The Gores' Gourds

The Invasion of the Giant Pumpkins began yesterday morning at Vice President Gore's house. By nightfall, they'd been cut and carved into the Giant Scary Pumpkins.

It was all in preparation for the Gores' huge Halloween bash tomorrow afternoon, to be attended by 500 of the veep's best friends. Four master carvers--Alan Matsumoto of Roanoke, Scott Cully of Ashland, Ore., and Russ Leno and Pam Burns of Everett, Wash.--spent all day creating jack-o'-lanterns, working their magic on seven colossal gourds. Other volunteers worked on dozens of smaller pumpkins.

"We call it a non-offensive face," Burns told us as she took a knife to a 715-pound pumpkin, the biggest of the lot. "It's scary, but just a little bit."

Added Cully, who spent six hours carving a 576-pounder: "This is the seventh carving I've done in the last eight days. My whole arms--both sides--just ache. But I'm really excited to be here."

Most of the giant gourds were trucked in from Pennsylvania farms, although Beth Rado--an IRS computer programmer turned pumpkin patch mistress--donated the 325-pound gourd she grew in her tiny Springfield back yard. "This is my baby," Rado said, proudly showing us the Atlantic Giant pumpkin that she nurtured for three hours every day for five months. Rado, who also gave the Gores a gourd last year, spearheaded the carving this year, recruiting her friends from the pumpkin world to the cause.

Ricky Martin, Diplomat

Super-hunk Ricky Martin may do some "Livin' la Vida Loca" at the White House. Martin, who's coming to town Tuesday for Larry King's fund-raising gala, has tentatively scheduled a meeting with President Clinton. Seems the Puerto Rican pop star is worried about bombing exercises on the territory's island of Vieques. "Puerto Rico is united in this cause and I'm part of it," Martin told El Mundo newspaper. The U.S. military, which owns two-thirds of Vieques, has conducted drills with live bombs and other artillery there for decades, but the drills were suspended last spring after a Marine Corps jet dropped two bombs off target, killing a civilian.

Ms. Senior America's Autumn Reign "Life is just so exciting," Joyce Reilly Clautice, the recently crowned Ms. Senior America 1999, told us yesterday from her Alexandria home. Clautice, a retired schoolteacher, is the first Virginian to win the pageant in its 19-year history. She earned the title last month in Las Vegas, beating out 31 other contestants with her elegant interview answers, her ballet routine to the "Chariots of Fire" anthem and her shell-colored, lacy formal gown. Clautice, 61, is now busy traveling the country and spreading her queenly message. "We want to make more senior citizens aware that they have more to offer than to think they are just old. Old is just a number. It's that positive attitude that counts," says Clautice, who's headlining today's fourth annual Franconia Day Parade and Festival in Alexandria.

End Notes

Clinton pals Terry and Dorothy McAuliffe are celebrating the appearance of child number four. Sarah Swann McAuliffe, weighing in at 7 pounds 3 ounces, was born at 3:33 a.m. yesterday at Sibley Hospital in D.C. . . . Veteran journalist Mary Tillotson--who left CNN after the cable network canceled her show, "CNN & Co."--has a new gig. Starting in January, she'll be a political correspondent for Feature Story News, a broadcast news agency . . . The Clintons are all set to close on their $1.7 million Chappaqua, N.Y., mansion on Monday, giving first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton the residency she needs to run for the Senate . . . The literary life hasn't been easy for horror scribe Stephen King since a van hit him in June. In an interview airing Monday, King tells NBC's "Dateline" that he's had mucho trouble practicing his craft since the accident. "At first it was as if I'd never done this in my life," King says. "It was like starting over again from square one."