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4th of July Potluck

OTE loves the 4th of July!

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Fourth Of July Celebrated With Fireworks Over Washington, D.C. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

This year, like last year we’re taking a break from our weekly Big Ten team previews in B1G 2016 to focus on other subjects. Today we have an impromptu potluck!

What are your favorite fireworks or the best fireworks?

LPW: I like the invisible ones that have a real loud concussive noise. Also, the ones that kind of fizz out at the end all sparkly.

Townie: I like the giant star shells. When they go up and then fill the sky with lights, that’s pretty great.

WSR: My favorite fireworks are the ones in Eagan I can watch by walking out my patio door and sitting down & watching.

C4B: I too am a big fan of “the ones that other people are shooting off,” because it means they paid for them and I get to watch them for free. As far as ones I’d buy myself, I really like the ones you can sit on the ground and light that basically spin like a top in a shower of sparks.

Al NamiasIV: I can't stand fireworks. I live in Madison, and it seems like every summer night there is an excuse to set off fireworks. The big problem, however, is that fireworks freak my dog out, so she climbs on top of our heads and none of us can sleep. Therefore, if I had to choose a firework, I guess I'd choose the quietest ones possible.

GF3: I wouldn't say I can't stand them, but I'm with Al in some ways. The South is a lawless backwater of the western world, and between random gunfire and fireworks, there isn't a night’s peace to be had. The fireworks I like are the real ones. The ones Joe Shit the Rag Man can't buy from a circus tent next to the Marathon station.

Stew: At the professional shows, I do enjoy the super loud concussive ones. However, I hate actually going to those shows because they’re all way overcrowded, parking sucks, and a pretty giant headache.

The ones you can buy yourself? I’m not sure I have a specific favorite, I just like buying a variety, stuffing them all in a paper bag, lighting it on fire, and running.

Jesse: Did I insist that LPW put a potluck together so that we can talk about fireworks? Why yes I did! You tell me to Let’s get to it. My B1G (14) Fireworks (in order of last year’s standings). Hell yes I’m taking over this thread...

***disclaimer: a lot of the videos I found on YouTube of these fireworks show people doing dumb things. Don’t do dumb things. These are explosives. Let’s be smart this Independence Day***


14. Purdue - Sparklers: Harmless, minus that one time you pack like a thousand of them together and everything goes just right and WHY MUST WE KEEP TALKING ABOUT BEATING NEBRASKA THIS IS TERRIBLE. [LPW Note: Hahaha, you got Purdue Harbored!]

13. Maryland - Black Snakes: Aesthetically... something. I realize that there is a certain degree of intrigue watching them melt before your eyes, but ultimately they’re pretty dumb.

12. Rutgers - The Black Cat: Sure, you can make an argument that you were one of the first firework/firecrackers, but you’re kidding yourself here. Maybe it stings a little once in a while, but generally it just fizzles out in disappointment.

11. Illinois - Buy one, get ten free!: Okay, while not necessarily a firework, the well known tactic of selling like, 100 sparkling fountains for $1 always results in a 1/5ish ratio of success. That’s the gist of Illinois football, right?

10. Indiana - Ground Bloom Flowers: Really versatile in a pinch, and definitely one of the most fun fireworks to watch/play with. Ultimately, not really a firework or anything all that intimidating. Might light your hand on fire if disrespected.

9. Minnesota - Tanks: In the 30s, I’m sure these were the best fireworks ever.

8. Nebraska - Artillery Shells: If you don’t ACTUALLY have cool fireworks, cool in a pinch, but we generally know that they are a) pretty uninspiring for the price, and b) kind of hit or miss on their success rate. But oh man, the ones where they blow up the green shells? Those are wonderful.

7. Penn State - Smoke Balls: Super useful in keeping mosquitoes away, definitely a staple of any 4th of July, and if you get the crackling ones, weirdly obnoxious to friends and family members trying to ignore you. I uh, think I’m describing James Franklin.

6. Wisconsin - Bottle Rockets: They’ll claim their dominance for years. Remember that time you shot your buddy in the ass with one? How cool was that? (it wasn’t, and I’d really appreciate it if you would stop doing that) Here’s the thing. It’s probably the most overrated firework out here. Not because it’s not fun... It’s just not THAT fun.

5. Michigan - The Palm: One of the most widely known firework, the professional palm has a place in history. It would like you to know that with the right technician, it can be the star of the show. You just wait, IT’S GOING TO GET ALL OF THE LOOKS. MAYBE EVEN PLAY A DRAKE SONG WHILE ITS GOING OFF! JUST WAIT UNTIL WE GO LIGHT OF FIREWORKS IN THE BAHAMAS GUYS!

