Ain’t No Use to Sit and Wonder Why

(Monte Dutton photo)

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

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

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

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

By Monte Dutton

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

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

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

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

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

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

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

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

Then he backslid and wrote a blog.

(Steven Novak cover design)

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

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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

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

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 through December 31. Links to print copies are below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just Another Night in the House Ross E. Templeton Built

Good thing she’s a blur. (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, January 30, 2016, 5:50 p.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I’m looking live at Presbyterian College’s Ross E. Templeton Center, where, at halftime, the Gardner-Webb University Bulldogs hold a tenuous, 25-23 edge over the homestanding Blue Hose in Big South women’s basketball.

I’ve written better leads.

It’s been a busy week on the local courts. I followed Laurens District 55 High School to Simpsonville, where Hillcrest resides, on Tuesday, watched Clinton High play Chester at home on Wednesday, and drove to Anderson, home of Westside, on Friday. Now I’m halfway through the first half of a doubleheader, which amounts overall to a quarter. The men take on Liberty later this evening.

Gardner Webb's Rick Reeves, who, in fairness, is younger than Jon Voight as Adolph Rupp.
Gardner Webb’s Rick Reeves, who, in fairness, is younger than Jon Voight as Adolph Rupp.

I’m not writing game stories on these tilts, so my notes are a little more ragged. So far, I’ve noted that Gardner-Webb head coach Rick Reeves reminds me of Jon Voight playing Adolph Rupp in Glory Road. I’ve scribbled that I think the Bulldogs’ uniforms are snazzy, but, in spite of my political preferences, I’ve a fondness for bright red.

Red Devils. Red Sox. It might be conditioned from birth.

Allie Wagner pulled down 11 rebounds.
Allie Wagner pulled down 11 rebounds.

Fan bases have their own personalities. Ohio State fans are feisty. Nebraska fans are loyal. Stanford fans are bright. Clemson fans wear bright colors.

Presbyterian fans are cranky. They gripe almost constantly. When I sit in the stands here, I do it, too, because it’s highly contagious, but now I’m sitting at the press table, dispassionate as always. All season, I’ve surmised that referees have been instructed to call traveling more often. It has effectively limited the ability of Blue Hose fans to scream “Walk!” constantly. Some have been known to infect their tonsils on the basis of the word walk alone.

DSCF1809If a basketball court had a lawn, PC fans would scream for the visiting team to get off it.

Coach Reeves/Voight/Rupp just got a technical foul. PC’s Aianna Kelly just hit two free throws, and the Blue Hose have suddenly built a 38-32 lead.

DSCF1796By the way, late in the first half, a Gardner-Webb player named Charlisa Jenkins made a shot for the ages … and was fouled. She was falling to her knees and put up a shot that didn’t seem geometrically possible until it took a bounce off the backboard that must have been affected by spin. Truly, I believe she is the Spin Doctor.


6:19 p.m.

For many years, I’ve had a hobby of giving teams names they should have, as opposed to ones they actually have. For instance, Tulane should be the Fighting Blacktop. The Tulane Blacktop. It’s really the Green Wave, or, maybe, the Green Waves. In South Carolina, we have a wealth of misplaced nicknames. Laurens should be the Arabians. Irmo should be the Bombecks (dated, I know), Chester the Drawers, Union the Labels, Dorman the Volcanoes, and Pickens the Slims. It was a great loss when Mayo High School stopped playing ball. I miss the Nays.

Sophomore center Evan Maxwell. He's definitely 6-10.
Sophomore center Evan Maxwell. He’s definitely 6-10.

Clinton’s playing Aiken in football come the fall. The Pains.

Ruben Arroyo
Ruben Arroyo

Why did I write this? Because I have decided that the university playing the Presbyterian men in a little while should be the Sweet Land of Liberty.

Of Thee I sing. The coliseum could be the Good Earth.

No one ever listens to my ideas.

8:30 p.m.

DSCF1808Big victory for the Blue Hose women. If one had based a prediction on the looks of the two teams, the only conclusion would have been that the rugged Gardner-Webb squad would have prevailed. One would have been wrong.

Ronny Fisher
Ronny Fisher

The 60-53 victory wasn’t as pretty as it seemed. Both teams shot 35 percent from the field, although Presbyterian was a 10th of a percent more accurate. The only major difference in the statistics of the squads was Presbyterian’s advantage in free throws. The Blue Hose hit 13 out of 15. Janie Miles and Taylor Petty each had three three-pointers, and three were how many Gardner-Webb had as a team.

Every time I enter the mine of Presbyterian’s women, I find another vein of ore attesting to Ronny Fisher’s coaching ability. He is a quiet, humble, patient, methodical teacher of fundamentals. I can’t think of another coach I’ve known who is more unassuming. I can’t think of many who were unassuming at all.

Janeil Jenkins
Janeil Jenkins

8:47 p.m.

Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay
Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay

The men’s team is now four minutes and a second into the second half, and Liberty leads, 43-37. I’ve had high hopes for the Blue Hose, who are vastly improved in every way that can’t be measured, but there’s plenty of time to regain control of this game. At the moment, the Flames are aptly named as they are shooting nearly 60 percent from the field, and have hit seven three-pointers.

