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

03/2017

Public Art

March 01, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I recently happened across one of my children, not a flesh and blood child—of which I have only one—but an artistic child of which I have many. It brought back memories; I was proud of this assignment when I landed it in the 90s; at $2000 my biggest assignment to date.   I’d only been a full-time illustrator for a couple of months and had been pounding the pavement in downtown Portland, prowling advertising agencies and municipal offices looking for illustration assignments. My timing was good when I walked into the offices of Portland’s MAX Light Rail.   Portland had just entered into a deal with the Federal government to share cost of building a light rail rapid transit system. If you’ve ever vi ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Pet Alternatives

March 03, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mrs. Chatterbox and I are empty nesters. I’ve worked from home for years, although I consider myself retired, and after twenty years with our police department Mrs. C. will be retiring in October. We’ve discussed getting a pet but so far haven’t made the trip to the Humane Society.   A pet would add a fresh perspective to our lives but we plan to travel more and don’t relish the idea of kenneling a dog. Cats are nice, but unfortunately Mrs. C. is allergic; her eyes water and turn red like a heroin addict’s if she sets foot in a house with a cat. Too bad; we both like cats.   I’ve discovered a few ways to combat loneliness for those of us without pets, especially if you can't afford to spend ... read more

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Peculiarities #3

March 06, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
   I’d just climbed into a barber’s chair when the front door opened and a raggedy fellow entered, struggling with a peculiar item under his arm.   “Anyone want to buy this?” he asked, extending his chin in the direction of the thing in his arms.   The occupants of three other barber’s chairs shook their heads, along with the scissor-wielding barbers hovering behind them. But I was intrigued, and had watched too many Antique Roadshows to ignore a possible treasure.   “What is it?” I asked.   The raggedy man cleared his throat and shrugged his shoulders, a gesture made difficult because of the item in his tattooed arms.   “Where did you get it?&rdqu ... read more

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Another Parody

March 08, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Back when I was teaching classes at our local art college, students often asked me where my illustration ideas came from. I’d point out that a rich source for ideas could be found in parody. Not long ago I published two posts, one on artistic parodies and the other on American painter Andrew Wyeth. This post combines the two. You probably know that a parody is a lampoon, caricature, imitation or mockery—a takeoff of something serious for satirical purposes.             You might have seen Wyeth’s famous painting, Christina’s World, showing the artist’s crippled neighbor crawling across an empty field, one of America’s most ic ... read more

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Incredible Spaghetti!

March 10, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I haven’t been eating much spaghetti lately, but this post from 2013 reminds me of the best spaghetti I ever ate. *********************   The other day Mrs. Chatterbox made spaghetti. I like spaghetti well enough but this spaghetti was different. It was—incredible, so good that after a few mouthfuls I could barely concentrate on what I was eating. I finally set down my fork and said, “What’s different about this spaghetti?”   “Funny you should ask,” Mrs. C. said. “Do you remember when we went to Italy and I bought that special cooking oil in Sorrento?”   I confessed I didn’t remember.   “Well, I found it in the back of the pantry and thought I&rsq ... read more

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A Good Book

March 13, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’ve lived much of my life with a book which, until recently, I’d never read, a book belonging to my mother. I remember seeing it on a bookshelf as a child, listening to Mom talk about it over and over when I started writing in earnest. Mom would have been a child when she first read it, and it made such an impression that eighty years later after she passed and I was closing down her apartment, I happened across a copy of this special book. Finding it wasn’t hard. It was on the coffee table in her living room.             Mother was a voracious reader; it’s hard thinking of her without a book in her hand. Back when I received my driver’s license and was ... read more

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Spiders and Sputnik

March 15, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This post is an edited excerpt from my biography The Kid in the Kaleidoscope.   ***************************   I was a first grader in 1957, and one day after lunch our teacher pulled out a book and began reading a wonderful story called Charlotte’s Web, the tale of a spider who befriends a piglet. There were many super illustrations, making it easy for Miss Ludlum to cover a few dozen pages each day. When she came to the emotional ending I was sobbing so hard I got the hiccups.             My opinion of spiders was warped by this loving fable, but a reality check came when a fellow first grader trapped a black widow spider in a mayonnaise jar and brought it to our ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Fun with Flags

