Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

22 July, 2016

WHETHER IT'S 4+5 OR 5+4 THE ANSWER IS STILL 9...I THINK

Writing in the Quora Digest to which I subscribe, William La Chenal poses an interesting question: "Is there any difference between 4+5 and 5+4?" La Chenal then proceeds to answer his own question in an uniquely interesting way that only a fellow mathematician could fully appreciate or understand...I think.

He sets the stage for his rather convoluted explanation with the following story. "It's 9:51 a.m., and a mathematician has a train to catch, and an important phone call to make at 10:00. The train leaves in four minutes 35 seconds. That's four minutes to get to the train and board, t..hen five minutes to find a seat and get comfortable before reaching for his cell phone and making the important call."

"Or, it's five minutes to get to the platform in time see the the train vanishing in the distance, and four minutes to find a bench to make the phone call whilst waiting for the next train." It took a while for me to wrap my brain around that one.

In abstract algebra an Abelian group (after Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, 1802-1829), also called a commutative group where the operation is invariant to the order in which the operands are written (commutative). Abelian groups generalize the arithmetic of addition of integers so the operation is commonly denoted by (+) plus.

If like me you are not a mathematician, it should be explained that integers are like whole numbers, including (0) zero, but they also include negative numbers -- but no fractions.

The Albelian group satisfies five axioms: closure, associativity, existence of an identity element, existence of an inverse element for each element of the group (the negative, or additive inverse), and of course commutativity -- that is, A+B=B+A for any A,B in the group.

In this context, which includes integer arithmetic,
5+4 has the same result as 4+5. Mathematicians are very keen on precise definition and context. Often altering conditions makes a big difference.

Meanwhile, a teacher in one of our North American schools is marking tests for common core maths. "The answer book says 4+5," our friend La Chenal astutely points out.

By the same token then, perhaps that is why they call a piece of lumber a two-by-four instead of a four-by-two?  Then again, I may digress.

I don't know...Like I say, I'm not a mathematician! I still have trouble with grade school multiplication and fractions. Niels Henrik Abel may well have been my kind of guy.


My next assignment is to examine the conceptual integration process with respect to arithmetic word problems and how it compares to conceptual integration for sentences and other meaningful sequences. Arithmetic word problems are unique in that they combine elements of language and math and provide the opportunity for analogical alignment or misalignment between the semantic relations and the arithmetic relations in the problem.  Know what I mean?

Bet you can't wait for another definitive explanatory expose in the down-to-earth, every day language for which I have gained a reputation.

16 July, 2016

Look at the cute little old lady in this photo as stars arrive for a movie premier. While others rush to post photos, she was able to soak up and enjoy the entire experience. It’s the best reminder I’ve seen to log off Facebook and occasionally put down the cell phone.
This lady may or may not have a Facebook account but as a former frequent user myself, the popularity contest of trying to get the most “likes” just isn’t that appealing when compared to other productive things a person can do with their time.
Oddly enough, this touching picture of a pensioner living for the moment was re-tweeted more than 1,200 times so maybe I’m not the only one ready to log off social media a bit more often.
Image courtesy of Google

COMING TO THE AID OF OTHERS WHO NEED HELP, ANY KIND OF HELP

The last time I told the following story in a social media forum it generated considerable reaction.  I re-visit it this week for the edification of TidBits of Moose Jaw readers because I am sure they know whereof I speak, maybe even having experienced something similar.

One hot summer evening a number of years years ago I was parked in front of a shopping mall wiping off my car with a chamois.  I had just come from a car wash and was putting in time waiting for my banker wife to get out of work.

Coming my way from across the parking lot was what society would consider a bum. From his appearance one could readily conclude that he was homeless. There are times when you feel tolerant and receptive but there are other times when you just don't want to be bothered. This was one of the "don't want to be bothered" times.

"I hope he doesn't ask me for money," I thought.  He didn't.  He instead sat on the curb in front of a bus stop some 100 feet away .  After a few minutes he spoke.  "That's a very nice car," he said, wiping beads of sweat from his forehead.  Looks can sometimes be misleading, I thought to myself.

I nodded "thanks," and continued busily wiping off my car.

The man sat quietly watching me as I worked. The expected plea for money never came. As the silence between us widened something inside me said, "Ask him if he needs help."  I was sure that he would say yes, but I gave in to my inner voice anyway.

"Do you need any help?" I asked.  He answered in three simple but profound words that I shall never forget.  We often look for wisdom in great men and women.  We expect it from those of higher learning and accomplishments.  On this occasion I expected nothing but an outstretched grimy hand. The three words coming from between blistered lips and brown broken teeth, however, shook me.

"Don't we all?" he said.

Certainly, I've needed help in my life, maybe not for bus fare or a place to sleep, but I've needed help. I related totally to those three words, "Don't we all?"

Without hesitation and asking no further questions, I reached in my wallet and gave the guy not only enough money for bus fare but enough to get a warm meal too.  (My wife wanted a bite to eat before we went home a few minutes later.  I didn't have enough cash, so I put the food tab on a credit card.)

Those three little words still ring true for me all these year later. No matter how much we have, no matter what we have accomplished in life, we all need help at various times in our lives.  Then again, we may well be strapped for money and have more than our share of problems in life, but we can still give help -- even if it's just a compliment or a word of encouragement to someone who needs it.

There are certain to be times when you come in contact with someone that appears to have it all but chances are they are waiting on you to give them what they don't have -- a different perspective on life, a glimpse at something beautiful, a respite from daily chaos, that only you through a torn world and an open heart can see and give.

Unlike the man in the mall parking lot, a person does not necessarily have to be materially destitute to need our help. Keep your eyes, ears and heart open to the hidden needs of others.  As I say, personal needs go hand-in-hand with life...Don't we all welcome a kind word or a helping hand at one time or another?

It feels good to both give and to receive!  That's the nice part of it.

12 July, 2016

Noah's Ark Comes to Life in Kentucky

I find this to be an interesting and fascinating undertaking.  Couldn't resist the impulse to share it with readers of Wright Lane.  I'm putting this one on my "to visit" bucket list.

10 July, 2016

DUSTIN MOLLEKEN: LET'S HEAR IT FOR A SASKATCHEWAN BOY!