4. Northwestern - Parachutes: There is no reason they should ever finish this high, but here we are... and admit it, you always buy some at the fireworks stand BECAUSE THEY’RE THE FLIPPING BEST! EVERYBODY HERE’S A LOUD BANG AND YOU TRY AND CATCH THE FLOATING ARMY MAN! There’s a joke in here about the parachute being on fire or something, but let’s move on.

3. Ohio State - Peony: Most well known, prettiest, generally most expensive, and definitely the most impactful. I hate describing Ohio State like this. Also worth noting, this is the best firework.

2. Iowa - Weeping Willow: Surprisingly popular, oft impressive, and usually forgettable once you get to the bigger and cooler fireworks. Been known to be overshadowed by Cardinal colored explosives.

1. Michigan State - Brocade: Usually saves its best for last, almost as impressive as the Peony is year in and year out, and doesn’t fizzle out quickly.


How will you spend the holiday?

GF: My wife is an OBGYN resident, so she’s working every day this weekend (Sparrow Hospital, Lansing, Michigan, if you find yourself at Sparrow, say hello to Alicia Filler!).

Which leads me to this: Apparently the 4th of July is the busiest week/weekend of the year for delivering babies. How about that.

I will be walking in parades and possibly unearthing a fine cigar or scotch or Michigan beer.

#America #Merica #’murica

MNW: I want to punch you in the face, Graham. Or vote for you for Governor of Michigan. I’ve not decided which yet.

Townie: I find myself not travelling this year, which is great. We will spend the latter part of the day on the beach with friends. We’ll drink some beer, eat some good food, and watch the fireworks from there.

WSR: Nosily while surrounded by a plethora of small children armed with sparklers.

C4B: Almost certainly at home, though beyond that I’m not really sure. I’ll probably be doing something similar to what I did last year, which was watching the Boston Pops Concert/Fireworks on my computer, since CBS doesn’t show it on TV anymore.

GF3: Relaxing at home, basking in the greatness that is America. And consoling two terrified dogs.

Al NamiasIV: We just got a new puppy, so I'll be trying to train him and keep him from urinating all over the floor. And, like GF, trying to keep the new and old dog from dying of fright.

Jesse: Something in Austin. I’m guessing that means finding some brisket. How that’s different than other weekends for me is a different question, but come on, I can’t really eat anything else. Well, maybe tacos.

Stew: I’m in Columbus, Ohio for a week long convention with two small children in a hotel room, going to several informational sessions throughout the day. I do plan on setting the horseshoe on fire, though, to create some truly fantastic fireworks.

If you’re grilling, what do you grill for the holiday?

GF: I’ve been on a salmon kick, but I haven’t perfected it yet. Needs more char.

That said, my iGrill device, available for the low price of $40, has been amazing at telling me via bluetooth when my food is ready.

(Jesse: The reason you haven’t perfected your salmon kick is because you’re cooking Salmon and not Trout. Grill trout. It’s a better fish and cooks much cleaner on the grill)

DJ: I'm smoking some spare ribs on Saturday as well as baked beans. Many beverages will be consumed in the process. I'll be using the rib tips in the baked beans for added flavor.

MNW: Burgers and brats. No frills, no fuss, just slap some meat on a grill, season it appropriately, garnish it how you want, and eat several. That’s what we fought all those wars for, goddamnit.

Townie: We’ll do some chicken and some dogs. I like slow cooking chicken drumsticks, basting them continuously with good sauce. When they are done, the flesh is almost mahogany. If the grease and sauce make you sticky...just jump in the waves and come back for more.

WSR: I’ll be smoking ribs on Sunday, then being lazy on Monday and just grilling some brats, dogs, and burgers. And sweet corn will be going on the grill both days.

GF3: NY strip, dry aged. Nothing less suffices.

Al NamiasIV: Salmon with a fennel-apple salsa on the side. Maybe we'll grill some zucchini too.

Jesse: I’ll be moving into a new house soon, but that means I don’t have access to a grill... which is lame. I’ll be eating everybody else’s delicious grilled foods. I hope - know - brisket will be involved.

Stew: I won’t be grilling/bbq’ing this year. Usually, though, I’d do brats, steak, Iowa chops, ribs, and stuffed jalapenos. Hey, for steak and chops, learn how to do a reverse sear. Best technique.

What beer do you like drinking on the holiday?

GF: Michigan beer. There is no wrong answer. Obviously lighter for the summer, something like the Pink Pony Ale, All Day IPA, etc, etc. In honor of my Ireland honeymoon, I might even knock down some Smithwick’s (pronounced Smitticks). [LPW Note: I’ve always pronounced it Smithicks]

DJ: I'll be drinking whatever is in the pantry. Not sure yet but while smoking meat I feel it is required to consume a lot of beverages in the process. I’ll venture out tonight and see what I can find.

MNW: Something local, something crisp, and a lot of it. This weekend it’ll be O’So Brewing, which I’ll pick up on the way to wherever the hell in northern Wisconsin the gal is taking me. They have delicious, easy-drinking sours, and that happens to be my brand. I’ll probably pick up some Hamm’s too, because I’m an adult and I can. (WSR Note: “HAMM’S! THE BEER REFRESHING!”)

