Be still my heart

Clogging an artery near you

I spent several hours at the state fair last week, and while the reprehensible sights one can behold at such an event are usually so numerous they could fill at least one, hair-raising book, this vision leaves them all far, far behind.

Behold: The Donut Burger. Forgetting for one moment that the spelling “donut” alone makes me spit up a little, let us take a few minutes to contemplate this frightening foodstuff.

According to the Courier-Journal, which paid one of its reporters to actually eat one, the Donut Burger packs a hefty 800 calories per sandwich. And unlike the affront to culinary sensibilities served at the Wisconsin State Fair, which plated its cheeseburger demurely between a single, horizontally sliced donut, the Kentucky version brazenly slapped its cow patty between two whole fried-dough confections.

If the combination of doughnut and beef isn’t enough to stop your heart, the intrepid diner can also add cheese and, that most sinful of all foods, bacon. Approximately four slices, if my field observations are to be believed. Of course there is lettuce and tomato which can be piled upon the foul mix as well — although with a heart attack like this going, I have no idea why anyone would introduce anything as close to health food as vegetables into the mix.

It should probably be mentioned at this point that there is no way in hell that I would ever eat a Donut Burger, so if you got this far looking for a review, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Perhaps your misguided curiosity can be placated with my favorite part of the Courier’s story:

Two bites, then three and soon it started to taste like a regular cheeseburger with a hint of sugary glaze. By the fourth, fifth and sixth bites the doughnuts had flattened from trying to handle it and the grease was starting to mix with the glaze, creating something that doesn’t really have a name. Let’s just call it “glease.”

The booth where I spent my hours at the fair wasn’t far from the Donut Burger stand, and at no time during my stay did I ever look donutward and not see a line of similar length to the one depicted before you. It was generally made up of persons of girth commensurate with the main bulk of the population; that is to say, people lining up to get at this thing were thin, average and alarmingly overweight.

I myself indulged in a pork-loin sandwich and, I must admit, strayed into Donut Burger territory, grease-wise, in my choice of sides: a mighty plate of deep-fried, freshly cut spiral potatoes. An entire paper-plate full. I ate every one. I am certain that this indulgence would rarely lead to cardiac arrest; I am not so sure of our pal the Coronary Burger.

Will each of the fair-goers who succumbed to its greasy siren song do penance this week on the treadmill — or add it to their list of sins when seeking the solace of the confessional? I have to admit, while my one  greasy plate of tates did launch me into a renewed burst of cholesterol-fighting energy on my walks over the weekend, I did stop short of frightening our parish priest with my tales of state-fair sin.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone did, though; it’s so rare to see, in the wild, a victual so heinous and so sinful that it’s literally heart-stopping!

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Fab Friday photos

When you’re from someplace as ordinary as Kentucky and go someplace as documented New York City, I’ve found, you’ve got to take photos that reveal if not the quirky side of Manhattan, at least the quirky side of you.

The Statue of Liberty, as you can see, does this not at all. Everyone has seen photos of it. Now, it’s a tiny bit awesome to see it for the first time yourself, but looking at the photos, I can’t help but think, yeah, yeah, that’s her.

This one was taken from the Staten Island Ferry. While we floated by, our guide recited, from memory, the entire poem inscribed on the statue’s base;  you know the one — it ends with something about tired poor huddled masses.

Kind of like I felt there on the ferry, huddled together with commuters, tourists and surly natives, the kind which made me fear for my very life. In particular, one skinny redheaded teenage girl who could have effortlessly ground me to a pulp with her accent alone. I would have loved to have taken HER picture, except I was trying to avoid the grinding to a pulp part. I couldn’t help but be amused, though, listening to her give her boyfriend down the road about taking her out onto the deck and exposing her translucently pale skin to the glaring harbor sun. “You ain’t takin’me out here t’get sunburnt, BOIEEEE,” she said from about an inch and a half away from his dark African-Hispanic face.

So while this interesting couple escaped my lens due to fear of being beaten to death by a 97-pound 15-year-old, I did find a few other things to occupy myself. Most notably, as I have said before, the gorgeous art in the Metropolitan Museum.

