Tony’s Gotta Be Tough

Ultimately, Tony Stewart must find redemption within himself. (Jeff Curry/Gety Images for NASCAR)
Ultimately, Tony Stewart must find redemption within himself. (Jeff Curry/Gety Images for NASCAR)

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Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, September 29, 2014, 5:19 p.m.

This morning I was working on a novel, and Tony Stewart’s media session was mostly over by the time I thought of it. I read the Tweets, and, later, when I went to the grocery store, I heard the SiriusXM talkers revisit his remarks.

mug Dutton Monte 2_WEBI like Stewart. He was one of my favorite topics for fourteen years. I wrote a book called Rebel with a Cause: A Season with NASCAR’s Tony Stewart in 2001. In the aftermath of the Canandaigua tragedy, a blog titled “Nobody Wins” became the most-read piece I’ve written this year.

He’s a familiar figure. As I remain away from the race tracks, more and more drivers rise whom I don’t know and fall whom I do. I’ve never spoken to Kyle Larson or Chase Elliott. I ate at a short-order joint a few hours ago. One, or two, or five of those young drivers in the Nationwide and Truck Series could have been there and I wouldn’t have known.

I should have paid attention to the entourage, I guess.

Tony Stewart doesn’t confide in me. We’ve had no communication since the end of 2012, unless he happened to read something I wrote.

In the ridiculous event that he would seek my advice, here’s what I’d tell him: Race drivers are supposed to be tough. Be tough.

Average people have terrible things happen to them, too. Terrible, gut-wrenching tragedies have touched my family, and yours, and yours, and most everyone’s.

Tony Stewart (left) with Kurt Busch.  (Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tony Stewart (left) with Kurt Busch. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

I don’t know whether or not Stewart will ever be the same, but if he recovers, it will be because he learns not to feel so all alone. He has to get over “how could this have happened?” and stop listening to people telling him no one else has ever had to deal with this. At some point, Stewart has to make the transition from what’s already happened to where he goes from here. Yes. It’s easier said than done. It doesn’t matter. He still has to move on.

I’m pulling for him. I haven’t counted him out. He’s known this, or something like it, could happen since the first time he strapped himself into a go-kart. Guess what? It did. That’s where the toughness comes in. Not even Stewart himself thought it was going to be easy.

If everything happens for a reason, the only possible reason for Kevin Ward Jr.’s death was for those involved to emerge better, tougher, and wiser. If God has a master plan, that’s part of it.

Ward is dead. Nothing can change that. Stewart can be saved. Only by himself.

If you’d like to read my short stories and thoughts about writing, take a look at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com sometime. Or read my novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope. They’re available at www.amazon.com.

Jeff Gordon Wins, and That’s All

Jeff Gordon won at Dover. Somebody had to. (HHP/Harold Hinson photo for Chevrolet)
Jeff Gordon won at Dover. Somebody had to. (HHP/Harold Hinson photo for Chevrolet)

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Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, September 28, 2014, 2:20 p.m.

The Sprint Cup race – What was it? The Oscar’s Back Rub 400 or something? — at Dover (Delaware) International Speedway has begun. I didn’t watch much of the advance coverage. I was making sure the Carolina Panthers were doomed. Now I’m anxious to see what unexpected developments take place before the Etch a Sketch shakes.

Sixteen drivers with a chance at the championship! It’s outrageous. Something must be done, and with every misstep in this race, it will. Four more will be irrelevant next week. NASCAR officials, who obviously ended last season worried about nothing happening, set up a method of selecting a championship that supposedly makes nothing impossible. Someone today may not have enough gas in his (or Danica Patrick’s) tank. The Chase, however, will have staying power. There is no other way.

Now it’s just a matter of watching the race and seeing what happens.

Otherwise, it’s all become so soulless.

3:09 p.m.

“Points as they run.” I’m not a big fan, but I understand the interest.

Just don’t make it ridiculous. Don’t make it a forum of empty hype.

