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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A Stupid TV Show

May 13, 2016
A forensic team would have difficulty finding my DNA on our TV’s remote control because it’s usually in Mrs. Chatterbox’s hand. She schedules most of our programs. She thoughtfully records programs I like and I’m grateful. However, she also records programs I refuse to watch. I won’t mention which programs because I know my good friend Cranky at Cranky Old Man watches ...

 + photos!,  read more

Portland's Lan Su Chinese Garden

May 11, 2016
Sometimes it takes out-of-town guests to prompt a visit to wonderful attractions in your own backyard. Last week I was visited by one of my favorite bloggers, Michael Offutt, and his good friends James and Brad. They wanted to visit Portland’s Chinese Garden, build back when I had my downtown illustration studio but a place I’ve never visited.
I ...

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Happy Birthday, Mom

May 9, 2016
To all the moms out there, I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day. Today is another special day in the Chatterbox family; it’s my mother’s ninety-first birthday. I’ve written about my mother many times but I’ve never mentioned her eating disorder—she doesn’t like eating in front of people. She cooks her own meals and refuses to eat the food she pays for in the dining room of ...

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May 6, 2016
While teaching conceptual illustration at our local art college I was asked one question more than any other: Where do your ideas come from? As an illustrator, I enjoyed problem solving almost as much as painting. If an art director had a problem, I was paid to solve it—visually. Perhaps the text in a layout was boring and in need of a punch to keep readers interested, or the writer was dealing with complex issues ...

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May 4, 2016
This might be a peculiar picture, or just a prophetic one.
This wasn’t an illustration assignment. When I painted this years ago I was already troubled by climate change. I’d flown over Greenland and seen the missing ice and snow, and my home state of California was beginning to experience the droughts that would only intensify over the years. Scientists, who aren’t the best at public relations, ...

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As Old as You Feel?

May 2, 2016
I don’t think about my age very often but it’s undeniable that the years are stacking up; I’ll be sixty-four in November. Many people think I’m younger than I am. I often joke about possessing a disarming immaturity most people mistake for youth. It’s often said that you’re only as old as you feel, and lately I’ve been trying to do things to feel younger- like taking tennis lessons ...

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Peculiar Picture #48

April 29, 2016
This picture was originally an illustration for an Oregon nursery association’s spring catalog. The art director’s idea was to show the map of Oregon being pushed into outer space by a giant beanstalk. I thought this a questionable concept, but the client is always right, especially if you expect payment for your work.
I seldom ...

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Motoring with the Chatterbox

April 27, 2016
Our son CJ just informed me that my vehicle needs four new tires. I was reminded of his guest post from 2011, where he describes what it was like buying a car for me.
People have referred to me as a “Car Whisperer,” a term I am not particularly fond of; I don’t have conversations with cars. Well, that’s not entirely true. I may ...

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