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.

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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)

This Game Is Friday Morning at Six

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, December 28, 2016, 10:01 a.m.

Live, from Seventh Fifth Savings & Loan Ballyard, home during the summer months to the Gitmo Waterboarders of the Florida Keys League, for the first annual John Ford Movies Stagecoach Bowl. I’m Nat Bumppo, and my partner is ex-All Pro linebacker of the San Diego Evacuators, Sledge McKittrick. Sledge, this is the first bowl appearance for the Okefenokee State Community College Swamp Buggies, and this is a young squad.

By Monte Dutton

That’s right, Nat, the future is definitely ahead for the Buggies. Next year, OSCC becomes Okefenokee State University, which will not only mean they’re OSU, just like Ohio State, but also that head coach Shill McMuffin will be able to utilize a junior class for the first time.

The Swamp Buggies come into this game riding a two-game win streak, but they are underdogs to 5-7 New Miss.

Slack Manassas is probably coaching the best 5-7 team in the nation, Nat. Do you realize that the Angry Americans have lost to Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, Texas A&M and Stony Brook by a combined total of only 119 points?

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That’s right, Sledge, they’ve hung in there every week until almost halftime. Here’s public-address announcer B. Clyde Fitzroy:

Friends, seniors and injectors of life into our local economy, please remove your straw hats and welcome Nashville recording artist Jim Clancy Bobtom for his unique rendition of Our National Anthem:

Oh-ohhhh, say kin ya suhheeee …

Let’s take a break for the two minutes this national anthem is going to require for this word from TCM’s upcoming telecast of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.

What’d you say, Nat? Two minutes.

Yeah. Two minutes.

I’m going to slip out on the roof and have a quick smoke. Be right back.

Okefenokee State has won the toss and deferred until a crucial home game next year against Vanderbilt. Deep for the Americans is J’Uquillunamian Phillips, a 5-10 speed merchant from Philadelphia, Mississippi. He’s a red-shirt graduate student who just received his master’s degree in exotic herbs. High, end-under-end kick, fielded by Phillips at the six.

He’s gone, Nat!

Well, he had just one man to beat, Sledge, but New Miss will start out at its own 16. The senior signal caller for the Angry Americans is John Lee Pettimore of Copperhead Road, Tennessee. The agriculture major takes the snap, fakes the jet sweep to Jalloquille Means, steps back …

He’s got Phillips deep, Nat. He’s behind everybody!

J’Uquillunamian comes down with it. Let’s see if he’s in bounds, Sledge. No. Ruled out of bounds. Incomplete.

His friends call him Quill, Nat.

Who?

J’Uquill … uh … Phillips. Just call him Quill, Nat.

It looks like the play may be under review. Let’s look at the replay.

Nat, it looks like to me that not only did Quill have one foot down, he had both feet inbounds, and, see there, freeze that, right, uh, there, he’s got the ball clearly secured. Now, okay, he runs five more yards before he ever goes out of bounds. I think you’ll see this call overturned.

I’d call that indisputable video evidence, Sledge. Let’s go down to referee Bruton McGillicuddy.

Upon review, the ruling on the field stands. Second down!

And so on. By the time the national championship game is played – that’s James Madison against Youngstown State, best we know as of this moment – no one will be able to focus their eyeballs.

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).

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

Off to See the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Bowls

(Monte Dutton sketches)
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Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, December 26, 2016, 11:32 a.m.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Only in America can two college football teams, one with a record of 6-6 and the other 5-7, lead fans hundreds of miles to play a game in an indoor baseball stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida.

By Monte Dutton

Not all of them go. They’re the ones whose ears can process the frequency of dog whistles.

These are vastly different teams I’m half watching. Mississippi State, a weakling of the Southeastern Conference, against Miami of Ohio, a mediocrity of the Mid-American. The last time a football game matched this level of intensity and anticipation, it was a Wednesday night in Muncie on ESPN2.

I’m just watching to see if the winning coach gets doused in Gatorade by his players. If I were a coach, and if a minor bowl victory enabled my team to climb within a game of .500, I’d douse them.

In lukewarm vegetable oil.

It’s just noise. Background noise. Mississippi State just recovered a fumble. I’ll alert a tiny portion of the media with this blog.

I so hope the winning coach gets carried off the field on the shoulders of his players. He’s been holding them up all year.

