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

2015

Radio Gibberish

January 02, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I hope everyone had a fun and safe New Year Holiday. Yesterday, I partied too hard to write anything new, but here’s a post from 2012 I hope will bring you to a happy place.   **************************    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 ... read more

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Online Security

January 05, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It seems like every day I receive a warning reminding me to protect myself from hackers and scammers by changing my passwords as regularly as I change my underwear. I probably shouldn’t announce this, but I only have one password and I use it for everything, and have done so for a long time. I accept this risk because my memory isn’t what it should be, and I know I’d forget new passwords before the end of the day.             Recently, I was having a conversation about passwords and online protection with son CJ. He told me a few interesting stories about passwords when he worked for the Registrar’s Office at the University of Oregon. Each student at the U of O ... read more

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New Vansterdam

January 07, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  A few days after Christmas, I decided to make an overdue visit to a friend in Vancouver, Washington. For those of you unfamiliar with the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver is across the Columbia River, and only a few miles from Portland, Oregon. When I arrived, my friend, who I’ll call Sam, had a few errands to run so I accompanied him. Sam, who’d been my assistant when I managed a jewelry store years earlier, was still in retail. We picked up a pair of resoled shoes and a few groceries before reaching our final destination, a store at a strip mall: New Vansterdam.             “New Vansterdam?” I said.          & ... read more

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Three Wishes

January 12, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I was an unusually deep thinker as a child, a kid who contemplated philosophy and religion, a chubby little Stephen Hawking contemplating the nature of the universe. But mostly I was consumed by something that trumped these notable concerns. I was worried about genies.             “Genies?” you might say.             Yes, genies.             I was convinced that at any moment I could become the owner of a discarded brass lamp in need of polishing. Not being a typical kid, I resolved at all times to be ready with my three wishes. I’d read enough about thes ... read more

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Mrs. Chatterbox's Rainbow

January 14, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First posted Feb, 2012   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?” ... read more

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Chocolate Diamonds

January 16, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I realize that a recent post admitting my fashion limitations (check it out here) might compromise what I’m about to say, but I’m here to offer a different fashion tip concerning something I know about—diamonds. There was a time when I made a lot of money selling diamonds, and while I purposely never became a certified gemologist from fear it would compromise my ability to sell them, I nevertheless studied these stones and feel competent to discuss them.             I always laugh at the notion of diamonds being rare. Countries like Russia have mountains of them, as does Canada, Israel, Australia, Brazil and even the United States. Most of the diamonds in these count ... read more

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Logos on Treadmills

January 19, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
When I was a chubby kid, I wished everyone was overweight so I wouldn’t stand out so much. An old Chinese saying cautions: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. Recently, it seems I’ve gotten my way. America is fattening up with obesity becoming an epidemic, and in spite of my youthful wish I’m not happy about my fellow citizens experiencing high blood pressure, clogged arteries, gout and diabetes.             However, the inability to trim down isn’t universal in our culture. In fact, one aspect of society has never looked better. I’m referring to advertising logos, which have lately been slimming down considerably. You might not ha ... read more

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Bragging on the Bolshoi

January 21, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The Fantasy             Cultured and sophisticated people are a different breed from Joe Six Pack and the other plebeians on the street. The world is their playground and they cast a larger shadow than average people. They donate money to museums and universities and have their names engraved on libraries, hospital wings and research centers. They donate to Masterpiece Theatre (cultured folk do not spell it theater) their children attend exclusive schools and their dogs are the offspring of champions awarded ribbons by stout dog experts with names like Mrs. Fitzboozer Smythe or Mr. Roger-Bailey Van Bumsby.             While most ... read more

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The Facile Fasces

January 23, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        While watching President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, I spotted something on TV that reminded me of my interest in symbols and customs. For me, it isn’t enough that something exists; I want to know why. Have you ever noticed the large wall decorations flanking the podium in the US House of Representatives? They’re called fasces; the word derives from the Latin word fascis, meaning bundle.         Notice the fasces beneath the eagle on the staff             When it comes to countries, the United States is little more than a baby. Some countries are a thousand years old while the USA has yet to reac ... read more

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A Sucky Situation

January 26, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This is either another skirmish in the war between men and women, or another example of what a bad person I am. You decide.             Books have been written about the differences between men and women, such as Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. A recent occurrence in the Chatterbox household illustrates this difference perfectly. Without getting into details, a member of my household recently had an occasion to need a toilet plunger. Decorum and good manners forbid me from identifying the person responsible for this plumbing calamity—BUT IT WASN’T ME!             Anyway, when it was brought to my attention t ... read more

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Chubby Gets Cheated

January 28, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I learned at a tender age that life isn’t fair, some things don’t live up to their hype while others seemed designed to fool you. I can’t recall how or when I became addicted to chocolate. Like George Costanza, I’d long worshipped the “dark” master. There was something about the stuff that attracted me; chocolate was a magnet and I had a load of pig iron in my pockets. My parents did their best to shield me from temptation, but parents can only do so much. I was too deep into addiction to listen. At a tender age, I was a cocoa-crazed miner always panning for chocolate nuggets.When I was six or seven and had gone days without a chocolate fix, I suffered acute withdrawal. My Easter supply was gone, along ... read more

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The Blue Boy

January 30, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  This painting, parodied and reduced to paint-by-number, has been reproduced and hung in millions of homes over the decades. Type the words Blue Boy into Google and nothing more is necessary to bring forth this image. Like the Mona Lisa, you might think little more can be said about something so deeply etched into the public consciousness. Actually, The Blue Boy represents the solution to an interesting dilemma experienced by the British elite, the type of folks featured so prominently in Downton Abbey.The Blue Boy was painted by Thomas Gainsborough in 1770. At the time, England wasn’t known for producing outstanding artists. Foreigner Hans Holbein was employed to immortalize Henry VIII and his court, and Charles I was depicted ... read more

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Heat in the Bedroom

February 02, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          Mrs. Chatterbox and I have been married a long time, and like most couples in lengthy relationships we’ve given each other many gifts. I’ve given Mrs. Chatterbox some curious items, like the time I gave her a hooded orange suede cape (saw one recently on a televised fashion show) but she’s always been masterful at selecting items for me I didn’t know I wanted until I tore off the wrapping paper. One Christmas several years back she surprised me with a new Ducane barbeque grill, a vast improvement over the dented Weber I’d been using for years. I like to BBQ, but having briquettes and starter fluid on hand is often a hassle; propane is much more convenient.   &n ... read more

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Doppelganger

February 04, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
              doppelgänger |ˈdäpəlˌga ng ər| noun: an apparition or double of a living person. ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from German, literally ‘double-goer.’            When I was thirteen I went with my dad to fetch a pizza from a place up the highway. It was hot in the pizzeria because of the huge oven so I went outside to cool off. Next door was the Honky Tonk, the bar where Ricky Delgado’s dad went after work for a snootful. Ricky was my best friend, and I knew George had beaten him more than once after staggering home from the Honky Tonk. Dust from the nearby El Camino Real coated the window. I rubbed a spot clean ... read more

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My One and Only Time On Stage

February 06, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  First posted 3/7/12   So there I was, in a theater packed with a thousand people, all eyes riveted on me as I stepped out onto the stage. I felt weak as a blade of grass and could feel my heart beating in the middle of my forehead. My palms were wet and my shoes were filling with ass sweat. If I were wax I’d have melted away.   The stage was situated in a new multi-million dollar center being dedicated to the music director of one of the most prestigious colleges in the state. This gentleman, in addition to being responsible for his college’s musical excellence, also founded a nationally renowned jazz festival. He was being honored this evening, but he wasn’t in attendance; he’d passed away from ... read more

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An Unholy War

February 09, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Last year I finished my memoir, The Kid in the Kaleidoscope. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with it, but this is one of the few stories I haven’t shared. I hope you enjoy it.   *************************************   Many families in Killarney Park were Catholic, including mine, so it might seem strange that in 1960 my mom decided to do battle with the Holy Catholic Church. My mother was a child when her father fell off a steeple he’d climbed on a dare. I sometimes wonder if her lack of piety resulted from her holding the Church responsible. Nevertheless, in 1960 my mother declared war on a local padre named Father Hinklemeyer.            & ... read more

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An Unholy War: Part Two

February 11, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  If you missed Part One, check it out (here).   *************************************** A Skirmish             I’d become a regular churchgoer without being pushed into it like many kids my age.             Most of the Catholic kids in Killarney Park lost interest in God after their First Communion. The exceptions were those of us who decided to become altar boys. I didn’t really want to be an altar boy, and best friend Ricky Delgado struggled in vain to talk me out of it, but Father Hinklemeyer had given a powerful fire-and-brimstone sermon that convinced me service to the Church was necessary for God to forgiv ... read more

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An Unholy War: The Conclusion

February 13, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  You can check out Part I (here), and Part II (here).   *********************************************   The Final Battle                    It might’ve been easier to feel sympathy for Father Hinklemeyer if he’d been a nice man, which he wasn’t. He was only friendly when he was trying to solicit money for his various projects. Otherwise, he was a humorless, self-righteous person, without any patience for kids. Not even altar boys were safe from his temper. More than one of us got a tongue lashing for not looking pious enough during the elevation of the Host, or if our postures weren’t ramrod straight as we exit ... read more

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Was That Love in the Air?

