The Grind Gets Better

Into the Smokies on the way home. (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, January 31, 2017, 10:58 a.m.

Let’s see. Today is the last day of the month, which means a download of my fourth novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, will no longer be 99 cents. Good news and bad news. I won’t sell as many in February, but I’ll make more money on the ones I do. The idea behind Amazon’s 99 cents specials is that they give the book a boost. It’s already sold the most of my five novels. I should probably write another like it.

By Monte Dutton

Maybe I am. It’s not finished.

Tonight Newberry is visiting Clinton for a big night of high school basketball, and I’ll be on hand to write about it and take a few pictures. The Red Devils clobbered Mid-Carolina while I was away. Newberry is only 25 miles away. The two schools played in most every sport even before they were both aligned in Region 3-3A. They split earlier games, both in Newberry, but the overtime loss was in a holiday tournament, and Clinton won the one that counted. Tonight’s will, too. The Red Devils have an undefeated region record on the line.

Mike Reynolds

I’m just getting reacclimated with the world. I spent most of four days avoiding all that was going on around me. I checked the Twitter feed occasionally. I watched the second half of Kansas-Kentucky on a TV in a Kentucky bar where I couldn’t find anyone who didn’t hate Louisville. The Jayhawks won, and that probably increased sales while the Mike Reynolds Band rocked the night away.

I don’t party much anymore. As best I can tell, I came out of it relatively intact.

The trip: (a.) increased my interest in writing songs and drawing sketches; (b.) lessened my sense of disappointent; (c.) provided me with sustenance and inspiration; (d.) got me out of town; (e.) satisfied a growing wanderlust; and (f.) gave me a chance to play a lot of music and listen to a lot more.

I’m sure I could think of several more, but this blog isn’t for money, and I’ve got to get to some things that are.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

This week is the Super Bowl. I assume, sometime recently, there has been a Pro Bowl. I watched a little of the Rolex 24 over the weekend, mostly with the sound off, and I tried for a while to find the ending, but I am not adept at surfing the program guide of Dish Network, so I watched Virginia-Villanova, again with the sound off.

The Falcons are playing the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The only other time the Falcons reached the Super Bowl, I watched in a condo in Ormond Beach, Florida. All I remember is that it wasn’t much of a game. One year while I was in Florida early for Speedweeks, the Patriots played the Eagles in Jacksonville, so, when I went to see some friends play music in St. Augustine Beach, the bar was full of NFL fans. I wore a Red Sox cap because, well, I wear one a lot. When I got in there, it seemed as if everyone knew me. Some people were slapping me on the back; others just looked at me with scorn and derision. It hadn’t occurred me that a Boston cap would get me lumped in with the Patriots.

This shouldn’t have been so hard to figure out.

I’ve rooted for the Red Sox since I was seven years old, but it all started with Carl Yastrzemski, not Boston. For that particular Super Bowl, which the Patriots won, I just wanted to see a good game.

That’s about the way I feel about this one.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

The Bland New World

Chris Economaki interviews Fred Lorenzen … during a pit stop!

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 9:33 a.m.

When I heard about the latest NASCAR changes, I was alarmed, as I often am.

By Monte Dutton

I’m alarmed about the new president. I’m alarmed about what kids post on Twitter. I’m alarmed about the crap that passes for country music. I’m alarmed about people who would rather text than talk. I’m alarmed about constantly having to look up what acronyms mean and figure out just who in hell “@bigtimebad2377” is because he apparently plays ball for my favorite team.

I’ve gotten old enough to spend too damned much of my time being alarmed.

I hope the new NASCAR game show has a snazzy theme song, maybe something by Herb Alpert.

Dale Earnhardt, last of the red-hot racers, 1978. (File photo)

Herb Alpert is 81. I’m just a kid by comparison.

When I read about all the segments and bonus points, all I could compare it to was income taxes. As best I can figure, it’s going to be crucial to winning the Monster Energy Drink something-or-other to qualify for the earned income credit. While I’m watching the races this year, I’ve got to be mindful that free passes are not deductible, but they are credits.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

I tweet a lot, being thoroughly modern and all, but I draw the line at Snapchat. I post on Google+ sometimes, but it doesn’t do much good. This blog is a reaction. Twitter is an overreaction. Facebook is a place where people go to scream (in CAPITAL LETTERS!) and show puppies, kitty cats, and casseroles. Facebook gives folks enough characters to hang themselves.

