Category: Uncategorized

This Post Is About Macaroni and Cheese.

Today I’d like to talk about macaroni and cheese. I like macaroni and cheese. Always have. I’m 41 years old and I can still taste the very distinctive way my babysitter would make it. I couldn’t begin to describe it, and I have only recently begun to figure out how she did it. And that was by accident and I’ll never tell.

If I’d figured it out in college when I ate macaroni and cheese quite often, I may have been making it that way all these years just for pure nostalgia’s sake. But I do like variety. When it comes to my macaroni and cheese, though I like the tried and true, I have been surprisingly experimental over the years.

My personal favorites?

Curry Mac – I went through a stage in which I was all about the Indian food and always wanted to put a little bit of that flavor into anything I cooked. It didn’t always work but the first time I made curry mac I remember declaring to my wife that I’d never make it without curry again. That didn’t last. It was good though.

Macaroni and Sunflower Seeds – Yeah I don’t know what I was doing here. Again it was a period where a certain food item, this time sunflower seeds (out of the shell) kind of began to dominate my culinary persona. I would put them in everything. I liked to roast them a bit then chuck them in my macaroni and cheese. For texture and for protein because I was a vegetarian at the time.

Macaroni and Peas – This has been the most enduring version in my household. Whenever I tell my wife I am going to make macaroni and cheese she asks if we have any peas. I usually make peas on the side just to appease her (see what I did there?) even if I myself feel like having the original version.

Macaroni and Chick’n and California Blend Vegetables – I spelled it “chick’n” because that is generally how the vegetarian excuse for chicken is referred to. I honestly don’t remember if I ever made macaroni and cheese with real chicken strips before I went veg, and I haven’t since rejoining the omnivorous life. If you don’t know, “California Blend” is broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. This is one that I have not had in a very long time, but just writing about it, right now I kind of miss it. On a side note, I’ve been known to have this one either without the vegetables or without the “chick’n” in a pinch.

Tofu Chili Mac – This is an old classic with a twist. I don’t know if I ever had it with ground beef based chili before I went veg, but I would often make a chili with a dense tofu crumble in place of the beef, and for some reason at some point I started making home made elbow macaroni and Velveeta cheese whenever I made the chili. Inevitably they ended up in one dish when I was throwing together a lunch for work one day. It was kind of a revelation. Sincerely.

Macaroni and Cheese and Tomato Soup – Along the same lines but a little lazier, I used to make that same home made macaroni and cheese with Velveeta, and on top of that I’d pour on some tomato soup. I don’t know why. I think it is because when I was a kid we’d always have ring bologna with either macaroni and cheese or tomato macaroni on the side. I bet I didn’t have the bologna but for some reason I got the notion that I had to have both.

So you can see that when it comes to food, nothing inspires me to tinker more than macaroni and cheese. I hope you see at least one variety that you’ll have a go at yourself. Hope you like it.

Make World Social Media Day Every Day

Today, June 30th, is in fact World Social Media Day. I don’t know what that means precisely as most of the suggestions for how you can “celebrate” this day are things that people are increasingly doing anyway.

But I’d be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to remind you that if you own a business or are in charge of the marketing for such a business, you have to get serious about social media.

I’d call it “Social Marketing” but that is already a thing, and it’s different.

I am a freelance writer but I’ve always encouraged clients and prospective clients to take my work and unleash it upon the world via all manner of social media and let that wave of influence work the way it does. I find most businesses have a company Facebook page, maybe a Twitter account (or whatever the next big thing is this week) but they don’t always know what to post that is related to the business.

If you post the writing I do for you on your social media, odds are your followers are current customers – people who know your work, who trust and believe in you. When they, in turn, share my post, their endorsement should carry enough weight to inspire a number of the next wave to come see what you’re all about. If they like what they see, they will share the post with their friends. Ideally.

Then they tell two friends.
Then they tell two friends.
And so on. And so forth.

As “World Social Media Day” implies, you can get your message around quite literally the entire world in a day if you strike the right chord with the right people. If you do, well that’s gravy, but all you’ve really got to do is get people in your immediate area to share it with more people in your immediate area, depending on how massive you want to become.

