There Were Commercials?

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, February 6, 2017, 1:03 p.m.

Football began in the heat of summer, watching high-school teams play seven-on-seven games of catch.

It ended last night with New England’s 34-28 verdict over Atlanta in Super Bowl LI. LI is the Roman numeral for 51. It takes a big event to rate a Roman numeral. It’s not Game VII of the World Series. Nor is it Week XIX at the local dirt track, or Race VIII of the NASCAR, uh, playoffs (nee Chase).

By Monte Dutton

This game was unprecedented because (a.) it took overtime to settle, (b.) the Falcons led by 28 points late in the third quarter, and (c.) Tom Brady won it for the fifth time.

It was also unprecented because, for the first time, I ate nothing in an entire day but pizza. I’m not going to continue the Pizza Diet, which it most certainly was not. Already today, I’ve had eggs.

So that’s one positive that emerged from the Falcons’ crash.

In the second quarter, some were comparing Brady with Peyton Manning’s performance last year. In overtime, they were still comparing the two, only the means had changed from “time to retire” to “greatest ever.”

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

A similar switch – “Dan Quinn is outcoaching Bill Belichick” to “Quinn blew the game” – also occurred during the same time span.

Immediacy continues to get more and more ridiculous.

New England has a 1.3 percent chance of winning.

New England now has a 19.3 percent chance of winning.

New England now has a 38.7 percent chance of winning.

New England now has a 51.1 percent chance of winning.

New England won.

Peyton Manning left Tom Brady alone at the top. (Monte Dutton sketch)

Fortunately, all the players are well-paid. Otherwise, they might have decided to stop playing and go buy scratch-offs.

The Super Bowl was a complete success, mourning of Falcons fans notwithstanding. Both teams beat the commercials. The biggest surprise wasn’t the comeback. It was the number of people on social media who claimed they’d rather endure gastric distress at halftime than endure Lady Gaga, then admitted they were wrong and she put on quite a show.

I’ve always disliked the name of American football’s biggest game. Super Bowl just seems undignified. It lacks the gravitas of World Series, or even Great American Race. Superman. The Super Ball, made by Wham-O! Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Even though the sound of this particular game was often quite precocious.

(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).

For Want of Coffee

Vince Pawless (left) and Andy Serna. (Monte Dutton photos)
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Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 9:54 a.m.

The Patriots beat the Ravens.

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

The new coffeemaker hasn’t arrived yet.

By Monte Dutton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Why This Stupid Story Must Last Forever

Wilder Stadium
(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 11:34 a.m.

First of all, a brief story. Some years back, I was in Florida early for Speedweeks, and the New England Patriots were playing the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, which was in Jacksonville, and I went to a bar in St. Augustine to watch some friends play music. I wore a Red Sox cap because I’m a fan, and I wear a Boston cap a lot of times if I’m wearing a cap at all.

When I got to the bar, people I didn’t know either acted like we were friends or seemed notably standoffish. It took several minutes of high fives and thumbs downs before I realized that the Patriots fans all thought I was one and the Eagles fans thought I wasn’t.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I’ve rooted for the Red Sox all my life because my father’s baseball hero was Ted Williams. He also loved Johnny Unitas, which was why I grew up rooting for the Baltimore Colts. My love of the Red Sox wasn’t based on geography. I respect the Patriots and still do, but they’re in that middle ground of teams I neither like nor dislike.

What “Deflategate” demonstrates, to me, is, (1.) I can’t believe how every scandal has to have a “-gate” at the end of it, more than forty years after Watergate, and (2.) most people will forgive a sin, but they can’t abide a hypocrite.

I can’t believe that Tom Brady hasn’t noticed this.

I don’t believe the Patriots went to the Super Bowl, and won it, last year because Brady was throwing a football with less air in it. I believe Brady probably let it be known that he liked the feel of footballs with a little less air in them, and the people in charge of such things tried to make their star quarterback happy. They managed to get the balls approved by the referees, and it seems to me that, if anyone was at fault, it was the refs who probably held the footballs, squeezed them, and deemed them suitable for use.

As far as great scandals go, this one is pretty weak.

Unfortunately, Brady, instead of saying, over and over, “I don’t really think this is a big deal,” responded by imitating a weasel, and, like about a thousand politicians and a similar number of coaches, recruiters, lawyers, used-car salesmen, and guys who sell fruit on the side of the road, played that plausible-deniability game until he ran out of plausibility.

Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone.

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

When I was a kid, I used to try to play football without hip pads — I got caught once by the officials — because I thought it allowed me to move better. I could’ve gotten hurt, and, if I had, it would have been my fault. No one told me to do it. I got in trouble when the zebras nabbed me. I had to run after practice the next Monday.

I remember reading books by Jerry Kramer, the great guard of the Green Bay Packers, in which he said he always wore shoulder pads that were too small for the same reason. (I tried that, too, but the coaches wouldn’t let me get away with it and made me wear the pads all the other linemen wore.)

Some good has come from this. For instance, when the season begins this year, I bet the zebras will pay more attention to the footballs being submitted for approval before the games.

I really didn’t blame Brady much until this cell-phone destruction business came along.

Now I just think, Tom, you’re a great quarterback, and this is a really stupid way to ruin your reputation and legacy.

In conclusion, what a dumbass.

In my new novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, I wrote the following about Chance Benford, who begins the story as a football coach: “Chance couldn’t make those boys good players, but he could make them passable actors.” You can buy it here: 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

 

Starring Carroll and Belichick, Directed by Hitchcock

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Pete Carroll called a pass when a run would have worked just fine. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Pete Carroll called a pass when a run would have worked just fine. (Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, February 2, 2015, 9:45 a.m.

Many years ago, I was sitting on a bed in a motel room in Johnson City, Tennessee, waiting to take a bus to a basketball game between Furman and East Tennessee State, and watching a football game between Auburn and Alabama. It was a little over thirty years ago, the Iron Bowl of 1984.

Auburn, with Bo Jackson, faced fourth down and less than a yard to go, at the Alabama one. A chip-shot field goal would have given the Tigers the lead, eighteen to seventeen, but coach Pat Dye figured Jackson could make a yard against anyone.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I turned to my roommate, the head trainer – I was Furman’s sports information director at the time – and said, “Sometimes, if you make a call that stupid, God will turn on you.”

Jackson went left. The play went right, lost two or three yards, Alabama took over and wound up winning, seventeen to fifteen, though Auburn did have one more chance at a field goal, a long one, that curved left at the end.

What made me think of that long-ago afternoon? Why, of course, the ending of Sunday night’s Super Bowl. Coach Pete Carroll had second down and less than a yard to the end zone, with Marshawn Lynch in his backfield, thirty seconds on the clock, and a timeout left. Instead, the offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, called a pass that Carroll presumably approved, and the Patriots’ Malcolm Butler definitely intercepted, to seal New England’s twenty-eight to twenty-four victory.

Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were shocked. Former players now employed as analysts were shocked. Many Seahawks players were shocked. Sitting at home, I was shocked. Hundreds of millions were shocked. Many of those parked at the border of blue and green, where the Seahawks’ uniforms dwell, were shocked and enraged.

Kim Jung’un may have thought it a good call. He may have asked Dennis Rodman.

“Mr. Rodman?”

“Yes, Miss Tyler?”

“Brutal dictator, line two.”

“My man, Jung! How’s it hanging?”

As tempting as it is to expand upon my tweets at the time – “Somebody ought to check the air pressure in Pete Carroll’s head,” “The Seahawks didn’t run it. Anything to keep Marshawn Lynch from being fined,” “Little-known fact: 100 million Americans majored in play-calling,” et al. – a few other items occurred to me.

First of all, being a football coach isn’t a matter of playing the percentages all the time. Great coaches take chances at the right time, such as at the end of the other half, when Carroll, with only six seconds showing on the clock, passed up a field goal and opted for a risky pass that worked for a touchdown. I thought he was nuts then, but little did I know …

If the Seahawks had opted for a field goal then, the game would have been different. I don’t buy the ridiculous notion that it would have progressed in exactly the same fashion, and that Seattle would have been trailing by eight points instead of four, had the field goal been kicked and not the touchdown scored. That’s sort of like saying the pass at the end of the game would have been completed had Jim Zorn lived later, or, if Tom Brady had been drafted by the Seahawks, or if the receiver had been a tight end, or if Daniel Snyder didn’t own the Redskins, or if dinosaurs and humans had lived at the same time.

