Blog Archive


Computer Woes

June 01, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts

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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Back In Business

June 07, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 Winston Churchill in drag.      CJ, our son and technical guru, struggled to identify the problem, without success, and a technician at the Apple Repair Center made an appointment for me. I hadn’t realized how heavy my 24 inch IMAC was until I lugged it across a massive mall parking lot to the Apple S ...

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The Birds! The Birds!

June 09, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 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 and it wasn’t long before my wife pointed out a proper place for a Christmas tree.      Frankly, I couldn’t care less where the tree goes. I have another concern when I judge the suitability of a potential home. I need to know where I’ll be hiding when the birds attack.    &nbs ...

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Harvey's Flock

June 10, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 towered over most adults and wore size #17 shoes—extra wide. His parents specially ordered them from San Francisco. Harvey didn’t read or write and to my knowledge never went to school. Today we refer to people like Harvey as having Down Syndrome; back in the 60s folks not inclined to politeness called them ‘tards&r ...

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Harvey's Flock: Conclusion

June 12, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 tree, giggling softly to himself when the birds landed on his arms and shoulders. He claimed to have names for all of them and, at first, I didn’t believe him. But day after day he called individual birds by the same name until I was convinced he wasn’t pulling my leg. Years later in Italy I would see a faded fresco of St. ...

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Think About It

June 14, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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.   * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *       Did you get it right? Nine out of ten people place their left elbow on their left knee, or their right elbow on their right knee. If you placed your elbow on the opposite knee, congratulations!      Pretty darn uncomfortable, especially if you’re chubby. ...

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Happy Father's Day

June 16, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 times I’d find her flopping on the rag carpet covering my bedroom floor. I always managed to find her in time and return her to her bowl before she shriveled up and looked like a black toenail. I figured I’d solved the problem when I covered the bowl’s opening with a piece of chicken wire I found in the gar ...

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The Mare of Flanders

June 17, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 of England to remain a bachelor and convinced him to take a fourth wife. Since there was no social network at the time, no Facebook pages with profiles, timelines and glossy photos, Henry was compelled to rely on his favorite portrait painter, Hans Holbein the Younger.      The King sent Holbei ...

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The Psychology Test

June 19, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 answers are revealed at the end.   Question #1  Imagine that you’ve just awakened from a deep sleep to find yourself walking on a path in a forest. What time of day is it? Question #2 While walking on the path in a forest you look down and find a cup partially buried in leaves. Describe the cup and what do ...

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Revenge of the Claw foot Tub

June 21, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 and restore it seemed preferable to lugging it down the stairs.      So we paid to have the porcelain redone and the claws refinished. I must admit it did look charming when finished, even though we could have installed a new Jacuzzi tub for less money.      Mrs. C. insisted that I ta ...

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Peculiar Picture #27

June 23, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      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 might go should this picture be used on the cover of a magazine, as many of my illustrations were. To my knowledge this picture has never been printed.          Can you think of an appropriate article for this painting?  ...

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Gandhi's Footsteps

June 24, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 resistance around the world.      Gandhi spent much of his life in prison and over the course of his life he fettered himself with very few possessions. A display case in this house, which Gandhi didn’t own, preserves his few belongings, most noticeably his walking stick, wire rim spectacles and han ...

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Nobody Holds a Grudge Like a Mother

June 26, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 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 I characterize her, but lately we’ve run out of things to talk about so I’ve taken to reading short stories to her over the phone. I recently shared a childhood adventure: actually it was a chapter from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope. I thought she’d find it amusing. Boy was I wrong.       The story, R ...

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Portrait of a Thief

June 28, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
 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. He was determined to make this the best portrait he’d ever painted.       Several weeks passed and the young artist appeared every day at the wealthy man’s mansion and labored diligently, refusing to affix his signature to the canvas until certain it was his best work to date. When finished ...

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In a Mall Far Far Away

June 30, 2013 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 until I was selling art in mall art shows.      As it turned out, I did participate in such an event, but only once. The year was 1980 and I’d carted several dozen landscapes to our local mall. I hung them on portable walls I’d hammered together. The mall was packed that weekend but I had yet ...

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