Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste


Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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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 saying means) that this is not the original Trojan Horse, if ever there was one. This was built as a tourist attraction, although there are original walls and ramparts to explore that are over four thousand years old. I was surprised to see how far Troy is from the sea, but today centuries of sediment have built up and now the sea, where the Greeks arrived in a thousand ships to rescue Helen of Troy, is barely visible from the ruins.


I need a Christmas connection to rationalize this post. Here goes: The Greeks decided to give the Trojans a special present. As you know the present was a massive wooden horse with dozens of armed warriors hidden inside. You know what happened next. The Greeks sailed away and the Trojans pulled the horse inside the city gates. Later that night, the Greeks returned and the soldiers hidden in the horse climbed out, opened the city gates and—well, you know the rest of the story. This gave rise to the saying: Beware of Greeks bearing strange gifts. I always thought that phrase should be: Beware of gifts bearing strange Greeks.


So as all of you open your gifts this Christmas I hope you discover nothing strange lurking inside. Now that I think about it, maybe a box of Trojans would make a good stocking stuffer for Mrs. Chatterbox.



 Merry Christmas to One and All





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I assure you that Mrs. C does not want a box of Trojans, not even Trojans ribbed for her pleasure, for Christmas. Of course, Odysseus was one of the Greek warriors. She might enjoy a visit from Odysseus, while you take me to England (it goes without saying: you pay). I'm on Santa's nice list. Maybe. Merry Christmas. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on December 23, 2015
I think it would have been nice if they gift wrapped it!!
By: fishducky on December 23, 2015
Thank you for the Christmas chuckle, and the origin of that saying, AND for your much better version of it! Have a great holiday, Mr & Mrs Chatterbox :)
By: jenny_o on December 23, 2015
Stephen, You have given us gifts of your art, amazing journeys and your wonderful writing. Thank you. Merry Christmas and great joy to you and Mrs. Chatterbox.
By: Tom Cochrun on December 23, 2015
You were reaching on that one, but you had me all the way to the end! Merry Christmas to you as well!
By: Tabor on December 23, 2015
This was like some of my posts where I have to warn readers - Now bear with me, the path to the point is circuitous :)
By: Rick Watson on December 23, 2015
I agree with my friend, Tabor. That's quite the stretch... a long one at that. The answer is jewelry. Now put some hurry in those muscles and splurge on her bling. Merry Christmas!
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 23, 2015
Merry Christmas!!
By: cranky on December 23, 2015
Now, now...Be a hero and admit- you owe Mrs C. a trip to the Greek Isles! Meanwhile have a lovely Christmas and Happy New Year!
By: Kathe W. on December 23, 2015
Uhhhh . . . . . . . . . Merry Christmas, you two zany travelers.
By: Catalyst on December 23, 2015
Happy Holidays to you and Mrs Chatterbox!
By: LL Cool Joe on December 24, 2015
A blessed and beautiful Christmas to you and your whole family. (Yes, even your mother.)
By: messymimi on December 24, 2015
Have a lovely Christmas, and I will look forward to more posts next year. I will not be opening anything large in the shape of a horse by th e way.
By: Jenny Woolf on December 24, 2015
I always thought the recipients of that horse had to be remarkably trusting.
By: Snowbrush on December 24, 2015
This would have been a nice gift for me if the giant wooden horse had been filled with chocolate. Merry Christmas to you and your family!
By: Pixel Peeper on December 24, 2015
I think it is rather interesting that it was not until the ruins of the city was finally discovered that even just the existence of Troy was no longer seriously doubted by "enlightened" scholars.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on December 25, 2015
I hope Mrs. C saw the humour in the box of Trojans.
By: Mitchell is Moving on December 27, 2015

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