A Matter of Knowing How to Win

Let the game begin! (Monte Dutton photo)
Let the game begin! (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, November 29, 2015, 11:01 a.m.

Under cover of spreading darkness, I wandered away from my college football bunker last night. I needed a refuge from the carpal thumb syndrome of checking back and forth between Clemson-Carolina, Ohio State-Michigan, and, just for kicks, Duke-Wake Forest.

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

As much as I hated to leave the second halves of late-afternoon rivalries to their own devices — because, as you know, each of us, in the privacy of our living rooms, plays a small role in the outcome of every game we watch, so that’s why we wear “gear” and good-luck socks — I drove over to Templeton Center so that I could watch the 168th or 175th men’s basketball meeting between the colleges Wofford and Presbyterian.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

The number of meetings is a matter of conflict between the two schools’ fact sheets. I told PC’s sports information director, Simon Whitaker, he should accept the Wofford totals because the Blue Hose had won more that way.

He took it under advisement. SIDs often do that.

It was an entertaining game, probably more so because I was paying attention to it for money. I attend most Presbyterian home games, but when I’m sitting in the stands, my mind wanders, and what little attention I pay is to uncalled traveling violations, how the refs need to get visiting players off home players’ backs, and other “back in my day” rants that men yell as they get older and grumpier.

DeSean Murray hits a free throw. (Monte Dutton photo)
Desean Murray hits a free throw. (Monte Dutton photo)

At the media table, I never raise my voice. I exchange satirical comments with those sitting nearby.

I look at the forest, not the trees.

Sometimes a game is a matter of tactics and circumstance. At such games, one must pay heed to defenses and ball movement and unforeseen developments (such as, “big guy in foul trouble”).

PC's Gregg Nibert (Monte Dutton photo)
PC’s Gregg Nibert (Monte Dutton photo)

Wofford-Presbyterian was no such contest. Both teams played hard. Presbyterian wanted to win. Wofford knew how.

In my mind, that’s why the Terriers did. I sensed it from the opening tap, after which the Blue Hose rolled out to a 10-3 lead. It was a burst of frantic enthusiasm, a release of pent-up emotion, and, meanwhile, Wofford took it in and regrouped. The Terriers took the lead at 14-12 and never trailed again.

Wofford's Mike Young. (Monte Dutton photo)
Wofford’s Mike Young. (Monte Dutton photo)

The elegant practicality of senior Spencer Collins characterized Wofford. Collectively, his teammates guarded the lead throughout the second half, but it was Collins who calmly popped a three, or snared a rebound, each time the Blue Hose pulled to within three, or four, or five. He scored 21, hitting four of six from “behind the arc.”

Meanwhile, DeSean Murray put the Blue Hose on his back with 24 points. Fifteen of his 16 shots were from “inside the arc,” and he hit 10 of them. Ed Drew had nine points and eight rebounds. John Majors II came off the bench to score seven.

Wofford won, 68-58. The Terriers never lost control, but the spectators never lost interest, either.

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

Presbyterian (3-3) faces Gardner-Webb at home on Wednesday. The Blue Hose are in the Big South, so it doesn’t matter as much that they’ve lost three games to Southern Conference opponents. Wofford (2-3) is in the Southern Conference but has lost to Missouri and North Carolina already.

The Terriers and their head coach, Mike Young (48-20 in the two previous seasons), came to and left Clinton confident. Gregg Nibert, in his 27th year with the Blue Hose, is still blending in elements of a team that is young and athletic. It knows how to play. It must learn how to win. It sounds simple. It isn’t.

That elusive Fighting Blue Hose Spirit. The fans all love the taste, but they’re having trouble with the recipe.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Please take a look at my fiction (and writing, and review) blog at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com.

My latest novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

Most of my books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

Thanks, Too, for the Hard Times That Make Us Better

El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico (Monte Dutton photo)
El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, November 26, 2015, 8:42 a.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

It’s Thanksgiving. Cool. It’s my favorite holiday. It’s all good. The Christmas season has a bitter edge because sometimes the pettiness in people comes out. Everyone seems to dwell on the positive on Thanksgiving, or at least that’s the way it is in my family. It wouldn’t surprise me if we were atypical. It’s par for the course.

