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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Growing Up in an Instant

August 29, 2016
 
 
 
Like many senior citizens, my ninety-one-year-old mother spends much of her time watching television, particularly old movies. She’s constantly asking me questions about actors and actresses from the 30s and 40s, questions like who was John Hodiak married to, or what was the name of that guy who played Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind. I often remind her that these actors and actresses ...

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Tennis for Dummies

August 26, 2016
A few months ago I announced that I was finally tackling my weight problem and working at becoming fit and healthier. I’ve lost ten more pounds since then. All my life I’ve had doctors tell me that the secret to weight control was eating less and moving more. Turns out the SOBs were right.
           
I recently went to watch our good friend Tina compete ...

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Peculiar Pictures #49 & #50

August 24, 2016
 
 
 
Considering that I’ve been posting Peculiar Pictures for five years, it’s reasonable to assume I painted more peculiar illustrations than any other kind. And here are two more, both from my Business Fundamentals CD.
 
I was commissioned by Getty Images to create spot illustrations dealing with business and money issues. Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t know what ...

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Do Women Smell Better Than Men?

August 22, 2016
Of course women smell better than men, but pheromones aside, do their noses work better?
        
Mrs. Chatterbox is often saying to me, “What’s that smell?”
 
I seldom know what she’s talking about. I have a terrible sense of smell. She’s in the habit of saying, “Time for that shirt to go into the wash.” Or, “I think you left ...

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The Hammer

August 19, 2016
 
 
 
 
 
This story about my childhood best friend is one of my favorites. It’s languished on my menu bar for five years. I’m posting it here in case you missed it.
 
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Ricky Delgado nearly turned inside out the summer of ‘62 when ten rusty carnival trucks rattled onto the fresh asphalt parking lot of the new shopping center ...

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Remember Customer Service?

August 17, 2016
As I grow older I’m starting to feel grumpy about changes in our society. I remember being a kid and marching into a bank with my little bankbook to add a few dollars to my account. Back then, schools encouraged kids to open savings accounts as a means of fostering an awareness of money—an awareness lacking in too many children. Walking into a bank as a child was a positive experience; I was always treated ...

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Can't Please Everyone

August 15, 2016
A well-used adage reminds us that you can’t please everyone, a fact brought home recently by a letter received by Mrs. Chatterbox.
           
Mrs. C. is the volunteer coordinator for our local police department. Among her many duties is planning our city’s National Night Out, a summer event designed to bring communities and police departments together ...

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Color Me Red

August 12, 2016
When budget cuts prompted our son’s school to slash funding for its art department, I volunteered to teach an Art Literacy course. As a professional artist/illustrator, I felt well prepared to share my enthusiasm for art history and figured instructing middle school kids would be fun. This was my first time teaching and what I lacked in experience I intended to make up for with enthusiasm.
 
I knew from my ...

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Much Better !

August 10, 2016
 
 
 
Last year I wrote a post about a questionable statue of Lucille Ball erected in her hometown of Celoron, NY. The statue, nicknamed “Scary Lucy,” was the subject of much ridicule. You can read my original post (here). The sculptor offered to fix the statue to provide a better, more acceptable, likeness of the comedian but the offer was denied. Another artist, Carolyn Palmer, was ...

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My Favorite Brazilian Artist

August 8, 2016
The Rio Games are finally here and this seems like the perfect opportunity to introduce my favorite Brazilian artist—Moi!
 
A few years before retiring from illustration to focus on writing, my agent contacted me to ask how much more work I could produce. There’s a lot of down time being an illustrator so I told her I could churn out twice as many illustrations as I was currently producing—if she ...

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The Happiest Picture Ever Painted?

August 5, 2016
Most people have heard of the artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the Impressionist painter famous for painting naked women in flickering sunlight. Monet and Renoir are the most famous Impressionists, but lately Renoir’s reputation has taken a hit, with emphasis on many of the terrible pictures he painted in his later years when his hands were crippled with arthritis and he was hampered by an overabundance of geriatric ...

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5th Blogiversary

August 3, 2016
Today is my 800th post and marks five years since my first Chubby Chatterbox post. Sometimes it seems like I started blogging yesterday, yet at other times it seems much longer. Back in 2011, I felt it would be quite an achievement if I could keep it going for five years, all the while wondering if my ideas would dry up, if I’d run out of things to write about. Many of you have been supporters since the beginning, ...

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Ball's Pyramid

August 1, 2016
It’s an understatement to say the world is a fascinating place. I’ve traveled to many exotic locations and the diversity of lands and peoples is truly amazing. Recently, I was surfing the Web and my attention was drawn to an island I’d never heard of, not that I profess to be an expert on islands, but they’ve always held a fascination for me ever since reading Robinson Crusoe as a kid.
 
The ...

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Hey God, Can We Talk?

July 29, 2016
There are still months to go until the November election, and I imagine most people can use a break from politics. Here’s what I hope is a humorous diversion.
 
 
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“Hey God, it’s me, Adam. Can we talk?”
           
“No, Adam. We can’t.”
        &nb...

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Our Personal Florist

July 27, 2016
 
Many people enjoy gardening, but I’m not one of them. I don’t enjoy the feel of dirt between my fingers, don’t enjoy the bugs, don’t care for the whiff of fertilizer or dragging a hose around the yard. And there’s all that nasty weeding. Yuck!
 
People who enjoy all this deserve to be surrounded by wonderful flowers, the fruit of their labor. Mrs. Chatterbox likes gardening even ...

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Racism and Truth

July 25, 2016
My liberal leanings are no doubt apparent to most people reading my blog, but today I’m questioning my beliefs because of a recent conversation I had with Mrs. Chatterbox, a conversation about race. As you might have heard, Steve King, a Republican congressman from Iowa famous for making controversial statements, was recently called a “racist” for suggesting that white people have contributed more to ...

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Travel Tantrum

July 22, 2016
 
As most of you know, Mrs. Chatterbox and I enjoy trekking to faraway places and do so frequently, resulting in a lot of air travel. Air travel has changed significantly over the years with consumers being nickel and dimed to death, with fees for extra bags (in some cases even one bag). Headphones often come at a price, as do movies. Adding insult to injury, meals that are gas producing and flavorless are no longer ...

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A Bloomin' Onion

July 20, 2016
Reworked from a 2012 post.
 
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This is how The Outback Restaurant describes its Bloomin' Onion appetizer: a true Outback original. “Our special onion is hand-carved by a dedicated bloomologist, cooked until golden and ready to dip into our spicy signature bloom sauce.”
           
Sounds good, doesn’t ...

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What's Going On in Turkey?

July 18, 2016
 
Mrs. Chatterbox and I visited Turkey in 2010, and Turkey remains Mrs. C’s favorite travel destination. We found the people warm and friendly, eager to engage with Americans, and there are few places on earth with such a long and impressive history. But we were troubled to learn about the attempted military coup over the weekend. This is a brief attempt to explain what’s happening.
 
At the end ...

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Parents and Children

July 15, 2016
When I was little, my best friend’s mother took up painting. Helen Delgado lived next door and I’d spend hours watching her slap paint on canvases. Unfortunately, she had more enthusiasm than talent, but she ignited my passion for painting. Helen painted fruits, vegetables and flowers. One day I asked if anyone had ever tried to paint a person.
           
She ...

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Two Tight Asses

July 13, 2016
There are blogs I follow that consistently receive hundreds of comments, an accomplishment I’ve yet to achieve. But this true story from 2012 is one of my most popular, and comes close.
 
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Mrs. Chatterbox and I just returned from four days of rare sunshine on the Oregon Coast. We had a great time. On the drive back to Portland I was reminded of this incident ...

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Parallel Universes

July 11, 2016
 
 
Scientists tell us that our universe might be drastically different from what we think. The universe might be a holographic projection from billions of miles away. Astrophysicists tell us that time, speculated to be the result of a universe expanding due to the Big Bang, will eventually slow down as the universe reverses direction and contracts, causing time to run in reverse, which might currently be happening ...

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Picture of an A*#hole

July 8, 2016
I recently saw someone familiar in the obituaries. It took me a while to place the face but it finally came to me. Years ago she came regularly into the jewelry store I managed at the local mall. She never bought anything but she was a pleasant widow and I’d clean her jewelry. I’ve always been chatty and let it slip that, in addition to managing the store, I was an artist and my work could be seen around ...

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Peculiar Picture #48

July 6, 2016
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Most of the images in my Peculiar Picture File were created as illustrations and designed with a purpose in mind, even though they were not commissioned. This picture is different in that it was never intended as an illustration. It’s a 36” x 48” acrylic painting that grew out of a doodle I made in my spare time back when I was a ...

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Please Be the Judge

July 4, 2016
 
Mrs. Chatterbox and I seldom have disagreements, but an issue has developed where we disagree and I’ve agreed to let my readers decide who’s right and who’s wrong. I promised Mrs. C. I wouldn’t prime the pump by slanting this in my direction, so here goes.
 
Lately, instead of spending hundreds of dollars ordering custom frames I’ve been purchasing them at Goodwill. It’s ...

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On Bent Knee

July 1, 2016
In 1973 I decided to propose to Mrs. C.  I sought out the perfect spot to ask her to marry me, and finally made reservations at a restaurant in Sausalito reputed to have a beautiful view of San Francisco across the Bay. I knew Mrs. C. would enjoy the illuminated skyline of her favorite city. The restaurant, William A. Sterlington, was everything I’d hoped for—I couldn’t imagine a more ...

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Forty-Two Years Today!

June 29, 2016
Today Mrs. Chatterbox and I are celebrating our forty-second wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe we’ve been together that long, and I’m reminded of the day I asked her father for her hand in marriage. This post is an excerpt from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope.
 
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It was late December in 1973. The future Mrs. C. always seemed ...

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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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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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The Big Squeeze

June 3, 2016
Most people are now aware of the python problem in the Florida Everglades. We didn’t see any on our trip through the mangroves, but our guide, Captain Dave, had much to say about the region’s invasive reptiles.
           
A fallacy has taken root, convincing people that these invasive Burmese pythons were released into the Everglades by pet owners who ...

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The Conch Republic

June 1, 2016
Among the first things we noticed after pulling into Key West were confusing references to the Conch Republic. Hundreds of souvenirs were labeled Conch Republic, including a hat I purchased for Mrs. Chatterbox. A little research provided information on an interesting event.
 
In 1982 The United States Border Patrol, in an attempt to apprehend illegal aliens and drug traffickers, set up a road block and ...

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Saving a Life in Key Largo

May 30, 2016
One of the reasons Mrs. Chatterbox and I travel is to challenge our preconceptions of a place with firsthand experiences. I’d heard about the Florida Keys my entire life and was excited to lay my eyes on them.
           
We rented a car in Miami and drove to our first stop—Key Largo, made famous by the film with Bogie and Bacall. Frankly, there wasn’t ...

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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 ...

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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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Parody

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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Tornado

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.
 
 
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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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The "Shred"

April 25, 2016
Yes, I was a chubby kid, a plump roly-poly who seldom turned up his nose at food, with one exception. I could never bring myself to eat something that resembled vomit, and I put my ample foot down when it came to consuming something that looked like it had already been eaten and rejected by someone—creamed corn.
 
My mother ignored my revulsion and served it often, doling out a generous scoop of creamed ...

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Old-Fashioned Selfies

April 22, 2016
Most painters create self-portraits during the course of their careers, and a few, like Rembrandt, made them a focus of their output. Vanity isn’t usually the reason for staring into a mirror to capture the nuances of your own countenance. At a young age I desperately wanted to master flesh tones and capture likenesses, but posing for a portrait is an odious task and no one was willing to sit for me. Artists are ...

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Enough is Enough

April 20, 2016
I can’t stand it any more. Everyone has a limit and I’ve reached mine. The human brain can only handle so much before gray matter starts squirting out your ears. You’re probably wondering, at least I hope you are) what has brought me to this fever pitch of annoyance? The current state of our politics? No. The idiocy of those who can’t read the writing on the wall and accept that humans are affecting ...

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Giants

April 18, 2016
I consider myself to be a somewhat skeptical person, someone who looks for hidden truths and questions nearly everything I’m told. I’ve been called a contrarian, a Doubting Thomas, but this wasn’t always so. I was a gullible kid and easily accepted what I was told. It didn’t help that my extended family included people who loved pulling my short little legs. As an example: it took very little ...

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Grandpa's Ghost

April 15, 2016
A ghost sat at our kitchen table when I was a child, a ghost by the name of Grandpa Frank. He was my mother’s father, and he died eighty years ago in 1936. How he died always depended on who you asked. Stories range from scarlet fever to an accident brought about by falling from a church steeple he climbed on a dare. I don’t think I’ll ever know, but I have it on several counts that he was an invalid ...

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Who Wears the Pants in Your Family?

April 13, 2016
 
 
When Mrs. Chatterbox and I go to the mall, one of our favorite things to do is people watch. As a portrait painter, I analyze people and mentally sketch them. When it comes to couples, I often find myself trying to figure out the family dynamic—as in who wears the pants in the family. In my own family, it was my mother who wore the pants, figuratively and literally, and made all the decisions. This ...

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Theater Courtesy

April 11, 2016
Several Bloggers have weighed in on a topic I think about every time Mrs. Chatterbox and I go to the movies, which it seems we do less and less as we grow older. But when we do go to the movies I’m particular where we sit. Here in Portland, most of the theaters are divided into two sections with a horizontal aisle dividing the first twenty-five rows from the remaining seats. I like the first row in the second section ...

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ASS-Law College

April 8, 2016
 
 
 
The news can be so dreadful that it’s good to pause and laugh when you can, and something I recently read made me chuckle out loud. It involves the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who I won’t pretend to like, but this isn’t about that.
           
An anonymous donor (thought to be the Koch brothers) just gave twenty ...

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Death by a Thousand Drips

April 6, 2016
My mother is extremely particular about her coffee. For years she swore the only coffee worth drinking was percolated. For those of you who haven’t checked recently, percolating electric coffee pots have become as illusive as dolphin safe tuna. My mother has a habit of cleaning appliances so aggressively that when finished they no longer work. A shelf in her walk-in closet is a mausoleum of fallen coffee makers ...

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Peculiar Pictures #45, #46 & #47

April 4, 2016
 
 
 
I didn’t get a chance to write a new post for today because I spent the weekend trying to purchase a new coffee maker for my mother. Regular Chubby Chatterbox followers will recall that my ninety-one year old mother can be a handful, and when the nerve-calming martinis wear off I’ll write a post about this called: Death by a Thousand Drips. Until then, here are a few more Peculiar ...

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An Arrangement in Amsterdam

April 1, 2016
Travel can be strenuous and taxing on the body, and Mrs. Chatterbox and I often share colds and other maladies while traveling. In 1976 on our first trip to Europe, I contracted the flu while in Dijon, France, and it was a nightmare. Dijon is the mustard capital of Europe and has been producing mustard for hundreds of years. Believe me, when you’re sick, your head is spinning and your nether region is leaking like ...

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Time to Forgive Michael Jackson

March 30, 2016
 
In 1984 Michael Jackson was flying high with Thriller, voted the most influential pop music video ever. I was managing a jewelry store in Oregon at the time and Jackie, one of my employees, approached to ask for a few days off.
“Why?” I asked.
           
Jackie was one of my best salespeople when she wasn’t attending classes at a local college. ...

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Learning How to Share

March 28, 2016
Last week I shared my expertise as a successful pie eating contestant. I mentioned that I was never selected for sports competitions and had no sports accomplishments to speak of. After reading my post, Mrs. Chatterbox reminded me of a time when I did manage to win a sports competition. Many of you will have celebrated far more memorable moments of athletic prowess, but this is all I have so I’ll cherish it as ...

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Free Expert Advice

March 25, 2016
In an effort to make my blog more educational, I’m here to share a special expertise I’ve kept hidden until now. It’s quite possible that a few of you might someday be coerced into an activity of which I can offer useful tips. No, I’m not going to advise anyone on painting or writing because there are already too many so-called experts marketing their expertise. I’m here to help you claim ...

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The Pool of Pamukkale

March 23, 2016
I’m definitely in the mood for warm weather, which is months away for Oregonians. Lately I’ve been thinking about some of the warm places Mrs. Chatterbox and I have visited.
 
We try to absorb as much local flavor as possible. We’ve ridden camels in the Great Thar Desert, explored Old Delhi in rickshaws and bathed elephants in Thailand. I never want to return home feeling like we missed out on ...

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Keeping My Mouth Shut

March 21, 2016
It won’t come as a surprise to most of you that someone who identifies himself as a chatterbox would find it challenging keeping his mouth shut. Here’s an example of when I probably should have zipped my lip.
           
I was at Michaels Arts & Crafts Store over the weekend thanks to a discount coupon cut from the Sunday paper. According to my coupon, ...

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My Best Vacation Ever!

March 18, 2016
Last week my mother called in tears because she couldn’t hear. We’d gone to the doctor the day before for her annual check-up and she hadn’t complained of hearing issues, although she doesn’t hear anything in her left ear which was damaged after working many years in a winery bottling plant. The doctor examined her and concluded the problem was a blockage from ear wax, which my mother packed tightly ...

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Lions in the Closet

March 16, 2016
Our son was an easygoing child. Mrs. Chatterbox and I coasted through his terrible twos and beyond without any problems. Many parents have difficulty putting their children down for the night but CJ, our blond haired, blue-eyed little Hummel, slept until morning without incident—until the monster arrived.
           
“Daddy, I can’t sleep. There’s ...

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Art and Money

March 14, 2016
These days the news is replete with stories from the art world of record-breaking auction prices. While it’s highly unlikely any of my works of art will auction for millions of dollars, some of them do include money.
 
On more than one occasion I’ve referred to the CD I created in the 90s for Getty Images. These sixty royalty-free images were quickly created in fast-drying acrylic in less than five weeks. ...

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The Birth of Reason

March 11, 2016
Rest assured this is not a post about Plato, Descartes, Rousseau or the Age of Reason, subjects I’m not qualified to expound on. I’m no philosopher, but recently I did witness the birth of reason—as experienced by a toddler.
           
Mrs. Chatterbox and I live rich and rewarding lives, but there is one area that is lacking. We don’t have ...

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What Size Humanity?

March 9, 2016
The other day I spotted a dapper gentleman at the mall; he was impeccably dressed in a black suit, sported a well groomed beard and black derby. His head was of normal size but he had a child’s body and was less than four feet tall. I’ve seen dwarfs in Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, but I haven’t encountered many in my lifetime—outside of museums.
       &n...

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What Happened to Apricots?

March 7, 2016
It’s been cold and dreary here in Portland. Emotionally, I’ve been sailing over spring and thinking about summer, particularly the sunny summers of my childhood in California. I grew up in the Santa Clara Valley, famous for fruit production before the massive orchards were ripped up and asphalted over to make room for the Silicon Valley. Jack London wrote about the astonishing fertility of a valley so famous ...

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Peculiar Pictures 42, 43, 44

March 4, 2016
I’m about halfway through my files of peculiar pictures, created back when I was a professional illustrator. My specialty was conceptual illustration—images created to accompany articles and make people stop turning the pages of magazines and newspapers long enough to read the articles.
 
Many of the pictures in my files were created on speculation, without a buyer, and some of these turned out to be ...

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The Sphinx of 22nd Place

March 2, 2016
Reworked from a 2012 post.
 
In 2005 Mrs. Chatterbox and I decided to explore urban living; we bought a hundred year old house on Northwest 22nd Place in downtown Portland. The neighborhood, dotted with late Victorian houses, had a shabby chic quality. Our street was slightly run down but our realtor convinced us to overlook the decay.
 
The area was adjacent to the trendy shops and restaurants of ...

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Durnstein Castle

February 29, 2016
Mrs. Chatterbox and I were headed toward the famous Melk Monastery in the Wachau Region of Austria when our bus stopped so we could tour a vineyard in a region famous for producing Riesling wine. Having worked in a winery during college (Almaden Vineyards) I wasn’t much interested in seeing another winery but didn’t fancy sitting on the bus while everyone else toured the facility and sampled wine.
     &...

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Blubbery Infamy

February 26, 2016
It happened in 1970, ten years before Mrs. Chatterbox and I relocated from Southern California to Oregon. It was a moment sure to live forever in the annals of Oregon infamy. Until Bob Packwood (U.S. Senator 1969-1995) humiliated Oregon with his sexual peccadilloes or Tonya Harding (1994 Winter Olympics figure skater) soiled the state with her icy indifference to morality, this was Oregon’s great claim to shame.
 
In ...

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Weird On Ice

February 24, 2016
I can’t recall how the subject came up, but at a recent breakfast with some friends I found myself in a discussion about the strangest item ever placed in my freezer. Hey, one can only talk about politics for so long. Heads at nearby tables in the restaurant turned in my direction when I blurted out that the strangest item in our freezer was—a cat head.
 
I know many of you are fond of cats, but before ...

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Peculiar Travel pictures

February 22, 2016
 
 
 
 
As regular followers of this blog know, I’m a retired illustrator and from time to time I post peculiar pictures I created for clients, pictures that for one reason or another were never published. This time I’m posting a few peculiar pictures I snapped while on vacation with Mrs. Chatterbox. There’s no rhyme nor reason to these pictures; they just made me smile.
 
 
 
This ...

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Feast or Famine

February 19, 2016
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
For hundreds of years, few words struck more terror than those calling you to appear before the Roman Catholic Inquisition. In 1573, Venetian painter Paolo Veronese was summoned to appear before the Inquisition to answer for the irreverence of his painting The Last Supper, designed to cover the entire rear wall of a Dominican refectory and one of the largest ...

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Sweet and Sour

February 17, 2016
Reworked from a 2012 post.
           
This picture was taken in Sorrento, Italy. Those sunglasses are large enough to fit around my big head. When I snapped this I was reminded of an incident I hadn’t thought about since fourth grade.
 
My Portuguese grandpa had a green thumb and could grow just about anything. He was hard of hearing and didn’t ...

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The Madonna and the RV

February 15, 2016
It was an unsettling debate. Rest assured I’m not about to launch into a diatribe on the fiasco that was Saturday night’s CBS Republican debate. I’m here to dip my toe into waters far more contentious than an exchange over who should be our next president. Recently, Mrs. Chatterbox and I had an energetic discussion over who is more inclined to hold grudges—men or women.
 
This started during ...

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Face Off

February 12, 2016
Mrs. Chatterbox and I ventured out last night to see a documentary on the Spanish artist Francisco Goya. Goya is a personal favorite, a painter whose bravado, womanizing (he was rumored to have had an affair with the Duchess of Alba) and deafness have long captured the public’s imagination. His flirting with danger caused him to come in conflict with the Spanish Inquisition, especially when he painted female nudes ...

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Music of the Night

February 10, 2016
My mother is being haunted by the music of the night, but not the pellucid notes of Andrew Lloyd Webber. She’s hearing voices. Lately, we’ve been having conversations like this:
 
“How was your night, Mom? Did you finally get a good night’s sleep?”
 
“No! I’m hearing that music again!”
 
“Is it possible you’re imagining it? Could it be in your ...

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Protest II: Finale

February 8, 2016
Over the past few months much has happened at Casa Chatterbox and I just now realized I never posted final pictures of Protest II, my effort to recreate a smaller version of a massive painting I created fifteen years ago. Both versions of The Protest show a group of people on the steps of a public building. Some are actively engaged in a protest while others, like the bag lady with the shopping cart, ...

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The Fill Up

February 5, 2016
Reworked from 2012.
 
In 1942 he was a lanky sixteen year old and glad to have a job pumping gas, checking oil and washing windshields at a Texaco in Modesto, California. Most of the men had dashed off to war or he wouldn’t have landed this job. He had numerous brothers and sisters. Now he was able to contribute money to the jar on the kitchen shelf to pay for food and a roof over their heads.
 
He’d ...

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Hair / Loss

February 3, 2016
 
 
Mocking the misfortune of others is a good way to invite bad karma, but I was too busy bringing our son CJ home from the hospital yesterday to pen anything worth reading. Instead of skipping a post, I’ll risk bad karma by posting these pictures that made me laugh.  
 
Karma may have the last laugh since Trump is currently ahead of Cruz in many upcoming primaries. While I dislike ...

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The Lighter Side of Brain Surgery

February 1, 2016
On Friday CJ had a final surgery to clip his aneurysm. The procedure took four hours and went remarkably well. We were told his speech and mobility might be affected for a few days, but so far this hasn’t been the case. When not knocked out by morphine and fentanyl, he’s been good natured and chatty—well, he is a chip off the old block. He does have an incision with fifty staples stretching ...

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The Final Procedure

January 29, 2016
Today CJ is having a final procedure to remove the aneurysm from his brain. Two weeks ago, before he was discharged from the hospital to recover from previous procedures, an angiogram revealed that the coils inserted into his aneurysm weren’t sufficient, leaving CJ at risk for future bleeding. The solution is open brain surgery to clip the aneurysm—a procedure that sounds terrifying yet is considered ...

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America's Michelangelo

January 27, 2016
Frederick Edwin Church (1826-1900) is not a name that springs to mind in a discussion of great American painters, yet there was a time when he was considered the Michelangelo of American landscape painters.
           
A member of the Hudson River School, Church began his career by painting rural America at a time when our country’s natural beauty was first ...

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The Chatterbox Awakens

January 25, 2016
I’m usually the person whose opinions run contrary to everyone else’s, but on Saturday I realized how far I swim from the mainstream. Perhaps I belong in isolation with other deviants, a chubby cellmate for El Chapo, or maybe I belong in a special camp for like-minded people unable to be assimilated into proper society, aberrant people such as those with a passion for Jerry Lewis or think Sarah Palin a gifted ...

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Requiem

January 22, 2016
I’m here to lay to rest a beloved person from my childhood, someone who gave me hours of laughs and served as a fatherly role model for many years—Bill Cosby.
           
I’m not referring to the Bill Cosby currently in the news, the fellow accused of drugging and sexually assaulting nearly fifty women. I don’t know that Bill Cosby. ...

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Going Viral ?

January 20, 2016
My dignity is currently in the toilet. It’s possible I’m about to be featured in a video that, if posted, might go viral.
           
I haven’t been getting much exercise lately so the other evening while Mrs. C. and I were driving home from an errand, I had her drop me off a quarter of a mile from home so I could stretch my legs. I wasn’t ...

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New CJ Update

January 18, 2016
When our son was told he’d be in the neurological intensive care unit for three weeks after suffering a brain aneurysm, it seemed hard to believe he’d actually be hospitalized that long, but Saturday marked three weeks. After having surgery last week to insert a permanent shunt into his head to drain excess fluid, he’s been moved out of the ICU and into a regular room for a few days. He’s no longer ...

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The Contrarian

January 11, 2016
I called my mother yesterday to fill her in on her grandson’s status in the hospital (all good news) and when I’d finished reassuring her that CJ’s progress was slow but steady, the subject changed to the lottery, which as you probably know is now worth over a billion dollars.
           
“Why haven’t you bought me a lottery ticket?” ...

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Another CJ Update

January 6, 2016
A recent angiogram showed that our son CJ did in fact sufferer from a brain aneurysm on December 26th. It doubled in size the week he was in the intensive care unit, making it possible for doctors  to see what was previously invisible.
 
A decision had to be made as to how to treat it, either by entering the brain through the femoral artery in the groin (an angiogram) or open brain surgery. Because CJ was experiencing ...

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CJ Update

January 2, 2016
Thanks to everyone for sending good wishes for our son CJ's speedy recovery. Today marks the seventh day since CJ was struck with a cerebral hemorrhage. He's still in the intensive care unit where he'll remain for the next two weeks but he's finally starting to show signs of his old self. He still has a drain in his head to relieve pressure, and controlling his headaches is a constant challenge. The doctors tell us his ...

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A Sour Note

December 28, 2015
2015 is ending on a sour note for our thirty-five year old son CJ. On the day after Christmas, CJ collapsed. After spending the holiday with us, he'd left to visit a friend and passed out. He was rushed to the emergency room where a CAT scan showed his brain was bleeding, causing pressure that made him lose consciousness. He was rushed into surgery where a tube was inserted into his head to drain blood and relieve pressure ...

