Friday, November 30, 2012

Kindred Spirits: A True Story


There was something strange about the hundred year old house we bought in 2002. Read about it here, and I hope you’ll accept my invitation to join the new Chubby Chatterbox.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Uncle Sam and Kotex


The lady behind the counter pushed the unbagged box of Kotex in my direction, oblivious to the fact that she held my quivering soul in her hands.... 
Check here for the conclusion of Uncle Sam and Kotex, and sign up to join the new Chubby Chatterbox.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Uncle Sam and Kotex


When I was ten years old I was ordered to run an errand for my mother, a task no boy should be asked to do unless there’s a licensed psychiatrist in the family. Read about it Here, and while you're at it sign up for the new Chubby Chatterbox if you haven't already.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Peculiar Picture #19

Here’s another illustration that seemed like a good idea at the time, but I don’t think it’s ever been published. I’ve always been a lover of bold colors and that love is evident here, even if nothing else is. Does this picture mean anything to you?

Tomorrow at the new and improved Chubby Chatterbox I'll be sharing one of my favorite Ricky Delgado adventures from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope. I hope you'll come along for the ride (Here) and I hope you'll take this opportunity to join the new site if you haven't already.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Freshly Brewed Hype

Some things just don’t live up to their hype, things that might surprise you. While you’re reading about it here, I hope you’ll sign up for the new Chubby Chatterbox.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Best Turkey Ever!

Millions of folks are buttering up turkeys today and preparing to slide them into ovens, but you might want to read about a happy accident responsible for the best turkey I’ve ever eaten. Check it out Here. And sign up to join the new Chubby Chatterbox while you're there.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Peculiar Picture # 18

This illustration was painted as a joke. To learn the punch line visit the new Chubby Chatterbox here. And while you’re at it take a moment to join my new site so you don’t miss out on the fun.


Monday, November 19, 2012

What's the CIA Really Hiding?

It isn’t surprising that the CIA has secrets, but this one just might surprise you. Read about it Here, and then take a moment to join the new Chubby Chatterbox.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Many people have wondered what it would be like to work in a bank and have someone walk up to you and say, “Give me the money or there’s going to be trouble!” This happened to me and you can read about it Here. If you enjoy my story I hope you’ll show your support by joining the new Chubby Chatterbox.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Brown Bear


When I graduated from college I discovered that my art degree made me about as hirable as a shepherd. I finally landed a job, but it was a disaster. Read about it here, and while you’re at it I invite you to Join the new site.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Golden Skeleton In Our Past

When you dig into your family’s past you’re likely to discover things you’d rather not know, like the dirty 126 year old secret I discovered. Read about it here, and while you’re at it please sign up to join the new Chubby Chatterbox.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Someone Had To Be First

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 just walking down the street, which many see as a violation of privacy. Conservative estimates place the number of photographs taken by year 2000 at an amazing 85 billion—an incredible 2,500 photos per second—and experts believe we are rapidly closing in on 3.5 trillion photographs. But, as in all things, when it comes to having your picture taken someone had to be first.
In 1838 Louis Daguerre, the father of modern photography, tired of taking still-life pictures of fruit and plaster casts in the corner of his Parisian studio. He aimed his bulky contraption out the window to shoot a photograph of bustling Boulevard du Temple below. He held his camera as steady as he could for ten minutes, the amount of time required for an exposure. His arms must have ached when he finally set down his cumbersome camera. The picture Daguerre later developed showed the boulevard just as he’d seen it. Well, not exactly; the buildings and trees were perfectly recorded, but where were the well-dressed couples promenading down the street? Where were the bustling carriages and prancing horses? What happened to the street peddlers showing their wares to young dandies out for a leisurely stroll? 
Daguerre’s picture took so long to develop that all moving things disappeared from the scene, as if they hadn’t been there at all. Or so it seems. If you look closely at the bottom left hand corner of the image, a man stands on the otherwise empty street. Who is he? Had he been an astronaut or explorer we would surely know his name. He is standing still because he is having his shoes shined—the man doing the polishing is moving too quickly to be recorded and has blurred into oblivion. Upwards of fifty billion pictures of people have been taken since the perfection of photography, and this man, oblivious to the significance of the moment, was the first. Yet we know nothing about him. Perhaps he was someone just like you.
How many times have you paused on a sunny day for a simple pleasure? An ice cream cone, a chat with a friend, a lingering moment on a park bench to watch the world pass by. Haven’t we all done these things and disregarded them as common occurrences unworthy of reflection? Once upon a time a fellow paused to have his shoes shined. 

