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#i decided to try something different to my usual Tex
robertgarcia71-universe · 4 months ago
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[Review] Klim Adventure GTX Boots
The Holy Grail of Adventure Riding Boots?
I’ve tried and failed to adequately answer one tough question we’ve received in emails to the wBW editor.
“Can you recommend riding boots that are comfortable to walk in but also provide a solid level of protection?”
I haven’t yet found any I would say satisfactorily meet that criterion, but I’m hoping these new Klim Adventure GTX kicks are the unicorn we’re all looking for. This question is the motorcycle gear equivalent of asking to have your cake and eat it too.
I’ve been wearing a pair of SIDI Adventure 2 Gore-Tex Boots for three years and appreciate them for all the reasons outlined in the review we did of them years ago. They set the footwear protection and comfort benchmark for me at this point, easily ranking among the best adventure boots available, but they’re not great for walking in. Tolerable is how I would describe the experience.
Everything is Relative
It’s winter here in Alberta, Canada and so getting out to road test these boots has been difficult, but I’ve managed to log about 300 miles wearing them so far. Thanks to COVID-19 restrictions I can’t even realistically travel somewhere warmer to try them out either.
Regardless, I’ll publish this piece as is of these Klim boots with a healthy injection of comparison to my Sidi AdvGT2 boots that I’m very familiar with. If you know much about these Sidis (and even if you don’t) this should provide plenty of value until I finish testing down the road.
The Sidi Adventure 2 Gore-Tex and Klim Adventure GTX boots both have the same price tag ($449.99 US) so I think it’s a germane comparison.
I Ordered Them Right Away
Once I became aware of this snazzy new pair of great-looking, Klim boots coming to market, I wasted no time in ordering them for this review.
As always I’ll endeavour to be honest and pull no punches with my critique of this product, but I’ll also be fair about it.
Out Of The Box Impressions
Immediately these boots grab my attention with their “in-your-face” styling, bold colors, and appealing adventure riding features. They look like motocross boots that were sent to prep school to take just enough of the wild side out of them.
The BOA laces system and Michelin sole look trail-worthy. Maybe I’m just drunk on the exhilarating, fresh smell of leather and rubber, but one look at these boots makes me want to jump on the bike and hit the trails!
I like the giant letter “K” on the back of each heel combined with the larger ones found on the massive shin armor blocks.
No Reflective Patches?
The Hi-Viz yellow accents are effective at getting the attention of anyone possessing a sense of sight, but these boots are designed to be worn under riding pants; those bright colors will be mostly hidden while out on the road. I wonder why Klim opted to minimize the yellow sections down low and not to put any reflective striping or patches anywhere at all?
My Sidi Adventure 2 Gore-Tex boots aren’t equipped with any bright coloring whatsoever, but they do have one patch of reflective tape on the back of the heel areas.
Sizing and Fit
I used the “fit wizard” found on Klim’s website to determine I should order a size 8.
The fit wizard used my favorite pair of Asics running shoes as a reference point in determining this. The Wizard of Klim correctly predicted with an oddly specific 61% probability that I would be happy with the fit.
Not a 60% chance… 61%. That gave me a slight chuckle.
These Adventure GTX boots slipped on my feet with little resistance even brand new out of the box, after releasing the lower latch, velcro calf flap, and BOA laces. It sounds like a lot to do, but quick on and quick off is an accurate description of the process.
Once fully installed on my lower limbs, I find the pressure is nearly equal across my feet and shins thanks mostly to the BOA lacing system. It’s better fitting in the shin and ankle areas than my Sidis are, much to my surprise.
My toes go right to the limit of usable space on each side and there is only a small pressure point on the top of my feet in front of the ankle area. I believe this will go away once they’re broken in.
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Walking
Initial fitment is awesome and I hope it’ll remain that way as time wears on. It can’t help think these boots might become too loose after breaking them in since they fit perfectly now. Having said that, I thought the same thing when I first tried on Klim’s Krios Pro helmet, but even after thousands of miles ridden the fit remains as it was when new.
As advertised these boots are significantly more tolerable to walk around in than my Sidis are. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I don’t feel like I’m wearing 6lb riding boots, but I feel relatively fleet of foot while wearing them… you know, by big boot standards. Best of all, there are no squawking or creaking noises coming from them anywhere which is a big gripe I have about my noisy Sidi Adventure 2 Gore-Tex boots.
I roam around the house in them for about an hour alternating between sitting and walking. During it all, I find myself resisting an odd compulsion to kick things encountered at random. The boots feel solid and strong. I feel well protected and confident wearing the Adventure GTX boots so far… indoors.
The Latches
The lower latch on the boots is made of aluminum while the strap is TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) with a steel pin centered in it.
It’s interesting to see Klim used black-colored aluminum for the latch and TPU for the strap, while Sidi went with black TPU for the latch and bare aluminum for the strap hooks on my old boots.
I wonder if the TPU holding the steel pin in the Klim boots will be strong enough to stand up over time since that’s the main point of stress when the latch is cammed over to lock in place? I suspect it will hold together, but I’ll be watching it carefully for signs of distress once I get riding with these.
A Deflector
I like the way Klim designed a protruding wedge in front of the latch to help deflect incoming rocks, twigs, etc which might otherwise strike the latch and open it.
The BOA Laces System
BOA Fit Systems can be found holding together many different footwear products on the market nowadays and from what I can tell it’s strong and reliable.
The BOA laces appear to be made of kevlar or something similar with fine fibers twisting around a central core. This is similar to what you would find in wire rope used for lifting or winching.
Very strong indeed, but I’ll be watching these closely during testing to gauge whether the laces start sawing through the plastic guides they pass through on each side of the boots.
I looked on BOA’s website but couldn’t find much information about how it’s made. I was impressed with the fact they offer a guaranteed lifetime warranty on any product their system is featured on. Nice!
Operating the BOA is simple. Pull out the round knob until it pops to relieve all tension on the laces. Then you’re free to rip open the velcro flap for donning or doffing the boots. Pushing the knob in until it clicks then spinning it clockwise is how you tighten the laces.
Because Klim designed these boots to be worn underneath riding pants it should adequately limit the amount of dirt, mud, and dust getting into the BOA rotary dial potentially gumming it up and ruining it.
The Insoles
These boots came with two different sets of insoles and two more thin white inserts used to fine-tune the fit to a half size if desired.
I’ve got one Gel Stable insole installed in the right boot and one of the Ortholite insoles in the left to compare them while I sit here writing this.
It only takes about 30 minutes to decide that I prefer the flatter fit of the Ortholite one at this juncture. The gel one has too much of an incline or rise on the heel area, causing my right heel to rub slightly on the back of the boot.
My left foot also feels cooler than my right which is logical considering gel doesn’t breathe while Klim says the Ortholite insole material does. My feet tell me that is true from what I can ascertain sitting here inside my comfortably warm 21 degree Celsius home (70 Fahrenheit).
Wide Footed People Will Rejoice
These boots have a wide carcass (across the toe box area) on them compared to some other boots I’ve worn. That roominess bodes well for my E width feet.
When I first put on my Sidis years ago I had to endure at least a week of painful riding before they relaxed and stopped pinching the sides of my feet. If they didn’t fit me so well now I would have to seriously question who the narrow-footed people are that Sidi designed them for.
Style
There are two versions of the GTX Adventure boot. The Hi-Viz Asphalt ones I ordered along with a Stealth Black version pictured below for all the “high-speed-low-drag-ninja” riders out there.
Photo from Klim
These motorcycle boots resemble Klim’s snowmobile line in many ways from looking at their Havoc GTX BOA ones.
I think the styling is sharp and rugged-looking with just the right amount of bright yellow to accent the grey and black. Full marks here from me although I’m sure some people might say it’s too over the top and “Power Ranger” for their taste.
That’s One Big Toe
The toe box on these Klim boots is almost an inch taller than the Sidis I usually wear. That excess bulk seems destined to interfere to some degree with my ability to shift gears on the bikes.
As my logical friend, John Wyss, pointed out to me upon seeing this: “We’re just gonna have to ask you to go ahead and adjust your bike for these boots…yeaaaah, that’d be great.”
John is correct. You’re going to need to raise the shifter arm on any bike to get that big toe box underneath without dislocating your ankle. Perhaps a little too much snowmobile styling transferred over to these motorcycling boots in that regard?
I still haven’t ridden enough while wearing these boots, but to my surprise, shifting my bike was easy, and felt normal! As you can see in the photo above everything lines up perfectly on my KTM for these boots. Something’s fishy here…
Then it dawned on me that I have equipped my 790 with a Rottweiler Performance Trans Saver that when installed raises the shifter arm position upwards about an inch. That’s why now it’s easier to shift in these Klim boots than while wearing my Sidis.
By the way, I fully recommend the Trans Saver for your 790 Adventure. It works well to protect the bike from harsh shifts and obviously it sets up well with Klim’s new Adventure GTX boots too!
Lightweight?
I tossed the boots on my scale to see how much of an effect gravity has on them.
They rang up just under 6lbs. Not the heaviest I’ve ever worn, but not the lightest either.
Here’s how the Sidi AdvGT2 boots did comparatively. About 0.5 lbs lighter.
The Interior
The uppermost portion of the Klim inner liner is black nylon with honeycomb-shaped indentations covering it. This pattern is one I’m familiar with for channeling perspiration outwards so your feet can breathe.
There’s a similarly-textured, silky, white liner below that which visually reminds me of a puffy pirate shirt from the “Yaaaar matey” days of yore or maybe a wedding dress. It feels reasonably tough and thick, but I’m not thrilled about how it’s free to bunch up any which way it likes around where my shin and ankle live while I’m wearing the boot.
This translates to a slightly different fit each time I put the boots on. I would prefer consistency.
I suspect those peaks and ridges are more likely to wear and fray over time due to the stress riser it might become with feet/shins working against them. I wonder how many miles and years I’ll get out of these before that material wears through in spots?
I’m only hypothesizing this might happen, and I’m willing to give Klim the benefit of the doubt that they’ve done their homework on this liner not becoming a problem or wearing prematurely.
If I compare it to the Sidi boots (and I will) they’ve gone completely opposed to Klim’s design. Their liner is all pulled tight (like a carpet that is kicked out to the corners of a room) and stuck uniformly to the inside of the boot. Only the liner found in the expanding portion of the velcro flap creases and bulges slightly when folded over to close the boot.
I’ve logged around 15,000 miles wearing these Sidi boots spread over 3 years without the liner showing the slightest sign of wear so far.
Protective Padding and Armor
When it comes to armor and protection it’s interesting to note once again how Klim and Sidi have divergent strategies in place.
I notice surprisingly thick padding in the Klim Adventure GTX on both sides of the ankle areas instead of hard inserts made of TPU as is found on the Sidis.
This is the “5MM XRD® IMPACT PROTECTION FOAM ANKLE PUCKS and 5MM XRD® IMPACT PROTECTION FOAM MID-FOOT TOP PADDING” mentioned in the Klim brochure. Klim is banking on thick, soft padding to protect the wearer from ankle injuries, which I’m not sure will work in some crash scenarios while in others I think it will.
One of my friends recently went down and had his F850GS land on top of his leg in such a way that it hyper-extended his ankle outwards. His injury was serious and required surgery to repair. The Alpinestars Toucan boots he was wearing probably helped minimize the damage based on what I see for armor on them. I’m glad it was good enough to allow him to recover and continue riding.
