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

Not Looking Not Looking

Not Looking Not Looking

I don’t know how to say this, but in my opinion Big Little Lies series 2 has a great soundtrack. Not that I have been watching it. Just occasionally I hear snippets of songs before I hear some dialogue and then I go back to what I was doing, which is usually writing, or reading or anything but watching Big Little Lies. This is basically the truth.

Sure I have watched some snippets as I have passed through the lounge room where the Artist and the Princess are lying on the couch, engrossed in the dastardly, secretive going ons in beachside Northern California. And like I said I can hear dialogue and it does seem snappy and strong and Meryl Streep is having a great time doing a kind of Jack Nicholson scenery eating overacting thing and Nicole Kidman’s face might actually move one day and the rest of the cast is great and by gosh what’s her name is quite attractive and Laura Dern is so intense she makes Death Metal seem like a Roll Out the Barrel sing-along. And everything looks beautiful, like the scenery and the houses and the furnishings and the cars but I am not watching it.


But I can tell you the soundtrack kicks arse. It includes some favourites from Neil Young, Donna Summer and Massive Attack, covers from performers like Patty Smith, Willie and Paula Nelson and The Cowboy Junkies, obscurities from Roy Orbison, lesser known artists like Sufjan Stevens, Cigarettes After Sex and My Morning Jacket and best of all heaps of great soul from the likes of Leon Bridges, Charles Bradley and Brenton Wood. Seriously, it is taking all my strength not to watch this show.


Something that I am happy to shout my love for [in fact I am watching again] is the Netflix Irish comedy series Derry Girls with two seasons available for your viewing pleasure. Derry Girls concerns the misadventures of four high school girls and one boy and their families in Londonderry, Northern Ireland during the troubles between Catholics and the Protestants in the 1990s.


Now I am biased as I only need to only hear an Irish accent and I start smiling but this show is, in the vernacular, feckin hilarious.  Really, seriously funny, plus there is a strong sense of community and family, all the characters are wonderfully fleshed out and the dialogue is wickedly sharp. Being about teenagers I shouldn’t need to say, but I will, that there is lots of bad language and talk about drugs, drink and sex. If you only watch one comedy on Netflix watch this one.


Also on the just watched list is “US” the latest horror film from the creators of 2017’s fantastic Get Out. Is it as good? For me no, but that doesn’t mean it is not worth your time. There are some great set piece scenes and the idea is pretty awesome [family gets attacked in their house by their doppelgangers] but somehow it just didn’t grab me as much. This wonderfully rich sub genre of political/social commentary horror is more my bag though than the seemingly endless cycle of the haunted houses, possessed dolls and evil nuns that seem to be the flavour at the moment amongst The Princess and her friends.

And one thing is for sure the zombie genre is one that is finally dying. That written, I have been enjoying the second half of season nine of The Walking Dead. Yes, I know nobody cares anymore especially after the tedious mid period seasons but a time jump and an injection of new blood [sorry] has dragged me in again. In the end though “It Follows” and “Hereditary “ remain my favourite horror films of the last few years.


I have also finished The Overstory, the 2019 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Richard Powers. Now I have finished it I have to say it has stuck in my mind. As someone once said, “It really makes you think.”

The book has three parts. The first section introduces you to the nine key characters through what are virtually nine short stories. In some ways this is my favourite part of the book as these character introductions are excellent. The thing in common between them now, early on before they begin to interact, is their relationships with a tree or trees. This is of course the unifying thread of the whole novel. Trees, the natural world, the world mankind seeks to master and exploit. What if we have the whole world arse about? What if we are about to really and finally fuck the whole planet up?


Part two of the novel sets the characters on a journey that brings them together and here we get heaps of action, love, crime, tragic death, betrayal and a lot of factual information about forests. This book is an unusual meld of eco thriller, a call to action for the conservation of the earth and a philosophical guide to better living.


The last part of the book deals with consequences of the characters’ actions but I thought it finished slightly unresolved. The ending disappointed me slightly after 600 pages of well-crafted and descriptive story telling. If you love trees and the natural world and if you think mankind needs to have an even harder look at itself you will love it.


Six songs about trees, none about zombies.

In The Pines – Leadbelly

A Forest – The Cure

If A Tree Falls – Bruce Cockburn

A Walk In The Black Forest – Horst Jankowski – remember Hold Music?

Where The Birch Trees Lean – The Handsome Family

Fake Plastic Trees - Radiohead

La La Land

La La Land

Custard? Yes please!

Custard? Yes please!