Twilight Gets Comfortable

Considering options at the taco truck. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, June 7, 2019, 11:49 a.m.

Monte Dutton

Uh, the Red Sox have won four in a row. The Warriors are down. So are the Bruins. Yesterday I asked the governor a few questions. I wrote about a high school graduation. I watched Clemson’s Tiger mascot entertain and pose with elementary-school children. I went to a city council meeting that was three hours total and two in executive session.

That’s just this week.

Life’s a blur. Today it’s going to rain. Tomorrow it’s going to rain. Sunday it’s going to rain. Monday it’s going to rain. Okay, life wasn’t really a blur. My days have been busy, but that’s always true.

Steamers (Monte Dutton photo)

How has life changed since it shifted from national to countywide?

It’s more consistent. Each morning I get up, charge the cell phone, put on some coffee, take some medication, turn on the news (or maybe an episode of Columbo or an old movie), sip the coffee, check the email and social media, and have breakfast. If I have an assignment or appointment early in the day, I eat breakfast at Steamers, but most days I fix breakfast for myself, and it’s almost the same. It’s almost the same at Steamers, too, except that I have a bagel at home and grits there.

In the afternoon, when not on assignment, I look up and edit the day’s obituaries, compile the arrest report and edit news releases so that they are ready for publication at GoLaurens/GoClinton.

In a small county, it’s amazing how often I see some people and amazing how seldom I see some others. Some places I dread, and some I relish.

Bristol (Monte Dutton photo)

In some ways, the NASCAR circuit I wrote about for 20 years was a traveling small county. One difference is that travel takes a lot of time. Air travel I can do without. Long drives — to Richmond and Martinsville, Va.; Daytona Beach and Homestead, Fla.; Hampton, Ga.; Talladega, Ala.; Bristol, Tenn.; Concord, N.C.; and Darlington, S.C. — I miss a lot. If offered a chance to write about NASCAR from the road and not the living room again, the only way I’d do it is if it were limited to places to which I could drive. I might even throw in Dover, Del., and Sparta, Ky., and the latter is a place where I once vowed never to return.

So I miss it a little.

‘… no more teachers’ dirty looks …’ (Monte Dutton photo)

I do like what I write about now, though. I’ve even cultivated an enjoyment for photography. It’s nice to anticipate what would go well with a story I’ve hardly contemplated. Pairing a photo of a kid getting his diploma, wearing shades and a goofy grin, with a headline that reads “One last walk across the LDHS stage …” and writing a story that fits, too, is a form of satisfaction I hadn’t experienced since I edited a NASCAR weekly in the ’90s.

Photography, in short, has evolved into more than a necessary evil. It’s long been my view that one cannot take photographs of an event and write about it without each detracting from the other. It’s true, just not as true as I thought. Politics is sometimes called the art of the possible. Journalism is, too.

Most of my days afford enough time to write blogs like this one, gear up on finishing that ninth novel, and take a break to play guitar or read a novel.

This year is the seventh since two decades of NASCAR ended suddenly and with little warning. Only now does what has changed seem normal.


If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at 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)


The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

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


Another Sunday in the Living Room with the Television On

The skies above Rhythm on the Rails on Saturday. (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, May 19, 2019, 10:40 a.m.

Monte Dutton

Maybe it’s because part of my job these days is taking pictures. Maybe it’s some sort of introspection that comes with age. Age wasn’t particularly prominent in my mind until I reached 60. Thirty, 40, 50 … they were just numbers.

Sixty was the most significant checkpoint since 18. When I was 18, it was legal to drink beer. It seemed I was blossoming into manhood. Now it seems I’m wilting into old age. The recent birthday marked 61. I ought to be accustomed to old age. My descent into that good night ought to be gentler.

2:59 p.m.

Fate interrupted at the end of the three paragraphs above.

What I was getting to was not another commiseration of age. For some reason, after a lifetime of basically being oblivious, I’ve started paying particular attention to skies and trees. When I’m on other assignments, I’ll take photos that appear striking. Once I was driving to Laurens for a City Council meeting when I saw a beautiful neon sunset and pulled off the highway, even selecting a place where the view was particularly lovely.

