Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste


Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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A Stupid TV Show

May 13, 2016



A forensic team would have difficulty finding my DNA on our TV’s remote control because it’s usually in Mrs. Chatterbox’s hand. She schedules most of our programs. She thoughtfully records programs I like and I’m grateful. However, she also records programs I refuse to watch. I won’t mention which programs because I know my good friend Cranky at Cranky Old Man watches many of these shows and I don’t want him tearing me a new one.


The other day I walked into the family room and Mrs. C. was watching a cooking show on the Food Network.


“What show is this?” I asked.


Worst Cooks in America.”


Mrs. C. watches a lot of cooking shows. I get tired of programs like Chopped where people are expected to concoct edible masterpieces from items looking like they were found at the bottom of a monkey cage.


“Sit down,” she said. “You might actually like this one. The producers have gathered together a dozen people who can’t boil water and the winner gets $25,000. They’ve already sent the first contestant home.”


“I don’t get it,” I said. “The first person sent home is the worst cook and should be the winner.”


She sighed. “That isn’t how it works. The last person standing is the winner.”


“But the last person standing is not the worst but the best of the lot. This program has a deceptive name. Maybe they should call it The Most Improved Cooks in America.”


Her expression suggested that if I didn’t stop criticizing her show I’d be cooking my own supper that night.




This year Mrs. Chatterbox and I have decided to spend our travel dollars in our own country and visit a region we’ve never explored—the Florida Keys. On Sunday we fly to Miami where we’ll rent a car and drive to Key Largo, and then on to Key West. Since I’m irresistible to mosquitoes, I’ll be protecting myself from the Zika Virus by dousing myself in insect repellent. I hope no one lights a match near me.




I’ll be back in two weeks, and hopefully I’ll have a few stories and photos to share.


Take care.



