---- — Like most guys, when I walk past the magazine rack at the bookstore, I start to drool. Just yesterday I saw one cover that made me glad I am a healthy, normal male. There she was: perfectly proportioned, with golden skin and a great pair of legs. It was the best looking turkey I had ever seen. Obviously, there are some other attributes of the bird I could have alluded to, but I'm trying to keep this column classy. At the time I was looking at Food Network Magazine, the Thanksgiving edition — the perfect holiday purchase for those who don't have a turkey of their own yet, but who want to live vicariously through others who have enjoyed tremendous success in the kitchen. The magazine is 218 pages of recipes and cooking tips, including a handful of ads for anti-depressant drugs, which kind of captures the holiday spirit we all feel. One of the articles about preparing leftovers includes a beautiful shot of a bowl of turkey soup. I'm bettin' except for one poultry little difference, it's the same recipe as the chicken soup the month before. The editor says this is her favorite leftover, but turkey soup is not a leftover. If her first course this Thanksgiving is really turkey soup, she should not be editor of this Food Network Magazine. Food scientists did extensive research to answer such burning questions as: how many dishes does the average host or hostess serve with the turkey? (answer: seven); do people favor pumpkin, apple or pecan pie? (pumpkin); white wine or red? (a tie); and finally, how long is it after the meal before everyone is talking to each other again? (about two weeks). Another interesting statistic is that the average American gets up at 9 a.m. to begin the preparation for the day. This is certainly true of my wife, Mary Ellen, because if is she is not done with her makeup by 10, we can't make the early buffet at Embassy Suites with our friends, the Haversticks. Here's a fascinating find: 72 percent of the country prefers lump-free mashed potatoes. But only 12 percent have ever had any. And did you know that 51 percent of T-Day diners opt for whole berry cranberry sauce and 49 percent want jellied? There was talk of a recount (especially in the Red states), but it's really academic because 75 percent of families completely forget the stuff is in the fridge until after dessert. Celebrity cooks offer 50 tips for preparing the annual feast. Iron Chef Judy Joo suggests passing around a small blow torch for each person's individual pumpkin crème brûlées. What fun! And with all the little kids around the table, what could possibly go wrong? John Shook, the chef at a favorite Los Angeles café, advises amateur cooks to always serve some old favorites for side dishes, just in case you "screw up the turkey." Confidence! Isn't that what cooking is all about? My favorite tip is from Seamus Mullen, a gourmand from one of New York's finest eateries. Seamus says to throw the leftover meat from the usually less-popular legs and wings (along with some oyster stuffing) into the food processor before you go to bed that Thursday night. I ask you: Is there a better way to begin shopping on Black Friday than with a nice dark-meat turkey smoothie?