The Years Disappear, If Only Briefly

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, October 22, 2017, 11:20 a.m.

I never took a note. I never snapped a photo. I didn’t bring any business cards. I went to a football game.

By Monte Dutton

None of the above is unusual for most people. Oh, wait. Maybe it is. Sportswriters, or writers of any kind, for that matter, are not alone in writing, or taking pictures, or spreading the words and the images as far and wide as possible, anymore. Everyone knows the art of 140 characters. I just know the art beyond a little better.

It was Furman University homecoming. It was the first time in a while I’ve been back to clap to the fight song and sing the words I remember to the alma mater. A mountain city is her home / A mountain river laves her feet! Campus, beautiful though it be, is nestled in the foothills, and the mountain river, the Reedy, winds its way through downtown Greenville, where the campus was well over half a century ago. A manmade laaaaake laves her feet!

Most people maintain rich, loving memories of their school, and rally, sons and daughters dear / ’Round our dear alma maaahhhhter! Coincidentally, they are also prone to eating, drinking, and being merry.

One of my more impressive decisions was the realization that, though I loved it, I was really over my head playing football in high school. I was at Furman, first as a student and then working in the sports information office, for most of a decade that was well over three of them ago. It was the golden age of Paladin football, and I was fortunate to be friends with many of the giants who come back to walk the campus now. Mostly, they treat me as if I was somebody, too.

It’s been my impression that, at large schools, homecoming is, yes, a grand event, but still just another home game, the stadium no more packed than usual, though the big schools typically tilt the odds by playing a school they anticipate defeating, and homecoming may pack a house that otherwise might be fringed with empty seats.

The schools that I frequent – Furman, my dear alma maahhhter, and Presbyterian, the hometown college – are populated on homecomings with throngs of people who don’t get back every week but do so diligently for homecoming.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

The Paladins, coached now by Clay Hendrix, played the Mercer Bears, coached by Bobby Lamb. Clay and Bobby once played guard and quarterback, respectively, for a Furman team that advanced to the Division I-AA (now FCS) national championship game in 1985. They also played guard and quarterback, respectively, in high school down in Commerce, Georgia. Bobby is a former Furman head coach. Clay is in his first year, having been lured back to dear alma maahhhter this year from the Air Force Academy, where he coached the offensive line for 10 years and was associate head coach for seven.

It was a marvelous game. Furman won, 28-21, and it was in doubt until the final desperation Mercer aerial was intercepted in the end zone. Clay lost in the final seconds of each of his first two games as Furman head coach. Then North Carolina State throttled the Paladins, as expected. Now the team has won five straight games and is 4-1 in the Southern Conference.

(Monte Dutton photo)

Many drinks were hoisted. Many tales were told. The day was long and rewarding. Fifty-somethings became twenty-somethings. This the grueling nature of the weekend required.

I hesitate to mention names because I would leave some out, and I’m sure I’d have to mention a hundred to do it justice, plus, there’s the matter of my not taking any photos. I was weary when I got there because I had tramped around covering a fruitless high school game on the road the night before and didn’t get much sleep ruminating about it. My right knee and leg were acting up, so it probably helped, if not medically then subconsciously, to lubricate them. Perception may not be reality, but it helps.

Many tales, some with a considerable degree of truth, were told. I, in fact, told many of them. I renewed acquaintances with people I saw last month and people I saw last century. I drank beer from Costco and beer from Germany. Though the exemplary young men of today gave a concerted effort on offense and defense, Mercer’s fate was superstitiously sealed in a ritual imbibing of purple shots before the kickoff about two hundred yards from the sacred grounds of Paladin Stadium.

Clemson, South Carolina, and, yes, Presbyterian, were all off renewing their vigor for the succeeding weeks. Robbie Caldwell, now Clemson offensive line coach of growing legend, and I became friends when he was a Furman graduate assistant coach and I was an equipment manager. We hardly talked at all about the Tigers. We talked about the time we had to hot-wire the van to get back from Appalachian State.

The first time I met Sam Wyche, I was picking up a box of chinstraps from his (and Billy Turner’s) sporting-goods store on Poinsett Highway. He went on to lead the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl. Jimmy Satterfield, the coach who led the Paladins to the national championship in 1988, was there, and it was the first time this century I talked to him.

