Ain’t No Use to Sit and Wonder Why

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, December 30, 2016, 9:07 a.m.

It wasn’t the best of nights to drive over to Presbyterian College for a basketball game. It wasn’t the best night for a basketball game, period.

The Belk Bowl was on TV. Arkansas led Virginia Tech, 24-0, at halftime. The game seemed safely in the Razorbacks’ hands.

The Blue Hose (4-8) were 3-0 with the writer in the stands. One of the W’s (Furman, his alma mater) had been regrettable. The Big South season was opening with a game against Liberty University (6-8). The writer had no financial incentive to attend. He just thought stupidly, like some fan, that going to the game might bring PC some luck.

By Monte Dutton

He wanted to go “as some fan” because he wanted to sit in the stands, with popcorn and a soft drink, and yell things like, “Hell, ref, I’ve tried to liberalize my views on traveling, but he double-pivoted!” The writer tried to temper his critiques, though. At least once, during the first half, he yelled “good call” even though it had gone against the Blue Hose. Another time, when others near him howled at a block, he offered his view to the guy sitting across the aisle. “Actually, I thought it was a good call.”

It was the writer in him. Part of being a fan made him feel guilty. Part of being a fan took him back years earlier, when it had all been for fun. Before he wrote about it.

Whatever it was, it was in vain. Liberty won. The writer left when the Flames pulled ahead by 20 and got home in time to see Virginia Tech, the team that had trailed, 24-0, pull away from an Arkansas team that looked like it inserted the earbuds and listened to Marley at halftime.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

The writer had high hopes for Oklahoma State and Colorado, but only the former’s were realized. Cowboys won big over Buffaloes back in the old days, too.

Then the writer tried without success to placate himself with other television offerings, but they were all reruns because, apparently, everyone on TV goes home except football teams and their roadies. He jiggled around with his phone, trying futilely to do something practical like get people on social media to buy his books. He reviewed all the discouraging facts, figures, assumptions, intuitions and superstitions, in descending order that happened to be the order they were in.

He couldn’t get sleepy even though it was well past time for Nature to enforce a cease-fire in his synapses. He never slept well and, after precious few hours, not at all. The writer rose at a little after six because he got weary of not being weary. He made some coffee that, for once, he didn’t need, and marveled at the poet William Butler Yeats’ apparent fascination with recommending a click on “Famous Texting Fails!” Yeats, who died in 1939, is hip beyond his years.

Breakfast was the writer’s first constructive act since before the basketball games.

Then he backslid and wrote a blog.

(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 third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, 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 the latest. It’s 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 Goats Are Loose for the Holidays

(Monte Dutton photo)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, December 23, 2016, 11:58 a.m.

I need to knock this blog out. Eastern Michigan is playing Old Dominion in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl in about two hours. I’d hate to have my attention divided.

After all, I once owned an Eastern Michigan tee shirt. It was given me by the athletic director at the request of the Detroit columnist Joe Falls. Joe isn’t with us anymore, but once upon a time, he drove out to Michigan International Speedway, and we had a chat, probably because he was sitting next to me in either the media center or the press box, and I mentioned that I was lodged in Ypsilanti, and I hadn’t even been able to find an EMU tee shirt in the stores.

By Monte Dutton

About a month later, I got a handwritten note from the athletic director to the effect that Joe Falls had instructed him to send me a tee shirt.

I never had that kind of clout with my family, let alone a public institution of higher learning.

As for Old Dominion, I once applied for a sports information job there. I don’t think the school even replied.

So I’m for Eastern Michigan, and rest in peace, Joe Falls.

I wonder what happened to that tee shirt.

The Bowl games are falling two and three a day. Before they started, I wrote down all the point spreads and picked the games. I didn’t bet them because that would be, like, illegal. Going into the Bahamas Bowl, with Navy-Louisiana Tech and Troy-Ohio U. to follow before bedtime, I am 6-3.

Had I put money on all those games, I’m confident I’d be 3-6. A little-known codicil in the Cosmic College handbook bases the outcome of all bowl games on whether or not I had money on the line. A whole section details all the ways I’m a whiz at anything that doesn’t make money.

