"Don't play with matches." "Leave that gasoline alone." "Fire is not a toy." "No, you can't make Molotov Cocktails for the science fair." "Some say it's foolhardy to combine sulphur and potassium nitrate."

Bullshit! All of it! Are you really going to let some clichéd scoldings from your parents keep you from having fun as a grown-up? C'mon! Let's blow some shit up!

As July 4th demonstrates every year, there's no better way to celebrate American pride than by watching fireworks go boom (just as there's no better way to express America's ideals than by making other countries go boom). And the only thing funner than watching fireworks? Making your own! And, thanks to the wonder of the internet, it's fantastically easy to find out how to make things that explode.

One search on Google, and you have it. For most fireworks, you'll need a base of black powder. So: 50 parts potassium nitrate, eight parts each of charcoal, sulphur, and sugar, and 35 parts iron or steel powder. Mix the finely grained powder together with some water, and you've got the building blocks for fireworks--pack it in a cardboard tube with a fuse, and throw in a few chemicals or flash powder to make pretty colors! And never underestimate the usefulness of online chemical and supply shops like skylighter.com--pony up the dough, and you can have enough flammable materials to spend hours figuring out ways to amaze your neighbors and lose your extremities.

If that's too chemistry set-nerdy for you, try something far simpler, but just as fun: A Molotov Cocktail. Fill up a glass bottle with gasoline, stuff an oily rag down the neck of the bottle, light it on fire, and throw. Very effective in both urban warfare and zombie invasions, the cocktails can also provide enough fiery spectacle to keep you and your kin entertained for hours.

And then there's what I like to call "The Dragon's Breath," and what others like to call "lighting hairspray on fire." I'll let you figure that one out.

The point of all this? Who wants a crappy-ass sparkler or a lame-ass smokebomb when you can totally light real shit--black powder, chemicals, skin--on fire? It's summertime! That means tossing some burgers on the grill, grabbing some cold ones from the cooler, and wowing your friends with your amateur pyrotechnic prowess. And maybe getting some burns. So maybe your parents were right, after all. But whatever.


Rose Festival Pyrotechnics. With a gazillion pounds of explosives being launched from Waterfront Park, the best spot to watch them is from the comfort of your own car on the I-5 Bridge. Just stop and park. Don't worry: Portland drivers are so polite they won't even honk!

Friday, June 3, 9:45 pm

July Fourth. The claim is that Fort 'Couv boasts the baddest-ass fireworks display this side of the Mississippi.

Fort Vancouver, 750 Anderson St., Vancouver, Washington, 9 pm

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