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

09/2017

My Magic Lunch Box

September 01, 2017
Lately, I’ve been prowling junk shops and Goodwill stores on a quest for frames for the growing number of paintings in my garage, and yesterday morning I spotted something that brought back a flood of memories.   When I was eight, a Drug King opened nearby, and as part of the grand opening they were selling a few Army Surplus items. Strange that a drug store would sell Army surplus, but such was the case. I was intrigued by a pyramid of green metal boxes—ammunition containers according to a sign. They looked cool—boys love most things military— and at only fifty cents each I had to have one.   Once I got it home I needed to find a purpose for it, something creative since I didn’t have any ammo. I ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Say Yes to the Dress

September 04, 2017
Female rulers have experienced problems their male counterparts haven’t had to deal with. Rulers like Henry VIII used court painters like Hans Holbein to make them look more “kingly,” concealing weight, broadening shoulders and fashioning massive codpieces to promote masculinity, but women have also used clothing to cement their rule in a world dominated by men. Elizabeth I was no exception. Her challenge was to transform herself—the shamed daughter of an executed Queen consort—into one of Europe’s most powerful monarchs. One of the ways she accomplished this was with clothing.             Animals instinctively puff up their profiles when confronted ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Chess

September 06, 2017
              Thanks to Tabor at One Day at a Time for allowing me to use her photograph as inspiration for my painting. I’ve been busy the past few months, and this will be my eleventh canvas this summer. I haven’t posted pictures of all of them but perhaps I will when this one is completed.        Blank Canvas             I purchased a canvas 36 by 36 inches ( I don’t think I’ve ever painted on a square surface before) and sketched the main characters in the composition. I usually do this in burnt umber, which works well with later colors. Usually, I start painting the main character, wh ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Unleash the Dogs of War!

September 08, 2017
You might recall that I’ve been fighting with DirecTV over a refund owed my late mother, a refund of $30.90. My mother spent hours on the phone trying to get her refund and died without receiving it. She’d often complain about the incompetence of the people on the other end of the phone, and since she could be a cantankerous old soul I assumed she was the one responsible for the problem. Sorry Mom, it wasn’t you. DirecTV has the worst customer service I’ve run across in my sixty-five years.             A month ago I spent a ridiculous amount of time on the phone explaining for the umpteenth time that I was executor of my mother’s estate and we were still ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

A Special Project and an Update

September 11, 2017
My thoughts this week have been with the folks in Florida facing Hurricane Irma, as well as the people in the Houston area still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. It’s hard to know how best to help those affected by these tragedies and sending money seems cold and heartless, although the authorities say this is the best way we can help those in need.   This past week I’ve been working on a special project. I paused work on my chess scene to paint a picture for my future daughter-in-law. Her mother was killed in an auto accident eight years ago and, with CJ’s help, I painted a portrait of her mother as a pre-wedding surprise. It’s a challenge to paint someone from a snapshot, someone you’ve ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

A Fun Psychology Test

September 13, 2017
      There are scores of psychology tests but to my knowledge this is the shortest, the only test that’s actually fun to take, and in my case the only accurate one. Take a moment to answer these five questions honestly and you might discover something you didn’t know about yourself. Feel free to write down your answers, and don’t over think your responses; your first thoughts are the most revealing. The answers are revealed at the end.   Question #1  Imagine that you’ve just awakened from a deep sleep to find yourself walking on a path in a forest. What time of day is it?   Question #2 While walking on the path in a forest you look down and find a cup partially buried in leaves. ... read more

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War Games

September 15, 2017
The war is over.             It began a year and a half ago when my mother overpaid on her DIRECTV account. She tried to get her refund but DIRECTV dragged its feet until my mother passed away. I spent hours on the phone trying to resolve this issue. We were only talking about $31.90 but you’d have thought I was asking for the keys to the kingdom.             Over the past year, I’ve spoken to a score of DIRECTV employees, some in India and others in the Philippines. I was told I was speaking with supervisors when I wasn’t, and promises were made that weren’t kept, and many times I was hung up on. I was t ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

The Perfect Crime?

September 18, 2017
                While most of this story is factual, some of it is speculation. It’s up to you to decide how much to believe.   ***************************           Take a look at this face. Do you see a mastermind? A patriot? An idiot? This post is about the theft of the most famous painting in the word, a theft that caused this painting to become the most famous painting of all time.           Vincenzo Perugia     Some details are known, but much of this story is conjecture. In 1911, Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. For two years her whereabouts were unknown. Mona Lisa’s face was, for the ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

The Perfect Crime--Gone Girl!

September 20, 2017
Part One of this story can be found (here).   I wasn’t first to question whether or not Vincenzo Perugia had the wherewithal to pull off a master caper, even though it wouldn’t have taken a genius to steal a painting from the Louvre in 1911. The Louvre has over four hundred rooms and only two hundred guards and employees in 1911. Paintings were often removed from walls for cleaning or restoration and it wasn’t known that the Mona Lisa had been stolen for over twenty-four hours. Most museums at the time had poor security and little insurance. Stealing wasn’t difficult, but what to do with a famous painting once you’d stolen it? So much publicity surrounded the theft of the Mona Lisa that it would have bee ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Conclusion: The Perfect Crime

September 22, 2017
Note: Part Two of this story can be found (here). And I’ve been misspelling the name Perugia, which is actually spelled Peruggia.   ****************   Why would anyone arrange the theft of a famous painting and never claim the prize? Did the plan somehow fail? Was the mastermind behind this spooked by all the publicity, or was publicity part of the scheme? Even Pablo Picasso was briefly considered a suspect.   Valfierno was a conman known for peddling fake paintings. He’d previously sold fakes, telling clients they were purchasing stolen originals, claiming the museums had hidden the thefts by hanging copies. It seems this maneuver blew up on Valfierno, who briefly suspended his nefarious enterprises when on ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

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