Thanksgiving is most likely pleasant because we’re thankful. No need to overthink this matter.

It seems logical to consider giving thanks as Job One on Thanksgiving. That’s why God made Black Friday tomorrow. In His wisdom, He also allowed football games for all the conscientious objectors who think it’s wrong to declare war on Walmart.

It's a desert. A painted desert. In Arizona. (Monte Dutton photo)
It’s a desert. A painted desert. In Arizona. (Monte Dutton photo)

Football games and leftovers that include oyster stew relieved of all oysters, outlandish sandwiches made with lots of mayo, dark meat from the turkey, and, oh, maybe, a layer of dressing. And some cranberry sauce. On the side? Got any potato chips? No? All right. Green bean casserole.

The sweets will be long gone.

Thank you, God, for food and that it didn’t kill me. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. Or fatter. I can’t remember which and whether it’s either, or and. Or and either. Neither and nor. Pondering grammar takes one’s attention off gastric distress.

But, seriously …

South Mountain State Park, overlooking Phoenix. (Monte Dutton photo)
South Mountain State Park, overlooking Phoenix. (Monte Dutton photo)

I’m thankful for those who paid me to write, from the distant Amazon towers on the banks of the Internet River to the principalities hard by the great river’s tributaries. I still show up occasionally on rags delivered by trucks and kids riding bicycles.

Are there still paperboys? Probably not, huh.

Those who paid me to write would not have done so had it not been for those who read. As I used to say when I left press boxes, thanks for putting up with me.

I’m thankful for those who care about me and what I do, and those about whom I care and what they do.

Friday night. (Monte Dutton photo)
Friday night. (Monte Dutton photo)

I’m thankful for this town because everyone should have something he completely understands.

I’m thankful for my many mentors and apologetic to those whom I have influenced.

I’m thankful for life’s greatest defense, the sense of humor.

I’m thankful for other writers, but what I really need are more readers.

I’m thankful for hope, for self-confidence, and for the belief that, after years of struggle, one morning I’m going to awaken as an overnight sensation.

Ormond Beach, Fla. (Monte Dutton photo)
Ormond Beach, Fla. (Monte Dutton photo)

This … still … lies … ahead. I have it in me. But what if I don’t? Big deal. The one sure path to failure is giving up. The change that occurs at this point in life is a willingness to accept failure if one’s efforts fall shy. It’s not the same as giving up. It’s a matter of saying, I’m not there yet. I will continue to get better.

According to a Shelby Foote book, The Civil War, a Confederate soldier at Gettysburg yelled, “We’ll fight them, sir, till hell freezes over, and then, sir, we will fight them on the ice.”

His odds might be the same as mine.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

Not only do I have a novel for you to read … by gosh, I’ve got three. They’re all available here. The Audacity of Dope is about a pot-smoking songwriter who becomes an unlikely hero. The Intangibles, set in 1968, is about change in a small Southern town.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

The latest, Crazy of Natural Causes, is about a Kentucky football coach who loses everything and reinvents himself. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

If you’ve read my books, I’d appreciate the favor of a short review on amazon.com, or goodreads.com, or your blog, or your emails, or your chitchat in the line at the grocery store. Every little bit helps.

Every Season Has Its Moments

It's a beautiful season. (Monte Dutton photo)
It’s a beautiful season. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 9:55 a.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Time passes. Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving. NASCAR is over. All the football teams I watch in person — Clinton and Laurens Highs, Presbyterian College and Furman University — have completed their schedules, winning a collective 15 games in 44 tries. They had their moments: the Red Devils’ win over Woodruff, Raiders over Greenwood, Blue Hose over Kennesaw State and Paladins over Central Florida.

Presbyterian College head coach Harold Nichols (Monte Dutton photo)
Presbyterian College head coach Harold Nichols (Monte Dutton photo)

Presbyterian had the most losses but also played the closest games. They didn’t get clobbered by anyone other than Charlotte, and the 49ers didn’t clobber anyone else. Go figure.

At the same time, a college football team in South Carolina is ranked No. 1 in the nation. Clemson should get no stern test from South Carolina on Saturday, but, as roughly one in three South Carolinians has said at least sometime this week, stranger things have happened.

If the Gamecocks beat the Tigers, would that boost The Citadel into the BCS? Or, if Clemson then lost to North Carolina, would that boost the Gamecocks?

