Despite wars, a recession and a national soccer team that continues to disappoint, we’re continually reassured to live in a country that can still laugh at itself.

And the news last week was full of examples of Americans finding new and creative ways to have summertime fun.

Topping the list, of course, were two Western Mainers, Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, who created a vehicle propelled entirely by Coke Zero and Mentos breath mints.

Their creation “rocketed” down 53rd Street in New York outside the famous Ed Sullivan Theater Tuesday before a national TV audience, operated by none other than late-night funny man David Letterman.

The crazy vehicle sputtered to life, expelled its rocket “fuel” in three seconds and then rolled down a slight grade for about 100 yards.

It was one of the most stupefying things we’ve ever seen, yet well worth a laugh.

Grobe and Voltz, of course, played it to the hilt, like a couple of odd-ball scientists in their ties and white lab coats.

We’re not sure about the economics of viral YouTube media, but we hope the two Buckfield boys eventually find a way to cash in on their YouTube fame.

While in New York, Voltz and Grobe might have noticed a few of the 60 brightly colored pianos placed around the city.

“Play Me, I’m Yours” is a creative public art and music project based on a similar experiment organized last summer by British artist Luke Jerram.

The New York group, Sing for Hope, convinced Jerram to bring his novel idea to the Big Apple.

The pianos were donated by people from as far away as Ohio, and are a mishmash of older, second-hand uprights.

A variety of volunteers were recruited to paint the pianos in bright colors, including everyone from school children to the granddaughter of the classical French painter Henri Matisse.

When they were done, the instruments were trucked to locations around the city where everyone from infants to concert masters were then free to sit down and play a few bars or do an afternoon concert.

The performances are a humorous mix, with people playing everything from Chopsticks to show tunes to classical concert music.

Each piano comes with a tarp, which somebody working nearby is assigned to pull over in the event of rain.

The project certainly adds a bit of color and sound to the city’s streets, and no doubt brings smiles to the faces of everyone around.

Finally, there was a short item in the Sun Journal last week about librarians who, while not generally known as wild and crazy people, do apparently have a keen sense of humor.

The sixth annual Library Book Cart Drill Team Championship was held last weekend in Washington.

The competition is held in conjunction with the American Library Association’s annual conference.

Library workers in costumes performed themed dance routines with costumes and decorated book carts.

Book cart choreography may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is rather remarkable — and comical — to see how a dedicated group of librarians can swing a cart.

There is something reassuring about the enduring ability of Americans to have a good laugh at their own expense. Bravo to us all on this Independence Day!

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