Blog Archive

2013

A New Year's Confession

January 02, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I can’t bear the weight of a certain secret anymore, a secret that’s been a monkey on my back for years. I can imagine you reading this and screaming at your monitors, “What a beast! I knew this fat guy wasn’t right in his head. Get him some help before he hurts himself!”      What better time to rid myself of this burden than the beginning of a new year. New Years are all about starting over, shedding the past the way a snake sheds its skin. But the prospect of revealing the darkness at the center of my soul fills me with dread. I’ve worked hard to cultivate a climate of culture and amusement here at Chubby Chatterbox and if I go off the reservation with this admission I’m bou ...

 + photos!,  read more

Twilight Zone Marathon

January 04, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Every year on New Year’s Eve when the Sci-Fi Channel runs a 48 hour Twilight Zone Marathon I tell myself that I’m not going to watch. This year I watched less than previously but a few of my favorites stopped me in my tracks, rendering me powerless to change the channel. I’m not sure why since I know the dialogue of most of the 156 episodes by heart.     When the program premiered in October of 1959 I was not yet seven, too young to recall if my parents tuned in to the loquacious man in a dark suit with a cigarette smoldering between his fingers. When the program went off the air in ’64, CBS ran episodes after school and during the summer. I was quickly hooked by sharp stories that were challenging, ...

 + photos!,  read more

Radio Gibberish

January 06, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I love it when bloggers post music videos. I don’t make enough time in my life for music and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to add more music to my life. I inherited my dad’s radio when he passed a few years ago but I’ve yet to turn it on. Dad was a big country music enthusiast and I remember sitting on his lap and listening to Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. But it was another radio I remember most, a radio at my grandparents’ house. It played gibberish.         I’m calling it gibberish because I can’t think of a better word for speech I couldn’t understand. But gibberish sounds too negative and judgmental, not at all what I have in mind. What I heard ...

 + photos!,  read more

Master of the Zombie Apocalypse

January 07, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Disclaimer: if you have an intense fear of your mortality you might want to pass on this post.        The public’s fascination with zombies never ceases to amaze me. TV shows like Zombie Hunters, Dead Set and Zombie Apocalypse receive huge ratings. And I know half a dozen bloggers who critique episodes of The Walking Dead with the seriousness of English majors analyzing Milton’s Paradise Lost.      I do not share this attraction for the “living dead.” Would someone please explain to me why zombies are always hungrier than stoned college kids? What’s the point of being dead if you need to spend all your time searching for live humans to snack on? Do zombies put ...

 + photos!,  read more

The *Science of Sneezing

January 09, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
There’s a nasty bug going around our neck of the woods. There’s probably one going around where you live as well. Yesterday I took Grandma Chatterbox to see her doctor for a post surgery checkup. (Yes, I did provide her with hair removal cream for her visit with handsome Dr. Fernando.)      I noticed that many people were sneezing in the doctor’s waiting room. The vampire sneeze is very popular these days, where you cover your mouth with your arm and sneeze into an invisible cape, which some say is preferable to covering your mouth with your hand and spreading crud like victims in Stephen King’s The Stand. Some people try to stifle a sneeze and make a sound similar to what happens when you remov ...

 + photos!,  read more

Rubbed Raw in Verona

January 11, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Verona is a beautiful Italian city famous for someone who never lived there, as described by someone unlikely to have even visited Verona. Any guesses who I’m talking about? This should help:                          “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and (?) is the sun.”      Don’t have it yet?                                           &nb ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Other Side of the Mountain

January 13, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts

I don’t normally devote posts exclusively to pictures because my Blog is mostly about writing, but this image made me laugh so hard I couldn’t resist. No doubt you’ve seen pictures of Mount Rushmore but the view from the “other side of the mountain” is seldom photographed. And with good reason….

 


Happy Sunday everyone.




 + photos!,  read more

When Druids Go Wild!

January 14, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
One of the things I like most about travel is the unexpected effect famous monuments and sights have on me. I go to the Louvre to check out the Mona Lisa and discover that the painting is small and green, quite a disappointment. But other attractions exceed my expectations; the coffee shop on the Louvre's second floor has the best croissants I’ve ever tasted.      When Mrs. Chatterbox and I decided to visit Stonehenge we were told by friends and fellow travelers to lower our expectations. “It’s just a circle of stones,” they said, “and it’s smaller than you think.”       So I did lower my expectations. Standing in front of Stonehenge, I leaned against a protectiv ...

 + photos!,  read more

This Isn't My Underwear!

January 16, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I recently posted a high school picture of myself and several followers commented that I didn’t look chubby at all. The picture was taken shortly after I’d managed to drop the weight.      I remember my parents taking me to have my thyroid checked when I was twelve because my baby fat wasn’t burning off. A slow learner, I’d finally come to the realization that life wasn’t fair; no one in my family was overweight. My older brother could eat a chocolate cake and burn it off by farting, whereas I could eat a carrot and my body would respond, “Let’s store this for the winter!” I remember seeing a chart in the doctor’s office that claimed I weighed as much as a f ...

 + photos!,  read more

Channeling Julia Child

January 18, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
One day during my freshman year of high school an idea wormed into my head: it occurred to me that cooking could be nearly as satisfying as eating, so I got up early and made breakfast for everyone. My mother usually restricted herself to coffee and toast in the morning, with Dad and David settling for cold cereal. That morning I made scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes for everyone including David, even though my older brother treated me with the same disdain as my nemesis Chris Ferris. They all chowed down. I cleaned the kitchen and barely managed to get to school on time. That was when it dawned on me that I hadn’t had any breakfast at all.      Before long, I’d turned our kitchen into a breakfast caf&eac ...

 + photos!,  read more

Helpful Husbandry

January 20, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
In an effort to demonstrate what a good husband I am I’ve decided to help Mrs. Chatterbox with an odious task. I screwed up the other morning and Mrs. Chatterbox is intent on telling everyone she can about it. So to spare her the trouble of hunting you down individually to inform you of my f**k up I’ve decided to let the cat out of the bag myself.      Mrs. Chatterbox and I have been together nearly four decades and in that time we’ve run out of gift-giving ideas. I’ve given Mrs. C. gifts both expensive and classy, as well as gifts that were questionable. (Note: Orange velour capes and matching hats such as the set I gave her in the seventies are making a comeback.) My wife has showered me with ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Magnificent Day!

January 21, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Today Barack Obama will once again be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. I’ve tried to steer clear of politics on this blog because the subject has become too volatile for a site attempting to entertain with art, humor and nostalgia. But this historic moment, like the inauguration four years ago, deserves a passing comment.         No doubt I’ve done a poor job concealing the fact that I’m a liberal, even though I don’t believe the Federal Government is the solution to every problem. As a liberal I reject the notion that the Federal Government cannot do anything right. I’ve long been at odds with those who wrap themselves in the flag while shouting, “ ...

 + photos!,  read more

Travels and Travails

January 23, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
As I mentioned a few weeks back, Mrs. Chatterbox and I have decided to visit India at the beginning of March. Our travel agent forwarded an e-mail with the address of the Indian Consulate in Washington D.C. Evidently, we need visas for entering India. Last year when visiting Turkey visas were available at the Istanbul airport for thirty dollars. The Indian government charges nearly five times that amount and isn’t as accommodating, requiring these to be purchased in advance.      The form was lengthy and we struggled to fill it out. Questions were repeated in a variety of ways and we soon realized these questions were designed to reveal any affiliation with Pakistan. The two countries don’t get along. They& ...

 + photos!,  read more

Tea & Tanks

January 25, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This picture only resembles the silver tea service currently turning black with tarnish in our closet. I thought about polishing it for a photograph but I’m much too lazy. The tea service was commissioned in Berlin in 1961 by my father-in-law, Ed Petty. Ed was a lieutenant at the time, two thirds through a distinguished Army career that began at sixteen when he lied about his age and was sent to the frozen Aleutian Islands. He retired from the military as a lieutenant colonel.      In 1961 the Pettys were stationed in Berlin. The German capital still showed damage from relentless WWII bombing while managing to be a festive place, at least for American soldiers who considered it fortunate to be posted there. There ...

 + photos!,  read more

Tea & Tanks: Part II

January 27, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Military personnel were on high alert in the months following the erection of the Berlin Wall. Russian forces were thought to be preparing an assault on the western sectors and the Petty family was put on alert; they needed to be ready to be airlifted out of Berlin at any moment. In a governmental SNAFU the family dog was accidentally shipped to Poland and kept alive with scraps from a kindhearted cargo handler.      Ed had little free time as he carried out his duties but he never forgot his debt to the silversmith. Try as he would, he wasn’t able to communicate with the old man or send money beyond the Wall with any hope of it reaching the right party. In 1962 Captain Petty’s Berlin tour of duty came to a ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture # 21 - Jan 28th

January 28, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’ve long enjoyed work from the golden age of American Illustration, early twentieth century paintings from masters such as Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish. Color photography was just coming into its own, adding a new dimension to classics like Tales of the Round Table, Robinson Crusoe, Aladdin and Treasure Island. I recall warm summer afternoons while sitting under the sycamore in our front yard, my nose pressed close to color drenched images of fairy tale characters, pirates and heroes.      In the 90s I succumbed to the temptation of trying my hand at fantasy illustration, but the need for a consistent paycheck caused me to switch to conceptual illustration for which there was a larger market. My Dr ...

 + photos!,  read more

Pee: Standing or Sitting

January 30, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Several years ago Mrs. Chatterbox told me about a coworker (Glenda) who insisted her husband and four boys pee sitting down; standing in front of the toilet was forbidden. I commented that this wasn’t natural and those boys would probably grow up to have psychological problems. I might have referred to the husband as a wuss for putting up with such an aberration. After all, males were designed to urinate standing up. It’s hard to imagine early settlers crossing the continent in Conestoga wagons, fighting off hostiles, looking for water and a place to graze their oxen while looking for a nice place to sit and do a tinkle.      It might come as no surprise that Mrs. Chatterbox thought Glenda’s sitting-w ...

 + photos!,  read more

Another Conversation with Mother

February 01, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
As most of you know, I spend a lot of time dealing with my eighty-seven year old mother. Mom lives in a retirement facility called The Lodge. I call twice a day to see how she’s doing. Mom’s brain is as sharp as ever when it comes to managing her finances but our conversations often stray into strange territory. Last night’s conversation went something like this:      “How are you doing today, Mom?”      Deep sigh. “Same as usual—surviving.”      “Did you talk to anyone today?” She isn’t into socializing with the other retirees and not even a fire drill can dislodge her from her apartment.    &n ...

 + photos!,  read more

Fair Play

February 03, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Some of you might have noticed that I haven’t been commenting on blogs lately. Let me assure you this isn’t because of a lack of interest on my part. I’ve been flat on my back for a few days. Earlier in the week I was emptying the dishwasher when suddenly it felt like someone was stabbing me in the back with a steak knife. I assumed I’d pulled a muscle and was determined to ride it out with hot massages and stretching exercises. I tried to carry on as usual over the next few days, tried to read and write blogs, but the pain wouldn’t subside. I finally called my doctor (Lie Alert: Mrs. Chatterbox called) and described my symptoms. I was told to rush to the emergency room.      Mrs. Chatterb ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Sad Anniversary

February 06, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Thanks to all of you who have sent me kind wishes for a speedy recovery. I’ve been lying on my back for the past few days, missing my computer and the interaction I receive from all of you. Lately, I’ve had plenty of time to think; mostly I’ve been thinking about my Dad. Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of Dad’s passing. It happened unexpectedly, and when I think about that day five years ago I realize I still haven’t gotten over the shock.      When the lights went out at the Super Bowl Game this past Sunday my thoughts went back to another Super Bowl. In 2008 Mrs. Chatterbox and I were having a small Super Bowl party, just Mom and Dad. None of us were big football fans but the Super B ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Return of Ted

February 08, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
One of my favorite blogs is Comedy Plus, where Sandee seldom fails to start my mornings with a laugh. If you haven’t checked out her blog I highly recommend it. Among other things, Sandee has been blogging about her friend Seymour, who happens to be a rock. During my recent recuperation I’ve been spending a lot of time with my very own inanimate friend—Ted. I hope you enjoy this repeat from last year. Ted has been bugging me to repost it.      Enough of you have been following long enough for me to lower my guard to share another intimacy. I want to introduce a member of the Chatterbox clan who, up until now, hasn’t been mentioned, the only family member who doesn’t live up to the family ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #22

February 10, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
My posts often include a feature called Peculiar Pictures—highlighting an illustration I’ve created that was too peculiar to find a buyer. This time I’m including a photograph I came across while surfing the web. I hope this doesn’t depict a rest stop on our upcoming trip to Northern India.      Brett Minor over at Transformed Non-Conformist has a wonderful blog that I encourage everyone to check out. Brett has a feature where he posts a humorous picture and encourages readers to supply their funniest captions. I’ve been holding on to this photograph for a while and thought it would be fun to see what captions you might come up with. I’m worried what some of you will say (You know wh ...

 + photos!,  read more

Where Is He?

February 11, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
In the sixteenth century, rich Flemish merchants and noblemen enjoyed purchasing paintings of pleasant peasants tending fields they could never own. Smiling at mediocre paintings highlighting the crudeness of peasant life must have made these rich folk feel superior, and in most of these genre paintings the peasants look foolish and in need of the parental guidance the aristocracy provided.      This began to change in the mid 1500s when a genius was born who would paint these average folk with the skill and compassion necessary to make them pulse with humanity, so much so that even today our collective image of these hearty hard-working people is solely derived from his paintings. The artist’s name was Peter Bru ...

 + photos!,  read more

Revisiting The Peasant Wedding

February 13, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The week is only half over and it’s been one of riches for me. First, the great guys at Dude Write have honored me with their Diamond Member’s Only Award for my post Pee: Standing or Sitting. If you haven’t had an opportunity to check out this great site I highly recommend it. Second, Val at Unbagging the Cats has bestowed on me The Sunshine Award. Thanks Val. I’ll respond to the questions in an upcoming post.   Revisiting The Peasant Wedding      I’m amazed at the thoughtful responses to my inquiry about the groom in Bruegel’s The Peasant Wedding. Many of you did an excellent job of sleuthing and if you haven’t taken the opportunity to check the comments I think you&r ...

