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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The Smell of Cut Grass

May 4, 2015
On Friday morning I took a moment to enjoy the Spring weather while waiting for the pool to open where I swim laps. The light glistened like an Impressionist painting, and the air was heavy with the scent of grass being mowed at the adjacent high school. Few things trigger memories better than smells, and the pungent scent of cut grass reminded me of all the lawns I’d mowed over the years.

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Remembering Truckzilla

May 1, 2015
First Posted 10/9/13
I thought Mrs. C. had lost her mind when she came home from work, excited at having won two tickets in an office pool for an event so outside my field of interest as to be laughable. “You won tickets to what?” I asked.
She beamed. “Tickets to a truck and tractor pull.”
“What the hell is that?” I asked, hoping the name was a misnomer ...

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Peculiar Picture #36

April 29, 2015
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 ...

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My Favorite Wiener

April 27, 2015
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.           

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God, Is That You?

April 24, 2015
“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, ...

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Kill All the Lawyers!

April 22, 2015
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 ...

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Remembering Why We're Great

April 20, 2015
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 ...

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What Were We Thinking?

April 17, 2015
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 ...

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Hotter Than Hell

April 15, 2015
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 ...

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Nasty Weed

April 13, 2015
“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, ...

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The Duccio Block

April 10, 2015
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 ...

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Lazy or Cheap?

April 8, 2015
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 ...

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I (Don't) Love Lucy

April 6, 2015
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.

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Peculiar Picture #35

April 3, 2015
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.

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