Good friends. Great oldies. I could have walked up the hill and partied all night long, but I opted for the security and predictability of home. I wouldn’t trade the day for a literary agent and a publishing deal, but it’s the day after now, and they sure would be nice.

 

(Gabe Whisnant photo)

Most of my books — non-fiction on NASCAR and music, collections that include my contributions, seven novels, and one short-story collection — are available here.

 

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).

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).

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).

I Don’t Have Roots to Pull for and Cover

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

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, August 11, 2016, 10:06 a.m.

No good verb exists for your favorite team, or race driver, or ballplayer, or golfer, etc.

Who do you pull for? For whom do you pull?

Pull for? It’s hard enough just to pull.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I’ve put a fair amount of thought, over the past few minutes, in how to “pull for”? Let’s say you’re driving a pickup truck, with a friend, and boredom sets in, and you decide to see how far you can coast. Push in the clutch — or slip it into neutral — roll down a hill and try to get to the top of the next one. As the truck slows, you and your buddy start sliding in the seat, stupidly thinking this tiny impetus might get the truck to the top, where, presumably, its coasting can live on for another hill.

That might be an example of “pulling for.” That might be an example of needing a life.

I’ve tried not to use “pull” in relation to sports, unless it’s skeet shooting. Personally, I try to condition myself to use “root.” I root for the Red Sox. I root for the Paladins.

I’m a hog. I’m trying to get out of my pen. Oink! Oink!

Plunging into academic research — I fiddled around with my phone for two minutes — the best alternatives are “back” and “support.” I back the Red Sox. I support the Paladins.

I bore myself.

I love the Red Sox! It went unrequited last night.

 

10:35 a.m.

Everything is becoming a ballgame.

I know a ballgame when I see it. I’ve been playing in and writing about them for my whole life.

The election is a ballgame. A dirty game. The refs aren’t calling anything. No one cares about the game. Everyone cares about this game.

 

10:42 a.m.

My grandmother on my mother’s side had many nonsensical sayings. When she felt a bit puny, she’d say, “I’m about to perish to death.” “Perish” was pronounced “persh.” I was 15 years old before I realized she didn’t “ice” her potatoes before she boiled and mashed them. “Aish taters” were Irish potatoes.

I’m about to perish to death of the Olympics, and I’ve barely watched them. They’ve smothered all the channels like hash browns at the Waffle House.

I’m surprised TCM isn’t running a week of Olympic movies.

Yes, I’m ashamed of myself for feeling this way.

DSCF3495

10:55 a.m.

I remember when I wrote about football games. (By the way, I am as dismissive of “cover” as “pull for.”)

In case you aren’t convinced that football is king, I now write rich descriptions of “7-on-7 scrimmages,” which once were called games of touch, and other scrimmages that don’t count, still more than two weeks away from games that do.

The local folks can’t get too much about their Red Devils and Raiders. Tonight they’re both playing a half in a Woodruff jamboree, which means “scrimmage that sells tickets,” only they are thirds, technically, since three sessions are being played. Each third is what would normally be a half: Clinton vs. Blue Ridge, 6:30 p.m.; Spartanburg vs. Chapman, 7:30; and Laurens vs. Woodruff, 8:30.

Me to the local McDonald’s to file story and photos, no later than 10 p.m.

All that having been snarked, I’m part of the local folks, too. I love hanging out on practice fields and chatting with coaches. It unearths my inner kid. Most sports fans feed an inner kid. A few get to buy it meals.

I also like the tension of deadline pressure. Another political analogy: It’s the art of the possible. Write the best you can do in the least possible time. It’s like taking the SATs every Friday night.

And, occasionally, Thursday night for a jamboree in Woodruff.

(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. Crazy of Natural Causes is on sale at $1.99. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about 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).

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs …

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

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, October 30, 2015, 11:48 a.m.

No, it was not I. I've never even driven a Lexus.
Monte Dutton (John Clark photo).

