Memories are made of these …

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Clinton, S.C., May 19, 2021, 11:41 a.m.

Maybe it was because Zoom calls (first time I’ve ever had two in one day), and business considerations, and other frustrations, too, devoured yesterday.

This morning I sat in a booth at breakfast and got nostalgic about aromas.

Monte Dutton

I remembered how one grandparents’ house, on the Lydia Mill village, had a distinct smell, and one room, a living room where no one lived, had another. The aroma was that of a room humans seldom visited. Then I thought of the musty smell in in the upstairs of the other grandparents’ house, which had become dusty and unused when my father moved out to be my father.

No one lived in that living room because Mama Davis had a wooden stand with thick-glass shelves full of her prized possessions, her simple porcelain trinkets, and she didn’t want them shattered by careless grandchildren. I snuck in sometimes, just to stare at them. I knew better than to touch or hold in my hands.

Aromas take me back, and even the foul ones conjure up images in my mind of long ago. The smell of a herd of cattle. The sour stench of a high school locker room. When I wrote about stock car races near Phoenix, I’d drive past feed lots en route to the track, and the smell of manure wouldn’t seem quite so unpleasant because it created images of long-ago chores on the farm. In August, a visit to a locker room immediately creates memories of all those August two-a-days in 1975.

I’m getting old, but I remember what it was like to be young. I can smell it in my mind.

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Fresh out of mothers

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, May 9, 2021, 1:26 p.m.

Mother’s Day avoidance began yesterday. Mine died last year. Life has been lonely ever since. I still have a moment’s guilt that I haven’t talked to her today. I used to call her, well, almost every day and feel guilty when I didn’t. Talking to her was a daily salve for my soul.

Today I don’t want to think about it. For once.

It’s the pandemic, too.

Just call Lonesome 7-7203.

I am overstating the case. I am excited about the growth of DHK Sports, which launched LaurensCountySports.com and now, with the country emerging a bit from the COVID-19 scourge (Just call Covid 19-2021), another site, Electric City Sports, is about to launch, with, well …

Monte Dutton

Now batting, Laurens County Sports at short … on deck, Electric City Sports, catching … and in the hold, Furman ATT, in center field …

The leadoff site gets on base. The 2 spot advances the runner. The 3 spot drives in runs. A cleanup man is on the way.

Last night I stayed up late watching stupid things. When I was about to go to sleep, I found an episode of a sci-fi series I watched when I was 8 years old, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and inexplicably watched it.

Duhhuhhhuh! Duhhuh-UHHH!

After lo these many years, I still remembered the show starred Richard Basehart and David Hedison. Last night – oops, this morning – eventually a tsunami washed away an uncharted island that had a triceratops lurking about and some kind of hallucinogenic gas wafting through its air. Sea View to the rescue, much like Jim Dandy.

Thanks for reading my dated references. I’ll be here all week. You’re a great audience.

Because of the nature of sports journalism, most of my nights are long, my mornings inexplicably early. This morning I rolled over, looked at the clock and realized it would be ridiculous to get up on four hours’ sleep. The next time I rolled over, it was 9:40, and I practically jumped into my bedroom slippers and headed for the drive-through because breakfast closed at 10:30. A sandwich and a biscuit helped, but a large coffee was necessary. I’ve had another mug brewed at home since.

Since I got vaccinated, a burden lifted off my soul. I’m trying not to let Mother’s Day knock it back down. Lots of traumatic events have occurred during my lifetime, but the death of my mother affected me more deeply than I could have imagined. I did what I always do, which is bury myself in work. There is worth in that.

Moving on to the crassly commercial, it’s a great time for Laurens County Sports advertisers. The past three weeks, mostly on account of columns and reports on the football upheaval at Presbyterian College, the site’s circulation has skyrocketed. Based on those three weeks, the average daily page views have risen nearly 500 for the year to date. On a daily basis, it will subside as the story stabilizes – At PC? Ha! – but the stories have spread the exposure of the site beyond the borders of the county, and they will be a boon to the new sites, too.

The clouds have silver linings.

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Follow the LaurensCountySports.com website and others coming soon to the modest DHK Sports platforms.

Two worth making time for …

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, May 2, 2021, 12:09 p.m.

