Fine Explosions in Naperville and Land-o-Links for 7/5/2006

When my wife and I decided to buy a house in Naperville and leave our apartment in Roscoe Village on the North Side of Chicago a couple of years ago, most of my friends thought it was more sane for us to move to a space station using a shuttle that had pieces of foam falling off of it. The majority of the comments were along the lines of, “You’re moving to Yuppie-ville?” and “Enjoy the beige houses.” Of course, these friends at the time were all (a) not married and (b) looking at things from the perspective of renting for the next year as opposed to emptying out a bank account to buy a place to prospectively raise a family for the next ten to twenty years.

Granted, there are plenty of things that I miss about living in the city. In particular, I loved our neighborhood of Roscoe Village, which was lined with classic Chicago brownstones and close enough to Wrigleyville to walk to Clark and Addison within twnety minutes yet far enough away that we didn’t have idiot Cubs fans pissing on our lawn after games. (As a Sox fan that lived that close to Wrigley Field during the all-consuming Cubs playoff run in 2003, I have little patience for Cubs fans claiming that South Siders have been too obnoxious since we won last year. The only thing worse than being a White Sox fan living on the North Side during that time in ’03 was being a Red Sox fan stuck in the Bronx at that same time.) There’s no place in the world that I love more than Chicago and I still get a small adrenaline rush when my commuter train pulls into view of the city’s skyline every morning.

That being said, moving to Naperville was a terrific decision. Forget about the stellar public schools or the accolades that it is the best place to live in the nation. Here’s what it all comes down to, which I learned about last night: Best. Fireworks. Ever.

They were so good that I actually felt compelled enough to dedicate an entire post to such an inane subject. Let me note that I’m not throwing these positive proclamations around very lightly. My parents to this day are certified fireworks fanatics, which means that I spent my Fourth of July weekends as a child hitting the South Suburban fireworks trifecta of shows in Hazel Crest, Chicago Heights, and our hometown of Glenwood on consecutive evenings. They seriously go out of their way to catch as many fireworks performances as they can not only during the Independence Day season, but for the rest of the year, as well (i.e. Chicago’s Venetian Night, the twice-weekly Navy Pier shows, etc.). At the same time, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness fireworks displays in Chicago’s Grant Park, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Lahaina Harbor in Maui, and at Walt Disney World in Florida (for a view on Philadelphia’s fireworks, check out my sister’s blog). (The Most Disappointing Fourth of July Fireworks Ever: Las Vegas. Last year when I was there, instead of the city having the fireworks shoot off of the rooftops of the hotels on the Strip as it had in the past, the show was shuffled off into a largely inaccessible area someplace north of the Hilton. I was upset for a moment until I realized that I was still in Vegas, which made me happy again.)

Honestly, when it comes down to pure pyrotechnics (obviously, the locale of, say, the nation’s capitol adds to the overall experience), the Naperville Ribfest fireworks beat them all. Considering the inordinate number of fireworks shows that I’ve watched, the fact that probably over half of the the fireworks there were shot off were types that I had never seen before, ranging from ones that dropped down looking like unbroken streamers falling from the sky and a number that exploded to form smiley faces. At the same time, I have never seen a fireworks display that was as perfectly synchronized to music as this one. The soundtrack wasn’t there for background filler; each song sample had its own separate types of fireworks and the explosions were timed right in line with the proper beats – simply phenomenal. If you’re in the Chicago area next year during the Fourth of July weekend, I’d highly recommend the Naperville Ribfest fireworks over the Third of July fireworks at the Taste of Chicago based purely on the overall quality of the show.

Anyway, I know a few of you are dying for my take on Ben Wallace signing with the Bulls (WOW!!!), which will be forthcoming, but I’ll also be spinning some baseball thoughts into that analysis for those that are weary of my NBA focus lately (you’ll see how). Until then, here are the links for the day:

1) Keith Richards to Be in ‘Pirates’ Movie (Washington Post) – Disney is going to save a ton of money on makeup costs with this move.

2) ‘Punch A.J.’ Campaign Under Way ( – I’m sure Minneapolis Red Sox is going to push for his man Francisco Liriano (and I’ll grant the argument that the Twins phenom is more deserving of an All-Star spot), but you’ve got to give credit to the White Sox marketing staff for having a great sense of humor. I can’t wait to see what the Maloof brothers are going to do to get out the vote for Ron Artest next year.

3) NBA Draft: The Illini Spin (Illini Board) – A look from John Brumbaugh about the next destinations for James Augustine and Dee Brown.

4) Lil’ Kim Leaves Prison in Style ( – This is really going to hurt her reality TV show career.

5) Benny the Bull Charged With Attacking a Police Officer (CBS Sportsline) – This is when we really need those mugshots from The Smoking Gun.

And finally…

6) Kobayashi Stands Triumphant Again ( – The only time he has ever failed was against a bear in “Man vs. Beast” (a great reality show better known for then-unknown but eventual Olympic gold medalist Shawn Crawford seriously coming close to accusing the zebra that he lost to in a race of taking injections in the behind from Jose Canseco in an Oakland A’s lockeroom stall). Regardless, statues need to be erected for Kobayashi on Coney Island.

(Update:  This link couldn’t wait…

7) Hot Dog – Moo & Oink Jingle Gets Some Flavor (Chicago Tribune) – If you ever watched Soul Train back in the day on WGN with any regularity (I know I’m not the only half-Chinese/half-Polish guy out there that did), you understand that this is a travesty.