Happy Birthday, Honey!

Today, my lovely girlfriend Chelsea turned 30, and we celebrated it together for the first time.

For those of you who don’t know, Chelsea and I met online almost two years ago. Needless to say, birthdays and anniversaries have been difficult because of the distance. Well, now she’s here with me, and we had the chance to celebrate together!

We had a wonderful time together. We went shopping, I bought her an opal necklace (her birth stone), she convinced me to buy a new pair of jeans (because my ass looks fantastic in them, and I’m all about impressing my lady), and then we had dinner at a restaurant downtown called Wasabi. We’re both huge fans of Japanese cuisine, and this place had some delicious yaki soba. They also had these:

These babies are called Tokyo Tea, and man oh man were they good. They were also strong as hell, so we had to spend half an hour walking around after dinner trying to ease off the buzz. Definitely will have to do that again.

I love you so much, honey. Happy birthday!

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Adventures in Law School – Natural Law Jurisprudence, Pt. 1

It’s been a little while since I announced the relaunch of my series on the law and legal studies, and I think the best way to dive into any serious study of the law is to touch on jurisprudence.

Jurisprudence can roughly be understood as the philosophy of law. Rather than focusing on issues of statutory construction and interpreting the text of law, jurisprudence seeks to answer more general, foundational concerns. One of the persistent and overarching questions in jurisprudence is: what is law? This is a question that has as many answers as there have been scholars seeking to answer it, but the question should give you some idea of the focus of jurisprudence. An understanding of jurisprudence and the theories that have arisen within it provides any person studying law a greater clarity on questions of justice, ethics, and how legal frameworks should function.

There’s simply too much information to tackle in a single post on this very broad topic, so I’m going to be providing primers on various topics within jurisprudence. As natural law theory is my favorite jurisprudential theory, I’m going to start with that.

What is Natural Law Theory?

Natural law theory is a legal theory that focuses on universal rules of conduct, derived from some rule set that exists outside of man-made (or positive) law. These theories are generally normative in nature, though they contain descriptive elements. In other words, they’re concerned with what the law ought to be, and they necessarily combine moral evaluations with any evaluations of law. Unlike utilitarianism or legal realism, natural law theory does not discount the moral content of law, nor does it think this is even a good idea. For natural law theorists, law is an expression of a larger ethical framework and does not exist independently from it.

Early Natural Law Theorists

Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC)
While it would certainly be prudent to start with Aristotle or Socrates, classical natural law theory was condensed neatly by the Roman orator Cicero. He offered what was essentially a restatement and synthesis of Stoic theories of natural law, based heavily on classical Greek philosophers. For the Stoics, there was less interest in a comprehensive system of law than there was for a comprehensive ethical system. As stated above, for natural law theorists, law is just one part of a larger whole.

According to Cicero and the Stoics, there is universal law that binds humanity a priori, or that is true prior to being proven true. The focus of these theorists was on how one could discover this universal law. For this, the focus was on the use of practical reason. Humans had the unique feature of reason and logic, and if one applied these to the natural world around oneself, one could derive rules of conduct that applied to all people. There was also a focus on living the good life; a life of virtue. For the Stoics, this was the pursuit of knowledge and the adherence to reason, alongside other more material concerns like good health and sustainable living. Another aspect of the good life was living for the good of one’s community. For the Stoics and Cicero, an individual pursuing good according to natural law was not seeking it only for himself; he was also seeking the good of his community.

The strong emphasis on nature and deriving rules from nature also came with moral implications. The justice of a law depended heavily on whether it conformed to the natural rules one could discover with reason, and they had to comport with the virtues of the theory employed to discover them. Laws that were not in accordance with this reasoned view of human nature were accordingly unjust.

It is important to note, however, that a law being unjust did not mean that it should not be obeyed. To the contrary, in Plato’s Apology, Socrates rejects the notion that he should escape prison and avoid the sentence of death imposed upon him by the Athenian government. For this line of theory, an unjust law was still a law laid down by an authority, and whatever the injustice in this particular case, it should be followed to avoid eroding trust if this was an otherwise just authority.

Thomas Aquinas (1224 – 1274)
Thomas Aquinas was a Catholic scholar who synthesized prior natural law theories with Christianity. While the Stoics were deists, their natural law theory arose from a much different place of understanding than any theory based in the Christian faith. This set a wall between their view of practical reason and their set of virtues and those of Christianity.

