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

03/2016

The Sphinx of 22nd Place

March 02, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Reworked from a 2012 post.   In 2005 Mrs. Chatterbox and I decided to explore urban living; we bought a hundred year old house on Northwest 22nd Place in downtown Portland. The neighborhood, dotted with late Victorian houses, had a shabby chic quality. Our street was slightly run down but our realtor convinced us to overlook the decay.   The area was adjacent to the trendy shops and restaurants of Northwest 23rd only a block away. Our street had seen its ups and downs over the years but our realtor told us it was about to experience gentrification. By gentrification he must have been referring to all the money we would need to invest to keep our house from falling down.   Not long after moving in I decided to explore ou ... read more

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Peculiar Pictures 42, 43, 44

March 04, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’m about halfway through my files of peculiar pictures, created back when I was a professional illustrator. My specialty was conceptual illustration—images created to accompany articles and make people stop turning the pages of magazines and newspapers long enough to read the articles.   Many of the pictures in my files were created on speculation, without a buyer, and some of these turned out to be my best sellers. The challenge was to create images useful to different art directors who understood that unless they purchased the copyright to an image I’d market it elsewhere, a common practice in the industry. Some illustrations were tailor made and very specific, making them less successful in a secondary market. ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

What Happened to Apricots?

March 07, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It’s been cold and dreary here in Portland. Emotionally, I’ve been sailing over spring and thinking about summer, particularly the sunny summers of my childhood in California. I grew up in the Santa Clara Valley, famous for fruit production before the massive orchards were ripped up and asphalted over to make room for the Silicon Valley. Jack London wrote about the astonishing fertility of a valley so famous for fruit that it prompted my ancestors to migrate from the Azores to work the orchards and canneries. Many people had fruit trees on their property, resulting in a steady supply of cherries, apples, pears, oranges. But when I close my eyes and thing about those warm summer months, it’s apricots I think about.  & ... read more

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What Size Humanity?

March 09, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The other day I spotted a dapper gentleman at the mall; he was impeccably dressed in a black suit, sported a well groomed beard and black derby. His head was of normal size but he had a child’s body and was less than four feet tall. I’ve seen dwarfs in Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, but I haven’t encountered many in my lifetime—outside of museums.             Dwarfs were once considered property, owned by royalty for purposes of entertainment. You might recall the dwarf in a jester’s costume I recently posted in Veronese’s painting The Feast in the House of Levi. For centuries, artists included dwarfs in paintings to highlight the nobility a ... read more

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The Birth of Reason

March 11, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Rest assured this is not a post about Plato, Descartes, Rousseau or the Age of Reason, subjects I’m not qualified to expound on. I’m no philosopher, but recently I did witness the birth of reason—as experienced by a toddler.             Mrs. Chatterbox and I live rich and rewarding lives, but there is one area that is lacking. We don’t have small children in our lives. Our only child is thirty-five and still looking for the right woman, so grandchildren are nowhere on the horizon. I offer this not as a complaint but rather as an explanation for why I was so intrigued by an incident I witnessed at our park and recreation facility where I swim.     ... read more

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Art and Money

March 14, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
These days the news is replete with stories from the art world of record-breaking auction prices. While it’s highly unlikely any of my works of art will auction for millions of dollars, some of them do include money.   On more than one occasion I’ve referred to the CD I created in the 90s for Getty Images. These sixty royalty-free images were quickly created in fast-drying acrylic in less than five weeks. The topic assigned to me was Business Fundamentals, with the focus on money or business issues. This assignment inspired me to create images that included money.   I struggled to think of imaginative ways to include actual money in my compositions. This isn’t to say I glued actual greenbacks to my artwork, b ... read more

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Lions in the Closet

March 16, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Our son was an easygoing child. Mrs. Chatterbox and I coasted through his terrible twos and beyond without any problems. Many parents have difficulty putting their children down for the night but CJ, our blond haired, blue-eyed little Hummel, slept until morning without incident—until the monster arrived.             “Daddy, I can’t sleep. There’s a monster in the closet!”             “A monster?”             He nodded.             “What kind of monster?”  & ... read more

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My Best Vacation Ever!

