Up on the Hill

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, August 8, 2018, 11:38 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

It seems there’s always a hill. It might be a plateau above a practice field, with a town’s young men busily preparing to represent their school and town in battles for football supremacy, scattered a week apart throughout the fall. It might be a manmade hill, fashioned of concrete, or steel, in the local stadium.

It’s the place where people from town stop by to see how the lads are progressing. Not as many are there as years before. The world has more to do these days. More is on TV. There’s something called the Internet. The net catches people who might otherwise wind up elsewhere. Fewer drop by the practice field, but the word spreads as fast as ever. It’s that Internet. It’s a double-edged sword.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Walk into a store uptown. Small towns have hangouts. The barber shop. The hardware store. They aren’t as common. Filling stations are gone. It’s hard to make Great Clips a hangout. Walmart, too. They’re still there, though.

“You watched the ball team any, Fred?”

“Ah, I dropped by there for a few minutes Thursday.”

“How they looking?”

“They ain’t there yet. I reckon they’ll be ah’ight.”

“I sure hope so.”

“Me, too, Alvin. Me, too.”

 

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

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

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

(Steven Novak cover)

 

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.

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Folks Are So Mad They Could Just Spit

(Pixabay photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, August 5, 2018, 10:22 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

People seem habitually, chronically and incurably mad at one another.

They are divided into warring camps. My theory is that everything is slowly becoming a sport. My team is made up of incredibly gifted student-athletes who will follow up a national championship by huddling up to cure cancer. Your team, on the other hand, streamed across the Mexican border, bearing guns, knives and controlled substances.

If I do not understand, at least I know the subject matter. I have an exalted view of athletes who play at my alma maters. Alma mater. Mama. Many years as a journalist have taught me to root for the story, not the team, but I mostly keep myself and my academic mamas at a professional distance. At least I try.

I am incapable of loving a New York Yankee. A Yankee can only earn my grudging respect.

But politics is not sport, or, it didn’t used to be. The country has no middle. The blue has no baby in it. The red blazes. It never darkens into crimson or lightens into pink. No states are purple. They just crash into each other at the middle, the blue oil, the red water.

Social media aggravates the trend. In some ways, it’s freedom to the extreme. On Facebook, people regularly yell “fire!” in a crowded theater. Thankfully, it’s not a real theater. They post personal attacks that they would never make face-to-face. And even though we’ve ever met, they invite me to make a charitable donation for their birthdays, but that’s probably a mostly different set of people.

It’s not just sports. It’s not just politics. We should be so lucky.

To me, it’s a little ridiculous to rate things like food and beer, simply because people have different palates. One man’s perfect beer is another’s bucket of horse piss. If you don’t believe me, read the ratings.

Barbecue! I’m surprised there’s been no armed conflict for the land between Memphis and Kansas City.

Hot dogs! Sneakers! Wine! Weed! Choice! Life! Life of Choice! Choice of Life!

Social media is a great way to keep in touch. It’s a way to learn how people have changed and aspects of their personalities one didn’t recognize when they were allegedly close.

People like to look, and more and more don’t like to click.

I like Twitter better because there’s less room to be mean.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

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

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

(Steven Novak cover)

 

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.

What I Like About Him Is He Does What He Says

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, July 31, 2018, 1:56 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

I’m going to pay for my own campaign.

I’m going to build a wall. Mexico will pay for it.

There was no meeting.

Okay, as it turns out, there was a meeting, but I knew nothing about it.

The meeting had nothing to do with the election. It was about children in Russia. I hate to see children separated from their parents.

The meeting had something to do with the election, but it was useless. That’s why I didn’t know anything about it.

I love WikiLeaks! I love WikiLeaks! I love WikiLeaks! WikiLeaks! I love WikiLeaks!

There was no collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion! No collusion!

It’s a witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt! A witchhunt!

Thirty-five witches have been indicted. It’s still a witchhunt!

It wasn’t the Russians. Putin says it wasn’t. He should know. He’s a Russian.

It could have been anybody.

Okay, it was the Russians, but there could have been many others.

I hate WikiLeaks.

There was no collusion! But, you know, collusion is not technically a crime. I mean, if there was collusion. Which there wasn’t.

If the Democrats don’t pay for my wall, I’ll shut down the government.

