Favorite Things Life Uncategorized

Minecraft Earth is Everything I Ever Wanted and More From an AR Mobile Game


I like Minecraft. I don’t play the campaign mode, but the sandbox is my favorite thing ever. It’s one of the reasons why I got an enormous SD card for my phone. I have a lot of little world I open up and tinker with. Sometimes when you have a day, it’s satisfying to dump a lot of lava on things.

I always thought it would be cool to have an AR component to the Minecraft mobile app. It would really lean in to the whole Lego element of the sandbox part of the game.

There is an app called Assemblr, which is a little counter intuitive and hard to control, even on my Galaxy Note and using the S-Pen to place and manipulate elements. It is still updating, and for once in my life I was an early adopter with one of these things. But Assemblr, as slick and fun as it is, doesn’t have the same pick up and play as Minecraft, and I still struggle with it. It showed itself off as a Minecraft style creative tool, and just… was disappointing.

Why isn’t there just a really cool, block based mobile game that let’s be just play Lego with my phone?


About that…

I didn’t see that coming!

Let’s go through why I love this…

One! This isn’t a Niantic reskin of Ingress

When you’re good at what you do just keep doing it over… And over… And over….

When Pokemon GO first dropped, it didn’t play nice with my phone for a while. So I did a little digging in the Play Store and downloaded the other thing that Niantic put out.

Ingress is a cool little game where you are supposed to claim outposts for your team, connecting them in real time in order to control areas for your team. It’s still live, and you should download it and play. And when you do, you might notice something…

It uses the same location data as Pokemon GO. And Wizards Unite. It is possible, right now, to have three people go to the same location, performing pretty much the same actions, and each one of them is playing a different Niantic game.

I’m sure it’s a very good way to quickly produce and release these licensed mobile AR games, but unless you’re only ever going to play the one game, it’s pretty obvious what’s going on. Honestly, once I saw behind the curtain, it took the shine off all the Niantic games. I didn’t really play much after that.

Two! The Creative Mode!

It’s a AR-based Minecraft experience!

This opens up play in a way that Niantic games can’t by their nature. By having a purely creative element as well as challenges, it appeals to the different ways people already play Minecraft.

I appreciate this thoughtful approach to the gaming experience. They could’ve taken the Niantic approach to this, but they seem to have really looked at how people play the game on PC and tried to translate to mobile.

Three! Collaboration!

In my opinion, I think the biggest deal for this is going to be collaboration. Being able to share a build, work on it together, and then be able to play in that build in the real world is going to be an absolute game changer. Not only will this allow players to create bigger and more complex builds within the game, it will foster a sense of community among players that a mobile game like this needs.

Four! Free. To. Play.

While you need an Xbox account to save your progress, Xbox is very clear that this is going to be free to play on both iOS and Android. They’ve also stated that Minecraft Earth is going to be lootcrate free, which is a big breath of fresh air.

While I hesitate to see how they’re going to monetize this (ads? An in-game store?), seeing that they’re taking the younger demographic into account and abandoning the more predatory aspects of gaming.

This is what needs to happen in the mobile game world

This is a huge leap forward in utilizing mobile AR for games, and I am very excited. Taking these kinds of chances with such a recognizable franchise as Minecraft is going to change the game. It’s going to show developers that you don’t have to make a clone of a Niantic game to make it, and that we needs to start taking chances with this technology.

Hats off to the Minecraft team. I’m not going to think for a second that this is going to go off without a hitch. There are going to be bugs, I’m sure. But the point is that they’re taking a risk when established, successful companies in the field have very aggressively avoided risk when they’re making games like this.

While Pokemon GO and Wizards United might be on my phone collecting virtual dust, I can’t wait for this release.

Minecraft Earth goes into beta this summer, if you have an iOS device that’s AR compatible. Learn more here.


Starbucks Writers

What day is it?

I’m serious. Sometimes I am not really sure.

I’m living in front of my computer screen, and it has this sort of Las Vegas casino effect. There are not any windows here. Is it daytime? Nighttime? I blink and it’s sunset… or sunrise?

I’m a little bit afraid what effect this hermit lifestyle is going to have on me as I apply for jobs. My sleep schedule is completely jacked. I’m becoming a little bit set in my ways, working on my own projects and little freelance projects with no real purpose other than what I force on myself.

So, I’m afraid I am going to become, temporarily, one of Those People.

