Say It Ain’t So, Hose

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, November 13, 2017, 11:12 a.m.

And you know the sun’s settin’ fast
And just like they say nothing good ever lasts
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye but hold on to your lover
‘Cause your heart’s bound to die
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town
Can’t you see the sun’s settin’ down on our town, on our town
Goodnight

By Monte Dutton

This Iris DeMent song, released in 1993, always floods into my mind when I get sentimental. This time it’s over our college in our town. Specifically, it’s about football, a favorite topic of my nostalgia glands, which are near and dear to my heart as well as being mythical.

Presbyterian College is not my alma mater. Furman University is, and seldom have I been prouder than on Saturday as I watched the Paladins conquer The Citadel, 56-20.

I have fondness for PC, too. It’s funny that the first college football game I remember was Presbyterian at Furman, won by the Paladins, 13-9, at Sirrine Stadium. Thanks to the web that goes worldwide, I know that game was in 1968, when I was 10, but I remembered the score. Maybe that was why I went to Furman. Maybe it was fated, even though I didn’t make the decision until seven years later. I never imagined going anywhere except Clemson until the fall of 1975, when I visited Furman with a high-school football teammate who was being recruited. Oddly enough, my friend, Roy Walker, went to PC. Furman wanted Roy but captured me, and I wasn’t any good at football.

Now, as my alma mater returns to prominence, Presbyterian football is endangered, and my roots run deep at both schools.

Some of the best times my father and I ever had were sitting in wooden stands behind the end zones – inside th

Sports in the Background

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, March 9, 2017, 12:53 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

Hmm. Missouri beat Auburn. A basketball game was on TV at 11 a.m. It was in Nashville. It was 10 there. I wasn’t paying much attention until the overtime. I was crossing the magical 200-page barrier in my next novel. Fifty-four thousand words. I’ve got to write about an airplane soon. In fact, I’m maneuvering the whole shebang in for a landing.

As Bobby Bare used to sing, Ride me down easy, Lord, ride me on down.

The Tar Heels are playing the Hurricanes in Brooklyn. Let me check my program guide. By gosh, San Diego State is going to play Boise State in the Mountain West quarterfinal. That tips at 11:30 p.m.

Next thing you know, the time will change.

I haven’t watched much baseball. The Red Sox pounded the Braves on TV. Furman beat Presbyterian on a Tuesday afternoon before Clinton High’s final playoff basketball victory. I have only watched one of the local high school teams practice.

I watched the Red Devils win a pulsating 1-0 soccer match over a team representing a club of home-schooled kids.

The Chicago Blackhawks, my favorite hockey team, has been playing especially well, particularly on those rare occasions when I’m watching.

(Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images for NASCAR)

And, of course, there’s NASCAR.

Most of this week’s news has been about the future. At Charlotte Motor Speedway, they’re apparently going to run a fall race through the infield. Las Vegas, site of this week’s Sprint Cup race, is getting a second race. Both items aren’t going to happen until 2018.

So chill for now. Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que, sera, sera.

I’m going back to fiction.

Get back to the country, back in the barn aga-ain.

Bobby Bare, Doris Day, and Neil Young. All in one blog. Sometimes I amaze myself.

(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).

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).

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).

Money Isn’t Important If You Got It

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
(Photos and sketches by Monte Dutton unless otherwise noted)
(Photos and sketches by Monte Dutton unless otherwise noted)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, December 6, 2016, 1:15 p.m.

It was an intimate morning. I deleted spam messages on my website, so I monitored such personal messages as:

This makes it a virtuous rootage of straightaway of straightaway sprightliness and an first-class effectuation to retrieve from weariness.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Such profundity. I wonder if it’s written in code.

Then I applied the finishing touches to Chapter 25: Mickey’s Beat, in the first draft of my next novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

img_0417I made arrangements to write about a high school football playoff game Friday night.

Not that I needed any further inspiration, but I half-watched a documentary on America’s great natural wonders to further fire my synapses.