Crime is really not a crime.

I’m going to campaign six or seven days a week this fall. On the other, I’ll be at a golf course.

 

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

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

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

cowboyshome_fullcvr343-page-001
(Steven Novak cover)

A Kindle download of my novel Cowboys Come Home is FREE all week, or at least until 3 a.m. EDT on Saturday. It’s an historical novel about a pair of Marines home from the Pacific at the end of World War II.

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.

Even as the summer swelters

(Pixabay photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, July 26, 2018, 2:25 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

I was out working on a feature for the GoLaurens.com website until almost 8 on Wednesday night.

When I got back home and turned on the TV, I discovered I had missed two innings, five runs and three homers in the Red Sox game in Baltimore. History missed them, too. It was raining and didn’t stop. All that offense was washed away with the rain, and J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi will never receive credit for their power. The game will begin again when it’s restarted later in the season.

Orioles Park at Camden Yards

I spent the rest of the evening writing the feature and waiting for a Little League baseball game in Taylors to show up on a web site so that I could post a story about the ending of the Laurens Majors’ season. Northwood of Taylors won the state championship, 10-7, and the game ended with a force play at second with the bases loaded.

High school football practice begins in the morning at Clinton and Laurens District high schools, and Laurens Academy begins on Monday morning. I expect I’ll ramble around the county in the morning to take photos of the Red Devils and Raiders starting to prepare for a game against each other on August 24.

My upcoming baseball novel got its 13th chapter on Wednesday morning. This morning I edited some releases for the web site after awakening late due to working into the wee hours the night before.

Now the Diamondbacks and Cubs are playing at Wrigley, and I watched parts of several old movies that were bad enough to be amusing for a while. It’s too early to check on the local arrests and obituaries. I decided to write the blog because I’m not quite ready to embark on the next chapter of fiction, and neither the guitar leaning against the couch to my left nor the Kindle balanced on its ledge seems more appealing than just randomly assembling thoughts.

Maybe a mug of coffee is in order.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

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

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

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 Dutton Deal: My July Newsletter

(Steven Novak cover)

This Week Only! Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell for free!

By Monte Dutton

I think this new novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, is my best. Some won’t like the politics. In one way, it’s about a group of people who get themselves in a serious bind. In another, it’s about America, right now, and it hasn’t gotten a bit less timely since I wrote it.

It has not taken off, partly because I don’t have the money to spend promoting it. I need to get it out there in circulation, so I’m putting the Kindle version up for free.

That’s right. Free! Surely you can afford nothing. The sale (or lack thereof) runs from Monday, July 16, at 3 a.m. EDT, to Saturday, July 21, at 3 a.m. EDT (that’s midnight PDT).

Download it for yourself. Circulate word of its, uh, “freebieness” to everyone you know, emphasizing those who have been known to read. Go to Amazon, type me name, and that will take you to my Author Page.

It’s likely that you’ve already got a Kindle app in your device (phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, etc.). If not, the app is free. Grab a novel. Don’t cost nothing.

(Steven Novak cover)

Now Available in Audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes)

My stock car racing novel, Lightning in a Bottle, has been deftly narrated by Jay Harper. He did a great job. So did Kenyon Strecker, who expertly narrated Cowboys Come Home, my 2016 tale of a pair of World War II heroes returning home to Texas.

(Design by Steven Novak)

New Job

I am managing the county news site, GoLaurens.com (GoClinton.com is within it), and that takes me out and about to write about ballgames, political gatherings, and people who have done something of note. Also, editing. Lots of editing and layout. I’m enjoying it. If I didn’t love where I live, I wouldn’t be here.

Facebook Live

Each week, usually on Sunday night at 8, I go on Facebook Live (Monte.Dutton), to perform some songs, talk NASCAR and respond to anything else viewers want to discuss.

I also attempt to promote my Patreon fund-raising site, books, and blogs at montedutton.com and wellpilgrim.wordpress.com.

Between the live show and a replay made available, usually about 350-500 viewers tune in. Join me if you get a chance.

The Next Novel

All my other activities have slowed my progress, but I’m about a third of the way through the first draft of The Latter Days, which will be my ninth novel. It’s about an aging baseball scout and ex-big leaguer who finds a diamond in the rough and attempts to turn him into a big leaguer.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

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

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

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.