 + photos!,  read more

Questionnaire

February 15, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I’ve been tagged by two of my favorite bloggers, Joe of Cranky Old Man and Bruce at Oddball Observations and asked to participate in this 25 question “getting to know you” exercise. I’m not big on answering questions about myself but I’ll give it a try: Where were you born? Alameda, California in 1952   Were you named after someone? No. Mom was being artsy when she named me Stephen. Actually, her first choice was Frank but there were already half a dozen “Franks” in the family. I did end up with Frank as my middle name.   If you have any children, how many do you have? One son, thirty-two years old. How many pets do you have? None at the moment, except for Ted the Wonder ...

 + photos!,  read more

Diagon Alley

February 17, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
"Harry wished he had eight more eyes... There were shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments Harry had never seen before, windows stacked with barrels of bat spleens and eels' eyes, tottering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon...." —Description of Harry Potter’s first visit in Diagon Alley        Just about everyone has read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies. One of my favorite places in the magical realm of wizardry is Diagon Alley, hidden in London, England, behind a pub called the Leaky Cauldron. Diagon Alley is a cobbled street and shopping area that looks like a Dickensian acid trip. I just read an a ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Colossal Purr

February 18, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Many of you write posts about your pets. I enjoy seeing pictures and reading stories about all of these various creatures. Mrs. Chatterbox and I are currently between pets but it’s only a matter of time until a furry companion is added to the Chatterbox household, probably a dog. But cats seem to spur more interest than dogs on the blogosphere. Evidently, readers can’t get enough of cute and mischievous felines.      I’m reminded of an interesting evening  Mrs. C. and I once shared with cats—in the Roman Coliseum. It was 1976, we’d only been married two years, and we were backpacking through Europe. We’d taken the train from Naples up to Rome and grabbed a cheap pensione where w ...

 + photos!,  read more

High Tech

February 20, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I know I speak for millions when I admit to struggling with today’s ever-changing technology; I wouldn’t have been able to create this blog without my son’s help. Years ago I attempted to write a spy novel and most of the gadgets I invented for my spooks are now in the hands of high schoolers. But I can recall a time before smart phones, iPads and laptops, when I was ten and thought the coolest gadget to own was a walkie talkie.      An ad in a ratty magazine I pinched from our barber shop offered a genuine wireless walkie talkie for only $1.39, a reasonable price for a device sure to make me the coolest kid in the neighborhood. I had 90 cents hidden in a cigar box under my bed. Not enough, so I hit u ...

 + photos!,  read more

Mrs. Chatterbox's Rainbow

February 22, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mrs. Chatterbox and I married shortly after graduating from college, she with an English degree from Santa Clara University and me with an art degree from UCLA. We settled in a 1930s duplex in West LA. I continued to hang out with my artsy college friends and tried to break into the Los Angeles art scene. Mrs. C. and I frequented numerous parties and artistic events, referred to back then as happenings. Heated discussions about modern art and politics were commonplace.      Mrs. C. was not comfortable with the freaky nonconformists frequenting these events but she was an amazingly good sport, even when a stoned poetess pointed at her and loudly barked, “Who brought Tricia Nixon to the party?”   & ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #23

February 24, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts

Perhaps no picture I’ve painted deserves to be in my Peculiar Picture File more than this weird version of The Pied Piper. I can’t remember why I painted this image although I recall being happy when I signed my name to it. Art directors were less than thrilled when they saw it in my portfolio. Strange. Odd. Unmarketable; these were some of the nicer words hurled at my poor picture.

    

This piece has never sold because no one could imagine a use for it. Can you?

 

 



 + photos!,  read more

Penny For Your Thoughts

February 25, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Canada recently announced its intention to eliminate the penny, and President Obama has expressed an interest in doing so here. It seems like a good time to rerun this post from last year.    Yesterday one winked up at me from the gutter. I considered bending down and picking it up. After all, I’m as superstitious as the next guy, and as the saying goes: Find a penny pick it up, and it will bring to you good luck.        Although I’m tired of gathering them from under my couch cushions, I admit to having a soft spot for the penny, which has been part of our culture since the beginning. Our language is ripe with references to them: Penny wise and pound foolish; A penny saved is a penny earned. An ...

 + photos!,  read more

Chasing Freedom

February 27, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 Mrs. Chatterbox was responsible for driving to the pound and selecting our longest lasting dog, a peculiar looking mutt our son named Ginger. Actually, CJ wanted to name the pooch Rambo but we convinced him Ginger was a more suitable name for a girl dog. Ginger had been at the pound a long time and her stay was coming to an end. Her ticket to the Rainbow Bridge was going to be stamped that evening. She never forgot that Mrs. Chatterbox saved her, and for many years she and Mrs. C. were inseparable. As far as Ginger was concerned, the sun rose and set with my wife. Mrs. C. was inconsolable when Ginger died, but after a period of grieving I accompanied her to the pound to rescue another dog in need of a home.      ...

 + photos!,  read more

Do Not Touch !

March 01, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
When I was in middle school my art class took a field trip to a museum in Oakland, California. Our teacher, Mr. Mestemacher, told us we’d be seeing some interesting work by world-renown British sculptor Henry Moore. I went to the school library and studied up on this Moore guy. His work was bold and only vaguely realistic, and I was intrigued by one of his quotes where he stressed the tactile qualities of his sculptures and invited viewers to fondle and caress them to receive the fullest experience possible.      I boarded a school bus for the hour-long trip to Oakland along with other future artists from Jefferson Junior High. When the bus halted in front of the museum, Mr. Mestemacher told us we were free to wa ...

 + photos!,  read more

Blowing Smoke

March 03, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 This past week fishducky, one of my favorite bloggers, posted an interesting picture I’d like to share. I highly recommend a visit to fishducky, finally!, where you’ll always find something to smile about. This picture from her site inspired my post. For those of you who don’t recognize the item, its purpose will be revealed at the end of my post.   ********************************************************************* I was a healthy child and not prone to accidents, a good thing because my parents relied on home remedies for various ailments, remedies passed down from generation to generation. Doctors were called only in extreme emergencies. My mother recalls an instance when her older brother fell out of a ...

 + photos!,  read more

Countdown

March 04, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mrs. Chatterbox and I are in countdown mode for our upcoming trip to India; we leave on Saturday. Mrs. C is a former Army brat raised on moving every few years so she knows how to pack. The suitcases are open in our guest bedroom and already starting to bulge with clothes and items we might need in India. Bugs find me particularly tasty so I’ve dosed my travel gear in DEET to prevent myself from becoming a mosquito buffet; I’d really like to avoid describing for you the discomforts of hepatitis or malaria. We’ve been cautioned not to drink tap water and to be sure seals on bottled water haven’t been broken. The doctor at the travel clinic has cautioned us against eating salads and fruit unless the fruit is washed in ...

 + photos!,  read more

Thanks, Charlie

March 06, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
On Monday our son CJ lost Charlie, his best friend. Eight years ago CJ decided he wanted a pet. He figured a dog would require more attention than he could give so he settled on a cat. Mrs. C and I accompanied him to the animal shelter where we prowled through cages searching for the perfect pet.      Charlie came close to not being selected; had he not been it would have been my fault. I was mesmerized by another cat. Her name was Jolly Polly. She oozed personality and I campaigned for CJ to adopt her. Her purring was so loud she sounded like a Yamaha motorcycle. I swear she winked at me as she licked my fingers through the cage. And she was a big cat, as big as a medium sized dog. Unfortunately, she oozed more than p ...

 + photos!,  read more

Namaste (Nah- mes- tay)

March 08, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I doubt this will come as a surprise to anyone but Lady Chatterbox and I are big Amazing Race fans. We hold our breath at the beginning of each season when Phil Keoghan launches the race by saying, “The world is waiting for you. Good luck. Travel safe.”   We don’t have a dozen teams competing with us for a million dollars, which is a good thing because Mrs. C. dawdles and I have no sense of direction, but we are off on another great adventure, and we truly believe the world is out there waiting for us.   See you in a few weeks with a fresh batch of adventures to share.                         & ...

 + photos!,  read more

Holy Cow ! - We're Home

March 27, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
     "In religion, India is the only millionaire...... the One land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined."                                                    —Mark Twain—   Mrs. Chatterbox and I have returned from India after the adventure of a lifetime. Thanks to all of you who helped launch our trip with your good wishes. Our health and spi ...

 + photos!,  read more

Lucky

March 29, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
“You ride my camel?”      That was the idea, the reason Mrs. Chatterbox and I had come to the Thar Desert. The tour brochure promised an exhilarating ride on sand dunes to watch the sunset, followed by a dinner with local tribesmen. Mrs. Chatterbox had no intention of riding a camel across the desert and had chosen to follow behind in a camel-drawn cart.      “My camel, he is a good camel,” said the young man. “Nice and strong for you.”      I studied his face to see if he was taking a jab at my weight, but all I saw was friendliness mixed with a dash of hucksterism. I can’t remember his name but he was brown as mahogany, dressed in a ...

 + photos!,  read more

Standing on Ceremony

March 31, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I hope you enjoy this Chubby Chatterbox Easter Rerun from last year:    Standing on Ceremony      I was so excited I felt like I was about to turn inside out.      Mrs. Chatterbox and I were going to see the Pope, not that the Pope was the main attraction that Easter Morning in 1976, not for me anyway: I was there to see Saint Peter’s Basilica—in particular Michelangelo’s breathtaking dome. As a kid I’d read The Agony and the Ecstasy four times, paying extra attention to the chapters devoted to the construction of the dome, and now I was about to see this marvel with my very own eyes.      Visiting the Basilica on Easter Sunday was a ques ...

 + photos!,  read more

India Adventure Give-a-way

April 01, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
When I redesigned Chubby Chatterbox last year I included buttons for followers to add to their blogs. So far I’ve only spotted two Chubby Chatterbox buttons: one at PT Dilloway, and the other at Cheryl’s The Art of Being Conflicted. (Sorry if you’ve posted my button and I haven’t noticed.) In a shameless bid to encourage readers to add my button, I’ve decided to sponsor an April give-a-way. If you’re interested, let me know in the comment section and I’ll add your name to a hat. At the end of April I’ll pick a name. If that person’s blog features my button they’ll receive a cool souvenir from my trip to India. Just click on the Chubby Chatterbox dashboard above the banner where it ...

 + photos!,  read more

An April 1st Cluster F**K

April 03, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I should have thought twice about trying to launch anything new on April Fool’s Day. My attempt to obtain free advertising has opened a can of worms and caused problems for my readers, which I never intended.      Seeing blogs with promotional buttons convinced me I needed to do a better job promoting Chubby Chatterbox. It was not my intention to badger those of you who don’t like buttons and don’t want to clutter your site with them. On my old blog I posted buttons and awards on my sidebar but the new Chubby Chatterbox will only let me feature them on an awards page, which is where they are.      Complicating matters, I’ve learned that the HTML codes on my buttons ...

 + photos!,  read more

Stranger in the Dark

April 05, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 Our plane was halfway through its flight from Amsterdam to New Delhi, India. The cabin was dark, and still but for the vibration of the massive engines propelling us through the night. I had a window seat and Mrs. C., like most of the passengers, had nodded off. We’d been flying over Turkmenistan, according to the monitor on the back of the seat in front of me, and now we were over Afghanistan. I was thinking about how this troubled nation had figured so prominently in the news these past eleven years when I thought I saw something beyond my window passing in front of a cluster of stars, shadowing us from a distance.      We were about four hundred miles from Islamabad when I heard, “What are you look ...

 + photos!,  read more

Turban Time

April 07, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Ever wonder how a turban is made? This presentation was given to us at the Amber Fort in Jaipur, once the capital of Rajasthan.             I’m not sure I pull off this look very well. What do you think? ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Shape of Things

April 08, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Yesterday I posted a photograph of myself wearing a turban. I received many interesting comments—most suggesting that this was not a look I should consider adopting. The focus on my head reminded me of this piece I wrote a few years ago:       When I was a kid my dad would drive me to the barbershop. On our way home Dad would take a moment to tell me what a great haircut I’d gotten, adding, “It’s because you have such a nicely shaped head.”      Dad was an extremely upbeat guy, always finding something positive to say, which couldn’t have been easy when it came to his chubby, non-athletic younger son. Still, it always made me feel good when he said it, and there ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Power of Observation

April 10, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Albrecht Dürer was arguably Germany’s greatest painter, and one of the most celebrated graphic artists of all time, but in 1503 he took a break from his flourishing studio for a horse ride in the country. He wanted to take in some fresh air. As he rode down the road he did something extraordinary. He reined his horse to a stop, climbed down from the saddle and ripped a clump of weeds from the side of the road, placing the clump in his saddlebag and returning with it to his studio.      Big deal, you might say. But it was a big deal, because of what he did next. He set the clump of dirt on a table in his studio and proceeded to meticulously paint it, with as much detail as another artist might have used to de ...

 + photos!,  read more

We're Gonna Die!

April 12, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It’s hard not to think you’re going to die when you hit the road in India. Aside from the fact that, from an American perspective, they drive on the wrong side of the road, no logic is apparent on Indian streets and highways. I asked our guide Devender about this and he admitted Indians drive erratically. “Driving isn’t tested in India because there are far too many people,” he explained. “An instructor would have to test four to five hundred people a day and that just isn’t possible, so we all learn on our own.”      This becomes interesting when the roads are choked with cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, tuk tuks (motorized rickshaws that swarm like locusts) camel-pulle ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Sunday Portfolio

April 14, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 Here are a few pictures from our recent trip to India. First, an elephant is giving rides at the Amber Fort in Jaipur.     The second picture shows a guard at one of the many palaces we visited. This would look like an old painting were it not for the watch on his wrist.       #3 The Jain Temple in Ranakpur. The Jain religion, stressing the sacredness of all living creatures, is over 2500 years old. The temple is composed of 1444 marble pillars with no two alike. One pillar was intentionally placed crooked because only gods are permitted perfection.     #4 This beautiful lady was photographed in one of the palaces at the desert town of Jaisalmer.       #5 A dancer in Bika ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Generosity of Spirit

April 15, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A few days ago I felt compelled to do something I seldom do—check our newspaper’s obituary page. It felt like an icy fist was squeezing my heart when I saw the name Elsa Warnick. She’d died a few days before Mrs. C. and I left for India. Her memorial took place several days before our return.      Elsa and I had been great friends and colleagues at the local art college where we both taught, but I’d lost sight of her over the past few years. I always expected to see her again; it wasn’t unusual for months to pass without contact. When we got together to share old times it was as if no time had elapsed. Elsa died after a two year battle with cancer. I feel terrible I wasn’t there to o ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Snake Charmer of Jaipur

April 17, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
     I rarely write fiction but this short story resulted from my recent trip to India:   The Snake Charmer of Jaipur     “Follow me,” the boy said, his voice more commanding than his slight appearance would suggest.      Stickley took in the youth’s unkempt appearance; rags that hardly qualified as clothes, a turban too soiled to identify by color, dusty sandals that barely covered his filthy feet. He shot the kid a stern look and gestured for him to get lost.      A wall of roasting air hit him but he wasn’t perspiring any more, a reminder he wasn’t taking in enough water. He licked his parched lips but his tongue was too sw ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Snake Charmer of Jaipur - Part II

April 19, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
For Part One of my short story click here. The Snake Charmer of Jaipur Part II   “I’ve been waiting for you, Mister Stickley,” said the boy. “I knew you’d come.”      “How did you know?”      Without answering, the youngster started down a passageway. Stickley had a reputation among his peers for being cool under pressure, a criminal who performed dangerous tasks as if his emotions were numbed by shots of Novocaine, but calmness eluded him, his heart trip-hammering in his chest. No bit pulled him forward, but he couldn’t break the spell the kid had on him as they continued on their way.      The passageway narro ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Vision of Emperor Akbar

April 21, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The Boston Marathon tragedy made last week a difficult one. Like many Americans, I watched the news reports and wondered how anyone could commit such a heinous crime. I hoped that when all of the facts came out it would be learned that religious extremism was not the cause, and even though the investigation of this crime is ongoing I’m resigned to the fact that religious extremism will be an integral part of this horror.      Situations like the Boston tragedy are bleak reminders of the evil we humans inflict on each other. Yet history has provided examples of tolerance to inspire us to set aside our petty ways. I’m encouraged by a building I recently saw in India, the Diwan-i-Khas, a structure as beautiful ...

