jrpearlman

Coming 2 America: A Quickie Review

So tonight the son agreed to join me for a viewing of “Coming 2 America,” the sequel to the all-time, all-time, all-fucking-time-of-times Eddie Murphy classic, “Coming to America.”

And, to be honest, my expectations were low. With rare exception (“Superman II” and “The Empire Strikes Back” being two that leap from the page), sequels tend to disappoint. They’re almost always reheated leftovers of an original thought gone stale. It’s generally a studio wanting to cash in on some early success. So the cast is returned, the hype is increased, the theatres (when there are theatres) are packed—and most everyone shuffles out with (at best) a big, “Meh.”

Which is, for “Coming 2 America,” the word of words: Meh.

The movie isn’t bad. And, if you have Amazon Prime, the price is right ($0.00). But … well … eh … there just isn’t much there. The story line of 2 is pretty much the story line of the original. The cast is largely the same. There are 800 cameos (from Morgan Freeman to Dikembe Mutombo to the three remaining members of En Vogue), but none feel particularly surprising or inspired. There are some sharp moments (the barber shop jokes are as on point now as they were three decades ago), but most of the comedic setups go pfft. I’d say, over the 110-minute running time, I laughed aloud five times. Maybe six. Which isn’t terrible. Just … meh.

Oftentimes, I groaned. Seeing Louie Anderson looking half dead. Seeing John Amos looking half dead. Seeing James Earl Jones looking half dead. Too much Leslie Jones doing Leslie Jones at nonstop 500 mph (and, for the record, I’m generally a fan).

By the end, I longed for the original.

I longed for originality.

PS: I actually thought the best parts of the movie generally involved Nomzamo Mbatha, an actress worth watching.

Texans should drive drunk

So a few days ago Greg Abbott, Texas’ weeny governor/a man who desperately wants to look tough, announced that his state was ending all COVID health restrictions, and that everything would be 100 percent open and masks are no longer mandated.

“We no longer need government running our lives,” he said. “Instead, everybody must continue to assume their own individual responsibility to take the actions that they have already mastered to make sure that they will not be contracting COVID-19.”

I agree.

And this is why Texas needs to outlaw DUI restrictions.

Texans know whether they’ve had enough to drink. Texans don’t need the government to say, “You probably shouldn’t operate a truck after your 10th Budweiser.” Texans don’t need the Washington liberals to tell them eight vodka and cranberries do not go particularly well with maneuvering a school bus filled with children! Texans don’t need to keep an eye on Texan alcoholics! They’re Texan alcoholics! With car keys! They know best!

Yeeeeee-haaaaaw!

Texans are able to make their own decisions. To run their own lives. If Texans don’t believe a virus that has killed more than 500,000 of their fellow Americans is a threat, it’s not a threat. And if Texans don’t believe their inebriation would impact the ability to drive a car, it’s not a problem.

Texans are strong!

Texans are tough!

Texans deserve to be able to drink and drive!

Hell, give Greg Abbott a ride.

(But only after cracking open a six pack.)

Who is this man?

So because my life is lame and a bit dull, I find myself watching the NFL Network’s replay of the recent Bucs-Packers NFC Championship Game.

At one point, while not staring at the screen, I heard Troy Aikman refer to a catch by “Johnson.”

And, because my brain is warped and filled with cobwebs and goop, I found myself thinking, “Johnson … Johnson … Johnson. Wasn’t there a good Texans wide receiver named Johnson?” So I Googled and, indeed, there he was.

Andre Johnson!

Only Andre Johnson wasn’t merely good. He was great, bordering on Hall of Fame-ish. Over 14 NFL seasons, Johnson caught 1,062 passes for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdowns. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler, a three-time NFL wide receiver of the year and the only player in league history with more than 60 catches over his first eight seasons. He is, by far, the most productive and prolific pass catcher in Texans history.

And you wouldn’t recognize him.

And your friends wouldn’t recognize him.

And I, too, wouldn’t recognize him.

That, to me, is one of the great poisons of post-NFL life. If you’re an NBA player, and you have an Andre Johnson-esque career, you can milk that recognition for years. Same with Major League retirees. Even NHL castoffs (if you’re in Canada). But football players exist in the shadows of a helmet; and the minute they’re replaced and cast aside, a new No. 80 or No. 84 or No 87 steps up—looking nearly identical to the last No. 80 or No. 84 or No. 87. It means you are now starting from scratch. Anonymous. Often unskilled in all areas unrelated to a pig’s skin.

You’re told the fame will always be a tool. That it’ll open doors. But, with rare exception, it’s a stench that follows one from place to place. The questions (“Didn’t you used to …”) never end. The introductions (“Andre used to …”) are cringe-worthy. Andre Johnson last caught an NFL pass five years ago, but unless he leaps from a building or invents a replacement for the drinking straw, his post-career achievements will pale in comparison to what he did as a young man; to what he can never do again.

That’s why, when I visited AndreJohnson’s website, I was both saddened and unsurprised.

Saddened, because the last update was filed in 2017.

Unsurprised because it seemed inevitable.