Buddy Baker (Photo by ISC Archives via Getty Images)

So I slept on it. I got up this morning, fixed some coffee and sipped it as I watched CBS This Morning. Then I had breakfast while the Sundance Channel showed reruns of All in the Family. I remember when I related to Michael Stivic. Now I’m Archie Bunker.

What occurred to me, finally, was the difference between a politician and a statesman. A politician does what people want him (or her) to do. A statesman tries to do what is right, and part of the job is molding public opinion. The world would never change without statesmen. Politicians react to pressure. Statesman try to nudge the world toward what they perceive to be right. Politicians pay attention to those who vote. Statesmen pay attention to everyone.

So what does this have to do with NASCAR? Everything.

You see things and say “Why?” But I dream things that never were, and I say “Why not?” – George Bernard Shaw.

NASCAR officials read those words one way, and I read them another. Such is the way with wise words, not to mention books, constitutions, and song lyrics by the Beatles and Bob Dylan.

NASCAR officials listen to the opinions of fans. I listen to those who used to be. I see them almost everywhere. The latest was ordering General Tso’s chicken and a cheese wonton.

Little Bud Moore

By and large, NASCAR’s fans started staying home and watching TV, and their kids started playing video games and listening to Wiz Khalifa. I vaguely remember Little Bud Moore. They’re going to vaguely remember Lil Wayne.

The politicians of NASCAR would attempt to adapt the sport to the changing habits of the folks out there in TV Land. In so doing, they’re never going to draw them any closer than their living rooms. The sport is dying because it reacts to ever-shortening attention spans. If it wants to occupy a tiny corner of fandom’s hearts and minds, this is the proper course, but it is a war of attrition that cannot be won.

When I fell in love with auto racing, it stirred my emotions. I watched larger-than-life folk heroes who risked everything. Now I watch cardboard cutouts who are keenly aware of something called “branding.” NASCAR refers to them as “stakeholders.”

Admittedly, I oversimplify. That’s because racing used to be simple.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my fourth, and best selling, novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is on Kindle sale at $.99 through December 31. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

Four Decades Ago Till Now

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, January 18, 2017, 10:27 a.m.

Little did I know that the first basketball games I would write about would be contested on January 17.

By Monte Dutton

Oh, I’ve attended a bunch of them: Clinton High School varsity and junior and Presbyterian College men. The popcorn is good. The people are friendly. The referees are embattled. Most fans scream “walking!” every 15 seconds or so. Me? I prefer to scream “traveling!” just to be different.

Get him off of him!

He’s on his back!

Hoddamighty, ref! Ain’t you even watching?

Football took a little longer this year. The Red Devils and Raiders made the playoffs. The Raiders won their region, but the Red Devils won their game. It all got pushed back because Hurricane Matthew wrecked the Low Country. Even after the county teams had been eliminated, I drove down to Newberry to watch a great game between the homestanding, higher-seeded Bulldogs and Chapman, which went on to win the state. I was there for that one, too, courtesy of an assignment from an Upstate daily.

Broome won the girls’ game, 38-33.

Tuesday night was the first time I even sat at a scorer’s table, which meant it was the first time I watched a game calm and irreverent, cracking jokes to relieve the tension. In the stands, tension is encouraged. At the scorer’s table, it often results in crucial error in the retelling.

I have known the new Clinton High School boys’ coach, Eddie Romines, since he was our town’s great gym rat. It was hard to go to the Clinton Family YMCA without finding Eddie working on his game. I knew he loved it with a fervor that four decades could not possibly erase. He deserved a chance to show it. He has the Red Devils hustling. They’re at their best racing up and down the court. Before the games with Broome commenced, I chatted with him and told him his team was getting less and less selfish. Early on, a player giving up the ball on a fast break was uncommon. Now they sometimes overdo it. By and large, it’s a good thing.

Kiah Young scored 17 points.

The Red Devils (11-3, 3-0 Region 3-3A) came from behind in the fourth quarter to defeat Broome, 63-57. Three minutes into it, they trailed by six. In the final minute, they led by eight. When all was on the verge of being lost, Romines sent the lads back oncourt in a full-court, man-to-man press. For the next four possessions, it wasn’t a full-court press because the Centurions couldn’t get it past the time line. Once they took too much of that time. Broome descended into a maelstrom of intercepted passes, filched dribbles, routine layups and a roar made up mostly of students cheering them on.

