Rivulets of Racing

Pixabay

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, January 26, 2020, 11:21 a.m.

Monte Dutton

Two characteristics, thoughtfulness and dread, characterize my awakenings.

Arriving to consciousness is shortly followed by coffee and medication, and it usually makes me think. That’s why I’ve gotten in the habit of posting on Facebook each morning and writing a blog when I’ve got time and am particularly coherent. A blog requires more comprehensive thought.

In January, this old writer’s thoughts turn to automobile racing, and two turns around the clock of racing are going on this weekend in Daytona Beach, Florida, which Ken Squier used to call the Birthplace of Speed, and it is certainly where it is born each year.

Twenty-four hours of Rolex was a welcome break from 24 hours of news. Endurance racing wasn’t on constantly. I watched most of a weird John Huston movie, bits and snatches of several basketball games, and SNL, which I thought unusually entertaining, that is, until a lovers’ spat between Ketchup and Catsup occurred near the end.

What did I learn from a Saturday of TV and guitar strumming?

There are more owls on TV than in the outdoors. Good commercials become bad commercials after the first thousand viewings. A suggestive line was actually cut out of Blazing Saddles, as impossible as that may be to believe.

When Lilli Von Shtupp, “the Teutonic Titwillow,” asked Sheriff Bart, “Is it true what they say about you people?” his censored reply was, “I hate to disappoint you, ma’am, but you’re sucking my arm.”

The reason I stumbled upon this nugget of naughtiness was I was looking up the Hedley Lamarr line that describes my mornings: “My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.”

And is just as satirical.

So now I’ve got the four races within a race that run all day and all night on TV in the background, and I pick out occasional comments, such as about an hour ago when one of the analysts used a word that has never been used in 71 seasons of NASCAR, “caveat.”

 

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.

United in Division

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, January 21, 2020, 8:54 a.m.

Monte Dutton

MLK Day to the beginning of impeachment is quite a transition.

For the record, baby, it’s cold outside.

Do you feel great again?

I think I’ll read the Constitution again. I’m kidding. I’m going to edit wrestling results.

Laurens City Council meets. I think it’s going to annex some property. As soon as I can get away, I’m going over to Laurens High for some basketball. While I’m going through the photos and writing some stories, I’ll find out what happened to the rest of America. At best, City Council plus high school basketball is less than 1/10th of one percent of America. It depends on how one measures.

Que sera, sera. Whatever will be will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera. Who knew I’d think of Doris Day this morning?

Be better to your baby and you’ll have a better baby. And if you don’t, I’ll steal her love, by crackie. Who knew I’d think of Ernest Tubb? Aw, Leon, now

Hang on. I think it’s time to fix some breakfast. I don’t think it will prevent the country from going to hell, but it won’t hurt.

10:04 a.m.

The common ground in the country is that an overwhelming majority of Americans believes things are messed up, and I use “messed” with tact that is probably undue these days. There is, however, little common ground on just what it is that is messed up.

Most of the truly stupid are those who feel everyone who disagrees with them is. As Jimmy Buffett sang, don’t ever forget that you just might end up being wrong. I still know many people who disagree with me but respect my point of view. The others are all silently plotting my assassination.

Buh-BOOM-chuh. I hope.

I wonder how often Melania Trump thinks, how did this happen to me? I’m the same way.

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Little doubt exists in my mind that President Twitter is guilty, if for no other reason because people with nothing to hide don’t generally opt to hide everything.

It’s okay, though, not to care whether he’s guilty or not. Or to think, well, it was bad but not bad enough to throw him out of office. Just be honest about it.

Nancy Pelosi says she prays for the president. I do, too, but not very often because President Twitter is way down my list.

My rough estimate is that I have been called a moron during the Twitter Administration more than the rest of my life combined.

About the only time I get mad is when people vilify my profession. They blame everything on the media without acknowledging that I am part of it. The most recent time was in the lobby of a countywide meeting. I think he might have been a welder. If I said all welders were crooks because they intentionally made bad welds so the client would have to buy a brand-new something from him, a welder would probably take offense. What I enjoy most about journalism is that I find it an honest way to make a living. Don’t roll your eyes. Seriously. I love the fact that I can watch what happens and then describe it.

It’s sort of like thinking, say, Congress is made up of nothing but crooks, all except for my representative whom I vote to send back to D.C. term after term.

Oh, not you. You’re not a crook. Everybody else is.

People sometimes say, why don’t you write more good things? and then I remember that, at any given time on the website, between six and eight of the top 10 most clicked items are the arrest reports.

The definition of “fake news” is “what I don’t like.” Another plot of common ground.

 

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.

As I Get Weaker, the Weather Gets Stronger

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Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, January 12, 2020, 10:07 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

The weather’s clear. The power has been back on since about 2 a.m. Wi-fi is in and out. DirecTV came right on when I walked into the living room, but then the power blipped, and it wouldn’t reset properly until I reset the receiver. I’m afraid to look outside, but I’m glad I had the tree in my backyard, already wracked by previous lightning, removed last summer.