Saskatchewan sports fans have a new home-grown hero to cheer for and not before it was deserved.

After toiling in the minor leagues of professional baseball for 13 long seasons, 31-year-old pitcher Dustin Molleken of Regina finally made it to the Major Leagues two weeks ago and gave a pretty good account of himself in two relief appearances with the Detroit Tigers. He made his Major League debut on Monday, July 4, at Cleveland and threw two innings, allowing a run on three hits with a walk and two strikeouts. His first Major League strikeout was at the expense of the Indians' 
Mike Napoli.


Then six days later he made his second appearance in the fifth inning of a game in Toronto against the Blue Jays. This time, showing unexpected poise and with his family in the stands (including his wife and baby daughter), he worked two scoreless innings and struck out four of the seven batters he faced, the final out coming when Troy Tulowitzky was retired on a grounder with two runners on base. 

Unfortunately for the Tigers, and in spite of the good relief work by the Regina native, they lost both games.

Dustin had pitched at Rogers Centre in Toronto before, nearly half a lifetime ago. He was a 17-year-old on the Canadian junior national team, pitching against Team USA. At that point, he dreamed of some day coming back to Toronto as a Major Leaguer. (He also competed for his country during the 2011 Baseball World Cup and Pan Am Games.)

Fourteen years later, Molleken walked into Rogers Centre on Thursday afternoon as a member of the Detroit Tigers' bullpen, readying for a four-game series against the Blue Jays' formidable offense. And the Rogers Centre crew was ready for him, posting his picture and stats profile on the scoreboard, complete with a Canadian Maple Leaf to denote his heritage.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," he said, "especially being at home here in Toronto. It means so much to me to be at home and throw."

It's a feeling Molleken wasn't sure he'd ever get as he waited for a call from the big leagues. He has spent 13 years and 349 appearances in the Minors, including parts of six years at Triple-A across four different organizations. He went to Japan to pitch for the Nippon Ham Fighters a few years ago, but came back. He nearly quit, but his agent told him not to give up. Far from growing bitter, Molleken picked up a reputation for his kindness, even helping out clubhouse kids doing laundry after a game on occasion.

"You have to pay your dues," he said with a smile.

A 6'4" righty, Molleken worked as a starter and a reliever in his 629.1 career minor league innings. His minor league numbers are not all that impressive, but his career longevity is what stands out. He features a fastball that sits between 92-94 mph as well as a slider. He was drafted in the 15th round of the 2003 MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates and spent his first seven seasons in that organization before becoming a minor league free agent.

He made his way to the Tigers' system last fall with help from an old scout. Joe Ferrone originally signed him with the Pirates in 2003, and he remembered Molleken when he joined the Tigers for a second stint as a Major League scout this past fall. When the Tigers were looking for Minor League free agents to stock the system, Ferrone put in a good word for Molleken.

When depth issues challenged the Tigers to look for fresh arms at Triple-A Toledo, the word from manager Lloyd McClendon and the coaching staff was Molleken. He was called up on Father's Day last month for a brief stint but didn't pitch, essentially serving as an extra arm.

The Tigers called him back up from Toledo on the 4th of July with 
Jordan Zimmermann going on the disabled list, and this time Molleken did not have to linger long. He made his Major League debut that same night. "My legs felt like jelly," Molleken said. "My heart rate was going, but when I threw my first pitch, I felt normal." 

In a television interview prior to his Sunday relief appearance on the mound at Rogers Centre, he spoke matter-of-factly about a speech disorder he has fought since he was four-years-of -age.  "It's who I am," he explained..."and I want kids out there who stutter to know that they can get over it too."
  
Dustin attended Cochrane High School in Regina and Lethbridge Community College before launching his baseball career.  He comes from a sports family, his dad Doug was active in Regina fastball circles for a number of years and his uncle Lorne is a well known former hockey player and coach.

Like Andrew Albers, Dave Pagan, Terry Puhl and Reggie Cleveland -- all Saskatchewan products who have played in the big leagues -- it was either hockey or baseball for this impressive and determined young man -- he chose baseball and the rest is history.


Needless to say, all those years of riding the bus and playing in minor league cities he had never heard of, has finally payed off.  It remains to be seen how long the dream will last but one thing is for sure, he will make the best of the opportunity to prove what he has known all along -- he is a "major leaguer".

09 July, 2016

REFLECTIONS: ANOTHER "DOOR" TO THE PAST

MY FAMILY HOME in Dresden from a water colour painting done by me (1998).  Note the two front door entrances.  Also one of the original front door keys, inserted. 
I have been looking at some old photos of homes built in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Many of them bear remarkable similarity to the Dresden, ON home that I grew up in (built by my grandfather Wesley Wright in 1879).

The homes had one particular, striking thing in common -- two front entrances.  I have always wondered about the practicality of dual entrances, but given the formality and conditions of the era, it does make some sense.

The one front door, usually slightly recessed, opened into the "keeping room", where the family
kept house.  The area usually contained a large fireplace or wood-burning stove for cooking, a pantry, and of course table and chairs for regular family meals and relaxing.  At the turn of the century, fire-burning fixtures were slowly replaced by gas-burning stoves in pantry areas that were expanded into full-fledged kitchens, completed by the advent of electrical refrigerators to replace the former ice boxes.

Family members and close friends were generally the only ones to use the keeping entrance.  The other front door would lead into the living room or front parlor, which were generally used for special occasions.  Our formal front entrance in Dresden opened into a small vestibule which led to a second floor stairway and the front parlor.  Special guests and strangers just naturally gravitated to this door.

It was not uncommon too in those days that deceased family members would lay at rest in front parlors for visitors to pay their respects before removal for the actual funeral service itself and interment.  The formal front entrance allowed for easy casket negotiation and placement with minimal disturbance for the family.  In my case, two sets of grandparents and my father lay at rest in what we called our "front room".  My mother was the last to pass away and in that very same front room which had been converted to a bedroom in the last few years of her life.  I always had an uncomfortable feeling about that and one of the reasons that I eventually sold the home -- too many memories, adolescent impressions, and ghosts from the past.

There was normally a wall between the two front doors which could, if necessary, be converted into two separate family living quarters.  In our case, after my father passed away, the formal front door conveniently served as a natural private entrance for second-floor apartment renters.