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Merry Christmas 2015

December 25, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope everyone has a festive and safe holiday. Merry Christmas from Casa Chatterbox. Take care and eat a piece of fudge for me.

 

 

 

 

Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

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Trojan Christmas

December 23, 2015
 
No, I’m not giving Mrs. Chatterbox a box of Trojans for Christmas, not even ones ribbed for her pleasure. I was going through photographs looking for something suitable for a Christmas post and I landed on these two pictures, taken in Turkey on our visit to Troy several years back.
           
It goes without saying (clearly I don’t know what that ...

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Mrs. Gonsalves' Last Christmas

December 21, 2015
 
In an attempt to create a Chubby Chatterbox tradition, I’m repeating this true holiday story first posted in 2011. I hope you enjoy it.
 
*************************************
 
 
Christmas is that time of year when the pull of my ethnic background is strongest. Dad’s folks weren’t anything in particular, but Mom’s parents were Portuguese and her side of ...

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Peculiar Pictures 39, 40, 41

December 16, 2015
 
I’ve mentioned the Business Fundamentals CD I created for Artville back in the 90’s when I was a professional illustrator, and here are a few images from that CD.
           
I was tasked with painting business clichés and other images that might appeal to art directors in need of business related imagery—the reason many of ...

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All Too Familiar

December 14, 2015
 
It was one of those instances that occur all too often, and it stuck like a burr on my emotional sweater.
           
Mrs. Chatterbox and I were circling our grocery store looking for a place to park. It was raining hard as we climbed out of our car. I didn’t pay the woman any attention until she approached and said, “Sorry to bother you, but can ...

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Tilikum Crossing

December 11, 2015
 
With a series of storms heading our way, Mrs. Chatterbox and I decided to visit the new Tilikum Crossing last week. Downtown Portland has a dozen bridges, giving the city one of its nicknames (Bridge City) but no new structures have been built to span the Willamette River dividing Portland since 1973.
           
During the late 80s and early 90s, Federal ...

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A Mystery in ther Desert

December 9, 2015
Not long ago I posted a story about the possible discovery of the final resting place of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, who may have been the original occupant of King Tut’s tomb, and still might be entombed behind a sealed wall. Egyptian authorities are now 90 percent certain something is behind a wall in Tut’s tomb, but it remains to be seen if it’s the mummy of Tut’s famous stepmother. ...

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The War on Christmas

December 7, 2015
 
My ninety year old mother was hot under the collar when she called last week. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
           
“I just received a card from management.”
           
“How nice,” I replied. My mother lives in a retirement facility.
        &nb...

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What's So Funny ?

December 4, 2015
 
I’ve been hearing strange sounds at Casa Chatterbox, the sounds of babies laughing. I’ve yet to make a thorough check, but to my knowledge no babies currently reside under our roof. The source of these sounds is Mrs. Chatterbox; lately she’s become addicted to YouTube and Facebook videos of laughing babies. I’ve watched a few and I’ll admit they’re contagious, but I’m ...

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Chubby and the Haberdasher

December 2, 2015
When I was a kid, one of my favorite stories was The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, an early work (1938) by Dr. Seuss. In the story, young Bartholomew is arrested for not showing King Derwin respect by removing his hat when the king passes through the village. In fact, Bartholomew did remove his hat, only to have another magically appear on his head. Bartholomew tries desperately to bare his head ...

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Puerto Vallarta Scrapbook III

November 30, 2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
On our last evening in Puerto Vallarta we enjoyed a sunset cruise. We arrived at the marina as the sun started its descent.
 
 
 
Our boat in the marina
           
This was to be a three hour tour. What could go wrong, right? It was probably my imagination ...

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Puerto Vallarta Scrapbook II

November 27, 2015
 
 
 
 
I hope everyone had a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. I made merry yesterday and didn’t have an opportunity to write anything, but here are a few photographs from a trip we made to El Edén Eco Park near Puerto Vallarta. Our bus struggled up a dirt trail—it would be a stretch calling it a road—and the jungle was so thick it was easy imagining disheveled contestants from ...

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Puerto Vallarta Scrapbook

November 25, 2015
 
Our hotel in Puerto Vallarta was old and in need of repairs and didn’t look nearly as charming as it did in online photographs, but it was ideally situated on the Bay of Banderas, close to Old Town and The Malecon—a coastal promenade and walkway—yet far enough away from the fleets of buses filled with tourists. The ocean was close enough for us to hear the waves lapping the shore from our balcony ...

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We're Home!

November 23, 2015
 
When word reached me that Paris had suffered a series of terrorist attacks I was lying on a beach in Puerto Vallarta with a drink in my hand. Although fortunate to be away from such carnage, I felt sad for the families and friends of the victims; my vacation buzz vanished like a fart in a fan factory. But on our journey home an incident happened that refreshed my faith in humanity.
        &nbs...

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A Few Announcements

November 6, 2015
 
I know many of you have been blogging a long time, some of you as much as a decade. I’m still a rookie at this with only five years under my belt. Still, I’m proud of reaching a milestone: this is my seven hundredth post. It seems like only yesterday that son CJ was helping build my blog and patiently explaining how it worked. I still have a lot of stories to share and I look forward to doing so until ...

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"Happy Little Trees"

November 4, 2015
 
 
 
I had surgery in the late nineties and was home for a few weeks convalescing. Daytime television was a nightmare and I was constantly flipping channels to find something better to watch than soap operas and Andy Griffith reruns. I landed on PBS, where a soft-spoken man with a funny afro was showing viewers how to paint. The program was called The Joy of Painting. In my opinion, the canvas ...

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Pure Joy

November 2, 2015
 
Saturday was Halloween and it poured in Portland. Rain pounded the pavement and the streets were slick with soggy dead leaves. Although few children live on our street, Mrs. Chatterbox and I enjoy seeing costumes and handing out treats so we purchased a bag of candy and hoped some little ghouls, goblins and princesses would brave the elements to ring our doorbell.
           
We ...

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Silent Screams

October 30, 2015
 
I’ve been dabbling in fiction, and this piece just won an honorable mention in a short story contest. I’m posting it in honor of Halloween. If you’re terrified of spiders, don’t read this.
 
*********************
 
 
Army brats have no say where their parents are posted. I was miserable when my father, a career officer, was ordered to a base near Berlin. Once again ...

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Commercial Angst

October 28, 2015
 
Do you ever get the feeling that the universe is screwing with you?
           
Last week I was watching TV and waiting for son CJ to arrive so we could take Mrs. Chatterbox to dinner for her birthday. I was flipping around trying to find something interesting to pass the time and most of the channels showed commercials advertising the same product. I’ve ...

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The Connoisseur

October 26, 2015
 
 
 
 
 
In 1961, judges for the Coopertown Art Association in New York awarded first prize to an abstract painting signed by an unknown Italian artist. That same painting, this time signed by the artist “Percival,” later won honorable mention at a Berkshire Museum exhibition. Both groups of judges must have been shocked to learn the painting they admired and lavished with praise ...

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Honesty

October 23, 2015
 
As an artist who likes portraying people, I’m always on the lookout for subjects willing to sit for me. I’ve been told that having an artist stare at you for hours over several days is unsettling. Picasso required Gertrude Stein to endure sixty sessions for her portrait.
           
Arranging sittings is a difficult task, so over the years I’ve ...

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Are You Lucky ?

October 21, 2015
 
The line was busy when I dialed my ninety year old mother for our daily conversation, so I called back a few minutes later and got her.
           
Aside from me, she doesn’t get many calls so I was curious. “Who were you talking to?” I asked.
           
“I was talking to your ...

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When Fantasies Come True

October 19, 2015
 
 
 
I’ve always had a rich fantasy life. I can go toe to toe with Walter Mitty when it comes to possessing a powerful imagination. I’ve closed my eyes and ridden magic carpets, slayed dragons, played rock music in front of thousands of screaming fans (I don’t even sing in the shower) and traveled back in time to important moments in history, like Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman. ...

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Free Is A Terrible Price

October 16, 2015
 
During Tuesday’s Democratic debate, socialist lion Bernie Sanders differed from Hillary Clinton by stating college tuition in America should be free. Hillary believes tuition should be much less expensive but not free. I admire Bernie Sanders as a man of integrity and champion of the middle class, but on this issue I agree with Hillary. In my opinion, people don’t value something that’s obtained ...

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Grandpa

October 14, 2015
 
I never knew either of my grandfathers. Dad’s father died early in a car accident, and Mom’s father passed away when she was only nine. My grandmother remarried before I was born, and her husband was the only grandfather I ever knew.
           
Grandpa was a gruff old bulldog, but we became close when I was small. My brother and I would often ...

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Clotilde

October 12, 2015
 
 
 
 
 
She was not much larger than a child and barely reached my chest when standing, ninety pounds of wrinkled entitlement. Her name was Clotilde. Born in Portugal and schooled in France, she claimed her father was in the diplomatic corps—an ambassador. The childless widow of a wealthy industrialist, she was currently living in a retirement facility.          &...

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The Good Old Days

October 9, 2015
 
A popular mantra tells us that you’re only as old as you feel, but how do you know you’ve actually begun the downward slide into old age? A major road sign guiding you to the geriatric highway can be found in sentimental and unreserved references to the good old days.
           
After the birth of our son CJ, I swore I wouldn’t ...

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A Beautiful Woman Has Come

October 7, 2015
 
The Internet is buzzing with the possibility of a great discovery. Is the tomb of Nefertiti about to be discovered? Has this co-regent of ancient Egypt, once described as the most beautiful and powerful woman on Earth, whose name translates as A Beautiful Woman Has Come, once more about to make history?
           
In the fourteenth century B.C., ...

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Best Meal Ever

October 5, 2015
 
For forty-one years I’ve been blessed with a spouse who cares enough to constantly be on the lookout for new recipes to keep our dinners varied and interesting. The other day I was having a conversation with Mrs. Chatterbox and the topic “Best Meals Ever” popped up. I figured it was a wife-beater question and the only way to sidestep disaster was to select one of the fabulous meals she’s ...

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Someone Had to be First

October 2, 2015
 
 
 
This reworked post from 11/12/12 is one of my favorites.
 
We know so many important names in history, the first human to set foot on the moon, the first person to fly solo over the Atlantic or the first intrepid souls to reach the poles or scale Mount Everest, but who was the first person to have their picture taken?
             &n...

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Peculiar Picture #38

September 30, 2015
 
 
 
I’m sure you’re aware of the story about a young CEO who purchased a pharmaceutical company and hiked the price of a decades-old pill five thousand percent. Martin Shkreli quickly passed the likes of George Zimmerman and Kim Davis as the most hated person in America when he raised the price of Daraprim, which keeps thousands of people alive, from $13.50 per tablet to $750.00.
     &n...

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The Cult of Cuteness

September 28, 2015
 
On Saturday Mrs. Chatterbox and I took a drive to enjoy the wonderful fall weather. We ended up walking through an antique mall in Troutdale near the scenic Columbia Gorge. I overheard a woman talking to another, pointing at something behind glass and saying, “I have no idea what it is, but it’s really cute.”
           
I was curious about ...

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Close Encounters

September 25, 2015
 
 Lately, I’ve been taking after dinner walks to help my digestion and get me off the couch. Several days ago as I prepared to hit the pavement, I stepped out onto our front steps and saw a spider hanging in midair right in front of me. I hate killing things and studied the spider for a moment. It appeared to be defying gravity, floating in front of me, but when I crouched down and turned towards ...

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The Fallacy of Fairness

September 23, 2015
 
 I was raised on the concept of “fairness,” but lately I’ve wondered if fairness is a notion that should be lumped together with the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. I suppose this makes me either a cynic, or a realist. The world is not a fair place, never has been and never will be, so why do we raise our children as if fairness is fundamental to existence?
        &nbs...

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Passivity

September 21, 2015
 
Parents are role models during a child’s formative years, and mine were no exception. Although my mother has many good qualities, she’s aggressive, alienating people with her intelligence and off-the-grid opinions. She was never popular with neighbors and family members but she always manipulated situations to her benefit. In contrast, Dad was kind and gentle, beloved by animals, good at sports, smart ...

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Fish Heads

September 18, 2015
 
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I have a robust appetite and don’t turn down much when it comes to food, but there is one notable exception. Some people believe that the head is the tastiest part of a fish. I don’t care; I won’t be eating fish heads unless I find myself starving on one of those survival programs with a million dollar prize. Two incidents involving fish heads ...

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A Princess and Stolen Gold

September 16, 2015
 
She was a real princess, an infanta of Spain, and I’d come thousands of miles to pay her homage. She wasn’t exactly pretty; she possessed those unfortunate characteristics that, had she lived a long life, would have twisted her sweetness into the grotesqueness so characteristic of her family. She was a Habsburg, and no one would remember her today were it not for her father’s famous painter. ...

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Peculiar Picture #37

September 14, 2015
 
It’s been a while since I opened my illustration file and posted a Peculiar Picture. An explanation for new followers: I’m a retired illustrator, and during the course of my fifteen year career I created many pictures in my spare time on speculation—uncommissioned busy work for my portfolio. Typically, a third of an illustrator’s output isn’t published for one reason or another, but ...

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Fourteen Years

September 11, 2015
 
 
 
 
Today is the anniversary of 9/11. I wish I had something meaningful to relate on this occasion. I wish the loss of so many lives had led to a better world so all those people wouldn’t have died in vain. I wish we were still as united as we were on that tragic day fourteen years ago, even though the mortar for that unity was grief. I wish for a lot of things. An old expression said ...

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Piano Guy

September 7, 2015
 
I enjoy it when bloggers write about music, a subject I know little about. Back in college I owned a few albums, but never developed a robust appreciation of contemporary music. Back in the early seventies when I was attending UCLA, several of the guys in my dorm had aspirations of playing in bands and making it big, while others were content to master the air guitar.
           ...

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Protest Update

September 4, 2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
While I’m happy with the progress I’ve made, my second version of The Protest is taking longer than expected. I’d hoped to be done by September, but I still have a month left to go, maybe more.
 
 
Started here three months ago
           
I’ve worked extensively on ...

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The Scam Artist

August 31, 2015
 
 
 
 
I consider myself an astute fellow, someone not likely to buy swampland or send money to Nigerian princes, but there was a time when my resolve not to be victimized by my own ego was put to the test.
           
I’d flown to London without Mrs. Chatterbox in 1985, who’d chosen instead to vacation in Hawaii with her parents ...

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Requiem for a Plant

August 28, 2015
 
It's good being back after resolving my computer woes, I hope.
 
Today I’m committing planticide. The victim of my crime might want to die, so it might be an assisted suicide, making me a plant killing Dr. Kevorkian. After keeping our only houseplant alive for fifteen years, today I’m sending it to that Chlorophyll Bridge in the Sky.
           
When ...

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The Cranky Club

August 24, 2015
 
I recently received a shout-out from one of my favorite bloggers, Cranky at Cranky Old Man. He said some nice things about me, but commented that my recent rant about nectarine pits all but qualified me for status in the Cranky Old Man Club. He asked if I’d reached the point where I was yelling at kids crossing my lawn. I can report it hasn’t come to that—yet. But there was a time when I became ...

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Heating Up With Mother

August 21, 2015
 
It’s been unusually hot here in Portland, a city better known for rain. My mother complains about the heat every day. Of course she also complains about the rain, along with most everything else. She lives in an air-conditioned retirement facility. Unfortunately, my mother, who at ninety is a sharp cookie when it comes to most things, can’t manage the dynamics of AC. And she never could.
     &nbs...

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Honk If You Love Whales

August 19, 2015
 
First posted 12/16/11
 
I’m really tired of being burned when it comes to bumper stickers and artwork on other people’s cars. Responding to these attention grabbers over the years hasn’t always yielded positive results. I’m fed up with the angry looks I get for flashing a thumbs up for chrome fish proclaiming the driver to be a follower of Jesus. I’m bored with political ...

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The Pits

August 17, 2015
 
If you’re a wife, please accept my apology in advance for this post; if you’re a husband, sit back and prepare to be avenged. I admit the victory I’m about to reveal is insignificant, petty, shows my narrow-mindedness, but when victories are so few its size doesn’t matter.
           
This has been a great summer for fruit, especially ...

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Attack of the Spam

August 14, 2015
 
It’s bad enough that I constantly receive spam indicating that my manhood isn’t all that it could or should be, or that it isn’t working properly and the fix is only a mouse-click away, but now I’m being hounded to purchase a new product. Every day for the past three weeks I’ve sat down at my computer and faced an ad telling me that for a few bucks a month I can have a brand new, ...

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A Special Day

August 12, 2015
 
It seems that each day on the calendar has a special designation: Roller Coaster Day, Bad Poetry Day, Skyscraper Appreciation Day, National Donut Day, Hug Your Cat Day, Ship in a Bottle Day, Drinking Straw Day, Satisfied Staying Single Day. These are not made up and quite real. Not wanting tomorrow to go unnoticed among all these important holidays, I’d like to bring to your attention the fact that tomorrow ...

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Taking a Stand

August 10, 2015
 
Not long ago I finished eating and reached for a fortune cookie at my favorite Chinese restaurant. The message inside informed me that if I wanted to improve my life it was time to be decisive and more vocal with my opinions. Many of you might smirk at the notion that I’m not vocal enough with my opinions; I’ve been referred to as a bleeding heart liberal on more than one occasion, but since I’m ...

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Dad's Last Flight: Almost

August 7, 2015
 
I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot lately. I find it hard to believe he’s been gone seven years. It’s summer and he loved baseball, but the last time I spoke with him was during a football game. We were enjoying the Super Bowl together. I’m not much of a sports fan, but seven years ago Mrs. Chatterbox and I had a little Super Bowl party. We like to scarf down a few munchies, watch the ...

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Update on Protest II

August 5, 2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
I’ve been working on Protest II most days this summer. (The original can be found by going to the Chubby Chatterbox Menu Bar and clicking on Fine Art Paintings.) The last time I posted an update was on June 19th when the canvas was toned and the figures only sketched in. Back then, the painting looked like this:
 
 
I’ve made great progress, although ...

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In the Dog House

August 3, 2015
Dear readers, I’m in the dog house at Casa Chatterbox, and I know you’ll tell me if this is where I belong. I made the mistake of laughing at my wife, but before you judge me too harshly, hear me out.
           
On Friday we invited our son CJ to dinner. It’s been pushing a hundred degrees in Portland, and aside from a home cooked meal we figured ...

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The Peaceable Kingdom

July 31, 2015
There’s so much bad news engulfing us these days that I decided to write about an artist who makes me smile. He wasn’t a great artist; in fact it’s a wonder he painted at all. His name was Edward Hicks. He painted The Peaceable Kingdom.
 
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down
with the kid, And the calf and the young lion and the ...

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Prepare to Die!

July 29, 2015
I’ve mentioned several times that Mrs. Chatterbox detests spiders. I discovered this while we were dating. She nearly fell at the sight of a spider on the stairs we were climbing to a friend’s apartment. Seeing her distress, I smashed the spider with my hand. From then on I was her knight in shining armor. This photograph is an accurate representation of how Mrs. C. remembers that date.
 

 
I ...

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The Dreaded Letter

July 27, 2015
I’m at an age where I knew this was coming and it was something I’d have to face. It’s already happened to Mrs. Chatterbox, several times, and now it’s my turn. And I’m dreading it. The letter came in yesterday’s mail. After more than twenty years, my primary care physician is retiring.
           
As a self-employed individual, ...

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Surveying Surveys

July 24, 2015
 
 
 
Although complaining is par for the course with many bloggers, I try to avoid it. It isn’t because I can’t think of things to kvetch about; it’s because of my philosophy of complaining, which goes something like this:
 
Half of the people you complain to don’t care
The other half are glad
            ...

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Early Memories

July 22, 2015
 
I accept the fact that the human brain is an incredible device with a photographic memory, but I have my doubts when people claim they can recall their own births. I’m thinking about this because last night I had a peculiar dream. Actually, it wasn’t really a dream, it was a recollection of a situation that happened when I was six months old. But since I was asleep at the time I guess it technically ...

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Signals of a Good Marriage

July 20, 2015
 
Mrs. Chatterbox and I have gotten along extremely well for the past four decades, but there is one area of friction. Like many husbands, I’m not particularly observant when it comes to doing things around the house. While I readily admit I distract easily, it’s true that the flip side of the coin bearing the words Easily Distracted, is Lazy. I don’t step out of dirty clothes ...

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The Dinner Party: Conclusion

July 17, 2015
 
I stared at the sap seeping through the white paint on our dining room table and taxed myself to think of a creative solution. Maybe I could tell Aarone the sap was hashish and she’d smoke it. Better still, maybe she’d arrive having already imbibed and she wouldn’t even notice the amber goop.
           
The sap had broken through the white ...

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The Dinner Party: Part II

July 15, 2015
 
I’d expected to phone a few friends and invite them over for food and fun, but Mrs. Chatterbox had different ideas. She sent out written invitations. Everyone she invited, accepted. Like I said, these were all my friends, yet most of them had never met Mrs. Chatterbox and were eager to meet the woman who’d stolen my heart. This was the ‘70s and the prevailing sentiment among my group of acquaintances ...

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The Dinner Party

July 13, 2015
 
The other day Mrs. Chatterbox decided to clean and reorganize our kitchen, something we men seldom think to do. In our forty plus years of marriage, we’d accumulated countless pieces of china, stemware, crockery and serving utensils, most of which we hadn’t used in recent memory.
           
Mrs. C. commented, “It’s been ages since ...

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Last Stop

July 10, 2015
 
 
 
 
 
Rain followed us to Lucerne, the last stop on our trip. I was upset when it started raining during our cruise on the lake. One of the hotels we sailed past was where Mark Twain was staying when he received word from home that he’d died. His famous comment was: Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
 
 
 
Then the sun broke through the clouds and a rainbow ...

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The Lion of Lucerne

July 8, 2015
 
 
When I think about military prowess and bad ass fighters I don’t usually think of warriors from a country more known for pretty mountains, yodeling, cheese with holes and chocolate. Yet the Swiss have provided European nobility with elite mercenaries for centuries.
           
The Ancient Romans, themselves no slouches when it came to fighting, ...

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Crowing!

July 6, 2015
 
I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’ve waited twelve years for this to happen, and now that it has I can’t resist crowing.
           
Twelve years ago I switched from painting to writing because my visual vocabulary was exhausted and I decided to paint with words instead of paint. I’d always enjoyed telling stories and decided to become ...

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Bows and Arrows

July 3, 2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I just don’t get it.
           
Mrs. Chatterbox finds guys who shoot arrows sexy. Whenever we watch The Walking Dead, her eyes settle on Daryl and she has a peculiar look on her face.
 
 
 
           
“He’s dirty, ...

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Snow Day

July 1, 2015
 
The heat has finally caught up to us here in Portland, and today the temperature is expected to pass ninety degrees. I know many of you are experiencing higher temperatures than this, but here in the Northwest that’s pretty darn hot, and we might reach a hundred degrees by the Fourth of July. For all of you who are tired of the heat, here’s a snow day to cool you off—pictures from our trip featuring ...

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Rubbed in Innsbruck

June 29, 2015
 
 
 
 
Before our arrival, I didn’t know much about Innsbruck, other than two winter Olympics and many other Alpine sporting events had been held here. I learned the city’s name came from the Latin for bridge on the Inn River, and that the city, founded during the Stone Age, became important in the fifteenth century when the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1486-1519), moved his capital ...

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Tito's Spoon

June 26, 2015
 
When I was a teenager, I bought art books with reproductions of famous paintings I never expected to see, and Vienna is rich with great museums filled with priceless treasures. At the Kunsthistorisches I encountered paintings I’d first seen in art books as a teenager, paintings like Brueghel’s Tower of Babel (Google for a larger reproduction and prepare to be amazed by the details) ...

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The Elusive Knuckle

June 24, 2015
 
I don’t drink beer, and I’m not particularly fond of German food, but I was determined to try an appealing-looking dish I’d seen in a magazine, although you might be put off by the name—pork knuckle, a name that conjured an image of porcine cloven hooves. I wasn’t deterred; being Portuguese I was raised on pork, so on day one of our trip I began hunting for pork knuckles.
     &n...

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Schonbrunn Palace

June 22, 2015
 
Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace was Austria’s attempt to recreate Versailles, even though at 1441 rooms it’s smaller. The present Baroque structure was built in the 1740s, and Austrian emperors lived here until the collapse of the Habsburg dynasty at the end of World War I. The rooms are as lavishly decorated as you’d expect, and I was particularly interested in, of all things, a tapestry ...

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The Protest II

June 19, 2015
 
 
 
I’m pausing from relating adventures from our vacation to fill you in on a project that will be occupying me for the rest of the summer. I’ve mentioned a few times that I was once foolish enough to spend eighteen months painting a colossal 10x15 foot painting I called The Protest. I refused to heed the advice of those who told me this painting would be too big to find a home—and ...

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Hitler's Eagle's Nest

June 17, 2015
 
What do you give someone who has everything? In 1937, high ranking Nazis were confronted with this dilemma. The Fuhrer was turning fifty soon and it was deemed necessary to give him something special. Martin Bormann (who gained enormous power as Hitler’s private secretary) came up with a curious idea.
           
Hitler wasn’t fond of Berlin, and ...

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City of Music

June 15, 2015
 
Before rolling into Salzburg, I knew only two things about this ancient city: Mozart was born here, and The Sound of Music filmed here. I was told it was a beautiful city, formerly a bishopric (ruled by a bishop) so churches and religious buildings would be plentiful, and in fact they seemed to be on every corner.
           
Perhaps it was the sun ...

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The Fairy Tale Castle

June 12, 2015
 
 
 
Most fairy tales have a dark side, and the story of the world’s most famous fairytale castle, the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, is no exception. Neuschwanstein has a dark side that is easy to overlook in the blinding light of stunning aerial photos and postcards of this painfully beautiful building. But the day of our visit was overcast; a moody breeze was blowing ...

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Old Friends

June 10, 2015
 
 
 
 
 
We flew into Munich a few days before the start of our tour because I wanted to visit the Alte Pinakothek. A few of the first paintings to capture my childhood imagination hang there and I was determined to see them. Unfortunately, the museum was being refurbished and many of the masterpieces were in storage, but I did manage to see a few old friends I’d first seen and admired ...

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We're Home!

June 8, 2015
 
It’s good to be home, and our overseas vacations usually begin to wrap up with a soul stirring “Welcome Home” by customs officials, at which point I begin to regale you with our adventures in a chronological manner, but this time is different. After our five hour wait for our twelve hour departing flight from the Zurich airport, and waiting three hours at San Francisco to catch a two hour flight ...

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Away We Go!

May 15, 2015
 
Away we go!  
 
It’s been a while since Mrs. Chatterbox and I packed our suitcases and hit the road. On previous trips we’ve explored Turkey, Scandinavia, India, Thailand and Cambodia. On the eighteenth of this month we’re heading for the part of the world once referred to as the Romantic Road—Germany (Bavaria) Austria and Switzerland. Mrs. Chatterbox, an Army brat who grew ...

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Ninety

May 11, 2015
 
Saturday was my mother’s ninetieth birthday, and while she struggled to place a positive spin on the event, I was left feeling pensive. Mrs. Chatterbox and our son CJ joined me in attempting to create a festive occasion, but I’m not sure we succeeded. I’d have preferred treating her to a nice dinner in a restaurant, or bringing her to our home so Mrs. Chatterbox could cook some Portuguese favorites, ...

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Prom Night

May 6, 2015
 
It’s that time of year again when Mrs. Chatterbox and I reflect on a rite of spring, the gathering of high school students in a ritual known as Senior Prom.
           
The best sightings are in downtown Portland at the marina on the Willamette River. An esplanade bordering the waterfront is crowded with restaurants popular on prom night. For years, ...

