There's nothing like the sound of the Fourth of July:
"That's all it does? That thing was 30 bucks!"
You know, considering I have trouble lighting matches, it's a little weird that I like the Fourth of July so much. But really, what other holiday features explosions?
And no, the baked potatoes that blew up in the oven on Thanksgiving because you forgot to put fork-holes in them don't count.
Fireworks were a big deal when I was a kid. There's the element of the forbidden - playing with fire - and the satisfaction you got from desperately trying to convince your buddies that you had actually set off the big ones.
That night, you'd hear the screams of the Piccolo Petes, the buzzing of the Ground Bloom flowers and the occasional "What was that?" There would be talk about "some jackass must have lit off an M-80" and then it was back to the festivities.
As a kid, my peers and I were fascinated by fireworks. Many an argument stemmed from differing opinions on what percentage of a stick of dynamite an M-80 was.
Compounding the problem was my friend's assertion that since his cousin's friend had seen M-100s and the granddaddy of them all, the M-1000, he was the authority. Not to be outdone, another friend claimed to have heard about the M-1,000,000.
He also claimed that his mom gave Colonel Sanders the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken, so you draw your own conclusions.
Now that I'm an adult (chronologically, anyway), I can actually buy fireworks and set them off myself. I just don't know if I'm going to.
My son, Brody, is 2, and he's not a big fan of things that are loud -- except for the vaccuum cleaner. We participated in a fireworks test session recently for work, and he was fine with the colors and lights, but once he heard that familiar dinosaur-passing-a-kidney-stone whine from one of the bigger fountains, that was it for him.
My wife, Jen, grew up near Philadelphia, where, to hear her tell it, fireworks were invented.
"OK, you know the finale from the ones we saw last year?"
"In Philly, that's how it is during the whole thing. And then the end is awesome. This is nothing."
I feel bad for her sometimes. Philadelphia is also home of Philly cheese steaks, killer soft pretzels, frozen custard, Tastykakes and of course, Cheez Doodles.
Not to mention it's the birthplace of the middle stooge, Larry Fine.
In California, it's pretty much just the birthplace of the stooge she married.
But just in case we decide to celebrate, I decided to do a little research. Have you ever noticed the names of some of the fireworks out there? I've already mentioned the Piccolo Pete and the Ground Bloom. There's also the Jumping Jack, the Stellar Performance, Jr. Cuckoo and Smoke Balls, just to name a few.
But I also saw some that, alas, I haven't seen around here, most likely because you can't buy them here. But how can you pass up buying something called Run Like Hell? Nothing But Trouble? Playing With Fire?
But my absolute favorite is from Great Grizzly Fireworks: Uranus is Big!
It's nice to see a company try to inspire a new generation of astronomers, isn't it?
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July.