For instance, perhaps it’s not appropriate to proclaim that three drivers are even for the final Chase spot on lap 100. The race has to reach lap 200 before it could even be official, and there are no points until the race is over, and it can’t be over until the halfway point.

The extreme examples are, say, when one driver is leading, pits and briefly falls to, oh, twelfth position. When announcers first say, “He has fallen out of the Chase!” and, then, when everyone else pits, say he has “charged back into position to advance,” there are many appropriate words to describe it, some of which are “stupid,” “misleading,” “insincere,” and “stupid.”

To paraphrase Blazing Saddles:

“You said ‘stupid’ twice.”

“I like stupid.”

4:32 p.m.

Little things I don’t propose to change but could do without:

The mismatched rear panel of Matt Kenseth’s Toyotas. I know it’s deemed clever by the marketers – slapping those associate-sponsor colors on – but it makes the No. 20 look like the NASCAR equivalent of a pink-butted hyena. The Toyota Hyena has a wide variety of butts in various hues.

Misspelled words that are brand names: Dover used to have a Heluva Good! 400. The worst one ever was Talladega’s Humminbird Fishfinders 500K. I couldn’t cut it down because then it would really look like I couldn’t spell. I suppose I should’ve called it the Fishfinders 500.

There aren’t as many fishfinders out there now as there were in the old days.

This guy was happy, anyway. (HHP/Alan Marler photo for Chevrolet)
This guy was happy, anyway. (HHP/Alan Marler photo for Chevrolet)

Little things I miss:

The gorgeous, metallic blue of Brad Keselowski’s car. Sometimes it’s red. Sometimes it’s yellow. Sometimes it’s white. It’s never as pretty. It seems like, now, every team is Oregon.

Benny Parsons, more and more now since I started watching on TV. Bob Jenkins, too.

Bill Brodrick, the Hat Guy. Bob Latford, providing facts in the press box. The calming presence of Dick Thompson at Martinsville and Herman Hickman at Rockingham.

When did fun go out of style? Maybe it didn’t, and I got old and forgot what it was.

4:52 p.m.

This race is like a guy saying, “Hey, this is funny” and then telling a joke. If it’s funny, he doesn’t have to say so. He also doesn’t have to use “emojis,” or “emoticons,” or “LOLs and ROFLMAOs,” either.

Announcers keep telling me how exciting this is, or, otherwise, I’d never know.

I’ve been pondering this ever since I saw what I thought was impossible: a bad race at Richmond. I’d never seen one until the regular-season finale.

They’re racing so carefully at Dover, it seems like arthroscopic surgery instead of car racing.

This may liven up at the end, but, right now, it looks like they all shun intimacy. No one wants to touch anyone.

I don’t think I’m alone here. I talk about races often with a close friend. Most every one we’ve discussed lately has involved him falling asleep at some point and either awakening just in time for the end or missing it.

When I was coming along, racing wasn’t something one watched while lying in a hammock.

5:16 p.m.

Jeff Gordon likes to win. He wins a lot. He gets a lot of money and a trophy. Perhaps some of that money will help him win the championship.

It means nothing tangible.

As Yogi Berra said, “That place is so crowded nobody goes there anymore.”

I apologize for criticizing the endless “points as they run” babble. If they hadn’t talked about it, there’d have been no need for audio.

5:42 p.m.

Somehow, Kevin Harvick manages not to win. (HHP/Alan Marler photo for Chevrolet)
Somehow, Kevin Harvick manages not to win. (HHP/Alan Marler photo for Chevrolet)

Greg Biffle didn’t make it. Neither did Aric Almirola. Nor A.J. Allmendinger. Kurt Busch is out.

No surprises. There, either.

Gordon (Hendrick) won, followed by Brad Keselowski (Penske), Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick) and Joey Logano (Penske).

The opening round probably wasn’t intended to be pure survival of the fittest, but it was.

The Chase may improve the mathematical skills of fans. So far, that’s the plus.

