robbing peter to pay paul

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Yesterday. It’s busy and I’m the senior staff member working and it’s the management’s day off. 

A woman comes up to the till, wants to complain about a product. Apparently, it’s not working the way she wants. I originally suggest she contacts the manufacturer and see what they say, but she doesn’t take too well to that. So I ask what she wants from us. Well, she wants a new part for the product. 

I tell her, we don’t sell them separately. Which means.. We don’t have individual pieces sitting around for replacement. It’s part of the thing and you have to buy the whole thing to replace it. 

But she wants the thing. 

We don’t sell the thing separately, ma'am. 

No, I want you to take the thing off another product and give it to me, she tells me. 

I can’t do that. I tell her that I if I take the thing off a brand new product, that means the next person buying the product is out of luck and it’s not fair to them. 

Well then, can she return it for another thing? 

Is it used? (The product is used for pet waste disposal and once used, we can’t resell it.)

Yes. Obviously

Nope, sorry, can’t return used product of that nature. 

She looked at me like she was going to murder me so I suggested she talk to the manager when they’re in next. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered someone wanting us to damage brand new/unused product for a part. It’s not fair to other customers. 

What use is magic, anyway?

I can’t stop thinking about Eileen and Tobias.

I like the headcanon of Eileen being a pureblood witch who grew up with house elves, so her domestic magic skills were lacking.  Perhaps Tobias was already stunned and appalled to discover that his wife was magical, but worse still - being magical seems entirely useless.  She can’t conjure money, or food, or drink – and nor can she tailor his clothes, or mend broken furniture…


In fact, there’s only one chore she was any good at – and that was lighting a fire.

It had always been his most hated job, but after his dad died, it became his designated chore back at home.  He’d get up before everyone else, and briskly stamp through the freezing house, his fingers numb as he took yesterday’s ashes outside.  If he was unlucky, the wind would whistle through the backs and whip the grey contents up into his face.

He hated fiddling about with scrunched up newspaper, and sticks, and fanning the flames until the coal ignited.  He hated the dirt, and the cold, and the fact that he never quite felt the benefit of his efforts, as he was off to work a short time later.

So he did appreciate her uncanny ability to point that weird stick and create flames.  It’s just, it didn’t seem much.  Not when you consider that they’d sold their souls to the devil.

But then one day, Tobias was sick.  Really sick.  

They were already hungry. It would’ve helped if the little one would feed, but he couldn’t – or wouldn’t – latch on, and she didn’t know how to coax him.  Their money wasn’t going far, but now with formula at the top of the shopping list, they were reduced to robbing Peter to pay Paul.  The coal man hadn’t been paid for the past fortnight, and there was only so much slack they could throw at the fire, magic flames or not.

He couldn’t seem to get his missus to understand that if she just put a little less powder in the bairn’s bottle, a tin would last longer than a week.  She told him that she was already using half the recommended dose, and the boy pitches a fit when she waters it down further, his tiny face screwed up in a red temper – but Tobias doesn’t believe it; as if a little mite like that could even tell the difference.

Potatoes were scarce again this year – cold weather has led to a late and light crop, and the price is through the roof.  He’s almost forgotten that meat doesn’t have to come from a can, jellied on each edge. Fair play to Eileen, she can make bread and dripping and eggs and cheese go a long way.  It’s just, for a working man, it’s not enough - even if she does manage to keep a tin of fruit cocktail and condensed milk for afters on a Sunday.

It started with a cough. Hoarse and dry, deep in his lungs.

“It’s that cotton dust,” she said, a frown deepening on her forehead.

“Mmm,” he grunted, noncommittally.  And what if it was?  He could hardly stop going to work, could he?

But it wasn’t the cotton dust.  Not this time.  It was the wind, and the rain, and the chill that seeped through his old coat with the broken fastenings.  He wasn’t the only one – Mick and Harry and Johnny and Pete, David and Jim Brown, and even young Lenny.  And if a strapping lad like Lenny went down with pneumonia at 23, then what hope was there for Tobias?

“He’ll be off for at least three weeks,” the doctor had said, and his voice hardened when he saw Eileen’s eyes widen.  “And unless you want him dead, he stays off.  He’ll tell you he’s fine to work, but if he gets caught in the damp again…”

They’re six weeks behind with the coal now, and she needs it more than ever.  Occupational sick pay doesn’t kick in until Tobias has been off for five days, and being five days behind might just push them over the edge.

She knows she shouldn’t, but she must – so she takes her wand, and when Barry Jones knocks at the door, his face and fingers and forearms covered in coal dust, she uses it. It’s been years since she felt that vibrant thrill of magic spilling through her veins; a few flames just can’t compare.

“Right, that’s yer paid up in advance ‘til next month,” Barry says, patting his trouser pockets. “Thanks agen, Mrs Snape, I knew yer and Tobes were good fer it and wunt let me down.”

He strolled down the street, and she’s struck by guilt, knowing that he’ll be beside himself when he counts his money at the end of the round and realises that he’s considerably down. But then she shook her head and pushed the pang of shame deep down into her stomach; she’s got her own boys to think about.  She reasons the same as she hurries through the town, shopping without her purse. She visits the butcher who had long forgotten her name, and the greengrocer who couldn’t remember ever setting eyes on Severus.