Darrell Bridges was PC's only reliable offensive threat. (Monte Dutton)
Darrell Bridges was PC’s only reliable offensive threat. (Monte Dutton)

A thousand times no. A thousand times for good reasons. A game does not a season make.

Clinton's Tay Cook (3) squares off against his Broome counterpart. (Monte Dutton photo)
Clinton’s Tay Cook (3) squares off against his Broome counterpart. (Monte Dutton photo)

But, as roughly one in five South Carolinians has said at least sometime this week, that’s why they play the games. Another South Carolinian in five has noted that Clemson is better on paper, but they don’t play games on paper.

Meanwhile, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has spent most of the week on the topic of his Tigers playing their games one at a time, which isn’t that unique.

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

Football, even with all my teams strewn along the roadside of the game of football (which, I’ve been told by coaches, is a lot like the game of life), has far to go. The playoffs. The bowls. The bands. The Paul Finebaum Show.

It’s so much easier to cast harsh judgments upon the detached vantage point of the television screen. Doomed efforts are more laudable up close and personal.

I’m also invested in them. I have diplomas from Clinton High and Furman. I remember playing football behind the end zones at the old Presbyterian stadium, the one with the smokestack that ran through the middle of the press box. At the same time the Blue Hose were playing for real, the kids of Clinton were playing for play.

The "new" Bailey Memorial Stadium. Lacrosse is now played in the old one. (Monte Dutton photo)
The “new” Bailey Memorial Stadium. Lacrosse is now played in the old one. (Monte Dutton photo)

I love the light this time of year. In the autumn, the colors — especially when the sun starts to dip to the horizon, flicker through the trees and cast dramatic shadows — seem brighter. Somehow, it doesn’t seem as noticeable in the spring. The winter is dour, the summer bleached.

This is the best time. Even when football is the worst in my memory on the local front, this is the best time.

The Blue Hose managed to close the season with a 14-6 victory over Kennesaw State. (Monte Dutton photo)
The Blue Hose managed to close the season with a 14-6 victory over Kennesaw State.
(Monte Dutton photo)

Until recently, well, three years now, it was when I tramped home from NASCAR, perhaps after an extra day or two in the Keys.

Now I ache a little. I wish all these coaches I’ve gotten to know could have done better, could have ended their seasons with more security and satisfaction, and the kids, who gave so much and received in return so little … I hope they carry something positive with them into life, where, as hard as this is to believe, the cheap shots are more prevalent and the officiating worse.

All in all, like Smokey Robinson, I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’re so inclined, I hope you’ll read my current novel, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s an ebook you can download for a mere $3.49 here. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

In the off chance that you read Crazy and enjoyed it, please consider my earlier novels, The Audacity of Dope and The Intangibles. Most of my books, fiction and non-, are available here. Print editions of the first two novels are available. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

 

It’s Easy to Root for the Winners

A jolly good time before an excruciating Paladin loss. (Monte Dutton photo)
A jolly good time before an excruciating Paladin loss. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, November 20, 2015, 10:04 a.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

The smell of beef wafts through the house. Sometime this afternoon, I’ll season the chili I’m taking to the final Presbyterian College home football game against a college named Kennesaw, its name apparently derived from a Georgia mountain of the same name. I visited Kennesaw Mountain one time to delve into a Civil War battle there. The name also conjures up the punch line of an old Furman Bisher column:

There’ll be a snow cap on Kennesaw Mountain the next time anyone around here believes in a baseball team again.

They are the Owls, Kennesaw.

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

Football season has left me with pangs of conscience. Clinton High School had its third straight losing season, Furman University is about to complete its second, and Presbyterian College, 6-5 a year ago, takes on Kennesaw dragging a 1-9 and hoping to avoid double figures. The Owls are 6-4 and have defeated two schools, Gardner-Webb and Monmouth, that felled the Blue Hose.

Last week I watched the Paladins fall in overtime to Mercer. They’ll be trying for 5-6 at Wofford.

The conscience pangs stem from the fact that I’ve enjoyed watching and writing about all those efforts that have fallen short. It’s supposed to hurt more. It’s supposed to put me in a rotten mood. It’s supposed to make me want to … drink.

Well, maybe, one out of four.