February 16, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Was that love in the air on Saturday, or something else? Even though Mrs. Chatterbox and I agreed not to exchange Valentine’s Day gifts, she presented me with one anyway. Perhaps she grew tired of me coming home from hardware stores empty handed. Now there’s a new addition to Casa Chatterbox. He doesn’t look like a Johnny; more like a Brad.   If you don’t get the humor in my wife’s puckish gesture, all will be made clear (here).           Follow my blog with Bloglovin   ... read more

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A Stimulating Read

February 17, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Some of you might have noticed the saucy picture added to Chubby Chatterbox’s sidebar announcing a new anthology produced by Publishing Syndicate: On SEX: 69 Hilarious Stories About Everything SEX. I was honored when two of my stories were accepted for publication, and surprised when one, Peeping Toms, was selected to help launch the book on the publisher’s blog Laugh Until You Pee.             I hope you’ll check out this side-splitting blog, featuring humorous excerpts on a variety of subjects from the publisher’s series Not Your Mother’s Book…. The series was created by Ken and Daylynn McKowen, who for years were coauthors and consultant ... read more

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Edith Emerges

February 18, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Jo Barney is a wonderful writer and one of my dearest friends. Several years ago, I hosted her to help launch “Graffiti Grandma,” which went on to earn a stellar Kirkus review. Jo is back to discuss her new novel,“Edith.”   *************************************   Hello, again. As Steve knows, I’ve been chained to my desk for the past few months, writing my fourth or fifth or sixth novel, depending on how I count.   Since July (it is November as I write this), I have been getting acquainted with the woman who has made an appearance on my computer. She’s a bit like me, only bitchier, at least at the beginning of the book. Not her fault. She’s been married to a bully of a h ... read more

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Bull's Eye

February 20, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
After graduating from the University of Oregon, our son CJ was eager to land a job. He couldn’t find anything in Eugene, but managed to secure a position as a financial consultant for a bank in Lebanon, Oregon. Lebanon has about 15,000 residents, and is approximately fifty miles north of Eugene—Oregon’s second largest city.             CJ described Lebanon as a rural community that had yet to catch up to the twenty-first century. Mrs. Chatterbox and I drove to Lebanon to meet our son for lunch and check out the place he described as Oregon’s version of Mayberry. CJ has inherited my propensity to embellish, but in this case he hadn’t exaggerated. I’m ... read more

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About Face

February 23, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I don’t discuss regional politics and this post is no exception, but something has come to my attention that makes me shake my head. I feel safe mentioning this because my own state is currently experiencing a gubernatorial scandal prompting our governor to resign in the face of a Federal investigation. If the issue I’m about to discuss occurred in any of the other forty-nine states I’d be just as perplexed. Having said this, I politely ask, “What the heck is going on in Louisiana?”             Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised when Louisiana elected a non-white governor, but I was. The residents of the Bayou State seem ... read more

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Portrait of an A*#hole

February 25, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  First posted 5/11/12             I saw someone familiar in the obituaries today. It took me a while to place the face but it finally came to me. Years ago she came regularly to the mall jewelry store I managed. She never bought anything, but she was a pleasant widow and I always offered to clean her jewelry. Being a chatty fellow, I let it slip that, in addition to managing the store, I was an artist and my work could be seen around town.             One Saturday afternoon in 1989 she came into the store and said, “I was downtown yesterday at the Oregon Biennial. I saw your work.”     &nb ... read more

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A Lot of Bull

February 27, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      It’s hard to look at The Bull, painted in 1647 by twenty-one year old Dutch artist Paulus Potter (1625-1654) and understand how this painting was ever held in higher esteem than Rembrandt’s Night Watch. In fact, when this painting was exhibited in Paris during the Napoleonic Era, critics commented that there were only four canvases in the Louvre’s entire collection to equal Potter’s The Bull. This is incredible when you consider the staggering wealth of artworks in the Louvre. An obvious question: Why was this massive moo-piece held in such high regard?             There isn’t much to say about Paulus Potter, who died of tuberculos ... read more

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The Center of the Universe

March 02, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Thanks to everyone for your condolences. I didn’t know Bette Fletcher, my sister-in-law’s mother, that well but I know she had a long happy life. She was a devoted grandmother and loved being in the company of children. She’ll be missed by family and friends.             This past weekend, Mrs. Chatterbox and I drove to Medina, Washington, arriving at St. Thomas Episcopal Church an hour before Bette’s memorial service. With time to kill, we wandered around the church grounds and noticed a mandala-shaped design in the brick pavement separating the church from the rectory. I recognized it as a modern variant of something very old. More people arrived, and ... read more

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A Developing Language Problem

March 04, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Launching myself into the workforce after high school wasn’t easy. I’ve written several accounts of job disasters. Here’s another.             After graduating from high school, the future Mrs. Chatterbox landed a summer job at A-1 Color Lab in nearby San Jose. A color lab is a place where professional photographers bring film from weddings and other special events to be processed, and pictures printed. Large photographs come off drying drums and are often marred by tiny white specks caused by bubbles in the emulsion. Mrs. C’s job was to sit at a drafting table. With sable brushes she mixed watercolor paint and dabbed color onto the photographs, renderi ... read more

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A Comforting Face

March 06, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    When I began my illustration business, I had to scramble for work. I’d always enjoyed creating pen & ink drawings and seemed to have a knack for arranging lines in pleasing patterns to suggest a rich tonality. Pen & ink drawings are often used for logos and mastheads because they reproduce easily and cheaply.             I was excited to receive a call from a nursing organization in need of a pen & ink drawing. I met with a committee of nurses responsible for the commission (all women) and showed them a portfolio of line drawings, which they complimented enthusiastically. They explained that they were looking for an image of a “typical” nu ... read more

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Hemingway's Coat

March 09, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    This piece of fiction was first posted on 11/2/12.     *********************************     “I thought you wanted to be a writer,” the old woman said to fourteen year old Becky.              “I do, Granny. My brain is full of ideas, but I have trouble putting them down on paper. All of the kids at school have computers. I wish I had one.”                   The old woman looked at the orphaned granddaughter she’d spent nine years struggling to raise. Every cigarette the old woman had ever smoked was present in her voice when sh ... read more

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Pen & Ink

March 11, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I’m still in the process of looking for the ink illustration I mentioned in my recent post, A Comforting Face. (If you missed it, check it out here.) While prowling through my files, I came across a few more pen & ink caricatures. This time I thought it might be fun to have you guess who these folks are. It’s an odd assortment of people, but I bet you get them all. The answers are at the end, so don’t scroll down until you’ve guessed.          Number #1                Number #2             Number #3             Number #4         ... read more

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Scene at an Airport

March 13, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  As most of you know, Mrs. Chatterbox and I love to travel, and we’ve seen many interesting things. I try not to prejudge what I’ll see because it’s usually those unexpected or unanticipated experiences that have the deepest impact. The incident I’m going to describe didn’t happen overseas; it happened at New York’s Kennedy Airport, a simple scene but one that still lingers with me.             In the West, there’s much talk about how Arab women dress. To many of us, it seems cruel and atavistic for women to drape themselves from head to toe and walk about in a cocoon of obscurity. As I understand it, “wearing the veil” was ... read more

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One-Step or Two-Step?

March 16, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  As an art professor, my job included exposing students to various art techniques so they could choose the one best suited to what they wished to express. Most of my students had a fervent desire to learn how to paint portraits, capture likenesses and master flesh tones.             In Western art, there are two distinct ways to paint portraits. The first is the Two-Step method based on underpainting. For hundreds of years, this was the preferred approach. Artists from Raphael to Ingres employed it to achieve the illusion of three dimensions on a two dimensional surface. During the Renaissance, a renewed focus on the human body inspired artists to combine science with painting. ... read more

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It's All Who You Know

March 18, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Sometimes, avoiding a ticket comes down to who you know.             I haven’t received too many traffic violations (I don’t enjoy driving and do so as little as possible) but recently I remembered a time when I was pulled over by a cop—in 1982. Mrs. C. was working as an executive assistant at the time, but I was unemployed and on my way to a job interview. CJ was two years old and at the peak of his cuteness. With his mother’s rosy complexion, curly golden hair, long eyelashes and bright blue eyes, he looked like a living, breathing Hummel. He was belted in the front seat and I was about to drop him off with a sitter.      &nb ... read more

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Buccaneers of Buzz

March 20, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I know many of you have published thousands of posts, but today is Chubby Chatterbox post #600, actually #623 but I’ve subtracted reposts. Although the weather isn’t cooperating everywhere, today is the first day of Astronomical spring and I wanted to post something appropriate.   My illustrations were mostly created for books, newspapers and magazines. This picture, done for my own amusement, is the only one created from a poem—a short piece by Emily Dickinson that playfully compares bees to pirates; it’s so fun and lighthearted that I couldn’t resist picking up my brushes to see what I could do with it. For those of you who are interested, this piece is acrylic on untempered masonite.   ... read more

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The Big "O"

March 23, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I didn’t have many followers when I posted this early in 2012. You might have missed it.   *********************************   Our tour bus was cutting through the Taurus Mountains of Turkey, located on the edge of the Anatolian Plateau where people have been living since Paleolithic times. The mountains were modest compared to the Alps or Rockies, with expansive valleys meeting us at every curve. At one point our guide, Selchuk, ordered the driver of our bus to pull to the side of the road. He said to us, “Do you want to see something really interesting?”   Of course I did. That’s why I’d traveled halfway around the world, to see what I couldn’t see at home. I followed Selchu ... read more