The truth is, there’s no way to fully protect moving joints without sacrificing SOME measure of mobility and comfort. Klim designed these boots with finding the right balance of protection, comfort, and mobility. It’s a tall order to meet.
Around The Soles And Toes
I appreciate what Klim did with the lower portion of the boots when it comes to protection.
I recently reviewed some Joe Rocket Canada Whistler Adventure boots and criticized them for failing to adequately unify/support my foot with the sides and soles using armor and padding. To me, that’s the area most often in harm’s way, especially the way I ride. I often bounce my feet off all kinds of things while off-road and a couple of times I’ve felt stinging pain while wearing my Sidis because of a gap in the armor on the sides of those boots.
This “crack” in the wall of armor I speak of resides between the toe area and where the abundant ankle supports lay on the Adventure 2 Gore-Tex.
That’s not an issue with the Klim Adventure GTX boots thus far. There’s an overly thick sole on the bottom, combined with plenty of hidden protection on all the sides, and surrounding my toes. It’s difficult to show in a photograph but once you have them in your hands you can feel it.
The net result is a stiff enclosure for your foot to reside in safely and comfortably with a smaller gap (than is found on the Sidis) to allow your arch to flex while walking.
The lower half of these boots convey a strong feeling of assuredness you won’t be hurt should your foot inadvertently come off a footpeg and smack an unforgiving chunk of our natural world.
My friend Greg rightly pointed out the lack of stitching holding the sole to the upper frame on these Klims which may or may not be missed. I have seen glued on soles separate on other boots at the most inopportune times before. I think that’s why some people bring Gorilla Glue on adventure rides, right Mark Estabillo?
So it’s a trade-off I suppose between these two boots. Do you fear an ankle injury more than a foot injury? If so, I would say the Sidis are better equipped to repel that, but for protection everywhere else I think the Klim boots might have a slight edge.
Testing Out On The Road
As mentioned, I found a 3-day window of decent temperatures to ride in with these boots totaling about 300 miles primarily on asphalt.
Cold Weather Riding
The temperature has been consistent during these precious few December rides I’ve had. The coldest has been 5 Celsius or 41 Fahrenheit and the highest was 16 Celsius or 61 Fahrenheit.
These boots don’t have a Thinsulate liner, but keep me comfortable down to the 6 degree Celsius mark (42F) when the cold air hitting the Flex Zone starts to make me wish I was wearing heated socks. So I know what the lower limit is, but I haven’t come near determining what the high-temperature threshold is yet. They’ve kept my feet at an agreeable temperature at all the other temperatures above 5 Celsius so far.
Shifter Plate Reinforcement
The shifter plate on top of the toe box is made of soft rubber much like on the soles. I was hoping because of that it wouldn’t transfer cold through to my toes inside when riding in cold weather. The soft rubber still does allow some warmth to escape from my little piggies as it turns out, but it’s not unbearable.
My Sidis have a patch of hard TPU for their shifter plate and it freezes my big toe regularly when it gets cold out.
That’s all I can comment on vis-à-vis the boots’ performance in the wild. I like wearing them on the bike, because I don’t take much notice of them, meaning they’re doing a good job of not distracting me from the ride with pinching, rubbing, or getting in the way of controlling my steel horse.
I can’t ask for a lot more than that.
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Waterproof?
When I’m out adventure riding, I enjoy confidently striding around in lakes, streams, and puddles knowing my riding boots won’t leak. Thus far my Sidis have been up to the challenge because the waterproof lining extends almost to the top of the boots (see the photo below). I know I can walk in water roughly as deep as my boots are tall.
These Klim Adventure GTX boots are more or less the same height as the Sidis, but to my disappointment, I find the waterproof lining in them stops 5.5 inches below the top!
If I wear waterproof riding pants over them there shouldn’t be any problem with water getting inside while I’m riding, but if I decide to venture into a puddle or stream deeper than about 8 inches my feet are going to get wet.
Dear Klim, I’m not happy with this shortcoming and would strongly encourage extending the liner to the top of the boots.
Simulating Riding In The Rain
Since I can’t find any rain to ride in this time of year I took the boots to the local car wash and had my son blast them with pressurized water. I’m just doing my part to help cheer everyone up in these trying Covid-19 times with some entertaining behavior out in public.
That should simulate riding conditions at highway speed, right?
I found no leaks after dousing them for about 10 minutes at the car wash, but I felt a cold sensation on top of my foot while walking around outside in the -2 Celsius (28 Fahrenheit) temperatures afterward.
The source of this was the soft, accordion-looking material that appears on top of the boots just behind the toe box. This is what Klim labels a “flex zone” to help provide walking comfort to the wearer.
It also holds water for about 20 minutes after getting “rained on” at the car wash. If you press down on this Flex Zone while it’s wet you’ll see water squish out and run down the sides of the boot.
Happily, I verified nothing had leaked through to reach my feet inside, so I can confidently say the Gore-Tex liner in these boots work as they should.
Traction
After visiting the car wash, I went to the dog park to do some walking and simultaneously give my best friend Boomer some exercise. It would also provide an opportunity to test the degree of traction these Michelin rubber soles provide while walking on less than accommodating terrain. I’m talking about ice and snow.
I was impressed by the fact the rubber stayed perfectly flexible even in temperatures below freezing! Much like the X-Ice snow tires I have on my car, these Michelin rubber soles find grip on snow and ice just about as well as they do on dry ground.
That soft rubber might wear out more quickly in high heat environments, though. Again, I’ll be better positioned to judge the longevity at the end of next year’s riding season.
Here’s a photo of the sole on my Sidis after many, many miles just for comparison. The Sidis may or may not win on longevity, but the Klim soles grip significantly better.
The “Funk” Factor
The lining in the Klim Adventure GTX boots is antimicrobial so even when I get around to doing my “funk-factor” testing I’m confident these won’t turn into putrid cesspools that will need to be given a wide berth. Typically my olfactory based testing involves wearing the same socks for 3 or 4 days while out on a long ride. That’s plenty enough time to note whether things get too… ripe.
The Joe Rocket Canada boots I mentioned earlier failed this test, but no others I’ve reviewed have.
The Final Verdict?
I apologize for not being able to complete this review before publishing it. I didn’t choose to be born in a land where the motorcycle season only lasts 4 months per year. If I could I would move somewhere warmer. Would anyone like to sponsor a “weather refugee” like me during the winter months?
At this point, I can only see two areas of concern worthy of mentioning, but more may appear later. The short waterproof liner and the overly large toe box (unless you adjust your bike to compensate) are notable examples of how these boots missed the adventure rider target application, in my opinion.
Still, it’s looking like Klim has managed to successfully capture lightning in a bottle when it comes to balancing a fairly significant amount of protection encased within a frame that’s flexible enough to walk in.
Honestly, for myself, the Sidis are sufficiently flexible to walk in. I prioritize having a full-length waterproof liner and more substantial ankle protection above the ability to go hiking in my riding boots. Let’s face it, these are for riding motorcycles, not jogging.
But, the Adventure GTX boots are growing on me the more I ride in them and I’m going to give them a solid chance to win me over next riding season. No question, these are well-made boots with plenty to like about them.
What Others Are Saying
Kyle Bradshaw posted a video not long ago about these new Klim boots. He was chosen to help test out the prototype before the production boots were released to the public. His 5000 miles seem to say they are what Klim says they are.
I hope the insight and observations I’ve made in this half-baked review will help you better decide which boots should be on your feet.
Jim
Pros
BOA system for getting a snug, uniform fit
Two different insoles and insert to provide half sizes
Flexible enough to comfortably walk long distances
Armor within is discreet yet present
Reasonably Lightweight
Michelin rubber sole provides exceptional traction
Waterproof Gore-Tex layer
Competitively priced
Warm layering that breathes well
Cons
The toe box is too thick/tall for easy shifting
The waterproof liner stops 5.5” from the top of the boot
Loose interior lining bunches up
Is there enough ankle protection for adventure riding?
Too warm for summer riding?
The glued-on sole (will it hold over time?)
Specs
Manufacturer: Klim
Price (When Tested): $449.99
Made In: Korea
Sizing: Men’s sizes 7 to 14 and no Women’s sizes
Colors: Stealth Black or Hi-Viz Asphalt
Review Date: November 2020
Shopping Now? We Recommend:
webBikeWorld works closely with Revzilla and Amazon to provide our testers with quality products to review. While we have an affiliate relationship and receive a commission from items purchased, this addition comes at no additional cost to you. It is the primary way we pay for our site and reviewers.
RevZilla
Free shipping on orders over $40 30-day no-nonsense return policy Excellent selection of all major brands Awesome pricing
Buy This on RevZilla
Amazon
Free shipping (with Amazon Prime) 30-day return policy Excellent selection Competitive pricing
Buy This on Amazon
Klim GTX Adventure Boots Image Gallery
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immaturityofthomasastruc · 5 months ago
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#5: The One With Astruc's Self-Insert
In my introductory post, I said the main inspiration for this blog was @hypocrisyofandrewdobson​. For those who don't know, Andrew Dobson is an infamous webcomic artist known for drawing webcomics that tend to demonize people he's come across in public or people who disagree with him online (either critical of his art or his political views), while portraying himself as the victim or wise man calling them out on their differing beliefs.
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If you want to learn more about this guy who I consider to be far worse than Astruc, check out the blog in question. And no, I don't know why he draws himself as a blue bear.
Why am I talking about this? It's one thing for some schmuck on the internet to use his work to respond to criticism, but the creator of a popular animated series dedicating an entire episode to attacking his critics and trying to get others to feel bad for him is another story.
The second episode of Miraculous Ladybug's third season, “Animaestro” served as a wake-up call for fans (myself included) to make them realize how immature Astruc could be. The plot centers around the premiere of a movie about Ladybug and Cat Noir directed by Thomas Astruc, who voices himself in the original French dub.
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And this isn't just a brief cameo like what Stan Lee did in the MCU. Astruc is the Akumatized person this episode, so there's naturally a lot of focus on him. Throughout the first half of the episode, Astruc portrays himself as this timid man who nobody recognizes or respects, like this idiot who doesn't know what animation is.
Doorman: This is a private event, sir.
Astruc: Huh? Excuse me? I'm Thomas Astruc, the movie director.
Doorman: You filmed Cat Noir and Ladybug? What are they like in real life?
Astruc: Er, it's an animated movie. It's all cartoon characters. We don't actually film anyone. See, there's this whole team that draw the chara—
Doorman: Whatever. Who would want to see Ladybug and Cat Noir as cartoon characters?
Get it? Wasn't that meta joke hilarious? This is how much I was laughing:
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And Astruc continues to get about as much respect as Rodney Dangerfield when he interacts with other characters like Jagged Stone and Chloe.
Jagged Stone: Ladybug is one of my best buds! I can't wait to see her movie!
Astruc: Well I—I'm the director, so actually it's more my movie, so to speak.
Jagged Stone: Oh, so you're the one who created the story?
Astruc: Well, technically the screen writers wrote the story, inspired by Ladybug's exploits.
Jagged Stone: Oh, okay. So you did all the drawings?
Thomas: No, no. The animators do all the drawings.  
Jagged Stone: So what do you do then?
(Later on...)
Chloe: So you're the one responsible for this movie?
Astruc: Yes, yes! Exactly! That's me!
Chloe: Then you were the one who left Queen Bee out of the trailer. You're lame, utterly lame.