It had been a long time since she brewed, but she knew this process was similar.  “Chicken soup for the soul,” Mrs Laycock had told her.  “There’s minerals and nutrients in the bones, and the collagen, and don’t forget to save the scraps from your vegetables!”  This is what passes for magic in the Muggle world, she thought, as she kept the cauldron on a steady boil day after day, hour after hour.  The steaming broth tasted well enough, but despite the many promises, didn’t seem to shift Tobias’ illness.

Seeing her burly bloke lying shivering in their bed, with a permanent sweat across his brow was the last straw.  She doesn’t know much about Muggle ailments, and she can’t quite remember what the statute of secrecy had to say about sharing potions with Muggles, but Eileen didn’t care; she was desperate.  

The room was dark and the air stale, but she crept in and placed a mug of fresh tea on his bedside table. She kissed his lips softly, chastely, and touched his roughened unshaven cheek fondly.  “I’ll be back in a while,” she murmured, as he shifted restlessly in his sleep.  “I’ve got the young ‘un with me.”

And that’s when Severus sees Diagon Alley for the first time.  He didn’t like Apparating - the swirl of colours before his eyes, and the sickening drop in his stomach – but he did like the sounds, and sights, and smells of the wizarding world, and his grin is the widest that Eileen has ever seen on her tiny boy.  Their visit was fleeting; her ingredient list was long, but her purse quickly ran dry. Unlike the Muggles, an Obliviate here wouldn’t do the trick, so she does what’s required to save her husband, and pawns her gold band.

And then, back at Spinner’s End, she brewed.

Two days later – and thirteen days earlier than expected – Tobias returned to work.

“I lost it when I was washing up,” she said, defensively, as she saw his gaze lock on to her left hand as he shovelled the last of the broth into his mouth.  She folded her fingers into her palm knowing that the thin white strip of skin across her finger had already betrayed her.  “When you were sick.  Severus was carrying on, as he does and-”

“-saw Barry in t’street earlier,” Tobias said, ignoring her statement.  “Reckons we’s paid up ‘til next month.”  He stood, and put his cleared bowl in the kitchen sink, washing his hands and forearms in the greasy water, and then drying them off on the nearest towel. “Yer did a good job of gettin’ me right wi’ that soup stuff.”

“Mrs Laycock told me about it.  You put bones and scraps in and all sorts, all things that would’ve gone to waste.”

He nodded.  “Tastes good.  Yer should give it the boy.  He’s a growin’ lad.”  He stilled. “Not jus’ the soup, was it, Leen? …it was them witchy brews.”

“You can’t tell anyone, Toby.  There’s rules.”

“I know ‘bout the rules,” he huffed.  “But yer did a good job wi’ the coal an’ all.  Was right freezin’ an’ I thought Barry’d cut us off fer sure.”

She didn’t dare look at him.

“So,” he continued loudly, “I think I’ll pull apart the plumbin’ of the sink.  I’ll probably find yer ring dead easy.”  He paused.  “Might not be this month, but I reckon that by summer I might’ve dug it out for yer.”

Good to his word, four months later, Tobias found her ring.  He jumped up from under the sink, the ring between his fingers, with that broad cheeky grin that she’d fallen in love with plastered across his face.  He placed the band onto her finger, and swung her around as she laughed – her peals of amusement only growing stronger as she saw that in his haste, he’d left the Ratners bag on the worktop.

anonymous asked:

What do you do to relax?

I am singularly bad at unwinding. There’s always some goddamned idea pressing for attention and reminding me where the keyboard is, where my phone is, like a parent with a 3 year old that never sleeps yeah, but why? is it like this? why, though? could you do a thing with this? Medication just just pairs down the horde of unruly minions from 9 million to one super loud kid with a knife. Im focused, but I’m also a hostage.

Shut the fuck up, brain. Please, I’m begging you. There’s a brief little span post-orgasm where everything is quiet, and If I drink a lot then everything gets quiet, too. Its always robbing peter to pay paul, though, hangovers are vociferous and unruly, the brain demanding things and the body too wrekt to comply. Post orgasmic silence is as fleeting as blowing your nose when you have a cold. I can breathe! oh, wait, no no ob gobdabbit, nogse.

Very very dark, very very cold places help. It feels like nothing is pressing in, so I can at least radiate this godawful violent din away from me. 

A lot of the time I go through the motions, hoping that relaxation will find me, like a stroke victim trying to masturbate with an uncooperative limb. c’mon, body. beer… shoes are off… yes… yes sit on the couch yes nearly OH GODDAMMIT IDEAS?? SERIOUSLY? WHY. 

Rarely I have some nice mornings, where I get to swim upwards through layers of consciousness, and all that noise is far away, like listening to music with your head underwater in the tub. Noise and words, but I’m underwater, out of reach. 

