• a humdinger •

You might find it ironic
for me to describe Chronic,
a story about death and dying,
as ‘a slice of life’.
In fact, throughout,
the question of ‘why?’,
and ‘why me?’,
seems pervasive,
and unanswerable,
which it is, except, for me,
‘and why not?’,
‘and why not (me)?’,
keeps rolling through my head,
instead.
Is it just me, I wonder,
or do others see this life
as an equal opportunity
entity,
or journey,
or what have you,
and that moral judgements
as to good or bad outcomes,
or of success or happiness,
and whatnot, cannot
truly be assessed
until after the final curtain falls,
so you’ll never know it yourself,
truth be told, friend,
being dead and all?
So, it’s a question for family,
and society,
and friends,
and ‘former friends’,
and what have you,
to make the call.
And honestly, who cares
what other people think, anywhoo?
So, don’t complain;
choose to be happy,
or fulfilled, or engaged,
or grateful, or enthralled,
or stoic, or philosophical,
or selfless, or starry-eyed,
or evangelical, or ‘evolved’ –
just between we two,
it’s up to you –
whatever floats your boat.
It’s a one way ride,
and frequently fabulous.
Enjoy the view.
Oh, and on a final note,
the movie (with Tim Roth),
is a humdinger, too.
~ Tim Burchfield
6/3/16

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• on ‘the other’ in me •

Such an interesting article. I also live with depressive states, and almost word for word, can identify with the descriptions of how it feels. I still go through it, but once I discovered my ‘other’, and became a friend, an advocate, a soother-listener-protector to that child-like, super-sensitive, super-creative, intuitive (did I mention ‘child-like’, oh, yes I did…) ‘entity’, which resides, side-by-side, inside of me (but speaks only in dreams, and emotions, and whispers to me in musical phrasings, and compulsions, and desires, and cravings – basically, all of the so-called, ‘id’ stuff), and learned how to take the time to really ‘be’ with this ‘other’ and talk to him/her/it rationally, to commiserate, and to listen – really listen – and to make plans, and provisions, and promises – to make things better for he/she/it (and too, to really work to keep those promises, at least a little every day), then, slowly, but surely, I came not only to understand that these ‘waves’ of ‘depression’ are really the feelings of despair and hopelessness that any normal person would feel, if he/she/it had no ‘voice’, no power to affect change, no acknowledgement, and felt no appreciation (and little love), but that there is never any reason to feel ‘lonely’, because (if this is a real ‘state of being’ – and I am convinced that it is), one is never alone, and that the process of ‘loving’ really does, start with you/me, see? (Does this make sense/can you ‘relate’?) Hand to heart, this has been a true ‘revelation’, and a life-changing epiphany, for me. It has been about six years since I came to this awareness, and my progress has been substantial and continual, and empowering (happily).
This is the basis of my own particular ‘bi-cameral mind’ hypothesis. I really should write a book on the subject. What do you think, friends? Here is the article.
On depression: What you should know if you love someone with high-functioning depression:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/love-high-functioning-depression_us_591b3519e4b07d5f6ba6af00

• a mutually agreeable relationship •

In the Amazon rain forest there is a living tree; within its bark lives a parasitic plant which needs no sun – it draws its nourishment from its host, and is not visible, or even evident, but for a short time, once a year, when thousands of tiny yellow ball-shaped ‘flowers’ appear on the trunk of the host tree. On the nights when the yellow ‘buds’ are flourishing, tiny caterpillars come and eat the tasty buds. Each caterpillar has an accompanying ant who, when she gently taps on the caterpillar’s back with her antennae, the caterpillar produces a drop of sweet elixir, which the ant slurps greedily. They have a mutually agreeable relationship. The caterpillar, in turn, derives protection from predators, and the ant, a veritable moveable feast.
And then, betimes, along comes a butterfly. It’s wings are gray, but for a single brightly colored yellow ‘dot’, toward the back – a convincing ‘match’ to the yellow ‘flowers’ on the tree: as ‘camouflage’, apparently.
An entire ecosystem, within one tree. That’s what I learned, yesterday.
Oh, and, one other thing: if you are walking your dogs with the girl, and you see a big bug in her hair, politely pick the bug out before she knows what you are about, rather than pointing and shouting, “Bug! Bug!! BUG!!” (Three times fast.)
Yes, I learned that, too, alas.
~ Tim Burchfield
5/17/17