To do this, Aquinas devised four groups of laws. First, there is the Eternal Law. This is the will of God in Aquinas’ framework, and it is the law that rules the operation of the universe. Second, there is Divine Law. Divine Law consists of the explicit commandments and proscriptions handed down by God to mankind, such as in the Ten Commandments and through the teachings of Christ. Third, there is Natural Law. Natural law in Aquinas’ view is remarkably similar to that of earlier philosophers, and it is here that he drew on them to bring them into the fold of the new Christian paradigm. Through the use of practical reason, a person could observe the natural world and derive rules of conduct inherent in nature. Lastly, there is Human Law. Human law is simply the positive law that mankind creates through its enactment of edicts and promulgates (spreads word of) in formal structures.

“Good should be done and sought and evil is to be avoided” is the best summation of Aquinas’ view on ethics, and one that he derived himself. However, on the topic of law, good refers specifically to just law. Positive law can either be just or unjust, and the metric for evaluating the justice of a law is whether or not the law comports with both the Divine Law and the Natural Law. Any legal framework should seek to be just, and thus should seek to comport with both of these legal components.

It’s important to note, though, that this does not mean that human positive law must only be natural and divine law in order to be just. Where there are no discernable specific rules of conduct, human positive law can take whatever form it wants to, so long as it doesn’t violate either the natural or divine law. For example, a law prohibiting murder is obviously just, as it comports with both the divine prohibition on murder and avoiding the evil of destroying life. A law declaring a certain speed limit on a road, on the other hand, does not comport with any specific divine rule, and the only evil that speed regulations prevent is avoiding the harm that reckless driving causes. Neither natural or divine law say what that speed should necessarily be, so it falls on human beings using practical reason to come to a reasonable speed limit.

Aquinas recognized that unjust laws were not laws in the true sense of the word. To quote Aquinas, “[i]f, however, in some point [human positive law] conflicts with the law of nature it will no longer be law but rather a perversion of law.” Whereas just laws created a moral obligation to obey them, unjust laws imposed no such obligation. This did not, however, mean that one should disobey unjust laws in every case. To the contrary, Aquinas took the same view that the Stoics before him did: unjust laws should still be obeyed if disobedience caused some greater harm to come to pass. Since evil was to be avoided, resistance to unjust laws, however morally justified, should still be avoided if the act of resisting caused some greater calamity.

That’s it for the first part of this article on natural theory jurisprudence. In the next article, I’ll be discussing later natural law theorists, particularly John Locke, before moving onto John Finnis, the man leading the modern natural law movement.

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Steempeak – My New Favorite Condenser

Anyone who’s been following me for a while knows how much I love Busy.org. Well there’s a new front-end on the block, and it blows Busy out of the water.

Introducing Steempeak

Thanks to @shadowspub Witness Show on SteemRamble, I was given a link to Steempeak. This is a new social media front end for Steemit, and I have to tell you: I am beyond impressed

There are a number of condensers for Steemit, some which are purpose specific. Busy is (was) my first pick for a social media front-end, whereas DLive would be my go-to for videos and live streams. All the social-media-geared front-ends have the same sort of functionality as Steemit; you can view posts, follow users, reply to comments, and upvote/downvote content. Busy is by far the most differentiated in terms of style and presentation, but at its core, it functions very much the same way as Steemit does.

This is no different with Steempeak. However, two things really seal the deal for Steempeak for me: user interface and site features.

User Interface

First and foremost, the user interface at Steempeak is lightweight. It’s not cluttered, large, or cumbersome. Everything is sleek while still being accessible and easy-to-use. Login is conducted through SteemConnect, making it exceptionally easy to log in and switch accounts. Looking at my profile page, everything is instantly recognizable.

You’ll also notice that everything is set up as tiles, the same way you’d expect to see on Instagram. This is an awesome interface feature that they’ve implemented. For me, I like having the scroll in my feed because it’s what I’m used to from Busy. However, for people that follow, say, a bunch of photographers, viewing posts and resteems in a tile grid format will be much more useful. Being able to switch back and forth between these views is a great feature to tailor the user experience to each individual user.