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The Smell of Cut Grass

May 4, 2015
 
On Friday morning I took a moment to enjoy the Spring weather while waiting for the pool to open where I swim laps. The light glistened like an Impressionist painting, and the air was heavy with the scent of grass being mowed at the adjacent high school. Few things trigger memories better than smells, and the pungent scent of cut grass reminded me of all the lawns I’d mowed over the years.
      &n...

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Remembering Truckzilla

May 1, 2015
First Posted 10/9/13
 
 
I thought Mrs. C. had lost her mind when she came home from work, excited at having won two tickets in an office pool for an event so outside my field of interest as to be laughable. “You won tickets to what?” I asked.
 
She beamed. “Tickets to a truck and tractor pull.”
 
“What the hell is that?” I asked, hoping the name was a misnomer ...

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Peculiar Picture #36

April 29, 2015
 
When time hangs heavy and assignments are scarce, a professional illustrator creates “spec” art, pieces painted on the speculation that someone might buy them in the future. The trick is to anticipate what art directors or graphic designers might need. This can be a hit and miss process, but I was fortunate to be able to sell many of my spec pieces.
           
This ...

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My Favorite Wiener

April 27, 2015
 
My best friend Ricky Delgado was our lookout halfway down the street.
           
“Do you see anything?” I bellowed, using my cupped hand to amplify my voice.
           
Ricky shook his head.           
         &n...

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God, Is That You?

April 24, 2015
 
“I’m not going!” I said.
           
“Yes you are. I’m not leaving you home so you can squeal on me to Mom and Dad. You’re coming, and if you tell, you’ll catch hell with us.”
           
Rarely did my older brother David include me on his adventures, ...

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Kill All the Lawyers!

April 22, 2015
 
 
 
 
Shakespeare said it best in Henry VI (Part 2): “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” He may have had the right idea. Still, I need to find a lawyer for my ninety year old mom so she can get her affairs in order. The other day she reminded me that she was always interested in the law and tried to push me in that direction when I was a kid. By this she means ...

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Remembering Why We're Great

April 20, 2015
 
 
 
Saturday began National Park Week, prompting this post.
 
Everyone should know about this unassuming stone gate because it represents something remarkable, something never before seen in the history of mankind. Few people pass through this portal anymore because it is no longer the quickest way to enter Yellowstone National Park, but if you do, take a moment to look closely at the words ...

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What Were We Thinking?

April 17, 2015
 
 
 
I post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so I miss out on Throwback Thursdays. Many of you post vintage pictures, and I’m amazed at how good-looking everyone was back in the day. Sure, the fashions and hairstyles are a bit peculiar by modern standards, but that’s to be expected.
           
I recently came across a picture that pushes ...

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Hotter Than Hell

April 15, 2015
 
Today in Portland there’s a chill in the air, prompting me to think about warmth, extreme warmth. I’m reminded of the hottest temperature I ever experienced. Mrs. Chatterbox and I weren’t in a desert; we were in Cancun, Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula.
           
I can only handle lying on the beach for so long, and after a few hours I’m ...

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Nasty Weed

April 13, 2015
 
“I don’t want it in our house!” Mrs. Chatterbox shouted.
           
“It’s MY house, too.”
           
“I thought we’d settled this once and for all.”
           
“I guess not,” I said, ...

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The Duccio Block

April 10, 2015
 
Michelangelo’s David (1501-1504) is arguably the most famous statue in the world, but the task of creating this towering 14.2 ft. masterpiece is even more astonishing when you consider the flawed material with which the artist had to work.           
           
The city of Florence had ...

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Lazy or Cheap?

April 8, 2015
 
 
This post is reminiscent of something my good friend Cranky might offer on his blog, The Cranky Old Man. If you don’t follow Cranky, you don’t know what you’re missing. He’s a wealth of pithy marital observations, and he’s been married enough times to be an expert at giving marital advice (?) even though a large number of his posts end with someone in his ...

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I (Don't) Love Lucy

April 6, 2015
 
 
 
Of course I love Lucille Ball, one of our most recognizable Hollywood icons. I was raised on I Love Lucy, and can’t recall a time when I wasn’t laughing at Lucy making wine, or working in a candy factory, or getting wasted peddling Vitameatavegamin. What I don’t like is the new statue of her recently unveiled in her hometown, Celoron, NY, bordering Jamestown.
     &nbs...

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Peculiar Picture #35

April 3, 2015
 
 
 
 
 
It’s been a while since I’ve added to my Peculiar Picture feature. For any new followers who might not know, I’m a retired illustrator with a file cabinet filled with pictures that, for one reason or another, were never used. This is common for professional illustrators. Typically, one out of three pictures are actually printed.
        &nb...

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An April Fool

April 1, 2015
 
I’m no Stephen Hawking, but I pride myself on being reasonably intelligent, so I was surprised at how easily I was duped.
           
In the nineties, I had an illustration studio in downtown Portland. In case you don’t know, Portland, Oregon, is divided by the Willamette River, which connects to the mighty Columbia before flowing into the Pacific ...

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Memory Lane

March 30, 2015
Does anyone ever plan on growing old? I know I didn’t. When mature enough to start reflecting on the voyage of my life, I was surprised to find out how little documentation there was that I’d ever existed.
           
A popular blog meme is “Throwback Thursdays,” where folks post vintage pictures of themselves. I’ve never participated ...

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Paradise Lost

March 27, 2015
One of the guys I hung out with in college was an architecture student named Alan Aoki, the son of a prominent Northern California florist. His parents often sent flowers to his dorm room, which at first we all thought strange, but eventually we came to appreciate the wonderful scents and colors.
           
One night while partying in Alan’s room, he pointed ...

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An Ambiguous Ending

March 25, 2015
 
Some tales are straightforward and conclude without ambiguity, but this is not one of those stories. It’s a true incident that happened to me in 1983 when I left my position as display manager for Mervyn’s Dept. Store, and took a position as manager of an art gallery in Portland, Oregon.
           
Soaring Wings Gallery specialized in wildlife ...

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The Big "O"

March 23, 2015
 
I didn’t have many followers when I posted this early in 2012. You might have missed it.
 
*********************************
 
Our tour bus was cutting through the Taurus Mountains of Turkey, located on the edge of the Anatolian Plateau where people have been living since Paleolithic times. The mountains were modest compared to the Alps or Rockies, with expansive valleys meeting ...

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Buccaneers of Buzz

March 20, 2015
 
I know many of you have published thousands of posts, but today is Chubby Chatterbox post #600, actually #623 but I’ve subtracted reposts. Although the weather isn’t cooperating everywhere, today is the first day of Astronomical spring and I wanted to post something appropriate.
 
My illustrations were mostly created for books, newspapers and magazines. This picture, done for my own amusement, ...

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It's All Who You Know

March 18, 2015
 
Sometimes, avoiding a ticket comes down to who you know.
           
I haven’t received too many traffic violations (I don’t enjoy driving and do so as little as possible) but recently I remembered a time when I was pulled over by a cop—in 1982. Mrs. C. was working as an executive assistant at the time, but I was unemployed and on my way ...

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One-Step or Two-Step?

March 16, 2015
 
As an art professor, my job included exposing students to various art techniques so they could choose the one best suited to what they wished to express. Most of my students had a fervent desire to learn how to paint portraits, capture likenesses and master flesh tones.
           
In Western art, there are two distinct ways to paint portraits. The first is ...

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Scene at an Airport

March 13, 2015
 
As most of you know, Mrs. Chatterbox and I love to travel, and we’ve seen many interesting things. I try not to prejudge what I’ll see because it’s usually those unexpected or unanticipated experiences that have the deepest impact. The incident I’m going to describe didn’t happen overseas; it happened at New York’s Kennedy Airport, a simple scene but one that still lingers with ...

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Pen & Ink

March 11, 2015

 
I’m still in the process of looking for the ink illustration I mentioned in my recent post, A Comforting Face. (If you missed it, check it out here.) While prowling through my files, I came across a few more pen & ink caricatures. This time I thought it might be fun to have you guess who these folks are. It’s an odd assortment of people, but I bet you get them all. The answers are at ...

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Hemingway's Coat

March 9, 2015
 
 
This piece of fiction was first posted on 11/2/12.
 
 
*********************************
 
 
“I thought you wanted to be a writer,” the old woman said to fourteen year old Becky. 
           
“I do, Granny. My brain is full of ideas, but I have trouble putting them down on paper. All of the ...

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A Comforting Face

March 6, 2015
 
 
When I began my illustration business, I had to scramble for work. I’d always enjoyed creating pen & ink drawings and seemed to have a knack for arranging lines in pleasing patterns to suggest a rich tonality. Pen & ink drawings are often used for logos and mastheads because they reproduce easily and cheaply.
           
I was excited ...

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A Developing Language Problem

March 4, 2015
 
Launching myself into the workforce after high school wasn’t easy. I’ve written several accounts of job disasters. Here’s another.
           
After graduating from high school, the future Mrs. Chatterbox landed a summer job at A-1 Color Lab in nearby San Jose. A color lab is a place where professional photographers bring film from weddings ...

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The Center of the Universe

March 2, 2015
 
Thanks to everyone for your condolences. I didn’t know Bette Fletcher, my sister-in-law’s mother, that well but I know she had a long happy life. She was a devoted grandmother and loved being in the company of children. She’ll be missed by family and friends.
           
This past weekend, Mrs. Chatterbox and I drove to Medina, Washington, ...

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A Lot of Bull

February 27, 2015
 
 
 
It’s hard to look at The Bull, painted in 1647 by twenty-one year old Dutch artist Paulus Potter (1625-1654) and understand how this painting was ever held in higher esteem than Rembrandt’s Night Watch. In fact, when this painting was exhibited in Paris during the Napoleonic Era, critics commented that there were only four canvases in the Louvre’s entire collection ...

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Portrait of an A*#hole

February 25, 2015
 
First posted 5/11/12
           
I saw someone familiar in the obituaries today. It took me a while to place the face but it finally came to me. Years ago she came regularly to the mall jewelry store I managed. She never bought anything, but she was a pleasant widow and I always offered to clean her jewelry. Being a chatty fellow, I let it slip ...

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About Face

February 23, 2015
 
 
 
I don’t discuss regional politics and this post is no exception, but something has come to my attention that makes me shake my head. I feel safe mentioning this because my own state is currently experiencing a gubernatorial scandal prompting our governor to resign in the face of a Federal investigation. If the issue I’m about to discuss occurred in any of the other forty-nine states I’d ...

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Bull's Eye

February 20, 2015
After graduating from the University of Oregon, our son CJ was eager to land a job. He couldn’t find anything in Eugene, but managed to secure a position as a financial consultant for a bank in Lebanon, Oregon. Lebanon has about 15,000 residents, and is approximately fifty miles north of Eugene—Oregon’s second largest city.
           
CJ described ...

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Edith Emerges

February 18, 2015
 
Jo Barney is a wonderful writer and one of my dearest friends. Several years ago, I hosted her to help launch “Graffiti Grandma,” which went on to earn a stellar Kirkus review. Jo is back to discuss her new novel,“Edith.”
 
*************************************
 
Hello, again. As Steve knows, I’ve been chained to my desk for the past few months, ...

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A Stimulating Read

February 17, 2015
 
Some of you might have noticed the saucy picture added to Chubby Chatterbox’s sidebar announcing a new anthology produced by Publishing Syndicate: On SEX: 69 Hilarious Stories About Everything SEX. I was honored when two of my stories were accepted for publication, and surprised when one, Peeping Toms, was selected to help launch the book on the publisher’s blog Laugh ...

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Was That Love in the Air?

February 16, 2015
 
 
 
Was that love in the air on Saturday, or something else? Even though Mrs. Chatterbox and I agreed not to exchange Valentine’s Day gifts, she presented me with one anyway. Perhaps she grew tired of me coming home from hardware stores empty handed. Now there’s a new addition to Casa Chatterbox. He doesn’t look like a Johnny; more like a Brad.
 
If ...

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An Unholy War: The Conclusion

February 13, 2015
 
You can check out Part I (here), and Part II (here).
 
*********************************************
 
The Final Battle
                  
It might’ve been easier to feel sympathy for Father Hinklemeyer if he’d been a nice man, which he wasn’t. He was only friendly when he was ...

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An Unholy War: Part Two

February 11, 2015
 
If you missed Part One, check it out (here).
 
***************************************
A Skirmish
           
I’d become a regular churchgoer without being pushed into it like many kids my age.
           
Most of the Catholic kids in Killarney Park lost interest in God after their ...

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An Unholy War

February 9, 2015
 
Last year I finished my memoir, The Kid in the Kaleidoscope. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with it, but this is one of the few stories I haven’t shared. I hope you enjoy it.
 
*************************************
 
Many families in Killarney Park were Catholic, including mine, so it might seem strange that in 1960 my mom decided to do battle with the Holy Catholic Church. ...

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My One and Only Time On Stage

February 6, 2015
 
First posted 3/7/12
 
So there I was, in a theater packed with a thousand people, all eyes riveted on me as I stepped out onto the stage. I felt weak as a blade of grass and could feel my heart beating in the middle of my forehead. My palms were wet and my shoes were filling with ass sweat. If I were wax I’d have melted away.
 
The stage was situated in a new multi-million dollar center ...

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Doppelganger

February 4, 2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
doppelgänger |ˈdäpəlˌga ng ər|
noun:
an apparition or double of a living person.
ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from German, literally ‘double-goer.’
 
        
When I was thirteen I went with my dad to fetch a pizza from a place up the highway. It was hot in the pizzeria ...

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Heat in the Bedroom

February 2, 2015
 
 
 
 
 
Mrs. Chatterbox and I have been married a long time, and like most couples in lengthy relationships we’ve given each other many gifts. I’ve given Mrs. Chatterbox some curious items, like the time I gave her a hooded orange suede cape (saw one recently on a televised fashion show) but she’s always been masterful at selecting items for me I didn’t know I wanted ...

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The Blue Boy

January 30, 2015
 
This painting, parodied and reduced to paint-by-number, has been reproduced and hung in millions of homes over the decades. Type the words Blue Boy into Google and nothing more is necessary to bring forth this image. Like the Mona Lisa, you might think little more can be said about something so deeply etched into the public consciousness. Actually, The Blue Boy represents the solution to an interesting ...

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Chubby Gets Cheated

January 28, 2015

I learned at a tender age that life isn’t fair, some things don’t live up to their hype while others seemed designed to fool you.
I can’t recall how or when I became addicted to chocolate. Like George Costanza, I’d long worshipped the “dark” master. There was something about the stuff that attracted me; chocolate was a magnet and I had a load of pig iron in my pockets. My parents ...

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A Sucky Situation

January 26, 2015
This is either another skirmish in the war between men and women, or another example of what a bad person I am. You decide.
           
Books have been written about the differences between men and women, such as Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. A recent occurrence in the Chatterbox household illustrates this difference perfectly. Without getting ...

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The Facile Fasces

January 23, 2015
 
 
 
 
While watching President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, I spotted something on TV that reminded me of my interest in symbols and customs. For me, it isn’t enough that something exists; I want to know why. Have you ever noticed the large wall decorations flanking the podium in the US House of Representatives? They’re called fasces; the word derives from the Latin ...

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Bragging on the Bolshoi

January 21, 2015
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, hospital wings and research centers. They donate to ...

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Logos on Treadmills

January 19, 2015
When I was a chubby kid, I wished everyone was overweight so I wouldn’t stand out so much. An old Chinese saying cautions: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. Recently, it seems I’ve gotten my way. America is fattening up with obesity becoming an epidemic, and in spite of my youthful wish I’m not happy about my fellow citizens experiencing high blood pressure, clogged arteries, ...

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Chocolate Diamonds

January 16, 2015
I realize that a recent post admitting my fashion limitations (check it out here) might compromise what I’m about to say, but I’m here to offer a different fashion tip concerning something I know about—diamonds. There was a time when I made a lot of money selling diamonds, and while I purposely never became a certified gemologist from fear it would compromise my ability to sell them, I nevertheless ...

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Mrs. Chatterbox's Rainbow

January 14, 2015
First posted Feb, 2012
 
Mrs. Chatterbox and I married shortly after graduating from college, she with an English degree from Santa Clara University and me with an art degree from UCLA. We settled in a 1930s duplex in West LA. I continued to hang out with my artsy college friends and tried to break into the Los Angeles art scene. Mrs. C. and I frequented numerous parties and artistic events, referred to ...

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Three Wishes

January 12, 2015
I was an unusually deep thinker as a child, a kid who contemplated philosophy and religion, a chubby little Stephen Hawking contemplating the nature of the universe. But mostly I was consumed by something that trumped these notable concerns. I was worried about genies.
           
“Genies?” you might say.
           
Yes...

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New Vansterdam

January 7, 2015

 
A few days after Christmas, I decided to make an overdue visit to a friend in Vancouver, Washington. For those of you unfamiliar with the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver is across the Columbia River, and only a few miles from Portland, Oregon. When I arrived, my friend, who I’ll call Sam, had a few errands to run so I accompanied him. Sam, who’d been my assistant when I managed a jewelry store years ...

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Online Security

January 5, 2015
It seems like every day I receive a warning reminding me to protect myself from hackers and scammers by changing my passwords as regularly as I change my underwear. I probably shouldn’t announce this, but I only have one password and I use it for everything, and have done so for a long time. I accept this risk because my memory isn’t what it should be, and I know I’d forget new passwords before the ...

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Radio Gibberish

January 2, 2015
I hope everyone had a fun and safe New Year Holiday. Yesterday, I partied too hard to write anything new, but here’s a post from 2012 I hope will bring you to a happy place.
 
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I love it when bloggers post music videos. I don’t make enough time in my life for music and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to add more music to my life. ...

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No Fashion Guru

December 31, 2014
A few years ago I made a dreadful mistake, something absurd for one as cultured and capable as yours truly. Even before revealing what I did, I can imagine you ladies— and some of you guys—tsk..tsk…tsking me for my stupidity. I can almost hear you turning to loved ones and speaking of me as if I’d been picked up on the street in my underwear, not knowing who I was. “He seemed so smart,” ...

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A Lesson for CJ

December 29, 2014
How nice it would be if my creative inventiveness accommodated the season—if only Christmas stories would flow from me right before the holidays, the same with Easter or Halloween. But my brain doesn’t work that way. This morning I was scratching my head for something to write about, and instead of an idea about dreary winter popping into my head, a vintage summer memory filled my thoughts. So, for those ...

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An After Christmas Miracle

December 26, 2014

 
 
Some of you might not be ready for Christmas to be over, so here is a fictional piece I wrote that was inspired by an after Christmas trip to the mall.
 
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The mall was choked with shoppers returning Christmas presents and looking for end of year deals. My sister had gifted me an unsuitable sweater and I’d come to return it. With the refund ...

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Mrs. Claus in Old Town

December 22, 2014
Since closing my illustration studio in Portland over a decade ago, I’ve had little reason to travel downtown, a place I’d avoid completely were it not for a certain food that calls to me like heroin summoning a junkie. Portland is famous for its many food trucks, and when my studio was operational I became addicted to lamb biryani, a curry and rice dish served up by a truck beneath a tawdry sign reading ...

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The Deal Breaker on Being Jewish

December 19, 2014
This year I finally completed my memoir “The Kid in the Kaleidoscope,” and it includes this reposted story from 2012. I painted the illustration for a card company in 1995.
 
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Jonathan Khorman lived three houses down from me. One day while perched in the sycamore tree in his front yard he turned to me and made a startling declaration. “I’m ...

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Finding the Porziuncola

December 17, 2014
 
 
Like many Catholics, I grew up enthralled by the story of Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment. Francis and I both shared a profound love for God’s creatures, and one of my childhood treasures was a book showing a fresco of Saint Francis preaching to birds. One of the details in St. Francis lore capturing my attention was the Porziuncola, a small ...

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Free Delivery

December 15, 2014
I’m only being honest when I say most people like me. I’m light-hearted and don’t take things too seriously, and I’m great at faking sincerity. It’s true that the corners of my mouth curve upward in an impish grin that people sometimes take for a smirk, but all in all I get along well with people. I’ve also spent years in retail and know what it means to give good service, and I treat ...

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Playing With Food

December 12, 2014

First posted 3/21/12
 
 
 
 
 
 
I was driving home from the grocery store yesterday and the deejay on the radio was spinning moldy oldies and asking trivia questions. One of the questions was: “What was the first toy or game advertised directly to children on television?”
I’m terrible at trivia and usually rely on Mrs. C. to fill me in on the Zeitgeist, but I ...

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Contest Update

December 11, 2014
On November 17th I mentioned that I was entering a travel writing contest with my entry Whirling Dervishes. My piece made it through the first round and is being considered for a prize. The originator of the contest is We Said Go Travel and my story was posted a few days ago. Unfortunately, it hasn’t received any comments and I’m hoping a few of you can provide some. I know this is asking ...

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Complaining About the Weather

December 10, 2014
 
 
Everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.
—Mark Twain—
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Most regions of our country are currently experiencing severe weather and quite a few bloggers are commenting on it. It seems that weather reports on the evening news are getting longer and longer, as if we’re all still farmers and need to know when to go out and plant ...

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A Fraud at Westminster Abbey?

December 8, 2014

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Most of Britain’s great writers are memorialized in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey, and quite a few are buried there, including Chaucer, Blake, Browning, Dickens, Tennyson and Kipling. Interred here is James Macpherson. Never heard of him? He pulled off the most successful literary scam in modern history.
 
       &...

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I Almost Felt Guilty

December 5, 2014

The nice folks at Retirement and Good Living have asked for another story, and I’ve shared an account of a special car I purchased to celebrate my retirement. I might have gone too far with a practical joke I pulled on my salesman—you be the judge. Please follow the link and leave a comment so they’ll invite me back. Thanks.
 
http://retirementandgoodliving.com/i-almost-felt-guilty/
   ...

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Why, God?

December 3, 2014
I’m receiving pictures from fellow bloggers showing snow-covered front lawns and backyards, reminding me of the first time I saw snow. Mrs. Chatterbox was an Army brat and grew up in Germany where snow is plentiful, but for me snow was an elusive mirage constantly out of reach. The Santa Clara Valley, home until I was twenty, was famous for its moderate fruit-growing weather, and the snow I coveted would have destroyed ...

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Sailing

December 1, 2014

 
 
 
It’s been cold and dreary here in Portland, and I’ve been thinking about a wonderfully sunny excursion Mrs. Chatterbox and I took several years ago. After cruising through the Panama Canal, we stopped in Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Mexico’s Baja California Penninsula. At the end of the pier was a tired old vessel. I’ve always been interested in vintage ships and once wrote ...

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My New Friend

November 28, 2014
I was new to blogging when I began Chubby Chatterbox in 2011. Back then, I’d never even read a blog. I was looking for a way to find an audience for my storytelling, and starting a blog was my son CJ’s idea.  He helped me design my site, and guided me through how it operated so I could maintain it properly. I had no idea blogs came with a statistics page, but once I became aware of mine I waited on pins ...

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The Best Turkey Ever!

November 26, 2014
This story is the closest thing I have to a Chatterbox Classic. I don’t post on Thursdays so here it is today. I haven’t posted it in a while. If you’re reading it for the first time, I hope you enjoy it. If you remember it from the past, congratulations; your long term memory is still intact.
 
 
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This morning I woke alone in bed. ...

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The Harrison Stamp Company

November 24, 2014
 
As if I haven’t already given you cause to believe I was a nerdy kid ( I was an artist, chess player, member of the Latin Club, poet, devotee of ancient civilizations and skilled puppet maker) I also collected stamps.
           
I got hooked when Grandpa gave me a dog-eared album with a few stamps from exotic places like India and China, including some ...

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Bordello Chair

November 21, 2014
This is the history of a chair, nothing as important as a throne or relic, but it has been in the Chatterbox household for forty years—our so-called bordello chair.
           
Mrs. Chatterbox and I had only been married a few years when a really stupid idea crossed our minds, the type of idea that’s fodder for TV sitcoms—we decided to move into ...

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The Raft of the Medusa

November 19, 2014
What do you do if you’re athletic and good-looking, talented enough to catch the public’s attention, and you’re engaged in a scandal serious enough to get you horsewhipped and thrown in a French jail? If you’re Theodore Géricault (pronounced Gericho) and you’ve impregnated the young hottie your uncle recently married, you lock yourself away in a studio for two years, shave ...

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Whirling Dervishes

November 17, 2014
I’m submitting this story to a travel magazine contest. The entry needs to be less than 800 words, express a feeling of gratitude, and reflect a destination that makes you feel strong and hopeful. Wish me luck.
 
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A curtain was pulled back and figures emerged from darkness in a shaft of light—a half dozen cloaked musicians with medieval instruments. They arranged ...

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Not So Smooth Sailing

November 14, 2014
Travel can add stress to any relationship, especially new ones. Mrs. Chatterbox and I have always gotten along with remarkably little friction, but one incident when we were newlyweds comes to mind, a time when things didn’t go well. Like most marriage squabbles, I can’t recall the cause for the dust up.
           
Shortly after our dangerous train experience ...

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Tons of...Fun?

November 12, 2014
 
Like most kids growing up, money burned a hole in my pocket. If I found a nickel or dime I’d spend it as quickly as possible, usually on candy bars. Unlike most kids on the street where I grew up, my brother and I weren’t given an allowance; our parents (my mother) didn’t believe children should be paid to do household chores.
           
Some ...

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Danger!

November 10, 2014
We’d run hard to catch the train, only to realize it wasn’t attached to anything; the correct train was on the far side of the station. We reached it and threw our backpacks aboard the train as it started moving. Exhausted, we fell asleep in one of the empty compartments shortly after pulling out of the station.
           
We woke in darkness to discover ...

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Manly Me!

November 7, 2014

 
 
 
 
I’ve once again drained the shampoo bottle in my gym bag, prompting this repeat from 2012.
 
********************************
 
 This morning Mrs. Chatterbox said to me, “So how’s that shampoo I bought you?”
           
I’d asked her to pick up some more ...

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An Old Radio

November 5, 2014
Aside from the city dump, my grandfather’s basement was the next best thing to kid nirvana. It had a musty under-the-house smell, with a hint of yeasty fermentation from the oak barrels where Grandpa stored brandies made from fruit trees he tended behind his garage. There were old fishing poles and wicker baskets to hold fish, strange musical instruments with broken strings, moldy books in a language I couldn’t ...

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The Panama Canal

November 3, 2014
 
“Yes, but only if we can cross from one ocean into another,” I answered when Mrs. Chatterbox asked if I was interested in seeing the Panama Canal. Most cruises only take you to Lake Gatun at the halfway point, where you reverse direction and return to your port of origin. For me, crossing the entire Isthmus of Panama was the whole point of any Panama Canal adventure.
         &...

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How to Ruin a Ruin

October 31, 2014
Gas was cheap when I was a child, and like many Americans my parents would pack up the kids for Sunday road trips. Sometimes we’d drive our Packard up the Old Bayshore Highway to San Francisco. For a kid caught in the colorless existence of the suburbs, The City (as residents of San Francisco refer to their home) was a marvelous place filled with culture, history and excitement. Most of my trips to The ...

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Hung in Fussen

October 29, 2014
While traveling through Germany in the seventies, Mrs. C. and I took a train from Bitburg to Füssen in southern Bavaria to visit Ludwig II’s iconic Neuschwanstein, the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Night had fallen by the time we stepped away from the train station to look for a hotel, my backpack heavy with souvenirs and a tattered copy of Frommer’s Europe on Ten Dollars ...

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Danish Traffic Jams...and Jellies

October 27, 2014
Denmark is amazingly clean, beautiful, and extremely well organized, unless you’re on a bus in Copenhagen on a Sunday. Mrs. C. and I were headed to see the world famous statue of the Little Mermaid, donated by Carl Jacobsen of Carlsberg Breweries and placed at the harbor’s edge in 1913, now arguably the most visited site in Denmark.
           
We sat ...

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Would You Eat This Stuff?