It is interesting to note, too, that some churches of the era also had two front entrances, one for men and the other for women.  It may just be my imagination, but it seems to me that a lot of the older Presbyterian churches were built that way (i.e. churches that I have belonged to in St. Thomas, Simcoe, Prince Albert (Sask.), Brampton and Southampton).  Men and women even sat on opposite sides of the sanctuary in earlier days.  Schools were also built with separate front entrances, one for boys and one for girls.  In the old Dresden Continuation School that I attended, separate entrances and playgrounds for grade school kids were at the back of the building.  The one front main entrance was for high school students with the other for the exclusive use of teachers.

At one time. even hotels and so-called beverage rooms had separate entrances and accommodations for male and female patrons, but I am straying a bit off topic.

During and following the Great Depression, the location of our home on Sydenham Street seemed to attract the attention of transients (tamps, hobos, beggars) of the day.  I remember in particular, one handout solicitation at our "keeping" door.  It just happened to be at supper time on a hot summer evening and my mother, who always prepared more than enough food for one sitting, invited the bedraggled stranger to have a seat on our front porch.  Within a few minutes she returned with a plate of roast beef, mashed potatoes, carrots and gravy with a slice of apple pie on the side and a glass of lemon aid with which to wash it all down.

In no time at all, our unexpected visitor was knocking on the door with the empty plates and utensils in hand.  "Thank you very much Misses," he said.  "That was as good as if I'd had a full course meal!"

From that time on, I never finished one of my mother's meals without repeating the hobo's left-handed compliment.

Awe me -- the past...the thing of which memories are made.

08 July, 2016

A REVEALING COFFEE SHOP CONVERSATION WITH WENDY

I have written before about my penchant for engaging strangers and distant acquaintances in conversation.  I especially delight in favorable reactions to my inquisitiveness and sense of humor.

My targets are very often individuals who appear withdrawn, troubled or to be struggling with a handicap of some kind.  Elderly folks, of course, are some of my favorites.  It is my premise that people are often lonely or worse yet, ignored in life, and that they welcome someone caring enough to pass the time of day with them.  If I can prompt a chuckle, even better.

Wendy is a high-functioning challenged young woman in her late 30's or early 40's. She works four-hour shifts cleaning tables at our local Tim Hortons.  She is shy and reserved and very difficult to strike up a conversation with.  I have been working on her for the better part of two years.  She now asks "how are you?" without me taking the initiative to acknowledge her as she rushes past me with a floor mop or her hands full of used cups and plates.

Sitting at one of her tables, I have learned the hard way not to take my hand off a coffee cup until I have savored that good to the last drop, otherwise eagle-eyed Wendy will scoop it up right from under you.  I've teased her about her efficiency and she is quick to remind me that it is her job to keep the tables clean.  She rarely looks you in the eye or stops at your table for more than a couple of seconds.

On a catch-as-catch-can basis, I have learned about her mother and the self-contained subsidized apartment that she now lives in.  I have discovered that she has a sweet tooth and sometimes leave a tip for her to buy her favorite double chocolate donut when she gets off work.  Not long ago, I asked her what she did with her time after she got off work and without hesitation she replied..."take it easy!"

I picked Wendy out of a church group photograph in the newspaper recently and that prompted me to talk about it with her yesterday when I dropped in for a morning coffee.  "Do you go to church regularly?" I asked as she hurried past where I was sitting.  "Yes" she said without looking back.

It was a good five minutes before she came my way again and I positioned my chair so that she would have to at least slow down and side-step me.  It just so happened that my coffee cup was empty by then and I held it out for her, giving me a chance to ask a strategic question: "Why do you go to church Wendy?"

I craned my neck to look up at her standing just behind my left shoulder.  My eyes came directly in contact with hers for perhaps the first time.  There was a pause and I could almost hear the wheels turning in Wendy's mind.  With a hint of a smile as she studiously looked down at me, the soft-spoken words "because I believe in God" slowly came out of her mouth.

"Good for you Wendy.  That is exactly the answer I was looking for!" I enthusiastically responded as she busily dumped a tray of paper cups and food wraps into a nearby trash bin. "And you know what?...God believes in you too!"

I was never more proud of anyone.  There was still a lump in my throat as I pulled my truck out of the parking lot minutes later.

Wendy was not on duty when I went back to Tim's this morning.  Maybe I'll see her tomorrow.  I've got more questions to ask her.

07 July, 2016

NEW SPECIAL MEANING FOR MY "WRIGHTS LANE" SIGN

Sometimes it is the small things in life that do your heart the most good.

I was working in my front terrace the other evening when two women riding bicycles passed by.  We exchanged "hi's". It was one of those lazy, hazy summer nights when people were out and about for casual strolls and exchanging friendly greetings and nods with others they met along the way...It's a small town thing!

Continuing up the street for a short distance, I noticed the cyclists do an abrupt U-turn and head back in my direction.  Stopping curbside, one of the women said: "Pardon me, but I have to tell you about your Wrights Lane sign". I thought for a brief second that she was going to make a negative comment about it.

Much to my surprise, however, she went on to explain that she was originally from Burlington and that she had coincidentally lived in a home on a Wrights Lane there.  "When my parents retired, they moved to Southampton and I used to visit them.  The first time that I drove past your house and saw your Wrights Lane sign, I couldn't believe the warm feeling that it gave me," she explained.

"Both parents are gone now of course and I have since moved here myself. Every time I see your sign it reminds me of my childhood home and assures me that I am now in the right place.  I just thought that you should know..." she added.

I thanked her for sharing her story with me and in turn explained to her the history of Wrights Lane in my hometown of Dresden and how I have adopted it not only for my home in Southampton but for one of my web sites and a book that I published some time ago.

Admittedly, not an earth-shattering story, but one that holds special gratification for me.

I had been procrastinating on giving the sign a spruce up this summer, but I will need to get busy now...I have to do it for that lady from Burlington, if for no other reason.

06 July, 2016

NECROMANYCY...AND OTHER MYSTICAL THINGS: READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Casey Chaplin is married to my granddaughter Alyssa. They are newly-weds and currently live in Brampton, ON. Casey displays a uniquely creative mind in all of his written work and in a venue that is extremely rare in the literary world today. The following is a five-star review of author Casey's newest book "Necromancy...and Other Mystical Things". We are very proud to be able to add this new book to the family library.




