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


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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Bordello Chair

November 21, 2014
This is the history of a chair, nothing as important as a throne or relic, but it has been in the Chatterbox household for forty years—our so-called bordello chair.
Mrs. Chatterbox and I had only been married a few years when a really stupid idea crossed our minds, the type of idea that’s fodder for TV sitcoms—we decided to move into ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Raft of the Medusa

November 19, 2014
What do you do if you’re athletic and good-looking, talented enough to catch the public’s attention, and you’re engaged in a scandal serious enough to get you horsewhipped and thrown in a French jail? If you’re Theodore Géricault (pronounced Gericho) and you’ve impregnated the young hottie your uncle recently married, you lock yourself away in a studio for two years, shave ...

 + photos!,  read more

Whirling Dervishes

November 17, 2014
I’m submitting this story to a travel magazine contest. The entry needs to be less than 800 words, express a feeling of gratitude, and reflect a destination that makes you feel strong and hopeful. Wish me luck.
A curtain was pulled back and figures emerged from darkness in a shaft of light—a half dozen cloaked musicians with medieval instruments. They arranged ...

 + photos!,  read more

Not So Smooth Sailing

November 14, 2014
Travel can add stress to any relationship, especially new ones. Mrs. Chatterbox and I have always gotten along with remarkably little friction, but one incident when we were newlyweds comes to mind, a time when things didn’t go well. Like most marriage squabbles, I can’t recall the cause for the dust up.
Shortly after our dangerous train experience ...

 + photos!,  read more

Tons of...Fun?

November 12, 2014
Like most kids growing up, money burned a hole in my pocket. If I found a nickel or dime I’d spend it as quickly as possible, usually on candy bars. Unlike most kids on the street where I grew up, my brother and I weren’t given an allowance; our parents (my mother) didn’t believe children should be paid to do household chores.
Some ...

 + photos!,  read more


November 10, 2014
We’d run hard to catch the train, only to realize it wasn’t attached to anything; the correct train was on the far side of the station. We reached it and threw our backpacks aboard the train as it started moving. Exhausted, we fell asleep in one of the empty compartments shortly after pulling out of the station.
We woke in darkness to discover ...

 + photos!,  read more

Manly Me!

November 7, 2014

I’ve once again drained the shampoo bottle in my gym bag, prompting this repeat from 2012.
 This morning Mrs. Chatterbox said to me, “So how’s that shampoo I bought you?”
I’d asked her to pick up some more ...

 + photos!,  read more

An Old Radio

November 5, 2014
Aside from the city dump, my grandfather’s basement was the next best thing to kid nirvana. It had a musty under-the-house smell, with a hint of yeasty fermentation from the oak barrels where Grandpa stored brandies made from fruit trees he tended behind his garage. There were old fishing poles and wicker baskets to hold fish, strange musical instruments with broken strings, moldy books in a language I couldn’t ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Panama Canal

November 3, 2014
“Yes, but only if we can cross from one ocean into another,” I answered when Mrs. Chatterbox asked if I was interested in seeing the Panama Canal. Most cruises only take you to Lake Gatun at the halfway point, where you reverse direction and return to your port of origin. For me, crossing the entire Isthmus of Panama was the whole point of any Panama Canal adventure.

 + photos!,  read more

How to Ruin a Ruin

October 31, 2014
Gas was cheap when I was a child, and like many Americans my parents would pack up the kids for Sunday road trips. Sometimes we’d drive our Packard up the Old Bayshore Highway to San Francisco. For a kid caught in the colorless existence of the suburbs, The City (as residents of San Francisco refer to their home) was a marvelous place filled with culture, history and excitement. Most of my trips to The ...

 + photos!,  read more

Hung in Fussen

October 29, 2014
While traveling through Germany in the seventies, Mrs. C. and I took a train from Bitburg to Füssen in southern Bavaria to visit Ludwig II’s iconic Neuschwanstein, the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Night had fallen by the time we stepped away from the train station to look for a hotel, my backpack heavy with souvenirs and a tattered copy of Frommer’s Europe on Ten Dollars ...

 + photos!,  read more

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