 + photos!,  read more

India Portfolio

April 22, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
*Note: All of these pictures were taken in the Indian state of Rajasthan.   Picture #1 (Left) In the abandoned Moghul capital of Fatehpur Sikri, those convicted of capital crimes were forced to lay their head on this stone. An elephant performed the execution by stepping on the head.     #2 A floating palace in Udaipur. You might remember this building from the James Bond movie Octopussy.     #3 Jaisalmer’s wealth came from this desert city’s position on the Silk Road. Most of the inhabitants have never seen rain.     #4 This is a view from the rooftop of the Maharajah of Bikaner’s palace, now a hotel. Most of the rooms were filled with the heads of hunted animals. They sta ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #24

April 24, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Some of my newer followers might not be aware of the fact that I’m a retired commercial illustrator. Like many illustrators, most of my work resulted from commissions, but I also created pieces to satisfy an artistic itch. On days when my creative tubing was kinked, the result could be a peculiar picture. Many of these odd pieces have sold over the years, others have not. This feature is called Peculiar Pictures, and I invite you to come up with a caption or purpose for these pictures. There isn’t a correct response so those of you who are worried you don’t know much about art can let out a deep sigh of relief—there is no right answer.      This illustration seemed like a great idea at the time. ...

 + photos!,  read more

The State of Mittelwestcoastia

April 26, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Most people who have spent time in California have witnessed the drastic differences between Northern California and the rest of the state. I’m  referring to political differences, not topographical or geographical ones. I’m reminded of this because of something I recently saw in an antique store, a map of the United States in 1941. It showed forty-nine states, interesting because in 1941 there were only forty-eight states—Hawaii and Alaska had yet to join the Union.      I looked closely at the map and found the mysterious 49th state, carved out of Southern Oregon and Northern California; it’s capital was Yreka. My jaw dropped. The map was professionally printed and didn’t appear to ...

 + photos!,  read more

Jack's Gift

April 28, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This Sunday rerun was first posted in 2011 and for nearly a year it was my most popular post.  I hope you enjoy it.      I swim at the public pool on weekday mornings at seven a.m.  On the way home on Fridays I swing by the bakery section at Albertsons because—well, you know why. (A clue is in the title of my blog.) Anyway, this morning I was marching toward the delicious donuts and pastries when I encountered five year old Jack and his grandpa.          “It’s Jack’s fifth birthday today,” Grandpa said, grinning at me. “He’s picking out donuts for his party this afternoon.”       I returned the smile and waited patiently wh ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Fill Up

April 29, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
In 1942 he was a lanky sixteen year old and glad to have a job pumping gas, checking oil and washing windshields at the Texaco in Modesto, California. Most of the men had dashed off to war or he wouldn’t have landed this job. He had numerous brothers and sisters. Now he was able to contribute money to the jar on the kitchen shelf—all that kept food on the table and a roof over their heads.      He’d just finished filling the tank of an old farm truck when a shiny black Buick pulled into the station. The kid had seen the expensive car a few times and recognized the man behind the wheel. An icy claw squeezed his heart and his breathing became labored—he’d never been this close to the driver. ...

 + photos!,  read more

One of Life's Absurdities

May 01, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
On Saturday my back was acting up so I took two pain pills and felt good enough to accompany Mrs. Chatterbox to the grocery store. I don’t generally accompany Mrs. C. on food expeditions because Mrs. C. is a foodie who loves squeezing produce, reading labels and looking for yummy new trends. This usually proves to be time consuming. On the rare occasions when I shop I require a list and I’m in and out as quickly as possible. I was enjoying a delightful buzz on Saturday as I pushed the cart down the aisles.      We were halfway down the frozen food aisle when my wife dropped a package of tilapia into the cart, leaned toward me and whispered, “Be careful. There’s an Oreo behind you.”   ...

 + photos!,  read more

It's Back!

May 03, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Imagine your worst fear: spiders, sharks, speaking in public. I’m sorry to say that something wicked this way comes; it’s headed your way and it exceeds your worst nightmares.      I have a method to alert me to the fact that it’s time to toddle off to Perfect Look for a haircut. On weekday mornings when I pull on my clothes to drive to our community pool, my hair is so unruly that it’s necessary to smash a baseball hat onto my head. When my hair grows too long the hat pops into the air, announcing that time has come for a cut. My hat popped earlier this week.      It should not come as a surprise that I’m chatty with everyone, including the person cutting my hair. Be ...

 + photos!,  read more

Beat Me With A Drumstick

May 05, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First Posted 10/26/11       Hollywood irks me quite often. Why is it that whenever someone gets into a car they never look in the back seat where a killer is patiently waiting for them. I saw this happen once in a movie and the car was a freakin’ convertible. In spy movies, whenever the main character is suspended from the ceiling by a wire, the bad guys never look up when they enter the room, leaving the likes of Tom Cruise to dangle above them without drawing attention. I can’t remember a time when I entered a room without glancing up at the ceiling.       In action adventure movies when our hero defuses a bomb he’s always forced to make that all-important decision: should I cut the ...

 + photos!,  read more

Keep It Away !

May 06, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I mentioned in a previous post that Mrs. Chatterbox is a foodie, always looking for the latest food trend. I usually benefit from this. Mrs. C. has worked hard over the years to serve me meals that are interesting and flavorful, but after forty years it’s become a challenge to come up with interesting dishes. I’ve concluded that her determination to please me in the kitchen after all these years is a testament to her love for me.      If you do the grocery shopping in your family you’ve probably noticed a food phenomenon sweeping the country. Grocers are devoting more space to it every week. In fact I’ve just learned that US consumption of this product has increased a thousand fold over the past ...

 + photos!,  read more

Eternal Love

May 08, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Although the Taj Mahal was the catalyst for our trip to India, I admit to viewing it with trepidation. I’d unwisely made a judgment; without laying my eyes on it I’d concluded that this was the most beautiful edifice ever created by the hand of man. I’d based this opinion on photographs. But I’d been disappointed before and worried I’d set my expectations too high. Could reality match my imagination? I was about to find out.      Mrs. Chatterbox and I left the New Delhi train station at 6:00 a.m. for the two hour ride to Agra. We arrived to a crush of vendors, religious pilgrims, tourists and beggars. I saw a young man wheeling about in a hand-peddled contraption with a grotesque giant foo ...

 + photos!,  read more

Suprematist Composition

May 10, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    Last year I was surprised by the response to my post on Magritte’s painting The Treachery of Images—a depiction of a smoking pipe that included the words: This is not a pipe. Comments were sharply divided as to whether or not this was valid art or merely a clever artist’s trick. Of course it isn’t a pipe because, as Magritte pointed out, you can’t smoke it. Magritte was telling us that a painting is separate and removed from whatever it depicts. Anyone missing Magritte’s point will find what follows even harder to swallow.       Years ago when I was an art student at UCLA a professor devised an interesting challenge: paint something that does not exist in the nat ...

 + photos!,  read more

Spanish Coffee & Mother's Day

May 12, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This year Mrs. C. and I are taking my mother to Red Lobster for Mother’s Day. I’m sure the experience will provide fodder for my blog, but until then this is what happened last year.   When it comes to eating food she hasn't prepared, Mom is as cautious as Howard Hughes. She doesn’t like breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner unless it’s a slice of meat between two pieces of bread. She hates sauces or condiments, preferring cold meat served the “natural way.” When she says this I imagine meat brought down by a pack of hyenas on the Serengeti, clad in fur, twitching and covered in flies.      Last year Mrs. Chatterbox and I came up with a great idea for Mother’s Day. The only thi ...

 + photos!,  read more

Graffiti Grandma

May 13, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’d like to introduce you to my good friend Jo Barney. Jo is launching her latest novel this week. We’ve been writing companions for years, and she deserves much of the credit for improving the quality of my writing. I think you’ll find her latest work extremely compelling, and I hope you’ll take advantage of her free book give-a-way.   *******************************   Hello, All!  And thank you, Steve, for this chance to join your blog for a day. Over the twenty years since I decided to be a writer, I’ve written four or so novels. Right from the first, each of them has come from some aspect of my own life, but each is mostly fiction.    The first is set in an elementary school c ...

 + photos!,  read more

King of Dorks

May 15, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 Many of you have asked for more stories about my friend, Ricky Delgado. This tale is a true account of my one and only childhood confrontation with the law in 1966. Of course Ricky had a lot to do with it.  ************************************   “Is it true?” Ricky asked. “Please say it isn’t because if it is, I’m gonna to have to kill you!”      It’s true,” I admitted. No point denying it.      “If you wanted to be weird, I could’ve brought you some of my sisters’ bras and panties and you could’ve worn them to gym class. But what you’re doing is bad…really bad.”    &nbs ...

 + photos!,  read more

King of Dorks Part II - May 17th

May 17, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This tale is a true account of my one and only childhood confrontation with the law in 1966. If you missed Part I, check it out (here.)   ********************************   The voice with the bullhorn continued. “This is the police! Come down immediately!”      With no other options, we filed down the ladder and were met by the heat. They trooped us outside into the light and took a good look at us. We squinted like cons released from the hole in prison movies. I wondered if Juuuuvy had a hole.      “Well, well, well...”said one of the cops. “Donny Greco. What a surprise to see you here. With your buddy Chris Ferris.” He passed over Ricky, who was ...

 + photos!,  read more

Finding Richard Paul

May 19, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First posted 10/3/11      While cleaning out the garage yesterday, I discovered him in a box on a dusty shelf, his leg caught in our old George Foreman grill. His unblinking eyes fixed on me when I reached for him, as if to say, “Where’s everybody been?”       Richard Paul, showing signs of the fierce love our son CJ lavished on him long ago, was once an integral member of our family. Richard Paul is a Cabbage Patch Doll.       I was thinking about him a few weeks back when a distant relative of his showed up on one of those pawn shop programs on TV. It turns out that Richard Paul is actually worth a few bucks. He’d be worth more if he still had his bi ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #25

May 20, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
When I posted my last Peculiar Picture I was flabbergasted by the witty comments I received in response to my illustration Chicken Boy. I’m amazed at your clever captions and powerful observations. Many of you point out things I’m unaware of and never intended. Here’s another peculiar picture that has yet to find a home. I don’t generally create spooky images but this one has a decidedly Hitchcock quality about it. Do you have a good caption for this one? Can you explain what’s going on? Again, there is no right or wrong answer so water your imagination and let’s see what grows.   ...

 + photos!,  read more

Pecan Perfection

May 22, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I woke up this morning with a hankering for pecan pie. Many of you probably have a special recipe for pecan pie and I’m sure all have merit, but I’m just not interested. You see, I’ve tasted nirvana and it isn’t to be found in fresh ingredients or recipes baked with big doses of love. Nope, not what I’m salivating over.      Years ago Mrs. Chatterbox asked me what I thought of pecan pie and, in a moment of weakness, I told her I liked pecan pie. This was a mistake because my wife will do anything to please me, such as baking and serving me a perfect pecan pie, but her efforts were doomed even before she started gathering together the perfect ingredients. To be sure, Mrs. Chatterbox is a wo ...

 + photos!,  read more

How Dumb Can You Be? - May 24th

May 24, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Another true story I’m not proud of. I’ve resisted telling this one because…well, you’ll see:    In the early eighties Oregon was in the middle of a recession. I’d been out of work for months and was finally hired by an art gallery in downtown Portland. Wind & Wings Gallery sold wildlife art. My primary job was to make calls to businesses and make appointments to show portfolios of art suitable for corporate collections. With a recession in full swing, most businesses were too concerned meeting payrolls to consider art purchases.      I made countless cold calls, begging managers and CEOs for appointments, without success, and eventually broadened my search to areas outsi ...

 + photos!,  read more

Tribes

May 26, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It seems like every other day a bomb goes off in the Middle East, killing dozens of innocent people. I can easily understand rage against the United States; our foreign policy has historically supported dictators who oppress their people while paying lip service to America in exchange for foreign aid. As Americans we have little cause to hold our heads high in this regard, but this doesn’t explain why people in the Middle East are so angry with each other. The answer can be condensed into a single word more far reaching than nationalism—tribes.      It didn’t help matters that at the end of WWI Great Britain redrew the lines of the Middle East to serve the interests of the crumbling British Empire. Co ...

 + photos!,  read more

That Damn War !

May 27, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First posted 5/27/12 I remember Dad pounding his fists on the kitchen table so hard that his coffee mug tipped over. I watched as he did nothing to clean up the coffee spreading over the table and dripping to the floor. “Damn!”       I’d never known Dad to swear.      He pounded his fists on the table a few more times. “That damn war!” My blood froze to hear the rage in his voice.      It was a Saturday morning in October, 1966, the one and only time I ever saw my Dad lose his temper. His flash of rage was short-lived, quickly turning to sorrow. He swiped his eyes with the back of his hands and dropped his head, mumbling under his breath over an ...