Mainly I’ve been writing about local sports, most notably the football coaching disaster at Presbyterian College, lately, but my young associate and I have been diligently preparing for the launch of a new site and another one after that.

Today’s hits. Golden oldies. Interest is booming. It better keep on. Get your shots.

Somehow, I’ve read a couple books in fits and starts, a lot of them while sitting in a booth waiting for food at my favorite cafe.

Monte Dutton

My reading has been slow. My writing, at least of fiction and blogs, has lurched to a halt.

The same is true of music. I get to a stopping point and restore my soul by plunking my guitar and singing songs I love, some of them I wrote. But I’m not writing anything new. I do have a title that a tucked away a month ago.

I’m giving 4 on a scale of 5 to both the books, The Road Beyond Ruin by Gemma Liviero and Zoo Nebraska by Carson Vaughan.

I managed to squeeze a full mug of coffee out of my balky machine. It’s working fine again … kind of. Just last night, I was pricing new ones on line.

But I digress, as I am fond of doing.

This is part of my feeble attempt to find a little time each day to write about something other than sports, the business, and short-term addiction of social media.

Another digression.

The Road Beyond Ruin is a sad, tragic tale of World War II through the eyes of what seem to be a hapless Italian, devastated Germans and a mysterious little boy, an orphan of war.

They are all much more complicated, and the initial simplicity transforms into secret motives all around with careful organization and planning by the author. This has the effect of keeping pages turning. It is adroitly plotted. The tale is revealed as if peeling away the husks from an ear of corn.

Zoo Nebraska embarrassed me. I was three quarters through it before I realized it wasn’t a novel. I thought certain dialogue odd, but I thought it a flaw in fiction rather than a virtue in non.

At which point, my pulse quickened. Could this be true? I had been reading it as parody. As Tweety Bird might have said, “I did! I did see a puddy tat!” I was saying “It’s twue! It’s twue!”

That settles it. Truth is stranger than fiction.

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I, I, I, me, me, me …

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, April 17, 2021, 1:42 p.m.

Since a vaccination made my psyche considerably lighter, I have grown fond of fantasizing about what I want to do now that doing is no longer taboo.

This yearning remains in the realm of the imaginary. I’m going to wear a mask as long as Dr. Fauci says so, but I’ve grown a bit careless. Not as careless as those who frequent the places I go, but I still put it on when the truck stops somewhere.

I want to go to a Fourth of July party.

Monte Dutton

I want to take a long drive and visit friends.

I want to sing and strum my guitar in front of people.

I want to get to know people somewhere other than social media.

I want to sip a gigantic margarita at a Mexican joint.

I want to finish the novel. Not a novel. I’ve done that. The one sitting poised now for months on the brink of completion. I could’ve done that. It’s the previously heavy psyche.

I want to give somebody a hug.

I want to see someone smile. I want him or her to see mine. I’ve gotten better at seeing smiles in eyes, but it’s not the same.

I want to tailgate, and it’s not going to take one of those GMC six-way jobs.

I want to see a concert.

I want to go to a ballgame and not have to take pictures and keep score, though I probably will, anyway.

I want to memorize the lyrics of songs I’ve written and write some more.

Is it too much to ask?

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A little more of what I’ve learned

Things I’ve learned about social media:

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Much of it is neither social nor media. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it. It keeps me somewhat up to date on what folks are thinking. Some of it is scary. Some of mine likely scares others. It’s a consequence of unfettered free speech run amok.

The above is littered with rationalization. Occasionally, I’m just of a mind to stir stuff up. I’m getting better, though.

Facebook has turned a birthday into the busiest day of the year. It’s gratifying to know that people care, but it reminds me of a band playing a smash hit. Before it starts, when the familiar intro begins, people applaud in advance. At the end, the place goes wild. Then there’s a belated roar. “Thank you, thank you, no, please, thank you very much, you’re a great audience, thank you, really, I sincerely thank you … me and the boys do have more songs, you know … no, please.”

Monte Dutton

Mainly, I make observations on Facebook that are too long for Twitter. They’re mostly thoughtful with an aspect of intended humor. I like Twitter better because it doesn’t give folks the room to be as mean. This, unfortunately, begat memes. Mean memes.