Social media is the ultimate passive marketing, the most effective way to exponentially increase the number of people who hear about you, all with a good reason to trust the endorsement because they heard it from a friend. It is so much more personal than an ad or a local news article written about your business.

Let’s start with a conversation to determine what you need your public to know:

What makes your business so shareable?

What will inspire your followers to turn around and say “Hey guys, you’ve gotta go check this out”?

Think about it and get in touch with me. Let’s go!

…But Listen To The Color Of Your Dreams…

Okay, full disclosure, I only titled this post as I did as an excuse to make a reference to the Beatles. This post has nothing to do with them or music or anything. It does have to do with the creative process.

Have you ever had a dream that was so vivid, so brimming with little nuggets of information that it is a self-contained story that demands to be told? I had one in about 2006 when I had a dream that I was in New York City outside the Dakota building waiting to get an autograph from John Lennon. No seriously this post isn’t about the Beatles. The dream turned into the first draft of a novel. I’m still not satisfied with it so it’s still a draft. I’ve had stuff to do. The point is that tiny little vignette turned into an entire novel.

I have another novel I started working on well over a year ago after a visit to New Orleans but set aside quite a while ago after hitting a brick wall creatively. Then, a few nights ago I had another one of those dreams that was so lucid that it demanded attention, and I knew as soon as I awoke that it was the next piece of the story I have to tell. Because the dream was a crystal-clear scene from a specific spot I’d been to in New Orleans, and a face in the dream was just as hauntingly clear. It was a New Orleans musician, a subject to which my story intimately relates. It was like the dream was grabbing me and shaking the next phase of my story out of me. I wasn’t about to ignore it.

Stories are like that. They come to you one chunk at a time. Each chunk, when it comes, gives you a giant leap forward. So listen to your dreams. Use them. Especially if a story you are trying to tell is really weighing on your mind but you can’t quite get it going. Your dreams are what is beneath the surface of your consciousness. Maybe these bits that come to you in a dream are so strikingly perfect sometimes because you’ve given them time to gel while you’re only sleeping.

Certainly I can’t wait around for that kind of inspiration to strike me while I am freelancing, but inspiration shows itself in various forms, thankfully. I listen for it.

A Dailey Freelance Exclusive! Ode To Cartwright, Adams and Wheaton.

When you write freelance material for a client, it is great to be able to give them something that no one else has. Kind of like getting “the scoop” before any other news outlet, to put it in olde-timey journalistic parlance. Really it is about giving them something fresh to offer their followers. Digging a bit deeper than anyone else bothers to.

To illustrate what I’m talking about:

This Friday is the anniversary of the day that, in 1846, the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York played the first known match under the official rules they had written up the year before. In the match they were destroyed by a club called the New York Nine, who thrashed the over-confident Knickerbocker Club by a score of 23-1 on the Knicks’ home turf, Elysian Fields in Hoboken, NJ.

I have noticed that history tends to come down to us in threes.

  • First there is the mythologized version of what happened.
  • Then there is “the real story.”
  • And then, when you dig a little deeper you get “the whole story.”

The myth was that Abner Doubleday had invented baseball in Cooperstown, NY seven years before the Knickerbocker vs. Nine match. The myth is the reason that to this day the National Baseball Hall of Fame is situated in Cooperstown. But it didn’t happen.

The “real story” is that Knickerbocker Club member Alexander Cartwright had written the rules the previous year. Often referred to as the “Cartwright Rules” it is a set of regulations so imperfectly perfect that they seem totally random and ordained from On High all at once.

But the “whole story” is that versions of the game were already being played by kids for probably hundreds of years before Cartwright. Though he probably played a huge role in the “invention” of baseball as it is played today, a great deal of the credit ought to go to another Knickerbocker Club member, Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams, and William Wheaton. As a matter of fact, Wheaton has claimed to have written up a set of rules for the Gotham Base Ball Club in 1837!

There is plenty of information, and there are plenty of accounts that have been dug up concerning their roles in early baseball that you can research on your own if you are interested.

That is “the scoop” I mentioned. That’s the “exclusive!” In the old days, in pursuit of “the scoop” a story would rarely reach the “real story” level, and certainly their was no time for the “whole story”. Fortunately it is a different time and Dailey Freelance can take the time to give you more depth. More substance.