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• by the numbers •

I have always had difficulty doing sums in my head, it’s always been that way, for me. Because, by the time I, ‘carry the three’ I’ve forgot whatever numbers I had (sort of, but shakily) ‘had’, in my mind originally. So I’ve ‘borrowed’, ‘appropriated’, if you like, oh alright, stolen outright, with appreciative impunity, an idea which might just do the trick for me, and that is this: from here on in, when I think of a numeral (that’s ‘number’, to the rest of you ‘number-dolts’, like me) it will have an assigned color (when I ‘picture’ it), and just for fun, a ‘texture’ as well, and, even, sometimes, for memory’s sake, a fragrant (or otherwise) ‘smell’ as well.
So, for the sake of clarity, picture if you will, that from here on in, all ones are orange, with the smell and texture of a citrusy orange peel. Savory One, how we love you, now: how fragrant, how juicy, how delectable, how ‘singular’!
Twos are yellow, and fuzzy, and seemingly everywhere at once, like featherweight baby chicks. Charming yellow tweety twos, tweeting to beat the band, oh, dear! (Oh, and voracious, and insistent, and demanding, and rather smelly, in great numbers, too, if you wanna know. Sorry!)
Threes are chartreuse, and froggy, with big round eyes, and shiny wet froggy skins. ‘Ribbity’ threes, making their creeky sounds.. from ‘down yonder, just past the old willow tree (as all ‘our amphibious froggy friends are want to do), with their midnight thrumming serenade… “three!!… threee!! …threeee!!!”
Fours are more formal, and come in multiples, like polite policemen, sporting their evenness and conformity, in a fetching comfortable serge, like a well pressed uniform, in crisp blue colors, and cool combinations thereof. Of course, there are many blues. Which, did you ask? You choose.
Fives are like the desert, sandy as (heck), and brown, or beige and warm to the touch, and smell vaguely of horned toads, with their round bellies, and flat flinty backs, and horny-toad skin. And little beige eyes that stare undaunted (not knowing what to think), but fixedly, up at you.
Sixes are sexy, in slinky silk negligees, and red as a fire engine, with ‘come hither’ sensibilities, and voices like sensual susurrations in a private suite, for just the six of you. So far, the easiest to remember – go figure, “Hey Sixy, whadda ya say? Hey, you, too, integer baby. Looking good!”
Add one part white to that number, and you get a pink seven. Sensible seven. Yeppers. Seven dwarves with seven pink…noses. (*grins*) (Or whatever, suit yourself, after I’m done here, it’s over to you.)
Just so’s you know, sevens are rubbery, and smell like an eraser. (Sorry, silly sevens, somebody’s got to.)
Eights are plump, like round purple plums, in succulent curvy bunches, with taught shiny skins. Be careful with eights, now, and don’t gobble ’em up too quick, or you might just get the ‘purple eight step’, from what you just ate. Just ate.
(Ahem.)
Nines are the uptight Victorians of the bunch, buttoned up tight, in their conservative black dresses, up to their long scrawny necks – who peer down at you from their lofty moral perches, and have well groomed, black eyebrows, ‘plucked’, as it were, with which to superciliously lean over you, and think you not at all amusing. (Too bad for you, but who just tolerate me, because of my ability with tea. Am I lucky, or what!)
Oh, nine, we don’t deserve you, but we’re glad you’re here…no really. (*wink*)
Heh, Nines…can’t live with em, can’t count to ten without ’em…whaddaya gonna do…?
Which brings to mind decimals, and multiples of ten, the like of which, as you well know, couldn’t be made at all, without the trusty ‘civil servant’ of the numeral world – the unassuming ubiquitous zero. I like mine in gray (or ‘grey’, if you go that way), I don’t know about you. Very conservative, and unassuming, these. And zeros are amenable, and roll with the punches, if you please. Zeros don’t get easily bowled over. They are the ‘dependables’ of the number set, but don’t add much to the conversation, it must be said, except as a placeholder, and want for nothing, if you get me, but do know their import, and innovation, and universal applicability. Good old zero, always there when you need one, whispering little nothings, that make all the difference. You gotta love ’em!
So now, with zero’s friendly participation, let’s make a ten, shall we?!!
Are you as breathless as I am?!! (Golly.)
Did you picture ten in all of its orange, and gray, glory? Ones are what, again? That’s right, juicy juicy orange, and zesty delicious. Roll that cosmopolitan gray circle right up next to that one, and, voila! A ten, me boyo! Wow! The Bo Derek of numbers, a perfect ten. What a sensation! (I think my knees are shaking. Is it noticeable? Well, color me numeral enthused, I’m cool with that.) The big one-oh! It was love at first sight. Ten out of ten.
So, after that little introduction, imagine my ease with remembering numbers, from now on. And combinations of numbers are so vivid, to me, now, that, believe it or not, I can now smell them, too.
Which are my favorites?
Well, honestly, there are so very many, and how they entice and imbue me with captivating interest, and ‘realness’ – I can count the ways.
My joys are, dare I say it? Multiplied. Now, I’d hate to do a ‘spoiler’, so you do the math. (Now, I can just think about numbers, and get wet. Oh, I’m just exuberant, don’t get upset. Still. I’ll just say this: over fifty, and it gets pretty darn good. Oh, yes, and get this: spritely Seventy will curl your toes!)
Oh, and sixty-nine is a hoot! (I seem to recall.) Oh, yeah…!!
So. Now that you’ve been introduced, I’ll leave you to it. Enjoy your new friends, if you like, now, it’s up to you. Nothing to it.
(Consider all sorts of numerical combinations, a ménage a trois, if you will…or an hundred and one combinations, my little Dalmatians. You can count on me. For my part, I certainly will. )
Happy days! I’m a number devotee, from here on in, and then, sum. An ‘aficionado’, as it were, as they say in Spain.
But I still won’t do numerology.
(Color me credulous, if you like, but I ain’t that dumb! Nosirree.)
~ Tim Burchfield
3/27/17