I think my novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope, are better than today’s race, but then again, I would. If I hadn’t written them, I might have read them during that race. You can probably get one, or both, in time for next week’s race, at amazon.com.

The Constant Variety of Football, Et Cetera

 

The rocky Pacific Coast, north of San Francisco (Monte Dutton).
The rocky Pacific Coast, north of San Francisco (Monte Dutton).

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Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, September 27, 2014, 11:42 a.m.

This is yet another day where I’ve been sitting around, fixing breakfast, playing my guitar, watching Lee Corso carry on, and hoping some topic for a blog would drift into my mind as if by magic.

Magic isn’t unknown to me where blogging inspiration is concerned. This morning, though, I’ve let the mystery be, to borrow the words of Iris Dement.

So … I got nothing.

It is I.
It is I.

When I got nothing, I just wait. The only alternative is to write nothing, like I’m doing now. This is the first Saturday in over a month where I’ve been home. I decided about two days ago that I was going to do the TV thing, a decision forged largely on the basis of the Furman-Western Carolina game being on TV.

This often works well, this blogging stream of consciousness, when I do it watching a race, though the last time I got a few brickbats from readers expecting great technical analysis instead of my feeble attempts at humor. Lots of people seem to like it, and I do it when I think I need to post a blog but don’t have an overriding topic that captures my fancy.

I’m sure I’ll check on the Nationwide race at Dover from time to time. I may check on baseball, too, as the Red Sox close out their season slightly better than Bobby Valentine did mismanaging them in 2012. That’s what I like from my team: consistency. Last in the AL East in 2012, World Series title in 2013, and last in 2014. It’s almost time to wait till next year.

I’m starting out with that traditional battle to determine last place in the SEC East: Vanderbilt at Kentucky. Tennessee at Georgia is also on, and … Georgetown at Colgate!

Palmolive is idle.

12:27 p.m.

Many are the things I do not understand. I don’t understand why: (1.) Sign painters invariably can’t spell, (2.) A baseball player with a bat in his hand is a batter, unless he gets hit by a pitch, at which point he becomes a “batsman,” and (3.) So many football players don’t latch up their chinstraps.

I was crazy as a loon when I played in high school, and I had enough sense to do that.

12:56 p.m.

College football uniforms have become so ornate that it’s a shame to get them dirty.

1:25 p.m.

I just heard an announcer say, for the fifth time since the noon games started, “This call has huge implications.”

1:50 p.m.

I’m not a fan of one-game playoffs in baseball, where pitching matchups make such a difference, but …

There should be a significant advantage derived from winning the division. I still don’t like it – it’s a shame that, for instance, the Kansas City Royals making the postseason for the first time in so long doesn’t necessarily mean more than a single game – but I’m getting less adamant about it.

2:20 p.m.

Northwestern’s uniforms would be so great in the Ivy League.

That sounds like a criticism, but if I had one of those white jerseys with the three lateral purple stripes across the numerals, I’d wear it.

Quite possibly, to a Furman game.

2:32 p.m.

Fun fact: Penn State’s Beaver Stadium is named after Governor James A. Beaver, who left office in 1891.

I look up lots of things online when I’m watching ballgames and movies.

Meanwhile, the Oregon State Beavers play home games in Reser Stadium, named for Al and Pat Reser, owners of Reser’s Fine Foods. Tonight, though, the Beavers will play Southern California in Los Angeles Coliseum, which is named after … Los Angeles.

It’s the Coliseum of Angels.

2:51 p.m.

I’m mainly watching Northwestern-Penn State right now, waiting for something to happen. It seems as if the Wildcats have been leading, 14-6, forever.

2:53 p.m.

Something happened. Northwestern’s Anthony Walker returned an interception for a touchdown. The security alert in State College just went up to DEFCON Four, or something like that. It’s been a while since I’ve seen War Games.

3:23 p.m.

The best upsets are completely unexpected, like Indiana over Missouri last week. Or Boston College over Southern Cal. That’s the way I feel about this Northwestern beatdown of Penn State. I didn’t see it coming, and, thus, it fascinates me.

