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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The Neon Museum

October 16, 2017

When I was growing up, I was a member of a large and boisterous ethnic family. Mrs. Chatterbox says she felt like the groom’s parents meeting the bride’s family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I was the baby of the family, and over the years just about everyone has passed away. When my mother breathed her last on Christmas Eve of last year, we were reduced to a family of three, ...

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Happy Retirement

October 4, 2017
Mrs. Chatterbox has worked nonstop since graduating from college, and yesterday she retired after working twenty-one years for the City of Beaverton. She inherited a volunteer program that was spotty at best, and she grew it into an organization of over a hundred volunteers. Hers was the only department that actually saved our City money. You can see on the giant check in this photograph—presented ...

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Final Painting of the Summer

October 2, 2017
Over the summer I managed to complete twelve paintings, some I’ve yet to share with you. Two of my more successful paintings were inspired by photographs posted by fellow bloggers, and I appreciate being given permission to use them as inspiration for my paintings. The photograph that inspired my last painting was taken by Tabor at One Day at a Time.
Over ...

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Eating Thistles

September 29, 2017
Among my favorite things to eat are artichokes. I don’t know many people who enjoy them as much as I do. I notice that fancy TV chefs are roasting and stuffing them with all sorts of mixtures. My mother enjoyed them with butter but I go for mayonnaise, although these days I limit the mayo.
Artichokes originated in lands bordering the Mediterranean and were mentioned as far back as the 8th century BC. They ...

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A Roar Instead of a Whimper

September 27, 2017
Fellow blogger Adam at Neko Random has been blogging about a recent trip to the North Carolina State Zoo, reminding me of an incident I’ll never forget.
When our son was small he loved going to the zoo. Back then, the Portland Zoo was well known for its elephant breeding program, but not much else. Every year we would walk past enclosures with sleepy bears, molting predatory birds ...

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Tucked or Untucked

September 25, 2017
My timing has always sucked. The Internet is filled with tests designed to determine which time period you should be living in. I’ve taken many of these tests and evidently I should have lived during the Renaissance. So there’s that….
When I headed off to college in the 70s to study art, abstract and non-objective painting were the vogue and my professors weren’t interested in teaching ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Stephen Hayes
(a.k.a. Chubby Chatterbox)
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