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

While inexplicably undaunted by football futility, I’m encouraged by the local basketball prospects, probably in small part because they aren’t related to ill-fated football. The Presbyterian men are 2-1, having lost to Furman and defeated USC Upstate and Toccoa Falls thus far. After the Saturday afternoon football game, the Blue Hose who bounce balls on purpose will take on The Citadel less than half a mile from Bailey Memorial Stadium in Templeton Center.

Presbyterian 74, USC Upstate 73. (Monte Dutton photo)
Presbyterian 74, USC Upstate 73. (Monte Dutton photo)

Templeton Center opened while I was in high school. Time flies like the wind, and fruit flies like a banana. (I’m paraphrasing Groucho Marx, a man who could turn a phrase.)

When I watch football games on TV these days, I find myself instinctively rooting for whoever is behind. It’s a conditioned response I’d prefer to discard.

After all these decades of playing football, and working for an athletic program, and writing about sports that include one with fast cars going around and around for just short of what seems like infinity, I’m taking advantage of a certain distance.

Zac Ray (64) and Kris Holmes return to the sideline at the end of a long night. (Monte Dutton photo)
Clinton High’s Zac Ray (64) and Kris Holmes return to the sideline. The Red Devils finished 3-7. (Monte Dutton photo)

Standing around under a pop-up tent, sampling the cuisine and libations, hobnobbing and kibitzing and mingling, has been great fun. It makes it all more personal. Many of my Furman friends are ex-athletes. Many of my Presbyterian friends are the parents of athletes. Seeing them on a regular basis has become as much a joy of the fall as the changing of the leaves.

Tonight I’ve got a long road trip to Rock Hill, there to describe the Laurens District 55 High School Raiders (6-5) taking what seems the hopeless measure of Northwestern (10-1).

Into all sports, some rain must fall. This fall has been torrential.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Fortunately, I’ve got books to sell. You can download this one, my latest, for a mere $3.49. I’m satisfied it’s worth the money, and most of those who have read it seem to agree. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

As a matter of fact, I’ve got lots of books to sell. If you’ve already read Crazy of Natural Causes, perhaps you’ll take a look at my first two, The Audacity of Dope and The Intangibles. They are also quite reasonably priced. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The deadline is just about up, but you’ve still got till Sunday night to nominate my next novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, for publication, and if it is, in fact, published, you’ll receive a free download. It takes one more click after this one. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/A20FEF33PZP1

 

 

In the Cold Arizona Rain

Many NASCAR fans wanted the Phoenix race to end this way, but not exactly this way. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Many NASCAR fans wanted the Phoenix race to end this way, but not exactly this way. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, November 16, 2015, 2:45 p.m.

Sunday didn’t wind up being laid out in the manner I’d envisioned. Sunday missed deadline. Sunday spilled over into Monday.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

A 312-mile NASCAR race near Phoenix, Arizona, of all places, was delayed all afternoon and halted prematurely due to rain. I had planned to be done with the chores of producing a weekly Bleacher Report column — writing, advise and consent with the home office, assembling quotes from emails, choosing photos, a statistical table, adding items from Twitter and YouTube, the usual — by about the middle of the second quarter of the Sunday night football game.

The race leaned heavily on midnight. I got through about three. I’m not even sure who played in the football game. I was too keyed up to sleep and went to bed at four.

Both Dale Earnhardt Jr. (left) and Kevin Harvick have won three races this year. Harvick has finished second 12 times. (HHP/Garry Eller photo for Chevy Racing)
Both Dale Earnhardt Jr. (left) and Kevin Harvick have won three races this year. Harvick has finished second 12 times. (HHP/Garry Eller photo for Chevy Racing)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race for no good reason other than knowing how to be on pit road when a caution flag, one of only two in the whole race, waved. Either he or crew chief Greg Ives must moonlight as psychics.

Somebody had to win. Somebody had to finish second, and, surprise, it was Kevin Harvick for the 12th time this year.

 

Jeff Gordon is seeking a fifth championship and first since 2001. (Garry Eller/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon is seeking a fifth championship and first since 2001. (Garry Eller/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Had the 93 laps that were washed away forever been run, much would have undoubtedly turned out differently. Mother Nature is rarely inclined to compromise, though, so chalk up the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 to the vagaries of what might have been rather than those of what did. The night wasn’t particularly heroic.

