The Years Disappear, If Only Briefly

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, October 22, 2017, 11:20 a.m.

I never took a note. I never snapped a photo. I didn’t bring any business cards. I went to a football game.

By Monte Dutton

None of the above is unusual for most people. Oh, wait. Maybe it is. Sportswriters, or writers of any kind, for that matter, are not alone in writing, or taking pictures, or spreading the words and the images as far and wide as possible, anymore. Everyone knows the art of 140 characters. I just know the art beyond a little better.

It was Furman University homecoming. It was the first time in a while I’ve been back to clap to the fight song and sing the words I remember to the alma mater. A mountain city is her home / A mountain river laves her feet! Campus, beautiful though it be, is nestled in the foothills, and the mountain river, the Reedy, winds its way through downtown Greenville, where the campus was well over half a century ago. A manmade laaaaake laves her feet!

Most people maintain rich, loving memories of their school, and rally, sons and daughters dear / ’Round our dear alma maaahhhhter! Coincidentally, they are also prone to eating, drinking, and being merry.

One of my more impressive decisions was the realization that, though I loved it, I was really over my head playing football in high school. I was at Furman, first as a student and then working in the sports information office, for most of a decade that was well over three of them ago. It was the golden age of Paladin football, and I was fortunate to be friends with many of the giants who come back to walk the campus now. Mostly, they treat me as if I was somebody, too.

It’s been my impression that, at large schools, homecoming is, yes, a grand event, but still just another home game, the stadium no more packed than usual, though the big schools typically tilt the odds by playing a school they anticipate defeating, and homecoming may pack a house that otherwise might be fringed with empty seats.

The schools that I frequent – Furman, my dear alma maahhhter, and Presbyterian, the hometown college – are populated on homecomings with throngs of people who don’t get back every week but do so diligently for homecoming.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

The Paladins, coached now by Clay Hendrix, played the Mercer Bears, coached by Bobby Lamb. Clay and Bobby once played guard and quarterback, respectively, for a Furman team that advanced to the Division I-AA (now FCS) national championship game in 1985. They also played guard and quarterback, respectively, in high school down in Commerce, Georgia. Bobby is a former Furman head coach. Clay is in his first year, having been lured back to dear alma maahhhter this year from the Air Force Academy, where he coached the offensive line for 10 years and was associate head coach for seven.

It was a marvelous game. Furman won, 28-21, and it was in doubt until the final desperation Mercer aerial was intercepted in the end zone. Clay lost in the final seconds of each of his first two games as Furman head coach. Then North Carolina State throttled the Paladins, as expected. Now the team has won five straight games and is 4-1 in the Southern Conference.

(Monte Dutton photo)

Many drinks were hoisted. Many tales were told. The day was long and rewarding. Fifty-somethings became twenty-somethings. This the grueling nature of the weekend required.

I hesitate to mention names because I would leave some out, and I’m sure I’d have to mention a hundred to do it justice, plus, there’s the matter of my not taking any photos. I was weary when I got there because I had tramped around covering a fruitless high school game on the road the night before and didn’t get much sleep ruminating about it. My right knee and leg were acting up, so it probably helped, if not medically then subconsciously, to lubricate them. Perception may not be reality, but it helps.

Many tales, some with a considerable degree of truth, were told. I, in fact, told many of them. I renewed acquaintances with people I saw last month and people I saw last century. I drank beer from Costco and beer from Germany. Though the exemplary young men of today gave a concerted effort on offense and defense, Mercer’s fate was superstitiously sealed in a ritual imbibing of purple shots before the kickoff about two hundred yards from the sacred grounds of Paladin Stadium.

Clemson, South Carolina, and, yes, Presbyterian, were all off renewing their vigor for the succeeding weeks. Robbie Caldwell, now Clemson offensive line coach of growing legend, and I became friends when he was a Furman graduate assistant coach and I was an equipment manager. We hardly talked at all about the Tigers. We talked about the time we had to hot-wire the van to get back from Appalachian State.

The first time I met Sam Wyche, I was picking up a box of chinstraps from his (and Billy Turner’s) sporting-goods store on Poinsett Highway. He went on to lead the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl. Jimmy Satterfield, the coach who led the Paladins to the national championship in 1988, was there, and it was the first time this century I talked to him.

Good friends. Great oldies. I could have walked up the hill and partied all night long, but I opted for the security and predictability of home. I wouldn’t trade the day for a literary agent and a publishing deal, but it’s the day after now, and they sure would be nice.

