What Comes to Mind Today

HorsesClinton, South Carolina, Thursday, April 9, 2020, 11:28 a.m.

Monte Dutton

If the country is pulling together, you can’t prove it by Facebook.

I’ll stop blaming President Twitter when he stops blaming everyone else.

The best reason to watch replays of old sporting events is that at least it’s sports. The worst thing is that everyone knows how it’s going to end. Thus do they lack “the human drama of athletic competition.” I remember the opening of ABC’s Wide World of Sports the same way I remember poems I had to recite in high school.

The design of a website and filling it (“populating” is the common cliché in the website biz) with stories has been marvelously beneficial. Now I’m antsy to get Laurens County Sports launched because I want to unveil all this work. It’s given me something to do besides worry and mourn.

I’m scheduled to have a root canal on Monday morning, and that is the perfect procedure for this time.

IMG_0927My best friend is my guitar.

Quit crying about coronavirus taking away your rights. In every crisis, the citizens are required to make sacrifices. They’re not a means of taking away your freedoms. They’re a means of preserving them in the future. The remaining children of the depression and World War II are laughing at your selfishness.

Make the best of what you have. Do what you do, do well, man. It’s all right to feel sorry, but not for yourself. Times are tough all over.

Try to appreciate the other fellow’s point of view. Most of the people who are truly ignorant are those who think anyone who disagrees with them is.

Stop blaming the politicians and the media. The system never fails. You get exactly what you vote for and what you read or watch. The man in the mirror keeps getting nearer. (I got that from an old Dan Fogelberg song.) If you don’t vote, don’t rationalize it. You had your chance. If you don’t have a choice, it’s because you don’t make one.

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

Mastodons Run Amok

QuichotteClinton, South Carolina, Monday, March 30, 2020, 7:45 p.m.

Monte Dutton

When I read Don Quixote, I found it astonishing to learn that the art of comedy had not notably advanced in over four centuries.

Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte takes Miguel de Cervantes forward and adds levels that would not have been structurally feasible in 1616, when the final part of his masterpiece was publishly shortly after its author’s death.

Rushdie’s weighty tome is a modern retelling of the classic tale, enhanced by heaping helpings of politics, science fiction, fantasy, and tales within the tale. Quichotte bursts out of Don Quixote as Blazing Saddles cinematically bursts out of the Old West.

What seems convoluted at first becomes wildly humorous as it seems to stabilize, then careens off into subplots that cross all imaginable bounds, some of which are difficult to anticipate and others impossible.

All of it is a commentary on the dysfunctions of today. It’s hilarious right up to the point where the reader starts to weep at how delightfully awful the world has become.

It all works in spite of a series of outlandish surprises that don’t end until the final page.

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

Dre-e-e-e-eam, Dream, Dream, Dre-eam

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, March 26, 2020, 11:29 a.m.

Monte Dutton

Last night I dreamed in peaceful sleep of shady summertime of old dogs, and children, and watermelon wine. – Tom T. Hall

I wish.

Two nights ago, I dreamed I was covering a soccer match, and players started stopping in their tracks and falling unconscious to the ground. It was reminiscent of the gas-spewing planes closing in on Fort Knox in the James Bond movie Goldfinger.

Last night I had another vivid dream, but I didn’t begin this column soon enough, and it has eluded me. Dreams are that way. Thing is, I don’t normally have dreams, and the fact that I now do every night is disconcerting. It makes me dread going to sleep. The dreams aren’t nightmares. They are matter-of-fact and dispassionate. They often involve people and places I haven’t thought of in years.

Scenes change. I walk out of Clinton High School and drive a car I had 30 years ago down Duval Street in Key West, Florida. I am also aware that I am dreaming, which may be why they aren’t frightening.

What they have in common with the conscious is that I can’t control them. I don’t try. I’m just there for the ride. The viewpoint is my eyes, but I am no more than an observer.

Life is out of control, but I am not careening.

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

The Age of Chicken Little

fantasy-639115_960_720Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, March 22, 2020, 9:16 a.m.

Monte Dutton

Everywhere people say the sky is falling. Never mind that it is.

Mostly, when my “land line” rings, it is either my mother or someone who wants my money. I hang up so often, one would in earlier times think me inconsiderate. My cell plays tricks, too. And my email. No Iowa farmer ever had to separate so much wheat from chaff.

Chaff is indigestible by humans, but livestock can eat it, and in agriculture, it is used as livestock fodder …

Emails often want me to buy a warranty for my vehicle or investigate “TrumpCare,” which is funny, if nonsensical.

Sure. One man’s news is another man’s “fake news,” and vice-versa. I have grown pessimistic that any advertisement, recording, email, social media post, or recording is legitimate. I hope I have no need for a lawyer, but I’m not going to hire one who puts incessant commercials on my TV. I could have a wreck in the shadow of a billboard telling me what to do if I have a wreck, and I wouldn’t call the number.