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• a two-fer •

This is a two-fer. Don’t know what a two-fer is? Sure you do: it’s a two ‘fer’ (for) one. Can you tell I spent my formative years in retail? Yep, my claim to fame in high school was head Pamper stacker, a graduate of H.E.B. U. Don’t know what Pampers are? If you’ve had kids you do, and if you haven’t, they’re disposable diapers, and H.E.B. is a grocery store (chain), owned by the Butt family: that’s true.
Where was I? Oh, yes, a two-fer.
I came home today with a couple of gems, one on spuds (that’s potatoes, or potato, in the singular, from the Spanish, patata, variant of the Taino, batata) and the other is, a surprise. Trust me, it really will be. Something maybe nobody has ever thought of, besides maybe me, and quite possibly only interesting to me, but we shall see, shall we?
But more about the potato. Or more specifically, freeze-dried potatoes. Yep, just like the ones moms like mine used to make when they saw commercials in the sixties about meals for twelve cents a serving and thought food made in the wink of an eye, was just the thing for a civilized society. Instant potatoes, I think they were called, on the box. Almost inedible, to my brother and sisters, which I thought just wonderful, as that meant there would always be plenty for me. My secret? Lots of butter and plenty of salt and pepper. Yummy!
Why are you telling me about instant potatoes, I can hear you asking, and well you may, so I shall tell you, immediamente, as they say. But now, for some history, and the punch line, to boot: freeze dried spuds are an ancient Peruvian invention, and not a product of NASA, such as Tang, fruit roll-ups, and squirt-able cheese, as you might think. And here’s how.
The Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C., of which they developed over a thousand varieties, and still do utilize, even today. But freeze-dried? How did that come to be?
The potato, from the perennial Solanum tuberosum, is the world’s fourth largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize. The problem with this delicious source of nutrition is their vulnerability, to moisture, and molds and fungus, and other spoilers. So the clever Peruvians would carry their crop of potatoes high into the Andes mountains and let them freeze. Then, after thawing, they would become sort of squidgy and malleable, in a very useful way. This, they would squash into a paste, and smooth it in the sun, over a wide flat rock face. The dried product could then be stored in fired clay pots, almost indefinitely. Add a bit of water, and bring to a boil, and voila! Instant potatoes. (Add pepper and salt, to taste, of course: the Peruvians were an advanced ancient culture, not savages.)
Okay, now for your big surprise, since you made it this far. Have you been waiting, with bated breath? (Short for, ‘abated’, breath: short for ‘shortness of breath’, nifty, nay?) I can tell. Well, wait no longer, your moment has arrived. Listen, my friend, and you shall hear.
I shall amaze you with my forward thinking and ingenuity. You know, if you’ve ever had to paint the outside of your house, or wooden deck, how, by spring, the places where the paint has peeled, and must be repaired and/or re-painted is more than evident, but by springtime, everything is soggy and wet, and the exposed wood is too, and too soft to scrape the old paint off, effectively, so you end up having to wait until the rains have stopped, and the wood has dried sufficiently to be able to paint, and by then, it’s getting (by winter standards) downright hot and sticky, and the black flies are biting, and the no-see-em’s are out for blood, and absolutely making you crazy? (What are no-see-ems? Imagine gnats, in their thousands, swarming, and biting, your ears, neck, and, well, any exposed area, except when you swat them, your hand finds a bloody trickle, lovely. Plus, you can’t see them, generally, hence, the name. Don’t worry about finding them, they find you.) So, anywhoo, here’s my stroke of near genius: winter paint prep. Yep, you heard it here first. Yes, dear friends, no fuss, no muss, no waiting for wet wood, no bleeding neck, and best of all, no sweat.
As to scraping, it’s winter weather that makes the paint peel anyway, with the cold, expansion and contraction have made cracks in the paint, and water has got into those cracks, and when the water freezes, the expanding ice (under the paint) just pushes it away from the wood.
Soooo, what better, on a cold and sunny winter day, than to get the old scraper out, and as they say, make hay? Have I actually tried out my hypothesis, to test my theory? Just got in from outside, now just warming my pinkies over some hot tea. Did it work? Guess.
Only one problem. Dog walkers. Who stare at you as if you were juggling chain saws, instead of scraping your front deck. “Hello there,” I chortle, “lovely weather, innit.” And off they wander, with only the occasional head shake, and pitying look back.
Not to worry though, as a card-carrying member of the much esteemed, ‘Creative Class’ (and, it goes without saying, the Wile E.Coyote aka, ‘super-genius’ Appreciation Society, W.E.C.S.G.A.S., or, ‘Wexgassers’, as we, mirthfully, call ourselves), I’ve grown quite accustomed to that.
~ Tim Burchfield
3/18/17