Speaking of tailoring the user experience, they have a checkbox visible on your profile page that allows you to hide resteems. I’ve seen plugins like this for Chrome before, and I made extensive use of them. That said, it is such a pleasure to have that feature built in to the site. When I’m scrolling my blog, I’m less concerned about what I’ve resteemed than I am with my own posts. When I resteem a post, it’s after reading and commenting on the post, so reminding me that I’ve resteemed a post isn’t particularly valuable or useful. On Steemit, it can be a way to keep track of posts you like, but you don’t need to do that using Steempeak. Of course people have different preferences, so if you like tracking all your resteems, you can view them all the way you normally would.

Site Features

I’ve already talked about a few of the site features that I really like, but boy are there a lot more to discuss. I’ll start with the Dashboard page in your user profile.

This is really where Steempeak pulls ahead of the crowd. You have a suite of tools to track everything from your posting and commenting over time, to your rewards, to your account growth, all in easy-to-understand panels that expand on click. On the left-hand side, there are more tools for you to customize your account. All of your bookmarked posts are kept under the Bookmark tab. Same goes for Drafts.

What really tickles my pickle, though, is the Templates tab. Steempeak allows you to format templates for you to save so that you can create uniform posts. As a member of the @noblewitness team, I cannot begin to tell you how useful this feature is going to be. Now I can set up standardized witness updates, which frees up time for me to focus on the content, rather than ensuring I have the formatting right.

As I mentioned indirectly, Steempeak has a bookmarking feature. You can now favorite posts and archive them for later viewing, or just keeping track of posts where you want to see responses coming up. You can accomplish this using resteems, but it’s vastly more convenient to have a bookmark feature that doesn’t clutter up your feed. For me, this is going to be a great place to keep track of witness-related posts, such as upgrading my server and keeping track of my favorite witness tools.

The text editor is very easy to use and includes tools that streamline the formatting of posts. Rather than remembering markdown, you can simply click on the respective buttons to get what you want on the page. The preview pane is off to the right side, rather than immediately underneath like it is on Steemit and Busy, which makes track your changes and edits a breeze. It’s not visible in the image, but at the bottom of the post editor are the standard options for payout and, more importantly, a button that allows you to schedule posts. That’s right; directly from the editor, you can set your dates for when you want your posts to go live.

Under the Tools tab in your profile, you have access to two things. First, it has a market ticker that allows you to track the price of Steem and SBD, as well as both to Bitcoin. Second, and more importantly, is a tool that allows you to figure out what your Guaranteed Steemit Minimum Income should be. @jarvie has a post that goes into depth about what GSMI is, but basically it’s a way to temper expectations. It reviews your average list of voters on posts, what those votes look like in terms of weight, and then projects roughly what you can expect to be making from your work based on how many posts a month you’re making. This is a really cool feature which I think addresses a big issue for a lot of new users: aligning your expectations with the reality of posting to the blockchain.

Their search function is miles ahead of anything else I’ve seen. Steemit’s default search engine uses a straightforward Google plugin. While it functions, it isn’t at all helpful. Busy’s search function is better, but it only displays user accounts based on the search criteria. Steempeak not only searches user accounts and ranks them by relevance to your search terms, but it also returns page results. While the search function doesn’t yet have filtering tools to help you narrow down your search more, or sort by age, votes, comments, or other criteria, it’s already far and away the best search tool for the chain I’ve seen on a front-end.

All in all, this is an exceptional take on presenting the blockchain in social media format. From now on, I’m using Steempeak for everything I do.

If you want to vote for me as a witness, cast your vote here! Scroll down until you see the name "noblewitness"!

Like what you read? Follow me, @anarcho-andrei! You can also find me on PALnet, Steem Romania, and the Fiction Workshop on the Writer’s Block.

Adventures in Law School – The Reprise!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about law school and my courses. Well, I think it’s about time I get back to it.

Last year, around the time that I started my first year of law school, I had the ambitious project to compile my notes into posts. I had two purposes in this: first, I wanted to share the information I was learning with everyone here on Steemit. Second, by compiling my lessons into posts, I was going to help myself recall and solidify the information. This was going to be a study tool for me.

Unfortunately, as I found out after the first week, I had no way at all to make that happen. When I wasn’t drowning in my school work and reading, I was drowning in taking care of Kate. And when neither of those were sapping my will to live, I was trying to keep myself emotionally stable after a particularly painful divorce. All of this combined into me disappearing almost completely from Steemit.

