I Had to Think It Through

At Pocono in 2004. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 10:50 a.m.

I first saw it on Twitter at roadandtrack.com. I thought it was a fake. I thought it was one of those stories where they made the website look like something reputable and then ran a head that said, “Hillary Clinton Using Slave Labor at Nigerian Brothel.” Then the writing would be so bad that I’d know it was ersatz.

By Monte Dutton

The story looked okay. The website looked like it might really be Road & Track. Other hastily thrown-together articles showed up on the timeline.

It’s real. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is retiring at year’s end.

I’m going to be about the 100th person in my cast of Twitter followers alone to write that I was surprised but not astonished. I get asked about Earnhardt Jr.’s future almost every week on the South Carolina Network’s SportsTalk show, where I generally appear every Friday night at 7:30 EDT (EDT being the standard reference in the Palmetto State).

(Harold Hinson/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

I kept saying that it was too early to tell whether or not he had fully recovered from his concussion protocols. When he had his one decent finish to date, I said maybe it was a good sign. Like many, I watched Monday’s rained-out race in Bristol, and, when Earnhardt wrecked, I thought, Well, just another brick in the wall.

Many people will be surprised when I tell you the one word that comes to mind when three words – Dale Earnhardt Junior – flash into my head.

Earnhardt is a folksy, modestly educated North Carolina kid who learned much about fame from having a famous daddy. As amazing as it may seem, the word that occurs to me is …

… Civilized.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. masters the Talladega draft. (Harold Hinson/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Junior is more civilized than his contemporaries. Maybe it’s because he is the son of a hard man who provided his son with examples but not lessons. The son had to learn how to think, observe, and analyze. All racers — many of whom today have lived either comfortable or sheltered lives, and, quite often, both — graduate from the School of Hard Knocks … literally. Not everyone makes the best of his degree. Junior must have concentrated on the liberal arts.

He understands how the world turns. He understands how the media work. So many people use the word “humble” with such reckless abandon. Most times an athlete says “I’m humbled,” he is nothing of the sort. Nothing about great achievement instills humility. Adversity instills humility.Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost his fierce, legendary father, which is bad enough in itself, but devastating particularly in the timing of the son’s loss. Their relationship had been complicated. Now they were both competing together, father and son, and against each other, man against man. Love had lost many of its conditions.

Phoenix. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)

In 2001, before any of what followed happened, I was struck by how happy both Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were. I was there when both raced yellow Corvettes in the Rolex 24. I was in a dinner line when The Intimidator picked up an extra set of silverware and provided one to me. That may not sound like much, but I would not have been more surprised had Earnhardt raised a sword and dubbed me Sir Monte of Dutton. He also high-fived me. People high-five me every day. Not Intimidators, though. Dale Earnhardt was very much alive, and no one thought that was going to change, and I still thought Speedweeks in Daytona was getting awfully weird.

I went to the funeral. I traveled to cold Rockingham for a collective temperament that was even colder. I was in Atlanta when Kevin Harvick won in the Great Man’s car, tastefully renumbered.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives to victory in the first of two Can-Am Duel races. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett for Chevy Racing)

More pity did I feel for Dale Earnhardt Jr. than had I for the loss of his legendary father.

Now, I feel great. I’ll miss him, but I don’t think he will miss it. He might miss it as much as I miss 10 months of flights, missed, delayed, canceled, and rerouted; rental cars, good, bad, inappropriate, and balky; traffic jams, Atlanta, LA, D-FW, and, occasionally, tracks; and those special occasions when I’d get cussed out by a man who hadn’t read the story about which he was perturbed.

Earnhardt Jr. with Jeff Gordon. (John Clark photo)

I miss it now. After four years. I missed high school football after four years, too, and it was also hell. I miss it so much now that I wrote a novel about it, and I turned its hero into the essence of what I think stock car racing needs. Barrie Jarman isn’t righteous, either to himself or God. He’s a brash kid who has an accurate estimation of how good he is, which is very.

No intention was involved, but a little, and by that, I mean, just a touch, of Junior may have seeped into my latest prose.

Like Kyle Petty, Junior wasn’t as good as his daddy. Like Kyle Petty, Junior is every bit the man, and, in both cases, it’s because the son had enough sense to follow his own dreams and take his own course. Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt were vivid products of their generation. So, too, were their sons.

It’s going to take someone living and breathing, not a creation of a hero in fiction, to raise this next generation. Barrie Jarman is as close as I can get.

Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.

(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. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.

(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.

(Joe Font cover design)

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 Landslide Election of Tigertown

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Southern Arizona. (Monte Dutton)
Southern Arizona. (Monte Dutton)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, November 28, 2016, 10:10 a.m.

Were I still the diehard Clemson fan of my youth, I’m sure I would have watched every moment of the Tigers’ 56-7 victory over South Carolina.