I can't believe Astruc had a scene where he interacted with Chloe and didn't insult her at all.
The episode is determined to make the audience feel bad for Astruc. Nobody respects him and what he does. Isn't that saaaaaad? Nobody cares about animated film directors like Walt Disney or Tex Avery anyway. Not even these stupid children understand how hard Astruc works.
Several Children: Ladybug! Where's Ladybug?
Astruc: Hey there, kids!
Teacher: Ladybug isn't here children. We came here to meet the director of the movie. Children: (frowning in disappointment) Aww.
(Astruc looks visibly disappointed.)
Way to insult your primary demographic, Astruc. I thought you said kids have a better understanding of these stories when people criticized the writing of a certain episode (It's that scene in “Puppeteer 2” if you're curious/don't value your sanity).
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It's almost like you're using that as an excuse to half-ass your work while still getting to claim this show is so groundbreaking.
In case you can't tell, “Animaestro” is one of those episodes. The ones where the showrunners decide to dedicate an entire episode to attacking critics of the show in a blunt fashion. Whenever a show addresses criticism, they either create an obvious strawman character to parrot the opinions of fans who don't like their work, or have someone defend the show and insult the critics directly.
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The problem isn't that they're ignoring criticism. It's their show, and they aren't obligated to listen to critics or fans who don't like the direction the show is taking. On the other hand, they aren't obligated to fight back like this and treat their audience like crap. Any show that does something like the three clips I showed you usually comes off as petty and immature because they dedicate so much time to insulting the critics. 
Even during the Akuma fight, Astruc has to call out Ladybug for having problems with his movie in-universe, obviously representing critics of the show Astruc claims have no right to criticize the show while it's still airing.
Ladybug: What's with that trailer too? I am not scared of cats, at all.
Astruc/Animaestro: You haven't even seen the movie and you're already slamming it?
Cat Noir: He does have a point, you know.
Ladybug: I wasn't slamming it. It's called constructive criticism!
Yeah, how dare Ladybug be angry that this movie is portraying her as a powerless coward dependent on Cat Noir as opposed to a confident and brave superhero. She just doesn't understand the genius of Thomas Astruc!
And of course the character Astruc claims is “perfect” is the one to take his side.
And that's another problem with this episode, the metatextual references. Before he gets akumatized, Astuc says he spent three years of his life working on his movie. I get that time in this show is weird (we somehow had episodes taking place on the first day of school, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and the first day of Summer), but how did Astruc's self-insert work on a movie based on a superhero who has only been active for a year? Meta-wise, it's an obvious reference to the scorn Astruc has gotten from fans after working so hard on his show, but the only people who would get that reference are the ones who are aware of Astruc's reputation online.
Self-Insert aside, I actually think the titular Animaestro is one of the more visually impressive Akumas featured on the show. Animaestro takes on several forms based off several different forms and eras of animation, like flash, anime, rubber hose, and they all stand out. Granted, some of them are obvious parodies of other characters like Goku or Sailor Moon, but the actual Akuma fight is fun to watch. According to the Mexican Miraculous Ladybug Twitter account, this episode took two and a half years to create, and it shows. It's too bad the story behind it is completely insufferable, almost like the cartoon equidistant to Pixels.
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But then comes the part that honestly makes the episode worth it, mainly for how unintentionally hilarious it is. Do you want to know what Animaestro's weakness is? Do you really want to know?
Animaestro is physically incapable of moving unless someone is watching him. I am not making this up.
Ladybug and Cat Noir literally defeat Animaestro by getting everyone to stop paying attention to him.
I could make so many jokes with this, but I can guarantee you're already thinking of something just as good, if not better, than whatever I write.
And there's the end where Astruc gives Marinette his ticket to the movie, which prompts Marinette to kiss up to him for no real reason.
Astruc: Sorry, I guess you don't know who I am either.
Marinette: Of course do. You're Thomas Astruc, the movie director!
Astruc: She recognized me. Somebody actually recognized me!
Nothing happened to make her change her opinion on the Ladybug movie, she didn't really say anything to him earlier in the episode that connects to this exchange, and outside of a few lines Animaestro said, she doesn't even know why he got akumatized (even though ironically she and Chloe accidentally contributed to it because of the awful subplot involving Kagami I talked about last time). If anything, it comes off less like she actually appreciates Astruc's work, and more like she's stroking his ego just to keep him from getting akumatized again.
So yeah, this episode is awful, and the fact that it came out right after the controversial “Chameleon” only proved to show what kind of direction the show was taking this season.
But honestly, even if Astruc still wanted to make about how he doesn't get enough respect the episode could have potentially. All he had to do was make a simple change: Instead of making it about validation for Astruc as a creator, make it about validation for animation in general.
It's a common misconception that animation is only used for shows and movies aimed at children, so the episode could reflect it. Instead of the huge turnout where several celebrities appear at the premiere, instead, the turnout could be a lot smaller, with the media dismissing it as some stupid kiddie flick. Instead of getting akumatized because he gets humiliated in public/getting no respect from anyone else, Astruc gets akumatized because he sees the audience didn't go wild for the movie after the premiere. All he can hear them say is that it's just “kids stuff”.
So when Astruc is Animaestro, he goes on about how important animation is. How it's helped produce propaganda since World War II. How it helped improve special effects in big blockbusters. How the medium is used to create movies that simply can't be filmed on a physical set.
After defeating Animaestro, Ladybug shows up to talk to him. She had seen the movie earlier, and actually enjoyed it. She had a few problems with the story, but they were just minor nitpicks and inaccuracies Astruc wouldn't know about, and she was blown away by the animation. She tells Astruc not to be deterred by his critics, and continue to do what he does. As a designer in her civilian life, Ladybug knows the joy creating brings her, and both she and Astruc want to spread that joy through their work.
Back at the premiere, Astruc thinks about what Ladybug said to him when he sees some kids reenacting a scene from the movie. Astruc walks over to them and asks what they thought of the movie. They said they loved it and how energetic it was. When he tells them he is the director, the kids' faces light up and they say they want to do what he does when they grow up, bringing a smile to Astruc's face.
Isn't that a much more humble approach instead of what we got? It would have helped Astruc come across as more sympathetic, especially with animation fans. But instead, we got an entire episode of Astruc whining about how misunderstood he is.
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And you know the footage used for the movie at the beginning? Remember that, because I have a huge rant about it saved for a later post.
For now, here’s an example of a creator appearing in his work done right.
youtube
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heartlandseli · 7 months ago
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At First Blush. Eli + Landon.
Title: At First Blush. Timeframe: Sometime in the evening of 8/30. Tagging: Landon Prestley [ @landonprestley ] and Elijah Heartland Total: 1,997 words. Notes: Complete.
ELIJAH Elijah wasn't usually one to put his business on the internet but he never backed down from a challenge. Heartlands weren't yellow bellied and who was he to be scared away by a couple of questions? He wasn't. Elijah had been as honest as possible without being obscene. There was oddly some part of him that still felt wrong admitting some of the things he had but one thing he'd never feel bad about was telling the truth. In particular, the truth of one Landon Prestly.
 Elijah didn't spend too much time around the Ranch except for family gatherings and dinners, but today he was doing a few small chores for his family. He'd never not been one to help out. Elijah was about to grab some wooden beams to carry out to the field where they were patching rotted parts of the fence, when he saw him.
 "Oh," he said in surprise. He gave a little grin and blinked several times in a row. "Wasn't sure I'd see you here today," he said. Elijah had the decency to look a little abashed. "You... taking a break?" He asked. "I don't wanna interrupt."
LANDON With all the festivities that had transpired in this past day it seriously made the man want to cash in on a vacation day. But in the end he decided against that. Who wanted to be alone with their thoughts? What happened between Elijah and himself caused him no shame. The urge was strong with that one. However, the consequences should have been immediate given the last name of the other. At least it was done now after his admittance to Tex or was over before it really even started was more like it. Regardless.
The man had just finished trying his luck in training a new Stallion the Heartland’s had found. And that shit head was even more stubborn then him at times. Which was saying a lot. Finally, he decided to throw in the towel at least for a few hours. Surely he would have a felt welts on his stomach from being kicked. “Uh yeah.” A small response. Was he unlucky? Possibly after hearing the other’s voice. But Landon knew this avoidance game wouldn’t last forever. He just thought he had more time. “Here as always.” Fuck this was already awkward for him and the worst part is Elijah seemed to be totally oblivious. “You’re not interrupting.” Those words a start. “We should probably talk. But I’m shit for beating around the bush. So, I’ll just lay it out.” Landon pushed himself forward and stood tall in his own sort of method of ripping the band-aid so to speak. “I told Tex about whatever happened earlier. So, it can’t happen again. I’m not going to apologize for my actions cause I don’t regret it. But it shouldn’t have happened. And to save both of our times from me trying to muster up some speech .. I’ll just say I do care about your family and this job. It’s just better this way. I hope you can understand. If not, well I won’t hold it against you. I can be known as the asshole. I’m well too familiar with it."
ELIJAH If there were ever words you didn't want to hear at the beginning of a conversation, 'we should probably talk' had to be at the top of the list. He had a sinking feeling in his stomach; and it turned out to be for good reason. Elijah knew he'd have to talk to Tex at some point after this, but he'd not told Tex because there was nothing to tell. What was a little sexual Dominance between friends? Or...longtime family employees...or his brother's best friend? Elijah knew it had been not the greatest choice but they were both adults.
His heart sunk into his stomach as Landon continued. "Oh," he said. But he wasn't one to tuck tail and run. Not after that. Not after this morning. There was such a stark change and he knew they'd both enjoyed something about this morning. "Well...seems to me you walked into it with both eyes open, Prestley," said Elijah. "I--I'm..." He felt dumb for apologizing because he knew it wasn't a misunderstanding. "I'm sorry if you felt like I pressured you...or that you had to pretend to indulge me because of who I am..." Elijah shook his head. "I didn't---mean." He paused, eyes down, but he forced himself to look up. "If you did this because you thought I would axe your job if you didn't---? I'm sorry. It wasn't like that."
He took a step away. Then turned. "I was hoping you knew me better than that." He began to head off, posts in hand.
LANDON Usually, Landon was the type to just wing it. He didn’t like planning things out. He would rather ride the wave that was life. Be it he was no where near an ocean but the analogy was still there. Shit, that rush he actually kind of chased. Why most of his off the job antics were so extreme. If it didn’t get his blood pumping then what was the point? Now this was not to say he had the encounter with Elijah for that purpose. He hadn’t. But he had just lived in that moment without any sort of consequences and disregard of who Elijah was involved with. Who he had ties to as well. A Family that honestly he had latched on for his own. He had been working on their ranch since right out of high school. If the man had any sympathy and loyalty it was to them.
“Everything has an aftermath.” You are free to make whatever choice you want but you are not free from the consequences of your choice. “I’ve always been an act now think later type.” He shrugged without regret. To the male that was a sad excuse for someone’s actions. Regret was an appalling waste of energy. “Stop.” The man remarked voice deep with dominance. But in the few seconds after Landon reprimanded his own self. That was no right of his. Elijah had every right to just walk off. Shit, anybody did after this exchange deserved that. “That was slightly uncalled for.” His stubbornness though was pushed to the side subtly. It was his own version of what seemed to mirror as close as it could to an apology. “We’re adults. I don’t have to pretend with anything. I wanted it. You did too. But I’ve worked here for far too long. My heart’s not that big but I respect the rest of your family. Especially your brother. He told me to back off and I agree. I should. So blame me. This wasn’t you..” This was different and that respect was generated fully. In any other circumstance, he would have been the asshole that he had been hinting at. In these situations it was his rule-book or go to for somebody to hate him. Hatred made it way easier to for the other party to cope. He could deal with that with someone’s ability to move forward. Nonetheless, as he turned down the cruelty he still projected being blamed. His solution.