At the end of this magnificent spectacle, ESPN will segue to a tantalizing tussle between the equally 6-6 teams of Maryland and Boston College. In their respective conferences, these two powerhouses combined to win five and lose 12. The two teams are vacationing fittingly in Detroit.

My favorite game is at 5, and it’s on ESPN2. That’s Vanderbilt versus North Carolina State in Shreveport, Louisiana, a gambling capital of some renown. I’m pumped about the Commodores (yes, 6-6) because they are perhaps the only team playing today that could possibly be excited about being in Shreveport. As Charley Pride once sang:

One more stop down in Shreveport / On this tour of one-night stands / Got some time but no piece of mind / ‘Cause I’m back on the road again.

This song is Shreveport’s greatest hit. I spent a week there one night.

The next line is “tomorrow night I’m in Austin,” but I left that out because that’s one of few places where, this winter, no bowl is being played.

The Red Hawks are beating the Bulldogs, 9-0. Whoa, Nellie.

There’s a bottle of gin in the cabinet, but I’m going to resist temptation. I can’t speak for F. Scott Fitzgerald, but if I get drunk, knowing myself as I do, I’ll get no notable work done on this next novel. Besides, the Monday Night Football game, the one that necessitates the ‘Dores and Wolfpack being relegated to ESPN2, is potentially a good one. Detroit and Dallas. Pro-fessionals. Swimming pools. Movie stars.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Even a Dee-troit Lion.

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)

Sleighbells Ring-a-ling, Ring-ting-ting-a-ling …

Clinton High coaches Josh Bridges (left) and Eddie Romines watch the action. (Monte Dutton photos)
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Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, December 21, 2016, 11:56 a.m.

I needed to get out of the house. I’d been here for most of Monday and Tuesday, writing my next (sixth) novel past 75,000 words and almost to 250 double-spaced pages. I don’t think I’ve written as much in a two-day span since I was closing out my book on Tony Stewart, Rebel without a Cause, back at about this time in 2000.

By Monte Dutton

And that wasn’t fiction. As it was about Tony, a good bit of it was stranger.

I decided I’d reward myself with a nice dinner so I went to Fatz Café, where I ordered the blackened chicken Caesar salad and had the chicken replaced with salmon. I like Fatz Café – it’s the best and only of its kind we’ve got here in town – and dating back to the menu of a café that closed about five years ago, my palate particularly likes the combination of Caesar salad and salmon.

Fatz Café is out on I-26, next to the Hampton Inn, and Clinton High School is conveniently nearby. The Red Devils, girls and boys alike, were playing a high school team curiously representing Greenville Technical College, a charter school or some such, so I swung by. Basketball is difficult to shoot with the camera I own, which leaves me shamed in comparison with other professionals, but I don’t make enough from writing about games, let alone shooting photos, to justify buying anything new. I wanted to experiment with the camera before I’m actually out on assignment bona fide, most likely during the New Year.

CHS subs wait for a whistle, along with public-address announcer Buddy Bridges.

I don’t know why I even bothered. I keep trying to find a way to shoot at a higher shutter speed, but I can’t use an aperture small enough to make it work. I’m sure I’ll do what I always do, which is shoot dozens of shots hoping a half dozen or so will be usable.

Clinton dominated both games. The girls won, 55-22, and the boys, 69-51. About all I learned was that Greenville Tech Charter wears blue and is nicknamed Warriors. Once the boys’ game seemed well in hand – the Red Devils raced ahead in the second quarter – I went home to watch an impressive Western Kentucky squad pound Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl. Tonight Brigham Young plays Wyoming in the fabled San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

Hum baby. Clemson is playing South Carolina in men’s basketball at the same time, so I’ll have something to switch back and forth between.

Presents for grand- nephews and niece should get to the appropriate places on time. Most of the family is nearly broke, so we all take what we can spare and spend it on the young’uns. Maybe I’ll splurge and buy myself a funny tee shirt or something on line.

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)

Football Is a Deep Fade

Darrell Bridges was PC's only reliable offensive threat. (Monte Dutton photos)
Darrell Bridges was PC’s only reliable offensive threat. (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, November 26, 2016, 10:14 a.m.

My first thought this morning, upon awakening, was …

… Gee, whiz, I have to use the bathroom. Emphasis on “whiz.”

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

My second thought was, well, football’s over.