…And Be Sure To SMASH That LIKE Button.

Have you noticed a trend in marketing, usually in videos on platforms like YouTube, where the pitch for engagements (a LIKE, a share, a comment) is getting much more aggressive?

It used to be “…and be sure to share and like…” and then maybe it became “be sure to hit that LIKE button…” Then the big thing was an appeal to “SMASH that LIKE button!”

It’s all very ‘roid rage meets social media.

MMA meets marketing.

Spike TV meets…..well that’s not even a thing anymore.

The point is that its over-the-topness allegedly makes the content seem edgy and exciting — urgent even, when really it isn’t.

The only true way to ensure your content will get in front of as many eyes as possible is to actually make it engaging first and foremost, but also meaningful and useful. It has to pull them in. It has to show them who you are make them believe in the work that you do. Giving you a LIKE and a share is a commitment. One’s reputation is on the line when they give your work such an endorsement. You have to earn that!

If the content you are consuming requests that you smash anything, that does not necessarily mean that it lacks substance, but personally I am not inspired to confidence in the content when I am asked to smash the LIKE button before I’ve actually viewed the meat of the content. Frankly I am uncomfortable with how often that is where this appeal is made. It is basically telling you “Smash that LIKE button and then I’ll show you whether the video warrants any such enthusiasm.

Anyway, now that I’ve given you the opportunity to read what I’ve got to say on the subject, if you feel it is of any value, I want you to DESTROY that LIKE button and OBLITERATE that SHARE button! While you’re at it, head on over to the Dailey Freelance page on Facebook and DISMANTLE that SHARE button as well. Come on!

Famous Last Four-Letter Words

My wife drives us to and from work each day. Recently an incident on our afternoon commute almost resulted in my last words on Earth being a string of profanities that I will not enumerate here.

Not important.

An oncoming vehicle had entered our lane, and all that prevented the car from occupying the same space as ours, an impossibility that nature would have quickly resolved with our death or mutilation (to paraphrase Sheldon Cooper) was my wife’s cat-like reflexes. She glanced to our right and finding the other lane clear, swerved.

Apparently we lived.

I don’t want to say it was one of those moments of clarity when suddenly I began to re-evaluate everything I was doing with my life and how I was spending my time and whatnot. Of course those things did kind of run through my head, but I don’t want to subject you to cliches right now.

Really it made me think about one’s final moment. Did I want that string of profanities to be the last words my wife heard me say? What if my panic caused more distress for her in that moment? What if my panic in that moment robbed me of calm? What if my tendency toward panic robbed me of calm on a daily basis?

This post is really about every moment, up to and including the final one. That car charging toward us in our lane was a big ol’ horrifying reminder to use the tools that I know I have at my disposal to maintain my cool under any circumstances.

Not to get all metaphysical on you.

I’ve long felt that I am not a “die with my boots on” kind of guy. I want to know it is coming and be at peace with it all. I don’t need my last words to be like those of Sir Isaac Newton, who is alleged to have spake thusly on his deathbed:

I don’t know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

But, you know, something like that.

I’d like to be known as the kind of guy who could turn a phrase in a pinch, or even not in a pinch. The problem is that I have also long felt that I am a better writer than I am a speaker. I need to have time to consider my words.

Maybe I have been reading too much lately about Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel, two baseball clowns who, though they had a knack for saying things in a very – shall we say – unique way, if you knew them at all or if you were paying attention to what they were saying, you knew that what they said made perfect sense. How else do you explain the existence of the terms “Berra-isms” and “Stengelese”? These guys seemingly just blurted stuff out and it was often pure gold. They spoke a language with its own logic.

I just want to leave a better legacy than a string of profanities. I mean they have their time and place, to be sure, and they can be quite fun. In that moment on our afternoon commute that day though, it probably would have been better to have someone else write my script for me. But no. That would not do. Because that string of profanities was me being my most authentic self in that moment. Maybe I could have used a little help cleaning it up a bit, making the most effective use of those swears as possible.