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• maggie •

You might not believe this, but I write only when I absolutely have to, when I am driven by a need, or a feeling, or a laugh so great that the joke comes bursting through – though this is no joke, and has no punch line, per se (and I have been putting this off, for another day), it’s time has come, and, for me, has come in more than one way, so as to coax me into talking to you, if it’s okay, a bit, about Maggie.
Maybe you’ve seen it.
Yes, it’s a dystopian social drama about yet another zombie apocalypse, or rather, post-zombie apocalypse, to be truthful: one might think that would be a bit like putting the coda before the horse, the denouement before the development, and it would be, except that, for me, this is not so much a zombie apocalypse flick, as it is a human story about a death in a family. Or rather, how a family deals with an unstoppable and terminal illness, only, your loved one might, just ‘turn’ on you, accidentally, and give you a bite, and hence, an incurable disease that turns you into a despicable nuisance, an undead EverReady bunny with no discernible sense of humor, rhythm, style, or social constraint (as if your kids weren’t eternally, and totally embarrassed enough, with you, as their parent, already, without any special ’emphasis’ on your overall, ‘weirdness’), oh, and with a bad habit of killing and eating everybody. Okay, no more jokes, and no more nastiness, I promise.
That said, now for the ‘tender bit’. (Oh, damn! I said I wouldn’t do that. Sorry!)
This movie has the unmistakable earmarkings of an ‘indie’ film: it’s got a character-driven plot, and heart, and features a cast of amazing actors, who give astonishing performances (like you’ve never seen), and, of course, the visual and musical and editorial sensibilities of a phenomenal director who knows precisely what he/she is doing. Maggie has it all, and is a hell of a good story. Kudos, Henry Hobson. (Dude.)**
As to the people, or characters, if you will, I won’t be saying much about that, though I could, and perhaps should, except in the interest of brevity, but suffice it to say that, if you don’t see this flick, dollars to donuts, I’ll bet that you’ll be wishing you had, someday. Fair enough? Okay.
Abigail Breslin is Maggie, a seventeen year old girl with the ‘zombie virus’, that takes days (or weeks?) to ‘change’ you into something, ‘other’ (as if being a teenager wasn’t hard enough), and to witness her conscientious courage, and vulnerability and valor, against diminishing odds, and a debilitating disease, and, to see her slow breakdown, in the form of physical and mental degeneration, as a ‘teen’ – to see her struggle to hold onto her identity, is beyond laudable, for such a young actor, and…and then, and I’m not joking, factor into the mix, if you can, the best damn work that Arnold Schwarzenegger has ever done, bar none (and these performances, though stunning, within themselves, are not limited to these: Joely Richardson, as the new stepmother, with her own small children to think of, is the epitome of laid-out, heart in her hand, disheveled, mommas making the best of a bad situation, everywhere, perfection, memorable and moving), have made this picture something very keen. Where was I, oh yes, Arnold!
To see this, well, icon (we are talking, Arnold Schwarzenegger, yes? I double checked: yes, it was he) – as a mere man, or rather, just a man (a farmer, in fact), with a terrible burden, whose heart is breaking, grizzled, careworn, dissipated by loss, with more losses looming, a dad with no good choices – is the ‘inspiration’, I mentioned at the outset, of this, to get me to writing again. Yes, I’ll say it again: Arnold Schwarzenegger blew me away.
(Talk about, ‘unexpected’, to be honest, I would have thought it impossible, to see from him, such honesty. It makes me hopeful. ‘Hell, he’s ‘over the hill”, I say to myself, and it’s as if he is a man newly born, artistically, ‘maybe there’s yet hope for me.’ But I digress.)
“Arnold, my boy, welcome to the fold, I like the new you, please stay,” I hear myself say.
Oh, man, I almost forgot (with, whatever that was, there – again, sorry) the writing! is the backbone of an exceptional horror/thriller, and a story with, how to say this, a ‘thinking heart’, so, well done, mister writer, sir. Congrats, John Scott 3.
Well, that’s about it, I guess…except to say, in this humble enthusiast’s opinion, with respect, friends, you simply must give Maggie, a ‘see’.
**(Maggie is a 2015 post-apocalyptic horror drama film directed by Henry Hobson, in his directorial debut, written by John Scott 3, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin and Joely Richardson.)
~ Tim Burchfield
2/23/17

