One nation, under the Dark Lord of Lies and Sorrow…

Satan at the state capitol

According to the US constitution, the Federal and State governments cannot establish an official religion. This means they can’t force you to go to Sunday school, and they can’t punish you for going to Mosque, for example. But it also means that the governments can’t show preference to one religion, either. It’s illegal for a town council to have an unending parade of Christians give the invocation while excluding speakers of other faiths.

It’s also illegal for the governments to spend money on religious activities. Like a Ten Commandments monument, for example. But some, erm, enterprising politicians have tried to do an end run around this by allowing private donors to erect religious monuments on public land. “Hey, we’re not discriminating!” they chortle. “It isn’t our fault that this billionaire Christian, who I just happen to play tennis with every week, is the only guy who could afford to set up a giant fucking statue on our completely neutral, open to anybody public lands!”

Enter the Satanic Temple of New York. Muahaha.

The Satanic Temple is raising funds to build a statue commemorating the literary Satan, which will sit right next to the statue commemorating the biblicalTen Commandments. And there’s really nothing the Oklahoma government can do about it, because they really aren’t trying to discriminate, are they? And hell, both displays honor the nation’s so-called Christian heritage, don’t they?

To be clear, most Satanists don’t actually worship the Devil. They’re atheists with a flare for the dramatic, mostly.

(TulsaWorld.com via SlashDot.)

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The best Christmas tree topper in the world

You know why my wife is awesome? Because she made a Castiel Christmas tree angel, that’s why.

Castiel tree topper

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He breaks his silence!

Hi everyone,

Sorry I’ve been incommunicado for so long. Nothing’s wrong (and thanks to those of you who’ve written with your concerns), I’ve just been super busy as of late. I’m currently working on:

The Godless Saint. I’m really excited about this series. I’ve actually been working on it longer than any of my other projects, and started it well before the Vampires of St. Troy.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge sci-fi / urban fantasy whore, but there is one big problem I have with a lot of fantasy: it’s based on Christian theology. From Lord of the Rings to The Dresden Files to Supernatural, there’s always an implicit assumption that Jehovah and Jesus are real, and that they’re in control. TGS offers something a little different. In this series, Jesus is real… but only because we made him real. And he’s the bad guy. TGS is urban fantasy for the atheists and agnostics among us.

TGS follows Caden Lyndsey, a man of God who lost his faith, but not his power. Caden can see the future, or at least catch glimpses of it, and he’s pretty good at making things blow up with his brain. In the first book, The Wild Hunt, Caden confronts a cult bent on summoning Wotan, a Viking god of death and slaughter, to earth, just in time for the holidays. Book one is complete, and I’ll be asking for beta readers soon.

Book two, Possession, is about half done, and I’ll be asking for beta readers for that in a few months.

I’m also working on The Janus Project, which is both a novel and a screenplay. The treatment for the screenplay won third place in the New York Screenplay competition, and our manager is really excited about our prospects. The novel will be out later this year, and the movie, well… fingers crossed.

Honestly, I’m not hugely enthusiastic about this season of TVD. Part of it is probably because I’m so freaking busy right now, but part of it is echoing hatred for Buffy’s Initiative storyline. I don’t like mixing science with my fangs.

So I’m about six weeks behind on my recaps. I might try to catch up over the hiatus, but I might just call it a day. I have enough to do in my own sandboxes without playing in anybody else’s right now.

You can still follow me on Twiter: @thomascgalvin. I’m still live-tweeting Vampire Diaries, and offering my usual mix of profanity and venom.

-thomas

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Vampire Diaries – S05E02 – True Lies

- Mystic Falls – Gathering of Honestly We Just Needed a Crowd To Die -

Bonnie Bennett: Dead diary: today I learned that being a non-corporeal spirit isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, especially when you’re watching your father get murdered.

Jeremy the Vampire Slayer: I’d totally give you a hg right now, but you know, non-corporeal spirit and all.

- The Lost Woods -

Katherine Pierce: Wow, running through the woods wearing nothing but a slinky bathrobe is way less fun now that I can actually get hurt and run out of breath.

Tessa Tattle Tale: Hi Katherine! I’m gonna give you to Silas! Pepper spray!

Katherine Pierce: Hi Tessa! I’m going to pound your head into the asphalt! Asphalt!

Matt Donovan: Hi Katherine! I have a shotgun and a death wish! Make my day!

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The Originals – S01E01 – Always and Forever

- If You See This Boat a Rockin’ Don’t Come a Knockin’ -

Elijah: Hi everyone! I’m Elijah Mikaelson, the most noble of all the vampires. I’m extraordinarily loyal, which only comes back to bit me in the ass always. For example, right now I’m laying in a coffin on a boat in the Mississippi, with a magic dagger in my chest.