It works in reverse, too. My cell has an out-of-state area code, and I keep it because it has many, many valuable contacts in it, not to mention many, many contacts that are undoubtedly no longer current and useless. I was thinking yesterday about the long odds that the personal number of a famous athlete is still accurate. Getting people to listen to a message is almost hopeless, so invariably I must “text,” and I really hate to “text,” not to mention mildly dislike those who apparently love it. I do not have a means for others to leave a message on my own phone because if I ever knew how, I no longer do, and occasionally make a halfhearted, unsuccessful stab at it.

Communications. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it.

Important emails somehow get automatically directed to my “junk” file, while a sporting goods chain where I bought a baseball scorebook three years ago gets through every time.

Fortunately, I know I can always rely on the President of the United States to tell me the truth. He’s every bit as reliable as a cartoon general in a red Corvette selling insurance, or a lawyer riding in a space ship similar to George Jetson’s.

Thank God car racing I real. I think there’s one on today.

What happens when the sky really is falling? Voila.

The process of designing a website was slowed for a few days because I didn’t answer the calls from an unfamiliar number, and the emails were in the junk folder. Oh, yeah, I forgot my phone was on mute, too. I think I did that during a local government meeting when it started ringing at an inopportune time.

No problem. There are no government meetings now. There are no ballgames, other than ones that were played before we had so much alleged access.

Oh, the virtual life ain’t no good life, but it’s my life. There’s hardly any choice. There’s a world of information but a solar system of distortion.

I remain somewhat confident that I’m really writing this.

 

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

The Horse Ain’t High No More

IMG_8175 (2)Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, March 19, 2020, 9:23 a.m.

71488108_2721132081231510_2025560994029240320_o (2)
Monte Dutton

There’s nothing wrong with feeling sorry, but there’s no purpose in feeling sorry for ourselves.

Things are tough all over. Everyone’s got a tale of woe. Everyone’s got someone to blame.

Stop it. We’ve got the right to lash out at who or what is the target of our ire, but it’s not going to solve anything.

Kris Kristofferson wrote (“Jesus Was a Capricorn”):

Cause everybody’s got to have somebody to look down on

Who they can feel better than at any time they please

Someone doin’ something dirty decent folks can frown on

If you can’t find nobody else, then help yourself to me

IMG_8181 (2)No one is innocent. No one is guilty. We all have a gripe. We all get frustrated. We all got whupped upside the head by something we weren’t expecting. We all didn’t see it coming. We all were wrong, and we all were right. We all have to stick together – not literally — and we all feel like tearing something apart.

We’ve all got to keep things together, but there are going to be times when we feel angry.

IMG_8192 (2)Steven Fromholz wrote (“Singin’ the Dinosaur Blues”):

Me and my friends are getting long in the tooth

After three or four decades of seekin’ the truth

Trying to recover from a misspent youth

And gradually givin’ in to knowledge

The song, popularized by Jerry Jeff Walker, also contains one of my favorite sentences:

Life is mostly attitude and timing

IMG_8191 (2)I lost my timing, but I’ve still got my attitude. I laugh at myself at the magnificent decision to start up a sports website at the time that there are no sports.

It’s funny as hell. I need a laugh, man.

IMG_8198 (2)Yesterday I needed to get away, and Southwest Airlines wasn’t a practical consideration. When this website, Laurens County Sports, launches – think bottle rocket, not Saturn V – I’m going to fill it with information, even though there are apparently going to be no ballgames and fight songs. I drove around the county and took photos of empty ballfields, tennis courts and the dirt track.

IMG_8179 (2)If I’ve got COVID-19 tucked away in my system, it didn’t come from the afternoon trip. At Clinton High School, four kids were leaving the softball field. I spoke to them but didn’t broach the 3- to 6-foot protective shield of deadly air. We exchanged pleasantries.

A man was jogging around the track that surrounds the football field at Bailey Memorial Stadium. A few men from the physical plant – that’s what it was called when I was in college – were tidying up outside the soccer field. A Laurens High, a man was giving two kids – 11, 12 years old, I’m guessing – tennis lessons. All the gates were locked except the one he had opened in the courts. I used the walkway in the middle to reach a camera angle for the football and baseball stadiums. I stopped at Laurens City Parks and the YMCAs of Clinton and Laurens, The last stop was at Laurens Academy.

IMG_8187 (2)It was as haunting in its way as the video on TV of nearly vacant Times Square.

But, folks, we can do this because, folks, we’ve got no choice. Everyone’s got a tale of woe, and most of them are legitimate.

IMG_8194 (2)A mother’s heart grieves that her son isn’t going to enjoy the rest of his senior year: the prom, the trip, the graduation. A woman frets for her health because her job involves service to the public from behind a counter, and if she leaves, the line to replace her will be longer than the line at the counter.

Wide1Gas is cheap, and there’s no place to go. Ain’t that typical? It might be all that’s typical.

Whatever the help, it won’t be enough, but we’ll just have to get by the best we can.

Controlling the attitude is easier than controlling the timing.