But you know what? This year is going to be different.

I’ve got Chelsea here to help me out around the house, and my workload for my classes is dramatically less than it was last year. That means more time for me to share what I’m learning on Steemit in a structured (and hopefully useful) way.

These are the topics I’m going to be covering this semester:

Criminal Procedure – Criminal procedure covers the rules of court that must be observed by the state when pursuing a criminal case against a defendant. For this course, I’m going to be focusing primarily on the protections and prohibitions on government action imposed by the Constitution of the United States.

Family Law – Family law covers a wide array of topics all relating to the disposition of formal relationships between people. This course is going to cover topics ranging from premarital agreements to custody arrangements. There may well be some topics that it won’t cover in depth, but I’m open to looking into questions that anyone may have.

First Amendment and Individual Rights – This is the second half of Constitutional Law. This course focuses on the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution, how they are interpreted, and where government has the ability to act.

Evidence – The Federal Rules of Evidence are the rules that govern what is considered evidence in a civil or criminal trial, how information offered at trial can be offered into evidence, and what objections can and should be raised by the respective parties to a trial on evidentiary grounds. This course is going to cover the substantive rules that a lawyer must know to effectively present a case.

Jurisprudence – Jurisprudence is better known as the philosophy or theory of law. Discussion of what law is and why individuals have a duty to obey the law fall under jurisprudence. This course is my rigorous writing class, so I won’t have a structured curriculum to follow, but I will be posting notes and sections of my own jurisprudence writing for everyone to peruse and look through. I’d also like to open posts on this topic up for discussion.

This semester is going to be great fun, and I’m looking forward on bringing you all on this journey with me. Finally.

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Adventure Time Has Come to an End

Image courtesy of EskiPaper.com

Come along with me
And the butterflies and bees
We can wander through the forest
And do so as we please.

It’s over folks. Adventure Time has finally come to a close after nearly a decade of wacky fun and surprisingly deep storytelling.

My girlfriend watched Adventure Time from the moment it first premiered in 2010, and we sat and watched the final episode together tonight. I just recently sat down and started watching it with her, and over the last month, I’ve gone from season one all the way to the end. It didn’t hit me quite as hard as it hit her, but I have to say I am really, really sad it’s gone.

For the longest time, I never gave this show a shot. It came on Cartoon Network around the same time I stopped watching cartoons. I lumped it in with other wacky shows that seemed superficially without any kind of story or cohesion, so I wrote it off. Then, as fate would have it, I met an incredible woman, and she introduced me to the show.

I was really surprised by just how much world building and storytelling the writers packed into the show. Sure, there are plenty of episodes that are just that: episodes. They’re not directly connected to the overarching story. However, the overarching story is amazing, and it seeps into every part of the show. Despite its childlike style and bizarre setting, it’s full of deeply serious subject matter and a haunting backstory. Makes me think of something a child would draw after experiencing years of chaos, trying his best to get back to normal.

For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it follows a 13-year-old boy named Finn and his dog, Jake. Finn is, as far as he knows, the last human in the world, which was ravaged by a devastating nuclear and biological war a thousand years prior known as the Great Mushroom War. His dog Jake not only talks but stretches to ridiculous lengths and virtually whatever shape he wants to. And he’s got a hell of a sense of humor. All this is set in the backdrop of the Land of Ooo, what remains of the old world now populated by talking animals, sapient candy, a deranged wizard named the Ice King, and all manner of strange and crazy creatures.

The show follows Finn and Jake, but it’s full of contemplation on any number of deep themes. Ice King’s backstory is a strikingly compelling look at what dealing with a loved one suffering from mental illness can be like. Marceline, the Vampire Queen, is a study in emotional struggle. Princess Bubblegum illustrates the danger of being obsessed with your work at the expense of all emotional attachment. There are episodes that consider the character’s own mortality and the meaning of family. Meaning-of-life-and-the-universe stuff, man.

Aside from it being a genuinely entertaining show, as a writer I really appreciate the subtlety that’s employed to weave all of these stories together. Things like the Great Mushroom War are mentioned from time to time, but you’d have to watch the entire show to really appreciate the level of detail dedicated to it. Same goes with a character as zany and ridiculous as the Ice King. At first glance, he’s a crazy old wizard who serves as a comically evil foil for our protagonists. Keep watching the show and you discover a truly tragic story that makes you root for him, and it ties it back to the cataclysm that ended our world. There’s a deep, rich world behind the Land of Ooo that you appreciate more with every episode.