 + photos!,  read more

Pole Dancing

May 29, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Now that I have your attention, I hope you won’t be disappointed. In America, pole dancing usually involves strip clubs where lovely ladies gyrate around metal poles while drunk men reward them with crumpled greenbacks. (Am I revealing too much?) In other parts of the world, pole dancing is an altogether different activity.      At the entrance to Chichen Itza in Mexico Mrs. Chatterbox and I observed this famous Mayan pole dance called Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers), or Palo Volador (Pole Flying). This ritual, performed by Mayans in both Mexico and Guatemala, was thought to stop droughts in ancient times, but is now a recognized historical and cultural dance that is kept alive by communities to hono ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #26

May 31, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
An art director once asked me to paint an illustration of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I wanted to create something different from the traditional images associated with this subject and produced this illustration of a tailor making a fleece suit for his client. I thought the comedic approach a fun change of pace (I’m particularly fond of the lamb chop pattern on his tie) but my client didn’t find this image as entertaining as I’d hoped and rejected it. I still laugh when I look at it so it wasn’t a total loss.     Note:      I’m currently compiling a collection of posts for a book with the working title The Best of Chubby Chatterbox. Writers, like artists, are not alway ...

 + photos!,  read more

Computer Woes

June 01, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts

I guess it was bound to happen eventually but my computer got sick yesterday and is in the shop until Wednesday. Only six years old and I'm told it might be obsolete. Anyway, son CJ is letting me borrow his computer to say that I'm out of commission for a few days so please don't take it personally if I don't leave comments for a while. I'll be back as soon as possible. Take care.

 



   read more

Back In Business

June 07, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I had no idea how dependent I’d become on my computer until it stopped working last Friday. No, I wasn’t looking at porn when it happened; Mrs. Chatterbox and I were checking a site showing the controversial new portrait of Queen Elizabeth II when the screen suddenly went blank. Incidentally, it’s not the worst painting of the Queen I’ve seen and I disagree with critics who say she looks like Winston Churchill in drag.      CJ, our son and technical guru, struggled to identify the problem, without success, and a technician at the Apple Repair Center made an appointment for me. I hadn’t realized how heavy my 24 inch IMAC was until I lugged it across a massive mall parking lot to the Apple S ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Birds! The Birds!

June 09, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 Mrs. Chatterbox and I have lived in a lot of places over the years and every time we’ve selected an apartment or purchased a house Mrs. C. always says something like, “That corner by the living room window will be just perfect for our Christmas tree.” I watch House Hunters a lot and prospective buyers often utter similar statements. A few weeks ago we visited our son’s new apartment and it wasn’t long before my wife pointed out a proper place for a Christmas tree.      Frankly, I couldn’t care less where the tree goes. I have another concern when I judge the suitability of a potential home. I need to know where I’ll be hiding when the birds attack.    &nbs ...

 + photos!,  read more

Harvey's Flock

June 10, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Here’s a different post about birds, a true story about someone I knew a long time ago… Harvey was the biggest kid on the block, a massive, towering fixture of the neighborhood living in the corner house at the end of our street. He had a flattened nose, a short neck and a small mouth with a tongue that tended to protrude. His childlike personality was at odds with his Buick-shaped frame. Harvey towered over most adults and wore size #17 shoes—extra wide. His parents specially ordered them from San Francisco. Harvey didn’t read or write and to my knowledge never went to school. Today we refer to people like Harvey as having Down Syndrome; back in the 60s folks not inclined to politeness called them ‘tards&r ...

 + photos!,  read more

Harvey's Flock: Conclusion

June 12, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Part I of Harvey’s Flock can be found here.      Harvey owned birds, dozens and dozens of them. He and his dad built an aviary in the corner of their backyard. Inside were parakeets, yellow canaries, flocks of finches and even a pair of lovebirds. Together they created  a symphony of bird song.  Harvey would enter the aviary and stand with his arms outstretched like an oak tree, giggling softly to himself when the birds landed on his arms and shoulders. He claimed to have names for all of them and, at first, I didn’t believe him. But day after day he called individual birds by the same name until I was convinced he wasn’t pulling my leg. Years later in Italy I would see a faded fresco of St. ...

 + photos!,  read more

Think About It

June 14, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Need to make a quick buck? This has always worked for me; I bet someone they can’t properly assume the position of Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker, one of the most famous statues ever created. Think this is a no-brainer? Give it a try, and then check the photograph below.   * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *       Did you get it right? Nine out of ten people place their left elbow on their left knee, or their right elbow on their right knee. If you placed your elbow on the opposite knee, congratulations!      Pretty darn uncomfortable, especially if you’re chubby. ...

 + photos!,  read more

Happy Father's Day

June 16, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
When I was a kid the only pets I could have were those that could be flushed down the toilet when they died. I had to wait until I left home to own a cat or a dog. But my childhood was not without pets: I had guppies, frogs and tropical fish. When I was nine my favorite fish was a black fantailed molly named—Molly. Unfortunately, Molly was suicidal and liked to jump out of her bowl.      Many times I’d find her flopping on the rag carpet covering my bedroom floor. I always managed to find her in time and return her to her bowl before she shriveled up and looked like a black toenail. I figured I’d solved the problem when I covered the bowl’s opening with a piece of chicken wire I found in the gar ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Mare of Flanders

June 17, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Divorced, Beheaded, Died. Divorced, Beheaded,  Survived.   This six word poem describes the fate of the six wives of Henry VIII. Wife #3, Jane Seymour, had the good sense to die shortly after giving birth to a long awaited son and heir to the Tudor throne.      Henry was content chasing petticoats and sleeping with mistresses, but his councelors pointed out that it was unseemly for the King of England to remain a bachelor and convinced him to take a fourth wife. Since there was no social network at the time, no Facebook pages with profiles, timelines and glossy photos, Henry was compelled to rely on his favorite portrait painter, Hans Holbein the Younger.      The King sent Holbei ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Psychology Test

June 19, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
There are scores of psychology tests but to my knowledge this is the shortest, the only test that’s actually fun to take, and in my case the only accurate one. Take a moment to answer these five questions honestly and you might discover something you didn’t know about yourself. Feel free to write down your answers, and don’t over think your responses; your first thoughts are the most revealing. The answers are revealed at the end.   Question #1  Imagine that you’ve just awakened from a deep sleep to find yourself walking on a path in a forest. What time of day is it? Question #2 While walking on the path in a forest you look down and find a cup partially buried in leaves. Describe the cup and what do ...

 + photos!,  read more

Revenge of the Claw foot Tub

June 21, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I realized too late that you don’t buy old houses—old houses buy you. And “charm” is spelled: $$$$$. When we purchased our hundred year old house in Northwest Portland, it came with an enormous claw foot tub. Mrs. Chatterbox said it was charming and worth the cost of restoring. I wasn’t convinced, but the tub must have weighed as much as a Sherman tank and having someone come to our house and restore it seemed preferable to lugging it down the stairs.      So we paid to have the porcelain redone and the claws refinished. I must admit it did look charming when finished, even though we could have installed a new Jacuzzi tub for less money.      Mrs. C. insisted that I ta ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #27

June 23, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I painted this piece back in the days when I was creating conceptual illustrations on spec. This is a common practice for illustrators who often find themselves idle between assignments. Since I had no idea what these illustrations might be used for I often gave art directors various cropping options to increase the marketability of my work. This piece shows extra space at the top where a masthead might go should this picture be used on the cover of a magazine, as many of my illustrations were. To my knowledge this picture has never been printed.          Can you think of an appropriate article for this painting?  ...

 + photos!,  read more

Gandhi's Footsteps

June 24, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Separating men from myths can be a difficult task. On our recent trip to India I had an opportunity to visit the house in New Delhi where Mohandas Gandhi was living when he was assassinated. Gandhi has always intrigued me; I’ve long been fascinated by the humble little man dressed in homespun who challenged the greatest empire on earth to became the father of his country and a beacon for non-violence and passive resistance around the world.      Gandhi spent much of his life in prison and over the course of his life he fettered himself with very few possessions. A display case in this house, which Gandhi didn’t own, preserves his few belongings, most noticeably his walking stick, wire rim spectacles and han ...

 + photos!,  read more

Nobody Holds a Grudge Like a Mother

June 26, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 For the past few weeks I’ve been dedicating myself to the completion of “The Best of Chubby Chatterbox,” a collection of my most successful posts. This week has been spent editing, but I hope you enjoy this post from 10/19/11.      My eighty-eight year old mother doesn’t read my writing, which is a good thing because I doubt she’d appreciate how I characterize her, but lately we’ve run out of things to talk about so I’ve taken to reading short stories to her over the phone. I recently shared a childhood adventure: actually it was a chapter from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope. I thought she’d find it amusing. Boy was I wrong.       The story, R ...

 + photos!,  read more

Portrait of a Thief

June 28, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 This story, first posted on 11/21/11, is reconstructed from a true occurrence that happened several years ago. I was not the artist involved:   A young artist struggling to make a name for himself was ecstatic when an industrialist, the wealthiest man in town, commissioned a portrait of himself. The price agreed on for the painting (two thousand dollars) was more than the young artist had ever received. He was determined to make this the best portrait he’d ever painted.       Several weeks passed and the young artist appeared every day at the wealthy man’s mansion and labored diligently, refusing to affix his signature to the canvas until certain it was his best work to date. When finished ...

 + photos!,  read more

In a Mall Far Far Away

June 30, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Do you remember when malls had weekend art shows? I loved entering a mall and smelling the oil paint and turpentine, seeing the portable galleries, artists working on paintings and chatting with passersby. As a kid I was painfully aware that all of these artists, even those creating simple landscapes, were producing work far more proficient than mine but I always figured I’d improve. It was only a matter of time until I was selling art in mall art shows.      As it turned out, I did participate in such an event, but only once. The year was 1980 and I’d carted several dozen landscapes to our local mall. I hung them on portable walls I’d hammered together. The mall was packed that weekend but I had yet ...

 + photos!,  read more

Why Is Moses Horny?

July 01, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First posted on 1/16/12. Of my 450 posts this one has received the third highest number of readers. I’m not sure why.   According to the Bible, God punished King Nimrod who was audacious enough to think he could build a tower high enough to reach Heaven. In retribution, God decreed that humans would babble in infinite languages and be incomprehensible to each other, thus securing a future for Rosetta Stone® as the world’s #1 language-learning software. Even though I’m only marginally fluent in English, I’ve always found languages fascinating, especially when I encounter linguistic SNAFUs that make me laugh. Case in point: Michelangelo’s Moses.   During the Renaissance, scholars translating He ...

 + photos!,  read more

Geriatric Park

July 03, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I haven’t shared any recent conversations with my mother, but yesterday’s phone call really made me laugh.      It’s been hot here in Portland so I began with, “Are you keeping cool? Are you running your air conditioner?”      “I’m doing okay, but that air conditioner is loud so I’m not running it.”      “It won’t do much good unless you keep it on,” I said.      “I’m not paying attention to the heat. As a matter of fact I’m reading again.”      For most of her life Mom was a voracious reader, but over the past few years she’s stopp ...

 + photos!,  read more

What Do We Really Know?

July 04, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
   First posted 7/4/12       When dinosaurs looked up and saw a fiery meteorite shrieking into the atmosphere they had no idea their world was coming to an end. And I’m sure Romans couldn’t believe that a thousand years of culture were ending when barbarians were sighted near the gates of Rome. We are often incapable of recognizing or comprehending the important moments of our lives as they happen.      What do we really know? I’m asking this question on the Fourth of July but I’m thinking beyond the birth of our Nation. What do we know about anything? I follow the news and consider myself a political junkie even as I realize that everything I see and hear h ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #28

July 05, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
There are many categories of illustration; advertising art featuring products, portraiture for the rendering of personalities, sports illustrations depicting scenes of athletes and so on. My specialty was conceptual illustration. A magazine editor might have a technical or long-winded article that most folks might quickly pass over and my job was to create an image channeling the reader’s focus on the article and stop them from turning the pages. Often I’d need to come up with as many as five ideas before an art director would sign off on one. I honestly can’t remember what the impulse was for this piece. I don’t think it ever made its way into print.      This is Peculiar Picture #28, and some ...

 + photos!,  read more

In Gauguin's Footsteps

July 08, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 French painter Paul Gauguin was seeking paradise when he left France in 1891. Although he lived in French Polynesia for years and painted his most famous pictures there, he wasn’t thrilled with the impact of western civilization he witnessed on his arrival. He was looking for an Eden, where innocent natives walked about naked and unashamed. Alas, French missionaries had already discovered the place, and women were compelled to cover their nakedness with dresses. Since Polynesian women had no concept of shame, they didn’t understand why they were supposed to cover their breasts. Many of these women thwarted modesty laws by cutting holes in these dresses to expose their breasts, making it easier to nurse babies.    ...

 + photos!,  read more

My First Nude

July 10, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
While channel surfing not long ago I landed on an episode of Family Feud. Just as I was about to change the channel, host Steve Harvey asked this question: Where were you when you first saw a naked member of the opposite sex? As I scratched my head thinking about it, the image of a jelly donut popped into my head.          I was a high school junior in 1969 when an opportunity arose for me to fly to UCLA, where my older brother David was enrolled as a political science major. He resided on campus in one of UCLA’s many dorms. His roommate was gone a few days, giving me an opportunity to visit and check out college life. I’d packed a few art supplies, intending to drop in on a drawing clas ...

 + photos!,  read more

Straight Hair and Popularity

July 12, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Ricky Delgado and I were lying beneath the shady sycamore tree in my front yard. My best friend was thirteen, a year older than me, and we were enjoying our last days of freedom before school began. The air was pungent with the scent of dying summer, or it could have been the tobacco Ricky was chewing.      Ricky claimed “chaw” was cool but I knew the truth. Ricky’s dad, a drunk, had recently returned from The Farm (county jail) with this great idea to stop Ricky’s bedwetting, which at the age of thirteen showed no signs of abating. Ricky’s mom even consulted a doctor and tests revealed Ricky was born without a certain muscle in his penis making it hard to prevent leaks. He needed to contr ...

