Posts Tagged ‘fireworks’

Sea to shining sea.

The hearse with the extension ladder in front of us braked heavily, sending up a cloud of dust in the gravel road.

Nice opening sentence, huh?

Cruel Wife stomped her brakes soon after a breath whistled between my passenger-seat-driver teeth. I have never been comfortable when to driving in spite of asking her to drive roughly two-thirds of the time.

“Hey, there is a clown on the back of that hearse. An evil clown.”

“Yeah, I saw it,” she replied. “I mentioned that already.”

“Sure makes a statement when you own a hearse with an extension ladder, huh? Not sure what it says though.”

More whistles and sharp intakes of breath filled the car as people crossed the road in a dizzying flurry of cheap LED lights and glow-in-the-dark rings. This time she braked in a sharp rebuke to my neck, a nonverbal cue that I should be quiet and let her drive.

I respected her wishes for a count of five and then said “Gosh, that was quite a fireworks show for a small county like [name_censored]. It was huge. And the music they played… Patriotic American music, all of it good, except maybe Bruce Springsteen. ‘Born in the USA’, ok, yeah I get it, but he’s a huge liberal and then, too, was twerker-butt whatserface I think you said. With that choice of songs, I tell you what… the people of [name_censored] County did not elect Obama.”

“No, no they didn’t,” said Cruel Wife, grinding her molars even flatter. She is no fan of the man.

Not wanting her to drive angry for a second time tonight (the first of which I will tell you of tomorrow) I changed the topic. Driving angry with Cruel Wife is a lot like being on a decaying out of control carnival ride when the operator has just died from one too many Elephant ears.

“You know, there are people who fear clowns.” I could not remember the latin and missed a great chance to dazzle my children once more with my brilliance. Coulrophobia is the term, but remembering it ten minutes later impresses no one.

“Oh yeah?

“Sure. The Butcher of Lansing hates clowns, and at work The Dread Queen’s husband is terrified of them. She wouldn’t even take my evil clown mask home to torture him. It is crippling.”

My daughter seemed vulnerable to some teasing so I informed the kids that Killer Klowns from Outer Space is one of my favorite movies. I said “So what happens in the movie is…”

Lemurita yelled “Nooooo! Don’t say it!”

As I hoped she had taken my bait, swallowing the lure completely and setting the hook. “Since you ask, what happens is that evil space clow…”

“NOOOOOO!” she screamed shrilly. “I don’t want to hear it!”

To Cruel Wife I said “I am so evil.”


HackerBoy had been pretty quiet and I heard him say in his soft voice “What happens in the movie?” Over his sister’s loud ‘la-la-la-la’ with her fingers in her ears I explained to him the incredible depth and nuances of the movie, a feat that took all of a minute with time left over to add, “It is a cool and funny movie.” I am not sure he was convinced.

I can only hope that some day we can enjoy Bubba Ho-Tep and John Dies at the End together.

“Hey, is that a hand sticking out of the bumper?”

“I said that already,” sighed Cruel Wife resignedly.

Thirty minutes before we had been waiting for the start of the [name_censored] County Family Laser Light and Fireworks Show. It finally cranked up with one of the better performances of the National Anthem that I have ever heard. My legs had fallen asleep so I had to settle for hat off and hand over my heart while sitting on the ground. It is perhaps a lapse in my parenting that I had to remind my kids to sit up and put their hands over their hearts, but they did it, so I am not displeased.

The lasers fired up and I realized that they were aimed out over the crowd and they were perhaps outside of my comfort zone in intensity. I work with lasers every single day and some of them (most) are high power lasers so I felt justified in my concern. I could do little else besides tell them to not stare at the sources where the scatter was brightest and look elsewhere. If Murphy and his damn law showed up and blinded everyone I wasn’t going to leave us with no one to drive home. We could go into MPE and laser eye safety, and debate the actual damage in this situation, but I like my vision.

The lasers did not last long and soon we heard song after patriotic song.

The fireworks themselves were awesome. Flat out the best I have seen, and I never expected that good of a show at [name_censored] County Family Laser Light and Fireworks Show. The bursts went on nonstop for a very long time, did a finale, and then a rib-cage-squeezing and ear-ringing encore.

I knew I was being played, with the music selection and show biz aspect of things, but I remembered with some feeling that I was damn glad to be an American and was actually moved by they whole thing. For some reason it just seemed to me that in our area, the prevailing crowd’s attitude tonight was one of “We needed this.”

Pretty amazing for a cynic like me. But it made me determined that those of us who do love our country need to get it back from the “bipartisan” slimebags in our government who think this next election will leave them untouched. Immigration Reform is not the future of America.

