Thoughts on a Writing Retreat (2014)

Philip HarrisChatter, Events0 Comments

The first Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat was fantastic. Lots of friendly people, good food, a great location and a nice selection of trips and events for anyone who wanted time away from the keyboard. Even the weather cooperated. A full write up would take several thousand words and I’m going to spend those words writing fiction instead but here’s a few random thoughts. Photos will follow later once I’ve finished reintegrating myself into the real world. The Stanley Hotel is a great place to stay. It even has its own resident psychic – Madame Vera. The Rocky Mountain National Park is beautiful. If it’s open, Trail Ridge Road is a great drive and it gets you to Grand Lake where you can find a great BBQ and a cool little book store. There’s a very cool cemetery hidden in the trees just up the road from Grand Lake. There were some amazing costumes at The Stanley Hotel Halloween Ball. As you might expect, running at 7,500ft is hard work. My 8km run around the lake felt more like 18km. The Stanley Hotel Paranormal investigation was surprisingly good – not the gimmicky tourist attraction I was expecting. And there was some weird stuff going on … Read More

The Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat

Philip HarrisChatter, Events0 Comments

In a few hours , I’ll be flying to The Stanley Hotel in Colorado for a five day horror writing retreat. The Stanley is the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write a little book called The Shining, hence its choice as the location for the retreat. In case you’re wondering, no it’s not the hotel that features in the Stanley Kubrick film. For me, it looks like it’s going to be more of an editing retreat. I have Glitch Mitchell and the Unseen Planet, Leah, a new short story and The Zombie Book, all ready to be revised. I find revision a lot harder than writing fresh words (which is probably why I have the backlog) so I’ll probably add another writing project or two in there as well. Maybe a short story, maybe a sequel to one of the novels or Leah. There are some events planned as well, readings and panels at the Estes Park Library, some trips out for the attendees, a haunted hotel tour etc. But my main goal is try to finish a couple of those projects, starting with Leah which I’m hoping to self-publish by the end of November. [“The Stanley Hotel Writers … Read More

Jack White at Deer Lake Park

Philip HarrisEvents, Music, Videos0 Comments

Last night’s Jack White gig was, predictably, excellent but it was a very different gig to the last time we saw him. And not just because it was an outdoor venue. Not one to simply wander out on stage and play a bunch of tracks from his latest album, White and his band played a raucous set that jumped from The White Stripes to The Raconteurs to his solo work and back to The White Stripes. Every song was tweaked and rearranged (and seemed to end about three times) until they were almost unrecognisable. The end result was a loud, energetic and at times chaotic show that left us smiling and humming  Seven Nation Army, still not quite able to believe the record company were reluctant to release it as a single. There was even a theremin! Not only White on top form, but he was supported by Curtis Harding, who was also fantastic. I can usually take or leave supporting acts but Harding played a great set and had us tapping our feet and heading to iTunes to check out his albums. All in all, a great evening that made the forty minute walk to get to the venue well worthwhile. [Jack White at Deer Lake Park by … Read More

Echo & the Bunnymen

Philip HarrisEvents, Music0 Comments

Next stop on the trip down memory lane – Echo & the Bunnymen. I’ve never been a hardcore fan (and didn’t know that they’re still releasing new albums until I looked them up on Wikipedia) but when I saw they were playing The Commodore in Vancouver, and that my wife was interested in seeing them, I plonked down my credit card and threw their albums on my iPod. The gig was almost sold out and The Commodore dance floor was packed by the time they took the stage. We took sanctuary up on the balcony and managed to snag seats – always a bonus at The Commodore. The ninety minute set was excellent, even though I didn’t know the songs particularly well. They played a mix of Bunnymen tracks and a few classic covers including People Are Strange which brought with it another trip down memory lane to The Lost Boys. The crowd, though enthusiastic, were fairly static (at least until they got to The Cutter) and they didn’t play my favourite song, Crocodiles, but still, it was a good night.   [Echo & the Bunnymen by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 6th August 2014]

Monty Python Live (mostly)

Philip HarrisChatter, Events, Theatre0 Comments

I’m reaching that age where my idols from my formative years are running out of money (or just getting bored) and need to step back into the limelight to refill their coffers (or just entertain themselves). The latest of these nostalgia pimps is the Monty Python crew. The first of their Monty Python Live (mostly) shows sold out in 43 seconds and they eventually added 9 more dates. With the shows being in London, attending in person was never an option but Cineplex ran it as part of their Front Row Centre series. We’ve been to a couple of Front Row Centre events before – the Benedict Cumberbatch & Jonny Lee Miller/Jonny Lee Miller & Benedict Cumberbatch performances of Frankenstein. It’s a great way to see otherwise inaccessible shows although you don’t get the same atmosphere as a true live performance. Monty Python was actually a bit before my time (honest) but I grew up in a house of fans and the classic lines were a part of our shared vocabulary. In fact, it wasn’t until I discovered Monty Python that I actually knew where these in-jokes came from. Even then, my Monty Python viewing has mostly been limited to the movies (particularly Holy Grail and Life of Brian). That, coupled with the mixed … Read More

