The song was written in 1962 by June Carter Cash, with Merle Kilgore. She found the line "Love is like a burning ring of fire" in a book of Elizabethan poetry, and collaborating with Cash's tourmate singer-songwriter Kilgore, wrote the classic ditty for ber beau Johnny.

The story goes that she wrote it, enamored with the man in black--all cool and sexy yet at the same time hot and dangerous--and he performed it for many years before fully understanding what it meant (about him).

She performs an interestingly heartful version (it's not really a cover if she wrote it, is it?) of the song on her 1999 album "Press On".

Incidently, the most recently released cover of "Ring of Fire" was performed by actor Jeff Bridges and former pop star Kim Carnes for the soundtrack of Jeff's movie The Contender.

Term for a small Californian cluster of firearms manufactures, including Lorcin Engineering, Davis Industries, Phoenix Arms, and Bryco Arms. Each made their business by producing cheaply made and inexpensive handguns (the Lorcin L380 often sold for as little as $50), known in tests to back-fire, sometimes explode, in roughly 1 in 500 shots.

These are probably the worst weapons you could possibly buy, usually more dangerous to the owner than the target; the sort of gun that gives gun-owners a bad name.

As an aficionado of very spicy foods, and a sufferer of irritable bowel syndrome, I have an extensive familiarity with this very undesirable affliction. "Ring of fire" occurs when undigested pepper matter passes all the way through the digestive system, intensely irritating the anus upon defecation. The agent of irritation, of course, is the same chemical that gives peppers their "heat," capsaicin.

Ring of fire syndrome generally varies in intensity depending on the type of peppers consumed, and the medium in which they are consumed. I have eaten some incredibly hot vindaloos and curries without having the slightest symptoms. In fact, no Indian food has ever given me ring of fire, though the second hottest thing I've ever eaten was a super-hot madras specially made to knock me on my ass. The reason, I believe, lies in the fact that Indian preparations involve completely crushed and powdered chiles, which are easily digested. If all of the pepper matter is pulverized entirely, it has more surface area and is more likely to be "deactivated" by the digestive system.

When whole hot peppers are consumed and not chewed thoroughly (i.e. those delicious as all hell Louisiana Tabasco peppers), watch out. Any particularily fiery salsa that contains actual pepper chunks and seeds is more likely to be bad news. Crushed red peppers served at pizza restaurants are barely hot at all in the mouth (to me), but they aren't too kind at all on the way out. I believe this is due to the fact that the outer coating of the pepper is comprised of cellulose, which is just about impossible to digest. The capsaicin is thoroughly absorbed into this after the pepper is pickled, roasted, dried, whatever -- and when it passes through the body undigested, significant quantities of the chemical sneak out with it. If the pepper is crushed into fine powder, the cellulose is broken down enough to where the body can thoroughly metabolize most of the chemicals trapped within.

I guess other people do have different experiences. For me, moderately hot sauces like Tabasco, Sriracha, and Durkee's Red Hot have no negative effects, but I've heard of people who get ring of fire from the slightest dash of salsa. I guess it all depends on your intestinal fortitude. Remedies include Preparation H or Aloe Vera, but I'd never use them myself. Fortunately, ring of fire pain tends to disappear rapidly after thoroughly wiping and standing up, but one would be wise to firmly "dab" rather than abrasively "wipe."

The Ring of Fire, caused by shifting of tectonic plates, can be considered to run virtually the entire perimeter of the Pacific Ocean, including along South America's western coast, Antarctica's Pacific coast, Oceania, the Far East and Central America. This continuous ring encompasses seventy-five percent of the world's volcanoes and results in many of the world's major earthquakes.

When two tectonic plates interact with one another, one of three things happen:

  • Extensional movement: the plates move away from each other, usually resulting in deepening of an ocean
  • Transform movement: the two plates pass next to each other, usually not causing new mountains, valleys, or similar land formations
  • Compressional movement: the two plates hit each other, often forcing one over the top of the other

The three types of movement can cause different kinds of earthquakes.