Pete Hegseth

Hi, I’m a douche

Pete Hegseth spoke at the CPAC convention today.

I know that because it was trending on Twitter. I had to then Google “Pete Hegseth,” because I’ve never heard of Pete Hegseth. It turns out Pete Hegseth is a television host, military vet, failed political candidate and all-around super douche.

Which is fine: All walks of politics are filled with super douches.

What struck me as fascinating was this:

At one point during his speech to the angry white Trump slaves, Pete Hegseth said that when he sits down with real Americans at diners across the nation, “they’re not talking about the esoteric things that the Ivy League talks about.”

Pete Hegseth graduated from Harvard.

At another point during his speech to the drooling white Trump brainwashees, Pete Hegseth said he’s witnessed a sobering decline of biblical values in America.

Pete Hegseth was married in 2017, when he had a daughter with a Fox executive producer named Jennifer Rauchet—who was not his wife.

And, truly, this is the kind of shit I … just … don’t … understand. Donald Trump—American patriot—bragged about sexually assaulting women, failed to pay taxes, lied about being a hero after 9.11, created a phony “university” to bilk poor people, bankrupted a bunch of casinos—and it means shit to these people. Absolutely nothing. They hear the words, and the words are enough. Actions? Deeds? Meh.

Just say it, and we’ll clap.

Ugh.

The Kobe Logo

So there’s an online petition to change the NBA logo, which is a silhouette of Jerry West, to a silhouette of Kobe Bryant. Like the one offered above.

It’s some seriously dumb shit.

Look, I love a lot about Kobe Bryant. I mean that—I love a lot about Kobe Bryant. His work ethic was unmatched. His doggedness was legendary. He won with Shaq, then he won without Shaq. He is, easily, one of the 20 greatest players in the history of the league (And, to be clear, I’m not saying “20” to draw attention, where you (the reader) replies with, “That’s an insult! He’s way better than Top 20!” Truth is, there have been a shitload of tremendous NBA guys, and automatically placing Kobe in the Top 5 means you’re ranking him ahead of some combo of Kareem, Oscar, Wilt, Bird, Magic, Hakeem, Duncan, Cousy, Spud Webb, Larry Krystkowiak, etc).

I digress.

Kobe Bryant died tragically a year ago, and the (understandable) reaction is often to thrust said person toward a saintly status. So we see Kobe as this logo-worthy entity, and those with no appreciation of NBA history and an over-reliance on modern metrics look at someone like West and think of him primarily as a silver-haired general manager who played during the dark ages of slow white guys and bad haircuts. Meanwhile, they convince themselves that Kobe wasn’t (often) selfish, wasn’t (often) destructive to team chemistry, wasn’t nearly imprisoned for allegedly raping a woman in Colorado. He was perfect, just as Jimi Hendrix was perfect when he died, just as John F. Kennedy was perfect when he died, just as MLK and Shannon Hoon and Bob Marley and Thurman Munson were perfect when they died. That’s how we absorb young, unexpected passings—we whitewash the negative, hyper focus on the positives, then try our best to convince those within our orbits that what they heard (negatively) wasn’t actually true.

Again—I digress.

Kobe Bryant was a tremendous player. He died, at 41, a fine father and husband. He died a legend, and justifiably so.

But if we truly want to change the NBA’s logo, there’s only one way to go …

The best thing. Ever.

So the other day my daughter Casey was looking to make a purchase on eBay. She was using my computer, and upon completion I said, “Let’s see how much my books are selling for here.”

I typed in my name, and wound up here. As expected, some of my stuff can be had for $4.09, some can be had for … good God, what?!?!?!

A digression, but do not—under any circumstances—pay $51.97 for my Clemens book. Or $5.97, for that matter.

Anyhow, I noticed that one autographed book was available, which made me curious. When did I sign it? Where did I sign it? How long ago did I sign it?

It turns out the offering in question was “Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Anti-Hero.”

And it was autographed to a good friend.

Now, one might think this cause for bruised feelings. Nope. Just the opposite. I laughed my ass off, then showed the wife—who laughed her ass off. Books are great, and signed books are often greater—but far too often we feel guilted into keeping them around, for the mere sake of keeping them around.

My signature has no value.

But a good laugh—priceless.

The Cam Newton kid

In case you missed this, a few days ago Cam Newton appeared at the NFA 7v7 East Regional held at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s a football tournament, and the former NFL MVP’s foundation sponsors some of the participating teams.

In other words, Newton was involved because he wanted to help, and be of service, and be decent to young boys involved in the sport he loves.

Which makes this so fucking infuriating …

I am father of two kids—and if either one talked to an adult the way this teenager spoke to Newton … man, oh man.

Phone—gone.

Social media—gone.

Any sort of allowance—gone.

Every effort to apologize in person to Cam Newton—enforced.

I’m not kidding. Just watching the clip, I found myself overcome by anger. It doesn’t matter if Newton is an all-time great quarterback (which he is) or a dentist or a garbage collector or an accountant or a sports writer—there’s just no excuse for speaking to him with such blatant derision and disrespect. And I wonder, truly: Where does that come from? How does a young person see Cam Newton at a football camp he’s helping to fund … and think, “You know what I should do? Insult him in front of my peers and have it explode across social media. That’ll be great.”