Hahahaha. Football is never over. As General Douglas MacArthur would have said had he been a couch potato instead of a military leader, Old football seasons never die. They just fade away.

Football is over locally and in my narrowly defined world. Last night Laurens fell to Spartanburg, 35-17, in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs. A week earlier, Clinton fell to Chester, 24-16, in the first round of 3A. The Furman Paladins bowed out 3-8. The Presbyterian Blue Hose ground to a 2-9 halt.

dscf4250But over? Football? Was it over when the Owls bombed Paladin Stadium? It’s not over till we say it is!

Layers of football start peeling off. In college, this is a weekend of “rivalry games.” Next is a weekend of conference championships. Then, for several weeks, bowls will be filled with cereal and milk almost every night of the week.

The Hardee’s Sausage, Egg and Cheese Burrito Bowl, matching Colgate and Palmolive.

The game seemed full of promise right up until when it started. (Monte Dutton photo)
The game seemed full of promise right up until when it started. (Monte Dutton photo)

The Whichever Cell Provider You Don’t Have Bowl, testing how far Tech and State can roam.

The Auld Lang Syne Bowl, matching old coaches their teams are tired of. The Apple-Cheeked Lads Bowl, matching young coaches who don’t know what they’re doing.

The Affordable Care Bowl, which is going out of business. The Trust Me It’ll be Uuge Bowl, which will replace it.

There are lots of them. They start getting relevant after Christmas.

Chad Knaus (right) keeps a close watch on Jimmie Johnson, whose eyes are generally on the prize. (John Clark photo)
Chad Knaus (right) keeps a close watch on Jimmie Johnson, whose eyes are generally on the prize. (John Clark photo)

The pros will take football almost all the way to the Daytona 500, which reminds me: The first thought tomorrow morning – after the call of nature, of course – will be, What time does the race start?

No race? Well, there is the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, which sounds more fictitious than the bowls above. I think I watched The Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi on TCM Thursday. It’s a Marx Brothers flick. No, wait. That was A Day at the Races. Or The Crowd Roars. That was with Jimmy Cagney. Or was it Jimmie Cagney? No, that’s Jimmie Johnson. He won the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In a Chevrolet. For his record-tying seventh title. Chad Knaus (Kuh-NOWSS) told him to win it for the Gipper. No, that was Knute (Kuh-NOOT) Rockne. George Gipp was Ronald Reagan, not Jimmy Cagney. Or Jimmie Johnson.

To summarize, NASCAR is done till February, except for lame publicity stunts designed to keep the name in the news.

Presbyterian College head coach Harold Nichols stepped down.
Presbyterian College head coach Harold Nichols stepped down.

Football runs down the Energizer Bunny. It exhausts a rocket engine. It does not, however, leave Stephen A. Smith speechless. At this stage, it merely shifts from live to on satellite. I’m making the transition. I’ve attended two basketball games live, and PC won both of them.

Every aspect of life is affected by football. For every Les Miles in Baton Rouge, there is a Harold Nichols here. For every Ed Orgeron, there is a Tommy Spangler. The Coach is dead. Long live the coach. It makes me chuckle to hear that Orgeron is the “permanent” coach at LSU. Permanent doesn’t mean what it used to. It no longer has permanence. Andrew Webb of Clinton High School recently became “permanent.” For two years, he was “interim.”

Clinton High head coach Andrew Webb stepped up.
Clinton High head coach Andrew Webb stepped up.

In a short while, I expect to be permanently watching Michigan play Ohio State, but I’ll be switching to and from Kentucky-Louisville, Rutgers-Maryland, Purdue-Indiana, Virginia-Virginia Tech, Kansas-Kansas State, Central Florida-South Florida, Illinois-Northwestern, Georgia Tech-Georgia and Arkansas State-Louisiana (Lafayette).

Those are just the ones at noon.

Similar bevies of gridiron strife are available throughout the day and night, spilling over into Sunday on the East Coast when Colorado State takes on San Diego State, Wyoming invades New Mexico, and Utah State ventures to Brigham Young.

My nephew and his wife are, even now, closing in on Clemson, where their beloved Tigers are expected to deep-fry the Gamecocks tonight. Ray wanted to be there in time to watch Michigan-Ohio State on TV. He already seemed mildly preoccupied while I helped him dispose of Thanksgiving leftovers late yesterday afternoon.

