Blog Archive


Another Conversation with Mother

February 01, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 are you doing today, Mom?”      Deep sigh. “Same as usual—surviving.”      “Did you talk to anyone today?” She isn’t into socializing with the other retirees and not even a fire drill can dislodge her from her apartment.    &n ...

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Fair Play

February 03, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 massages and stretching exercises. I tried to carry on as usual over the next few days, tried to read and write blogs, but the pain wouldn’t subside. I finally called my doctor (Lie Alert: Mrs. Chatterbox called) and described my symptoms. I was told to rush to the emergency room.      Mrs. Chatterb ...

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A Sad Anniversary

February 06, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 I realize I still haven’t gotten over the shock.      When the lights went out at the Super Bowl Game this past Sunday my thoughts went back to another Super Bowl. In 2008 Mrs. Chatterbox and I were having a small Super Bowl party, just Mom and Dad. None of us were big football fans but the Super B ...

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The Return of Ted

February 08, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 repeat from last year. Ted has been bugging me to repost it.      Enough of you have been following long enough for me to lower my guard to share another intimacy. I want to introduce a member of the Chatterbox clan who, up until now, hasn’t been mentioned, the only family member who doesn’t live up to the family ...

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Peculiar Picture #22

February 10, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 I encourage everyone to check out. Brett has a feature where he posts a humorous picture and encourages readers to supply their funniest captions. I’ve been holding on to this photograph for a while and thought it would be fun to see what captions you might come up with. I’m worried what some of you will say (You know wh ...

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Where Is He?

February 11, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 began to change in the mid 1500s when a genius was born who would paint these average folk with the skill and compassion necessary to make them pulse with humanity, so much so that even today our collective image of these hearty hard-working people is solely derived from his paintings. The artist’s name was Peter Bru ...

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Revisiting The Peasant Wedding

February 13, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 respond to the questions in an upcoming post.   Revisiting The Peasant Wedding      I’m amazed at the thoughtful responses to my inquiry about the groom in Bruegel’s The Peasant Wedding. Many of you did an excellent job of sleuthing and if you haven’t taken the opportunity to check the comments I think you&r ...

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February 15, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  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? No. Mom was being artsy when she named me Stephen. Actually, her first choice was Frank but there were already half a dozen “Franks” in the family. I did end up with Frank as my middle name.   If you have any children, how many do you have? One son, thirty-two years old. How many pets do you have? None at the moment, except for Ted the Wonder ...

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Diagon Alley

February 17, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
"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 about everyone has read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies. One of my favorite places in the magical realm of wizardry is Diagon Alley, hidden in London, England, behind a pub called the Leaky Cauldron. Diagon Alley is a cobbled street and shopping area that looks like a Dickensian acid trip. I just read an a ...

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A Colossal Purr

February 18, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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.      I’m reminded of an interesting evening  Mrs. C. and I once shared with cats—in the Roman Coliseum. It was 1976, we’d only been married two years, and we were backpacking through Europe. We’d taken the train from Naples up to Rome and grabbed a cheap pensione where w ...

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High Tech

February 20, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 to own was a walkie talkie.      An ad in a ratty magazine I pinched from our barber shop offered a genuine wireless walkie talkie for only $1.39, a reasonable price for a device sure to make me the coolest kid in the neighborhood. I had 90 cents hidden in a cigar box under my bed. Not enough, so I hit u ...

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Mrs. Chatterbox's Rainbow

February 22, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 discussions about modern art and politics were commonplace.      Mrs. C. was not comfortable with the freaky nonconformists frequenting these events but she was an amazingly good sport, even when a stoned poetess pointed at her and loudly barked, “Who brought Tricia Nixon to the party?”   & ...

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Peculiar Picture #23

February 24, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts

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 piece has never sold because no one could imagine a use for it. Can you?



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Penny For Your Thoughts

February 25, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 bring to you good luck.        Although I’m tired of gathering them from under my couch cushions, I admit to having a soft spot for the penny, which has been part of our culture since the beginning. Our language is ripe with references to them: Penny wise and pound foolish; A penny saved is a penny earned. An ...

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Chasing Freedom

February 27, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 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 that Mrs. Chatterbox saved her, and for many years she and Mrs. C. were inseparable. As far as Ginger was concerned, the sun rose and set with my wife. Mrs. C. was inconsolable when Ginger died, but after a period of grieving I accompanied her to the pound to rescue another dog in need of a home.      ...

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