I cant take a vacation. Its not work that compresses me and ties me in knots, Its me. Put me on a beach in Hawai’i with a fruity drink and a straw hat, and I’ll be balling my fists, clenching my jaw. Relax, you Motherfucker. FOCUS EVERYTHING YOU HAVE ON THIS SHIT AND RELAX

Wordy Wednesday: Socialism

I was particularly off put by seeing Bernie Sanders on snap chat this weekend, and by the incredulous number of Americans planning to vote for him. Socialism sucks, and I decided to use this Wordy Wednesday to express how much it sucks.

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
– Winston Churchill

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.”
– Margaret Thatcher

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
– Winston Churchill

“A government policy to rob Peter to pay Paul can be assured of the support of Paul.”
– George Bernard Shaw 

“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”
– Alexis de Tocqueville

“Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”
– Thomas Sowell

“In practice, socialism didn’t work. But socialism could never have worked because it is based on false premises about human psychology and society, and gross ignorance of human economy.”
– David Horowitz

“How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an Anti-communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”
– Ronald Reagan 

“Socialism violates at least three of the Ten Commandments: It turns government into God, it legalizes thievery and it elevates covetousness. Discussions of income inequality, after all, aren’t about prosperity but about petty spite. Why should you care how much money I make, so long as you are happy?”
– Ben Shapiro

“The reason socialism has failed around the world every time it’s been tried is because people in socialist countries have looked at the United States and have said if they can have it that good, we can. It’s a failed, flawed ideology, but if you ask socialists why it’s always failed, it’s because the United States has stood in the way.”
– Brad Thor

“No one should suffer from the great delusion that any form of communism or socialism which promotes the dictatorship of the few instead of the initiative of the millions can produce a happier or more prosperous society.”
– Charles E. Wilson

“The reason this country continues its drift toward socialism and big nanny government is because too many people vote in the expectation of getting something for nothing, not because they have a concern for what is good for the country.”
– Lyn Nofziger

“All socialism involves slavery.”
– Herbert Spencer

“There is nothing in socialism that a little age or a little money will not cure.”
– Will Durant

“It doesn’t benefit me to lie to people. They’re eventually going to find out the truth, and then where am I? That’s the problem with liberalism and socialism, by the way: it has to be propped up by lies.”
– Rush Limbaugh

“To pursue a so-called Third Way is foolish. We had our experience with this in the 1960s when we looked for a socialism with a human face. It did not work, and we must be explicit that we are not aiming for a more efficient version of a system that has failed.”
– Vaclav Klaus

“I was guilty of judging capitalism by its operations and socialism by its hopes and aspirations; capitalism by its works and socialism by its literature.”
– Sidney Hook

“Socialism is when government’s taking care of you, you send all your money to the government, the government decides how to spend it instead of letting the people spend it and make all those decisions.”
– Bob Latta

“I believe that all forms of socialism have been proven over time to result in a loss of both economic and civil liberties, with increasing poverty.”
– John Mackey

A Spell to Increase Your Income

verbatim from “The Only Book of Wiccan Spells You’ll Ever Need” 2nd Edition by Singer, MacGregor, and Alexander

The color green is obviously important in money spells. White, however, can also be useful because it represents understanding.

Tools:

  • Green and white candles
  • A deck of tarot cards
  • An object that represents your desire
  • A pen with green ink and a piece of paper

When:

  • During the waxing moon

Put your candles at opposite ends of your altar. Between them, place an object that represents your desire to increase your income. This can be an object that represents your desire to increase your income - a coin, a dollar bill, a sacred stone, whatever you want.

From your deck of tarot cards, remove the suit of pentacles, which represents money, the Star, and the nine of cups. In front of the white candle place the ace of pentacles; it symbolizes new financial undertakings and opportunities. In front of the green candle, put the ten of pentacles; it’s called the “Wall Street” card and symbolizes a financial windfall. In the middle of the two candles, place the nine of cups - the wish card - and the Star, which symbolizes, among other things, success.

Now light the candles and say:

The money I spend

or the money I lend

comes back to me

in multiples of three.

Visualize the figure you have in mind. Jot it down on the piece of paper. Imagine what you can do with an increase in your income. The more vivid you can make your visualization, backed with intense emotion, the faster it will manifest. This ritual can be as short or as long as you want. The point is to do it with full conscious awareness and intent, backed with emotion. End the spell by blowing out the candle and giving thanks, then toss away the candle.

On the next night, repeat the ritual, but with certain changes. First, remove the two and five or pentacles from your deck. You don’t want these two cards on your altar. The two of pentacles means you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul; the five means poverty and heavy debt.

Light your candles. Say the poem. Then take the remaining cards and place them between the ace and ten of pentacles, the nine of cups (the wish card), and the Star. Visualize, affirm, then blow out the candles and throw them away. Keep everything else on the altar as it is overnight.

On the third night, light the candles and give thanks for everything you have; repeat the poem and feel the reality of your increase in income taking form around you. Blow out the candles and toss them away.

Keep saying the poem as long as you need to, as often as you like, even after the increase begins to manifest.

Musings on Madam Secretary 2.19

An exceptionally lethal virus and two terrorist groups are nothing for Secretary McCord, but put Mrs. McCord in front of her daughter’s boyfriend and she turns into a puddle of adorable awkward goo. My super short synopsis for “Desperate Remedies.” For those of you who’d like a little bit more, let’s continue.