If you haven’t ever watched it, I strongly recommend hopping on Hulu and binging it. It’s fun, it’s hilarious, but most of all, it’s a rewarding story that I absolutely love.

If you want to vote for me as a witness, cast your vote here! Scroll down until you see the first text box, and type in the name "noblewitness"!

Like what you read? Follow me, @anarcho-andrei! You can also find me on PALnet, Steem Romania, and the Fiction Workshop on the Writer’s Block.

Love Letter to My Beloved

Image courtesy of my wonderful girlfriend and my beautiful daughter

To My Darling:

I love you. Truly, I do. You uprooted your life and came thousands of miles to start a new one with me. I can’t think of a more forceful and meaningful display of dedication than that. It’s humbling, and I constantly wonder if I’m even worthy of that kind of devotion from such a wonderful woman.

You’re the light of my life. You fill my days with happiness, even when we’re having a slow day or we’ve had a dozen things go wrong that day. You warm my heart every morning when I wake up, and we curl up together with each other every night. I love it. I makes me happy beyond words to have you here, sharing every day together. You’ve filled a hole in my I didn’t think I could fill.

Your wit and humor make me smile. You get me, and we get to laugh about the strangest, most absurd jokes. Things that no one else would ever understand. Things that, frankly, would make other people question our sanity. Not you though; you love the same strange, twisted things I do. You’ve seen the darkest parts of me, and you embraced them all the same.

I love you with all my heart. We’re going to have a wonderful life together.

Yours forever,

Your One and Only

What the Hell Do I Write About?

I’ll be honest with you guys. I have no idea what to post about.

I started law school in August of 2017, and I was swamped. I’ve never been that busy in my life, and I spent four years in the 82nd Airborne, where being busy was a fact of life. Coupled with the fact that I’d divorced my wife of five years a couple of months prior, and you can imagine how messed up I was in the head. Law school swallowed me whole. I hadn’t been posting all that frequently before hand, but I practically dropped off the surface of the earth during the year.

Trouble is, I’m still not back. If you look at my post frequency, it’s still low. I rarely post twice in a week, and I used to be posting at least every day, if not twice a day. Trouble is, I have no clue what to write about. It’s like every time I sit down to figure out what to write, my brain shuts down.

“Don’t even bother, Andrei. I just got done with hours of shit work, and I am in no mood to be blogging.” That’s me right now. I’d sit down and write fiction, but even that seems to escape my grasp. It’s like whenever I get the urge or feel the duty to write something, my brain screams in terror, runs away, and locks the door behind it.

I realize I don’t really have it all that hard. I know I don’t. Chelsea has been a tremendous help around the house since she’s moved down, and things are easier this semester than they ever were my first year. Still, I can’t shake this writer’s block loose from my head.

So what’s there to do? Ramble on about how I can’t find anything meaningful to write about I guess. Maybe something will come to me tomorrow. If anyone else has felt the same way lately, drop a comment. I’d love to share company over our mutual inability to find anything meaningful to write about.

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Like what you read? Follow me, @anarcho-andrei! You can also find me on PALnet, Steem Romania, and the Fiction Workshop on the Writer’s Block.

The Haunted Tree – A Review of Slender Man

I’m a huge fan of the Slender Man. It’s a sort of modern day mythology that was spawned in a technology that we all now rely on for our day to day lives. Without the internet, I don’t think it would have taken off (unless someone like H.P. Lovecraft came along and ran with it). As such, I appreciate what Slender Man is, both as an unconventional monster and as the cornerstone of its own mythos.

Which is also why I hate this movie so much. They took a wealth of great, usable canon and did dick-all with it. For anyone who doesn’t want spoilers, stop reading here, because I’m about to tear into this steaming pile.

There are numerous problems with this film and they span the gamut of what goes into making a film. The short story is it’s just bad. The long story is what I’m going into here, so let’s break it down.