October 24, 2014
Since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated with Ancient Rome. Had I been that kid in the movie Airport I’d have answered yes when Peter Graves asked, “Do you like gladiator movies?” Sure, the Romans had their problems, mostly a societal thirst for blood and a system of governance that makes our politics look like kindergarten squabbles, but Rome still managed to effectively rule ...

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Bifurcate

October 22, 2014
 
I’ve recently received word that two more of my stories have been accepted by Publishing Syndicate, this time for inclusion in their upcoming book On Sex, 69 hilarious stories about everything SEX. This publisher is also interested in completed manuscripts so I’ve been bifurcating my time between writing and painting. It’s been hard putting down my brushes after setting them aside for ...

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Subject Matter

October 20, 2014

I couldn’t see the owner of the voice saying “Hi” to me in our pool locker room because a curtain of clothes hangers blocked my view. I parted the hangers but still couldn’t identify the person. I said, “Who is it? Without my glasses everything looks like a Monet painting.”
                
The person said, ...

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Viral Couch

October 17, 2014
 If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a psychiatrist, here’s your chance. Grab a notepad and prepare to diagnose. I lie before you on an imaginary couch, in need of a psychiatric evaluation. I’m being haunted by a recurring dream.
    
We dream every night, but until recently I seldom remembered mine, aside from occasional “water” dreams when I drink ...

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The Leopard Changes Its Spots: Conclusion

October 15, 2014
This tale is from “The Kid in the Kaleidoscope.” If you missed Part One catch it (here) 
 
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By the spring of my junior year, it was time to do something about the abuse heaped on me by Coach Jenkins. The time for revenge had arrived, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Ricky Delgado had spent nearly as much time at Juvy ...

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The Leopard Changes Its Spots

October 13, 2014
 
 
 
 
 Phys. Ed. was my least favorite class at Wilcox High School. I’d managed to lose most of my excess weight, but I had yet to develop muscle tone. Mr. Jenkins, the P.E. teacher/football coach, was making my life miserable. He wanted my All-Star brother David for the football team, but David didn’t have time and constantly turned him down. Coach Jenkins took it out on me. Several ...

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Confession Time...Again

October 10, 2014
I watch too much TV.
    
With my propensity to chatter, it’s no surprise that I strike up conversations with anyone, including the cute 35ish lifeguard at the pool where I swim. I asked her if she was a fan of Downton Abbey, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones or any of the über-hyped programs about to return to the Fall lineup.
    
She said, “Oh, I don’t ...

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Taft's Tub

October 8, 2014
Recently, while watching Ken Burns’ documentary on the Roosevelts, I saw pictures of the president following Teddy into the White House. I was reminded of this post, written in the early months of Chubby Chatterbox.
 
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Some stories are stuck in the public’s consciousness and can’t be dislodged by logic or evidence to ...

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Doing the Right Thing

October 6, 2014

When I mentioned it to Mrs. Chatterbox she looked alarmed, like I’d lost my mind. When I stopped speaking she said, “You did the right thing.”
    
When I mentioned it to our son CJ, he cocked his head like I was stupid for even considering such a thing. Finally, relief flooded his face and he said. “You did the right thing.”
    
But I still feel ...

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Small World

October 3, 2014
About fifteen years ago, Mrs. Chatterbox and I flew to Tahiti where we boarded a ship for a cruise through French Polynesia. We weren’t particularly thrilled with Tahiti and its dirty congested capital, Papeete. And the famous black beaches were beautiful, but the sand heated up to nearly two hundred degrees, making it impossible to walk barefoot into the surf. But many of the surrounding islands were unpopulated ...

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Yes, I Have a Drinking Problem

October 1, 2014
I will readily admit that I have a compulsive personality, but the time has come for me to admit I’m struggling with an addiction. There was a time when I’d come home from work and down several martinis before dinner. Mrs. Chatterbox told me she thought I was developing a problem, but that ended when we agreed she should stop mixing martinis and handing me one when I arrived home from work. These days I rarely ...

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You Never Know

September 29, 2014

Recently while shopping at our local grocery store, I was reminded of someone I hadn’t thought of in years, someone who’d inadvertently changed my outlook on life. It happened shortly after I got married and moved to Oxnard, California.
    
My art degree hadn’t opened any career doors for me, but after a long and exhausting search I landed a job as a display manager for Mervyn’s ...

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Really, I'm Not a Terrorist!

September 26, 2014
Three days ago I received an e-mail from one of my favorite bloggers, Catalyst/Taylor at Oddball Observations. His e-mail was short and succinct: Say it isn’t so!!! This link was attached.
 
http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2014/09/stephen-hayes-on-dhs-terrorist-watchlist-195996.html
 
When I clicked on it, I was connected to a news story about a journalist who’d discovered he was on Homeland ...

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Late Night Intruder

September 24, 2014
Mrs. Chatterbox and I enjoy watching HGTV, especially programs where designers compete to remodel older properties. Lately I’ve noticed that wallpaper, which had all but disappeared as a home fashion statement, is making a comeback.
    
I shiver while recalling previous homes with hideous wallpaper that had to be removed, or wallpaper that had been painted over. A prized moment happened years ...

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Moosh-vega

September 22, 2014
Do you have special words in your family that aren’t found in the dictionary, words only those who share DNA with you can understand? A few weeks ago our son CJ was visiting. Mrs. C. fried up some chicken. After eating his fill, our son pushed away his plate and announced he’d had enough. I wasn’t finished eating and without thinking exclaimed, “Moosh-vega!”
    
“Are ...

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Picture of the Week #5

September 19, 2014
 
 
 
 
Years ago I attended a three day seminar by noted illustrator/painter Marshall Arisman. Arisman had made a big splash in the world of illustration with work featured on the cover of Time Magazine, as well as other major publications at the time. Arisman’s work was unique in that his figures were grotesque yet impossible to categorize by race. If a magazine featured a cover story ...

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Bugs and Bistros

September 17, 2014
 
 
 
First posted 8/03/11
 
Mrs. Chatterbox and I recently dined at her favorite bistro in a fashionable part of town not far from where we live. After being seated, I placed my napkin on my lap. When it dropped to the floor, I bent down to retrieve it and noticed a dead cockroach under our table. I’m not particularly squeamish—little over the years has prompted me to lose my appetite—but ...

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The Night Watch

September 15, 2014

I enjoy sharing my love of art history and recently asked for suggestions for topics readers might want discussed. This post was prompted by someone suggesting Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Essays on art can be rather dry but consider yourself warned; you’re about to see a man having his brains blown out.
    
Few paintings are as famous as Rembrandt’s ...

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The Mrs. Urbanick Experience

September 12, 2014

 
 
 
As I was driving home from swimming the other morning, the road in front of me was choked with school buses collecting kids and transporting them to school. Those buses reminded me that in the sixth grade someone briefly lit up my juvenile universe, outshining Helen Delgado, my best friend’s mother, who I’d had a crush on since I was five years old. Briefly eclipsing Helen was Mrs. Urbanick, ...

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I'm Being Published!

September 10, 2014

 
 
I know many of you have been published, but I’ve been writing nonstop for a decade without seeing a single word in print outside the Blogosphere. I recently learned that a California publisher has accepted my work for an upcoming collection of true stories titled Working for a Living. The collection is being published by Not Your Mother’s Books and is tentatively scheduled ...

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Bogie

September 8, 2014
I’m not a golfer and might never have had the opportunity to set foot inside a venerable old golf club were it not for my in-laws, avid golfers who joined The Portland Golf Club shortly after moving to the Pacific Northwest in 1985.
    
One Saturday afternoon my father-in-law invited me to lunch at the Portland Golf Club. My father-in-law was a gregarious guy who’d made friends with Mr. ...

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Who Killed the Pig?

September 5, 2014
I’ve devoted more than a few posts to the fact that I was denied dogs and cats growing up. It didn’t help that every time we visited Grandma she’d ramble on about the old days when they’d butcher pigs. I was a soft-hearted kid who cried at the end of Charlotte’s Web just thinking about poor Wilbur being left alone, but the thought of pigs like Wilbur being butchered turned my stomach, ...

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The Ultimate Rice Cooker

September 3, 2014

 
My only sibling, an older brother who happens to be a partner for a major Wall Street bank, has always been status conscious. He married the high school prom queen, owns homes in prestigious neighborhoods, drives highly touted luxury cars and only reserves tables at trendy restaurants. When time came for him to acquire a dog he researched the subject and paid top dollar for a golden lab from a well-known breeder. ...

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Mother and the King

September 1, 2014
My mother wasn’t content keeping house and drinking coffee with the other housewives. In 1962 when I was ten years old she shocked the neighborhood by setting her sights on finding a job. Back then gas was cheap and Sunday drives were a popular pastime. Mom, Dad and I piled into our Packard and drove into the foothills near Los Gatos. We ended up at the bottling plant for Almadén Vineyards and noticed a ...

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Justifying The "B" Word

August 29, 2014
First posted 11/07/12
 
Yes, I admit it; in a moment of weakness I looked my son’s godmother in the face and called her the “B” word. Horrible I know, but don’t condemn me until you know the facts.
    
Our son’s godparents (I’ll refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. G.) are psychologists and a delightful couple. They live in Sacramento and are our oldest ...

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The Appendix Couch

August 27, 2014
During the summer break before my sophomore year of high school I woke one night with a terrible pain in my side. I should have figured it was my appendix since the Hayes appendix isn’t worth a damn and all male members of my family have had theirs out, my brother when he was only two, but for some reason my appendix wasn’t suspected of being the problem.
    
When I couldn’t stop ...

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Process of Elimination

August 25, 2014
Everything associated with babies is usually considered cute and adorable, including the elimination of body waste. Call it what you will: potty, or doody, boom boom or poopy, but at some point in life the cozy euphemisms no longer apply. When is that all-important moment when snuggly slang metastasizes into a clinical word like stool?
    
As most of you know, Mrs. Chatterbox works for the local ...

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For Whom the Bell Tolls

August 22, 2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
Have you ever wondered about the biggest bell in the world? Most people would say it’s in Moscow, weighing in at 445,166 pounds. The Tsar Bell was commissioned by the niece of Peter the Great. It broke during casting and has never been rung. But it’s possible the Tsar Bell will soon lose it’s ranking as the world’s largest. The new contender for the title ...

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Picture of the Week #4

August 20, 2014

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Artists often set aside paintings in progress for a variety of reasons. Perhaps other commissions got in the way, the subject of a portrait might have died, or the artist didn’t have the technical skill to finish it. I was heavily under the influence of Rembrandt when I began this painting of fantasy characters in 1985. I recently found ...

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The Cement Boat

August 18, 2014
An excerpt from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope:
 
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When I was a kid my dad often took me and my older brother David to the Cement Boat. Originally designed as a cargo transport in 1918, the Cement Boat missed action in World War I. She was made with a material not recognized ...

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The Waltzing Bandit

August 15, 2014

“The Waltzing Bandit? That’s a stupid name for a crook.”
    
“Maybe so, but he buried stolen gold around here,” I said.
    
We were spending the day at Alum Rock Park in the Diablo Range foothills on the east side of San Jose. I’d brought along my best friend Ricky Delgado. Ricky’s dad was a drunk and currently incarcerated on the Farm, ...

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The Bomb Shelter Game

August 13, 2014

 
 
This was among the first posts on my original site. I’ve listed it under favorites on my new blog but it hasn’t received any comments. I thought it might be fun to rerun it in case you missed it.
 
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Back in 1967 when I was a junior in high school, Mr. Farrington, our social studies teacher, came up with an interesting idea that made us all stop thinking ...

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Perfectly Clear

August 11, 2014

One day my fifth grade teacher walked up to my desk and asked me why I squinted when I looked at the blackboard. Until then I had no idea I was a squinter. It must have been a rhetorical question because she must have known why I squinted. She sent me to the nurse’s office and I was given a note to take home to my parents. The note suggested I might need corrective lenses and my eyes should be checked as soon ...

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Madame X

August 8, 2014
“Shameful!”
    
“A disgrace!”
    
“The artist should be whipped!”
    
The painter John Singer Sargent had no idea his portrait of Madame Pierre Gautreau, known for her artful appearance, would become the talk of Paris at the Salon of 1884. Sargent hoped to enhance his reputation by painting her portrait, but instead of ...

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Shame!

August 6, 2014

The last time I felt this much shame I was thirteen and busily abusing myself after finding a discarded copy of Playboy in a trashcan on my walk to school. That was a long time ago and I’d assumed I was beyond debasing myself, but I was wrong. I blame Mrs. Chatterbox for what happened; she’s the one who brought it to my attention. Of course I knew about it, but I’d resisted ...

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Superstition

August 4, 2014
A mirror is handy to have in my studio because it allows me to see my work in reverse. I find this useful because after long concentration my eyes often go dead to what I’m painting and a mirror reveals the flaws. Yesterday while painting I reached for the small mirror on the taboret beside my easel. It slipped through my fingers and hit the concrete of our garage floor, shattering into many pieces. Looking down ...

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Not So Great Expectations

August 1, 2014

Today in Portland it’s in the nineties, but summers aren’t always warm, or even dry. When our son CJ was small we wanted to abandon dreary Portland for a few days. We decided to head east to Sun River in central Oregon. I made a few calls to secure lodging and discovered we weren’t the only ones trying to flee the bad weather. Sun River was completely booked…except for one condo. I asked the ...

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I Didn't Relish This One

July 30, 2014

 
 
I was excited when my agent informed me she’d landed us a plum assignment with Steinfeld’s Products. Steinfeld’s had been manufacturing pickles, sauerkrauts and relishes for over a century, and I was eager to work with them.
    
I arrived at Steinfeld’s advertising agency in downtown Portland and was seated in a conference room, which quickly filled with men ...

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The Hoax

July 28, 2014

 
 
 
This piece, originally published 1/25/12, is the only one of my five hundred posts to receive a negative comment. Someone told me I was just a lazy bum and I should get off my ass and learn math. This was intended to be tongue in cheek but some people thought I was serious. Well, maybe I was...a little.
 
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This might be the most self-serving post I’ve ...

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Land of the Unknown

July 25, 2014
 
 
 
I’ve stopped watching the news at dinnertime because it’s too disturbing. Mrs. Chatterbox and I have been watching—please don’t judge us too harshly— Family Feud. A recent question asked was : Aside from their cars, what do men value most? The #1 answer was…their tools.
    
My dad was a professional mechanic and had lots of tools. I had uncles ...

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Picture of the Week #2

July 23, 2014
 
 
 
 
Actually, it’s more like the picture of the month since it took that long to complete this painting. Hopefully, you’ve read my previous post (click here) so this picture, which I call The Little Sultan, will make sense.
    
In Turkey, boys between the ages of five and ten are dressed up as sultans and fêted for an entire day. Later that evening ...

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Sultan for a Day

July 21, 2014

I wrote this post several years ago, shortly after Mrs. Chatterbox and I returned from Turkey. I’ve spent the last four weeks working on a painting based on this post. I’ll reveal my finished canvas on Wednesday.
 
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I saw him when Mrs. Chatterbox and I were sitting on a bench between sixteen hundred year old Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque in ...

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Clever?

July 18, 2014
First posted 1/9/12
    
Do you remember when it was considered a compliment to be called clever? I remember hearing comments like, “That Johnny is one clever boy.” I wanted to be like Johnny. I thought my parents wanted me to be clever, a term I equated with smart. But somewhere along the way clever became undesirable. My ears are still ringing from the last time my wife said, ...

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Raju

July 16, 2014

Life had not treated Raju kindly. He’d been sold as a baby fifty years ago and since then his life had been a living hell. He’d been taunted, beaten, starved, forced to perform tricks and had been reduced to eating scraps thrown at him by tourists. You might have read about Raju recently. He’s become famous for doing something remarkable, something extremely common in humans but never before witnessed ...

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Cue the Cello Music

July 14, 2014
I was terrified long before the theater lights dimmed. It was July of 1975 and Mrs. Chatterbox and I, living in West Los Angeles, had come to see the movie Jaws. The theater was packed with enthusiastic movie-goers, here for 124 minutes of terror and gore.
    
I’d long had a fear of sharks, a phobia inherited from my grandfather, a Portuguese fisherman who’d described in detail ...

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Holier Than Thou

July 11, 2014
 
“You might feel a slight pressure,” she said, but I only felt a gentle tingle when she pushed the needle into the fleshy portion of my right hand, between my thumb and index finger.
    
“That isn’t anywhere near the pain,” I said.
    
Angela explained, “Pain radiates. Your body is unbalanced. My goal is to balance you.” She began ...

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I'm Not Proud of It

July 9, 2014
 
First Posted 2/8/12
    
On most days I turn on my computer to find that I’ve been invited to join a contest or have supposedly won one I never entered. Let me be clear: I never win contests and seldom enter them. I’m a great finder of things, particularly in the homes of people on vacation.
    
My streak of bad luck at winning contests started with, ...

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Ken Orrett's Magic Carpet Ride

July 7, 2014

When Ken Orrett entered our college classroom that first time I thought he looked like Santa Claus with a Bahamian tan. Jovial and bursting with knowledge, he was here to teach art history, a subject I knew very little about. He explained that, while he loved teaching art history, he was primarily an artist and had been painting for nearly forty years.
    
A hand shot into the air with ...

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Eulogy for Pizza Oasis

July 4, 2014
Happy Fourth of July everyone. On this day I’m always reminded of King George III’s diary entry for July 4, 1776. He wrote, “Nothing unusual happened today.”
 
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A few days ago I drove through our old neighborhood and noticed Pizza Oasis had shut its doors and gone out of business. A lump rose in my throat as I thought about the neighborhood pizzeria where many times ...

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John Doe

July 2, 2014

This painting harbors a secret. It looks conventional enough, a wealthy older man in a posh setting, an expensive Japanese screen in the background and an antique leather chair beneath him. He is easy in his own skin as he faces the sunset of his life, a scarf around his throat and a jaunty handkerchief in the pocket of his coat. He isn’t one to suffer fools easily but he appears friendly and probably has a good ...

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Celebrations

June 30, 2014

June is a time of celebration at Casa Chatterbox. Thursday would have been my dad’s 88th birthday, Friday was our son’s birthday, and yesterday Mrs. Chatterbox and I celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary.
    
This picture shows us shortly after our honeymoon when we’d moved into an old duplex in West Los Angeles. I’d inherited the apartment from my college chum Ray, ...

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CJ's Birthday

June 27, 2014

Today is our son CJ’s thirty-fourth birthday. I don’t feel old enough to have a son that age, but the wrinkled face in the mirror assures me it’s true. Mrs. C. and I were twenty-eight and had already been married six years when we had our one and only child. Since we’ve known each other since high school it isn’t inconceivable that we could have a son in his forties. I shiver at the thought.
   ...

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Try This At Home

June 25, 2014
First posted 4/14/12
    
The Grande Odalisque, an odalisque being a harem girl, was painted in 1814 by a Frenchman by the name of Ingres (pronounced angry-without the y).  The French were queer at the time for anything having to do with distant cultures. They coined the term Orientalism, even though Grande Odalisque doesn’t resemble anyone who ever stepped out ...

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Cutting the Cord

June 23, 2014

I recently came to the realization that someone in my family is having difficulty cutting the cord. I’m referring to my 89 year old mother and her telephone. A recent phone conversation with Mom went like this:
    
“Mom, have you been outside today?”
    
“No. Why?”
    
“Go open your front door. You’re in for a treat.”
  ...

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Running Down the Governor of California

June 20, 2014

No, it wasn’t Arnold the Governator, and no, I wasn’t a reporter in hot pursuit of an interview. It was Jerry Brown, and I ran him down with my car.
    
I’d forgotten my unfortunate encounter with the former Governor of California and three-time presidential candidate (now the current Governor of California) until I dialed in to a local deejay who was asking listeners to phone ...

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Peculiar Picture #34

June 18, 2014
This illustration was painted shortly after moving to Oregon. I was still working in oil at the time. This piece was done on textured paper, with the forms wiped out while the paint was wet. Other colors were added later. My illustration was intended for a fluff piece The Oregonian was running on the forestry industry.
     
When it came to creating illustrations I always tried to hold my ...

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Tiffany

June 16, 2014
 
Years ago I read in the newspaper that a special collection of items from the permanent collection of The Smithsonian was touring the country and would arrive in Portland in a few weeks. The article went on to say that among the included items would be the stovepipe hat Lincoln wore to Ford’s Theater that fateful night, along with a pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. ...

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The Last Judgment

June 13, 2014

 
 
 
Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, painted behind the main altar of the Sistine Chapel between 1534 and 1541, is one of the most heralded masterpieces in Western Art. Since its completion, artists and critics have been astonished by Michelangelo’s total mastery of composition and human anatomy, but that doesn’t mean we have to take every stroke of it seriously, even though ...

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Go By Train

June 11, 2014

Shortly before my dad unexpectedly passed away in 2008 he drove across town to our house to spend the afternoon with me. Mom and Dad had only lived in Portland a few years, having recently relocated from the Bay Area because a health scare had convinced them it was time to move near us in case they needed assistance.
    
Dad was a gregarious guy but we sometimes had difficulty finding subjects to ...

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Paintings of the Week

June 9, 2014

Now that I’ve returned to painting I’ve decided to create a new feature called Painting(s) of the Week, where I intend to share with you the pictures I’ve been working on. This probably won’t be a weekly feature because there will be times when I won’t have painted anything along with others when I only managed a scratcher—a painting so bad I ended up scratching it off the ...

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The Biggest Peeve of All

June 6, 2014
 
 
It’s a mouse-size pet peeve, but sometimes it roars within me like a lion. Frequent readers of this blog know I’m often at odds with my eighty-nine year old mother. Mom is not mellowing with age and is feistier than ever. She spends most of her time watching Court TV and putting down the government. When I call, my role is that of a human crossword puzzle, keeping her sharp, even though I ...

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Not the Man I Once Was

June 4, 2014
 
 
 
I’m the tallest man I know, but only when I sit down. I’m 5’8” when standing—the height of the average American thanks to Hispanics and Asians—but seated around a dining room table I tower over everyone. I know what you’re thinking: You must have an ass as big as a Rose Parade float, but I don’t. Well, maybe the size of those carts that scoop up the ...

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The Century Plant

June 2, 2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Most illustrators believe they have a picture book lurking inside them and I was no exception, especially since I also enjoyed writing. Twenty years ago during my illustration career I decided to pen a children’s book based on a story my paternal grandmother told me about a century plant growing in front of her grandfather’s house when ...

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Four Corners and a Void

May 30, 2014
 
 
 
 Expatriate American painter John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) is best known for his flattering portraits of aristocrats, heiresses and well-heeled businessmen. He is famous for virtuoso brushwork and his ability to capture a moment or gesture. But his name doesn’t spring to mind when one thinks of portraits that dig beneath the surface to reveal the complexities of human nature. ...

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Tina's Garden

May 28, 2014
 
Mrs. Chatterbox and I were invited to a Memorial Day barbeque at the home of our good friends and travel companions Bruce and Tina. In addition to the warmth and hospitality, I always enjoy spending time with them because Tina is an avid gardener and her backyard is brighter than the palettes of most artists. I’ve never been able to grow anything and Mrs. Chatterbox will only go near dirt if convinced the ...

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In Memory Of...

May 26, 2014
I was not familiar with the Battle of Monte Cassino when I spotted the buildings high on the mountaintop as our bus rolled into the parking lot of a well-tended cemetery. Yet fellow travelers on our bus were pulling out handkerchiefs and wiping their eyes even before the bus braked to a stop. For some, this was the focus of their trip, the reason they’d come, to see the place where their fathers and brothers closed ...

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Wandering Buddha

May 23, 2014
 
First posted 7/27/12
    
Not long ago Mrs. C. and I decided to visit The Portland Japanese Garden. Portland’s climate is similar to Japan’s and our garden is considered one of the best in the country. We visit every few years and try to time our trips when the cherry trees are blossoming. Helpful guides are on hand to explain the history of Japanese landscape design and ...

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Vanished

May 21, 2014

 
We recently passed the sixth anniversary of my dad’s passing, although it seems like only yesterday when I received a call from Mom telling me Dad was gone. His death was totally unexpected and much that happened during that time is a blur. One incident does stand out clearly. It had to do with a painting.
    
I made arrangements to return Dad’s ashes to California so he could ...

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Conclusion: My Second Favorite Organ

May 19, 2014
Check out Part I (here)
 
The oral surgeon scheduled the removal of the growth resembling a sea bass’s eyeball on the underside of my tongue. During surgery, several muscles were cut that made speech difficult for the next few months. Fortunately, a biopsy revealed that the growth was a harmless calcium deposit, and not cancerous.
    
Since speech was difficult, I took ...

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My Second Favorite Organ

May 16, 2014
It happened just before our son CJ was born. I was brushing my teeth. After rinsing my mouth I looked in the mirror and lifted my tongue. I don’t know why I chose this moment to do so, and I was confronted by an unusual growth on the underside of my tongue that looked like the eyeball of a sea bass. I was horrified.
    
Later, Mrs. Chatterbox noticed that I was being uncharacteristically quiet ...

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Peculiar Picture #33

May 14, 2014
Many of my new followers might not be aware of the fact that for many years I was a professional illustrator. While my work sold on five continents, I have a file cabinet of pictures that never sold. I use these images for a feature I call Peculiar Pictures. Many people don’t like discussing art for fear of being made to look foolish but that isn’t possible here. You can’t be expected to know ...

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Foxy Lady

May 12, 2014

I’ve written several posts describing my childhood passion for pets and how my mother’s philosophy was such that I was denied any animal too big to flush in the toilet when it inevitably died. But there was another family member whose lust for animals overshadowed mine. My cousin Eleanor was several years older than me and her parents denied her nothing. When we visited her house I half expected to see a ...

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Washing and Waxing Mother

May 9, 2014

These days it takes a shoehorn to get my mother out of her apartment. At eighty-nine, she’s becoming a recluse. Mrs. Chatterbox and I constantly invite her to spend time with us. Mrs. C. tries to coax her by offering to prepare her favorite dishes, and I offer to pick her up at her front door, drive her to our place, hold her arm firmly while escorting her up the six steps to our front door and set her favorite ...

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Taking the Plunge

May 7, 2014

Unlike today, when I was in high school physical education was mandatory. I attended Wilcox High in Santa Clara, California. Santa Clara was also home to the famous Santa Clara Swim Center, where Don Schollander trained for the Olympics, winning a combined five gold medals in Tokyo ’64, and Mexico City ‘68. It’s no exaggeration to say our small city took swimming very seriously.
    
All ...

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The Glories of the City Dump

May 5, 2014
First posted 3/12/12
 
It's time for spring cleaning, and this always reminds me of a favorite childhood trip.
 
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When I was a kid there was a place that affected me like metal drawn to a magnet, our town’s very own Disneyland—the City Dump.
    
Like many boys, I looked forward to our ...

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Night Shift

May 2, 2014

Not long ago our son CJ was scheduled for a graveyard shift at our local police department where he’s a records specialist. This got me thinking about the only time I worked graveyard, back in the early 70s during a break from college. My mother worked at the Almaden bottling plant in Los Gatos, California, and she pulled a few strings to get me a job, just as she had for my older brother a few years earlier.
    ...

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Brushes in Hand

April 30, 2014
A few weeks ago I experienced a weird sensation, something I hadn’t felt in years. I was leaving comments for a few of my favorite bloggers when suddenly I felt the urge to …grab a few paint brushes and move paint around. A decade ago I baffled friends and family when I set aside my paints and brushes. Now it’s hard to remember why I stopped painting. I guess I burned out after years of illustration ...

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The Purple Octopus

April 28, 2014

In the 1990s I decided my fledgling illustration business had progressed to the point where I needed a permanent, full-time work space. Mrs. Chatterbox was growing disenchanted with art supplies cluttering her dining room. I’d managed to acquire enough regular customers to feel comfortable with the expense of a studio space, and downtown Portland was rich with old buildings capable of providing cheap work square ...

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The Most Beautiful Sound

April 25, 2014
First posted 3/11/2012
 
A fellow blogger recently listed a few of her favorite things and one of the items, a classic TV sitcom, brought a smile to my face and made me remember one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard.
 