Of course, I checked the social media. That goes without saying. One must keep apprised of the various aspects of life that keep us rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell. Yes, Merle, the good times are really over for good. I miss you, but it was a good time to check out. Rest in peace.

win_20150115_130445Twitter is as addictive as ice cream. Facebook is as aggravating as robocalls. Thank goodness for the stimulating photos of kids, cats and casseroles.

“Every day is a new day” is truer than it was when people actually said it.

The next financial challenge is getting property taxes paid. The holidays are the time for me when money comes in the least and is needed the most. I know I’m not like everyone else with things like salaries and benefits, but most people didn’t decide 30 years ago to go into a business that was as doomed as cowboys and the buffaloes they hunted.

I don’t think this simile occurred to me while I was writing Cowboys Come Home. It’s more hopeful because it’s set in a time before I was born.

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

Perhaps it’s too much of a good thing that I can check my Amazon book sales every hour. At the moment, Cowboys Come Home and The Intangibles are surging. Next hour, it might be The Audacity of Dope and Forgive Us Our Trespasses. Crazy of Natural Causes has been selling well because it’s on sale for $.99 all month.

Current Average Customer Review (Scale of 5)

  1. Cowboys Come Home (2016) 5.0
  2. The Audacity of Dope (2011) 4.8
  3. The Intangibles (2013) 4.8
  4. Crazy of Natural Causes (2015) 4.3
  5. Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016) 3.9

Is there anyone else who reads out there? I mean, more than 140 characters at a time, and in numbers greater than the attendance of your average NASCAR truck race? Reading is good. This has been widely known for a thousand years. Why not try it? You can read Crazy of Natural Causes for the cost of the smallest French fries you can find. If you don’t like it, what have you lost? Your French fries got stale. That’s all.

If you buy my short-story collection, Longer Songs, you can pick and choose between small, contained stories. It’s not available for Kindle (or phones, tablets, laptops, iAnythings) but it’s only $12.95 in print. Last night 10 wings, some fried cheese balls and a Diet Dr. Pepper cost me $16 at Zaxby’s. Had I to do it over, I’d have been waited on at Fatz Café, and that way I could have read a book on my phone while waiting for the salmon Caesar salad I had the last time I went there.

Am I a snob to think reading my fiction ought to be worth as much a small order of fries? You can taste the fries or taste the fiction. The fiction lasts longer, but stick with it and it satisfies more.

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

Ah, rubbish. My novels aren’t for everyone like fries are. They have bad language, crime, sex, drugs, and all sorts of things one never encounters in everyday life, or on the Internet, or on TV.

I really ought to be ashamed of myself. I’m not, though. I think what I’m doing with my life is righteous. Then there’s the matter of not being able to do anything else.

Last night I got a call from a nice fellow raising money for my alma mater. I told him that I couldn’t understand why someone like him always calls at the time of the year when people are spending every dime they can spare on making a kid’s eyes light up on Christmas morning. I told him I’d give some money to Furman next time I had it to spare, but that might be a while.

Going to school there costs about a dozen times as much as when I did. I reckon that fellow needs the money, 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. 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)

On the Road and in the TV

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

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, October 9, 2016, 10:19 a.m.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Clinton High School scored 45 points on Thursday night. Laurens District High School put up 48 on Friday night. Both are 3-4 and rising, or so it seems now, because a winning team always looks better after winning than vice-versa. Everyone overreacts every week, but erring on the side of optimism is less stressful.

This was the first time both of Laurens County’s public schools won on the same week. Due to the accident of weather, I was able to write about both games – Clinton over Mid-Carolina, 45-7, and Laurens over Wade Hampton, 48-28 – without ever being more than drizzled upon.

Herewith, Clinton, story and video.

Herewith, Laurens, story.

Herewith, Laurens, video.

En route to these stories and videos, I made some other observations along the way:

A team lined up for first-and-goal at the one. On the ensuing play, a penalty was called on the opposing team. That made it first-and-goal at the three. If that ruling was right, then the rule was wrong.