Right up to the time that Butler made the game-saving pick, it made no sense to me that the New England coach, Bill Belichick, was allowing the clock to run down. The Seahawks were at the one, thirty seconds on the clock, and Belichick put his team’s hopes on stopping Lynch from less than a yard on two plays. Miraculously, it wasn’t required.

My observation is that few coaches are geniuses. The best ones are the ones who can think clearly in an atmosphere where few can. The same is true of NASCAR crew chiefs. When a crowd is cheering, a band blaring, engines roaring, adrenaline rushing, five assistants screaming in the headset at the same time, it’s difficult for most humans to think clearly.

Try it sometime.

The best defense Carroll (and Bevell) are getting is “if the play had worked, no one would have said a word,” and that’s true, but people tend to talk, write, read, and think about what happened, not what didn’t.

What if Sid Luckman had quarterbacked the Seahawks? Well, he probably wouldn’t have lasted very long, what with the leather helmet.

It was a hell of a victory for the Patriots, one tough loss for the Seahawks, and a pleasure for most of the millions, or multimillions, or billions, however many watched it, and whatever percentage understood what they were watching. Down the road, time might just leave it at that, though, at the moment, relief is out of sight.

Pete Carroll is a fine coach who, at this moment, looks remarkably like General George Armstrong Custer with shorter hair and a different uniform. Carroll’s result was better. He will coach again.

If you haven’t already, I think you may enjoy the latest short story, which is shorter than most. It’s about some unfortunate bettors on “Super Sunday,” and is at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com. My books are available online here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

Gated Communities

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

"36, x-cross, trips left, on three, ready, break!" (Monte Dutton)
“36, x-cross, trips left, on three, ready, break!” (Monte Dutton)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, January 22, 2015, 8:32 a.m.

I once prided myself on my ability to read Dr. Seuss to children. It’s been many years now, but I think the good (and late) doctor might’ve made a crack sportswriter had he been so inclined.

Who took the air out of the ball? / Who was the man who had the gall / To tap the ball / And scandalize / Us all?

When the photo that led to this sketch was taken, I was standing around ... tires.
When the photo that led to this sketch was taken, I was standing around … tires.

What miracles I have witnessed on my TV. I heard someone say Bill Belichick should be banned from coaching the Super Bowl. For using a ball with two too few pounds of air! Silly me. I thought the solution might be for referees to check the balls better.

As a general rule, New England Patriots fans think this is overblown and offer all sorts of defenses. These involve alleged scientific experts, diabolical arch-villains, and the theory that there were secret football fixers behind a grassy knoll. It’s true. There were football fixers behind a grassy knoll, but they were armed with parlay cards.

Obviously, I don’t get it. I’m out of touch. I don’t understand the modern game. And the modern fans.

Business is booming at the Slander Resort. (Monte Dutton)
Business is booming at the Slander Resort. (Monte Dutton)

Someone else said the National Football League should adopt the inspection procedures of NASCAR. Presumably, this involves football templates. Of course, in NASCAR, air (okay, nitrogen, really) pressure is useful for providing Goodyear officials an excuse for every single tire that has been “cut down” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Goodyear makes “recommendations,” but no one gets busted for not having enough nitrogen in the tires. On the other hand, very few footballs blow out. Now, if Tom Brady let fly a spiral in the direction of Rob Gronkowski, and it arrived in his hands flat as a flitter (a flitter, apparently, is anything that’s flat) because it had a blowout en route, then, it would be a scandal.

But not Deflategate. Please not Deflategate. Haven’t we had enough –gates in forty-plus years? My guitar needs new strings. D’Addariogate. The local forecast won’t pop up on my TV. Weatherchannelgate. My coffee had a few grounds in the bottom. Javagate. I ordered something off TV, and it didn’t keep the acid from destroying the finish of my car. Dumbassgate.

I haven’t walked through a genuine gate since we moved Mama Davis into my mother’s house, and Mama Davis died about thirty years ago, so do the math. No, that’s wrong. Races and ballgames have lots of gates, I reckon.

Mediagate!

While I don’t get it regarding this particular flimflozzle, my fiction, available at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, makes more sense than my blogs here, particularly during this stage of the American Dream. Many are the ruminations on life’s absurdity in my two novels, which are available, along with the rest of my books, here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1