Hmm. I could watch Charleston Southern-Wofford on my laptop.

Lou Lauer helped me repair my website. He could help you, too.
Lou Lauer helped me repair my website. He could help you, too.

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.

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

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 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).cowboyshome_fullcvr343-page-001

A Glut of Games

So, like, what's the deal? (Monte Dutton photo)
So, like, what’s the deal?
(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, January 3, 2016, 12:13 a.m.

I’m watching West Virginia play Arizona State in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl, which is aptly sponsored, and I feel I can say this with fairness because I’ve stayed in a few Motel 6’s in my day, and particularly over the past three years since my NASCAR-affiliated expense account ended.

In truth, I have probably slept on a friend’s couch just about as many times as I’ve spent the night in a motel room during that period, but, while Motel 6’s aren’t particularly memorable, I believe my most recent stay was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

All of which has little to do with the bowl game at a baseball stadium in Phoenix.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

What has kept me awake for this sad occasion is the possibility that West Virginia (7-5) and Arizona State (6-6) might wind up having a good game. The most inglorious bowl season ever — this would undoubtedly be hotly disputed by the orange-wearing throngs I encounter each time I venture outside the manse — is getting a little better.

After Houston beat Florida State by 14, and Clemson throttled Oklahoma by 20, and Alabama rolled past Michigan State by 38, and Tennessee devastated Northwestern by 39, and Ohio State clipped Notre Dame by 16, and Michigan decimated Florida by 34, and Stanford broke Iowa’s hearts by 29, and Ole Miss throttled Oklahoma State by 28 …

… Things picked up. Georgia held off a tepid rally by Penn State by seven, and after the Arkansas conquest of Kansas State by 23, TCU came from 31 points behind to edge Oregon in triple OT, and that — and a mug of strong coffee — got my adrenaline circulating enough to endure late-night triviality in Phoenix.

This is pointless, of course, if I touch-type my way through the rest of the game. A more prudent course would be to watch this game until I get sleepy and then resume this inelegant prose on the morrow, except, of course, it’s already after midnight, so the morrow has become today.

Wonder if he'll play today? (Monte Dutton sketch)
Wonder if he’ll play today? (Monte Dutton sketch)

12:48 p.m.

Now the pros are about to start. The early games here are dreary: Cleveland and Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Atlanta. The Panthers and Buccaneers are at 4:25 (EST). Carolina should win and had better, but that was also true last week. Green Bay and Minnesota tonight.

The Mountaineers managed to eke by the Sun Devils last night, 43-42, according to my DirecTV ScoreGuide. I didn’t make it. I tumbled off to sleep with the game on, but I was lying in bed, so that was inevitable. The games are blending into one another. By January 11, I’ll probably think Clemson is playing Oklahoma again instead of Alabama.

For years, I saved this old Shoe comic, in which the Perfessor was typing a pro football roundup on his typewriter (from which, presumably, it would be sent to a typesetter; I’m trying to roll back to newspaper days of antiquity): “The Packers pummeled the Bears, the 49ers shot down the Jets, the Rams trampled the Cardinals,” etc.

Then he scratched his head, thought a moment, and pounded out, “… and the Colts dekrelnificated the Browns.”

I’ve watched so many ballgames, it’s got me inventing words, too. Judoglious. Etatatapieish.

 

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

I’ve got to marshal my resources. It’s time to spread the word. This next novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is the best one yet because I’m gradually getting better at writing them. As a general rule, readers like my novels. I just need more readers. It’s a big pie out there — egg custard, I imagine — and the slices keep getting smaller. If you’re of a mind to help, whether by emailing, retweeting, sharing, reviewing, direct messaging, texting, or mentioning it to the English professor who’s pumping his own gas at the same time you are, by all means, do so. Left to my own devices, I’m a whiz at everything that doesn’t make money. I’m not greedy. That’s obvious, me being a writer.

Check out my other page, www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, every now and again. And join my Facebook group for loyal readers of my books, Similarly Crazy, or become my close personal friend through monte-dutton. I’m on Twitter @montedutton, slightly more irreverent @wastedpilgrim, and slightly more literary @hmdutton. Instagram? Why, Tug50, of course.

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

I ask a lot for a person from South Carolina.