Extensional earthquakes are shallow and typically lower than 8 on the Richter scale. They are felt only along the axis of the plates.

Transform earthquakes are also shallow (less than 25km) and tend to be smaller than 8.5 on the Richter scale.

Compressional earthquakes can be shallow or very deep (hundreds of kilometers) and can exceed 9 on the Richter scale, being stronger than either of the other two types.

The Ring of Fire was largely formed by the Pacific tectonic plate being forced underneath or over other tectonic plates. This sometimes allows magma to rise to the surface and form volcanoes, and sometimes causes earthquakes. Though plates tend to move less than 10cm a year, such movement can be unpredictable and is why even dormant volcanoes can erupt suddenly.

Start Again


In the early summer of 1998, Orlando, Florida was surrounded by wildfires. For several days you could not leave the city, by car or by plane. The air was thick with smoke. Sometimes you could feel the heat of the flames even over the regular heat of that particularly warm summer. Everything seemed to be on fire.

It was also the summer I seemed to be on fire. After arriving in Orlando in October of 1997, I slowly began to introduce myself. In the beginning I spent time with friends I met through friends of mine in New Hampshire. I slowly introduced myself to the concept of regularly stopping by a restaurant that was completely out of my way to have a few drinks and talk to the bartenders and waitresses. It was something I struggled with on many fronts, as I wasn't much getting the punchline of my life at that point. As was later put into simple terms by a particular waitress, "You died and came back from the dead in order to go to Chili's." I've always believed life was absurd. This was just really kind of pushing the envelope.

By the spring of 1998, everyone in that particular Chili's knew my story. In 1994 I had decided to kill myself, after a long and painful struggle with an inability to trust other people and to believe in myself. The experience of that night had caused me to have a series of dreams that told me to find a particular blonde woman and that it would then all come clear to me. Eventually. The story was strange in and of itself, but no one in the place seemed to think there was anything odd about it. In fact, I was the only one who actually made fun of me because of it. Everyone there wanted to believe me, and they went out of their way to find evidence of the truth behind my experience, to the point of showing me the place had actually started being built the day after my suicide. I imagined in some way it made the experience special, rather than just a mundane job working in a mundane restaurant with mundane customers. For me it was far from mundane, but for them it meant something as well.

That same summer I was "hired" by the assistant manager, a diminutive woman who was often my comedic foil, to walk each and every waitress to her car at the end of the night. It seemed there had been a rash of robberies of restaurants and bars in the area that included robbing waitresses as they went to their cars at the end of the night. Why they thought I would be effective at this sort of thing, I am uncertain, but in the end, that Chili's was the only restaurant in the area that reported no robberies. Everyone else was hit at least twice.

It might have had something to do with the ice cream. I worked for Haagen Dazs that summer, and I had the ability to come up with cases of Haagen Dazs pints whenever there was a reason or a cause. The first time I met this firebrand of an assistant manager, she was studying me closely from the other end of the bar. The stories had found their way to her and she was very suspicious of this character who hung out at her bar. On paper it appeared I was there stalking one of her employees and now everyone on staff appeared inclined to buy me drinks. Nothing about the situation appeared right to her. Then she met me.

The first thing I did was complain about the nachos. It wasn't what she was expecting.

"This whole city is surrounded by a ring of fire and you can't go outside without choking on the smoke and you're concerned about the damned nachos?"

"There just doesn't seem to be much to them. And that awesome blossom thing, it is absurd."

"Okay, first of all, do you want a big freaking pile of chips, 'cause I can get you one of those. That's all them other places do, ya know, they just pile chips on your plate and stuff a little meat here and a little cheese here and you think you hit the motherlode. Here, we give you something better, so if you don't like it, well I'll tell you what you can do with it. As far as the awesome blossom, do you have any idea what the profit margin is on those things? It makes up for the assholes we have at the bar drinking for free because my staff keeps accidently forgetting to charge them."

"I like these nachos just fine, actually, but I'm still never going to order an awesome blossom."

"I asked Tina if you were bothering her, you know."

"What did she say?"