It was particularly soggy. It could have been the Quicken Loans Race for Wetness 500, and if “500” had meant miles and not kilometers, 219 laps wouldn’t have been enough to end it.

Thank God for the metric system.

Instead of the race rising to a competitive crescendo in the waning laps, it waned early and Chase survival wound up being a matter of free passes and wave-arounds.

Earnhardt could have won the race in a Zamboni, though track position might have been tough before the rain.

In a season in which the Roger Penske-owned Fords of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski flashed strength, and a Chase with Joe Gibbs’ stable of Toyotas — Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin — and Penske’s Fords combining for five victories in the first six races, a turnabout occurred without the benefit of fair play.

Now it’s down to four drivers, all even, as football referees say, “by rule.” Three of them — Jeff Gordon, Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. — drive Chevrolets, which have clinched the manufacturer championship for the 13th year in a row, and the season’s three biggest race winners — Logano (6), Kenseth (5) and Jimmie Johnson (5) — haven’t gone home but they’re going to be listed in the history of this season as footnotes.

If winning the championship were still based on season-long performance, the finalists would be, following the mode of regular-season allocation, first (Harvick), fifth (Truex), 10th (Gordon) and 20th (Kyle Busch).

But it’s not, and it hasn’t been since 2003, and it’s not going to come back, and the best that can be hoped is that NASCAR won’t try to jazz it up even more with caution flags for fireworks displays, bonus points behind Door No. 3, demerits for remarks detrimental to the sport of stock car racing, discarded finishes, debris scattered like confetti (oh, wait, they have that already) and a championship conducted under the auspices of DraftKings.

The potential Cinderella champion is Martin Truex Jr. (Garry Eller/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)
The potential Cinderella champion is Martin Truex Jr. (Garry Eller/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

That way the fans can share in the bucks!

With the exception of no Fords being left to contend, the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami is destined to produce fodder for inspirational stories. Gordon could bow out a champion. Harvick could make it two in a row. For Kyle Busch, it would be like finding the Holy Grail, and Truex is from a single-car team, and if he wins it, it will seem afterward as if he was born in a log cabin and taught himself to read and write just in time to cure cancer and bring peace to the Middle East.

Then, basking in the rosy glow of the Holidays, everyone will forget how much the racing sucked.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Reading my novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, will help you forget how much the racing sucked. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

If you think it would be cool for me to get another KindleScout novel published, you can help by nominating my latest, Forgive Us Our Trespasses. Click here. Then once more, and you’re done. If it wins, you’ll get a free download. The campaign runs through Saturday, November 21. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/A20FEF33PZP1

Intangibles1

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

My first novel, The Audacity of Dope, was about a chase, and my second, The Intangibles, is set back in 1968, when men were men and air conditioning was for sissies. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

Each week I write a NASCAR column at Bleacher Report. Here’s the latest: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2589829-weather-favors-dale-earnhardt-jr-at-phoenix-and-shapes-the-chase-finals

 

Trial and Error

Because flying is better from a distance, I used to enjoy watching planes land and take off at Sky Harbor International Airport from South Mountain  State Park south of Phoenix. (Monte Dutton photo)
Because flying is better from a distance, I used to enjoy watching planes land and take off at Sky Harbor International Airport from South Mountain State Park south of Phoenix. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, November 13, 2015, 12:58 p.m.

Among the things that I love more than Sunday School and church / Is drinking cold beer with my buddies at the pool hall after work.

No, it was not I. I've never even driven a Lexus.
Monte Dutton (John Clark photo).

It’s from one of the first songs I wrote, “A Wild Side of Me.” I had just about forgotten about it until it occurred to me to write this blog beginning with, “Among the things …”

Instead of beginning this blog that way — well, exactly that way — instead I grabbed my trusty Pawless and tried to play that song. I got through two of the three verses without a hitch.

Now I’m back to the blog.

When a blog begins “among the things” — and, yes, this one still does — it sometimes means that the author doesn’t have anything cohesive to write. He still aspires for coherence.

This morning I’ve been catching up on business — oh, yes, even though I’m a writer, I’m still in business — and few great works of literature, or even blogosphere, have occurred in the time immediately after basic works of mathematics.

