Have you noticed how many things can cause fistfights these days?
I mean, things that used to be considered normal, and even polite, but now they're grounds for fights, lawsuits and general ugliness.
For example, the words "Excuse me."
"Excuse me" used to be what you would say if you were trying to be nice. But watch what happens today if somebody is standing in the middle of the grocery aisle, and you can't get by, and so you say "Excuse me."
You've just disturbed that guy. You've just invaded his peace of mind. You've just upset his right to stand in the middle of the grocery aisle.
A fistfight is possible.
Another example: shushing in movie theaters. I'm a big advocate of shushing. I'm a championship shusher. I'm such a great shusher that I once successfully silenced an entire field trip of junior high schoolers.
My secret: I never use the sharp, high-pitched shush. I always use the slow, continuous, gentle but firm shush. It starts out so low you can barely hear it, gradually increases in volume, and doesn't stop until the theater is quiet.
It's actually kinda creepy when you do it right. Of course, you can only use it if you are four seats or less away from the loudmouth.
Any farther away than that, and you bother everybody except the talker. That's why, if you're within four seats, it's your duty to shush.
Anyhow, my point is that shushing can cause fistfights. Shushing used to cause shame. That's why people did it. You would shush somebody, and the person would think, "Gee whiz, was I talkin' that loud?" And it would be over.
Today, people wanna argue with the shusher!
I took a trip on Amtrak with my buddy Randy and his girlfriend. A couple of 12-year-olds kept running up and down the aisle, disturbing everyone's sleep, and so Randy finally said, "Hey, you boys decide where you're gonna sit. You're botherin' everybody."
And they were mad about it. They wanted to argue, defy, yell at him about their rights. I had to wade into it myself.
The conductor had to be notified. The boys had to be threatened with being put off the train before order was restored. All because they were doing something everybody regards as dumb.
Listen up, people.
When I was 12 years old, I ran up and down aisles, until grownups made me stop.
I've been known to block a grocery aisle.
I've been known to talk too loud in a movie theater.
The only difference is that, when somebody pointed out what a jerk I was being, I just apologized and went on with life. I didn't think I had to fight my way back into respectability.
We're human beans, okay? We're gonna get in each other's way, talk too loud, and irritate the public peace. That's why we have words like "Excuse me" and "Hey, hold it down over there" and "I'd 'preciate it if you'd put a lid on it"--so that we can all get on through life without havin' fistfights.
Did we run out of real stuff to fight over?
Let's lighten up a little, okay?
And speaking of flicks you'll wanna hear every word of, Vampire Vixens From Venus is finally here, and it lives up to its promise as the finest depiction of bloodsucking outer-space monsters disguised as big-breasted party girls ever filmed in New Jersey.
Three plug-ugly aliens with faces like mutant pigs land in Jersey, touch their magic bracelets, and become oversexed airheads in search of a disco.
They offer sex to every man they see--but only so they can put an electronic beanie on his head, turn him into a piece of gooey beef jerky and suck out all his body fluids.
Leon Head stars as the British detective doing a performance that looks like a cross between Inspector Clouseau and Benny Hill after being slugged in the head with a fistful of nickels.
Leon falls in love with legendary scream queen Michelle Bauer, more beautiful than ever, only to find out that she, too, is a meat-faced skag from Venus.
Made for about 50 bucks, which means they occasionally actually move the camera in this one.
Thirteen dead bodies. Twenty-four breasts. Multiple face goo. Scalpel face-stabbing. Gratuitous Charlie Callas.
Drive-In Academy Award nomination for:
The gorgeous J.J. North, as the blonde party alien, for saying "This planet stinks!"
Joe Bob says check it out.
Joe Bob's Find That Flick
This week's noodle-knocker comes from...Sgt. Dave Johnson, U.S. Air Force:
"Have you ever heard of a movie called California 405? It stars the fat guy who plays the boss on the TV idiodrama 'Hunter.' The same guy who also had a tiny slime-less role in Kurt Russell's The Thing.
"It takes place entirely on the freeways surrounding Los Angeles (in people's cars 'n' stuff). I'm told this movie made its debut at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival. I had a bit part in it, late in the production, and haven't been able to find hide nor hair of it anywhere.
A video will be awarded to the correct answer. In the event of a tie, a drawing will be held. Send "Find That Flick" questions and solutions to Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221.
We Have a Winner!
In a previous column, Brock "Sweet Lou" Silvers of Chicago asked about "an English-language movie about an ancient Taoist monastery in China.
"Wealthy pilgrims come to the monastery to celebrate some holiday and claim to witness one of the monks getting nekkid with a woman, which would be strictly against all monkly codes of conduct. Next, the monks are implicated in the murder of the previous Abbot. Does this movie have it all, or what?..."
We received six correct answers, so our winner was chosen by drawing. And he is...Bill Hatton of Wellesley Hills, Mass.:
"The mystery movie is The Haunted Monastery, a 20th Century-Fox film based on the novel of the same name written by Robert van Gulik. The cast is almost entirely Chinese, with a few Japanese, all English speakers.
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"The director was Jeremy Kagan, Judge Dee was played by Khigh Alx Dinegh, and Keye Luke (of the Charlie Chan movies) also appeared. I taped this from a local TV station.
"Judge Dee was a real district magistrate in seventh-century China. He was famous for solving crimes, which was one of a district magistrate's duties, along with those of chief of police, justice of the peace and local representative of the Emperor.
"He was the first recorded detective, real or fictional. Van Gulik translated and published one of the old stories in 1949.
Copyright 1995 by Joe Bob Briggs. Distributed by NYT Special Features/Syndication Sales.