T'is a blur.
‘Tis a blur.

A visit as far away as Wade Hampton High School requires one to file a story from near the site in order to meet the newspaper deadline. My first duty upon arriving was to discern the location of the nearest McDonald’s because it is open until midnight and its wi-fi reliable. One was located on Wade Hampton Boulevard at the foot of a hill where perched the high school. I went inside to make sure that, even though the weekend’s first rains were approaching, it would follow regular working hours. Several kids were having milk shakes, sundaes and the like. I correctly surmised that they were on the cross country team. (“Do you ever, like, write about cross country?”) Later on, in the press box, I discovered that one was also in the chorus.

In a few years, I may be an expert on the location of all Upstate McDonald’ses. Perhaps I will write a song to the tune of “King of the Road”: I know every McDonald’s in every town / All of those children / Hangin’ around / Every item on the dollar menu / All located near the high school venue.

Hey, everybody sing!

Why must a chorus, there to sing the national anthem, wear its rather formal outfits – tasteful, I concede – while performing the song from the press box? I liked it, but I was in the press box, where people do not normally dress for my benefit. In the grandstand below, people were facing the Stars and Stripes, as well they should.

I was quartered, along with a similarly free-lancing friend, in a room with a view through windows that were prone to fog. My friend told me briefly about what Donald Trump had said. I dismissed it, figuring that what Trump had said probably wasn’t much different from what he says or tweets every day. I’ve heard “oh, this time Trump really went and did it” many times. I had grown inured to his pomposity. When I got home from Wade Hampton (Greenville), sleepless and watching TV with a mug of coffee that was counterproductive, the news channels were steaming along like locomotives.

This would have been a happy weekend had I not watched the Furman and Presbyterian games on my laptop Saturday. The Boston Red Sox also lost, on Thursday and Friday, while I was watching high school games. Because I was occupied, it didn’t hurt as badly.

The stock car race was supposed to have been last night, but mean old Matthew took care of that, and now I’m getting ready to watch the Bank of America 500, which is to take the green flag at 12:05 p.m. on Sunday, as God (literally) intended. Strangely, an undercard is afterward. Rain also washed an Xfinity race away until, uh, late this afternoon, after the Masters of the Universe compete.

I haven’t really caught up, but it’s my suspicion that National (“buh-buh-buh-BUH!”) Football is in the offing today, not to mention, Major Baseball, and, apparently, a presidential debate. I doubt I’ll spend much time today checking to see if a good movie’s on, or what’s up with the weather. If Matthew circles back around, I’ll never see him coming.

 

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

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy 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)

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.

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 Name’s Ramirez. Hanley Ramirez.

Fenway Park: I've been there many times, but not lately, and I'm unlikely to get back up there soon. (Monte Dutton photos)
Fenway Park: I’ve been there many times, but not lately, and I’m unlikely to get back up there soon. (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, September 16, 2016, 10:38 a.m.

The week started to turn late last night. I was watching TV with the sound muted when David Ortiz hit his 537th home run, surpassing Mickey Mantle’s career total. Then I got finished editing a video – it was to promote my books – and turned the sound back on when ninth-inning singles by Ortiz and Mookie Betts made it 5-4.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

It had been 5-1, Yankees, before Ortiz hit his eighth-inning blast. It was still 5-2 when the ninth inning began.

Hanley Ramirez. Ortiz is amazing for a 40-year-old man. Ramirez is amazing compared to last year. It wasn’t just a home run. It was a blast to dead center. Walk-off homers don’t happen every night.

Thus energized, I set my song “Go Big Red” – written about the Clinton Red Devils, not the Boston Red Sox – to yet another video, which meant I took about five takes to get all the words right, and wound up with the video still uploading on YouTube when I was asleep.

3 … 2 … 1 … When I was growing up the biggest thing … uh … around … damn it.

3 … 2 … 1 … When I was growing up the biggest thing around our town … was watching my old high school play, they didn’t mess around …

Most times I got to the second or third verse before I screwed up, but, well, I was in the mood.

