Friday, July 17, 2009

“Whale Chunks and Government Flunk-ies”

It’s amazing what some joint father-son television viewing can reveal. Just last week, Will summoned me into the den to watch a program called, "The World's Most Bizarre Home Videos."

They sure had the title pegged right. We saw all sorts of weird segments, but, one part of the program reaffirmed certain aspects about both politics and life to me...

It seems that recently on a beach out in California the high tides brought in a whale and deposited it. It was a dead whale, and I'm sure it just sort of rolled up on the beach like...well...a dead whale would.

Well, as nature intended, tides do go back out, and this erstwhile Shamu was left behind lying on the sand. And out in the hot sun. And starting to be the focus of interest for a large variety of flies, buzzards, and other assorted natural scavengers.

Fortunately, for the residents of this beachfront community, city government was notified about the problem, and two members of the town's council promptly showed up at the beach to solve it.

It couldn't have been pretty - kids swarming around the carcass, the odor of sulfur times ten in the air, whole views of the ocean blocked off due to one large dead fish. Fortunately, the town council members who responded were out there on that razor's edge when it comes to creative thinking...

They talked for a few minutes, and decided to explode the whale - I mean it - literally explode the whale! As they explained it,

"We figure some explosive charges placed under the whale, angled properly, will explode the carcass and deposit the chunks out into the ocean, where they will be naturally disposed of."

You can't dispute that sound logic. Of course, the Titanic made sense in the beginning, too. And, in this case, as in so many others, human error reared its ugly head...

A group of demolition experts was summoned out to the beach where they proceeded to examine the whale. Once examined, they began putting all sorts of explosive charges underneath it. They would put some explosives out, stand back, measure the whale, talk, and then put out some more explosives. I noticed during all this activity that one of the demolition guys was actually chomping on a sandwich while standing about ten feet from this aromatic carcass. Now there's a man I'd love to invite to one of my mother-in-laws' social gatherings...

Finally, all the calculations were completed, and all the explosives were set in place underneath Moby Dick's fragrant body. The word to detonate the explosives was given, and a series of loud blasts began....

It was wild - clouds of pink immediately consumed the air around the whale. Chunks of Shamu were flying around everywhere...

The only problem was that the demolition experts miscalculated in their judgments as to how much explosive power was needed to dispose of the corpse. Instead of blowing those sweet chunks out to sea, they exploded out in the opposite direction - landing, like stinky missiles, all over the beach itself.

You couldn't help but laugh - festering whale blubber chunks plopping around all over the beach. The video camera caught people ducking the chunks, and, one roughly two hundred pound missile was filmed destroying a brand new Ford Mustang convertible. One besieged fellow, covered in pink from head to toe, made the following astute observation...

"Its not the blood and guts that bother you, its the stench."

And there you have it - a major life's lesson learned. Will asked me how those demolition experts could have possibly screwed up so badly? I told him the sandwich eating guy probably made all the calculations, and, at worst, knew that a mistake would end up landing him and his town on "The World's Most Bizarre Home Videos." Probably figured the exposure would help the town's tourism business.

Will nodded at my answer, and once again we both were left feeling incredibly awed by the remarkable efficiency of government and the educational value of network TV...


"ChristmaSin'", my new Christmas novel, comes out in Nov. of '09!


  1. Oh Ed... You are such a delight to read. I get the feeling I'm going to read your book ChristmaSin` in one evening. There is this whole brewing toil and trouble meets country twang thing going on. What a hoot! Who would have thought whale blubber blubberin' could be so funny!

  2. Angelica, you are just way too kind, darlin'! I enjoy what I write, and it's a very special honor when someone like you enjoys it, too - thanks, darlin'!