I’m always late with social media. Alleged friends and commercial necessity have drug me kicking and screaming from MySpace to Facebook to Instagram and likely beyond, and even I have a finite tank of time to waste. I half-watch a lot of TV while on Facebook. It slows my reading down. It slows my writing, at least fiction and songs, down. In fairness, working to make my website(s) prosperous has a lot to do with it, too. Money. Bills. You know.

The reason there are so many people mad as hell on social media is that there are so many mad as hell. Social may be a bit skewed toward the mad as hell.

One of my favorite mischievous pastimes is to post a completely innocuous post and see how long it takes the comments to morph, chameleon-like, into some completely unrelated political screed.

Flowers are pretty.

Lemme tell you something about flowers, bub …

Check me out on Twitter (@hmdutton) and on Facebook (Monte.Dutton) and my pages “Friends of Monte Dutton” (actually begun by a friend. Duh.) and “The Audacity of Dope” (named after my first novel). Take a look at my books, fiction and non, on Amazon. Look up my YouTube channel by name.

Turnabout Is Unfair Play

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Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, March 8, 2021, 1:10 p.m.

A lot has changed since I got a degree in political science (and history) almost 41 years ago.

Monte Dutton

At that time, I learned that the American political system was almost unique in the world in the nature of its parties. Worldwide, the overriding characteristic of most free governments was tight ideological discipline in the political parties.

Not here. The U.S. had liberal Republicans, conservative Democrats, and the fate of legislation often hung in the balance until the extensive middle ground tilted one way or the other.

The Senate had Republicans such as Mark Hatfield, Charles Percy and Lowell Weicker, and Democrats such as Ernest Hollings, Sam Nunn and Lloyd Bentsen.

There was a young senator from Delaware named Joe Biden.

In Great Britain, in only rare instances did a Conservative vote the same way as Labour. Parliamentary government jockeyed back and forth between coalitions forged by one of the two larger parties with small ones such as the Liberals Democrats, the Scottish National Party and the Democratic Unionists.

When I was an intern in Washington, I learned to my surprise that Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn.) and Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) were frequent lunch companions. Humphrey, who became a senator again after serving as vice president, died during the time I was there.

The Senate was considerably more civil and collegial than it is today.

Partisan politics has grown more and more so. As the weekend’s vote on the American Rescue Plan proved, Republicans are no more likely to vote with Democrats than Michigan fans are wont to root for Ohio State. It passed 50-49. Fifty Democrats voted yea. Forty-nine Republicans voted nay.

The world’s most deliberative legislative body has changed into a gridlock of tectonic plates lodged against each other.

I am the author of eight novels and a number of other non-fiction books, all of which can be found at Amazon.com.

My songwriting hobby can be examined on my YouTube page.

My writing can be found at my sports website, LaurensCountySports.com. I’m on Twitter (@hmdutton) and Facebook (Monte.Dutton).

The Ultimate Whataboutistry and Other Thoughts

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Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, February 11, 2021, 12:37 p.m.

“Woke up this morning.” The first line of countless blues songs and the beginning of at least two of my country ditties:

Monte Dutton

First thing that I saw when I ,woke up this morning was bad news on the TV I left on the night before …

… and …

Woke up this morning feeling kinda bad / It must be the worst hangover I ever had …

Most of the time, I wake up thinking deep thoughts. My job keeps me up writing late at night, but that’s all deadlines and commitments. I do my best work in the morning, pondering the universe and sipping coffee.

So here I am. It’s early afternoon and I spent the morning running errands and eating breakfast at Steamers, the official cafe of me. I made more observations. Had more thoughts. Even wrote myself a couple notes on a napkin. Old school.

So here I am. Second reference for emphasis.

I thought about the spot Republicans are in during the impeachment trial.

Well, sure, Trump sicced a mob on his own vice president, and, yeah, they erected a gallows outside and chanted they would hang him, but it wasn’t actually a functioning gallows. According to Dr. Barnwell Calhoun Hildebrand of the American Gallows Institute, it clearly was not up to code.

Their lives were threatened, but they didn’t actually die. The choice comes down to what is right versus what will keep them from being “primaried” (a recent diabolical example of turning every possible word into a verb).

Hahahahahahahaha.

My only regret is that I must watch all this sober. Okay, two regrets. I regret that I care.

It’s starting to rain. It must be going to rain hard because Presbyterian College has already postponed one sporting event on Friday and another on Saturday.

