Nine cases of fireworks? Check. Six 24-tube angled mortar racks? Check. Four hundred feet of fuse? Check. Lumber, glue, wood screws, zip ties, duct tape, flashlights, igniter torches? Check.
Yep, looks like another typical Fourth of July for me.
By the time you read this, I’ll be sweating in the Alabama sun, cussing up a storm as I assemble yet another of my fabulous family fireworks displays.
Cussing is an essential skill for an amateur pyrotechnician. There never seems to be enough time to set up a show, and I’ve got less than 48 hours to get ready for that moment — 9:30 p.m. CDT Friday — when I cue the music and signal my sons that it’s time to light the fuses.
Pyrotechnics comes from a Greek word that, loosely translated, means “blow stuff up,” but when the object is to put on a really impressive show, it[s a little more complicated than that.
My finale this year will conclude with 144 gold willow breaks, shot at angles from three separate firing stations to fill the sky and elicit the “ooh-ahh” crowd reaction that is every pyrotechnican’s ultimate reward.
“Better than Disneyworld,” they said in 2005. That was the year when, with the able assistance of my twin sons, I produced a 10-minute Fourth of July spectacular featuring nearly $3,000 worth of consumer fireworks.
That’s $3,000 wholesale, by the way. When a man goes crazy for fireworks, he sooner or later figures out it’s cheaper to buy the stuff by the case.
HOW DID I BECOME so addicted to fireworks? The basic motives were love and pride. As the liberals might say, I did it for the children.
Growing up near Atlanta, I was no more into cherry-bomb hooliganism than any other normal red-blooded American boy. My older brother Kirby was more of the fireworks buff in the family. He always had a supply of roman candles and rockets every Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, and I usually just watched.
Then, in 1997, I got a job in Washington and came north with my wife, our 8-year-old daughter and our twin sons. The boys were then 5 and learning to read, and as we headed rolled northward through Tennessee, the little geniuses quickly deciphered the word “fireworks” beckoning from billboards alongside I-81.
“Daddy! Daddy! Fireworks!” they’d howl from their car seats, begging me to obey the signs that commanded: “Exit Here!”
I resisted the temptation, but with each subsequent trip down home as the boys grew older, the pleadings became more insistent. A couple of years later, returning from a Christmas visit to Georgia, I finally gave in and got about $25 worth of roman candles and rockets.
Our first family New Year’s Eve “show” — shivering in suburban Maryland’s midnight cold to ring in 1999 — was a spectacular success in my boys’ eyes, and that was when the addiction began.
Shooting fireworks with my sons was one of the finest fatherly experiences you could imagine. My wife didn’t exactly approve, and so these occasional pyrotechnical excursions with the boys became sort of a male-bonding conspiracy, a manly defiance of womanly worries about safety and breaking the law.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online