Christmas beckons. I’ve been tracking the deliveries to a few special young’uns, all two generations removed from mine. Kids come first and quite often only because all of us are having trouble making ends meet.

I lost my train of thought there for a few minutes. Jimmy the Goat is loose on the streets of Mayberry.

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 third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 for the entire month. 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 the latest. It’s 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).

(Design by Steven Novak)
(Design by Steven Novak)

For Want of Coffee

Vince Pawless (left) and Andy Serna. (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 9:54 a.m.

The Patriots beat the Ravens.

I’m going out of my mind trying to sell my novels.

The new coffeemaker hasn’t arrived yet.

By Monte Dutton

Having to get up and drive out to the truck stop for a gigantic mug of Dark Roast is a chore, but now I’ve had it, and breakfast, and, inexplicably, I watched NASCAR shows on NBC Sports right up until Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe filled my high definition, and, now, thank God, Aerial America is coming on The Smithsonian Channel, and this blog will have a pleasant, soothing background.

Life isn’t exactly great, but it’s promising.

The Weather Channel has a live feed from Minot, North Dakota, and there’s a 30-percent chance of rain here. Just so someone else can write “we need the rain,” here it is. We need the rain.

Minor bowl games will begin on Saturday, and that’s a grand opening I’m probably going to miss because I will be out on free-lance assignment and hence unable to savor the New Mexico Lobos against the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. I might be home in time for the latter stages of Southern Mississippi versus Louisiana-Lafayette in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

I don’t have a big rooting interest in those games.

Most weeks my novels sell better during the week than on weekends. This week, so far, is an exception. Cowboys Come Home, my western about a couple World War II vets coming home to Texas, surged over the weekend, probably in no small part because of its discovery in the part of the Lone Star State where the story takes place, and definitely in no small part because of the efforts of my friend Vince Pawless, who lives thereabouts.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Crazy of Natural Causes (2015) is on Kindle sale at a whopping $.99 until this year of my and America’s discontent finally ends. It’s about a football coach who loses virtually everything except his life (and damn near that) and mounts the big comeback in the most unexpected ways. In this one novel, I wrote about football, Jesus, music, weed, and sex, both hetero- and homo-. The central character, Chance Benford, is either a con man, a flawed hero, a man of God, a hypocrite, or, in the opinion of his creator (me, not God, Who would be his Creator), all of those things. In my view, Chance is basically a good man who does what it takes, however outrageous, to get his life back on track.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016) is my best selling book to date. It’s been out since spring. It’s a story of small-town corruption that has the potential to burst out statewide. The man running for governor, Denny Frawley, has an alcoholic wife, drug-dealing kids, scheming mistress, brutal henchmen, and a taste for violence and cocaine.

Typical politician. The voters seem to think he’s a pretty good guy.

I’d like to think if you’ve read one, you’d like to read them all — the three above plus Longer Songs: A Collection of Short Stories (2016), The Intangibles (2013), and The Audacity of Dope (2011) — but my tales aren’t for everyone.

If you’re not sure whether my made-up adventures are your cup of tea — or vat of truck-stop coffee — sample them in Longer Songs. The short stories all started with songs I wrote.

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 third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 for the entire month. 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 the latest. It’s 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).

(Design by Steven Novak)
(Design by Steven Novak)

 

The Bowl Games Are Growing Like Weeds

450991514Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, December 26, 2015, 3:21 p.m.

Football isn’t forever. It just seems like it this time of year.

Insignificant bowls started at 11 a.m., and today’s last one starts shortly after 9:30.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Marshall fans didn’t think their bowl — St. Petersburg, maybe? — was insignificant because beating Connecticut (6-7) made the Thundering Herd (10-3) double-digit winners.

At the moment, the Sun Bowl is being played amidst ice. Washington State looks slightly warmer, having just taken a 10-7 lead over Miami.

Tonight’s NFL game fits right in. The Washington Redskins (7-7) are visiting the Philadelphia Eagles (6-8) in as important a game as teams with two such records can possibly provide.