Who knows? I might even have been there, decked out in purple and orange and singing “hold that Tiger!” even though the last thing a Clemson fan wants is his Tiger held. Really, the opposition should sing “hold that Tiger!” which would really be a unique custom for visitors to Death Valley, South Carolina Version.

I’ve walked inside the one in Louisiana and driven through the one in California. If only it had a football team, the one in California would have a tremendous home-field advantage.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

But I went to college elsewhere, and now, I wish the Tigers well and feel good when they win because it means a lot to my nephew and his wife, both of whom went there. As a matter of fact, Ray Phillips holds a bachelor’s degree from Clemson and a master’s degree from Alabama, meaning that, football-wise, his imaginary bets are hedged about as well as anyone I know.

Still, I’ve never heard him yell “roll, Tide, roll!” and I’m satisfied that, Saturday night, he spelled out “C-L-E-M-S-O-N-T-I-G-E-RRRRRR-SS!” dozens of times. Meanwhile, back here in town, I’m guessing my mother and sister (Ray’s mother) were having every bit as much difficulty corralling Ray and Jessica’s wild child, Thomas, as the Gamecocks were with the Tigers.

Me? After assuring myself that Clemson was going to win the Palmetto Cup after watching the game’s first five minutes, I spent the rest of the night checking the Tigers’ multiplication tables during the commercials while concentrating on games between Florida and Florida State, Kentucky and Louisville, Utah and Colorado, Notre Dame and Southern Cal, and Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

All of those teams — Vandy has inexplicably found an offense since the Gamecocks edged them in the first game of the season — would have beaten South Carolina on Saturday night, not to mention Western Michigan, Eastern Washington, Northern Illinois and South Florida. Oh, yeah, Northwestern, too. Cary Grant would have dominated them in North by Northwest. Of course, that’s a highly ranked flick.

It’s over, though. South Carolina fans have turned their attention to a men’s basketball team that is thus far undefeated. Will it mean anything if the Gamecocks beat the Tigers, also thus far undefeated, in basketball?

No. The only medicine that matters in this state is a pill shaped like a football.

For the Sabbath, Twitter read almost exactly like the election was back. Fortunately, being amused but disinterested, I read books, played guitars and remained otherwise above the fray by watching surprising entertaining NFL games.

Clemson, I believe, is now the most likely to lose eventually to Alabama.

I’m sure someone has noticed this besides me because, dating back to, oh, I don’t know, Bear Bryant, it has seemed apparent. The Crime Tide has a marvelous winning formula that has been demonstrated hundreds of times by their winning.

Alabama does not care about scoring in the first half. Alabama cares about wearing the opposition the hell out. It’s as if they soften up the defenses with withering artillery bombardments. In the second half, Alabama invades in much the same manner as Mars Attacks!

But I still enjoy watching teams play that are mortal. I hope one of them defeats Alabama. Nothing against the Tide. Monopoly just gets monotonous.

Lou Lauer helped me repair my website. He could help you, too.
Lou Lauer helped me repair my website. He could help you, 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. 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)

Rainy Days and Open Dates

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

L&L

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges!

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, June 16, 2016, 10:29 a.m.

The United States Open is on Fox Sports 1. Most of the time, NASCAR is on Fox Sports 1, for a few more weeks, anyway. I believe there are other sports there: soccer, for sure, and whatever that form of fighting is where they can kick as well as box. I don’t usually watch that channel except when there’s racing on.

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

But I’m watching golf today, or, at least, the channel is on. I’m sort of half watching while I write this. It’s raining. Joe Buck is promising to let me know exactly how long the delay has been when “the first golfer puts a ball in play.” Bated is my breath.

It rains a lot on Fox Sports 1. As far as I know, that seldom happens with that kind of no-holds-barred fighting. From my self-censored view, it seems like the channel should be Fox Sports & Rain 1. I have a skewed view of the true essence of the channel.

I’d have to say golf does a better job than NASCAR with rain delays. Sure, an attractive, curvaceous woman just spent a couple minutes on what the golfers are tweeting. Fox, in general, puts a lot of beautiful women on TV. It seems that women who bear no similarity to Jessica Rabbit (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) have little chance for employment at Fox.

It’s probably just a coincidence.

Imagine Michael Waltrip at The Open Championship. I bet he’d give it a try.

Drivers, start your Air Titans! (Getty Images for NASCAR)
Drivers, start your
Air Titans! (Getty Images for NASCAR)

All NASCAR has over golf on Fox Sports 1 is the Air Titan. Perhaps I’m prejudiced. Perhaps there are millions who enjoy endless discussions of special color schemes, and the valuable collectibles based on them, and replays of the same race a year earlier shown so that maybe, just maybe, some fans will linger a while until they figure out the race they’re watching is not live and in person. One tipoff is when Jeff Gordon, seconds earlier wearing a suit and tie, takes the lead.

