Sunday, March 23, 2008

a band with no name

A recent television commercial featured the very old and well-known song "A Horse With No Name". When L identified it as a Neil Young song I said "No, it's not, it's some other band with a name like Bread or... I couldn't remember so I reached for the computer.

In fact that song is by a band called America, which consisted of the sons of US military personnel stationed in the UK. The song was inspired by the memory one of them had of wandering around Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. From the point of view of rainy Britain, the desert qualities of that area must have seemed exaggerated, either by memory or drugs or both.

It turns out that the song is commonly mistaken for Neil Young due to its obvious Neil Young-like sound... Interestingly it was released around the same time as Young's "Heart of Gold" single, and both songs reached number one on the charts in immediate succession in 1972. Perhaps the strangest thing of all is, after all these years, who the heck has heard of the band America?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

the Ian Fleming of the Indian Ocean

The fact that Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick succeeded in disturbing the crap out of me as a five-year-old (with the release of "2001") made me ponder the life of the former upon his recent death... What makes a man move to Sri Lanka? After a fairly normal British upbringing, he served during WWII in that end of the military that was involved in the development of radar communication... This may have fed his fascination with science fiction and the promises of technology that later served as the basis of his extensive, lifelong work as a writer.

Apparently the man was a big atheist, and while on the one hand openly offended by religion, on the other was quite caught up in ideas about the paranormal. No real contradiction there, I can only say I'm jealous of the man who in the 1950's decided to move to Sri Lanka because he liked the ocean and was inspired by living in a tropical paradise... I actually don't really know the whole story of how Arthur C. Clarke became Arthur C. Clarke, but it seems pretty cool so if any one has any interesting details please share.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

follow up

It turns out my local hardware does sell "Neverkink" brand "boat & camper" hoses that are "drinking water safe". As expected it's white with a blue stripe down the side. The hose also claims to guard itself against tangling or kinking or attracting mold and mildew. Guaranteed for life and made in the USA (can you imagine?), this hose appears to be of high quality.

The only down side: the smallest size available was 25 feet. But since in the end the non-toxic issue outweighs the length issue, I went ahead and bought the thing. It's not the size, but the chemical composition that counts.

Friday, March 14, 2008

the need for organic, lead-free garden hoses

I didn't know how difficult it would be to find a 15 foot garden hose without lead or other chemicals known to be harmful by the state of California. Did you? I must have hit every hardware store, nursery and big box retailer in the area, and the bad joke was this: garden hoses of manageably short length had large tags informing me how toxic they were. I am looking for something to water things I intend to eat: is lead a good thing to put onto/into my vegetables, or am I getting worked up over nothing? Why not an organic garden hose?

What emerged from my research is that in this modern world of 2008, you can buy a "safe for drinking" hose, something made for RV's and boats. These hoses are usually white with a blue stripe, and are made from vinyl and nickel as opposed to PVC and brass, these latter being the lead-carrying culprits.

It seems strange to me that this whole thing isn't more of an issue. People are concerned about lead pipes -- and what is a hose if not a kind of pipe? Hell, people are concerned about lead in their children's toys. One would think that with home gardening on the rise, and people increasingly willing to produce their own food -- all of which is good news in my book -- that someone would have blown the whistle on garden hoses by now.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

America's Chinese opera

This occurred to me today, and I am deeply convinced of it: the synchronized swimming of Esther Williams, as immortalized in films such as the 1952 Million Dollar Mermaid, represents one of the greatest fruits of American civilization, and certainly does not get the attention it deserves. Heck, this is the American version of Chinese opera, high culture achieved at great sacrifice. What kind of sacrifice? Esther Williams broke her neck after a 50-foot dive for Million Dollar Mermaid, an injury that scarred her for life. I want everyone to immediately stop what they are doing and pay a moment of respect to the great Esther Williams.