  ELIJAH The word 'stop' laced with such Dominance had Elijah freezing in his tracks. He put the post down and turned. This was too big a conversation to have pretending like he'd rather be anywhere else. His jaw flexed. It was a stark relief to hear Landon say he wanted what they did last night and he wasn't pretending. He would've wrestled hard with himself over the truth of that if Landon hadn't said it outright.
"Why do I have to blame anyone?" Elijah asked, brows crunched in frustration. "We did nothing wrong." So maybe there were optics to consider. The entanglements Landon had with Elijah's family. But at the end of the day...they were both adults who'd agreed to this because they felt the desire. Elijah shook his head, getting worked up internally. He had to take a calming breath. It felt unfair. Elijah met Landon's gaze. "I'm not sorry about what we did." He lifted his arms and dropped them again. "I just don't get why it has to be a choice between this family, and this job, and...doing what we wanna do. Landon. Together."
LANDON “Moments before you were just blaming yourself. Going on about that ridiculous idea that I indulged you because of your last name. That’s some crock of shit if I ever did hear it.” His voice was still deep to make his words more accountable in case there had been any lingering doubt from the other. It boiled down to Landon not liking what the other was hinting at. And he wasn’t going to let that slide or have it be thought about from the other. Landon wouldn’t let it. On a side note he cursed himself for having this conversation be dragged on. See this is why hate was so much easier. Less talking and more cold shoulders. He could deal with that much more better. This understanding he was already beginning to feel weight from. But here he was still feeling that urge to owe it to the man in front of him nonetheless.
“I look out for the one’s who have looked out for me. You aren’t around here much and even though this is your property, your land and the rest of your family are involved here things can get easily lost in translation. Tex is one of my partners in crime. He probably pushed for me to land this job as I wouldn’t have hired my ass right out of high school. I was a hot mess. Anyways, as much fun as I had for that one moment no amount of ass is worth risking that since you’re his brother.” Landon didn’t like that he had gotten a little too sentimental. Shit, it really made him seem like a pussy. But nonetheless much to his disdain the words he echoed were true. “So you’ll have to find someone else to play with. Surely you won’t have a problem in that department around here.” The truth hurt sometimes but that was life. Now it was his turn to pull himself from this situation before anyone could overhear this conversation. He didn’t want his business out there for the whole ranch of Heartland to stumble upon. Dully noted as he turned from the other and started to make his way back to the gated circle that he had just come from where the stallion was more then likely still being a shithead.
ELIJAH "That was before you told me what I knew, Landon. That you did want it, and it wasn't because you thought I'd hold your job over you." Though Elijah was being selfish by not admitting the fact that it was problem enough that such a possibility could exist in anyone's mind at all. It meant their whole balance was off. Elijah was just being a child. He didn't want to admit the truth. That he couldn't and shouldn't want Landon Prestley. It was trouble.
He felt the sting in his chest at Landon's words. No amount of ass was worth it. No amount of Elijah was worth it. He shouldn't conflate the two. It wasn't exactly what Landon was saying. It still felt the same in the moment. "Don't you worry about who I'm playing with, Prestley. Don't." He hated that his last name had barred him from what he thought was a promising connection. He'd just go home and lick his wounds. Then pretend the next day he didn't have any. His issues from the claim dissolution were likely making this seem bigger than it was. He just had to remember that. He walked away too, but paused to look back at him once more. Then stalked away and got back into his truck, needing to leave the ranch, and Landon, behind.
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ssurveys · 12 months ago
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723
What do you do when you can't sleep? I pick something to watch. Usually the background noise works in making me feel sleepier. Have you ever been threatened before? Physically, verbally, emotionally... I’ve had the full package. Don't you hate being labeled? I hate if it’s done in a mocking way or to reinforce insulting stereotypes, like Catholic Filipino boomers saying all atheists are evil and in need of ‘saving.’ But there are some labels that can be a source of comfort and give me a sense of identity, like if my friends can correctly remember my sexual orientation. Are you one of those people who says sorry too much or doesn't say it often? I do say it a lot. I also get reprimanded for it a lot. Have you ever had a cute doctor/dentist/nurse? No, and I mostly don’t think of them in that way... if I’m at the doctor/dentist, that just means I want to be healed lol.
Do you swallow your gum even though it's bad for you? I’ve never done it on purpose. The few times I accidentally swallowed gum I was worried it’d fuck up my stomach, but nothing bad has ever happened. Don't you hate it when you go to the bathroom & there's no toilet paper? I mean my parents always buy tissues in bulk, so we’ve never run out of them. If I catch the roll being empty, it’s easy to replace. ^When that happens do you ever just sit there & read shampoo bottles? We have bidets in our bathrooms. For houses with no bidets, the pair of tabo/balde would do to wash ourselves, at least for Filipino culture. Going into TMI territory over here but the idea of some countries/people only using dry toilet paper to wipe their ass has always been so odd for Asians. Do you wear jelly bracelets? Do you believe in the sexual meanings of them? I wore them a few times during childhood but I wasn’t obsessed nor did I collect hundreds of them. I didn’t know they had sexual meanings – that would’ve been my last thought as a kid. Are you good at guessing things? Not guessing, but I’ve had a decent track record of picturing and predicting worst case scenarios that end up happening close to the way I imagine them. Have you ever gambled? I played Bingo when I was like 9. There was a period when my late grand-aunt’s friends would come over at her place (we lived in a duplex, so I knew whenever a game was starting and it was easy to walk over there) and play Bingo, and it lasted for a few months. When your stomach growls do you ignore it for awhile or immediately get food? I like waiting for a while before deciding I’m *really* hungry and looking for food. Have you ever thrown up on someone in front of you on a amusement park ride? OMG, never. Have you ever thought you were dreaming so you had someone actually pinch you? No. I only ever saw this in cartoons, too. When you get nervous, does your heart pound extra fast? Isn’t that kind of an important sign of being nervous though? If my heart wasn’t beating fast I’d think that everything was under control. Have you ever mowed your lawn? Do you find it fun or annoying? Our village has a staff member that’s in charge of mowing everyone’s front lawns, so we don’t really have to. Do you have a garden at your house? I wouldn’t call it a garden. We have a couple of tall trees but that’s it. Do you like making puppet figures with your shadow? I don’t hate it, but like I don’t actively seek this out. When you're on the internet does time go fast or slow? When I was 10 and the internet was still fairly new to me and there were still a billion sites to check out, time was definitely fast. I’d be on the laptop all day and suffice it to say I was addicted, which wasn’t the healthiest situation for a 10 year old. These days time just feels normally paced since we’ve grown used to the internet now... it’s literally a part of everyone’s lives and is everywhere from phones to TVs to fucking lightbulbs, so it’s all just part of everyday routine. When you're angry do you take it out on other people? I make it a point not to do this but sometimes I’ll crack under pressure and end up snapping at someone. What's the key to true happiness? Key’s different for everyone. Who do you look up to for your style? For the longest time it was Audrey Hepburn, which is why I have a ton of little black dresses piled up in my closet to this day. More recently though I’ve been wanting to dress up like Rachel Green from Friends. What was the longest phone conversation you've ever had? Ugh it’s so cringey now but when Gab and I were newly dating we once had an 8 hour Viber call. Never did it again.
How many pillows do you sleep with? Two big ones. What's your life philosophy? “You don’t have to be blood to be family” ngh I say this on surveys a lot. Soz, questions like this make me repeat it. Have you ever played strip poker or would you ever? I’ve never played it. I don’t even know how poker works and it’s so annoying cause my favorite shows tend to make at least one episode focused on a poker game, and I’m left not understanding any of the dialogue. Would you still go out with someone even if you thought they would cheat on you? These cheating questions can be so tricky but generally I wouldn’t consider dating someone who I know to be a past cheater. Would you date someone who didn't want to have sex until they were married? Yes. I mean I was already this kind of person with Gabie anyway when we started dating; she was just able to change my mind which I’m super ok with because I’ve never regretted it. How much cash do you have on you right now? I have a little over P2000 in my wallet. My school has since ordered to end the semester by April 30 so I had no idea that the P2000 my parents gave me last March was gonna be my last allowance from them ever :’( What's your favorite thing to order at a Mexican food restaurant? I haven’t really had Mexican food that’s purely Mexican, i.e. not Tex-Mex. Idk if it’s right to say fajitas and chimichangas since Google says they’re Tex-Mex, but they’re my usuals. If you got to magically make somebody disappear, who would it be and why? Can I make a virus disappear instead? Do you prefer to cook or eat out? Eat out. Because I can’t cook. Have you ever peed yourself while laughing? Never. When you don't like someone, do you let them know? I mean obviously I don’t confront them directly just to say I don’t like them, but I’ll make extra effort to avoid them and I just wouldn’t interact if we happen to be in the same room. How would you build your ultimate sundae? Not really a sundae girl so I wouldn’t know what combination works. McDo’s hot fudge sundae is satisfying enough for me. Would you date someone who went to church on a regular basis? If it came to that, and especially if I really like the person, I might give them a chance (that’s a billion plus points for my mom, anyway) on the condition that they don’t force me to attend with them, and they don’t try to convert me. What is your favorite curse word? Fuck. Would you rather see a movie at the theater or at home on DVD? Egh it depends. There are movies I can be excited enough about to wanna catch it in the cinema, and there are some that I’m not invested as much in and that I could wait for to show up at an illegal film website lol. If the police came to your door & said "you're under arrest!" what would it be for? The police in this country are the Devil and will arrest and kill anybody. That said, I can be attacked in my own home, arrested for absolutely nothing, and they will get away with it. Are you good at giving massages? Nope. What movie do you know just about every line from? Your basic white girl movies – Titanic, The Proposal, White Chicks. Oh and also my favorite Two for the Road, of course. Do you prefer cupcakes or muffins? Cupcakes. If I absolutely have to eat a muffin it has to be chocolate, otherwise I’m not touching it. I’m all about the sweet. What are the three "nevers" of your life? Doing hard drugs, drunk driving, eating fruits. What lifts your spirits when life gets you down? Good food, good movies, good friends. My dog. Is sometimes being silent more effective than having to say things? Yes. Do you smile a lot or not enough? I think I do it enough.
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kinqpein · a year ago
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I really am so proud of myself.
Warning: long post
I might talk shit about my “ex” but I’m truly thankful for when I met him and the most important lesson he taught me: letting people be who they are.
I grew up very controlled and emotionally limited / abandoned so all of my relationships resulted in me being incredibly needy, bossy, bratty, unwilling to communicate and overall angry.
My entire life I played victim because of this and it wasn’t until meeting him where that lesson finally resonated. I was a toxic person that wanted everyone I met to be perfect, because I viewed myself as perfect. I was incredibly vain and ignorant. He noticed that in me but it was never a point of argument, it was communication.
“Do you think you’re always right?”
(Keep in mind this was the old me): “Yes. I believe everything I believe is the only way.”