"She asked me to please not make you leave. I think that is kind of strange, don't you?"

"This whole thing is kind of strange to me."

"The city is on fire and some dirtbags are holding up every restaurant on OBT. If I let you eat for free, can you stick around long enough to walk the girls out at the end of the night?"

"I have to be at work in the morning."

"Give me a break, dead guy, we're not open that late. Jesus. Do you want the job or not?"

I brought her three cases of Haagen Dazs pints the next day.

"You are the most harmless crazy man I've ever met, and I've met a lot of crazy people."

"I have my moments."

"You know, I watch you all the time. It is kind of my job to watch the people who come here to stalk my bartenders."

"How am I doing?"

"I can't figure you out. Tina said she likes having you here, which is crazy in and of itself, but you haven't even noticed how much my other girls hang all over you. It must be the long hair."

The fires seemed to burn longer than the news reports I read now tell me they lasted. At one point we had to evacuate Haagen Dazs. Our warehouse manager wouldn't leave the building. There were several million dollars worth of ice cream in our giant freezer and somehow he felt he could protect it. He was crazy like that. We all were. Apopka, where we were, was too close to the ring of fire. When the metal recycling plant next to us caught fire and the magnesium started to burn, it appeared to be over for us. Apparently magnesium burns so hot you can't put it out by the usual methods. We all got a chance to get out of work early that day, once we got past the ring of reporters who wanted a good sound bite for the evening news. We went to Hooters. We always did.

The memories of that summer rank as the highest of my life, and at times I look back to contemplate why and how I could possibly find myself in such a good place again. Part of it was having a good job where I felt appreciated and loved, where getting a good days work done early got us out early and to the bar as long as we understood that sometimes the work would require us to stick around half the night. There was hardly a regular schedule, and I was in charge of coordinating all the deliveries, so when something went wrong, I was in the crosshairs. Even when things got difficult and we were fighting to maintain control, the boss would appear from his upstairs office, walk into the bullpen and casually tell us, "It's only ice cream." That was when we knew it was time to accept our limitations. I wish I'd had more jobs like that.

It was the summer that I came to realize I was exactly where I needed to be. I was where I belonged. I was home. There were problems, though. The job was only a temporary position, although they repeatedly told me they wished I could stay on indefinitely. I was covering for the regular person, who had trained me and who was a very nice person, and she was out for nine months due to a particularly difficult pregnancy. She would return, and this job was everything to her. It was everything to me for completely different reasons.

The ice cream never melted. The magnesium fire was kept under control. Eventually the ring of fire was brought under control as well. Things changed quickly.

The ring of fire, you see, caused the sky to turn to gold. It was part of the whole "prophesy" and the dream sequence. You will have no doubt and the sky will turn to gold. That summer was special. I remember one afternoon, after getting out of work at Haagen Dazs early and bringing a case of mixed pints by Chili's, the sky had turned to gold in such a way that it was impossible to ignore. It caused me to drive to "my church" as quickly as possible. I walked in and found the place empty. There was no one eating in the dining room. There was no one at the bar. There was only one waitress sitting at the bar, looking bored and indifferent.

"The sky has turned to gold. Is Tina working?"

"Why do you always ask about her? Don't you ever notice anything right in front of your face?" replied the waitress.

"Well, I just figured, the sky..."

"I'm the only one here right now. Doesn't that mean anything to you?"

Her name was Tammy. I disappointed her. There is a certain curse associated with being frighteningly oblivious in the face of being dangerously omnipotent. I have no shortage of muses. Of this I am certain.

Love Is A Burning Thing
And It Makes A Fiery Ring
Bound By Wild Desire
I Fell Into A Ring Of Fire

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

The Taste Of Love Is Sweet
When Hearts Like Ours Meet
I Fell For You Like A Child
Oh, But The Fire Went Wild


Lyrics copyright June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore, somewhere along the lines.
Used within reasonable fair use standards.

"Indian Summer" pipelink relates to song of that name by The Doors. Usual disclaimers apply.

They really did play the song
every time they did the fire updates on the radio.

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