Thursday, July 05, 2007

231 years!!

Happy Birthday, America!! We went this evening to our now-annual outing to the 4th of July fireworks at Lenox Square. We used to not want to bother with the crowds but we've done it the last couple of years and it's gone pretty well. Since this does take place at not just any mall, but at a mall in Buckhead, one of the most perenially congested areas of Atlanta, necessity dictates early arrival. We parked at Phipps Plaza, across the street from Lenox, as we usually do. We were able to score a great parking spot on the top level close to the mall entrance and close to the corner where we would later cross to Lenox. This great spot allowed us to be in the car and out on the highway within 20 minutes of the fireworks finale.

We arrived at 3:30 with fireworks to begin at 9:40, but thankfully we had a plan that kept us from having to a) wander through stores whose wealth detectors know the second we walk through the door that we don't belong, or 2) camp in the parking lot for 6 hours. We went to the theater and saw Ratatouille....for the second time in a week. If anything, we all (DH, 7 1/2 yo DD, and I) all enjoyed it more the second time. I was able to spend more time taking in all the peripheral details in the animation -- the bread that Remy was about to eat before he was interrupted by Gusteau looked as real as anything I've ever held in my own hand, with big crevices and a beautiful true-life translucence. The scratches and patina on the copper cookware, the unevenness of the floor in the old restaurant, the scratches on the floor under the furniture legs are just a few more examples of attention to true-life detail rendered splendidly in animation. The audience in this showing actually consisted more of adults than children, and to hear them engage in and enjoy the show really heightened the experience for all of us. It was great fun and the release of this movie on DVD may finally push me to buy a better television.

We made a quick stop at Chick-Fil-A in the food court for a bite to eat and we headed across the street at about 6:30. The whole parking lot at Lenox was closed down by this time so we had ample space to set up our three folding chairs. Then DH and DD set off to garner her a balloon. What is up with kids and balloons these days? Why is a free, cheapo balloon still a big deal? They get them everywhere now, restaurants, dentist, bookstores, you name it. I think by the time I was her age I might have ever had 5 balloons, and helium? Forget it! Anyway, off they went. Now, last year when they made this trek, they stopped at a booth for some charity where they donated a dollar and DD got to spin a prize wheel. She came back with a DVD set of Season 1 of Boston Legal, so she was truly my hero. I was hoping she could snag Season 2 for me this time, or maybe a season of The Office. Alas, they returned with one balloon, two paper fans, two giveaway do-rags and one stadium cup, all promoting the local news show that was covering the festivities.

A few bands were playing -- one country, one southern rock, one more soul style. All were pretty good but I can't for the life of me figure out why, at such a family-oriented event, they sing songs with profanity? I mean, mostly d*** and h***, but one instance of b***h. Why??

At 8 pm the live television coverage began, so a military band played the National Anthem. Six words, people: STAND UP. TAKE OFF YOUR CAPS.

After the anthem, three Blackhawk helicopters did a flyover and I got the requisite lump in my throat. Typically they have jets fly over but I always choke up at whatever show of military presence there is. I am so grateful to our dedicated men and women in uniform and their families. Off subject, but the most impressive flyover I have seen was of some Apache helicopters at the November 1992 Hooters 500 in Atlanta for Richard Petty's last-ever NASCAR race which, incidentally, was the race during which Gentleman Alan Kulwicki won the Winston Cup. The three copters blasted in out of nowhere, it seemed, and flew low to follow behind King Richard in a lap around the track. Now THAT was a sight to behold.

The fireworks began at 9:40 as scheduled. This show is reported to be the largest in the southeast, east of the Missisippi and south of DC. Anyone who has been in the same county as me knows I love Walt Disney World and a highlight of our many visits has always been to close a long day with fireworks over Cinderella Castle. But man, oh man...if I may lapse into Southern vernacular for a moment: I ain't never seen no fireworks like I saw tonight. A full 20 minutes set to the usual rousing Southern- and American-themed music. We were so close that I had to relax my head back on my seat to really get a good view, and it looked as though they were coming right down on me. Actually, we all got dusted with debris from the casings and some ash. It was surreal. The fireworks that erupted during "Georgia" were peach and green, like peaches. And there were many new effects this year that were beyond spectacular. They just took my breath away and even 20 minutes seemed to fly by.

Some things I observed during our 2 1/2-hour wait for the show:

*While I am in favor of American citizens keeping more of our money and the imperial government getting less, I think we might benefit from financial assistance to provide mirrors in some peoples' houses so they can take a look before they go out. I saw too many 50-year-old, 250-lb women in miniskirts; too many bra straps; too many flabby bellies hanging out of shirts and flabby hineys hanging out of pants; and too many thongs and tramp stamps (sorry, that's the only thing I've ever heard them called).

*40- and 50-year-old-women still think they're hot and like to dance when they've had a little bit to drink. That is alternately amusing and pathetic. I guess it's amuthetic?

*Why do people take little babies to fireworks shows? Ok, if you're a few blocks down, maybe. But 200 yards from the launching point? The group beside us had a baby who was maybe 1 month old. Guess who wasn't happy when the REALLY LOUD NOISES began? That baby and about a dozen others within spitting distance. Poor little ears.

*Two ladies beside us with 2 small children were very conscientious to take turns watching the kids so the other could step away and smoke away from the children. Right in front of us. Please, move and take your cancer sticks with you. I don't know if there's any single behavior that looks less ladylike than waving one of those things around and blowing smoke.

*Never fails any time or anywhere we get somewhere early for something, and I'm sure it doesn't just happen to us: We get there early, stake out a seat, wait patiently for our event, and right at the big moment a group comes and stands in front of us. Oh, no, buddy, I'm sorry, you're going to have to move or sit down.

*Is it possible for a Mexican female between the ages of oh, say, 18 and 40 to NOT be pregnant?

*If you're in public, and especially in a public that includes children, is it really necessary to use profanity in your conversations?

*They're called TRASH CANS. They're those big cardboard boxes about every 20 feet.

*Port-a-potties aren't necessarily evil. This event always has more than ample temporary relief facilities, probaby 150 or more, and they are always spotless.

*My DH will get mad if, at the end of the evening when all 150,000 of us are trying to walk out of the mall parking lot, a big guy pushes in front of us and I say, "Hey, buddy, we're all trying to get somewhere." Learned that by experience tonight.

*Fascinating to look at some of the couples and try to imagine how on earth they got together.

*I don't understand people coming to something like this three hours in advance and not bringing something to sit on.

*Funnel cakes are worth the wait and the six bucks. Especially if you ask for extra sugar.