Archive for October, 2008


Inside My Head: Cleansed By Fire Edition, Again

So, the first time I did this “Inside My Head” thing I tried to both summarize the happenings of my novel Cleansed By Fire up to that point (when I had completed the first 13 parts) and give you some sense of how and why it was pulling together the way it was.

I’m finishing up the latest installment of the novel and have had limited time to really delve into the last segment or two that I need to write, so as I rebuild the creative juices, I thought I’d let you inside my cranium again, and do so (again) with the novel. I promise, at some point I’ll let you into my psyche (if you dare enter) with regard to other things I write around here.

Something has struck me since the last time I did this, given that I’ve written eight more installments, with a ninth almost ready to post: It is easier to be dystopian than hopeful.

I don’t know if this is an adage of writing in general with regard to future events or a reflection or my own mindset or just a sign of the times. But in coming to this realization, it reminds of the old saying “It’s easier to destroy than to create.”

Negativity, it seems to me, is easy to tap. If I may be so geeky as to say so, it’s like the Dark Side of the Force in the Star Wars movies. It gives you immediate satisfaction and power, simply by letting anger or fear rule you, instead of taking the harder and more positive route and getting better (and kinder) long-term results with the Light Side.

The thing is, while the setting of my novel, in the year 4001, isn’t truly dystopian (I don’t have slate gray skies and drab colored clothing as people are overtly oppressed by a totalitarian regime), there are definite dystopian elements. I have a very aggressive and well-nigh tyranical Vatican ruling over two and half continents. Sexual, procreation and marriage laws are frightingly rigid and violation of them can bring horrendous punishments to bear.

Also, I have several characters, both on the Vatican side and the terrorist side, who are ruled primilarly by naked ambition, sadism, or a combination of the two. I have a pair of twin mercenaries who are essentially aliens and probably seem amoral or just plain weird to many readers.

As fun and exciting as the stuff has been through much of the novel, from people getting sentenced to grisly punishments for premarital sex with prophylactics to mysterious murders to torture and revenge…well, one might start to wonder where the humanity is.

I started to key in more on that humanity when I realized in the eighth installment that Paulo was someone with a heart, a secret life that he treasures, and a complex set of obligations. I still have more fun with Maree, and she has a very noble element buried insides her I think, but I hope that Paulo is, ultimately, someone that readers will worry about more. Likewise, I have fun with Domina’s game playing, but it has become important for me to begin showing Gregory and Amaranth as a married couple with family on top of all their cares and concerns and need to play the game of intrigue.

In the end, I guess what I’m saying is that it’s easy to just go to the sex and violence and deceit. Much like a soap opera, that’s what oils the gears. But I force myself (and I’m generally glad that I do) now to remember that there are tender moments and warm moments that need to be in here or all I’m doing is providing entertainment. I want that entertainment to be there, certainly, but in the end, I want the story to matter to the readers and for them to walk away having cared about some of the characters on a visceral level, whether they end up living or dying by the time it’s all over.

(To view backstory information about the novel and access specific installments, click here.)



Lord knows I’d like to stop ripping Sarah Palin around these parts because I’d rather she just go away, but it’s so damned easy. And too often, so damned appropriate for me when pointing out the rampant values-hypocrisy she shows.

Now, we find out the Republican National Committee has been giving Palin the equivalent of $2,500 a day for clothing, to the tune of some $150,000 so far.

And this woman wants to talk about how much she connects with the “real America,” which she defines as rural America. Where, I’m pretty sure, there are an awful lot of people who don’t have $2,500 worth of clothing in their entire home.

So, the economy is going into the dumper and she (and the Republican machine) want to clothe her in fancy digs. Even if she needs a whole new freaking outfit every day, you’re telling me she can’t find good ones for under a few hundred dollars?

For one thing, I hardly find this kind of thing to be very humble or responsible, two things that being such a supposedly devout Christian are things she should aspire to.

More hyporcrisy. More waste. More ego. More recklessness.

And, dare I say it: Elitism. That very same word that she keeps tossing around to describe Barack Obama.