Yes, I am going to be the most shameful of creatures, the Starbucks Writer!!!

I know, I know… I’m a cliche! A hack! John Scalzi wrote a whole book on why this is bullshit! Whatever, dude.

It’s a matter of mental health. As much as I love my cat, I’m getting cabin fever. I’m seeing things crawling up the walls, man! Solitary confinement is really, really bad for you…

So I’m going to be one of Those Guys… And I’m going to try not to be embarassed about it. I’m making money, I’m doing what I love. And if some Starbucks Dude wants to peak over my shoulder and give me grief about it, they’re going to have to deal with it.

I’m busy writing in Starbucks.


What I should be watching versus what I am watching

What I should be watching:

The 150+ movies I have saved for later on Kanopy

The 52 movies I have saved to my list on Netflix

The 25 TV shows in my list on Netflix

The 15 movies I have saved on Hulu

The 12 shows I have saved on Hulu

Anything in my serious backlog of YouTube subscriptions

What I am watching:


My Projects Screenwriting Writing

Short Scripts for Sale

I just wanted to post a quick update on the short scripts I have for sale.

I’ve talked to a few people about what I have up there, and I want all of you to know that I’m listening. I am currently working on smaller budget scripts, as well as shorter scripts.

I’m going to try and keep scripts at around five pages. This seems to be the consensus on what people are looking for, so I’m going to work on those.

I also understand that if you are a film student, some institutions have rules against paying for scripts. I want anyone to know that if they are interested in using one of my scripts, but are restricted from paying for them, to contact me using the form at the bottom of this page and we can try and work something out.

I also wanted anyone who is interested to know that if they are looking for anything specific, or would like to commission a short script, to again use the form at the bottom of this page to contact me and we will be able to work something out.

Thank you for your understanding, and check back soon for more!

Favorite Things Life

Instagram Faves

Movies Reviews Uncategorized

POV in John Cassavetes’s The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

I am currently making my way through the Criterion collection on Kanopy, and I came across an interesting film from 1978, called The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.

On paper, it’s a pretty standard mob crime story: the owner of a strip club gets in too deep with gambling debts owed to the mob, and is tasked with killing a rival bookie to pay off some of what he owes.

What makes it notable is director Cassavetes and cinematographers Mitchell Briet and Al Ruban’s choices in how they shot the film. At first glance, it seems amateurish. It looked like the sort of movie that a film student who watched too much French New Wave would shoot. The picture is often out of focus, pointed at nothing in particular.

It wasn’t until I got to the end of the film, when the camera is rock solid and the picture is almost impossibly crisp did I realize what was going on.

The cinematography was being used as an extension of the main character’s state of mind. The camera wanders with his focus.

When Cosmo is distracted, the camera itself is distracted, focusing on seemingly random parts of the scene, out of focus, and wandering through the set. But when Cosmo is focused, the scenes are shot crisply and simply, focusing on what Cosmo is currently working on.

When the movie ended I immediately started it over, and this new insight really made me more invested in watching the film. It also reminded me that any time I watch a movie, I need to be more cognizant of these tools in the filmmaker’s toolbox, especially if I’m resisting the film for some reason.

If you can find this movie (I watched it on Kanopy) I cannot recommend it enough. And I hope my little observation helps you appreciate it a little more.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider buying me a coffee by clicking on this link. Your donations go a long way to keeping this blog live, and I appreciate anything you can spare. Thank you!

Movies Student Resources Uncategorized Writing Resources YouTube Film School

Video: Lessons From the Screenplay Talks about Annihilation

I am always astounded by the insights that Michael Tucker has in his Lessons from the Screenplay videos. It constantly challenges me to engage with movies and scripts in deeper and deeper ways.

This is a particularly good one that came out recently. If you like it, I encourage you to go to YouTube and watch more of his videos.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider buying me a coffee by clicking on this link. Your donations go a long way to keeping this blog live, and I appreciate anything you can spare. Thank you!


Criterion Covers From 2018

I love the Criterion Instagram account. It’s constantly updating with beautiful images from Criterion films.

These posts are the covers from the films added to the Criterion Collection in 2018.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider buying me a coffee by clicking on this link. Your donations go a long way to keeping this blog live, and I appreciate anything you can spare. Thank you!

Student Resources Writing Advice

Editing From the Bottom Up

One of the most important pieces of writing advice I heard from a fellow student at Full Sail: Edit from the bottom up. 