I haven’t felt the urge to blog lately. I’ve been working on a novel called Cowboys Come Home, trying to sell one called Forgive Us Our Trespasses, and trying to get you to buy one called Crazy of Natural Causes (and also consider The Audacity of Dope and The Intangibles).

I’ve been reading, watching the World Series and football games, playing guitar, watching old movies, and attending the Thursday night middle-school and junior varsity games at the high school.

While doing all these other things, I figured out a subplot in Cowboys Come Home, well outside the outline, and I’m about to start writing it.

 

The reigning champion still advances, by hook or crook. (Christa L. Thomas/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)
The reigning champion still advances, by hook or crook. (Christa L. Thomas/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

All week long, I’ve been reading stories about the latest NASCAR debris left over from Talladega, and I’ve been pondering. Not passing judgment. Just pondering. Pondering is something most people do too little and I do too much.

 

I watched more of the Republican Debate than I did the World Series because I thought it was more of a ballgame. Politics is too important to be a ballgame, but that’s what it is. Each side has fans, and they hate each other.

I guess it’s gotten to where it’s all we know.

 

I try to resist being drowned by my generation. I pay attention to people of other ages. I write a lot about young people in my novels.

But this year has been a crusher.

I miss David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Don Orsillo, Bob Schieffer, Jon Stewart, Don Imus, and several others. None has died. They just moved out of my view. I fear for the health of John Farrell, Vin Scully and Jimmy Carter.

I scare myself. The other night I was listening to the theme song of Late Night with Stephen Colbert, and I couldn’t think of the Letterman theme. I kept drifting into the theme of Boston Red Sox Baseball on NESN. Orsillo! Remdawg! Damn it!

 

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

Football blues.

I’m getting more understanding. A side of me hates this.

Furman’s football season is currently going downhill, though still salvageable. Presbyterian’s year has been miserable. Clinton High has won three games.

Yet I’m having a wonderful time going to the games and writing about them.

Something is definitely wrong.

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

Thanks for keeping my sales high during the entire month Crazy of Natural Causes has been on sale for $1.99. If you’d still like to buy it for that rate, time is running out. Then you’re going to have to make me rich and pay $3.49 again. 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 crime novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is up for consideration in the KindleScout program. Take a look at it, sample the text, and if you like what you see, you can nominate it for publication. It takes two clicks. Here’s the first: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/A20FEF33PZP1

 

‘I Don’t Think the Heavy Stuff’s Coming Through for Quite a While’

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. (Monte Dutton photo)
Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.
(Monte Dutton photo)

Watery Hell, South Carolina, Saturday, October 3, 2015, 10:35 a.m.

I’d like to just sit at home like I am now, wearing sweats and a “Republic of Texas” tee shirt I bought satirically in May. I’d like to watch South Carolina at Missouri, and Alabama at Georgia, and Notre Dame at Clemson.

But nooooooo.

No, it was not I. I've never even driven a Lexus.
Monte Dutton (John Clark photo).

I’ll probably watch the first game, the Battle of Columbia, but then I’ll drive up I-26, which might as well be a canal delivering bad weather into the mountains, and try to listen to the Presbyterian at Western Carolina game until it fades out in about Simpsonville, and then I’ll wade into Paladin Stadium to watch the Bulldogs of South Carolina State play the Paladins of Furman, and then I’ll write about it.

I need to hustle. It would be beneficial to get done writing and out onto the highway ahead of the Clemson fans. Whether they’re joyous or angry doesn’t matter. They’ll be a handful on the interstate, particularly with rain pelting down.

The Furman game will be over sooner, but most of the Clemson fans won’t have to write a story afterwards, though many would undoubtedly like to go see Dabo.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to see Furman play. I just don’t want to travel there and back. If I had an email pop up on my iPhone with the heading “Paladins, Bulldogs to play Monday,” it would please me, though not enough to dance like Dabo.

It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. By gosh, if the Tigers can play, the Paladins can play. Similar sentiment was in place at the Alamo.

The state is a sieve, sucking in rain from the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the bandit Joaquin (Murrieta?) steals away into the open waters, claiming he has spared us.