But I got a feeling that Barack Obama isn’t spending this kind of money, and probably his wife ain’t either.

(Yeah, I heard she’s going to donate them to charity. I’ll believe that they all go that route when I see it. And it doesn’t change the fact that she’s spending too much money on the wrong thing. And the charity idea probably only came up after people realized publicly how much she was spending.)


Two-fer Tuesday: 70/30 by Deacon Blue

Doing another “gimmick” again, similar to last week’s 50/50 posts by Deacon Blue and Miz Pink. This time, though, we each post exactly 70 words for our point, and the other has exactly 30 words to respond. But we can each pick whatever topic we want for our mini-posts today.

Getting Sloppy

It’s easy to become complacent. Mrs. Blue actually does much more Bible reading than I do overall, whereas I do more Bible “thinking” (which means most of my reading is part of research on a specific blog post or something). But know what? I’m not doing enough reading of God’s Word in general these days. Need to fix that.

After all, we are told to “study to show ourselves approved.”

Miz Pink’s Response

Really good advice I agree. But it’s about more than just reading the Bible. Bible-oriented educational books, radio shows, TV preachers all can add to studying to “show ourselves approved.”


Two-fer Tuesday: 70/30 by Miz Pink

Doing another “gimmick” again, similar to last week’s 50/50 posts by Deacon Blue and Miz Pink. This time, though, we each post exactly 70 words for our point, and the other has exactly 30 words to respond. But we can each pick whatever topic we want for our mini-posts today.

Sharing Space

I am so done with being pregnant. I’m due in days which means I’m due any time. I love the glory of bringing life into the world but why can’t we lay eggs? having to rent out my womb to someone I haven’t even met yet just seems so unfair. I know I’ll love Mini-Pink #3. I just think God coulda picked a better way. I just don’t get it.

Deacon Blue’s Response

LOL. My preacher father-in-law believes women were (before that disobedience in Eden) to have painless childbirth. It is what the Bible suggests, though my inner feminist has trouble with that.


Disease Zone!

Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday. Little Girl Blue was sick and wouldn’t let go of me…pretty much all day.


Wouldn’t let go.

You can imagine how productive I was trying to work yesterday, too.

But the lovely little girl is well enough to watch TV on her own while she plays hooky yet again from daycare. Catching up on work and hope to have one or two blog posts later today or maybe tonight.


Ace In the Hole

Some days, all I have is Jesus.

Seriously. Sometimes, that’s all I have to get me through a day. The only thing that keeps me from blowing a gasket. My faith in a risen Lord and Messiah, my savior Jesus Christ, along with the knowledge that through becoming born again my soul is secure and that God is backing me—that is sometimes that only thing that make me able to keep going.

A lot of people like to pick on people for using Christianity as a crutch. OK. So what’s wrong with a crutch? If your leg is seriously sprained or broken, how the hell else are you going to get around?

So Christianity, or more specifically God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, are sometimes my crutch. Or the safety net under that high-wire I’m trying to walk. Or the flotation device that my seat becomes should my plane have to make a landing on water.

I won’t make any damn apologies for that. It’s a fool who doesn’t use his or her support system when things get rough. Right now, I don’t have much of a support system, and things are pretty crappy. So I’m calling on my spiritual lifelines.

That doesn’t make me weak. It means I have some common sense. Because truth be told, we all are weak at times. Hurt. Helpless. Struggling.

And I’m telling you that it’s God that grants me the strength sometimes—that little extra boost I don’t have in my anymore and I know I don’t have—to have gotten through some stuff, and to continue to get through, that other people have done things like put bullets in their head to solve. People in my extended circle who, by the way, didn’t lean on God. Ever.

Crutch? Sometimes.

I prefer to think of God as my ace in the hole.


Guilty Pleasures

I’m going to let you in on some dirty little secrets of mine. A handful of women that I am, for varying reasons, kind of ashamed (and in at least one case, mortified) to say I would like to have known in bed already or, if my wife should pass away suddenly, have a crack at in bed in the future.

