Shooting; a gun-fight between rival gangs, or between police and thieves.

- american underworld dictionary - 1950

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I love fireworks shows, but when you attempt to put one on yourself, it tends not to go so well, especially if you just buy random fireworks, not knowing what each might do. For example, being that it is Canada Day today, we thought we'd celebrate with these fireworks we bought next door from the drunkin' guy who runs the gas station there. We bought about seventy dollars worth..

Since we didn't want to light anything on fire (ie: the barn, the house, trees, and the like), we headed out to the hay field behind the house. (He-he.) We had a pail of muddy dirt stuff to light them off in, too. The mosquitoes are particularly thick tonight, so I'm feeling a bit weak at this point after losing about half of the blood that was in me prior to the little fireworks adventure. Though, I honestly didn't notice all the bites I got until I came in because I was too excited about all of the pretty neat little lights!

Anyway, as it has happened every other time we tried to put on our own little fireworks show, it really sucked. Half of the fireworks only let out one little blast of light'y goodness, and only one made any sort of real loud noise. But still, I'm pumped, because it was cool and stuff and the light was all over and duuuude there was colour and shit everywhere! It was fun though, but somewhat disappointing. I'd been wanting to go to the fireworks at the beach tonight but it didn't happen. Ah well..

What I'm saying here is, don't expect much from little home displays unless you actually know what to buy for fireworks. It's still a good way to get the whole family outside and to share a little blood with the insect population.

Someone decided to bring our dog out (he's afraid of rustling garbage bags, nevermind loud bursts of light), he pretty much just freaked out the entire time. My family is full of nutcases.. and my dog is a giant idiot. Ah well, gotta love 'em.. happy canada day everyone. :)
Fireworks is also the name of a large 3-storey nightclub in Dublin, Ireland, located beside Trinity College on Pearse St, and opened in 2000. It is located in the old fire dept. building, and is surrounded by a college, fire dept., and central police station, making it probably quite a good location for a nightclub.

No, there's no fireman's pole left to slide down (I don't know whether that would be a risk or an asset in a nightclub); however there's a spiral metal staircase with part looking over onto the dance floor (which the bouncers won't let you near), and some very nice plush sofas and tables downstairs, if you're lucky enough to get them early.

In Russia, they have fireworks too -- they put you up against the wall and yell "FIRE!" It works.

-- Yakov Smirnoff

Definition from WordNet:

firework, pyrotechnics -- ((usually plural) an explosive device that burns with colored flames)

Fireworks are pyrotechnic devices. That is, the general idea is this: You light a fuse, wait a few seconds, and something goes flash and/or bang.

Note that "fireworks" can refer to either the individual combustible units or to a display of such units being ignited.

First, I'll recommend that you check out the excellent node explosion in case you don't fully understand what an explosion actually is. While it's not necessary to understanding this writeup, it will be helpful in understanding what happens after you light that fuse.

Physical structure:

The most basic of fireworks is the firecracker. A firecracker is composed of a container, usually made out of paper, filled with an explosive material (black powder, aka gunpowder, is most commonly used). A fuse is then added, in order for there to be a time delay between the point at which the firecracker is lit and the point at which the charge detonates. Firecracker are often packaged together with their fuses intertwined, so that lighting one will ignite the others in a sequence that sounds like gunshots. *POW POW POW POW POW POW POW!*

While a firecracker is designed to go off instantly in a loud bang, another of the vast repertoire of a nationalistic holiday celebrator's arsenal is the sparkler. A sparkler is a tube of paper rolled around a wooden stick. Once it has been lit, the sparkler, well, sparkles, and can sometimes emit noise Assuming it is lit at the end, a sparkler will burn for a minute or more. It achieves this through a slightly different mix of compounds than that contained in a firecracker. A firecracker contains black powder as fuel, an oxidizer, metal powder (for sparkle fun) and a binder, such as starch. When burned, this mixture will burn slowly from one end to the other, as will a cigarette. The key to the speed of the reaction is that the chemicals are present in different ratios than that of a firecracker. See ( ) for an example of a sparkler burning.