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• v day •

About two thousand years ago, a Roman king, Emperor Claudius Gothicus, a.k.a., “Claudius the Cruel”, issued an executive order, I mean, edict, outlawing marriage, juuuuust because, as the story goes, he had trouble getting to sleep, one night, and decided he needed an army.
(For what, he didn’t yet know, it just came into his head, one day, and that, as they say, was that. Isn’t that just the way? Not to worry, this story has a happy ending. Er, no, no, not really.)
“Don’t staaaaand, in m’way!” King Claudius could be heard to say (‘tweeting’ away, like a jaybird), at least three times a day, sometimes all night, and four times, at least, betimes, when he had had the insomnia.
Now, it seems, in those heady days of Empire only landowners could join the army. And yet, crazily, these, more often than not, married men, were somewhat reticent to go to war because – get this – it turns out that they had rather ‘stay ‘home’, safe and sound, with the wife and kiddos, than to risk dismemberment and/or death, for the king’s amusement, or whatever. Say, what?!! I know, right? (*Shrug*) Go figure.
So, new law: no marriages, period. No sanctified unions. No connubial bliss. Nope. None of it. (I mean, what’s the point of having total power, if you can’t be a total dick? Am I right?) So, from here on in, no one is getting married. No one, no way, no how! And no, ‘King’s X’!
So, needless to say, in very short order, every Roman man-jack of them is pissed off and horny, and ready to (I’ve waited a ‘lifetime’ to resurrect this line), “Crush! Kill! Destroy!!” A perfect state for a perfect union, ñ’es pas? Indubitably. In fact, ((*sniff!!*)) I’m getting all verklempt, just thinking about it.
As it happens (spoiler alert), there was a certain Roman priest, a dissenter, who, believing in the inviolability of the institution of marriage, was defying the king’s decree (drumroll, please) by performing illegal marriages. (God, ‘trumping’ the king’s wishes, so to speak, was his thinking, I guess, being God, and all, and all, like that.)
So, it followed, that on February 14 (sometime between 269 A.D. and 278 A.D.), on the orders of the king (oh, and for ‘breaking’ the ‘law of the land’), the recalcitrant priest was unceremoniously sentenced to death: a gruesome three part execution, of a beating, a stoning, and finally a decapitation (Yuck!), all because of his unwavering stand on marriage.
His name was Valentine. Yes, that one. That’s, ‘Saint V’, to you and me. Put that in your Whitman’s Sampler, and smoke it. I’ll support you, in that. Yep, that’s me, ever the traditionalist. You can even borrow my lighter.
Now, by all means, feel free to be romantic, that is, if you’ve still got the stomach for it. And why not, eh? It’s on St. V’s nickel. I say, go for it.
~ Tim Burchfield
2/13/17 (revised)

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