Paul Azinger just said the rough is very penal. I expect most watching golf nod obligingly. NASCAR fans would be snickering. It’s penal. Not penile. Not a very apt use of either one, by the way.

Now they’re getting ready to play again. Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy are chatting amiably at the tee box. Jordan Spieth is chuckling alone. Andrew Landry is three under through 11. As best I can tell from Wikipedia, he is unrelated to Tom, though he is from Nederland, Texas.

Landry, who is undoubtedly related to someone, just moved two shots free of the field on No. 12. Bryson James Aldrich DeChambeau, who may have the best golfer’s name ever bestowed in Modesto, California, is getting lots of air time in his scarlet attire. With the bright Gatsby cap, he reminds me of the late Payne Stewart, though conspicuously sans the knickers.

Is Sunday Father’s Day? It is. It’s a fine weekend for a major golf championship. Father’s Day tends to miss me as I neither am one or have one. NASCAR racing used to keep my mind off it. For some reason, the stock cars are taking this one off, that is, except for Truck and Xfinity races in Iowa.

Golf almost doesn’t exist for me except in the major championships, for which I cultivate strong interest. Hockey’s that way, too. I love the playoffs but seldom watch regular-season games for more than a few minutes at a stretch. Maybe it’s a consequence of age. Maybe it’s a consequence of having things to do. I must limit my indulgences.

I used to play golf, though seldom well. Every golfer occasionally plays well, as in, oh, one shot in three. The worst shot at Oakmont will be similar to many of mine. Maybe that’s why I like the major championships. I can relate.

I gave up playing golf when I took up playing guitar. I don’t play it well, either, but only rarely do I strum and miss.

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

My new novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is a crime thriller.

Set in the hills of Kentucky, Crazy of Natural Causes is a fable of life’s absurdity, seen through the unique perspective of ruined coach Chance Benford.

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

I collected 11 short stories, each converted from a song I’ve written, and called it Longer Songs.

A pot-smoking songwriter becomes a national hero, and it’s nothing but trouble in The Audacity of Dope.

The Intangibles is set in the South during the 1960s and is about civil rights, bigotry and high school football.

Most all my books can be found here.

Signed copies of Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, and Longer Songs are available at L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton, S.C.

 

Memories Are Made of These

Paul Menard, coming at you.  (Garry Eller/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)
Paul Menard, coming at you. (Garry Eller/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, September 25, 2015, 9:44 a.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I’m fond of walking into a tumultuous atmosphere, looking around, and proclaiming, satirically, “Another … big … day.”

My days and nights are generally pretty calm now. Writing fiction is like being confined to a monastery, though not so spiritual. Also, I get out more often. On Thursday, for instance, I dropped by the post office, chatted about old times for at least 15 minutes with Benson Roth at Printers Associates, dropped by a friend’s house, and had two ham sandwiches for supper. The Red Sox and Redskins lost, but the barn burner was between Memphis and Cincinnati, 127-126, Memphis, I think it was.

So far this morning, I’ve watched a little more of the Pope, sipped coffee, and completed the day’s first social-media perusal. Dean Martin is starring on TCM as a Southern politician who plays guitar. Right now he’s thumb-strumming a song called “May the Lord Bless You Real Good.”

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

After two months on the market, my latest novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, has fallen off in sales, and I spent a good bit of last night reading up on how I might be able to spread the word a little further out into the Twittersphere, the Amazon jungle, the iVerse, and the Me Generation. One way is for those of you who have read it to write down what you think of it, and I’d recommend a customer review at Amazon or Goodreads, but I’d be appreciative of a recommendation, by whatever means, to what few people you know who still read.

(Actually, more read, but it’s 140 characters at a time, and it’s hard to write a novel that way, which is, indirectly, why I sometimes tweet in haiku.)

Lights. On a Friday night. Hmm. Has a nice ring to it. (Monte Dutton)
Lights. On a Friday night. Hmm. Has a nice ring to it. (Monte Dutton)

Two years, nine months, and 21 days after my job “was eliminated” (“nothing personal, it wasn’t you, it was the job, which, coincidentally, you happen to occupy”) I’m back to fast-paced weekends. Tonight I’m pinch-writing at the Laurens District 55 High School game because the Clinton High School is taking a well-needed week off to “prepare for the region.”

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

On Saturday, I’ll be writing a little in the morning, then heading off to the Furman University to write about a football game with the Virginia Military Institute. Once that story is safely transmitted to posterity, I’m hoping to catch the latter half of the Presbyterian College playing the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I try not to be as rushed as I’m going to be tomorrow.

