Are You Ready For Talk Like A Pirate Day?

As a freelance writer, I’ve recently been thinking of how I will offer holiday promotion services this year, which reminded me that one of my favorite holidays is coming up. This Saturday, September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

How do you celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day? I don’t know. Maybe sing “What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor” while swigging Captain Morgan rum.

No. I mean you can, but remember it’s all in the language.

A couple of years ago I worked with a cousin on editing a novel he was writing. In doing so, (he and) I got a little more immersed in the characters in the book than we (I) should have. The book centered around Irish characters. So, not pirates but a similar etymology. I never said “shiver me timbers” mostly because I don’t know what the hell that means anyway. And I’d never call anyone “matey” on purpose. But in discussing the book with my cousin, when I’d answer in the affirmative instead of “yes” I’d say “aye” to him. Instead of “no” I’d say “nay.” When we got stuck on a plot line, to express frustration, I’d say “arrrrgh!”

I’ve long been a fan of old-timey language. For instance I like to say that something is “nigh” when it is nearby or coming soon. And to draw attention to that something, I may exclaim “Lo!” Conversely when I am about to rush off somewhere, I may say I’ll “hie” to that location.

It’s fun. And I’ve been doing it for so long that some of it has become totally natural to me. Maybe not to those having a conversation with me.

It’s just one shining example of how a little bit of each project I do stays with me, perhaps even becomes a part of me. It’s what happens when you are a writer and you do work that means something to you. That doesn’t mean that when I write for you, some Irish slang is going to show up in my work. I can’t control it. What it means is when I go to work for you, if you sit down with me a year later, you just may recognize some aspect of our project bubbling to the surface.

I hope it does. It’s undeniable evidence that I connected with my work.

Sharp Dressed Man

I have never liked “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top. Frankly I’ve never really cared much for ZZ Top. It’s not their fault. It has less to do with “Sharp Dressed Man” than with a string of similar-sounding 1990’s country songs. It’s hard to explain.

Maybe I don’t like “Sharp Dressed Man” because I myself am not a sharp dresser. The song doesn’t speak to me, I guess. I doubt that I hate the song so much that I’ve adopted non-sharp dressedness as a lifestyle.

It’s not that I don’t like dressing in nice clothes every now and then. I flat-out refuse to tuck in a shirt and no one can make me though. I fold it in such a way to make it look tucked in. But I’m in a wheelchair. I shift around a lot. A tuck tends to be impermanent when you’re in a wheelchair. I’m not a slob or anything. It’s just that “unwritten rules” in general confound me. That includes the unwritten rules of sharp dressedness.

I’m not going to run around in sweatpants and a polo shirt or anything like that. I did, one time, wear a gray cardigan sweater with a neon green collared shirt underneath which I called my “Mr. Rogers at a rave look” though. The “rules” just strike me as more than a little subjective.

You’re not supposed to wear black pants with brown shoes – something I am not at all ashamed to admit I just became aware of a few weeks ago – but you can wear dark navy blue pants with brown shoes all you want even if the pants are so dark navy blue that they might as well be black. But you simply mustn’t wear black pants with brown shoes. Unless the shoes are a certain shade of brown in which case it’s okay.

What makes it okay? What shade must they be? No one knows.

Conversely, if you are wearing brown pants, then black shoes are fine. You don’t see a lot of navy blue dress shoes walking around. You sure as hell aren’t going to wear brown shoes with brown pants.

You know what I do? I wear black pants with brown shoes. I’m not going to wear my black shoes with my black pants. I’m going to work, not a funeral. I have some light colored grayish shoes but I rarely wear them to work because they make me feel like I’m about to get on a yacht or something. I suppose that is my hang-up, though.