This is to be distinguished from the “Women I’d Break the 7th Commandment With” post, as I simply cannot see any of the women I’m about to list here actually wooing me away from my wife for even a quickie. It’s just that, well, were I on the market again, I probably wouldn’t be able to resist a damn one of them.

Helen Mirren

Sure, this woman is 23 years my senior (and a senior citizen), but damn. She somehow manages to both look her age and look good. Really good. I mean, most college-aged women probably couldn’t maintain a body this nice. Bonus points for having a British accent. Additional bonus points for being a tremendous actor.

Here are a few notable quotes that make me like her even more:

“Flesh sells. People don’t want to see pictures of churches. They want to see naked bodies.” (she has often appeared nude in roles)

“I’m a would-be rebel. The good girl who’d like to be a bad one.”

“It’s the creme-de-la-creme of bullshit.” (speaking about the Academy Awards)

“When you do Shakespeare they think you must be intelligent because they think you understand what you’re saying.”


To be honest, Madonna was in her peak in the 1980s and early 1990s. I’m not saying she hasn’t done some good tunes since then; but she needs to sit her ass down. I’m not against women being sexual into their mature years (I mean, she’s only 10 years older than me and I don’t consider myself old, really). I don’t think that women (or men) have to exit the pop music business at a certain age.

It’s just that she’s ceased to be relevant. Long ago. She strikes me as someone who is desperately clinging to her place in the spotlight and trying to force her career on us far above any normal kind of promotion or marketing. She’s reinvented herself so often that I don’t think she knows who she is. I mean, the woman got into the Kaballah, which is something you really should be a really intellectual and/or mystically oriented Jew to be tackling. She’s been around the block so much that even if she has used a condom with ever one of her lovers I have to wonder what disease might be lurking.

But still. I can’t shake the notion that she could teach me and show me things that would make me forget my own name. This woman lured 33-year-old baseball star Alex Rodriguez from his soon-to-be ex-wife, who’s a pretty damn sexy woman.

Sarah Palin

I know, I know. The woman is evil. She panders to the worst in people, particularly in rural America, playing on the basest fears and fanning the flames. But I’ve just got to know if there’s a steaming vixen underneath her conservative exterior. Could she really be a “naughty librarian” type? Maybe it’s just the fact that Tina Fey gets sexier the more she riffs on Palin in “Saturday Night Live” skits and I’m just projected a growing Tina Fey lust onto Sarah Palin.

Maybe it’s just the “bad boy” thing with a gender twist. I know she’s wrong for me, I know she’d hurt me, I know we have nothing in common, I know I’d hate myself for waking up next to her. I’m mortified even now to admit all this, and I’ve never even shared the same airspace with her, much less knocked boots.

But I’m curious. Like every ignorant guy out there who thinks Barack Obama is a terrorist and lusts after Palin, I just want to know if those winks she keeps throwing out in her speeches are just for me.

(C’mon, gentlemen. And ladies. Don’t let me hang out here alone, now. Let me know who your guilty pleasures are. Confession is good for the soul.)


I Can See Clearly by Miz Pink

I ain’t blinded by the dazzling delivery of charismatic pastors. I ain’t awed by mega-churches. I don’t go weak in my knees when I see some one fall to the ground after being faith-healed. I don’t raise up my hands and start swaying when someone busts out in some “oingo boingo” tongues kinda talking. I’m not impressed by divinity degrees.

I can see clearly.

I can see clearly when a pastor is raking in big money from his mega-church, groomed like a Hollywood star and dressed in suits that most pastors can only dream of. I can tell how fake a faith-healing pastor on TV is; how they play off people being suckers and wantin desparately to believe. I can tell that you’re just deluding yourself and speaking gibberish and calling it tongues or worse yet you are feeling left out and just start yammering some nonsense so that everyone will thing you have the spirit. I can tell when your preaching your own agenda and not the word of God hisself.

Because I can read clearly too.