Don’t get mad. It don’t do no good.

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

Bah to All the Humbugs

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, March 15, 2020, 1:24 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

Two weeks ago, I sent an email to every official I could think of around the county, asking what provisions were being made for the impending coronavirus spread. The great majority did not dignify my request with a reply. A few answered constructively. About the same number replied satirically.

Early last week, I went to a couple ballgames, and people looked at me as if I were daft – a lovely British term – when I mildly allowed as how I was worried. On Facebook, it seemed to be the territory of the snowflakes. One man demanded that I not post such foolishness on his Facebook page, which I suppose meant that he wanted no dissent to his mock outrage. He has continued to post bile on mine, but, then again, I made no such demands in return because I believe people have the right to their opinions, however inane.

By week’s end, most ballgames had been canceled or postponed, many meetings and services had been canceled, and I expect tomorrow will bring many more.

Now opinions have changed, I suspect, because some have gotten permission from their role model, President Twitter, who takes credit for everything and blame for nothing. They will all deny this and, in some cases, say they never even watch Fox News regardless of whether or not it has been alleged. Have no fear. News-Free TV is undoubtedly gearing up for an all-out investigation of a war on Easter.

I hope I’m wrong. I pray I’m wrong. If so, I will acknowledge it joyously, but, for now, what say let’s hope I’m wrong but prepare for if I’m right? I’ve tried to study this matter by reading the opinions of, oh, experts.

At least two have used confusion in the difference in percent and percentage to their advantage, thus claiming that the common cold is more dangerous than COVID-19.

There’s no practical usefulness in the homily “better safe than sorry,” because in the Age of Social Media, few are ever sorry about anything. They’re mad as hell about any perceived disrespect of their prince but not at all sorry at their past disrespect of other princes, princesses, candidates, and presidents.

My God. You’d think President Twitter was a football coach or somebody else important.

I plead guilty to both satire and sarcasm. This will not placate the humorless.

Thus I will feign amusement as they rail against any dissent, particularly against those more prominent than I, because they don’t think any actor, comedian, ballplayer, boxer, bullrider, or pundit has any right to an opinion other than their own.

Apparently their own opinions are a matter of unassailable, divine guidance. They never eat words. They just get mad because, deep down, in the part of their souls where slanders are stored, they have occasionally been wrong. One is our esteemed Governor, Henry Dargan McMaster, who is apparently about to close all the schools.

One man’s snowflake is another’s boiling water.

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.

While I Breathe, I Hope

South Carolina state seal

Clinton, South Carolina, February 29, 2020, 11:54 a.m.

Monte Dutton

Life is fatal for everyone. I have reached the age where I am one germ away from disaster. I suppose this is somewhat true for everyone, but more of a worry as people age.

As such, I am wary but unafraid. The so-called coronavirus is not a clear and present danger, but it is a danger. It is entirely possible that many people have contracted it now but don’t know it. Unlike many countries, the only people who are being tested here are those who are already sick.

Be careful. Don’t panic, but take some precautions. Wash your hands often. Carry a handkerchief and try not to sneeze or cough without using it.

I voted this morning, and it was the first time I have ever voted pragmatically in a primary. I’ve always voted my heart before, and I’ve seldom picked the person who won, and I’ve never felt badly about it. I don’t think it’s indicative of any general change. It’s indicative of the moment.

Soon, though I’m not sure exactly how soon, I will be launching my own website. The process is not moving along as rapidly as I would like. I have been diligently doing what I can do, but I am relying on an outside company to design the platform according to my specifications, and until that process is complete, it is difficult for me to go any further.

Pixabay

In other words, I’ve got a post-office box, business cards, a bank account, checks ordered, and correspondence sent. I am leaving my job at GoLaurens/GoClinton on March 15, and I hope to launch the new site sometime in April and have additional plans to follow.

I want to hire some help, and as soon as I leave GL/GC, I will dedicate my time to establishing an advertising baseline and generating copy for the new site. In short, I need a site to sell a site. My plan is to build support gradually through the spring and summer and have it and other sites prospering by football season.

By preference and training, I am a sportswriter. I will not miss writing about everything else. This site fills that need.

The new site will be dedicated to local sports. The only exception is that I plan to write columns that are set both inside and outside the Laurens County lines. Those columns will be titled, aptly, “Inside the Line” and “Outside the Lines.”

To borrow the words said by Charley Pride in a live album recorded more than 50 years ago, “I’m like a bucking horse waiting to get out of the stall.”

My careful planning is suddenly in jeopardy. I hope the suddenly sagging economy recovers or at least stabilizes. I’m hoping the country’s health concerns stabilize, too. As is the case with most everyone and everything else, I hope for the best.

South Carolina has two mottoes on its seal. The former is “Animis Opibusque Parati,” which is Latin for “prepared in mind and resources.” The latter is “Dum Spiro, Spero,” which means “while I breathe, I hope.”

 

If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.

If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.

My eighth novel, a political crime thriller, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.

My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.