A Perpetual Edge Inevitably Dulls

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, July 10, 2018, 10:27 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

The world is in a haze, and it has nothing to do with the West being in flames.

The West is always in flames. It’s the figurative and literal reason for the haze. I have become inured to wildfires.

I’m inured to Russian interference, cops shooting the wrong guy, powerful men trading assistance for sexual favors, mass shootings, around-the-clock news and sports, and The Simpsons on TV somewhere.

Nothing surprises me except the strangeness of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries showing one Christmas movie after another in the middle of July. Hallmark must have gotten inured to replays of Columbo, Diagnosis: Murder and Monk.

Our current president has become so unpredictable, it’s predictable.

The summer haze is a short social-media video that keeps running over and over. Soccer players grimacing. Politicians screaming. Farmers Insurance knowing a thing or two because it’s seen a thing or two.

That’s my me, too movement. So many things matter that nothing matters.

Madness has become normal. If you don’t believe me, read your Facebook feed.

(Monte Dutton photo)

It’s hard to maintain passion because passion has become normal.

All of a sudden, little things mean a lot. Last night I was editing an obituary that had a small typo. The deceased reportedly once enjoyed riding around the county with her husband in their motorhome. Apparently they were as close to homebodies as travelers can be. I changed “county” to “country” and laughed for thirty seconds.

If the government put puppies and kitten in cages, no one would stand for it.

 

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

(Steven Novak cover)

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

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 Word Around Here

I sketched this back in the old days when the USA made it. (Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, July 3, 2018, 8:56 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

When I was growing up, many local businesses closed on Wednesdays. That gradually diminished over time – for a long time, some still closed on Wednesdays at noon – but most locally owned businesses are closed for at least a day each week.

Some restaurants that used to close on Sunday are now closed on Monday. Undoubtedly, the ones that draw a Sunday crowd are more inclined to take Monday off.

You ask why I ponder such matters on this bright morning?

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Well, I’m cultivating within me the inspiration to write something more weighty. This involves sipping coffee, checking the email and social media, and playing a little guitar as a further means of getting the cobwebs out by trying to remember the words to songs I haven’t played in a while.

Normally, I fix a nice breakfast at home, skip lunch, and either nibble at night or go out to eat at a favorite haunt. When an evening assignment takes me to Laurens, I eat at a place there that we don’t have here.

This guy looks nothing like me, but he does like coffee. (Monte Dutton sketch)

Mondays are often relegated to a chain restaurant because so many local joints are closed. Last night I tried the new Arby’s, using a coupon I got in the mail. I was impressed by the speed of the drive-though. At local places, I usually eat in. That way I can read a book on my phone while awaiting the chow.

I managed to squeeze six paragraphs out of the most droll of topics.

My good knee’s been acting up. Perhaps it’s making a transition to being my bad knee. I should put ice on it. Maybe during tonight’s Red Sox game. It’s hard to write with ice on the knee. It falls off too easily.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Now that I’ve started editing obituaries, I’ve become a valuable source of information for my mother, who has occasionally lamented that half the time, she doesn’t know someone has died until he or she is already buried. It’s bound to be a vibrant part of our daily phone conversations.

Sweden is about to play Switzerland. I can’t help saying Sveden versus Svitzerland in my head.

Velly eenteresting.

I’m also thinking about considering Sweden as UCLA and Switzerland as Stanford. It appears the refs are wearing light blue. Advantage: UCLA! The teams are emerging. Sweden is wearing darker blue. California, then. The World Cup version of The Big Game! Switzerland’s red is too bright for Stanford, which, of course, is cardinal. I just can’t get into Cal versus Wisconsin, though.

Soccer, or futbol, or World Football, or whatever, is a solid accompaniment to writing. There’s that nice drone, that hum, constantly in the background, and the mad eruption when a goal is scored, or even when some chap untidily crashes to the turf. I pay attention for a few minutes and then go back to typing.

I watched the Russia win over Spain pretty closely. A mistake. The last time I rooted for Spain that much, I was reading Hemingway, and even then, it was a civil war.

It’s time to have breakfast and then be somebody.

 

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

(Steven Novak cover)

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

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.