Writing Day Down

Philip HarrisMovies, The Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

My first “writing day” of the year was a reasonable success – 2,295 words added to The Ghost Smuggler. That’s not great but I enjoyed myself. I also spent some time posting the first exercise for the brevity workshop and critiquing some of the other students’ work which chewed up some of the writing time. And I got a free cookie from Subway. I was hoping to hit the 70,000 word mark yesterday but I found that by about 4pm I was getting tired and distracted. When I wrote a chapter that could be accurately summed up as “I walked to the top of hill, there was nothing there so I went somewhere else”, I decided I should stop and go for a run. The good news is that on the run I worked out what to really do with that chapter and in the process filled in a small plot hole I’d be studiously ignoring for some time. Unfortunately, this morning I realised there’s some inconsistency in the way I’m getting characters in and out of the spiritworld that I can’t ignore. As Brandon Sanderson is fond of saying, I can “fix it in post” and I think that fix … Read More

The Conjuring

Philip HarrisMoviesLeave a Comment

My wife and I went to see The Conjuring on Saturday. We’re both horror fans (it was Ann that introduced me to one of my favourite films, Hellraiser) and we both enjoyed it. I’m pleased  that Hollywood has finally moved away from the “teen horror” of films like Final Destination and its brief flirtation with torture porn (Hostel 3 anyone?). They seem to have rediscovered the 70s style paranormal horror exemplified by films like The Exorcist and Audrey Rose and I for one approve. The Conjuring is “based on a true story” – the paranormal investigators in the film, Ed and Lorraine Warren are real people and the film covers a couple of their cases. How true the story is, I don’t know but The Conjuring is a solid entry into the haunted house sub-genre. It’s appropriately tense and creepy and feels a lot like those older films. Like most modern horror films, it relies on rising tension punctuated by sudden shocks but it’s effective and if you like your horror creepy, it’s well worth a look. [The Conjuring by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 31 July 2013]

“In the Flat Fields”

Philip HarrisChatter, Movies, Running, WritingLeave a Comment

It’s been a busy few days. On Thursday and Friday I took part in a two day offsite (basically a really long meeting where we talk about strategic company stuff). It played havoc with my writing schedule but on Thursday evening we were treated to a visit from  retired NHL player, Trevor Linden. Linden played for the Vancouver Canucks and is probably their most loved player. He’s renowned for being an all round great guy and true to form he was very friendly, happily signing autographs and chatting with us after his speech. Saturday was race day. I took part in the 25th Annual Summerfast 10k race around Stanley Park. Ann wasn’t running, she ran a solo race last weekend, so I was on my own for this one. It was a fantastic event with beautiful clear skies and a great atmosphere. There’s a cap of 500 runners for the race so it’s relatively small. I started a little bit too far back in the pack so it was somewhat crowded and the pace was slower than I’d have liked during the early part of the race but from 2km onwards the field had spread out and I was able … Read More

“The Only Indication of Time”

Philip HarrisBooks, Chatter, Movies, Running, WritingLeave a Comment

Wow. It’s been almost two months since my last real post. Doesn’t time fly. What have I done during that time? Well, let’s see. Besides neglecting my blog, I have (in no particular order)… Spent a very enjoyable evening with fellow eHorror author Rob Boffard and his girlfriend Watched a bunch of films including Star Trek Into Darkness (good), World War Z (good) and Resident Evil: Retribution (the less said the better) Watched Hannibal (excellent), Under the Dome (meh) and the first two seasons of Game of Thrones (excellent – yes, I know, I’ve been slacking) Watched a production of Avenue Q (fantastic) Watched the B-52s play live (excellent) Read Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 (excellent) Read In the Broken Birdcage of Kathleen Fair by Cate Gardner (also excellent) Read Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane (excellent) Read The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig (very good) Started rereading one of my favourite horror novels – Cabal by Clive Barker (still excellent) Bought far too many books (excellent) Including the Humble eBook Bundle II Read some very excellent blog posts Listened to Tom Dickins’ and the Punintentionals new album about two hundred times (excellent) Snagged tickets to Neil Gaiman, Peter Murphy and John Cleese … Read More