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An Ambiguous Ending

March 25, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Some tales are straightforward and conclude without ambiguity, but this is not one of those stories. It’s a true incident that happened to me in 1983 when I left my position as display manager for Mervyn’s Dept. Store, and took a position as manager of an art gallery in Portland, Oregon.             Soaring Wings Gallery specialized in wildlife art, and was owned by local millionaire and entrepreneur George Klempton. I had little contact with him, and was hired by his single, middle-aged chief assistant, Mary Ann Gasper, who I soon realized had a massive crush on her married boss.             The gallery was ... read more

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Paradise Lost

March 27, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
One of the guys I hung out with in college was an architecture student named Alan Aoki, the son of a prominent Northern California florist. His parents often sent flowers to his dorm room, which at first we all thought strange, but eventually we came to appreciate the wonderful scents and colors.             One night while partying in Alan’s room, he pointed at a recently delivered birds of paradise arrangement. We were admiring the brilliant tropical colors when Alan launched into a lecture on this native South American plant. He shared with us a florist secret. Pulling one of the flowers from its container he said, “Most people don’t know this, but beneath the bir ... read more

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Memory Lane

March 30, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Does anyone ever plan on growing old? I know I didn’t. When mature enough to start reflecting on the voyage of my life, I was surprised to find out how little documentation there was that I’d ever existed.             A popular blog meme is “Throwback Thursdays,” where folks post vintage pictures of themselves. I’ve never participated in this because there are precious few pictures of me. Being the second and last child, my parents were not inclined to snap pictures of me, although there are many of my older brother David. Truth be told, as I grew older I wasn’t particularly pleased with my appearance and moved into the shadows whenever a camera mad ... read more

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An April Fool

April 01, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I’m no Stephen Hawking, but I pride myself on being reasonably intelligent, so I was surprised at how easily I was duped.             In the nineties, I had an illustration studio in downtown Portland. In case you don’t know, Portland, Oregon, is divided by the Willamette River, which connects to the mighty Columbia before flowing into the Pacific Ocean. I read somewhere that Portland is the sixth largest port in the USA, in spite of being a hundred miles from the ocean. Setting the stage for one of the greatest mental lapses of my life, I was hard at work on an illustration assignment. On my radio was local talk show host Rick Emerson. I hadn’t been paying c ... read more

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Peculiar Picture #35

April 03, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          It’s been a while since I’ve added to my Peculiar Picture feature. For any new followers who might not know, I’m a retired illustrator with a file cabinet filled with pictures that, for one reason or another, were never used. This is common for professional illustrators. Typically, one out of three pictures are actually printed.             This piece is the antithesis of the sunny and bright Buccaneers of Buzz I posted two weeks ago. Instead of sunshine and glowing spring colors, this Pied Piper is filled with the colors of a bruise. I’ve posted other illustrations featuring the Pied Piper theme, but this is the darkest. ... read more

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I (Don't) Love Lucy

April 06, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Of course I love Lucille Ball, one of our most recognizable Hollywood icons. I was raised on I Love Lucy, and can’t recall a time when I wasn’t laughing at Lucy making wine, or working in a candy factory, or getting wasted peddling Vitameatavegamin. What I don’t like is the new statue of her recently unveiled in her hometown, Celoron, NY, bordering Jamestown.             When I was an art professor, I strove to emulate my late friend Elsa Warnick, who always touted the importance of having a “generosity of spirit.” Artists tend to be vulnerable people—I can attest to this—and need all the encouragement they can get. I t ... read more

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Lazy or Cheap?

April 08, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    This post is reminiscent of something my good friend Cranky might offer on his blog, The Cranky Old Man. If you don’t follow Cranky, you don’t know what you’re missing. He’s a wealth of pithy marital observations, and he’s been married enough times to be an expert at giving marital advice (?) even though a large number of his posts end with someone in his household being called a “JERK.”             The other day I tromped downstairs for my morning cup of coffee. Beside our Keurig was the plastic container of coffee creamer, with a mere dribble inside. A newly opened container was beside it.        ... read more

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The Duccio Block

April 10, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Michelangelo’s David (1501-1504) is arguably the most famous statue in the world, but the task of creating this towering 14.2 ft. masterpiece is even more astonishing when you consider the flawed material with which the artist had to work.                        The city of Florence had paid a fortune for this gigantic block, carved from Carrara marble and transported to Florence. Master sculptor Donatello was to carve a statue of David, to be hoisted to a pedestal on the roofline of Florence’s Duomo (cathedral). But Donatello died and the assignment was handed over to his assistant, Agostino de Duccio. Duccio ... read more

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Nasty Weed

April 13, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  “I don’t want it in our house!” Mrs. Chatterbox shouted.             “It’s MY house, too.”             “I thought we’d settled this once and for all.”             “I guess not,” I said, “because here we are still talking about it. Frankly, I don’t see what the problem is. Lots of people use it. It’s no big deal. You see it all the time on TV. Famous celebrities and athletes are into it.”             “Casual usage i ... read more

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Hotter Than Hell

April 15, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Today in Portland there’s a chill in the air, prompting me to think about warmth, extreme warmth. I’m reminded of the hottest temperature I ever experienced. Mrs. Chatterbox and I weren’t in a desert; we were in Cancun, Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula.             I can only handle lying on the beach for so long, and after a few hours I’m clamoring for something to do. We decided to trek to Chichen Itza to see the famous Mayan city built between 600 and 900 AD, in particular its celebrated pyramid.             Chichen Itza is approximately a hundred miles from Cancun, and an uglier landscape is h ... read more

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What Were We Thinking?

April 17, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so I miss out on Throwback Thursdays. Many of you post vintage pictures, and I’m amazed at how good-looking everyone was back in the day. Sure, the fashions and hairstyles are a bit peculiar by modern standards, but that’s to be expected.             I recently came across a picture that pushes the boundaries of the notion that its healthy to laugh at yourself. The year was 1974. Mrs. Chatterbox and I were both twenty-one, but we look like teenagers. We’d returned to my parents’ house after honeymooning in San Francisco, and had just loaded our possessions into a rented van for the trip to Los An ... read more

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Remembering Why We're Great

April 20, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Saturday began National Park Week, prompting this post.   Everyone should know about this unassuming stone gate because it represents something remarkable, something never before seen in the history of mankind. Few people pass through this portal anymore because it is no longer the quickest way to enter Yellowstone National Park, but if you do, take a moment to look closely at the words engraved on it: For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.             Heralding trumpets should go off in your head when you read these words because this was the result of revolutionary thinking. I’ve been to Windsor, Versailles, Capri, and other playgrounds of ... read more

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Kill All the Lawyers!

April 22, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        Shakespeare said it best in Henry VI (Part 2): “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” He may have had the right idea. Still, I need to find a lawyer for my ninety year old mom so she can get her affairs in order. The other day she reminded me that she was always interested in the law and tried to push me in that direction when I was a kid. By this she means she made me watch Perry Mason with her every afternoon. My mother talked through every scene, making me wish that, when the murderer jumped up in the courtroom yelling, “I killed him! He deserved it and I’d do it again,” it would be Mom who was cuffed and hauled away.         & ... read more

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God, Is That You?

April 24, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  “I’m not going!” I said.             “Yes you are. I’m not leaving you home so you can squeal on me to Mom and Dad. You’re coming, and if you tell, you’ll catch hell with us.”             Rarely did my older brother David include me on his adventures, and normally I would have jumped at the opportunity to be included, but this would require much physical activity, something I tried hard to avoid. My brother and his friends were planning a bike excursion to Stevens Creek Reservoir at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains in Cupertino, about ten miles from our Santa Clara home ... read more

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My Favorite Wiener

April 27, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  My best friend Ricky Delgado was our lookout halfway down the street.             “Do you see anything?” I bellowed, using my cupped hand to amplify my voice.             Ricky shook his head.                        In 1962 when I was ten, a shopping center had opened a few blocks away and a local newspaper had announced that today the Wienermobile would arrive for the grand opening. The Wienermobile was a car shaped like a hotdog in a bun, designed to promote Oscar Mayer products. I’d seen th ... read more

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Peculiar Picture #36

April 29, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  When time hangs heavy and assignments are scarce, a professional illustrator creates “spec” art, pieces painted on the speculation that someone might buy them in the future. The trick is to anticipate what art directors or graphic designers might need. This can be a hit and miss process, but I was fortunate to be able to sell many of my spec pieces.             This picture seemed like a good idea at the time, and I’ve seen several similar pictures that managed to find buyers. Mine, however, did not. Of course you never know. Maybe an art director is lurking around my blog and will see it and want it. Stranger things have happened.     &nbs ... read more

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Remembering Truckzilla

May 01, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First Posted 10/9/13     I thought Mrs. C. had lost her mind when she came home from work, excited at having won two tickets in an office pool for an event so outside my field of interest as to be laughable. “You won tickets to what?” I asked.   She beamed. “Tickets to a truck and tractor pull.”   “What the hell is that?” I asked, hoping the name was a misnomer and this event had nothing to do with trucks or tractors.   “As I understand it, trucks and tractors engage in tugs of war, there’s a demolition derby and other events. You can take CJ. He loves cars and trucks. It will be a great bonding experience for the two of you. And Truckzilla will be there. You ... read more

