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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Bows and Arrows

July 3, 2015
I just don’t get it.
Mrs. Chatterbox finds guys who shoot arrows sexy. Whenever we watch The Walking Dead, her eyes settle on Daryl and she has a peculiar look on her face.
“He’s dirty, ...

 + photos!,  read more

Snow Day

July 1, 2015
The heat has finally caught up to us here in Portland, and today the temperature is expected to pass ninety degrees. I know many of you are experiencing higher temperatures than this, but here in the Northwest that’s pretty darn hot, and we might reach a hundred degrees by the Fourth of July. For all of you who are tired of the heat, here’s a snow day to cool you off—pictures from our trip featuring ...

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Rubbed in Innsbruck

June 29, 2015
Before our arrival, I didn’t know much about Innsbruck, other than two winter Olympics and many other Alpine sporting events had been held here. I learned the city’s name came from the Latin for bridge on the Inn River, and that the city, founded during the Stone Age, became important in the fifteenth century when the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1486-1519), moved his capital ...

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Tito's Spoon

June 26, 2015
When I was a teenager, I bought art books with reproductions of famous paintings I never expected to see, and Vienna is rich with great museums filled with priceless treasures. At the Kunsthistorisches I encountered paintings I’d first seen in art books as a teenager, paintings like Brueghel’s Tower of Babel (Google for a larger reproduction and prepare to be amazed by the details) ...

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The Elusive Knuckle

June 24, 2015
I don’t drink beer, and I’m not particularly fond of German food, but I was determined to try an appealing-looking dish I’d seen in a magazine, although you might be put off by the name—pork knuckle, a name that conjured an image of porcine cloven hooves. I wasn’t deterred; being Portuguese I was raised on pork, so on day one of our trip I began hunting for pork knuckles.

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Schonbrunn Palace

June 22, 2015
Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace was Austria’s attempt to recreate Versailles, even though at 1441 rooms it’s smaller. The present Baroque structure was built in the 1740s, and Austrian emperors lived here until the collapse of the Habsburg dynasty at the end of World War I. The rooms are as lavishly decorated as you’d expect, and I was particularly interested in, of all things, a tapestry ...

 + photos!,  read more

The Protest II

June 19, 2015
I’m pausing from relating adventures from our vacation to fill you in on a project that will be occupying me for the rest of the summer. I’ve mentioned a few times that I was once foolish enough to spend eighteen months painting a colossal 10x15 foot painting I called The Protest. I refused to heed the advice of those who told me this painting would be too big to find a home—and ...

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Hitler's Eagle's Nest

June 17, 2015
What do you give someone who has everything? In 1937, high ranking Nazis were confronted with this dilemma. The Fuhrer was turning fifty soon and it was deemed necessary to give him something special. Martin Bormann (who gained enormous power as Hitler’s private secretary) came up with a curious idea.
Hitler wasn’t fond of Berlin, and ...

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City of Music

June 15, 2015
Before rolling into Salzburg, I knew only two things about this ancient city: Mozart was born here, and The Sound of Music filmed here. I was told it was a beautiful city, formerly a bishopric (ruled by a bishop) so churches and religious buildings would be plentiful, and in fact they seemed to be on every corner.
Perhaps it was the sun ...

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The Fairy Tale Castle

June 12, 2015
Most fairy tales have a dark side, and the story of the world’s most famous fairytale castle, the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, is no exception. Neuschwanstein has a dark side that is easy to overlook in the blinding light of stunning aerial photos and postcards of this painfully beautiful building. But the day of our visit was overcast; a moody breeze was blowing ...

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Old Friends

June 10, 2015
We flew into Munich a few days before the start of our tour because I wanted to visit the Alte Pinakothek. A few of the first paintings to capture my childhood imagination hang there and I was determined to see them. Unfortunately, the museum was being refurbished and many of the masterpieces were in storage, but I did manage to see a few old friends I’d first seen and admired ...

 + photos!,  read more

We're Home!

June 8, 2015
It’s good to be home, and our overseas vacations usually begin to wrap up with a soul stirring “Welcome Home” by customs officials, at which point I begin to regale you with our adventures in a chronological manner, but this time is different. After our five hour wait for our twelve hour departing flight from the Zurich airport, and waiting three hours at San Francisco to catch a two hour flight ...

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Away We Go!

May 15, 2015
Away we go!  
It’s been a while since Mrs. Chatterbox and I packed our suitcases and hit the road. On previous trips we’ve explored Turkey, Scandinavia, India, Thailand and Cambodia. On the eighteenth of this month we’re heading for the part of the world once referred to as the Romantic Road—Germany (Bavaria) Austria and Switzerland. Mrs. Chatterbox, an Army brat who grew ...

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Stephen Hayes
(a.k.a. Chubby Chatterbox)
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