 

(Gabe Whisnant photo)

Most of my books — non-fiction on NASCAR and music, collections that include my contributions, seven novels, and one short-story collection — are available here.

 

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No Master Plan

A trap begins with Mickey Statler’s pursuit of a bartender half his age. (Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 9:45 a.m.

The process of writing what will be my eighth novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, has been unique, not because I’ve tried some original new method, or suddenly awakened with some master plan that had earlier eluded me.

By Monte Dutton

It wasn’t a master plan. It was a rapidly changing plan. “Evolved” might be a bit misleading.

Almost a year ago, the first draft was almost completed. At that point, I went off my rocker. I started missing my former profession, that of a beat reporter who traveled around the country writing about NASCAR. I thought about how much the sport changed from 1993, that being the year I, uh, picked up the beat, until now. I also thought about its rise and fall during that period.

(Steven Novak cover design)

What if a charismatic modern kid came along? What if his background matched that of the great drivers of the past? Thus was Barrie Jarman created. In six months, I wrote two short novels, Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated. They were fun. They were funny. They appealed to my lingering NASCAR readership, with whom I could more readily connect.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Meanwhile, deep in the electronic recesses of this laptop, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell sat untouched, an orphan novel without an ending.

While I was writing Life Gets Complicated, I started editing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Three times I went through it, cleaning up its inconsistencies, fixing typos, and shaving extraneous portions. That’s been the hardest part of writing fiction for me. It’s hard to take out sections that might be entertaining, thrilling, and/or funny but don’t happen to move the story alone. Over the three edits, I shaved out (and saved for possible future use) about 12,000 words.

(Steven Novak cover)

Meanwhile, the ending I couldn’t quite get settled in my mind disappeared altogether. Current events interceded. The new ending reflects what has happened in the country since the 2016 elections.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is about four people – Mickey Statler, a sportswriter; his daughter Marcia, a college student; Dylan Wannamacher, a prep-school English teacher and budding novelist; and Milo Hirley, a rebellious student at the school – who unwittingly become involved in a national conspiracy that involves drugs, businessmen, politicians, and elements of law enforcement and the military.

It all began with the type of mild question that flows out of one’s mind while he’s watching the news: How come so many people get shot by the cops? Then came another: What if it’s not an accident?

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.
(Monte Dutton sketch)

My first five novels – The Audacity of Dope (2011), The Intangibles (2013), Crazy of Natural Causes (2015), Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016), and Cowboys Come Home – were all complicated and written in third person. The two Barrie Jarman Adventures, Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated, were simple, freewheeling, and written in first person. The stock car racing novels were fun. The other five were challenging. More work was involved. Once Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is out, I may go back to a lighthearted style. At the moment, I suspect that the Barrie Jarman Adventures are ready for hiatus, though I could write ten of them if the market would support them, which I suspect it won’t. In the absence of a real-life Barrie Jarman, stock car racing continues its decline. I’m thinking seriously about a baseball novel, but the novel itself would be funny, not serious.

Now I’m going back to top off Chapter 43 of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Mickey and Dylan are talking about what’s wrong with the world. Little do they know the danger that lies ahead.

(Gabe Whisnant photo)

Most of my books — non-fiction on NASCAR and music, collections that include my contributions, seven novels, and one short-story collection — are available here.

The Car Won’t Start

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 11:22 a.m.

“My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.” – Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman), Blazing Saddles.

By Monte Dutton

Today my mind is more of an intravenous placebo drip, and any cascading rivulets are probably a result of coffee and breakfast. While I use this blog as a musician plays “Chopsticks,” I’ve got a Russian agent negotiating with a crooked businessman in a Chapter 42.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

It just occurred to me that John Farrell got tossed in his final game as Boston Red Sox manager. The home-plate umpire fired him before the team did. Farrell wasn’t a great manager. He was reliable, though. He was stolid. He won back-to-back American League titles and a World Series in 2013. I’m a slow trigger on manager changes. I remember Bobby Valentine.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

When the Red Sox are done, by viewing habits change drastically. Until next April, I’ll be watching PBS and TCM more. I haven’t read enough lately. Even at my advanced age, the best way to learn writing is still reading.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I spent last weekend at a NASCAR track. It was my second trip back to the sport to which I dedicated my career for 20 years. After covering a high school game on Friday night, I drove to and from Charlotte Motor Speedway through fierce weather. An Xfinity Series race scheduled for the day wasn’t run until night. The Monster Cup race went off, miraculously, as scheduled.