The Story
The story centers around four teenage girls-Katie, Hallie, Wren, and Chloe-who, after drinking a bunch of alcohol at one of their houses one night, decide to “summon Slender Man.” To do that, they watch a video that supposedly will make Slender Man aware of them and cause him to seek them out. This, of course, has disastrous consequences, with one of them disappearing on a field trip a week later. To bring her back, the three girls do a summoning ritual in the woods, handing over “something they love” onto a tree stump and waiting for three bells to ring while blindfolded. Chloe tears the blindfold off at the second bell, has an encounter with our faceless terror, and subsequently goes insane and ends up in a zombie-like state.

Wren’s the next friend to start losing it, and she has an encounter with him at the local library while trying to investigate how to get rid of him. She tries to tell Hallie, who is way more concerned with going on a date with her new boyfriend. She goes on that date, but when they start making out, she has a freak out hallucination moment where he appears crazed and distorted. Afterwards, she makes him promise not to watch the video. The next day (I think), her sister has a seizure and screams “He doesn’t have a face,” which prompts Hallie’s own hallucination and her realization that she has to give herself up in order to save her sister. She re-enters the woods, is captured by Slender Man, and is devoured into a nearby tree. The movie ends with her sister returning to normal.

This seems like pretty standard fare for a scary teenager movie. It would be fine if that’s all it was, but the insistence on including Slender Man as the primary antagonist turns this from a mediocre jumpscare movie into a really awful mythos-driven horror film. That aside, there are other problems story-wise I want to address.

First, there is zero sense of time in this film. The only hint we ever get to an accurate passage of time is a “One Week Later” blurb at the bottom left of the screen following them watching the video. Otherwise, days run into each other, and the audience has no clue when things are happening in relation to each other. Days fade into nights, that fade into other days, but sometimes into other nights (or maybe the same night?). There’s no clear progression here, and it confuses an already confusing build-up of tension that follows three separate characters.

Second, there is a giant forest literally everywhere you turn. The setting is nondescript by design; we’re given no hints as to where this is, other than a small, rundown town somewhere surrounded by woods. However, a town is still a town. There’s a central hub, with housing and development spreading out from there and becoming progressively more sparse the farther out you go. Not in this town! Here, houses are surrounded by forests, but also by other houses and alleys, which wouldn’t be possible or make any sense. Kids walk home at night on deserted roads that end abruptly at woods (apparently). With the exception of Hallie’s parents’ house, every other house and building we see is surrounded by forest. It comes off as silly and tacky, as though the director decided he had to make the setting nonsensical to serve the canon about Slender Man being associated with forests.

Third, there are plot arcs that go nowhere. Chloe is the first girl to go insane from seeing Slender Man’s face. We later see her at her house, looking like a zombie and staring out the window. This is the last time we see Chloe, and it’s the last time she’s mentioned. What happened to her? Not that you’ll care, but you’ll never know because the writers decided to just drop her off the face of the planet. Hallie’s boyfriend promises not to watch the video, but the next day (presumably) he comes to class late, looking visibly disturbed, and you catch a glimpse of bruises on his arm in a closeup. Where does that go? Nowhere, because the writers just couldn’t be bothered to do anything with that. Hallie’s parents? Throwaway supporting character who you don’t see the entire film except at the very beginning and at the end in Hallie’s sister’s hospital room. They contribute a staggering nothing percent to the story.

The Characters
There is virtually no characterization to be had. We learn next to nothing about any of them or what their internal struggles are. Katie is a girl whose father is an alcoholic that passes out on the couch in the living room. What does that mean for her character? She wants to get out of this town. That’s really it. Why is her dad an alcoholic? Does that have some sort of impact on her character? Where’s her mother? You’ll never know, and, frankly, you won’t care.

Same goes for the rest of the girls, and the rest of the supporting cast. Wren is apparently some kind of edgelord wannabe, Hallie is…well, not much of anything really because she’s written about as interestingly as a cardboard cutout, and Chloe is a token not-white girl whose dad died when she was young. I describe them in this manner because that is literally all there is to them. Nothing happens to them to deepen our emotional connection with them or make them more relatable to the audience. They’re simply there, reacting to things around them.