Now the Red Sox are two games ahead of the Orioles and five ahead of the New Yorkers, and new versions of “There You Are” and “Go Big Red” are posted online. Fame and fortune are sure to follow.

DSCF3712But first, there’s a high school game between the Red Devils and the highly regarded Abbeville Panthers – it will be several weeks before Clinton plays a team that is not highly regarded – to watch, take notes and pictures, and write about on deadline.

And I’m going to watch the Furman Paladins take on the Chattanooga Mocs tomorrow night. Chattanooga hasn’t allowed a point so far this season.

Paladins and Moccasins. Blue Hose and Camels (Campbell, in Buies Creek, which, I understand is in North Carolina). I might walk a mile for a Camel, but I’m not going to drive to North Carolina.

Hope springs eternal, though, because the Red Sox have prevailed over the Yankees.

It can all turn on one swing of the bat.

 

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

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is on Amazon sale at $2. Surely my work is worth that much of a gamble.

(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.

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 Weekend That Was

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

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, September 13, 2016, 7:38 a.m.

On Sunday afternoon, I walked out of Bi-Lo humming the theme from The Rifleman. I have no idea why. I haven’t watched a rerun of it lately.

Bum-bum-bum-buh-BUM-bum, bum-bum-bum-BUM …

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

What a momentous weekend. So much was happening I went to the supermarket to think about nothing.

Like most weekends, it had its ups and downs. I like to say that things are seldom mediocre for me. Either everything goes right or nothing does, but, in truth, most days are in between. I just remember the good and bad ones more.

dscf3767Friday night’s Laurens District High School victory over Irmo was inspiring. Then word arrived that Clinton had lost in Aiken.

Presbyterian got drubbed at Chattanooga, 34-0. The Citadel upended Furman, 19-14. I watched both games on my laptop. Denny Hamlin won the caution-marred and wreck-filled Federated Auto Parts 400 in Richmond.

Mookie Betts energizes the ballclub. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Mookie Betts energizes the ballclub. (Monte Dutton sketch)

On the other hand, the Boston Red Sox are running wide open. With 19 games left, they lead the Blue Jays by two games, the Orioles by three and the Yankees by five. David Ortiz hit his 536th homer last night, tying Mickey Mantle. Mookie Betts has become my favorite major-league player, partly because he wears my old high school football number and partly because he is the most exciting player to watch since Ken Griffey Jr.’s prime. Maybe Willie Mays’. Last night Betts caught the Birds napping and dashed unexpectedly home. He performs such magic quite often.

Billy Dunlap announces plans for the Laurens County Sports Hall of Fame.
Billy Dunlap announces plans for the Laurens County Sports Hall of Fame.

On Monday, I attended a media conference announcing the formation of a Laurens County Sports Hall of Fame and drove home to write a story about it. Then I did my due diligence on the high school games – Abbeville at Clinton, Laurens at Boiling Springs, Laurens Academy at Cathedral Academy – and I’m going to give LDHS coach Chris Liner a weekly call shortly. Then I’ll call Clinton’s Andrew Webb at mid-morning and LA’s Todd Kirk either afterwards or tomorrow morning.

This Friday’s assignment is Abbeville (3-0-1) at Clinton (1-2).

Between tomorrow morning and Friday night, I get to work on my next novel. The rough draft rose above 30,000 words last week. The latest published novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is on Amazon Kindle sale for $2 until the end of the month. I should find out soon whether or not the fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, is going to be published in the KindleScout program. My last two novels, Forgive Us Our Trespasses and Crazy of Natural Causes, have been published in that program, but I’m not sure Amazon is interested in a modern western. I hope so. It’s something completely different for me. I believe in it, and if it doesn’t get accepted, I’ll move on to Plan B. The nomination period – Amazon likes to survey what potential readers think of it – ends in two days (as these word are written). If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, and you haven’t done so already, I’d appreciate it if you’d consider nominating it here.