Tennessee is hanging in there at Georgia, but this game has had the look of one that the Bulldogs would manage to win almost from the start, even though the Vols once led, 10-0.

Sure enough, the onsides kick fails.

I’ll finish up my long short story (or short long story) soon. My fiction offerings are at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com. My two novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope, are available at www. amazon.com.

 

Nonplussed

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It's sunset at Fenway. (Monte Dutton)
It’s sunset at Fenway. (Monte Dutton)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, September 25, 2014, 10:02 a.m.

Last night the Red Sox beat the Rays, 11-3. Someone named Garin Cecchini hit a home run. The reigning world champions are nineteen games below .500. The Rays aren’t playoff contenders, either, nor are the Yankees. Late last night, I watched the Dodgers and the Giants in a game that did matter, or at least it did until the Dodgers clinched the National League West by winning.

Vin Scully for everybody!

I’m glad I’ve got a book to write. I’m in a slump. All my favorite teams are losing. I barely watch. For most of the games last night, I was either playing my guitar or had my head buried in John Irving’s A Son of the Circus.

This year, for the first time in twenty-one years, neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees are going to be in the playoffs. I’ve got nothing to love and nothing to hate. Baseball’s going all in … between.

Tonight there’s an NFL game, and, late, there’s a promising college game between UCLA and Arizona State. During the NASCAR years, I went to Sun Devil Stadium many times. Once Hugh Downs was in the next box. He may be there tonight, but I doubt it. He’s ninety-three. Perhaps he was eighty-five or so when I saw him. He seemed to be enjoying himself, chatting with Janet Napolitano, who was then the governor of Arizona and is now the president of the University of California.

But I digress. By rights, this blog should probably be called “But I Digress.” It doesn’t have a name, though, because each time you read it, it could be about anything, just as my other blog, at wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, could be about anything else.

Tonight the “New York Football Giants” – this must be said because there were baseball Giants in New York as recently as 1957, the year before I was born – play the Team No One Dares to Call Redskins on CBS, where, reportedly, Phil Simms will attempt never to use the world “Redskins.” I wonder if electrical-shock treatment is involved. If so, I wish they’d try it for “awfense.”

Who knew? (John Clark photo)
Who knew? (John Clark photo)

There’s a modicum of irony here, for, many years ago, when Phil Simms played college football at Morehead State University, his nickname was … Whitey. Nothing sinister. It’s natural, given his flaxen hair. It just gave me a chuckle.

Cam Newton made me sad last week. He looked like the subject of that Garth Brooks song that says “I’m much too young to feel this damn old.” This week the Panthers play the Baltimore Ravens. My suspicion is that hell hath no fury like Steve Smith. I doubt Carolina can stop Smith; it can only hope to contain him. Perhaps Dan Patrick will say this for the ten thousandth time.

Remember Johnny Manziel? Michael Sam? Robert Griffin III? Clint Bowyer? Did you know Michael Waltrip likes to dance?

Any rebroadcast, retransmission or other use of the descriptions or accounts of this blog are strictly prohibited without the express written permission of me, but don’t sweat it. The odds are overwhelming that I’ll notice, and I won’t even mind, particularly if you buy a copy of one or both my novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope.

Etch a Sketch

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They all get to keep on racing, but less and less get to etch their sketches. (HHP/Garry Eller photo for Chevrolet)
They all get to keep on racing, but less and less get to etch their sketches. (HHP/Garry Eller photo for Chevrolet)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, September 22, 2014, 8:44 a.m.

From far New Hampshire, I watched on TV as another budding superstar, Joey Logano, captured the second race in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, which is the title of the sport’s annual reinvention.