Fortunately, I do lots of thinking in my spare time. The trick is remembering the individual nuggets. I’m getting better since I have one of those cell phones whose tech is still high even though it’s not the latest model. For items like simple lyrics, pungent observations, and grocery lists, “phones with mobility” are great.

Imagine a durable cocktail napkin.

I can never figure while polo never made it big.

In my lifetime, football tackling has gotten worse, but causing fumbles has gotten better. On most pass plays, everyone interferes. Deep down, no one really knows what a catch is in the end zone. Replays are already too screwed up. The least they can do is get them right.

The city is conducting a $60,000 study on how it can reduce our electricity rates. It stems from that pleasant sunny day when we all walked out to our mailboxes and discovered our bills had doubled. Study? Little late, ain’t it? It reminds me of the late Tim Wilson’s comedy routine about going to the bank and discovering there was a $3 service charge for a balance inquiry.

How much money I got in the bank?

Twenty-seven dollars. No, wait. Twenty-four.

How much?

Twenty-one.

In other words, ma’am, presumably, if I ask you seven more times how much money I got in the bank, I ain’t got no money!

Someone told me — he was a Geezinslaw, as I recall — that Austin, Texas, once conducted a $250,000 study on whether or not it was possible to turn an air base into an airport.

Here in town, I reckon we didn’t do so badly. Our city fathers and mothers are just spending enough money to eat up whatever can be saved by the study they’re conducting.

It’s enough to make me sound like I’m conservative. Aaaaiiiiieeee! No! No! Anything but that!

If Ben Carson becomes president, I hope that doesn’t mean John Kasich gets to operate on my brain.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Okay, now it’s time to get blatantly commercial. I don’t have a Super PAC. I run a Mini PAC through Amazon that just tries to sell my books, not make me president. Here’s a heap of them. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Another one, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is now in its own campaign. Reader nominations comprise the first stage of the process. I’m of the belief that the quality of the manuscript is a bigger stage, but when Crazy of Natural Causes was chosen for publication through KindleScout, it had about three times as many nominations as this one does now. In other words, I could use your help. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/A20FEF33PZP1

Finally, Crazy of Natural Causes had a fine sales month in October because it was on sale. Now it takes a whole $3.49 to download it again, but just think about it. If you buy it now, at $3.49, I will make slightly more money. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

 

 

 

The King of Laurens

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, November 7, 2015, 12:30 p.m.

Last night I got home late from writing about the high school football game between Laurens and Greenwood, won by the former, 17-14, and ending a long losing streak by the Raiders to the Eagles, and I couldn’t go to sleep, which is common for me after I’ve been out on assignment.

I watched Brigham Young play San Jose State for no apparent reason. I did more thinking than watching.

Laurens is 6-5 overall, 4-0 when I’ve written about their games. It is merely a coincidence, though not one I’m likely to volunteer freely while walking the streets of Clinton.

No, it was not I. I've never even driven a Lexus.
MonteDutton (John Clark photo).

Greenwood — a team that had knocked Westside from the ranks of the unbeatens a week earlier, and won by the “I don’t care who you got it from, that score’s got to be backward” score of 55-7 — barely budged against the Raiders on this Friday night.

It’s what has inspired many a devoted coach to stand at attention, put his cap over his heart, and say, solemnly, “That’s just the game of football.”

But I wrote about the game already, and you can read what I wrote here: http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22145

At Greenwood High School’s J.W. Babb Stadium — I worked at the newspaper in that town when Babb, known as “Pinky” everywhere but the sign on the stadium scoreboard, was winding down his legendary career in 1981 — I sat in the row behind the Laurens District 55 High School broadcast crew, consisting of Doug Holliday, whom I’ve known for 30 years, and King Dixon, whose exploits have been repeated to me all my life.

Dixon was the star of the Laurens Tigers — they started “raiding” when they took on the district in the early 1970s — while my late father played at Clinton in the 1950s. Dixon went on to the University of South Carolina, the Marine Corps and, for a time, served as athletic director at his alma mater.

He is as pleasant a man as I have known. My mother says he was that way when he was singlehandedly, to hear the stories, burying my father’s Red Devils. By the time I came along, Laurens didn’t have a King Dixon. It was apparently the only reason we won.