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I had a great time in Miami. The Keys are beautiful. I hope you like seafood. I would also visit some Cuban restaurants frequented by the locals. We loved it. The coffee will grow hair on your eyeballs. R
By: Rick Watson on May 13, 2016
I always wanted to go there! Please stop by and get me! Have a great time!
By: Linda on May 13, 2016
The Keys seem like a great place for a vacation. Enjoy, and then tell us all about your adventures!
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on May 13, 2016
bring plenty of hankies because you are going to sweat like crazy. you think the Pacific NW is humid? pardon me while I die laughing. and be prepared for lots and lots of bugs most of which are harmless but still seem to strike fear and loathing in most people.
By: Ellen Abbott on May 13, 2016
Have a wonderful time in the land of humidity & mosquitos!!
By: fishducky on May 13, 2016
Oh lucky you. You are going to the land of my ancestors. Everyone in my family but me was born in Key West. Have a wonderful time--wish I were going.
By: Arkansas Patti on May 13, 2016
Forgot to say. When you get to the site with all the busts of illustrious former residents--say Hi to William Curry, my multiple great grandfather.
By: Arkansas Patti on May 13, 2016
I don't watch any cooking shows, but worst cook sounds particularly bad. I hope you have fun in the Keys. My son has been there a few times and loves it. It's rather hot and humid here in Northern Florida. I don't know what it's like in the Keys since I've never been there because a certain man won't go anyplace except a restaurant right here in town, and it can't be more than fifteen minutes away. He's a great person, but not the adventurous type. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on May 13, 2016
This is going to sound really weird, but i researched it because Little Girl is so highly sought out by mosquitoes. Scientists have figured that what they like about certain people is the smell emitted by the bacteria that grow on that persons feet. Yes, they are attracted by a certain foot odor. My suggestions is to get some grapefruit seed extract, which won't hurt anything but your wallet, and rub it on your feet. It kills the germs that cause the odor that attracts the mosquitoes. Bon Voyage!
By: messymimi on May 13, 2016
When you go to Key Largo you should go to Montego, Jamaica, Bahamas and a place called Kokomo. If you go at the right time, maybe you can enter a Hemingway lookalike contest.
By: PT Dilloway on May 13, 2016
Have a great time! Make sure to get to the Sunset Celebration on the waterfront at the Pier. It is a Key West tradition-a bit of a party and carnival rolled into one. Great for story gathering. Also check out the Hemingway house and see if you spot any of the polydactyls there. Safe travels and happy trails
By: Tom Cochrun on May 13, 2016
I can do without the cooking shows...good or bad!!!
By: red Kline on May 13, 2016
What? Even I have been to Florida! Enjoy your trip!
By: Val on May 13, 2016
I perfectly understand not watching the shows I watch, most of the shows I watch are pure crap. We visited Key West for a short while on a cruise last December. It is a very cool town. Visit the butterfly house.
By: cranky on May 13, 2016
And you are right about that show, which I haven't watched, it should be called the "Best of the Worst Cooks." Very funny observation.
By: cranky on May 13, 2016
I'm sure my DNA would be found on our remote controls, but only from the number of times my wife asks me to pass her the remote. So forensics on the casing, yes. Keys, no.
By: Botanist on May 13, 2016
good luck with in-national travels!
By: TexWisGirl on May 13, 2016
What everybody else said about Key West...and: you really must go to that graveyard with the tombstone that says, "I told you I was sick." I missed it on my first trip to Key West and need to go back to see it. I'll wave at you while your plane flies over Central Florida on the way to Miami!
By: Pixel Peeper on May 13, 2016
I went on a cooking show binge for a little bit, but grew tired of them. And I totally agree with your logic about the worst cook. Enjoy your time in Florida and have a great time.
By: Mr. Shife on May 13, 2016
Stephen: Watch "Key Largo" with Mrs. Chatterbox before you leave. A little Bogart and Bacall might spark an even better trip! ;)
By: MICHAEL MANNING on May 14, 2016
I hope you have a good one. Greetings from London.
By: A Cuban In London on May 14, 2016
Enjoy... everything the KEYs offer.
By: Daniel LaFrance on May 14, 2016
Don't get Zika!
By: Michael Offutt on May 16, 2016
Most of those competition cooking shows drive me crazy. But it seems to me that they've completely missed the point on this one. This is the first time I've ever questioned Mrs. C's judgment!!!
By: Mitchell is Moving on May 17, 2016
Watch out for the drug dealers, Stephen. Key West is full of them.
By: Catalyst on May 17, 2016
Whatever the two of you are doing.. from watching silly TV shows to traveling, you always seem to have a great time together. I'm sure your travels to Florida will be wonderful. Enjoy!
By: Hilary on May 18, 2016
Red and I have trouble agreeing on shows. We have a few we share, but I don't like most popular TV. Every crime drama on television is the same cookie-cutter format. I just can't sit through them. I am 11 days away from leaving for Turkey. Red wanted to set up a different blog just for this trip. It's at minoradventureblog.wordpress.com if you're interested.
By: Brett Minor (Transformed Nonconformist) on May 19, 2016
That 'worst cooks' show sounds pretty bad - so bad, I'd expect my wife and daughter to watch it if it was broadcast on UK television.
By: Bryan Jones on May 20, 2016
Have a great time. Don't drink the water! No wait... ;)
By: scott park on May 25, 2016
I wondered why you'd gone so quiet! I hope you having a wonderful time in Florida. I look forward to hearing all about it on your return.
By: LL Cool Joe on May 25, 2016
ahah! Somehow I missed this post and I was getting truly worried about you and MrsC! Glad to read you are on just another fun trip- enjoy and see you in the funny papers! xoxo
By: Kathe W. on May 27, 2016
My sympathies about being irresistible to bugs. Me too. Once when in Florida I discovered that there was an instant remedy, a kind of liquid meat tenderizer. Last time I went back to FL I tried ot find it. I discovered everyone uses powder tenderizers now, apparently. Not that I ever use the stuff for me. That probably means I belong on mrs. C's show.
By: Jenny woolf on May 30, 2016

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