I sat there on the blanket on a mosquito-less cool summer night with my arm around HackerBoy and Lemurita snuggled close to steal what heat she could, and was thankful for it.

Seemed like it was a pretty good lead-in to Father’s Day.

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Good God I smart today – skull to tail.

You would not believe the amount of effort that goes into putting a show on.  I worked the whole day but with little ones and my physical condition I could not tear down – at some point I had to say “I’m sorry, I just cannot do any more.”  We started at 1:30PM and finally did a last walkthrough around 10pm.

Hey, buddy… did you just see a really bright light?

It was in the 90’s, it was humid, and the sun was oppressive.  I drank eight liters of Dihydrogen Monoxide, a Mountain Spew, three Dr. Poopers (diet), and a Sunny Deelight.  And never had to go use the litterbox once. 

Note:  Trade names have been changed to protect their corporate identities.

Missile Command and the Giant Dandelion of Doom

Did I mention how much effort is involved in this stuff?  There’s unpacking and setup of the tubes, unwrapping of the product, sorting, carting them out, loading strings, taping of buckets (open fuse ends), taping fuses to the frames, eating of pizza, walkthroughs and last minute checks.   I was a giant sponge – trying to learn as much as I possibly could by observation and instruction – I spent the day doing nothing more than having people say “Ok, now do this taping over here” and “help me do that over there”.   It’s one of those situations in life where you don’t want to f*** around because these things are dangerous.  They have classes where you can get certified to do a show and transport the stuff and I plan on doing that.  Until that time I can show up and help out but I couldn’t legally run a show or drive a truck to get it to a show – but helping out is very interesting and plenty.  I think I was exposed to only the scratched the surface of what needs to be done to do all that.

All sorts of rules like “Keep your cigarette on the opposite side of your mouth” and “No, you can’t sort the product next to the campfire.”  Rules almost as onerous as “You have to roll down the window before shooting rats from your pickup at the dump.”

No, there was no campfire and no one up there smokes cigarettes – only crack.

Red Willow

An interesting note:  When you cut yourself and you get the residue – saltpeter and sulfur – in your cuts the stuff burns and stings for like… forever.  Not bad, but enough to remind you that your skin suffered a breach.

But it was worth every bit of sweat, twinges, cut fingers, and screamin’ neck when I got to see my kids with ear-to-ear grins when the 5″, 6″, and 8″ shells started going off.  There’s this fierce out-on-the-bow-of-the-ship feeling you get when they go off.  When Cruel Wife went “ooooh” and “ahhhh” I got a big grin out of that, too.  I kept thinking to my self  “I was part of making that happen.”  Wonderful feeling of satisfaction.

Just part of the finale. Sorry I didn’t orient the camera horizontally.

Remember, the family is sitting as close as is safe to the things and they are going off nearly overhead so the boom is significant.  And when you are up in the enclosure thirty feet away they are setting off tests every now and then and the ground moves under your feet.  Obviously you can’t have family members in that area or where we unpacked and humped stuff around but I was able to leave and hang with the kids every now and then.

Cruel Wife picked me up a cane since I left the one I have at home.  So by the end I was getting around and letting the folks who were actually lighting the stuff off – I can’t move fast enough in my honest assessment – vie for the honors of touching off the 8-shells, and I just bounced from place to place.  Go hug the kids, talk to the wife, talk to the other family folks, drink some more pop.

That’s one thing I really appreciate about this crew.  Almost all of them are AA folks so I felt right at home.  Seriously nice bunch of people.

Wobbled up the hill and got up-close during the show.  Here’s something you don’t get to see every day.

2nd Act – Up close

When a 6″ or 8″ shell goes off at this distance you know something substantial just went off.  What is immediately obvious and subtle is that when they are going off overhead like that the entire surroundings light up but you don’t cast a shadow.  Very cool.

I hobbled over and talked with one of the firefighters, told him that years ago I was a firefighter and how we used to drive a truck out in front of the fire to get spot fires while crews tried to flank the fire, and I asked him how many gallons they carried in their truck.  He looked at me and said “Well, you know how it is – 300 gallons – just enough to kind of piss the fire off.”

We laughed about that one.  It’s only too true.  Any serious fire is going to require more than 300 gallons even with retardant foam.

Faint outline of our firefighter friends in foreground. Happy 4th folks.

Today’s Plan: Move slow, use the cane to steady things out, drink lots of water and pop, and remain drugged throughout.

Happy 4th of July, folks!  Just remember to educate the ignorant about what Independence Day is really about.  We didn’t break away from France for no reason.

Note:  I damn well know it wasn’t the French we broke away from.  It was the Scots.