Listening to Dixon announce a Raider game is unique. Imagine the late Larry Munson as an analyst. Holliday is his straight man, mainly just the facts, pickup of three, down and distance. It’s as if Holliday is playing chords so that Dixon can riff.

And now I’m laughing at the image of King Dixon playing a Stratocaster.

He spells a lot. “P-R-I-D-E. That’s pride. The Raiders are playing with a lot of pride, Doug.”

Occasionally, when a play is really important, Dixon will blurt something like, oh, “Miss it!”

He regularly calls for the manly virtues of hard work, valor, integrity and character, and cites them as vital ingredients in every Laurens first down. Dixon is more than old school. He had already graduated when the old school was built.

Many years ago, the Gamecock beat reporter of a major South Carolina daily was driving through Georgia listening to the radio when he suddenly pulled off the highway and called the office. Being the USC man didn’t mean the writer was immune to covering high school games on Friday nights.

The scribe was unaware of Dixon’s past as a schoolboy hero, a Gamecock hero, a military hero.

“Hey,” he said, “I just heard that USC named King Dixon athletic director.”

“Yeah. When you get back, we need you to get right on that story.”

“Wait a minute,” he said. “The only King Dixon I ever heard of is that crazy man who announces Laurens games on the radio.”

Standing in a small group at a local function some months back, I told that story. King was in the group.

He laughed twice as hard as everyone else.

 

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I would have taken a photo to accompany this blog, but, at the time, I had no idea this was what I was going to write. It happens a lot.

Help me get my next novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, published. Just click here, and then click “nominate” (after sampling it and seeing that you like it), and, if it is published, you’ll get a free download. How about that? https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/A20FEF33PZP1

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Perhaps you’d like to read my current Amazon novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, which will set you back a mere $3.49. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

 

Building My Inventory

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, November 5, 2015, 10:34 a.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

No overarching topic exists for me to write about this morning. No. One exists. It just eludes me.

This is as it has been for several days. Oh, I’ve been writing. The current crisis in the Third World kingdom, Nascaria, led to several unexpected assignments in the free-lance realm.

Then, of course, was that post-baseball onset of weeknight games from the Mid-American Conference, and no one misses those. Did you know Toledo lost?

So much is going on that it’s easy to be bogged down.

My next novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, a crime thriller, is up for publication at KindleScout, where Crazy of Natural Causes was e-published. I’d like for you to consider it, and, if you like it, click “nominate” and that will help demonstrate to Amazon popular support for my next novel. If Forgive Us Our Trespasses is published, you will receive a free download.

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/A20FEF33PZP1

I’m writing a fifth, Cowboys Come Home, a modern western about a pair of Texans coming home from World War II.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes sold well during October, when it was promoted by Amazon and sale-priced at $1.99. Now that it’s back to an exorbitant $3.49, you can still buy it and I will make slightly more from your purchase.

http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

Though I’ve never fully understood why, this is what is probably called “a housekeeping blog.” When I’m at some gathering, and the speaker says, “But, first, a few housekeeping items,” I always expect to hear vacuum cleaners switching on.

By now, many of you have read at least one of my novels. More have read Crazy of Natural Causes than the two that preceded it. I want you to feel so entertained by my fiction that you just can’t pass up the chance to read the rest of it.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

Here is a brief description of each:

  1. The Audacity of Dope (2011): A pot-smoking songwriter, Riley Mansfield, reluctantly becomes a national hero and doesn’t much like it. Powerful forces want to make sure Riley doesn’t know the whole story.
  2. The Intangibles (2013): A Southern town and its high school football team try to deal with integration, bigotry, and corruption, circa 1968. Blacks and whites stand together and apart.
  3. (Melanie Ryon cover design)
    (Melanie Ryon cover design)

    Crazy of Natural Causes (2015): A good cop takes on a ruthless prosecutor with political ambitions. The solicitor, Denny Frawley, is headed to the governorship if he can offset an alcoholic wife, conniving mistress, and drug-dealing twins. Hal Kinley doesn’t just want to stop Frawley. He also wants to save his son.