Obligations are closing in. In the next month, I’ve got a lot of record-keeping and paperwork to catch up on. I’ve got to prepare Cowboys Come Home for print release, regardless of whether or not Amazon chooses it for the KindleScout program.

Troy Dendy rushed for 216 yards.
Troy Dendy rushed for 216 yards.

For a free-lancer, my life has become rather regimented, which is mainly good. I don’t get out much, and feel lonely a fair amount of the time, but solitude has its advantages and observation is more important than interaction.

I’ve been a bit glum lately, but my highs aren’t that high nor the lows that low. I’ve just hunkered down. I’ve decided I’m doing what I do, it is my fate, my only workable option, and it’s not merely that I love writing – whether about a high school football game or a chapter of fiction about a quirky teacher’s first day of school – but it’s what I’m supposed to do, all I really know how to do at this stage of my life, and the best path, however snarled, to success.

(Steven Novak cover design)
(Steven Novak cover design)

Please visit the KindleScout site and consider nominating my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, for publication. You’ll find sample chapters, a short synopsis and a Q&A. Take a look at it here.

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

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is on Amazon sale at $2. Surely my work is worth that much of a gamble.

(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.

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 Difference a Week Makes

Laurens (green) and Chapman meet for the coin toss. (Monte Dutton photos)
Laurens (green) and Chapman meet for the coin toss. (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, September 3, 2016, 12:21 p.m.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

If I had it to do over, I’d have worn an old pair of shoes. The rain was gone at K.C. Hanna Stadium in Laurens, but the new turf was squishy and so was the game.

It was a rough night all around in the county. Chapman pulled away late to defeat the Raiders, 49-33 – it was 33-28, Laurens, halfway through the third quarter – and soon news arrived from Greer that the Yellow Jackets had defeated Clinton, 21-7.

LDHS head coach Chris Liner chats with the officials.
LDHS head coach Chris Liner chats with the officials.

It was the usual for me. I talked to both coaches, offered some words of hope to a Raider lineman as he filed out the gate the same time I did, cursed a slowpoke with a Mississippi tag driving 20 miles an hour down West Main Street in Clinton, thanked the Lord when the decision to follow the slow Hyundai kept me from getting held up by a freight train, pulled in the garage, left groceries (non-perishable) in the truck, turned on the TV and the laptop, printed out the game stats, and wrote the best 450 or so words I could by midnight.

Then, fueled by coffee, I watched the Big Ten Network replay of Michigan State against Furman. A 28-13 loss by my alma mater to the 12th-ranked team in the country was the closest thing to victory this Friday brought.

This morning I continued my love affair with coffee, listened to “Saturday Morning Rewind” on WPCC-AM 1410 with Buddy Bridges, Gene Simmons, Clinton coach Andrew Webb, Presbyterian College coach Harold Nichols and some very special guests, all live from Whiteford’s Drive-In.

Nichols was available because he was back from Mount Pleasant, where Central Michigan had defeated the Blue Hose, 49-3, on Thursday night.

DSCF3734

The enthusiasm was a bit forced Saturday morning. All they had left in the Whitman’s Sampler were dark chocolate — a tad bitter, but with the hope of sweetness next week — when Laurens hosts Irmo, Clinton visits Aiken, and Presbyterian crosses the mountains to Chattanooga.

(Chattanooga makes me think of Yosemite Sam, rearing on his horse, swinging his sword, and yelling, “The Yankees are in Chattanooga!” and then he roars off to find a baseball game going on.)

It’s always darkest just before the dawn. I don’t really think that’s true, but it can’t hurt to believe it.

As much as I try to be dispassionate – yes, I try to hold my professional reserve even though I’ve gotten to know all these coaches and many of these plays – last night was difficult to watch.

DSCF3735

Laurens led Chapman, 33-28, until Chapman took the lead and dominated the fourth quarter. By game’s end, a star running back, D.Q. Floyd, was out with a concussion and the starting quarterback, Nathan Rutter, had wrecked his knee.

