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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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.


When I was an art professor, I strove to emulate my late friend Elsa Warnick, who always touted the importance of having a “generosity of spirit.” Artists tend to be vulnerable people—I can attest to this—and need all the encouragement they can get. I try to find something good to say about an artist's work, but this statue challenges even my generosity of spirit.




I won’t mention the name of the artist who created this version of Lucy holding a bottle of Vitameatavegamin, but he missed the mark completely. This statue bears not the slightest resemblance to the funny lady, who also happened to be a Hollywood beauty with films and television to her credit. Frankly, this image is monstrous, something to scare children from sneaking out after curfew. As someone who has painted many portraits, I sadly admit that if you can’t capture Lucille Ball’s likeness—with her huge eyes and heart shaped lips—it’s time to focus on something other than portraiture.


Bronze isn’t the easiest medium to work with, although it’s perhaps the most permanent. Often, the process begins with a clay or plaster mock-up, which is approved before proceeding. This is the time when the piece is examined before final casting in bronze. Yet, I find it hard to believe that this looked better at any stage of development, so I don’t know who’s responsible for this outcome.


I understand the residents of Celoron are embarrassed and want the statue fixed, which in this case would require decapitation and an entirely new head. The artist has said he will do so for five thousand dollars, but locals think he should take pride in his work and do it for free. If an agreement is reached, I suggest a committee of Lucy fans be present to approve the new head before it’s attached.




Perhaps Lucy should have sculpted her own face. Look at the quality of her work after a single art class.



I think it wonderful when any work of art receives wide attention, even if it results in tourists flocking to Celoron to have their picture taken with, arguably, the worst bronze sculpture in America. The outcome of Lucy’s statue is uncertain. Until this issue is resolved, there is a way to enjoy this bronze; before viewing it, I suggest you swallow massive amounts of intoxicating Vitameatavegamin. I hear it's tasty, too.





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i saw that statue on msn this week and had no idea who it was supposed to be. when i found out it was lucy, i was dumbfounded. truly a big mistake made...
By: TexWisGirl on April 6, 2015
That is awful. Looks nothing like her. What image was he working from and who approved it before it was cast in bronze?
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on April 6, 2015
That's pretty terrifying.
By: PT Dilloway on April 6, 2015
good grief- there should have been a committee to preview and approve ( or NOT ) before this monstrosity was cast in bronze. The artist should be embarrassed and re-do with no charge..
By: Kathe W. on April 6, 2015
Oy that is a terrible statue. I'll be in Portland on Friday, May 1st. I think we should get together for dinner someplace nice. I'm visiting my friend James and looking forward to seeing what your incredible city has to offer in the form of fine cuisine.
By: Michael Offutt on April 6, 2015
Mrs. C is a big Lucy fan, she knows every episode verbatim (damn near anyway) she had no idea who this was. If the artist won't do it over for free, they should attach a big sign to the sculpture that says, " This statue is supposed to be our beautiful Lucy. The artists name is '............' Please let him know what you think of his artistry."
By: cranky on April 6, 2015
Yuck - that is not flattering to the subject or the artist. And I have to say that it wasn't cheap, I'm sure - why did anyone accept it? I'd say no statue is better than that one. To the statue's artist: I'm not trying to hurt your feelings, but this was not your best work. Also, I have a Bonehead Blog Hop on May 5 and this would be a perfect entry for you.
By: Cherdo on April 6, 2015
I completely agree with Mrs. C.
By: Leenie on April 6, 2015
Are you sure this is Lucy? It looks more like Mrs. Abominable Snowman!!
By: fishducky on April 6, 2015
I saw that article about people wanting the statue removed. I figured they were just Lucy haters who thought Vivian Vance was the real funny lady. Then, I SAW the statue. YEESH!!! It looks like one of those monsters from Greek mythology. I don't love that.
By: Al Penwasser on April 6, 2015
What I want to know is who picked this artist in the first place and didn't they check out the quality of his work before hiring him? I would never have guessed this was Lucy, either.
By: Rita McGregor on April 6, 2015
It's just plain awful, and the artist shouldn't ask for more money to fix it.
By: mimi on April 6, 2015
It would sicken me to learn how much the "artist" earned from that demon structure. It's an insult to one of history's best.
By: Robyn Engel on April 6, 2015
Dang! I saw your title, and then the picture. I thought, "Who's that dude who doesn't love Lucy?" BUT IT WAS LUCY!
By: Val on April 6, 2015
This statue has actually been up since 2009...it just became famous recently because of a Facebook page created by Lucy fans that went viral. I took a picture of this statue three years ago when we visited Jamestown. My husband was born there and I lived there for many years; we both worked around the corner from the house where Lucille Ball was born and less than a mile from where this horrid statue sits. And I agree with you...what the heck happened that this statue ever was allowed to see the light of day???
By: Pixel Peeper on April 6, 2015
I agree with you that this is a hideous statue. Ball had English in every part of her body. This girl had movement.This body head and eyes are completely dead.
By: red on April 6, 2015
Wow - it's been up since 2009? What a shame! I'm glad it's getting some more attention now - maybe something will be done to fix it.
By: jenny_o on April 6, 2015
Shaming this artist will not change the harm already generated. Perhaps local artists can create true to life paintings that can be displayed outdoors as a tribute to the one and only Lucy.
By: Daniel LaFrance on April 6, 2015
I have read where Ms. Ball could be simply awful to people when the cameras were not rolling. Perhaps the good people of Celoron were trying to get even? By the way, have I said something wrong around you?
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on April 6, 2015
I would not have a clue as to who the statue was of, it does not resemble her in the slightest!
By: John on April 7, 2015
Well, that's pretty terrible.
By: Ellen Abbott on April 7, 2015
I saw this make the rounds on FB and I actually thought it was a joke. If it is real, what on earth happened to the approval committee?? You cannot just blame the artist, although he is so far off the mark, that like you, I think he should take up wallpapering.
By: Tabor on April 7, 2015
I wouldn't have even known it was her.
By: Snowbrush on April 7, 2015
A very unflattering look of a beautiful woman. I don't mean to be unkind, but the statue looks a bit more like a bad version of Eleanor Roosevelt than Lucille Ball.
By: Tom Cochrun on April 7, 2015
I'm so glad you wrote about this. This one was no where near close. It looks like Paulie Walnuts from the Sopranos! Lucy deserves better!
By: Bouncin Barb on April 7, 2015
Oh my that is TERRIBLE! I would like to know who approved the design before it was cast...
By: The Bug on April 7, 2015
I saw this the other day, and I had wondered the same thing, bronzes usually have some mold or premade "start point" that you see what it is going to look like. If it looked like a Notta Lucy, it should have been corrected then. And 5 grand to fix it? If that is the proof of the workmanship, I would hire someone ELSE! Cat
By: Cat on April 7, 2015
I just saw this story in the news yesterday. I'm with you. I hate to be unkind about someone's art, but this one stunned me, too. We've got some god-awful bronzes in our city. I have no idea how they get approval.
By: Mitchell is Moving on April 8, 2015
Yes, Stephen. I agree with you. This is not a resemblance of Lucille Ball.
By: Michael Manning on April 12, 2015

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