And I will never understand why a certain colored shoe is forbidden with a certain colored pair of pants, but there is a different set of “rules” governing the wearing of certain colored shirts vis-a-vis pants. And while that second set of “rules” makes more sense to me, overall I’m probably hopeless. Thankfully I don’t care at all what “every girl’s crazy” about. I only care about the opinion of one “girl” and she’s my wife. She tolerates me. She encourages me to do what feels right when it comes to clothing. She probably has to fix my collar before we leave in the morning a little more often than she should have to (I swear I’m not a slob) but otherwise she understands I gotta be me.

If you’re looking for a freelance writer who will break the “rules” that need to be broken, I’m your man.

Labor Day During a Pandemic: Working Hard While Hardly Working

This year’s observation of Labor Day has to be the most poignant one in American History.

Here’s to you, working harder than ever behind the scenes trying to figure out how to re-imagine your business for these trying times, and trying to figure out how to bring your business back to the level it was at before the pandemic. You’re putting in untold hours of extra effort. You’re losing untold hours of sleep. But I have a feeling that in doing so you’ve learned a lot about your business and about yourself. You’ve revealed what really works for you and what never was really working in the first place.

Here’s to you, working overtime to fill in for gaps in the staff where you work. These are the times that make a staff a true team. A collective with one agenda. Here’s to you whose hours have been cut. Working fewer hours than you did before, you may be pushing yourself to the limit to make yourself indispensable to your employer. The year 2020 has brought us to one of those “when the going gets tough” moments in history and people everywhere have stepped up and shown their employers and themselves what they are made of.

Here’s to you, unwillingly out of work. There is this old-timey way of thinking that is still around which asserts that a hard-earned living equals a certain morality, and gives a person value. While a hard-earned living is honorable in and of itself, it does not assign any inherent value to the earner. And even though, to paraphrase Thomas Paine, “these are the times that try men’s and women’s souls” it is certainly not a moral issue. We saw that more clearly than ever when the U.S. federal unemployment rate jumped from 3.5% to about 15% this spring. While I won’t debate the wisdom of state-wide lock downs vs. the push to re-open, we saw how adamantly so many people fought to get back to work rather than collect an unemployment check.

Here’s to you, putting in extra hours – your home time, your free time, your family time – thinking about what you will do if things change at work. Not because you want to think that way, but because you have to be prepared. This has been your chance, without anyone really blaming you at all for it, to see what other possibilities there are for you. Maybe you never really had a Plan B or a Plan C, etc., but thanks to Covid-19 now you do. Maybe it’s made you re-evaluate what you want out of life. Maybe it’s helped you to re-invent yourself.

Madness can be a wellspring of opportunity when you’re looking for it. I hope you’ve looked and found it. We’re all doing the best we can. Over the course of 2020 we’ve had to live in the moment even while preparing for the bleakest of possibilities. It’s been a weird paradox of a year. We know we are meant to live in the present. If you think about it, you’ll likely agree that you are at your sanest when you are not re-living the past or playing out endless future scenarios in your mind.

I started this post talking about those who were working harder than ever while not really doing business at the level they’d like to be. We’d all like to be “working hard while hardly working” but in a different way. Busy, busy, busy, but never feeling like we are “at work..” We all want a productive, prosperous, full life. It’s my wish for all of you this Labor Day.

A Canadian Folk Delicacy, Sort of.

I realize that you don’t always know what you’re going to get from this blog. One week I might be writing about baseball. The next it’ll be jazz music. The next thing you know, I’m expounding about food. And if the mood strikes me, I might give you the rundown on my philosophy as a freelance writer.

Tonight it’s going to be food. Namely, the new KFC fries. Because the heart wants what the heart wants on a Monday after work.

But I digress.

From the TV ads for the new fries, I got the impression they’d be a crispy, heavily breaded situation. I asked out loud “chicken fried fries?” when I saw them.

But no.

They were tasty though. They reminded me and my wife of the Taco Bell nacho fries without the seasoning, somehow. While I ate them, I went back and forth on whether I’d prefer them over the KFC mashed potatoes going forward. I think if I had to choose one, I’d stick with the mashed, but so long as each are available, I may consider going back and forth between the two depending on my mood.

