2015: retrospection

Although I have long since ditched the idea of making new year’s resolutions there is a certain amount of seemingly unavoidable retrospection that occurs at the end of the year. I thought this year that it might make a reasonably engaging, if random, blog post.

So what have I learnt this year?

Music subscription versus ownership
My main lesson and a defining behaviour for me this year was to come to terms with the idea that ownership is not the be all and end all of the appreciation of good music, television and movies.

My CD collection has been seriously and intentionally hit by my signing up to Spotify. So once my increasing anachronistic run through my main CD collection from A to Z is finally over I probably won’t ever be doing it again.

I have listened to a greater range of new and old music over this year than ever before. I have discovered new bands I never would have even heard of via Spotify, enjoyed the Discover Weekly playlist and not had to shell out for new albums. Some of which I would have been sorely disappointed with if I had bought them.

I went all social and created a shared playlist ahead of a nightclub reunion I attended in North Wales and have enjoyed other people’s playlists from Ska and Dubstep to movie soundtracks and new releases. I created a playlist for Siggy when she’s getting ready to go out and I have even set up something on my phone to archive the Discover Weekly gems. Sophisticated me…

As a result of all this my CD collection stayed relatively static, I have saved a heap of money and haven’t opened iTunes in months. I don’t really miss the physicality of a CD and can’t remember the last CD I bought (might have been an old Red Hot Chili Peppers album to fill a gap).

Best album: The Bohicas Making Of

My Prime directive and Netflixation
Turning towards film and TV I have also become a big fan of Netflix and Amazon Prime, saved a shed load of money and seen my Blu Ray collection slow in its growth. I still buy the odd film as a collector and fan of extras (my recent 45 hour stint on The Hobbit is testament to that) but it’s rare that I will buy a disc just so that I can see the film.

I am happy to be patient for films to appear on the streaming services or as disc rentals (yes I am still getting discs through the post). Most discs I have purchased or asked for as presents are to join franchise sets I already have e.g. Ant Man, Terminator and Mission Impossible (Rogue Nation is excellent btw) or director’s collections e.g. Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending, although I saw both on streaming services already.

I don’t miss the discs but I would miss the extras. There is still a collector inside me that likes to see them lined up on a shelf, but I will only buy discs now if I know I will rewatch them. I perhaps need to apply my new mindset regarding my CD collection to my film collection.

I have also begun to binge watch – for instance the excellent Man in the High Castle was consumed in a matter of days and Vikings has slotted nicely into the last couple of days. When the weather is as crap as it has been it seems like a good option and has replaced gaming.

Best film: Mad Max – Fury Road

Best TV: Fargo Season 2 (at a push and surprisingly not on a streaming service but Sky)

Ex-Box?
Intent on finishing writing my book The Sun and the Rainfall and being mesmerised by the amount of films available on Prime and Netflix, I have played very little on my XBOX this year and although I have Crysis 3 and Watchdogs to play I’d rather carry on with watching Vikings.

I didn’t finish Alien Isolation and turned my back on Assassin’s Creed. I think I need a decent Lego game to get me involved again and I am toying with the idea of buying a new console, but might not bother.

Best game: Camel Up (it’s a brilliant board game we played at Christmas)

Habitual inertia versus digital ink
I may be a purveyor of e-books but my own reading habits are still centred around physical paperbacks. I have over forty on my ‘not read yet’ shelf despite attempts this year to stop buying them. I bought a Kindle which is languishing with an uncharged battery somewhere in the house; I’ve used the Kindle app on my phone more but have only finished one ebook so far – that being the excellent A Portrait of Dorian Grey.

I got quite a few paperback books for Christmas and also bought a couple myself – after the excellent Cloud Atlas I decided to stock up on David Mitchell books. I also have some more Philip K Dick, Jo Nesbo and Bill Bryson to read.

Reading real books is going to be a hard habit to break.

Best book: Cloud Atlas

TripAdvisor surprise
As well as this blog I have been quite active on TripAdvisor and was surprised to be told by them that I was in the top 4% of reviewers in the East Midlands area despite only being a level 5 reviewer.

I know this sounds like I am blowing my own trumpet, but it makes me wonder if I should refocus this blog a bit towards the stuff I do outside of the house? Nah… it’s called couchmagpie after all, toot toot!

Another book with next to no sales
Finishing my book The Sun and the Rainfall dominated a lot of my free time in 2015. I published and then tried a bit of word-of-mouth promotion which rather fell flat. I also dropped the price of all my other books down to 99p on Amazon.

I got very few sales and I think that it is the lack of reviews on Amazon which is not helping things. I can’t afford to do any big promotional efforts and so the next best thing is good reviews. So if you have read one of my books please do me a review.

Regrettably still believing the hype
I still haven’t managed to not get my hopes up to astronomical levels for blockbuster movies. Star Wars and Spectre being the most recent cases in point. Maybe I will learn my lesson in 2016, but I doubt it.

My biggest regret of the year was not attending ComicCon at Birmingham in November and missing out on meeting the lovely Liv Tyler. Major head slap.

If I was to make any resolutions then one would be to attend the next event and also go to the cinema a bit more often. There’s a new multiplex opening in my home town soon with a good membership deal which I imagine I will take advantage of(and also a load of new restaurants to review on TripAdvisor). Woot!

HAPPY NEW YEAR FOR 2016!

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