“I see. So you don’t put yourself in other peoples shoes then?”
“No, because I don’t know their perspective, only mine. I can’t enpthaize with someone whose view point I’ve never experienced.”
“That’s somehow both optimistic and very ignorant. So when people disagree with you, does it anger you?”
“Yes, because I don’t understand how they could disagree. If they agree with me then it means they are worthy of my respect. I only think whats right.”
And his reply is what encouraged me to change: “I don’t think you’ve experienced enough to have opinions on much, so that’s why you prefer your way being the only way to think. I think in the future you should acknowledge that people are their own people and can think however they please. I encourage you not to think that just because someone doesn’t agree with you it doesn’t have to be a personal attack against you, understanding this you’ll be able to accept that others aren’t perfect and, I know this is hard to believe, neither are you.”
That’s the day I put him on a pedastle and why I fell completely in love with him (he didn’t feel the same, go figure as to why) because nobody in the past had ever pointed that out in me, everyone just abandoned me, nobody was willing to teach me, they decided I wasn’t worth dealing with, but he saw the potential in me and decided to help me understand my flaws..my scars..my shortcomings, my insecurities..
And even writing that now I want to cry because I lost him forever as a friend. I needed a friend more than a lover and God knew this, it’s why he sent me him. But in the end I ruined it. I’m trying to forgive myself for that. Moving on..
That lesson has resonated with me for a year: accepting people are not perfect and I have stopped getting disappointed when they don’t match my expectations. However that same lesson I applied to my communication skills. I used to hate “debates” because I became triggered easily and I shut down when I don’t like something. Now, I hear people out and I put myself in their perspective and their shoes. I take into account their backgrounds and what makes them have those opinions. I never would have done that in the past if not for my ex.
So here’s where I knew that I matured and why I’m proud of myself:
This guy I’ve been talking to for a few months I’ve realized he and I are very different people, I’ve accepted that he and I are total opposites and I’ve accepted that perhaps we won’t work relationship wise but I can put that aside and appreciate him as a friend, if I can call it that. However I’ve noticed when he talks to me he talks in absolutes. He never really considers the other side and while that’s fine, I don’t typically care. I usually hear him out, but because I find it hard relating to most of what he says I end up resulting to just letting him talk (he talks for more than 20 minutes without even asking if I’m still listening and usually I am but sometimes I’m really not) and I don’t say anything. But then he waits for me to answer and I answer to the best of my knowledge which is my own opinion but I make sure to say “I hear what you’re saying and I understand where you’re coming from, but I still have my opinion and I’m not saying it’s right but it’s mine. I’m not trying to change your mind, I can respect and accept your view point even if I don’t agree with it.” And that to me is growth. However, his response is “Don’t you understand how stupid that is though? Like if that’s what you think, don’t you see something wrong in that?”
He talks like that to me often and yesterday I finally had efuckingnough. “I don’t appreciate you telling me my opinions are stupid and I don’t appreciate the fact that you don’t seem to respect that we don’t agree on something. I don’t appreciate the fact that you think I’m trying to argue and the truth is that I don’t mind having this conversation if you’re not trying to have it just to push your opinion on me, we’ve already established we are from two different backgrounds so react and see things differently and that’s at the fault of neither of us; we can simply agree to disagree but you continue to bring up topics that you’re more concerned with being right than respecting I don’t agree with you.”
I’ve had it. I’ve had it with him trying to make me look hostile or unwilling to communicate / argue when the truth is that people all my life belittle my opinions.
He then went on to say “It just pisses me off when people say they hate something that they clearly don’t know shit about. So I’m trying to educate you.”
“No. You’re trying to belittle me and disregard my standpoint. I don’t need to know how to load a gun, how to take it apart, how to do anything with a gun to have the standpoint that I still dislike them. I don’t need to hold a gun to be certain that I hate them, guns kill people and people with guns have the potential to kill others, knowing how it works and how to use it won’t change my opinion about that. Please respect my opinion or don’t have this conversation with me again.”
After that it was awkward silence because he brought up over and over how it pisses him off because of blah blah, meanwhile he never acknowledged that we simply don’t agree, he was upset that I wasn’t changing my mind and bending to his mindset.
In the past I would bend to other people’s mindsets or expectations because I was so insecure of my own opinion or standpoint. I was weak minded and easily influenced. But my tex taught me above all else to have an opinion, to respect other people’s opinions and not to change just for the sake of agreement.
I miss my ex during times like these because I miss having conversations with someone mature enough to understand the fact we were different people...and there’s nothing wrong with that..
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survivingthejungle · a year ago
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everybody wants to rule the world (caliban)
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When Sabrina was 8 years old, her life got a little more unusual. Being a half witch raised by her two aunts and cousin (all full-blooded witches)  in a mortuary was not a common experience for most children. But things became different when another cousin, from her mother's side of the family, came to live in the Spellman house. Her mother, Diana, had a brother, William; WIlliam married and had a daughter just two years before Sabrina was born. She was named Genevieve Sawyer, and she and her paternal cousin had been very close to one another their entire lives. When it was heard that William had been shot and that Genevieve's mother was not fit to parent, the girl's cousin and family immediately stepped up to take her in and be her legal guardians. 
Despite Genevieve's unfortunate circumstances, she never lost her bright personality or kindness. She seemed to stick out like a sore thumb in the Spellman house from time to time, but it was a welcome change of pace for everyone who lived there. For the next eight years after she had gone to live with her cousins and aunts, she had grown into a compassionate, driven young lady. Growing with her were several pets she had acquired over the years. Genevieve had a special love for animals and so had adopted many. She had a spotted turtle named Tucker, whom she had rescued from getting run over by a truck one morning. She also had an orange tabby cat named Tex, a green budgie named Pico, and a blue pit bull terrier named Bambi. The latest addition to the family was an albino ball python, whom she was currently in the process of naming. 
"Genevieve. I mean it this time," scolded her aunt Zelda. "No more pets. You have barely enough space for them all, and I won't allow any more of this."
"No more, aunt Zelda. I got it. This guy is the last," she affirmed, gesturing with the snake which was slithering over her shoulders and down her left arm. Her aunt shuddered. 
"How you can allow that thing near you is beyond me."
"She's sweet!" she defended. "She's just curious."
"She stays in your room only. If I see a snake slithering about my house I won't hesitate to kill it."
"She won't go anywhere. Promise."
Once her aunt had finished scolding her and left her room, she turned her attention back to her new friend. "What do we call you, huh?" Genevieve said. She set the snake down on her bed and flipped on her record player against the wall to fill the silence, and an old Fleetwood Mac album started spinning. "Well," she said, "I have to take Bambi and Tex on a walk, so I guess we should put you in your tank, huh?" She moved the young albino to the mostly empty tank and placed the lid over it, promising, "I'll get you some decorations while I'm out." Then she put on a pair of socks, laced up her shoes, and grabbed two harnesses and leashes from the footboard of her bed, heading downstairs to find the only two of her pets that were mammals. "Morning, aunt Hilda," she greeted the small blonde woman.
"Oh, g'morning my love! Are you taking Tex and Bambi on a walk?"
"Yeah, once I find 'em." "Well you'll eat first, won't you?" She pointed to the table. "Some toast for you."
"You're the best," Genevieve said, sitting down to take a bite of it. The toast was covered with peanut butter and sliced bananas; simple, but a favorite of the girl's. She finished eating quickly and was off again in search of her cat and dog, finding them in the family room. Tex was lounging on the couch and Bambi had seemingly been banished by him, staring at the tabby from the ground. "You wanna go on a walk?" she said to them both, her voice increasing by about an octave. Bambi's ears perked up and her eyes widened; Tex hopped down from the couch and over to circle Genevieve's legs. "Hey auntie," she called into the kitchen, "Do you know where Beans went?"
"Yes," her aunt called back, "I believe she went to go see Harvey, Roz, and Theo?"
"Okay. Thank you!" She then strapped both of the harnesses onto Tex and Bambi and put them on their leashes, and then made their way outside to their usual walking route. About halfway through their walk she and her two companions made a detour to go to Harvey's garage, where Genevieve had guessed their band would be practicing and where her cousin had gone to find them. Heading around behind his house, she found the garage door unlocked and entered in to find the four of them seemingly discussing something important.
"'Vieve,"  Sabrina greeted as soon as she saw her cousin. "What's up?"
"I was walking Tex and Bambi," she responded, holding up the two leashes attached to both animals. "What's up with you?"
"Sabrina's trying to take us to Hell," Theo told her. 
Genevieve's eyebrows raised and she went to take a seat on the couch closest to her. "Why?" she asked Sabrina.
"Nick." She said his name sadly; she knew her cousin missed him a lot and felt guiltier every day she left him trapped there. "I think I found a way to get him out."
"But, like… He's still…" Genevieve trailed off, not knowing how to formulate her thoughts exactly. 
"Yes," she responded, knowing what the girl was getting at. "A flesh Acheron. But I might have a solution for that too."
Sabrina had brought the five of them through Dorian's portal to Hell with an incantation, where they landed on a cold, dark beach, coughing up the salt water that had gotten into their lungs. "Wait, so… Hell is a beach?" Harvey asked.
"The Shores of Sorrow," Sabrina whispered hauntingly. 
Theo stood up and pointed out at the water. "Guys. Look. What are those?" There were tall wooden structures standing above the waves, and from them came pained groans and wails. Hands were reaching out, desperate to grab whatever would come close to them. 
"They're the souls of the damned," called a deep, unfamiliar voice. The group turned their heads to look for the source, and saw a large sandcastle and someone walking out from behind it. He had blond hair and was wearing a flowing white shirt that he had left unbuttoned. "They drown as the tide rolls in. Over, and over," he said, looking out at them, "For all eternity."
"Bummer," Genevieve whispered to Roz.
"Hi," Sabrina greeted him as the group approached him. "We're looking for Lilith." He didn't respond. "Uh, Madame Satan? S-Queen of Hell?" The boy looked pointedly at her, on the verge of a smirk. "She's in Pandemonium, if you happen to know the way." He turned his head and pointed left. Sharp jaw, Genevieve thought. 
"All blood flows to Pandemonium." Sure enough, there was a large rock through which blood was flowing, that seemed to turn into a path further up the beach. "Follow the blood-red road where it flows, and there you'll find the throne of Hell," he instructed, still pointing. 
"Thanks," Sabrina said. He pushed his hair back from the wind blowing on the beach, smirk still present. What does he know that we don't? her cousin wondered.  "And you are?"
He seemed as if he were about to respond, but decided against it. "Never step off the road," he advised. He looked at their feet then. "It's clever you're wearing dead men's shoes. Though… any demon worth his salt can smell mortal flesh a mile away."
Genevieve's brows furrowed. "Ew." The boy glanced at her and then turned back to his project. 
"Come on," Sabrina said, "Let's go." The four trailed behind her, but Genevieve stayed still for a moment. "Hey! I like your sandcastle," she called to the boy. He looked back at her, intrigued. "Bye!" she waved. He lifted a hand in return, and she was on her way. 
— 
The journey through hell had been… adventurous, to say the least. Between the field of crucified people beating eaten by crows, to the forest with a magical flower and a bloodthirsty tin man, to a horrific mock-high school classroom, Genevieve and the others were exhausted, scared, and ready to go back to earth. After being rescued by Lilith's helper, a man dressed in a bellhop's outfit and being seated at some hellish feast, she and Sabrina began a conversation about getting Nick out of Hell and taking care of Theo's uncle's soul as well. The Infernal Kings weren't recognizing Lilith's newfound authority, so she struck a deal with Sabrina- the throne for her boyfriend and her friend's uncle. Sabrina, of course, agreed, and the process had begun.