For four years, I stayed away, even though I watched most of the races on TV and wrote about many of them.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

Last winter, I started missing it. I’d gone from roughly 500 races over 20 years to none at all over the next four. The immediate result was a novel, Lightning in a Bottle, about a bright, talented, impetuous, wild, mischievous, flawed young man who was my conception of what stock car racing needs.

I set aside the novel I’m finishing now. It remained on the back burner while I wrote a sequel, Life Gets Complicated, about Barrie Jarman. The sequel came too soon. Lots of readers haven’t had a chance to read the first one yet. On the other hand, it was in my mind. It was in there, and it had to come out.

The intervening time was good for the next one, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which has nothing to do with stock car racing. I’ve spent over a month editing (re-editing) the first thirty-nine chapters and shaving about 10,000 words. Now I’m writing a new ending, and I think it’s going to work well because it has been influenced by current events.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I never thought so many of my friends would go soft on Russia. In fact, the ones who have are mainly the ones of whom I thought it least likely.

I almost wrote this entire blog on the subject of “whataboutistry.” Such a blog will happen.

Current affairs have enhanced my historical perspective. I understand fascists, Confederates, communists, and bullshit artists better.

As usual, this took way too much time.

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise). Or, just drop me a line and you can pay through PayPal.

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

I’ve written seven novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

Life Gets Complicated follows Barrie Jarman as he moves up to FASCAR’s premier series. He and Angela Hughston face discrimination for their interracial love affair, and Barrie has to surmount unexpected obstacles that test his resolve.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

Write me at hutdut@duttonm@bellsouth.net or “message” me through social media.

Las Vegas from Back Here

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, October 2, 2017, 12:48 p.m.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a large-scale music festival. Thanks to friends in Texas, I’ve been to lots of small-scale music festivals, but, mostly, I’ve watched favorite musicians, barely known to most of my friends, at auditoriums, converted movie theaters, and the like. I don’t even go to large-scale sporting events much. I’m happy as a clam – a phrase John Prine turned – watching the Presbyterian Blue Hose or Furman Paladins play on Saturdays.

By Monte Dutton

TV is just fine for the Clemson Tigers.

But who hasn’t tried to put himself (or herself) in the souls of the music fans, packed into an open area, watching the act he’s been waiting to see for three days – the purpose of the whole trip! – and then finding himself in the middle of a horror movie?

It’s common for me to fall asleep with the TV on. This morning I awakened at 4:30, just enough to realize the TV was still on, and, as I reached for the remote control in the flickering light, I heard a description of a mass shooting in Las Vegas. For a moment, I thought it was a movie. At 4:30, the crawl read that there were least three dead and 20-plus wounded. I left the TV on and spent the next three hours, half awake and half asleep, embellishing the sound from the TV with small, fantastic creations of my mind.

I’ve stayed at least twice at the Mandalay Bay during trips to Vegas for stock car races. I was at the Luxor one year, too. I know the area.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

 

I got up, went to the bathroom, put on some coffee, went back to the bathroom for a different call, got the coffee, walked into the den, and turned the TV on. Forty-plus dead. Two-hundred-plus injured. I couldn’t just sit there. I shaved and took a shower. I drove uptown for breakfast.

“How yew, hun?”

“Sorry. We’re not open.”

“You don’t serve breakfast anymore?”

“Not until Tuesday.”

“Oh.”

I went through the McDonald’s drive-through. In front of me was a van with a ladder on top. The back was covered with bumper stickers.

InfoWars.com (some slogan under it that escapes me now).

Trump.

NRA.

Don’t Tread on Me.

Armed and Loaded.

I wanted to know who that was. I was trying to see his face through the side mirrors on the van. Then I saw a sticker identifying the van as being licensed by the City of Newberry, so I realized it wasn’t likely anyone I knew.

I don’t begrudge anyone his or her beliefs. If there’s anything I begrudge, it’s people who denigrate those who disagree with them. At that moment, though, I was angry. Events were rising up in my chest like heartburn. I guess I wanted the guy to climb out and rip all his decals off. That was unreasonable. So was I. No reason was anywhere.

I listened to satellite radio on the way to the grocery store. Thirty-plus dead. Three-hundred-plus injured.