In order to briefly explain it in a way that will confuse those who don’t already know about it, Logano now joins his teammate and fellow Ford pilot, Brad Keselowski, in clinching a spot in the next round, not that it’s particularly urgent, because ten others will advance, too, and then the championship field will be further reduced to eight, and then four, and at the very end, the final four, the surviving denizens of Mount Olympus, will race with everything – everything! – on the line, and it will be the greatest accomplishment, both for NASCAR in general and the champion, not to mention his team, his owner, his sponsors, his manufacturer, and his fans, since Bobbie Sue spotted that fresh loaf of bread cooling on the windowsill and thought, Wouldn’t that be tasty sliced?

The Chase. It took some time to evolve, much the same as Bobbie Sue’s loaf bread.

Then, in another sense, it’s an Etch a Sketch, about the size of what is now known as a “tablet,” not to be confused with aspirin or The Flintstones. It has a drab gray screen and two knobs. One makes the line go left and right, the other up and down. To draw something beautiful, one must learn to work the two knobs in concert, which is an act of remarkable skill, not unlike driving race cars at breakneck speeds but considerably less dangerous.

For three weeks, sixteen drivers vie to remain in the competition.

Joey Lozano has quite a sketch going. (Getty Images for NASCAR)
Joey Lozano has quite a sketch going. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Four whose drawings are, frankly, embarrassing, are eliminated. Then everyone has to shake the Etch a Sketch, and all the work disappears. An Etch a Sketch isn’t state of the art. Any art. It has no memory or USB port. For the next three weeks, twelve are etched down to eight, and then eight are sketched down to four, and in that final celebration of coordinated button turning, four get to perform the ultimate etch. Or sketch.

As amazing as this may seen, many will fall by the wayside for no other reason than shaking their Etch a Sketch prematurely.

I haven’t a clue who the champion will be, but I’m ready to predict he’ll be metaphorical.

This isn’t fiction, but it’s close. For unabashed fiction, read my novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope (www.neverlandpublishing.com), or my short stories (www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com).

No Bowl Implications Necessary

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The Limestone Saints after their first football victory. (Monte Dutton)
The Limestone Saints after their first football victory. (Monte Dutton)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, September 21, 2014, 1:21 p.m.

Football is a game of radical transitions. Presbyterian opened its season losing 55-3 to Northern Illinois. The Blue Hose followed that up with a 69-14 verdict over Bluefield. Obviously, the degree of difficulty changed.

On Saturday night, I visited The Reservation, also the home of the Gaffney High School Indians, to watch Limestone College’s brand-new football team play the College of Faith, which, I kid you not, is an online school. Limestone opened its first season with losses by scores of 38-10 to Wingate and 70-20 to Newberry, then broke the visitors’ Faith by a score of 45-0.

Don’t you think it’s rather interesting that NASCAR fans are forever grousing about races that aren’t spine-tingling, but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone when his (or her) favorite college wins a football game 66-0? It’s just a big party.

The Limestone cheerleaders watch with interest. (Monte Dutton)
The Limestone cheerleaders watch with interest. (Monte Dutton)

That having been said, let me plead “not guilty” for looking forward to covering what I was pretty sure was going to be a Limestone victory. I hoped for some amusement. I had searched the Internet, which seemed to be a logical way to learn about an online college, and found little information about the College of Faith’s football team, which, of course, meant I had to take a leap of faith when I got to The Reservation, where I had a reservation.

The College of Faith roster.
The College of Faith roster.

The visitors brought twenty-nine players, all dressed in fluorescent-green jerseys with forest-green helmets and trousers. The uniforms featured not a stripe or a logo, only block numerals on the front and back of jerseys. I wondered if watching such jerseys on a sunny day might cause retinal discomfort. No one represented the visiting school in the press box, and I soon discovered that the printed roster had little to do with who was who on the field. The public-address announcer had a handwritten roster that, I’m told, a coach scribbled out while the team warmed up. I pointed out that, while my focus was the home team, I’d prefer to refer to the opposition’s players by their actual names, so copies were made of the roster for the benefit of me and my fellow dedicated onlookers. Strangely, the handwritten roster had seven more players than were on the field.

