My Retirement Week (6)

Isn’t it typical? Last week I wrote about cancelling Amazon Prime, and this week I get an e-mail from them about their new, “Exclusive to Prime” TV show, an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel, The Man in the High Castle. Which, of course, I’d really like to see. Damn you, Amazon!

One subscription I didn’t cancel was to the money magazine Money Week, which I still read on a weekly basis. I noticed, however, that they’re doing a free podcast, hosted by the editor Merryn Somerset Webb (the financial thinking man’s Beyonce.) I picked out the interview with Matt Ridley, a Times columnist and author of The Rational Optimist, an excellent book – although here he’s plugging his new one. It’s quite interesting listening and covers a lot of ground although some of it is pretty patchy to be honest. It jumps from why we don’t need central banks to vaping, to climate change, to Bitcoin’s blockchain technology, the evolution of Scottish banks and a host of other topics.

I was quite concerned with how I’d fill my winter days in retirement, but it’s amazing how they drift by. I’ve spent some time cooking this week, partly in the never ending search for the ultimate curry recipe. I tend to use this recipe these days to make a batch of onion base and then experiment from there. (November weather is made for curries.)

The stormy weather earlier in the week kept me in at night, trying to find something on TV I could get into. Like so many others I’m always on the look out for Box Sets* that I can swallow in big gulps, so I tried Fargo (Series One) which I’d heard was pretty good. And it is. But maybe not quite as good as it thinks it is. There’s just too many scenes and characters that prompts me to think that the writers and directors were just trying too hard to be witty, cool and left-field. I could imagine them sitting in a script room, saying “Okay, how about just after the car bursts into flames, we have a camel wander down the street past it? From nowhere! Wearing a pair of Ray Bans! Wouldn’t that be rad, or what?! I mean guys, Breaking Bad never did that kind of shit!”

Unless I become totally immersed in a drama, I do often find this kind of subjective barrier forming between myself and whatever I’m watching. I blame Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in the famous book The Catcher in the Rye (his voice has stuck with me from school days) who aims many of his caustic observations at actors and the movies. In particular, I recall this scene where Holden can’t allow himself to enjoy a Broadway show:

“I came in when the goddam show was on. The Rockettes were kicking their heads off, the way they do when they’re all in line with their arms around each other’s waist. The audience applauded like mad, and some guy behind me kept saying to his wife, “You know what that is? That’s precision.” He killed me. Then, after the Rockettes, a guy came out in a tuxedo and roller skates on, and started skating under a bunch of little tables, and telling jokes while he did it. He was a very good skater and all, but I couldn’t much enjoy it because I kept picturing him practicing to be a guy that roller-skates on the stage. It seemed so stupid.”

Holden’s observations have ruined a lot of entertainment for me over the years. I mean, I can admire Britain’s Got Talent as much as the next man….no, I’m sorry, I can’t.

One way to avoid the guy who keeps telling his wife “That’s precision”, and which early retirement allows, is to visit the cinema on a Tuesday afternoon. It’s cheaper too. The place is empty, even if you’re visiting, as I did, to see Spectre, the new James Bond.  (It was okay, not as good as Skyfall, IMHO). I noticed in the empty foyer that the packet of Maltesers I’d just bought beforehand in the 99p Store was there for sale at £3.99. The same bag! Anybody paying that amount shouldn’t be allowed out. Mind you, my wife wasn’t too happy about me forcing her to buy a can of Coke in the same store. “No way”, she said. “I can’t drink out of a can without a straw.” Of course, anticipating this objection, I’d already brought one of those from home. I had to sneak these treats in concealed in my heavy jacket, as I daren’t risk suggesting using my wife’s handbag. That was already stuffed with bags of Sunkist popcorn (6 bags for 99p) versus £4.99 for the smallest bucket of popcorn in the cinema. Some may argue that it’s a shame that Early Retirement has forced such frugality upon us, whereas we, in the FIRE community, know that such frugality is what allows us to retire early.

When not watching telly or reading, I’ve been writing this and chilling to Camera Obscura’s Desire Lines which I hope sounds suitably trendy. Just because I’m retired doesn’t mean that I’m musically committed to James Last and His Orchestra. Manuel and His Music of the Mountains, well, that’s another story.