I’m going to mention Chloe again, because the movie does something absolutely stupid with her. After the scene in the woods where Chloe prematurely takes off her blindfold, it’s indicated the following daytime sequence that she hasn’t been to school for a few days. When Hallie tries to find out more, she hears from one of the boys (who are likewise essentially human-shaped props) that her mom called in sick for her, and that she doesn’t want Hallie and Wren anywhere near her. How does he know this? No clue. Do we ever see Chloe’s mother? Nope. As far as the movie is concerned, Chloe lives alone in her house and impersonates a non-existent mother to get herself out of class. It’s absurd.

The Monster
Slender Man is, like I said, a monster created on the internet that evolved into his own mythos. Though there’s some variety, there are a few basic principles that he abides be. He’s unnaturally tall and slender (duh), has tentacles that come out of his back, doesn’t have a face, and abducts/kills people generally in wooded areas. The film takes all of those parts about him and keeps them.

The problem is that this is as far as it goes with the lore. Instead of treating him like some eldritch monstrosity from time immemorial, they essentially reuse the storyline from The Ring. The girls watch a video, and then they start dying/going crazy/disappearing. Rather than taking all of the original canon that exists and doing literally anything with it, they turn Slender Man into a discount Ring girl. As someone who really enjoyed this spontaneous internet tulpa, I was so disappointed that I was tempted to tear one of the theater chairs out from the floor and throw it at the screen.

What irks me more than that, though, is the fact the film doesn’t follow the rules it sets out even with its insistence on the Ring internet video. The one indication we get of time passing is immediately after the girls watch the video, where the movie tells us that one week has passed. That’s when the first girl disappears. We can draw from that, and from the fact the film highlights this time lapse, that there’s a week between watching the video and crazy things happening. However, in the forest when they’re trying to get the girl back, only one girl – Chloe – sees Slender Man’s face. She subsequently goes crazy, but so do Wren and Hallie. In fact, Wren encounters the Slender Man in the library without having ever seen him and taking every precaution not to encounter him.

Later, Hallie’s boyfriend, Tom, has apparently seen the video because the audience sees him come to class late, looking freaked out and sleep-deprived. However, based on apparent time frame, only one day has passed. At the end of the movie, Hallie voluntarily gives herself up to Slender Man so that she can save her sister, but then she runs away. There’s no sense in any of how it works.

They also turned him into, near as I can tell, a tree. The reason I titled my post “The Haunted Tree” is because, by the end of the film, Slender Man absorbs the main girl, Hallie, into a tree. That, by itself, isn’t dispositive, but every time he appears or it’s indicated he’s present, you hear the sound of creaking, breaking branches. Moreover, if you look closely at the (awful) CGI they overlay on the character, it seems to bark-like, as though the surface of Slender Man is entirely wood.

It’s lame. And stupid. And does not coincide with anything that exists detailing the canon around Slender Man. Since Slender Man is supposed to be some unknown horror, the only thing the audience can draw away from this presentation is that he’s a haunted tree.

The Lighting
Normally this would be rolled into something else because lighting is never that big of a deal, even when it’s a particularly noteworthy usage of lighting for narrative effect. However, I’m making a point of this in particular because of how terribly lit this is. Scary movies are usually lit in a way to convey oppressive darkness. However, they are still lit in some way.

There are parts of this film where you literally cannot see what is happening. This doesn’t play into some greater narrative framing. It’s just abysmally dark, for no reason. Every scene is pervaded by unnecessary darkness. Parts that could be reasonably lit in a way to heighten tension are just…well, not lit. The director apparently decided that lighting designed to heighten tension and build atmosphere wasn’t good enough, so he just decided not to use lights at all. In a horribly cliched way, scenes at night have one or two light sources, but unlike the cliches I’m referencing, there is no backlighting. I guess seeing the character’s faces and reactions would humanize them too much, which was not the apparent goal of this film.

Best to just leave them in darkness as empty placeholders, I guess.

The Verdict
This movie is awful. Setting aside all the awful that relates directly to their portrayal and characterization of Slender Man, the movie is just awful on its own. The story is disjointed. It doesn’t follow the rules it lays out. The lighting is horrendous, there’s no character development, and the movie is chock-full of cheap jump scares at the expense of real terror. It’s garbage.

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Me and My Girlfriend Are Finally Home!

Well guys, it’s finally happened! @ladymaharet has come home to me in Alabama!

This beautiful woman is finally living with me!

