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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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.

 

It Is What It Is at the End of the Weekend

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, September 3, 2017, 3:34 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

I’ve drawn no conclusions from the past few days. They’ve been good experiences, I guess. Character building. Not altogether good. Not altogether bad. Clouds with silver linings still glistening.

Greer clobbered Clinton, 41-0, in the local home opener. Chapman clobbered Laurens, 61-24, on its home field. One week earlier, Laurens had defeated Clinton, 24-18, leaving both with positive feelings heading into week two. Now it’s back to “we just gotta get better” talk for both head coaches. I never sleep well after a hectic night of high school football coverage. Come home. Process photos. Go through the stats. Listen to what the coach had to say. Cobble together a story. Still keyed up. Watch an old movie, preferably one that makes me sleepy.

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 had a book signing in Spartanburg at a wonderful place, the Hub City Bookshop. It wasn’t particularly successful. I hoped a few people would drop by on the way to the Furman-Wofford football game. They didn’t. I played a couple songs I’d written on guitar. I talked a little about each of my eight works of fiction. I think that’s right. One collection of short stories. The Audacity of Dope (2011). The Intangibles (2013). Crazy of Natural Causes (2015). Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016). Cowboys Come Home (2016). Lightning in a Bottle (2017). Life Gets Complicated (2017).

(Gabe Whisnant photo)

Yep. Eight. Seven novels and one collection (Longer Songs, 2016). I’m glad I brought a couple copies of each along. I sold one copy of The Audacity of Dope and one of The Intangibles. I read one passage of Lightning in a Bottle and two of the brand-new one, Life Gets Complicated. I believe most of the people there enjoyed my little show. I sang two songs that mention stock car racing, “Martinsville” and “There You Are.” Before it started at 3, I also sang a couple others, “Your Independence Day” and “Bills to Pay.”

There wasn’t any sound, so I guess I can’t call it a sound check.

The former sports editor at the Gaston Gazette, the newspaper where I worked for 16-1/2 years, stopped by and bought a book. Gabe Whisnant now works at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, where I wrote about NASCAR for 3-1/2 years before I moved to the Gazette.

(Gabe Whisnant photo)

The big surprise was the almost-random, coincidental appearance of one Tommy Tomlinson, whose work I have enjoyed for many years. He and his wife were passing through town and somehow discovered either Hub City Bookshop or that I was there. The Tomlinsons bumped into a onetime newspaper colleague of his, and it was a tiny reunion of once and current ink-stained wretches.

Not as many ink stains these days. It’s not like the old days when I’d steer clear of white caps because they always developed smudges on the right front of bills because that’s where my thumb and index fingers met when I put them on and took them off and tipped them.

I’ve always enjoyed tipping a cap.

Meanwhile, while I was spending all the day’s profits on a nice meal, the Paladins were playing Wofford across town. I left Clinton prepared. I wore long khakis because I was signing books. I wore a light shirt because I might go to a ballgame. If there had been someone who called me, or texted me, or posted, or tweeted “hey, I’ll see you at the game,” or even, “are you going to the game?” I probably would have spent the day’s profits over at Wofford College, but they didn’t, and I didn’t, and, since Furman lost in painful fashion, 24-23, on a two-point conversion that went awry, I guess I made the right move. I’m afraid that, every time I go back to Furman these days, I feel more removed, more remote, and less relevant, which is exactly as it’s supposed to be for someone who is 37 years out of college and too poor at the moment to give money.

I do root like hell for them, though.

The Hub City Bookshop, 186 West Main Street, Spartanburg, is much more than just a place to buy books. If you are so inclined, however, to buy one or two while you’re there, copies of Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated are available with my modest signature on the title pages.

 

 

(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.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

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.

 

 

High School Football Carries Me Away

W.L. Varner Stadium, Woodruff, South Carolina (Monte Dutton photos)

I would normally post this blog at montedutton.com, which, at the moment, is out of order, and I tried and failed to fix it yesterday, and I just don’t have time to fool with it anymore … now.

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, August 12, 2017, 12:00 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

Who knows what football season will bring? Clinton visits Laurens on August 25, when both of the county’s public schools will literally be off and running. It’s too early to tell much, but it’s likely both teams will run often and effectively.