Next we come to those most delicious of (occasionally) illegal beauties, aerial fireworks. A small mortar shell, of the kind that you might buy next July, is going to be about the the size of a plum. In comparison, the fireworks you see in a public show are often as large as a melon. Nonetheless, they both share a similar physical structure.

A standard mortar firework is a ball of "firework" with a cylinder of booster fuel strapped to the bottom. It has a long fuse, an explosive booster charge for getting the mortar into the air, and a round shell filled with gunpowder and "stars", made of similar material to a sparkler. A bursting charge is responsible for igniting the gunpowder.

Note, however, that while small shells are usually self-propelled, larger shells are fired more like cannonballs: they are placed in a metal tube on top of gunpowder, which is ignited to eject the shell from the tube. The ejection will also light the fuse of the shell.

Many layers of complexity can be built upon this foundation: different materials can be mixed with the gunpowder to create sounds. Different "stars" can be embedded in the gunpowder mixture to create snakes, willows, and your standard star points, all in different colors. The stars can be arranged in different patterns within the shell to create different designs in the sky.

The next level of complexity are multi-stage shells that will, say, make a willow pattern and then, when the willow is formed, have the ends explode in a flash and a bang. Sometimes this is accomplished by nesting shells within shells, and sometime it is possible to get a multi-stage effect using only one shell.

The Display

A private display will rarely make use of aerial fireworks, instead relying on firecrackers, sparklers, and "fountains" (Roman Candle), as well as gimmicky pieces like small cardboard cars that are propelled by a stream of fireworks coming from the rear. Also popular are fireworks that spin and whistle when ignited, and small black pellets that expand into a carbon "snake" when lit. Of course, in some states aerial fireworks are illegal, while in others they are not; I do not, of course, imply that this causes a discrepancy in the rate of private aerial displays.

A public display, on the other hand, will usually be all-aerial. For the largest shows, massive banks of computer-controlled mortars are set up; the preparations can take days of work. A public show has multiple stages, culminating in the finale. The finale can last from less than a minute to almost a half-hour. During this time, aerial fireworks will be set off in quick succession, with the number of fireworks shot off per minute often going into the hundreds. This barrage of light and noise can overwhelm, stun, and amaze you, not to mention that it can also set off car alarms quite easily.


Top e2 safety tips (I'd say the last is really only 38.9056099% *safety* tip.)

  1. Always read and follow label directions.
  2. Buy from reliable sellers.
  3. Always have water handy (a garden hose and a bucket).
  4. Never re-light a "dud" firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).
  5. Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then disposing of them in your trashcan.
  6. Use common sense; no sticking lit fireworks in bodily orifices, please, unless they belong to somebody else.
  7. Make sure you are not on fire. This is utmost in importance.
  8. Oh, right. Enjoy yourself. This is utmost in importance.

How Stuff Works ( )

If you hunger for more information about advanced pyrotechnics, I would highly advise checking out the illustrious SharQ's (meta) node on the topic.

That Saturday night, hot as real hell. It was the bunch of us, some guys I remember like brothers, though we never kept in touch, though we promised and swore we would and really meant it at the time. And some other guys that were just extras in the scene. We all climbed the steel ladder up the water tower, the big green steel bubble you could see from everywhere. The hundred feet straight up was bad enough, but the part of the ladder that followed the curve of the dome straight up toward the top to where it got level enough you could stand up and walk, that was the scary part. For me, at least. But the tower was the best place to watch the fireworks.

Joints were lit and passed around and we walked and stood, sat, and laid back and we talked, waiting for it to begin.

Three of us, me Mark and Terry, we were talking philosophy between tokes. Well, Terry was talking philosophy, I was talking mostly nonsense that I thought was philosophy at the time, and Mark was just looking back and forth between us as we talked, like a disciple in the company of two spiritual masters, absolutely certain he was learning some deep stuff.

The difference between day and night is about one minute in the tropics and it was now dark enough even though a minute ago it wasn't. The ones of us that weren't already too stoned to even care knew that it wouldn't be long now and they were scanning the 360 degree horizon to be the first to call everyone's attention to it when the fireworks started.

Being on top of the giant water tower was scary. There was no fence or railing to keep you from just walking out too far and sliding off to make your final impact on the environment, a slight and bloody depression in the ground. There wasn't even a line painted to demark the point of no return, where one more small step would put you on the wrong side of the line that separates your life from your death just for being stupid.