Here we have Joan of Arc, by Pierre-Auguste Cot. Doesn’t she look totally psycho? As is widely known, Joan was possessed by the fervor of doing God’s work by leading the French into battle against the English; good old Cot seems to capture that can-do spirit of matrydom well here.

On the other hand, we have another of his works, Spring:

I’ve got a weird irrational love of this thing. It’s so completely consumed by classical idealistic passion. And besides, just look at the way he’s looking at her. He TOTALLY wants her, and right now. You just have to admire that in a work of art.

I can’t decide how touristy these next two are; I found both sites compelling. This is the Dakota Building, where Yoko Ono apparently still resides, and where John Lennon was killed in 1980.

Right there, outside those gates, right there, Mark David Chapman shot him. I stood before this landmark that thousands have passed and millions have seen in video and print images and just could hardly believe that I was standing right there.

I do sort of hate all the air conditioning units poking out of the windows, though.

Here is a mosaic on the walkway through a section of Central Park near the Dakota that has been christened Strawberry Fields. It’s to be a place for meditation, and was constructed with the funds and blessings of Ono. I think it’s striking, and though there were tourists a-plenty looking at it the day I was there, it was indeed a hushed place, rare and beautiful in a place as teeming with humanity as New York.

This I consider art, too, but in a rather different way. It’s a little like performance art, except it’s named without a single shred of irony. This is a real store sort of between Chinatown and SoHo.

I also saw stores called OMG and Rat Bastard, so this probably isn’t even all that startling. But still. Rather rare around here. OK there are NO stores with Chinese names here — or any that are fancy.

I don’t care how many times I see this next photo, it never fails to crack me up.

This is not a statue that is broken.

This is not a statue they’re just a little slow on getting around to gluing back together.

This is a statue of a saint, one St. Firmin, and he is holding his head.

That’s the title of this work of art. St. Firmin Holding His Head.

And ah, the best for last.

This piece of statuary stands in an entire room filled with the entirety of a castle porch, patio and plaza. The paving stones are there, the portico, the windows, everything. It obviously was dismantled at some location where sensuous statues are embraced.

No, I’m not generally such a prude that I have to sit down and and recover myself after the mere sight of marble nudity. No it’s just that I’m prone to juvenile observations, and felt compelled to take the following shot for the benefit of the two similarly equipped sons I have at home.

In most of the world, as you may know, the uncircumcised male is pretty much the norm. Here in the U.S. though, not so much. And since it’s rare, and since I apparently have yet to adequately smother the giggling teenage girl that still resides within, I had to take this photo for the boys at home. It’s Your Anatomy in Marble in a Museum, guys!

Yes, we’re snickering at peenies today, God bless ’em, in order to start the weekend in a proper frame of mind.

Make the most of it!

On a roll

Yesterday I burdened the world wide web with an abundance of my photos from New York last summer. I’ve got bunches more, many of which send me into uncontrollable giggles every time I look at them which, believe me, is not a pretty sight.

So let’s just take a look at one today.

And here is a quiz for you: Name all the reasons why I love this photo. There are at least five.

Have a great weekend.

Love,

Ellen

Come along for the ride

I really enjoy taking pictures, and for the last couple years, I’ve kept a point-and-shoot Canon in my purse at all times. I was completely convinced by those commercials a while back, when Steven Tyler walks into a restaurant and a whole table full of women go completely to pieces trying to get a photo of him. “This will never happen to me,” I vowed — though since it’s rare that I run into celebrities, this danger is frankly pretty low.

So I took a lot of pictures when I visited New York this summer. I’ve always got an eye open for the quirky, so in addition to a good many touristy shots, I also came away with a mini-mother lode of Pictures of New York by a Visiting Yokel.

For example, subway tile.

To me this is just beautiful; an unexpected jewel in the urban landscape.

There’s a lot of this too.