This has been a long time coming. We got together a year and a half ago, on February 6th, and it was a long journey to here. I was messed up following my divorce, and I was certain I wasn’t ready for any kind of relationship. Then, lo and behold, I meet Chelsea, a woman who looked at all the faults in me, all the places where I was broken and where I’d tried unsuccessfully to fix myself, and accepted me anyway. She loved every part of me, and she still does. And now, she and her son Traven are living here, with me!

To christen this amazing turning point in our lives, I flew up to help her make the grueling 39 hour drive down from Edmonton, Alberta, CA to Montgomery, Alabama, USA. First stop on my journey was Houston Airport, where I found the coolest bar/restaurant I’ve ever seen in an airport.

I realize this a detour in the story, but seriously. You sit down at the bar, there’s a charging port right there for you to use, you order via kiosk, and it looks cool as hell. Alright, that aside! I came into Edmonton and she picked me up, and I got to enjoy what I don’t ever get to enjoy down here in the South: CARL’S FREAKING JUNIOR. I would have posted a picture but I was too busy stuffing my face with a guacamole burger and crisscut fries. God I miss crisscut fries. We spent the next day in Edmonton getting ready to go, and for our last meal in Canada we ate donair, ginger beef, and some wicked cheese sticks. The next morning, we got on the road for what is currently the longest roadtrip I’ve ever taken.

We crossed the border at Portal, which is just on the Canadian side of the North Dakota/Canada border. From there, we traveled what I’m pretty sure was the entire length of North Dakota before stopping for the night in Fargo. Yup. That Fargo. To be fair, it’s not actually that cool anymore (assuming that organized crime is not longer as cool as a Cohen Brothers’ film; I could be wrong), but there was a Duluth Trading Co. store there, where we picked up some new clothes for ourselves. I love Duluth Trading Co. stuff, and if anyone wants a great pair of cargo pants, buy Duluth.

From Fargo, we headed through Minnesota and into Wisconsin, where we stopped and got some real Wisconsin cheese. It was as delicious as you’d expect it to be. Sadly I don’t have any pictures of that because we devoured that cheese. It was delicious. We stopped for the night outside of Chicago. It was the roughest part of the journey and took the longest, so Chelsea, Traven, and I were starting to get stir crazy in the car. We passed a guy hanging out in his driveway and Chelsea swore he was covered in pepperoni nipples. So that was a thing. We about died laughing all the way to our hotel, where we crashed for the night.

The next day, we went through Chicago and made our way down to Indianapolis. We stopped there and took Traven to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. It was a bit of a rough time for him, but he handled it admirably. Honestly, I’m amazed any of us lasted an hour there; there were a lot of cool exhibits, but it was packed with people and it was loud as hell. I wanna know how everyone had time on a Monday to take their kids to the museum. Does no one there have jobs?! We spent the night in Nashville before we made our way all the way down to Montgomery. We finally made it home.

Traven was a real sport about the whole thing. He’s mildly autistic, so changing things up for him is not usually a good thing, but he was happy as a clam on the road, and he loved staying in the hotels. He really did a great job, and I’m proud of him. It hasn’t been the easiest transition for him since moving here, but me and Chelsea have really stuck to our guns about being calm, collected, and supportive, and he is really responding well.

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Breaking the Habit

Breaking the Habit

I haven’t been on Facebook in months, and with everything I have going on with the Writer’s Block and Noblewitness, it was time.

It’s a strange feeling. I remember signing up for my Facebook account in 2005, back when you still had to have a college email address to get an account. It was fun, kinda like Myspace 2.0. Then, as inevitably happens when a platform sticks around long enough, it became stale. Worse still, Zuckerberg, that weird anteater, robot kid, went whole hog on collecting and collating as much data from his users as possible. Facebook quickly became the single most intrusive app in my life, as I’m sure it is for most people.

So I decided it’s finally time to kick the habit. I deleted FB messenger (the crap shoot that it was), downloaded my pictures and contact list from FB in a spiffy zip file, and deleted my account. I’ve had friend and family asking me why, like they’re bewildered at the notion of getting rid of the worst privacy violator in my life. I keep telling them the same thing: I’m done with all the bullshit.

If you want to vote for me as a witness, cast your vote here! Scroll down until you see the first text box, and type in the name "noblewitness"!

Like what you read? Follow me, @anarcho-andrei! You can also find me on PALnet, Steem Romania, and the Fiction Workshop on the Writer’s Block.