Book Review

Reviewed by Tracy A. Fischer for Readers' Favorite

In a fun and funny new read by author Casey Chaplin, "Necromancy and Other Mystical Things" is a story that will have readers laughing and obsessively turning pages from the start all the way through until the final page. Follow the story of protagonist Chip as he discovers, with the help of his roommate Mort, that he just might be a necromancer, one who has the ability to not only raise the dead, but also control them. He's not quite sure why he's developed this power, but the overwhelming smell of death that starts to emanate from his body is a sure sign. And when Chip's beloved girlfriend, Ellie, goes missing, and he finds that she's been kidnapped by a former general of Hell's Army, he realizes that his new found ability might just be necessary. With Mort's voodoo witch doctoring skills and the help of a local shop keeper who's also a secret djinn, Chip's prepared to do anything, even go to war with Hell's former minions, to get Ellie back. Will he succeed? You'll need to read the book to find out!

I very much enjoyed Necromancy...And Other Mystical Things. Author Casey Chaplin has a humorous and unique voice that lends itself easily to this genre. Readers will be able to relate to protagonist Chip, even with his supernatural powers and unusual circumstances, and will find the fast pacing and excellent scene setting of the work completely fantastic! I highly recommend this book to any reader looking for a funny book with a supernatural twist, or to anyone looking for a unique and creative new read in general. I look forward to reading more from the promising author, Casey Chaplin, in the very near future, and hope that he's already hard at work on his next book!

04 July, 2016

YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE IN YOURSELF TO BE A BELIEVABLE WRITER

Self confession time.

In the eight years that I served as a newspaper sports editor, I figure that I produced at least 600 "Time Out for Sports" columns. As a managing editor and sole contributor to the editorial pages of two daily newspapers over another seven-year period, I wrote in the neighborhood of 1,500 lead editorials.  I have written three books and at last count have published more than 800 personal and human interest items on my "Wrights Lane" blog sites. I have lost count of the free-lance articles I have written for sundry periodical publications.

And do you know what?  To this day I do not consider myself to be a writer!

Upon retirement, as forced and premature as it was, I succumbed to a higher call to become a certified lay minister in the Presbyterian Church of Canada. During two separate pulpit-fill stints in the Presbytery of Grey-Bruce-Maitland, I delivered in excess of 100 sermons, performed several memorial services and marriage vow renewal ceremonies, individually requiring untold hours of thoughtful preparation.

And do you know what?  To this day I never considered myself to be a preacher either!

The problem, I guess, is that I have always struggled to overcome deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy. That coupled with the fact that, with the rare exception, I have sensed that people by and large do not really listen to (take seriously) my written and spoken words.  In many respects I remain that day-dreaming kid who always found himself in the bottom third of his class at school.  In all honesty, what happened in the ensuing 60 years to make me an authority on any subject? I ask myself.  Have I been fraudulent in pretending otherwise?

Someone who writes understands writing in terms of something he/she does, not in terms of something they are. A writer is aware of the singular stuff of which the soul is composed, but will never shake that gnawing feeling of inadequacy. They will be at once inspired and made to feel inferior by other writers’ words. They respect criticism while never fully accepting it.  But they will never let any of that stop them. 

A writer continues to see the poetry in a broken watch, or a dog with one blue eye and one brown. They will give you their heart on a Saturday night for the story they get to tell on a Sunday afternoon. They will give you their soul always. And will give it to you in writing.

By my rough calculations I spent some 14,000 hours with the seat of my pants in a chair in front of a typewriter or computer keyboard, methodically creating epistles and pouring out my soul for the edification of an audience of readers or listeners. That's a big chunk of my life to have invested in something that has not brought about the desired sense of fulfillment.  I am left asking myself: "Have those 14,000 hours and countless sleepless nights been enough?  Should I have done more to consider myself a writer or a speaker of the word?"  Has there been something amiss in my attitude?  Is there something in my demeanor or delivery carrying through to what I write and say that is not conducive to believability?

My late wife, who in 40 years of marriage knew me better than anyone, said more than once: "I cannot believe Dick that you honestly believe some of the things that you say and write." If that doesn't give you pause, nothing will.

Great writing is not done in sporadic bursts of activity. It’s a slow, day-to-day discipline. You have to write despite all distractions. You have to make uncomfortable sacrifices. And worst of all, you do not have a cheering section. There’s no one to tell you that what you’re doing is worthwhile. No one to tell you you’re on the right track.

There is this romantic idea that writers have to write. That they have no choice. That there is this overpowering identity of “the writer” that has to be catered to. But being a writer or an artist isn’t a preexisting condition. You can have an aptitude for writing, but the bottom line is: Writers write. If you don’t write, you’re not a writer.

I have learned the hard way that you have to be true to yourself in all aspects of life.  You have to be motivated and, for that reason, over the past 10 years I have written only when inspiration has moved me, but generally with the perhaps misguided hope that my work will be believable and have some meaningful impact.  I left lay ministry when I felt myself becoming a false profit. By the same token, I have threatened, but have been unable to completely give up writing.

The words of a former insensitive Facebook friend still ring in my ears..."For Heaven's sake, make up your mind!"

The need to write remains ever-present in my existence today, but other priorities are increasingly limiting my time and creative impulses.  It is the disappointing reality of the aging process.

It is unlikely that I will ever completely rid myself of nagging inhibitions.  In my mind I will, likewise, never be "a writer" any more than I was a preacher in the true sense.

It has taken me a lifetime to understand that in order to be believable you have to believe in yourself.  For me there is just too much history in that regard to bring about a reversal and therein exists the rub.

Someone once said: "We get too soon old and too late smart!

For the duration, whenever the spirit moves me and circumstances permit, I'll just continue to be an impulsive occasional pretend writer...Believe me or not!

29 June, 2016

MY LORD SIMCOE "SARAH SIDDONS CUP AND SAUCER" ARE KEEPERS

For the better part of a year I have been sorting through a lifetime of personal possessions, reluctantly yet ruthlessly opening boxes and storage containers, condensing and giving away dusty and forgotten keepsake items that have not been touched by human hands for ages.  It has been a painful exercise, especially for someone who comes from a long line of sentimental collectors with a strong sense of attachment.