The Marburg virus takes center stage this week, as much as an invisible thing can. With a mortality rate of between 24% and 90%, the virus basically has the same range as the time frame Time Warner offers to come fix my broken wifi. Gotta love statistics.

I admit I wasn’t quite on board with Elizabeth’s idea of giving the leader of Boko Haram one of the few remaining doses of the life-saving remedy. I agreed with Jay and Russell (apparently unicorns are real, too) thinking the feral cat down the street that terrorizes my roommate’s cat would be more worthy of the remedy than that a**hole. However, Miss You Don’t Even Know There’s a Box again used her noggin and saw the bigger picture. Score 843573 for Elizabeth. Notice when she was trying to convince the Cameroon ambassador of the plan, she told him it was “for the greater good.” There’s that tricky phrase again. Like with the Russia/Dmitri situation, Elizabeth made a less than ideal decision for what she perceived as the betterment of the entire world. It wasn’t quite robbing Peter to pay Paul (is my Catholicism showing with that?), but it was a bit like taking one for the team. In this case, however, that meant saving the life of a ruthless terrorist. Even the Cameroon ambassador quickly jumped on board because he knew in the end, it would save lives. Good or bad, I feel like “the greater good” is basically the theme of any politician or diplomat.

One of those at the center of the Marburg virus was Jay. Out of everyone on Elizabeth’s staff, Jay is often the most vulnerable. He puts his heart into everything he does, often having a difficult time removing himself personally from situations. I’ve said it before, but I think Elizabeth respects him so much because he is, as they call him, the office Patron Saint of Long Shots. Elizabeth and Jay are both like Roombas: when they hit a wall, they bounce off and continue in a different direction, trying to clean up the mess. As much as Blake is her right-hand man, Jay is her left. That’s precisely why Elizabeth became so emotional when faced with Jay’s possible mortality. The slight stumble and warble when she said “My top (pause) policy guy” to Russell proved how much she cares for him as a person, not just an employee. Classic Elizabeth later used sarcasm to hide emotion when she told Jay himself, “Point is, Whitman, unless you wanna be embarrassed for all eternity, don’t die on me.” Those two may butt heads on many issues, but there’s a deep mutual respect.

Henry, Jane and the rest of the Murphy Station gang don’t play too high up on my “Mention-O-Meter” this week. They had Jibral Disah. Then they didn’t. Then they successfully saved Hijriyyah, but they don’t know what she’ll offer. There had to be some forward movement with this storyline this week, so I understand why the scenes were needed. They just didn’t grab me as much. Honestly, my favorite Murphy Station parts had nothing to do with the actual plot. Henry poking fun at Jane in a friendly way made me smile. “Old buddy?” “Shut up.” Those two have come a long way, and I’ve loved seeing their relationship grow. The best was Henry’s quip to Jose: “Honestly if they’re your kids, Marburg is the least of their problems.” Zing!

Mama McCord. She gets a 10 for being such an enthusiastic supporter of her daughter’s new relationship, but she should really be hovering around a 4. Elizabeth giving Jareth a ride, buying him boots and tripping over herself to greet him is the stuff nightmares are made of. Don’t get me wrong. She’s adorable. ADORABLE. However, she’s as subtle as an EF5 tornado or an anvil to the head. Papa Bear is just as bad: “Boot buddies!” I wanted the kitchen floor to open up and swallow Stevie, just to let her escape the awkwardness. Elizabeth and Stevie’s quick heart-to-heart was sweet and humorous. “We’ve never liked any of your other boyfriends.” “Nice. And. Old,” emphasized with chopsticks. “To keep an eye on the little perv.” Those few minutes were quite revealing for Stevie. How I love awkward Elizabeth and Henry. They play it cool in every way possible throughout their lives, unless it comes to their kids. That’s how it should be, I suppose. My only regret (besides Stevie and Jareth interrupting couch time) is that we didn’t see more of that dinner. I’m just imagining the scenes of Elizabeth and Henry biting their tongues and kicking each other under the table, trying to suppress their over-excitement. It would basically be the antithesis of the Arthur living room conversation.. which still remains a favorite of mine today.

Speaking of the infamous couch scene, “Wanna go fool around on the couch till it dings?” “Affirmative.” I love that they both took their glasses off and set them on the counter before going into the living room. That shot also featured an up close view of Henry’s wedding ring. Setting up for next week? Kidding. Kind of.