Both teams were Saints. Both entered the game 0-2. Faith had failed at Davidson, 56-0, and Tusculum, 71-0. Originally, the game was supposed to be played in Charlotte, but it was switched to Gaffney, leaving Faith with only two home games, against North Georgia Sports Academy and OC Tech, which I doubt is Orange County (though there is one in North Carolina). I doubt I’ll see Faith play again, but I’d consider an exception if a game with NASCAR Technical Institute was pending.

They weren’t that bad. They had some decent players. They had eight first downs and 105 total yards. Limestone had twenty-six and 508.

Limestone’s just getting started. The school’s commitment to football is demonstrated by the existence of a marching band, and Limestone was decked out in gray jerseys of synthetic fabric made to look slightly like snake skin. I’m not wild about it, but Oregon fans would approve. I’m from a small town. It takes us longer to adjust to fashion, and when we do, the world has already moved on to something else we deem ridiculous.

The little green dots in the distance are College of Faith players. (Monte Dutton)
The little green dots in the distance are College of Faith players. (Monte Dutton)

Furthermore, I thought the homestanding Saints were well-coached, and one of the reasons is that they continued to play well and hard in the fourth quarter when they scored seventeen points with emptied benches. That was really my principal observation, watching the final seven or eight minutes from the sideline, and I asked the head coach, Bobby James, about it.

“Having such a young team, and battling every day, the difference between our starters and the guys who aren’t getting a whole lot of playing time isn’t a whole bunch,” he said. “I think it really reveals some character across our team. The difference between the starters and the guys who come in behind them is really a difference of maturity within our system.”

The game wasn’t a joke, though I told a few. I was honestly impressed with what Limestone is doing, and when I thought about what it must be like on the other sideline – scoreless on the season, giving up 57 points a game – well, I sort of admired how Faith kept things together.

Pun intended.

By the way, Limestone has one senior, Jamar Peete, who played on the school’s national championship lacrosse team. An ebullient kid from Greer, D’Anta Fleming, caught the first two touchdown passes in history. I didn’t talk to Joshua Simmons of Moncks Corner, but he collected three interceptions, all in the first half.

Not a lot at Limestone College is precedented these days.

Read my novel centered on high school football, The Intangibles. It’s that time of year.

Latest Blast from the Past

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J.W. Babb Stadium, Greenwood, South Carolina (Monte Dutton)
J.W. Babb Stadium, Greenwood, South Carolina (Monte Dutton)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, September 20, 2014, 9:15 a.m.

On Friday night, I watched a game at J.W. Babb Stadium for the first time in thirty-four years. The last time I watched the Greenwood Eagles play, the football coach was J.W. Babb.

Pinky.

He was a curious man, difficult to interview. He seemed baffled by every question. I was just out of college. I was baffled by most of my own questions. He coached there for thirty-nine years, won 336 games and nine state championships.

Both of the proud programs that played there last night, Greenwood (1-3) and Spartanburg (2-2), are taking some lumps. That didn’t make the game any less interesting. I didn’t go to either school. I hadn’t watched their other games. The one I saw was interesting. I just went there looking for something to write. I got it.

The stadium, by the way, was the same, at least in terms of concrete seating. An elaborate score and message board has been erected. A three-story press box has replaced an old one that I sat in several times but don’t remember.

The biggest change in high school football is, simply, the points. Compared to “my day,” lots of plays look like the only thing missing is the Stanford band. A typical score is, oh, 44-27 (Broome over Newberry, last night).

Greenwood beat Spartanburg, 17-2. Neither Eagle touchdown was offensive, though Viking fans may have found them that way. Greenwood defenders produced scores on the game’s second play from scrimmage and its second from last. Both were interceptions. In between, Spartanburg scored a safety on an unfortunate punt snap, and Greenwood kicked a 20-yard field goal.

It was exciting enough for me to concoct a decent story and for the radio crew sitting in front of me to be hysterical for a good portion of the game. I didn’t mind the noise. I used to write about race cars, and they knew the visiting team better than I, and that didn’t hurt my story, either.