The major development is the passage of the Christmas line of demarcation. As of today, the teams are recognizable.

I like the Sun Bowl. I like stadiums that have mountain backdrops. I’ve driven past that stadium a number of times while making my way from a NASCAR race in Texas to one in Arizona. It’s along the side of Interstate 20 but up above it. It doesn’t seem possible when looking at it from the highway that it’s the same stadium on TV.

Brigham Young’s stadium has a magnificent backdrop. I’d like to go to a game there. I’d sort of like to see tailgate parties where Coca-Colas are taboo. I can see the novelty wearing off fairly quickly, though.

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

4:03 p.m.

I’ve been talking with my niece about modern-day hassles, her little boys, and going to the zoo sometime soon.

Now I notice games are sprouting everywhere. Indiana and Duke are battling each other in balmy New York. Washington and Southern Miss are in New Orleans. It’s halftime at the icy Sun Bowl.

Based on my hazy memory of recent years, Duke has an excellent chance of losing this game in heartbreaking fashion.

Either that or they’re due.

Wonder where I got that "mountain backdrop" notion? (Monte Dutton photo)
Wonder where I got that “mountain backdrop” notion? (Monte Dutton photo)

Conferences were so much better when they were smaller. The schools had things in common and stuff. Conferences actually had the accurate number of schools in the titles. The Big Eight had eight: Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State.

Now it’s the Big Twelve which has Ten, which is less than the Big Ten, which has Fourteen. It also provides such intersectional rivalries as those kindred spirits West Virginia and Texas Tech. Throw out the records when those two get together. The same can surely be said of the rare and precious games matching Nebraska and Rutgers.

Television, with the NCAA as implementation consultant, has, by its machinations, created a national landscape where Texas plays Iowa State but not Texas A&M, and Missouri plays Vanderbilt but not Kansas. Schools that have played each other a hundred times both cease and desist because they don’t tap enough TV markets.

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

Enough, already. Buy my novel. It only costs $3.49. If you can’t figure out how to read it on your electronic devices, what’s the loss? You might come to enjoy picking up an iSomething and playing a wisdom video game called reading. Apps. Free apps. They unlock the world. 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)

Two of my novels, The Audacity of Dope (http://www.amazon.com/The-Intangibles-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00ISJ18Z6/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51JrJlU8vKL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=18HKQR6KHMTHN68K17PY) and The Intangibles (http://www.amazon.com/The-Audacity-Dope-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B006GT2PRA/ref=pd_sim_sbs_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51zCT-MrcFL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR105%2C160_&refRID=1KB2CP9SM1HQ9MAHNX2Z), are available in both paper and download.

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

The next one, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, will also be a KindleScout e-book and it will undoubtedly be available within a few months because I’ve already received money, and that generally speeds things right along.

 

Read more of my “other” writing — short fiction, reviews, essays, et al. — at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com .

What’s Wrong with Resolutions

Personally, I'm not this expansive about the New Year. Hopeful, but realistic, is my goal. (Monte Dutton)
Personally, I’m not this expansive about the New Year. Hopeful, but realistic, is my goal. (Monte Dutton)

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 9:18 a.m.

Resolutions. It sounds like a game show.

Today I’m supposed to come up with a New Year’s Resolution. Or, preferably, many.

I don’t believe in them. I’ve reached the age where I’m resistant to change and resigned to fate. I’m Popeye the Sailor Man. Iyam what Iyam.

A Southern tradition holds that, on New Year’s Day, a family has a meal highlighted by collard greens and black-eyed peas. My late father had a fundamentalist bent where this meal was concerned and insisted on additional items such as pork livers, backbones, neckbones, and other obscure outposts of carnivorous desperation. Supposedly, the greens stand for paper money and the peas for coins*. If one slogs through this meal once a year, the theory holds, the fresh year will undoubtedly be prosperous.

One year, oh, at least a decade ago now, I told my mother that, since we had all lived for many years without once becoming rich, why not dispense with this nonsense?

Oh, me of little faith.

No resolutions for me, thanks. I’d rather go with the peas and collards.