Treasure each moment of your life because at any moment something extraordinary can happen.

This site will be closing shortly and I hope you'll join me at

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Peculiar Picture #17

     To my knowledge, this illustration from my royalty free CD Business Fundamentals has never been used. Years ago I sat in my studio imagining what sort of illustrations art directors could use. Altogether, I created sixty images for my CD and I still receive royalty checks. Most of these illustrations have made their way into books and magazines around the world, but this one has yet to be published. Can you think of a purpose for this picture?

Note: This site will be closing soon and moving to Hope to see you there.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Birthday #60

Mrs. Chatterbox is slightly older than me; she turned 60 three weeks ago. Since then I’ve pretended I was a younger man consorting with a cougar. But yesterday was my birthday. Now I’m S-I-X-T-Y, and taking solace in a post I wrote back in my younger days, when I was a mere 59:
There are benefits to not being good with numbers and I’m reaping one right now. I thought this was the year I hit the big 60 but I now realize it’s only my fifty-ninth birthday, which I thought I’d celebrated last year. Because I have difficulty accessing that part of my brain where mathematics lurks like a creepy spider I get another year before leaving behind my fifties. Twelve months that I thought I’d spent but hadn’t. Quite a gift, but what should I do with it?
Those who know me well have little difficulty believing me capable of such a mistake. In school I was a dullard at math; numbers were just beginning to make sense when the government instigated something called “New Math,” to help us compete with the Russians, who’d recently launched Sputnik and were about to take over the world and make us drink vodka and eat stinky black fish eggs.
Actually, people tell me I look much younger than I am. Either they’re just being nice or there are benefits to having a fat face—fat puffs out the wrinkles. If I start losing weight I’ll look like a deflating zeppelin. But there’s another reason I’m often mistaken for someone younger: I possess a disarming sense of immaturity that is so rare in one my age that it’s often mistaken for youth. In short, I’m childish, and I work hard at staying that way.
I ended the post last year with this paragraph: 
So what should I do with this extra year? Skydiving? The only way to get me to jump
out of a plane is to set it on fire. Learn another language? I haven’t mastered or done much with this one. Oh wait, of course! I know what I’ll do, if I can summon the nerve. I’ve never done anything like it before and it will be f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c….
Last year I did manage to accomplish my goal of doing something fantastic and I’d love to tell you what it was, but as many of you know my wife and son both work for the local police department. Many of our men in blue read Chubby Chatterbox. I can’t admit what I did because technically…it wasn’t legal.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Justifying The "B" Word