(In the previous two paragraphs, I have been using “the” in a coy and deeply insignificant satire on the way broadcasters tend to say THE Charlotte Motor Speedway and THE New Hampshire Motor Speedway, as if they were THE Ohio State University or even THE United States of America.)

Now a crowd in the streets is singing “May the Lord Bless You Real Good,” and, apparently, Dean Martin’s character is named “Bo,” which strikes me as an ill-fitting name for Dino. Today’s star of the day must be Susan Hayward because, earlier this morning, she was in the British Isles somewhere — probably either Scotland or Ireland — getting herself suspected of murder.

Which brings me, for no apparent reason, to NASCAR and this week’s race of the Chase in the pastoral setting of Loudon, New Hampshire. I’m really excited, even if it’s because the race isn’t at night, so I won’t be writing, selecting pictures, perusing Twitter and Youtube, stacking numbers, and inventing a poll until three in the morning. I might even be done in time to catch the latter half of the Sunday night football game, whichever teams are playing it.

Hendrick Motorsports sent this little hot rod over to Stewart-Haas for Kevin Harvick to race this week. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)
Hendrick Motorsports sent this little hot rod over to Stewart-Haas for Kevin Harvick to race this week. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

To summarize, Kevin Harvick, who won last year’s Powerball, now has his back to the wall in New England, where he must try to win or at least watch while others screw up similarly to the way he did in Joliet, Illinois, where the Blues Brothers lived for a while.

The odds do not favor him, but that is for what the Chase is intended.

Clint Bowyer is getting "a nasty reputation as a cru-el dude."  (Nick Laham/Getty Images photo for NASCAR)
Clint Bowyer is getting “a nasty reputation as a cru-el dude.” (Nick Laham/Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Michael Waltrip Racing, the team with “nuttin’ to lose,” lost all its points when NASCAR officials uncovered its diabolical treachery in Joliet, where the Blues Brothers lived for a while. If Clint Bowyer, who really must be happy about all this, wins the Praise the Lord for Curt Schilling 313.7 (or whatever it is), NASCAR officials will undoubtedly bring in inspectors of the Atomic Energy Commission to handle post-race examination, just in case MWR put a breeder reactor under the hood.

Richard Milhous Nixon (John Clark photo)
Richard Milhous Nixon (John Clark photo)

Meanwhile, I’m hoping my Ryan Newman banner arrives in time for me to put it up in the living room for the rest of the Chase.

Who’s my pick? Hang on a minute. Heads an odd-numbered car, tails an even. Okay. Heads. That narrows it down to Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Paul Menard, Newman, and Kurt Busch. Next round: Heads, not prime. Tails, prime. Heads again, and we’ve got a winner, Paul Menard!

Who knew?

This is going to be quite a story. Now I can’t wait for Sunday. To New Hampshire and beyond!

Meanwhile, of course, I’ll be in my living room, switching to football games during the commercials.

 

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

Buy my latest novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, and that way I won’t have to sell peaches in a vacant lot next year. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Buy my first two novels, The Audacity of Dope and The Intangibles, and that way I won’t have to become a telemarketer.  http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

Potentially a Time for Progress

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, August 27, 2015, 10:18 a.m.

No race this weekend. Maybe I’ll go to a ballgame.

This is going to be — knock on wood — the least busy weekend for quite some time. The Greer at Clinton high school football game is the only item on my slate. It will be a good weekend to dive back into some fiction, both reading and writing.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

On Sept. 4-6, I’ll be at Clinton High on Friday night, Furman University on Saturday, and in my living room Sunday night, writing about the Bojangles Southern 500 based on information gained from my own two eyes, social media, and emails. Those three assignments will informally acclimate me to West Coast Time. I’ll have Time Zone Fatigue without leaving the Eastern.

A week later, a friend and I are going to watch Presbyterian play at Charlotte, but we won’t have long afterward to visit because I’ll have to race back home in time for the Richmond race to start. What a break. The Blue Hose and 49ers kick off at noon.

This weekend, though, I’m going to chill. Or, at least, it’s an option.

Play a little guitar. Watch the Red Sox. For a last-place team without a bullpen, they’re pretty fun to watch.

Mow the lawn. Trim the bushes. Write a song.

I’ve got to do something to jumpstart my book sales, which have lagged a bit this week (though they took a jump this morning). I can check the sales several times a day, but I really shouldn’t. The numbers bounce constantly. It’ll lead me to some hare-brained scheme and take me away from what I ought to be doing, which is preparing a fourth novel for publication, finding a suitable place for it, and working diligently on a fifth.

It’s an assembly line, whether it’s late at night, waiting for the next transcript to arrive, or writing a high school gamer, or trying to move the process along with a novel called Cowboys Come Home.

In fact, it’s an assembly line of assembly lines.

So many rats are in the races that they’ve had to divide them into classes.