Chris Liner
Chris Liner

Chris Liner, the immensely likable head coach, likened the plot of his first two games to one of my novels. As he was saying this, I was thinking of The Twilight Zone.

“Fan” is short for “fanatic.” Fanatics are quite often manic-depressive by nature. A team wins to a chorus of hosannas. It loses to a deep, irritable rumble.

Two games and two losses into a season, a coach has to fight a nauseating feeling. We’re not good enough! We’ve got to get better! How?

He knows better than to panic. He knows he must stay the course. He knows he must teach his players to do what they do better.

Coaches hitch up their britches and go back to work. It’s what they know.

Here’s a brief video on the Chapman-Laurens game.

(Steven Novak cover design)
(Steven Novak cover design)

Please visit the KindleScout site and consider nominating my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, for publication. You’ll find sample chapters, a short synopsis and a Q&A. Take a look at it here.

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

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is on Amazon sale at $2. Surely my work is worth that much of a gamble.

(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.

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).

Avoiding the Perils of Knowing Enough to Be Dangerous

(Monte Dutton photos)
(Monte Dutton photos)

 

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 11:44 a.m.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

I thought I had been everywhere. Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Kingston, Albuquerque … and some that Hank Snow never even mentioned in his song.

I thought I had done everything, particularly in regard to the writing of sports: NASCAR and all kinds of pastimes requiring, balls, pucks, pins, bats, sticks, cleats, wickets, racquets and girdle pads. Those are just samples. Helmets. Hats. Caps. You get it. I’ve written about lots of sports.

On Tuesday, I wrote for the first time about eight-man football and volleyball. I sent in volleyball results when I was a sports information director, and I watched it on TV on both beaches and wooden floors. I’ve seen people play beach volleyball at a bar in the mountains. The variety of volleyball I saw at the gym was … clearer. No one suggested I take part.

DSCF3658

The eight-man football was at Laurens Academy, where I watched practice a while and wrote a preview of Friday night’s opener against Holly Hill Academy. Then it was off to run a couple errands and stop off at Yo Cup for coffee both in a cup and in a cake. Then I migrated to the locally famed rivalry between Laurens District and Clinton high schools, this one with the combatants separated by a net.

DSCF3685I’m vaguely conversant in volleyball. I know what a dig is. It’s what happens when a reader takes a shot at something I wrote. A spike makes me happy with my book sales. A serve? Dum vivimus servimus. “While we breathe, we serve.” It’s the Presbyterian College motto. I didn’t go to PC, but I’ve learned that motto from repeatedly seeing the seal for the entirety of my life. I went to Furman. Christo et doctrinae. “Christ and His teachings.” A little service involved there, too.

DSCF3672Clinton’s service was excellent. It played a powerful role in the Red Devils’ 25-10, 25-19, 25-14 (i.e., 3-0) victory over the Raiders. Here’s my amateurish account in the Greenwood Index-Journal. When amateurish and in doubt, crafty veterans among the ink-stained wretches (now a bit more radioactively challenged in the technological age) resort to extensive quotes from the experts, the coaches. If we don’t know what happened, we are only too happy to let them tell us.

DSCF3673

DSCF3689There’s no need to feign authoritative knowledge. Nothing is more annoying than a journalist who thinks he knows more about engine building than Robert Yates or Ernie Elliott. Elliott, by the way, from experience, isn’t inclined to share. The job isn’t to know everything. It’s to make it comprehensible to others who don’t know everything, either.

My first postgame question to Clinton High School coach Jo Webb was, “Was this an upset?” She said she didn’t think so but in enough words to be helpful. When Laurens’ Diane Raabe said she didn’t want to take questions and would make a statement, that was fine. That was way cool.

I didn’t want to coach the Olympic team. I wanted 12 inches on the dadgum match.

DSCF3656

Please visit the KindleScout site and consider nominating my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, for publication. You’ll find sample chapters, a short synopsis and a Q&A. Take a look at it here.

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

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(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.

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).