Except that right now the only meal deals including the fries that I am aware of pairs them with chicken fingers, or nuggets. I don’t think I’d be likely to choose chicken fingers or nuggets over the traditional fried chicken terribly often. I only did so today because it was the deal. We get KFC infrequently though, and the fries are not going to make me go there more often. They are not stand-alone fries that one would order on their own merit like the ones at McDonald’s or the curly fries at Arby’s.

A traditional three-piece chicken meal (leg, wing, breast) will always seem right with mashed potatoes so it’d be no big loss if they don’t pair it up with the fries in a “deal.”

The fingers come with a choice of a couple different dipping sauces and they offered ketchup for the fries. My wife being Canadian and I being a Canadian by marriage, we got a side order of gravy to dip the fries in. That’s sort of a folk delicacy in Canada. You melt some cheese curds over it and you’ve got yourself some authentic Canadian poutine. They should just go ahead and do that.

The Summer of My Discontent

Something weird has happened this year. I know you’re probably thinking “Umm, yeah a lot of weird has happened this year, man. Keep up.”

No, not that, but it’s probably related to that to some degree. What I am talking about is that for the first time in my life that I can think of, I can not wait for winter to start.

Maybe it is because of COVID-19 and the havoc it has brought on our economy and the over-all limitations imposed upon our everyday goings and doings. But it is also because it feels like this is the hottest summer in the history of mankind. It isn’t, I don’t think. But I am tired of the humidity, a.k.a. “the air you can wear.”

I’ve already told my wife that when it snows, I am going to go “play in the snow” and I swear I will. I am not going to build a snowman. I intend to frolic. I had been saying I did not want snow. Just cold. I always say my wheelchair is allergic to snow. The more I think of it though, I’m not picky. If there is one thing I’ve learned this year it’s how to stay home if need be.

I’m finding myself getting excited, anxious for winter. I sometimes catch a glimpse of the calendar and I’m dumbfounded that we still have a third of 2020 to go. It really feels like winter should be any day now.

I envision hunkering down in a quiet country cabin in front of the fireplace (because you can’t stay cold all of the time), a refrigerator well-stocked with apple cider or hot cocoa-making supplies (depending on my mood), sitting at a giant oak desk (a brobdingnagian fortress of a desk) with an olde-timey quill pen and parchment paper, and a hefty list of freelance writing projects to work on.

I’m kidding. I don’t have a cabin.

But apart from the things about our society that need to change forever – which this whole year was a chance for us to do – like most of us, I would like to pick up where I left off in the early spring. Enough lamentation though. When I go frolic in that first snowfall, I’ll be taking the opportunity to embrace what was previously repellent to me. I’m well on my way to accepting whatever this winter will bring.

Let’s Pumpkin Spice Things Up!

I’m just kidding. I don’t really cram “pumpkin spice” into everything when fall is approaching just because it’s trending at the moment. But I write about a lot of things on this blog that I wouldn’t actually write about.

It is good to keep things unpredictable. Don’t be scared.

That’s the approach I’ll take as your freelance writer. I’ll spice up your marketing efforts with writing that is fresh, unique, maybe even unorthodox, in the most fascinating way possible. Anything but the mainstream. If you want mainstream you can go to the newspaper. And there is nothing wrong with that, but you’re a little more free with Dailey Freelance.

Not so freewheeling that we will alienate your core fans, of course. Just enough that people know you look at things from another angle, that you’re invested in what you do enough to take chances, that you have a sense of humor, and you’re just maybe even willing to put your heart on your sleeve for ’em.

People appreciate that. It’s up to you though.

I look forward to helping set you apart from your competition, and making people think of you first when they’re looking for the services you provide.

Let’s go!