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

Hey, here’s an idea. You like what I’m doing, right? I mean, you’re here. We’re (Facebook) friends. You’re following me on Twitter. Maybe you don’t read many books, but you like my writing.

Give it a try. Download it in your devices (but, first, if necessary, load the Kindle apps), and Crazy of Natural Causes, or The Audacity of Dope, or The Intangibles, will all be nestled snugly at your disposal, in your music player, or your tablet, or your laptop, or your cell phone while you’re waiting for a friend to meet you for dinner.

 

And let’s say my new novel isn’t worth $3.49 to you (or $2.99 for Audacity, or $4.99 for The Intangibles). You know someone who’ll like it. Recommend it. It could be that these shameless pleas of mine have run their course with this set of acquaintances. You’re my most loyal. Help me spread the word even if you don’t care to read the words. 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

 

The Serfs Are Restless

Kevin Harvick is second, and the Michigan race hasn't even started. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick is second, and the Michigan race hasn’t even started. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, June 13, 2015, 11:40 a.m.

I used to be there, man. For 20 years, I was “at the track” most weekends of the NASCAR season. Some years I went to every race. The last few years of my tenure, I started going to about 75 percent, which was plenty, and I was only too happy to take some time off, and the place where I worked was even happier.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

It was simple. I just wrote what I saw. I didn’t write stories about drivers, or crew chiefs, or owners, or anyone else, because it was their turn*. I just wrote what interested me, figuring that if it interested me, it would undoubtedly interest others.

Now I get surprised more often. I read the transcripts, but I don’t see the expressions on the faces. I depend on what TV chooses to show me because I have no other choice. I just do the best I can, but I don’t get the same perspective. I can read the lines but not what’s between them. I don’t get to ask the questions, and I’m astonished at the ones that don’t get asked.

All in all, this doesn’t displease me. I get to write as much or as little as I want. It’s the same in that I still write what I see but different in that I don’t see as much. I don’t think I’ve changed, but what I write isn’t a quota of stories to be filed each day (“the budget”). The blog is just for when I have something to write, and that’s still fairly common. The weekly free-lance column at Bleacher Report keeps my attention focused.

I’m more likely to be wrong. NASCAR used to seem more predictable. In general, whenever I wondered what NASCAR would do, I just assumed the worst, and it was what happened on a regular basis. The madness is still there; there’s not as much method.

This could be the week for Kasey Kahne. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
This could be the week for Kasey Kahne. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

For instance, this year NASCAR, being ruled by France, after all, has moved from a revised English system of justice to one more based on the Napoleonic Code.

Let’s see. There was Napoleon Bonaparte France. Then there was Napoleon Jr. Now there’s Brian Zoroaster France.

If that’s not the truth, it ought to be.

In other words, violations have been codified, allegedly, meaning that drivers, teams, crew chiefs, owners – anything but, God forbid, sponsors – can be punished for receiving two “written warnings.” NASCAR officials who used to defend their strange decisions by saying each case would be considered on an individual basis, without factoring in past actions, are now pulling those dreaded “permanent records” we all thought we escaped with the completion of high school.

Sometimes it seems the Soup Nazi is running things.

“You! Go to the back of the line!”

“No practice for you! … But, hey, you be good boy, maybe I let you go on track after 15 minutes, no? How’s about you think before you talk next time!”

What hasn’t changed is that NASCAR officials still set their trial balloons loose, see if they fly, and then, if they don’t actually fly very well, they can say what they technically did was fly even if only briefly, like Howard Hughes managing to get the Spruce Goose off the surface of the water for a few exciting seconds.

This week’s trial balloon is the notion that NASCAR may change the rules for one race, the one in Kentucky next month. Previous balloons in this extravaganza were: (1.) Wait till you see our new rules package! (2.) This rules package is pretty good, but the real changes are going to be next year! (3.) Maybe we’ll just keep these rules next year! and (4.) We may just test next year’s rules this year!

The reason for the fourth balloon is that the first three were greeted with various synonyms of “Bullshit!”

Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson are undoubtedly quite pleased with the season to date. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)
Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson are undoubtedly quite pleased with the season to date. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Empty seats and declining TV ratings must be having a panic-inducing effect. Isn’t it amazing that the regular season is so extraordinarily unimportant that an official race can be conducted as a test session?

Just a little R&D. They’ll love it in Kentucky. I mean, what do they want? The traffic’s better.

I didn’t see this coming. Of course, I didn’t expect NASCAR to allow its world’s most affluent slaves to speak out of turn, either. NASCAR, since its founding, has been predicated on the great notion of “Big Bill,” William Henry Getty Napoleon Bonaparte France, that as long as all the boys in the garage were doing a little better this year than last year, and the fans weren’t slap broke, no one would mind if the real money was safely tucked away in the Daytona Beach, Florida, vault.

