Down East 2013 ©
It is not nice to make fun of people who are struggling with a weight problem. In fact, it’s immature, insensitive and ignorant.
It is, however, also fun.
Which is in no way an excuse. I mean if this posting were only about me enjoying myself by blurting out hurtful comments about groups that I seemed to consider no more that fodder for juvenile humor, it would be, well … uh … pretty much the way it is now.
OK, I admit I’m hardly a paragon of virtue capable of casting aspersions on others, particularly those inclined to make light of the heavy burden of folks who are sporting guts that appears to be the end result of trying to eat the entire stock of a McDonald’s franchise in one sitting.
I’ll be the first to admit that I could afford to shed a few pounds, a process that ought to be easy as pie if I just gave up pie. And beer.
Which is about as likely to happen as peace in the Middle East.
Fortunately, it isn’t me who’s making sport of the hefty and hoggish. That villain is the U.S. Coast Guard.
It’s a little known fact that among the Coast Guard’s many duties – rescues at sea, maintaining navigational instruments, monitoring nude beaches – it’s charged with making sure that an excessive number of overweight passengers don’t board a ferry.
This past week, the Coast Guard announced that after extensive study involving satellite surveillance, laser-guided drones and college students taking surveys with mobile scales, it was increasing its estimate  of the average poundage carried by a ferry passenger from 160 to 185. That means that ferries, such as those run by Casco Bay Lines in Portland Harbor, will have to reduce the number of people they allow on board. For instance, the ferries Machigonne II and Aucocisco III previously were allowed to carry up to 399 people. Now, they’ll be limited to 344 and 304 of the chubbier commuters, respectively.
The ferry service is preparing documents to prove their boats are so seaworthy, they could carry a platoon of porkers without compromising safety. To demonstrate, CBL has invited Newt Gingrich  and all his baggage, Rosie O’Donnell , and the entire cast of the TV sitcom “Mike and Molly”  to take a free round-trip ride to Peaks Island.
Snacks will be provided. On a separate barge.
In other exciting news of the week just past, the annual Moxie Festival  in Lisbon Falls announced it is seeking a theme for the 2012 event. The winning entry gets a case of Moxie. The losers get two cases.
I’ve entered this contest for years without success, but I’m not any more discouraged than I was when a Casco Bay Lines dockhand asked me to move away from the railing to the center of the boat because I was causing dangerous listing. I survived that public humiliation, and I can handle this persistent rejection from the Moxie judges.
To prove it, here are my entries in next year’s theme contest:
Moxie: Smells Like Toad.
Moxie: Beats Whatever It Is They Serve In North Korea.
Moxie: Drink, Purge, Lose Weight.
In Skowhegan (motto: Moxie-Free Since 1954), a problem of a different sort has surfaced:
Yarn bombing. 
This explosive phenomenon is also known as “yarnstorming” and was first spotted in such exotic foreign locations as the Netherlands, Los Angeles and Texas. It involves subversive knitters who surreptitiously attach brightly colored items they’ve made to storefronts, telephone poles, trash cans and homeless people in an effort to … well … according to Jennifer Olsen, executive director of Main Street Skowhegan, it’s to give “a cozy little hug” to their town.
Seems harmless enough, but that’s what they said about Moxie.
Nor was this the only eccentric public decorating fad to attract attention in recent days. In some Maine municipalities, the citizens have been selecting particularly plump people, placing them in the town square and covering them with Christmas lights.
Crude and rude, perhaps, but it saves the expense of a tree. And all that stress has got to burn a few calories.
For a more realistic Christmas tradition, let’s turn our attention to lobster trap trees . Rockland gets the credit for this idea, which involves stacking traps in the approximate shape of a spruce tree, decorating them with lights and waiting around for lobsters to crawl inside. This year the Rockland display is thirty feet high and topped with a huge lobster and a star. In Beals, a competing structure is sixty feet high (1,364 traps) and has a cross of buoys on top.
Legend has it that on Christmas Eve, a fat man in a red suit comes around and steals all the lobsters.
Speaking of the night before you know what, a publisher in Freeport has issued a limited-edition, deluxe version of “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem. Except the St. Nicholas Press book is credited to somebody named Henry Livingston, Jr. 
It seems there’s some controversy surrounding who wrote the famous (and insulting) lines about Santa having a paunch like a bowl full of jelly. Livingston’s descendents claim he crafted the rhymes in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 1808 or thereabouts, which would be fourteen years before it appeared in print for the first time (credited to anonymous) and thirty-six years before Moore put out a slightly different version (dropping all references to the reindeer called Moxie and eliminating a few verses that dealt primarily with U.S. Coast Guard weight-limit regulations on sleighs).
Personally, I had always thought the poem was written by Shakespeare as part of “The Winter’s Tale.” You know, the one where the audience finds out at the end that the wife isn’t dead after all, but only pretending to be a statue for a few decades.
That would mean it was really the work of Francis Bacon. Or Christopher Marlowe. Or one of those earls, Darby or Oxford or “Fatha” Hines.
I’m going with that last one, because that would be phat.
Weighty comments may be emailed to Al Diamon at firstname.lastname@example.org .