Rebekah: And I’m Rebekah Mikaelson, and I really really really want babies. And to eat the guy who found my brother.

Klaus: Speaking of brothers, I’m Klaus Bastardson, and I’m sinfully delicious! Super Original Werepire extra eating powers activate!

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Vampire Diaries – S05E01 – I Know What You Did Last Summer

Once again the Dark Times came, and joy fled the land like a Bulgarian princess fleeing the wrath of a Jewish Viking angered that her suicide prevented him from murdering her himself.

Not that joy was a constant, nor even common, companion in the enchanted Falls. No, this was a land where a single year stretched out across four seasons, and the bonds of love and loyalty stretched to the breaking point and beyond. A place where motives were murky, sympathy was a switch, and evil enticing.

Once again a villain rose to challenge our heroes, and once again the Teachers spun a tale of bravery and cowardice, of heroism and treachery, of life and death and all states in between.

And that was just Katherine.

The battle raged as fierce as the howling winds. Champions fell and villains were vanquished as the war rocked the ever-dwindling community. The price paid was steep. Immortals fell from grace. Hunters bowed their knee. Progenitors fled to New Orleans. Sorcerers succumbed to the siren song of death. And a lover spurned learned that his unrequited was not the only creature entangled with a soul from the past…

Darkness closed in and air grew scarce, until finally, there was nothing.

But once again the Teachers spake, bidding us to heed the lessons of the past, reminding us of what happened…

Previously, on The Vampire Diaries

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Love You To Death – Season Four

The entire Love You To Death series stands as an entertaining, exhaustive bible of the character arcs, plot lines, mythology, and the behind-the-scenes happenings of a TV series made by people who are crazy in love with their work.

-Julie Plec, Executive Producer of The Vampire Diaries, destroyer of joy, and frequent target of internet rage

Love You To Death Season 4

I know what you’re saying. “Thomas? Shouldn’t you be using this valuable blog space to pimp out your own books?”

Well, yes, probably. And don’t worry, I’ll get back to that soon enough. But I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to the latest book in the Love You To Death series, written by two friends* of mine, Crissy Calhoun (@crissycalhoun) and Heather Vee (@dieslaughing). In addition to tolerating my presence, Crissy originated the LYTD series, and Heather is the co-owner of Vampire-Diaries.net, the number one TVD fan site in the world.

Julie wasn’t kidding when she said these books were exhaustive. Not only does LYTD4 recap each and every episode of TVD season four, it also includes insights from the cast and crew (director Pascal Verschooris became my favorite person ever when he said “it was a lot of fun to bring candy canes to the screen, but more so (and this is gonna sound creepy), it was really cool to kill the mayor with Christmas in the background”), facts and trivia, a running commentary on The Rules (compulsion, the sire bond, et cetera), continuity, and a discussion of the points that weren’t quite clear. If you like my post mortems, you’ll be wild about Love You To Death.

Confession: I originally wrote “you’ll love Love You To Death.” I’m paid to write, people. Jesus.

LYTD is available from ECW Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Get your copy today, before Jeff Bezos destroys books forever!

*Friends here defined as they wouldn’t run me over if they saw me walking down the road. Probably.

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The Great Batfleck Controversy of 2013

Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman, and the internet has exploded.

Affleck is a great actor, and an even better film maker.

That’s kind of a funny statement to make, because a lot of people still seem to think of him as “that guy from Gigli,” or maybe “that guy who got into Jennifer Garner’s pants by playing Dardevil.” And to be honest, a lot of his roles are pretty forgettable. Affleck doesn’t really have an iconic character to his name.

But he was fantastic in The Town and Argo, and the man has two fucking Oscars, for Good Will Hunting and Argo. The man has chops.

But he’s not scary.

Christian Bale, weird bat-voice aside, is a fucking maniac. You can honestly believe that he’d throw himself into a Chinese prison for half a decade just to see what it’s like. When you watch him, you get the sense that he might just break ever bone in your body, just because. Bale had a menacing presence, and when you’re playing the scariest man in the world, that’s important.

Affleck is a great actor, but he’s not intimidating, and that’s why I don’t think he’s going to be a great Batman.

Of course, everybody said the same thing about Michael Keaton, and I still think he’s the best Batman of all time …

Oh, and by the way: Buzzfeed totally picked up on my #batfleck rage last night.

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The best way to celebrate a finished manuscript

Last Wednesday, I finished my first screenplay.

It’s an adaptation of an unreleased, forthcoming novel called The Janus Project. My co-writer is really excited about the project, and our agent thinks that the script will have a lot of appeal to the CW demographic, which is exactly what I was aiming for. The treatment is already sitting at Madhouse Entertainment and Bad Robot, and we’ve got plans to submit it to a handful of other carefully chosen producers.

This is fantastically exciting. Everyone who’s looked at the project loves the idea, and I think we have a real shot at telling a fun, exciting story. And come on, who doesn’t dream about making it in Hollywood?