We saw this as we walked along the street to the East Village on the Sunday morning of our visit. The tiny restaurant, called Joe Doe’s, was perfectly interesting and served duck eggs, which I did not eat. Not because I’m not adventurous — Lord knows I am — but I simply forgot to order them. Now I can’t say, “I went to New York and ate duck eggs!” the opportunity for which I’m sure I would have come up in conversation at least once sometime before Christmas.

This was sitting in front of the restaurant:

Naturally I had to sit on it, looking at it did worn from countless generations of bottoms. Most likely it was generations of chopping carrots since it’s apparently a butcher block table. But still. It looked sitonable.

(As an aside, “sitonable” is what certain friends of mine, and one husband, likes to call an Ellenism. It gives them great amusement that I earn a living as a writer, yet I’m always making up words. Now, I consider it an attribute and a testament to my creativity that I’ve got this inclination. Buttheads that they are, though, they’re more amused that a purported writer has “difficulty” adequately utilizing the vast array of words available in the English language, and feels it necessary to improvise. Well, it’ll come as no surprise to this contingent — Steve, Todd and Tras I’m looking at you — that this attitude gets a big raspberry from me.)

Anyway, back to the New York Tour. We stayed in Chinatown, and my rube-reaction here was the most pronounced. Somehow, I didn’t envision it quite so full of, you know, CHINESE PEOPLE.

What did I think I was going to find in Chinatown, you might reasonably ask? Well, I certainly expected some Chinese people, and some speaking of various Chinese languages. But here’s the rube in me talking: I didn’t completely understand that Chinatown is populated by people from various Chinese lands who are continuing to live more or less as though they’re still in China. It’s fascinating, intimidating, perplexing, and frankly unusual for someone who is still getting used to hearing Spanish spoken by the growing number of Hispanic immigrants to Kentucky. In New York, hearing English starts to become the unusual thing. It’s quite marvelous.

Our hotel was in the Bowery, an area adjoining Chinatown and Little Italy that was, until just a few years ago, Slum Central. Not anymore. This hotel was an unexpected treat. A little smaller than the plump, cornfed midwestern hotel rooms I was used to but perfectly wonderful for a week-long stay in the city.

We also shared it with half of Europe. I’m not kidding. I think we were the only American citizens staying at the place. Every morning at breakfast we were knee-deep in Italians, Germans, Swedes, Belgians, Spaniards and I don’t know what else, since I didn’t march up to everybody at eight in the morning and demand their nationality.

I mean, I wanted to, but I didn’t.

Food was a big part of our stay, especially when Cara the Chef arrived. A cooking school graduate and buyer for an organic restaurant in Washington, D.C., Cara is totally consumed by food. She does consume it, too; some of it I consider hideously inedible, such as the tripe, yes TRIPE she ordered one night. Eating the “whole animal” is big in the circles in which she moves and really, I don’t disagree with most of her ideas.  But you know, guts, ick.

No, the carb-laden wonders of Little Italy are more my speed. Oh the pasta I consumed, along with this, my last night there — salmon with a little rosemary tree on top.

And this was fun — a shop that sold rice pudding in precisely the same Baskin-Robbins manner most ice cream parlours dish out the calories.

I also indulged my weakness for ice coffee at least once. It’s strange, but I only seem to remember I like it about once every two or three years, and then I can’t get enough of it. I’ve been making it at home ever since and it goes a long way toward explaining my high energy levels lately.

Of course I took far more photos than I can wedge in here, and maybe if you’re lucky (ha!) I’ll throw in a wacky one every now and then just to amuse myself. I’ve got loads of strange detail shots of artwork we saw at the Metropolitan, which unfortunately for me are on another computer and I’m too lazy to go fetch it and boot it up right now.

But here are a couple more, just for fun, that I shot mostly for Tras because our Prius, when I went to New York, had only been in our possession for a few short weeks.

I didn’t even take a taxi, not even one, while I was in New York, but as you can see, they’ve gone somewhat green there in the Big Apple, big surprise to me.

Sure New York was crowded and noisy, big and bewildering, and very visually interesting. But it’s also one of the more pictoriffical places I’ve ever been, specializing in the most blog-postabillimous photos I’ve ever pixallagated.