Down East 2013 ©
I am not bitter about the just-concluded season of the Portland Sea Dogs. It doesn’t bother me that Bryce Cox took the mound for the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox in the eighth inning of the Sept. 5 playoff game against the Trenton Thunder and pitched like he was wearing a blindfold.
When he walked in the tying run, that wasn’t me booing.
An inning later, Dogs reliever Miguel Asencio loaded the bases before hitting a batter to plate the go-ahead run.
That scream of agony didn’t come from me.
I did not rend my garments or tear my hair. I always look like I’ve just come from playing zombie kickball.
I hope for better things next year. Maybe we’ll get to keep some of our better pitchers for the whole season. Maybe it’ll take something less than a home run to convince manager Arnie Beyeler to send a runner from third. Maybe Bryce Cox and Miguel Asencio will be abducted by aliens and subjected to bizarre medical experiments that render them chronically allergic to baseballs.
Warming thoughts for the long, cold winter ahead.
In the meantime, let’s call up Republican 1st District congressional candidate Charlie Summers, and see how he’s doing. I got his number from Talking Phonebook.com, but somehow, this message sounds congressional only in the sense of Wilbur Mills, Newt Gingrich and Gary Condit.
“Looking for exciting live talk?” a suggestive female voice asks.
Uh, actually, I was hoping to speak to somebody about NAFTA and agricultural subsidies.
Once a Portland TV station discovered the error, the directory company removed the number from its Web site. It’s still in the printed version, though. Not that you or I care.
Effective Oct. 3, it will illegal to smoke in the outdoor patio areas of Portland bars and restaurants before 10 p.m.  The City Council approved the new ordinance on Sept. 3 in response to concerns from health advocates, who said secondhand smoke is still dangerous in the open air. Although, only until 10 p.m.
Owners of establishments with outdoor seating objected, saying the law would accomplish almost nothing. Councilor Dan Skolnik voted for the ban, but apparently saw the measure as more symbolic than practical.
“It’s not going to be enforced,” he said. “This ordinance isn’t even meant to be enforced.” 
Tell that to the judge, tobacco breath.
Surely all the news this past week wasn’t as off-kilter as the above.
Well, actually, it was.
By coincidence, an 8-foot mechanical gorilla was seen shortly afterwards, warming up in the Sea Dogs bullpen. If only it had gotten into the game.
DiConzo said the requirement was necessary to avoid the kind of negative publicity that could result if some town official got stoned and did something weird. Like propose a crazy law. Or come to a meeting with an 8-foot mechanical gorilla.
His fellow selectmen remained skeptical.
Helen Poulin represents Lewiston on the Androscoggin County Board of Commissioners. But Poulin actually lives in Auburn, where she moved recently, because her old house was being threatened by an 8-foot mechanical gorilla. Or, possibly, for some other reason. I forget.
In any case, she says she’s not resigning from the commission, even though state law appears to require commissioners to live in the districts they represent.
The state attorney general’s office is investigating, although it’s not clear how Poulin could be removed from office if she refuses to resign.
Speaking of stubbornness, JoAn Karkos, the Lewiston woman who swiped a sex-education book from the local library because she considered it obscene, won’t be going to jail. Karkos hadn’t decided whether she’d pay a $100 fine a judge imposed (she’d earlier defied the same judge’s order to return the book, until the city decided to drop that demand), but on Sept. 5, the Rev. Doug Taylor paid it for her. 
Karkos is now free to pursue her next obscenity investigation: the Summers for Congress campaign.
As the heat subsided in Lewiston, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection was attempting to lower the temperature in the debate over outdoor wood boilers. The DEP is proposing to buy back boilers that are causing air-pollution problems and that can’t be repaired by higher smokestacks or other simple fixes.
Nobody is quite sure where the money to do this will come from, but if the government can bail out Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, it ought to be able to find the cash to cool this overheated market.
School enrollment and student test scores in Maine are both taking a hit. State education officials say the number of students in the state will drop below 190,000 this year, down from 205,000 in 2003. 
By 2013, the figure will hit 175,000, after which it’s expected to stabilize.
The students were asked to write an essay on how they’d improve the Portland Sea Dogs miserable postseason play – no, wait, that wasn’t it. They were asked to argue one side or the other of the topic “Television may have a negative impact on learning.” Apparently, that assertion infuriated TV-watching students, who sputtered and spewed like an 8-foot mechanical gorilla, but did not persuade.
Also running below expectations: the number of Republicans in Maine. According to new figures released by the Secretary of State’s Office, membership in the GOP has declined since November 2006 from 279,641 to 273,686. 
At the same time, the number of Democrats in the state has increased from 309,525 to 319,690. Voters unenrolled in any party jumped from 375,235 to 379,024, while Green Independents dropped from 29,347 to 29,160. The number of 8-foot mechanical gorillas held steady.
No one could explain the sharp decline in the Republican numbers. Maybe Charlie Summers has some ideas. You want to call him?
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.