Recently I mentioned the case of the awful pumpkin squares made with goat milk, and although I got some of the details wrong (for example I made the perpetrator the innocent party) it did provoke some sort of response from a couple of readers who have had equally horrid experiences with food.

A gentleman from Limerock Street gave details of a terrible day in Bar Harbor attending a civic function that had been catered by amateurs. One fellow provided tasty-looking corn muffins which turned out to contain ground beef too. Apparently the effect was close to poisonous.

Mr. Limerock also sent me a link to some truly terrible Weight Watchers illustrated recipe cards from 1974 that can be viewed online. (The link is at, but for pity’s sake don’t waste hours trying to click this sheet of newspaper. I don’t think the Internet works that way.) For those of you committed to keeping this a print-on-paper experience, I will mention some of the recipes involved.

For example there is chicken liver bake, fish balls, cabbage casserole czarina, snappy mackerel casserole, jellied tomato refresher, frankfurter spectacular, and my personal least favorite, fluffy mackerel pudding. Are you ill yet? (Mr. Limerock claims, with a curious air of authenticity that I will not question here, to have gone to school with a scoundrel by the name of “Fluffy” Mackerel-Pudding who ended up serving with the British Foreign Office somewhere in the Middle East.)

The only way I can imagine these truly hideous recipes ever helping people lose weight is that the combined effect of the pictures and the list of ingredients might have helped turn the victims off food forever.

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Speaking of dangerous places, I was pleased this week to receive advice from a fellow who has been thinking about life in an increasingly risky society. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into studies about how to survive various kinds of terror, because he told me that if one is ever attacked by a gang of clowns the best defense is to immediately go for the juggler.

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Sitting up here in the east concrete tower at the foot of Mechanic Street, being watched nervously by Luke and Arthur Seagull, I assure you I am quite aware of the date of today’s paper. Living in a tall tower near the watery edge of the city, as I am forced to do by curious circumstances, I have always had a particular appreciation for the meaning of this day. My personal response, limited as it is by my advanced age and a bleak but honest skepticism, is that I simply refuse to have what is left of my sense of humor stripped away by the abrasive elements in our modern times. Most days I cannot avoid seeing the humor that is visible all over the place, even in the context of generic horror. For example, take the single-letter typo in a classified ad that I saw the other day in the Courier:

“… a fast growing company based in … is looking for installers to travel around the country installing electronic looking systems into hotels and motels. Travel generally consists of being away 2 to 3 weeks at a time. Need to be proficient with hand tools as well as small power tools. Computer experience a plus. Please call for more information and compensation.”

It seems so plausible in this age of madness that a Maine company really would be trying to hire someone to install surveillance devices in hotels across the country, doesn’t it? However the journalist in me, so long asleep and supposed to have been lost for good in the depths of the west tower, woke up and rose up with a roar to the surface like the kraken of old. Stirred into something almost resembling dynamic action, I decided to find out what the company truly does for business, and found that it provides locking devices for hotel room doors.

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Or is that simply a cover story?

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On Saturday afternoon a political candidate was wandering up and down the quiet and dry street of the South End, stopping to talk with the few humans still visible at that sleepy time of day, but also leaving fliers and other stuff jammed in our silent front doors. Living up here so far above street level, I was not noticed by the candidate. After she had left the area I sneaked down the main rope to find out who she was and what she was all about. I gathered up the literature she had left at the foot of the tower, and quickly went back up to read it in peace among the dust and seagull feathers.

I studied the material from end to end and back to front, and what impressed me most was the absence of any mention of what political party she is standing with. I might have missed something in small print, but I could not see any indication at all. This puzzled me, and made me more respectful of newspapers that bother to explain what party a person is in. Later in the day, while looking for left-over food and other useful items outside a large store, I met a former politician who explained it all to me. Candidates often conceal their party affiliations, he said, because so many voters are independents. It seems, then, that candidates are simultaneously seeking voters and hiding from them.

Sheer madness. Thank goodness I still have my sense of humor, dammit.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at