*Box Sets = Middle Class Obsession

17 thoughts on “My Retirement Week (6)

  1. The movie theater by our house has the big, plush reclining seats (like airline business class). On Tuesdays they have a $5 US special for all movies. I’ve snuck out of work early twice in the last 6 months and met my son & wife there. I’m looking forward to making that a habit in early retirement next week. We love movies. I liked SPECTRE a lot – not as ambitious as Skyfall, but more of a classic Bond movie.

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  2. Sounds a lot like how I envision my retirement to be. Seeing movies in the afternoon, binge-watching Fargo, and listening to modern baroque pop. I’ve also thought how absurd it is what entertainers practice to do. Specifically I remember seeing the Dandy Warhols at a free outdoor concert and laughed out loud imagining them trying to get the harmonies right on the line “Heroin is so passseee.”

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  3. Fargo is just great entertainment – what makes it more entertaining is when they say it’s a true story (which could be true, or not). I’m currently watching the second series, not quite a s good as the first one but still watchable.

    Box-sets have changed how people watch television these days – binge-watching is now a popular hobby (including one of mine!).

    I’ve been binge-watching Homeland and Suits of late.

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  4. Isn’t a box set of fargo more expensive than one month of Netflix (or Amazon Prime, for that matter) subscription? From the frugal point of you, wouldn’t you better off getting one of those and start binge watching their shows?

    About sneaking stuff into theaters: I’ve done it occasionally, but I feel bad about it. It’s my understanding that theaters don’t make money except on those sales… their problem I guess… but either way I don’t drink/eat at the movies so it’s not like I’m doing any better than you 😛

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    • I had Amazon Prime for two years and hardly watched a thing on it – apart from Bosch, which was pretty good. I looked at Netflix and couldn’t see anything I’d watch either. Things like Fargo tend to come up repeated on the satellite channels eventually.

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  5. I kinda stopped watching TV series really with a couple of exceptions

    TV just steals big chunks of your life

    As for paying to sit in some filthy multiplex….well… im pretty happy to wait a year for a movie i want to see come out on download

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    • The one thing I can’t allow myself, because it feels like a sheer waste of time, is the xbox. I’ve tried, I’ve tried but I just can’t enjoy it. Seems so pointless. Some box set series have restored my faith on TV, especially on these miserable winter nights. And you’re right, the multiplex was filthy.

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  6. Afternoon cinema is great, our local one said in a press release a while ago that it was perfectly allowed to bring in your own food and drink (in response to some ‘news’ article about how overpriced the snacks are).

    The next step is smuggling in your own booze. I suggest miniature spirits bottles and bottles of mixer, as it’s easier to carry than the same units as beer, but to each their own. Don’t judge me ’til you’ve tried it, kids films become a lot funnier after a couple.

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  7. I haven’t been to the cinema in a while it is soooo expensive. (I am just too frugal! I need to let my hair down occasionally.)
    I remember being bag searched at one cinema to check for ‘illicit food & drink’. I managed to sneak in my chocolate sweets anyway! Yes, they do search sometimes! The prices are just stupid, the new trick of getting you to buy your tickets AT the food counter now enables them to try even harder to get you to buy something, plus it cuts down on the staff overheads 🙂

    My local cinema – charges £8.40 – ouch! that’s the cheapest adult ticket, £7.90 if you are a pensioner or student (must have ID to prove)! I might as well wait for it to come out on Netflix or BlinkBox and watch it then.

    I binge-watch on Netflix or Blinkbox rather than buy the boxsets. Although there is sometimes a bit of a swap going on between friends so a small friendly boxset community is available. I really need to watch House, its been on my wish list for a while now. I keep meaning to start watching that from the beginning and my boyfriend is hooked on Sons of Anarchy, watching and re-watching.

    I have see the trailers for “The Man in the High Castle” – it does look good. Being exclusive to Amazon is really annoying, it seems they are muscling in on the market and films and TV series are not now being offered on the other on-demand supplier channels because they are being bought up on exclusivity deals. I am going to look up the original book as the interview with the screenwriter who adapted it has said that they have mixed in the story lines and the book is good reading on its own.

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    • I read my first Philip K Dick, ever, last week, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (he’s author of The Man in the High Castle.). It was excellent, and was the book Blade Runner was based on. The book was better than the film, as it almost always is, so maybe I too should be content with the written version of Man in the High Castle.

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