Nowhere does my extroversion occur as naturally as in a store. I chat with people I don’t know. I wink at their babies. I recommend the chicken salad. On this trip, I didn’t say a word to anyone. I pushed the cart and put things in it. The only decision I recall making was to give the pumpkin spice bagels a try. I bought bagels because all I could remember being in my refrigerator were two tubs of cream cheese.

I got back home and put the groceries away. At least 58 dead. Five-hundred-plus injured.

 

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise). Or, just drop me a line and you can pay through PayPal.

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

I’ve written seven novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

Life Gets Complicated follows Barrie Jarman as he moves up to FASCAR’s premier series. He and Angela Hughston face discrimination for their interracial love affair, and Barrie has to surmount unexpected obstacles that test his resolve.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

Write me at hutdut@duttonm@bellsouth.net or “message” me through social media.

Not the Best of Evenings for the Home Team

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, September 30, 2017, 11:02 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

The football perspective is different for the coach, the player, the writer, the fan in the stands, and the one following the game on social media.

Duh.

One tries to be mindful. For instance, the writer is in danger of missing the beauty of the forest because he spends most of his time counting the trees. A man can get lost scribbling such poetry as “1-10-Ch42, 1 +7, MTs at the line.”

In standard English, Chapman’s D.J. Twitty gained seven yards on first down, and Clinton missed a chance to tackle him for no gain.

That happened a lot last night in the Panthers’ 48-18 victory over the Red Devils.

Keith Richardson Field seemed vast when Chapman had the ball. The Panthers, and, in particular, quarterback Colton Bailey, found wide, open spaces. It looked like Montana. When Clinton had the ball, it was Delaware. It’s not a precise metaphor. The field is flat. Montana is rocky.

It wasn’t particularly shocking. Chapman – undefeated, reigning 3A champion, ranked No. 1 in the state – defeated the locally beloved Red Devils, 48-18. It was 20-12 at halftime. In a loss, Clinton rushed for 254 yards and put two backs, Kris Holmes and Mark Wise, over 100. The Panthers are the best they’ve ever been. They have their act down. They frustrate their opponents with what seems like cleverness on their sideline and chicanery on the other.

History will favor cleverness.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

Chapman’s victory was richly deserved. It just didn’t seem like a game one team won by 30 points.

With the outcome decided, and the reliable expectation that B.J. Gardner would email the stats, the writer had the luxury of watching the end of the game in the way he will watch tonight’s game between the colleges of Wofford and Presbyterian, the latter of which also resides here.

Holmes and Wise made some rather unbelievable runs in which they kept pushing forward, even while immersed and almost hidden by a gang of Chapman tacklers. What was happening was that the defense wasn’t really trying to tackle the ballcarrier as much as it was trying to pry the ball loose. Rather than shoving the runner down, one player would try to hold the runner up, grasping his armpits, while others tore away at the precious object of possession.

It reminded me of Andy Griffith’s recording, “What It Was Was, Was Football,” which was about a rube who found himself at a football where, as best he could figure, two gangs got in a big fight over which one got to keep the pumpkin.

Yes. Clinton lost three fumbles. The Red Devils advanced across their small field – boom, boom, boom! – in something akin to a military attack. Then the Panthers dashed through, scampered around, sprinted past, and outflanked the increasingly demoralized Red Devils, who missed tackles galore, and, once in the third quarter, actually managed to turn a Chapman runner toward the middle of the field instead of “losing contain,” as coaches say.

The frustration was understandable. The writer even felt it.

In the first six games of the season, Clinton, a 3A school, has already played one 5A school, two 4A’s and the state’s top-ranked 2A. The Red Devils play a tough schedule because of a history of being even tougher than such opponents. Now the Region 3-3A schedule has begun. Clinton (2-4, 0-1) can make the playoffs by defeating Mid-Carolina, Woodruff, and either Newberry or Broome. Such is the prevailing charitable standard that 3-2 will surely earn a playoff bid (as last year) and 2-3 might.

The writer got home, cropped some photos, typed in stats, tried to make some sense of what had happened, and, after sleeping on it, resumed the quest this morning.

Last night Laurens Academy edged Newberry Academy, 64-63, presumably thanks to a long jumper at the buzzer. Upon hearing this news, the writer thought first that he was glad he didn’t have to type in those stats – God forbid keeping up with them – and then wondered if a game was ever decided because the fellow operating the scoreboard lost count.

These thoughts were the last ones that flickered through the writer’s mind as he fell asleep before Washington State completed its 30-27 upset of Southern California on the television.