On Thursday night, I watched Clinton defeat Blue Ridge, 20-7, in a half, then I half-watched Spartanburg thump Chapman, 31-7, because I was adding up the stats and trying to get ahead on the Red Devil story, and then Laurens arrived on the Varner Stadium field to edge the homestanding Woodruff Wolverines, 9-7. Last night at Wilder Stadium here in town, I was talking NASCAR on the South Carolina Network during part of Woodruff’s 14-12 win over Ben Lippen, and, finally, pleasing the local fans, oh, so much, the Red Devils prevailed over Strom Thurmond, 18-7.

Defying mathematics, Woodruff hosted three “halves,” and Clinton hosted the standard two.

I love old Wilder Stadium. I played in its first game in its present state. That was 1975. It needs renovation, but its aging structure has been the scene of more magic than a circus tent. Most circus tents are gone or in storage, but R.P. Wilder Stadium, named after one local legend and surrounding a field named after another (Keith Richardson) lives on.

In August and September, the sweltering rooms of its press box would make suitable sites for punitive solitary confinement, and trudging up its steps give its occupants a sweaty head start. Last night, the lights seemed so dim that I joked that they ought to cut them off and see if it got any darker. A full moon might actually make a difference. I kept thinking I was wearing sunglasses, and, first home game, I really need to remember to bring the binoculars.

An empty chair was sitting next to me in the press box, though it wasn’t the room I usually occupy. The empty chair reminded me of my line coach, Harold Williams, who died earlier this summer. It wasn’t uncommon for Coach Williams to sit next to me during games. He had so much to say that it sometimes made it difficult for me to keep up with my notes and statistics, but I never minded. He did me more good than I ever did him.

As testimony to the nostalgia attacks I get, while the Red Devils were warming up, it occurred to me that the sophomore quarterback, Konnor Richardson, looks like John Unitas. This isn’t an observation of skill or facial looks. Richardson wasn’t wearing high tops, and he mainly handed the ball off to Clinton’s potent rushers, but his mannerisms struck me. He ambles when he walks. He shuffles his shoulders. He throws the ball straight overhand. When I talked to him on the field afterwards, I realized that he is actually taller than Johnny U. was.

There’s something about that kid. On the basketball court, he reminds me of Dave Cowens, who never reminded me of Unitas.

Describing John Unitas to Konnor Richardson is the equivalent of my grandfather telling me about Otto Graham, but my grandfather never mentioned Graham, or Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, or Sid Luckman. My grandfather was never a sportswriter. I don’t think he ever went to a ballgame that didn’t include me or my brother playing.

Here are links to what I wrote at the GoLaurens/GoClinton website: on Thursday’s Arthur State Bank Wolverine Showcase in Woodruff, first Clinton and then Laurens, and on Friday’s Clinton Game Night.

 

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

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

I’ve written six 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.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

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.

(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).

 

 

A Nice Race Story and a Nice Review of a Racing Novel

(Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, May 8, 2017, 10:15 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

Lots of times, when I’m watching a NASCAR race on television, I think of the early scenes of Days of Thunder, when Harry Hogge is back in North Carolina, on his tractor, while the Daytona 500 is taking place.

I’m not sure what occupied Harry with his tractor in mid-February, but that’s Hollywood, I reckon.

A friend visited on Sunday, and the main difference was that I didn’t tweet as much as usual about the race. We wasted most of our witticisms one on one.

(Getty Images for NASCAR)

I was pleased Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s upset victory. For all the stages and bonus points and Chase (oops, playoff) bonus points and encumbered finishes, the season has fallen predictably. Until Sunday, no one won who wasn’t expected to win at least sometime if not in the race in which he did so.

No one expected Stenhouse to win, this in spite of his starting on the pole. No one will expect Stenhouse to win next week. They will treat a plate victory as an anomaly until Stenhouse and Jack Roush provide more evidence to the contrary.

Now that Stenhouse has won, he has stepped out of his girlfriend Danica Patrick’s shadow. The world will notice at last what I already knew. Stenhouse is friendly, quotable, humble, a good guy.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Meanwhile, what made my day was a customer review of Lightning in a Bottle, my novel about stock car racing. So far, the readers seem to like it. The reader who checked in on the Amazon page Sunday saw the novel just as I wrote it. He got what I was trying to say. Here’s the review.

So get ‘em while they’re hot. In a Kindle, or your phone, or your other electronic device, the words will be safely encased and safe to touch. In print, too, the words will only sizzle in your mind.

Or that’s the plan.

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

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

I’ve written six 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.

(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).