Thursday, September 30, 2010

Night Rider

I don't bike at night. I figure that drivers have enough trouble seeing me during the day. Sure, I could get a headlight and a real taillight to go with my reflective vest and by blinky red light, but I really don't have much of a need to bike at night so why risk it? I went out for a short ride today about 15 minutes prior to sunset, thinking I had more daylight to work with than I actually did. I was riding on the bike path, so cars weren't an issue, but the combination of a rapidly disappearing sun on an already heavily overcast day and the near total lack of ambient light on the parts of the bike path that are walled off from the surrounding neighborhoods and streets by a canopy of tall trees made for a ride that was both challenging and exhilarating. I would definitely like to ride it at dusk again, though I'm going to upgrade my lighting situation before I do that so I can actually see where I'm going.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


We recently watched Invictus. If you see just one American movie this year that was set in South Africa and was released in 2009... see District 9 instead. Invictus managed to take an interesting event from a pivotal moment in history involving one of the most remarkable human beings of our time and make it seem boring and inconsequential. If you're looking for an interesting look at how sports helped to bring disparate peoples together during turbulent times, I'd recommend A City on Fire instead.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Get in the Ring

If I may gloat just a little bit, although I was off by a season, I was correct way back in January of last year when I predicted that the first significant mention of sport on Mad Men was going to be one of the Clay/Ali vs. Liston fights. It wasn't the centerpiece of last night's episode, and it wasn't really used to broach the subject of race as I predicted it might be, but it was definitely a big part of the episode. I'm so used to big fights and sporting events taking place on a weekend that I was confused when everyone came back into the office the day after the fight. I wouldn't expect Mad Men to screw up such a easily verifiable piece of period detail, and they were correct of course. The fight in question took place on May 25th, 1965, which was a Tuesday, in Lewiston, Maine. If boxing continues its seemingly inexorable decline in popularity, perhaps there will someday be another heavyweight title fight on a weeknight in central Maine.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

Deadspin opened today with an incongruous picture of an fan at AT&T Park in San Francisco sporting a ponytail and a Giants jersey with the name of a heavy metal band embroidered across the back of it sidling up to the wine bar on the concourse. What really caught my eye in this photo wasn't the Chardonnay-swilling metalhead, it was the Chinese food concession stand called "Edsel Ford Fong".

Edsel Ford is a name that has always stuck with me. I'll never forget how on one of my many childhood visits to The Henry Ford Museum (now known as The Henry Ford), I asked my Dad what caused the early death of Henry Ford's son Edsel, and my Dad replied that he died of a broken heart. At the time, I didn't really understand what he meant by that. I was old enough to know that a broken heart wasn't a medical condition, but too young to appreciate the toll that emotional pain can take on a person's overall well-being. I pondered my Dad's response for a long time in an attempt to understand what he was saying, but it wasn't until I reflected on it a few years later that I was able to figure out what he meant.

It turns out that the Edsel Fords of Detroit aren't the only famous people named Edsel Ford. There was also a notoriously rude waiter in San Francisco's Chinatown named Edsel Ford Fong, for whom this concession stand is named. I expect a certain level of rudeness from the staff whenever I'm dining at an authentic Chinese restaurant, but generally that rudeness is product of inattention and the push to serve as many patrons as possible. Based on the descriptions of his work, Edsel Ford Fong sounds like a waiter who tried really hard to be the world's rudest and most irritating waiter. Unfortunately, the Wikipedia biography of Edsel Ford Fong doesn't explain how he wound up with his infamous sobriquet.

Edsel Ford Fung is no longer with us, but his name lives in at the concession stand and at Sam Wo's restaurant in San Francisco, where he plied his trade. I've never eaten at Sam Wo's, but I've definitely walked past it several times. I used to work with someone named Sam Wu, so the name always jumps out at me when I see it. I ate at a restaurant very close to Sam Wo's the first time I visited Chinatown. I know where I'll be stopping the next time I'm in town.