My Takes

Just my humble opinion…

Remembering Ali

Cover of "King of the World"

King of the World

I remember it well just as if it was yesterday although I was only ten years old back then.  I felt it coming weeks in advance. My uncle, who I lived with at the time, talked about it almost daily.  The adults in my neighborhood discussed it with passion and excitement in their voices.  I didn’t know what to expect but like Alice in Wonderland, I grew curiouser and curiouser.

Muhammad Ali The Greatest was set to fight Foreman.  That’s what all the hype was about, rightly so, as this Ali was going to fight four men!  Well at least that what my naive mind thought as I had never heard anyone called ‘Foreman’ before and I knew nothing about boxing.  And yes, I was a bit slow on the uptake.

The fight couldn’t come soon enough and when it did, it found my uncle and I sitting in front of a small black and white television.  Back in those days, it was the biggest television I had ever seen, even though it was only a 13 inch.  There were no pay-per view and we had just the one channel but I guess the fight was broadcast to all the networks as we were able to watch in on our one-channel television.  Oh the good old days…

I didn’t know what to expect but the hype was contagious.  I could feel something epic was about to happen but I had no clue what it was.  I didn’t have to wait long.  As I watched, a procession made its way to the ring.  It was Ali!  He was surrounded by policemen and his team.  He smiled at the crowd and looked very relaxed.  Ali entered the ring and immediately started bouncing and shadow boxing. He did the famed Ali shuffle as he waited for his opponent to show up.

Then a brute of man walked into the ring.  The big brutish looking guy was announced as George Foreman.  It didn’t take me long to make the connection and correction, although Foreman could have passed for four men.  His arms were like black steel and he looked ready to inflict pain on whoever was brave enough to step into the square ropes with him.  Foreman didn’t smile and I hated him right away as he reminded me of the bullies in my school.  Ali bomaye!

My first fight was epic indeed.  I had no idea what I was watching but my uncle and I wanted Ali to win.  My uncle was in a frenzy.  He kept jumping up and throwing punches in the air while yelling, “Hit him! Yes! Hit him!  Knock him out!” It didn’t seem like a nice thing to say but as long as my guy Ali was doing the hitting I was alright with it.  I doubted if there was a bigger fan of The Greatest that night. I was like a pre-teen girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  For years after that night, I saw his round baby face dripping with sweat, pointing at me from the television and telling me ‘I am the Greatest! I am King Of The World!’  I never doubted him in the least.

The fight was not an easy win for Ali. My uncle and I thought he was done when he laid back onto the ropes and took punishing hooks to the body.  We learned later that it was part of Ali’s plan and was called ‘The Rope-A-Dope’ and designed to wear the big bully out. It worked.  Foreman was dead tired in the later rounds and wasn’t able to make the count after falling to a combination from Ali.  The Greatest, The King came through once again.  Beating the odds like he always did.

That night, I never knew that this Ali had also defied the odds prior to this fight and taken the boxing title away from a boxing legend named Sonny Liston.  I never knew that this man had traded all that boxing had giving him, fame and fortune, to take a stand against something he didn’t believe in.  The Vietnam war.  His response to his being drafted, ‘I ain’t got no quarrel with the Vietcong. No Vietcong ever called me Nigger.’ and “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?are forever etched in my memory.   For his refusal to fight, he was subsequently arrested, stripped of his title and suspended.

After being away from boxing for three and a half years, Ali returned and soon reclaimed his throne as the King.  The Rumble In The Jungle was the fight that gave him his crown back.  The Greatest was still The Greatest.

After that fight, I was hooked on boxing as I wanted to see more of Ali. I wanted to see his flash, hear his taunting poems, his boasts, his predictions, I wanted more Ali.  As I learned who he was beyond his pugilistic skills, I liked and respected him even more.

