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 Magnificent Day!

January 21, 2013

Today Barack Obama will once again be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. I’ve tried to steer clear of politics on this blog because the subject has become too volatile for a site attempting to entertain with art, humor and nostalgia. But this historic moment, like the inauguration four years ago, deserves a passing comment.   


No doubt I’ve done a poor job concealing the fact that I’m a liberal, even though I don’t believe the Federal Government is the solution to every problem. As a liberal I reject the notion that the Federal Government cannot do anything right. I’ve long been at odds with those who wrap themselves in the flag while shouting, “My country right or wrong,” preferring the notion, “My country when right, and when wrong to be put right.” Deciding our country’s future is what elections are about and only cynics believe otherwise.


I’ve heard many angry people the past few years talk about taking back their country. Elections are by their very nature divisive events; many are bound to be disappointed over the outcome, but in the past when my candidate failed to prevail I didn’t feel like my country had been taken away from me—it’s MY country no matter who the president is.


The hallmark of a nation is what happens after an election. Sure, there will always be crackpots who claim the voice of the people wasn’t heard, the will of the people not served—it’s time to secede from the Union and form our own country. But in a tradition that has baffled much of the world, especially those places where America’s support for freedom and human rights are not appreciated, most Americans rally around their leaders, even after a hard fought election. And this is as it should be; the task of becoming president is remarkably difficult, the process burns away the chaff and leaves hardened, principled candidates who truly believe in their vision for America and her role on the world stage.


I admit that I am an Obama supporter even though he has disappointed me by failing to keep a few campaign promises. Those of you who are not happy to have Mr. Obama sitting in the Oval Office need only wait a few years to see someone else behind the presidential desk.


My purpose is not to tout the virtues of our current president; you undoubtedly have already made up your mind. My purpose is to tout the country and the people who made his election possible. Love him or hate him, we all benefit from living in a country where a man of mixed heritage CAN be elected to the highest office in the land. Even those who vilify President Obama are ennobled by the fact of his presidency.


No president has left office without a face deeply etched by the mind numbing burden of office, scars from shouldering the fate of millions while projecting hope and confidence during the nation’s darkest hours. In spite of all the perks, the presidency is arguably the most thankless job on Earth. We are blessed as a people that there are those among us willing to bear this task.


As for today, future voices will look back on this moment and say, “I can be president even though I’m black, or Latino, or a woman, or a Mormon, or a Native American.”     


Today is a magnificent day.


Two years ago Mrs. Chatterbox and I were in Berlin on our way to see the Brandenburg Gate, once part of the Berlin Wall. We happened across this building showing a picture of Barack Obama at a center devoted to the Kennedys. Had I acted more quickly I might have photographed the children standing in front of this picture, Berliners of various sizes and races. Young people can be boisterous, rowdy, but these young people were silent as they looked at this picture.


At the risk of sounding maudlin, they looked…hopeful.




Submitted to my friends at Yeah Write.