March 17, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
He was swarthy enough to look exotic, a fact he exploited, telling friends his blood was Middle Eastern. His name gave credence to the ruse—Hassam—which sounds like Has’sam (Arabic) although it was actually pronounced HASS’m.   Childe Hassam was an American Impressionist painter, but for years he included a crescent moon with the signature on his paintings. He even adopted the nickname “Muley” (from the Arabic for Lord or master), invoking Muley Abul Hassan, a fifteenth-century ruler of Granada in Washington Irving’s novel Tales of the Alhambra.   I mention this because one of Hassam’s paintings resides in a famous location. You might not recognize Hassam’s name but you&rs ... read more

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Controversy at Chubby Chatterbox

March 20, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The photo accompanying this post shows all my posts since starting Chubby Chatterbox seven years ago. I’m a terrible typist (actually I don’t type) so I peck these out the night before they’re posted. Mrs. Chatterbox, a former English major, checks them for inevitable typos and grammar issues—an answer for those of you who’ve asked if she reads my blog.   Believe it or not, I’ve tried to avoid controversy. My purpose in creating a blog was to entertain and share my love of art and travel. I try my best to steer clear of politics and religion, although I’ve dipped my toes into these waters on a few occasions. In spite of my efforts not to offend anyone, I’ve managed to do so on three occ ... read more

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People Soup

March 22, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble. -Shakespeare-   *********************************************   Years ago I was not the sophisticate I would later pretend to be. I’m thinking about a time when Mrs. Chatterbox and I were newlyweds and had recently moved into a small one bedroom apartment. Money was tight; after paying our rent and other expenses there wasn’t anything left for entertainment. One cold November evening we were bored watching television when I came up with a great idea.   “This apartment complex has a swimming pool. Let’s go take a dip.”   “It’s much too cold outside to go swimming. Do you even know if the pool is heated?&rdqu ... read more

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Washington is Bugged

March 24, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
No, I’m not going there. This isn’t about politics. This is about a different kind of bug.   When CJ was twelve we made a trip to Washington D.C. The time was soon coming when he’d become a surly teenager not wanting to vacation with his uncool parents. He was studying US history in school and was the perfect age to be exposed to the capital. Money was tight, but Mrs. C. found a hotel that would accept our Entertainment Book’s fifty percent discount, and airfare wars made travel affordable.   Mrs. C. and I had never been to Washington and were excited to see the sights and do touristy things, but I was startled when I questioned CJ before the trip as to what he was most excited to see. I expected an ans ... read more

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Buzzing in the Bathroom

March 27, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This post might fall into the “Too Much Information” category but I’ve been inspired by a fellow blogger who wrote a humorous and informative post about poop, so here goes.   A few months ago I had my annual teeth cleaning. The hygienist informed me I had very little plaque but I was brushing too hard and should consider using an electric toothbrush to avoid future gum issues. I drove to Costco and purchased a Sonic electric toothbrush.   These devices, I discovered, require some getting used to. A week after converting to an electric toothbrush, after I’d grown accustomed to the annoying sound of electric buzzing, I noticed it looked like snow had fallen in our bathroom. White specs were everywhere, li ... read more

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The Timeless Art of Seduction

March 29, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
              Remember George Costanza and the timeless art of seduction? This post is about the art of seduction, but it involves a different Costanza.   The Museo Nazionale del Bargello is better than a dozen American museums, yet in Florence, Italy, it’s considered so second rate that many of its rooms are often locked, including the room housing a sculpture many consider one of the greatest works ever conceived.   The sculpture is a marble bust of a woman carved by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), a towering figure of Baroque art. You might remember my post on Bernini’s astonishing Apollo and Daphne (Check it out here). Thanks to his copious sculptures, fountains, in ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Hidden Treasure

March 31, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The lure of treasure! It has led greedy men to far corners of the earth in search of riches and glory. But when I was a kid I didn’t need to search the globe for the stuff of legends and dreams; it could be found behind our backyard fence. Close, yes, but the treasure wasn’t easy to find, yet once found the joy of discovery was mind boggling, providing the discoverer with instant popularity.             No one was happy when the pear orchard behind our house was ripped out to make room for a Catholic parish, except my parents who’d send me and my brother to church while they slept in on Sunday mornings. Before the church arrived, I’d reach over the fence and gr ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

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