Although ravaged by Parkinson, Ali is still The King to me.  His face no longer baby smooth and boyishly handsome but now aged and etched with visible signs of the disease.   I do not look at him with sadness or pangs of pity.  I still see before me, the man who made me believe.  The man who defied odds. The man who I wanted to be like.  The Greatest.

I hoped that one day, fate or destiny would have given me a chance to meet Ali but sadly, yesterday, Friday June 3rd, 2016, the man, the legend, the myth, the one they called The Greatest, floated away like a butterfly, he had lost his bee sting.  Rest in peace, Ali.  I will always remember you!

Edited from my original post written March 26th 2012

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Let God Save The Queen!

Image result for touching the queen

Now that’s a gentleman

This is another reason why I am anti-royals, other than the fact that it is a useless and antiquated practice.  This week, while in the presence of Royalty, the Queen to be exact, Canada’s Governor General TOUCHED HER!  HE TOUCHED HER ROYAL HIGHNESS!  HIS MAJESTY! How awful!  Apparently is a no-no to touch the almighty Queen.  The news media went into a frenzy.  “Canada’s Governor General Breached Protocol” was one headline.  “Canada’s Governor General Touches Queen In Breach Of Royal Protocol’ Was another. Except that in smaller fonts, it read, ‘To keep her from falling.’

So Let’s get this straight, a noble gentleman felt it his duty to aid a 91-year old woman ascend a flight of stairs and this is wrong?  Queen or no Queen, this is what normal human beings do. Instead of him being lauded as a true gentleman for his deed, he is made to explain his actions.  Should the old woman had slipped and fallen while he merely stood by and observed, would he be questioned on why he did not see fit to offer assistance to the falling monarch?

What can we learn from this?  If you ever, ever, see a queen in trouble, drowning, falling, whatever, stay out of it, don’t touch her.  Why? Because God Saves Our Gracious Queen!

 

Drat it all!

 

My Take

It’s A Boy! It’s A Girl! It’s…It’s…What Is It?

Related imageThere’s a saying, ‘If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quack likes a duck, then it’s probably is a duck.’  I live by that mantra, kinda.  So when I saw the yahoo news about a baby born in British Columbia that was not assigned a sex at the parents’ wishes,  I thought, “How could that be?”  I showed the story to my 10-year old and he asked, “Can’t they tell if it has a pee pee or not?” (Hmm…maybe he read the book above). My response was, “Maybe there’s nothing there.”  You see, I was a bit naive, I wasn’t thinking inside the box.  Read story here.

You can’t blame me for being naive when all my life and my parents’ lives and my parents’ parents’ lives, there have always been a male and a female.  Pardon my ignorant simplicity, blame it on my upbringing.  I am really not used to this grey undetermined area.  In my simple mindedness, I thought that  It wasn’t up to parents to choose what gender they wanted their kid to be, or raise them as fence-straddlers until they decided their sexual orientation.  Reminds you of The Bachelor, doesn’t it?

Why oh why do we let this madness happen?  Why do we cave in to every inane whim by a faction of our society with too much time on their hands?  Dismantling everything once held sacred, now this.  A parent can now choose whether or not their kid, who was born with male parts, lives like a boy, a girl or sex unassigned.  SEX UNASSIGNED? No, no, it was assigned but you just don’t want to accept it.  It’s like accepting your parking spot that your work assigned to you because you thought that it was too far of a walk to the front door.  I pity the kid…

The parents of the above organism, wants it to grow up and gravitate to its own natural sexual orientation.  Like choosing if it wants to pee standing up or sitting down, briefs or G-strings, be a wife or a husband, join a girls’ sports league or a boys’ etc after first experimenting with them.  They also do not want the poor kid to be labelled.   Newsflash! It’s not labelling.  If it looks like a…nevermind, the world is so messed up that one little unassigned-sex kid won’t even cause a ripple.

 

Just my take…

Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face?

