Thu 26 Nov 2009
Today being Thanksgiving, let’s talk turkey. As it happens, there are a number of turkeys to talk about.
Well over 100 people from all walks of life showed up this afternoon at the Dance Palace for the West Marin Community Resource Center’s annual Thanksgiving dinner.
Volunteers served guests buffet style. Along with the traditional turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, salad, yams, and green vegetables, there was tofu for vegetarians. The pies — apple, pumpkin, and berry — as always were delicious.
So many folks attended the dinner that the line of people waiting to be served sometimes stretched all the way around the room. And yet there was enough food left over that any guests who wanted to, such as I, could take some home.
Of course, the word turkey has many meanings, one of them being an inept public display (e.g. that play was a real turkey). Some turkeys in this sense of the word are really bad while some are basically just a misstep. The following fall in the latter category.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work for a prison guard? The headline above from the Nov. 15 San Francisco Chronicle suggests an answer.
The turkey at right, also from the Nov. 15 Chronicle, might suggest that two agents from the FBI or other covert agency are getting involved in a fisheries issue.
As a former headline writer, I should note in fairness to The Chronicle that it’s all too easy to accidentally come up with a “head” that has a double meaning.
It comes about because of the need to pack as much information as possible into limited space.
That is why when I edited The Point Reyes Light, the paper routinely used “flap” in headlines to mean dispute, “rap” to mean criticize, “confab” to mean meeting, and “supes” to mean the Board of Supervisors.
In 2003, a sheriff’s deputy in Stinson Beach shot a motorist three times at the end of a high-speed chase, but all that would fit in the headline was “thrice,” so that’s what we used. This prompted a letter from a reader who commented on how quaint West Marin is when a deputy here can shoot a man “thrice.”
I can also recall once writing a headline along the lines of “Feds announce big deer hunt in park.” Luckily, one of my staff saw the head before the paper went to the printer and asked, “Big deer go hunting in the park?”
Perhaps my favorite Chronicle headline of recent was in the Nov. 17 issue. The turkey at left immediately made me wonder if the story were about Richmond.
From what I read, spending time behind bars is considered a rite of passage among hundreds of young gang members there.
The story was actually about residents of economically depressed Thomson, Ill., wanting Thomson Correctional Center used as the new prison for Guantanamo Bay detainees.
And then there are actual turkeys, which are called that only because of a confusion involving the country of Turkey. When the British were introduced to the North American wild turkey, they confused it with guinea fowl, an African bird that was being imported by way of Turkey.
By coincidence, I read in Al Jazeera today that Turkey and Armenia are on the verge of reestablishing diplomatic relations. That would be something to be thankful for.
In 1994, Turkey sided with Azerbaijan in a conflict with Armenia over the disputed Caucasian territory of Nagorno Karabakh, leading Turkey to close its border with Armenia.
More enmity by far, however, stems from the 1915-25 genocide when Turks exterminated up to 1.5 million ethnic Armenians (more than half their population) and marched many others across the desert into Syria. This Armenian Holocaust, as it often called, reduced the number of Armenians in the country to between 60,000 and 70,000 today.
“Remember the starving Armenians,” my mother used to say when I didn’t eat every vegetable on my plate at Thanksgiving dinner.