This was written perfectly! And not just because I'm a fellow liberal. Here's to hoping at the end of his term we'll be able to say, "Well done, Sir!"
By: Stephanie D on January 21, 2013
Your a Liberal!! Who knew? NOw I have to unsubscribe. jk My problem is I can not imagine why ANYONE would want to be President and I distrust anyone who runs for this most difficult Job. THe only President who ever left office without grey hair was Ronald Reagan. THey say he dyed his hair, I think he was just too old to give a damn what people thought.
By: Cranky Old Man on January 21, 2013
you said it all for me--but MUCH BETTER than I could!!
By: fishducky on January 21, 2013
Our strength is in our unity, not in our divisions.
By: Shelly on January 21, 2013
I knew you were more than just a pretty face. Well said. No matter our political bent, we are first and foremost Americans and we're darned lucky to be. Oma Linda
By: Oma Linda on January 21, 2013
Well said Steve! It IS a magnificent day...one of hope and promise as it was 4 years ago.
By: Laurie on January 21, 2013
Well put Stephen- what it boils down to in this country is we are so blessed to say what we think and not have to look over our shoulder when we speak . I have never agreed with everything any politician has said or done and Obama is included - I just hope that somehow this country can get back on track emotionally and financially. Thanks for the great post!
By: Kathe W. on January 21, 2013
Good for you. I'm as proud of being a conservative as you are of being a liberal. Your political persuasion has shown here more than once. As mine has on my site. I'm sure you cringed with Bush spoke as I cringe when Obama speaks. It's just how it works. Have a terrific day. :)
By: Comedy Plus on January 21, 2013
Beautiful and poignant post, Stephen. I couldn't agree with you more. Of course, you know I'm liberal as well. Sometimes I feel like I'm besieged by conservatives (especially where I live). It's refreshing to read a post by someone who isn't fanatical and has an open mind. So many of the others I go to are just absolutely done with learning. They are not open to anything that doesn't echo their own outrageous and sometimes grotesque ideas.
By: Michael Offutt on January 21, 2013
You? Liberal? That cat has been out of the bag for a while now. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
By: Val on January 21, 2013
Well said Steve. I'm a moderate conservative, definitely NOT willing to attach any party affiliation to myself. I think good ideas can originate anywhere, and should be judged on their merit and not the party of their author. I just hope the day will come when politicians will "do" what they "say" without there being an ulterior motive or some benefit awarded to some special interest. Why can't The American People be the one and only special interest our "leaders" pay attention to? Their speeches are inspiring, but their actions are beyond disappointing. S
By: scott park on January 21, 2013
Nicely done. Applies here in Canada, too. We have our divisions too, we are just quieter about them. Most of the time. :)
By: jenny_o on January 21, 2013
So well written. Thank you. I, too, am a liberal, but if the other guy had been elected, I hope I would have found a way to be positive about him. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on January 21, 2013
Politically you and I are probably polar opposites That doesn't mean jack when it comes to being behind our (your and mine) country We all have to get used to the idea that change will happen whether we are for or against If only the pols would listen Anyway, you couldn't say what you wrote any better
By: Ivan Toblog (aka IT) on January 21, 2013
To paraphrase the old Kingston Trio song ... the liberals hate the conservatives, the Muslims hate the Jews, the libertarians hate the socialists ... and I don't like anybody very much! But ... nice post; something we all need to remember, no matter if it's a Dem or a Rep. in the White House.
By: Tom Sightings on January 21, 2013
Amusing, insightful, and thoughtfully composed... Sir. It was a historic day and all Americans should be proud.
By: Daniel LaFrance on January 21, 2013
Well said!
By: The Bug on January 21, 2013
Hear, hear. *Raises glass of wine*
By: Pixel Peeper on January 21, 2013
We take our democracy for granted a lot. I mean just go to one of those countries like Iran or North Korea where they have "elections" that always seem to elect the same people. And if you want to complain that our government is taking away our rights, maybe you should go to Mali or Putin's Russia. Anyway, unfortunately a Republican will probably win 2016 just because if you look at history in the last 100 years we generally go back and forth between parties every decade, really I suppose because as a whole Americans are moderate and don't like things swinging too far one way.
By: PT Dilloway on January 21, 2013
I pray the Obamas are showered with grace happiness and good health, although I am the opposite from their views on life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I am pro life from conception until death and that trumps all other worldly views.
By: momto8blog on January 21, 2013
The problem is that politicians come in on the back of promises to change this or that and improve the other - but the reality is that the world is a complicated old place and the best we can hope for is to steer things in what we hope is the right direction - which is why we get disappointed when those promises fall by the wayside but then i guess none of us would vote for a person who told us the truth. Obama is better than some - over here we just have a bunch of faceless Tony Blair clones desperately trying to hog the middle ground and afraid to take a chance
By: dont feed the pixies on January 22, 2013
We may not agree on every political point, but on these points, yes.
By: mimi on January 22, 2013
I love you man!
By: mindy on January 22, 2013