 + photos!,  read more

Straight Hair and Popularity: Conclusion

July 14, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Check out Part I (here.)     Moments before I’d thought I was fine the way I was, but now I felt like I was dying of thirst and David was handing me a glass of water.       “How can you make me popular?”      “Your hair.”      “My hair. I’m unpopular because of my hair?”      “Haven’t you noticed that all the cool people have straight hair?”      “No. Like who?”      “How ‘bout I give you four—The Beatles.”      Well, he had me there. Even I knew the Beatles were cool. “ ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #29

July 15, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
If reincarnation is real then it’s possible I was a mockingbird in a previous life. Mockingbirds love shiny things and have been known to steal and hide gleaming objects.  I’m not a thief but I have a similar fascination;  the more sparkly the object the better. When I started out as an artist I was mesmerized by the surfaces of things, especially various types of metal, from the mirror shine of chrome to the dusty glow of pewter or the opaque scratchiness of rust. I also have a penchant for intricate details, although I enjoy placing them in uncluttered backgrounds so the details can perform like soloists.      This illustration was included in my royalty-free CD Business Fundamentals, but I don& ...

 + photos!,  read more

Humble Pie

July 17, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Several weeks ago I was leaving a Thai restaurant with Mrs. C. and happened to pass by the window of a new art supply store that had recently opened in our neighborhood. Taped to the front window was a sign—PART TIME HELP WANTED. I’m still trying to figure out why I did it, but I left Mrs. C. standing there on the curb while I walked inside and requested an application.      Mrs. C. has been complaining lately that I’m constantly underfoot; she never has any alone time. Later, as I filled out the application—something I haven’t done in many years—I considered what it would be like to have a boss after being self-employed for so many years.      In the ‘80s ...

 + photos!,  read more

Calendar War

July 19, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 First posted 10/17/11   I’ve been married to Mrs. Chatterbox for thirty-nine years, and in that time we’ve come to learn much about each other. In addition to partnering as parents to raise and launch our son, we’ve shared hopes and dreams and dozens of silly as well as important secrets. I often think I know Mrs. C. better than I know myself. So you can imagine my surprise when I recently discovered something about her that really blew my mind. I thought I knew my wife, so my head spun when I discovered we didn’t agree on something so fundamentally obvious. She might just as well have said the Earth was flat or evolution a myth. I’m wondering if our marriage can be saved.       I c ...

 + photos!,  read more

This One Sold

July 21, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A regular commenter recently inquired why I had so many illustrations that never sold. I doubt I have more unsold pieces than other professional illustrators but it did make me think that perhaps I should occasionally post illustrations that did sell.        This piece was created in 1994 for Bloomberg Business News for a feature on Rhino Records. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Rhino Records was a hot outlet for vintage records unavailable from other music sources. I was asked to create a “hippy-dippy” rhinoceros to accompany the article. It was fun painting John Lennon’s granny glasses, peace buttons and zebra go-go boots, but the biggest challenge was painting the ground and receding enviro ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Mouth of Truth

July 24, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First posted 2/10/12   Among Rome’s many churches is Santa Maria in Cosmedin, where Saint Valentine’s bones are said to be kept. However, the most famous attraction in this church is not the saint; it is the legendary Boca della Veritas—The Mouth of Truth.      We aren’t exactly sure what the Boca della Veritas is, maybe part of a fountain or a massive manhole cover from Ancient Rome. We do know that since the Middle Ages this object has served a curious purpose—as a lie detector. Here’s how it works: place your hand in the oracle’s mouth and he’ll bite it off if you’re telling a lie. If you have a penchant for romantic movies you might remember this from the ...

 + photos!,  read more

An Elixir for Retirement

July 25, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts

Since it’s Thursday you probably aren’t expecting to hear from me today, but I wanted to share some good news with you. I was recently contacted by a website called Retirement and Good Living. After discovering Chubby Chatterbox they invited me to write a guest post. You can check it out at http://retirementandgoodliving.com/an-elixir-for-retirement/



 + photos!,  read more

Fired From My First Job

July 26, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
At the end of my senior year at Wilcox High I landed my first real job. Like many kids in the Santa Clara Valley, I’d spent several summers picking pears and apricots, often eating nearly as much as I picked. But this was a real job. I was going to spend my summer as the janitor’s assistant at one of the local department stores—S.H.Kress & Co.       Best friend Ricky Delgado wasn’t impressed when I told him. “Shit, I never heard of anyone being a janitor’s assistant. What kind of ass-wipe job is that? You mean you’re not even going to be a regular janitor?”      I noticed he never burned the pavement looking for a job, yet he always seemed t ...

 + photos!,  read more

Fired From My First Job: Conclusion

July 28, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Check out the first part of this post  here.        When we reached the ladies’ room I whacked loudly on the door and didn’t receive a response. I yelled out, “Janitors coming in!”      “Janitor,” Mr. Martinez corrected. “There’s only one janitor, and I’m it!”      “Sorry.”      We entered the ladies’ room and I propped open the door with the broom Mr. Martinez insisted I bring along. “Your job is to empty the trash cans, clean the mirrors and mop the floors. And do whatever else needs doin’. Think you can handle it?”      I no ...

 + photos!,  read more

This One Sold #2

July 29, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
               Illustrators rise or fall depending on how many regular customers they have. One or two high-paying clients a year doesn’t pay the bills or put food on the table. I was fortunate to have a dozen regulars over the years, art directors who channeled work to me consistently. Paul Nickell, the art director and editor of The Oregon State Bar Bulletinwas a client who became a friend. I produced dozens of covers for him over the years, and this is one of my favorites. Paul was always looking for interesting angles to capture a reader’s attention, especially when an article was rather dry in content. He was a joy to work for.      I’ve always been ...

 + photos!,  read more

Second Blogiversary

July 31, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Two years ago my son CJ helped me launch Chubby Chatterbox. My first post was about my quirky mother (who remains a favorite topic based on e-mails I receive). I’d hesitated to create a blog because I suspected it would require commitment—not one of my favorite things—but so many people had supported my art and writing over the years that I felt obligated to bring my “story telling” to the next level. CJ convinced me that a blog was that next level.      So on July 31, 2011, with sweaty palms and blood pounding in my ears, I pressed a button and launched my first post into the blogosphere. I sat back and waited…and waited…and waited. Two days later I received my first visitor ...

 + photos!,  read more

Six Minutes That Could Happen Anywhere

August 02, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
You might have heard about this on the news, but for me it’s personal; it happened in the building where my wife and son work.   The Police Records Department is located several yards inside the front door to our city hall. A thin young man, approximately eighteen years old, paced in the entryway before approaching the window and mumbling something.      Kathy (not her real name) was working the desk. “Could you repeat what you just said?”      The young man wiped sweat off his brow with the back of his hand and said, “I need help. I’m overdosing on mushrooms.”      Kathy called for police backup. It didn’t take long for thre ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Fallen Star

August 04, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
She was once a star attraction with people paying good money to wait in line just to gaze at her tender expression. A place of honor was afforded her, a spacious wall with excellent lighting to show her off to best effect. You might not think her worthy of such attention; she isn’t young or beautiful or sexy, but she came with one of the best pedigrees on earth for a painting—she was created by Rembrandt van Rijn. Or was she?      Stars never come cheap, and in 1908 one of America’s greatest art collectors, Benjamin Altman, paid just under $150,000 for Old Woman Cutting Her Nails, an unthinkable amount of money in its day. Altman relied on more than his own expertise when purchasing this painting. His ...

 + photos!,  read more

An Attack of the Grumpies

August 05, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It isn’t often that I wake up grumpy, but I did so on Sunday morning. It didn’t help when the microwave went out—it will probably cost a few hundred bucks to fix. It didn’t help when I called my mother and listened to her complain about everything she could think of. If you think the world and everything in it is going to hell in a hand basket just e-mail me and I’ll gladly share my mother’s phone number. Tell her you hate Obama and she’ll invite you to her place and reward you with a sumptuous meal that will include kale.      It didn’t help when my wife prepared a marvelous breakfast for me. This was when I realized I had a serious problem and needed a serious cure. I n ...

 + photos!,  read more

This One Sold #3

August 07, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This illustration has sold several times and has always been one of my favorites. An art director asked me to paint a picture that illustrated the futility of chasing after money. I immediately thought of one of literature’s most famous lunatics—crazy old Don Quixote—tilting at windmills in the belief that they were evil giants. Quixote believed it was his responsibility to rid the world of them. In my picture I decided to incorporate money into the scene by adding currency to the windmills.      My original intention was to meticulously depict the money with extremely fine paintbrushes, but the piece needed to be completed quickly and I wasn’t afforded enough time to achieve the affect I wanted ...

 + photos!,  read more

Food in Motion

August 09, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Last year I wrote about my pet peeve over kids only holding drumsticks in chicken advertisements. I still haven’t seen a child holding a thigh or breast. I now have another peeve—food in motion.       Physicists claim that everything is in a constant state of motion and advertisers have taken this to heart. Remember the days when commercials showed food on plates? Hungry Man Dinners didn’t need to be rendered motionless with a baseball bat. Times have changed.      Recently I’ve seen TV commercials featuring coconut shrimp from restaurants such as The Outback and Red Lobster. These shrimp bounced about like they were partying on a trampoline. Another commercial for Car ...

 + photos!,  read more

America's Great Pastime

August 11, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Summer is the time for sports and many bloggers have great tales to tell about their athletic prowess. I’m not one of them. My greatest athletic achievement is summed up in my post “The Zone.” But there was a time when I was coerced into participating in another baseball game, this time as an adult. Those of you who know me are right to assume it didn’t go well.      Mrs. C. and I were attending one of CJ’s Junior League baseball games, minding our own business and enjoying the fresh air when I was tapped on the shoulder by a coach who’d wandered over from a distant ball field. He asked me, “Your boy playing in this game?”      “I nodded and po ...

 + photos!,  read more

America's Great Pastime: Conclusion

August 12, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Check out Part I (here.)   My difficulties as an umpire fell into two categories: first was a lack of familiarity with the rules of the game, conveyed to players and spectators by the erratic methods I used to communicate my decisions; second, my co-umpire (Mrs. C.) found it all but impossible to remain impartial and not show favoritism to the hardworking smallest kid in the game.       I learned the hard way that it’s prudent to step back when base runners charge the plate, especially if you’ve just lost a contact lens and can no longer see very well. In my case, when spectators griped that I must be half blind, they were right. And I quickly learned that catchers often jump out of the way if t ...

 + photos!,  read more

Thanks, Rowdy

August 14, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This post may not be for squeamish.     The children I grew up with were not always kind, especially when their attention fell on short chubby kids like me who talked too much. Making matters worse, I had a peculiarity that prompted additional ridicule, a birthmark on my upper lip. When I was a kid, one of the popular Smith twins across the street commented that my birthmark reminded her of the one on Marilyn Monroe’s cheek. Her comment was overheard and before long everyone was calling me Marilyn, even my best friend Ricky Delgado.      Being short and chubby weren’t things easily changed, but after months of being tormented with the “Marilyn” moniker I decided to do whatever w ...

 + photos!,  read more

This One Sold #4

August 16, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Parody, an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect, is a useful tool when seeking ideas for conceptual art. When I taught illustration I often gave an assignment to find a famous work of art and mock it in some way. I’ve painted many parodies over the years and not long ago I posted one—Anne of Claws based on Holbein’s Anne of Cleves.      In 1994 I was contacted by the art director of Portland State University’s alumni magazine. He needed cover art for an article titled “Curriculum Revolution.” I immediately began thinking about famous revolutionary works of art, and Delacroix’s iconic Liberty Leading the Pe ...

 + photos!,  read more

Best Vacation Ever!

August 18, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First Posted 11/25/11        “Stop shouting at our customers!” the bank manager said.       “Sorry.” I hadn’t realized I’d been yelling. It was 1977 and I’d only been out of teller school a few months. This was my first week working in a real bank.       The manager came up to my window several minutes later and said, “Our customers are complaining about your yelling. You need to get your ears checked.”       I took the next day off and went to the doctor. He told me I had an inner ear infection. The infection would work its way through both ears and eventually I’d be totally deaf—for a week. I wouldn&rsquo ...

 + photos!,  read more

Burglars

August 19, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Last night our niece returned to her Seattle home with her four month old baby in her arms. She confronted a burglar in her living room. The burglar fled and no one was harmed, but this incident reminded me of my one and only confrontation with a burglar.      It was 2005 and Mrs. C. and I had just purchased a big old house in downtown Portland. We’d moved in less than forty-eight hours earlier. The house had a security system and we’d called the alarm company to have the system activated. It was Halloween and Mrs. C. and I had walked around the corner to one of the area’s many restaurants. We returned home by eight o’clock. In spite of the fact that it was Halloween we turned in early and were ...

 + photos!,  read more

Ditched

August 21, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I was startled to hear knocking on our front door early that September morning in 1965. It was Sunday. I was enjoying a bowl of Sugar Frosted Flakes and turning the TV dial looking for cartoons instead of religious programming.      I opened the door and saw Ricky Delgado standing on our porch, an expression on his face I hadn’t seen since we’d snuck away to a local carnival so he could ride The Hammer. Ricky looked nervous.      “Did your folks come home last night?” he asked, his voice thick with concern.      “Of course. Why wouldn’t they?”      The Delgados’ wedding anniversary fell close to my parents& ...

 + photos!,  read more

Ditched: Conclusion

August 23, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Part I can be found (here).   I resisted the urge to grab my bike and pedal away as quickly as possible. I’d never seen a dead person, much less the body of someone I cared deeply about, someone like Helen Delgado. I’d practically grown up sitting at her kitchen table, watching her roll tortillas and tamales, mooning over her while she listened patiently to my babbling. I was afraid to walk around the crumpled Mercury, terrified by what I might see, but Ricky was my best friend and I couldn’t abandon him to deal with this on his own. I inched over and stood beside him.      He was staring through the smashed windshield. His parents were trapped in the wreckage, their motionless bodies intertwin ...

 + photos!,  read more

Dining With the Smoke Detector

August 25, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First Posted 11/08/11.   I should have listened to the little voice in my head telling me to keep my mouth shut. Before I knew it I was in deep water.   “Why don’t you take the evening off?” I said to my wife. “I’ll cook dinner tonight.”      “I don’t feel like spaghetti or tacos,” she said, ruling out my specialties.      “Very funny. I can cook other stuff.”      She leaned forward on her stool at the kitchen counter where she was balancing our checkbook. “Like what?” She looked amused.     “You like pot roast, don’t you?”      ...