Cheer, cheer for old Clinton High!

When I attended the Clinton High that is now officially old and retrofitted for middle school, the crowd that has plenty of room now packed the gym. The middle school now plays in a gym, constructed in the 1980s, that is almost as spacious as the one at the new school, which is about a half mile away. In the 1970s, a pep band played. Now it’s banned. Banned! A pep band! I estimate I clapped to the fight song – it’s the same as Notre Dame’s – a thousand times and “Rock Around the Clock” a good five hundred.

I was in junior high, back before it moderated into middle, when, almost by accident — varsity head coach Bobby Brock taught me science at the time — I witnessed Ronald Worthy scoring a school-record-by-a-lot 54 points against McCormick.

In the early 1970s, Clinton High didn’t even have a girls’ basketball team. The crowd filed in during the second half of the junior varsity game. One night, a JV guard named George Byrd ran out the clock when he thought a one-point deficit was a one-point lead. With the crowd still filling the seats, George thought he was Walt Frazier, ignoring the pleas to “Shoot, George, shoot!” and failing to realize that his dribbling artistry was enhanced by the opposition’s disregard. I can see his face now when the clock ran out. He lifted the ball high above his head, leaped and then slammed it to the ground, only to hear one of his teammates say, “George, you dumbass.” It was a JV game. I’m probably one of the few who even remembers it, but I have no idea whatever happened to George Byrd.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

In an opening game one year, a jump ball with one second on the clock turned into a Mike Williams tap-in for the win against Christ Church, but the greatest trick ever occurred at Boiling Springs, where, with three seconds to play, the Bulldogs in possession, leading by one, a referee handed the ball to a hapless and nervous Boiling Springs guard.

Clinton High coaches Josh Bridges (left) and Eddie Romines. (Monte Dutton photos)

Dick Vaughan, one of the more resourceful, sly and intelligent athletes in Clinton history, yelled, “Check on the ball!” The Boiling Springs player tossed it to Dick, as if it was a pickup game on an asphalt court in Joanna, and Dick laid it in for the win.

Nothing that dramatic happened in the glistening, antiseptic, pep-band-less Clinton High School gymnasium of today, but it was still pretty damned exciting.

Here’s what I wrote about the evening at GoLaurens/GoClinton.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my fourth, and best selling, novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is on Kindle sale at $.99 through December 31. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

I Feel Like I’ve Gotta Travel On

(Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, January 13, 2017, 10:52 a.m.

I haven’t been to a race track since Homestead, Florida, at the end of 2012. On January 4, 2013, the Gaston Gazette informed that my position would be discontinued on … January 4, 2013. When I think about it, it still grinds my innards.

By Monte Dutton

It’s been a while. It shows. When Carl Edwards announced his decision to step away from NASCAR, it somehow made me think about stepping back.

I realized how much I miss by not being there. I’ve been writing from home for The Bleacher Report and competitionplus.com for quite some time now. I realized it was more difficult, but the Edwards incident underscored how much the loss of the intimacy of being there was costing me. Jeff Gordon’s gone. Tony Stewart. Now Edwards. A generation is changing, and it’s a generation I’m missing just by reading transcripts and watching TV.

It set me to thinking, and that is often a dangerous thing.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

I’ve decided I’m willing to go back, at least on occasion. That, of course, doesn’t mean I will. I must have said a hundred times on radio shows, discussions with friends, etc., that everyone seems to want me back except anyone who could do anything about it.

I am well aware that the business has passed me by. I’m not sure there’s a journalism market for me any more. That’s why I went home to anonymity in the first place.

So, as you may have heard someone say to you before, if you hear anything …

(Alan Marler/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Why? Why? Why?

I’m finally tired of home. For the longest time, the surprise was that I didn’t miss racing more. When I was on the beat, I used to say that I’d been a gypsy so long that I wasn’t fit for anything else. It finally hit me over the past few weeks. I’m tired of being nobody. In retrospect, the cockeyed version of normality in my life was three days at home and four on the road.

The words I can’t believe are coming from my fingers: I miss travel. I have, however, visited such burgeoning metropoles as Saluda, Newberry, and Seneca during 2016. I even drove through Clemson once.

(Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Writing fiction means observing things other than Andy Griffith reruns on Sundance TV. As the late, great Hondo Crouch once wrote, “I’m out of soap.” The context might be helpful.

I’ve loved writing about local sports. It’s drying up, though. I don’t know why NASCAR should be any different. As noted above, it could be I.

As this has always been too low a priority in my mind, I held it back. I could use the money to grease the rusty skids of writing fiction. The royalties are rather sporadic.

I’m tired of slow pay and broken commitments. Last summer, I took a part-time job covering Laurens County for a nearby daily. I was happy with it because it was just about exactly as much as I wanted to write. I took it with the agreement that it would be year-round, not just football. That’s right. When football ended, it was, “Let’s rethink this thing.” Now, of course, losing that gig made it difficult to regain others, in spite of claims to the contrary.

So … to quote an old Johnny Horton song (and wish the subject was his, not mine):

I’m ready / If you’re willing!

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my fourth, and best selling, novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is on Kindle sale at $.99 through December 31. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

They Both Wore Their Own Kinds of Hats

The high banks won’t be the same. (Monte Dutton photo)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 11:58 a.m.

Here’s what Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards have in common, and it’s not much.

By Monte Dutton

Both, when they arrived at NASCAR’s highest level, were a sportswriter’s dream, and some of those then in the business couldn’t wait to tear them apart.

Tony arrived in 1999, more a white tornado than Ajax Cleaner.

“Ajax is the one with more ammonia!” as the ads said.

I was closer to the battlefield than most. I think we got along because we were both incurable smartasses. I was writing a book about Tony. That book would have been better if it was all I had to do, but there was this piddling matter of having to write three newspaper stories a day from the track. Some of our conversations went like this:

Tony: “That sonuvabitch. I’ll never talk to him again.”

Me: “Did you actually read what he wrote?”

T: “I don’t care what he wrote.”

I miss that Tony Stewart laugh. (John Clark photo)

M: “Well, the most objectionable thing he said was lifted with attribution from my column.”

T: “I didn’t read it.”

M: “Isn’t that a little like me saying you can’t drive a lick without ever watching you race?”

T: “I guess.” He’d smile. Get those dark eyes to stop flashing, and Tony could make fun of himself.

Somehow, I could reason with him. Maybe it was because he knew I wasn’t out to get him. Maybe he took my criticisms more constructively. I never found Stewart to be dishonest, though, as time went on, he learned grudgingly to be more honest in private than public. NASCAR never broke his spirit, but it trained him a little. A bit of a wall developed, but I doubt Tony built it. It was constructed around him. Perhaps the Mexicans paid for it.

Tony Stewart is the most interesting athlete I’ve ever written about.

When Tony once disparagingly referred to Carl Edwards as “Eddie Haskell,” he was typically gaudy and ill-considered. Carl isn’t the weasel of Leave It to Beaver. Carl is more like Theodore Cleaver, “the Beaver” himself, or older brother Wally. Carl can be a bit more of an Eagle Scout than the real world can withstand. Carl believes the good guys always win. It wouldn’t be enough to win the championship. Carl would want to ride off in the sunset.

Carl Edwards aspires to greatness by nature. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Carl never won the championship, but he still wanted to ride off in the sunset before he got too old to enjoy it.

I loved writing about both of them, but, more than that, I loved hanging out with them. I loved watching Nelson Stewart, Tony’s father, race a TQ Midget, with Tony fretting as if he were the parent and Nelson the son. I loved it when Carl showed up in the parking lot of Charlotte Motor Speedway, took my guitar and played it better than I could.

Now that I’m old, washed up and out of touch, I want Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards to have that delicious opportunity.

Last night, I played an old Hank Williams Jr. song I had almost forgotten:

You gotta say things you want to say / Go out and do things your own way / You can climb any old mountain once you’ve made up your mind.

Emphasis on old mountain. Tony belonged in the era of Curtis Turner and Junior Johnson. Carl wanted to stand up for truth, justice and the American way. Tony needed a jug of moonshine. Carl needed a cape.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my fourth, and best selling, novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is on Kindle sale at $.99 through December 31. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

Most of the Family Still Bleeds Orange

Hold those Tigers! (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 12:52 p.m.