Here’s all your hopesy-changey at work:

That’s the good news. On the flip side, however, a country whose hallmark has always been a sense of irrepressible optimism is in the grip of unprecedented uncertainty and self-doubt.

You know what bothers me the most about that statement?  If it is actually true, then our true grit, that which made us such a force to be reckoned with, is gone.  I don’t think it is gone except for those who are naturally wired to piss and moan.  Dire straights like this should not be enough to dampen the celebration of Independence Day.  That’s what made the US great – intestinal fortitude – the desire to keep going on because, you know… it’s our “f*** you” attitude.  I’m talking about the attitude that says “We’re not giving up.  We may be beaten down but we’re still not giving up.”

Of course, there are a few things that might be cause for a case of the blues.  Enough to spoil the celebration?  Nah.

Well… maybe a bit bluer, but still not dampened, no.


Could we please start hunting down and incarcerating “Star Chefs” when they do things like suggest Kobe Beef Sliders?

At $40/lb I’m not going to make sliders out of it.  I won’t even eat regular sliders.

In a world that is self-righting sometimes, it is recognized that bacon is the gateway meat.


Oh, boo-hoo.

A Michigan inmate is suing Gov. Rick Snyder and the state over his prison’s ban on pornographic materials, claiming he is being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, the Detroit News reported.

In a handwritten lawsuit filed June 10 in US District Court in Detroit, Kyle Richards said the porn ban has “been used as a method of ‘psychological warfare’ against prisoners, in order to both destroy the morale of inmates and break the spirit of individuals.”

I want prison to be such a miserable awful place that you never want to go there again, you wuss.  If you come out humbled and broken it’s going to be better for society than if you are strutting like the cock of the walk.

In another heartbreaker, prisoner’s kin suggest that the term “inmate” is stigmatizing.

The family of a coldblooded killer serving 25 years to life in state prison for shooting a man in the head complains he’s being stigmatized — by the use of the term “inmate.”

The label “implies that our brother is locked up for the purpose of mating with other men,” claims Marie Domond in a lawsuit against the state Correctional Services Department.

Oh it gets better.

“It’s something that’s bothered me for a long time,” Marie told The Post. “I couldn’t understand why no one recognized that somebody being labeled an inmate, why they wouldn’t recognize that. To me it just sounded very wrong.

Does it sound as wrong as shooting a guy in the head with a gun?


So much for my new Korean cookbook50 Ways to Wok Your Dog.


I must have a power guantlet… I must have a power guantlet… I must have a power guantlet.


Hey, he died doing what he believed in, so stop it with these kinds of remarks.

The motorcyclist, 55-year-old Philip A. Contos, likely would have survived the accident if he’d been wearing a helmet, state troopers said.

As long as someone signs a paper somewhere where they absolve the rest of us from the responsibility of paying for the rest of their vegetative lives if they are severely brain-damaged, I don’t care if someone wants to wear a weasel instead of a helmet.  Have at, folks.

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With a Bang.

Update: Kids, you need one or more of these.  Brought to my attention by ID10T Killer, one of these is ideal for [insert_purpose_here].

If you click on “add to cart” you will get an interesting I-Understand-and-Absolve page that is incongruous with the whole packaged-to-look-like-a-lightsaber thing.


Update #2:  When you get down to “Entitlement Spending” you are going to weep.  It is graph after graph of illustration of the terrible nature of our entitlement socialist state.  And yes, Bush deserves harsh words for his part, but this is getting out of hand.  Badly.


If one of my kids were to pull this move, they would be pushed out the door and on their own so fast their eyes would spin in their sockets.  The kid had job offers and turned them down because the job wasn’t glorious enough.

Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, he reasoned, he would hold out for a corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him, as he sees it, on the bottom rungs of a career ladder.

Your first job, in this climate?  You take the job you little punk.


Our celebration was actually on the 3rd of July.

I said “Kids!  We’re going to go see and hear some LOUD fireworks!”

They said in unison:  “Oh boy, Dad, you are truly and incontestably the Bestest Dad Ever in the Whole World – EVER – and WE MEAN IT!”

No, they did not say that.  They are 7 and 4 years old.  Only in my mind could they say that.

Being kind of young they didn’t grasp the significance of the event.

Our destination was over an hour away.  We needed to be there by 7pm.

We started packing at 5:30pm and were on the road by 5:50pm.

We had:  four lawn chairs, one lawn table, a cooler filled with ice, hotdogs for the cooler, mustard and ketchup, a few drinks on the way, paper plates, two stuffed animals, two sleeping bags, a small butane burner, a frying pan, eight pounds of candy, 6 liters of soda in big bottles, four earmuff style hearing protectors, five fuzzy-foamy squeeze into the ear earplugs, two kids, Cruel Wife, and Myself.