 

 

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise). Or, just drop me a line and you can pay through PayPal.

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

I’ve written seven novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

Life Gets Complicated follows Barrie Jarman as he moves up to FASCAR’s premier series. He and Angela Hughston face discrimination for their interracial love affair, and Barrie has to surmount unexpected obstacles that test his resolve.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

Write me at hutdut@duttonm@bellsouth.net or “message” me through social media.

 

The Roars of Various and Sundry Crowds

Sunset at Wilder Stadium (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, September 24, 2017, 12:30 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

Everyone is winning. Victory radiates out from my psyche. I can’t do this on demand. If I could, I’d be a human crummy movie.

Clinton overwhelmed Chesnee, 35-6. Furman clobbered Colgate, 45-14. Presbyterian withstood Cumberland, 27-20. The Red Sox blanked the Reds, 5-0. These are the teams about which I care. I’ve had a lovely time.

(Getty Images for NASCAR)

Monday, September 25, 2017, 10:58 a.m.

The two paragraphs above mark the sum of my work on Sunday. I was too busy switching between the Carolina Panthers’ home defeat – I wish I had the guts to bet because I damned sure saw that coming – and yet another stirring Boston Red Sox comeback, and a NASCAR race dominated once again by the usual suspects.

NASCAR reminds me of the 1970s, when it seemed to be between Richard Petty, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, and Cale Yarborough every week. Sometimes a Donnie Allison, or a Buddy Baker, slipped up to nab a victory, but fans of the Big Four could file into the stands knowing their favorites would contend. Today features many more teams in top-flight equipment, but Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson are there every week, regardless of length of track or degree of banking.

(Getty Images for NASCAR)

Rules today make unexpected finishes more likely. Lots of drivers win races. Truex has won five so far. It seems as if he could have won every one of them.

Busch won in New Hampshire. Some people – and I’m one of them – say that if you follow closely enough, no races are bad.

This one came close.

 

Friday night found me at Wilder Stadium, site of teen-aged adventures many years ago, for a game between Chesnee and Clinton that figured to be closer than it was. For instance, one Upstate newspaper picked the Red Devils to win, 28-27.

Here’s my story about it.

On Saturday morning, I rose brightly, still a bit flushed by the Clinton triumph, and prepared for a leisurely trip to Presbyterian College by playing my guitar, catching up on the previous night’s high school scores, and watching intently the noon game between North Carolina State and Florida State, with occasional detours to Texas A&M-Arkansas and UCLA-Stanford.

I drove in due course over to Bailey Memorial Stadium — after stopping for gas because my light was blinking and the ATM because my wallet was empty — where the Blue Hose made a bid for a win streak. In 2015 and ’16, singles were rare, let alone two wins straight, consecutively, and in a row.

Sometimes I watch Blue Hose games from the press box but only when I belong there. Writing this blog doesn’t qualify, but, then again, this blog more often deals with matters occurring away from the official formality of media ambiance.

On Saturday afternoon, I tailgated, which is to suggest that I visited my high school coach and family, chatted with the athletic directors present and emeritus, played my guitar, gave away a few of my novels to people who have given of their food, beverage and preparation to me, and enjoyed a conquest of Cumberland University that was a bit more of a struggle than I had hoped. On the other hand, it was an entertaining game. It was probably the highlight of the weekend, if only because I didn’t have to stay up late afterwards cropping photos and writing a game story. Eventually I nodded off to sleep late that night with visions of Hawaii and Wyoming dancing in my semiconscious.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

 

Hawaii at Wyoming. The Rainbow Warriors in Laramie. What more perfectly captures the diversity of our country? Hawaii and Wyoming are in the same conference. So are West Virginia and Texas Tech. Let freedom ring. So what if the bell is cracked?

Sunday night I divided between a long, sad tale of our boys in Vietnam and the Oakland Raiders in Washington. Our Nation’s Capital was faring poorly and magnificently at the same time, divided by time and channel.

So there’s hope.

 

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise). Or, just drop me a line and you can pay through PayPal.

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

I’ve written seven novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

Life Gets Complicated follows Barrie Jarman as he moves up to FASCAR’s premier series. He and Angela Hughston face discrimination for their interracial love affair, and Barrie has to surmount unexpected obstacles that test his resolve.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

Write me at hutdut@duttonm@bellsouth.net or “message” me through social media.