For many years, I wrote non-fiction books, most about NASCAR, which was mostly a different sport then. You can find those books here.

http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

The Long, Quiet Autumn

Presbyterian defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler (in black) makes some recommendations. (Monte Dutton photo)
Presbyterian defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler (in black) makes some recommendations during a game earlier this season. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, October 31, 2015, 2:23 p.m.

I’m looking live at Crocker Field, on which Presbyterian College plays football, but I’d have to stand up to see most of Bailey Memorial Stadium, from which fans watch the Blue Hose in action. Today is rife with opportunity for, while PC is just 1-6, 0-2 in Big South play, the Bulldogs are 2-5 and 1-2.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

So there is hope this cool, overcast day. As an almost lifelong resident of this town, I think it possible that Hope is the single word that best describes Presbyterian College, probably in general but most definitely in athletics.

The second quarter is in its infancy, and neither team has scored. Presbyterian’s Darrell Bridges limped off the field. He had rushed for 817 yards entering this game, which was 50.8 percent of the Blue Hose’ total offense this year.

In other words, this isn’t good news.

The home of the Blue Hose football team.  (Monte Dutton photo)
The home of the Blue Hose football team. (Monte Dutton photo)

But … darned if the Blue Hose didn’t score a touchdown, and a freshman from Orange Park, Florida, named Quahlin Patterson looked just fine in spite of the fact that his 25-yard run that set up that touchdown was only his sixth carry of the season and almost as many yards as the first five combined.

But now Gardner-Webb has scored, too, and my consciousness has streamed clear to 7-7, and there are still more than four minutes to go in the half.

It’s 7-7 at halftime. It seems like it’s always 7-7 at halftime. On TV, it seems like the halftime score is always 28-28. The Blue Hose are throwbacks. Not delightful throwbacks. They were delightful last year. This year they’re just throwbacks. Like canvas Chucks. Eight tracks. Pong before beer was involved.

This year’s Blue Hose are merthiolate on a skinned knee. It stings to watch.

Pregame at Presbyterian College. (Monte Dutton photo)
Pregame at Presbyterian College. (Monte Dutton photo)

Gardner-Webb just scored to take a 14-7 lead. The Blue Hose defender had Mike Estes covered. He just misjudged the pop-up and might have thought the infield fly rule was in effect. Instead, the 33-yard touchdown pass rule was in effect.

Now it’s time for that Fighting Blue Hose Spirit. Calls are often made for it. Bridges is on the sidelines. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he is on crutches.

At the end of the third quarter, Presbyterian has 182 yards of offense. Gardner-Webb has 126. Somewhere Baylor has that combined total in the first quarter, or if not Baylor, then someone in the PAC-12. Washington State, perhaps.

The Blue Hose offense is named Sue. Johnny Cash gave them that name, then he said goodbye, because he knew they’d have to get tough or die, and it’s that name that’s helped to make them strong. As proof, the Blue Hose’ Brett Norton just kicked a 28-yard field goal, and the Bulldogs’ edge has been trimmed to four at 14-10.

Bill or George. Anything but Sue!

There’s most of a quarter left.

Darrell Bridges (10) against Campbell earlier this season. (Monte Dutton photo)
Darrell Bridges (10) against Campbell earlier this season. (Monte Dutton photo)

A year ago was such a miracle. The Blue Hose went 6-5. Three of the losses were to bowl-bound Northern Illinois, Ole Miss and North Carolina State. The other two were nationally ranked FCS (Football Championship Subdivision, which is doubly confusing now that the FBS also has a championship) schools.

This year all the teams Presbyterian crept upon as thieves in the night have added extra security. The seconds are chipping away, and the team that lost by three two weeks ago and seven three weeks ago – last week was a much-appreciated battle with the Fighting Dates of Open – is about to lose by four.

For a while, defeats are moral victories. Then they become amoral. Finally are they immoral. They become abominations.

Final score: Gardner-Webb (3-5, 2-2) 14, Presbyterian (1-7, 0-5) 10. Thirteen yards of offense in the fourth quarter. Disparage the Blue Hose if you must, but they are remarkably consistent.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredieth Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredieth Pritchard)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Guess what? My novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is $3.49 again. That way you can download it, and I’ll make a little more money, and it’s still not setting you back too much. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

And nominate my next one. Please. Pretty please. The title is Forgive Us Our Trespasses. Two clicks. This is the first one. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/A20FEF33PZP1