A Whole New World

Over the last couple of summers, my wife and I have made a habit of waking up early on Saturday or Sunday mornings to take a stroll on a trail not far from our home. We usually spend an hour and a half or more out there. The trail is paved, and there are a couple of benches along its many miles, but not much else man-made. The woodlands on either side are largely untouched apart from the occasional removal of trees that otherwise might fall onto the trail.

Being as relatively untouched as it is, it is not surprising that every time we go there, we see something we’d never seen before. In town, for example, we see tons of gray squirrels but on the trail it is all about red squirrels and chipmunks. Last week we got so up and personal with one of those two (I’m not sure which) that we saw it sleeping on a branch. I’ve never seen that. The majority of my experience with squirrels in town involves them flinging themselves into traffic at the most inopportune time possible.

On the trail, we always see cardinals, blue jays and even the occasional oriole which I think is really interesting. And no, I’m not just tweaking from missing baseball. We live in a very robins and sparrows kind of neighborhood. I knew this place was special last summer when what I think was a mourning dove landed just a couple of feet in front of us. Because we stopped when it landed, it was not in any hurry to fly off, though it eventually did after we had our moment of silent interaction.

A couple of weeks ago, a wild turkey strutted out of the woods onto the path about 30 feet in front of us, where it turned to us, stretched out its neck, spread its feathers out, began to flap its wings in what seemed like slow motion, and breaking into a trot finally took off, flying over the trees to our left. We had never seen a turkey fly that high. Honestly neither of us knew they could fly that high.

Now we know.

There are trees out there so viney that you feel like you are either in the jungle or the Louisiana bayou. And I think I just became aware last week that there is such a thing as burgundy colored three-leaf clover.

For anyone who spends a lot of time out in the woods none of these things are interesting. I get that. But I always go out there wondering what I am going to see that I’d never seen before. I hear a whole system of communication playing out in the trees over our heads and around us between birds and rodents and what ever else. It’s probably a combination of warnings of nearby predators – possibly warnings about us being there – or one creature tipping off another about the presence of a food source.

Something like that.

But I hear music, especially among the birds. I wonder how much music, down through the ages, time out of mind, has come from what an artist heard in nature.

I think I’ll let the birds’ songs be their songs, but it’s an honor to hear their compositions.

In A World Without Major League Baseball



I spend long stretches of time ’round the midnight hour on any given night watching endless streams of Major League Baseball clip montages. Some of them are year-in-review type videos from last season. Some of them have Willie Mays in them. Though the game has undoubtedly changed, to me baseball is baseball.

Which makes me wonder why I am so distressed at the growing possibility that an entire MLB season may never happen. And if it doesn’t happen, then I wonder what it would be like if Major League Baseball just never came back.

I don’t think that’s how this will all go down, but just what if?

I had a dream a couple of nights ago in which I was at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa fielding grounders from my wheelchair. I was flipping my chair over to make a play, and flipping right back up as if it were nothing. A reminder, perhaps that baseball is a simple game of the people. It grew from an absolutely non-formal kids game, to a leisure activity for working class men with written rules, to organized but non-professional clubs, to the professional leagues like we have today.

Even though it came from humble beginnings, a part of me feels like in today’s world, were the professional game suddenly removed from our national consciousness – the TV broadcasts, the merchandising, the obscenely expensive and flashy stadiums – that baseball might be like the ageless philosophical question about a tree that falls in the woods with no one there to hear it.

Another part of me knows very well that even without the pros, baseball would still be a thing, just on a very local level. And we’d all develop our own private histories of the game in our own little pockets of the world. And maybe that would make it more special to us. More intimate. I know many would feel that way about the game if only money were taken out of the equation.

With that in mind, I recently made the bold proclamation on my personal Facebook page that I was starting a new Major League Baseball and that there would be no salaries. I got a couple of guys signed up so far. I’ll keep you posted.

I’m really just speculating, but I can see that the NBA and NHL already appear to be on their way back to “game on!” And if MLB can’t return to the field just as gracefully, then it will not bode well for the professional game. Maybe there would still be some independent leagues around. With the promise of fame and fortune in the big leagues out of the question at least we’d know the players were in it for the love of the game.