In My Right Mind

Did you know that in baseball, a left-handed pitcher is called a “southpaw” because traditionally ballparks were built so the batter faced east? Hence the pitcher stood with his left paw toward the south. It kept the sun out of the batters’ eyes mostly. It didn’t help the pitcher any.

But I talk about baseball enough on this blog.

The technical term for left-handedness is “sinistrality” which, if you think about it, sounds like some generic deviant behavior. You couple that with the realization that left is the opposite of “right” and you might end up with a complex.

So it is nice that there is an International Lefthanders Day. It is today, August 13th. Mostly it is an opportunity for the left-handed to lament how writing with a pencil or pen always leaves their words smudged and the side of their hand all leady or inky.

To put a positive spin on things, International Lefthanders Day also gives us a chance to enumerate the many notable public figures who are/were lefties. It helps us to feel not so…you know…ten percent of society. Maybe we’re insecure and we need to be able to tell people “Hey, look! so-and-so is left-handed, so I could be a famous such-and-such one day too, you know!”

I used to just say “Well I’m left-handed so that means that I’m in my right mind,” a reference to each hemisphere of the brain controlling the opposite side of the body. Not only is the division of labor between the left and right brain at least a bit muddy, but I already told you how I feel about the implications of the word “right” in all of this.

Lefties do tend to be more artistic, creative dreamer type people, and righties tend to be more technical, analytical thinkers. But technical and analytical do not necessarily equal “smart”, and blanket statements like those can never be entirely accurate anyway. It’s like saying “girls are smarter than boys” or vice versa. You say it enough though, and some might start to believe it. And when left-handed kids start to realize how few of them there are in the world, they might start thinking there is something wrong with them. And there is a point in your life when being “unique” is a small consolation.

I was born with spina bifida. My parents were told early on that as a bi-product of the condition, I’d likely have difficulties with math and other analytical brain function, which proved very accurate. You take that, along with my left-handedness and it is no surprise that I became a writer and not an engineer or something.

There are a ton of other well-known mini-annoyances associated with left-handedness. Some things are just made for the 90%. It’s a fact of life for lefties. You learn to work around those things. In short, you get creative. Or, to put it another way, it’s a good thing you’re in your “right mind.”

The Field of Dreams Game As It Should Be

Did you know that James Earl Jones doesn’t even like baseball? According to cast members from “The Sandlot” it’s true. The man who played a small but integral role in that film, who also delivered a dramatic crescendo of a monologue in “Field of Dreams” does not get what the big deal is about the game of baseball.

Unbelievable. But true.

I found that out the same day the news came that Major League Baseball’s special game at the Field of Dreams movie site has been rescheduled for next season. The game’s match-up had already been changed due to the drastically altered schedule for this shortened season. Originally it was going to be the Chicago White Sox vs. the New York Yankees. After Covid-19 ravaged the 2020 calendar, it became a face-off between the White Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. Now that it’s been moved to next season, the Chicago White Sox will still be one of the teams, but their opponent is yet to be determined.

I have some thoughts.

If you are not familiar, the Chicago White Sox are essential to the event because the movie “Field of Dreams” revolved around the 1919 White Sox, infamously known as the Black Sox due to eight of the club’s players being banned from Major League Baseball for life for accepting money from gamblers to lose the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

So my first thought is that in 2021 the White Sox should play the Cincinnati Reds at the Field of Dreams. I think that has never been the plan because while the movie makes the White Sox not the heroes, but at least the cautionary tale. Bringing the Cincinnati Reds back into the picture would possibly be hitting too close to home, opening up an old wound in baseball history. Given the off-season cheating scandal surrounding the Houston Astros coupled with the unpopular way the terms of the current season were negotiated, pitting the Sox vs. the Reds may be too much of a reminder of the first time the National Pastime almost completely lost its way. But it is also a chance to exorcise some old baseball demons.