Yes, I admit it; in a moment of weakness I looked my son’s godmother in the face and called her the “B” word. Horrible I know, but don’t condemn me until you know the facts.
Our son’s godparents (I’ll refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. G.) are psychologists and a delightful couple. They live in Sacramento and are our oldest and closest friends—the reason we selected them to be our son’s godparents. They’d agreed to raise little CJ should a tragedy make him an orphan. Mrs. Chatterbox and I were visiting them a few weeks before our first trip to Hawaii. Mrs. C. and I hadn’t traveled anywhere since our son was born and we were bubbling over with anticipation of tropical breezes, white sand and rum drinks served in coconuts.
Wine had loosened our tongues by the time Mrs. G. said to me, “You guys are going to have a great time in Hawaii. I hear the snorkeling is incredible.”
I laughed and said,” You’re kidding, of course. I have no intention of going snorkeling.”
Had Mrs. G. not been working on her second glass of rosé she might have remembered my fear of sharks. Instead, she looked down her sharp nose and said in a tone she, no doubt, used on her patients, “You know, if you go all the way to Hawaii and refuse to go snorkeling because of your fear of sharks, it’s no longer a fear; it will have grown into a phobia.”
“Do you have any idea how many people are killed in Hawaii because of sharks?” I said. “They keep it out of the papers so it won’t affect tourism.”
Mrs. G. shook her head and made a tsk…tsk…tsk sound. She spelled it out: “P-h-o-b-i-a.”
Her words were still haunting me when a few weeks later Mrs. C. and I arrived in Hawaii. I’d be damned if I’d let my fear grow into a phobia. I purchased a snorkel and mask, and like a doomed convict being pushed toward a firing squad made my way into the surf.
I spent nearly two hours in the water. Without my glasses, everything was a blur; every rock seemed to be sprouting razor-sharp teeth and my head was filled with the sound of cello music and blood pounding in my ears. It was the worst two hours of my life, but when I staggered from the waves I was rewarded with the satisfaction that I did not have a phobia.
Months later the Gs visited us in Oregon. We shared pictures of our Hawaii trip and I mentioned my snorkeling accomplishment with pride. Mrs. G. congratulated me. Eventually the conversation shifted to other things.
 “Did I mention my grandmother is flying to Israel for a month and has offered to pay all my expenses if I join her?” Mrs. G said.
“That’s incredible!” I knew how proud she was of her Jewish heritage. “When do you leave?”
Mrs. G. shook her head. “I have no intention of going.”
Her answer shocked me. “Why not? It would be a trip of a lifetime.”
 “It would require a long flight, and I have no intention of strapping myself into a flying coffin. Do you have any idea how heavy airplanes are? No one can explain to me why they don’t just drop out of the sky.”
 “But you’ve wanted to visit Israel for years!” I exclaimed.
She crossed her arms tightly and said, “Not going!”
I thought long and hard, choosing my words carefully. From the far side of the room my wife glared at me, a glare I understood to mean: Do not go there! But I couldn’t help myself.
I looked squarely into Mrs. G’s eyes. “You told me that if I went to Hawaii and refused to go snorkeling, my fear of sharks would become a phobia, so I went snorkeling, and it was two of the worst hours of my life. Now you tell me you’re turning down an all-expense paid trip to Israel because you’re afraid to fly?”
“That’s correct,” admitted the godmother of my child—one of my oldest friends.
“There’s a word for women like you.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “Really. What would that be?”

Note: The Gs are still our oldest and best friends. And eventually Mrs. G. did make that trip to Israel. Also, this blog will be shutting down shortly so please rejoin at


Monday, November 5, 2012

Peculiar Picture #16

Here’s a picture I painted a few years ago. The inspiration came from a photograph taken in a stairwell in Florence, Italy. The initial illustration seemed incomplete and I was at a loss trying to figure out what the composition needed. I set it aside. Several years later I dug out the unfinished illustration and figured out what was missing.
Painted with acrylic on untempered masonite, I used glazes to build up the translucent darkness from a mixture of viridian green and alizarin crimson; no black was used. I approved of the dark mood, inspired by the backgrounds in many of Rembrandt’s paintings, but the painting lacked an emotional counter punch. So I added the balloon.
This illustration has never been sold and seen by only a handful of people, until now. What does it mean? I have an idea, but what do you think?

I hope you’ve moved over to the new Chubby Chatterbox. This site will be closing shortly.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hemingway's Coat

I've been playing with fiction. Here's something new. 