Crazy of Natural Causes has only been out since late summer. It’ll only set you back $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

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

My first novel, The Audacity of Dope (Kindle version $2.99), is about a songwriter who gets on a plane a free-thinking stoner and gets off it a free-thinking national hero. Complications ensue. 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=0G1646HCQ562QP6C7JCP

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

The Intangibles (Kindle edition $4.99) is set in the 1960s, with an integrated high school football team at the epicenter of the local civil-rights volcano. 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=0RG9JJ51G715SBNV9BZH

 

Football to My Advantage

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, December 31, 2015, 1:04 p.m.

On Wednesday, I realized that football has dulled me. Games were going on all day. I glanced at the TV from time to time, just to check the score or to determine why the announcers were yelling.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I stayed up till nearly two, not watching a game but reading a novel while Wisconsin and Southern California were bumping into each other like tectonic plates.

I didn’t think it possible for football to lose me. I’m pretty sure it was temporary. The college semifinals are coming up. The school where it was once a foregone conclusion that I would go (but didn’t), Clemson, is playing Oklahoma (seen the Sooners twice, in Boulder and Dallas), and then Michigan State (I have a cap and a sweatshirt, the cap because a friend went there and the sweatshirt because it was cheap and hanging in a truck stop) against Alabama (watched them clobber Clemson twice as a kid, but the Tide lost in overtime to Arkansas a decade or more back). The most recent time I saw the Tigers live was in a bowl game. The Belk Bowl game. South Florida won.

Much has changed.

I prefer live crowds like this one. (Monte Dutton photo)
I prefer live crowds like this one. (Monte Dutton photo)

On Wednesday, however, my boredom was functional. With bands playing, announcers yelling and way too much under review, I finished off a short story and sketched an illustration. I wrote another blog designed to be entertaining even to those who don’t follow Laurens County sports, not that many of them read it. I worked on what is going to be novel number five, Cowboys Come Home, and, then, as night fell, Kindle Publishing sent me its edits for the next publicly available creation, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, a tale of corruption, crime, politics, sex, drugs, good, evil, and corruption.

To paraphrase Blazing Saddles:

You listed corruption twice.

I like corruption.

Peering through a portal. (Monte Dutton)
Peering through a portal. (Monte Dutton)

I’m a little non-plussed at Houston and Florida State right now, which is why I’m writing this. Before the game started, I was editing the Forgive Us Our Trespasses manuscript. The quicker I can get through it, (1.) the sooner it will be published, and, (2.) the more mistakes will slip through.

My course must be both moderate and meticulous. Somehow. It’s impossible to be moderately meticulous, and that’s why writing is such a fine art.

Thus far, I’m pleased with the editing efforts from the Amazon/Kindle folks. This morning I decided I would wade through all the edits: approving, rejecting (none so far), and, changing in slightly different manners. Then I’m going back to the beginning to read it carefully with more of an editorial frame of mind, adding a paragraph here and there, and pondering all the options I’ve already pondered several times before the manuscript was submitted.

I think I may start paying attention to the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl at about the end of the third quarter — ooh, Houston just went up, 14-3 — just to emerge from my combat fatigue in time for Clemson-Oklahoma.

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

I’ve got to marshal my resources. It’s time to spread the word. This next novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is the best one yet because I’m gradually getting better at writing them. As a general rule, readers like my novels. I just need more readers. It’s a big pie out there — egg custard, I imagine — and the slices keep getting smaller. If you’re of a mind to help, whether by emailing, retweeting, sharing, reviewing, direct messaging, texting, or mentioning it to the English professor who’s pumping his own gas at the same time you are, by all means, do so. Left to my own devices, I’m a whiz at everything that doesn’t make money. I’m not greedy. That’s obvious because I’m a writer.

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

By the way, Happy New Year. And check out my other page, www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, every now and again. And join my Facebook group for loyal readers of my books, Similarly Crazy, or become my close personal friend through monte.dutton. I’m on Twitter @montedutton, slightly more irreverent @wastedpilgrim, and slightly more literary @hmdutton. Instagram? Why, Tug50, of course.

I ask a lot for a person from South Carolina.