I won a door prize in the fall that I first thought was some kind of heated coffee mug. It sat in the back seat of my truck for several months until I got some batteries and discovered it was a fluorescent lantern. That came in handy. It enabled me to while away the darkened hours playing my guitar in the lantern’s glow. No telling what would have happened if I’d poured coffee into it.

As times change – for instance, a thunderstorm, let alone a tornado, was unheard of in the winters of youth – and people age, reminiscences – “you remember the time me and you went to that outdoor Willie Nelson concert?” – grow in frequency. This is quite evident to those of you who read this blog.

My long-gone daddy was adept at pulling strings. Once I got to walk the stairs to the top of a ranger tower, where the aforementioned rangers scanned the horizon for forest fires, which, for some reason, seldom happen here but are incinerating Australia. Such matters are undoubtedly handled today by satellite imagery, just as TV weathermen (er, uh, staff meteorologists) no longer sit behind a desk and read the latest scintillating text from the National Weather Service.

The info is better and certainly more colorful. This is balanced because the weather is more erratic.

Last night, before the electricity disappeared, I could see the reddened claw mingling with the green and heading this way. I correctly presumed the howling sirens from uptown were indications of “potential tornadic activity” and not a squadron of enemy bombers. The air raids of today occur mostly in football stadiums.

Damned if everything in this house isn’t going to need resetting. What wasn’t working is back up. What was working is now stopping. The modem lies. Six lights are on. Wi-fi isn’t.

I think I’ll fix some breakfast and see if the wi-fi will fix itself.

 

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.

This Life I Have Found

Pixabay

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, January 9, 2020, 10:59 a.m.

Monte Dutton

For some reason, I make big decisions quickly. I think it through, sleep on it, get up thoughtful, and decide what I want to do. What I agonize over is small decisions. Deciding what I’m in the mood for at dinner – I never heard it called anything but supper until I went to college – sometimes causes me to think about it so long that I just give up and have a couple turkey sandwiches or some crackers and dip.

If the last few weeks had been the chapter in a book, it would have been named “Decisions, Decisions.”

I’ve been making up my mind and deciding what it’s going to take. I’ve been moving in that direction by doing research online, talking with friends, meeting over lunch (dinner in my youth), and making initial arrangements. I haven’t doubted for an instant what I needed to do. I have only fretted about what needs to be done to make it work.

What is this great project? In due time, friends. In due time. The horse still needs to stay in the barn for a while.

Meanwhile, the demands of the status quo have heated up even if the weather hasn’t. Schools are back in session. Basketball games and wrestling matches are occurring regularly again, as are government meetings and releases landing in my email for editing and processing.

Tonight two events – one news, the other sports – are taking place at the same time. I’m hoping one will end in time to catch part of the other. I’m taking the camera in hopes of getting a chance to use it.

Basketball games – the next flurry is Friday – require long nights. I go to one game, take many photos and notes, take a picture of the scorebook with my cell – just another change in modern journalism – go home, crop, adjust, and select the photos, write a story about the games (usually girls’ and boys’), review the results of two others sets of games, write about them, check everything out one last time, and go to bed. That’s usually well after midnight.

I awaken uneasily. (I like the word “awaken” and decry its increasing replacement by “wake up.”) I am at my most thoughtful in the morning. I dread the first look at email or the checking of my phone for messages. Something often appears that sets off an uproar, whether it’s local and job-related or international and on TV.

Our president is tiring. He takes all the air out of a big room.

It seems as if the future is uncertain in both the micro and the macro, or perhaps it is just the way life is supposed to be. I’ve never been at this point of life before.

 

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 Overlooked Crisis Is within Us

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Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, January 1, 2020, 8:48 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

Most mornings I awaken thoughtful. This is, in part, because there is no sports on TV yet.

I’ve thought about capitalism a lot lately, but it’s not really capitalism because I don’t completely mean the economic angle, and, I think, to be accurate, there is no other angle in the term.

It’s still a matter of commercialism, competition, and free enterprise. Just not the stock market.

Success means envisioning what is next, not reacting to what has happened. People are so busy with the latter that they forget about the former.

I’ve reacted a lot to my gradual loss of market value. It wouldn’t have happened if I had been able to envision it. The decline of newspapers was something I observed and lamented without doing something about it. Since I have been trained, both educationally and by nature, to write, I just keep on doing it. I write more and more in a world that is reading less and less. I am no different from the people who were trained to work in a cotton mill.

The world is a game of Tetris. Eventually it piles up, no matter how quick and nimble the player is. The self-fulfilling prophecy is the question: Is there still such a thing as Tetris? It has gone the way of AOL and MySpace.

The impersonal rules and, ultimately, by choice. People shy away from communicating face to face. They prefer to sit behind their laptops or peck away at their phones. They take no responsibility for their words because they no longer have any obligation to do so.

News is fake, and fake is news, and it doesn’t matter which is which.

I fear what this means.

I’m a ship without a rudder, adrift with no sails, and the water’s still choppy on the bay. My life ain’t so hot, and I’m past the point of caring about all the things I ain’t got.

I’m struggling. Who ain’t?

 

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.

Death Occurs Every Day, but We Think about It at Year’s End

Death Valley (Pixabay)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, December 30, 2019, 9:16 a.m.