As for the promo for 2.20, I rarely talk about what’s to come, but because I’ve seen A LOT of freaking out on tumblr and twitter, I’m going to throw out my 2 cents. My first thought is that what airs in a promo isn’t necessarily how the scenes air in the show. A promo is specifically edited to create intrigue and, to a point, be misleading. MS promos have done this to us this season already. They show us something in a promo, but when the show airs and more context to the scene is given, it completely changes a line’s meaning. That said, Elizabeth and Henry need to fight. They both have 19 episodes worth of unresolved angst that needs to get out so they can move forward as a stronger couple. Ever have something with a friend or loved one that needs to be discussed and once it is, you’re better off for it? As close to a perfect couple as Elizabeth and Henry are, perfect marriages don’t exist. Couples fight. They’re humans, not robots. It’s unrealistic to think they’d agree on everything, and just because they fight, it doesn’t mean they’re heading for divorce or don’t love each other. Will their fighting be harsh and ugly? Possibly. Has everything Henry experienced this season given him permission to hit Elizabeth below the belt? Absolutely not. However, we often say the worst to those we love the most because we know they’ll stick around. Everyone from producers to writers to the actors themselves have said they’re all deeply committed to keeping this couple together, so I’m not in the least concerned our favorite couple will break up. Also, angst is needed for a well-rounded storyline. Just look at MS fanfic. Half of the stories deal with this: Henry dying from radiation poisoning, Elizabeth being raped while overseas, Elizabeth and Henry splitting up, etc. Even you fanfic writers realize life as gumdrops and rainbows doesn’t make for good drama. Sure there are fluff pieces that are sweet and fun, but those are the fics that are 2-3 chapters long. The stories that can really be fleshed out for longer periods involve drama. That said, there’s a fine line between good drama and drama for the sake of drama. (Bombings, anyone?). I realize I’m in the minority here, but I needed to put an alternate view out there since there’s so much distressing going on.

Other things about 2.19:

–The Nigerian schoolgirls broke my heart. If ever I wished an MS storyline to come true, it would be this one.

–I was hoping Elizabeth would mention Will after the bombing at the aid station. I realize he’s not working anywhere near where the Marburg virus was, but it’s not like he’s treating patients at Disneyland. You’d think it would bring up thoughts of the dangers he’s facing.

–The State Department staff working out of the McCord house was another fun little way to show how Elizabeth’s work and personal lives overlap.

–“professorwhiskersrip.” Jason’s hamster was named “Professor Whiskers.” Mine was named “Hermie.” Listen. I was 6. Don’t judge me.

–One of these days, Russell is going to stroke out. There’s no way that level of stressed crazy can be sustainable.

–“I bailed after Matthew Crawley bit it.” Same, Elizabeth. Same.

–“Three cheers for human progress.” Conrad tried to make a funny.

–“I can feel your sarcasm behind my back.”

–The picture of the kids behind Elizabeth’s desk at the State Department was a different angle of a pic Wallis tweeted out months ago. I think it was taken when they shot “Invasive Species.” I recognized it right away, which means I either need to get out more or train my memory to be just as sharp for things that are actually important in life.

anonymous asked:

Could you do a little meta/comparison on the TVD Originals versus the TO Originals? Just when ever you have the time! :) I really don't understand it myself. Why they would perpetuate and hyper emphasize some of their worst/most irritating/terrible traits in some cases on TO and flat out change characterization in others. And most of the time they weren't even subtle about it! Why do you think the writers even thought it was necessary to make these changes? Can you make heads or tails of it?

You know, I’ve seen a lot of different iterations of this question posed to a lot of different people, and honestly the reason why I’ve never really tried to tackle it (and why it took me almost a year to respond to this ask) is because it’s just such an overwhelmingly broad question with so many different answers that I couldn’t even fathom answering it without it turning into a meta the length of a master’s thesis. And I still don’t know how to examine that on any kind of focused level without it becoming ridiculously lengthy and detailed, so I’m just going to answer this in a more broad way and explain how I think the Originals failed in their move to TO on the whole instead of individually (i.e. how the show itself failed the Original characters generally as opposed to how each character has been negatively impacted by TO). 

So obviously I think to understand why the Originals are failing now we’d have to understand why the Originals succeeded on TVD in the first place. For me what succeed with the Mikaelsons on TVD was simply that their story was incredibly interesting. I wasn’t particularly enthralled with Klaus from the minute he showed up, but by the end of season 2 I wanted to know more about this character who seemed to be developing into something that was both a very typical villain but that seemed to have intriguing potential beyond that, and by season 3 I was completely captivated by this complex character that was unfolding in front of me. And what made it even better was the discovery of these other Mikaelsons, every time a new character was introduced they gave a new dimension to the other Mikaelson characters, to the story itself, and they themselves were interesting and dimensional characters all on their own. As their story unfolded in front of me it felt like there was something new and surprising around every corner, and every time I got a new tidbit about them I wanted to know more. The way that their story developed into the overall TVD narrative kept me captivated not only with the story of their family and their stories as individuals, but made me invest in the overall TVD narrative in a way I really hadn’t before. This to me is what makes the MIkaelsons so fundamentally appealing on TVD.

But of course there are other elements of their TVD story line that I think made them exceptionally compelling. TVD is a show that is at it’s core very heavily reliant on romance for it’s storytelling. What I think was so refreshing about the Originals story line was that it was really the first and last time in TVD history that the driving force behind the main story line wasn’t romance, it was about family. Up until that point Katherine (and thus Katherine’s romances with Defan) were the propellor of the story, and beyond the Originals the Silas/Qetsiyah/Amara triangle as well as the triangle of doom have been what has motivated the story. As someone who isn’t that much of a fan of romance in general, the Originals provided an incredibly compelling respite from TVD’s typical formula. Exploring relationships beyond romance as well as seeing the writers actually VALUE non-romantic relationships as a catalyst for the narrative was incredibly gratifying, and I think the notion of these kind of mythical monolithic figures combined with their somewhat understandable and relatable relationships is what made the Originals’ popularity grow far beyond any other antagonists and supporting characters that we’ve seen on TVD.