When I was a boy, I used to lie in the front yard and see shapes in the clouds. Maybe in my latter childhood, I’ll start doing that again. People might get alarmed. I would, too, if only because this part of the country has fire ants now.

3:23 p.m.

I didn’t watch so much as a swing of the PGA until today. By word of social media and screen crawls, I ascertained that Brooks Koepka was running away with it. So far today, every time I flip over, someone named Harold Varner III is having a terrible time. He’s partnered with Koepka.

So far I’ve seen Varner miss two short putts and hit a wedge out of deep rough almost sideways. It did bring back memories of my golfing days because the terrain in deep woods, with last year’s leaves lying everywhere and invisible roots to trip over, looked familiar.

If anyone had asked me who Harold Varner was, I might have guessed he was on the chain crew at Broome football games, something like that, but he did just hit a good shot, finally, his fifth on a par-4, and so now I think I’ll go back to the Red Sox, where it stopped raining, but the Astros are winning, and Indy, where the president of the track was climbing into a track dryer the last I looked.

4:35 p.m.

Gosh, I love Indy 500 qualifying. While NASCAR has tried every gimmick not copyrighted by Hasbro, the solution goes back a century at the Brickyard. Four laps on the clock. The total average, not the best lap, is what counts. This format would be perfect at Bristol. If you think it takes too long, make it two laps at Talladega. Four laps would be exciting at any track, though, to me. Wow. What a first lap. OK. Only fell off a 10th on lap two. So far, so good. Ooh. Slipped 2/10ths on lap three. Final lap! Just about the same as lap three. Great job by the driver.

It’s exciting. It’s germane to the race. It makes my pulse race. Imagine the drivers’.

Indy qualifying isn’t as great as it once was. What is?

The Enoree River

5:01 p.m.

The all-star games in most sports are shams, like watching some barnstorming exhibition. The Monster Energy All-Star Race – I think that’s what it’s called now – made a comeback last night. I thought it was the best one in at least a decade. NASCAR drivers will still do in an “all-star” race what Pete Rose was once willing to do to Ray Fosse at Riverfront Stadium in 1970.

The biggest problem NASCAR has with its all-star race is that all the other races have stolen its thunder. It was always tricked up. It was supposed to be tricked up. Now every race is tricked up.

The Red Sox salvaged game three at Fenway against the Astros and ended Houston’s 10-game winning streak.

Fernando Alonso failed to make the Indy 500 field.

It’s a pretty dramatic Sunday.

Not at Bethpage Black, though. Koepka is a strapping lad. For some reason, I have difficulty warming to his name, silly as that is. I mesh with it better than Jazz Janewattananond.

He seems like a nice fellow, though.

I’m glad Kyle Larson won the NASCAR All-Star Race because it’s incredible he doesn’t win more often. As Barney Hall used to say, “I b’lieve that young man is driving the wheels off that car.”


If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at 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)


The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

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

My Own Private Elba


Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, May 17, 2019, 10:42 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

Realistically, there’s not much else I really want to do. At this point, a bucket list is kind of silly. It would have been worthwhile when I was young. Maybe if I’d decided back then I wanted to go to Venice – or the Knoxville Nationals – or Scandinavia – I would have.

But the coast of Oregon was nice. I really would like to go back there. It’s possible. One factor that militates against it is that I have no desire to fly. I’m not afraid of flying. I just think it’s a colossal pain in the ass that got more painful every year I was flying back and forth across the country to write about NASCAR. For 20 years, I probably averaged, oh, 60,000 air miles a year. Since 2012, I’ve flown to Cleveland once. I miss Cleveland much more than the airlines.

I’d love to take my time and drive diagonally across the mainland, but it’s unlikely, and I’m busy, and no matter where I go, as things now stand, I’d have to set up my laptop and see who died or got arrested in Laurens County.