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The Smell of Cut Grass

May 04, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  On Friday morning I took a moment to enjoy the Spring weather while waiting for the pool to open where I swim laps. The light glistened like an Impressionist painting, and the air was heavy with the scent of grass being mowed at the adjacent high school. Few things trigger memories better than smells, and the pungent scent of cut grass reminded me of all the lawns I’d mowed over the years.             To be clear, I’ve always hated mowing lawns. When I was a kid we had a big lawn and the cheapest lawnmower on the block. Even though my dad was a master mechanic, our lawnmower was always covered in rust and when pushed shrieked like a banshee in heat. We eventually p ... read more

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Prom Night

May 06, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  It’s that time of year again when Mrs. Chatterbox and I reflect on a rite of spring, the gathering of high school students in a ritual known as Senior Prom.             The best sightings are in downtown Portland at the marina on the Willamette River. An esplanade bordering the waterfront is crowded with restaurants popular on prom night. For years, Mrs. C. and I have made a habit of parking ourselves on a bench to watch the parade of young people dressed in finery on their special night. Stretch limos come and disgorge self-conscious teens trying their best to look nonchalant and grown up. Mrs. C. and I have fond memories of our prom, which we attended together forty-tw ... read more

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Ninety

May 11, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Saturday was my mother’s ninetieth birthday, and while she struggled to place a positive spin on the event, I was left feeling pensive. Mrs. Chatterbox and our son CJ joined me in attempting to create a festive occasion, but I’m not sure we succeeded. I’d have preferred treating her to a nice dinner in a restaurant, or bringing her to our home so Mrs. Chatterbox could cook some Portuguese favorites, but Mom has become reclusive; it takes a shoehorn to pry her from her retirement facility. She hasn’t been to our home in nearly five years.             Noticeably absent was my older brother David, who I’ve mentioned several times in stories about my ... read more

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Away We Go!

May 15, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Away we go!     It’s been a while since Mrs. Chatterbox and I packed our suitcases and hit the road. On previous trips we’ve explored Turkey, Scandinavia, India, Thailand and Cambodia. On the eighteenth of this month we’re heading for the part of the world once referred to as the Romantic Road—Germany (Bavaria) Austria and Switzerland. Mrs. Chatterbox, an Army brat who grew up in Germany, is looking forward to seeing places she vaguely remembers as a child.             We land in Munich, where I’m looking forward to visiting the Alte Pinakothek Museum, one of the few world-class collections of old masters I’ve yet to see. We ... read more

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We're Home!

June 08, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  It’s good to be home, and our overseas vacations usually begin to wrap up with a soul stirring “Welcome Home” by customs officials, at which point I begin to regale you with our adventures in a chronological manner, but this time is different. After our five hour wait for our twelve hour departing flight from the Zurich airport, and waiting three hours at San Francisco to catch a two hour flight to Portland, we couldn’t wait to crawl into bed and succumb to jetlag, but our adventure wasn’t over, not by a long shot.             At 2:30 a.m. Mrs. C. got up to make a bathroom pit stop. My hearing was compromised by a terrible cold that, combined with ... read more

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Old Friends

June 10, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          We flew into Munich a few days before the start of our tour because I wanted to visit the Alte Pinakothek. A few of the first paintings to capture my childhood imagination hang there and I was determined to see them. Unfortunately, the museum was being refurbished and many of the masterpieces were in storage, but I did manage to see a few old friends I’d first seen and admired in art books as a child—including this portrait of Peter Paul Rubens and his wife Isabella Brant, one of the loveliest wedding portraits ever painted.         Our trip to the Pinakothek was temporarily marred when Bruce, one of our traveling companions, left his backpack in the trunk of our ... read more

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The Fairy Tale Castle

June 12, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Most fairy tales have a dark side, and the story of the world’s most famous fairytale castle, the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, is no exception. Neuschwanstein has a dark side that is easy to overlook in the blinding light of stunning aerial photos and postcards of this painfully beautiful building. But the day of our visit was overcast; a moody breeze was blowing down from the Alps, underscoring the unhappy fate of the man responsible for our visit.             That man was Ludwig II, the handsome and moody young king who came to the Bavarian throne at the age of eighteen. Ludwig was not close to his parents and shared a tem ... read more

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City of Music

June 15, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Before rolling into Salzburg, I knew only two things about this ancient city: Mozart was born here, and The Sound of Music filmed here. I was told it was a beautiful city, formerly a bishopric (ruled by a bishop) so churches and religious buildings would be plentiful, and in fact they seemed to be on every corner.             Perhaps it was the sun finally making an appearance that induced me to like Salzburg, named after the salt (Medieval white gold) mined in the area. The city sparkled and shimmered in morning light, and yes, the presence of Mozart, born here in 1756, was omnipresent. The composer’s image greeted us everywhere, like Walt Disney’s at Disneyland. ... read more

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Hitler's Eagle's Nest

June 17, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  What do you give someone who has everything? In 1937, high ranking Nazis were confronted with this dilemma. The Fuhrer was turning fifty soon and it was deemed necessary to give him something special. Martin Bormann (who gained enormous power as Hitler’s private secretary) came up with a curious idea.             Hitler wasn’t fond of Berlin, and the only home he ever bought (Berghof) was near Berchtesgaden in Bavaria near the Austrian border—he was Austrian after all. He had the region cleared out (dissenters included a local painter who was promptly shipped to a concentration camp) and a compound was build for him and top cronies like Hermann Goring. The wi ... read more

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The Protest II

June 19, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I’m pausing from relating adventures from our vacation to fill you in on a project that will be occupying me for the rest of the summer. I’ve mentioned a few times that I was once foolish enough to spend eighteen months painting a colossal 10x15 foot painting I called The Protest. I refused to heed the advice of those who told me this painting would be too big to find a home—and they were right. For the past decade, The Protest (details can be seen on the Fine Art Paintings which can be found on the menu bar of my blog) has been rolled and stored in a corner of my garage.             It bothered me that no one was able to see something I spent ... read more

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Schonbrunn Palace

June 22, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace was Austria’s attempt to recreate Versailles, even though at 1441 rooms it’s smaller. The present Baroque structure was built in the 1740s, and Austrian emperors lived here until the collapse of the Habsburg dynasty at the end of World War I. The rooms are as lavishly decorated as you’d expect, and I was particularly interested in, of all things, a tapestry of a fair where peasants were queued up at a stall where, for a few coins, a monkey would pick fleas from their heads. The origin of the term flea market?     View from the back of the palace       Interiors                &nb ... read more

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The Elusive Knuckle

June 24, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I don’t drink beer, and I’m not particularly fond of German food, but I was determined to try an appealing-looking dish I’d seen in a magazine, although you might be put off by the name—pork knuckle, a name that conjured an image of porcine cloven hooves. I wasn’t deterred; being Portuguese I was raised on pork, so on day one of our trip I began hunting for pork knuckles.             They weren’t hard to find, but nabbing one proved elusive. Many restaurants had rows of them on rotisseries in their front windows. I’d start salivating, but every time I bolted for the restaurant door I was herded off to a place that didn’t serve th ... read more

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Tito's Spoon

June 26, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  When I was a teenager, I bought art books with reproductions of famous paintings I never expected to see, and Vienna is rich with great museums filled with priceless treasures. At the Kunsthistorisches I encountered paintings I’d first seen in art books as a teenager, paintings like Brueghel’s Tower of Babel (Google for a larger reproduction and prepare to be amazed by the details) and Vermeer’s The Allegory of Painting. There are only a handful of Vermeers in existence and this painting, coveted and pirated by Hitler, is breathtaking. Unlike many museums where crowds hinder your ability to engage with art, Mrs. C. and I sat alone for half an hour, basking in the absolute stillness of this sublime masterpiece. &nb ... read more

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Rubbed in Innsbruck

June 29, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        Before our arrival, I didn’t know much about Innsbruck, other than two winter Olympics and many other Alpine sporting events had been held here. I learned the city’s name came from the Latin for bridge on the Inn River, and that the city, founded during the Stone Age, became important in the fifteenth century when the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1486-1519), moved his capital here. That’s Maximilian pictured above. We were not going in winter so I didn’t know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised to discover a marvelous city, one that would be our second favorite on this trip.         Innsbruck Ski Jump   I don’t ski, but the thought of ... read more

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Snow Day

July 01, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  The heat has finally caught up to us here in Portland, and today the temperature is expected to pass ninety degrees. I know many of you are experiencing higher temperatures than this, but here in the Northwest that’s pretty darn hot, and we might reach a hundred degrees by the Fourth of July. For all of you who are tired of the heat, here’s a snow day to cool you off—pictures from our trip featuring snow.             St. Moritz is one of the most expensive destinations in the world and a hot spot for wintering celebrities and millionaires, but on Sundays during the off season it’s practically a ghost town. The view from our hotel window was nice, but al ... read more

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Bows and Arrows

July 03, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                I just don’t get it.             Mrs. Chatterbox finds guys who shoot arrows sexy. Whenever we watch The Walking Dead, her eyes settle on Daryl and she has a peculiar look on her face.                   “He’s dirty, and greasy, and grunts like a moron,” I tell her.             “Yes, but look at the way he holds that crossbow,” she chimes in. “He’s a protector, always saving women. He’s so cool.”        ... read more

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Crowing!