I also think that they just hit the absolute right note on everything that was done with the Mikaelsons as characters. I mean the concept of the original vampires is an incredibly strong one, and I think what a lot of people responded positively to with the Mikaelsons is that they’re a really great combination of classic vampire lore and a very uniquely updated and just unique and general take on vampires. They were the first TVD vampires to have that kind of classic Anne Rice-ish vibe, but they still had a very modern and cool spin that suited TVD really well. The audience has always responded very positively to the more genre oriented material in TVD, and I think the Originals were probably the most on point genre characters the show has ever had. And on top of that, the casting and the characters were incredibly on point as well. The Mikaelsons were played by some of the most talented actors TVD has ever had, and their chemistry was out of this world. And as individual characters they were all unique and compelling, but as a unit their characters really worked well too. Basically absolutely everything about them gelled in such an incredible way that it became apparent that their story and their potential was much too large for TVD to handle. 

So of course the logical conclusion to that is to give them their own platform to tell that story, right? Absolutely. The Originals as a spinoff was an absolute necessity for the Mikaelsons as characters, and by the time they actually left for TO they had already become painfully stifled by TVD’s limitations. But of course as we all know now, they ultimately only left TVD for an even tighter squeeze of a show where they were even more dulled and hampered by characters who don’t fit into their story. But I feel like this has been covered over a million times so I’m not even going to bother recounting the beans every one of us has pored over a thousand different ways. I think there have been mistakes made outside of a magic baby and lame characters that make the Originals even lamer, so let’s look at how the TO!Originals failed outside of the anchors the writers have shackled to them in the form of bad characters and tired tropes. 

And it’s not without irony that I’m overlooking the elements of TO’s failure that we’ve all gone over a thousand times, because I think one of the fundamental problems with the TO!Originals is that the only “character development” we’re seeing for the Mikaelsons is pretty much the exact same shit we saw them go through on TVD. What made their TVD story so magical was the complexity we saw unfolding in front of us, every time their story progressed we saw a shiny new facet of their characters that made us want to know more. On TO we’re seeing absolutely nothing, we’re seeing everything we’ve seen before with no new dimension or spin, and what’s worse is that it’s a shoddy remake. We’re discovering nothing new about the characters, and we’re being spoon fed a watered-down and one dimensional version of things we’ve already digested. We’re also being introduced to a plethora of new “Originals” who are ironically just oversimplified copies of the original Originals. Basically the writers blew all of their interesting material on TVD and are now just repeating themselves and going in circles constantly, and they’re tossing in some really shitty cliches and tropes that are just making everything ten times worse. 

Aside from that there’s also the fundamental structure of TO. TVD is a show that is completely reliant on romance for it’s storytelling and the Originals were a welcome break from that, but then the spinoff was created… and it was a show that was completely reliant on romance for it’s storytelling. Even if the show is about the baby (which would really be bad enough) the story of the actual Originals as characters told on TO revolves COMPLETELY around romance. I mean Haylijah, Rebel, Klamille, Kolvina, even Mikael/Esther/Ansel, EVERY SINGLE individual story line of the Originals was primarly driven by romance (or if it’s not it’s only because the writers were forced to cope with their failing ships aka Klamille). The story of the ACTUAL ORIGINAL FAMILY has become secondary to either the romances of the individual Originals or the Originals in relation to Hawpe (and while I really see no need to rehash the horror that is Hawpe Mikaelson, hey, not the most brilliant plan to take your classic genre characters and orient every single one of them around the shittiest and most overused jump-the-shark genre cliche known to man). It seems idiotically simple, but the reason the TO!Mikaelsons are failing while the TVD!Mikaelsons were successful is because we are no longer seeing the story of their family (even despite the fact that this season of the show is supposedly “about the Originals”, because even if the Mikaelsons are more heavily featured they’re still just players in stories that have nothing to do with them as characters or as a group), but how all of these characters can be shoehorned into a nearly identical soap opera copy of TVD as the leads instead of the supporting villain characters.

In addition to this problematic foundation for the TO!Originals there are other elements that are really hindering their success as characters on TO. Of course there is the recasting issue. It’s rough enough that the TVD!Mikaelsons have been transformed into one-dimensional romance characters, but even the wonderful chemistry that the original characters had has been lost because the majority of the characters have been recast. What’s even more unfortunate is that the chemistry between the few remaining original actors has been completely obliterated in a ham-fisted and embarrassingly unsuccessful effort to prop up everything in the show that’s failing (which at this point is almost everything that ISN’T the actual Originals played by the original actors). The writers are trying to rob Peter to pay Paul but they’re losing everything of actual value along the way. 