— 
"Infernal court, I bid you welcome," Lilith greeted from the throne. The three demonic kings stood before her in wait. "The city of Pandemonium has an honored guest. May I present to the hordes, Sabrina Morningstar, daughter of Lucifer Morningstar." Sabrina walked to stand next to the woman and looked around the throne room. "In his absence, she has come to officially declare me Queen of Hell. Isn't that right, Sabrina?"
"Yes, that's right," she told them. 
"This is treason! Heresy!" the Kings protested. "Lilith is a concubine, not a queen. We do not recognize her. She was Lucifer's whore. The realms are in chaos, and the Earth, the Pit, the Heavens, the Cosmos, they all reject Lilith's claim to the throne."
"And who do you propose would rule?" she shot back. 
That was the million dollar question, it seemed, because the Kings got a nefarious look in their eyes. "All hail Caliban, Prince of Hell. Molded from the clay of the Pit itself, native son of the inferno, born to restore and rule our dark domain!"
"Hello again," said the supposed Prince Caliban, in yet another open top. He maintained the smug look on his face that he was wearing at their last encounter. 
"Uh, hi?" Sabrina said, mildly confused. 
"What is this?" Lilith questioned. "This is salvation," he told her. "Since the Dark Lord's desertion, the Nine Circles of Hell have been breaking down. I, Caliban, will restore stability and do what Lucifer failed to do… conquer the earth. Remake it as our Tenth Circle, and enslave the tribes of mortal and witch."
Before anyone else could get a word in edgewise, Genevieve spoke up. "No? You most certainly will not!" she said. He raised his eyebrows at her. "Dude. You're… you're not even a real person." Her brow furrowed. "Someone gets one good blast with a hairdryer and what happens? You dry up and crack?"
"I'm afraid that's not how it works, darling." He stepped closer. "Though you are clever for that." Yet another smirk. Smug bastard. Closer. And closer. 
She glared at him. "Thanks," she deadpanned. 
"You are pretty, for a mortal," he said to her. "Maybe I'll have mercy on you." He lifted a hand to beside her face and toyed with a strand of hair that had fallen out of her braid.
"Don't touch me." She slapped his hand away, and he stepped back. Sabrina and Lilith had been whispering to each other from the moment that Caliban revealed his plan. But now, she was seemingly comatic; her eyes and Nick's were both glazed over in red and they were both catatonic. But when her senses came back and her eyes returned to normal, she had adopted a newfound confidence. "No, we won't," she said to Lilith. "I am Sabrina Morningstar," she announced to the hordes, "And that throne is mine. By blood, and by birth."
"Here we go again," Harvey muttered. Genevieve chuckled. 
"Yours to give me, you mean," Lilith interjected. 
"No. Mine. To claim." She sat on the throne herself, and her cousin had to admit that she looked rather regal. 
"We do not accept this!" the Kings argued. "The witch lives on Earth. She cannot possibly rule Hell."
"You've obviously never been to high school."
"You are a child, not a queen," another King shot. 
"I am a young woman." Right on, her cousin thought. 
"You cannot fulfill your father's duties." "I can," she insisted, looking at Lilith. "With Lilith as my advisor." "What?" "Isn't that what kings and queens do when they're too young to rule?" she argued. "They appoint a…" "Regent," Lilith offered. "Yes. As a matter of fact, yes." "Then you, Lilith, are my regent."
"I dispute this." Caliban, of course. 
"Okay, Dirt-Man," Genevieve said. She had begun to harbor a deeply personal sense of loathing for him, especially because of how he disrespected her cousin's authority and was a raging narcissist. 
After an attempted challenge for the crown, Sabrina dismissed the court and he and his clique left Pandemonium. She and the rest of the group, along with Nick and his tongue, followed Dorian's instructions and used the flower and the incantation to return home. 
— 
Sabrina had royally fucked up— no pun intended. After fumbling her first soul retrieval and getting locked in an industrial freezer by her second, she was beginning to lose hope. And she was running out of time. While Lilith was out searching for the wayward queen, the clay prince decided to go on his own adventure.
— 
Genevieve was occupied in her cozy, bright room when a gust of spiraling flames interrupted her peace. She had been lying in her bed, reading a book and accompanied by all of her pets (which was a rare occurrence). Pico had nestled onto Tuck's shell and they were both napping. Bambi was curled up against her side and Tex at her feet, and the new snake— whose name, she decided, was Rhiannon— was also curled at the end of the bed. "Quite the companions you've got," he spoke deeply, disturbing the silence. "You!" she said, sitting up and starting all but the python. "What are you doing in my room?" she asked, exasperated. 
"Here to see you, of course," he told her, sitting down on the edge of her bed. Genevieve
was still perplexed. 
"...Why?"
"You amuse me, mortal. And you've caught my eye. Your friend may be the Queen of Hell—"
"Cousin," she corrected.
"Your cousin may be Queen, but it's you who's really captured my attention."
"I… Okay," she responded, brows furrowed.
"No one's ever spoken to me as boldly as you have. Especially for a mortal. If I wanted to punish you, in fact, it would be well within my rights. Even your cousin could not do anything about it; laws in Hell differ than on Earth."
"So, what. You're here to kill me? Because I threatened your ego?" Genevieve rolled her eyes and got up, Bambi following after her. She grabbed Rhiannon and carried her over to her tank, flipping the switch for her heater and closing the lid. She then grabbed Tuck, as gently as possible to allow him to keep napping, and put him in his tank as well.
"Of course not," he chuckled. "You're much too interesting. It would be a shame for your potential to go to waste." "Potential," she said, disinterested. Walking to her door, she slipped on a pair of shoes that sat against the wall. "For?"
"For you to align with me. You may not like me much now, but I'm sure you'll grow to."
"For me… I'm sorry, what? You expect me to betray my cousin for someone who wants to literally enslave my people and take over the Earth?" He said nothing. "No!" she waved her hand at him, signaling for him to leave. "Be gone. Or... whatever you say to banish demons." She left her room and headed down the hallway and to the stairs, but Caliban was not far behind. Neither was Bambi.
She made a pit stop in the kitchen to make herself a sandwich before she left the house. "Do you think me unreasonable?" Caliban asked, leaning against the counter while she worked. 
"Well, yeah. Actually I do." 
He grabbed her hand before she could continue. Making sure to never break eye contact, he pleaded, "Please. Let me prove you wrong." She pulled her hand away.
"Why are you so dead set on this?" she groaned. "I said no!" A frustrated laugh left her lips.
"I'll make you a deal," he pressed. She returned her attention to her sandwich and refused to look at him. "Submit to me, and I will abandon my plan to enslave the tribes of Earth." Still, silence. Genevieve pretended that he wasn't even there anymore, slipping Bambi a piece of turkey in between the two of them. Once again, Caliban brought his hand up and grabbed her chin; she couldn't turn away. 
"You won't get the chance," she spat. "My cousin is the Queen. Your plan will never happen." He opened his mouth to argue, but in a split second, decided against it. 
"If that's truly how you feel, then I concede. But know my offer still stands." Genevieve shrugged, straight-faced, unsure how to respond. 
"Will you leave now? I have somewhere to be," she told him, putting her sandwich in a baggie and walking to the kitchen table where a backpack was hanging off the back of a chair. 
"Will the lady allow me to escort her?" he countered. She threw her food, a water bottle, and a sports drink into the bag as she considered it. 
"Fine, I guess." She slung the backpack over her shoulder before kneeling down to scratch and kiss Bambi's head. "Bye, Bambi!" she said, her voice having gone up at least an octave. The blue pit thumped her tail and opened her mouth in a typical pit bull smile. Without a word, she stood up and passed Caliban to go retrieve her sneakers which were sitting by the front door. He followed, attentive to her every move. She locked the door behind her on her way out and began walking into town. 
"Where are you headed to?" he asked her.
"The gym. I coach junior high volleyball."
"Is that a mortal sport?"
"Yeah. I played for a long time."
"Why did you stop?" 
Genevieve stayed silent for a beat. "When I was still in high school, a few colleges wanted to recruit me for their teams. I would have gone to any of them, but…"
"But what?" "Well, I don't really know what I want to do with my life. I didn't want to just up and leave my family with no plan. So after I graduated this spring, I decided to take a gap year to figure out what I want to do."
"Have you figured it out yet?" he asked. His tone seemed genuinely interested. 
She stayed quiet for a while longer. "No," Genevieve admitted, dejectedly.
"Maybe you should work with animals," Caliban offered. "Really? Why?"
"You seem to like them enough, you've got several as pets."
"Yeah, that's fair. But I don't think I could ever be a vet," she claimed. 
"Then don't. Try something else."
"Like what?"
"You're the mortal here, not me," he chuckled. "You know more about your options than I do." Genevieve let out a little laugh as well. "Think about it," he advised her. 
"I will. Thank you, Caliban."
— 
Sabrina didn't return home until well past midnight. As she walked through the front door and quietly closed it, her cousin broke her silence from the stairs. "Where you been, Beans?"
Sabrina nearly jumped, startled. "I was— Oh, Aunties," she muttered, finally facing all three of them. 
"Well, do you care to explain yourself?" Zelda questioned. Sabrina glanced at Genevieve, who was leaning over the top of the banister and mouthed I didn't say anything.
"Oh, I'm sorry I missed your first day at the Academy," she apologized. "I had this prob-"
"How many secrets are you keeping from us?" Zelda interrupted.
Hilda piped up in typical good-cop fashion. "You didn't happen to go to Hell, bring back your father, the Dark Lord, and stick him in the bowels of the Academy without telling us, did you?"
"Putting what's left of the coven, not to mention the entire world, in grave peril, just so you can see your boyfriend." 
"That's not why I did it," Sabrina argued. 
"Oh, God. Here we go again," Genevieve muttered as Tex jumped up onto the bannister beside her. She gave his head an absent-minded scratch as she watched the scene unfold. 
"Oh, I know why you did it. Cassius delivered a stack of books with rituals about soul transference… I thought the Dark Lord was bad. I thought he was dangerous, but Lilith preserve up from his demented, lovesick daughter."
"Aunt Zelda!" Genevieve shouted. "That was so uncalled for!"
"I couldn't just leave Nick in Hell!" Sabrina defended herself. "Every second he was down there, he was in torment. Aunties, every second he was in pain."
"We know, darling," Hilda tried to comfort. 
"And it's my fault." Her cousin began to tear up with the thought of Nick's suffering. "He did it for me. I couldn't just… wash my hands of him." Hilda stepped off of the stairs and went to Sabrina to try to comfort her. "I owed it to Nick to at least try and get Lucifer out of his body and into someone else's."
Zelda had begun to abandon her condemnation of Sabrina's actions, instead demanding that she come up with a well thought-out plan. "Whose? Where do you expect to find another vessel strong enough to withstand being turned into a flesh Acheron for the Devil himself?"
In a moment of perfect timing, Ambrose and Prudence appeared in the front hallway with a raggedy, bearded man at their feet. "Aunties," he greeted. "I'm home." It was evident in his tone and lack of breath that he was exhausted. "Any chance of a cuppa?"