This means scrolling down to the bottom of the document and reading it, essentially, backwards, looking for grammar mistakes along the way. 

We all think that our scripts and prose just flow from our brains with perfect clarity, but that isn’t always true. When reading through a piece of writing in the usual way our brains can fill in what might be missing, because we know what the words are supposed to say, even if they don’t actually say them. 

When we read these sentences out of order, we can’t get lost in the genius of our own writing. We’re able to see when things may be unclear, missing important pieces of information, or sections that aren’t properly formatted.

Taking the time to go through your work like this requires you to actually do your work in advance though. So, perhaps consider not putting your assignments off until 11:01 pm on Saturday?

If you enjoyed this post, please consider buying me a coffee by clicking on this link. Your donations go a long way to keeping this blog live, and I appreciate anything you can spare. Thank you!

Essays Life

Trinitite: Beauty and the Bomb

I like to think I’m not someone who is easily frightened, but I do have one mostly irrational fear: atomic bombs. 

I have been told that this is silly, and I agree. It’s called an irrational fear for a reason. But I spend too much time getting elbow deep in Cold War-era spy thrillers to avoid the atomic fear echoing up out of the past. 

People my age, born during the fall of the Soviet Union, tend to laugh at the idea of “duck and cover.” Fallout isn’t death on the wind, it’s the newly anticipated video game from Bethesda. 

Trinitite, a.k.a atomsite, a.k.a Alamogordo glass, a.k.a atomic glass (via Wikipedia)

We’ve almost forgotten that atomic weaponry is a terrible thing. If you’re a Millennial or younger, I’ll just leave you with these links to read about Tsar Bomba, the Demon Core,* the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the ongoing effect Soviet nuclear testing in Kazakhstan is having on the people who live there.

It’s strange to think, but even the beautiful things that arose from nuclear bomb detonations are tainted by their origins. 

J. Robert Oppenheimer and others studying the remains of an observation tower at the Trinity test site, via Wikimedia and this very interesting Project Gutenberg publication

Trinitite is a mineral found in the blast craters of the 1945 Trinity nuclear bomb tests in Alamogordo, New Mexico. It has a couple different names: atomic glass, Alamogordo glass, and atomsite. It’s a green glass created by the immense heat and pressure caused by the atomic blasts that fused the sand with radioactive materials and pieces of the bomb itself and surrounding structures.

When scientists went out to the test sites, they described the blast crater and surrounding area as covered in a sea of jade green glass. Even though the area was supposed to be heavily guarded and secret, samples of trinitite because appearing in mineral collections. It was thought at the time that there was no risk of harm from radiation since they thought trinitite was merely a heat reaction and not caused by any kind of nuclear reaction at all.

This was… not wise. While not really radioactive enough to cause immediate danger, trinitite was still radioactive. Trinitite was crafted into necklaces and earrings, and advertised to women.

This makes me nervous. While I can’t find any accounts of even the mildest case of radiation poisoning (and a display in New Mexico uses a Geiger counter to compare the levels of radiation between a sample of trinitite and some old school Fiesta cookware.) I can’t help but wonder if some doctor is puzzled about odd cases of thyroid or skin cancer popping up in fans of retro jewelry. 

Trinitite jewelry was also used for a more sinister purpose: as a misinformation campaign against the Japanese victims of the atomic bombs dropped by the U.S. at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You see, if American women are parading around, sparkling with green jewelry created from a by product of nuclear explosions, how bad off could the Japanese be?**

Back in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the theft of trinitite was becoming a problem. The government banned people from taking trinitite from Alamogordo, and eventually the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission bulldozed over the site completely in 1953 to deter thieves and collectors. 

While samples of pre-prohibition trinitite can be found for sale online, the popularity of the mineral has caused faux-trinitite to be created and sold. While the process of making trinitite can be replicated, only true trinitite contains the radioactive traces that were produced in the Trinity blasts.

Though, if I’m going to choose… I might choose the less radioactive option.

*This is a future blog post unto itself. I have thoughts about the Demon Core. Philosophical and spiritual thoughtsThoughts I tend to think on a regular basis which keep me from sleeping. For another time, though…

**Seriously, this is an actual thing that happened. 

If you enjoyed this post, please consider buying me a coffee by clicking on this link. Your donations go a long way to keeping this blog live, and I appreciate anything you can spare. Thank you!