Mind you, Presbyterian is a college, just like Daniel Boone was a man, such a big man.

I must watch the weather. That’s the way it’s done on TV. Day traders ponder milk and bread futures.

I don’t have “streaming” in the bedroom. That means I fall asleep with a lot of Randolph Scott movies on and never know how they end.

Oh, yeah, did I mention my stimulus check finally came? Last time I donated it. To borrow from Original Bush, I’m not sure that would be prudent at this time. I’m considering the matter, though.

By the way, remember when everyone ridiculed Bill Clinton asking for the meaning of “is”? Two days ago I watched Il Duce’s crack defense team stake its case on the meaning of “the.” It’s getting tough to ridicule because “is” and “the” are on opposite sides. It’s whataboutistry’s greatest achievement.

(Design by Steven Novak)

I am the author of eight novels and a number of other non-fiction books, all of which can be found at Amazon.com.

My songwriting hobby can be examined on my YouTube page.

My writing can be found at my sports website, LaurensCountySports.com. I’m on Twitter (@hmdutton) and Facebook (Monte.Dutton).

The Asshole-in-Chief

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Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, January 13, 2021, 11:01 a.m.

It’s been so long since I blogged here is that is difficult to boil my thoughts down to something coherent.

In truth, I doubt I’ll manage to do so today.

A week ago, I was working on something fairly mundane, with a news channel on mainly as background noise. The combination of the nature of the work and an exceedingly boring debate came close to putting me to sleep. I got up, walked into the kitchen and put some coffee on.

I didn’t anticipate hell breaking loose.

Within an hour, I didn’t lack motivation, just the will to keep going. I considered skipping the basketball game about which I was planning to write. Duty called, and I went, but a keen observer of my work might have suspected some distraction. It wasn’t the usual enthusiastic enjoyment of work. It was burying myself in work as a means of occupying the mind.

The President of the United States crossed the Rubicon, damned the torpedoes and released the hounds.

America hasn’t been the same since 1861, a few years before I was born.

The president, standing on a podium in the presence of the mob he led to this place and time, sent them off to fight and said he was going with them. Of course, he stole back to the mansion and watched them storm the seat of government on glorious, high-definition TV.

I thought of Harvey Korman in Blazing Saddles: “Now go do that voodoo that you do so well!”

Rock Ridge survived, too. It was a struggle. And I laughed about it.

My view is insignificant for obvious reasons but also because my mind is made up. I’ve opposed the President Formerly Known as Twitter since before he was elected. The root is that I don’t like him. I think he is an asshole. Apparently, millions of Americans love assholes so much that they will give up their previously professed beliefs in the Constitution, responsible spending, foreign policy, trade and God (not in that order) to bow to the will of a man who would be king. They believe his lies and love him enough to abandon all principle as previously expressed.

God forbid that an athlete take a knee with the anthem playing.

Law and order. Love it or leave it.

I respect the right to an opinion. I don’t respect the opinion.

The president sent his ragged army off to overthrow the government. Inexplicably, the invaders had the element of surprise. Apparently, no one actually thought the president would go through with it, although he had tipped off his pitches from the very first batter. No one thought he was that evil.

He’s still looming, dropping hints of more violence while washing his hands of it by invoking free will.

This has to stop. He has to be stopped.

Drive-Through Blues

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, December 23, 2020, 11:56 a.m.

This morning I went through the drive-through and ordered two biscuits and an order of hash rounds. I drove around, and handed the lady my debit card.

She said a sign said they weren’t accepting anything but cash in the drive-through, but I could come inside and pay with my debit card.

I looked in my wallet. Two bucks currently resided there.

Monte Dutton

I wanted to ask “how could this be?” How could I use the debit card inside but not outside?

I told her to keep her old biscuits. It was a consequence of principle and me being unwashed and wearing bedroom slippers.

A few weeks ago, they were accepting cards only but not cash. This was not Joe’s Biscuits (Open When We Feel Like It). This was a chain of some modest renown, with locations in every town with a traffic light.

Times are rough and also complicated. Not too long ago, I ordered chicken from a chicken place that told me it was out of chicken. I said no problem, just give me back my money from the first window.
How could this be? It was the noted philosopher Roger Miller who once wrote “chicken ain’t good ’less it’s lickin’ good fried.” He also pointed out to the world that you can’t roller-skate in a buffalo herd. He didn’t care if he “do die, do die, do die, do die” and sure enough, he did die.