Something Terrence Mann, James Earl Jones’ character in Field of Dreams said is relevant. That baseball “reminds us of all that once was good, and could be again.” That America had been “erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again” but that baseball had always been there and always would be.

It is understandable for fans to be angry with several members of the Houston Astros if not the entire organization. It is valid to take issue with the Players Union for the way they fought over pay for what is going to be a little over a third of a normal season. Although, to be fair, given the risks involved with the pandemic, I am hard-pressed to not at least consider it from both sides’ perspectives.

Either way, the game of baseball itself is not to blame. It is timeless, above and beyond all of the controversy and haggling, and it has got us through things that were much more serious than any of these things, which was the point Terrence Mann was making. And it couldn’t be more relevant with America on the brink in so many ways in 2020.

I think the White Sox vs. Reds match-up would be a poignant reminder that if baseball could survive the 1919 Black Sox Scandal where players allegedly blatantly gave away the most Holy, the World Series, that surely it can survive a few guys banging on trash cans to signal pitches, or whatever devices the Astros used. The game survived the 1994 World Series being cancelled by a fight over money, so surely it can survive the same given that this time around part of the reason for the fight was because playing at all this season comes with a nearly unprecedented risk.

Secondly, a lot of people are happy that the game is going to be delayed until next season because by then hopefully a ballpark full of fans will be able to attend. A new park has been constructed on-sight for the event. But I think in the spirit (no pun intended) of the movie “Field of Dreams” it would be delightfully surreal if the White Sox and Reds put on the 1919 uniforms and went out on the original cornfield ball diamond at the movie site, and played a televised game with no fans, certainly no canned crowd noise, no music, and maybe even no play-by-play announcers.

Just the ballgame, as is, raw. And if you watch the game, and you squint just so, it could be like an old wrong being made right in the baseball Hereafter, or whatever.

Maybe this is all a bit macabre. Maybe it is saccharine. Or maybe it is just too spot-on. But it would be a unique moment in baseball history. We’re already getting a taste of it with the empty ballparks this year. This would just be taking the notion to its limits.

Okay Let’s Brainstorm

“Brainstorm” sounds like a hipster word to me. I don’t really know why I think that but I stand by it. It turns out the term was in the dictionary at least a century ago.

Then, the definition of “brainstorm” was “a sudden and severe attack of mental illness”, “a temporary loss of reason” or “a serious error in judgement.” In fact the Oxford Dictionary still supplies those as alternate definitions. These days, a brainstorm holds connotations of something more positive, creative and constructive, usually a group discussion designed to generate ideas.

It isn’t group hysteria though.

Funny though, when someone has an idea that they want to lay on you that is new and unique, and maybe even a bit unorthodox, they’ll probably – perhaps self-deprecatingly – present it as a “crazy idea.”

These are usually the best ideas, probably because they were the result of the person doing a little bit of brainstorming on their own. I’m not saying that every “crazy idea” is a great one. Many of them are just…well, loony ideas. But a really good idea is very likely at some point considered by someone as a “crazy” one. Everything that has never been done before looks crazy to someone. But a lot of things that have never been done before are exactly what a lot of people have been waiting for, maybe without ever knowing it.

You’ve heard that song that goes “what the world needs now is love, sweet love” right? Well what the world may need now is “crazy ideas.” Maybe we need risk-takers. To say we need a “paradigm shift” is a cliche, hyperbolic platitude. Like when people say society needs “change” but without offering any particular plan. Maybe it even sounds like a crazy idea.

So it’s probably worth looking into.

Baseball’s Unwritten Rules Aren’t Really Rules

I currently have a copy of “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton on my desk. If you don’t know, Bouton was a Major League ballplayer. The book is about his time with the short-lived Seattle Pilots in 1969. One of the unwritten rules of baseball had always been that one does not talk publicly about what goes on in the clubhouse or the team dynamic in general. “Ball Four” kind of tore the cover off of that one. I deeply question the validity of some “unwritten rules” in baseball anyway. Some are perfectly reasonable. Some of them need to be ignored.

