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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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 to visit Stonehenge we were told by friends and fellow travelers to lower our expectations. “It’s just a circle of stones,” they said, “and it’s smaller than you think.” 

So I did lower my expectations. Standing in front of Stonehenge, I leaned against a protective fence holding back the crowd and did my best to soak up the experience. Wind swept over the Salisbury Plain and the sky was gray and stormy, a perfect moment for lightning, although there wasn’t any.

I was prepared for disappointment, but instead I felt a shiver of excitement, a sense that I was looking at more than a curious circle of stones. It was hard to deny the anticipation that something remarkable was about to happen. I was so caught up in the moment that I wasn’t paying attention to the people around me, certainly not the young woman wrapped in a full-length coat, standing beside me. 


But I did become aware of her when she climbed over the rail, flung off her coat and ran up to the massive stones, where she proceeded to dance with wanton abandon. Aside from the blue paint covering her, she was totally naked. I watched her dance and gyrate until the police hauled her away.

Like I said, some things exceed your expectations. 



Wow- but somehow I think her actions were the same as those ancients who created that place. Never know what to expect at these hallowed places...
By: Shelly on January 14, 2013
She was just a bit more of a stoner than the rest of the crowd.;-)
By: Hilary on January 14, 2013
I like your picture of the "monument."
By: Tom Sightings on January 14, 2013
I can't see the Lincoln Memorial without tears in my eyes--this would have been "rears" in my eyes!!
By: fishducky on January 14, 2013
Too funny! Talk about exceeding your expectations. I bet that got your attention. And, yes, the coffee shop at the Louvre is one of our favorite places too, maybe because we were exhausted by the time we got there, but I like to think it was the view, the coffee and, I agree, the âchocolateâ croissants. Mindy @ mindyhalleck.blogspot.com
By: mindy on January 14, 2013
Bwahahahahahahaha. There's a nut in every crowd and sometimes it's us. I love it. Have a terrific day. :)
By: Comedy Plus on January 14, 2013
I'm so old that when I visited Stonehenge they had no protective fences at all. In fact my partner loves telling the story about playing cards on one of the stones. With clothes on of course.
By: LL COOL JOE on January 14, 2013
whoops- delete previous entry- I pushed the wrong button! When I was at Stonehenge in 1977 traveling with my parents there were no barricades and we were allowed to wander at will....it was a small space but large in evoking what had been before it became a tourist destination. Lucky you to have witnessed a bit of druid behavior....I wonder if the replica of Stonehenge not too far from you along the Columbia river has barricades also?
By: Kathe W. on January 14, 2013
LOL - how come nothing that exciting ever happens to me?
By: The Bug on January 14, 2013
I saw a life-sized replica of the Mona Lisa here on exhibition in Salt Lake City. It too disappointed me. I guess that they've found eyebrows too (using sophisticated techniques), which means that the original paint has faded with time. I would love to see stonehenge.
By: Michael Offutt on January 14, 2013
That is interesting that the Mona Lisa was a disappointment. But the rest of it is really funny. You have the knack of being in the right place at the right time. I concur with The Bug's comment...that type of thing never happens to me.
By: Cheryl P. on January 14, 2013
You know we pagans aim to please.....full moon and all. Oma Linda
By: Oma Linda on January 14, 2013
Guess some of these places are just overwhelming. The Acropolis was like that, very inspiring, but it didn't inspire me to take my clothes off and start yelling Eureka.
By: mimi on January 14, 2013
Wow! How crazy is it that we visited Stonehenge on the same day? I was in jail for a few hours, chatting up the gents. They liked my paint. The Hurricane also said the Mona Lisa was disappointing. She felt the area around it was designed to discourage visitors from staying very long -- said it was crowded and hot and stuffy. The memorial that gets to me is The Wall. I feel such an atmosphere of reverence every time I'm there. And I always see at least two or three vets or families crying. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on January 14, 2013
what a way to remember that "trip!"
By: momto8blog on January 14, 2013
I smiled at your story; I laughed at Janie Junebug's comment!
By: Pixel Peeper on January 14, 2013
She certainly made your visit a memorable one. I wonder how often she performs there. xoRobyn
By: Robyn Engel on January 14, 2013
I'm thinking it would kind of ruin the solemn moment, but maybe it added a little something instead. What did Mrs C think?
By: jenny_o on January 14, 2013
The first time i went around Tate Modern it had only just opened and I remember going into one room where there was a pasting table covered with paint, sprays, masking tape, brushes etc I still don't know if it was an exhibit or just that the decorators hadn't finished
By: don\'t feed the pixies on January 15, 2013
You really should become a tour guide. After all the stories you've shared of crazy things that happen to you when you travel I think I'd like to be part of your traveling group. Also, I've now added "Louvre Coffee Shop croissant" to my bucket list.
By: Nancy on January 15, 2013
Anticipating an experience may lead to premature.... elation or disappointment. For some it may involve a bit of both. There are certainly a myriad of factors that can influence one's reaction. I suspect the painted lady may have had an impact on the remaining portion of your day.
By: Daniel LaFrance on January 15, 2013
Hahahaha...... I know you loved every minute of it. You have the coolest things happen to you and you know how to tell them in a way that makes it seem almost like I was there too. http://arewethereyettravelblog.blogspot.com/
By: Are We There Yet!! on January 15, 2013
It doesn't take much for us Brits to get our kit off! Stephen - I'm now receiving an e-mail alert each time you complete a new post, so I think I'm sorted. Best wishes
By: Bryan Jones on January 15, 2013
Good to start catching up with you, Stephen! Happy New Year!!!
By: Michael Manning on January 15, 2013
I saw the Statue of Liberty waving to me from a mini-mall parking lot at tax time. No special emotions grabbed me. That should show you the extent of my arts/monuments exposure.
By: Val on January 15, 2013
My wife went one lonely winter day, found it closed and couldn't visit but was directed to a very similar circle of stones just a short bit away, with no fence and you could walk among the stones. I wasn't along on that trip, but don't think she painted herself blue and danced. (if she did I'm sory I missed it)
By: joeinvegas on January 17, 2013
Wow! You lucky bastard! The only thing that happened to us was our tour guide got killed. http://rewritten-redo.blogspot.com/2013/02/fiction-what-if-hokey-pokey-is-what-its.html Making my way through your blog, I am amazed how much we have in common. It's freaking me out a bit! Z-
By: L/Z on March 2, 2013

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