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tcpdump running ultra slowly:

As usual,  I have an odd problem:   after rotating my log files manually
(/usr/bin/newsyslog) because tcpdump was running slowly, tcpdump is STILL
lagging heavily if I have it look at /var/log/pflog for anything that would
actually result in a hit.  For example,  
/usr/sbin/tcpdump -r /var/log/pflog  "port 21"    
returns nothing, and returns me to the shell prompt instantly,  but after
running a test on a blocked port it takes 5.5 minutes 
info that might help:
1) the pflog file is only 1.1
2) my load averages are fairly low at 0.22, 0.21, 0.17
3) I have booted the system to clean out the memory.
Anyone have any thoughts short of stop logging things / get a hobby? ;-)