Townie: Oh man, I’m on an Einstok kick right now. Have you guys tried it yet?

The White Ale is a great summer beer. I’m a huge fan. My wife will drink either that or Bell’s Lager.

Life is too short to drink shitty beer.

WSR: My beer this 4th of July is a bottle of 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey with some Sprite and garnished with lemon and lime wedges.

GF3: Boddington’s Pub Ale, because the Brits have done more quality slaying of anti-Freedom scumbags by our side than the rest of those continental Europeans put together. A toast to the Tommies! Remember kids, good pub ales are downed all over Kent...just like the Luftwaffe.

Al NamiasIV: The jig is up. I don't drink. That makes me feel like an outcast around here.

Jesse: I have not delved into the local beer culture because, well, I don’t really drink that much beer anymore. That said, I’ve been told that Austin has a lot of it. I’m open to hearing ideas. [STEW: Texas beer is bad]

LPW: Even Shiner’s bad? I get it from time to time whenever I stop into Stanley’s Kitchn and Tap on Armitage and Lincoln in Lincoln Park. Two years ago my cousin got married in Dallas on Fourth of July, and there was plenty of good Texas beer to be had:

The after party was well stocked

Normally, I’d drink Goose Island Summer or Leinie’s summer, or anything local that’s small batch.

Stew: Typically, I’d have a Toppling Goliath IPA or something I brewed myself. However, being in shitsville, I’ll have to lower myself to finding some local swill from this godforsaken place.

What’s a favorite memory for the 4th of July?

GF: Small town America and the 4th of July go together like Jim Harbaugh and Twitter antics. Running around Ovid, Michigan, waiting for the fireworks, playing in the all day baseball tournaments...

MNW: I don’t have anything that’s standing out to me right now. Just being with friends and family, sitting out in a field somewhere, watching fireworks and listening to “And I’m Proud to be an American” on loop, then going home to sit by a bonfire and drink a few cold ones. That’s the dream.

Townie: I have two great 4th memories. My favorite was the first time we took my daughter Kate up to State College. I think she was four. We went up to a hillside park that overlooks Beaver Stadium.

It was a cool evening, perfectly clear, and as the sun fell, lightning bugs came out everywhere. Kate thought they were the fireworks. She ran around catching them for an hour and then the real ones began.

Want to know joy as a parent? Watch the face of your child on their first real Fourth of July. Fireworks are as close to magic as they will ever get. It’s wonderful.

My other favorite memory, I was sailing in the keys. We anchored up behind Holiday Isle and rafted six sailboats together. The fireworks were great from the water. I floated in a blood-warm sea as they cracked and boomed.

Just as the grand finale went finished up, a huge thunderstorm, which had gone unnoticed until then, lit up with massive lightning.

From one of the other boats a voice floated up...”God Wins”.

GF3: The 4th show at Trophy Point, overlooking the Hudson from West Point. Sixteen years ago, despondent and lonely, I sat as a basic trainee with 1200 classmates and listened to the band play the 1812 Overture, terrified that the training cadre would see us dozing off or not paying sufficient attention. They’d swoop in and make our lives something awful. Two years later, I was cadre. I then realized how exhausted they were all the time, how far I’d come in two years, and how much I enjoyed just being in that moment.

Al NamiasIV: Spring break junior year of high school, I went down to Pedro's (an East Coast legend, kind of like Wall Drug for Midwesterners but bigger, more touristy and cheesier) and bought about $500 worth of fireworks. I came back and sold some of it at a small profit, but come the 4th my friends and I were ready to set them off. After about 5 minutes, a patrol car pulled up and confiscated the whole bag. Almost $350, which was a lot to a 16-year-old in 1989, down the tubes. One of those moments that, at the time, it seemed like the world was ending, but made for a good memory.

Jesse: My buddy used to live (like, in College, with his parents) on this lake and there was this engineer who was on the corner. At night, for a solid hour, everybody else took turns pretending they were remotely qualified to shoot off fireworks, but over a lake, it was cool enough. Then, the engineer guy got to work and boy was that awesome. Just like, an hour of solid homemade goodness. We would drink beers, smoke cigars, eat hamburgers, and watch this crazy guy shoot of fireworks. It was the best.

A close second would be when my neighbor - when I was a kid - decided to make acetylene bombs by filling a ballon with acetylene and putting it in a box, aiming a bottle rocket at it, lighting the fuse, and running. It rattled the entire town... in almost literal terms. That was the best. Love love love this holiday.

LPW: I used to go to the fireworks a bunch in the suburbs at a park, and did that for a looong time. Then I used to go to the fireworks on the 3rd at Grant Park with about almost about a million other people. That was crazy insane.