 + photos!,  read more

Dining With the Smoke Detector: Conclusion

August 26, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Part I can be found (here.)       The front door was open to let out the smoke, making it unnecessary for the firemen to sink their axes into it.      A George Clooney look-a-like said, “We were just driving by on a grocery run and saw all the smoke. Is everything okay?”      Before I could answer, Mrs. C., wrapped in a wet towel, appeared at the top of the stairs. “What’s going on? Why is the smoke detector going…” Her voice trailed off at the sight of firemen standing in our foyer. She may have giggled. I’m sure she did. She would later deny it.       “Sorry, guys,” I said, “but it& ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Pink House

August 28, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I was in a really rotten mood that day back in 1983. I was unemployed, tired of job hunting and feeling depressed. To improve my spirits I decided to do something I practically never did—Plein Air painting. I packed my art supplies and hit the road. I was a studio painter, but I’d long fantasized about the Impressionists and what it would be like to plant an easel in a landscape, empty my head of all preconceived thoughts and let my eyes and hands take over.      It was a sunny day and warming up as I left town and drove into the country, past a few leaning barns and the pumpkin patch where in a few months we’d be bringing our three year old to select a pumpkin. I’d driven about an hour when I s ...

 + photos!,  read more

Decimation

August 30, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It seems to me that our beautiful language is under attack. Texters are reducing our language to a few symbols that can never carry the full potency of profound or sublime meaning, and just a few weeks ago I received a wedding invitation that contained two grammatical errors and eight typos. I’m not the perfect warrior to defend our language from those who would reduce it to a fortune cookie scribble, but I do place myself in the ranks of those who cherish words, even as I acknowledge that language is a continuously growing and evolving entity. Eight years of high school and college Latin, the font of English and most Romance languages, should count for something.      My temper reached a boiling point last night ...

 + photos!,  read more

This One Sold #5

September 01, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I would never classify this as one of my best illustrations but I’m posting it in response to comments I’ve received. Several of you have asked which of my illustrations has sold the most. That distinction is held by this picture; it’s sold over fifty times. I’m able to constantly resell it because I’ve retained the original painting along with the copyright. Clients only purchase one-time usage and are well aware of the fact that this image has been used before.      Originally, I painted a businessman holding clippers and cutting his way towards the dollar sign, but a panel of art directors at Parrish Financial didn’t want to exclude women and asked me to come up with a more gender ...

 + photos!,  read more

Losing My Hair: The House of Estrada

September 02, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First Posted 12/07/11   There comes a time when many men confront their worst fear: not that they’re mortal and not likely to achieve the life goals they’ve set, but the realization that their hair is making a pilgrimage to the shower drain. I was shocked when I noticed my comb was harboring more strands than usual, and horrified when I pulled a goopy wad from the shower drain.      My hair began falling out in 1974, the year I married Mrs. Chatterbox. I didn’t want to draw attention to my problem. If my future involved a nasty comb over and hats to cover my balding head from the sun, I figured it best to hide this bitter reality from my bride as long as possible. I chose to confide in Randi, a ...

 + photos!,  read more

Beam Me Up!

September 04, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
For me, summer is a time for reflection, the season most loaded with memories of people and events gone by, seemingly endless carefree days of tree climbing and reading books from the bookmobile parked a few blocks from our house. I remember the hot stickiness of an era before air conditioning, water balloon fights to cool off, gorging on cold water from garden hoses, brushing away buzzing flies as hot dogs and hamburgers sizzled over briquettes with watermelon somewhere on ice. It seems only yesterday that I’d lie on the grass as the night sky deepened from violet to indigo, staring at stars that looked infinite yet close enough to swirl with my finger.         I had no idea what an “economy ...

 + photos!,  read more

Not What It Seems

September 06, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mrs. Chatterbox and I lived from paycheck to paycheck for several years after relocating to Portland, Oregon. Good fortune came our way one summer when Mrs. C. won the raffle at her company’s annual picnic—an all expense paid vacation to the Sunriver Resort in Central Oregon. We flew on a private plane to a small landing strip outside of Bend. When we landed it was evening; the setting sun was tipping the distant mountains purple and a large owl skirted a nearby meadow, hunting for dinner. We piled our luggage into a waiting rental car and headed for the resort.       We drove up a curving road that bisected a fenced pasture. There we spotted something that disturbed us for most of our stay. Several buzzards wer ...

 + photos!,  read more

The End of an Era

September 08, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’ve never gone out on a limb to make an assertion such as this, but J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) was one of the greatest painters to ever hold a brush, and his masterpiece, The Fighting Temeraire, is beyond doubt one of the greatest canvases ever created. With this painting the artist managed to encapsulate the emotions of an entire nation as British military dominance faded into little more than a colorful sunset. Someone recently asked me if it was necessary to understand a painting’s background to appreciate it; in this instance it certainly helps.       The Fighting Temeraire was a ship in Nelson’s fleet. At Cape Trafalgar off the coast of Spain in 1805 Nelson lost his life annihilating Napole ...

 + photos!,  read more

If Looks Could Kill

September 09, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
In the mid 70s the retail company I worked for transferred me from San Francisco to Oxnard, California, fifty miles north of LA. Oxnard had a rough and tumble reputation, and as a newlywed I was concerned about bringing Mrs. C. there. When I expressed concern my boss put an arm on my shoulder and tried to calm me with, “You like Mexican food, don’t you?”       “Sure.”       “Well, downtown Oxnard has the best Mexican restaurant in the world. It’s called Cielito Lindo, and the food is to die for.”       Jobs were hard to come by and it had taken a long time to land this one, so I brushed aside my concerns. Mrs. C. and I rented a truck and filled ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Home for the Swifts

September 11, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mrs C. and I weren’t the only ones looking for a new home in Portland Oregon in the early 1980s. Winging up from Central America for a feast of flying insects, a cigar-shaped Vaux Swift was desperately seeking a new late summer home. The hollow tree serving as a roost for generations had been toppled by a recent storm. With thousands of hungry swifts soon to arrive, this scout must have been desperate to find an alternative roosting site.      In early September of 1980 a student from Chapman Elementary School in Northwest Portland was treated to an awesome spectacle. The darkening sky was thick with Vaux Swifts, darting about and gorging on a bug banquet of beetles, wasps, termites and flying ants. The boy was m ...

 + photos!,  read more

Cosmic Cuties

September 13, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 enco ...

 + photos!,  read more

This One Sold #6

September 15, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Not long ago I posted a picture called Money Maze, my most published illustration. This cover art earned the highest price for one of my illustrations—$5,000. At the time it seemed like a fortune. I was contacted by noted economist Nick Murray who’d seen a piece I created combining Don Quixote and a money windmill. Mr. Murray, convinced the economy was about to collapse, had recently completed a new book outlining how people could protect themselves. Crazy man; what was he thinking?      A copy of the manuscript was mailed to me and I noticed many expressive adjectives describing a looming banking and housing meltdown, a catastrophe of Biblical proportions that would shake our economy and make people lose t ...

 + photos!,  read more

God, Can We Talk?

September 16, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
“Hey God, it’s me, Adam. Can we talk?”      “No, Adam. We can’t.”       “Why not?”      “You know why. You don’t know how to talk. I gave you the gift of telepathy so you could understand My thoughts until you invent language. You don’t seem to be getting very far. I hear that Eve is already working on sentences.”      “Is that what she’s doing? Those grunts and growls are language?”      “Yep. She’s light years ahead of you. It won’t be long before you have lots of children and all the girls will be better at language than yo ...

 + photos!,  read more

Hear Him Roar!

September 18, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
When our son was small he loved going to the zoo. Back then, the Portland Zoo was well known for its elephant breeding program but not much else. Every year we would walk past enclosures with sleepy bears, molting predatory birds and disinterested zebras. But one time was different.      I had just passed through the ticket gate with Mrs. C. and little CJ when people ahead of us started running, drawn by one of the most incredible sounds I’ve ever heard, similar to the sound of a freight train rushing down the tracks. We joined the stampede and quickly arrived at the lion compound. The zoo had only one lion and he really wasn’t much of an attraction; old, lazy from years of inactivity and forced feedings, h ...

 + photos!,  read more

Two Announcements

September 19, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        Two special shout outs this morning. First, thanks to Hilary at The Smitten Image for singling out my story A Home for the Swifts. It’s always an honor to see my name in her Posts of the Week feature. Check out Hilary’s blog to enjoy amazing photography and the other great posts honored this week.      Second, I’ve once again been invited to submit a story to Retirement and Good Living. I’m told my last contribution, An Elixir for Retirement, was one of their most viewed articles. I hope you’ll check out Buffaloed and leave a comment at Retirement and Good Living so these nice folks will invite me back. Just follow the link: http://retirementandgoodliving.co ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Curious Heist

September 20, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  A true story I avoid talking about for obvious reasons.   This will sound incriminating, just as it did back when I was sixteen, but honest to God I had nothing to do with it. Even if I had, I wouldn’t have been stupid enough to leave such incriminating evidence. Of course there were those who will always believe I was involved, but I wasn’t.      I was a junior in high school at the time, a member of our school’s Rally Council and one of the stars of our art department. Mrs. Russell, our art teacher, had her classes working up a sweat to create work for a student exhibit at one of the largest shopping centers in the area. A dozen high schools competed, and judges selected the work of t ...

 + photos!,  read more

Beautiful Island

September 22, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Northern Italy is blessed with an abundance of beautiful lakes, Lake Como being the most famous, but in my opinion others are equally beautiful, such as Lake Maggiore.      Recently, while cleaning our garage, Mrs. C. opened an old scrapbook and out fell a yellowed newspaper clipping of Isola Bella (Beautiful Island), a seventeenth century island palace in the middle of Lake Maggiore. Mrs. C. has always fancied herself a globe trekker and for years cut out pictures of places she’d like to visit when we could afford to travel.  She couldn’t remember cutting out the article and preserving it, not even when we happened to visit Isola Bella a few years before I started my blog.      M ...

 + photos!,  read more

Guppies

September 23, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
How does a woman become immortal in the eyes of a sensitive eight year old boy, so much so that fifty years later he still carries her around in a special corner of his heart? In my case it involved, in addition to a woman, a guppy.      It was the last day of school at Briarwood Elementary and my second grade class was already bewitched by the siren call of summer and champing at the bit to race home, banish leather shoes and long pants to the back of the closet and embrace three months of unstructured freedom. Before releasing us, our teacher Mrs. Best asked if anyone wanted to take Mr. Guppy home for the summer. Mr. Guppy, named with a consummate lack of imagination, lived a solitary life in a fishbowl in the back o ...

 + photos!,  read more

Wrong Place: Wrong Time

September 25, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    On Monday Mrs. Chatterbox’s car was in the shop so I drove her to work. She’s employed by the police department in our town and across the street from where she works is an outdoor mall. Later that day I arrived too early to pick her up for the drive home so I ambled across the street to kill time. As it happened, while wandering through the shops I received a call from nature and followed signs to a public restroom in a far-off corner of the mall’s courtyard.      I do my best to avoid public restrooms but this was an unscheduled emergency. So there I was sitting in a men’s room stall, minding my own business and doing what most men do in a similar situation; I was reading the g ...

 + photos!,  read more

Dead Caesar

September 27, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Whenever I think of an instance where someone was able to think quickly on their feet I recall a situation I experienced years ago while sitting on a bench in front of the British Museum in London.      The British Museum is a massive collection of artifacts and antiquities. It is famous for housing the Elgin Marbles, rescued (some say stolen) from the Parthenon and brought to England by Lord Elgin in 1805. The courtyard in front of the museum, mostly concrete with a few patches of grass, is generally crowded with tourists and families arriving early enough to claim a small square of grassy real estate for a picnic. Usually included among the throngs of people are a score of red-faced cockneys parading about as Roman s ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #29

September 29, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
     This unpublished illustration might qualify as my most peculiar picture ever. I was reminded of it when Mrs. Chatterbox came home the other day and said, “I have terrible news.”      “What is it?” I asked, waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me.      “Sergeant B. (Mrs. C. works for our local police department) had lunch today at our favorite sushi bar (name withheld). He says he was halfway through his meal when a giant cockroach dropped from the ceiling and scurried across the counter.”      “That’s terrible,” I exclaimed. “What did Sergeant B. do?”    &n ...

 + photos!,  read more

This Spaghetti is...Incredible!

September 30, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  The other day Mrs. Chatterbox made spaghetti. I like spaghetti well enough but this spaghetti was different. It was—incredible, so good that after a few mouthfuls I could barely concentrate on what I was eating. I finally set down my fork and said, “What’s different about this spaghetti?”      “Funny you should ask,” Mrs. C. said. “Do you remember when we went to Italy and I bought that special cooking oil in Sorrento?”      I admitted I didn’t remember.     “Well, I found it in the back of the pantry and thought I’d use it in the spaghetti. Frankly, I don’t notice much of a difference.”  & ...

 + photos!,  read more

Yellow Submarine

October 02, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Maybe it was because he never owned anything new and seldom received gifts, but Ricky Delgado had a keen sense alerting him to new acquisitions on Briarwood Drive. It was 1966 and Dad, David and I had just returned from White Front, the new pre-Walmart, everything-under-one-roof store that had recently opened a half mile from our house. I’d saved my lawn mowing money to purchase The Beatles’ new album Revolver (a whopping $3.99) and hadn’t even had time to play it or remove it from its jacket when Ricky knocked on our door.      “Where’d you go?” he asked, his antennae tweaked. “Get something new?”      Like me, Ricky earned money doing chore ...

 + photos!,  read more

Yellow Submarine: Conclusion

October 04, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Click (here) if you missed Part I.      We trekked back to White Front. The security guard at the door stopped us. A toothpick lodged in the corner of his mouth bounced up and down when he pointed at the plastic bag in my hand. “What you got there?” he asked.      “I have a return,” I said. “The Revolver album I bought skips.”      The security guard fixed me with a hard glare. “Ask for Gil Rutz in Customer Service. He’ll take care of you.”      We didn’t need to ask for Gil Rutz; he was the only guy behind the customer service counter at the back of the store and the badge pinned to his ...

 + photos!,  read more

Four Bits

October 06, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’m just going to come out and admit that I’m oddly shaped. My legs are short but my torso is long, so long, in fact, that whenever I’m seated at a group gathering I’m always the tallest person present, that is until I stand. Because my legs are short I experience a problem when sitting that most people don’t have: change is constantly spilling out of my pockets. The last time I gathered up the change beneath cushions in our house the amount totaled $128.00.      Several months ago I was in a particularly nostalgic mood, remembering when movie theaters had velvet curtains that opened and closed, and cars had curb feelers, metal whiskers to alert elderly drivers (probably younger than I a ...

 + photos!,  read more

This One Sold #7

October 07, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        I was looking for an illustration to post and I found this one buried in my picture file.  Created in 1995 for the editorial page of Portland’s main newspaper, The Oregonian, it accompanied an article dealing with the shutdown of the Federal government due to the feud between Republicans and another Democratic president, Bill Clinton. Based on the saying—what’s old becomes new again—I should contact The Oregonian and ask them if they want to run it again.       ...