Genevieve went downstairs and followed her cousin and Prudence into the kitchen. 'Whatcha want, 'Bose?"
"Something to help me sleep, finally," he rasped. "Thank you, cousin." (They weren't really cousins, but it was how they had referred to each other since Genevieve had come to live with them those 8 years ago.)
"You too?" she asked Prudence. "Yes, please."
— 
  The next night, Sabrina returned home and immediately headed to Genevieve's room to de-stress from her arduous day. "That jerk Caliban challenged me for the throne," she sighed, laying down on Genevieve's bed. "Again. Legally, this time. And I had to accept it."
Her cousin took a deep breath. "Wow. He's really not letting it go, huh?"
"No. I wish he would, though."
"Well, what was the challenge? What do you have to do?"
"We're both supposed to search for the Unholy Regalia. It's a Hell thing," she explained at Genevieve's confusion. "The first item is Herod's Crown."
"H- King Herod? Like 'kill the babies' Herod?"
"That's the one."
"Jesus," Genevieve exhaled. "...No pun intended." She had been sitting on the floor with Rhiannon, watching as she explored the room, but stood up to sit next to her cousin. "Beans, you've got a lot on your plate right now. Are you sure you're gonna be okay?"
Sabrina considered her question for a moment. "No. Actually, I'm not sure. But I have to do this." She shut her eyes tight for a few seconds before opening them again and sitting upright. "And I have so much homework on top of this."
"You know what? I don't have anything to do tonight. You go to bed, I'll do your homework tonight." Sabrina smiled softly at her cousin. 
"Vieve, you don't have to do that—"
"I know. But I want to. You need to rest. Besides," Genevieve said, "I already got through all of those classes once. I can do a few assignments tonight."
— 
It was about eleven o'clock that same night and Genevieve was on a productive streak- in terms of getting her cousin's homework taken care of. She had advised Sabrina to talk to Ambrose the following day about looking for the crown and, subsequently, the rest of the regalia. In the midst of her focus, a gust of heat hit her and she could sense a presence in her room. She didn't even bother to turn around from her desk. "Go away, Caliban."
"I take it you've heard about my challenge, then?"
Genevieve set her pencil down and stared at him. "Do you have any idea the shit Sabrina's been going through, lately? I know you don't care, because all you want is power, but she's an actual person with other responsibilities and an entire life that she's dealing with on a daily basis. You're made of clay and you're from Hell, I get it, you must not have any sense of empathy, but this is taking a toll on everyone. You are such a raging narcissist." Caliban's smirk had dissipated by now. "Get out of my house, Caliban. I'm busy."
"You're wrong," he said. He was uncharacteristically quiet. "I can be empathetic." He sat down on the edge of Genevieve's bed, and Tex had allowed him to pet his head. "I do have emotions."
"Showing them from time to time might do you good." He said nothing, focusing his attention entirely on Tex rather than making eye contact with Genevieve. "Why are you here?" she asked, adopting a gentler tone. She felt as if she had been hard enough on him to get her point across. "Don't you have a crown to find, or something?"
"I've not yet located it. I was wondering if you've considered my offer?"
"Of course not," she scoffed. "I don't think you're gonna win. Beans may be busy, but she's smart. And talented."
"Well, she is the Dark Lord's daughter."
"Regardless. No, I haven't considered it. Is that all?"
"I hear there's a carnival in town."
Her brows furrowed momentarily. "What do you care?"
"Would it please the lady to accompany me? Tomorrow night?"
Genevieve went stiff like a deer in headlights. "Um… sure, okay. I guess?"
"You seem confused," he observed. 
"Yeah, I- I am. A little. Surprised. Why do you wanna go to the carnival?"
"Is this not how mortals court each other?" he asked, standing up to lean against the desk she had been working at. He seemed his usual self again, another smirk crossing his face. "Or would you rather skip the formalities?" He winked, grinning down at her. Though she was still sitting, it was obvious that he was taller than she was. 
She scoffed lightly. "Fine. I will go to the carnival with you tomorrow," Genevieve conceded. "Are you done now?"
"Are you sure you wouldn't have me spend the night?" he teased. 
"Don't push it, Dirt-Man."
"As you wish," he told her, and threw his arms up, creating a vortex of fire and returning to the pits of hell. 
— 
Genevieve finally retired to bed at about quarter till 1 in the morning. Rhiannon was cozy in her tank and Tuck was in his; Pico was sleeping in his cage and Tex was curled up at the foot of her bed. Bambi was laying with her back to Genevieve's, but the blue pit had been awoken by a sudden presence appearing in the room. In the dark, Caliban had returned once more to the girl, this time having astral projected. Bambi's head stuck up, sniffing at him. He put his finger up to his lips and whispered to the dog, "Shh." Bambi was convinced and went back to sleep, leaving the boy to himself. He walked around until he was facing her, and he knelt down at her bedside. He rested his head on one arm while his other hand brushed some stray hairs away from her face. She looked so peaceful he was almost afraid to touch her. "Sleep well, darling girl," he whispered. "And forgive me for what I must do." Without another word, he kissed her forehead and promptly returned to his physical body in Hell. 
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script-a-world · a year ago
I really want to create new foods and recipes for one of my worlds, but I have no idea how I would go about doing research for something like that. Do you guys have any resources or advice that might help? To be more specific for this world, most ingredients are incredibly low quality (but they are in abundance) and any imported ingredients are only used for the rich. I was thinking their food would use a lot of seasoning to mask the quality, but I'm not too sure. Thank you!
Feral: We could actually do with a few more specifics to answer this question as fully as you would probably like, but I’ll do the best I can.
First, I’m not sure whether you want to create recipes using real world ingredients that would in fact be cookable to release on your blog as some kind of companion for your audience or you want to conceptualize some recipes to be able to describe taste, texture, etc. If it’s the first option, creating recipes from scratch is pretty difficult. You might want to consider taking some cooking classes to learn techniques, reading cook books for a lesson in combining ingredients, and doing a lot test cooking to nail down the flavor profiles. If you don’t want to go completely chef-y, you could also take recipes and then tweak them by substituting an ingredient or using a slightly different technique (baking instead of broiling, etc). This would also be helpful in the second case. If by "low quality" you mean "low cost," try looking at food preparation that developed in poorer, underprivileged, or minority communities, like American immigrant cuisine and soul food (the original styles, not the bougie, hipster, “elevated” styles).
For example, understanding how immigrant cuisine differs from motherland cuisine can be particularly helpful in determining how your world’s “rich” food can be adapted into “poor” food. In America we often think of corned beef and cabbage as being a traditional Irish food, but in reality, no one in Ireland really eats corned beef and cabbage - it’s a traditional Irish-American food because poor Irish immigrants could not afford the lamb they would have eaten at home (which was more readily available in say rural Ireland than in New York City and therefore at an affordable cost), and they often could not source any bacon or cured pork products because the butchers who would sell to them were often the Jewish immigrant butchers. So, the cheapest cut of cured meat they could get was corned beef and replaced the traditional proteins they would have used at home.
Second, I’m working off the assumption that your world has the same ingredients as we do, but it’s unclear. When you mention creating new foods, that could mean food preparation or it could mean edible plants and animals. If it’s the latter, then the easiest way to do it would be crossing real world things.
So, for example, everyone’s favorite vegetable on your world may be a cross between a cucumber and a lemon (the flesh is cucumber like but grows in segments in a thick skin that wouldn’t be eaten straight but could be zested, and the flavor is like a very watered down citrus). This also gives you the ability to create recipes by using the two ingredients you crossed.
Also, I’m assuming that you’re using actual food rather than powders and extracts (very common in scifi settings where "real" food is incredibly scarce), which I don’t have too many ideas on how to create recipes that way. Firefly has a pretty good method of just obliquely referring to “protein powders in every color” and showing cans of things but only really showing food prepared and being consumed when it is in fact real food provided to the crew as payment.
Finally, seasoning is a good way to hide low quality ingredients, whether it’s a cheap cut of meat or slightly wilted vegetables. Especially sauces. Especially, especially cream sauces (providing that milk of some kind is one of the ingredients generally available). Sauces make spices go further. Also, keep in mind preservation techniques (salting, smoking, drying, pickling); in the real world what has often made something the “cheap” version is that it is preserved and not fresh (with the common exception of salted foods when salt is an expensive import). But those preservation techniques also infuse additional flavors into the food.
And speaking of the real world - have you ever heard that England conquered most of it in search of spices and then decided it wasn’t going to use any of them? Spices were the purview of the very very wealthy for a very long time. The common folk did not have much access to anything they couldn’t grow in their own backyard. So, the working class dishes we commonly associate with England are not particularly spicy. As you’re deciding how the poor disguise the low quality of their food, whether it's less costly trying to appear more costly or slightly less fresh than one would prefer to eat or whatever, keep in mind what they are able to grow in the soil and climate they have (spices are typically tropical while herbs are more often temperate).
A helpful guide in food experimenting:
Cook Smart: How to Maximize Flavor Series
Part 6: Guide to Adding Flavor with Aromatics
Brainstormed: Low quality how? Like, the bakers put sawdust put in bread to save flour low quality? Our teeth are worn down by forty years old because we live in a desert and the sand gets into our food no matter what we do and grinds our molars to nubs? We only get the worst cuts of meat because it’s all we can afford or the best stuff has to be sacrificed or tithed? Salt is expensive because we don’t live near the sea or any salt deposits so trading for it is pricey? There’s been plenty of cheats, circumstances, and shortcuts throughout history that may decrease what we would call the quality of food, and all of those examples really did happen.
Your idea of quality may be a hoity-toity five star restaurant, or an enormous home-cooked fresh meal, or the tastiest dish with all the seasonings on it. Instead of describing the food as low quality, think about what your people would consider high quality. What do they love? What flavors are common, and what’s rarer and therefore richer? How available is plant-based food, meaning are there herbs and fruit trees in everyone’s garden or is agriculture and import the only way of obtaining them? How available is animal-based food, meaning do these people live as herdsfolk and eat a whole sheep every week including the organs or do fishing boats bring in dozens of kinds of seafood or is the entire population practically vegetarian until traders arrive with preserved meats?
Think about where your people are situated geographically to figure out the resources available to them, and their neighboring countries for trade. Also think about how developed your people are. This website is a timeline of food throughout history, and may help you pin down some barebones basics.
Tex: Both Feral and Brainstormed offer excellent advice, and I’ll be reiterating most of that in my own opinion.
Cooking techniques are cumulative skills that reflect a culture’s technological progression. We started with a plain old fire, so cooking food with that meant techniques like spitroasting - with the invention of pottery, we could put things in containers over, on, and even under said fire, which would bring us “new” techniques like broiling, boiling (comestibles in a liquid), roasting, sautéing, searing, and blanching (comestibles scalded in boiling water and then removed into an ice/cold water bath).
These cumulative skills are also exponential, in that most of these adapted techniques can be combined with other skills. Take, for example, a stew. The base ingredients - meats, vegetables, grains - can be cooked with direct heat (e.g. grilling over a fire), then added to a cooking container (e.g. pots of different compositions) with a fat (e.g. oil, butter) to further cook the ingredients until it’s a desired texture (e.g. “spoon tender”).
This would be a “complete” meal by itself, of course - but it’s a cook’s decision to continue on to a stew because… well, because they think it tastes good, and there could be social/cultural reasons to continue expending effort into their food. Adding a liquid - it could be water/milk, but also a composite liquid (more cooking!) such as a broth - and simmering (low indirect heat over an extended period of time) would turn this dish into a stew.
