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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Remembering Truckzilla

May 1, 2015

First Posted 10/9/13



I thought Mrs. C. had lost her mind when she came home from work, excited at having won two tickets in an office pool for an event so outside my field of interest as to be laughable. “You won tickets to what?” I asked.


She beamed. “Tickets to a truck and tractor pull.”


“What the hell is that?” I asked, hoping the name was a misnomer and this event had nothing to do with trucks or tractors.


“As I understand it, trucks and tractors engage in tugs of war, there’s a demolition derby and other events. You can take CJ. He loves cars and trucks. It will be a great bonding experience for the two of you. And Truckzilla will be there. You two will have a great time.”


Truckzilla? This didn’t sound like my cup of tea.


Our ten year old son was already mesmerized by all things automotive and would undoubtedly have a terrific time, but this was completely outside my comfort zone. “Why don’t you take him?” I pleaded. Mrs. Chatterbox loves cars much more than I do.


She glared at me and made a tsk…tsk sound that registered as: Congratulations on being the worst dad ever!


I didn’t have a leg to stand on. I’d tried taking CJ to museums, art galleries and other places I was interested in, like antique stores, and he’d rolled his eyes, bored out of his little mind. There was to be no escape; I was going to a truck and tractor pull.


You’ll find this hard to believe but, back then, I was somewhat of a snob. I wanted to protect my reputation as a scholar, professor and artist, a renaissance man of culture and sophistication. On the day of the “pull” I reassured myself that no one I knew would attend an event where trucks and tractors pushed each other through mud, or where sports vehicles with ludicrously big tires bounced through the air to crush other cars.


The event was held on a Sunday afternoon at the Rose Garden, home of the Portland Trailblazers. This was my first time inside the Rose Garden (no surprise there) and I was amazed by how huge is seemed, so much bigger than it looked on TV. The court was completely covered with dirt, the arena filled to capacity with people who didn’t look like the museum-going crowd with whom I usually socialized.


CJ and I found our seats, which happened to be as close to the action as possible without being run down by monster trucks prowling the arena while painted to look like angry velociraptors. Vendors were hawking cold beer, nachos and…ear plugs. I’d never been to an event that sold ear plugs and might have passed on them had not everyone around us purchased a pair.


As it turned out, those ear plugs were worth their weight in gold. Once diesel trucks began belching smoke, grinding gears and smacking into each other, it would have been painful not having ear protection. CJ was over the moon with excitement, especially when fire breathing Truckzilla arrived, red lasers darting from his eyes and giant jaws crunching and devouring smaller vehicles.


Confession, I did have a good time with my son, but my presence at an event so foreign to me did not go unnoticed. In spite of my assumption that none of the people I knew would attend and catch me at such an event, I was seen by quite a few people I knew. Many of my art clients were there, along with the dean of the college where I taught. And I was recognized by many of my students, most having rejected the idea of buying ear plugs. The next morning during class half a dozen of them commented that I was the last person they expected to see at a truck and tractor pull. I was pleased that they seemed so impressed. I don’t recall what I said to them, but I remember having to shout so they could hear me.






Have you ever been to a truck and tractor pull, or anything outside your comfort zone?




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I've never even heard of this but it sounds like fun, in a way. Yes, I think that sums up my feelings.....
By: jenny on May 1, 2015
tractor pulls were big in my rural area of wisconsin. :)
By: TexWisGirl on May 1, 2015
We never know what we like until we try it. Glad you had such a good time with your son and it was a surprise you met so many people you knew. I am going to have a look on the web to try to catch the flavour . . . Eddie . . :)
By: Eddie Bluelights on May 1, 2015
Good for you! In our early years in America we were keen to get a feel for the local culture, so we went to some Rodeos and a couple of Truck Pulls. I'm glad we did.
By: english rider on May 1, 2015
This was a classic that deserved to be re-posted. And remember, one of the best things about having kids - aside of one more person to carry on the family name - is that you can always blame your attendance at something questionable on them.
By: Marty on May 1, 2015
They have these types of things (Monster Truck Rallies...) around here all the time. I've heard they're fun, but I'll take your word for it. I'm guessing your students respected you even more after seeing you there.
By: Robyn Engel on May 1, 2015
ummmm nope never been to an event like that! Your son probably remembers that event with warm feelings!
By: Kathe W. on May 1, 2015
Not my cup of tea either though I think going with a ten year old would make it worthwhile.
By: Cranky on May 1, 2015
I have never been to one and thanks to your descripition I too would give it a miss. My sons when they were younger however........
By: John on May 1, 2015
I'm assuming my wedding doesn't count!!
By: fishducky on May 1, 2015
Never been to one, but the children have, with friends. Congratulations on stepping out and bonding with your boy that way!
By: mimi on May 1, 2015
That you did if for your son and got to see him having a blast had to have made it special. I'll bet CJ remembers it today.
By: Akansas Patti on May 1, 2015
I love this post. Yes, I put attendance at an inside an arena mud bog on the list. Way out of my zone.
By: Tom Cochrun on May 1, 2015
I've been to a taffy pull. Not as noisy.
By: Al Penwasser on May 1, 2015
A bar. A country-western bar, where I was invited for a girls' night out by my fellow employees at an insurance salvage store. They were sweet young things, early 20s, in their cowboy boots and tight jeans and checkered blouses. I was 28, in my cowboy boots, not-so-tight jeans of which I was proud they were not fitting tightly, and checkered flannel shirt. They begged me to go, actually, and I tried to have a good time. For them, of course. I just felt like an ugly stepsister sweeping the hearth, even though I pretended to have a good time. For them. So they invited me to house parties and Silver Dollar City with other work companions. Which were more fun than the truck and tractor pulls I have been to.
By: Val on May 1, 2015
In my misspent younger days in North Dakota I attended a number of dances that featured polkas and schottisches. I rue the nights I wasted.
By: Catalyst on May 1, 2015
I would feel as uncomfortable as you if I went toe this show. In fact, I wouldn't go.
By: red on May 1, 2015
Will Mrs. C be putting you to work as an Uber driver now that the service is going to be allowed to operate in and around Portland?
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on May 2, 2015
This is so funny! I'm so glad you had a fun time with your son. And remember that a writer needs to travel outside their comfort zone and experience new things. That said, no, I never went to a tractor pull. lol
By: Lexa Cain on May 2, 2015
Hahaha...too funny. They have monster truck rallies and tractor pulls around here, but my husband and I must be a bit snobbish, too. We always comment that it's a good time to do any shopping at Walmart when such an event is going on. Walmart is dead then, no lines and crowds.
By: Pixel Peeper on May 3, 2015
Monster Truck events aren't so big in the UK, so have never been to one and can't imagine it would be my thing - but everyone should try something outside their comfort zone from time to time
By: don\'t feed the pixies on May 4, 2015
I've always enjoyed Indy and NASCAR, especially with our local resident Danica Patrick!
By: Michael Manning on May 4, 2015

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