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July 6, 2010 - John Mehno

I think we can all agree that the Fourth of July is the ultimate summer holiday. Memorial Day unofficially kicks things off, Jerry Lewis Labor Day closes the summer and the Fourth of July signals vacations, cookouts, skimpy swimsuits and all the other assorted fun.

That includes professional fireworks displays that light up the skies in spectacular fashion. Done well, they're amazing. You can lose yourself in the bursts of light and the trails that seem to disappear as they fall to earth.

Here are the two things I don't understand: The annual hot dog eating contest at Nathan's original location on Coney Island. People dip the dogs in water, then stuff them in their mouths. It's revolting, not entertaining. It's an obscene waste of tasty Nathan's dogs. Yet it gets covered every year, even though the footage always pretty much looks the same. Not the media's proudest moment.

The other thing that makes no sense to me is why people sink money into firecrackers and other amateur explosives. They can't come close to duplicating the power and spectacle of professional fireworks, so what's the point? You want a bang for your buck? That's about all you get. There are yahoos down the street who have been lighting them for three days. Why not cut out the middleman, scale back the danger level and just toss $5 bills on an open fire?

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