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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Public Art

March 1, 2017
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 ...

 + photos!,  read more

My First Time

February 27, 2017
It isn’t often I can remember the first time I ate something. Most things I consume out of habit from childhood, but some items were included later in life. One such food, once known to few Americans, is now ubiquitous enough to be sold everywhere. Any guesses what I’m referring to? Clue—it isn’t unicorn meat.
The year was 1975. I'd recently graduated from UCLA ...

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Lucy's Selfie

February 24, 2017
I don’t normally post pictures from the Internet but I’m sure everyone has Trump fatigue and some of you might welcome a brief distraction.
This image recently caught my eye. Lucy was born at a shelter in Greater Rochester, New York. No one seemed interested in the pup and it looked like she’d never find a permanent home.
Lucy’s picture was eventually added to the shelter’s ...

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Bolshoi Bragging

February 22, 2017
This reworked post is from 2012
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, ...

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiarities #2

February 20, 2017
This is the second installment of my new feature, Peculiarities, odd items found around the house, some of which defy explanation.
I’ve written about the hundred-year-old house we owned in downtown Portland, but I haven’t mentioned the bathroom we decided to remodel. The house came with an original claw foot tub, which we were excited ...

 + photos!,  read more

A Chance Encounter

February 17, 2017
There are times when I miss having a studio in downtown Portland. Cities have a pulse that suburbs lack. Pioneer Square is Portland’s living room, a fun spot in the center of the city to watch people and soak up rays if it happens to be a rare sunny day. While strolling across the square I’ve encountered sandcastle contests, Cultural Fairs, Irish dancing, religious fanatics and political activists. When Bill ...

 + photos!,  read more

Executive Action

February 15, 2017
I’m confused, and worried!
We’ve all seen pictures of our new president signing executive orders. Some, like the one placing Steve Bannon on the National Security Council, we now know he didn’t even read, but my confusion isn’t about the content of these executive orders. Rather, my focus is on why Trump finds it necessary to resort to them.

 + photos!,  read more

A Tale of Two Couches

February 13, 2017
In the forty-two years that Mrs. Chatterbox and I have been married, we’ve purchased our fair share of furniture, including a half dozen couches. We’re never happy with the couches we select; they end up being uncomfortable, the color is wrong or they fall apart—perhaps our fault since we live on our couches and we aren’t lightweight people.
There ...

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A Nice Surprise

February 10, 2017
It’s always a nice surprise when I encounter my artwork in unexpected places. Not long ago while vacationing in Sedona, Arizona, I picked up a copy of Arizona Business Magazine in the restroom of the bed and breakfast where we were staying. As I thumbed through it I spotted a familiar picture­—one of mine!
This generic image was ...

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Peculiar Pictures 57 & 58

February 8, 2017
Both of these illustrations are peculiar, yet both were commissioned pieces published as magazine covers. I’m posting them as examples of marginally successful illustrations, not because the clients were displeased with them, but because they have no use on a secondary market.
I was an inexperienced illustrator when I created them, unaware that my work could generate additional income being resold ...

 + photos!,  read more


February 6, 2017
The older we get the more rites of passage we experience, momentous events like a first kiss, receiving a driver’s license or getting married and having children, but nothing strikes with as much sobering finality as seeing your parents’ names on a tombstone.
This weekend was notable in several ways. Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday and I’m ...

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Mystery Box: Conclusion

February 3, 2017
If you missed Part One of this post you can find it (here).
 The box had occupied space in our garage for as long as I could remember, and even though it was off-limits I’d allowed Ricky Delgado, my best friend, to talk me into opening it.
My heart sank when I didn’t see a Japanese flag or a chunk of scorched metallic scrap from ...

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Mystery Box

February 1, 2017
This reworked post is from 2012
The box looked like it had been constructed in a hurry, even to my twelve year old eyes, It was rough and unpolished and made of cheap plywood, six panels forming a twenty-four inch cube. Little care had gone into the construction; the sides had been roughly screwed together and there were no hinges or latches ...

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(a.k.a. Chubby Chatterbox)
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