July 06, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’ve waited twelve years for this to happen, and now that it has I can’t resist crowing.             Twelve years ago I switched from painting to writing because my visual vocabulary was exhausted and I decided to paint with words instead of paint. I’d always enjoyed telling stories and decided to become a professional writer. I had no idea as to the magnitude of the task I’d set for myself. I’d started selling paintings as a teenager and figured that, if I applied myself and worked hard, success as a writer would come my way. It didn’t.             ... read more

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The Lion of Lucerne

July 08, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    When I think about military prowess and bad ass fighters I don’t usually think of warriors from a country more known for pretty mountains, yodeling, cheese with holes and chocolate. Yet the Swiss have provided European nobility with elite mercenaries for centuries.             The Ancient Romans, themselves no slouches when it came to fighting, struggled to subdue the Helvetii—Swiss warriors—who challenged Roman authority and gave Julius Caesar and later Roman generals a run for their money. Most people think of the Vatican when the Swiss Guard is referenced. Few trips to the Vatican don’t include photographs snapped of the colorful men with hal ... read more

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Last Stop

July 10, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          Rain followed us to Lucerne, the last stop on our trip. I was upset when it started raining during our cruise on the lake. One of the hotels we sailed past was where Mark Twain was staying when he received word from home that he’d died. His famous comment was: Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.       Then the sun broke through the clouds and a rainbow appeared.         Maybe this guy had something to do with it. Locals say He isn’t praying; he’s measuring a big fish He just caught. The composer Wagner wrote several of his operas in a nearby villa.         Lucerne was one of the most beautiful ci ... read more

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The Dinner Party

July 13, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  The other day Mrs. Chatterbox decided to clean and reorganize our kitchen, something we men seldom think to do. In our forty plus years of marriage, we’d accumulated countless pieces of china, stemware, crockery and serving utensils, most of which we hadn’t used in recent memory.             Mrs. C. commented, “It’s been ages since we threw a dinner party and used any of our nice things.”             This got me thinking about the first dinner party we ever hosted, and the near tragedy that ensued—because of the dreadful mistake I made.          ... read more

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The Dinner Party: Part II

July 15, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I’d expected to phone a few friends and invite them over for food and fun, but Mrs. Chatterbox had different ideas. She sent out written invitations. Everyone she invited, accepted. Like I said, these were all my friends, yet most of them had never met Mrs. Chatterbox and were eager to meet the woman who’d stolen my heart. This was the ‘70s and the prevailing sentiment among my group of acquaintances was: a piece of paper (such as a marriage license) wasn’t necessary, and often served as an obstacle to true love.             This dinner party had been Mrs. C’s idea, but after setting the ball in motion she experienced a serious case of butterflies ... read more

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The Dinner Party: Conclusion

July 17, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I stared at the sap seeping through the white paint on our dining room table and taxed myself to think of a creative solution. Maybe I could tell Aarone the sap was hashish and she’d smoke it. Better still, maybe she’d arrive having already imbibed and she wouldn’t even notice the amber goop.             The sap had broken through the white paint in too many places to count. Had these blobs been in a straight line down the center, I could have covered them with a runner, or hidden them under the silver candelabra Mrs. Chatterbox’s godmother had gifted us. An idea began taking root in my head. Candles…. I removed the candles from the candelabra an ... read more

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Signals of a Good Marriage

July 20, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Mrs. Chatterbox and I have gotten along extremely well for the past four decades, but there is one area of friction. Like many husbands, I’m not particularly observant when it comes to doing things around the house. While I readily admit I distract easily, it’s true that the flip side of the coin bearing the words Easily Distracted, is Lazy. I don’t step out of dirty clothes expecting Mrs. C. to pick up after me, or turn a blind eye to making beds or cleaning the shower, and I don’t dump dirty dishes in the sink expecting a maid to materialize to deal with them, but emptying the dishwasher has become an issue at our house.             Oddly enough, I do ... read more

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Early Memories

July 22, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I accept the fact that the human brain is an incredible device with a photographic memory, but I have my doubts when people claim they can recall their own births. I’m thinking about this because last night I had a peculiar dream. Actually, it wasn’t really a dream, it was a recollection of a situation that happened when I was six months old. But since I was asleep at the time I guess it technically qualifies as a dream.             I’m a baby in my crib, and it’s unbelievably hot. I’m sweating profusely and wearing only a diaper. Something other than the heat is bothering me. I’m too good natured to cry. Mom will later say that had I been c ... read more

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Surveying Surveys

July 24, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Although complaining is par for the course with many bloggers, I try to avoid it. It isn’t because I can’t think of things to kvetch about; it’s because of my philosophy of complaining, which goes something like this:   Half of the people you complain to don’t care The other half are glad             But something is bugging me these days and I’ve decided to speak out. It seems that more often than not I’m being requested by service providers to give an assessment of their performances. I worked in retail for many years and I clearly understood that if I provided good value and gave quality service, my customers woul ... read more

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The Dreaded Letter

July 27, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’m at an age where I knew this was coming and it was something I’d have to face. It’s already happened to Mrs. Chatterbox, several times, and now it’s my turn. And I’m dreading it. The letter came in yesterday’s mail. After more than twenty years, my primary care physician is retiring.             As a self-employed individual, purchasing my own healthcare would have been ridiculously expensive, so my coverage has been provided, at nominal expense, through Mrs. C’s employer. I was assigned a doctor and soon realized he and I weren’t a good fit. He wasn’t chatty, had no sense of humor, and was lacking the quality I most demand in a ... read more

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Prepare to Die!

July 29, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’ve mentioned several times that Mrs. Chatterbox detests spiders. I discovered this while we were dating. She nearly fell at the sight of a spider on the stairs we were climbing to a friend’s apartment. Seeing her distress, I smashed the spider with my hand. From then on I was her knight in shining armor. This photograph is an accurate representation of how Mrs. C. remembers that date.     I don't have a problem with spiders, as is evidenced by this whimsical post from 9/30/12.           *********************************** Prepare To Die! “I’m sorry, but I have to kill you.”             &ldq ... read more

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The Peaceable Kingdom

July 31, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
There’s so much bad news engulfing us these days that I decided to write about an artist who makes me smile. He wasn’t a great artist; in fact it’s a wonder he painted at all. His name was Edward Hicks. He painted The Peaceable Kingdom.   And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the kid, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. — Isaiah 11:6   Edward Hicks (1780-1849) was an American folk painter born in Pennsylvania. His father had supported the British during the American Revolution, and later died when Edward was only eighteen months old. As a teenager, Hicks became apprenticed to a coach maker and showed a knack fo ... read more

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In the Dog House

August 03, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Dear readers, I’m in the dog house at Casa Chatterbox, and I know you’ll tell me if this is where I belong. I made the mistake of laughing at my wife, but before you judge me too harshly, hear me out.             On Friday we invited our son CJ to dinner. It’s been pushing a hundred degrees in Portland, and aside from a home cooked meal we figured he’d enjoy an evening in air-conditioning. While we ate ( Mrs. Chatterbox made wedge salads and a delicious beef Stroganoff) the subject of CJ’s new job came up. CJ has moved from Police Records to the Shop, where he fulfils his automotive passion by working on squad cars, motorcycles and countless other city ve ... read more

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Update on Protest II

August 05, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
            I’ve been working on Protest II most days this summer. (The original can be found by going to the Chubby Chatterbox Menu Bar and clicking on Fine Art Paintings.) The last time I posted an update was on June 19th when the canvas was toned and the figures only sketched in. Back then, the painting looked like this:     I’ve made great progress, although at times it feels like I’m working at a snail’s pace. The microphone, columns, stairs and wheels of the shopping cart still need definition, but here’s what the painting looks like today:     I painted the central figure in color directly on the canvas instead of using an underpainting me ... read more

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Dad's Last Flight: Almost

August 07, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot lately. I find it hard to believe he’s been gone seven years. It’s summer and he loved baseball, but the last time I spoke with him was during a football game. We were enjoying the Super Bowl together. I’m not much of a sports fan, but seven years ago Mrs. Chatterbox and I had a little Super Bowl party. We like to scarf down a few munchies, watch the commercials and wonder what the game is all about. My parents had recently moved to the area and we included them. We had the best time ever. I can’t remember Dad enjoying himself so much. The game was exciting, and after driving home Dad called to tell me what a great time he’d had. I never spoke to him again. Th ... read more

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Taking a Stand

August 10, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Not long ago I finished eating and reached for a fortune cookie at my favorite Chinese restaurant. The message inside informed me that if I wanted to improve my life it was time to be decisive and more vocal with my opinions. Many of you might smirk at the notion that I’m not vocal enough with my opinions; I’ve been referred to as a bleeding heart liberal on more than one occasion, but since I’m always striving to improve my life, and since I can’t afford a qualified therapist, I’ve decided to take my fortune cookie’s advice.             Here at Chubby Chatterbox I try to entertain and inform; I rarely go out on a limb discussing topics like ... read more