Nick Troller has two Star Trek themed licence plates. This one that reads 'ASIMIL8' is being recalled by Manitoba Public Insurance. His other plate reads 'Voyager.'Yesterday I watched the news about a city man who had his personalized Star Trek-themed licence plate recalled because ‘Manitoba Public Insurance received a complaint.’  Yes, all it takes is one solitary complaint.  Even over a 2-year old licence plate that is obviously, in a blatant way, not intended to be offensive in the least.

Now as a black man, I do understand and know offensive, (Trust me, I have seen and heard my share of thinly-veiled offense). and I’m happy to know that you Caucasians are looking out for us minorities, but sometimes you over-do it and I’m left embarrassed.  I feel as though you are helicopter parenting me.  My co-workers sometimes say they are ‘working like a slave’.  Should I file a complaint?  What if another caucasian hears it and feel offended? Well that’s just wrong.  Why should YOU feel offended if I am not offended?  I do understand the plight of the Aboriginals who were forced to assimilate and give up their culture but do you think they cringe every time they come across the word while reading a book? Should it be banned then?  Should Star Trek also be banned?  See?  There’s no end to it if we go down this road.  We are cutting off the nose to spite the face.

In this situation, I would recommend a meeting with an aboriginal group and the licence plate owner.  Hear how each party feels about the situation and take it from there.

My two older boys claim the don’t love each other.  In fact, the word hate is used. Whenever I catch them hugging or playing together I would say ‘Look at you! You do love each other!  They would promptly back away and give each other space. So what I learn here is, if you leave some things alone, they would be forgotten but if you keep digging things up and looking under rocks for allusions, you re-open wounds.  Words have multiple meanings and memories for many of us.  Some good and some bad.  Don’t cut the nose to spite the face.

Just My Take

 

Viral Stupidity. How bout dah?

Image result for cash me outside how bow dahRemember the ‘Cash Me Ousside ‘ girl?  Yup, the 13-year old who disrespected her mom,stole her credit cards and dropped out of school in grade 7.   You probably saw her on Dr. Phil also.  Maybe you thought “What a disaster!  She would never amount to to much.”   Yes, I thought so too.  Heck, I even used her as a teaching moment for my own kids.  You better be nice and stay in school or you boys would never get anywhere in life.  Man were we ever wrong.  She amounted to much and is amounting to much more.

So much for that.  I had not taken into consideration that this was the United States of America, where fame and fortune are always just one viral post away.  It doesn’t matter what you did, legal or illegal, if it goes viral, then get ready to cash out, how bout dah?

And so it happened with this obnoxious and rude teen, Danielle Bregoli.  She became a ‘viral sensation’ with over 8 million Instagram followers!  Her appearances are worth upwards of $40,000 and she even stars in commercials! A celebrity! A success story!  Who needs school and manners?  She is projected to be a Millionaire by the end of 2017!  What a sweet story of a hard working girl.

Seriously America, it’s time to wake up!  You are creating idols and role models out of those who least deserve it.   Turning a 13-year old, Grade 7 dropout into a celebrity?  Rewarding her for being a brat?  What would you do next?  Make a President out of a… um, nevermind.

Just My Take…

Let Love Trump Hate

us-election-night-2016It’s been a couple of days since the most memorable election in the US.  An election that saw more than its share of mud slinging by both candidates and some allegations and revelations that made choosing either of the candidates a choice between the lesser of two evils.

America spoke and Donald Trump is now the President elect of the United States.  Say what you may but he won it honestly.  (Unless there’s something I don’t know).  It’s no use getting mad that he won, majority rules and the system is the system.  And that’s why Trump deserves a chance.

Yes, he said and did some dumb things on his path to the White House but that was his strategy and it worked!  Trump lacks a political portfolio hence he needed to capture attention by any other means necessary.  He did that well.  Too well.

I am usually the pessimistic one but I seriously think that Trump just might surprise a few of the naysayers.  Now that he is faced with the reality of being the top dog, I think we would see a different Donald Trump.  Heck, he has already back pedalled on his promise to repeal the Obamacare as his first act.  See? The man just might be what America needs.  (If not, there’s always impeachment).

