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

The Eye of the Beholder

June 27, 2016
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so the saying goes.
 
My dad’s Uncle John was a curious fellow. He lived in a hacienda in the foothills of San Jose, built with his own hands in the late 1920s. Uncle John was a painter, potter and writer, quite the intellectual in his day. Once a year his good friend Zane Grey would arrive from New York for a month-long visit. Uncle John was married to Josephine. The ...

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Sorry, Mr. Einstein

June 24, 2016
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I’m not a fan of Facebook and other than blogging don’t spend much time on social media, but every now and then something will catch my eye, like this rejection letter addressed to a young Albert Einstein, who’d seemingly applied for a doctorate in Physics at the University of Bern.  It was posted on the Internet to inspire people. After all, ...

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A Humbling Confession

June 22, 2016
 
In spite of the fact that my interests lean in the direction of art and history, I’ve always tried to present myself as a competent, if slightly atypical, American male. I’ve worked hard most of my life, paid my taxes and was an active parent when it came to raising our son. I’ve traveled the world and participated in some amazing adventures, but I have a dark secret.
        ...

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A Huge Announcement !

June 20, 2016
 
Considering the topic of this post, I shouldn’t use the word “huge.” But a few of you left comments on my recent Key West posts that I should address. Some readers noticed that in my photographs I look thinner. In fact, I’ve been working at becoming healthier; so far I’ve lost fifty pounds.
           
It all began last year a ...

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The Cure Will Kill You

June 17, 2016
I can’t even remember writing this post from 2012, back when I only had five followers.
 
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Last night while watching TV a commercial appeared that went something like this. (Note: imagine this being voiced over by a minor celebrity from the Seventies whose career stalled after several DUIs.)
     
“Is your life so ...

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Redefining Originality

June 15, 2016
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Not long ago while strolling through Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum,  I came across a portrait of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1500-1558), at one time the most powerful man in Europe. The painting was familiar, although I’d never seen it before.
 
 
 
Charles V by Seisenegger (1532)
       &nbs...

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Last Night in Key West

June 13, 2016
I’ve always had a fascination with the sea. This might be the result of an atavistic connection with my seafaring ancestors from the Azores, but I get crabby if I go too long without smelling ocean spray or seeing the unfettered horizon. Whenever I vacation at a coastal destination I make an effort to be on the water. I love sailing ships and once had an opportunity to sail on a schooner built in the 1800s, the ...

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A Few More Pictures

June 10, 2016
 
 
 
 
On our final day in Key West we bought tickets for a hop on hop off open-air trolley providing running commentary on points of interest. I was particularly interested in literary luminaries who found inspiration here—writers other than Ernest Hemingway.
 
Our guide pointed out that after a terrible fire in the late 1800s, a law was passed requiring all buildings to have metal roofs. ...

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Bugged!

June 8, 2016
Can one insect make up for a lifetime of bug torment?
 
All my life I’ve been bugged by—bugs! It isn’t that I’m afraid of them; the sight of multi-legged and winged insects doesn’t set my heart to palpitating. My problem is that bugs like me too much. They see me as a smorgasbord, a yummy blood buffet, tastier than anyone else. I’ve joked that I should rent myself out for outdoor ...

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Hemingway's Polydactyls

June 6, 2016
One of the things Mrs. Chatterbox was keen on seeing in Key West was the Hemingway House. The celebrated writer lived here less than ten years, but it was where he was most prolific, penning The Snows of Kilimanjaro, To Have and Have Not and The Green Hills of Africa. Key West has claimed Hemingway as their local celebrity and his name and image turn up like Saint Francis’ in Assisi.
    ...

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