''

*Gabrielle Anwar, as the sultry bitch who says, "Don't even try, King--this show's one night only'' and, "I ain't never got what I been promised.''

*Josh Charles, as the good ole boy who gets shotgunned in the gut and kills the pain with whiskey, for saying, "I just ain't ready to leave yet, that's all.''

*Donal Logue, as the comic-relief sidekick who says, "You think the baby Jesus is looking down on us in judgment?''

*And Jonas Pate, the writer/director, for doing things the drive-in way.
Three stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.

1996 Joe Bob Briggs(Distributed by NYT Special Features)

(To discuss the meaning of life with Joe Bob, write Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221 or fax him at 213-462-5982. Joe Bob even hangs out on the Internet:


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