Words and Lyrics and Titles and Tunes

(Photos courtesy Pixabay)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, August 26, 2018, 2:42 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

I listened to a Johnny Cash song that had slipped my mind.

“See Ruby Fall.”

I feel I know exactly how Cash wrote it. He was in his tour bus, heading through the country, probably in the mountains of the Appalachian chain, and he saw an old barn with “See Ruby Falls” painted on the roof. He picked up his guitar, started strumming a familiar, easy chord progression and crafted himself a simple story about a fallen woman.

This may be untrue. I didn’t read it. It just makes sense that this was how he wrote it. It reminds me of another extemporaneously written Cash tune, “San Quentin,” which he wrote the night before he taped a famous album there.

Cash I ain’t, but I’ve written songs that way.

“No matter where you go, there you are” came from the sign-off message of a country D.J. “I Got Cash Money (and I’m Workin’ Steady)” was based on my exasperated reply to a fellow in a New Hampshire general store. “Furlough Blues” is a considerably exaggerated account of when all my fellow newspaper employees and I had to take a furlough back when the end of the business was just beginning.

It’s a similar process to the way my novels get named. I never have a title when I start. At some point, while writing it, one comes along. In fact, several come along, and pretty soon I settle on one.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

I think the one I’m writing now is going to be The Latter Days, but there’s still plenty of time for it to change. My life has grown busier in recent months, and I’m writing it very slowly.

It could be this is a good thing. By the time I sit down to write another chapter, I’m well prepared for where it’s going to go. I’ve thought it through. I’ve taken the required “mulling time.”

Or, quite possibly, this could be a rationalization.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

The Audacity of Dope occurred to me shortly after I read Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope. The 44th President of the United States had no influence at all on the story. It was about an unlikely hero who had no desire to be one. His desire was to write songs, play them in small bars, and smoke weed. Riley Mansfield wouldn’t let himself be pushed around. Like it or not, he was a hero. He had the audacity of dope.

The Intangibles came from the slogans on a high school locker room wall. It was set in a time even more tumultuous than this one. Set mostly in 1968, it’s about high school football at the center of general upheaval in the South. It was a time when young people questioned everything, and for good reason, but the intangibles were their anchors, keeping them from straying too far.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Crazy of Natural Causes was about a man who lost everything and had to rebuild himself from scratch in ways of his own design. The conclusions drawn by Chance Benford were based on his untutored reactions to upheaval. It was the most original and offbeat of my eight novels.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses was the tale of a bad politician and a good cop and the impossible odds faced by the latter, Hal Kinley, in stopping the former, Denny Frawley, from being elected governor. Frawley exploits the law, covers it up, and surrounds himself with thugs, some of whom are in his family. The law Frawley exploits is all that can stop him.

I love a good yarn about a man’s frontier being fenced in. Cowboys Come Home, set at the end of World War II, is an unconventional, modern western. A pair of Marines come home hoping they’ll never have to use all they learned in the Pacific. They couldn’t be more wrong. The world has changed back in Texas.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

I wrote two 2017 adventures – they’re my only novels that are linked to each other – about Barrie Jarman, a stock car racing phenom who is the modern equivalent of the moonshine-running hellions who built the sport. Barrie is a charming rogue with an adventurous spirit and a taste for forbidden fruit. FASCAR, the fictional ruling body, hasn’t seen his like in thirty years and isn’t at all ready for the figurative Lightning in a Bottle he brings to the sport.

Barrie’s life is no longer but a dream in the sequel, Life Gets Complicated, which was inspired by the words of a Statler Brothers song.

Life gets complicated when you get past eighteen / But the Class of ’57 had its dreams

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Then there’s this year’s release, which is my most ambitious, most abandoned and revamped, longest, and most complicated so far and likely ever. From the time the term became popular in reference to gays being allowed to serve in the military, it occurred to me that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell applies to much more than that narrow issue.

Incredibly, little that has happened since I wrote it makes the novel less plausible. What starts out as a bleak depiction of a laid-off journalist turns gradually into the story of people trapped in a web of international intrigue involving politics, corruption, assassination, Russian collusion, and marijuana trade.

Current events damned near make it believable.

Whew. That’s why the next one’s about baseball.

 

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.

Advertisements

Don’t Even Try to Put All This Together

Pixabay

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, August 23, 2018, 10:11 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

Two days ago, I ate at KFC for the first time since the horrible commercials started. I bought a three-piece, Original Recipe, Big Box Meal. It was all dark meat. I like white meat.

I deserved that.

Why do I hold silly commercials against restaurants where people work hard to make a modest living?

I’m still not quite ready to go to Sonic again. I feel badly about it.

Pixabay

When I’m on assignment, I’ve grown fond of taking notes on small notepads. I think it’s because, early in the morning, I watch too many Columbo reruns. I use a pen instead of a pencil, though.

That Barney Rubble. What an actor.

The only baseball team in the big leagues that has not lost at least four games in a row during the season is the Boston Red Sox. Last night they clobbered the Indians at Fenway to stop the bleeding at three. The lead over the Yankees is nine again. All is well, at least until the getaway afternoon game today.

Monte Dutton photo

I won’t belabor this point because many people do not root for the Red Sox.

As you may have suspected, I do on account of my late father, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Bill Lee, Fred Lynn, Jerry Remy, Jim Rice, Jim Lonborg, Dwight Evans, Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Mike Timlin, Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi.

At least.

One reason the Red Sox won last night was undoubtedly the fact that Yaz turned 79. Undoubtedly.

Here in town, it’s the Clinton-Laurens game. Up the road, it’s the Laurens-Clinton game. My policy is writing the home team last, so, this year, it’s the Laurens-Clinton game because it is at Wilder Stadium.

It’s Friday night.

Both teams made the playoffs but not much else last year. Neither looked like a juggernaut in preseason scrimmages.

For a night, it won’t matter. The old grounds will be packed. I played in this game when they were new grounds. Was that only yesterday, or was it 43 years ago?

It depends on how you measure.

 

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.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, August 17, 2018, 10:54 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

This morning I learned about the wet-bulb thermometer. So enriched was I that I moved on to wet-bulb temperature.

Am I a man of boundless curiosity? I’d like to think so, but the short-term answer was that I was trying to figure out why Clinton High School’s first football game is going to start at 8 p.m. instead of 7:30.

A wet-bulb thermometer is one in which a wet rag, draped over a thermometer and engulfed in air, enables the apparatus to measure the air temperature, based on wind, humidity and solar radiation.

Presumably, it is more accurate than a regular thermometer. Surely, it is more complicated than wrapping a wet wash cloth around a standard thermometer. In fact, it costs from $100 to $500, and every member of the South Carolina High School League is required to have one, so that athletes are not allowed to practice when it is too hot.

Pixabay photos

When Laurens visits Clinton on Aug. 24, it is likely that the wet-bulb temperature will be greater than 82 degrees at 7:30, and thus did the school’s officials conclude it would be prudent to shoot for 8. The school’s state championship relay team will receive rings at 7:30 because receiving rings do not qualify as “regular activities” in an athletics sense.

This is fine. I’ve no interest in writing about heat prostration. I worried I was experiencing it while taking pictures of seven-on-seven games of throw-and-catch earlier this summer. I can’t afford a wet-bulb thermometer of my very own.

Knowledge is good. The way it is processed is sometimes bad, but in the medical community, the people who process it are still the ones who are trained to do so.

For now.

Even I am torn.

One side makes the inevitable lament of the aging. Back in my day, when men were men and brains were damaged …

The other side, though, is the sigh of relief. How in the world did any of us survive?

 

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.

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.

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.