I got the story started in the press box and got it finished and sent at a nearby McDonald’s. Then I drove home and read a book till I got sleepy.

Covering high school football is sort of like returning to the frontier. Those misty yards are where I started. The athletes aren’t as fast. The coaches don’t make as much money.

They’re just as interesting, though, and when I’m writing my story, I don’t have to mingle with a herd.

Perhaps you were wondering why my second novel, The Intangibles, centers on a high school football team?

Up This Hill and Down

 

It's a wasteland out there, but it's a pretty wasteland. (Monte Dutton)
It’s a wasteland out there, but it’s a pretty wasteland. (Monte Dutton)

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Brad Keselowski won last week. I expect "Keselowski" and "momentum" to pop up in the same sentences. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski won last week. I expect “Keselowski” and “momentum” to pop up in the same sentences. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, September 19, 2014, 8:06 a.m.

The NASCAR gypsies are off in New Hampshire, chasing each other and whatnot, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. might say. Last night, thank goodness for The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, which I have been watching instead of sports all week. Every so often, I’d check on the football games, which were noteworthy for their general dearth of drama. Apparently, the Atlanta Falcons were playing an FCS team. Auburn spent the evening maintaining a modest comfort level over Kansas State. Various compass points were burying other compass points.

This was all based on what little I saw, which was also what little I needed. The Pirates were finishing off a three-game sweep of the Red Sox, of whom the best that can be said of the season is that they spent all of it on the disabled list.

Eleanor, Franklin, and Theodore. It might make a song. Hard to rhyme, though. Ellie, Frank, and Teddy? Rhymes with “ready.”

I’m getting accustomed to this laptop. I got an email informing me that the old one is ready to be picked up. That’ll have to wait until tomorrow because I can pick it up on the way to Gaffney. Then I’ll have access to all the photos in the old one, and I’ll have two. Most of my writing will be on this one.

To echo Walter Cronkite, that’s the way it is this morning. I wonder how many are reading this who don’t know who that was. Lots of times, my references are dated. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Someone checks Wikipedia.

To summarize, without going unnecessarily into specifics, Brad Keselowski won the Chase opener in Joliet, Illinois. If he wins either or both of the next two, it will mean as little as possible.

In the next two NASCAR races, everyone is trying to be 12th. Then it’ll be eighth, and, then, for the final race, four will battle for “all the marbles,” which is a strange currency, but I’d like to watch when the Brinks truck arrives.

I’m reading a John Irving novel. Tonight I’ll probably be filing a story from a McDonald’s. I don’t think they’ll say anything as long as I order something from the dollar menu.

With a little luck, I’ll get the fortieth chapter of my manuscript – first draft, that is – written today. The latest important development is that it has a name, Forgive Us Our Trespasses. Yesterday a kid got murdered because he was unlucky. It happens all the time in Latimohr, which, thankfully, is an imaginary town.

Most of what I write here happens. Most of www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com is imaginary. That’s my rationalization for why they both exist. I had to work myself into this coherence.

Believe it or not, I have two novels that are already on the market. The Audacity of Dope is about an irreverent songwriter who becomes an unlikely hero. The Intangibles is set in s small Southern town in the sixties, amid integration, civil rights, violence, sex, drugs, bigotry, and, of course, high school football. You want to read both. After all, you read this.

A Contradiction in Terms

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I've heard they still practice on practice fields. (Monte Dutton)
I’ve heard they still practice on practice fields. (Monte Dutton)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, September 18, 2014, 11:08 a.m.

There’s no crying in baseball.

I’ll concede that point and raise you one.

There’s no press in the press box. I got that message this morning from a high school athletic director and without a trace of irony.

“I’m sorry but during the game we don’t allow press in press box.”

I’m back to the basics of love.

And that guy just guaranteed it’s going to rain.

