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

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

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

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

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

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

Until now….

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Blog Archive

07/2013

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 ... read more

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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 ... read more

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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 ... read more

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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 ... read more

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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.    ... read more

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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 ... read more

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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 ... read more

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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. “ ... read more

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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& ... read more

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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 ... read more

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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 ... read more

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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 ... read more

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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 ... read more

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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/



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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 ... read more

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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 ... read more

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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 ... read more

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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 ... read more

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