It was ’76 and Mrs. C. and I were on a bus riding from Patras to Athens, a journey that didn’t look long on a map but seemed endless on a bus with clucking ...

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Hookers

April 23, 2014

I’ve mentioned several times that Mrs. C. is the volunteer coordinator for our local police department. One of her tasks is to arrange for citizens to tour the police department. These tours are extremely popular, especially with seniors, Scouts and special needs groups. Mrs. C. and her volunteers do a stupendous job making these tours interesting, utilizing canine officers and even letting people examine the ...

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The Perfect Job

April 21, 2014

A few days ago Mrs. Chatterbox informed me that our mattress needed flipping.
    
“Why?” I asked.
    
“We’re wearing trenches into our mattress and need to turn it over.”
    
For one reason or another, we didn’t get around to flipping our mattress that day but when we climbed into bed that evening I noticed we both appeared ...

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Mary's House

April 18, 2014
 Although I don’t write about religion, I think this post from our trip to Turkey in 2012 reflects the spirit of the season.
 
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Is this really the house where the Mother of God spent her last years? Like so many things, it all boils down to a matter of faith. Although I work hard to contain my cynicism, faith isn’t my strong suit. But I am painfully ...

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The Monument

April 16, 2014
First posted April 2012
 
Flowers are starting to bloom here in the Northwest and folks are ignoring the drizzle to prepare their yards for warmer weather. At this time of year I always think of Mr. Melcher, a celebrity in the Bay Area neighborhood where I grew up in the early Sixties.
 
Mr. Melcher was famous for having the best-looking yard in the neighborhood. His nickname was Mr. Mulcher ...

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Tulip Time

April 14, 2014

I’ve been enjoying the many Spring photos posted by my fellow bloggers, especially those featuring wonderful skyscapes and blooming flowers. I’ve resisted bemoaning the fact that Spring seems to be avoiding Portland. On Saturday Mrs. C. and I decided to get in the car and find Spring. We found it.
    
Twenty miles south of Portland is the town of Woodburn, home of The Wooden Shoe Tulip ...

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CJ's First $50

April 11, 2014

 
 
 
My mother came to Oregon for a visit when our son CJ was ten. As many of you know, my mother is a firecracker who doesn’t suffer fools easily. It was tax season and Mrs. C. was working overtime at an accounting firm. One evening after CJ had finished his homework, he walked through the dining room and saw his grandmother playing a game of solitaire. I couldn’t help overhearing their ...

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Color Test

April 9, 2014

A few days ago Mrs. Chatterbox was engaged in one of her favorite activities, filling out a psychology quiz posted on Facebook. She completed the test and asked what color I thought she was. I had no idea but said, “I hope it isn’t pink because with your pink complexion you look a bit washed out when you wear pink.”
    
She rolled her eyes at me. “It isn’t a test to ...

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Enough With The Depression Already!

April 7, 2014
 
 
 
 
Once again the nice folks at Retirement and Good Living have invited me to contribute to their site. I’m honored they think enough of my writing to have me back, and I credit my success there with the flood of responses these posts generate. Thank you in advance for supporting me through your comments. I hope you’ll once again follow this link and leave a comment there. ...

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The Accumulator

April 4, 2014
The townhouse Mrs. Chatterbox and I currently live in has more square footage than any of our previous homes. I remember walking through it before we made our purchase; cabinets and storage space were plentiful and I figured it would be great having so many drawers that we could afford to leave a few empty. Six years later all of the drawers and cupboards are choked with stuff. How did this happen? Sometimes I feel like ...

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All Too True

April 2, 2014

 
What happened when one of the world’s greatest painters set out to portray a man who was powerful, vain, nepotistic and suspicious, someone who also happened to be the Pope? In 1650 after leaving his native Spain and traveling to Italy, Velazquez impressed Rome with a brilliant portrait of his assistant Juan de Pareja. He then positioned his easel in front of Innocent X. Velazquez’ encounter with ...

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Juan de Pareja

March 31, 2014

 
 
 
There was a time when I owned scores of books filled with art reproductions and biographies of the artists who created them. I didn’t care for many of these artists but I wanted to learn as much as I could about their creative philosophies. Eventually, I returned to those artists who time and again made my spirit soar by touching my heart instead of my brain. I’ve written many posts ...

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Writer's Blog Hop

March 28, 2014

 
 
Val the Victorian at Unbagging the Cats is one of my favorite bloggers. She is an excellent writer with a penchant for Jerry Seinfeld and the ability to endlessly amuse me with stories about her high-energy family. Val claims nobody wants to read about hillbillies going about their wacky lives in backroads U.S.A., but she couldn’t be more wrong. She recently participated in a blog hop where ...

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Phuket Island

March 26, 2014

 
Mrs. Chatterbox and I planned our trip to conclude back in Thailand on Phuket Island.  We looked forward to unwinding and relaxing on sunny beaches before the grueling trek home. Of course we couldn’t have imagined the entire world would soon be focused on this part of the world due to missing Malaysian flight MH 370.
    
Aside from lying on a few pristine beaches, I wanted see ...

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Kong

March 24, 2014
Mrs. Chatterbox and I have toured with busloads of people, but we were surprised when we discovered our trip to Thailand and Cambodia would be different. At three of our destinations (Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Siem Reap)  we would have our own private guides. At first we were hesitant but it worked out wonderfully; our guides were knowledgeable and personalized our excursions. Kong, our Cambodian guide, was exceptional ...

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Angkor Wat

March 19, 2014
After forty years of marriage Mrs. Chatterbox continues to surprise me. While planning our trip to Thailand she informed me she wanted to make an excursion to Cambodia. I had no idea she wanted to cross Angkor Wat off her bucket list.
    
We flew from Chiang Mai, Thailand, to Siem Reap in the Kingdom of Cambodia. I didn’t know what to expect, and it dawned on me that we might not be well received ...

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Thai Contraband

March 17, 2014

 
On my first post after returning from vacation I tried to entice you with these words: Had the massive outdoor statue of Buddha spoken he might have warned me that another Buddha would figure more prominently on this trip, forcing a confrontation between me, Mrs. Chatterbox and security in another country, prompting a situation that would send us to a guarded room for a bevy of questions designed to see if ...

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D & D

March 14, 2014

 
 
 
 
I’m taking a break from my travel posts to share a disturbing occurrence with you. This might compromise the opinion many of you have of me but it’s said honesty is the best policy and…and…I just can’t believe I did it. I’ve heard of people doing this intentionally; back in my salad days lots of teens and college students bragged about doing it, but I ...

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Where's the Peanut Sauce?

March 12, 2014

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I enjoy Thai food and looked forward to wonderful meals on our recent trip, but Mrs. C. took her enthusiasm for cooking to a higher level by signing us up for a day at the Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School. Had I studied the brochure I’d have known what I was getting into, but of course I didn’t.
    
We were picked up at our hotel ...

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An Eden for Elephants

March 10, 2014
One of the reasons for selecting Thailand as a vacation destination was my desire to interact with elephants. I’d hoped to experience them in India last year but saw very few. Later, I was told that Thailand was the place to experience pachyderms. I even joked that I was looking forward to experiencing an animal I wasn’t too fat to ride.
    
I noticed the importance of elephants in Thai ...

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Ayutthaya

March 7, 2014
I never research our trips beforehand because I like to be surprised by what I see, and I had no idea Thailand (Siam) had a capital before Bangkok which, as it turns out, is not even three hundred years old, relatively new as far as world capitals go.
    
Near the Grand Palace in Bangkok stands Wat Arun, The Temple of Dawn. I’ve seen it depicted in dozens of Thai restaurants but I had no idea ...

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A Tale of Two Buddhas

March 5, 2014

 
 
Did you know that according to the Guinness Book of Records, Bangkok’s official name is the world’s longest? Its actual name is:
 
"Krungthep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahadikok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit"
 
Which translates to:
 
“The city of angels, great city, residence ...

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The Kingdom

March 3, 2014
His name is Bhumibol Adulyadej and his face greeted us minutes after our plane landed in Bangkok. I had no idea he’d be following us throughout our stay in Thailand but on the car ride to our hotel after clearing customs I saw him on virtually every street corner. It would be hard to imagine Queen Elizabeth’s face greeting me on every street corner in the UK.
    
I recognized him from ...

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Waterworld

February 28, 2014
 We’d come to Hong Kong because there were no direct flights from the United States to Thailand and our choices for connecting flights were Tokyo or Hong Kong. We didn’t want to arrive at our destination with jet lag so we stayed a few days in Hong Kong. As it turned out we made the right decision because Hong Kong was drizzly and foggy, but Tokyo was shut down with a blizzard.
    
On ...

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The Elusive Buddha

February 26, 2014
16, 17, 18…
    
Two weeks ago I was climbing 268 steps up a mountain to the Po Lin Monastery to see Hong Kong’s largest outdoor bronze Buddha, officially called the Tian Buddha, but unofficially known as Big Buddha. A cold rain pelted me, and the fog was so thick I couldn’t see my hands in front of my face, not that I was willing to pry them from my pockets where they ...

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We're Off!

February 5, 2014

    
It seems like we just returned from India and now we’re off on another adventure. Shutting down Chubby Chatterbox before a vacation is traumatic for me and I always wait until the last moment to do so. I admire bloggers who can write and publish posts while on vacation, but I’m not one of them. My initial reactions to sights and experiences are jumbled and often change with time. ...

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Proud Papa

February 3, 2014

Many bloggers take every opportunity to brag about their kids, but up until now I haven’t been one of them. Yet on Thursday our son CJ completed the first round of tests to become a master automotive technician, certified by the ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.) He successfully passed tests covering the following:
 
Engine Repair
Engine Performance
Heating and Air Conditioning
Manual ...

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Happy Super Bowl

February 2, 2014
 
 
 
 
Mrs. C. and I aren't huge sports fans but we do watch the Super Bowl. I hope your team does well, whoever you're rooting for. As for predictions; I predict I'll eat too much, enjoy a few commercials and be confused by the game. Until then, some fellow bloggers forwarded these pictures. You might have seen these before but they made me chuckle.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Have ...

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Boiling Over

January 31, 2014

 
 
“Before you head off to Thailand I need help with something,” my mother said to me on the phone yesterday.
    
I looked at the phone in my hand, wishing it would take flight and wing away so I wouldn’t have to continue this conversation. “Please tell me you aren’t having another problem with your coffee pot.”
     
“Well, ...

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Jewelry Shopping in India

January 29, 2014

While on tours, some travelers resent being brought to factories or warehouses to see how goods are made. Tour guides have usually made deals and receive kickbacks if anyone buys anything. I’ve never found these merchants to be overly pushy and, as an artist, I appreciate craftsmen and tend to enjoy demonstrations showing how goods are made. Last year on our trip to India we were visiting the desert city of Bikaner ...

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The Dowry

January 27, 2014

I should have listened better when my future wife told me her grandmother was evil. I mean, how evil could she be? How could anyone as sweet and caring as my future Mrs. Chatterbox be related to anyone evil? I was young and not knowledgeable in the ways of the world. And I should have listened better.
    
I came from a huge Portuguese family and when I brought the future Mrs. C. home to meet everyone ...

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Expiration Dates

January 26, 2014
From 10/22/11
    
“Haven’t I told you to stop doing that?” my wife growled while scowling at me from a barstool on the far side of the kitchen counter.
    
“Yes, you’ve told me to stop doing it.”
    
“How long would you say I’ve been asking you not to do it?”
    
I gave it ...

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The Angel of the City

January 22, 2014

 
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice is the most important museum in Italy for European and American art of the first half of the 20th century. Its most famous (or notorious) exhibit is the 1948 bronze The Angel of the City by Marino Marini (1901-1980). Erected at the front of the museum facing the Grand Canal, this sculpture sports an erection of its own.
    
Marini was one ...

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Smarter Than the Average Bear

January 20, 2014
I was driving down the road on my way back from visiting my website builder when I spotted a rummage sale in an abandoned lot on the far side of town. I had nothing better to do so I stopped to see if anyone was selling a Renoir or Van Dyck for a few bucks. Unfortunately, no treasure was being offered for sale, unless you counted an old George Foreman grill that wouldn’t close properly. But I was mistaken. I saw ...

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More Talent Than Luck

January 19, 2014
 
 
Carel Fabritius (1622-1654) is not nearly as well-known as his famous instructor Rembrandt, which is a shame because Fabritius was arguably Rembrandt’s most talented pupil and someone we’d be better acquainted with if tragedy hadn’t claimed the painter at the age of thirty-two. But I’m getting ahead of the story.
    
Fabritius was alone among Rembrandt’s ...

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Gate Crashing

January 17, 2014
 
Back when Mrs. Chatterbox and I were having difficulty affording gas for our car, I won an all expense paid vacation for two to New York City. While in the Big Apple I saw and experienced a great many things, but what I remember most is crashing a private show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
     
Mrs. Chatterbox and I were strolling across Central Park one evening and we ended up in front of ...

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A Lurking Monster

January 15, 2014

 
It was a modest house, referred to by locals as an Old Portland, built nearly a hundred years before we purchased it in 2003. Mrs. Chatterbox and I weren’t looking for a fixer upper but this house spoke to us. Had we listened more closely we might have also heard rumblings of something sinister. Beneath this shabby chic house hungry for restorative dollars lurked a monster that nearly drained our savings ...

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This One Sold #8

January 13, 2014
 
 
 
Regular readers of this blog are familiar with a feature called Peculiar Pictures, highlighting work I painted but never sold during my career as an illustrator. I’ve recently begun posting works that did sell. This one was purchased from an online site selling royalty free conceptual illustrations. Although I never interacted personally with the editors of this publication, ...

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Renoir Update

January 12, 2014
 
 
Last year I posted a story about a painting by French Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) purchased at a flea market in Virginia by fifty-one year old Martha Fuqua for seven dollars. The painting turned out to have been stolen in the 1950s. You can read the original post (here). You Be the Judge presented the facts in the case (as they were known at the time) and asked you to decide ...

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Buddhism Made Simple

January 10, 2014
Since Mrs. C. and I will soon be traveling to several Buddhist countries, I’ve been doing research to become familiar with the tenets of this religion. I came across this story which attempts to explain Buddhism with a simple parable.
 
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A young Buddhist monk walks through a forest, so deep in meditation that he doesn’t notice he’s being stalked by a large ...

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Apollo and Daphne

January 8, 2014

Rome is blessed with artistic treasures beyond compare, especially when it comes to sculpture. A few years ago I happened to be in Rome’s magnificent Borghese Gallery. This wasn’t my first trip to the Borghese but this time I’d brought along friends to share this incredible collection of masterpieces.
     
The choicest rooms in the museum house sculptures by Bernini (1598-1680), ...

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Popping the Question

January 6, 2014
As a society we’re now more accepting of diverse lifestyles than we were when this account of my proposal to Mrs. C. took place. But things were different back in 1973. Much different. 
 
It happened on a cold day around this time of year, nearly forty years ago. How could time pass so quickly?
    
Sue (the future Mrs. Chatterbox) and I were dining at William A. Sterlington’s, ...

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Packing the Suitcases Again

January 5, 2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I’ve held back on announcing our next vacation because political uncertainty has made me skittish about one of our destinations, but there’s never a perfect time to travel so Mrs. C. and I are packing our courage along with our wash & wear and hitting the airport on February 6th. Our first stop is…
 
 
 
Hong Kong!
 
There are ...

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Unfettered Capitalism

January 3, 2014

Rest assured this isn’t a political post. It’s about my first lesson in capitalism when I was thirteen years old.
    
I was still in middle school, and noticing that all the cool kids in high school were wearing rings made by the Jostens class ring company. The cheapest were made of yellow base metal and cost $26.50. They got progressively more expensive depending on the gold content, ...

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Happy New Year!

January 1, 2014

 

Thanks to everyone for all the support last year. I wish everyone a prosperous and joyful 2014. May only good things come your way. Happy New Year.

 

 



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A Magic Fish

December 30, 2013
This short piece of fiction was inspired by a recent trip to the mall.
 
The mall was choked with shoppers returning Christmas presents and looking for end of year deals. My sister had gifted me an unsuitable sweater and I’d come to return it. With the refund tucked into my wallet I worked my way to the mall exit. The aisles were jammed with sullen children, screaming babies and tired parents. Maneuvering ...

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Did I Have A Stroke?

December 29, 2013

Sure, it’s funny now, but when it happened I was in a panic and wondering how I was going to deal with such a dramatic change in my life, a change that would undoubtedly effect everything I cared about. I also had to think about my wife and how this dreadful turn of events might affect our marriage.
    
It happened a week before Christmas, the night before the Holiday Banquet Mrs. C. organizes ...

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Brontosaurus Ribs

December 27, 2013
 
First Posted 12/28/11
    
I recently saw an online statistic claiming that more than seventy percent of American families enjoyed prime rib for Christmas dinner. At Chatterbox Manor we did not have prime rib for Christmas dinner; instead we opted for Honey Baked Ham.
    
Years ago shortly after we were married Mrs. Chatterbox decided to roast our first prime rib ...

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Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Maxfield Parrish

American Illustrator (1870-1966)

 

 

 

 

Seasons Greetings. I hope everyone has a wondrous and very Merry Christmas.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Waiting For Santa

December 23, 2013

 
This illustration was the companion piece to the Hanukkah picture I painted and posted the day after Thanksgiving. Both were commissioned for a greeting card company, but I can’t remember which one.
    
I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy Holiday Season. Your wonderful comments, along with your support and encouragement, have meant so much to me this year. Take ...

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A Santa Face-Off

December 22, 2013
Santa Claus is an integral part of our Holiday festivities but he has certainly changed over the years. The historical Saint Nicholas was a Greek bishop living in what is today Turkey. He loved children and often put coins in shoes left on stoops, and an interesting miracle is associated with him. Back in 300 AD in Nicholas’ day, a famine struck the region. A butcher lured three children into his store, slaughtered ...

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A Well-Written Police Report

December 20, 2013
I don’t normally post newspaper clippings but this one made me laugh out loud and I couldn’t resist sharing it. I’ve typed it out in case the text in the picture is too hard to read.
 
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Orville Smith, a store manager for Best Buy in Augusta, GA., told police he observed a male customer, later identified as Tyrone Jackson of Augusta, on surveillance cameras ...

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A Live Christmas Tree

December 18, 2013

This post was inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Joeh at Cranky Old Man. If you haven’t done so already, treat yourself by paying Joe a visit.
 
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Like many folks I’ve tangoed with the notion of buying a live tree for Christmas. Why kill a tree just to have it in your living room for a few weeks? In 1985 I decided it was time for a live tree, one I could plant in ...

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Old Friends

December 16, 2013

I was hunting for an interesting illustration to post for Peculiar Pictures when these two paintings fell out of an old portfolio. They aren’t much, but they do bring back memories. These little pictures were painted in oil on scraps of canvas. They are small enough for me to place in my scanner without resorting to photography. Both are dated on the reverse—1966—back when I was fourteen years ...

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The Grand Tour

December 15, 2013
 
 
As many of you know, Mrs. Chatterbox works for the local police department. One of her tasks is to give tours of city hall, where our police department is housed. On Friday she hosted a Cub Scout tour of forty-eight second graders. These tours are extremely popular with youngsters. Mrs. C. escorts them through the records department, dispatch and several other departments but, charming though she is, Mrs. ...

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Goosie and Bonkers

December 13, 2013
First posted 12/16/11
 
 
 
 
When CJ was five, I took him with me to pick up our dry cleaning. He asked if we could check out the pet store next door. He enjoyed being licked by puppies and kittens when he poked his little fingers into their cages, but the goldfish captured his attention most. There was a big tank with ten goldfish for a buck. CJ begged for two fish. Since they were cheap, ...

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The Panic

December 11, 2013

Modern art would be unthinkable without Spain’s Francisco Goya, who delved into his subconscious and exposed his deepest fears for all the world to see. He revealed an aspect about the foibles of existence that few before him dared explore.
    
I’ve said before that I prefer art that asks more questions than it answers. It’s unlikely this painting was intended for a client. ...

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A Favorite Christmas Ornament

December 9, 2013

This is the time of year when boxes of Christmas tree trim are plucked from the garage, dusted off and brought inside. If you’re like me and have been married a long time, those boxes are sure to contain an interesting ornament or two, particularly if you have children or grandchildren. My favorite Christmas decoration was made by our son CJ when he was seven or eight. It wasn’t intended as a Christmas ornament.
  &nb...

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Garbage Disaster

December 8, 2013

Friday we woke to snow here in Portland. The view from our window revealed a wondrous world of white. The garbage can Mrs. C. had dragged down our long driveway to the curb the night before was shrouded beneath a layer of snow. I decided to forgo my early morning swim at our local public pool. Around eight a.m. I was enjoying a hot cup of coffee and admiring our partially decorated artificial tree when I heard the grinding ...

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Holier Than Thou

December 6, 2013

My mother went to work in the Almadén bottling plant in Los Gatos, California, when I was eleven. This occurred at a time when my grandmother’s life was slowing down and she had little to do. I don’t know all the details, but Mom and Grandma made an arrangement for Grandma to do our laundry. I doubt Mom paid for this service; Grandma probably did it out of love and was happy to have something to keep ...

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Dave

December 4, 2013

Thomas Gainsborough was one of England’s greatest painters. In addition to painting the famous Blue Boy, he painted countless portraits of English notables and aristocrats. When asked how he dealt with flattering his subjects he once revealed the secret of his success.
    
“When painting a portrait of a duchess or famous actress,” he explained, “I position my canvas so the ...

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Asking a Favor

December 3, 2013
I don’t normally post on Tuesdays but I’m here to ask a favor. I’m trying to solidify my relationship with a site called Retirement and Good Living, a wonderful resource I hope you’ll check out. They just posted a piece of mine you might remember called, “What to Give an Eighty Year Old Man.” Few contributors receive comments and I’m trying to stack the deck in my favor. ...

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Returning Freedom

December 2, 2013
 As most of you know, I was pet deprived as a child, only allowed small pets that could be flushed down the toilet when they died. As a married couple, Mrs. Chatterbox and I have owned several dogs over the years and I’ve noticed an interesting dynamic—the dogs Mrs. C. picks live with us for many years while the dogs I pick don’t seem to work out. The reason for this is obvious; as an artist I ...

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Happy Hanukkah!

November 29, 2013
 
 
 
 
I hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing a Happy Thanksgiving yesterday. I did so much celebrating that I didn’t have an opportunity to write anything new. But I did come across a set of holiday illustrations I painted for a greeting card company and I’ll be sharing the other one next month.
    
This picture is in honor of my Jewish friends who are celebrating Hanukkah, ...

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Happy Thanksgiving

November 28, 2013

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This was one of my first illustrations. I can no longer remember who the client was but I recall he wanted a black and white picture that resembled the work of Norman Rockwell. Unlike much of my work, this is painted on canvas.
 
 
 
 
I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. 




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...

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Macho Butterball

November 27, 2013
At this time of year we’re bombarded with all types of advice for cooking turkeys. We’re cautioned that, even though generations of cooks have stuffed dressing into their turkeys, this is no longer a safe practice. Too great a possibility of bacteria, we’re now told. Much is said on the Food Network about brining turkeys or marinating them to increase flavor. Deep frying them in peanut oil is becoming ...

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A Flushable Pet: Conclusion

November 25, 2013
 


If you missed Part I check it out (here).
    
 
Standing as tall as I could, I told my mother that if Yama had to go, then so would I. There might have been a twitch of amusement on her face; she often referred to me as Mr. Softie yet here I was standing up to her. Yama was permitted to stay provided she never left my room, her cage was kept immaculate, ...

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A Flushable Pet

November 24, 2013
I’ve decided to get a jump on my New Year’s resolution to be more proactive about submitting stories and seeing one published next year. To that end, I’m reworking and submitting this tale to a publication looking for stories about pets. I first posted “A Flushable Pet” in 2011 and some of you might have missed it. 
 
For several years she was my constant childhood companion. ...

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Killing Camelot

November 22, 2013
It’s hard to believe fifty years have passed since President Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. I had just turned eleven and like everyone who lived through those traumatic days I know exactly where I was when I heard the news—sixth grade social studies. Our Principal, Mr. Landis, broke the news over the PA system. I remember his voice trembling as he sent us home.
    
I remember walking ...

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Thanks, Dad

November 20, 2013

A rather large spider has erected its web above our front door and Mrs. Chatterbox has demanded I eliminate it. She refuses to exit our home through the front door until I practice spidercide. Some might comment that Mrs. C. should dispatch it herself if she wants it done so badly, but over the years we’ve devised an equitable plan dividing household chores (Mrs. C. would rightfully scoff at my usage ...

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Fall

November 18, 2013

 
 
 
This impressionistic oil painting could have been titled Fall, but it’s actually a portrait of my son CJ when he was six or seven years old. As I recall, he wasn’t all that interested in football, and he was even less interested in standing still while I painted him. It’s hard to believe that over twenty-five years have passed since I created this portrait. I remember ...

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Cake Fight: Conclusion

November 17, 2013
Miss Part One of the story? You can find it (here).
 
At first I thought I could repair the cake. I tried feverishly to return the top layer to its original spot, but it crumbled in my hands. Before long, the bottom layer also slid to the floor. There was nothing left to do but clean up the mess. Since I’ve always turned to food during times of stress, I ate as much of the damaged cake as I threw ...

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Cake Fight

November 15, 2013
I’m often asked if my childhood stories are factual and I always maintain they are. But I’ve withheld this tale until now because part of it is made up, a small but significant part. For those of you who can’t figure out where I let my imagination wander, I’ll reveal the fictional element at the conclusion.
 
In 1963 The Fights aired on Saturday nights. Any male worth his salt watched ...

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Stand All Ye Faithful

November 13, 2013
 
First posted 9/30/11
 
 
Not long ago I realized a bitter truth; I’d been turning a blind eye to our environmental problems. I did very little recycling and took my gas guzzling car to places I could have, and should have, walked. My studio was downtown and I decided to take the bus to work. Leaving my car in the garage made me feel like part of the solution instead ...

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Veterans Day

November 11, 2013

Today we salute all who have worn a uniform and served our country. Having never served, I’m not included in this distinguished group of heroes. I’ve heard phrases like “Band of Brothers” and “Comrades in Arms” and wondered how different my life might have been had I heeded the call. When this season of thanksgiving rolls by, I listen to stories of heroism and sacrifice. Like many ...

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Peculiar Picture #32

November 10, 2013

 
 
 
 
 
 
When I was given an assignment to create sixty illustrations for a CD to be called Business Fundamentals, it seemed like a good idea to include a conceptual illustration depicting a bean counter. I worked a long time to create the endless supply of beans in the background and I was sure someone would use this piece for a newspaper or magazine article. Unfortunately, ...

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Near Death in Chartres

November 8, 2013
In 1999 Mrs. Chatterbox and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, and nearly died.
    
We’d traveled to Paris to celebrate, but unfortunately everything was on strike: museums were closed, monuments shut down, cabs and garbage collectors had ceased being operational. Since the French government had a tight grip on the media, there wasn’t a word about this in the papers. Thousands ...

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What the F**K?

November 6, 2013
I have good cause to place my wife on a pedestal; she’s a great wife and mother, a marvelous listener and a kinder person you’ll never meet. In the two and a half years since I started this blog I’ve extolled Mrs. Chatterbox’s virtues, but I think it’s time to throw a bucket of reality on the woman I’ve shared my life with for forty years. Believe me, she ain’t perfect. She has ...

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Bottoms Up!

November 4, 2013

For our birthdays this year, CJ treated me and Mrs. Chatterbox to a walking tour of one of Portland’s finest culinary districts where we dined on six courses from six different restaurants. Our tour guide informed us that Portland had recently displaced Cologne, Germany, as the city with the most breweries—seventy-three. Unfortunately, I dislike beer. CJ is fond of telling me that living in Portland and ...

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What Would You Do?

