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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Cosmic Cuties

September 13, 2013

A news story this week received very little attention. The Voyager-1 spacecraft, launched in 1977 to study the outer planets, has officially exited our solar system. It is now so far away that it takes 17 hours for a radio signal from Voyager to reach receivers here on Earth. To mark this occasion I’m repeating my post from January 2012.

 

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

Do you remember Voyager, the probe sent into space in 1977? Thirty-five years have expired since its launch and Voyager will soon be leaving our solar system and will travel through interstellar space, 10.8 billion miles from Earth. The probe carries hundreds of thousands of bits of information stored on a gold disc to promote Earth and human achievement should alien life encounter it. This was all based on the assumption that aliens finding our probe in space would be sophisticated enough to have a bitchin’ sound system capable of playing the recording.

    

So what was on that gold disc and who put it there? Answer: The Voyager Interstellar Message Committee, which included astronomers, writers and artists, who were tasked with painting as full a portrait of life on Earth as possible.

     

Really?

    

According to Voyager’s website: “…every part of the record, the music made by crickets, whales, and humans, the pictures, the sounds—each part was chosen to add some additional information about who we are. So, young and old, cultures of east, west, south and north, ancient and modern, night and day, and so forth, all of it is represented by some element of the Voyager Message.”

    

But something is missing on that disc, and it wasn’t an accident. Did you know that among all of this information on Voyager’s message there is no image of the nude human form? I’ve learned that originally two black and white drawings of naked humans, a male and a female, were included on the list of items to be sent into space, but at some point the committee decided to eliminate them. I’d like to know why.

    

I find it hard to imagine that writers and artists in the seventies, a time still twitching beneath the spell of Jacqueline Susann, Harold Robbins, Picasso and Andy Warhol, decided that pictures of naked people might be too arousing for aliens. Did the committee believe that an advanced civilization capable of space travel would go berserk, pull their who-knows-whats out of their pants (assuming they wore pants) and start pleasuring themselves? Was the committee saying that nudity is not an important part of life on Earth? If so I beg to differ: I’m practically naked as I write this.

    

So no nudity on Voyager. Too bad. With our economy in the dumpster, this could have provided a whole new outlet for our porn industry. Think of the jobs that might have been created distributing billions of copies of magazines like Cosmic Cuties to porn-starved aliens.

 



 



Comments

23 Comments
I did not know that. Maybe they didn't want the aliens to know mans true weakness....Woman.
By: David Walston on September 13, 2013
Now that is so strange. It was a whole different way of thinking back then~
By: Shelly on September 13, 2013
So stupid! I'll bet they weren't able to say God either. You know it was not the artists, but bureaucrats who did the final edit.
By: cranky on September 13, 2013
I remember something about this at the time and thinking how uncool. But that was a different time 35 years ago....and so it goes. But you are one funny critter Mr. Man. I love your writing. Oma Linda
By: Oma Linda on September 13, 2013
Could it be that they didn't consider humans that important?
By: fishducky on September 13, 2013
Good maybe when the aliens show up to kill us all they'll think cockroaches or rats or dolphins are the true rulers of the planet and destroy them.
By: PT Dilloway on September 13, 2013
ha ha!
By: TexWisGirl on September 13, 2013
now that's down right silly....those aliens are in for a shockeroo when they do arrive and find nudity exists and is alive here on this planet!
By: Kathe W. on September 13, 2013
I would love to know what all is on that disc. Must be pretty censored if the human body didn't make the cut. Maybe they didn't want to give aliens any ideas what parts to probe.
By: Cheryl P. on September 13, 2013
And I'm practically naked while I'm reading this. I'm totally naked most of the time. That'll give you something to think about. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on September 13, 2013
Lack of nude humans is odd, but more troubling is imagining the clothes they're choosing to hide the human body with. Remember what we wore in the 70s?? So embarrassing. :(
By: Lexa Cain on September 13, 2013
If 'Star Trek-The Motion Picture' is to be believed, Voyager falls in with a bad crowd, changes its name to V-Ger, and comes back to jump ugly with all the carbon units on Earth. On a related note, it's too bad that Voyager was launched so many years before the invention of EZ Pass. Sure would have come in handy when leaving the solar system.
By: Al Penwasser on September 13, 2013
And she said "I'll keep an eye (or two) out for you!"
By: Catalyst/Bruce on September 13, 2013
The seventies. It was the breast of times.. it was the worst of times.
By: Hilary on September 13, 2013
I don't remember seeing anything in American news media, but I read about this in the German newspaper yesterday. The article made mention of the fact that the music of Chuck Berry and pianist Glenn Gould are on these records. Which, in turn has me wondering...are we expecting aliens to be able to listen to them? I don't know a single human who still has a record player!
By: Pixel Peeper on September 13, 2013
Gold disc? I'm shocked, SHOCKED, that they didn't just send it on a Betamax cassette.
By: Val on September 13, 2013
You really set us up for this one! Nicely done!
By: Red on September 13, 2013
I wonder if they mentioned the world wars and all the lesser wars we've had and continue to have? ... and on a lighter note, that cartoon was hilarious, and that's coming from someone who usually frowns - that's right, frowns! and sometimes frowns severely!! - on nudity or anything approaching it in my cartoon reading!
By: jenny_o on September 13, 2013
i was six - this event must've been during my nap. :)
By: Carrie on September 13, 2013
Fascinating how the human mind works, especially about Nudity. Such Victorian attitudes even in the "States.
By: John on September 14, 2013
Yes, i saw the story, and read that they believe Voyager is truly, finally, out of the solar system. Voyager !! should reach that point in another 2-4 years. As for aliens finding it and being able to figure out how to interpret what's on it, who knows what kind of senses they may have? They may not share any of our five at all, and it could have been a complete waste. Oh, and i feel about any aliens out there as i once read in "Calvin and Hobbes," they are out there, and they have proven their intelligence by not bothering to come here!
By: mimi on September 14, 2013
You wonder if an encountering intelligence will be able to determine an analog technology.
By: Tom Cochrun on September 14, 2013
Sad that Voyager I didn't make it to mainstream American media. Perhaps Voyager II will garner more attention. Mesmerizing to think what lays ahead for these probes.
By: Daniel LaFrance on September 15, 2013

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