#ninjaTED

Philip HarrisChatter, Events, Music0 Comments

My enthusiasm for Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman is well documented on this site so it should come as no surprise that Wednesday’s #ninjaTED event was the highlight of the week for me. It all started innocently enough. Amanda tweeted a call for a venue for one of her ninja gigs – spontaneous shows like the one she and Neil played at Fluevog. By Wednesday, in another demonstration of the power of both Amanda’s following and the internet at large, the ninja gig had turned into well over three hours of interviews, poetry, songs and stories featuring a mix of TED speakers, local and international musicians and of course Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman – all with the goal of gathering donations for the Vancouver Food Bank and creating some “realtime cross-over with the people here in TED-land and the population of Vancouver”. After standing in the unseasonably cold (but thankfully dry) Vancouver streets for over three hours my wife and I were relieved to get into the warm and inviting Vogue Theatre (who’d donated their space for the evening). The room was already full of energy. Vancouver’s Orkestar Slivovica brass band were playing some lively Balkan tunes, the belly dancers were in fine form and … Read More

Following Neil

Philip HarrisAuthors, Events4 Comments

When I posted on Facebook that I had tickets to see Neil Gaiman, one of my friends commented “Isn’t Neil Gaiman an author?” to which I replied “Yes, but he’s a rock star author.” I was wrong, he’s bigger than a rock star. When we reached the Vogue theatre, about 45 minutes before the doors opened, the queue was already at the block and a half stage, far longer than any band we’ve seen since moving to Vancouver. Twenty minutes later it had stretched another block and was in danger of reaching Ouroboros status before the doors were opened. The Vogue is a good venue for this type of event. Large enough to accommodate a reasonable number of people but small enough that everyone gets a decent view and there’s plenty of atmosphere. An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer was held in the Vogue and it’s where we first saw Evil Dead: The Musical so it’s given us some good memories. Steadfastly refusing to look at the table selling copies of Neil’s books, we got into the theatre just before six. The room was filled with hundreds of politely excited people talking about Neil or books or how they can’t grow a … Read More

Back From The Dead

Philip HarrisBooks, Chatter, Events, Movies, Music, Stories0 Comments

Time flies when you’re living in a self-imposed creative wasteland. It’s been three months since my last real update and since then I’ve been to several plays including two musicals, seen a couple of fantastic musicians live listened to a lot of great new music, backed loads of kickstarter projects, watched some hockey but not as much as I would have liked, eaten in some nice restaurants, injured my foot, run a marathon and signed up for a second one, watched some really good films (and awesome videos), seen the batmobile, read some great books and a lot of short stories but written nothing. The Evil Dead Claim Another Victim*  However, a couple of weeks ago we went away to Desolation Sound for a short break to recharge and I ended up writing the first drafts of a couple of new stories – This is Not the Apocalypse You’re Looking For and Artificial Wife. Desolation Sound  That burst of creativity (and the amazing location) swept away the cobwebs and since then I’ve been masterminding a plan to get writing back into my regular schedule. The first step was to clear out all my almost finished stories so I’ve spent the last few days revising Origami Man, Rainshine and … Read More

A @GreatDismal Evening

Philip HarrisAuthors, Chatter, Events0 Comments

Last week was pretty much overwhelmed by my day job – lots of late evenings trying to keep all the plates spinning. As a result running and writing both fell by the wayside and that’s going to continue to be the case for the next couple of weeks while we finish off our latest title and get a couple of new projects fired up. Wednesday was the exception though; we braved the Vancouver rain to see William Gibson at the latest Incite event at the Vancouver Public Library. Okay, so it’s only about four blocks from home so it wasn’t much of a sacrifice, but still…rain. Incite is a series of literary events organised by the Vancouver International Writers Festival and they’re free, which meant getting there early to make sure we got a decent seat – in this case a prime position in the second row. Mr Gibson was there to promote his latest book – Distrust That Particular Flavor – a collection of non-fiction essays culled from magazines, websites and speeches. He read a short chapter from the book in between questions from the VIWF Artistic Director, Hal Wake, and the audience. Topics ranged from his reluctance to publish non-fiction to the appeal … Read More

Molly Lewis – Live in Vancouver

Philip HarrisEvents, Music2 Comments

No actual writing this week, just more planning, but we did go to our first musical event of the year last night – a gig by Molly Lewis. The first thing I need to mention about this particular show was the venue – a real live human being’s front room. Okay, we weren’t all sitting round the fire in great grandma’s Victorian armchairs or anything like that – this was a loft in Vancouver after all – but there was a sofa and a computer and food in the kitchen and somewhere, a cat. It was also the perfect location to see the charming Molly Lewis play. If you aren’t familiar with her, she plays the ukulele (and sometimes, a kazoo) and sings about Mr T, Stephen Fry, MySpace and beards. Basically, she’s George Formby for the iPhone generation. She also isn’t sure how many songs people expect at a $5 show. In this case the answer was ‘we don’t really care’. I would guess there were about 30-40 people there last night but a lot of them already knew each other so it felt like a group of friends hanging out rather than a gig. Molly’s a great singer and her … Read More