 

(Design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Crazy of Natural Causes, my third novel, is on sale for $1.99 on Amazon. Reading a book, even (especially) an e-book, will take your mind off the weather, and you can buy it in seconds. 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

Most of my other books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

 

Jet Lag Requires No Jets

Friday night. Little did they know. (Monte Dutton photo)
Friday night. Little did they know. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, September 6, 2015, 12:31 p.m.

I’m proud of myself. I managed to sleep until 10 this morning. This morning person has been doing lots of work at night. A high school football game Friday night (and resumed late Saturday morning). A college game Saturday night. The Bojangles Southern 500 tonight. It’s roughly the same as flying to the West Coast and getting jet lag.

Take a trip and never leave the farm.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Actually, the high school game was only a few miles away. The glow of Wilder Stadium can be seen in the distance from my house, or could if I was ever home to see it. I wrote about the Coastal Carolina-Furman game, and Paladin Stadium is 52 miles away according to my odometer. Tonight the race is on TV, but I probably won’t get done writing about it, selecting photos and video, assembling a table of stats, and thinking of a poll question, until, oh, 3 a.m. or thereabouts.

It’s a grind, but at least I won’t have to drive home afterwards. I haven’t left Eastern Daylight Time since May.

The last time I drove home from Darlington, I watched the beginning of Star Trek in my rear-view mirror. Remember how what looked like a tiny star would suddenly become the Enterprise and zip across the screen? That’s how it looked with the all the state troopers hurrying home, piloting their striped cruisers at a speed that would’ve “sat on the pole” at Martinsville.

At least. Dah-DAH-duh-DAH-dah-duh-DAH!

The Chapin-Newberry team that won the American Legion World Series was honored before the Newberry-Clinton game. Four Red Devils played on that team. (Monte Dutton photo)
The Chapin-Newberry team that won the American Legion World Series was honored before the Newberry-Clinton game. Four Red Devils played on that team. (Monte Dutton photo)

I think the Darlington race was still the night before Mother’s Day then. Time flies like the wind, and fruit flies like a banana. (I’m paraphrasing Mark Twain.) I was riding behind a pickup truck loaded down with gas grills, ice chests, canvass and tent poles, and when two Highway Patrol cruisers zipped by, the guy driving the truck apparently thought since state troopers could drive home wide-open, he could, too.

Uh, oh, I thought. No good can come from this.

Sure enough, about five miles farther down I-20, at one of the Camden exits, I drove past that pickup truck, surrounded by four or five patrol cars, blue lights blazing.

That fellow must not have been from around here.

Donovan Blackmon has been a standout for the Red Devils so far. (Monte Dutton photo)
Donovan Blackmon has been a standout for the Red Devils so far. (Monte Dutton photo)

The football has been unsatisfying. Clinton High got beaten in both installments, before a deluge on Friday night and after it on Saturday. Newberry won, 43-20, and no bomb ever exploded more than that game. Fifth-ranked Coastal Carolina — that’s the Football Championship Subdivision of NCAA Division I if you’re keeping a scorecard — edged Furman, 38-35, but moral victories gradually become immoral over time.

As a writer, I try my best to be fair, but I’m a Clinton native and resident who went to college at Furman, so neutrality requires some effort. My hat’s off to the Bulldogs and Chanticleers. More power to them in the coming weeks.

Paladin Stadium (Monte Dutton)
Paladin Stadium (Monte Dutton)

I’m not the multi-tasker many others are. When I write about an event, I focus only on it. It’s all I can do to take notes, tweet (part of the job these days), and chip away at the copy. On the way home from Furman, I tuned into the game between Arkansas State and Southern California (as they say in Columbia, that other USC).

What? BYU beat Nebraska with a miracle pass? Northwestern beat Stanford? Who won the Xfinity race? Denny Hamlin? At least something makes sense.

 

(Graphic courtesy of Meredieth Pritchard)
(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)

 

I’ve written three novels. Football plays a role in all of them. Riley Mansfield is an ex-college quarterback in The Audacity of Dope. High school football is at the center of The Intangibles. Chance Benford begins Crazy of Natural Causes as a football coach. You can examine and preferably buy all three here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

Where the Ashes Fall

Wilder Stadium. Richardson Field. (Monte Dutton photo)
Wilder Stadium. Richardson Field. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, September 4, 2015, 11:28 a.m.

