Off to See the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Bowls

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

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, December 26, 2016, 11:32 a.m.

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

By Monte Dutton

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

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

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

In lukewarm vegetable oil.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picking Dumb, Day 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[cb_profit_poster Acting]