The media is doing a great job once again! Yes, a great job of spreading fear and hate with all the negative coverage.  A single stupid act committed by some bored idiot gets front page news as a hate crime due to Trump being elected.  This need to stop. America needs to come to grips with the results of the election and give the man a chance to prove himself.  He is not a wall builder until he actually builds a wall.

Politicians are known to say one thing and do the other. If this holds true, then Trump might just be fine after all.  Let’s wait and see…

My Take

She’s In Love With The Boy, Or Is She?

While at a recent Garth Brooks concert, his wife Trisha Yearwood was singing her hit song, ‘She’s In Love With The Boy’ and as she sang, my mind wandered, as it is wont to do.  It wanders all the time, even while wandering.  It wandered this, “Pretty soon that song won’t be politically correct”.

You are probably going, “Why wouldn’t it be?  What cheap drugs are you on now?” Well think of the way our society is going.  He is she and she is he or both.  Where we once made do  with male and female washrooms for a two-gendered world, we are now adding a third for those not under this umbrella.  The ‘both’ group.  See where I am going with this?  I can’t hear you!

If you are still in a fog, let me aid your defogging.  Gender identity is slowing becoming non-existence or a non-issue. (Too bad I can’t say the same for race).  There’s no longer a clear distinction.  We are slowly dispensing of the systems that identified us as men or women.   Inclusivity is the order of the day.  (I still remember LGBTQ when it was just LG).

Saying all that, it won’t be long before someone asks the question, “Why are all these love songs about a boy and a girl?  What about the gays and lesbians?” Yes, what about them? Why are we eager to change and be more accepting yet it’s still a hidden taboo to sing about a man in a relationship with another man? Or a woman in a relationship with another woman? How come the ‘Kiss Cam’ at sports game never zoom in on an obviously lesbian or gay couple?  Is it that deep down, we really want HER to be in love with the BOY?

Just another one of MY TAKE

 

Who Are You?

Do I know you? Do you know you? That may be the better question.  Everyone wants everyone to be like…yes, everyone but themselves. Why can’t you be like so-and-so? As a young kid, my aunt wanted me to be like The Baileys.  The Baileys were our upper-class family friends, quite naturally, their kids were classy and well-mannered.  At least in the public eye.  My aunt didn’t know they farted without saying excuse me.

There is so much conversation on young people being forced or pressured to look and act a certain way.  As parents we resent and discuss this with disgust but in many ways we are guilty of setting the trend.  How many of us ask our halves to be different?  “Honey, why can’t you be like this?  Do it for me.  Wear this…”  I have seen it in friends who were once wild and free with independent minds, becoming zombie-like as they lose their own identity and take on that of their other halves.  They just melded.

Sometimes a change is good.  Your wife finally gets you to loosen up and try something you have never tried before, you did and found out you loved it!  In fact, you are a natural at it!  This does not change who you are.  It just means you have added something new to what makes you.  Kudos to the wifey!  Life is a life-long learning experience.  You sometimes learn that you are not one-dimensional after all!  I for one have found out I like chips after all! Thanks honey!

On the flipside, I have seen my once-funny friends get involved with Debbie Downers and turned into Boring Bobs.  (Isn’t it funny that it rarely works the other way?).  A happy you is the real you are and being anything other than that is compromising or rejecting the very things that characterize who are you.

Don’t be like the Baileys or anyone else for that matter.  Be YOU, but first, find out who you really are.

 

 

 

 

Making Trouble From Nothing

“Carlos, you are just making trouble out of nothing!” Our German International Student, Hanna, used to say to me when I stress over something that she thought was not worth stressing about.  She was, and still is, right though.