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A Special Day

August 12, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  It seems that each day on the calendar has a special designation: Roller Coaster Day, Bad Poetry Day, Skyscraper Appreciation Day, National Donut Day, Hug Your Cat Day, Ship in a Bottle Day, Drinking Straw Day, Satisfied Staying Single Day. These are not made up and quite real. Not wanting tomorrow to go unnoticed among all these important holidays, I’d like to bring to your attention the fact that tomorrow has been set aside to honor those of us once considered deviants, poor wretches with an evil stigma—August 13th is the twenty-fourth annual Left Handers Day.             Here and now I’ll admit to being a “lefty.” Western Culture hasn’t t ... read more

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Attack of the Spam

August 14, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  It’s bad enough that I constantly receive spam indicating that my manhood isn’t all that it could or should be, or that it isn’t working properly and the fix is only a mouse-click away, but now I’m being hounded to purchase a new product. Every day for the past three weeks I’ve sat down at my computer and faced an ad telling me that for a few bucks a month I can have a brand new, state of the art walk-in bathtub.             First off, I’m a shower guy. We have a big tub in our master bathroom but in the seven years we’ve lived here, I have yet to take a bath. Why do these people think I need a walk-in tub? Who’s talking about me ... read more

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The Pits

August 17, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  If you’re a wife, please accept my apology in advance for this post; if you’re a husband, sit back and prepare to be avenged. I admit the victory I’m about to reveal is insignificant, petty, shows my narrow-mindedness, but when victories are so few its size doesn’t matter.             This has been a great summer for fruit, especially nectarines. As a rule, I haven’t enjoyed nectarines because when we buy them in the store they’re hard enough to kill if thrown at someone. I set them aside and by the time they spring to mind they’ve rotted in a bottom drawer of the fridge. But if you put them in a paper bag, the gas they emit is collect ... read more

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Honk If You Love Whales

August 19, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  First posted 12/16/11   I’m really tired of being burned when it comes to bumper stickers and artwork on other people’s cars. Responding to these attention grabbers over the years hasn’t always yielded positive results. I’m fed up with the angry looks I get for flashing a thumbs up for chrome fish proclaiming the driver to be a follower of Jesus. I’m bored with political causes and advertisements for overpriced alma maters, license plate frames celebrating private pilots and llama farmers, and stickers announcing the driver would rather be skiing.                  Years ago during my morning walk to the bus stop, a van w ... read more

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Heating Up With Mother

August 21, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  It’s been unusually hot here in Portland, a city better known for rain. My mother complains about the heat every day. Of course she also complains about the rain, along with most everything else. She lives in an air-conditioned retirement facility. Unfortunately, my mother, who at ninety is a sharp cookie when it comes to most things, can’t manage the dynamics of AC. And she never could.             Years ago we were visiting my folks in Grass Valley, California, and the temperature was consistently over 105 degrees. My mother confiscated the only fan in the house, lugged it to her bedroom and refused to turn on the air-conditioning. When she fell asleep after dinn ... read more

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The Cranky Club

August 24, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I recently received a shout-out from one of my favorite bloggers, Cranky at Cranky Old Man. He said some nice things about me, but commented that my recent rant about nectarine pits all but qualified me for status in the Cranky Old Man Club. He asked if I’d reached the point where I was yelling at kids crossing my lawn. I can report it hasn’t come to that—yet. But there was a time when I became crankier than Mr. Wilson pestered by Dennis the Menace.             We’d just bought a big old house in downtown Portland, where off-street parking was at a premium. We wouldn’t have purchased this property except that a previous owner had renovated it, cre ... read more

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Requiem for a Plant

August 28, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  It's good being back after resolving my computer woes, I hope.   Today I’m committing planticide. The victim of my crime might want to die, so it might be an assisted suicide, making me a plant killing Dr. Kevorkian. After keeping our only houseplant alive for fifteen years, today I’m sending it to that Chlorophyll Bridge in the Sky.             When my beloved mother-in-law passed away in 2000, my wife’s employer expressed sympathy by sending her a large plant arrangement. All but one of the plants soon died. Mrs. Chatterbox and I have “black thumbs” and have never been able to keep plants alive. Mrs. C. grew up with nothing but artificial ... read more

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The Scam Artist

August 31, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        I consider myself an astute fellow, someone not likely to buy swampland or send money to Nigerian princes, but there was a time when my resolve not to be victimized by my own ego was put to the test.             I’d flown to London without Mrs. Chatterbox in 1985, who’d chosen instead to vacation in Hawaii with her parents and our little boy. The day dawned bright and clear, not that whiteout sky London is famous for. I’d decided to walk to Number One, London, the former address of the Duke of Wellington, now a museum housing several famous paintings by Velazquez and Goya. I’d arrived an hour before the museum opened, and while k ... read more

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Protest Update

September 04, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
              While I’m happy with the progress I’ve made, my second version of The Protest is taking longer than expected. I’d hoped to be done by September, but I still have a month left to go, maybe more.     Started here three months ago             I’ve worked extensively on the motorcycle cop and he’s mostly finished. The angry redheaded teen being hauled away by the two cops has gotten some attention, but the most time has gone to the kid playing the guitar. He caused me problems in the original painting. I’d wanted him to look like our son CJ, but at the time CJ was tired of posing for ... read more

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Piano Guy

September 07, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I enjoy it when bloggers write about music, a subject I know little about. Back in college I owned a few albums, but never developed a robust appreciation of contemporary music. Back in the early seventies when I was attending UCLA, several of the guys in my dorm had aspirations of playing in bands and making it big, while others were content to master the air guitar.             I don’t know where music comes from; I read that melodies are notes hung on the invisible wires of time and repeated in a mathematical order, but math was not my subject. I admire people who create music, although they mystify me, especially one fellow I often encountered back in college.   ... read more

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Fourteen Years

September 11, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        Today is the anniversary of 9/11. I wish I had something meaningful to relate on this occasion. I wish the loss of so many lives had led to a better world so all those people wouldn’t have died in vain. I wish we were still as united as we were on that tragic day fourteen years ago, even though the mortar for that unity was grief. I wish for a lot of things. An old expression said it best: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. 9/11 made us all beggars, and at times it seems like no one is riding anymore except haters and warmongers.                         It’s probably foolish to ... read more

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Peculiar Picture #37

September 14, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  It’s been a while since I opened my illustration file and posted a Peculiar Picture. An explanation for new followers: I’m a retired illustrator, and during the course of my fifteen year career I created many pictures in my spare time on speculation—uncommissioned busy work for my portfolio. Typically, a third of an illustrator’s output isn’t published for one reason or another, but commissions are desirable because the artist gets paid whether or not the art is used. I’d try to anticipate images art directors might need. Sometimes I hit the nail on the head (I’ve actually done an illustration of that metaphor) and produce a big moneymaker, but other times my work failed to find a buyer and ... read more

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A Princess and Stolen Gold

September 16, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  She was a real princess, an infanta of Spain, and I’d come thousands of miles to pay her homage. She wasn’t exactly pretty; she possessed those unfortunate characteristics that, had she lived a long life, would have twisted her sweetness into the grotesqueness so characteristic of her family. She was a Habsburg, and no one would remember her today were it not for her father’s famous painter. As I gazed upon her, I felt something peculiar happening…deep in my pants. Princess or no princess, I was about to humiliate myself.             I’d grown up in California and had been raised on tales of Spanish chivalry and pirates of the Spanish Main. As an ... read more

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Fish Heads

September 18, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I have a robust appetite and don’t turn down much when it comes to food, but there is one notable exception. Some people believe that the head is the tastiest part of a fish. I don’t care; I won’t be eating fish heads unless I find myself starving on one of those survival programs with a million dollar prize. Two incidents involving fish heads come to mind.             My late mother-in-law often related an incident from a lunch she attended at Berlin’s Spandau Prison in the 1960s, back in the day when Rudolph Hess was the only person imprisoned there. My mother-in-law, along with other wives of American ... read more

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Passivity

September 21, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Parents are role models during a child’s formative years, and mine were no exception. Although my mother has many good qualities, she’s aggressive, alienating people with her intelligence and off-the-grid opinions. She was never popular with neighbors and family members but she always manipulated situations to her benefit. In contrast, Dad was kind and gentle, beloved by animals, good at sports, smart and easy-going. But Dad had one troubling characteristic—passivity. He was uncomfortable around educated people and had a terrible inferiority complex because of his lack of education. He started pumping gas at thirteen to help put food on the table for his brothers and sisters. Being illegitimate, which I was unaware ... read more

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The Fallacy of Fairness

September 23, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
   I was raised on the concept of “fairness,” but lately I’ve wondered if fairness is a notion that should be lumped together with the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. I suppose this makes me either a cynic, or a realist. The world is not a fair place, never has been and never will be, so why do we raise our children as if fairness is fundamental to existence?             I doubt it’s possible to love children equally, but parents push the concept in order to limit sibling conflicts and avoid household friction. Today we understand the pitfalls of raising girls to think of themselves as little princesses waiting for Prince Charming to sweep them off ... read more

