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

12/2015

Chubby and the Haberdasher

December 02, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
When I was a kid, one of my favorite stories was The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, an early work (1938) by Dr. Seuss. In the story, young Bartholomew is arrested for not showing King Derwin respect by removing his hat when the king passes through the village. In fact, Bartholomew did remove his hat, only to have another magically appear on his head. Bartholomew tries desperately to bare his head but to no avail. Each time he attempts to remove his hat a larger, fancier one appears. The king, frustrated and feeling disrespected, orders Bartholomew’s execution, but the ax man insists he can’t sever the boy’s head until the hat is removed. Over four hundred hats are plucked from Bartholomew’s head, until finally the ... read more

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What's So Funny ?

December 04, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I’ve been hearing strange sounds at Casa Chatterbox, the sounds of babies laughing. I’ve yet to make a thorough check, but to my knowledge no babies currently reside under our roof. The source of these sounds is Mrs. Chatterbox; lately she’s become addicted to YouTube and Facebook videos of laughing babies. I’ve watched a few and I’ll admit they’re contagious, but I’m left wondering what it is these babies find so amusing.             I’ve been told I have a great sense of humor. As a kid, I developed my sense of humor to survive an overly dominant parent—my mother. My brother had challenged her authority head-on and never ... read more

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The War on Christmas

December 07, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  My ninety year old mother was hot under the collar when she called last week. “What’s wrong?” I asked.             “I just received a card from management.”             “How nice,” I replied. My mother lives in a retirement facility.             “It isn’t nice at all,” she spat into the phone. “The card says “Happy Holidays and doesn’t even mention Christmas. There’s a war on Christmas, in case you didn’t know.”          &nbs ... read more

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A Mystery in ther Desert

December 09, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Not long ago I posted a story about the possible discovery of the final resting place of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, who may have been the original occupant of King Tut’s tomb, and still might be entombed behind a sealed wall. Egyptian authorities are now 90 percent certain something is behind a wall in Tut’s tomb, but it remains to be seen if it’s the mummy of Tut’s famous stepmother. In two or three months we should know if we’re on the brink of the greatest archeological discovery of our age. Until then, I’m fascinated by another mystery of the ancient world.             Over the centuries, ancient obelisks have been taken as spoils of war or prese ... read more

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Tilikum Crossing

December 11, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  With a series of storms heading our way, Mrs. Chatterbox and I decided to visit the new Tilikum Crossing last week. Downtown Portland has a dozen bridges, giving the city one of its nicknames (Bridge City) but no new structures have been built to span the Willamette River dividing Portland since 1973.             During the late 80s and early 90s, Federal money was offered to US cities interested in expanding light rail, with the goal of alleviating congestion and pollution. Portland was one of only a handful of cities to accept matching Federal funds, and this year a new bridge, designed and operated by TriMet, Portland’s regional transit authority, opened to the public ... read more

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All Too Familiar

December 14, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  It was one of those instances that occur all too often, and it stuck like a burr on my emotional sweater.             Mrs. Chatterbox and I were circling our grocery store looking for a place to park. It was raining hard as we climbed out of our car. I didn’t pay the woman any attention until she approached and said, “Sorry to bother you, but can you help me?”             Pale and thin, it was hard to gauge her age—maybe forty. She wore the colorless clothes of a zombie in The Walking Dead. Most of her teeth were missing and she looked like a hardscrabble life and bad choices had finally caught up ... read more

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Peculiar Pictures 39, 40, 41

December 16, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  I’ve mentioned the Business Fundamentals CD I created for Artville back in the 90’s when I was a professional illustrator, and here are a few images from that CD.             I was tasked with painting business clichés and other images that might appeal to art directors in need of business related imagery—the reason many of the men are holding briefcases. I was given two months to create sixty illustrations, after first providing drawings for approval before beginning the final pieces. This left me only six weeks to paint sixty images, so these were all painted rapidly in quick-drying acrylic, sometimes two or three illustrations a day. Because I worke ... read more

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Mrs. Gonsalves' Last Christmas

December 21, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  In an attempt to create a Chubby Chatterbox tradition, I’m repeating this true holiday story first posted in 2011. I hope you enjoy it.   *************************************     Christmas is that time of year when the pull of my ethnic background is strongest. Dad’s folks weren’t anything in particular, but Mom’s parents were Portuguese and her side of the family always won the weird relative contest.            On Christmas day we always converged at our traditional gathering place, the massive family room at my aunt’s house. An entire wall was covered with a Cheers-sized bar, and a ten foot aluminum Christmas tree stood in a cor ... read more

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Trojan Christmas

December 23, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  No, I’m not giving Mrs. Chatterbox a box of Trojans for Christmas, not even ones ribbed for her pleasure. I was going through photographs looking for something suitable for a Christmas post and I landed on these two pictures, taken in Turkey on our visit to Troy several years back.             It goes without saying (clearly I don’t know what that saying means) that this is not the original Trojan Horse, if ever there was one. This was built as a tourist attraction, although there are original walls and ramparts to explore that are over four thousand years old. I was surprised to see how far Troy is from the sea, but today centuries of sediment have built up and no ... read more

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Merry Christmas 2015

December 25, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
              I hope everyone has a festive and safe holiday. Merry Christmas from Casa Chatterbox. Take care and eat a piece of fudge for me.         Happy Holidays!       Follow my blog with Bloglovin   ... read more

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A Sour Note

December 28, 2015 :: written in: All Blog Posts
2015 is ending on a sour note for our thirty-five year old son CJ. On the day after Christmas, CJ collapsed. After spending the holiday with us, he'd left to visit a friend and passed out. He was rushed to the emergency room where a CAT scan showed his brain was bleeding, causing pressure that made him lose consciousness. He was rushed into surgery where a tube was inserted into his head to drain blood and relieve pressure to prevent a stroke. Fortunately, CJ isn't experiencing cognitive trauma. Nurses are constantly peppering him with questions like: Who's the president? What year is it? And so on. Some of the math questions he's answered correctly I would have gotten wrong.   Doctors aren't certain as to the cause of this trauma. N ... read more

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