- The rocket on a stick that you are just supposed to hold at arm’s length to shoot it off in any direction you want;
- The top-lighting fountain ones with receding tapers that don’t light easily, requiring repeated peering into the top;
- The children’s sparkler that is actually a miniature fountain popping globs of burning magnesium and phosphorus everywhere, and generally burns invisibly for a few seconds before starting up properly, see (2);
- The one that is supposed to do something twirly but is defective and just instantly goes KABOOM in your face (approximately 3% of all fireworks this year);
- The whole category of ones which you have to spin or roll by hand, and therefore ever more daringly hold in your hand until the taper is almost burned down before throwing;
- The large box not distantly based on a military MLRS (admittedly only a hazard to random other people half a mile away);
- The high-altitude exploding rocket in mini size in the shape of a spaceship, on spindly plastic legs so it falls over and shoots sideways;
- The little sticks that explode when you drop them on the ground; fine individually but then they come loose in boxes of a hundred or so, and are the “safe” firecracker of choice for the unsupervised under-fives;
- The ones which are basically cool-looking plastic power rangers action figures… just packed full of gunpowder;
- The multi-stage cluster incendiary ones which basically light things on fire wherever they land (but here in the countryside we are mostly surrounded by dry fields and woods, so that’s OK then).
Probably the aspect of Chinese fireworks that I find technically most amusing is the way safety measures with small children are not so much about the intrinsic function of the fireworks themselves, but more about the known percentage of ones which go wrong and blow up more or less literally in your face. On the other hand I feel sorry for the fireworks industry as QC testing can’t exactly be easy. On the OTHER hand I don’t feel sorry for those cheater factories who make those fat sized tubes to sell at a higher price, but if you break the paper on top, there is only a puny little tube inside surrounded by a lot of air…
This post would not be complete without commenting that the most dangerous Chinese firework of all is of course one’s own Chinese wife.