Sunday, June 30, 2013

In A Mall Far Far Away

Do you remember when malls had weekend art shows? I loved entering a mall and smelling the oil paint and turpentine, seeing the portable galleries, artists working on paintings and chatting with passersby. As a kid I was painfully aware that all of these artists, even those creating simple landscapes, were producing work far more proficient than mine but I always figured I’d improve. It was only a matter of time until I was selling art in mall art shows, but I never could have guessed it would turn out the way it did. Read about it (here.)

Note: I’ve heard that Blogger is discontinuing its Blog Reader on Monday, which might make it hard for me to find some of your posts. I’ve signed up to follow many of you via other methods and I’ll continue to do so. But if you don’t hear from me it’s simply because I’m still trying to find you.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Portrait of a Thief

This story, first posted on 11/21/11, is reconstructed from a true occurrence that happened several years ago. I was not the artist involved:

A young artist struggling to make a name for himself was ecstatic when an industrialist, the wealthiest man in town, commissioned a portrait of himself. The price agreed on for the painting (two thousand dollars) was more than the young artist had ever received. He was determined to make this the best portrait he’d ever painted. What happened next was unexpected and you can read about it (here).


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nobody Holds a Grudge Like a Mother

For the past few weeks I’ve been dedicating myself to the completion of “The Best of Chubby Chatterbox, a collection of my most successful posts. This week has been spent editing, but I hope you enjoy this post from 10/19/11.

My eighty-eight year old mother doesn’t read my writing, which is a good thing because I doubt she’d appreciate how I characterize her, but lately we’ve run out of things to talk about so I’ve taken to reading short stories to her over the phone. I recently shared a childhood adventure: actually it was a chapter from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope. I thought she’d find it amusing. Boy was I wrong.

Read about it (here.)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gandhi's Footsteps

 Separating men from myths can be a difficult task. On our recent trip to India I had an opportunity to visit the house Mohandas Gandhi was living in when he was assassinated. Gandhi has always intrigued me; I’ve long been fascinated by the humble little man dressed in homespun who challenged the greatest empire on earth to became the father of his country and a beacon for non-violence and passive resistance around the world. Read about my visit (here.)


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Peculiar Picture #27

     I painted this piece back in the days when I was creating conceptual illustrations on spec. This is a common practice for illustrators who often find themselves idle between assignments. Since I had no idea what these illustrations might be used for I often gave art directors various cropping options to increase the marketability of my work. This piece shows extra space at the top where a masthead might go should this picture be used on the cover of a magazine, as many of my illustrations were. To my knowledge this picture has never been printed. Check out the entire illustration (here.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Revenge of the Claw Foot Tub

  I realized too late that you don’t buy old houses—old houses buy you. And “charm” is spelled: $$$$$. When we purchased our hundred year old house in Northwest Portland, it came with an enormous claw foot tub. Check out (here) what happened when I tried to enjoy a good soak.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Psychology Test


There are scores of psychology tests but to my knowledge this is the shortest, the only test that’s actually fun to take, and in my case the only accurate one. Take a moment to answer these five questions honestly and you might discover something you didn’t know about yourself. Feel free to write down your answers, and don’t over think your response; your first thoughts are the most revealing. The questions and answers to this test can be found (here.)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

When I was a kid the only pets I could have were those that could be flushed down the toilet when they died. I had to wait until I left home to own a cat or a dog. But my childhood was not without pets: I had guppies, frogs and tropical fish. When I was nine  my favorite fish was a black fan-tailed molly named—Molly. Unfortunately, Molly was suicidal and liked to jump out of her bowl. 

Today I'm recalling a special moment when Dad was the center of my world. Read about it here.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Think About It


Need to make a quick buck? This has always worked for me; I bet someone they can’t properly assume the position of Rodin’s famous sculpture The Thinker. Think this is a no-brainer? Give it a try, and then check (here) to see how well you did.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Harvey's Flock: Conclusion

Part I of Harvey’s Flock can be found here.