March 18, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Last week my mother called in tears because she couldn’t hear. We’d gone to the doctor the day before for her annual check-up and she hadn’t complained of hearing issues, although she doesn’t hear anything in her left ear which was damaged after working many years in a winery bottling plant. The doctor examined her and concluded the problem was a blockage from ear wax, which my mother packed tightly with a Q-tip, even though she’s been cautioned many times not to use them in her ears.   After her ear had been irrigated and her hearing restored, I was driving her home when she asked if anything similar had ever happened to me. Indeed, it had. This reworked post from 2011 is about a true incident that took ... read more

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Keeping My Mouth Shut

March 21, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It won’t come as a surprise to most of you that someone who identifies himself as a chatterbox would find it challenging keeping his mouth shut. Here’s an example of when I probably should have zipped my lip.             I was at Michaels Arts & Crafts Store over the weekend thanks to a discount coupon cut from the Sunday paper. According to my coupon, if I purchased a regularly priced item I could get a second item of equal or lesser value for a penny. I purchased a small art canvas for a few bucks and received a second one for a penny. While leaving the store I spotted a young man talking with a salesperson about airbrushes. I’d studied airbrush techniques in p ... read more

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The Pool of Pamukkale

March 23, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’m definitely in the mood for warm weather, which is months away for Oregonians. Lately I’ve been thinking about some of the warm places Mrs. Chatterbox and I have visited.   We try to absorb as much local flavor as possible. We’ve ridden camels in the Great Thar Desert, explored Old Delhi in rickshaws and bathed elephants in Thailand. I never want to return home feeling like we missed out on an experience, but there was a time when I denied myself one, and I think about it often.             We were exploring Hierapolis, an ancient Greco/Roman city founded in the second century B.C. in southwestern Turkey. Ancient Greeks had been drawn to the location becaus ... read more

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Free Expert Advice

March 25, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
In an effort to make my blog more educational, I’m here to share a special expertise I’ve kept hidden until now. It’s quite possible that a few of you might someday be coerced into an activity of which I can offer useful tips. No, I’m not going to advise anyone on painting or writing because there are already too many so-called experts marketing their expertise. I’m here to help you claim a blue ribbon should you ever find yourself in—a pie eating contest.             It shouldn’t come as a surprise that anyone who identifies themselves as a “chubby” chatterbox has eating skills. I’ve never been selected for my athletic prowe ... read more

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Learning How to Share

March 28, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Last week I shared my expertise as a successful pie eating contestant. I mentioned that I was never selected for sports competitions and had no sports accomplishments to speak of. After reading my post, Mrs. Chatterbox reminded me of a time when I did manage to win a sports competition. Many of you will have celebrated far more memorable moments of athletic prowess, but this is all I have so I’ll cherish it as much as possible.             The event in question took place at a street party to celebrate the Fourth of July, back when our son CJ was six. In Portland, the Fourth is often dreary, but on this occasion the day was clear and sunny, if not warm. Mrs. Chatterbox’s p ... read more

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Time to Forgive Michael Jackson

March 30, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  In 1984 Michael Jackson was flying high with Thriller, voted the most influential pop music video ever. I was managing a jewelry store in Oregon at the time and Jackie, one of my employees, approached to ask for a few days off. “Why?” I asked.             Jackie was one of my best salespeople when she wasn’t attending classes at a local college. She seldom asked for time off. “I want to buy tickets for the Michael Jackson Concert at the Tacoma Dome up near Seattle. The concert is in a few months and tickets go on sale in two days. I plan to camp on the sidewalk in front of Ticketmaster to have a crack at choice seats.”     &n ... read more

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