Y'know, it might not be a bad time for Jeff Gordon to step aside.(Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon’s timing might be really good. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Placate the stakeholders, lest they decide to start nailing people up with them.

Beware the fate of dictators who loosen their iron grips. It’s unlike NASCAR to let freedom ring, and no one believes it. These guys have been hiring crooks and making them inspectors since 1949. Now they’re hiring image specialists. That’s worse.

As Mark Twain allegedly said on Twitter, “Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.”

Someone will say to me, “Hey, smart guy, you think you could run this sport any better?”

I think to myself, well, anyone could.

Here’s a start. Stop trying to dictate what people think. They can think on their own. Try to reflect those thoughts, not shape them.

Even the early Bonapartes knew that, and they were ornery as hell.

*Except on the syndicated race page, where it was necessary.

My blogs that are fiction, about fiction, and about writing and things literary, are at wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, and most of my books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

Time to Redraw Some Lines

I believe in happy endings. (Monte Dutton)
I believe in happy endings. (Monte Dutton)

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, April 19, 2015, 2:53 p.m.

Last night I dreamed of Hillbilly Heaven / Oh, what a beautiful sight …

Actually, it wasn’t Hillbilly Heaven. It wasn’t beautiful. It wasn’t a dream. I just couldn’t sleep.

Bristol Motor Speedway might be Hillbilly Heaven, but not when it’s raining. Last night had nothing to do with NASCAR. I just thought of the old Tex Ritter lyric.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I couldn’t sleep at all last night, which is another lyric. It’s hard to write something that wasn’t a lyric of some kind.

Duh-duh-duh-duh-duht.

For a good bit of the night, I could hear the deluge outside while my mind was storming inside. I had been weary earlier in the night, so much so that I had to sip coffee in order to maintain enough alertness to read a book, Motorsports and American Culture: From Demolition Derbies to NASCAR, edited by Mark D. Howell and John D. Miller, and contributed to by my friend Jon Edwin Mason, who gave it to me when he visited Clinton several weeks back. If you’re interested in a scholarly approach to automobile racing, I recommend it. I’m finding it refreshing, and, when I finish it, I’ll review it.

I didn’t even try to go to sleep until the coffee had worn out. I normally sleep well. I’d say the last time I had a night like this one was in 1992, the last year before I started writing about NASCAR for a living. First, I was sweaty and thought I might be coming down with something, but I got up and discovered that the temperature in the house had risen to 75, so I turned on the air conditioning, the house cooled quickly, and I still couldn’t sleep. I got up and turned on this laptop. I wrote a long letter.

Brainstorming is common for me, but most of the time it helps me sleep. It’s a strange phenomenon that began when I started writing short stories. If I dream something, I’ll forget it, but if I’m trying to sleep, what I ponder stays vivid and helps me to work my way out of the crossroads and forks in my stories.

Reuben James / You still walk the furrowed fields of my mind …

It's raining. Maybe I'll listen to Elvis. (Monte Dutton sketch)
It’s raining. Maybe I’ll listen to Elvis. (Monte Dutton sketch)

I made lots of decisions. I’m not going to waste as much of my time. I’m going to back off from the cleverness of social media and try to find the wisdom of more substantial pastimes. At this point of my life, I don’t know how to do anything else but write, and no one else is interested in seeing me try. There are better ways to cultivate writing than tweeting. I’m still going to do it. I’m just not going to do it as much. I’m going to back off from the overkill … and just kill. Not the time. The negligible effort. I’m going to nurture the time and make better use of it.

Some will say, well, that’ll change. It might. Those people didn’t believe me when I said I wasn’t going back to the track, either.

The practical impact of last night is, most likely, that I’m not going to bore my readers silly as much.

So rejoice. What’s available will be more worthwhile.

All of the above is not to say that I don’t appreciate all the readers who support my frivolity. I hope you’ll read my short stories at wellpilgrim.wordpress.com and make the modest investment necessary to read my books, which are conveniently available here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

 

How to Kill a Day or Two

This would have made a great Couch by Couchwest video site, what with the rainbow, but this was back a decade or so, before I traded this guitar for some speakers.
This would have made a great Couch by Couchwest video site, what with the rainbow, but this was back a decade or so, before I traded this guitar for some speakers.

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 10:16 a.m.

The grass needs cutting. I spent a good bit of Tuesday afternoon taping a music video and a good bit of Tuesday night trying to find a program that will allow me to do what I want to do with the video. In the past year, I’ve replaced my laptop, and the old program isn’t available for the latest version of Windows. In fact, I don’t think it’s available any more for anything.

Guitars don't kill audiences. Guitarists kill audiences. This might have been my very first sketch.
Guitars don’t kill audiences. Guitarists kill audiences. This might have been my very first sketch.