And that doesn’t just apply to the characters and actors, the entire mystique of the Originals as a family has been lost because everything that felt classically genre about them has been sacrificed for the sake of incorporating a lot of mind-numbingly mundane characters into their narrative, and everything that felt like a fresh perspective on vampire lore has been lost because the writers have been playing fast and loose with the mythology in addition to their batshit insane need to make every other character operate on the same playing field as the Originals. I mean how can the Mikaelsons feel unique when literally every other character on the show seems to be as powerful, important, and legendary as they are? When you have werewolf khaleesis and immortal witches and telekinetic tribrids lobbed at your face every episode it’s kind of hard to understand what makes the Originals so special, especially when the Originals are constantly being used to prop all of these super special characters up. 

So in short, the TVD!Mikaelsons succeeded where the TO!Originals are failing because the story of the Mikaelsons began on TVD but grew into something so interesting and multifaceted that it quickly outgrew the relatively small scope of TVD, but the writers took them from TVD and threw them into an even more stifling and small-minded show and piled on a multitude of problems and limitations that didn’t exist for them on TVD. They really stopped telling the story of the Mikaelson family that was being told on TVD and instead shoved a bunch of characters into a story that they didn’t belong in and are now are being drowned by. Instead of capitalizing on the story that they had unfolding in front of them they used the strength of the Originals as characters to try to sell a story that had no logical place in the development of these characters, and they took a set of ideas, characters, and plot lines that clearly existed outside of the Mikaelsons and tried to make it into their story instead of just allowing their story to unfold organically. 

Two Armies at Verdun - The French

 Poilus

“No battle in history,” wrote British historian Alistair Horne, “was to be more of a ‘soldier’s battle’ than Verdun, and it was to be these humbler creations - more than the Joffres and Falkenhayns - that were to be its principal actors.”  The clash between France and Germany was the war’s principal conflict, one that had already been horrendously bloody in 1914 and 1915.  At Verdun in 1916, however, both armies were at their peak fighting strength.  Here the final death struggle between them began.  Here is the state of the French Army as it prepared to defend Verdun.

Verdun in 1916 should have been the strongest point of the Entente line.  Jutting out across the Meuse in a salient, it was reputedly unassailable, the greatest fortress on earth.  Its history as a strongpoint dated back to the Thirty Years War.  Afterwards, Vauban, that amazing French engineer, had turned it into the key strongpoint of Louis XIV’s France, besieged time and time again by forces from across the border.  In 1870, it was the last border fortress to hold out against the combined German armies. 

In 1914, it was all the stronger.  These were not the featureless, flat plains of Flanders and Champagne.  The hills bordering the river Meuse turned the area into a natural fortress, forming four natural lines of defense on the right bank of the river, which sloped gently towards the Germans, forcing them to attack uphill under withering fire, while steep ravines on the reverse sides allowed the defenders to take cover and ambush the enemy.  The crest of each hill was studded with forts and bunkers: twenty major forts, forty smaller ones.  On the Right Bank, they laid roughly in three rings.  On the outermost rings, Forts Vaux, Moulainville, and Douaumont guarded the area, then Tavannes and Souville forts, then, on the innermost ring around the sleepy little town of Verdun itself, Forts Belrupt, St. Michel, and Belleville. The Crown Prince’s Fifth  Army, attacking at the beginning of the war, smashed itself like waves on rock at Verdun, the unassailable fortresses forming a vital anchor and pivot for the French Army as it retreated towards Paris.

The lay of the land at Verdun. The pentagonal markings represent forts.

Of the Verdun forts, the key was Douaumont, north of the city, on the Right Bank.  At an elevation of 1,200 feet, Douaumont looked down upon all else, dominating the terrain.  In fact, each fort had been expertly built to support the others.  If enemy infantry survived long enough to reach the safety of one fort’s glacis, the fort’s neighbors were sited to sweep them off with machine gun fire.  For heavier fire power, each had either a heavy 155-mm howitzer, or twin short-barreled 75-mm guns, housed in retractable turrets on the top of the fort, invulnerable to all but direct hits.  Machine guns and ingeniously placed blockhouses defended every side of each fort, while the larger ones housed a company of infantry safely inside.  Furthermore, since the war had moved on, the French had built three trench lines on the Right Bank in front of the forts. 

But since the August and September of 1914, Verdun had been one of the quietest sectors of the Western Front. The population of the town itself had shrunk from 15,000 to just 3,000, but those who stayed had never had it so good, selling their produce to voracious poilus.  Besides the occasional shell, the soldiers had little to complain about either.  When asked by a visiting officer why the front-line had no communication trenches dug up to it so that troops could approach in safety, an old veteran demurred: “It doesn’t matter.  One can pass very easily, the Germans don’t shoot.”

French high command, GHQ, had noted the lack of operations at Verdun, and one staff officer had the bright idea of robbing Peter to pay Paul by stripping the forts of their guns, to be sent to other fronts.  General Dubail, commanding Army Group East, allowed it, though the Governor of Verdun promptly objected, only to be promptly sacked, succeeded by an elderly artilleryman called Herr, who did nothing as the world’s mightiest strongpoint was turned into a gaping weak area in the lines: in the words of one French military historian, it was “an imprudence difficult to quantify.”