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Close Encounters

September 25, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
   Lately, I’ve been taking after dinner walks to help my digestion and get me off the couch. Several days ago as I prepared to hit the pavement, I stepped out onto our front steps and saw a spider hanging in midair right in front of me. I hate killing things and studied the spider for a moment. It appeared to be defying gravity, floating in front of me, but when I crouched down and turned towards the sun, I could see the glint of the web supporting it. I carefully pinched the web at both ends, careful not to disturb the spider and relocated it in a nearby bush. I felt for not killing a creature that was just trying to make a living finding food in the form of insects I didn’t want in the house anyway.   &n ... read more

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The Cult of Cuteness

September 28, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  On Saturday Mrs. Chatterbox and I took a drive to enjoy the wonderful fall weather. We ended up walking through an antique mall in Troutdale near the scenic Columbia Gorge. I overheard a woman talking to another, pointing at something behind glass and saying, “I have no idea what it is, but it’s really cute.”             I was curious about this mystery object, and when they moved away I checked it out. I likewise had no idea what it was, but I didn’t think it was cute. In all honesty, I don’t tend to like things that are cute. It’s always risky to speak for anyone other than one’s self, but I have a feeling most men don’t like c ... read more

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Peculiar Picture #38

September 30, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I’m sure you’re aware of the story about a young CEO who purchased a pharmaceutical company and hiked the price of a decades-old pill five thousand percent. Martin Shkreli quickly passed the likes of George Zimmerman and Kim Davis as the most hated person in America when he raised the price of Daraprim, which keeps thousands of people alive, from $13.50 per tablet to $750.00.             This tale of consummate greed sprang to mind when I pulled this illustration from my files. Created years ago for The Oregonian, Portland’s premier newspaper, it was to accompany an article on rising drug prices. My artwork had been approved by the art directo ... read more

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Someone Had to be First

October 02, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      This reworked post from 11/12/12 is one of my favorites.   We know so many important names in history, the first human to set foot on the moon, the first person to fly solo over the Atlantic or the first intrepid souls to reach the poles or scale Mount Everest, but who was the first person to have their picture taken?                  Having our picture snapped is an occurrence we all take for granted. You don’t need to be a famous fashion model to be photographed relentlessly. We’re photographed at the DMV, entering banks and convenience stores, enjoying ourselves at sporting events, pausing at stop lights and often ... read more

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Best Meal Ever

October 05, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  For forty-one years I’ve been blessed with a spouse who cares enough to constantly be on the lookout for new recipes to keep our dinners varied and interesting. The other day I was having a conversation with Mrs. Chatterbox and the topic “Best Meals Ever” popped up. I figured it was a wife-beater question and the only way to sidestep disaster was to select one of the fabulous meals she’s prepared over the years. But in a later moment of reflection, another meal sprang to mind, one I’ll never forget.             Years ago during a solo exploration of Rome, I grew sick and tired of the crappy food I was eating. Italy is justifiably famous for its cu ... read more

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A Beautiful Woman Has Come

October 07, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  The Internet is buzzing with the possibility of a great discovery. Is the tomb of Nefertiti about to be discovered? Has this co-regent of ancient Egypt, once described as the most beautiful and powerful woman on Earth, whose name translates as A Beautiful Woman Has Come, once more about to make history?             In the fourteenth century B.C., she and her pharaoh husband Akhenaton, rocked their civilization by sweeping away the pantheon of Egyptian gods to make room for the worship of a single god symbolized by the sun, the Aten. For twelve years, her husband went to great lengths to present her as co-ruler, having her depicted wearing the crown of a pharaoh. Suddenly, she ... read more

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The Good Old Days

October 09, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  A popular mantra tells us that you’re only as old as you feel, but how do you know you’ve actually begun the downward slide into old age? A major road sign guiding you to the geriatric highway can be found in sentimental and unreserved references to the good old days.             After the birth of our son CJ, I swore I wouldn’t abuse my child with stories about how things were when I was a kid. I could have stretched his little ears with stories about televisions with only three channels, no remote control, no capability to record programs and networks that signed off at midnight. I could have baffled him with the world before microwave ovens when you had to ... read more

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Clotilde

October 12, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          She was not much larger than a child and barely reached my chest when standing, ninety pounds of wrinkled entitlement. Her name was Clotilde. Born in Portugal and schooled in France, she claimed her father was in the diplomatic corps—an ambassador. The childless widow of a wealthy industrialist, she was currently living in a retirement facility.                        Mrs. Chatterbox made her acquaintance after taking a citizen’s complaint about our city’s water, which ranks very high nationally. Curiosity about the old woman with the colorful accent prompted Mrs. C. to make a t ... read more

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Grandpa

October 14, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I never knew either of my grandfathers. Dad’s father died early in a car accident, and Mom’s father passed away when she was only nine. My grandmother remarried before I was born, and her husband was the only grandfather I ever knew.             Grandpa was a gruff old bulldog, but we became close when I was small. My brother and I would often spend time with him, but I was the one who’d follow him around like a shadow, listening to his stories about the old country and helping him tend his fruit trees. Grandpa was from Madeira Island, a Portuguese possession off the coast of Africa.             In high ... read more

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Free Is A Terrible Price

October 16, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  During Tuesday’s Democratic debate, socialist lion Bernie Sanders differed from Hillary Clinton by stating college tuition in America should be free. Hillary believes tuition should be much less expensive but not free. I admire Bernie Sanders as a man of integrity and champion of the middle class, but on this issue I agree with Hillary. In my opinion, people don’t value something that’s obtained without cost.             When my brother was a senior in high school he informed my parents that it was their responsibility to provide him with a car. My mother nearly choked laughing. My brother railed and fumed, but never received a free car. When my turn came, I ... read more

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When Fantasies Come True

October 19, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I’ve always had a rich fantasy life. I can go toe to toe with Walter Mitty when it comes to possessing a powerful imagination. I’ve closed my eyes and ridden magic carpets, slayed dragons, played rock music in front of thousands of screaming fans (I don’t even sing in the shower) and traveled back in time to important moments in history, like Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman. None of these fantasies ever came true, but this weekend one did, compelling me to stop, smell the roses and remember how one desire was once vexingly beyond my reach.             Mrs. Chatterbox and I had been living in smoggy overcrowded Southern California, working hard ... read more

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Are You Lucky ?

October 21, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  The line was busy when I dialed my ninety year old mother for our daily conversation, so I called back a few minutes later and got her.             Aside from me, she doesn’t get many calls so I was curious. “Who were you talking to?” I asked.             “I was talking to your Aunt Betty,” she said in a huff.             “You sound annoyed. Did she say something upsetting?”             “Every time I speak with your aunt she makes a point of telling me how &ldqu ... read more

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Honesty

October 23, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  As an artist who likes portraying people, I’m always on the lookout for subjects willing to sit for me. I’ve been told that having an artist stare at you for hours over several days is unsettling. Picasso required Gertrude Stein to endure sixty sessions for her portrait.             Arranging sittings is a difficult task, so over the years I’ve done what many painters have done—I’ve served as my own model and painted numerous self-portraits. Many people think excessive self-portraits, such as those painted by Rembrandt, reveal narcissism, but I know this not to be true. Most artists I know would rather paint someone else if provided the opportunit ... read more

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The Connoisseur

October 26, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          In 1961, judges for the Coopertown Art Association in New York awarded first prize to an abstract painting signed by an unknown Italian artist. That same painting, this time signed by the artist “Percival,” later won honorable mention at a Berkshire Museum exhibition. Both groups of judges must have been shocked to learn the painting they admired and lavished with praise was in fact painted by someone they reviled—popular illustrator Norman Rockwell.                   Norman Rockwell is most famous for illustrations featured on Saturday Evening Post covers. When I was taking art classes, a stinging insult wa ... read more

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Commercial Angst

October 28, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Do you ever get the feeling that the universe is screwing with you?             Last week I was watching TV and waiting for son CJ to arrive so we could take Mrs. Chatterbox to dinner for her birthday. I was flipping around trying to find something interesting to pass the time and most of the channels showed commercials advertising the same product. I’ve become accustomed to pharmaceutical commercials advertising boner pills, insulin pens and adult diapers, but there’s another plague of advertisements—mattress sales!             I don’t know anyone who doesn’t own a mattress, and I find it h ... read more

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Silent Screams

October 30, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I’ve been dabbling in fiction, and this piece just won an honorable mention in a short story contest. I’m posting it in honor of Halloween. If you’re terrified of spiders, don’t read this.   *********************     Army brats have no say where their parents are posted. I was miserable when my father, a career officer, was ordered to a base near Berlin. Once again I was torn from my friends, and this time I was dragged to a rickety house at the edge of a dark forest. As always, I held my tongue, all the while wishing for a way to punish my parents, make them pay for all the abuses I was forced to endure.             Unlike American ... read more

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Pure Joy

November 02, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Saturday was Halloween and it poured in Portland. Rain pounded the pavement and the streets were slick with soggy dead leaves. Although few children live on our street, Mrs. Chatterbox and I enjoy seeing costumes and handing out treats so we purchased a bag of candy and hoped some little ghouls, goblins and princesses would brave the elements to ring our doorbell.             We didn’t get many trick or treaters, and those we did encounter were drenched. A few parents followed their kids from the dry comfort of their warm cars. During a break in the action when no one rang our bell, I went to the front window and glanced out at our street. Huddled together under an umbre ... read more

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"Happy Little Trees"

November 04, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I had surgery in the late nineties and was home for a few weeks convalescing. Daytime television was a nightmare and I was constantly flipping channels to find something better to watch than soap operas and Andy Griffith reruns. I landed on PBS, where a soft-spoken man with a funny afro was showing viewers how to paint. The program was called The Joy of Painting. In my opinion, the canvas he was working on was competent but uninspired—hotel art. I was about to continue my search for something better to watch when I was lulled by the gentle rhythm of his voice. I felt like I was being hugged and soon forgot the lingering discomfort from my surgery. This was my first exposure to Bob Ross.      ... read more

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A Few Announcements

November 06, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I know many of you have been blogging a long time, some of you as much as a decade. I’m still a rookie at this with only five years under my belt. Still, I’m proud of reaching a milestone: this is my seven hundredth post. It seems like only yesterday that son CJ was helping build my blog and patiently explaining how it worked. I still have a lot of stories to share and I look forward to doing so until my creative well runs dry—which Mrs. Chatterbox claims won’t ever happen.             In addition to writing, I’ve been working every day on Protest II. This project has taken much longer than expected. I started in June and my goal was to finish by ... read more

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We're Home!