For the time being, my road trips will be to places like Greenville, Asheville, Charlotte, or maybe some place really radical like Kentucky, or the various and sundry places where Blue Hose, Crusaders, Paladins, Raiders or Red Devils might presumably play. The most appealing aspect of most of my current road trips is the potential for a unique place to eat before the ballgame. I’m starting to collect off-the-beaten-path burger joints in Seneca just like I used to on Seneca Lake (near Watkins Glen, N.Y.).

I had a doctor’s appointment in Greenville on Wednesday, and, man, I enjoyed the pregame (uh, pre-examination) meal. Then I discovered I’d lost 10 pounds and knew they were legit. Probably would have been 12 without that “heaping helping of [their] hospitality.”

Hills, that is. Swimming pools. Movie stars. Fortunately, by and large, the people who don’t understand the above phrasing don’t read me anymore. I’ve lost the young … unless I took a picture of them.

A shame. I like the young. I want to be like them. Old is old, and young is young, and our twain no longer meets.

I love what I do. I enjoy covering the SCISA state girls’ basketball finals as much as I used to enjoy the Daytona 500. It’s still what ABC’s Wide World of Sports called “the human drama of athletic competition.” I like sports better than news because it’s my field of expertise, not to mention my body of work. It’s what looks good on my resume. I wonder if I still have a resume. If so, it won’t require much updating and it’s unlikely to be requested.


Most people don’t know I wrote about NASCAR for 20 years. They don’t know about the eight novels, or the writing awards that are probably in boxes in the utility building. They just know me as an old fat guy who takes pictures and scribbles on tiny notepads. It’s not all bad. I’ve always hated getting my ass kissed. I don’t get much of that anymore.

I hate to schmooze and hobnob and chitchat. I may be a bit forward. I tend to say what I think, and that’s often counterproductive in a setting where folks mostly want conversations to be predictable.

Things that are important to me aren’t important to others. For instance, if I’m writing a story and taking photos, it’s important for me to have a place to sit while I’m taking notes. I tend to have difficulty reading my own writing when it’s written without a table upon which to bear down.

Last night I staked out a nice, unobtrusive spot in the back of the room by placing my camera on the table there. When I returned and started to sit down, a man told me that Wynonna (not her real name) had staked out the place with her camera and a bottle of water. I told him that was odd, since I owned a camera just like that one with which I had staked out such a place.


Later on, I won a door prize that was a gift certificate at Chick-Fil-A (its real name), and I gave it to the one prominent citizen there who had briefly allowed me to sit down.

No respect. No respect at all. Saw my kid with the milkman. Asked him where he was going. He said to a father-and-son dinner.

Anyone can write. It’s pretty obvious. An old fat man like me can write … or fancies that he can. If I was any good, I’d be younger and make more money. That’s the way capitalism works.

So what do I do? I prove them wrong by writing a blog, but in their minds, it only proves them right.


If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at 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)


The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

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

Good Times, Great Oldies …

Paladin Stadium and Paris Mountain. (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, April 27, 2019, 6:07 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

It’s been a busy week but also one full of rich, evocative experiences. All week long, I experienced warm reminiscences through the mists of a time that seem superior to what I’m living now. That’s the way memories are. They get better with time.

It wasn’t all joy. Cally Gault died, but I’ve reached the age where the death of a great man who lived a long, distinguished life doesn’t cause undue sorrow to arise. I enjoyed writing memories of a man whose influence spanned my life, but I more enjoyed the memories of others. The funeral was on a day that seemed indescribably beautiful and appropriate. Outside the First Presbyterian Church, the trees and grass seemed greener, the flowers more delicate, the sky bluer. No way the Lord was going to let Cally be buried on a rainy day.

Lonnie Pulley had his mother join him onstage. (Monte Dutton photo)

On Thursday night, the Laurens County Sports Hall of Fame inducted five new members: the great Laurens runner, Lonnie Pulley; the great Presbyterian College star, Bill Hill; the great Clinton flanker who set records at Clemson that lasted for more than two decades, Phil Rogers; the great Clinton tennis coach, Clovis Simmons; and the great and pioneering broadcaster, Bill Hogan.

