The first Thursday after


The first Thursday after Thanksgiving is time for the Turkey Pro National, Kate’s dad’s end-of-season motorcycle rally. The Turkey Pro keeps getting bigger and bigger, and it repeatedly goes back underground in order to keep things manageable. This year, one pot of “weenie water soup” (pictured above) sufficed to feed the 60 or so attendees, and the 25 or so competitors in this year’s slow race. More pictures to come. Meanwhile, you can see the helmet stuffed full of contributions, and the specialized slip-joint hot dog tongs.

I’ve periodically posted pictures from the Turkey Pro National; you can see a writeup of the 16th running of the Turkey Pro National in 2001 and pictures from the 18th running in 2003. As far as I’m concerned, though, the best TPN picture ever was taken this year by Kate!

The first Thursday after

A joke where a priest,

A joke where a priest, a rabbi, and Ayn Rand are waiting for a bus? A literal orgy of capitalism? The Rough Beast driving to Bethlehem in 4WD? I give up.
I’ve had a little bit of Blog block for the past month, because I came across a writer’s challenge that I’m unequal to.

I was in Thirtieth Street Station in Philadelphia, waiting to change trains on my way home at about 6:30PM. The station is a huge, lofty, echoing space, built to inspire awe and lined with frescoes depicting allegorical Important Moments in Transportation. Huge vinyl banners hang from the walls — sometimes welcoming a pharmaceutical conference to town, sometimes advertising SUVs. This night, it’s the latter. There’s a picture of a big silver SUV on a patch of arctic tundra, below the twelve-foot legend “Our Forefathers Didn’t Fight So You Could Spend the Weekend in Traffic.”

That’s enough for an entry right there, but then, loud music started booming out of the north waiting room, a marble-lined, echo-ey vault that was, this night, lined with rows of empty white wood chairs and partially screened with black cloth. A fashion show was rehearsing, and the models walked up the middle of the room, paused sulkily, then turned and walked back, disappearing through a door under a multi-ton bas-relief depiction of nymphs in blowing gowns taming wild oxen with electric whips. All the models’ hair was in curlers, all were wearing lingerie, and all of them were in advanced stages of pregnancy. I’m sure that, as a runway model, you don’t get much practice traversing a catwalk in heels while great with child; nobody looked like they were about to trip, but the baby had an interesting damping effect on the walkers’ sashay, taking the edges off their hip-shoving flounce and softening it into more of a liquid wobbling motion.

On a sofa not twenty feet away, an Amish family (Amish families often take my train, as many commute to the farmers’ markets in the city) sat and smiled unsurprisedly at the tall, thin women in the five-inch heels and the see-through purple marabou capelets.

I mean, christ, E. B. White would have been able to make something of that paean to… whatever it is, but I don’t even have a chance. So this Blog entry has been choking up the plumbing for the past month, as I try to figure out how it all fits together. Too damn bad, I give up. Phew, that’s a relief.

A joke where a priest,

Trick-or-treat report


This is the first year that I’ve lived in a house that gets trick or treaters, and it was everything I hoped it would be. For adults, Halloween begins at about 2PM; everyone is out front raking their yards, hanging cobwebs on their house numbers, and arranging jack o’lanterns in the front yard. The children are all out in the yard, too: nervous and expectant like barnayard animals before an earthquake. Ask them questions about their costume, and you’ll get an enthusaistic, but distracted, response. Obviously, they’re all concentrating on making time go faster — which is especially hard on the first day after daylight savings time ends, the slowest day of the year. “Oh, look, it’s only 2PM!” say the adults happily, leaning on their rakes and thinking about all the laundry left to do. The kids go back to swinging in the tree. For the hundredth time.

Things speed up as dusk approaches. Relatives arrive to help man the ramparts, kids disappear upstairs for dress rehearsal, and the pumpkins get lit. Finally, the sound of the starting gun — the ubiquitous Spooky Sounds of Halloween tape, played through stereo speakers in Billy and Paula’s window across the street.

Kate and I handed out candy to: four pirates, three soccer players, three cheerleaders, four Eagles players, three beach bums, four assorted ghouls with plastic halberds, threshers, or clubs (three male, one female,) two clowns, two Santas (one large, one small), one land shark with a leg dangling from his mouth, two Freddies, three Jasons, two Dorothys, two power rangers, two Batmans (one regular, one Batman Beyond), two GIs, two druids, two bunnies, one Harry Potter, two cats, two firemen, and no less than thirteen witches. Oh, and a sorority all dressed as Smurfs. Together with all the one-off costumes (one ninja, one ballerina, one poodle-skirt dancer, one patriot — like a pirate, but a drum instead of an eyepatch,) we handed out candy to no fewer than one hundred twenty-six kids between 6PM and 8PM.

A five-year old was dressed as a mouse, with a big, furry head. He climbed up on our porch and held both hands to his ears in an exhausted door-to-door salesman way. “I need a drink!” he sighed, which was startling until I realized he probably was just asking me for a juice box. Probably.

At 8PM sharp, all the porch lights go out, and the pumpkins go into garbage bags. Which was overdue, in our case — our jack o’lanterns had been a couple of weeks ago when Kate’s brother Matt came to visit (more on Kate’s Blog.) His pumpkin had softened from the rapacious, toothy grin pictured above to a soft, lopsided leer. Which was scary, but… moist, and eloquent of summer’s decay.

Lydia wore a strawberry hat, and charmed all comers. Then went to bed under duress.

Trick-or-treat report