Ah, the inauguration. I LOVED his speech. And Beyonce. Because, you know, BEYONCE.
By: Mayor Gia on January 22, 2013
Well said! It is indeed a glorious day in history. Kinda wish you hadn't listed women third. Other than that, nice post. ;)
By: Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom on January 22, 2013
Very well said. I especially appreciated where you said "My purpose is not to tout the virtues of our current president; you undoubtedly have already made up your mind." If I have learned anything in my years of talking politics it's that minds are not easily changed, and most (all?) stuff isn't worth getting into a heated argument over. Thanks for sharing this perspective. I enjoyed it.
By: Jared Karol on January 22, 2013
Can i agree and disagree and respect your stance? I don't get the "America is best no matter what" thing. I also don't get the opposite. We have freedoms and the like other countries envy. That's the awesome part. Do we mess up? Oh boy do we. Unforgivably so. When I visited the Lincoln memorial and read his 2nd inaugural address, I was humbled by it. I think it is great we have elected a non-white man, and twice! And for the inauguration (publicly) to be on MLK day. WE have come so far. I just get tired of the uber liberal vs uber conservative annoyance when many are in-between but it seems the extremists are the loudmouths and claim to repsesent 50% of us, respectively. They don't. Did I vote for Obama? No. Did I like Bush? umm, no. The guys I vote for never win. But e live in a republic/democracy that allows us so many freedoms, And while we may agree on many things and disagree on many, your perspective made me happy. It wasn't biased or politically charged. It was honest and hopeful and I loved it. The part of future generations looking back, knowing they can be somebody, man that almost got me choked up.
By: gem on January 22, 2013
I'll echo Stephanie and not just because I'm a conservative. I cannot express how dismayed I am that Obama is going to continue as the president. But, he will be MY president, too, and it's up to all of us to wish him the best. Because, what's the alternative? To hope he fails which, by extension, means the country fails? I can't hope for that. All I can hope is that the millions who voted for him are right. I sincerely do. My initial thoughts about you, Steve, is that you are a good person. This post confirms that. You are a good person. BTW, as far as secession, that really didn't work out all that well the last time it was tried. And I DO NOT support that.
By: Al Penwasser on January 22, 2013
You said it. I just loved his speech. I'm hopefully that we'll see a little more "hope and change" with this term though.
By: Christie on January 22, 2013
Hi Stephen: I'm not at all into politics. But I wish the President and all civil authorities the best in grappling with so many many complex issues ahead.
By: Michael Manning on January 22, 2013
I don't do political debates and all of that, because they seem pretty pointless. I'm resentful of labels like liberal and conservative, because they are nothing but terms that describe a bunch of pre-conceived notions that may or may not be who I am or what I believe. Having said that, this is a good post. I wouldn't want to be in the President's position, and like him or not, he's there. Sadly, I can't agree with him on most things, but then, I find myself highly mistrustful of any politician. Again, just let me say this is a well-written, intelligently expressed post. Well done.
By: The (not so) Special Mother on January 22, 2013
Hi Stephen, I'll echo what one of your previous commenters said, in that we have pretty much the same issues going on here in Canada. There's always going to be someone unhappy with what's going on. I think it's a thankless job that has to be full of stress. I just wish that more people would get out and exercise their right to vote and be heard in that manner, rather than not bothering to show up at the polls and then complaining the loudest. Nice post!
By: Ken on January 22, 2013
Without getting into politics, I must say I agree that we are indeed ennobled by this day! Now, if only we could get a woman in the White House... ;)
By: Natalie DeYoung on January 23, 2013
I'm not a follower of politics, but even here in Canada I was grateful when Obama was re-elected. He seemed the more reasonable of the offerings.
By: My Half Assed Life on January 23, 2013
Well written. There has been much too much political arrogance ("my opinion is right and yours is wrong!") lately, and it is refreshing to read something that is meaningful to both sides of the spectrum. Thanks for a breath of fresh air. :)
By: Dana on January 23, 2013
Beautifully said! There's so much negativity lately, I can't stand it.
By: Sarcasm Goddess on January 23, 2013
I hope he can get more accomplished now that decisions won't be tainted by re-election! I don't like all of the negative politics either.
By: Stacie on January 24, 2013
So eloquent. "Even those who vilify President Obama are ennobled by the fact of his presidency."... I couldn't agree more. Sometimes I look at Obama, flawed as he may be, and think, WOW, society has come such a long way in a few short decades. (Plus, he's way more cool and inspiring than our guy up here in Canada. Just sayin'.)
By: Dilovely on January 24, 2013
You hit the nail on the head, it's quite a thankless job. This was a good piece.
By: Michelle Longo on January 24, 2013
And I don't usually even comment on political posts but occasionally a "Well put!" Needs to be said. Well put. Our province of Ontario now his its first openly gay premier. And a woman at that. Our little piece of the world is finally growing up some. I'm thankful for that. I'm trying to catch up on blog posts but being close to 750 behind, I know that's not going to happen. Hopefully skimming and occasional commenting will suffice.
By: Hilary on January 31, 2013

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