So, I’m going back to that attempt shortly, and then, perhaps, with the video of songs I’ve written safely tucked away on YouTube, life can return to normal. A placid life of long periods on hold listening to soft music, of staring at that stack of mail and wondering which ones I need to deal with today, and subscribing to a television service that provides hundreds and hundreds of channels, but not the one that is providing what one wants to see.

What? Great American Country isn’t a part of my package? And the NASA Channel is? And something called EVINE Live is?

When I was fifteen, I worried about whether or not the rains were going to flood the pastures we were renting on the opposite side of town and worked out a relief plan for … cattle.

Gotta have some "merch" on the table. (Monte Dutton)
Gotta have some “merch” on the table. (Monte Dutton)

Now I wonder what ION East HD is. With the cattle, I knew when the rain had stopped and the waters had crested. Now I know that “HD” stands for High Definition and the apparent new third baseman of the Sioux Junction Log Rollers is @hotcornerdude27.

5:31 p.m.

Most of the time since I wrote the above has been spent editing a video for Couch by Couchwest, an online music festival that runs every year at the same time as South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

http://couchbycouchwest.com/

Not only do I write songs. I invent songwriters for my short stories ... and draw what I think they look like. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Not only do I write songs. I invent songwriters for my short stories … and draw what I think they look like. (Monte Dutton sketch)

You owe it to yourself to check it out. Follow on Twitter, and song after song will both enrich your day and impede your work.

I’m not sure when my entry will be posted. I’ll let you know via social media when it’s up, but, it’s already up on YouTube, so, if you’d like to watch my entry, and I’d appreciate it if you would, here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMQZfFzhdtU&list=UUyi8WtOwXdOnitREqPEeVcA

This sketch was for a character in my short story "Facebook Friends."
This sketch was for a character in my short story “Facebook Friends.”

I wrote a brand-new song, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” just for Couch by Couchwest, and another song I’ve written in the past year called “Scuppernongs and Muscadines.” Since I just wrote the former, I shot the video in my living room because I needed my laptop for reference on the lyrics. Then I went out on the form to shoot each of the verses of “Scuppernongs and Muscadines” in a different location.

Videos of many of my songs are available on the “Monte Dutton” YouTube channel. Occasionally there are lyrics in the short stories posted at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com.

Please consider my books, most of which can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

 

 

Here a Minute, Gone the Next

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Kasey Kahne, responding to the Cam Newton emergency. Not really. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)
Kasey Kahne, responding to the Cam Newton emergency. Not really. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, December 10, 2014, 3:38 p.m.

Life provides us with periodic bolts from the blue.

The delivery accelerates but not the immediacy. By that, I mean that, when I heard that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had been in a car wreck on Tuesday, it shocked me moments after it happened, thanks to the Twitter feed, but it would have shocked me had I found out about it the next day. It would have been shocking to have gotten word of General Andrew Jackson’s victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans, particularly since no one knew, at the time of the battle, that the War of 1812 was already over.

Incredibly, this photo is over two years old, and, yet, it's on the Internet.
Incredibly, this photo is over two years old, and, yet, it’s on the Internet.

It was high time for the War of 1812 to be over, it being 1815 when the aforementioned battle ended. The Treaty of Ghent had been signed on December 24, 1814, but General Jackson didn’t have Twitter. When in doubt, keep fighting until the British run through the bushes, run through the brambles, go some places where a rabbit wouldn’t go, on down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico*.

The truth still takes time, and it used to be more reliable. Nowadays truth arrives in bits and snatches, accompanied by untruths, like unto a game show.

Thank goodness the crash occurred in a Technology Corridor. Not really. (Monte Dutton)
Thank goodness the crash occurred in a Technology Corridor. Not really. (Monte Dutton)

Cam Newton involved in wreck.

Newton appears all right.

Newton smiles to camera.

Newton’s vehicle, upside down.

Newton’s vehicle, being turned rightside up.

Newton’s vehicle, roof flattened.

The car that hit Cam.

Cam, immobilized.

Cam en route to hospital.

Insiders say wreck broke both Cam’s legs.

Cam miraculously uninjured.

Cam expects to play Sunday.

Cam has broken back.

Cam unlikely to play.

Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick, joyriding around the Queen City, rammed Cam Newton's pickup. Not really. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)
Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick, joy-riding around Charlotte, rammed Cam Newton’s truck. Not really. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Those were just in the first few hours. It’s still going on now. At the moment, he may, in fact, be undergoing surgery on the beaches of Cabo San Lucas, throwing practice tosses to Prince William, with his arms around the Duchess, while defending the CIA’s use of torture, and threatening to shut down the government.

Again.