 

 

Another Weekend that Was

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, September 17, 2017, 10:55 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

Every weekend has its ups and downs. This one isn’t over. NASCAR begins its playoffs today. Formula One’s Singapore Night Race was on when I got up this morning. The National “Buh-buh-buh-BUH!” Football League is on all day and night. The Red Sox are in St. Petersburg with a three-game AL East lead over the Yankees.

I was reeling until I went over to Presbyterian College on Saturday.

The night before had been spent in Abbeville, which isn’t far but is too far to watch Clinton get clobbered, 49-12. The worst part was having to drive back home, process and crop some photos, and write about it.

On the field, a lady said, “You write a good story now.”

I said, “Ma’am, the last thing I need to do is write a good story about this game. If I write a good story, half the folks in town will be mad at me.”

I tried, anyway.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

It would be worthwhile to study the superlative football program at Abbeville High School. It’s a small town, located in a remote location, with decrepit facilities and a stack of state championships most recently topped off last year. I’ve seen the Panthers play three times in the past year, and the level of fundamental soundness on display belies all the limitations on practice time that have been implemented since I played. Players today are bigger, faster, and, by and large, have no idea how to make a tackle. Since I started writing about high school football games again four years ago – after a 20-year absence watching stock cars go around and around – Abbeville is the only football program that reminds of the teams that prepared for seasons by practicing twice a day in the heat of August and for three hours after school during the season.

Abbeville doesn’t do that. Still, the Panthers know how to run, block, tackle and even pass when opportunity presents itself. They’re a modern marvel.

I don’t think the press box at Hite Stadium would’ve had room for me had it been a junior varsity game. It’s tiny. Getting there requires walking up a flight of stairs, each of which is about eight inches wide, that is a mild improvement over a ladder. I wouldn’t have gone up there had it not been for a program so that I could tell who was who. Abbeville assistant coaches watched from what looked like a phone-company bucket hoisted behind the box. Clinton coaches and broadcasters operated from the press-box roof.

I followed the game from the stands, surrounded by nice Abbeville fans, at about the 20-yard line because I selected a location where there was room to spread out a camera or binoculars on one side, the program on the other, and stat sheets on my clipboard. I enjoyed the experience except for overhearing fans behind me remarking that they “had never seen a Clinton team play like this.”

It was only one game, but the Panthers’ offense riddled the Red Devils, who rushed for 177 yards and consumed lots of time, or else there’s no telling how many points Abbeville would have scored. It pains me to report this. The operative phrase from the Clinton side after game was undeniable: “We’ve got to get better.”

Maybe they will. Maybe the shock of this setback will contribute to a turnaround. Character is shaped by how one responds to adversity.

The highlight – no, the light – of the trip was stopping by one of South Carolina’s great restaurants, Yoder’s Dutch Kitchen, for supper. I first ate there on April 8, 1976, which I remember because a family friend named Lewis Smith took me there for my 18th birthday.

High school football games take a terrible toll on my gradually worsening, arthritic right knee. It’s much worse a day later. On Saturday, I tuned in Furman’s visit to North Carolina State, which was eerily similar to Clinton’s visit to Abbeville. The Panthers and Wolfpack both scored 49, and the Paladins scored 13, one more than the Red Devils.

I wasn’t on assignment at Bailey Memorial Stadium last night, and, fortunately, I was thusly able to treat my knee pain with medicinal alcohol. The fact that Brent Sanders and I were Furman contemporaries, combined with the fact that Brent’s and Sharon’s son, Hayden, now plays for the Presbyterian Blue Hose, means that I gather with them and parents of other players before and after home games.

Last night the Blue Hose prevailed, 28-16, over the Campbell Camels, and a fine time was had by all. I prefer to believe that the worm turned on the weekend. When I use a term such as “the worm has turned,” it makes me inquisitive about the origin.

“Even a worm will turn” is an expression used to convey the message that even the meekest or most docile of creatures will retaliate or seek revenge if pushed too far. The phrase was first recorded in a 1546 collection of proverbs by John Heywood, in the form “Treade a worme on the tayle, and it must turn agayne.”

That sums up the weekend, all right.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise). Or, just drop me a line and you can pay through PayPal.

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

I’ve written seven novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

Life Gets Complicated follows Barrie Jarman as he moves up to FASCAR’s premier series. He and Angela Hughston face discrimination for their interracial love affair, and Barrie has to surmount unexpected obstacles that test his resolve.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

Write me at hutdut@duttonm@bellsouth.net or “message” me through social media.