The Non-Expert


Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we answer four questions about Thanksgiving, which is apparently a holiday, or something.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


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Question: Why aren’t there any good Thanksgiving songs?

Answer: Maybe you aren’t looking hard enough:

‘The Turkey’

The turkey is a funny bird
Its head goes wobble, wobble
And all it knows is just one word:
Gobble, gobble, gobble.

But you meant ‘good’ as in ‘not for drooling idiot men-children.’ I don’t know. There aren’t any good Halloween songs, either. (‘Humphrey the Blue-Nosed Pumpkin’ doesn’t count.) But you’re in luck. I happen to be a non-expert at holiday songwriting, and what follows is the World Premiere of a very special new Thanksgiving song, a very nearly national anthem for our very nearly national bird, sung to the tune of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’:

‘Let’s Eatum Some Turkey’
Words by Dennis A. Mahoney

(Inspired by Francis Scott Key and American turkeys. With special subsidies and drunken encouragements from The Morning News.)

O say can you see
Any turkeys tonight
With their proud, feathered tails
Plucked and salted ruthlessly

Whose carbuncles and beaks
Are of no use to us
But whose strong, noble hearts
Have been boiled for gravy

And their livers all cooked!
And their wings pinned and hooked!
And their heads in the trash
So they can’t watch us eat

O say is that carcass’s
Flesh what we truly crave…
With Thanksgiving its wake
And our table its grave!

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Question: Was there ever an official statement of Thanksgiving in early America?

Answer: On June 20, 1676, the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, decided to offer formal thanks to God for their community’s fortune after great adversity in the new land and struggles with the local Indians. Edward Rawson, the clerk, issued the following proclamation:

‘The Holy God having by a Long and Continual Series of Afflictive Dispensations in and by the Present War with the Heathen Natives of this Land, those Natives who by Wicked Devilry and Long Pointy Speares and Arrowes perforated our Devout and Hoary Bodies, who by simply Being Here have frightened us and forced us bleating into the Warm Embrasure of our Precious Livestock, ’gainst the better Judgments of our Wives and Scriptures, nay, but we digress O Lord, Our Holy God, who has brought to pass Ruined Crops and Terrifying Lightning and Astonishing Displays of Favoritism toward the Heathen Natives, who really, it’s incredible, never miss when shooting forth their Deadly, Devil-Ridden Arrowes, yea! so in the midst of His Judgments, Fearsome Snowes and Ices, Plagues and Sicknesses, and Large Embarrassing Acne on our Pure Christian Noses, Holy Father, who hath used us as His Most Holy Footstool, woe are we who stumble through the Darkness of this Terrible New Land, what the Christ were we thinking, leaving Cozy Europe for the Horrors of this Uninhabitable New World, we who mew Pathetically like Tender Kittens underneath the Women’s Stern Assessments of our Shriveled Manhoods, it’s enough to make us lose Hope, O Lord, O Heavenly God, whose Fatherly Compassion, if it possibly exists (although with Heavenly Gods like this who needs Heathen Natives) certainly bespeaks our Positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies, who range from Wild Bears to Angry Crabs to Small Stinging Gnats, are in any measure Disappointed or Destroyed, though it’s not Bloody Likely, and fearing the Lord should take notice of our Grumbling and Despair, the Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th Day of this June as a Day of Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise to God for his Imaginary Goodness and Favour, Many Particulars of which we are Hard Pressed to Itemize, and we offer up our Bodies and Souls as a Living and Acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ, or Buddha, or Mohammet, or whosoever hears our Prayers, in this, the Fiery Pit of Hell which is the New World. Amen.’

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Question: How do I stuff a turkey?

Answer: Prepare your stuffing just prior to putting it into the turkey. Use only cooked ingredients in the stuffing. Also make sure the turkey is dead. Turkeys are notorious tricksters and your particular turkey could be playing ’possum.

Hold your turkey underwater in a full bathtub for 5–10 minutes. No turkey in the world—not even a wild turkey—can hold its breath that long. Take the turkey out of the tub, towel it off, and put it on the kitchen table. If you don’t have a kitchen table, put it on the floor.

Never stuff a frozen or partially frozen turkey. The turkey should be completely thawed. It should also be completely dead. Even if you’ve drowned the turkey, walk out of the kitchen as if you’re taking care of other business. Whistle a cheerful tune, like you hadn’t a care in the world. Wait 30–60 seconds. When time’s up, spring back into the kitchen and shout, ‘A-ha!’ Did the turkey move or flinch? If so, stab it repeatedly. If not, stuff both the neck and body cavities, allowing 1/2 to 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. Don’t pack the stuffing too tightly.

Return legs to original tucked position (assuming you’ve untucked the legs for rinsing, drowning, or stuffing). Do not stuff turkeys when cooking on an outdoor grill or water smoker, or when using fast-cook methods where the turkey gets done before the stuffing. Never stuff a live turkey. If you’re not 100-percent sure the turkey is certifiably dead, check the bag of gizzards that came with the turkey. Find the heart and hold it up to your ear. Listen closely—is it beating? If not, you may be confident the turkey is no longer alive.

If all else fails, feed a live turkey Stove Top stuffing, then kill it.

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Question: I’m vegetarian. Can you recommend a good alternative Thanksgiving meal?

Answer: How about a slice of humble pie, you fucking Communist.