November 3, 2013
 
 
 
I work out of the house and don’t have as much contact with people as I’d like, so I enjoy it when Mrs. Chatterbox comes home from working at our local police department with stories about co-workers. The other day she came home with an interesting tidbit that made me think.
   
One of the police officers (I’ll call him Bob) went shopping at Costco with his wife. ...

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Peculiar Picture #31

November 1, 2013

Many of my new followers might not be aware of the fact that for many years I was a professional illustrator. While my work sold on five continents, I have a file cabinet of pictures that never sold. I use these images for a feature I call Peculiar Pictures. Many people don’t like discussing art for fear of being made to look foolish but that isn’t possible here. You can’t be expected to know ...

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Out of Hell

October 31, 2013
I don’t normally post on Thursdays and I don’t usually post fiction, but here’s a fun story to celebrate the holiday.  
 
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A shiver runs through me when I think back to the time when Tammy, my wife of five years, came to the conclusion that the gray tabby who’d lived contentedly with us since we bought her on our honeymoon, was lonely. Tammy convinced me ...

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Conclusion: The Ghost of Kilarney park

October 30, 2013
Haunted houses and Halloween go together like dots on dice, but the haunted house on our street never did anything to attract trick-or-treaters. So why was there a light burning on Verna’s porch?
    
My feet began pulling me to the light. My head swirled with thoughts of murder: rat poison, asphyxiation, throat slashing, but I was more interested in candy than my safety.
    
I ...

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The Ghost of Kilarney Park

October 28, 2013
This story, a true tale from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope, has become a Halloween tradition here at Chubby Chatterbox. I hope you enjoy it:
 
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Haunted houses belong in the realm of goose bumps, foggy nights and old neighborhoods, not pristine suburbs with freshly asphalted streets, unblemished sidewalks and immature trees. But a ghost lingered across the street, ...

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Ouch!

October 27, 2013

I don’t usually do follow-up posts but Al Penwasser (check out his hilarious blog here) left this comment on my last post Man Up! Al reminded me of one other instance where someone asked me for a piercing. Al commented, “Coulda been worse. She coulda wanted you to pierce something other than her ear.” The following happened a few years after the first piercing incident when I’d become ...

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Man Up!

October 25, 2013

 
 
Years ago when I worked in a jewelry store the manager required all of his sales associates to pierce ears. I hated the idea of holding a needle-loaded gun to someone’s ear and firing so I managed to be busy when customers came into the store asking for this service. 
     
But one time I couldn’t get out of it. A leather-clad biker chick, with spiked hair and smelling of ...

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President Raisin

October 23, 2013
A few days ago I had a discussion with my eighty-eight year old mother about the current state of American politics. Mom, in case you’ve forgotten, is about as fond of the Federal Government as a bootlegger during Prohibition. I don’t need it pointed out that this was a stupid thing to do. I stay away from politics in my posts because my blog is designed to entertain and uplift, not cause strife, but Mom ...

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The Other Woman

October 21, 2013
First posted 12/5/11
 
 
Rick said it best in Casablanca: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world, she walks into mine.” Like Ilsa, my femme fatale had no idea I was here when she flew into town.
    
I read about her arrival in the newspaper. Titian’s La Bella had arrived in town for an exhibit at the Portland Art Museum; ...

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Good News and Bad News

October 20, 2013

My dad was a professional mechanic who always kept our cars running like well-oiled clocks. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit Dad’s mechanical ability, which skipped a generation to take root in CJ, our son. CJ is a remarkable mechanic who treats cars the way accomplished musicians treat their instruments. He can diagnose what’s wrong with an engine by listening to cars whizzing past on the highway. ...

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The Power of Music

October 18, 2013
Regular readers know that my grandfather played a significant role in my life, but until now I haven’t mentioned that Grandpa and his two older brothers were orphaned when Grandpa was five years old. They’d been living on Terceira, a poverty-stricken island in the Azores and no relatives had the resources to take in three hungry mouths.
    
One brother was sent to live with distant relatives ...

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Peculiar Picture #30

October 16, 2013
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Although my writing has yet to reflect it, fantasy has invaded my artwork over the years. Many of my conceptual illustrations play on familiar tales like The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs and Jack the Giant Killer, and I’ve created several paintings that visualize an imaginary world much different from that depicted in my ...

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The Ceiling of the Seventh Heaven

October 14, 2013

 
 
Today is Columbus Day and I’ve no doubt many of my fellow bloggers will be airing opinions as to whether or not Columbus was a hero or a villain. I think it fair to say that never was the world changed so much by a person who didn’t know where he was going or what he was doing, but instead of dwelling on this I want to relate an experience from a trip Mrs. Chatterbox and I made to Granada, ...

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Not Yet Perfect

October 13, 2013

 
 
 
Some of you have e-mailed to ask how my books are coming along. Slowly but surely I’m progressing. I’m nearly through a collection of The Best of Chubby Chatterbox and I’m also working on a collection called The Ricky Delgado Chronicles. My progress is uneven but I’m determined to complete these books and make then as perfect as possible. When I consider ...

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Karma

October 11, 2013

Not all countries are blessed with an abundance of conveniently located restaurants. On a recent trip to India our tour bus drove many miles through desolate territories before stopping at roadside eateries deemed acceptable by our guide. At one such stop on our way to ride camels in the Great Thar desert Mrs. Chatterbox had an interesting conversation with the only member of our group whom she didn’t like, highly ...

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Truckzilla

October 9, 2013

I thought Mrs. C. had lost her mind when she came home from work, excited at having won two tickets in an office pool for an event so outside my field of interest as to be laughable. “You won tickets to what?” I asked.
    
She beamed. “Tickets to a truck and tractor pull.”
    
“What the hell is that?” I asked, hoping the name was a misnomer ...

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This One Sold #7

October 7, 2013

 
 
 
 
I was looking for an illustration to post and I found this one buried in my picture file.  Created in 1995 for the editorial page of Portland’s main newspaper, The Oregonian, it accompanied an article dealing with the shutdown of the Federal government due to the feud between Republicans and another Democratic president, Bill Clinton. Based on the saying—what’s ...

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Four Bits

October 6, 2013

I’m just going to come out and admit that I’m oddly shaped. My legs are short but my torso is long, so long, in fact, that whenever I’m seated at a group gathering I’m always the tallest person present, that is until I stand. Because my legs are short I experience a problem when sitting that most people don’t have: change is constantly spilling out of my pockets. The last time I gathered ...

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Yellow Submarine: Conclusion

October 4, 2013
 
Click (here) if you missed Part I.
    
We trekked back to White Front. The security guard at the door stopped us. A toothpick lodged in the corner of his mouth bounced up and down when he pointed at the plastic bag in my hand. “What you got there?” he asked.
    
“I have a return,” I said. “The Revolver album I bought skips.”
  &n...

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Yellow Submarine

October 2, 2013
 
Maybe it was because he never owned anything new and seldom received gifts, but Ricky Delgado had a keen sense alerting him to new acquisitions on Briarwood Drive. It was 1966 and Dad, David and I had just returned from White Front, the new pre-Walmart, everything-under-one-roof store that had recently opened a half mile from our house. I’d saved my lawn mowing money to purchase The Beatles’ new album ...

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This Spaghetti is...Incredible!

September 30, 2013

 
The other day Mrs. Chatterbox made spaghetti. I like spaghetti well enough but this spaghetti was different. It was—incredible, so good that after a few mouthfuls I could barely concentrate on what I was eating. I finally set down my fork and said, “What’s different about this spaghetti?”
    
“Funny you should ask,” Mrs. C. said. “Do you remember ...

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Peculiar Picture #29

September 29, 2013

    
This unpublished illustration might qualify as my most peculiar picture ever. I was reminded of it when Mrs. Chatterbox came home the other day and said, “I have terrible news.”
    
“What is it?” I asked, waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me.
    
“Sergeant B. (Mrs. C. works for our local police department) ...

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Dead Caesar

September 27, 2013
Whenever I think of an instance where someone was able to think quickly on their feet I recall a situation I experienced years ago while sitting on a bench in front of the British Museum in London.
    
The British Museum is a massive collection of artifacts and antiquities. It is famous for housing the Elgin Marbles, rescued (some say stolen) from the Parthenon and brought to England by Lord Elgin ...

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Wrong Place: Wrong Time

September 25, 2013
 
 
On Monday Mrs. Chatterbox’s car was in the shop so I drove her to work. She’s employed by the police department in our town and across the street from where she works is an outdoor mall. Later that day I arrived too early to pick her up for the drive home so I ambled across the street to kill time. As it happened, while wandering through the shops I received a call from nature and followed signs ...

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Guppies

September 23, 2013
How does a woman become immortal in the eyes of a sensitive eight year old boy, so much so that fifty years later he still carries her around in a special corner of his heart? In my case it involved, in addition to a woman, a guppy.
    
It was the last day of school at Briarwood Elementary and my second grade class was already bewitched by the siren call of summer and champing at the bit to race ...

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Beautiful Island

September 22, 2013
Northern Italy is blessed with an abundance of beautiful lakes, Lake Como being the most famous, but in my opinion others are equally beautiful, such as Lake Maggiore.
    
Recently, while cleaning our garage, Mrs. C. opened an old scrapbook and out fell a yellowed newspaper clipping of Isola Bella (Beautiful Island), a seventeenth century island palace in the middle of Lake Maggiore. Mrs. ...

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A Curious Heist

September 20, 2013
 
A true story I avoid talking about for obvious reasons.

 
This will sound incriminating, just as it did back when I was sixteen, but honest to God I had nothing to do with it. Even if I had, I wouldn’t have been stupid enough to leave such incriminating evidence. Of course there were those who will always believe I was involved, but I wasn’t.
    
I was a junior in ...

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Two Announcements

September 19, 2013
 
 
 
 
Two special shout outs this morning. First, thanks to Hilary at The Smitten Image for singling out my story A Home for the Swifts. It’s always an honor to see my name in her Posts of the Week feature. Check out Hilary’s blog to enjoy amazing photography and the other great posts honored this week.
    
Second, I’ve once again been invited to submit ...

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Hear Him Roar!

September 18, 2013
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 and disinterested zebras. But one time was different.
    
I had just passed through the ticket gate with Mrs. C. and little CJ when people ahead of us started running, drawn ...

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God, Can We Talk?

September 16, 2013
“Hey God, it’s me, Adam. Can we talk?”
    
“No, Adam. We can’t.”
    
 “Why not?”
    
“You know why. You don’t know how to talk. I gave you the gift of telepathy so you could understand My thoughts until you invent language. You don’t seem to be getting very far. I hear that Eve is already working ...

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This One Sold #6

September 15, 2013
Not long ago I posted a picture called Money Maze, my most published illustration. This cover art earned the highest price for one of my illustrations—$5,000. At the time it seemed like a fortune. I was contacted by noted economist Nick Murray who’d seen a piece I created combining Don Quixote and a money windmill. Mr. Murray, convinced the economy was about to collapse, had recently completed a ...

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Cosmic Cuties

September 13, 2013

A news story this week received very little attention. The Voyager-1 spacecraft, launched in 1977 to study the outer planets, has officially exited our solar system. It is now so far away that it takes 17 hours for a radio signal from Voyager to reach receivers here on Earth. To mark this occasion I’m repeating my post from January 2012.
 
************
Do you remember Voyager, the probe sent into ...

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A Home for the Swifts

September 11, 2013
Mrs C. and I weren’t the only ones looking for a new home in Portland Oregon in the early 1980s. Winging up from Central America for a feast of flying insects, a cigar-shaped Vaux Swift was desperately seeking a new late summer home. The hollow tree serving as a roost for generations had been toppled by a recent storm. With thousands of hungry swifts soon to arrive, this scout must have been desperate to find an ...

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If Looks Could Kill

September 9, 2013
In the mid 70s the retail company I worked for transferred me from San Francisco to Oxnard, California, fifty miles north of LA. Oxnard had a rough and tumble reputation, and as a newlywed I was concerned about bringing Mrs. C. there. When I expressed concern my boss put an arm on my shoulder and tried to calm me with, “You like Mexican food, don’t you?”
     
“Sure.”
  ...

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The End of an Era

September 8, 2013
I’ve never gone out on a limb to make an assertion such as this, but J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) was one of the greatest painters to ever hold a brush, and his masterpiece, The Fighting Temeraire, is beyond doubt one of the greatest canvases ever created. With this painting the artist managed to encapsulate the emotions of an entire nation as British military dominance faded into little more than a colorful ...

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Not What It Seems

September 6, 2013
Mrs. Chatterbox and I lived from paycheck to paycheck for several years after relocating to Portland, Oregon. Good fortune came our way one summer when Mrs. C. won the raffle at her company’s annual picnic—an all expense paid vacation to the Sunriver Resort in Central Oregon. We flew on a private plane to a small landing strip outside of Bend. When we landed it was evening; the setting sun was tipping the ...

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Beam Me Up!

September 4, 2013
For me, summer is a time for reflection, the season most loaded with memories of people and events gone by, seemingly endless carefree days of tree climbing and reading books from the bookmobile parked a few blocks from our house. I remember the hot stickiness of an era before air conditioning, water balloon fights to cool off, gorging on cold water from garden hoses, brushing away buzzing flies as hot dogs and hamburgers ...

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Losing My Hair: The House of Estrada

September 2, 2013
First Posted 12/07/11
 
There comes a time when many men confront their worst fear: not that they’re mortal and not likely to achieve the life goals they’ve set, but the realization that their hair is making a pilgrimage to the shower drain. I was shocked when I noticed my comb was harboring more strands than usual, and horrified when I pulled a goopy wad from the shower drain.
    
My ...

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This One Sold #5

September 1, 2013
I would never classify this as one of my best illustrations but I’m posting it in response to comments I’ve received. Several of you have asked which of my illustrations has sold the most. That distinction is held by this picture; it’s sold over fifty times. I’m able to constantly resell it because I’ve retained the original painting along with the copyright. Clients only purchase one-time ...

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Decimation

August 30, 2013
It seems to me that our beautiful language is under attack. Texters are reducing our language to a few symbols that can never carry the full potency of profound or sublime meaning, and just a few weeks ago I received a wedding invitation that contained two grammatical errors and eight typos. I’m not the perfect warrior to defend our language from those who would reduce it to a fortune cookie scribble, but I do ...

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The Pink House

August 28, 2013
I was in a really rotten mood that day back in 1983. I was unemployed, tired of job hunting and feeling depressed. To improve my spirits I decided to do something I practically never did—Plein Air painting. I packed my art supplies and hit the road. I was a studio painter, but I’d long fantasized about the Impressionists and what it would be like to plant an easel in a landscape, empty my head of ...

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Dining With the Smoke Detector: Conclusion

August 26, 2013
Part I can be found (here.)
     
The front door was open to let out the smoke, making it unnecessary for the firemen to sink their axes into it.
    
A George Clooney look-a-like said, “We were just driving by on a grocery run and saw all the smoke. Is everything okay?”
    
Before I could answer, Mrs. C., wrapped in a wet towel, appeared ...

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Dining With the Smoke Detector

August 25, 2013
First Posted 11/08/11.

 
I should have listened to the little voice in my head telling me to keep my mouth shut. Before I knew it I was in deep water.
 
“Why don’t you take the evening off?” I said to my wife. “I’ll cook dinner tonight.”
    
“I don’t feel like spaghetti or tacos,” she said, ruling out my specialties.
    
&ldqu...

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Ditched: Conclusion

August 23, 2013
Part I can be found (here).
 
I resisted the urge to grab my bike and pedal away as quickly as possible. I’d never seen a dead person, much less the body of someone I cared deeply about, someone like Helen Delgado. I’d practically grown up sitting at her kitchen table, watching her roll tortillas and tamales, mooning over her while she listened patiently to my babbling. I was ...

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Ditched

August 21, 2013
I was startled to hear knocking on our front door early that September morning in 1965. It was Sunday. I was enjoying a bowl of Sugar Frosted Flakes and turning the TV dial looking for cartoons instead of religious programming.
    
I opened the door and saw Ricky Delgado standing on our porch, an expression on his face I hadn’t seen since we’d snuck away to a local carnival so he could ...

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Burglars

August 19, 2013
Last night our niece returned to her Seattle home with her four month old baby in her arms. She confronted a burglar in her living room. The burglar fled and no one was harmed, but this incident reminded me of my one and only confrontation with a burglar.
    
It was 2005 and Mrs. C. and I had just purchased a big old house in downtown Portland. We’d moved in less than forty-eight hours earlier. ...

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Best Vacation Ever!

August 18, 2013
First Posted 11/25/11
      
“Stop shouting at our customers!” the bank manager said.
     
“Sorry.” I hadn’t realized I’d been yelling. It was 1977 and I’d only been out of teller school a few months. This was my first week working in a real bank.
     
The manager came up to my window several minutes later and said, ...

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This One Sold #4

August 16, 2013
Parody, an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect, is a useful tool when seeking ideas for conceptual art. When I taught illustration I often gave an assignment to find a famous work of art and mock it in some way. I’ve painted many parodies over the years and not long ago I posted one—Anne of Claws based on Holbein’s Anne ...

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Thanks, Rowdy

August 14, 2013
This post may not be for squeamish.
   
The children I grew up with were not always kind, especially when their attention fell on short chubby kids like me who talked too much. Making matters worse, I had a peculiarity that prompted additional ridicule, a birthmark on my upper lip. When I was a kid, one of the popular Smith twins across the street commented that my birthmark reminded her of the ...

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America's Great Pastime: Conclusion

August 12, 2013
Check out Part I (here.)
 
My difficulties as an umpire fell into two categories: first was a lack of familiarity with the rules of the game, conveyed to players and spectators by the erratic methods I used to communicate my decisions; second, my co-umpire (Mrs. C.) found it all but impossible to remain impartial and not show favoritism to the hardworking smallest kid in the game.
     
I ...

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America's Great Pastime

August 11, 2013
Summer is the time for sports and many bloggers have great tales to tell about their athletic prowess. I’m not one of them. My greatest athletic achievement is summed up in my post “The Zone.” But there was a time when I was coerced into participating in another baseball game, this time as an adult. Those of you who know me are right to assume it didn’t go well.
    
Mrs. C. ...

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Food in Motion

August 9, 2013
Last year I wrote about my pet peeve over kids only holding drumsticks in chicken advertisements. I still haven’t seen a child holding a thigh or breast. I now have another peeve—food in motion.
     
Physicists claim that everything is in a constant state of motion and advertisers have taken this to heart. Remember the days when commercials showed food on plates? Hungry Man Dinners ...

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This One Sold #3

August 7, 2013
This illustration has sold several times and has always been one of my favorites. An art director asked me to paint a picture that illustrated the futility of chasing after money. I immediately thought of one of literature’s most famous lunatics—crazy old Don Quixote—tilting at windmills in the belief that they were evil giants. Quixote believed it was his responsibility to rid the world of them. In ...

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An Attack of the Grumpies

August 5, 2013
It isn’t often that I wake up grumpy, but I did so on Sunday morning. It didn’t help when the microwave went out—it will probably cost a few hundred bucks to fix. It didn’t help when I called my mother and listened to her complain about everything she could think of. If you think the world and everything in it is going to hell in a hand basket just e-mail me and I’ll gladly share my mother’s ...

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A Fallen Star

August 4, 2013
She was once a star attraction with people paying good money to wait in line just to gaze at her tender expression. A place of honor was afforded her, a spacious wall with excellent lighting to show her off to best effect. You might not think her worthy of such attention; she isn’t young or beautiful or sexy, but she came with one of the best pedigrees on earth for a painting—she was created by Rembrandt ...

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Six Minutes That Could Happen Anywhere

August 2, 2013


You might have heard about this on the news, but for me it’s personal; it happened in the building where my wife and son work.
 
The Police Records Department is located several yards inside the front door to our city hall. A thin young man, approximately eighteen years old, paced in the entryway before approaching the window and mumbling something.
    
Kathy ...

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Second Blogiversary

July 31, 2013
Two years ago my son CJ helped me launch Chubby Chatterbox. My first post was about my quirky mother (who remains a favorite topic based on e-mails I receive). I’d hesitated to create a blog because I suspected it would require commitment—not one of my favorite things—but so many people had supported my art and writing over the years that I felt obligated to bring my “story telling” to the ...

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This One Sold #2

July 29, 2013
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Illustrators rise or fall depending on how many regular customers they have. One or two high-paying clients a year doesn’t pay the bills or put food on the table. I was fortunate to have a dozen regulars over the years, art directors who channeled work to me consistently. Paul Nickell, the art director and editor of The Oregon State Bar Bulletinwas ...

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Fired From My First Job: Conclusion

July 28, 2013
Check out the first part of this post  here.
 
    
When we reached the ladies’ room I whacked loudly on the door and didn’t receive a response. I yelled out, “Janitors coming in!”
    
Janitor,” Mr. Martinez corrected. “There’s only one janitor, and I’m it!”
    
“Sorry.”
...

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Fired From My First Job

July 26, 2013
At the end of my senior year at Wilcox High I landed my first real job. Like many kids in the Santa Clara Valley, I’d spent several summers picking pears and apricots, often eating nearly as much as I picked. But this was a real job. I was going to spend my summer as the janitor’s assistant at one of the local department stores—S.H.Kress & Co. 
    
Best friend Ricky Delgado ...

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An Elixir for Retirement

July 25, 2013

Since it’s Thursday you probably aren’t expecting to hear from me today, but I wanted to share some good news with you. I was recently contacted by a website called Retirement and Good Living. After discovering Chubby Chatterbox they invited me to write a guest post. You can check it out at http://retirementandgoodliving.com/an-elixir-for-retirement/



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The Mouth of Truth

July 24, 2013
First posted 2/10/12
 
Among Rome’s many churches is Santa Maria in Cosmedin, where Saint Valentine’s bones are said to be kept. However, the most famous attraction in this church is not the saint; it is the legendary Boca della Veritas—The Mouth of Truth.
    
We aren’t exactly sure what the Boca della Veritas is, maybe part of a fountain or ...

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This One Sold

July 21, 2013
A regular commenter recently inquired why I had so many illustrations that never sold. I doubt I have more unsold pieces than other professional illustrators but it did make me think that perhaps I should occasionally post illustrations that did sell.
    
 
This piece was created in 1994 for Bloomberg Business News for a feature on Rhino Records. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, ...

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Calendar War

July 19, 2013
 First posted 10/17/11
 
I’ve been married to Mrs. Chatterbox for thirty-nine years, and in that time we’ve come to learn much about each other. In addition to partnering as parents to raise and launch our son, we’ve shared hopes and dreams and dozens of silly as well as important secrets. I often think I know Mrs. C. better than I know myself. So you can imagine my surprise when ...

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Humble Pie

July 17, 2013
Several weeks ago I was leaving a Thai restaurant with Mrs. C. and happened to pass by the window of a new art supply store that had recently opened in our neighborhood. Taped to the front window was a sign—PART TIME HELP WANTED. I’m still trying to figure out why I did it, but I left Mrs. C. standing there on the curb while I walked inside and requested an application.
    
Mrs. C. has ...

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Peculiar Picture #29

July 15, 2013
If reincarnation is real then it’s possible I was a mockingbird in a previous life. Mockingbirds love shiny things and have been known to steal and hide gleaming objects.  I’m not a thief but I have a similar fascination;  the more sparkly the object the better. When I started out as an artist I was mesmerized by the surfaces of things, especially various types of metal, from the mirror shine of ...

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Straight Hair and Popularity: Conclusion

July 14, 2013
Check out Part I (here.)
 
 
Moments before I’d thought I was fine the way I was, but now I felt like I was dying of thirst and David was handing me a glass of water.
     
“How can you make me popular?”
    
“Your hair.”
    
“My hair. I’m unpopular because of my hair?”
    
“Have...

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Straight Hair and Popularity

July 12, 2013
Ricky Delgado and I were lying beneath the shady sycamore tree in my front yard. My best friend was thirteen, a year older than me, and we were enjoying our last days of freedom before school began. The air was pungent with the scent of dying summer, or it could have been the tobacco Ricky was chewing.
    
Ricky claimed “chaw” was cool but I knew the truth. Ricky’s dad, a drunk, ...

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My First Nude

July 10, 2013
While channel surfing not long ago I landed on an episode of Family Feud. Just as I was about to change the channel, host Steve Harvey asked this question: Where were you when you first saw a naked member of the opposite sex? As I scratched my head thinking about it, the image of a jelly donut popped into my head.    
    
I was a high school junior in 1969 when an opportunity ...

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In Gauguin's Footsteps

July 8, 2013
 French painter Paul Gauguin was seeking paradise when he left France in 1891. Although he lived in French Polynesia for years and painted his most famous pictures there, he wasn’t thrilled with the impact of western civilization he witnessed on his arrival. He was looking for an Eden, where innocent natives walked about naked and unashamed. Alas, French missionaries had already discovered the place, and women ...

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Peculiar Picture #28

July 5, 2013
There are many categories of illustration; advertising art featuring products, portraiture for the rendering of personalities, sports illustrations depicting scenes of athletes and so on. My specialty was conceptual illustration. A magazine editor might have a technical or long-winded article that most folks might quickly pass over and my job was to create an image channeling the reader’s focus on the article and ...

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What Do We Really Know?

July 4, 2013
   First posted 7/4/12 
    
When dinosaurs looked up and saw a fiery meteorite shrieking into the atmosphere they had no idea their world was coming to an end. And I’m sure Romans couldn’t believe that a thousand years of culture were ending when barbarians were sighted near the gates of Rome. We are often incapable of recognizing or comprehending the important ...

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Geriatric Park

July 3, 2013
I haven’t shared any recent conversations with my mother, but yesterday’s phone call really made me laugh.
    
It’s been hot here in Portland so I began with, “Are you keeping cool? Are you running your air conditioner?”
    
“I’m doing okay, but that air conditioner is loud so I’m not running it.”
    
“It ...

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Why Is Moses Horny?

July 1, 2013
First posted on 1/16/12. Of my 450 posts this one has received the third highest number of readers. I’m not sure why.
 
According to the Bible, God punished King Nimrod who was audacious enough to think he could build a tower high enough to reach Heaven. In retribution, God decreed that humans would babble in infinite languages and be incomprehensible to each other, thus securing a future for Rosetta ...

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In a Mall Far Far Away

June 30, 2013
Do you remember when malls had weekend art shows? I loved entering a mall and smelling the oil paint and turpentine, seeing the portable galleries, artists working on paintings and chatting with passersby. As a kid I was painfully aware that all of these artists, even those creating simple landscapes, were producing work far more proficient than mine but I always figured I’d improve. It was only a matter of time ...

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Portrait of a Thief

June 28, 2013
 This story, first posted on 11/21/11, is reconstructed from a true occurrence that happened several years ago. I was not the artist involved:
 
A young artist struggling to make a name for himself was ecstatic when an industrialist, the wealthiest man in town, commissioned a portrait of himself. The price agreed on for the painting (two thousand dollars) was more than the young artist had ever received. ...

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Nobody Holds a Grudge Like a Mother

June 26, 2013
 For the past few weeks I’ve been dedicating myself to the completion of “The Best of Chubby Chatterbox, a collection of my most successful posts. This week has been spent editing, but I hope you enjoy this post from 10/19/11.
    
My eighty-eight year old mother doesn’t read my writing, which is a good thing because I doubt she’d appreciate how ...

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Gandhi's Footsteps

June 24, 2013
Separating men from myths can be a difficult task. On our recent trip to India I had an opportunity to visit the house in New Delhi where Mohandas Gandhi was living when he was assassinated. Gandhi has always intrigued me; I’ve long been fascinated by the humble little man dressed in homespun who challenged the greatest empire on earth to became the father of his country and a beacon for non-violence and passive ...

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Peculiar Picture #27

June 23, 2013
 
 
 
I painted this piece back in the days when I was creating conceptual illustrations on spec. This is a common practice for illustrators who often find themselves idle between assignments. Since I had no idea what these illustrations might be used for I often gave art directors various cropping options to increase the marketability of my work. This piece shows extra space at the top where a masthead ...