Halls of fame tend to attract greats.

I never spoke to Pulley until I interviewed him for the program. Hill’s football stardom – in addition to being a bruising fullback, he once intercepted 11 passes in a season – was before my time, but I knew his family, and his son, Bill Jr., quarterbacked a Clinton state champion. Mr. Hill is now old enough for me to still call him Mister, and he knew more about my father and grandfather than I could have imagined.

Rogers died of a brain tumor at age 27, many years ago, so many that he taught me science in the eighth grade during the brief period between his time in the NFL and his untimely and shocking demise. Clovis’s latest team is 12-2 as of this writing, with playoffs looming, and it’s been my pleasure to write about her and her teams for several years.

Bill Hogan (Monte Dutton photo)

Hogan was the voice of Paladin basketball when I first went to Furman. He is a gentle, low-key man, with a dry wit and eyes that betray his amusement. His broadcast partner at Furman was Dr. John Block, who also found time to teach me history. John and wife Barbara were there, and the last time I saw her was when senior seminar met each week at their house. That was the spring of 1980. I found it rather remarkable that she remembered who I was. I tend to leave an impression, though, for better or worse.

At The Ridge, Laurens’ recreation facility and banquet hall, I worked the room like a politician. The only thing that seemed missing was the unmistakable laughter of Cally, which would be a roar in other people.

Robbie Caldwell coached these two Furman tackles at the same time: Steve Lloyd, left, played on the right; Charlie Anderson, vice-versa. (Photo courtesy Charlie Anderson)

It was Thursday when Furman memories, by way of Dr. Block, came to me. The following night, I went to Furman, there to gather with old friends who annually meet for a weekend to recall the glory years and raise money to repeat them in the beloved Paladin football program.

Robbie Caldwell, with whom I used to referee intramural basketball games, was there. In addition to being one of America’s truly great coaches of the offensive line, Robbie loves to tell old tales and have fun as much as anyone, and unlike some who like to try, he’s a master at it. A lot of people were there, and most of them wanted to spend some time with Robbie, so he and I never even got around to telling about the time we had to hotwire the equipment van and drive it through a rainstorm without windshield wipers in order to get back from Appalachian State.

A man did what he had to do back in them days.

The golf tournament was today, and I gave up golf when I took up guitar, and my plan was to just hang around for an hour or two Friday night, sneak out, and hit the road back to Clinton, but, of course, that didn’t happen. I did pry myself away long enough to talk about NASCAR on the radio, but my old buddies, heroes, and I managed to close the joint down. Calling the Younts Center a joint is a stretch. The Stump on Poinsett, that was a joint. Most things at and around FU are well appointed these days.

(Photo courtesy Dennis Wright, left)

Lord, I’ll never get around to all the old friends I saw. It’d be like singing Hank Snow’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” without having the lyrics to read. Bish. Big Daddy. Fritz. Carp. Tuna. Butch. Vinnie. Yogi. Goose. Sandy. Boss Hogg. Rocky. Skip. O. It’s easier for me to recall the nicknames than the names. We talked a lot of football but lots of things that weren’t. By gosh, I’ve been in and out of trouble with about every one of them.

I talked about Trivial Pursuit games on the road with Bobby Johnson, who later took Vanderbilt to a bowl game with Robbie coaching his offensive line. Robbie became the interim head coach there when Bobby retired. After teaching the Commodores to block, winning two national championships at Clemson must have been a snap. Back at Furman, Robbie was a center.

Spirits are high at Furman, in large part due to the performance of Clay Hendrix, who played guard back when I was Sports Information Director.

These days it’s hard for me to get away. I had most of a day’s work in my email when I got back from Greenville within close range of midnight. No matter what’s going on at Furman, folks are still prone to die and get arrested in Laurens County. I got up early, cranked out part of the work, and headed over to Clinton High School to take pictures of the softball team clobbering Fairfield Central and thus staving off elimination from the playoffs.