November 23, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  When word reached me that Paris had suffered a series of terrorist attacks I was lying on a beach in Puerto Vallarta with a drink in my hand. Although fortunate to be away from such carnage, I felt sad for the families and friends of the victims; my vacation buzz vanished like a fart in a fan factory. But on our journey home an incident happened that refreshed my faith in humanity.             We departed Puerto Vallarta for a three and a half hour flight to San Francisco, with a ninety minute layover until our connecting flight departed for Portland. We needed to clear customs, but several other planes had arrived along with us. Thousands of people were queued up to turn in t ... read more

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Puerto Vallarta Scrapbook

November 25, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Our hotel in Puerto Vallarta was old and in need of repairs and didn’t look nearly as charming as it did in online photographs, but it was ideally situated on the Bay of Banderas, close to Old Town and The Malecon—a coastal promenade and walkway—yet far enough away from the fleets of buses filled with tourists. The ocean was close enough for us to hear the waves lapping the shore from our balcony at Las Palmas by the Sea. Unlike the high rise hotels in the city’s newer section, Las Palmas was patronized mostly by Mexican families and a scattering of Canadians; we encountered no fellow Americans. I enjoyed being immersed in these boisterous families, and even attempted to use my grade-school Spanish, with limi ... read more

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Puerto Vallarta Scrapbook II

November 27, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        I hope everyone had a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. I made merry yesterday and didn’t have an opportunity to write anything, but here are a few photographs from a trip we made to El Edén Eco Park near Puerto Vallarta. Our bus struggled up a dirt trail—it would be a stretch calling it a road—and the jungle was so thick it was easy imagining disheveled contestants from Naked and Afraid emerging from the jungle.       After leaving our bus, we climbed down a trail towards El Edén Restaurant and were confronted with Predator and a crashed helicopter. Evidently, this was where the movie was filmed. We weren’t allowed to pass without having our picture taken w ... read more

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Puerto Vallarta Scrapbook III

November 30, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                      On our last evening in Puerto Vallarta we enjoyed a sunset cruise. We arrived at the marina as the sun started its descent.       Our boat in the marina             This was to be a three hour tour. What could go wrong, right? It was probably my imagination but I swear I heard the skipper refer to me as his “Little Buddy.”            Our intrepid skipper       Leaving the marina             Drinks were served once we left the marina and liquor flow ... read more

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Chubby and the Haberdasher

December 02, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
When I was a kid, one of my favorite stories was The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, an early work (1938) by Dr. Seuss. In the story, young Bartholomew is arrested for not showing King Derwin respect by removing his hat when the king passes through the village. In fact, Bartholomew did remove his hat, only to have another magically appear on his head. Bartholomew tries desperately to bare his head but to no avail. Each time he attempts to remove his hat a larger, fancier one appears. The king, frustrated and feeling disrespected, orders Bartholomew’s execution, but the ax man insists he can’t sever the boy’s head until the hat is removed. Over four hundred hats are plucked from Bartholomew’s head, until finally the ... read more

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What's So Funny ?

December 04, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I’ve been hearing strange sounds at Casa Chatterbox, the sounds of babies laughing. I’ve yet to make a thorough check, but to my knowledge no babies currently reside under our roof. The source of these sounds is Mrs. Chatterbox; lately she’s become addicted to YouTube and Facebook videos of laughing babies. I’ve watched a few and I’ll admit they’re contagious, but I’m left wondering what it is these babies find so amusing.             I’ve been told I have a great sense of humor. As a kid, I developed my sense of humor to survive an overly dominant parent—my mother. My brother had challenged her authority head-on and never ... read more

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The War on Christmas

December 07, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  My ninety year old mother was hot under the collar when she called last week. “What’s wrong?” I asked.             “I just received a card from management.”             “How nice,” I replied. My mother lives in a retirement facility.             “It isn’t nice at all,” she spat into the phone. “The card says “Happy Holidays and doesn’t even mention Christmas. There’s a war on Christmas, in case you didn’t know.”          &nbs ... read more

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A Mystery in ther Desert

December 09, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Not long ago I posted a story about the possible discovery of the final resting place of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, who may have been the original occupant of King Tut’s tomb, and still might be entombed behind a sealed wall. Egyptian authorities are now 90 percent certain something is behind a wall in Tut’s tomb, but it remains to be seen if it’s the mummy of Tut’s famous stepmother. In two or three months we should know if we’re on the brink of the greatest archeological discovery of our age. Until then, I’m fascinated by another mystery of the ancient world.             Over the centuries, ancient obelisks have been taken as spoils of war or prese ... read more

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Tilikum Crossing

December 11, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  With a series of storms heading our way, Mrs. Chatterbox and I decided to visit the new Tilikum Crossing last week. Downtown Portland has a dozen bridges, giving the city one of its nicknames (Bridge City) but no new structures have been built to span the Willamette River dividing Portland since 1973.             During the late 80s and early 90s, Federal money was offered to US cities interested in expanding light rail, with the goal of alleviating congestion and pollution. Portland was one of only a handful of cities to accept matching Federal funds, and this year a new bridge, designed and operated by TriMet, Portland’s regional transit authority, opened to the public ... read more

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All Too Familiar

December 14, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  It was one of those instances that occur all too often, and it stuck like a burr on my emotional sweater.             Mrs. Chatterbox and I were circling our grocery store looking for a place to park. It was raining hard as we climbed out of our car. I didn’t pay the woman any attention until she approached and said, “Sorry to bother you, but can you help me?”             Pale and thin, it was hard to gauge her age—maybe forty. She wore the colorless clothes of a zombie in The Walking Dead. Most of her teeth were missing and she looked like a hardscrabble life and bad choices had finally caught up ... read more

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Peculiar Pictures 39, 40, 41

December 16, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I’ve mentioned the Business Fundamentals CD I created for Artville back in the 90’s when I was a professional illustrator, and here are a few images from that CD.             I was tasked with painting business clichés and other images that might appeal to art directors in need of business related imagery—the reason many of the men are holding briefcases. I was given two months to create sixty illustrations, after first providing drawings for approval before beginning the final pieces. This left me only six weeks to paint sixty images, so these were all painted rapidly in quick-drying acrylic, sometimes two or three illustrations a day. Because I worke ... read more

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Mrs. Gonsalves' Last Christmas

December 21, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  In an attempt to create a Chubby Chatterbox tradition, I’m repeating this true holiday story first posted in 2011. I hope you enjoy it.   *************************************     Christmas is that time of year when the pull of my ethnic background is strongest. Dad’s folks weren’t anything in particular, but Mom’s parents were Portuguese and her side of the family always won the weird relative contest.            On Christmas day we always converged at our traditional gathering place, the massive family room at my aunt’s house. An entire wall was covered with a Cheers-sized bar, and a ten foot aluminum Christmas tree stood in a cor ... read more

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Trojan Christmas

December 23, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  No, I’m not giving Mrs. Chatterbox a box of Trojans for Christmas, not even ones ribbed for her pleasure. I was going through photographs looking for something suitable for a Christmas post and I landed on these two pictures, taken in Turkey on our visit to Troy several years back.             It goes without saying (clearly I don’t know what that saying means) that this is not the original Trojan Horse, if ever there was one. This was built as a tourist attraction, although there are original walls and ramparts to explore that are over four thousand years old. I was surprised to see how far Troy is from the sea, but today centuries of sediment have built up and no ... read more

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Merry Christmas 2015

December 25, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
              I hope everyone has a festive and safe holiday. Merry Christmas from Casa Chatterbox. Take care and eat a piece of fudge for me.         Happy Holidays!       Follow my blog with Bloglovin   ... read more

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A Sour Note

December 28, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
2015 is ending on a sour note for our thirty-five year old son CJ. On the day after Christmas, CJ collapsed. After spending the holiday with us, he'd left to visit a friend and passed out. He was rushed to the emergency room where a CAT scan showed his brain was bleeding, causing pressure that made him lose consciousness. He was rushed into surgery where a tube was inserted into his head to drain blood and relieve pressure to prevent a stroke. Fortunately, CJ isn't experiencing cognitive trauma. Nurses are constantly peppering him with questions like: Who's the president? What year is it? And so on. Some of the math questions he's answered correctly I would have gotten wrong.   Doctors aren't certain as to the cause of this trauma. N ... read more

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