This, of course, is Labor Day weekend. I’ve put in my share of hours over time, first more with arms and legs, but then gradually working down to the fingertips because they still work well.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

This weekend, though, is notable for all my various homes. I’m sitting in the living room of one now. In the background, Jack Lemmon is talking about the director Billy Wilder. Another home is across the pasture, where my mother, sister and two nephews still live along with several pets, two goats, and some chickens pecking about in the yard.

Clinton High School is home. I spoke to some students there this morning and told them how I happened to become the nation’s top-ranked, and quite possibly only, combination novelist and high school football beat reporter. Tonight I will describe the hostilities between the Red Devils and the Bulldogs of Newberry.

The Clinton High logo dates back to 1972.  (Photo courtesy Tex Glenn and Dale McWatters)
The Clinton High logo dates back to 1972. (Photo courtesy Tex Glenn and Dale McWatters)

A pair of anniversaries are to be celebrated at halftime. This marks 40 years since the state championship team of 1975 and 30 since the titlist of 1985. I played on the former team and wrote stories in The Clinton Chronicle about the latter. Tonight, while teammates are out on the turf of Keith Richardson Field, I will be in the public-address booth reading a script I wrote. Many years ago, my first book was called Pride of Clinton, a history of football at Clinton High School. Richardson coached both championship teams and four more.

Clinton High School is a home, and so is Wilder Stadium (Wilder being the stadium, Richardson the field).

Paladin Stadium, Furman University (Monte Dutton photo)
Paladin Stadium, Furman University (Monte Dutton photo)

Tomorrow night I’ll be at Paladin Stadium in Greenville, where the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina visit another of my homes, Furman University, to open the college football season. Clinton High is where I played ball and acquired a love of writing. Furman is where I learned self-reliance and became a man.

Then, on Sunday night, I will watch the Bojangles Southern 500 on television. It has been off in exile, like Napoleon at Elba and St. Helena, but now it has been restored, not for history, as NASCAR officials would have you believe, but because they moved Darlington around to other dates, as if it were a traveling circus, and couldn’t make Labor Day work in either California or Georgia, so they figured they might as well let that pesky Darlington, out in the middle of nowhere, have it back.

Darlington Raceway. (Monte Dutton photo)
Darlington Raceway. (Monte Dutton photo)

Now we’re all supposed to pretend a tricked-up Camry is a ’74 Torino, just because it’s white and has a “15” on its sides, confuse Ricky Stenhouse with David Pearson, and believe NASCAR is run by a bunch of really swell guys who care about any history that doesn’t pay big money.

You know, like the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. People with lots of money and power always think people with neither are gullible. They aim to convince us we can’t survive unless patches in our underwear are removed, we stop drinking that deadly tap water and buy the bottled stuff, and that Brian France moved Darlington back to Labor Day eve out of the goodness of his heart.

BZF. He’s all heart.

That might be a '73 Mercury David Pearson is driving, but Carl Edwards still can't pass him. This photo was taken in 2008.
That might be a ’73 Mercury David Pearson is driving, but Carl Edwards still can’t pass him. This photo was taken in 2008.

I’ll stop complaining now. My cynical sense of humor gets me in trouble. Last week an off-duty cop half my age told me he didn’t like my attitude. He didn’t like it when I laughed at that, either. I just figured it was a joke.

I’m glad Darlington is back. Darlington is also a home. It’s where my daddy took me to watch stock cars race. I think of Darlington the same way I think of Mount Rushmore, Fenway Park, and Sledge, Mississippi, the birthplace of Charley Pride.

Occasionally, I think of eternity and where, in the words of the old hymn (“Just a Closer Walk with Thee”), my remains will settle:

When my feeble life is o’er / Time for me will be no more / Guide me gently, safely o’er / To Thy Kingdom Shore, to Thy Shore.