I need to get to know some of the Furman football players who have graduated in the last 30 years. No telling what stories they’ve got to tell.

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at 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)


The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

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

‘The Storms of Life Are Washing Me Awaaaayyy’


Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, April 19, 2019, 12:19 p.m.

Monte Dutton

When I was a boy, one of my grandmothers was prone to say “it’s about to come up a cloud.”

Another line of those storms is about to roll through, flinging out lightning. It sure seems like this happens more often than it used to. Mama Davis would be agitated “sho’nuff.”

Now we gaze westward electronically. Soon the gaze will turn eastward as we track squalls blowing off the coast of Africa. Hurricane season grows ever longer in the same way as big-money sports seasons.

It’s not global warming exactly. It’s global weirding. The weather has its own Xtreme Games.


2:48 p.m.

The storms have passed through and by. DirecTV didn’t even go out, let alone the electricity.

During the occasional periods in which rain was pelting the roof, I busied myself with editing, internet research, and the routine duties of every day at the website.

I just remembered the Cubs were playing this afternoon. It’s the second inning at Wrigley Field, and it seems my early-season fate to see all the Arizona Diamondbacks’ hideous uniform combinations.

Torey Lovullo, ex-Red Sox coach, is the manager. I’d like to root for him, but with those uniforms, my eyes won’t have it.

While editing obituaries and looking up the arrest report, I watched about five minutes of an old movie with Troy Donahue, Stefanie Powers and Connie Stevens called Palm Springs Weekend. I perversely enjoyed the spectacle of Donahue’s wooden acting, mainly because Powers and Stevens were so fetching, but I didn’t stay long enough to notice it was Palm Springs or the weekend.

Once when I was writing about NASCAR in Joliet, I sat four rows behind Jerry Rice at Wrigley Field. He was wearing a Cubs jersey with his football number, 80, on the back, and his name above the number. There wasn’t any such thing as a selfie – if I’d heard someone say it, I probably would have thought it a nickname for someone who was selfish – but it probably wouldn’t have been any different. I have had my picture taken with celebrities an astonishingly small number of times.

My only recent photo with celebrities is with a Riley Freeman and a Sam Tiller, a pair of seniors on the Clinton High School soccer team.

The Cubs just scored two runs because four D-Backs let a pop fly fall amongst them. They probably lost the ball in their uniforms.

3:18 p.m.

As Rudyard Kipling never had a chance to say, Trump is Trump and the rest is the rest, and never the twain shall meet.


I don’t like his politics, but what I mostly dislike is he. Trump, not Kipling. I haven’t thought much about Kipling’s politics. Kipling can’t run because he died in 1936 and wasn’t a naturalized citizen, or an American citizen at all.

Why do people like Donald Trump? He is vain, humorless, boastful, and, as a liar, I have known only one man in my life who could compete. He takes the credit for everything and the blame for nothing.

The late Jimmy Breslin wrote a book about Watergate called How the Good Guys Finally Won. This time I’m not so sure.

Nothing amazes me more than learning that a friend likes Trump. I can’t believe it. I bat my brain figuring out how it could possibly be.

I wrote a novel about a year ago called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Nothing I envisioned in a completely fictitious president named Martin Gaynes seems exaggerated in view of what has happened in the real country. Gaynes’ role is a small one. He’s from North Carolina and doesn’t play golf. He’s a crook, though. He’s got that going for him.

Life in this country is hilarious, regardless of which side one is on. It’s theater of the absurd. I laugh uproariously right up to the time I start weeping.

Lots of Trump fans – it’s a sport, really – used to be fond of saying they wanted to “defend the Constitution.” Damned if they haven’t gotten me doing it.

I know, I know … he’s the president. The system never fails. We get what we deserve.


If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at 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)


The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

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

Oh, Wow


Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, March 15, 2019, 12:22 p.m.

Monte Dutton

Oh, wow.

We say, “oh, wow,” too much.