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Revenge of the Claw foot Tub

June 21, 2013
I realized too late that you don’t buy old houses—old houses buy you. And “charm” is spelled: $$$$$. When we purchased our hundred year old house in Northwest Portland, it came with an enormous claw foot tub. Mrs. Chatterbox said it was charming and worth the cost of restoring. I wasn’t convinced, but the tub must have weighed as much as a Sherman tank and having someone come to our house ...

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The Psychology Test

June 19, 2013

There are scores of psychology tests but to my knowledge this is the shortest, the only test that’s actually fun to take, and in my case the only accurate one. Take a moment to answer these five questions honestly and you might discover something you didn’t know about yourself. Feel free to write down your answers, and don’t over think your responses; your first thoughts are the most revealing. The ...

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The Mare of Flanders

June 17, 2013
Divorced,
Beheaded,
Died.
Divorced,
Beheaded,
 Survived.
 
This six word poem describes the fate of the six wives of Henry VIII. Wife #3, Jane Seymour, had the good sense to die shortly after giving birth to a long awaited son and heir to the Tudor throne.
    
Henry was content chasing petticoats and sleeping with mistresses, but his councelors pointed out that it was unseemly for the King ...

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Happy Father's Day

June 16, 2013
When I was a kid the only pets I could have were those that could be flushed down the toilet when they died. I had to wait until I left home to own a cat or a dog. But my childhood was not without pets: I had guppies, frogs and tropical fish. When I was nine my favorite fish was a black fantailed molly named—Molly. Unfortunately, Molly was suicidal and liked to jump out of her bowl.
    
Many ...

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Think About It

June 14, 2013
Need to make a quick buck? This has always worked for me; I bet someone they can’t properly assume the position of Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker, one of the most famous statues ever created. Think this is a no-brainer? Give it a try, and then check the photograph below.
 
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Did you get it right? Nine ...

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Harvey's Flock: Conclusion

June 12, 2013
Part I of Harvey’s Flock can be found here.
    
Harvey owned birds, dozens and dozens of them. He and his dad built an aviary in the corner of their backyard. Inside were parakeets, yellow canaries, flocks of finches and even a pair of lovebirds. Together they created  a symphony of bird song.  Harvey would enter the aviary and stand with his arms outstretched like an oak ...

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Harvey's Flock

June 10, 2013
Here’s a different post about birds, a true story about someone I knew a long time ago…
Harvey was the biggest kid on the block, a massive, towering fixture of the neighborhood living in the corner house at the end of our street. He had a flattened nose, a short neck and a small mouth with a tongue that tended to protrude. His childlike personality was at odds with his Buick-shaped frame. Harvey ...

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The Birds! The Birds!

June 9, 2013
 Mrs. Chatterbox and I have lived in a lot of places over the years and every time we’ve selected an apartment or purchased a house Mrs. C. always says something like, “That corner by the living room window will be just perfect for our Christmas tree.” I watch House Hunters a lot and prospective buyers often utter similar statements. A few weeks ago we visited our son’s new apartment ...

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Back In Business

June 7, 2013
I had no idea how dependent I’d become on my computer until it stopped working last Friday. No, I wasn’t looking at porn when it happened; Mrs. Chatterbox and I were checking a site showing the controversial new portrait of Queen Elizabeth II when the screen suddenly went blank. Incidentally, it’s not the worst painting of the Queen I’ve seen and I disagree with critics who say she looks like ...

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Computer Woes

June 1, 2013

I guess it was bound to happen eventually but my computer got sick yesterday and is in the shop until Wednesday. Only six years old and I'm told it might be obsolete. Anyway, son CJ is letting me borrow his computer to say that I'm out of commission for a few days so please don't take it personally if I don't leave comments for a while. I'll be back as soon as possible. Take care.

 



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Peculiar Picture #26

May 31, 2013
An art director once asked me to paint an illustration of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I wanted to create something different from the traditional images associated with this subject and produced this illustration of a tailor making a fleece suit for his client. I thought the comedic approach a fun change of pace (I’m particularly fond of the lamb chop pattern on his tie) but my client didn’t ...

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Pole Dancing

May 29, 2013
Now that I have your attention, I hope you won’t be disappointed. In America, pole dancing usually involves strip clubs where lovely ladies gyrate around metal poles while drunk men reward them with crumpled greenbacks. (Am I revealing too much?) In other parts of the world, pole dancing is an altogether different activity.
    
At the entrance to Chichen Itza in Mexico Mrs. Chatterbox and I ...

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That Damn War !

May 27, 2013
First posted 5/27/12
I remember Dad pounding his fists on the kitchen table so hard that his coffee mug tipped over. I watched as he did nothing to clean up the coffee spreading over the table and dripping to the floor. “Damn!”
     
I’d never known Dad to swear.
    
He pounded his fists on the table a few more times. “That damn war!” My ...

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Tribes

May 26, 2013
It seems like every other day a bomb goes off in the Middle East, killing dozens of innocent people. I can easily understand rage against the United States; our foreign policy has historically supported dictators who oppress their people while paying lip service to America in exchange for foreign aid. As Americans we have little cause to hold our heads high in this regard, but this doesn’t explain why people in ...

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How Dumb Can You Be? - May 24th

May 24, 2013
Another true story I’m not proud of. I’ve resisted telling this one because…well, you’ll see: 
 
In the early eighties Oregon was in the middle of a recession. I’d been out of work for months and was finally hired by an art gallery in downtown Portland. Wind & Wings Gallery sold wildlife art. My primary job was to make calls to businesses and make appointments ...

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Pecan Perfection

May 22, 2013
I woke up this morning with a hankering for pecan pie. Many of you probably have a special recipe for pecan pie and I’m sure all have merit, but I’m just not interested. You see, I’ve tasted nirvana and it isn’t to be found in fresh ingredients or recipes baked with big doses of love. Nope, not what I’m salivating over.
    
Years ago Mrs. Chatterbox asked me what I thought ...

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Peculiar Picture #25

May 20, 2013
When I posted my last Peculiar Picture I was flabbergasted by the witty comments I received in response to my illustration Chicken Boy. I’m amazed at your clever captions and powerful observations. Many of you point out things I’m unaware of and never intended. Here’s another peculiar picture that has yet to find a home. I don’t generally create spooky images but this one has ...

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Finding Richard Paul

May 19, 2013
First posted 10/3/11
    
While cleaning out the garage yesterday, I discovered him in a box on a dusty shelf, his leg caught in our old George Foreman grill. His unblinking eyes fixed on me when I reached for him, as if to say, “Where’s everybody been?” 
    
Richard Paul, showing signs of the fierce love our son CJ lavished on him long ago, was ...

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King of Dorks Part II - May 17th

May 17, 2013
This tale is a true account of my one and only childhood confrontation with the law in 1966. If you missed Part I, check it out (here.)
 
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The voice with the bullhorn continued. “This is the police! Come down immediately!”
    
With no other options, we filed down the ladder and were met by the heat. They trooped us outside into the ...

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King of Dorks

May 15, 2013
 Many of you have asked for more stories about my friend, Ricky Delgado. This tale is a true account of my one and only childhood confrontation with the law in 1966. Of course Ricky had a lot to do with it.


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“Is it true?” Ricky asked. “Please say it isn’t because if it is, I’m gonna to have to kill you!”
   ...

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Graffiti Grandma

May 13, 2013
I’d like to introduce you to my good friend Jo Barney. Jo is launching her latest novel this week. We’ve been writing companions for years, and she deserves much of the credit for improving the quality of my writing. I think you’ll find her latest work extremely compelling, and I hope you’ll take advantage of her free book give-a-way.
 
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Hello, All!  ...

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Spanish Coffee & Mother's Day

May 12, 2013
This year Mrs. C. and I are taking my mother to Red Lobster for Mother’s Day. I’m sure the experience will provide fodder for my blog, but until then this is what happened last year.
 
When it comes to eating food she hasn't prepared, Mom is as cautious as Howard Hughes. She doesn’t like breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner unless it’s a slice of meat between two pieces of bread. She hates ...

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Suprematist Composition

May 10, 2013
 
 
Last year I was surprised by the response to my post on Magritte’s painting The Treachery of Images—a depiction of a smoking pipe that included the words: This is not a pipe. Comments were sharply divided as to whether or not this was valid art or merely a clever artist’s trick. Of course it isn’t a pipe because, as Magritte pointed out, you can’t smoke it. ...

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Eternal Love

May 8, 2013
Although the Taj Mahal was the catalyst for our trip to India, I admit to viewing it with trepidation. I’d unwisely made a judgment; without laying my eyes on it I’d concluded that this was the most beautiful edifice ever created by the hand of man. I’d based this opinion on photographs. But I’d been disappointed before and worried I’d set my expectations too high. Could reality match my ...

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Keep It Away !

May 6, 2013
I mentioned in a previous post that Mrs. Chatterbox is a foodie, always looking for the latest food trend. I usually benefit from this. Mrs. C. has worked hard over the years to serve me meals that are interesting and flavorful, but after forty years it’s become a challenge to come up with interesting dishes. I’ve concluded that her determination to please me in the kitchen after all these years ...

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Beat Me With A Drumstick

May 5, 2013
First Posted 10/26/11
     
Hollywood irks me quite often. Why is it that whenever someone gets into a car they never look in the back seat where a killer is patiently waiting for them. I saw this happen once in a movie and the car was a freakin’ convertible. In spy movies, whenever the main character is suspended from the ceiling by a wire, the bad guys never look up when they enter the ...

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It's Back!

May 3, 2013
Imagine your worst fear: spiders, sharks, speaking in public. I’m sorry to say that something wicked this way comes; it’s headed your way and it exceeds your worst nightmares.
    
I have a method to alert me to the fact that it’s time to toddle off to Perfect Look for a haircut. On weekday mornings when I pull on my clothes to drive to our community pool, my hair is so ...

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One of Life's Absurdities

May 1, 2013
On Saturday my back was acting up so I took two pain pills and felt good enough to accompany Mrs. Chatterbox to the grocery store. I don’t generally accompany Mrs. C. on food expeditions because Mrs. C. is a foodie who loves squeezing produce, reading labels and looking for yummy new trends. This usually proves to be time consuming. On the rare occasions when I shop I require a list and I’m ...

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The Fill Up

April 29, 2013
In 1942 he was a lanky sixteen year old and glad to have a job pumping gas, checking oil and washing windshields at the Texaco in Modesto, California. Most of the men had dashed off to war or he wouldn’t have landed this job. He had numerous brothers and sisters. Now he was able to contribute money to the jar on the kitchen shelf—all that kept food on the table and a roof over their heads.
    
He’d ...

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Jack's Gift

April 28, 2013
This Sunday rerun was first posted in 2011 and for nearly a year it was my most popular post.  I hope you enjoy it.
   
 I swim at the public pool on weekday mornings at seven a.m.  On the way home on Fridays I swing by the bakery section at Albertsons because—well, you know why. (A clue is in the title of my blog.) Anyway, this morning I was marching toward the delicious donuts ...

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The State of Mittelwestcoastia

April 26, 2013
Most people who have spent time in California have witnessed the drastic differences between Northern California and the rest of the state. I’m  referring to political differences, not topographical or geographical ones. I’m reminded of this because of something I recently saw in an antique store, a map of the United States in 1941. It showed forty-nine states, interesting because in 1941 there were ...

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Peculiar Picture #24

April 24, 2013
Some of my newer followers might not be aware of the fact that I’m a retired commercial illustrator. Like many illustrators, most of my work resulted from commissions, but I also created pieces to satisfy an artistic itch. On days when my creative tubing was kinked, the result could be a peculiar picture. Many of these odd pieces have sold over the years, others have not. This feature is called Peculiar Pictures, ...

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India Portfolio

April 22, 2013
*Note: All of these pictures were taken in the Indian state of Rajasthan.
 
Picture #1 (Left) In the abandoned Moghul capital of Fatehpur Sikri, those convicted of capital crimes were forced to lay their head on this stone. An elephant performed the execution by stepping on the head.
 
 
#2 A floating palace in Udaipur. You might remember this building from the James Bond movie Octopussy.
 
 
#3 ...

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The Vision of Emperor Akbar

April 21, 2013
The Boston Marathon tragedy made last week a difficult one. Like many Americans, I watched the news reports and wondered how anyone could commit such a heinous crime. I hoped that when all of the facts came out it would be learned that religious extremism was not the cause, and even though the investigation of this crime is ongoing I’m resigned to the fact that religious extremism will be an integral part ...

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The Snake Charmer of Jaipur - Part II

April 19, 2013
For Part One of my short story click here.
The Snake Charmer of Jaipur
Part II
 
“I’ve been waiting for you, Mister Stickley,” said the boy. “I knew you’d come.”
    
“How did you know?”
    
Without answering, the youngster started down a passageway. Stickley had a reputation among his peers for being cool under pressure, ...

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The Snake Charmer of Jaipur

April 17, 2013
     I rarely write fiction but this short story resulted from my recent trip to India:
 
The Snake Charmer of Jaipur
 
 
“Follow me,” the boy said, his voice more commanding than his slight appearance would suggest.
    
Stickley took in the youth’s unkempt appearance; rags that hardly qualified as clothes, a turban too soiled to identify ...

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A Generosity of Spirit

April 15, 2013
A few days ago I felt compelled to do something I seldom do—check our newspaper’s obituary page. It felt like an icy fist was squeezing my heart when I saw the name Elsa Warnick. She’d died a few days before Mrs. C. and I left for India. Her memorial took place several days before our return.
    
Elsa and I had been great friends and colleagues at the local art college where we ...

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A Sunday Portfolio

April 14, 2013
 Here are a few pictures from our recent trip to India. First, an elephant is giving rides at the Amber Fort in Jaipur.
 
 
The second picture shows a guard at one of the many palaces we visited. This would look like an old painting were it not for the watch on his wrist.
 
 
 
#3 The Jain Temple in Ranakpur. The Jain religion, stressing the sacredness of all living creatures, is over 2500 ...

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We're Gonna Die!

April 12, 2013
It’s hard not to think you’re going to die when you hit the road in India. Aside from the fact that, from an American perspective, they drive on the wrong side of the road, no logic is apparent on Indian streets and highways. I asked our guide Devender about this and he admitted Indians drive erratically. “Driving isn’t tested in India because there are far too many people,” he explained. ...

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The Power of Observation

April 10, 2013
Albrecht Dürer was arguably Germany’s greatest painter, and one of the most celebrated graphic artists of all time, but in 1503 he took a break from his flourishing studio for a horse ride in the country. He wanted to take in some fresh air. As he rode down the road he did something extraordinary. He reined his horse to a stop, climbed down from the saddle and ripped a clump of weeds from the side of the road, ...

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The Shape of Things

April 8, 2013
Yesterday I posted a photograph of myself wearing a turban. I received many interesting comments—most suggesting that this was not a look I should consider adopting. The focus on my head reminded me of this piece I wrote a few years ago: 
    
When I was a kid my dad would drive me to the barbershop. On our way home Dad would take a moment to tell me what a great haircut I’d ...

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Turban Time

April 7, 2013

Ever wonder how a turban is made? This presentation was given to us at the Amber Fort in Jaipur, once the capital of Rajasthan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not sure I pull off this look very well. What do you think?



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Stranger in the Dark

April 5, 2013
 Our plane was halfway through its flight from Amsterdam to New Delhi, India. The cabin was dark, and still but for the vibration of the massive engines propelling us through the night. I had a window seat and Mrs. C., like most of the passengers, had nodded off. We’d been flying over Turkmenistan, according to the monitor on the back of the seat in front of me, and now we were over Afghanistan. I was thinking ...

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An April 1st Cluster F**K

April 3, 2013
 
I should have thought twice about trying to launch anything new on April Fool’s Day. My attempt to obtain free advertising has opened a can of worms and caused problems for my readers, which I never intended.
    
Seeing blogs with promotional buttons convinced me I needed to do a better job promoting Chubby Chatterbox. It was not my intention to badger those of you who don’t like ...

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India Adventure Give-a-way

April 1, 2013
When I redesigned Chubby Chatterbox last year I included buttons for followers to add to their blogs. So far I’ve only spotted two Chubby Chatterbox buttons: one at PT Dilloway, and the other at Cheryl’s The Art of Being Conflicted. (Sorry if you’ve posted my button and I haven’t noticed.) In a shameless bid to encourage readers to add my button, I’ve decided to sponsor ...

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Standing on Ceremony

March 31, 2013
I hope you enjoy this Chubby Chatterbox Easter Rerun from last year:
 
 Standing on Ceremony
    
I was so excited I felt like I was about to turn inside out.
    
Mrs. Chatterbox and I were going to see the Pope, not that the Pope was the main attraction that Easter Morning in 1976, not for me anyway: I was there to see Saint Peter’s Basilica—in ...

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Lucky

March 29, 2013
“You ride my camel?”
    
That was the idea, the reason Mrs. Chatterbox and I had come to the Thar Desert. The tour brochure promised an exhilarating ride on sand dunes to watch the sunset, followed by a dinner with local tribesmen. Mrs. Chatterbox had no intention of riding a camel across the desert and had chosen to follow behind in a camel-drawn cart.
    
“My ...

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Holy Cow ! - We're Home

March 27, 2013
     "In religion, India is the only millionaire...... the One land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined."
                               &n...

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Namaste (Nah- mes- tay)

March 8, 2013
I doubt this will come as a surprise to anyone but Lady Chatterbox and I are big Amazing Race fans. We hold our breath at the beginning of each season when Phil Keoghan launches the race by saying, “The world is waiting for you. Good luck. Travel safe.”
 
We don’t have a dozen teams competing with us for a million dollars, which is a good thing because Mrs. C. dawdles and I have ...

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Thanks, Charlie

March 6, 2013
On Monday our son CJ lost Charlie, his best friend. Eight years ago CJ decided he wanted a pet. He figured a dog would require more attention than he could give so he settled on a cat. Mrs. C and I accompanied him to the animal shelter where we prowled through cages searching for the perfect pet.
    
Charlie came close to not being selected; had he not been it would have been my fault. I ...

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Countdown

March 4, 2013
Mrs. Chatterbox and I are in countdown mode for our upcoming trip to India; we leave on Saturday. Mrs. C is a former Army brat raised on moving every few years so she knows how to pack. The suitcases are open in our guest bedroom and already starting to bulge with clothes and items we might need in India. Bugs find me particularly tasty so I’ve dosed my travel gear in DEET to prevent myself from becoming a mosquito ...

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Blowing Smoke

March 3, 2013
 This past week fishducky, one of my favorite bloggers, posted an interesting picture I’d like to share. I highly recommend a visit to fishducky, finally!, where you’ll always find something to smile about. This picture from her site inspired my post. For those of you who don’t recognize the item, its purpose will be revealed at the end of my post.
 
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Do Not Touch !

March 1, 2013
When I was in middle school my art class took a field trip to a museum in Oakland, California. Our teacher, Mr. Mestemacher, told us we’d be seeing some interesting work by world-renown British sculptor Henry Moore. I went to the school library and studied up on this Moore guy. His work was bold and only vaguely realistic, and I was intrigued by one of his quotes where he stressed the tactile qualities of his sculptures ...

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Chasing Freedom

February 27, 2013
 Mrs. Chatterbox was responsible for driving to the pound and selecting our longest lasting dog, a peculiar looking mutt our son named Ginger. Actually, CJ wanted to name the pooch Rambo but we convinced him Ginger was a more suitable name for a girl dog. Ginger had been at the pound a long time and her stay was coming to an end. Her ticket to the Rainbow Bridge was going to be stamped that evening. She never forgot ...

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Penny For Your Thoughts

February 25, 2013
Canada recently announced its intention to eliminate the penny, and President Obama has expressed an interest in doing so here. It seems like a good time to rerun this post from last year.
  
Yesterday one winked up at me from the gutter. I considered bending down and picking it up. After all, I’m as superstitious as the next guy, and as the saying goes: Find a penny pick it up, and it will ...

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Peculiar Picture #23

February 24, 2013
Perhaps no picture I’ve painted deserves to be in my Peculiar Picture File more than this weird version of The Pied Piper. I can’t remember why I painted this image although I recall being happy when I signed my name to it. Art directors were less than thrilled when they saw it in my portfolio. Strange. Odd. Unmarketable; these were some of the nicer words hurled at my poor picture.
    
This ...

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Mrs. Chatterbox's Rainbow

February 22, 2013
Mrs. Chatterbox and I married shortly after graduating from college, she with an English degree from Santa Clara University and me with an art degree from UCLA. We settled in a 1930s duplex in West LA. I continued to hang out with my artsy college friends and tried to break into the Los Angeles art scene. Mrs. C. and I frequented numerous parties and artistic events, referred to back then as happenings. Heated ...

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High Tech

February 20, 2013
I know I speak for millions when I admit to struggling with today’s ever-changing technology; I wouldn’t have been able to create this blog without my son’s help. Years ago I attempted to write a spy novel and most of the gadgets I invented for my spooks are now in the hands of high schoolers. But I can recall a time before smart phones, iPads and laptops, when I was ten and thought the coolest gadget ...

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A Colossal Purr

February 18, 2013
Many of you write posts about your pets. I enjoy seeing pictures and reading stories about all of these various creatures. Mrs. Chatterbox and I are currently between pets but it’s only a matter of time until a furry companion is added to the Chatterbox household, probably a dog. But cats seem to spur more interest than dogs on the blogosphere. Evidently, readers can’t get enough of cute and mischievous felines.
  &nbs...

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Diagon Alley

February 17, 2013
"Harry wished he had eight more eyes... There were shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments Harry had never seen before, windows stacked with barrels of bat spleens and eels' eyes, tottering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon...."
—Description of Harry Potter’s first visit in Diagon Alley
 
    
Just ...

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Questionnaire

February 15, 2013
 
I’ve been tagged by two of my favorite bloggers, Joe of Cranky Old Man and Bruce at Oddball Observations and asked to participate in this 25 question “getting to know you” exercise. I’m not big on answering questions about myself but I’ll give it a try:


Where were you born? Alameda, California in 1952
 
Were you named after someone? ...

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Revisiting The Peasant Wedding

February 13, 2013

The week is only half over and it’s been one of riches for me. First, the great guys at Dude Write have honored me with their Diamond Member’s Only Award for my post Pee: Standing or Sitting. If you haven’t had an opportunity to check out this great site I highly recommend it. Second, Val at Unbagging the Cats has bestowed on me The Sunshine Award. Thanks Val. I’ll ...

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Where Is He?

February 11, 2013
In the sixteenth century, rich Flemish merchants and noblemen enjoyed purchasing paintings of pleasant peasants tending fields they could never own. Smiling at mediocre paintings highlighting the crudeness of peasant life must have made these rich folk feel superior, and in most of these genre paintings the peasants look foolish and in need of the parental guidance the aristocracy provided.
    
This ...

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Peculiar Picture #22

February 10, 2013
My posts often include a feature called Peculiar Pictures—highlighting an illustration I’ve created that was too peculiar to find a buyer. This time I’m including a photograph I came across while surfing the web. I hope this doesn’t depict a rest stop on our upcoming trip to Northern India.
    
Brett Minor over at Transformed Non-Conformist has a wonderful blog that ...

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The Return of Ted

February 8, 2013
One of my favorite blogs is Comedy Plus, where Sandee seldom fails to start my mornings with a laugh. If you haven’t checked out her blog I highly recommend it. Among other things, Sandee has been blogging about her friend Seymour, who happens to be a rock. During my recent recuperation I’ve been spending a lot of time with my very own inanimate friend—Ted. I hope you enjoy this ...

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A Sad Anniversary

February 6, 2013
Thanks to all of you who have sent me kind wishes for a speedy recovery. I’ve been lying on my back for the past few days, missing my computer and the interaction I receive from all of you. Lately, I’ve had plenty of time to think; mostly I’ve been thinking about my Dad. Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of Dad’s passing. It happened unexpectedly, and when I think about that day five years ago ...

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Fair Play

February 3, 2013
Some of you might have noticed that I haven’t been commenting on blogs lately. Let me assure you this isn’t because of a lack of interest on my part. I’ve been flat on my back for a few days. Earlier in the week I was emptying the dishwasher when suddenly it felt like someone was stabbing me in the back with a steak knife. I assumed I’d pulled a muscle and was determined to ride it out with hot ...

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Another Conversation with Mother

February 1, 2013
As most of you know, I spend a lot of time dealing with my eighty-seven year old mother. Mom lives in a retirement facility called The Lodge. I call twice a day to see how she’s doing. Mom’s brain is as sharp as ever when it comes to managing her finances but our conversations often stray into strange territory. Last night’s conversation went something like this:
    
“How ...

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Pee: Standing or Sitting

January 30, 2013
Several years ago Mrs. Chatterbox told me about a coworker (Glenda) who insisted her husband and four boys pee sitting down; standing in front of the toilet was forbidden. I commented that this wasn’t natural and those boys would probably grow up to have psychological problems. I might have referred to the husband as a wuss for putting up with such an aberration. After all, males were designed to urinate standing ...

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Peculiar Picture # 21 - Jan 28th

January 28, 2013
I’ve long enjoyed work from the golden age of American Illustration, early twentieth century paintings from masters such as Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish. Color photography was just coming into its own, adding a new dimension to classics like Tales of the Round Table, Robinson Crusoe, Aladdin and Treasure Island. I recall warm summer afternoons while sitting under the sycamore in ...

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Tea & Tanks: Part II

January 27, 2013
Military personnel were on high alert in the months following the erection of the Berlin Wall. Russian forces were thought to be preparing an assault on the western sectors and the Petty family was put on alert; they needed to be ready to be airlifted out of Berlin at any moment. In a governmental SNAFU the family dog was accidentally shipped to Poland and kept alive with scraps from a kindhearted cargo handler.
    
Ed ...

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Tea & Tanks

January 25, 2013
This picture only resembles the silver tea service currently turning black with tarnish in our closet. I thought about polishing it for a photograph but I’m much too lazy. The tea service was commissioned in Berlin in 1961 by my father-in-law, Ed Petty. Ed was a lieutenant at the time, two thirds through a distinguished Army career that began at sixteen when he lied about his age and was sent to the frozen Aleutian ...

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Travels and Travails

January 23, 2013
As I mentioned a few weeks back, Mrs. Chatterbox and I have decided to visit India at the beginning of March. Our travel agent forwarded an e-mail with the address of the Indian Consulate in Washington D.C. Evidently, we need visas for entering India. Last year when visiting Turkey visas were available at the Istanbul airport for thirty dollars. The Indian government charges nearly five times that amount and isn’t ...

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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 ...

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Helpful Husbandry

January 20, 2013
In an effort to demonstrate what a good husband I am I’ve decided to help Mrs. Chatterbox with an odious task. I screwed up the other morning and Mrs. Chatterbox is intent on telling everyone she can about it. So to spare her the trouble of hunting you down individually to inform you of my f**k up I’ve decided to let the cat out of the bag myself.
    
Mrs. Chatterbox and I have been together ...

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Channeling Julia Child

January 18, 2013
One day during my freshman year of high school an idea wormed into my head: it occurred to me that cooking could be nearly as satisfying as eating, so I got up early and made breakfast for everyone. My mother usually restricted herself to coffee and toast in the morning, with Dad and David settling for cold cereal. That morning I made scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes for everyone including David, even though ...

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This Isn't My Underwear!

January 16, 2013
 
I recently posted a high school picture of myself and several followers commented that I didn’t look chubby at all. The picture was taken shortly after I’d managed to drop the weight.
    
I remember my parents taking me to have my thyroid checked when I was twelve because my baby fat wasn’t burning off. A slow learner, I’d finally come to the realization that life wasn’t ...

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When Druids Go Wild!

January 14, 2013
One of the things I like most about travel is the unexpected effect famous monuments and sights have on me. I go to the Louvre to check out the Mona Lisa and discover that the painting is small and green, quite a disappointment. But other attractions exceed my expectations; the coffee shop on the Louvre's second floor has the best croissants I’ve ever tasted.
    
When Mrs. Chatterbox and I decided ...