9:19 p.m.

Liberty wins, 65-61. The Flames are young and big, and they’re going to get better next year than they are now. Somehow, Presbyterian grabbed four more rebounds, and the two teams made the same number of field goals, but 11 of Liberty’s and only six of Presbyterian’s counted for three, and so were the die cast.

The Presbyterian men (8-13) have risen by one, and fallen by one, 12, and four points in the past two weeks. Coastal Carolina, which clobbered them earlier, visits on Wednesday.

Gregg Nibert
Gregg Nibert

Although I didn’t really need to query him for the purposes of this column, I spoke briefly with Gregg Nibert, the Blue Hose’ indefatigable head coach, afterwards. It seems as if every loss just makes him more determined to turn the corner. Ten of his 16 players are freshmen or sophomores. The splendid sophomore, DeSean Murray, had 23 points and seven rebounds against Liberty. It’s the usual. He entered the game averaging 20.1 and 7.8.

“We’re young,” Nibert said as he walked away. “We’ll be okay.”

On the other hand, Liberty’s roster has 11 who are freshmen and sophomores. It gets better, but it never gets easy.

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

The editing process is complete, and I’ll let you know when Forgive Us Our Trespasses is available for download from Kindle Publishing. It’s a tale of crime and corruption, young and old, good and bad, cops and robbers, etc.

Meanwhile, Crazy of Natural Causes, set in Kentucky and concerning the reinvention of a football coach, was published late last summer, and, if you haven’t read it, I’d appreciate it if you’d give it a look here:

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

My second novel, The Intangibles (2013), is about a high school football coach and his players trying to cope with rapid change in the 1960s South.

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

The first, The Audacity of Dope (2011), is about a pot-smoking folksinger who wants no part of being a national hero. The accidental hero learns how to be a real one.

My short stories, book reviews, and essays are here:

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton. I’m a tad more irreverent @wastedpilgrim and a little more literary @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50. Um, I think that’s it. Oh, yeah. Google+. I’m on there, too.


Just Another Snowy Weekend

Here come the Red Devils, but these were just the latest.
Here come the Red Devils, but these were just the latest.

Gotta an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, November 2, 2014, 9:46 a.m.

A November snow is one thing, but it seemed unbelievable when I awakened on Saturday morning and found snow on the ground the very first day of November. I had gone to bed secure in the assurances from several “staff meteorologists” that none of the white stuff was going to penetrate our version of the snow Maginot Line, Interstate Eighty-Five.

It was already melting when I left for the Presbyterian game.
It was already melting when I left for the Presbyterian game.

I should have been suspicious when the electricity flicked on and off several times in the wee hours.

Sometimes the ballgames don’t go well, but it doesn’t mean one can’t have fun.

Some of Clinton High School's heroes from the past.
Some of Clinton High School’s heroes from the past.

On Friday night, Clinton High School celebrated a thousand football games – the thousandth actually happened in Chester, so South Pointe visited for a thousand and one – by honoring players from olden times to the present, and I was the emcee, which meant I read a long script on Red Devil history to the accompaniment of scenes on the video message board and the presence of banners and erstwhile ballplayers on the field. I spent most of the game sitting in the press box with my old line coach, Harold Williams, chatting on a wide range of topics. Unfortunately, the Red Devils fell short in their upset bid against the Stallions, twenty-one to fourteen, but it was an admirable performance.

Snow wasn’t Saturday’s only surprise. I thought it even more miraculous to learn that Clinton had made the playoffs by virtue of being two and eight overall … but two and three in the region. In 1965, ten and one wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs. In 1970 and ’71, nine victories weren’t enough.

Times change. Sometimes a flame is but an ember, and sometimes snow falls in November.

Sharon Sanders and Presbyterian College's Scotsman mascot were ready to rumble. (Monte Dutton)
Sharon Sanders and Presbyterian College’s Scotsman mascot were ready to rumble. (Monte Dutton)

It was brisk at Presbyterian College, raining when I got there, to join friends who allow me to behave as if I went to college there, principally because my old friend Brent Sanders, who, like me, went to Furman, has a son, Hayden, who plays for the Blue Hose.

Where miracles are concerned, this year’s Blue Hose have provided their share. A year removed from three and eight, Presbyterian is five and four at present, and the losses have been against Northern Illinois, North Carolina State, and FCS (that’s Football Championship Subdivision) powers Coastal Carolina and Liberty.

Hexing the Flames didn't help, but it was all in good fun. (Monte Dutton)
Hexing the Flames didn’t help, but it was all in good fun. (Monte Dutton)

Unfortunately, the Liberty game was Saturday, and the Flames quenched the high Hose hopes by a score of twenty-eight to seven.

As Brent said, “The chief problem is that Liberty is good.”

The Blue Hose played hard, and so, too, did the tailgate party across the street from Bailey Memorial Stadium’s end-zone fieldhouse. Everything was plentiful, and there might have been enough to tailgate the whole home crowd.

I went home thoroughly tailgated, which I didn’t fully realize until I came in from the cold.

I don’t just write blogs, friends. I write actual books. You can find them here.