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

10/2015

Someone Had to be First

October 02, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      This reworked post from 11/12/12 is one of my favorites.   We know so many important names in history, the first human to set foot on the moon, the first person to fly solo over the Atlantic or the first intrepid souls to reach the poles or scale Mount Everest, but who was the first person to have their picture taken?                  Having our picture snapped is an occurrence we all take for granted. You don’t need to be a famous fashion model to be photographed relentlessly. We’re photographed at the DMV, entering banks and convenience stores, enjoying ourselves at sporting events, pausing at stop lights and often ... read more

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Best Meal Ever

October 05, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  For forty-one years I’ve been blessed with a spouse who cares enough to constantly be on the lookout for new recipes to keep our dinners varied and interesting. The other day I was having a conversation with Mrs. Chatterbox and the topic “Best Meals Ever” popped up. I figured it was a wife-beater question and the only way to sidestep disaster was to select one of the fabulous meals she’s prepared over the years. But in a later moment of reflection, another meal sprang to mind, one I’ll never forget.             Years ago during a solo exploration of Rome, I grew sick and tired of the crappy food I was eating. Italy is justifiably famous for its cu ... read more

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A Beautiful Woman Has Come

October 07, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  The Internet is buzzing with the possibility of a great discovery. Is the tomb of Nefertiti about to be discovered? Has this co-regent of ancient Egypt, once described as the most beautiful and powerful woman on Earth, whose name translates as A Beautiful Woman Has Come, once more about to make history?             In the fourteenth century B.C., she and her pharaoh husband Akhenaton, rocked their civilization by sweeping away the pantheon of Egyptian gods to make room for the worship of a single god symbolized by the sun, the Aten. For twelve years, her husband went to great lengths to present her as co-ruler, having her depicted wearing the crown of a pharaoh. Suddenly, she ... read more

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The Good Old Days

October 09, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  A popular mantra tells us that you’re only as old as you feel, but how do you know you’ve actually begun the downward slide into old age? A major road sign guiding you to the geriatric highway can be found in sentimental and unreserved references to the good old days.             After the birth of our son CJ, I swore I wouldn’t abuse my child with stories about how things were when I was a kid. I could have stretched his little ears with stories about televisions with only three channels, no remote control, no capability to record programs and networks that signed off at midnight. I could have baffled him with the world before microwave ovens when you had to ... read more

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Clotilde

October 12, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          She was not much larger than a child and barely reached my chest when standing, ninety pounds of wrinkled entitlement. Her name was Clotilde. Born in Portugal and schooled in France, she claimed her father was in the diplomatic corps—an ambassador. The childless widow of a wealthy industrialist, she was currently living in a retirement facility.                        Mrs. Chatterbox made her acquaintance after taking a citizen’s complaint about our city’s water, which ranks very high nationally. Curiosity about the old woman with the colorful accent prompted Mrs. C. to make a t ... read more

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Grandpa

October 14, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I never knew either of my grandfathers. Dad’s father died early in a car accident, and Mom’s father passed away when she was only nine. My grandmother remarried before I was born, and her husband was the only grandfather I ever knew.             Grandpa was a gruff old bulldog, but we became close when I was small. My brother and I would often spend time with him, but I was the one who’d follow him around like a shadow, listening to his stories about the old country and helping him tend his fruit trees. Grandpa was from Madeira Island, a Portuguese possession off the coast of Africa.             In high ... read more

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Free Is A Terrible Price

October 16, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  During Tuesday’s Democratic debate, socialist lion Bernie Sanders differed from Hillary Clinton by stating college tuition in America should be free. Hillary believes tuition should be much less expensive but not free. I admire Bernie Sanders as a man of integrity and champion of the middle class, but on this issue I agree with Hillary. In my opinion, people don’t value something that’s obtained without cost.             When my brother was a senior in high school he informed my parents that it was their responsibility to provide him with a car. My mother nearly choked laughing. My brother railed and fumed, but never received a free car. When my turn came, I ... read more

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When Fantasies Come True

October 19, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      I’ve always had a rich fantasy life. I can go toe to toe with Walter Mitty when it comes to possessing a powerful imagination. I’ve closed my eyes and ridden magic carpets, slayed dragons, played rock music in front of thousands of screaming fans (I don’t even sing in the shower) and traveled back in time to important moments in history, like Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman. None of these fantasies ever came true, but this weekend one did, compelling me to stop, smell the roses and remember how one desire was once vexingly beyond my reach.             Mrs. Chatterbox and I had been living in smoggy overcrowded Southern California, working hard ... read more

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Are You Lucky ?

October 21, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  The line was busy when I dialed my ninety year old mother for our daily conversation, so I called back a few minutes later and got her.             Aside from me, she doesn’t get many calls so I was curious. “Who were you talking to?” I asked.             “I was talking to your Aunt Betty,” she said in a huff.             “You sound annoyed. Did she say something upsetting?”             “Every time I speak with your aunt she makes a point of telling me how &ldqu ... read more

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Honesty

October 23, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  As an artist who likes portraying people, I’m always on the lookout for subjects willing to sit for me. I’ve been told that having an artist stare at you for hours over several days is unsettling. Picasso required Gertrude Stein to endure sixty sessions for her portrait.             Arranging sittings is a difficult task, so over the years I’ve done what many painters have done—I’ve served as my own model and painted numerous self-portraits. Many people think excessive self-portraits, such as those painted by Rembrandt, reveal narcissism, but I know this not to be true. Most artists I know would rather paint someone else if provided the opportunit ... read more

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The Connoisseur

October 26, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          In 1961, judges for the Coopertown Art Association in New York awarded first prize to an abstract painting signed by an unknown Italian artist. That same painting, this time signed by the artist “Percival,” later won honorable mention at a Berkshire Museum exhibition. Both groups of judges must have been shocked to learn the painting they admired and lavished with praise was in fact painted by someone they reviled—popular illustrator Norman Rockwell.                   Norman Rockwell is most famous for illustrations featured on Saturday Evening Post covers. When I was taking art classes, a stinging insult wa ... read more

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Commercial Angst

October 28, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  Do you ever get the feeling that the universe is screwing with you?             Last week I was watching TV and waiting for son CJ to arrive so we could take Mrs. Chatterbox to dinner for her birthday. I was flipping around trying to find something interesting to pass the time and most of the channels showed commercials advertising the same product. I’ve become accustomed to pharmaceutical commercials advertising boner pills, insulin pens and adult diapers, but there’s another plague of advertisements—mattress sales!             I don’t know anyone who doesn’t own a mattress, and I find it h ... read more

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Silent Screams

October 30, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I’ve been dabbling in fiction, and this piece just won an honorable mention in a short story contest. I’m posting it in honor of Halloween. If you’re terrified of spiders, don’t read this.   *********************     Army brats have no say where their parents are posted. I was miserable when my father, a career officer, was ordered to a base near Berlin. Once again I was torn from my friends, and this time I was dragged to a rickety house at the edge of a dark forest. As always, I held my tongue, all the while wishing for a way to punish my parents, make them pay for all the abuses I was forced to endure.             Unlike American ... read more

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