Welcome to Chestbeating By Word. Writings on artists, experiences, entertainment and fiction.



I have a new love, and in fact I am a bit obsessed. It’s not a band or a writer or a TV show. Not a particular dish although The Artist has been doing wonders with vegetables like Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli lately, her roasted Cauliflower and Red Lentil salad is a knockout. Nor is it a drink or a café. I don’t have a new board and I am driving the same car.

In fact I never got the whole deal with fast expensive cars. Sure if I had more money I would have a nicer car but the criteria still has to be the same. I don’t like roof racks so I drive SUVs or even better, station wagons. Open up the tailgate and slide the gear in.  Good stereo, air con and sat nav all count more than the 0 to 100 in how ever many seconds that big money can buy. Seriously I have never felt any real desire to be a Porsche or a Ferrari owner. Actually if I was seriously rich I would just sit in the back and someone could just drive me around.

But my new obsession has nothing to do with cars. It is with Technical Outdoor Wear. Yep, the stuff you wear when you are serious about hiking, camping, skiing and mountain climbing.

Shells, polar fleece, layers, performance sealed seams, and breathability etc., mmm baby bring it on.


All of which is great but of course the stuff I most want to spend a fortune on and use I cannot justify because I live in Queensland. I could wear the lowest rating gear on only about three days of the year without melting.  So I am talking totally impractical, unless of course I travel to Patagonia or Nepal or The Rockies or at least Melbourne on a yearly basis.


But when you are obsessed common sense goes out the window. Its not just the direct contact with your obsession. Love is reading the catalogues, checking the gear in the outdoor clothing specialist stores shops, watching the manufacturers videos and picking favourites.


Now despite being born and bred in the sunshine state I really do love cold climates. When we lived in Melbourne I loved winter, surfing in winter is fantastic as long as the rubber is good. I almost always end up in cold places for holidays during autumn and winter - so far Dublin, Berlin, Chicago, Calgary and Sapporo.

It s not just the snow that I love, it is the mountains and forests and fast running rivers and the sleet, mud and of course the speccie boots and clothes.


Plus there is a thought process to what you wear when the weather is cold and wet. It takes planning. If you don’t get it right you could be very uncomfortable, in some circumstances you might die. This appeals to the rational part of my mind. Compare that to the tropics where you put on boardies, t-shirt and sunnies and away you go. Rains on you and you will dry out soon enough.


That is all well and good but office wear in summer can be really hot. Sure the office is air conditioned but you might need to use public transport or go out for lunch etc. There is a limit to how much you can take off. But when it is cold and you have the right cold weather clothes you can always put more clothes on.


One of the other great appeals of Technical Outdoor Wear or T.O.W. for short is all the great jargon and terminology. Here are some of the key features of some very choice Helly Hansen jackets.


20,000 WP and 20,000gm moisture vapor permeability

DWR C6 + hydrophilic lamination, nylon tricot backing

100% Polyamide 70D x 70D face


I am not sure but I think these features mean that in one of these jackets I can scale K2 in comfort so I want one. I am in love.



While we are on the subject of cool things there is nothing better on TV at the moment than Russian Doll on Netflix.  It is set modern day in the lower east side of NY, our heroine Nadia is having a groundhog day experience, dying over and over again in different ways on her 36th birthday and coming back to life in a bathroom at her birthday party. Yeah I know the premise has been done with the wonderful Bill Murray but this is so much better and darker and cooler; if for no other reason it does not have Andi McDowell as a co-star. Nice person I am sure but she cannot act her way out of a wet paper bag.


Anyway Russian Doll takes the premise in a whole other direction. The ensemble acting is good, the script crackling with wiseass wit, the smoking and partying is prodigious and NY is NY. Natasha Lyone who co created the show, plays Nadia and who has to work out why she is dying over and over again is awesome. You literally can’t take your eyes off her. There are lots of references to things that make NY and NY based shows great, relationships, surviving in the big mean city, breakfast at Tiffany’s, CBGBs and the NY punk scene, the jewishness of NY, cost of living etc. The soundtrack is fantastic and I think the whole thing is a riff on growing old although I am not really sure. Just watch it.


Entirely less convincing and rather disappointing is Castle Rock, homage to the story telling of the great Steven King. You can catch this on Fetch etc and there are some god points like picking the little nods in some of the scenes to Mr. King’s masterworks like Cujo, The Shining, It, The Shawshank Redemption and The Dead Zone.


The big problem is not much happens, lots of spooky music and flashbacks, some interesting characters like Scott Glenn as retired Sheriff Pangbourne and Melanie Lynsky as Castle Rock’s troubled and troubling real estate agent really don’t count for much when the show is actually boring. The best way to describe it is that it is like one of those compilation singles of 70’s top 40 songs all spliced together with the same beat and sung and played by some anonymous studio musos for about 3 and half minutes.  Like a song of choruses with no verses, all the best bits are there but the whole is sorely less than the sum of the parts.


In my last blog I wrote about how I had finally got around to reading Neuromancer, the 80s sci fi novel that added a whole new sub genre to sci fi, spawned The Matrix and like all great sci fi made some very accurate predictions of how our world might just end up looking like. Well I’ve finished it and it is a mind fuck and must have been more so back last century. I have to admit though while digging the invention and characters I got a bit lost in the techno stuff as the plot reached its climax.  So I guess I will need to read it again one day. As I have noted before with this stuff, if you are into it you would have read Neuromancer a dozen times by now.

If you are more like me, and your curiosity is more around its reputation and influence you might, like me, feel only partly fulfilled.


Relevant songs


Stars on 45 – Stars on 45

Waiting For The Man –Lou Reed, the eternal voice of NY

Pet Semetary -The Ramones, Stephen King and the CBGB heritage together in one song

Outdoors Type – The Lemonheads, for a while there Evan Dando was so cool

 Mountain Song – Jane’s Addiction

Spybreak – Propellerheads



“Doesn’t that hurt?”

“Doesn’t that hurt?”