After all, as The Outlaw Josey Wales once said, “Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’, boy.”

We hold these truths to be self-evident, but we’ve got no idea what to take to a drive-through.

Last night I dreamed I was in a car driving recklessly with A.J. Foyt, who didn’t know how to get to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This may have been a foretelling of my subsequent aggravations at the drive-through.

How could this be?

I think there’s a bowl game on TV today. As best I remember, Kickapoo State Teachers College is playing Chickapoo Normal in the Winnie the Pooh Bowl at the famed Hundred Acres Woods.

Take a look at my website, Laurens County Sports. It’s better now that Laurens County has actual sports again.

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.

Back in the Saddle Again

Clinton, South Carolina, December 4, 2020, 11:17 a.m.

Java Cafe, Mt. Holly, NC, 2009.

One never knows how an audience will respond. When I played music and told jokes at last night’s Christmas gathering of the Laurens County Cattlemen’s Association, I worried that I was overrehearsed. I spent so much time considering songs to play, then singing them to make sure I had the lyrics down, I thought my voice might be shot by the time I sang them.

John Irwin, the local Clemson extension agent, sent me a Facebook message, oh, I don’t know, maybe a month ago. I was worried that COVID-19 might get in the way. The virus cost me an engagement at a civic club in April.

Would I like to do it? Would I like to do it? I’m like a bucking horse waiting to get out of a stall to do it.

Back when I traveled the NASCAR circuit with a laptop and a scanner, I played little gigs at spots near a few tracks. A fish camp iin Michigan. A barbecue joint in Richmond. A restaurant in the Poconos. Post-race parties after night races. Taking the stage to play a few songs with friends around Daytona Beach. Before a NASCAR-themed play at a theater in Martinsville. A fan stage in Bristol.

When John first contacted me, it didn’t take me long to realize that playing in front of farm families was a near-perfect venue. I grew up around horses and cattle. My late father was an auctioneer. A lot of the old country songs I know were a result of listening to the Grand Ole Opry on radio with my old man, coming home late at night from an auction, a rodeo, a horse show or a trip to Tennessee or Virginia, delivering cattle to a buyer at one of Daddy’s sales.

I considered the surroundings – the Christmas dinner was in the fellowship hall of Laurens First United Methodist Church – while making my set list, which wasn’t in writing. I opened with Tom T. Hall’s “The Little Lady Preacher,” then shifted to Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Viva Luchenbach.” I sang two I penned, “Bills to Pay” and the closer, “Your Independence Day.”

I told humorous stories about a couple angry stallions running through the middle of Clinton with me, my brother and dad in pursuit, and about my family’s pet bull, Fred, and about the greatest athlete I have ever seen, not Bo Jackson or Willie Mays or LeBron James, but a Charolais bull that could leap over tall barbed-wire fences in a single bound.

I did brief imitations of Charley Pride, Marty Robbins, George Jones, Mel Tillis, Ray Price and Johnny Cash. I played Townes Van Zandt’s “Rex’s Blues.”

Of all the singers I covered, only Pride and Hall are still with us. When Walker died not long ago, it occurred to me that it’s natural for a young man to idolize someone about twice his age. “Scamp” Walker was 34 when I was 18. In addition to “Viva Luchenbach,” a somewhat obscure song Walker wrote, I also sang his “Nightrider’s Lament,” which was written by Michael Burton.

I didn’t get aaround to every song I wanted to sing. One song, Tillis’s “Heart Over Mind,” was completely off the top of my head during the medley of imitations.

I knew time would get away from me, so I asked for someone in the back of the room to hold up his index finger when I was out of time, and that led me to close to an inspirational tune of mine, “Your Independence Day,” which I thought offered a fitting conclusion in the Year of the Pandemic.”

When the sun comes up on that bright morn / In the quiet that follows every storm / When the demons have all died away / We’ll celebrate your independence day.

I’ve found my target audience. I need to get on the cattlemen’s dinner circuit.

I didn’t have enough sense to set up my camera and videotape the show. I should have, but reckon I just didn’t want to go to the trouble. The click link above is from the NASCAR years.

Take a look at my website, Laurens County Sports. It’s better now that Laurens County has actual sports again.

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.