I can’t say for sure they’re dancing in the streets today, but I’m fairly certain they were dancing in the aisles of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa last night. My nephew, Ray Phillips, and his wife, Jessica, may have cut a rug. Now they’re fighting traffic on the way home because there’s a heap of Clemson fans headed back this way.

I watched the Tigers’ 35-31, last-second (literally) victory over Alabama at home, awash in the excitement of the national championship game of the great sport of college football but lacking the pressure that comes with being a Clemson graduate, as Ray and Jessica are.

By Monte Dutton

When Ray was younger, he and I went to see the Tigers play in a couple of Peach Bowls (versus Auburn and Tennessee) and a something-or-other bowl in Orlando, Florida, against Colorado. He was good company for several Furman playoff games, too, but once he saw those big crowds and all that orange, I knew there wasn’t any way he was going to follow Uncle Monte to Furman.

I’d be tempted to say “his loss,” but I’m not in much position to make that claim at the moment.

Ray graduated from Clemson with a nice, sensible degree in business, or accounting, or one of those other disciplines that make money and bore me, and then he earned a grant that led him to a master’s degree from the University of Alabama, the Tigers’ opponent in the last two title extravaganzas. Alabama won, 45-40, last year.

Ray and Jessica, a nurse, have two gorgeous kids, three-year-old Thomas Montgomery Phillips and four-month-old Margaret Tinsley Phillips. They planned to have little Margaret with them, staring out at the pageantry with eyes both wondering and wandering, but they found out that even an infant had to pay full price to get in, so I think they made arrangements for Margaret to stay back at the house they rented with friends while Ray and Jessica, and, I suppose, their friends, cheered themselves hoarse and came back with feet firmly planted on top of the whole wide world.

My first college football game matched Clemson and Alabama, too, but I had to wait until I was nine and it didn’t turn out so well. My chief memory is of walking right past Bear Bryant on the field afterwards and thinking he might possibly part the Red Sea if it was nearby.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

I also saw Clemson play Alabama during my senior year of high school. After I played on Friday night, we all took off the next morning for Tuscaloosa with bumper stickers on the back of my grandfather’s Cadillac that read: Clemson-Alabama — The Day the Tide Died.

I remember: (1.) the first two times Clemson punted, Alabama blocked them, (2.) the final score was Tide 58, Tigers 0, and (3.) I got mad at other Clemson fans berating Clemson’s quarterback in the grandstands.

That awful night had something to do with me going to Furman, and I don’t regret it, but at the time, it was quite a surprise to anyone who knew me.

It’s quite possible that, in the privacy of my living room, last night’s game was the most I rooted for Clemson since that night in Tuscaloosa, with George Wallace watching from his wheelchair and announcing before the game that Denny Stadium would be renamed Bryant-Denny Stadium.

I’m happy for the Tigers. I’m hungry for the Paladins’ resurgence. I’ve got a hankering to go somewhere myself, and I’m liable to do it here directly. Things have about played out around here.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my fourth, and best selling, novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is on Kindle sale at $.99 through December 31. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

How to Make the Big Four Bigger

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, January 3, 2017, 11:54 a.m.

As I am not noted for moderation, please forgive me this one indiscretion. I am aware that Barry Goldwater said, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”

I happen to agree with the 1964 Republican nominee for president. I disagree with a lot of the late senator’s sayings and policies, but I expect his words will reverberate for at least the next four years and that Goldwater would despise Donald Trump just as he did Richard Nixon.

By Monte Dutton

I can’t speak for him, though. I just read a book about him. And he’s dead.

Far be it from me to write a blog that does not include three paragraphs that will provide great Facebook titillation and more interest than the remainder.

Back to the original premise. Where this morning’s primary topic is concerned, I favor moderation.

That topic, of course, is college football. College football is dear to the hearts of South Carolinians, never more so than at present because the Clemson Tigers are about to face the Alabama Crimson Tide for the national championship, and it’s the second time in a row, consecutively straight.

Sometimes redundancy is intentional, though it may never be intelligent.

Even this year, when, unquestionably, the teams playing for the national championship are the ones who belong there, in Tampa, at an NFL stadium that has a gigantic, simulated galleon aground in one end zone and looks mildly like it is otherwise surrounded by condos. I expect the Tide and the Tigers could beat any other team, similarly staffed by scholars, in America. Pitt cashed in its lottery against Clemson in the regular season, but that has been thoroughly dispelled as an anomaly by empirical evidence since.