“I thought you wanted to be a writer,” the old woman said to fourteen year old Becky. 
“I do, Granny. My brain is full of ideas, but I have trouble putting them down on paper. All of the kids at school have computers. I wish I had one.”
The old woman looked at the orphaned granddaughter she’d spent nine years struggling to raise. Every cigarette the old woman had ever smoked was present in her voice when she said, “Sorry, kiddo. Money’s tight. We barely manage to keep up with the rent on this old trailer.”
Becky’s cheeks turned crimson. “Sorry, Granny. I’m being a brat.”
“Go to your room and write something while I scratch up some dinner. Practice makes perfect, they say.”
Becky’s hair was getting long. Granny used to trim it, but now her hands shook too much when she held the scissors. Becky pulled her hair back from her face, bent down to kiss her grandmother’s wrinkled cheek and headed to her room.
It hadn’t been easy for the old woman, living off disability and welfare checks. A computer for her granddaughter would be nice but there was no money for it, not to mention the monthly internet service. The Child Protective Services had already knocked on the door to find out why the phone wasn’t working.
The old woman took a long pull on her cigarette, exhaled a cloud of  grey smoke and extinguished the cigarette in the horseshoe ashtray beside her tattered Barcalounger. She was down to her last few cigs; she’d finish this one later. Shouldn’t be smoking around the kid anyway, according to the Child Services Nazis.
After reaching for her cane, she lifted her bad leg from the “otman” and struggled to stand. Instead of going to the kitchen to open a can of raviolis, she teetered to the hallway and peered into her granddaughter’s bedroom. Becky was sitting at a desk salvaged from a Dumpster behind the trailer park. One of the drawers was missing. Yellow writing pads from the Dollar Store were stacked on the desktop near a dented lamp, another Dumpster find. Her granddaughter was staring at a blank page.
She shuffled off to her room and dropped onto the corner of her bed, exhausted. She was getting weaker every day. She didn’t need a crystal ball to know that one day she’d be zipped into a bag and carried out of here. What would happen to the girl then? She shuddered to think about it.
Her closet was only a few steps away, but reaching it was an agony. She managed. Inside, her clothes hung as cruel reminders of better times—pretty things that once caught the eyes of handsome men—back when her skin was smooth and soft, not like the wrinkled crepe now hanging from her bones. A knockoff Schiaparelli sweater came into view, bought with her first paycheck when she wasn’t much older than Becky. The shiny eyes of a fox stole glinted in the shadows.
She couldn’t remember the last time she’d acquired anything new, but pretty things weren’t needed anymore; she seldom left home. Recently, she’d acquired the habit of talking to herself out loud when alone. “Vintage clothes are all the rage right now. There must be a pretty penny here.” She paused, closing her rheumy eyes as she rubbed the throbbing pain in the back of her neck. “Enough for a computer? Probably not, but enough to keep the wolf from our door a bit longer.” She made a mental note to have the girl box up these old things for a trip to the secondhand clothing store down the road. For now, she pushed them aside.
Her fingers reached into the dark recesses of the closet, finally closing on the subject of her search—a man’s pea coat, the navy-colored wool slightly moth bitten. She carried it to her granddaughter’s room and settled onto the corner of Becky’s bed. The pad of paper in front of her granddaughter remained untouched.
 “I have something for you,” she said. “It isn’t a computer, but I’m hoping you can put it to good use.”
Becky eyed the old jacket, a furrow deepening between her eyes.
 “Ever heard of a writer named Ernest Hemingway?”
“Granny! Of course I have. He was one of America’s greatest writers. We studied him in school.”
 “Well, here’s something you don’t know; he and I were once an item.”
“An item?”
 Granny sighed. “Yes, a couple. This was before I met your grandpa. Ernest and I eventually broke up, but he left behind this coat.”
Becky’s eyes widened like saucers. “That’s Ernest Hemingway’s coat? Granny, are you fooling me?”
“Have you ever known me to fool you?”
 Speechless, Becky shook her head.
The old woman stood and draped the coat over her granddaughter’s slender shoulders. “In many cultures it’s believed the talent of a person rubs off on their clothing.” Fortunately, the girl didn’t ask her to name them.
Later that evening after the old woman had finished smoking the rest of her cigarette
and was lumbering off to bed, she paused to peek inside her granddaughter’s bedroom. Instead of being fast asleep, Becky was wrapped in the pea coat with the cuffs rolled up to expose her wrists. She was writing furiously. 
It occurred to the old woman that pea coats were traditionally worn by sailors. Had Hemingway been a sailor? She didn’t think so. The girl would learn the truth eventually, but by then the pea coat would have served its purpose. It had been abandoned, left hanging in the closet when she rented the trailer years ago.
“A little fib isn’t so bad,” she mumbled to herself, “especially if it’s all you have.”

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