 + photos!,  read more

Truckzilla

October 09, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 w ...

 + photos!,  read more

Karma

October 11, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Not all countries are blessed with an abundance of conveniently located restaurants. On a recent trip to India our tour bus drove many miles through desolate territories before stopping at roadside eateries deemed acceptable by our guide. At one such stop on our way to ride camels in the Great Thar desert Mrs. Chatterbox had an interesting conversation with the only member of our group whom she didn’t like, highly unusual for a woman who generally enjoys everyone.      The restaurant was dusty and swarming with flies when we entered. The menu was all in Hindi but I managed to order chicken cutlets while Mrs. C. stuck with her tried and true favorite—French fries. By this point in our trip she’d had ...

 + photos!,  read more

Not Yet Perfect

October 13, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Some of you have e-mailed to ask how my books are coming along. Slowly but surely I’m progressing. I’m nearly through a collection of The Best of Chubby Chatterbox and I’m also working on a collection called The Ricky Delgado Chronicles. My progress is uneven but I’m determined to complete these books and make then as perfect as possible. When I consider their lack of perfection I’m reminded of other projects where perfection was not achieved.   The Bent Pyramid of Sneferu shows that Egyptian architects struggled to achieve the purity of design that is the hallmark of later pyramids.       The Bi-bi Ka Maqbara was intended to surpass the Taj Mahal but falls sh ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Ceiling of the Seventh Heaven

October 14, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    Today is Columbus Day and I’ve no doubt many of my fellow bloggers will be airing opinions as to whether or not Columbus was a hero or a villain. I think it fair to say that never was the world changed so much by a person who didn’t know where he was going or what he was doing, but instead of dwelling on this I want to relate an experience from a trip Mrs. Chatterbox and I made to Granada, Spain.      Mrs. C. and I had traveled to Granada to visit the legendary Alhambra, a place once described by a poet as a pearl set in emeralds, where Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together peacefully for nearly eight hundred years, a site of remarkable technical innovations and scholarly achievement ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #30

October 16, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                    Although my writing has yet to reflect it, fantasy has invaded my artwork over the years. Many of my conceptual illustrations play on familiar tales like The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs and Jack the Giant Killer, and I’ve created several paintings that visualize an imaginary world much different from that depicted in my published illustrations. This painting was created a few years before Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy premiered but it does have a Middle Earth quality to it. I’ve yet to come up with a title for this picture. I’m open to suggestions.         ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Power of Music

October 18, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Regular readers know that my grandfather played a significant role in my life, but until now I haven’t mentioned that Grandpa and his two older brothers were orphaned when Grandpa was five years old. They’d been living on Terceira, a poverty-stricken island in the Azores and no relatives had the resources to take in three hungry mouths.      One brother was sent to live with distant relatives in Lisbon, another was shipped off to São Paulo, Brazil, and my grandfather came to America and settled in California’s Santa Clara Valley. The three boys had been very close and once they learned how to write they communicated with each other regularly. One of the things written about most was their deter ...

 + photos!,  read more

Good News and Bad News

October 20, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
My dad was a professional mechanic who always kept our cars running like well-oiled clocks. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit Dad’s mechanical ability, which skipped a generation to take root in CJ, our son. CJ is a remarkable mechanic who treats cars the way accomplished musicians treat their instruments. He can diagnose what’s wrong with an engine by listening to cars whizzing past on the highway. He does a great job of keeping our vehicles in proper running order, but he leads a busy life and isn’t always around.   For routine servicing we’d been bringing Mrs. Chatterbox’s BMW to the dealership where we purchased it nine years ago. Mrs. C. says the car belongs to both of us but it really belongs ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Other Woman

October 21, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First posted 12/5/11     Rick said it best in Casablanca: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world, she walks into mine.” Like Ilsa, my femme fatale had no idea I was here when she flew into town.      I read about her arrival in the newspaper. Titian’s La Bella had arrived in town for an exhibit at the Portland Art Museum; her smiling face filled an entire page. I hadn’t seen her in years, but she’d fluttered through my thoughts too many times to count. She’d aged well over the years, not that it mattered; I’d always had a thing for older women. Still, no expense had been spared keeping her preternaturally in her prime, no easy task since she was over ...

 + photos!,  read more

President Raisin

October 23, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A few days ago I had a discussion with my eighty-eight year old mother about the current state of American politics. Mom, in case you’ve forgotten, is about as fond of the Federal Government as a bootlegger during Prohibition. I don’t need it pointed out that this was a stupid thing to do. I stay away from politics in my posts because my blog is designed to entertain and uplift, not cause strife, but Mom doesn’t go anywhere or do anything in spite of my offers to drive her anywhere she’d care to go. I run out of safe topics to talk about and frequently stray into dangerous territory.      So there we were discussing politics, with Mom blaming the Democrats in general and Obama in particular for ...

 + photos!,  read more

Man Up!

October 25, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    Years ago when I worked in a jewelry store the manager required all of his sales associates to pierce ears. I hated the idea of holding a needle-loaded gun to someone’s ear and firing so I managed to be busy when customers came into the store asking for this service.        But one time I couldn’t get out of it. A leather-clad biker chick, with spiked hair and smelling of exhaust and Pabst Blue Ribbon, came into the store wanting an ear pierced, even though she already sported a dozen earrings on each one. “I want a gold stud up here at the top,” she said, pointing to the place.      “Up in the cartilage? Won’t that hurt?” I asked, hoping she'd ...

 + photos!,  read more

Ouch!

October 27, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I don’t usually do follow-up posts but Al Penwasser (check out his hilarious blog here) left this comment on my last post Man Up! Al reminded me of one other instance where someone asked me for a piercing. Al commented, “Coulda been worse. She coulda wanted you to pierce something other than her ear.” The following happened a few years after the first piercing incident when I’d become manager of the jewelry store.       Jerry was one of my best customers. He and his lovely wife Mary Anne had purchased a small fortune in bling from me over the years. I was polite with all of my customers but over the years I developed a real fondness for Jerry and Mary Anne. It helped that Mary Anne was a ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Ghost of Kilarney Park

October 28, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This story, a true tale from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope, has become a Halloween tradition here at Chubby Chatterbox. I hope you enjoy it:   *********       Haunted houses belong in the realm of goose bumps, foggy nights and old neighborhoods, not pristine suburbs with freshly asphalted streets, unblemished sidewalks and immature trees. But a ghost lingered across the street, in a house where a man died.      I was only two when our neighborhood suffered its first fatality. Kilarney Park (later to be swallowed up by the Silicon Valley) had just opened for occupancy and neighbors had yet to come together with barbeques and meet-and-greets. It didn’t help that none of the parents o ...

 + photos!,  read more

Conclusion: The Ghost of Kilarney park

October 30, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Haunted houses and Halloween go together like dots on dice, but the haunted house on our street never did anything to attract trick-or-treaters. So why was there a light burning on Verna’s porch?      My feet began pulling me to the light. My head swirled with thoughts of murder: rat poison, asphyxiation, throat slashing, but I was more interested in candy than my safety.      I inched up the front steps to her porch and peered into Verna’s kitchen window. She was seated at her kitchen table, her head resting in her hands. Her back was to me and I couldn’t see her face, but I could hear her crying, a raspy soul rending sound, not the depraved rant of the undead or the wailing tir ...

 + photos!,  read more

Out of Hell

October 31, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I don’t normally post on Thursdays and I don’t usually post fiction, but here’s a fun story to celebrate the holiday.     *************   A shiver runs through me when I think back to the time when Tammy, my wife of five years, came to the conclusion that the gray tabby who’d lived contentedly with us since we bought her on our honeymoon, was lonely. Tammy convinced me that Sausalito, “Saucy” needed another feline to keep her company. On Halloween of ’79 we decided to purchase a kitten.      We soon discovered it wasn’t the right season for kittens. We were about to give up our search when we spotted a Siamese kitten for sale in the classifieds. We call ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #31

November 01, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Many of my new followers might not be aware of the fact that for many years I was a professional illustrator. While my work sold on five continents, I have a file cabinet of pictures that never sold. I use these images for a feature I call Peculiar Pictures. Many people don’t like discussing art for fear of being made to look foolish but that isn’t possible here. You can’t be expected to know what these pictures mean if the artist who created them doesn’t know.      Some artists have difficulty painting faces or hands or animals, but I was never happy with my backgrounds. If you held one of my early pictures up to the light, the dominant image had far less paint on it than the background, whic ...

 + photos!,  read more

What Would You Do?

November 03, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I work out of the house and don’t have as much contact with people as I’d like, so I enjoy it when Mrs. Chatterbox comes home from working at our local police department with stories about co-workers. The other day she came home with an interesting tidbit that made me think.     One of the police officers (I’ll call him Bob) went shopping at Costco with his wife. When they returned, the wife handed Bob a $50.00 package of filet mignons to put in the garage freezer. Once in the garage, Bob got distracted and set the package on his workbench. Two days later Bob discovered the package and was unsure what to do about it. Should he take a chance the meat hadn’t spoiled, put it in t ...

 + photos!,  read more

Bottoms Up!

November 04, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
For our birthdays this year, CJ treated me and Mrs. Chatterbox to a walking tour of one of Portland’s finest culinary districts where we dined on six courses from six different restaurants. Our tour guide informed us that Portland had recently displaced Cologne, Germany, as the city with the most breweries—seventy-three. Unfortunately, I dislike beer. CJ is fond of telling me that living in Portland and not drinking beer is like living in Paris and never going to a museum. Nevertheless, the taste of hops makes me queasy.      I’ve tried on numerous occasions to drink beer, especially when frequenting British pubs and Bavarian beer halls, but ales and beers just aren’t for me. I’ve had to ...

 + photos!,  read more

What the F**K?

November 06, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I have good cause to place my wife on a pedestal; she’s a great wife and mother, a marvelous listener and a kinder person you’ll never meet. In the two and a half years since I started this blog I’ve extolled Mrs. Chatterbox’s virtues, but I think it’s time to throw a bucket of reality on the woman I’ve shared my life with for forty years. Believe me, she ain’t perfect. She has a serious flaw, a disability of considerable proportions. My lovely wife can’t curse to save her soul.      Over the years I’ve had to work extremely hard at my own swearing. I’m cursed with a mouth that, like a cat, curves upward at the corners. People often think I’m being smug ...

 + photos!,  read more

Near Death in Chartres

November 08, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
In 1999 Mrs. Chatterbox and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, and nearly died.      We’d traveled to Paris to celebrate, but unfortunately everything was on strike: museums were closed, monuments shut down, cabs and garbage collectors had ceased being operational. Since the French government had a tight grip on the media, there wasn’t a word about this in the papers. Thousands of tourists were lined up in front of the shuttered Louvre and Musée d’ Orsay. Other than eating at overpriced cafes and bistros, there was little to do in Paris.      After a few days of walking around we decided to catch a train to Chartres to view the cathedral’s famous stai ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #32

November 10, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was given an assignment to create sixty illustrations for a CD to be called Business Fundamentals, it seemed like a good idea to include a conceptual illustration depicting a bean counter. I worked a long time to create the endless supply of beans in the background and I was sure someone would use this piece for a newspaper or magazine article. Unfortunately, this was not to be. My “Bean Counter” has yet to be published. 

 

 



 + photos!,  read more

Veterans Day

November 11, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Today we salute all who have worn a uniform and served our country. Having never served, I’m not included in this distinguished group of heroes. I’ve heard phrases like “Band of Brothers” and “Comrades in Arms” and wondered how different my life might have been had I heeded the call. When this season of thanksgiving rolls by, I listen to stories of heroism and sacrifice. Like many who stood on the sidelines, I shed tears when seeing pictures of unbelievable sacrifice, men and women with broken bodies trying to rebuild their lives. It isn’t difficult to support patriots with mangled bodies. Their wounds are often easy to see and deserving of respect, but too many soldiers carry less obvious scars o ...

 + photos!,  read more

Stand All Ye Faithful

November 13, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  First posted 9/30/11     Not long ago I realized a bitter truth; I’d been turning a blind eye to our environmental problems. I did very little recycling and took my gas guzzling car to places I could have, and should have, walked. My studio was downtown and I decided to take the bus to work. Leaving my car in the garage made me feel like part of the solution instead of part of the problem.       That first day, the bus was only partially full when I climbed aboard. I had one of the double seats to myself, but eventually someone plunked down beside me, a chatty morning person with solutions to all of the world’s problems. The next day a woman on the seat beside me applied make-up and doused h ...

 + photos!,  read more

Cake Fight

November 15, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’m often asked if my childhood stories are factual and I always maintain they are. But I’ve withheld this tale until now because part of it is made up, a small but significant part. For those of you who can’t figure out where I let my imagination wander, I’ll reveal the fictional element at the conclusion.   In 1963 The Fights aired on Saturday nights. Any male worth his salt watched them. It didn’t matter that there was only one fight, the match up was always referred to as “The Fights.” At eleven, I wasn’t particularly interested in an event that highlighted how ill-prepared I was to defend myself on a playground. I only sat through it because Jackie Gleason came on afterward. One ti ...

 + photos!,  read more

Cake Fight: Conclusion

November 17, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Miss Part One of the story? You can find it (here).   At first I thought I could repair the cake. I tried feverishly to return the top layer to its original spot, but it crumbled in my hands. Before long, the bottom layer also slid to the floor. There was nothing left to do but clean up the mess. Since I’ve always turned to food during times of stress, I ate as much of the damaged cake as I threw away.      I felt doomed as I stood in the kitchen with sticky fingers and a circle of chocolate around my mouth. Not knowing what to do, I searched the kitchen like a drowning man looking for a life preserver. That was when I remembered Grandma’s Easter bread. I pulled the loaf out of the bread drawer and f ...

 + photos!,  read more

Fall

November 18, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      This impressionistic oil painting could have been titled Fall, but it’s actually a portrait of my son CJ when he was six or seven years old. As I recall, he wasn’t all that interested in football, and he was even less interested in standing still while I painted him. It’s hard to believe that over twenty-five years have passed since I created this portrait. I remember being irritated when people told me to enjoy our son’s youth because kids grow up so fast; of course this proved to be true. At least I have a dozen paintings of CJ that preserve his childhood.   Although I’ve painted many pictures over the years, this is the only one to be entered in a juried art contest. I’ ...