In February 1916, the Crown Prince’s army amassed to make the French pay for this imprudence.  Only one French corps stood in the way of the Germans’ five.  This was General Paul Chrétien’s XXX Corps, “comprising, (from the Meuse eastwards) the 72nd Division (General Bapst), the 51st (General Boullangé), and the 14th (General Crepey) which was to play only a minor role in the battle, with the 37th (General de Bonneval) moving up in reserve.”  It was a hodge-podge formation, and many important sections of the line were held by the Territorials, elderly reservists from Brittany and Picardy, including Douaumont and some of the other forts.  Many others were troops who had never seen much action, or “old sweats” inclined to try and avoid it.  Behind them were North Africans in their red fezzes and khaki-clad Senegalese tirailleurs

The exception were two battalions Chasseurs, elite light troops commanded by Colonel Émile Driant. Driant’s men were dour and a little ill-disciplined, but excellent in a scrap.  They would make a vital difference over the next few days.  Driant himself had been a vociferous critic of the government’s policy at Verdun, proclaiming in the Assembly that by taking away guns they were condemning him and his men to death.

The French soldier of 1916 was a far cry from the neophyte “pioupiou’ of 1914 in his dashing red and blue uniform.  Now they were called “poilus”, “hairy ones”, many sporting tremendous beards.  In place of the old kepi they were equipped with steel Adrian helmets, a step ahead of their German counterparts, most of whom still wore protection-less leather tops.  Gone too was the old uniform, replaced with a duller “horizon-blue”, between blue and grey.  In its pristine state it looked finer than any other, British troops noting what a morale booster it was to see marching up to relieve them, while after a few days in the mud it blended in as well as any other in the foggy North European climate.  Usually, though, men cut a more ragged appearance.  Driant and his Chasseuers in the Bois des Caures covered themselves in sheepskins and rags, barely identifiable as soldiers at all.  Despite their outward appearance, they were trench warfare veterans who never neglected to put a cork in their rifle barrel, to keep the moisture out. 

Most were men between twenty-five and thirty, who had seen combat and been patched up a few times, reservists in their forties with wives and children at home, or new recruits of the 1916 class, aged eighteen or twenty.  Unlike their enemies or their British allies, they were sloppy trench diggers; no point in getting comfortable, because the rest of the homeland still had to be liberated. The ordinary joys of life were letters from home, a few glasses of pinard, the army’s red plonk, and a nice cat-nap in a hole dug into the trench side (a practice rigorously banned in the German and British armies). 

Britons occupying portions of the French line were often aghast at the squalid conditions.  The French accepted them with a little Gallic humor: “Our flooded trenches aren’t so bad,” they joked, “as long as the U-Boats don’t torpedo them!”  Outside of the line, the poilu marched everywhere on his feet, weighed down with two-blankets, a groundsheet, his spare boots, a shovel or a pair of wire-cutters, a mess-tin and a large ration pail, two litres of pinard (hopefully), and his heavy great-coat, which no French soldier was ever seen without, no matter the weather.  It totaled up to 85 pounds.  Men who feel over in the slimy trenches needed the help of a few friends to get back up!

Interestingly, despite being the only republican state of the major combatants, a major gap existed between French men and their officers.  Bivoucaing, officers paid little attention to their men’s welfare, taking the nice areas for themselves and letting the lads sort themselves out.  Signs found at detraining railway stations said it all:

W.C. pour MM. les officiers

Cabinets pour les sous-officiers,

Latrines pour la troupe

French officers made up for disinterest outside of the battle with unequaled courage during the fighting, leading from the front, a practice that meant that by the end of the 1914, more than 50% of the pre-war French officer corps was dead.  Courage was reinforced by severe discipline.  The death penalty was pulled out for trivial cases, and the French Army composed penal battalions out of units guilty of cowardice in battle.  At at least one point during the Battle of Verdun, a French unit machine-gunned fleeing African troops. 

Outside of combat, there was not much respite either.  French soldiers rarely received leave, permission, and when they did usually it was such a hassle to get home and back again in time that they could not go anyway.  One more small comfort, then, was a soldier’s “godmother”, a woman who volunteered to write to an unknown soldier and send him knitted clothes and gifts, and perhaps a little company when he was home on leave.  One enterprising French soldier managed to get himself 44 of these marraines, deserting when he found he never had enough time on leave for all of them!

If the French soldier’s existence was hardly comfortable in 1916, at least his morale was high.  They were fighting to protect their homes and families; many of them were fighting to liberate their homes fallen behind the enemy’s lines.  Verdun was the peak of the war for them, no longer greenhorns, not yet war-weary.  The steel had been tempered, at Verdun it would show what it could do.

Village People

Gypsy moths dance around an aura
to the tunes of the piper
who played for the undeserving
and thieves

Jesters mimed Jokers
3 fingers deep in gin
while vested virgins
danced for the apostles, in sin

Missing the last supper
Peter robbed to pay Paul
who owed a merry maiden
for her ministries to the ill

In the Kingdom of Cole
surrounded by merry souls
without a notion or a clue
lives a village of fools

Destroyers of the golden book of rules…