I can read my bible and I do thank you very much. It tells us how people will becomes lovers of themselves and spread false teachings and claim to be acting in Jesus’s name when they’re really just cashing in.

You aren’t all frauds out there I know that. There are lots of good preachers and pastors out there and even the ones with screwed up ideas often mean well.

But those of you who ARE cashing in. I see you. I see you clearly. But that doesn’t matter really because what you should be worried about is that God sees through you even more than I do.


Sheeple, Sheeple Everywhere

I try to avoid looking too much at the video evidence of how many people, particularly among the poor and working class in various places (especially rural ones), really think that Obama is:

  • A Muslim
  • Will somehow try to do harm to whites if he gains the Oval Office
  • Shifty
  • A terrorist or terrorist sympathizer
  • Against the middle class and working class
  • Etc. etc. etc.

Because, if I look at this stuff too much, I get angry. Not on behalf of Barack Obama but just because I’m tired of sheeple. I’ve used that term before around here; I assume it’s obvious, but in case it ain’t: Sheeple = Sheep + People. In other words, people who can’t seem to think for themselves and just let the big shots tell them what to think.

Obama has done his share of flip-flopping and bending the truth a bit. But no more than his competitor has. Yet somehow people get it into their heads that he’s evil. The man shows more insight, thought, composure, tact and class than McCain, and thus he must be “hiding something.” As if being angry, spiteful and erratic (as McCain has been) somehow should engender our trust and show that a guy is a real stand-up feller.

Look, I come from working class stock. Despite having two degrees, I think and act mostly like a working class guy. My beers may be a little fancier, but it’s still beer I choose over wine most of the time. I can still appreciate a good fart joke in a movie. I’d rather have a comfy couch to watch TV in than to have a fancy looking one that I can’t put my feet up on. So, I’m not slamming the working class and rural folks who say this stupid shit about Obama because they’re working class and rural and in some cases poor.

I’m slamming them because they don’t bother to think.

At all.

It’s the same thing that has turned me off of most brick-and-mortar churches and many of the people who attend them. Just like the Obama-haters, they are often sheeple. Heaven forbid they should study a Bible or question anything a pastor says. Just like the ignorant folks who call for Obama’s head on a bayonet can’t be bothered to read anything that points out McCain’s or Palin’s lies or flaws, can’t be bothered to compare platforms of the candidates side-by-side, and who instead, like good sheeple, just believe whatever Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, their local police chief or nasty hateful bloggers tell them.

Like good sheeple, they go where they are told until the time comes to fleece them or slit their throats and offer them up as burnt offerings to the hungry economic gods.


Drive-By Scripture, Luke 12:42

Been so heavy on satire lately, and on my novel (including yet another installment today, which concludes chapter 4), that I figured I’d better have something spiritual right here, right now to help restore balance to the Force. Sorry, got off on a “Stars Wars” tangent there. Anyway…

And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? (Gospel of Luke, chapter 12, verse 42)

Now, this is just one tiny snippet of a much larger section. Chapter 12 in the Gospel of Luke is chock full of parables about being good stewards and good servants. I encourage you to read the whole shebang, which you can get to by clicking here.

The reason I have the passage above, and the reason it’s in the King James Version (KJV) instead of the New International Version (NIV) that’s in the links I offered, is largely because of the word “steward” used in the KJV. You hear a lot of talk about stewardship these days. “Are we being wise stewards of our planet?” being one of the big questions posed to us as we continue to consume natural resources and commercial products.

In the United States, we use oil and other forms of energy as if we’re the only people on the planet who matter and we’ve created an uber-consumeristic society that demands we keep buying new crappy shit to replace the crappy shit we had that still worked so that we can increase our credit burden and clog the landfills while we’re at it.

We aren’t being wise stewards. God gave us a precious world, and we piss on it. And then we expect him to bless us with prosperity.

I’ve seen bumper stickers that say, “If we want God to protect this country, shouldn’t we honor his Ten Commandments?” Well, if we want him to keep us from crashing and burning, shouldn’t we stop mistreating his planet, too?

Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


Jeff Bouley

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October 2008

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