In spite of this, a somewhat more tepid cry has arisen for the advent of a larger playoff, often proposed as consisting of eight. It’s unlikely to happen right way, as there are documents crafted by lawyers, funded by large corporate entities, and signed by everyone from the presidents of multiple universities to the student volunteers who tighten the facemasks.

My background is in the idealistic realm of the smaller schools that have contested championships on the field for many decades.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Until Monday, the bowls, those aging outposts of the college football kingdom, were rather moribund. The Big Four – I’d name them if there weren’t too many corporate sponsors to look up – were not what what they once were, but they were as good once as they ever were. (Toby Keith wrote it with Scotty Emerick.)

But my God. North Texas played in a bowl after finishing the “regular” season at 5-7. North Texas! I’ve driven by that school’s stadium many times, even wanted to see a game there, but that school is mainly noted for its adroitness in graduating many of the country’s great beauty queens.

Ah. North Texas will play in a bowl if there are TV dollars to send them there.

As far as determining, each year, the one true national champion, I would: (a.) eliminate conference championship games, (b.) play all the bowls, from Heart of Dallas through Music City and the Belk at the mall, to Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Cotton and Peach, and, then, (c.) determine a final four in much the way it is done now.

When two of the nation’s finer student-athletes decide that playing with their buds, compadres and brothers with different mothers is less important than staying healthy for the National Football League, something is definitely wrong.

Supposedly, the idea behind conference championship games, besides facilitating some order in conferences that probably deserve their own congressional seats, is to winnow down the contenders for the BCSHLDB – that’s Bowl Championship Series that Has Little to Do with Bowls – and Ohio State’s inclusion this year in spite of failing to meet such a standard renders such games at least silly if not completely obsolete.

Get rid of them. The money will still be there, probably in even more decadent profusion.

Then pick four, just like at the lottery counter.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my fourth, and best selling, novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is on Kindle sale at $.99 through December 31. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

Homer Jordan, Number E (the negative was flipped), the Count of Monte Carlo and hero of Clemson’s national championship season 35 years ago. (Monte Dutton photo)

The Tide Rolls and the Tigers Fight, Tigers (Fight, Fight)

Clemson led the way out of 2016. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, January 1, 2017, 10:11 a.m.

I was up early on New Year’s. I wanted to catch it before the sun came up. Not too early, though, I expect I was asleep by the time of its first watch tick, let alone the tock.

Clemson’s gaudy victory in the national college football semifinals left me happy for my nephew Ray Phillips and his wife, Jessica, both graduates, and their children, Thomas and Margaret. Thomas, 3, has some idea of the importance. Margaret, who is in her fifth month, is vaguely cognizant of Mommy and Daddy being very, very happy.

By Monte Dutton

Ray, by the way, has an undergraduate degree from Clemson and an M.B.A. from Alabama. He told me he likes Alabama. On January 9, though, I don’t think he’d mind if the Tigers won convincingly. I don’t think he’d mind if Bama fell with a Buckeye-like thud.

Neither of Saturday’s losers, Washington and Ohio State, were left wondering what might have been.

I’m a Furman graduate. I don’t allow myself to get as excited about Clemson, or, for that matter, South Carolina, as I am about Furman, or, for that matter, Presbyterian College here in town.

Being more excited about Furman and Presbyterian than Clemson is difficult right now. However, the Paladins’ basketball team did overrun The Citadel’s cadets at Timmons Arena on Saturday. When the Paladins beat the Bulldogs in anything, it makes me feel as if Athens just repulsed Sparta.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

As of 7 p.m. on Saturday, my thinking was, Nobody’s gonna beat Alabama.

As of 11 p.m. on Saturday, my thinking was, Clemson might just beat Alabama.

I expect I wasn’t alone in this migration of thought. The electronic age has shifted our senses of reality. Truth was once determined after all was said and done. Now what’s truth one minute may be falsehood the next. Still, however outmoded it is, I expect it is only fair that the Tigers and Crimson Tide be allowed to play the game.

If nothing else, the national semifiinals were useful in creating a facade of good cheer amid dire predictions for the new year that belt us like a hurricane.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my fourth, and best selling, novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is on Kindle sale at $.99 through December 31. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).