Yes, the July Fourth weekend is upon us, which means that all across this great nation of ours, the recreational-explosives industry is hitting on all cylinders. Makeshift fireworks stands have sprouted around highways and shopping malls. Giant novelty Godzillas have been inflated and “BUY ONE GET TEN FREE!” signs placed in their hands. All in the name of one of America’s noblest pursuits—blowing stuff up.

As you’re putting the finishing touches on your backyard show’s grand display, consider these Internet video gems for inspiration. And let me tell you, YouTube is filled with about 80 million videos of Cletus throwing lit fireworks at his unresponsively passed-out-drunk cousin Clyde. You can thank me for finding these delicious morsels of wheat among so much chaff:

  1. Indiana’s Firecracker Bill
    . I’m from Indiana, and whenever you buy fireworks, you have to sign a card promising to light them off in the state’s “designated fireworks areas.” Needless to say, these cards are usually the first thing to go up in smoke come the Fourth. This video chronicles a guy named Bill’s semi-pro-level annual show done in his own “designated area,” a.k.a. in front of his house, which people apparently travel from nearby states to see. Complete with Apocalypse Now-style slow motion and a finale that’s not to be missed.

  2. The Amazing Firecracker Roll
    . This one shows what happens when you light a giant roll of 16,000 firecrackers—without unrolling it. It is, in fact, pretty amazing.
  3. Cai Guo-Qiang. This is neither American nor on YouTube, but still well worth your time. Guo-Qiang is a Chinese artist whose medium of choice is explosives, and his Web site documents his incredible large-scale explosion projects, including his ongoing “Project for Extraterrestrials” series. “Transient Rainbow” and “The Earth Has Its Black Hole Too” are highlights. If your backyard show is anywhere near this level, be sure to have a few ambulances standing by.

Happy exploding, blog readers! —John Mahoney