Into the Triple Digits

“Louisiana in September was like an obscene phone call from nature. The air – moist, sultry, secretive, and far from fresh – felt as if it were being exhaled into one’s face. Sometimes it even sounded like heavy breathing.”

― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

My vintage Cannondale Commuter Bike

As I said last week (when I went to see the movie I’m still thinking about all the time) we are a car short and I am riding my bike to work (5 miles each way) partly out of necessity, partly out of the need for exercise.

And now the temperature has climbed into the triple digits (102 Fahrenheit today – in Centigrade that’s… too damn hot) making it a real challenge.

I was up before six this morning and ready to go at six-thirty, as the sun was barely rising. That was actually pretty nice – not too hot – not too much wind – not a lot of traffic – at that ungodly time of morning. I carry a change of clothes in a garment folder and change into my business attire once I’ve sat at my desk long enough to stop sweating.

The trip home was a beating. It wasn’t so much the heat – I was worn out – I’m too old for this – and the south wind was strong and hot. There was some unexpected construction along my route and that added another mile to the ride.

When I made it home I was exhausted. So I’ll leave all you fine folks and go off to sleep now.

Have to be on the road by six thirty, after all.

Everything Everywhere All at Once

“Every Rejection, Every Disappointment Has Led You Here To This Moment”

— Alpha Waymond, Everything Everywhere All at Once

My bicycle locked up in front of The Alamo Drafthouse theater in Richardson, Texas. They have the coolest bike racks.

Partly out of desire… but mostly out of necessity (we are down to one working car) I have been riding the five mile commute to my work on my bike every day. The mornings are OK – except I have to get up twenty minutes before dawn so I’m riding before it gets too hot – the rising sun slowly burning away the morning fog. The afternoon commute is already too hot, though – here in Texas it’s already in the mid to high nineties most days.

There was a movie I’ve been wanting to see – Everything Everywhere All at Once. It was showing at the Alamo Drafthouse here in Richardson at 6:15. My commute is five miles, it’s three or so miles to the theater, and four and a half home from there. Easy riding – except for the heavy rush hour traffic around downtown Richardson and coming off Highway 75. So I sneaked out of work a few minutes early and rode up to the Alamo.

It was hot and I was sweating like a stuck pig. A bit embarrassing, but I arrived a bit early so I bought a cold beer (Lakewood Temptress on tap) and sat in a dark booth in the back of the cool bar until the movie was announced… I was able to cool and dry off enough to at least be almost presentable.

The movie is getting a lot of hype —- and it deserves every bit of it… and more. It is not a perfect film – it is way too ambitious for that – and when the filmmakers have a chance to go for it… the do that and more.

I can’t really explain the plot. It’s the story of a middle aged Chinese woman named Evelyn (played by the incredibly talented Michelle Yeoh) and her immigrant family (with a very American lesbian daughter) that lives in a tiny apartment over their failing laundromat. They are straining with family drama and friction and are about to undergo an IRS audit. At that point Evelyn discovers that there is an infinite multiverse made up of all the different realities that each person has created with every decision they make. Not only that, but there is an evil creature named Jobu Tupaki that is jumping through the multiverse, destroying everything. Jobu makes Thanos look like a piker. Evelyn, this failing version of Evelyn, this worst of all possible Evelyns, is the only person that can stop this.

She is torn between saving all the universes and trying to complete her IRS audit. Things get strange after that.

This is not a sufficient explanation of the plot or an adequate description of what the movie feels like – those things are impossible. You have to see it to believe it.

Boiled down – it’s the eternal struggle between the googly eye and the everything bagel (really). You have to see it to understand.

Just see it.

I want to see it again. It is so complex, layered, with so many references and symbols – one viewing is not enough (maybe a hundred wouldn’t be enough). Plus, it is a movie with a heart – a giant beating, sometimes bloody heart. It’s really funny too.

Oh, see it in a theater. I can’t imagine watching it for the first time at home, alone.

It was dark when the movie was over, but I have good lights, the traffic had died down, and my ride home was uneventful (and maybe a little fun).

I slept like a stone – dreaming of people with hot dog fingers and sentient stones.

More Bicycling, Coffee,  and a Notebook

“Every time I hear a political speech or I read those of our leaders, I am horrified at having, for years, heard nothing which sounded human. It is always the same words telling the same lies. And the fact that men accept this, that the people’s anger has not destroyed these hollow clowns, strikes me as proof that men attribute no importance to the way they are governed; that they gamble—yes, gamble—with a whole part of their life and their so called “vital interest.”
― Albert Camus, Notebooks 1935-1942

Last weekend I made some coffee, grabbed my notebook and pens, and took off on my bicycle to find a place to write up my three pages – I have been scribbling the morning pages from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. This last Saturday, a week later, I wanted to do the same thing. My son wanted to go to this new coffee shop Staycation – here in downtown Richardson and he offered to ride along with me. Sounds like a good idea. Nice morning ride – we left at 7:30 so we would get there before it opened. It turned out to be a hair over three miles – and very pleasant because there is no traffic at that hour of a Saturday and the air was still cool enough.