We drove to Jackson.  Now, I need to point out something about Michigan roads.  They suck and blow at the same time.  I had already overdone it by going to the local landfill with a neighbor (carting off 900 lbs of my junk – even with him doing a lot of heavy lifting) and then doing additional cleanup on my garage.  So, “armed” with narcotics and a muscle relaxant – and continuously punished by the roads, thereby keeping me maximally alert (fear not) – we arrived in Jackson and were at the base of the hill that we had aimed for at 7:04pm.

We let ourselves in and drove up the hill (to the envy of thousands of peasants parked below) and met up with my friend who I will call Deranged Bomber.   I had never met his wife.  We got out of the Jeep and asked this lady where we could find Deranged Bomber and she said “Hi, I’m his wife, PsychoChick!”  (she earned my respect and that particular name for her because she was totally into this fireworks stuff, too)

We were then led to PsychoChick’s extended family who welcomed us as if we were their family – giving us hotdog buns, the use of their grill, tongs to turn our dogs, a spot to park our stuff, and lots of understanding for kids.  By the time we left we were just amazed at their hospitality, which frankly I have come to never expect in Michigan.

Deranged Bomber gave me the tour of the fireworks ranging from the 3″ diameter jobs all the way up to the 8″ ones that use a pound of black powder to launch.  Not a small show, this was 24 minutes of non-stop boom-boom.

The kids were wild apes (apologies to wild apes everywhere) and ran for all they were worth.  Frankenboy ran down the hill at top speed even after I yelled at him to stop and turn around.  So I ran after him.  When I had made up half the distance he stopped, turned around to look at me, grinned… and kept going.

Luckily the narcotics were still in effect.  I ran him down and frog-marched him back up the hill, cursing the fact that genetics are a powerful thing and that he got mine.

Another family handed my kids some glow-sticks so they spent time trying to attract fireflies by swinging them all around on strings.   Their choice of location and technique of said glow-stick spinning was physically hazardous to everyone within about 15 feet so I had to quite forcefully let them know that they needed to be more cautious.

Seeing my little girl wilt at the rebuke I tried misdirection… I told Girlhead “You know sweetie, I gotta say… if I were a firefly and I was watching you spin that thing around I’d be all over that.”   I wanted to say “If I were a firefly. undomesticated equines could not induce me to leave” but I figured that would go way way over her head.  That little bit of encouragement spurred both kids to furiously spinning even faster, trying to attract a great many fireflies.

Girlhead wanted to find the latrine one more time so we went.  As we were going back I had her in my arms and she was looking in the direction of the fireworks.  Her face lit up in several different senses of the word and we heard and felt this “**BOOM**”.  She had a grin from ear to ear.  We stood there, transfixed as bursts went off over our heads.  Being that close to them is a rush.  Really really.  We’re talking 100-150 feet.

The only thing I’ve heard louder was an explosion on a data collection for work (planned and intentional boom-boom to train forensics people).  That one was almost felt more than heard and you felt it all through your body – in your chest kind of sensation.

So we started on the trip back off to our chairs, two steps at a time, and she sat on my lap as we watched the fireworks show.

Easily the best day I’ve had in 15 years in spite of ending it on a note of very real severe pain and the next three days.  All things considered it was worth every minute to sit there with my little girl on my lap as we both went “OOOOH!”  She kept saying “Oh THAT one is my FAVORITE!” over and over again.

And Deranged Bomber asked if I’d be interested in getting certified and doing that sort of thing… I said “HELL YEAH!”

Note:  PsychoChick and Deranged Bomber are totally different from what their names imply.  I picked those names for theatrical effect.

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Hope you have a fantastic day today – just make sure at least once you think about the guts it took our forefathers (and ‘mothers) to say to England: “No more, please”  (Not the they did not say “No mas, por favor.”  Oh, maybe some of them said “Non, sil vous plait” or my german ancestors “No more, bitte!”)

I have a friend that does fireworks shows – we’re talking 8″ diameter monsters with a launching charge of 1lb of black powder.   We were just a few hundred feet of the launch zone with the familes of the guys doing the launches.  It’s a long and fun stoy that I’ll tell in a few hours.

I spent so much time hunting down my kids – running after them, swinging them, rolling them up in their sleeping bags and sitting on them – well, I’m paying the steep price that my neck demands.  I was already getting gimped because of the shop cleaning and garbage dump trip yesterday but… well, now I’m sitting here and only moving my fingers, nothing more.

Last night was the most fun I’ve had in fifteen years.

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