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

04/2015

An April Fool

April 01, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I’m no Stephen Hawking, but I pride myself on being reasonably intelligent, so I was surprised at how easily I was duped.             In the nineties, I had an illustration studio in downtown Portland. In case you don’t know, Portland, Oregon, is divided by the Willamette River, which connects to the mighty Columbia before flowing into the Pacific Ocean. I read somewhere that Portland is the sixth largest port in the USA, in spite of being a hundred miles from the ocean. Setting the stage for one of the greatest mental lapses of my life, I was hard at work on an illustration assignment. On my radio was local talk show host Rick Emerson. I hadn’t been paying c ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #35

April 03, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          It’s been a while since I’ve added to my Peculiar Picture feature. For any new followers who might not know, I’m a retired illustrator with a file cabinet filled with pictures that, for one reason or another, were never used. This is common for professional illustrators. Typically, one out of three pictures are actually printed.             This piece is the antithesis of the sunny and bright Buccaneers of Buzz I posted two weeks ago. Instead of sunshine and glowing spring colors, this Pied Piper is filled with the colors of a bruise. I’ve posted other illustrations featuring the Pied Piper theme, but this is the darkest. ... read more

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I (Don't) Love Lucy

April 06, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Of course I love Lucille Ball, one of our most recognizable Hollywood icons. I was raised on I Love Lucy, and can’t recall a time when I wasn’t laughing at Lucy making wine, or working in a candy factory, or getting wasted peddling Vitameatavegamin. What I don’t like is the new statue of her recently unveiled in her hometown, Celoron, NY, bordering Jamestown.             When I was an art professor, I strove to emulate my late friend Elsa Warnick, who always touted the importance of having a “generosity of spirit.” Artists tend to be vulnerable people—I can attest to this—and need all the encouragement they can get. I t ... read more

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Lazy or Cheap?

April 08, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    This post is reminiscent of something my good friend Cranky might offer on his blog, The Cranky Old Man. If you don’t follow Cranky, you don’t know what you’re missing. He’s a wealth of pithy marital observations, and he’s been married enough times to be an expert at giving marital advice (?) even though a large number of his posts end with someone in his household being called a “JERK.”             The other day I tromped downstairs for my morning cup of coffee. Beside our Keurig was the plastic container of coffee creamer, with a mere dribble inside. A newly opened container was beside it.        ... read more

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The Duccio Block

April 10, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Michelangelo’s David (1501-1504) is arguably the most famous statue in the world, but the task of creating this towering 14.2 ft. masterpiece is even more astonishing when you consider the flawed material with which the artist had to work.                        The city of Florence had paid a fortune for this gigantic block, carved from Carrara marble and transported to Florence. Master sculptor Donatello was to carve a statue of David, to be hoisted to a pedestal on the roofline of Florence’s Duomo (cathedral). But Donatello died and the assignment was handed over to his assistant, Agostino de Duccio. Duccio ... read more

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Nasty Weed

April 13, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  “I don’t want it in our house!” Mrs. Chatterbox shouted.             “It’s MY house, too.”             “I thought we’d settled this once and for all.”             “I guess not,” I said, “because here we are still talking about it. Frankly, I don’t see what the problem is. Lots of people use it. It’s no big deal. You see it all the time on TV. Famous celebrities and athletes are into it.”             “Casual usage i ... read more

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Hotter Than Hell

April 15, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Today in Portland there’s a chill in the air, prompting me to think about warmth, extreme warmth. I’m reminded of the hottest temperature I ever experienced. Mrs. Chatterbox and I weren’t in a desert; we were in Cancun, Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula.             I can only handle lying on the beach for so long, and after a few hours I’m clamoring for something to do. We decided to trek to Chichen Itza to see the famous Mayan city built between 600 and 900 AD, in particular its celebrated pyramid.             Chichen Itza is approximately a hundred miles from Cancun, and an uglier landscape is h ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

What Were We Thinking?

April 17, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so I miss out on Throwback Thursdays. Many of you post vintage pictures, and I’m amazed at how good-looking everyone was back in the day. Sure, the fashions and hairstyles are a bit peculiar by modern standards, but that’s to be expected.             I recently came across a picture that pushes the boundaries of the notion that its healthy to laugh at yourself. The year was 1974. Mrs. Chatterbox and I were both twenty-one, but we look like teenagers. We’d returned to my parents’ house after honeymooning in San Francisco, and had just loaded our possessions into a rented van for the trip to Los An ... read more

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Remembering Why We're Great

April 20, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      Saturday began National Park Week, prompting this post.   Everyone should know about this unassuming stone gate because it represents something remarkable, something never before seen in the history of mankind. Few people pass through this portal anymore because it is no longer the quickest way to enter Yellowstone National Park, but if you do, take a moment to look closely at the words engraved on it: For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.             Heralding trumpets should go off in your head when you read these words because this was the result of revolutionary thinking. I’ve been to Windsor, Versailles, Capri, and other playgrounds of ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Kill All the Lawyers!

April 22, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        Shakespeare said it best in Henry VI (Part 2): “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” He may have had the right idea. Still, I need to find a lawyer for my ninety year old mom so she can get her affairs in order. The other day she reminded me that she was always interested in the law and tried to push me in that direction when I was a kid. By this she means she made me watch Perry Mason with her every afternoon. My mother talked through every scene, making me wish that, when the murderer jumped up in the courtroom yelling, “I killed him! He deserved it and I’d do it again,” it would be Mom who was cuffed and hauled away.         & ... read more

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God, Is That You?

April 24, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  “I’m not going!” I said.             “Yes you are. I’m not leaving you home so you can squeal on me to Mom and Dad. You’re coming, and if you tell, you’ll catch hell with us.”             Rarely did my older brother David include me on his adventures, and normally I would have jumped at the opportunity to be included, but this would require much physical activity, something I tried hard to avoid. My brother and his friends were planning a bike excursion to Stevens Creek Reservoir at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains in Cupertino, about ten miles from our Santa Clara home ... read more

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My Favorite Wiener

April 27, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  My best friend Ricky Delgado was our lookout halfway down the street.             “Do you see anything?” I bellowed, using my cupped hand to amplify my voice.             Ricky shook his head.                        In 1962 when I was ten, a shopping center had opened a few blocks away and a local newspaper had announced that today the Wienermobile would arrive for the grand opening. The Wienermobile was a car shaped like a hotdog in a bun, designed to promote Oscar Mayer products. I’d seen th ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

Peculiar Picture #36

April 29, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  When time hangs heavy and assignments are scarce, a professional illustrator creates “spec” art, pieces painted on the speculation that someone might buy them in the future. The trick is to anticipate what art directors or graphic designers might need. This can be a hit and miss process, but I was fortunate to be able to sell many of my spec pieces.             This picture seemed like a good idea at the time, and I’ve seen several similar pictures that managed to find buyers. Mine, however, did not. Of course you never know. Maybe an art director is lurking around my blog and will see it and want it. Stranger things have happened.     &nbs ... read more

 + photos!,  read more

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