Staycation is a great coffee shop. The owner, Nichole Gregory, took a 1940’s cottage left in the middle of downtown Richardson and modified it into a very pleasant and comfortable place to grab a cup of Joe. I can’t recommend it higher.

But don’t take my word for it:

Drop In and Stay Awhile at Staycation, a New Coffee Shop in Richardson

New cafe in Richardson opens with acclaimed coffee, pastry, and wine

A true coffee break: Why Staycation in Richardson is D-FW’s coolest coffee shop right now

Staycation Coffee, Richardson, Texas

After we had our coffee, Nick rode home – but I still wanted to put a few more miles in and I still wanted to stop and write (Yes, I could have written in the coffee shop – but I wanted to try something else). So I went up the Central Trail, then down the Collins Bike Lane, to the Duck Creek Extension trail across Arapaho. Thinking about a place to stop and write (there are a lot of benches… but surprisingly few tables), I remembered about a concrete bench that was stuck incongruously in the middle of a traffic circle at American Parkway and Presidential Drive – I ride my bike past there every now and then when trying to build up mileage. It’s a light commercial area – and would be deserted on a Saturday so I decided to go there… and it worked well.

My pens and looseleaf notebook (Morning pages) on the concrete bench in the traffic circle at Presidential and American, Richardson, Texas.

I wrote my pages – packed up and wandered around the ‘hood until I had my ten miles for the day. Made it home before eleven AM – a good start to the day.

Reality Is Torn Down Around Us

“Civilised life, you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.”
― J.G. Ballard

Margaret McDermott Bridge, Dallas, Texas

They Went That-A-Way

“Instead of the macho, trigger-happy man our culture has perversely wanted him to be, the cowboy is more apt to be convivial, quirky, and softhearted. To be “tough” on a ranch has nothing to do with conquests and displays of power. More often than not, circumstances – like the colt he’s riding or an unexpected blizzard – are overpowering him. It’s not toughness but “toughing it out” that counts. In other words, this macho, cultural artifact the cowboy has become is simply a man who possesses resilience, patience, and an instinct for survival. “Cowboys are just like a pile of rocks – everything happens to them. They get climbed on, kicked, rained and snowed on, scuffed up by wind. Their job is ‘just to take it,’ ” one old-timer told me.”

― Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces

Fair Park, Dallas, Texas

The Party is Over

“I believe when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade…and try to find someone whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.”

― Ron White

The Block apartment complex, Richardson, Texas

Next to the smelly dumpster behind the coffee shop in the apartment complex I saw a sad bunch of colorful Mylar balloons left over from a birthday party. I had ridden my bicycle down for a cold brew and a place to hang out and write.

The balloons bothered me. So vivid and kaleidoscopic – and yet starting to droop and lose their helium. They are a symbol of good times, happy times, friends gathered together. But the party is over, and all that is left is a sad fading echo out by the disgusting rotting trash, its noble gas leaking away, its lift failing – starting to settle down towards the ground. The people from the party never appreciated how good is was while it lasted and now its gone.

I feel like that all the time.

What Does the Beauty Of A Building Mean To Us Now?

“…Originally everything about a Greek or Christian building meant something, and in reference to a higher order of things. This atmosphere of inexhaustible meaningfulness hung about the building like a magic veil. Beauty entered the system only secondarily, impairing the basic feeling of uncanny sublimity, of sanctification by magic or the gods’ nearness. At the most, beauty tempered the dread – but this dread was the prerequisite everywhere. What does the beauty of a building mean to us now? The same as the beautiful face of a mindless woman: something masklike.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits

Downtown Dallas

Spirit of Communication

“By being published, any author’s words cease to be his own, but rather belong to his reader.”

― Andrew Crumey, D’Alembert’s Principle: A Novel in Three Panels

Spirit of Communication (Golden Boy), Dallas, Texas

From Wikipedia:

Spirit of Communication is the formal name for the statue by Evelyn Beatrice Longman originally called Genius of Telegraphy. The statue has been the symbol of AT&T (and also the former Western Electric) since their commission was completed in 1916. It is also known informally as the Golden Boy statue and formerly as Genius of Electricity.

Commissioned for 195 Broadway in New York City. the sculpture has followed AT&T to other sites in New York and New Jersey over the years. In 2009, the statue was relocated to AT&T’s current corporate headquarters in downtown Dallas, Texas, U.S. As of 2022, the statue is located outside in the AT&T Discovery District in Downtown Dallas.

Monolithic Dome

“After our negotiations were completed, the dome would be imploded and launched toward the nearest black hole, so that none of its atoms would ever contaminate this particular universe again. I thought that last part was overkill.”
― John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Monolithic Dome Institute, Italy, Texas