 + photos!,  read more

Thanks, Dad

November 20, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A rather large spider has erected its web above our front door and Mrs. Chatterbox has demanded I eliminate it. She refuses to exit our home through the front door until I practice spidercide. Some might comment that Mrs. C. should dispatch it herself if she wants it done so badly, but over the years we’ve devised an equitable plan dividing household chores (Mrs. C. would rightfully scoff at my usage of the word equitable.) Bug killing falls to me. I’m not fond of spiders but, unlike Mrs. Chatterbox, I’m not terrified of them. I would prefer to capture the critter in a cup and set it out in the yard where it can rebuild its web. Unfortunately, this “biggie” is not in an easy to reach spot and can’t be t ...

 + photos!,  read more

Killing Camelot

November 22, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It’s hard to believe fifty years have passed since President Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. I had just turned eleven and like everyone who lived through those traumatic days I know exactly where I was when I heard the news—sixth grade social studies. Our Principal, Mr. Landis, broke the news over the PA system. I remember his voice trembling as he sent us home.      I remember walking home, passing through our neighborhood and seeing adults on porches and driveways—sobbing. I had difficulty wrapping my head around the notion that the nice man with the smiling wife and small kids I’d grown accustomed to seeing on the evening news was gone. I’d never suffered the loss of anyone I cared abou ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Flushable Pet

November 24, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’ve decided to get a jump on my New Year’s resolution to be more proactive about submitting stories and seeing one published next year. To that end, I’m reworking and submitting this tale to a publication looking for stories about pets. I first posted “A Flushable Pet” in 2011 and some of you might have missed it.    For several years she was my constant childhood companion. Her body was white but her head was black with eyes that shone like melting chocolate chips. She was a rat, a Japanese black-hooded rat, and for reasons I can no longer remember I named her Yama. She rode on my shoulder, listened patiently to my blathering and kept all my secrets. She didn’t mind I was overweight and was ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Flushable Pet: Conclusion

November 25, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  If you missed Part I check it out (here).        Standing as tall as I could, I told my mother that if Yama had to go, then so would I. There might have been a twitch of amusement on her face; she often referred to me as Mr. Softie yet here I was standing up to her. Yama was permitted to stay provided she never left my room, her cage was kept immaculate, her water bottle filled and I did chores to pay for her food.      I played with Yama every day, letting her out of her cage to explore the wonderful sights and smells of my room. But it was inevitable that worlds would collide. One day Yama squeezed through my partially closed bedroom door. She and my mother confronted each other ...

 + photos!,  read more

Macho Butterball

November 27, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
At this time of year we’re bombarded with all types of advice for cooking turkeys. We’re cautioned that, even though generations of cooks have stuffed dressing into their turkeys, this is no longer a safe practice. Too great a possibility of bacteria, we’re now told. Much is said on the Food Network about brining turkeys or marinating them to increase flavor. Deep frying them in peanut oil is becoming vogue. But something unique is happening this year when it comes to turkey preparation that you might have missed.   For years the Butterball Company has provided a “Turkey Hotline” for those unsure about roasting a turkey. If you have questions and don’t want to call mom and admit you don’t kno ...

 + photos!,  read more

Happy Thanksgiving

November 28, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                  This was one of my first illustrations. I can no longer remember who the client was but I recall he wanted a black and white picture that resembled the work of Norman Rockwell. Unlike much of my work, this is painted on canvas.         I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.  ********************************* ...

 + photos!,  read more

Happy Hanukkah!

November 29, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        I hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing a Happy Thanksgiving yesterday. I did so much celebrating that I didn’t have an opportunity to write anything new. But I did come across a set of holiday illustrations I painted for a greeting card company and I’ll be sharing the other one next month.      This picture is in honor of my Jewish friends who are celebrating Hanukkah, even though I mistakenly made the yarmulkes too big.     HAPPY HANUKKAH!   ...

 + photos!,  read more

Returning Freedom

December 02, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 As most of you know, I was pet deprived as a child, only allowed small pets that could be flushed down the toilet when they died. As a married couple, Mrs. Chatterbox and I have owned several dogs over the years and I’ve noticed an interesting dynamic—the dogs Mrs. C. picks live with us for many years while the dogs I pick don’t seem to work out. The reason for this is obvious; as an artist I tend to rescue beautiful dogs while Mrs. C. looks for animals with wonderful personalities. She couldn’t care less what the dog looks like. But ten years ago when we were between dogs I foolishly inserted myself into the process by selecting an Australian shepherd named Freedom from our local animal shelter. He was the mos ...

 + photos!,  read more

Asking a Favor

December 03, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I don’t normally post on Tuesdays but I’m here to ask a favor. I’m trying to solidify my relationship with a site called Retirement and Good Living, a wonderful resource I hope you’ll check out. They just posted a piece of mine you might remember called, “What to Give an Eighty Year Old Man.” Few contributors receive comments and I’m trying to stack the deck in my favor. I’d appreciate it if you’d follow the link and leave a comment. Thanks for the help. Here's the link:   http://retirementandgoodliving.com/what-to-give-an-eighty-year-old-man/   Chubby Chatterbox ...

 + photos!,  read more

Dave

December 04, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Thomas Gainsborough was one of England’s greatest painters. In addition to painting the famous Blue Boy, he painted countless portraits of English notables and aristocrats. When asked how he dealt with flattering his subjects he once revealed the secret of his success.      “When painting a portrait of a duchess or famous actress,” he explained, “I position my canvas so the model can’t see what I’m doing. I barely look at my subject while I paint the most beautiful woman imaginable, a porcelain-skinned goddess, an angel. When I’m nearly done I position a mirror so the model can now see the picture and follow my progress. I slowly alter the features to resemble the model until ...

 + photos!,  read more

Holier Than Thou

December 06, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
My mother went to work in the Almadén bottling plant in Los Gatos, California, when I was eleven. This occurred at a time when my grandmother’s life was slowing down and she had little to do. I don’t know all the details, but Mom and Grandma made an arrangement for Grandma to do our laundry. I doubt Mom paid for this service; Grandma probably did it out of love and was happy to have something to keep her busy.      Whatever the arrangement, it worked well for a few years. Grandma lived nearby and Mom or Dad would pick up our laundry once a week after work. This might have been Grandma’s real payoff because she loved company and always had coffee and freshly baked treats ready for whoever pick ...

 + photos!,  read more

Garbage Disaster

December 08, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Friday we woke to snow here in Portland. The view from our window revealed a wondrous world of white. The garbage can Mrs. C. had dragged down our long driveway to the curb the night before was shrouded beneath a layer of snow. I decided to forgo my early morning swim at our local public pool. Around eight a.m. I was enjoying a hot cup of coffee and admiring our partially decorated artificial tree when I heard the grinding gears of the garbage truck growing louder as it headed our way.      A thought occurred to me. “Did you put out the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving?” I asked Mrs. Chatterbox.      Friday is garbage pick-up at our house and cans need to be out by six a.m. I usually ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Favorite Christmas Ornament

December 09, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This is the time of year when boxes of Christmas tree trim are plucked from the garage, dusted off and brought inside. If you’re like me and have been married a long time, those boxes are sure to contain an interesting ornament or two, particularly if you have children or grandchildren. My favorite Christmas decoration was made by our son CJ when he was seven or eight. It wasn’t intended as a Christmas ornament.      An art teacher gave CJ’s class an assignment to create a vessel with a lid. What CJ brought home made me scratch my head. Instead of crafting something practical like a covered dish or box, my son molded clay into a….couch. When he brought it home from school and explained the as ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Panic

December 11, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Modern art would be unthinkable without Spain’s Francisco Goya, who delved into his subconscious and exposed his deepest fears for all the world to see. He revealed an aspect about the foibles of existence that few before him dared explore.      I’ve said before that I prefer art that asks more questions than it answers. It’s unlikely this painting was intended for a client. It isn’t dated (most likely painted around 1809-12) and the title The Panic was ascribed long after the artist’s death. Goya left no notes or letters enlightening us as to the meaning of this painting. Some even doubt it’s his work. All we have is what we see—a giant rises from a ravine and stretches afte ...

 + photos!,  read more

Goosie and Bonkers

December 13, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First posted 12/16/11         When CJ was five, I took him with me to pick up our dry cleaning. He asked if we could check out the pet store next door. He enjoyed being licked by puppies and kittens when he poked his little fingers into their cages, but the goldfish captured his attention most. There was a big tank with ten goldfish for a buck. CJ begged for two fish. Since they were cheap, and flushable, I said yes. By the time we left the store, I’d spent nearly thirty dollars for a bowl and gravel, fish food and the coolest little castle CJ had ever seen. CJ held the plastic bag containing the two fish and tried his best to keep the water from jiggling as we drove home.      He named t ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Grand Tour

December 15, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    As many of you know, Mrs. Chatterbox works for the local police department. One of her tasks is to give tours of city hall, where our police department is housed. On Friday she hosted a Cub Scout tour of forty-eight second graders. These tours are extremely popular with youngsters. Mrs. C. escorts them through the records department, dispatch and several other departments but, charming though she is, Mrs. C. is not the attraction; the kids are here to talk to real live cops, and cops, when available, go out of their way to make the tour interesting for the kids. It was a lively crowd on Friday with hundreds of questions leveled at Sergeant Dawson, who happened to be on duty at the time.      “Can ...

 + photos!,  read more

Old Friends

December 16, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I was hunting for an interesting illustration to post for Peculiar Pictures when these two paintings fell out of an old portfolio. They aren’t much, but they do bring back memories. These little pictures were painted in oil on scraps of canvas. They are small enough for me to place in my scanner without resorting to photography. Both are dated on the reverse—1966—back when I was fourteen years old. For better or worse, they are my oldest surviving paintings.      I remember receiving a box of oil paints for Christmas in 1965. I didn’t know how to use them properly. Oil paint dries slowly and my first efforts were little more than muddy colors and mushy drawing. I wanted to learn how to paint p ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Live Christmas Tree

December 18, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This post was inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Joeh at Cranky Old Man. If you haven’t done so already, treat yourself by paying Joe a visit.    *******************   Like many folks I’ve tangoed with the notion of buying a live tree for Christmas. Why kill a tree just to have it in your living room for a few weeks? In 1985 I decided it was time for a live tree, one I could plant in the backyard after the Holidays as a fond reminder of our boy’s fifth Christmas. The living tree I selected did serve as a reminder of that festive day, but not in the way I planned.      First of all, a living seven foot tree comes with a massive and heavy root ball. Getting this monster in and ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Well-Written Police Report

December 20, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I don’t normally post newspaper clippings but this one made me laugh out loud and I couldn’t resist sharing it. I’ve typed it out in case the text in the picture is too hard to read.   ***********      Orville Smith, a store manager for Best Buy in Augusta, GA., told police he observed a male customer, later identified as Tyrone Jackson of Augusta, on surveillance cameras putting a laptop computer under his jacket. When confronted the man became irate, knocked down an employee, drew a knife and ran for the door.      Outside on the sidewalk were four Marines collecting toys for the Toys for Tots program. Smith said the Marines stopped the man but he stabbed one of the Mari ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Santa Face-Off

December 22, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Santa Claus is an integral part of our Holiday festivities but he has certainly changed over the years. The historical Saint Nicholas was a Greek bishop living in what is today Turkey. He loved children and often put coins in shoes left on stoops, and an interesting miracle is associated with him. Back in 300 AD in Nicholas’ day, a famine struck the region. A butcher lured three children into his store, slaughtered them and placed their remains in a barrel so he could cure the meat and sell it as ham. Nicholas happened by, somehow became aware of the murders, and prayed until the barrel’s lid popped off and the boys emerged, intact and alive. This is the authentic Saint Nicholas. In this early illustration, “Santa” s ...

 + photos!,  read more

Waiting For Santa

December 23, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  This illustration was the companion piece to the Hanukkah picture I painted and posted the day after Thanksgiving. Both were commissioned for a greeting card company, but I can’t remember which one.      I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy Holiday Season. Your wonderful comments, along with your support and encouragement, have meant so much to me this year. Take care and think of me if anyone hands you a platter of fudge.       Merry Christmas!   Steve (aka Chubby Chatterbox) ...

 + photos!,  read more

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
             Maxfield Parrish American Illustrator (1870-1966)         Seasons Greetings. I hope everyone has a wondrous and very Merry Christmas.                             ...

 + photos!,  read more

Brontosaurus Ribs

December 27, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  First Posted 12/28/11      I recently saw an online statistic claiming that more than seventy percent of American families enjoyed prime rib for Christmas dinner. At Chatterbox Manor we did not have prime rib for Christmas dinner; instead we opted for Honey Baked Ham.      Years ago shortly after we were married Mrs. Chatterbox decided to roast our first prime rib for Christmas. A few days before the holiday we drove to the grocery store and studied the meat behind the counter while waiting for the butcher to call our number.      “How much prime rib should we buy?” she asked me.      It should come as no surprise that I’m a mea ...

 + photos!,  read more

Did I Have A Stroke?

December 29, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Sure, it’s funny now, but when it happened I was in a panic and wondering how I was going to deal with such a dramatic change in my life, a change that would undoubtedly effect everything I cared about. I also had to think about my wife and how this dreadful turn of events might affect our marriage.      It happened a week before Christmas, the night before the Holiday Banquet Mrs. C. organizes for the police department and its volunteers. This is a sizable event and Mrs. C. puts months of work into making as festive an occasion as possible. Unfortunately, snow was forecast for the next day. Portlanders are not accustomed to driving on snow or ice and things grind to a halt after only a light dusting. Mrs. C. w ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Magic Fish

December 30, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This short piece of fiction was inspired by a recent trip to the mall.   The mall was choked with shoppers returning Christmas presents and looking for end of year deals. My sister had gifted me an unsuitable sweater and I’d come to return it. With the refund tucked into my wallet I worked my way to the mall exit. The aisles were jammed with sullen children, screaming babies and tired parents. Maneuvering around them required patience which at that moment I sorely lacked. I dodged into a pet store to calm my nerves and build up energy to slash my way through the jungle of shoppers to reach my car.      A rude young boy pushed past me with a crinkled dollar clutched in his hand. He pressed his nose to a tan ...

 + photos!,  read more

Join 3000+ in the Bull Pen
Stephen Hayes
(a.k.a. Chubby Chatterbox)
has been published!
 

 

Order from your favorite book retailer

Another Easy Way to Follow

Type Your Email Here:

Visit our Store

 

-0001 (1) 2011 (5) 2012 (76) 2013 (200) 2014 (155) 2015 (140) 2016 (140) 2017 (124)