The Not So Amazing Spider-Man

Philip HarrisMoviesLeave a Comment

I enjoyed the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films (although I thought the last one lacked focus) but for some indistinct reason the reboot didn’t really appeal so we didn’t go to see it at the cinema. I was interested in it enough to record it from Movie Central though and it’s been sitting on our PVR for a while. We finally got around to watching it last night and it turns out my ill defined impressions were correct. It wasn’t a bad film but halfway through I stopped caring about anything that was going on. Thinking about it this morning, I came to the conclusion that the problem was it all felt too familiar. Apart from a different villain, it’s essentially the same story as the Tobey Maguire version. I get that it’s an origin story and so there’s a formula that needs to be followed but even the tone felt similar to the earlier films (or at least to my memory of the earlier films). Contrast it to the Batman reboot. Again, it was a familiar story but it felt different – fresher and more modern. The Dark Knight trilogy works because it keeps to the spirit of Batman while still bringing … Read More

Look Who’s Evil Now

Philip HarrisChatter, MoviesLeave a Comment

My wife introduced me to horror films one afternoon when she suggested we rent out Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. That film has since become one of my favourites and even now, <cough> years later, we’re still drawn to horror films. So, it was inevitable that we’d go to see the Evil Dead remake. And by that I mean this one: Not this one: Let’s get something straight right from the start. There are no plot surprises in this film. This is the type of horror film that The Cabin in the Woods skewered so beautifully. There was some attempt at a credible explanation for why our protagonists don’t run from the cabin (which given the amount of rain in this film is located somewhere near Vancouver) at the first sign of trouble but beyond that you get all the requisite plot holes and dumb decisions you would expect. But that’s not why people watch Evil Dead and the remake has updated the story without losing the flavour of the original. Which makes it a very gory film. Very. Despite being labelled on the Cineplex website as a “thriller” this is not a watered down PG-13 teen-horror. This is a full on, in your … Read More

Retreat (2011)

Philip HarrisMoviesLeave a Comment

My wife and I watch quite a lot of movies, usually 3-4 a week. Our PVR sits at 80% full thanks to our subscription to Movie Central and we live near a couple of big cinemas and see quite a lot of stuff on the “big screen” as well. Last night’s film was Retreat starring Thandie Newton, Cillian Murphy and Jamie Bell. Ann suggested we record it (I’m not sure why) and I wasn’t really expecting much. As it turned out, it was actually pretty good. Newton and Murphy play a couple staying in a cottage on a remote island. They find an injured soldier (played by Jamie Bell) who informs them that an airborne virus is sweeping across the country, killing everyone but it’s clear he can’t be trusted. It  has a tiny cast, there’s only one other character, a brief appearance of Jimmy Yuill as the cottage owner who drops them off on the island. I wouldn’t be surprised to find it started life as a play. There’s a bit of a Dead Calm feel to Retreat and although the couple’s back story feels a bit superfluous overall I enjoyed it. [The article Retreat (2011) by Philip Harris originally appeared on Solitary Mindset on … Read More

Only Three Days?

Philip HarrisChatter, Movies, Running, The Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

My wife and I went out for our first long run in a couple of weeks yesterday – a “short” 18km route to ease us back into things. It was a fantastic day, cool with clear blue skies. We ran along the English Bay seawall, round Lost Lagoon, through Stanley Park along Pipeline to the east seawall, then right along the seawall to “Mile Zero” before cutting back to Lost Lagoon and English Bay seawall to run home. It’s a route we use a lot – it’s flat, there’s a decent amount of variety, a few places to get water and you can double up the middle 6km to get some extra distance. I felt good during the run but an hour or so afterwards I was feeling pretty beaten up. My calves were very tight and there was a little ball of pain half way down my back. It was at this point that Ann mentioned that it only takes 3 days for running fitness to start dropping off. And I’d missed over two weeks. Thinking about it today, I think it had more to do with the fact that I wore my “race shoes” – a pair of … Read More

Was It Something I Ate?

Philip HarrisChatter, Movies, The Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

Not an enjoyable day yesterday – let’s leave it at that. I forgot to mention yesterday that we went to see Prometheus on Sunday. I won’t join the hordes of people reviewing the film but I will say that while it’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen, I did enjoy it. It’s not Alien and it’s not Aliens but it’s still worth seeing. Despite the distraction I alluded to earlier, I did manage to find some time to write another 1337 words on The Ghost Smuggler – which is nice – and only 196 of those words were directly salvaged from the original draft which is also nice. I’m not completely happy with what I have so far, although it does feel a lot tighter than the original so that’s a step in the right direction. Of course, I don’t know if that’s because I’m over analyzing or if there’s still work to be done. I’m going to press on and see how things shape up.

Back From The Dead

Philip HarrisBooks, Chatter, Events, Movies, Music, StoriesLeave a Comment

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