Monte Dutton (Sara Bopp photo)

I have no use for resolutions. I hereby resolve to do in 2020 what I always do, most of which is write, but I also plan to keep myself pacified with my guitar and Kindle.

So there. Good to get that out of the way. It’s more natural for me to reminisce. As I am fond of telling people on the occasional radio show, I didn’t major in prophecy. My training is in writing about what already happened. This year I will undoubtedly be both naughty and nice, with an emphasis on the latter, and I’ll ask the Lord to forgive me my transgressions.

First up this morning, I read something it’s probably best not to do, with a cup of coffee and a laptop I know how to use, within sight of another year. I went through the list of people who died in 2019 and mourned those who will perish today and tomorrow because they’re going to be left out.

Who of my age never attempted feebly to imitate Dr. John and Leon Redbone? I have gone so far as to imitate Redbone singing a Dr. John song.

If you’re in it for longevity, the best career choice is probably not “rapper.”

Tim Conway? I just watched a clip on YouTube the other night when the football game got out of hand.

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I will miss the righteous thunder of Elijah Cummings. Few in politics revealed their souls with the willingness of Representative Cummings.

As I’ve spent so much of my life writing about stock car racers, the death of Junior Johnson was thought-provoking. I always considered Junior the archetype of the deceptive Southerner who hid the fact that he was the smartest guy on the property by talking slow and playing dumb. Images flood in of Junior, smiling and delivering his punch line, one of which was, “Huh. I probably made more money off Terry Labonte than anybody ever drove for me.” He pronounced it “Turry.”

Three “Bond girls” died, one French, one English, one Belgian. They were old. I thought them forever young.

One person, Steve Levy, died of nose cancer. The centenarian, I.M. Pei at 102, was the architect.

Some died in hospice care. One fell out a window. Another fell off a boat. A comedian died in the middle of a performance. Lots died from “complications.” Life is full of them, too.

Pixabay

I always loved Mac Wiseman’s voice, a soulful version of bluegrass. One of the world’s many great Jimmy Johnsons, the guitarist, died at 76.

I got up in the morning for many years to watch Don Imus’s radio show. It was on TV, but it was still a radio show. Imus was sort of like the commentator Howard Cosell and the columnist Dick Young. People loved to hate him. Watching him every day was to forgive him his outrageous idiocy. He put a lot of good music on the air. In recent years, I’ve sort of missed him at the beginning of the day the way I miss David Letterman at the end of it. Not the same way. Beginnings are not ends.

Most of them I never heard of till they died. It’s a sad attribute of people. They never reveal what they think of people until they’re gone. Deaths, particularly of people who lived long, productive lives, don’t sadden me as much as they once did. They make me want to go to people who are alive and tell them I admire them.

 

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

My eighth novel is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.

Things on the Day after Christmas with Little to Do about Christmas

Pixabay

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, December 26, 2019, 11:35 a.m.

Monte Dutton

Who am I kidding? I need to write. I don’t know what, but I know I need to write something.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in life, but I’ve never bought insurance from a gekko or an emu. Or a cartoon general driving a red Corvette, for that matter.

In fact, I tend be skeptical about anything commercial TV offers me. It seems to me that the hidden message is often:

Please do not do business with us if you have a lick of sense.

One of the great frustrations of journalism is that one often gets more criticism for what he (or she, but in my defense, I am a he) didn’t write than appreciation for what he did.

It makes the appreciation more meaningful, but that’s a rationalization of sorts.

This first made an impact on me many years ago when I was editing a weekly trade paper. Each week we ran results from race tracks across the country. Occasionally, I would get out and write a feature about what I perceived to be a unique local track. Invariably, the chief result was that all the other tracks in that area complained that it wasn’t them.

This experience attuned me such that I have since learned that it’s true for most everyone and most every thing.

My favorite all-time conversation with “the desk,” back when I worked for dinosaurs known as newspapers and there was “a desk” for my writing to be reviewed, was over grammar.

I consider myself receptive to constructive editing – Who doesn’t? Some even believe themselves – but I must also concede that I have too little patience for those who change something that is right into something that is wrong.

Me: “You changed something I wrote that was right into something that is wrong?”

Editor: “What’s that?”

Me: “You changed ‘stank’ to ‘stunk’? The past tense of ‘stink’ is ‘stank’?”

Editor: “Everybody says ‘stunk’.”

Me (slightly paraphrased with expletive deleted): “Everybody is … wrong.”

Editor rolls eyes. I wish I could have him arrested on misdemeanor assault of the language.

I definitely put too much effort into small things. I also make absentminded mistakes, a pattern of my entire life. On occasion, “the desk” has saved my ass. I would have taken them out to dinner if I’d ever made much money.

Capitalism, at least before it became as fixed as socialism ever thought about being, supposedly determines value on the basis of scarcity, not significance to society. That’s why a semiliterate athlete makes more money than a schoolteacher.

I understand the difficulty of being a writer. At this time in history, more and more people write, and less and less people read. Increasingly, the people who write are those who seldom read.

On the other hand, I can’t, for the life of me, understand how consultants became scarce.

 

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)

 

My eighth novel is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.