Down East 2013 ©
I lead a sheltered life here in the hinterlands of western Maine. I don’t go clubbing on Wharf Street in Portland’s Old Port (latest advertising slogan: Now With Far Fewer Chances of Getting Arrested ).
I didn’t make it to the North Atlantic Blues Festival  in Rockland this year or the clam festival  in Yarmouth or the folk festival  in Bangor (latest advertising slogan: Now With a Much Smaller Budget Deficit).
I did visit friends on Great Pond in Belgrade Lakes (motto: No, I Didn’t Get to Meet Jane Fonda Because They Didn’t Actually Film That Movie  Here) last weekend, but in spite of the rumors of his presence, I never ran into a vacationing John Tesh .
Pretty happy about that, actually.
But sometimes, my isolated lifestyle results in important cultural matters slipping by me unobserved.
Al and Tipper Gore  broke up?
There was nothing about that in my copy of the Original Irregular.
Chastity Bono  is now a guy?
Must not have been mentioned during WSKI-TV’s summer programming.
The Celtics lost to the Lakers ?
Sometimes it takes a few extra weeks for the U.S. Postal Service to deliver copies of Sports Illustrated to the boonies.
A similar blind spot in my rural media options probably accounts for my complete ignorance concerning the existence of what is clearly one of the most important agricultural trade groups in the entire state:
The Maine Giant Pumpkin Growers Association.
Well, that and the fact that it doesn’t exist.
I saw a mention of the giant pumpkin organization in an article in the August 30 Kennebec Journal concerning a record-breaking pumpkin that was on display at this year’s Windsor Fair. According to the story, a guy from Madison with the overly perky name of Chip Button won the blue ribbon for the largest pumpkin by growing one that weighed 1,094 pounds.
That’s heavier than Maine’s entire congressional delegation, combined. Although somewhat less hefty than Chaz (formerly Chastity) Bono.
It’s also far larger than the previous record holder, a pumpkin from 2007 that tipped the scales at 843 pounds (barely enough to outweigh New Hampshire’s congressional delegation). It was grown by Barry Bonds of San Francisco.
Button said he devotes six to ten hours a week to tending each of his enormous gourds, hauling hundreds of gallons of water, carefully feeding the plants such delicacies as fish emulsion and fertilizer, and keeping a sharp eye out for nasty pumpkin-eating pests, such as John Tesh.
The article said he also gets a lot of help from his fellow members of the giant-pumpkin group (which seems to be mythical, although there is an outfit called the Maine Pumpkin Growers Organization , which uses the endearing acronym MePGO), including tips on how to beat urine testing for pumpkin steroids. That’s important, because Button still has two more pumpkins even larger than his Windsor entry. He’s entering them in contests later this month in Sanford and Damariscotta, where he’ll face stiff competition from genetically engineered specimens developed by evil multi-national conglomerates intent on cornering the market on monster gourds, after which they’ll employ their monopoly to crush small entrepreneurs such as Chip Button and his friends like a thousand-pound pumpkin would crush the Smurfs.
Disclaimer: I attribute most of that last paragraph to heat-induced confusion.
Speaking of the weather, as I write this summary of the week’s events, Maine is being threatened by Hurricane Earl. Warnings have been posted for large waves  that are expected to wash away much of the state as far inland as Millinocket. Residents are being warned to stop worrying about giant pumpkins and prepare themselves for a possible direct hit from a storm with sustained winds of up to a million miles an hour.
To help prevent tragedy, follow these simple tips for hurricane safety:
A. Make sure you have plenty of batteries on hand. Hurricanes are afraid of batteries.
B. Fill every available container in your house with water, in case you have to tend to any giant pumpkins.
C. Check to see if you have an adequate supply of non-perishable food, such as Twinkies and fish emulsion.
D. A fully stocked first-aid kit is a must. It should include bandages, antiseptic ointment, assorted interesting pills, a CAT scanner, a board-certified physician, bourbon, and if all else fails, a John Tesh CD to induce comas.
E. A pumpkin that weights at least a thousand pounds. If you survive the devastation of Earl, you’ll need to make some quick money for repairs. Entering giant pumpkin contests is the simplest method, particularly since most members of MePGO will be distracted by the storm and unable to compete.
Speaking of distractions, a woman in Bangor was driving along a residential city street on August 29, when some supernatural force took control of her vehicle, forcing her to crash into the bat-encrusted gate  leading to author Stephen King’s residence.
The woman told police that the accident happened this way: She swerved to avoid another car that turned into her lane. Then she realized a giant pumpkin was blocking the other lane. Then she was distracted by the sight of Al Gore strolling down the sidewalk. Then she became distraught at reports on the radio that Maine was about to be washed away by Hurricane Earl. Then she hit the gate.
I have my doubts about that story, and I’m entitled to them, since I made most of it up.
The accident caused an estimated $5,000 worth of damage to the woman’s car, which was named “Christine.” It also resulted in as much as $100,000 in repair bills for the gate, which was named “Richard.”
King is said to be using the unfortunate incident as the basis for a new TV mini-series about a demonic gate-repair man, who grossly overcharges his customers. He’ll be played by the former Chastity Bono.
Finally, this bit of business news: Jolly John is selling his auto dealership  in Saco.
You remember Jolly John. He used to be all over the Maine airwaves with his obnoxious advertisements about how he wouldn’t be jolly if you weren’t happy. Then he went bankrupt, which probably put a crimp in his jolliness. Then he came back. Which put a crimp in mine. Then he crashed into Stephen King’s gate. No, wait, that was somebody else. Anyway, Jolly John is selling out to another car dealer. After which he plans to pursue other, unspecified interests.
I’m betting he’ll take up a career as a mushy musician. Because his real name isn’t Jolly John.
It’s John Tesh .
Oops, sorry. That last link goes to Yanni’s home page. It’s so easy to get them mixed up.
Al Diamon is not afraid of giant pumpkins, Stephen King or your e-mails, which can be sent to email@example.com . He is a little unsettled by Yanni.