The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Our Patriotic Duty

Posted on | July 3, 2020 | 2 Comments


Our fireworks stash (click on the image to see full size) for Saturday night’s celebration amounts to 35 cases, including two cases (192) of 5-inch canister shells and a case of two 500-gram, 200-shot Shogun Thriller cakes for the grand finale. My son Jim and I have spent the past week building finale boards like these two:


(Click on the image to see full size.)

It is difficult to describe how many hours of work and planning go into a project like this. It’s not a matter of going into a store and buying whatever we like. We started planning this year’s show almost the moment we finished last year’s show. The 364-day planning cycle involves going over lists of products, viewing videos and finding the best prices on the effects you want. We made our first wholesale buy (11 cases) last August, and also bought two more cases (blue roman candles and a special pink effect) from another vendor. My podcasting partner John Hoge supplied us with our 14th case (120 shells) last fall. Then in March, in a 40%-off “Early Bird” sale, we bought another 17 cases. You can see my brother Kirby with that purchase here.


(Click on the image to see full size.)

Here is a video preview of our fireworks stash:


Accumulating the necessary supplies, of course, is just the beginning of the process. We have to work out the timing of each effect, measure the fuses to connect them, position them on the boards — it’s a lot of work, and also a lot of zip ties. Just yesterday, I had to make a run to Lowe’s to pick up extra glue and another 800 zip ties. Did I mention that more than 200 feet of fuse will be involved in this project? Because what you want to do is set it up so that you light one fuse and this sets off a long series of effects. Our opening board will last about 7 minutes, all from one continuous fuse, then we go to the first finale (a/k/a “the fake finale”) shot from two different boards, giving the audience a “pause for applause” before lighting the real finale (a/k/a the Grand Finale) that will overwhelm spectators with a 45-second barrage of stunning intensity.

Did I say “stunning intensity”? Let me explain what that means. Sunday afternoon, I spent seven hours fusing together 144 Dominator Blue Thunder eight-shot roman candles on three angled racks:


Do the math. You see that this is 1,152 shots to be fired in the span of about 45 seconds, or about 25 shots per second — and the audience will barely even notice it, except as extra noise, because those candles will be fired along with a barrage of about 1,800 other shots, including multiple 500-gram cakes and more than 120 shells. Like I said, stunning intensity.

Did I mention that John Hoge bought us a case of 120 shells? That assortment included triple-break and double-break shells, which will be used in a concluding effect — the “coda,” as I call it, an exclamation mark of sorts — that will have 62 aerial explosions at once.

Because we love America.

It is our patriotic duty to light up the sky on the Fourth of July. Please remember the Five Most Important Words in the English Language:




2 Responses to “Our Patriotic Duty”

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    July 4th, 2020 @ 1:00 pm

    […] blog of the day is The Other McCain, with a post on our patriotic […]

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    July 5th, 2020 @ 8:53 am

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