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

Crazy of Natural Causes has only been out since late summer. It’ll only set you back $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

My first novel, The Audacity of Dope (Kindle version $2.99), is about a songwriter who gets on a plane a free-thinking stoner and gets off it a free-thinking national hero. Complications ensue. 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=0G1646HCQ562QP6C7JCP

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

The Intangibles (Kindle edition $4.99) is set in the 1960s, with an integrated high school football team at the epicenter of the local civil-rights volcano. 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=0RG9JJ51G715SBNV9BZH

 

No One Loves Bowling This Much

What you reckon he thinks? (Getty Images for NASCAR)
What you reckon he thinks? (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, January 2, 2015, 10:30 a.m.

After another exhausting day of short-story writing, book reading, guitar playing, snack eating, and, most notably, football watching, I am ready to face another week.

Oh, wait. It’s already Friday. Check that. This’ll be easy*.

I’ve got a small appointment that should require no more than having my finger pricked. I might test positive for spray cheese.

Me with tires in the background.
Me with tires in the background.

No more cheap imitations of Keith Jackson yelling “AL-uh-BAM-uh!” The national college football championship no longer involves the South. This year Pickett’s Charge occurred on New Year’s, after the Southerners split their forces.

I’m not personally remorseful. I just wanted to see good games. Ohio State beat Alabama, but it was a good game. Oregon’s uniforms apparently left Florida State with sunspots for two quarters, and, then, in the second half, the Seminoles got blind.

I always use X’s and O’s to analyze big-time college football.

This morning, though, thoughts turn to other issues, this in spite of bowl games matching Pittsburgh (6-6) against Houston (7-5), Tennessee (6-6) versus Iowa (7-5), Kansas State (9-3) lining up across from UCLA (9-3), and last and alarmingly latest, Oklahoma State (6-6) facing the stern challenge of Washington (8-5).

‘Sup, NASCAR?

The Sprint All-Star Race will be replayed at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January 7, on Fox Sports 2.

Jamie McMurray (left) with teammate Kyle Larson. (HHP/Christa L. Thomas photo for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray (left) with teammate Kyle Larson. (HHP/Christa L. Thomas photo for Chevy Racing)

I don’t remember who won it. Time out. Jamie McMurray. Thanks, Google.

McMurray, against all odds, failed subsequently to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, which is damned near all-inclusive. Is there anyone else who didn’t make it? Uh … Danica Patrick. Okay. There’s one.

I can reacquaint myself with this drama of athletic (and internal-combustion-powered) competition if I’ll only set my timer to “1/7/15, 8:00 p.m.” Maybe I’ll watch it, since Pitt isn’t playing Houston, if The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance isn’t on TCM.

Still, my thoughts drift inexplicably to NASCAR. Maybe it’s because Dan Mullen reminds me of Dale Jarrett. Or because Allen Bestwick is announcing football games now. Or because Marty Smith is waxing inspirational and waning cautionary about lead options and bubble screens.

During the coming year, there will be new cars! Oh, that’s never happened. If NASCAR makes any more attempts to save the owners money, Rick Hendrick’s going to have to take over a closed-down GM assembly plant to build racing Chevrolets, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Impala is going to roll out of the same line where once there were Achievas.

Jeff Gordon straps himself in for another year. (Christa L. Thomas/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon straps himself in for another year. (Christa L. Thomas/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

I’m going to watch from afar and pay attention to items other than what will soon be clattering out on the vast information disseminator known as Twitter. I’m ready to predict that, soon, torrents of words will start invading the ozone layer in waves like these: (1.) Is this the crucial year for Danica (she hasn’t had one yet)? (2.) Drivers praise handling of new car; (3.) This could be Junior’s year; (4.) Does Jeff Gordon have one more title in him? and (5.) Jimmie Johnson tracking seventh title.

Is there an echo? Oh, yeah. One that caroms around the canyons and ruffles the leaves for decades.

Joey Logano is a good egg, and he's got his knots down. (Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images photo for NASCAR)
Joey Logano is a good egg, and he’s got his knots down. (Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

I also expect Kevin Harvick to suggest that he is being overlooked and, by gosh, he’s the champion and “they” had better be loaded for bear if they’re going to take it. A great story will be which team dares to load its truck for bear instead of racing. I’m not expecting it to happen, though. They talk big game.

Carl Edwards will be sure he’s going to “have a blast” at Joe Gibbs Racing, and his remarks will be colored by an offseason discovery that, in fact, Toyota, not Ford, makes the greatest production cars the world has ever known.

All eyes will be on Junior except for the ones on Smoke. A few other eyes will wander, though, ultimately, in vain and obscurity.