For the past month I have literally lived in my garage with the faint hope of making an end-of-June, 2016, deadline for a yard sale that promises to be the granddaddy of them all.  The reason it has taken so long is that I diligently weigh the value of each and every item, often taking long pauses to consider relative merits -- and relish the associated memory.

Deeply engrossed in the "do I or don't I" undertaking, it has not been unheard of for me to fall asleep as my mind drifts through days of yore -- my youth, marriage, two daughters, grandchildren, special occasions, work I've done, the lives and deaths of immediate family members.  Tonight, for instance, I was in the garage and sitting in an old arm chair that once belonged to my late wife's parents.  As I contemplated all the work that was still ahead of me before the target weekend, I dozed off and woke up an hour later with a stiff neck and nothing accomplished...Story of my life!

One thing I did accomplish tonight, however, was the decision not to dispense with a cup and saucer that I purchased (along with several other incidental items) at the time of the closing of the fabled post war Lord Simcoe Hotel in Toronto in 1979.  I have a thing for old hotels and have always prized the Lord Simcoe cup and saucer, with its LS logo, as a memento of an era past.  I call it my "Sarah Siddons cup and saucer" because it is a souvenir tribute in high grade china to "the incomparable English actress" of the 18th century. The inscription on the saucer further reads: "Sarah Siddons...fused stage and society, frequented the Pump Room and hobnobbed with aristocracy while playing stock in Bath." 

The "Duraline" cup and saucer is super vitrified and made for the Grindley Hotelware Co. in England.  Just because I can, I'll be drinking my coffee out of it in the morning, just as I did in the Lord Simcoe's Pump Room on numerous occasions some 38 years ago.  The hotel actually had three restaurants -- The Pump Room, The Captain’s Table and The Country Fare -- all decorated in historical styles. The luxurious Pump Room was reportedly inspired by its 1795 neoclassical namesake in Bath, England; accordingly, waiters wore long red tailcoats and served prime rib skewered on swords.
Sarah Siddons as painted by
Thomas Gainsborough.

In case anyone has further interest, Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) was the renowned tragic actress who dominated British theater during the late Georgian era. She was most famous for her portrayal of the Shakespearean character: Lady Macbeth, a role she made her own. The Sarah Siddons Society continues to present the Sarah Siddons Award in Chicago every year to a prominent actress.

Sarah was born July 5, 1755 into the family of strolling actors Roger Kemble and Sarah Ward Kemble. She began to perform with her parents rather early, the first documented stage appearance of Sarah Kemble, aged 11, is dated December 22, 1766; she played Ariel in the Tempest with her father’s company at Coventry. Four of Sarah’s siblings -- out of 11 total -- were to become actors; besides Sarah the most famous was John Philip Kemble (1757-1823), but also Stephen Kemble (1758-1822), Charles Kemble (1775-1854) and Elizabeth Whitlock (1761-1836).

In 1767 William Siddons, a handsome 22-year-old actor, was accepted into the Kemble company. To stop the relationship between their daughter and William Siddons, the Kembles sent Sarah away to serve as maid to Lady Mary Greatheed. However, the feelings between the two young people were stronger than her parents realized and in 1773, aged 19, Sarah married William Siddons and returned to the stage as Mrs Siddons, continuing to perform with her father’s company.

In 1775 the famous Garrick, then manager of Drury Lane Theatre in London, invited her to perform with his company, but she failed to produce a favorable impression on the public and was dismissed within several months. She spent the next two years working with various touring companies, until 1778, when she was engaged at the Theatre Royal in Bath. She was an astonishing success with the Bath public (as referenced on the cup saucer inscription) and in 1782 the new manager of Drury Lane Theatre, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, invited her back to London. 


She appeared in the title role of the tragedy Isabella. Her performance moved the public to tears and critics to enthusiastic praise. A string of very successful roles followed. The actress was even popular with the royal couple, George III and Queen Charlotte, known for their antipathy to theater. They appointed Mrs. Siddons “Reader in English” to the royal children.

In May 1784, Reynolds exhibited Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse at the Royal Academy. The picture was instantly proclaimed a masterpiece, increasing the popularity of both its creator and the model. The actress spent that summer touring Scotland and Ireland. Scotland greeted the actress enthusiastically, but in Ireland, she refused to participate in a benefit performance and the irritated Dublin public assaulted her with apples and potatoes during the show. The reason for the refusal was not the selfishness of the actress, but exhaustion and poor health – her constant pregnancies, childbirth, miscarriages, anxiety to secure the future of her growing family and financial problems could not but tell on her health.

Unfortunately, rumors of her “selfishness” reached London and she was booed on her opening night as Mrs. Beverley in Edward Moore’s tragedy The Gamester. The uproar lasted for 40 minutes, during which the actress fainted. After recovering she addressed the public with explanations and apologies. Tempted to abandon her profession by this incident, she decided to continue for her children’s sake.

Siddons’s brilliant career lasted till 1812, when she made her official farewell performance at Covent Garden in her signature role of Lady Macbeth. Impatient with retirement, Siddons made several benefit appearances, among them 10 performances in Edinburgh for the benefit of her son Henry’s widow and their children after his death in 1815.

Sarah Siddons died on May 31, 1831, aged seventy-six, in her house on Upper Baker Street, London. She outlived five of her seven children, her husband, her brother John Philip Kemble, and the painters Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Lawrence (1768-1830) on whose remarkable portraits she appears. She was buried at St. Mary’s, Paddington, on 15 June. Five thousand people attended her funeral.


My coffee in the morning will also serve as a toast to Sarah.  Haven't decided yet where I'm once again going to display the cup and saucer in my house.  I'm just glad that I decided to save it from the cut.  I'll probably leave it on the kitchen table for now.

27 June, 2016

WE SHOULD ACKNOWLEDGE OUR BLESSINGS

Dream inspired version of what happens in Heaven

A man dreamt that he went to Heaven and an angel was showing him around. They walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. The angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, "This is the Receiving Section.  Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received."

The visitor looked around the area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.