Again, it’s infuriating.

I haven’t seen the kid identified, and that’s a good thing: He’s young, he’s full of adolescent goop, he’s probably (I’d hope) a bit ashamed.

But there’s no excuse here.

It was terribly wrong.

Johnny Damon

In case you missed this, Johnny Damon was arrested yesterday for drunk driving. The details are here.

Portions of social media took great delight in the news, especially two details: A. Damon’s blood alcohol level was allegedly .30, which is insanely high; B. Damon’s wife was also arrested and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence.

It hardly helps Damon’s (public) case that he was a hard-core MAGA guy who was vocally all in on Donald Trump.

But here’s the thing …

I take no joy in Johnny Damon’s arrest. I am not happy looking at his pathetic mug shot; at the receding hairline, the thatches of gray, the neck lines. I’m not happy with any of it.

Why? Because guys like Johnny Damon made deals with the devil. They didn’t know it at the time, but they did. Basically, the contract read like this:

You will be gifted with an ability to hit a round object with a wood stick. You will be gifted with the ability to run swiftly around four planted objects. As a result of this ability, you will achieve tremendous fame. You will have lots of sex with gorgeous women. You will make millions of dollars.

But, when it ends—it ends hard.

Johnny Damon’s last Major League game was played nine years ago, when he hit .222 in limited time with Cleveland. Since then, he’s done … little. A lot of golf. A ton of public appearances and speeches. More golf. Then more golf. And … more golf. He’s surely recognized every day (“Hey, I was at that game in …”) and simultaneously reminded every day that he’s now Superman without the cape, Batman without the car, a lifetime .284 hitter who, were he given 500 Major League at-bats right now, would probably chime in at about .120.

I’m not saying he deserves a ton of sympathy, but being an ex-athlete is (unless you’re prepared—and probably one in 100 are truly prepared) an awful existence—far worse than most people seem to understand. You spend your days frozen in the past, both by the fans who remember you 50 pounds lighter and by yourself, dreaming of sunny afternoons at Fenway Park, when your days were planned and your future seemed limitless.

Alas, the devil always collects.

As he has with Johnny Damon.

A letter from Snowflake

In the wake of Ted Cruz’s controversial decision to leave the frozen tundra of Texas for a Cancun getaway, his poodle Snowflake asked to write a guest post for jeffpearlman.com.

Here’s Snowflake …

Listen up, bitches.

I’ve been hearing a lot of shit talk about my owner, beard wolf guy, and his ugly-ass woman wife who hired the illegal immigrant to speak habla espanol to me and pick up my fudgie doodies in a plastic bag. And I understand, because he’s annoying and smelly and always watching Jared Kushner-Gary Coleman porn after 11. But here’s what y’all don’t understand: beard wolf guy has the biggest heart. He wasn’t going to Cancun to escape the cold. He was going to find the warmth. And while I was saddened to see the news that he abandoned me, Snowflake, home all alone, it’s not true. Not at all!

Before leaving, I heard him on the phone device, telling the illegal immigrant to speak more habla espanol with me and walk me every other morning and turn the thermostat up to 30. He also ordered her to vacuum under the couch and don’t dare touch his Ding Dongs (This part confused me).

Like I said, beard wolf guy has the biggest heart. I’ve seen him bargain down the price of Girl Scout cookies. I’ve seen him pretend to know the name of a baseball player. Once, when he wasn’t home, I peed on the bed he doesn’t share with his wife. He looked mad, and then told me that when he becomes big president of the United States, he’d lock me in the White House basement with the ghost of Lincoln. I was sad. But then he laughed. Or sneezed. Maybe sneezed.

In conclusion, I love the beard wolf guy. And I’d like all of you to love him too. Tonight, when you hit your (very cold, icy) knees, please ask God to love him.

1 … 2 … 3 … Cancun!

In case you missed it earlier this evening Ted Cruz was spotted on a flight to Cancun.

Normally, this wouldn’t be much of a big deal. After trying to overthrow democracy, one must be exhausted. So—Cancun! Pools! Beaches! Makes perfect sense.

But, at the same time Cruz was finding his seat, the people of Texas were experiencing a legitimate state of emergency—tundra-like conditions, massive power outages, nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help. And considering Ted Cruz was elected to the U.S. Senate by the people of (wait for it) Texas, you’d think he’d deem it wise to stick around and help come up with a solution.

But … nope. Not Ted. As we speak, Ted is at some resort, temperatures in the high 70s, wondering whether to order the non-alcoholic pina colada or splurge and down a Zima.

Here’s the worst part: This isn’t a surprise. If there’s one thing we’ve seen over the past bunch of years, it’s that he highest-level Republican office holders think their followers to be dolts (probably because their followers are dolts). Donald Trump can make millions by being president—none of the MAGAs blink. Ted Cruz can abandon his peeps for a getaway—none of the MAGA’s blink.

It’s special.