The last time North Carolina went 3-0 against Duke was 1975-76.

Oh, wow. Wait a minute. The Tar Heels and the Blue Devils don’t play in basketball three times every year.

This is the first Clemson football team ever to win 15 games in a season.

Oh, wow. The 1981 Clemson team also won the national championship and every game. It was 12-0. Back then there weren’t 12 regular-season games, then the conference championship, then two playoff games. It was regular season, then a bowl game, but 12-0 was as good as those Tigers could get.


Kyle Busch is on the verge of winning 200 races in NASCAR’s “three major series,” tying the great Richard Petty.

Oh, wow. Petty won his 200 in the top series. Busch has 52.

Hudson Swafford has won more money playing professional golf ($5,824,805) than Jack Nicklaus ($5,734,031).

Oh, wow. Swafford won the 2017 CareerBuilder Challenge and earned $1,044,000. Nicklaus won the 1962 U.S. Open and earned $17,500.

We’ve stopped thinking. In part, it may be because we have stopped reading. It seems that we are more likely to accept statements on blind faith when they are told to us.

“Nobody in history has done more than me in his first two years,” Donald Trump says over and over and over, world without end, amen.

Oh, wow.


If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at 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)


The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

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

Time Passages

U.S. Cellular Center, Asheville, North Carolina (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 10:09 a.m.

Monte Dutton

I guess most people actually do have similar experiences. Class reunions. I’ve only been to one of those, the 10th, and I made a spectacle of myself that I don’t regret much because I was much younger, and it was roughly what I was supposed to do at that age.

My weekend seemed pretty unique, though.

Thirty-four years ago, I worked in the athletics department of Furman University. Some people kid about being on “the eight-year plan,” but I graduated in four. Then I was a graduate assistant for a year, left for my first newspaper job and returned for three more years. In other words, I was at Furman for eight years in a span of nine.

A highlight of those years was the Southern Conference Basketball Tournament. I went there last Friday and Saturday. It was in the same arena, 34 years after my last previous visit. Perhaps you’ve heard of a sense of deja vu? I spent a weekend of deja vu.

Few were the people I knew. Some could have been children of people I knew. Several I knew from my two decades traveling the country to write about stock car racing.

I spent a lot of time studying. Some people I recognized but couldn’t remember their names. Some I knew the name but wasn’t sure it was the same guy.

Hey, is that so-and-so?

Nah. He’s dead. That’s the A.D. at Samford.


There’s that slow realization.

Man, so-and-so’s getting old. Oh, wait. I haven’t seen him in 34 years. I’m getting old, too.

It’s not so bad with people you see every year or five.

One guy definitely looked familiar. I couldn’t tune in, though. I couldn’t get my mind off it. Then I was strolling around U.S. Cellular Center and saw him with a headset on, describing a game, and I realized it was Jim Reynolds, longtime (now) voice of the Chattanooga Mocs. I never got to speak to him. The Mocs lost. I’ll make sure to do so next time I see him. In 34 years.

Bourbon Branch
Bourbon Branch

I can’t remember the last time I went anywhere that wasn’t an assignment. A ballgame. A book signing. I earned my media pass by writing three blogs. I spent a night in a motel room for the first time in a couple years. It wasn’t much of a thrill. I checked in at 2 a.m. and checked out at 9. On Friday afternoon, I left Asheville for Knoxville so that I could drive through fog and rain to see a close friend play with a band. That led to the 2 a.m. check-in. It was a cheap room. All I did there was sleep, shave, and shower.

Mike Young coached Wofford to the SoCon title.

The basketball started at noon. The Paladins played in the last game. Then I repeated the drive through fog and rain, though this time almost completely downhill back to South Carolina. I wanted to stay in Asheville for the Sunday semifinals. I had to get home.

I work every day. I’ve been catching up ever since.

Asheville is a cool city. This was evident when I was looking at it from my truck through the rain. It’s less than two hours away. I should go there for more than just basketball.

The basketball was good, though.

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at 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)


The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

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