Stews (and soups, the less dense predecessor) are popular in a great deal of cultures for a variety of reasons. For one, it’s relatively easy to make - Medieval European pottage could be tended over a fire throughout the day, portions taken and the dish stretched with minimal fuss. For two, such dishes are filling, with minimal concentration on the type or number of ingredients - the basic recipe is usually water + grain(s) + vegetable(s), and can be dressed up with whatever extra ingredients are on hand. Vegetables are resource-cheap foods, as they can be grown in family/shared gardens, and grains provide the lion’s share of carbohydrates (glucose, necessary for cell function; see: cellular respiration) as well as other things like protein and fats that vegetables are usually unable to provide in significant quantities.
Soup is, in itself, preceded by gruel. Originally, soup was nothing more than something to dip your bread (or other grain-based, dry food) into, and expanded into more than just a glorified sauce. Gruels are liquid + grain, and even simpler than soups or stews. They’re very easy to make, and often invented when a culture experiences their transition to a sedentary society (marked by the shift from hunting/gathering to agriculture). Breads of some sort usually accompany this because someone will figure out indirect heating (our first baking!).
Bread-beers (Ancient History), as a side note, frequently accompany breads and gruels in terms of cooking technique epochs. The Ancient Egyptians had one, Eastern Europe another (Kvass). This is a cousin, sort of, to gruels and breads in terms of technique, and utilizes the introduction of fermentation (another skill! Possibly discovered by accident via “oh this spoiled food didn’t kill me, neat”) from ingredients such as yeast. Alcohol that doesn’t start from a solid base such as bread is the refined version of this technique.
So far, everything I’ve mentioned is made from staple foods. It is the application of technique that creates such a wide variety. There is some degree of social hierarchy when it comes to what techniques are picked by a cook, if only because some of the more refined (a term I use as a concentration of technique, not an indication of quality) ones are costly in terms of time and sometimes also available tools (e.g. it’s simpler to make a bread-beer than vodka, especially if you don’t have a distillation set-up).
Seasoning is… a thorny topic. Most ingredients that get called “seasoning” - especially in the modern, North American sense - are just plants used in lower ratios than others in a dish. Take basil, for example. When it’s used in low proportions, it’s a seasoning (e.g. tomato sauce with basil). When used in high proportions, it’s an ingredient (e.g. pesto).
Now, there’s significant overlap in which plants are called “seasonings” and which are called “herbs”. This would be because plants designated as herbs are frequently prized in cookery as adding aromatic or savoury elements to a dish - too much can be overpowering (e.g. rosemary in small amounts can be delicious, but in large amounts can be too bitter to enjoy), so they’re often relegated as a component towards flavour profiles. Their physical quantity available to a culture does not necessarily designate “high” or “low” quality, merely the ratio that is culturally-accepted in recipes. (E.g. Italy uses basil in many dishes, but does that make either the dishes or the basil low quality? No.)
Herbs, as another side note, are frequently also used in medicine - hence herbal medicine. The medicinal plants wiki is less biased than the herbal medicine one, and offers some greater anthropological context.
Quality in terms of food is… usually more the ratio of preferred to not preferred qualities. In meat, this would mean things like fat, tendons, and gristle. Food, or rather ingredient, quality is a benchmark of how much time needs to be invested in preparing a dish. It takes significantly less time to cook bread when the grains are already hulled (and oftentimes polished), than if you had to go out to the field and do it yourself. Higher quality = higher convenience.
(Despite what Apicius might claim, spoiled food is not actually edible, and is different than purposefully fermented or cultured foods.)
Higher-quality ingredients means time saved, and that time could be allocated toward more complex cooking techniques. This isn’t always true in practice, since something like a cut of meat is better for one type of dish as opposed to another for practicality’s sake (i.e. if you’ve trimmed your meat so much it’s cubed, you’re not going to get a steak out of it). There’s some debate as to the idea of ingredient quantity vs technique complexity, where touted “high quality” foods (e.g. Sachertorte) use few ingredients, and “low quality” foods have many ingredients - usually seasonings, to mask the subpar flavour of something like a cut of meat.
Like Feral said, sauces are a great carrier for flavour, as well as helping to stretch the usable lifespan of an ingredient. A cut of meat ordinarily good for a steak that’s close to expiration might not be a good steak, but it could make for a decent stew or sausage, both of which could have sauces added to them to increase the complexity of the flavour profile. The food timeline which Brainstormed mentioned also has a timeline on sauces, which I think might interest you.
You mention “all the imported food is for the rich”, and I’m curious about that. Feral gave the example of the British upper-class restricting usage of some spices to the wealthier - and thus upper - classes of their society; is that what you’re referencing? What spices are you using as a base for your world, can they be domesticated? (For that matter, do greenhouses and the accompanying opportunistic entrepreneurs also exist? Or just a general opportunistic individual.)
The economic context of spices can’t be readily dismissed - there’s a weighing of amount of resources against amount of diplomatic tensions, so even if there’s an abundant amount of a given product, the providing nation could well make a money-based rude gesture in the direction of their client and increase the prices to artificially restrict supply. (Take tea, for example. Many, many economic wars have been fought over that [Abstract].)
The fluctuations of class-availability can include a factor of a nation’s influence on the global stage, and they could demand a good at a lower price and in large enough quantities to satisfy - at least temporarily - multiple social classes. This often comes at the cost of quality (here, in terms of purity of ingredients) - you can see this with tea, black pepper, olive oil, and many other class-oriented comestible goods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). I will stress that quality grades aren’t precisely the same for single-source foods and multi-source foods (e.g. sirloin steak vs curry powder), because a drop in single-source quality is more noticeable than multi-source quality due to fewer things to hide an ingredient’s quality behind.
Foods can still be heavily seasoned on both ends of the class spectrum, but there would be differences in local vs foreign (domesticated vs imported), and whether it’s a specialty dish (e.g. foods made for holidays, see: stollen) because infrequently-made dishes on a cultural basis are more likely to have fewer differences in ingredient quality and technique complexity.
There are also some dishes that have artificial class restrictions, because the upper classes have a habit of refusing to eat dishes from the lower classes as a means of social division. This is especially apparent in something like bread (1, 2), but fluctuations of technique complexity and ingredient quality availability can mean that the classifications of bread types can shift (1).
Further Reading
(PDF) Evolution – Culinary Culture – Cooking Technology by Thomas A. Vilgis
History of Cooking by All That Cooking
Feral (again): Modern History has a four part series on food in Medieval England broken down by social class with commentary on how it compares to food today, which may elucidate some of what we’ve been talking about in regards to the culturally variable meaning of “quality” in food.
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script-a-world · a year ago
I’m trying to figure out jobs on my world, starting with what would be important to survive & I was wondering - In a cave-dwelling civilization would farmers have to use special methods to properly fertilize their fields? Like, to get started they’d probably have to mess with the soil composition, but after that would they have to fertilize rigorously? Would they need to import surface soil, or would normal fertilizer work? What if there’s a decent variety of flora/fauna already present? Thanks!
Tex: Why are they in a cave? Did they originate from there, à la creation myth? From further inside the cave system, or from outside the cave? Before the civilization can even get started, where the people come from is an important part of deciding what they start with.
You speak of farming in a cave as if they have all the proper accoutrements for farming under the sun - I’m not sure if this is your intention, but there are several differences between cave-farming and open air farming. For one, most subsistence or cash crops in the world require sunlight, and significant amounts of it. So too are the demands for water.
Farming sunlight-dependent crops in a place where there’s zero sunlight - or at the very least no natural light that meets the light spectrum requirements for these plants - indicates to me a need for a technological replacement, if you’re insistent on using familiar crops. That would place your society by necessity at a technological stage capable of producing grow lights.
Theoretically, your civilization could farm only in the entrance portion of a cave - provided that this is a cave type conducive to maintaining a presumably humanoid population in. There’s a good chance that critters already live there, and if you’re able to stomach a picture of a spider, the biospeleology wiki gives an overview of what type of creatures live in each cave zone (the cave type link gives much the same information, but without potentially triggering images).
Each zone interacts with each other to form its own ecological niche, and a general rule of thumb is that the further away from sunlight a given area is, the less complex the inhabitants (growth patterns, mobility, sight and other means of inferring their environment, etc).
Caves generally do not have a ground conducive to growing crops - it’s usually some degree of stone, and the acidity level may inherently prohibit laying down soil at all in an attempt to farm as if in open air and open sunlight. If pH is an issue, and presuming that all agricultural activities are restricted to the areas in the entrance zone that receive sunlight, it would be better to have raised beds. Still - that acidity isn’t a spontaneous characteristic of the ground - the ground is merely a wall we can walk on, and would mostly likely match the composition of the other walls. An issue with pH could indicate the presence of stalactites, which means that acidic or basic precipitation would be a problem for these crops.
The worldbuilding section of stackexchange has a pertinent post discussing exactly this. Many of the responses assume a certain level of technology, and if this level matches what you have in mind, it could be very useful to pick through.
Another thing to consider is the physiology of your people. Can they live in a cave? If so, which zone? This is where the origin of the civilization is critical to figuring out how things pan out - if their physiological makeup isn’t harmonious with being a cave-dwelling civilization, they’ll have health problems. Diurnal animals require sunlight, and the lack of it is harmful (SunSprite).
Crepuscular animals fare better, but they still require some exposure to sunlight and therefore would have difficulty living past the entrance zone of a cave. Matutinal behaviours would increase the odds of survival further into a cave, but many listed animals and other creatures in the linked wiki still base many activities in sunlight hours.
Nocturnality seems to be a biological adaptation, rather than an evolutionary starting point, for many species. Perhaps the people in your cave-dwelling civilization have some vestigial adaptations passed down to them that would make it easier to inhabit the twilight zone of a cave? At the very least, they could move between the entrance and twilight zones, and have corresponding habits delegated to each zone.
Provided that your civilization is not the only civilization around for miles, trade with a non-cave-dwelling civilization is a possibility. The only wrinkle in that plan is that your civilization needs to have something valuable to trade - is there something valuable in that cave which would prove a tradable commodity?
Gems are a popular pick, especially due to the influence of Tolkien’s Dwarves (TolkienGateway), as are other products of mining and by extension any crafts that come with such materials. So too would be any “delicacies” in the form of cave fungi and their products. Schistostega pennata is an interesting example of what could be a novelty item, as well as a potential means to provide light in the twilight zone of a cave.
Feral: So, I understood this question slightly differently from Tex, and while that answer is above and beyond thorough, just in case my interpretation is more in line with what you are thinking, I’ll add a few words. My interpretation: your civilization uses caves for their homes and other building structures, but they farm in regular arable land, like the 12th century cliff dwellers of Mesa Verde.
Natural fertilizers can be found mainly via compost and animal droppings. Although the land may be naturally fertile, agricultural practices can leech the natural resources from the soil, which is why prior to the development of modern fertilizers, crop rotation and allowing fields to lie fallow for a season were so important. One way early farmers may have increased the fertility of the land could have been to allow their grazing animals onto the fields to graze off the leftovers and leave their droppings behind to be integrated into the soil via plowing. We know for certain that medieval European farmers were using this method. The integration of composted food scraps may also have been implemented.
This article on the farms of the previously cited Native Americans may be a helpful jumping off point.
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