Anyway baseball, in the form that we’ve come to know and love it down the generations, will be back. I know, because Terrence Mann told me so in “Field of Dreams.” He said:

The one constant through all the years Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.

Baseball will most definitely be back.

When The World Falls Apart, Put It Back Together

About a week before all Hell broke loose and everything started shutting down, I got a new wheelchair which I promptly dubbed “the company vehicle.” I fully intended to be all over town in my chair spreading the word about my business. I fully intended to be too busy for my own good by Memorial Day. Before my state locked down due to COVID-19 I had three different companies that had expressed interest in my work.

Then everything went silent. And rightly so. No one could confidently put a freelance writer in their immediate budget. I don’t know if I adjusted with a great deal of grace, but I’ve kept writing at least.

The events of 2020 have reinforced for all of us the importance of preparation for the unexpected. Actually it has made clear that there is no preparing for the unexpected.

Because it’s unexpected.

That’s kind of its jam.

You don’t see it coming.

So “preparation” may be a misnomer in this case. The only thing even resembling “preparation” for it is to maintain a state in which you are able to respond even when events unfold that are unlike anything in your experience. It is safe to say 2020 fits that description.

Full disclosure: I have a job apart from my freelance work. I would not be broken were Dailey Freelance to disappear tomorrow. But though I have not had any leads or clients in months, I have not stopped posting on my company Facebook page. And with a few exceptions, I have kept this blog the “weekly” that its name says it is. Because, simply put, it means something to me.

I’ll never be in the shoes of a person who has built a business for 30 years only to see it crash because of the COVID-19 fallout. But I have listened to people who are in that position, and I feel that what they have to lose means infinitely more to them. Because they believed in it enough to make it their one and only source of income. That speaks volumes, I’d say. I am only working my way toward that, right now.

I know we are a nation of people who will hold fast to what we have worked for. Now that we are able to – or soon will be able to – begin rebuilding, we will do so with the same heart and soul we put into our businesses when we first started out.

With a renewed vigor.

With a renewed sense of why we ever opened up shop in the first place.

We don’t agree on how or when or how quickly we should return commerce in America back to “normal” and mistakes will inevitably be made. But one thing is clear:

People are responding to the on-going lock down the way they are because getting back at it matters. The foundations they’ve built their lives upon matter to them. And I have to respect that.

So as we try to bring back some semblance of linear motion in our lives, please, take care of yourselves and your family, but also please, please….you know what? Because it feels extremely appropriate right now I’m just going to leave one of my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers lyrics for whatever it’s worth:

One, two, buckle my shoe / take care of me ’cause I might be you

Getting To Know Your Local Freelance Writer, Part 2

In my last post I presented you with the first half of a journey of musical self-discovery I’d recently begun. Now, I give you ….. the rest of it.

DAY 6: Dookie by Green Day – I once heard this album referred to as a “misfit’s manifesto” which couldn’t be more accurate. I was not a popular kid. I did not fit in. These songs spoke directly to me. Not in a literal way. I was not a stoner, wasn’t close to mental breakdown, nor was I as angry and destructive as some of the people in these songs. But subconsciously, the lyrics probably helped me work through some things I dealt with. I’ll never forget how my mom humored me when I remarked that these guys could be the “new Beatles.” I guess it was just a premonition of how important Green Day would become for me, but If you know me well you’ll find that comment pretty hilarious. This isn’t complex music, but it changed me. Green Day was the first band I ever got into who’s music I would go on to buy all of. My wife asked me recently what it was about them that captivated me. I said it was Billie Joe Armstrong’s presence as a front man. It was a confidence – an arrogance even – that I could hear in these songs, later confirmed when I saw him on stage. It was a poise that I could never have, but I felt like in some way I started to develop because of Dookie.

