Monday, January 23, 2006

The Smell Napalm in the Morning

Ah the smell of flash fried flesh after attempting a flaming swastika on a wood bench at school. Gunpowder – the Chinese may have invented it, it took us to turn it to the dark side. I actually blame it on TV. I think it was Daniel Boon v. the River Pirates episode where he laid a trail of powder into a cave filled with powder kegs. He lit the powder trail and it burned in a nice straight line into the cave and exploded.

We could use that technique to incise a swastika into wood, or so we thought. One small problem, ol’ Dan’l was using black powder, we were using smokeless. Smokeless just goes up in one big flash, and if you don’t have your hand out of the way in time, it puffs up and turns gold and you have to sit on it during, lunch so mom doesn’t notice and start asking questions you’d rather not answer. By the way, nothing particularly anti-Semitic or racially motivated by choice of graffiti, just to much time watching “Combat” and other war movies on TV. When we were kids Nazis were still the ultimate evil. Well, I suppose they still are but I am talking real world conquering Nazis, not just a bunch of beered up hillbillies that live in Idaho and think whitey is superior. They’d think differently if they saw themselves on TV at their big rally – more like loserfest. I hate fucking Illinois Nazis.

Anyway, enough with the Nazis already. The main thing is we had easy access to gunpowder. In retrospect it was probably a real blessing the old man didn’t store dynamite in the basement. The other neat trick was to pull the bullet out of a .22 cartridge, tip the cartridge over and apply a match to the opening. It took off like a little rocket – pretty cool, especially at night. Once again there is the chance you might get a brun on your finger that could generate some rather pointed questions. I passed it off as a chance encounter with a hot grill in the park.

Even made a cannon out of a broomstick once. Again, it was TV’s fault. I saw a version of the Alamo where Davy Crockett wrapped a powder barrel with wire so he could use it as a cannon. I faithfully wrapped piece of broomstick I had bored out with wire so it wouldn’t explode, just like Davy (Damn you Walt Disney). I rammed in the powder, a wad, and some buckshot, tucked the cannon fuse I bought from a kid at school (we never did find the rest of the fuse I hid) and we lit it. There was quite a cloud of smoke, but we never did find the cannon. So much for wrapping it with wire, yet another Hollywood device I suppose.

Ok Timmy, I know you are going to read this and run off and try it yourself. Not a great idea. Aside from the trouble you’ll get in if caught, you could do some real damage, like doing jets with matches in dry leaves or creating flaming barricades with dry leaves across park roads and risking having a forest fire named after you.

So keep the powder out of reach of kids (might be harder than you think) and never buy them a chemistry set – more on that later…