The Champ, and don't you forget it.  (Sean Gardner/Getty Images photo for NASCAR)
The Champ, and don’t you forget it. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

By Phoenix in the fall, more people will be on probation with NASCAR than among the citizenry of Maricopa County. No one in NASCAR will have to wear orange jumpsuits and camp out in the desert. No one in NASCAR will have to do anything other than smile and say the new car is just peachy. They have a waterboard, and they know how to use it.

On Joey Logano’s twenty-fifth birthday, May 24, he will finally receive his Eagle Scout rank. An offseason trip abroad helped him with his Citizenship in the World merit badge. By the way, no one has ever won the NASCAR championship and become an Eagle Scout in the same year. Much will be made of this. Normally, one cannot become an Eagle Scout after one’s eighteenth birthday, but this is NASCAR.

 

Carl Edwards is pleased as punch to be chauffeuring a Toyota, not this Ford, now. (Getty Images for NASCAR)
Carl Edwards is pleased as punch to be chauffeuring a Toyota, not this Ford, now. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Many insightful men and women write about NASCAR for a living. I’m watching from afar, but it just seems to me that coverage has become focused narrowly on writing whatever it is that will draw clicks, tweets, links, and other acts that require precious little gray matter.

I always believed that freedom of the press implies an ethic in which part of a writer’s job is to give people what they want, and part is to give them what they need. What do they need? That’s why there are columns and editorials and analyses and, yes, even blogs. Well, there used to be. Blogs are still strong. Hey. I got one. No, two. That’s where I draw the line. Unless someone will pay me to write a third. Then I’ll consider it.

At present, and, again, I’m watching from a distance, and forests can be distorted at least as much as trees, but it seems as if what people apparently want, according to available data, is “what happened, who did what, who snarked about it, what does Junior think? and do you think it will help Danica?”

Try something new. Maybe somebody will like something he (or she) doesn’t know already.

Or, more likely, that streak of rebellion is why I’m not around anymore.

I dare you to read a book! One of these: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

*Famous last words.

That End-of-Year Feeling Again

Pretty soon, football will resume with 6-6's playing 6-6's.
Pretty soon, football will resume with 6-6’s playing 6-6’s.

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, December 14, 2014, 10:15 a.m.

Football is in the pre-bowl doldrums (bowldrums?), or, if the NFL is your bailiwick, the pre-playoff blahs. NASCAR has been reduced for now to reports of tire testing from the various frontiers. Baseball players are moving and counting their money. Basketball teams are forming their images with the hodgepodge of games between teams of vastly different skill levels and geography. I can’t get too excited about hockey until the playoffs start.

The quiet won’t linger. Navy won’t have as much time to prepare for its modest bowl appearance as it did to formulate the strategy to defeat Army for the thirteenth year in a row. A common remark in the next few weeks will be that there are entirely too many bowl games, uttered, tweeted, posted, rumored and overheard by people watching more of them than they will ever admit.

Hanging in there.
Hanging in there.

I suppose I could use this space to identify what piqued my attention in 2014. Well, I’ve still got more than two weeks. I may do it, and I may not. Right now, I need to think it through. I may do it, and I may not. Oh, yeah. I wrote that already.

As always, the difference is vast between what happened and what I’ll remember. For instance, a few weeks ago, I mysteriously hurt my knee. If surgery had been performed, I’m sure I’d remember it. However, since my medical professionals have agreed just to let it sit, arthritic and cranky, for now, my knee feels just about the way it has for three or four years, which is weakened, and unreliable, but serviceable as long as I pay attention to what I am doing. Nothing is memorable about this.

Looking back on my writing, I wrote about half a western (Cowboys Come Home) that I abandoned simply because I’m not a juggler and too many balls were in the air. For most of the year, I worked on a crime novel called Forgive Us Our Trespasses. Then I sat the first draft aside and went back to ready another, Crazy of Natural Causes, for eventual publication. That’s done. It’s either good or better.

Twenty Fourteen was the year I started writing short stories, though some of them go back a little farther. The anniversary of my fiction blog, www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, just passed. About fifteen months ago, I started sketching, and that led, quite naturally, to accompanying my short stories with sketches. I think I’ve gotten better. This was the first:

My Pawless guitar has helped me write many songs.
My Pawless guitar has helped me write many songs.