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The Other Side of the Mountain

January 13, 2013

I don’t normally devote posts exclusively to pictures because my Blog is mostly about writing, but this image made me laugh so hard I couldn’t resist. No doubt you’ve seen pictures of Mount Rushmore but the view from the “other side of the mountain” is seldom photographed. And with good reason….

 


Happy Sunday everyone.




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Rubbed Raw in Verona

January 11, 2013
Verona is a beautiful Italian city famous for someone who never lived there, as described by someone unlikely to have even visited Verona. Any guesses who I’m talking about? This should help:
                        
“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east and ...

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The *Science of Sneezing

January 9, 2013
There’s a nasty bug going around our neck of the woods. There’s probably one going around where you live as well. Yesterday I took Grandma Chatterbox to see her doctor for a post surgery checkup. (Yes, I did provide her with hair removal cream for her visit with handsome Dr. Fernando.)
    
I noticed that many people were sneezing in the doctor’s waiting room. The vampire sneeze ...

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Master of the Zombie Apocalypse

January 7, 2013
Disclaimer: if you have an intense fear of your mortality you might want to pass on this post. 
 
   
The public’s fascination with zombies never ceases to amaze me. TV shows like Zombie Hunters, Dead Set and Zombie Apocalypse receive huge ratings. And I know half a dozen bloggers who critique episodes of The Walking Dead with the seriousness ...

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Radio Gibberish

January 6, 2013
I love it when bloggers post music videos. I don’t make enough time in my life for music and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to add more music to my life. I inherited my dad’s radio when he passed a few years ago but I’ve yet to turn it on. Dad was a big country music enthusiast and I remember sitting on his lap and listening to Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. But it was another radio I remember ...

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Twilight Zone Marathon

January 4, 2013
Every year on New Year’s Eve when the Sci-Fi Channel runs a 48 hour Twilight Zone Marathon I tell myself that I’m not going to watch. This year I watched less than previously but a few of my favorites stopped me in my tracks, rendering me powerless to change the channel. I’m not sure why since I know the dialogue of most of the 156 episodes by heart.
   
When the program premiered ...

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A New Year's Confession

January 2, 2013
I can’t bear the weight of a certain secret anymore, a secret that’s been a monkey on my back for years. I can imagine you reading this and screaming at your monitors, “What a beast! I knew this fat guy wasn’t right in his head. Get him some help before he hurts himself!”
    
What better time to rid myself of this burden than the beginning of a new year. New Years are ...

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Switching Nationalities

December 31, 2012

My mother isn’t very happy with me since I refused to buy her a tube of hair removal cream so she could impress the young surgeon who operated on her a few weeks before Christmas. I visited her every day in the hospital and it didn’t bother her that she was starting to resemble Joseph Stalin, but enter good looking Dr. Fernando, who’s half my age, and Mom suddenly wants to look like Angelina Jolie.
    ...

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Be Careful

December 30, 2012
The NRA wants to arm everyone, so be careful out there!

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Brontosaurus Ribs

December 28, 2012
I recently saw an online statistic claiming that more than seventy percent of American families enjoyed prime rib for Christmas dinner. At Chatterbox Manor we did not have prime rib for Christmas dinner; instead we opted for Honey Baked Ham.
    
Years ago shortly after we were married Mrs. Chatterbox decided to roast our first prime rib for Christmas. A few days before the holiday we drove to the ...

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Peculiar Picture #20

December 26, 2012

Another Christmas has come and gone and I’m sitting here staring at the tree and already thinking about the complicated process of taking it down, boxing up the delicate ornaments, folding up the tree skirt and all the other things that make our tree pretty. Mrs. Chatterbox once had a crazy aunt who one year took a piece of plywood, nailed roller skates to it and used it as a Christmas tree platform. The decorated ...

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Her Last Christmas

December 24, 2012
Christmas is that time of year when the pull of my ethnic background is the strongest. Dad’s folks weren’t anything in particular but Mom’s parents were Portuguese and her side of the family always won the weird relative contest.
    
On Christmas day we always converged at our traditional gathering place, the massive family room at my aunt’s house. An entire wall was covered ...

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Lurking on Our Christmas Tree

December 23, 2012
 
First posted last year:
 
I'd just poured myself a cup of hot chocolate and was settling down to enjoy our beautiful Christmas decorations (mostly the work of Mrs. Chatterbox) when my attention turned to the beautiful tree ornaments we’ve collected over the years. Mrs. Chatterbox and I try and purchase one each time we go on vacation and these remind us of the wonderful places we’ve visited. ...

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A Hard Mother To Please

December 21, 2012

Many of us were raised by hard to please parents; many of us are dealing with them still. Some consolation can be had in knowing that famous and powerful people also had similar problems, even someone as renowned as Napoleon Bonaparte. By most accounts Napoleon’s mother was hard to impress and not easy to get along with.
    
Letizia Ramolino, came from an undistinguished Corsican family before ...

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It Would Serve Me Right

December 19, 2012

A painting hangs in our dining room that might look familiar to many of you; it shows Claude Monet’s famous Japanese Bridge at Giverny. Monet painted a dozen versions of this bridge—all at different times of the day in an exploration of color and light—but he didn’t paint this one. I did, forty years ago. I say this not as a boast for having done a decent job of mimicking Monet’s style, ...

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The Greatest Artist I've Ever Known

December 17, 2012

Grandma Chatterbox is finally home from the hospital and she’s progressing better than she wants to admit. Her surgery has left her weak and she needs assistance to maintain her apartment and independence. It’s fallen on me to find someone to help her. There are many good organizations to draw on and much of my time is currently being spent searching for a suitable individual who can put up with Mom’s ...

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Confession

December 16, 2012

I confess that I’m not my cheery self this morning. I’m feeling a bit low lately. The Connecticut shootings are weighing heavily on my mind. What’s worse is that I’m having difficulty separating all of these shootings. They’re beginning to blur. We even had one here in Oregon a few days ago at the Clackamas Town Center not far from where I live.
    
I’m saddened ...

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The Running of the Grunion

December 14, 2012

Update: Grandma Chatterbox is still in the hospital after her surgery and will probably be released in a day or two. I’ve been busy trying to arrange home care for her and haven’t been able to write or respond to many of your posts. If you haven’t heard from me please know that I look forward to catching up with my reading as soon as I can. In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite posts ...

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Bloomin Onion

December 12, 2012

This is how The Outback Restaurant describes its Bloomin Onion appetizer: a true Outback original. “Our special onion is hand-carved by a dedicated bloomologist, cooked until golden and ready to dip into our spicy signature bloom sauce.”
    
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
    
Not long ago Mrs. C. and I ducked into our local Outback for an early dinner. We often sit ...

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The Deal Breaker on Becoming Jewish

December 10, 2012
Now that it’s Hanukkah I’m reposting a story from my memoir The Kid In the Kaleidoscope, a true tale about my decision to become Jewish when I was ten, and how I questioned my decision when I found out about the deal breaker….
 
Jonathan Khorman lived three houses down from me. One day while perched in the sycamore tree in his front yard he turned to me and made a startling declaration. ...

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A Killer Case of the Hickeys

December 9, 2012
Update: Grandma Chatterbox had her surgery yesterday and all appears to be well. The doctors had to remove a foot of damaged bowel and my mother claims they dropped her on the floor after surgery while transferring her to the gurney for the trip to the recovery room. The doctors say this never happened and that drugs can play games with your imagination. Mom believes there’s a conspiracy afoot and she’s ...

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Gray Lady Down

December 6, 2012

Many of you who are regular readers of this blog are familiar with my mother, who I write about frequently. Unfortunately, Mom has been in the hospital with a bowel obstruction the past few days and Mrs. Chatterbox and I have been busy keeping her company and tending to her affairs. I don’t think Mom is in any real danger, but today her doctor decided to operate. The procedure will take place Friday morning. With ...

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The World Awaits Us

December 5, 2012

Mrs. Chatterbox and I try to plan one major vacation a year. Paying for these trips isn’t easy but we feel it a good investment in body and soul. Last year we were unable to travel to Egypt as planned because of all the political turmoil; we settled on Turkey, and now a year later the timing still doesn’t feel right to attempt Egypt.  
    
Mrs. C. and I have a few health issues ...

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Blue Car Tuesday

December 3, 2012

I don't have an April Fool's prank but  this is the best practical joke I know about.
    
The new guy had potential, even if he was an arrogant jerk. My father-in-law, who’d worked at the Fireman’s Fund Headquarters in Marin County for years, had a devilish sense of humor and decided to prank him.
   
 My wife’s parents lived in San Francisco, and her dad, ...

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Seeing Red

December 2, 2012

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone many of my fellow bloggers are posting pictures of the arts and crafts they’re making as holiday gifts for friends and family. I can’t help but reflect on how inventive and imaginative people are out there in the Blogosphere. Such talent and creativity! It makes me think back to the time I decided to become an artist. 
    
I ...

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Kindred Spirits: A True Story

November 30, 2012

In 2002 when we bought our house it was nearly a hundred years old. We’d only lived in it a week or two, not long enough to learn about the neighborhood or meet our neighbors. We’d arrived in the Fall and the golden leaves on the old maple trees lining the street were falling with urgency. Our house was close to a trendy area filled with antique stores and restaurants.
    
One evening ...

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Conclusion: Uncle Sam and Kotex

November 28, 2012
The lady behind the counter pushed the unbagged box of Kotex in my direction, oblivious to the fact that she held my quivering soul in her hands.   
    
My voice was squeaky as a mouse. “Excuse me..?”
     
“Yes, something else you need?” she asked sweetly.
     
“Could you put this in a bag, pleeeeze?”
 &n...

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Uncle Sam and Kotex

November 26, 2012

Ricky Delgado was my best friend, even though he’d spent time at Hotel Juvy and was a seasoned thief. When a new shopping center sprang up near our house my parents forbade me to go anywhere near it with Ricky. But Dad worked nights and big brother David was at Little League practice. That left me to run an errand for my mother, a task no boy should be asked to do, unless there’s a licensed psychiatrist ...

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Peculiar Picture #19

November 25, 2012

Here’s another illustration that seemed like a good idea at the time, but I don’t think it’s ever been published. I’ve always been a lover of bold colors and that love is evident here, even if nothing else is. Does this picture mean anything to you?

 



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Freshly Brewed Hype

November 23, 2012

Some things in life just don’t live up to their hype. Every time I go to the grocery store, which my wife assures me is much too infrequently, I pause on one of the aisles and inhale deeply. I’m instantly born up on a magic carpet ride of intoxication that lifts me to exotic places and distant memories. I’m on the coffee aisle. And as usual I feel gypped.
    
I remember spending the ...

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Best Turkey Ever!

November 22, 2012

This morning I woke alone in bed. Mrs. Chatterbox got up before dawn and began working on the feast that is the hallmark of this special day. I don’t deserve having a spouse willing to get up before roosters crow just to please me with a sumptuous banquet, but I’ll accept this gift as graciously as I can.
    
As I lay here enjoying the aroma of onions and fried pork sausage that will ...

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Peculiar Picture #18

November 21, 2012

Telling a joke is always risky because everyone has such a different sense of humor, but the so-called comedian only risks a few words while standing on stage. When you tell a joke with paint the result is often a prolonged waste of time, depending on how long it takes to paint a joke, in this case around three days.
    
This image is based on the popular theme of the decline of ...

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What's the ClA Really Hiding?

November 19, 2012

The CIA and General Petraeus are in the news so much lately that I decided to rerun a post I wrote last year. The timing seemed appropriate. I hope you enjoy it.
 
A few years back an acquaintance told me that she had retired after working twenty years for the CIA. I was shocked; she hardly fit my mental profile for a covert operative, but what shocked me even more was what she said next: “I still ...

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I Think We're Being Robbed !

November 18, 2012
Conclusion: Brown Bear:
 
After graduating from bank teller school, all novice tellers at Hibernia Bank started out at the home office on the corner of Jones and McAllister, a grand old structure built right after the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906. I was assigned to Mrs. Werfel, a thin grey-haired woman who happened to be one of the senior tellers. I studied her and followed her around like a puppy until one ...

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Brown Bear

November 16, 2012

When I graduated from college, my art degree made me about as hirable as a shepherd. I was a newlywed living in San Francisco and my bride’s cooking had caused me to pack on the pounds I’d fought off in college. To make matters worse, because of the additional weight I didn’t have any clothes that fit to wear to job interviews. I was reduced to wearing a black leather jacket I tried to dress up with ...

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A Golden Skeleton in our Closet

November 14, 2012

Most families have their own stories and legends, and mine is no exception. In Hayes family lore, Great Great Grandpa Phil is credited with finding the second largest gold nugget ever discovered in the state of California.
     
As I understand it, my ancestors were once wheelers and dealers in Central California. They lived on an impressive ranch near Hollister and rode around in monogrammed carriages. ...

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Someone Had To Be First

November 12, 2012

We know so many important names in history, the first human to set foot on the moon, the first person to fly solo over the Atlantic or the first intrepid souls to reach the poles or scale Mount Everest, but who was the first person to have their picture taken?
    
Having our picture snapped is an occurrence we all take for granted. You don’t need to be a famous fashion model to be photographed ...

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Peculiar Picture #17

November 11, 2012

To my knowledge, this illustration from my royalty free CD Business Fundamentals has never been used. Years ago I sat in my studio imagining what sort of illustrations art directors could use. Altogether, I created sixty images for my CD and I still receive royalty checks. Most of these illustrations have made their way into books and magazines around the world, but this one has yet to be published. Can you ...

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Birthday #60

November 9, 2012

Mrs. Chatterbox is slightly older than me; she turned 60 three weeks ago. Since then I’ve pretended I was a younger man consorting with a cougar. But yesterday was my birthday. Now I’m S-I-X-T-Y, and taking solace in a post I wrote back in my younger days, when I was a mere 59:
    
There are benefits to not being good with numbers and I’m reaping one right now. I thought ...

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Justifying The "B" Word

November 7, 2012

Yes, I admit it; in a moment of weakness I looked my son’s godmother in the face and called her the “B” word. Horrible I know, but don’t condemn me until you know the facts.
    
Our son’s godparents (I’ll refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. G.) are psychologists and a delightful couple. They live in Sacramento and are our oldest and closest friends—the reason ...

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Peculiar Picture # 16

November 5, 2012

Here’s a picture I painted a few years ago. The inspiration came from a photograph taken in a stairwell in Florence, Italy. The initial illustration seemed incomplete and I was at a loss trying to figure out what the composition needed. I set it aside. Several years later, I dug out the unfinished illustration and figured out what was missing.
    
Painted with acrylic on untempered masonite, ...

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Hemingway's Coat

November 2, 2012
I've been playing with fiction. Here's something new:
 
“I thought you wanted to be a writer,” the old woman said to fourteen year old Becky. 
    
“I do, Granny. My brain is full of ideas, but I have trouble putting them down on paper. All of the kids at school have computers. I wish I had one.”
    
The old woman looked at the orphaned ...

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Out of Hell

October 31, 2012
Fiction to celebrate Halloween:
 
A shiver runs through me when I think back to the time when Tammy, my wife of five years, came to the conclusion that the gray tabby who’d lived contentedly with us since we bought her on our honeymoon, was lonely. Tammy convinced me that Sausalito, “Saucy” needed another feline to keep her company. On Halloween of ’79 we decided to purchase a kitten.
   ...

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Conclusion: Ghost of Kilarney Park

October 29, 2012
Check out Part One here.
 
Haunted houses and Halloween go together like dots on dice, but the haunted house on our street never did anything to attract trick-or-treaters. So why was there a light burning on Verna’s porch?
    
My feet began pulling me to the light. My head swirled with thoughts of murder: rat poison, asphyxiation, throat slashing, but I was more interested ...

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Ghost of Kilarney Park

October 28, 2012

In keeping with the season I’m reposting a true Halloween story from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope. I hope you enjoy it:
 
Haunted houses belong in the realm of goose bumps, foggy nights and old neighborhoods, not pristine suburbs with freshly asphalted streets, unblemished sidewalks and immature trees. But a ghost lingered across the street, in a house where a man died.
    
I ...

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Death In The Family

October 26, 2012

Everyone I might have offended with this post is dead, except my mother who doesn’t have a computer, and there’s something I’d like to get off my chest. I’ve always been suspicious of the manner in which my uncle died.
    
This happened when I was two years old so I’ve had to piece together a picture of the event from various relatives, mostly my mother who was not ...

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Cheaters Never Prosper?

October 24, 2012

We say it to kids all the time, but it isn’t true: cheaters very often do prosper. Case point, Venice in 1564. Back then, rich dudes would donate money to build social clubs dedicated to popular saints, which in Venice meant a saint whose body had been stolen and brought to Venice. (Check out my post Conspiracy, Theft and Sin for the outrageous manner in which St. Mark’s body was smuggled into Venice.) These ...

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Expiration dates

October 22, 2012

“Haven’t I told you to stop doing that?” my wife growled while scowling at me from a barstool on the far side of the kitchen counter.
    
“Yes, you’ve told me to stop doing it.”
    
“How long would you say I’ve been asking you not to do it?”
    
I gave it some thought. “About forty years.”
    ...

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Killed By The Cure

October 19, 2012

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 empty that you don’t care your kids are now covered in tattoos heralding a Zombie Apocalypse, or that your spouse has a house account at the Embassy Suites and ...

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Manly Me!

October 17, 2012

This morning Mrs. Chatterbox said to me,” So how’s that shampoo I bought for you?”
 
I’d asked her to pick up some more when she went to the store because the bottle in my gym bag was empty. I looked up from my iPad and said, “It’s fine.”
    
“She looked at me curiously. “Did you notice anything different?”
    
“Can’t ...

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New And Improved

October 15, 2012

Do you hate this slogan as much as I do: New & Improved? These words are little more than corporate graffiti, a reason to place a hand over your wallet. If it wasn’t already good as can be, why were you selling an inferior product? And how long have you known it wasn’t up to snuff? Also, new & improved is usually the manufacturer’s way of coercing you into paying more for ...

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Forgiving Michael Jackson

October 8, 2012
In 1984 Michael Jackson was flying high with Thriller, voted the most influential pop music video ever. I was managing a jewelry store in Oregon at the time and Jackie, one of my employees, approached to ask for a few days off.
 
“Why?” I asked.
 
Jackie was one of my best salespeople when she wasn’t attending classes at the local college. She seldom asked for time off. “I want to buy ...

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Pure Love

October 7, 2012
In the United States September 9th was Grandparents Day. The event passed without fanfare; I wasn’t aware of it until today. Mrs. Chatterbox and I aren’t grandparents yet but we haven’t given up hope. In the meantime, I’d like to share an interesting painting with you.
 
A few years ago Mrs. C. and I were in Paris.While walking through the endless galleries of the Louvre, Mrs. C. felt the ...

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Never Look Back

October 5, 2012
A friend of mine named Jim recently had an interesting experience while vacationing at the Oregon Coast. Debris from the Japanese tsunami continues to make its way across the ocean and all sorts of items float ashore. Jim tells me he’s seen plastic bottles with Japanese labels, tires and sports equipment. But early one morning on an isolated beach he recently spotted something else on the sand, something struggling.
 
Jim ...

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You Be The Judge

October 3, 2012
A Virginia woman bought a box of junk for seven dollars at a local flea market. When she got home she found a small painting in the box, a nicely framed landscape. The painting didn’t interest her but she felt the frame had value. A gold tag fixed to the frame identified the artist. She didn’t recognize the name: Renoir.
 
The woman’s mother stopped her from ripping the painting from the frame ...

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The Avengers

October 1, 2012

Mrs. Chatterbox and I just finished watching The Avengers and I have two questions:

 

#1 Why is it that if I eat one taco too many the button on my waistband shoots from my pants with enough velocity to put out an eye, yet the Hulk can expand ten times his normal size without his pants ripping to shreds?

 

#2 Where can I buy these pants?



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Prepare To Die

September 30, 2012
“I’m sorry, but I have to kill you.”
 
“Why? Am I bothering you?”
 
“No, but that isn’t the point.”
 
“What is the point? I have a right to know. After all, it’s my life we’re talking about.”
 
“Well, it’s hardly a life. After all, you’re only a spider.”
 
“Only a spider? How dare you! I belong ...

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A Masterpiece of Loathing

September 28, 2012
The Family of Carlos IV hangs in a place of honor in Madrid’s Prado Museum. At first glance Goya’s painting doesn’t seem exceptional, just a bunch of self-satisfied people dressed in finery while having their group portrait painted. But if we look harder we can see what prompted Ernest Hemingway to call this painting a masterpiece of loathing.
 
Francisco Goya (1746-1828) held the position of First ...

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Conclusion: An Edsel and The Crown Jewels

September 26, 2012
After his brush with death, Bud Holloway herded his family into Moby Dick—the enormous white Edsel that had nearly crushed him—and headed to Texas for a visit with his mama. Hollowhead later described what happened.
 
As Bud drove through Albuquerque, he toyed with the radio and managed to tune into a radio station somewhere in Midland, Texas, which coincidentally was close to where they were headed.
 
The ...

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An Edsel and The Crown Jewels

September 24, 2012
Our annual kick-off event for the summer of ’63 had just begun; neighborhood kids had gathered around the Zenith in our living room to watch Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The local TV station always ran the comedy the Saturday after school let out. We watched the movie in a different house each summer. This year it was my turn.
 
Dad was attending big brother’s baseball game and I couldn’t ...

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Sex And The Senile Girl

September 23, 2012
Conversations with my mother can be disturbing (Check out my recent post What Do You Believe In?) but she also makes me laugh. I call every morning to check on her. This morning’s conversation went like this: “Good morning, Mom. What are you doing?”
      
“Same as always. Surviving.”
      
Surviving is her favorite response when asked what ...

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Multitasking

September 21, 2012
I’ve struggled with this idea of multitasking for a long time, wondering why my wife can keep so many plates spinning in the air while I have difficulty remembering to bring my plate to the sink after she’s prepared a delicious meal. Multitasking probably developed shortly after humans stepped out of caves. Men stomped off to acquire meat at the walk up window at Bison King while women frittered ...

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What Do You Believe In?

September 19, 2012
I recently had a disturbing conversation with my eighty-seven year old mother, which isn’t unusual because so many of my conversations with Mom these days are unsettling. While it’s common for the elderly to focus on the past, claiming everything was better in the “old days,” my mother has chosen to see the world through a dark lens. For her, everything is horrible. The world is tearing apart ...

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Peculiar Picture #14

September 17, 2012
This illustration was marketed on my Royalty-Free CD Business Fundamentals, sold on the Internet by Getty Images. Unlike some of the illustrations I’ve posted, this “peculiar picture” has sold very well outside of the United States, the last time to a company in South Korea. Since I don’t read or speak languages other than English, I have no idea what foreign companies are marketing with the help ...

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Don't Quit Your Day Job

September 16, 2012
Let’s start on a high note: Did you know that in addition to being an engineer, inventor, philosopher and painter, Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) was also a comedian? In his day he was considered quite the cut-up on the comedy circuits of the Renaissance. Here’s a genuine five hundred year old Leonardo joke taken from one of his notebooks:
      
A wealthy patron asked a famous artist, ...

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Peeping Toms

September 14, 2012
Writing coaches caution anyone from starting a story with: It was a dark and stormy night, but I’ve always wanted to begin a tale with these words and now you know what I think of writing coaches. Anyway, Mrs. Chatterbox and I had only been married a few years and were living in a duplex in Oxnard, California, so close to the beach that our driveway was covered in sand.
      
One stormy ...

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Conclusion: Giant Killer

September 12, 2012
Ricky let out a shrill whistle and waved urgently to stop me from staring at the Scottish lady on the billboard. A mistake. He drew unwanted attention before running away.
 
Chris Ferris and two of his henchmen, Donny Greco and Phil Jaggly, approached like jackals about to pounce on Bambi. Chris Ferris, a head and a half taller than me, had long ago assumed the task of making my life miserable. Jaggly, who had so ...

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9/11 Generation

September 11, 2012
I wrote this post last year on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. I think it's still appropriate.


A few months after September 11th when the horrors of that day had receded into ache and outrage, my son came up to me and said, “You know, Grandma and Grandpa had December 7th, and you and Mom had November 22nd, but until September 11th I hadn’t experienced a defining moment in time.”
It’s ...

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Giant Killer

September 10, 2012
Several of you asked if I ever found the albino tadpole mentioned in "Burgie the Carpet King." As Paul Harvey would have said,"Here's the rest of the story."


In the early 60s, I whiled away summer days under the sycamore tree in the front yard of our modest Kilarney Park home. Never far away was my best friend Ricky Delgado. One morning Ricky said, “Let’s go check out Cabrillo Creek.”
 
“Naw....

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Flying Without A Net

September 9, 2012
Last night I did something in bed I haven’t done in years. I was contentedly lying there, dreaming I was King of Bloggers and had finally figured out the difference between further and farther, and a while and awhile, when it happened. Mrs. Chatterbox was on the far side of our king-size bed and in no position to monitor what was going on. That’s when it happened. I felt ashamed when it was over. ...

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Burgie The Carpet King

September 7, 2012
Regular readers of this blog are familiar with my thwarted childhood quest for a dog. As a kid I was never permitted to have pets unless they were small enough to flush down the toilet once I’d loved them to death, but I was chummy with most of the neighborhood canines.
 
One dog that left his mark on my childhood was Burgie the Carpet King. Burgie was a bug-eyed bulldog with a head shaped like a jack-o-lantern. ...

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Crazy Horse Update

September 5, 2012
For years I’ve been following the progress of the Crazy Horse Memorial, the world's largest sculpture, now in progress, located just 17 miles southwest of Mount Rushmore. I want to share a few pictures for those of you who are unfamiliar with this project or haven’t followed its progress recently. Monuments like Mount Rushmore contain images carved into a mountain, but this is the first time the ...

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History And Other Lies

September 3, 2012
Last week while on vacation I managed to catch a bit of the Republican Convention. Whenever I tuned in, a speaker was describing the virtues of the greatest man in the history of our country. They weren’t talking about their nominee; they were invoking the memory of Ronald Reagan. As I listened I wondered, Who are you talking about? The Reagan being deified didn’t resemble the president I voted for ...

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Peculiar Picture #13

September 2, 2012
Some of my new followers might not be familiar with a Chubby Chatterbox feature called Peculiar Pictures. I was a professional illustrator for many years and much of my work was done on spec or for my own amusement. I have a file cabinet of “peculiar pictures” that have yet to sell. Many of these images just popped out of my head, like this one showing me in an uncharacteristically surreal mood. ...

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Flash Fiction

August 16, 2012
Today I’m submitting Flash Fiction for the guys at Dude Write, a great site worth checking out if you haven’t already. I’ve never attempted Flash Fiction before and the dudes have set some rules. First, no more than five hundred words, a stretch for anyone with “chatterbox” in their name—I’ve managed to keep my word count to 498. Second, the first sentence must be: Never one ...

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The Snake Charmer

July 13, 2012
 
The studio was packed with friends and admirers who’d come to celebrate an unappreciated old man, someone who’d long since given up on success and acclaim. Well-wishers raising their glasses to toast Henri Rousseau all shared a secret; the guest of honor was a shameful liar.
    
Rousseau was a generation older than these new kids on the block, artists like Pablo Picasso. Picasso ...

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Whales and the " F " Word

April 6, 2012

It was an all-too-common situation; cocky college kid comes home eager to impress his blue collar parents with his newly acquired knowledge. The topic? Not politics or religion or social values. The topic was…whales. Dad was wise enough to rise from his chair and scurry from the kitchen before Mom and I drew our weapons. In my defense, I had no idea this topic would prompt a yelling match, or that I’d resort ...

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Failure To Yield

November 30, 2011

Yesterday I drove into a traffic circle where three streets converged. I slowed down for the yield sign before entering and had just completed the curve to another street when a traffic cop appeared from nowhere, lights blazing. Being pulled over was a new experience for me and I was curious to learn what I’d done to deserve it.
    
“What seems to be the problem, Officer?” I asked, ...

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