Hotdish and the Heisman Trophy

Let's see ... thirty days has September, April, June and November ... what the hell happened to August!?! It was just here a minute ago! Man, I can't believe that September is here already and I still haven't deflated my pool toys yet. I'm two assignments down for Strobist Lighting102 and my schedule just keeps getting busier.

I'm sorry about that because I'm noticing a little more traffic here at is hootnik on and I need to accommodate even a modicum of interest with new content. I've actually had a lot to say but it's incomplete. For now, let me take you on a little adventure we like to call the "Great Minnesota Get Together."

That's right ... you missed it! The Minnesota State Fair. It's a beautiful event. Spiritual in every way that is only Minnesotan. In brief, a state fair is a gathering of folks that want to show off their wares, which in turn gathers more folks that need to eat and spend money ... or at least sign up for stuff. That is the fundamental spirit of this event. It lasts 12 days (through Labor Day) and you can see everything from a new calf being born to the Heisman Trophy. Back in 1941, Bruce Smith won the Heisman playing football for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Eating is a fundamental joy that, at the State Fair, only slightly transcends the primitive ritual from which it stems. Example ... the ridiculous manner by which it's accomplished ... that is, on a stick. It's very popular, almost requisite, to find something, preferably edible, put it on a stick, and sell it to people that have little if any manners. And the more creative the better. We're talking deep-fried candy bars and Hostess Twinkies, alligator, pork chops, all varieties of kabobs, stuff you can't pronounce, nor would you show to the kids.
Hotdish on a stick
Now it's important to understand that Minnesota is Scandahoovian country. A conglomeration of Northern European ancestry that, mixed with a conservative Lutheran backbone, comes out green Jello and hot dish. Hot dish is the common vernacular for "casserole." However, in its tradition, it has been elevated to the high art combination of ground beef, tater tots and cream-o-mushroom soup. For the record, Ole and Lena make a kabob alternating tater tots with meatballs, batter that bad boy, deep fry it and serve it with a generous side of aforementioned soup. Mmm mmm good!

But that's not all! Visiting dignitaries often border on the impossible. Remember Jesse Ventura, who wouldn't leave Minnesota, and Senator Norm Coleman who couldn't win anywhere else? Santa in AugustWell, Santa comes here in August. I'm not sure why ... walleye and musky fishing won't pick up again until late September, camping is crippled with minnesquitoes and picnics can't escape the wasps. He must own a jet ski. Either that or Jimmy Jam's manse on Minnetonka has gone time share. Never-the-less, it makes the state fair an interesting place to hang out for the day.

Photographically, I had a hard time at the fair this year. I continued with my experiment working with center-weighted metering instead of 3D Matrix. I found overall that my images came out a little muddy, under-exposed even though highlights were blowing out. Lot's of sun is very difficult to shoot in. Most of the images I captured had to be on the run because I was there with family and that was really the purpose of the excursion. So, I feel lucky to have gotten anything. I shot in auto-aperture mode with my ISO set to 400. Even with all the bright sunshine I literally had to point and shoot relying a lot on the camera.

I was able to get this shot of the cowboys up on Heritage Hill and particularly enjoy the composition. The three white hats, the leisurely postures. Then I'd get a cup of coffee and give my foot a push. Just me and the pygmy pony over by the dental floss bush (Thanks FZ).Cowboys

I always wanted to be a cowboy when I was a little kid but now I can't imagine living that ... even in the comfort of a heated, well-lit barn; a mud room with plenty of space to hang my hats and a basketball hoop along side the driveway. I think I'd be far too conscientious wearing a hat like that in the hood.

Still, it's one of my favorite shots from the day in that its authenticity is very human albeit contrasted with its contemporary surroundings and a bright red styro-foam cup.

Finally, I just want to point out the old adage ... "there's a comedian in every crowd". Here's the proof. Al Franken for Senator.
Minnesota Politics
Vice-president New Guy: "The senate recognizes the distinguished Senator from Minnesota, Democrat Al Franken! ... who will be selling DVD's of his campaign out in the lobby after today's session."

Shine the light, Al. Shine the light.

i shoot nikon

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