I’ll start with the unwritten rules that I agree with.

1. Don’t bunt to break up a no-hitter – I am a fan of small ball. Home runs do not excite me, at least not with the regularity that we see them today. And the bunt is a perfectly valid way of getting on base or advancing a runner. But doing it with no one on base simply to break up a no-hitter is like kicking over the chess board when you realize you have no path to victory.

2.If you hit one of our guys with a pitch, we hit an equal member of your team” – To some it is settling up of accounts. To others it is reaping what you sew. And to yet others it is a second wrong making things right. And of course there is the argument that all this does is escalate a bad situation. I am not for escalating tensions on the diamond but I think if one team’s biggest star player gets hit intentionally, the other team should expect that if there is retaliation, it will come to their own star player.

3. Don’t celebrate a home run – I have long enjoyed the creativity of the end zone celebration after touchdowns in the NFL, and more recently the elaborate home plate or dugout celebrations after a home run in Major League Baseball. I appreciate them as entertainment, but I agree that it is not something that should happen unless it is either a walk-off that wins the pennant or the World Series or something. Side note: There is another unwritten rule that a pitcher is not to celebrate a strikeout, but I’ve never really seen any pitcher do that.

4. No stealing a base or swinging at a pitch on a 3-0 count – Certainly with the runner on first, stealing second in this situation just screams to your teammate who is batting that you think they are going to find a way to not get walked. And the only redemptive value of swinging on a 3-0 pitch is if the batter knows without a doubt that this is their pitch to hit, and in doing so they can move the runner up more than one base by hitting it.

Then there are the “unwritten rules” that aren’t so straightforward.

1. Don’t step on the chalk line – I am conflicted with this one, so I am going to play both sides here. You should never step on the chalk lines because it messes up the beautiful infield. But throughout the game base runners are going to mess the lines up anyway. And not stepping on the baselines due to superstition? Well…yes, baseball is a terribly superstitious game over all. But catering to other people’s superstitions is no reason not to step on a bit of chalk.

2. Don’t talk about no-hitters – Again this is mere superstition and if you mention a no-hitter in progress and the pitcher goes out and gives up a hit on the next pitch, it isn’t your fault. He listened to you talking about no-hitters. He let it get into his head. He threw the pitch. He gave up the hit.

3. Don’t rub the mark after hit by a pitch – A batter is not supposed to show pain or weakness by rubbing the place where he just got hit by a pitch. But I think a pitcher knows he’s hurt the batter by hitting him with a fastball. If it was intentional, that was kind of the point. If it wasn’t you don’t have to concern yourself with whether he knows he hurt you.

4. Pitchers taken out of the game must stay in the dugout – What ever happened to a manager yanking the pitcher out of the game and telling him to “hit the showers!” To me “hit the showers!” means right now. He can come back afterwards to support the team.

5. Don’t run up the score – This includes stealing bases when far ahead. Look, the point of the game is to score more runs than the other team, and giant rallies do occur from time to time. So when you have a chance to score more runs, you take it. If you’re up 17-1 in the ninth, sure you don’t have to swing for the fences but you’re certainly not going to bunt either. That’d be breaking another unwritten rule. So all you can do is swing away. And if you happen to load the bases and you’ve got a good hitter up, he should be looking for a good pitch and swinging at it. Whatever happens happens.

6. Managers, don’t go against percentages – This one is complicated. Do you remember Moneyball? The Oakland Athletics were playing percentages to the extreme and it worked very well. But some of the best managers of all time had a sixth sense when it came to baseball. They knew their players, and they knew the opposition. Sometimes they saw things no one else did. Sometimes a managers just uses their intuition. Intuition is not necessarily logical. And besides, going against the percentages hold the advantage of the element of surprise.

Surely there are some baseball purists out there who will take issue with a good amount of what I’ve said here. I encourage debate.