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


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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August 4, 2017

I’ve seen it many times over the years, a bronze buffalo on a credenza in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Lately, I’ve chuckled when I’ve seen it behind Trump in pictures taken during cabinet meetings. Strange that Trump, who prides himself on his ability to stage photo ops, hasn’t realized the odd visual presented by this sculpture.


I’d thought the work was done by Frederick Remington, who created the bronze Bronco Buster in the Oval Office, but it’s actually the work of American sculptor Alexander Pope, Jr. (1849-1924). It shows an American bison (there are no actual buffalo in America) about to be pulled down by a pack of snarling wolves. It seems prophetic for this president, and if I were him I’d move this sculpture so it doesn’t appear in photographs and serve as a reminder of what is probably to come. I wonder; has Trump even noticed this sculpture, and if he has does he associate himself with the bison, with Robert Mueller as the wolves?


I’ve failed to find a close-up photograph of this sculpture, but it resembles the one in the above photograph, with the addition of wolves. 





Pope’s piece in the White House can be seen in this image.




Sorry this detail is out of focus.



Wait! The buffalo is on the news as I write this.  If I’m fast, maybe I can snap a picture of the TV screen.




That was timely! A bad picture, but the buffalo is clearly visible.






My painting of the guitar player is progressing nicely. I’ve strayed from the photo in several ways, adding a music stand and amplifier in the foreground to add definition to the space. All of the elements are now in play and I’ll spend the next few days bringing the hands into focus, clarifying the pants, adding details to the guitar (it really should have a few strings) and tightening the background.




I should finish it next week. Happy Weekend everyone.




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No buffalo in America? Does that mean Buffalo, NY should really be Bison, NY? P. S. I don't want to make any political comment ... but you know, "buffaloed" means to get fooled, manipulated or tricked by someone.
By: Tom Sightings on August 4, 2017
The buffalo looks like it's charging him. A few weeks ago I watched this really terrible movie called "Buffalo Rider" where a guy trained a buffalo to carry him like a horse, though a buffalo was never really very practical. The painting looks like it's coming along pretty well. Can't wait to see the finished product.
By: PT Dilloway on August 4, 2017
I like the pic of the buffalo butting the President (hopefully out of our lives--I'm so tired of reality TV in prime time)
By: Sage on August 4, 2017
your painting is looking great! Sent you an email about some details.
By: Kathe W. on August 4, 2017
Having a really bad afternoon, just going to agree with everyone above.
By: Tabor on August 4, 2017
Your painting should be great when it's finished!!
By: fishducky on August 4, 2017
I really like the painting and the sepia feel it has. So why has that banner behind him got a heavy outline?
By: LL Cool Joe on August 4, 2017
Your painting is coming along nicely. That music stand looks quite metallic (coming from a former high school band president). I believe everything we see on the news, and in pictures of the President, are meant to be seen. Nothing random. I don't know who's orchestrating the message, though.
By: Val on August 4, 2017
Great to see the "evolution" of the guitar player painting. Very interesting! Good story and catch on the bison, wolves and trump. Maybe he will get the message now! Really, no buffalo--guess Bill Cody should have been Bison Bill--but that makes him sound more like a chef than hunter.
By: Tom Cochrun on August 4, 2017
Now i can hardly wait for the finished product!
By: messymimi on August 4, 2017
I would think Trump's perception of what' around him is very shallow. Now as far as finishing the painting, please tell us how you do it.
By: red Kline on August 4, 2017
I really like the way your painting is coming along, it is looking good now, the finished product will be absolutely great.
By: Jimmy on August 4, 2017
So far so good with the painting. It looks amazing. You are a talented man, Stephen. Unfortunately, I can say the same about the guy in the White House. Thanks for the history lesson. It would be great if he was done before you finished your painting. Take care.
By: Mr. Shife on August 4, 2017
Admiring the progress of your painting. As for the 'leader' of your country... "Sometimes it takes a heartbreak to shake us awake & help us see we are worth so much more than we're settling for." -- Mandy Hale
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 4, 2017
Goodness, I find the image of the Bison being taken down by wolves very sad. However, it does kind of fit what is being attempted in our country. Wonder how he views it or if he is even aware. Pretty sure it is too deep for him. Love that painting.
By: Arkansas Patti on August 5, 2017
Having lived in Buffalo, I learned that the most common theory of how Buffalo got its name was that French fur traders called the Buffalo river Beau Fleuve, French for beautiful river. And no, I don't think the current occupant of the White House "gets it." About the bison or otherwise.
By: Pixel Peeper on August 5, 2017
I learned something....I always thought a buffalo and a bison were the same, just like a cougar, mountain lion, and a puma are the same, at least I think. Now I'm second guessing myself.
By: scott park on August 5, 2017
So you think President Trump is going to be taken down by a bunch of snarling wolves? Wishful thinking. Nothing else.
By: Kate on August 5, 2017
I love the guitar player painting! As for the buffalo sculpture, someone should swap it out for a huge pile of bronzed buffalo chips.
By: Mitchell is Moving on August 6, 2017

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