I’m sure the family seeks closure. At one time, people didn’t need to worry. Most events had closure. Now it’s a pie in the sky. Either that or a pipe dream. Folks post online like they’re buying a lottery ticket.

Maybe this one will win!

Does anyone ever say “take your time” anymore?

One quality of www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, my other blog, is that it’s intentionally made up. Please consider buying my books. They make great stocking stuffers if you have really large stockings. They’re available here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1414631316&sr=1-1

*Rest in peace, Johnny Horton, who had a hit song, “The Battle of New Orleans,” written by Jimmy Driftwood.

No Heavy Lifting This Morning

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

I took this photo before a high-school football game in Abbeville, S.C., last year.
I took this photo before a high-school football game in Abbeville, S.C., last year.

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, December 1, 2014, 9:18 a.m.

Monday mornings are perfect to ponder the absurdities of life, such as, how my Twitter feed furnishes links to “Craziest Places to Have Sex!” and “If Disney Was for Adults!” and these are allegedly provided me by Confucius.

Nothing further. I didn’t click the link. I was too busy with “Top Ten Party Schools” and pondering how a bucket full of water contains more atoms than there are buckets full of water in the Atlantic Ocean.

Whoa.

As usual, while pondering absurdity, I am reminded of the Statler Brothers’ declaration in “Flowers on the Wall”: “Uh, don’t tell me I’ve nothing to do!”

10:43 a.m.

I watched football almost nonstop on Friday and Saturday. On Thursday, of course, Thanksgiving slowed me, well, in that way, too.

Western Kentucky-Marshall. Defensive struggle. 67-66. Alabama-Auburn. 55-44. Auburn fired the defensive coordinator, Ellis Johnson. After the Tigers’ last three losses in Tuscaloosa, a place where visitors quite often fare poorly, two head coaches and one defensive coordinator have been fired.

The deposed head coach at Florida, Will Muschamp, is back in style. He’ll have to settle for a million bucks or two when he resurfaces, coordinating a defense again.

It was a weekend of games matching one team named “University of” against another accessorized by Tech or State. Georgia Tech beat Georgia. Arizona repelled Arizona State. Mississippi (the Ole one) knocked off Mississippi State. Oregon clobbered Oregon State. Washington stymied Washington State. Kansas State decimated Kansas. Virginia Tech trimmed Virginia.

Lots of teams were informally bowl-eligible. Egg Bowl, Apple Bowl, Civil War, and here in South Carolina, for the first time, we officially held the Palmetto Bowl. Clemson put South Carolina – and a five-game losing streak – to bed. As for me, it took Auburn-Alabama to finally send me off to sleep with high, spiraling punts dancing in my head.

On Sunday, the TV was on. I was writing, reading, playing guitar and monitoring the progress of the National – Buh-buh-buh-BUH! – Football League. The Carolina Panthers cost me a good deal of my attention span.

The other games were great. I was just beyond caring. Fortunately, there’s that vaunted Dolphins at Jets fray to perk me up.

Sometimes it's like this for laps at a time. Phoenix in the fall. (HHR/Harold Hinson photo for Chevy Racing)
Sometimes it’s like this for laps at a time. Phoenix in the fall. (HHR/Harold Hinson photo for Chevy Racing)

10:58 a.m.

Guess what? I just thought of NASCAR for the first time in a couple weeks. Why is it that the races are too long, but the football games aren’t? Some of them are dreary.

Thought number two. So-called “double-file restarts,” in addition to being a misnomer, were also unwise. They were already “double-file,” but the leaders were in one lane and the lapped cars in the other. When that was the case, it was exciting to watch a top driver who had experienced some adversity racing like hell to get his lap back. Now the restarts are in running order, and it’s virtually impossible for anyone actually to “race his way back” onto the lead lap. He might have to race a little to earn the dubious distinction of being the top driver a lap down, and then he will receive a free pass at the next caution period.

Merely by passing up a pit stop, a dozen or more cars are simply “waved around.” That’s right. Waved Around. It’s the NASCAR version of a presidential pardon.

Sometimes, eight cars are on the lead lap at the halfway point and twenty-seven by the time there are twenty laps to go. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work.

Everything is designed to gin up, falsify, and artificially respirate the ending. The race. The season. The Chase. The champion.

Lest some fans leap to their keyboards all at once to inform me that “maybe, if you don’t like NASCAR anymore, you ought to just go to hell,” I still think it’s worth watching, thoroughly socialized and tricked up though it may be. It’s just that I once thought it was wonderful, and now I mainly think it’s amusing.

I don’t like Arena Football as much as College Football, High School Football, and Pro Football, either, but I watch it sometimes when there’s no Futbol Football (soccer) to appease me.

As Loretta Lynn is wont to sing, Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! You know what would make a fine gift this holiday season? Why, at least one and, quite possibly, many of my books: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1