Then the pair moved on down a long corridor until they reached the second section. The angel then explained "This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, graces and blessings requested through prayers are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them."  The man again noticed how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.

Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor they stopped at the door of a very small station. To the man's great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. "This is the Acknowledgment Section," the angel guide quietly admitted. He seemed embarrassed.  "How is it that there is no work going on here?" the man asked.

"So sad," the angel sighed. "After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments."

"How does one acknowledge God's blessings?" the man asked.

"Simple," the angel answered. "Just say: Thank you, Lord."

"What blessings should they acknowledge?" was the next obvious question.

The angel was quick with one last answer before disappearing down the corridor:  "If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75 per cent of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top eight per cent of the world's wealthy.  That is a good place to begin with an acknowledgement of your blessings."

So dear reader, if you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day.  If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation...you are ahead of 700 million people in the world.  Be a thankful acknowledger!

If you can attend a place of worship without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world.  If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you are unique to all those in doubt and despair.  Be a thankful acknowledger!

If you can actually read this Wrights Lane post, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special and you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.  Be a thankful acknowledger!

Have a good day, count your blessings, and if you want, pass this along to remind everyone else of how blessed we all are to be living in this great country of ours.  Help give that solitary acknowledgment angel something to do!

23 June, 2016

A PASSING THOUGHT:

Imperfection is perfection

How many times have your heard someone say..."It's not a perfect world, but..."?

To my way of thinking it is really a pointless statement.  It's all a matter of how you interpret "a perfect world."

The fact that there are imperfections in the world is what makes it perfect. Without negative, there is no positive. It is this balance, and our human ability to experience a range of emotions that makes the world perfect. 

That being said, it is true that there are individuals suffering all around the globe, many of whom would not agree. That negative/positive balance extends to humanity as a whole however, and that means that some lives have to be worse in order for others' to be great. 

Is it not true that we often feel better about our own situation by looking at others who are worse off than we are? If we all had wonderful lives, we would have no frame through which to view them and therefore great would seem mediocre. Our world is perfect because the ups and downs give everything meaning. 

It is funny then that these very ups and downs are often what lead people to wonder what the purpose of life is. Well, newsflash: The purpose of the individual life is to live, and to add our experiences to the overall human experience.

No one (including God) ever promised us a rose garden.  But we have been given a world to nurture into the best garden possible, even going so far as to turning the inevitable imperfect seedlings into perfect productive specimen plants.  

So if you think that the world is not "a perfect place", get over it.  The world IS what you make of it, perfect or otherwise.  Your choice!

20 June, 2016

LET'S SHARE ENLIGHTENMENT!

Do you know what being “enlightened” really means? Does it mean you’re connected to something greater? That you’re more spiritual than most people? Or that you receive intuitive messages from the Universe? The truth is, the real meaning of enlightenment is not something many people truly understand. If you’ve ever experienced even a glimpse of enlightenment, you probably know that it’s one of the most profound, fulfilling and life-changing events one could ever have!

Enlightenment is the neurological vehicle of personal transformation, and it often happens in small or large bursts of insight – those “aha” and “Oh Wow!” experiences that shake up old beliefs when you discover a greater truth about yourself, the world, or the nature of reality.

Curiosity is one of main driving forces in every person’s brain and when we become interested in something new, dopamine is released from the nucleus accumbens, traveling to the frontal lobe and increasing our awareness and consciousness.

Curiosity wakes up your brain, and that “awakening” is the first step of the path toward enlightenment. In a multi-university study conducted in 2015, curiosity was the #1 quality that boosted a person’s sense of well being. Maintaining a high state of curiosity is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy brain because when curiosity wanes, clinical depression sets in.

I’ll have more to say on this subject on Wrights Lane in the days ahead as I explore “enlightenment” with Mark Waldman, one of the world’s leading experts on consciousness, communication, spirituality, and the brain. He recently published an amazing new book called “How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain”.

13 June, 2016

ANNIVERSARY OF THE BABE AND #3 IN ALL-TIME GREAT PHOTOGRAPH

Nat Fein described himself as “just a human interest photographer”, but on June 13, 1948, the young New Yorker captured one of the greatest images of all time as Babe Ruth made his final appearance at Yankee Stadium.

Entitled “The Babe Bows Out”, the original image won a Pulitzer Prize, the first sports photograph ever to earn the prestigious honor. In 1999, LIFE magazine called it “one of the greatest pictures of the 20th century”. Copies reside in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution and the Baseball Hall of Fame.



The story of the photograph begins in the offices of the New York Herald-Tribune on June 13, 1948. Fein was a copy editor, but also knew his way around a camera. When a sports photographer called in sick, the 33-year-old Fein was dispatched to Yankee Stadium to capture images from the 25th anniversary of the House That Ruth Built. In addition to an exhibition featuring past members of the Yankees, The Babe himself was going to be honored with a jersey retirement ceremony. Fein hustled to the ballpark just in time.

Although the word ‘cancer’ was never spoken or written, Ruth was nearing the end of his life and it was obvious from his appearance that he was very sick. He put on the Yankee pinstripes with the aid of two men and after a brief photo session, he waited in the visitors’ dugout for his name to be called. The day was overcast and dank, unusual for June in New York, but fitting for such a painful moment. When it was time, Ruth shrugged off the overcoat that was keeping the chill away, and ambled up the dugout steps. He grabbed a nearby bat—one belonging, it turns out, to Bob Feller, the Cleveland Indians’ star pitcher now in the Hall of Fame, and made his way toward the third base side of home plate using the bat for support.

“He walked out into the cauldron of sound he must have known better than any other man,” wrote W.C. Heinz. Heeding the advice of his picture editor that “natural light catches the mood of the occasion”, Fein chose not to use a flashbulb. He set up behind Ruth, at a low angle and captured the legendary image. Fein avoided shooting Ruth’s tired face and shot from the back, the only place where the now-retired #3 was visible.

There are countless reasons why the photo has been reproduced (most without permission) and stands as one of the most memorable of all-time. Ruth is the largest figure in the photograph, but stands humbled by the giant stadium that he had helped fill so many times, by the realization of time passed and by the adoration of 49,641 fans who had come to cheer him for the last time.