It was worse in the dark. For some. For others it was better. Some needed the comfort of feeling safe. They liked the shroud of darkness that let you believe it was safe when it very much was not. Terry was committed to finding and drawing the line of no return. But he did it in the daytime when he was alone and wasn't stoned. He thought if he did nothing else in his life, of any good, that drawing the line of no return on the top of that water tower would be his important and lasting contribution to the world. I always wondered what happened to Terry after we all got back to the world.

"Fireworks! South by southeast!"  

Someone had called it. Guys quickly started looking around in confusion, because most of us had no idea which direction was south by southeast. But we quickly followed the stares of those that did and took in the show. Puff the Magic Dragon was in the air, and the AC-130 Spectres were doing their pylon turns, flying their tight circles and creating their beautiful cones of fire. The cones of fire were the grand inverted cones of flickering yellow-red formed by the tracer rounds from the gunship miniguns and human persistence of vision as the planes went about their business of turning some battalion of Viet Cong into hamburger with a ton or two of bullets from banks of shrieking, fire-spitting miniguns. Or maybe they were just shredding a few acres of empty jungle because the VC were already gone or weren't even there to begin with. I don't think anyone really cared about the reality of it, except maybe our ground troops who were supposed to be getting close air support because the VC were shooting them up. Anyway, it was happening close to us tonight, so the show was awesome. 

Then, just as we were feeling let down that it all was about to be over, the tower began to shake hard in all directions. Strong enough to make most of us drop down and hug the painted metal, which was still hot from 12 hours of tropical sun. We clung to it like fuck-you lizards until the shaking stopped. No one had to say it. We all knew it was the Rolling Thunder. Somewhere, not that close but not that far, the B-52s were laying down carpets of five-hundred and thousand-pound bombs on some very unfortunate jungle, making huge craters that soon filled with water and became perfectly round lakes. Maybe some of them are still there now. I don't know. It wasn't that unusual to hear doors and windows suddenly rattle at whatever time of day, but we'd never felt Rolling Thunder up there on the water tower before, amplified like that. It was like being ants on the head of a snare drum. Not the kindest thing to happen to you stoned wasted.

But Rolling Thunder was not to be the finale that night. We were all getting up and laughing and convincing each other that we weren't really scared or anything and thinking maybe it was time to get down off that water tower. Only a couple of us heard the first distant 'kump' and stopped to listen because we knew that sound. Our muscles and guts knew it. More heard the second 'kump' and most saw the two thin yellow arcs stretch out from the jungle beyond the perimeter toward the flight line and then heard the shrieking 'wheeee-ssssss' ending in the final 'WHUMP!'. No one missed the sight of the 122-mm rockets hitting the runway and the resulting white-yellow-red eruptions. Several more  soon followed, walking a drunkard's line down the runway.

Within a few heartbeats, two field ambulances arrived and parked at a supposedly safe distance from now well-pocked runway. They would wait there against the unlikely case that a rocket hit an occupied building or something. I stared at one of the ambulances and had a moment where I imagined being the driver. It was easy because I was a medic and had sat there waiting just like that quite a few times myself. Had I been on call that night, it would have actually been me there. But in my moment I was seeing through the driver's eyes and looking out through the flat windshield at the flight line and waiting for the it's-over-folks sirens. It was so vivid and I got like confused if it was really me on the tower thinking of me being in the ambulance or if it was really me in the ambulance thinking of me being stoned up on the tower.

"Hey, you're gonna miss it." Terry broke my Schrödinger moment and I turned to look at the jungle where the rockets came from, like everyone else was. The first response was 105-mm artillery counter-fire on the suspected launch areas. Booms, big billowing explosions of yellow and red blooming from the black jungle like an insane time-lapse garden in hell. And then parachute flares hanging and swinging in the air all over the damned place, and rockets and traced mini-gun fire from helicopter gunships. An insane storm of hellfire and destruction.

Then the fireworks were over. The skies were quiet, the ambulances had returned to the base hospital, and the only real reminders that anything had happened at all were the strong smell of cordite in the air and the crews busy fixing the giant potholes in the runway.

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