I’d be willing to spearhead a movement to have the facilities popularly referred to as press boxes changed to Coaches’ Wives Box. Or Radio/TV Box. Or Place Prominent People Go When It Rains.

It’s the same way I feel every time I’m sitting at a basketball game when the public-address announcer – I wonder if the athletic director ever told anyone, “Hey, sorry, but there’s no talking in the microphone” – says “media timeout.”

Bull. It’s a TV timeout, or it was until radio broadcasters wanted them, too. It’s a radio/TV timeout, not a media timeout. I’m pretty sure if I was at courtside and started waving my hands – and yelling, “Hey! Ref! I’m getting a little behind. Little help, all right?” – not only would there be no timeout. I would be escorted out, at a minimum, and, quite possibly, detained by gendarmes.

I wonder if there’s Twitter in the press box.

Read my novel The Intangibles, which is about the South, sixties, civil rights, desegregation, bigotry, sex, drugs, and high school football. They still had press boxes back then.

I Shot a Day Just to Watch It Die

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Charleston, South Carolina. (Monte Dutton)
Charleston, South Carolina. (Monte Dutton)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 10:17 p.m.

It’s a miracle. I’ve gotten this contraption to work. Another contraption might soon be working better. It is, however, a long story. Yesterday, I wrote a blog on my “writing” (as if I don’t write here) site, www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com. Most of the time, I’m more of a sportswriter here. I’m more of a novelist, short-story writer and songwriter there. Anyway, yesterday morning, I was attempting in vain to be funny, as usual, and wrote about my increasing frustrations with my balky keyboard. Then I started working on my manuscript (finished, at last, the 38th chapter), and it stopped being funny.

mug Dutton Monte 2_WEBIt requires (and still did when I left my Sony laptop at the Best Buy in Spartanburg) great effort to get the “U” to work, “Q,” and, most damnably, “C” are also tiresome, “E” a little. I finally got fed up with it and set out to: (a.) get it fixed (I’d already tried); and (b.) get a new one. The Sony has been a wonderful workhorse but it’s aged, and I’d like to turn it into an apparatus that fills the function a desktop once filled, parked in my “office” (I do virtually all my writing in the living room) and connected to the big printer (that also isn’t working properly) and the backup drive. Then I’d get the best deal I could on a new one. The old Vaio has a power outlet that could fall off at any time, this the result of being carted around on too many airplanes and in the trunks of too many automobiles, and so I resolved to let it sit idly in stately semiretirement.

First, I made the mistake of attempting to service it locally. During an hour’s consultation, I talked with a man who would agree to do nothing I wished done but made a great show of telling me that almost everything in Laurens County and beyond – loss of privacy, domestic violence, traffic tickets, Ebola, ISIS, a local murder case, and barbecue in other places – is a result of “socialism.” He didn’t want to work on my laptop, and he didn’t want to work on my printer. He reminded me of a shade-tree mechanic in the age of sensors and diagnostic computers. I concluded that he didn’t know what to do with anything that didn’t have a floppy disk.

I tried. Really, I did.

It was off, reluctantly, to Spartanburg, where I thought past affiliations with the Geek Squad might give me an edge.

Now, briefly, I’m fairly modern. I’ve got a tablet that plugs into a keyboard. Perhaps there live those who can write something as brief as this and as long as a novel by pecking away at tiny video keys, but I’m not going to let the diligent work of Mrs. Savage, teaching me how to type in the ninth grade, go to waste.

If you’ve been wondering why I wrote this blog, it’s to get myself accustomed to this contraption. When I got home, I couldn’t get the keyboard to work. I now believe it’s because this sleek little number wasn’t fully charged.

The Geek Squad has the workhorse. I’m picking her up on the way to Gaffney Saturday.

Tomorrow I’ll try to perform the daunting task of installing some stuff from the aforementioned backup drive. Then maybe subsequent blogs will have photos and/or illustrations in them again.

Thanks to my new investment, it’s never been more important that you definitely buy, and preferably read, my novels The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope. Tell amazon.com Monte sent you.