A man’s got to ponder something, though, with a new Year of Our Lord beckoning. I’ll make a few suggestions:

  1. NASCAR. Leave it the bleep alone.
  2. David Letterman. Reconsider.
  3. Taylor Swift. At some point, the whining is going to get old. I know it pays well now.
  4. America. Start paying attention to people who are smart.
  5. Sports in general. TV isn’t everything.
  6. Congress. Have lunch together every now and again.
  7. Stephen Colbert. Don’t change too damn much.
  8. The United States of Anger. Spend some time trying to figure out whatever happened to peace, love, and understanding.
  9. Politicians. Think principle, not polls.
  10. Kids. As soon as you learn how to read, learn how to enjoy it.

I could go on all day, leaning back in the easy chair, reading the Twitter feed, and occasionally leaning forward again to add another nugget of would-be (as in, if anyone other than me) wisdom.

But … pretty soon Ole Miss is going to be playing Texas Christian, and then there’s Boise State versus Arizona, and, next thing you know, Mississippi State will be taking on Georgia Tech.

*At first, I chose the word “change” instead of “coins,” but then I realized change seldom occurs in these parts.

The blog at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com covers my overtly fictitious thoughts. Here I try to herd my thoughts on things that really happen. I have written books by both methods, and they are available here among other places: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

The Sargasso Sea of Football

Imagine. All those football games began on fields like this one. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Imagine. All those football games began on fields like this one. (Monte Dutton sketch)

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, December 28, 2014, 9:25 a.m.

Christmas has settled. Not only are the gifts open. The wrapping paper has been swept away. Even the fireworks have subsided as celebrants reload for New Year’s and consider whether or not they can put off disposing of the tree for a few more days. The lines on Monday at the county dump will be akin to Walmart and at least as friendly.

Only three hundred sixty-two more shopping days till Christmas! In the meantime, for all you folks looking for deals on Black Friday, and then even more on the day after Christmas, Relatively Dark Gray Friday, well, you’re in luck. The real deals are now, you sentimental gift givers, you.

Don’t you wish you still had some money?

What we now have, in the waning holidaze, is a Sargasso Sea of flawed bowl games, live and in high-def from the Island of Misfit Toys. A lot’s still on the line. Hell, South Carolina needed that victory over Miami to get a winning record, but, by and large, pride has fallen by the wayside, and, as Kenny Rogers sang, the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.

No, it was not I. I've never even driven a Lexus.
May your songs be on key. (John Clark photo)

It’s not worth it. Life is better. The Panthers and Falcons are meeting with a playoff spot on the line. If Carolina wins, it will be seven, eight, and one. Atlanta can enter the ranks of premier American football organizations by rising to seven and nine.

The National, BUH-buh-buh-BUH, Football League. I tried to hum one of the network theme songs but realized it was actually the opening of Boston Red Sox Baseball on NESN. A Freudian slip, no doubt.

Saturday was the Day of Big-Money Football Programs Who Have Fallen on Hard Times. Virginia Tech. Both USCs. Arizona State. Nebraska. Miami. Even in these games, someone has to lose. It’s suddenly become a habit. Then there was resurgent Duke, which, for the third year in a row, managed by the narrowest margins to keep a half-century-plus streak of bowl futility alive. No one can lose a bowl game like Duke. Its losses are more exciting than most teams’ wins. Imagine what it would be like if the Washington Generals took the Harlem Globetrotters into overtime every night. What a show for the folks in Sheboygan.

These are cheap days for the recovering merrymaker. While he awaits in futility for an invitation to a New Year’s Eve soiree, he can subsist on raisin bran, milk, sliced chicken, bread, mayonnaise, and strategically placed tomato sliced coated with pepper. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

Pretty soon it will be time for NASCAR, baseball and taxes.

I hope your Christmas was merry, your Hanukkah happy, your Kwanzaa qualitative and your Festivus festive. I hope they lead inexorably into a happier New Year. I can think of no better way for you to meditate on superior means to prosperity than reading my books, but then again, this notion is neither unprejudiced nor based on sound science. It will, however, make me ever so slightly more prosperous, so good will come of it. Miraculously, most of my books remain available here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1