I've gotten to where I don't much care to be buried in the cold, cold ground. (Monte Dutton photo)
I’ve gotten to where I don’t much care to be buried in the cold, cold ground. (Monte Dutton photo)

Sometimes I think I’d like my ashes scattered over Wilder Stadium, there to waft onto the green, green grass of Richardson Field. At other times, I think of my remains mingling with the cool water of the Furman lake or in its many fountains, and, sometimes, I think of being ground into the pebbled asphalt of Darlington, there to be interred righteously by the pounding of Goodyear Racing Eagles.

Alas, I’ll be gone. I’ll probably be stuck in an urn, in the back of a closet, and one day, an ancestor who doesn’t recognize my name will find some other use for the urn and flush me down the closest toilet.

It will make perfectly good sense. It just won’t be quite as romantic.

 

(Design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

If there’s anything to remember me by, it will probably be my books. You can consider them here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

The Stubborn Struggle

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Homer Jordan, Number E (the negative was flipped), the Count of Monte Carlo and hero of Clemson's national championship season. (Monte Dutton)
Homer Jordan, Number E (the negative was flipped), the Count of Monte Carlo and hero of Clemson’s national championship season. (Monte Dutton)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, November 29, 2014 10:51 a.m.

The Carolina-Clemson game is coming up soon, and this is going to be a quickie blog because I want to pay attention to the game. I can’t remember the last time I was looking this forward to it. It was probably before I went to college, when I was a Clemson fan, and attended the games as a fan.

I'll probably root for whichever team is behind.
I’ll probably root for whichever team is behind.

My Clemson memories go back to Frank Howard, Jimmy Addison, Bo Ruffner, and Butch Sursavage (pronounced “Suhhee-savage” by Coach Howard), not to mention Tommy Suggs, Warren Muir, Billy Freeman, and “Pepsodent Paul” Dietzel at South Carolina. If my evaluation of football greatness were based solely on the games I attended, the greatest quarterback in history would be the Gamecocks’ Jeff Grantz. I saw Clemson win, 7-6, in sleet and cold, and Carolina win, 56-20, on a day that seemed perfect to the home team. I watched from the end zone, “the bank,” and, eventually, the press box, but now it’s been two decades since I’ve seen the game in person, and I’m fine watching it on TV.

(Lots of people who are not from South Carolina read these blogs, so I feel compelled to concede that, in forty-nine states, Carolina is in Chapel Hill and USC is in Los Angeles. I, however, live in the other one.)

That having been noted, it’s been decades since happiness depended on the outcome of this game. I went to college at Furman University and care more about the Paladins, and, for that matter, the hometown Presbyterian Blue Hose, than either of the Palmetto State’s principal state universities. It is impossible, though, for a South Carolinian not to care about the Carolina-Clemson game. (By the way, the reason I listed Carolina first is that the game is at Clemson, and my sportswriter’s habit is to place the visiting team first.)

So I do care. I care that it be a great game. It won’t break my heart if either team loses. Here is my basic outlook where the Gamecocks and Tigers are concerned. In general, I want both to do well, but it amuses me when they don’t. I’m not amused at the teams, but, rather, their fans. The team that loses will have a bunch of stomping-around, cussing, irritable, excuse-making, rationalizing curmudgeons on Monday. I’ll probably wander around town just to watch. The Napa Valley will have nothing on this state’s sour grapes.

Between Carolina and Clemson lies exactly one national championship, and it occurred almost thirty-four years ago. I often think about that because it seems fairly modern in my fifty-six-year-old mind. Then I realize that the 1981 Orange Bowl is as distant to the kids of today as SMU’s Doak Walker and TCU’s Davey O’Brien were to me, which is, as one of those Texans might say, “a rat fur piece.”

South Carolinians don’t care if the rest of the country thinks the Trojans are USC and the Tar Heels Carolina. South Carolinians, in general, don’t care what anyone else thinks, anyway, which is one of the reasons their ancestors started the Civil War.

I’m atypical. I don’t so much care which team wins, but I do care about the game because, damn it, I’m a South Carolinian, and I’m stubborn. I’m just not stubborn about the same things or in the same way.

Sports is important in my fiction, too. The hero of The Audacity of Dope is an ex-football player, and The Intangibles is centered on a high school football team trying to make it through the tempests of 1968. You can buy them here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1