     Harvey owned birds, dozens and dozens of them. He and his dad built an aviary in the corner of their backyard. Inside were parakeets, yellow canaries, flocks of finches and even a pair of lovebirds. Together they created  a symphony of bird song.  Harvey would enter the aviary and stand with his arms outstretched like an oak tree, giggling softly to himself when the birds landed on his arms and shoulders. He claimed to have names for all of them and, at first, I didn’t believe him. But day after day he called individual birds by the same name until I was convinced he wasn’t pulling my leg. Years later in Italy I would see a faded fresco of St. Francis Preaching to the Birds and I’d think of Harvey, recalling what a dumb kid I was to believe rat pee would give me Down Syndrome and turn me into a Harvey...

Check out the conclusion here.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Harvey's Flock

Harvey was the biggest kid on the block, a massive, towering fixture of the neighborhood living in the corner house at the end of our street. He had a flattened nose, a short neck and a small mouth with a tongue that tended to protrude. His childlike personality was at odds with his Buick-shaped frame. Harvey towered over most adults and wore size #17 shoes—extra wide. His parents specially ordered them from San Francisco. Harvey didn’t read or write and to my knowledge never went to school. Today we refer to people like Harvey as having Down Syndrome; back in the 60s folks not inclined to politeness called them ‘tards’ or Mongoloid idiots. Harvey was twenty-four years old. Read about him (here.)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Birds! The Birds

Read( here) how this man terrified me as an eleven year old and altered the way I buy real estate.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Back In Business

I had no idea how dependent I’d become on my computer until it stopped working last Friday. No, I wasn’t looking at porn when it happened; Mrs. Chatterbox and I were checking a site showing the controversial new portrait of Queen Elizabeth II when the screen suddenly went blank. Incidentally, it’s not the worst painting of the Queen I’ve seen and I disagree with critics who say she looks like Winston Churchill in drag.

 CJ, our son and technical guru, struggled to identify the problem, without success, and a technician at the Apple Repair Center made an appointment for me. I hadn’t realized how heavy my 24 inch IMAC was until I lugged it across a massive mall parking lot to the Apple Store. Zak, the tattooed technician assigned to me, repeatedly stroked his Herman Melville beard while trying to resuscitate my nonfunctioning baby. No go.
 Eventually, Zak said, “More than likely the problem is a damaged optical display cable. The cost of replacing it, including labor, will be $48. If that doesn’t work the hard drive probably needs to be replaced for around $500. Either way, parts for a computer this old will need to be specially ordered. Turn around time will be about a week. You’ve backed everything up on a portable USB drive disk, haven’t you?”
 Not knowing what he was talking about, I shook my head.    
 “Your data needs to be transferred and stored outside of your computer while we make repairs.”
 “How often does data get lost?”
 “Approximately thirty percent of the time.”
 “What will that set me back?”
 “Around a hundred bucks for the device and around thirty for labor.”
 I decided to take my chances and pass on backing up my files, but at the last minute I called CJ for an opinion on whether or not I should pay for the precaution of backing up my files. He reminded me, “Aside from your novels and posts, all of the pictures from your last five trips are stored in the computer. They could all be lost. Do you think you’ll ever go back to India and climb on a camel again?”
Hell No! I paid for the back-up.
On Wednesday Zak called with good news and bad news. “Which do you want first?” he asked.  
 “Give me the good news,” I said.
 “It was a problem with the optical display cable. The hard drive doesn’t need to be replaced.”
 Sounded good. “Okay, give me the bad news.”
“Well, it seems that one of our technicians accidentally drove his screwdriver through your display panel. A new one costs $600. But don’t worry. We’re going to replace it for free.”
 I thought of a lot of snarky things I could say, but I’d spent years in retail and hated it when customers tore me a new one over something I didn’t do or had no control over. This wasn’t Zak’s fault so I just asked when it would be ready.
 “We’ve put a rush on the panel. It should be delivered here tomorrow. You’ll have your computer repaired by Thursday at the latest.”
 I’m back now from picking up my computer and it’s working fine. I just rebooted and the site I was looking at  before being engulfed in this calamity has just popped up on my screen. Now that I’ve had another chance to look at it, the painting of Her Majesty does look a bit like Winston Churchill in drag!
        e told .