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

Prologue

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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Bifurcate

October 22, 2014

 

I’ve recently received word that two more of my stories have been accepted by Publishing Syndicate, this time for inclusion in their upcoming book On Sex, 69 hilarious stories about everything SEX. This publisher is also interested in completed manuscripts so I’ve been bifurcating my time between writing and painting. It’s been hard putting down my brushes after setting them aside for so long, but this publisher has shown interest in my work, prompting me to strike while the iron is hot by getting my memoir, The Kid in the Kaleidoscope, in the mail.

 

**********************

 

Bifurcate is one of my favorite words, even though it sounds like something you might do after eating bad sushi. When I was a college student, I struggled with writing the essays and English papers professors often assigned. The best I’d managed was a C, until I transferred to UCLA and a fellow dorm mate shared a secret. His name was Allen Kamuri, a pre-Architecture student.

           

One Sunday night Allen wanted me to accompany him to a party, but I was slaving away on a paper due the next morning. My topic was the poet Robert Browning, and I knew in my heart that I’d produced twenty-five pages of drivel.

             

I was moaning to Allen about what a piece of shit I’d written when he said, “Have you placed the word ‘bifurcate’ in the first or second paragraph of your paper?”

           

“No,” I answered. “I don’t even know what that word means.”

           

It’s a simple word; it means something can be divided in two parts. Professors are queer for the word.”

           

An interesting word choice from Allen because everyone in the dorm knew, even if Allen didn’t, that he was gay.

           

“I promise that if you use ‘bifurcate’ you’ll receive a full grade higher than you deserve.”

           

I was desperate and took Allen’s advice. In the second paragraph of my paper I added the following: The poetry of Robert Browning is bifurcated between Victorian pragmatism and Romanticism. I had no idea if the statement was true, but it sounded good. To my surprise, this professor who’d never given me a grade higher than a C, awarded my paper a B+.

           

Throughout history, scientists and alchemists have struggled to find the philosopher’s stone, capable of turning base metals into gold. Allen had given me a philosopher’s stone for turning mediocre papers into gold. From then on, each one of my professors received a paper from me containing “bifurcate.” My GPA rose significantly.

           

Years later when I’d become an art professor, I often had to confer with young artists having difficulties in their academic classes. My art students would complain that English teachers were riding them ragged because of poor papers. I’d tell them to add the word “bifurcate” to the beginning of their papers, and I’d caution them not to disclose the secret—like I’m currently doing. Every student who followed my advice improved their grade significantly, and went on to graduate.

           

If you know someone struggling in an English class, feel free to share my philosopher’s stone with them, but urge them to keep it to themselves so professors don’t catch on. The path to good grades bifurcates between book smarts and common sense, like knowing when to keep your mouth shut.

 

 

Note: Not Your Mother’s Book: On Sex is scheduled for release in January, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

 

And I don’t want to forget:

Happy Birthday Mrs. Chatterbox!

 

 



Comments

25 Comments
Someone told me recently that if you add three dots to your writing .... it makes your work look much more intelligent. :D Happy Birthday Mrs Chatterbox!!
By: LL Cool Joe on October 22, 2014
First of all congratulations on your writing success, well deserved. An interesting word, sadly quite a few years to late to help me.................. And happy birthday to Mrs C!
By: John on October 22, 2014
I have always liked the word "bifurcate," too. I learned it from a dentist, though. Happy B'day, Missus C.
By: Uncle Skip on October 22, 2014
First, and foremost, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MRS. C!!! Loved your story on the use of bifurcated. BTW, did Allen ever realize his own secret? CONGRATS on your hard earned and well deserved success. Mindy
By: mindy halleck on October 22, 2014
Happy, Happy Birthday to Mrs. C. Hope she has a marvelous day. And as to your philosophers stone????? your secret is safe with me and Ms. GK. Congrats on your new gig.....super
By: Oma Linda on October 22, 2014
My congratulatory comments today are bifurcated between your stories being accepted for publishing & Mrs. C's birthday!!
By: fishducky on October 22, 2014
happy birthday to your dear wife! i like the words amalgamate, bifurcate, concatenate. :)
By: TexWisGirl on October 22, 2014
Great advise. It took me until Sophomore year in College to realize that the theme to anything ever written was "Man's inhumanity to man." I don't know how or why, but it always worked. Congrats on getting published, hope you get a book deal as well.
By: Cranky on October 22, 2014
Brilliant advice. Too late for me. Happy birthday to the incomparable Mrs.C!
By: Mitchell is Moving on October 22, 2014
Many happy returns of the day to Mrs. Chatterbox! Your philosophy on papers sounds similar to mine -- if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull manure.
By: mimi on October 22, 2014
Happy Birthday to the long suffering little woman. I'm bifurcated on whether to congratulate you or Allen on discovering the Philosopher's Stone.
By: Catalyst on October 22, 2014
Congrats on the publishing news! Woohoo! The relationship between "bifurcate" and grades is the oddest thing I've ever heard...
By: Lexa Cain on October 22, 2014
You are just a tad late for me. I had to do it the old fashioned way, pure verbosity which I am still guilty of. Happy Birthday Mrs. C. Hope the Mr. comes through and spoils you royally. .
By: Akansas Patti on October 22, 2014
It is good to hear you are busy painting again. Certainly hope you'll share of your efforts here. Congratulation on the publishing success, that is nice news to head into the holiday season with. And please convey a Happy Birthday Greeting to Mrs. Chatterbox from one of your fans.
By: Tom Cochrun on October 22, 2014
Congratulations on your Sex writing. Are you going to give your Mom a copy of Not Your Mother's Book...on Sex? And then grab it back and say, "It's not yours!" You know. Acting like that immature cheese on the Cheez-It commercial.
By: Val on October 22, 2014
Congratulations on your publication news. By the way, doesn't a generous dose of a good bicarbonate usually work well to combat excessive bifurcation?
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on October 22, 2014
Woohoo! Congrats to you. So nice to hear. And Happy Birthday, Mrs. C. You share your day with my ex.. another fine human being.
By: Hilary on October 22, 2014
That's a great word! Happy birthday Mrs. Chatterbox - how does it feel to be married to a famous author?
By: The Bug on October 22, 2014
Happy Birthday Mrs C!!!! but then I bifurcate....maybe? Possibly...awww heck I have NO idea!!
By: Kathe W. on October 22, 2014
Happy birthday Mrs. C. I hope you had a great day. Why didn't somebody tell me about bifurcate before. I had this word in my gr.8 spelling lists. I hope some of them used it.
By: red on October 22, 2014
I am so looking forward to reading your book! Congratulations to you and to Mrs. Chatterbox on her birthday!
By: The Broad on October 23, 2014
Congratulations of your publication success. Today. I think I will bifurcate my time between Twitter and Facebook; I know how to live!
By: Bryan Jones on October 23, 2014
I have never used the word bifurcate. How did I ever graduate from college? Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on October 23, 2014
You are both fortunate and lucky to have acquired this infamous word. News that two of your stories are to be published is an impressive testament to your talent. A remarkable day to celebrate, best wishes to the one and only Mrs. C.
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 23, 2014
"The path to good grades bifurcates between book smarts and common sense, like knowing when to keep your mouth shut." Very true statement for good grades and life in general. Happy Birthday Mrs. C I have Jimmys Opinion back up and running at http://jimsop.blogspot.com/ would love to have you back on board. Jimmy
By: Jimmy on October 23, 2014

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