DAY 7: Chronicle by Creedence Clearwater Revival – I strongly feel every American household should contain a copy of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Chronicle Vol. 1. I don’t know that there is any other American band that can boast a better Best Of… album than this. When my parents got me my own computer, it had a CD player, and I inherited four hand-me-down CDs. Greatest Hits compilations from the Eagles and the Steve Miller Band, CCR Chronicle Volume 1, and the Beatles “Blue Album”. Wait, what? Yeah…though I devoured all four, at the time I was more into this than the Beatles. That came later. But CCR first opened me up to music that wasn’t new, a whole new world which led me to explore all varieties of classic rock. I think I have some kind of mystical connection with John Fogerty for two reasons. First, though he was a California boy, his music is sprinkled with references to the Louisiana bayou, and New Orleans. My affinity for that place is equally inexplicable. And second, long ago I noticed that when I hear certain CCR songs, the Dailey side of my family would pop into my head. So either this music was playing prominently during a family gathering long ago and it latched onto my subconscious mind, or this music is just a part of my DNA. Could be either one.

DAY 8 – Anthology 2 by The Beatles – I am not going to try to name one Beatles studio album that influenced me more than the others. Anyway they never would have influenced me were it not for Anthology, particularly the second installment. The three Anthology albums are basically an outtakes dump on a grand scale. While they presented the Beatles in their unpolished form, they were still pretty good. Anthology 2 covers 1965-67 into 1968 a bit. Those 3+ years encompass five Beatles albums if you count the Magical Mystery Tour double EP. Anthology 2 was so stunning to me because it showed how productive and progressive the band was over a relatively short time. Though it excited me like no other music had before, I remember it being a bit unsettling to find that “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “A Day in the Life” came just one and two years after “Ticket To Ride.”

I’ve always been a historian, and I like things to be linear. Anthology 2 is the sound of a band that is going someplace. They know where they are going and what they are doing. Now you see bands “trying something new” for their latest album. They may even do that on every release. But the Beatles from this period were different. Every album significantly built upon what they’d done on the last one. They changed how rock and roll sounds and is made, forever. Anthology 2 changed ME forever. I went on to buy every studio album the Beatles ever made, and very close to every studio album Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison ever made, along with a few from Ringo. How’s that for influence?

DAY 9 – Paul McCartney’s “Flaming Pie” was the first of dozens of former-Beatle solo albums I’d eventually own. This was a huge transition for me in that up until then every pop star I’d followed had either been a teenager or in their 20’s. While classic rock opened me up to the experiences of artists of (roughly) my age group but in a different time period, this album opened me up to the thoughts and style of a much older musician, Paul being in his mid-50s on this record. I was just becoming an adult when this came out so it helped me mature in my musical taste. I found his lyrics insightful and very moving really. “Calico Skies” and “Little Willow” are two beautiful, gentle acoustic ballads that everyone should hear. And he could rock! I mean, nothing on this album is going to melt your face off, but he could still jam. Still can now. And to this day, I almost always refer to a deep conversation as a discussion of “the vast intricacies of life” because of a line from “The Songs We Were Singing.”

DAY 10: “Who’s on First?: Radio Reruns” by Abbott & Costello – Until now my list has been albums that affected me chronologically as I grew. This one screws with my timeline in that (1) it was recorded in the 1940’s (2) I first heard it when I was about ten years old, and (3) its effect on me did not fully germinate until about four years ago. Let me explain. Yes, I was a huge baseball fan, and that is why I got this tape as a Christmas gift. I listened to the “Who’s On First?” bit over and over again, but I liked the rest of the skits, as old-timey as they were. I would let the entire cassette play because I couldn’t skip tracks. This included the two musical numbers on the album. One of them was a ballad called “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?” sung by actress Marilyn Maxwell. Fast forward to about 2016-17, and the melody and the evocative lyrics of “moonlight on the bayou”, “Creole tunes” and “magnolias in June” still came back to me sometimes. I was sitting at work one day, tired of the Pandora station I had going, and that tune popped into my head. I decided to start a new station based on Louis Armstrong’s original version of the song. Because of how Pandora works, I was soon flooded with a variety of New Orleans jazz musicians, contemporary and classic, eventually extending to some great funk, rhythm & blues, Mardi Gras Indian songs, and even zydeco. To me, all of these are branches of one genre called “New Orleans music.” Nothing has had even close to this effect on me since I discovered the Beatles over 20 years ago. I rarely listen to anything else now. Because I first discovered it through streaming individual tracks, I can’t pick one album. No matter. My “Who’s On First?” tape is the true source of the discovery. With that, I’m going to go make some red beans n rice now.