You see, I am a stresser, (not really a word). I like to, as Hanna put it, make trouble out of nothing.  I stew over things, no matter how small.  Sleeping for me is work time for my brain.  That’s the time when all of my day’s issues get solved or I devised other ways of dealing with them.  A presentation at work?  When I’m done with it at about 2am, it’s a finely-honed delivery without any hiccups, too bad my audience would never hear it, instead they were privy to the water-down version.  Well it wasn’t that watered down, since I actually did stew on it a few nights prior to the delivery date.  My nocturnal labor has solved worked problems that I was working on and even found lost items! I retrace my wife’s steps to the likely places she could have ‘lost’ her cell phone.

I am an avid sports fan, especially hockey.  When my team loses in the playoffs, it’s time for this fan to break down every what-ifs and near-miss scenarios.  What if the puck hadn’t hit one of our players?  We probably would have scored. How about the breakaway that he missed the open net on?

Maybe it’s a mental health issue and I need to talk to a brain sweeper to clear out the cobwebs that have been taking up residents in my cranial attic. (Wow! Did I just say that? That’s some serious lingo!) My wife insists that I should just shut my brain off and go to sleep. Easier said than done.  Maybe she has a brain switch but I wasn’t blessed with one.

You might ask why don’t I do all that stressing and over-thinking during the day and sleep at night?  Great question! Mind if I get back to you on that?  I just need to maybe…stew on it a bit tonight.

Just My Take!

Lessons my dog taught me

It’s been about over a year now since we got Reilly, our Lab cross.  She is all grown now but technically still a pup.  I would be telling a lie if I said that I have no regrets about getting a dog. I was never really a dog lover. I tolerated them and give them just the right attention, but they were like grandchildren to grandparents, give them attention and treats then send them home to their parents.  For some strange reason, the wife and I decided that having a dog would be great for the kids.  Plus they promised they would do all the dog duties.

I envisioned getting a dog like my friends’.  One that sits and cuddles and walks around the house without wanting to eat everything, including the house.  A dog that I could take walking or jogging and he would not trip me.  I could even ride my bike while he trots alongside.  I am not dreaming, I have seen such dogs! And that’s the dog I wanted.  What I got was Reilly.  The total opposite.

Reilly is as cute as any dog could be. She just wants to play, my wife always says when I am mad at her for not complying, even after being told over and over and over again. Yes, I have done the treats thing, some obedience classes and whatever you were going to prescribed. She’s still just a puppy, everyone says that too.

A puppy is like a little baby.  Always exploring and getting into things, so it was no reason for me to flip my lid over poor Reilly’s inability to comprehend that Daddy gets mad when she goes upstairs or sits on the couch or grab edible and non-edible items off the tables. She’s just a baby or a puppy. The thing is though, I wasn’t ready for another baby. With 3 little boys, I had my hands full. What was I thinking?  Or was I even thinking?

Having Reilly has taught me a few things.  As hard as rabid dog lovers/owners try to push dogs on everyone, they are NOT for everyone. Just like kids aren’t for everyone.  It’s totally ok, you or anyone else do not HAVE TO love dogs. No, just like you don’t HAVE TO love or want kids.  Just don’t abuse them is all you need to do. Many of my friends are anti-kids.  Doesn’t mean that I won’t trust my kids with them.

Dogs, like kids, can also grow on you.  They could be therapeutic as they are very forgiving and trusting. One of my most disgusting pet peeves was seeing dog hair on people’s clothing.  Eew! I couldn’t have a dog in our house that leaves its hair all over the place, no way! Now I barely notice the strands of Reilly’s hair that decorate my clothes as I leave for work. Or even the odd stray hidden in my food.  I probably have a small fur-ball growing in my stomach by now anyways.

Yes, dogs and kids can teach us some lessons.  If we could only stick around long enough.

 

A Thought

Think on this:

If today is the best day of your life, it won’t last. Tonight might be an inch short of hopeless; it won’t last either. Whatever has brought you to this moment is only part of the story of your life and relationship. The rest is yet to come. Put all of it—dark thorns and shining threads—into God’s hands, and he will sustain you.

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