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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Blog Archive

01/2014

Happy New Year!

January 01, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts

 

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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Unfettered Capitalism

January 03, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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, and whether or not the faceted green centerpiece was stone or glass. My older brother David, a freshman, saved his money and bought one of these rings as soon as he was able.      Like I said, I wasn’t yet in high school but I wanted one of these “cool” rings in the worst way possible ... read more

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Packing the Suitcases Again

January 05, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
              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 no direct flights from Portland, Oregon, to our primary location and our choices for making our connection were Tokyo or Hong Kong. We expect to be suffering from jetlag when we arrive so we extended our stay a few days to take in the sights and scratch China off our bucket list, even though many people don’t ... read more

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Popping the Question

January 06, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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, one of Sausalito’s expensive restaurants. I had no idea who William A. Sterlington was but an old oil portrait of a winking man in a wig hung on a wall and I assumed he was the restaurant’s namesake. I’d reserved a table by the window with a spectacular view of the San Francisco skyline. Our meal was su ... read more

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Apollo and Daphne

January 08, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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), the Steven Spielberg of the seventeenth century. Bernini, more than anyone else, created the dazzling special effects characterizing Rome today. When I pointed out my favorite sculpture in the museum, my friends stared at it for a few minutes before one of them said, “We’ve seen hundreds of statues in Rome. ... read more

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Buddhism Made Simple

January 10, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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.   **************************   A young Buddhist monk walks through a forest, so deep in meditation that he doesn’t notice he’s being stalked by a large man-eating tiger. When he becomes aware of the beast he hurries away and a chase begins. In his haste, the monk doesn’t pay attention to where he’s going and runs off a cliff. As he falls his robes catch on the exposed root of a tree protruding from the cliff. Instead of plunging to his death the monk hangs suspended ... read more

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Renoir Update

January 12, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    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 who rightfully owned the painting, the woman claiming to have purchased the Renoir for $7 or the museum that was reimbursed for the insured painting decades ago.      Since last year, cold water has been flung in the faces of those believing that a masterpiece could be acquired for a few bucks at a flea market. F ... read more

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This One Sold #8

January 13, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      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, I appreciate that they thought enough of my illustration to select it for the cover of their magazine.      I’ve long thought Alzheimer’s one of the most hideous of diseases. It seems a bitter fate to spend a lifetime accruing memories only to have them stolen from you in your golden years.   ... read more

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A Lurking Monster

January 15, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  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 and threatened our upcoming retirement.        Skip ahead five years and Mrs. C. and I were ready to sell. The thrill of living downtown in close proximity to restaurants, galleries and boutiques had vanished beneath inconveniences such as crime, traffic congestion and parking difficulties. It w ... read more

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Gate Crashing

January 17, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  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 the Met. Limousines were pulling up to the steps and disgorging gents in tuxedos and ladies in sparkling gowns and jewels. A giant banner ran down the façade of the museum announcing a new show: Goya and the Age of Enlightenment. Goya’s canvases had been borrowed from museums across the world and tonight was the ... read more

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More Talent Than Luck

January 19, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    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 students in liberating himself from the master to develop his own artistic style. Rembrandt kept the backgrounds of his portraits plain and dark with the subject defined by spotlighting. In contrast, Fabritius' portraits feature delicately lit subjects against light-colored, textured backgrounds. I’m often amazed at ... read more

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Smarter Than the Average Bear

January 20, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 an undiscovered treasure; partially blocked by a water damaged Cootie game was my cherished childhood toy, a plastic Yogi Bear bank. Yogi had been a favorite childhood companion even though kids in the neighborhood called me Boo Boo, after Yogi’s stalwart little companion.      It’s hard to ex ... read more

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The Angel of the City

January 22, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  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 of Italy’s most talented sculptors, settling permanently in Milan after World War II. His work is stripped of all decorative elements, possibly as a nod to the Existential philosophy gripping Europe at the end of the war. The horse and rider theme was one of Marini’s favorites.      The Angel of the ... read more

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Expiration Dates

January 26, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 some thought. “About forty years.”      Her lips tightened into a line. “You really are a slow learner.”      Mrs. Chatterbox and I are usually sympatico—Tweedledee and Tweedledum joined together at the hip—but on this we’re worlds apart, hosti ... read more

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The Dowry

January 27, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 she must have felt like that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where a lamb was being roasted on the front lawn while everyone partied, except all of the males were named Frank instead of Nick.      All memories of my grandparents are wonderful. Mrs. C’s are not. Her grandmother never sent bi ... read more

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Jewelry Shopping in India

January 29, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
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 when our guide Devander informed us we’d be making a stop at a local factory specializing in the production of silver jewelry. Bikaner, we learned, had been producing silver jewelry for a thousand years, although most of the silver now came from neighboring Pakistan.      Our bus pulled in fron ... read more

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Boiling Over

January 31, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    “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, I am. It isn’t working properly. They just don’t make things like they used to. The world is going to hell in a hand basket.”      My mother swears that coffee must be percolated, but electric percolators have become hard to find. Hamilton Beach makes one that can be ordered online, ... read more

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