This is the most recent:

This woman I concocted for my current short story.
This woman I concocted for my current short story.

Now I’ve been collecting all those short stories into one volume, which is titled Longer Songs. The reason for the title is that many of the short stories were based on, or at least originated in, songs I had written. I wrote a song based on observing two people conversing in a bar. The song (“Stuck in a Rut”) didn’t include them going on a desperate, disastrous road trip to L.A. Such flights of fancy took off from the songs and carried me with them.

This year I learned that NASCAR is bold enough to try almost anything, that football points are often easier to come by than basketball points, that it’s possible for the Kansas City Royals to play in the World Series, and that the winner of one World Series can finish last the following year. I knew the last, but the Boston Red Sox reminded me.

Year’s end leaves me believing in fewer things, continuing a trend that seems of recent vintage but is probably just what happens with age. Recent years have seen my faith in John Edwards, Joe Paterno, and Bill Cosby obliterated, and in cops and clergy, tested. I must remember the age-old words of the Jackson Five: “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch of girls. I don’t care what they say. Don’t you give up on love.”

Love. Hah. At this point of my life, what “they say” about “love” applies to “life.” All’s fair in life and war, not to mention redundancy. Life. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it. The last time I fell in love was several years back. I got a song out of it.

This year I’ve worked hard. Next year comes success. When I was a boy, I read about men who went out to make their fortunes. I didn’t expect it to take so long. I write. It’s what I know how to do. If I do enough of it, I will continue to improve, and, in theory, someone out there is bound to notice. Next I’d like to be an overnight sensation.

Making up Riley Mansfield was fun.
Making up Riley Mansfield was fun.

In the meantime, do me the continued favor of reading in general and reading me in particular. If you’ve a desire to help measurably, read these: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

Picking Dumb, Day 2

Like the Painted Desert, I have no idea where my bowl picks came from.
Like the Painted Desert, I have no idea where my bowl picks came from.

[cb_profit_poster Lottery1]Clinton, S.C., Tuesday, December 31, 2013, 10:25 a.m.

Do not, repeat, do not bet based on my bowl picks. Lug Nut knows better. (John Clark photo)
Do not, repeat, do not bet based on my bowl picks. Lug Nut knows better. (John Clark photo)

This is going to be a brief blog, a mere update on the project of Monday, which was to predict football games solely on the basis of frivolous details. I went 3-1, missing only Texas Tech’s late-night victory over Arizona State because I figured the team from Tempe would enjoy a Holiday (Bowl) in San Diego better than one from Lubbock.

No word on how the Red Raiders fared at the beach, or if they even went there.

“Just” three bowl games are today. The first is a tough pick: Arizona vs. Boston College at the AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La. At first glance, both schools would seem out of place in Louisiana. I have driven through Shreveport many times but stopped only once and that was to have dinner at the Longhorn. Shreveport is loaded with casinos, so I’m picking the Wildcats because they are, oh, about a large western state away from Las Vegas, and Las Vegas trumps Mohegan Sun.

The AutoZone Liberty Bowl – all my visits to AutoZone have been noteworthy for the liberty I felt perusing the shelves – pits Mississippi State vs. Rice. I hope Rice wins – for years I have referred to the Owls as the Krispies – but I just see the Bulldogs, or, for that matter, any team called Bulldogs, as being better suited to “Memphis, Tennessee,” long-distance information or not. If only Rice had played in the Fight Hunger Bowl … That game was in San Francisco, and Rice-A-Roni is “the San Francisco Treat.”

Finally, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta pits Duke against Texas A&M. If Chick-Fil-A sandwiches came with mayonnaise (we love Duke’s around here), I’d pick the Blue Devils, but they don’t. My late friend, David Poole, a Chapel Hill man, used to call Duke “the University of New Jersey at Durham.” No way that team is going to beat Johnny Manziel/Football/Paycheck in Atlanta, which, I think, is the kind of place where Johnny Paycheck is going to let the good times roll.

Solidifying my pick is the fact that the real Paycheck had a hit song set in Atlanta, “The Only Hell Mama Ever Raised,” where he was in a stolen car and almost out of gas, needed some money and had lately learned how to get it fast. Manziel and the Aggies are accustomed to duress.

Relax. It’s bowl season, and it’s like an NCAA basketball pool. The ones who do all the research never win.

[cb_profit_poster Acting]