Too ill to stay at the ballpark much longer, Ruth went into the clubhouse and sat down. He shared a beverage with former Yankee Joe Dugan who had just made an appearance in the old timers’ game. According to Robert W. Creamer’s biography, Ruth admitted to Dugan that he was “gone” and the two cried before The Babe was helped from the ballpark. He died two months later.

Shot with a bulky Speed Graphic camera purchased by his mother, the photo became known as “The Babe Bows Out”.

Nat Fein’s career at the Herald-Tribune continued until 1966 when the paper folded, but he continued working until his death in 2000 at age 86. He photographed presidents, European royalty and countless other notables throughout the 20th century, but the image of Babe Ruth’s final moment in Yankee Stadium is his most famous work.

09 June, 2016

ALL YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT GEORGE ORWELL'S NEWSPEAK, BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK...

Little did good old chum Bob Peters know when he posted a Toronto Sun guest column by Tom Harris on his Facebook timeline a few days ago, that he would send me off on a path of discovery that is rarely traveled by other than very deep thinkers and students of the Queen's English.

In this opinionated but strangely revealing item, Harris (executive director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition) accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of using "duckspeak" in his approach to climate change; to which I respond: "What else is new?" Duckspeak is not exclusive to our young, otherwise breath-of-fresh-air PM.

U.S. President Barack Obama does the same, asserting in the Cutting Carbon Pollution in America section of the White House web site: “I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing.”

Referring to greenhouse gases (GHG) as “carbon pollution,” as both Obama and the Canadian government do regularly, is difficult to overlook. “Carbon pollution conjures up subconscious images of dark and dangerous emissions of soot.  What they are almost always discussing is carbon dioxide (CO2). But were they to call it that, most people would be unconcerned, remembering from grade school that CO2 is a trace gas essential for plant photosynthesis."


In his Sun opinion piece, Harris went on to suggest that "We hear it all the time: 'Climate change is real', '97% of experts agree', 'we must increase our use of green energy to reduce carbon pollution'. But it is all 'Duckspeak', precisely what George Orwell warned us about in his novel 1984."
Eric Blair used the pen name
"George Orwell".

At the risk of customarily losing 90 per cent of my readers after the first couple of paragraphs in complex dissertations such as this, I should explain that "Nineteen Eighty-Four" is a dystopian (opposite of utopian) fictional novel by Orwell published in 1949. The story is set in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain), a province of the superstate Oceania in a world of perpetual war.

Further explanation is also necessary at this point.

Thanks to Orwell, Doublespeak, Oldspeak, Newspeak and Duckspeak all reflect deliberately ambiguous or evasive language; any language that pretends to communicate but actually does not. Does this sound familiar?

Duckspeak was a form of speech consisting entirely of words and phrases approved by the controlling party in Orwell’s disturbing vision of a dystopian future. As Harris puts it "Someone who had mastered Duckspeak could fire off ideologically pure assertions like bullets from a machine gun, without thinking, their words emanating from their larynx like the quacking of a duck."

Being called a "Duckspeaker" was a compliment in 1984 since it indicated one was well-indoctrinated in the official language and views of the state.

To properly background these assertions, it is pertinent to take a look at the appendix to Orwell's novel "The Principles of Newspeak", but more about that later.

The term "Duckspeak" first appears in Orwell's novel as being uttered by a chap by the name of Syme (no first name), a philologist and researcher engaged in the compiling of the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak Dictionary.  Orwell explains that Syme and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill were lunching together in a small underground store cafeteria, jam-packed with chattering patrons.

Syme apparently had reservations about his so-called friend Churchill. He immediately detected Winston's certain lack of enthusiasm for discussing the Newspeak Dictionary project.

"You haven’t a real appreciation of Newspeak, Winston," he said almost sadly. "Even when you write it you’re still thinking in Oldspeak. I’ve read some of those pieces that you write in 'The Times' occasionally. They’re good enough, but they’re translations. In your heart you’d prefer to stick to Oldspeak, with all its vagueness and its useless shades of meaning. You don’t grasp the beauty of the destruction of words. Do you know that Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year?"

"Winston did know that, of course," writes Orwell. "He smiled, sympathetically he hoped, not trusting himself to speak. Syme bit off another fragment of the dark-coloured bread, chewed it briefly, and went on. Eventually he fell silent for a moment, and with the handle of his spoon was tracing patterns in the puddle of stew. The voice from the other table quacked rapidly on, easily audible in spite of the surrounding din."

"There is a word in Newspeak," Syme was prompted to interject. "I don’t know whether you know it: DUCKSPEAK, to quack like a duck. It is one of those interesting words that have two contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it is abuse, applied to someone you agree with, it is praise."

"Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?" stated Syme with conviction. "In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we’re not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc (the political ideology of the totalitarian government of Oceania) and Ingsoc is Newspeak," he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. "Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?"

Orwell had a brilliant, creative mind and remarkable ability to express it. I am in awe of his writings.

Now back to our boy Tom Harris.  He contends that rather than being merely ridiculous or social satire, the purpose of climate Duckspeak is ominous: To convince opinion leaders and the public to think about climate change only as the government and eco-activists want.

To support alternative points of view is "climate change denial", today’s version of thoughtcrime, punishable by excommunication from responsible citizenry, he adds. "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sets the stage for climate change Duckspeakers by repeatedly asserting, 'climate change is real'."

Harris allows, however, that Trudeau’s claim is correct but trivial, since the climate is always changing. In his way of thinking, it is the Duckspeak equivalent of proclaiming “sunrise is real”.

It is not surprising, then, that language tricks like Orwell’s Duckspeak are being used today to justify the unjustifiable in the war of words over global warming, and for that matter, every other issue currently addressed publicly by government of all stripes and persuasions.  After all, why make honest admissions and concessions to the public at all costs when there is the technique of avoidance at one's disposal? 

I have half a notion that many politician are not even aware of the fact that they resort to Duckspeak.  It comes naturally to them, as if by the process of osmosis.  

Duckspeak is insatiable.  It has become a fact of not only our politics, but most other aspects of communications in today's society.  Orwell would undoubtedly get a kick out of that.

Like the proverbial bull excrement of current-day vernacular, Duckspeak is capable of baffling our brains -- if we're not careful.

