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

01/2015

Radio Gibberish

January 02, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I hope everyone had a fun and safe New Year Holiday. Yesterday, I partied too hard to write anything new, but here’s a post from 2012 I hope will bring you to a happy place.   **************************    I love it when bloggers post music videos. I don’t make enough time in my life for music and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to add more music to my life. I inherited my dad’s radio when he passed a few years ago but I’ve yet to turn it on. Dad was a big country music enthusiast and I remember sitting on his lap and listening to Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. But it was another radio I remember most, a radio at my grandparents’ house. It played gibberish.    I’m ... read more

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Online Security

January 05, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It seems like every day I receive a warning reminding me to protect myself from hackers and scammers by changing my passwords as regularly as I change my underwear. I probably shouldn’t announce this, but I only have one password and I use it for everything, and have done so for a long time. I accept this risk because my memory isn’t what it should be, and I know I’d forget new passwords before the end of the day.             Recently, I was having a conversation about passwords and online protection with son CJ. He told me a few interesting stories about passwords when he worked for the Registrar’s Office at the University of Oregon. Each student at the U of O ... read more

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New Vansterdam

January 07, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  A few days after Christmas, I decided to make an overdue visit to a friend in Vancouver, Washington. For those of you unfamiliar with the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver is across the Columbia River, and only a few miles from Portland, Oregon. When I arrived, my friend, who I’ll call Sam, had a few errands to run so I accompanied him. Sam, who’d been my assistant when I managed a jewelry store years earlier, was still in retail. We picked up a pair of resoled shoes and a few groceries before reaching our final destination, a store at a strip mall: New Vansterdam.             “New Vansterdam?” I said.          & ... read more

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Three Wishes

January 12, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I was an unusually deep thinker as a child, a kid who contemplated philosophy and religion, a chubby little Stephen Hawking contemplating the nature of the universe. But mostly I was consumed by something that trumped these notable concerns. I was worried about genies.             “Genies?” you might say.             Yes, genies.             I was convinced that at any moment I could become the owner of a discarded brass lamp in need of polishing. Not being a typical kid, I resolved at all times to be ready with my three wishes. I’d read enough about thes ... read more

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Mrs. Chatterbox's Rainbow

January 14, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First posted Feb, 2012   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?” ... read more

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Chocolate Diamonds

January 16, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I realize that a recent post admitting my fashion limitations (check it out here) might compromise what I’m about to say, but I’m here to offer a different fashion tip concerning something I know about—diamonds. There was a time when I made a lot of money selling diamonds, and while I purposely never became a certified gemologist from fear it would compromise my ability to sell them, I nevertheless studied these stones and feel competent to discuss them.             I always laugh at the notion of diamonds being rare. Countries like Russia have mountains of them, as does Canada, Israel, Australia, Brazil and even the United States. Most of the diamonds in these count ... read more

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Logos on Treadmills

January 19, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
When I was a chubby kid, I wished everyone was overweight so I wouldn’t stand out so much. An old Chinese saying cautions: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. Recently, it seems I’ve gotten my way. America is fattening up with obesity becoming an epidemic, and in spite of my youthful wish I’m not happy about my fellow citizens experiencing high blood pressure, clogged arteries, gout and diabetes.             However, the inability to trim down isn’t universal in our culture. In fact, one aspect of society has never looked better. I’m referring to advertising logos, which have lately been slimming down considerably. You might not ha ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Bragging on the Bolshoi

January 21, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The Fantasy             Cultured and sophisticated people are a different breed from Joe Six Pack and the other plebeians on the street. The world is their playground and they cast a larger shadow than average people. They donate money to museums and universities and have their names engraved on libraries, hospital wings and research centers. They donate to Masterpiece Theatre (cultured folk do not spell it theater) their children attend exclusive schools and their dogs are the offspring of champions awarded ribbons by stout dog experts with names like Mrs. Fitzboozer Smythe or Mr. Roger-Bailey Van Bumsby.             While most ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

The Facile Fasces

January 23, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        While watching President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, I spotted something on TV that reminded me of my interest in symbols and customs. For me, it isn’t enough that something exists; I want to know why. Have you ever noticed the large wall decorations flanking the podium in the US House of Representatives? They’re called fasces; the word derives from the Latin word fascis, meaning bundle.         Notice the fasces beneath the eagle on the staff             When it comes to countries, the United States is little more than a baby. Some countries are a thousand years old while the USA has yet to reac ... read more

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A Sucky Situation

January 26, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This is either another skirmish in the war between men and women, or another example of what a bad person I am. You decide.             Books have been written about the differences between men and women, such as Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. A recent occurrence in the Chatterbox household illustrates this difference perfectly. Without getting into details, a member of my household recently had an occasion to need a toilet plunger. Decorum and good manners forbid me from identifying the person responsible for this plumbing calamity—BUT IT WASN’T ME!             Anyway, when it was brought to my attention t ... read more

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Chubby Gets Cheated

January 28, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I learned at a tender age that life isn’t fair, some things don’t live up to their hype while others seemed designed to fool you. I can’t recall how or when I became addicted to chocolate. Like George Costanza, I’d long worshipped the “dark” master. There was something about the stuff that attracted me; chocolate was a magnet and I had a load of pig iron in my pockets. My parents did their best to shield me from temptation, but parents can only do so much. I was too deep into addiction to listen. At a tender age, I was a cocoa-crazed miner always panning for chocolate nuggets.When I was six or seven and had gone days without a chocolate fix, I suffered acute withdrawal. My Easter supply was gone, along ... read more

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The Blue Boy

January 30, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  This painting, parodied and reduced to paint-by-number, has been reproduced and hung in millions of homes over the decades. Type the words Blue Boy into Google and nothing more is necessary to bring forth this image. Like the Mona Lisa, you might think little more can be said about something so deeply etched into the public consciousness. Actually, The Blue Boy represents the solution to an interesting dilemma experienced by the British elite, the type of folks featured so prominently in Downton Abbey.The Blue Boy was painted by Thomas Gainsborough in 1770. At the time, England wasn’t known for producing outstanding artists. Foreigner Hans Holbein was employed to immortalize Henry VIII and his court, and Charles I was depicted ... read more

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