So how did I celebrate? What did I do on Thursday?

I started working on the next story.

I could take a break. I could congratulate myself. I could set all of my hopes on this one script. But fuck that. Maybe, despite the positive feedback we’ve gotten, no one will bite. Maybe, even if it does get picked up, the movie will flop. That would be disappointing, but it wouldn’t be the end.

Because as excited as I am about this project, I realize that it isn’t a special little snowflake. It isn’t an event. It’s just one more story that I’ve told, one more work that I’ve finished. There are more stories, more works, and the only way that they’re going to get from my head to your eyeballs is if I do the work and write the words.

And even if it is a hit, I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. I didn’t stop writing after Sire. I didn’t stop writing after Debutante. I didn’t stop writing after Scion. I won’t stop writing after The Godless Saint.

And I’m not going to stop writing now.

I’m a writer, and writers write.

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Privilege

I have a lot on my mind.

Some of the worries are big. Some of them are very small. I’m trying to sell my house. I’m worried about the economy, and the Congress’ near-constant efforts to destroy it. I’m worried about teaching my dog not to eat our shoes. I’m worried about the outline for my next novel. I’m getting old enough that I’m starting to worry about my health, about taking care of myself.

But there are a lot of things I don’t have to worry about.

Even though the economy is crap right now, I have a very good job and earn a very good salary. And if this job went away? I have skills that are very employable. For people like me, people who went to college and work in a professional field, the Great Recession and the crushing unemployment rate aren’t really a thing.

Even though I can’t pull all-nighters and live on pizza and Mt. Dew anymore, I have good health insurance and a good doctor, and those two things have kept me in good health. I don’t worry about getting sick and not being able to afford getting well. I don’t worry about getting sick and being told that getting well is actually against the law.

There’s been some crime in my area recently. Drug busts, a murder not far away. But I don’t worry about someone breaking into my house and killing me. I don’t worry about the police breaking into my house and killing me. I don’t worry about being followed down a dark street and killed because of my choice in clothing.

I have a lot of worries, but there are a lot of things I will never, ever have to worry about, simply because of who and what I am.

I’m a straight, white, college educated male, and I can tell you from experience that it is fucking awesome. There are more job prospects, and those jobs are better paying. For the most part, no one is trying to legislate my health choices. No one is trying to pass laws that make it harder for me to vote. I’m not going to be shot dead because I go for my cell phone.

But there are entire classes of people for whom this is not true.

If you didn’t get to go to college, it’s far more likely that you’re out of work right now. And if you did go to college, and you had the bad luck of being born ten years or so later than me? Well, good luck with your debt and your non-paying internship.

If you’re a woman, there is a religious crusade to legislate what happens in and to your reproductive organs. Old, angry, white men, apparently, have to step in and make women’s medical choices for them, and need to correct the medical advice given by doctors. And if you dare try to exercise your constitutional rights? Well, they may have to let you, but they’re going to rape you, first … and the law will back them up, because they wrote it.

And if you’re a young black man? Well, in Florida at least, it’s now legal for an armed man to pursue you and, if you resist, for him to kill you. But if you’re a black woman who tries to use that same law? You get twenty years in jail.

Gay marriage has gotten a lot of good press lately, and the US Supreme Court has recently made some incredible strides toward marriage equality, but the fact remains that in thirty-seven of our fifty states, you cannot marry the person you love if they’re the wrong gender. You can’t be carried by their health insurance. You don’t benefit from inheritance laws. It’s possible that you won’t be allowed to be by their side when they die.

I have a lot of worries, but being a straight, white, college educated man is still fucking awesome.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” That is the founding sentiment of this nation, that is the goal we’re striving for, but we are still learning, discovering, exactly what that means.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote those words, “all men” were white, male, land owners. Over time, we looked inside of ourselves and realized that it isn’t fair to deny a man his rights because he rents an apartment. We realized that maybe having a penis isn’t a prerequisite for participation in government. We woke up to the fact that melanin isn’t a good metric by which to judge a person’s worth.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote those words, it was acceptable for one human being to own another. We believed that all men were created equal, but we didn’t know what that meant, not exactly.

We still don’t. There are still systematic, fundamental forces that make being anything other than a straight, white, college-educated male harder. Sometimes, a lot harder.

That’s what privilege is. It isn’t about being part of a secret club where we all light cigars with hundred dollar bills and plot to screw over black people. It isn’t about knowing a secret handshake that gets you a job even though a single mother was better qualified. It isn’t about you, or me, at all. It’s about all of the things we don’t have to deal with. All of the things that keep other people up at night.

So maybe, just maybe, we should have a little empathy for the people who don’t have the same privileges we do. And maybe, just maybe, we should think about how we can make them a little more equal.

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