I simply do not believe that the vast majority of Canadians are that gullible. We're just a tolerant breed that is often underestimated by those in higher places.

Let the ducks quack...Give them enough rope until they strangle themselves!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

NOTE: Read the following only if interested in further insight to Orwell's thought-provoking creation of the Newspeak Dictionary.  I find it fascinating, but I'm odd that way I guess.

An appendix to the novel, 1984
Written by George Orwell (Eric Blair) in 1948

Newspeak was the official language of Oceania, and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism. In the year 1984 there was not as yet anyone who used Newspeak as his sole means of communication, either in speech or writing. The leading articles of the Times were written in it, but this was a tour de force which could only be carried out by a specialist, It was expected that Newspeak would have finally superseded Oldspeak (or standard English, as we should call it) by about the year 2050. Meanwhile, it gained ground steadily, all party members tending to use Newspeak words and grammatical constructions more and more in their everyday speech. The version in 1984, and embodied in the Ninth and Tenth Editions of the Newspeak dictionary, was a provisional one, and contained many superfluous words and archaic formations which were due to be suppressed later. It is with the final, perfected version, as embodied in the Eleventh Edition of the dictionary, that we are concerned here. The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought -- that is, a thought diverging from the principles of IngSoc -- should be literally unthinkable, a least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever. To give a single example, the word free still existed in Newspeak, but could only be used in such statements as "The dog is free from lice" or "This field is free from weeds." It could not be used in its old sense of "politically free" or "intellectually free," since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless. Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words, reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself...

Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum. Newspeak was founded on the English language as we now know it, though many Newspeak sentences, even when not containing newly created words, would be barely intelligible to an English-speaker of our own day...

06 June, 2016

THE NIGHT ERNIE TERRELL AND THE WORLD LEARNED TO ACCEPT MUHAMMAD ALI'S CHOSEN MUSLIM NAME

Here is a newspaper column I wrote almost 50 years ago when I was Sports Editor for the Simcoe Reformer newspaper. I resurrected it this past weekend on the passing of the great heavy weight boxing champion Muhammad Ali. The significance of the column was that it was written at a time when Ali was still known by his birth name, Cassius Marcellus Clay, and he was scheduled to meet Ernie Terrell in a bout that would become part of Ali’s remarkable legend.

Little did I know then what the next couple of decades would have in store for the world of boxing.

The fight took place on Feb. 6, 1967, before a sellout crowd in Houston's Astrodome. To this day, boxing fans call the ring clash “The What’s My Name Fight,” because Ali taunted Terrell in the ring while punishing him for 15 rounds, demanding to be called by his Muslim name, not his “slave” name. But the fight has been terribly misunderstood. With Ali, nothing was ever as simple as it may have seemed.

There was no animosity between Ali and Terrell before the fight. Ali seemed to like Terrell. Both were Southerners. Both fancied themselves singers. Both had fought as light heavyweights in the Golden Gloves. And both lived on Chicago’s South Side through most of the late 1960s.

In 1966, while many state boxing commissions continued to recognize Ali as the heavyweight champ, the World Boxing Association had vacated Ali’s title because of his refusal to enlist in the Army. It awarded the title to Terrell, which lent extra importance to this fight. By winning, Terrell would prove he deserved to be called the champ.



On Dec. 28, 1966, the men were in New York promoting the fight. Terrell, a tall, lean, soft-spoken man, was telling reporters that he’d been waiting years to face Ali, whom he continued to refer to as Cassius Clay. Almost everyone still referred to Ali as Clay at that point. Certainly, every major American newspaper called him Clay. Ali’s parents continued to call him Cassius.

The boxers were in a small room talking to Howard Cosell of WABC-TV, jawing at one another in the way fighters often did while trying to hype a bout, puffing their chests and talking trash. Seemingly out of nowhere, Ali complained: “Why do you call me Clay? You know my right name is Muhammad Ali.”

Terrell didn’t understand why Ali was upset. He answered plainly. “I met you as Cassius Clay. I’ll leave you as Cassius Clay.”

“It takes an Uncle Tom Negro to keep calling me by my slave name,” Ali said. “You’re an Uncle Tom.”

Terrell leaned forward, suddenly angry. As Ali knew, there was no greater insult that could be delivered to a proud black man than to call him a Tom.

“You have no right to call me an Uncle Tom,” Terrell said.

AP_661228014

Ali leaped back and whipped off his jacket and took an openhanded swing at Terrell’s head. Terrell raised his hands to block the blow.

Terrell was no Uncle Tom, and he’d expressed no objection to Ali’s faith. Unlike former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, for instance, he had never said that Ali’s religion was inferior to Christianity.

Nevertheless, Ali vowed to punish Terrell for disrespecting his faith and his new name. “I want to torture him,” Ali said. “A clean knockout is too good for him.”

This, too, might have been part of Ali’s brand of psychological warfare, an attempt to get under Terrell’s skin while also hyping the fight to sell more tickets. But it served as a potent reminder that racial conflict permeated everything in the late 1960s, even a fight between two black men.


...And the rest is history!

As it turned out, it was Ali who ended up "buttoning" poor Ernie Terrell's lip and becoming undisputed world champion in the process.  Give Terrell credit, he did not go down for the count and gave a good account of himself; but he was no equal to his opponent's lightening fast jabs and unique bob-n-weave style.  He was methodically "punished" for not calling Cassius Clay by his new assumed Muslim name.

There will never be another Muhammad Ali!...No one will ever even come close to the most controversial, yet revered, boxer in the history of the sport.  Who will ever forget the career-launching, stunning upset over the previously "unbeatable" heavyweight champion Sonny Liston and the "Thrilla in Manila" that pitted Ali against the ring warrior Joe Frazier?

Truly an all-time legend who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.

*Here is an enlarged print copy of my column...At least you can get a better idea of what I wrote as a lead up to the fight.  



NOTE:  Ernie Terrell predeceased Muhammad Ali by a little more than a year. He died January, 2014 at 74 years of age.  He suffered from dementia the last few years of his life.  Ali died from complications of Parkinson's disease on Friday, June 3. He too was 74.     It is difficult to believe that the two perfect specimen gladiators in the accompanying highlights video are now gone.