Exploding Whale cray-cray–watch glorious remastered 4k footage on 50th anniversary of historic event

Now, weird news has happened forever. We just didn’t have CNN, fark.com and Wonkette around to shoot video, take notes, and tell us about when Billy Bob the Caveman drank that fermented berry juice and tried to kill a sabre-toothed tiger with a spoon. Pour one out for Billy Bob.

Florida Man has always been when us, even before there was a Florida.

HOWEVER: Perhaps the greatest local news video of all time, when it comes to weird news, is the Exploding Whale.

I’ve written about this before. The reporter who covered the story wrote an entire book after the event.

All we could see, though, was grainy footage. Clear enough to witness the cray-cray, just not up to our standards.

Today, however, for the first time, we can view the build-up and the carnage in glorious high-definition, because the reporter found the original footage on this stuff called “film” and technical geniuses turned that film into digital goodness.

Here, watch and share, and raise your glass to celebrate the 50th anniversary of what I believe should be a national holiday: The Day the Whale Exploded.

I come to praise Florida Man, not to bury him

Usually, a headline beginning with the words “Florida Man” will end with mayhem. You know, “Florida Man goes on three-day meth spree, robs 7-Eleven with Klingon sword”–that sort of thing.

I do not come to bury Florida Man.

Not today.

I come to praise him.

Because we have a feel-good Florida Man story, one so pure and joyous that THERE ARE NO WORDS.

As in, this video has no words. Our hero, Florida Man, doesn’t say a thing.

Check it out.

The ingredients to this warm, soft, viral news cookie are pure and delightful.

Our hero is a janitor with an impeccable goatee who’s good on camera.

His invention is something any of us could do, right now, by telling the Dog “you wanna go for a ride?” It wouldn’t take twenty minutes to hop in our large metal horses, which sleep and sleep unless the Dog sees me using my Pale Wizard magic to wake them, and take us places Very Fast, then buy a bucket and leaf blower.

And sure, you could even improve on this invention with a cushion inside the bucket, and maybe some bolts and duct tape to hold the umbrella. Except we didn’t think of the simple idea in the first place, right?

This man looked at the bucket he used every day, and the leaf blower, and he got those suckers married to an umbrella.

My favorite parts of this are (a) how he steers by wiggling, and moving the umbrella slightly, and (b) the speed this Blue Collar Limousine can go. It would have been funny if it moved at all, or went walking speed. Nope. This sucker flies.

Florida Man, we salute you, and look forward to seeing what you can do with a weed trimmer, handcart, and a box of garden staples.

KILLER SURFING SNAILS is the science video we need in the hellscape of 2020

Documentaries can be amazing, or put the B in Boring–it all depends. Kinda like straight-to-streaming movies. YOU NEVER KNOW.

This, now, is completely educational while being insanely good and hilarious. I could not love it more. Seriously.

Take a look, then we’ll talk snail smack.

What’s so good about this?

The best thing is how the narrator doesn’t skimp on the science. At all.

It’s easy to do a Honey Badger video, where you go all SNL skit and continue to riff on the same joke. Still funny. Just not a ton of science there. We learned that honey badgers are tough, resistant to cobra venom, and willing to take on anything. A classic video, but that’s pretty much it.

This killer snail video, now, crams in tons of science. An amazing amount. The full Latin names of species, the specific names of weird snail body parts, the chemicals involved in digestion and such. It’s crazy.

You truly learn about tons of different species of snails, and in a way that would help you remember those details on that BIO 245 test. If I had to study for that thing, I’d be watching and rewatching this video at 3:30 a.m. in a dorm room instead of staring at the same pages of a textbook trying to memorize the differences between all these snails.

The real trick is how skilled the narrator is at interweaving joke after joke–unique ones, not the same solitary riff–in clever ways.

He never stops informing you, and entertaining you. Which is an incredibly hard thing to pull off.

Also, it’s shocking how violent and crazy these snails are, and how they’ve developed all these different methods of surfing and preying on things. Did you ever think of snails as being secretly badass? I never did. Thought they were slow little vegetarians. NOPE.

VERDICT

I’ve always loved the True Facts series, and this one is an unlikely treasure, a total gem.

Please keep making these. It’s a public service to get us stoked about science, which kinda matters if we want to (a) survive the covid zombie apocalypse, then (b) beat climate warming without (c) giving up and building WATERWORLD-style sailboats like Kevin Costner.

Australian couple deals with infestation of death adders–and no, this isn’t a Harry Potter movie

We’re talking snakes. One of the deadliest snakes on the planet, the death adder.

Thus the name. These snakes aren’t sneaky and trying to bamboozle anybody. I appreciate that. A manipulative snake might try to tell you, “Hey, I’m just your friendly neighborhood legless reptile, using my pointed eating instruments and anti-pest chemicals to rid your home and yard of rodents. That bucket over in the corner is if you want to contribute to the cause, but only if you’re happy with my services. Good day to you and the family!”

This snake is honest. “Hello there, good sir, I’m a death adder. Don’t want to bite you, but if I did, yes, you would die within six hours. Quite sorry about that.”

And for some reason, all the death adders for miles keep showing up in this poor couple’s house in Cape York, which is like Cape Fear, except no Robert DeNiro, and it’s on a different continent, and I don’t remember deadly snakes in that movie.

The story says they haven’t had a handful of these snakes show up, which would be plenty. Twenty of these snakes have slithered into their home, which is some kind of Australian ranch in the middle of the bush.

That’s crazy. A normal human being would pack up and drive away.

However, this is Australia, which is another planet, except Elon Musk hasn’t sent rockets to it yet.

This couple is pretty cool with it. The snakes aren’t aggressive–the couple describes them as docile–their dog is really got at sniffing them out, and they’ve got a system of scooting them into a bag with a broomstick and such.

They don’t kill the snakes. I kid you not. These folks drive them far away, let them back out into the wild, and wish them well, when normal humans would do the opposite and go all ALIENS 2.

The final detail that slayed me was experts quoted in the story, trying to figure out why the death adders were showing up.

Apparently, the population of these snakes is recovering, and maybe booming, after they went on a cane-toad binge. See, the cane toads are poisonous, and the poisonous snakes biting and eating them would later die of the toad poison. Which is karmic payback, if you think about it. The scientist think surviving death adders figured it out. Maybe mother and father death adders started reading their baby sneks new bedtime stories, like the book, “An Afternoon Tea with Cane Toads–Our Non-Tasty, Poisonous Cousins.”

Oregon Man gives Florida Man serious competition by pulling Nerf crossbow on cops

Yeah, that’s not a typo. This real criminal genius thought it was a good idea to bring a Nerf toy to a gunfight.

And yes, police say he first pulled out a tire iron, then a small ax. However, what criminal in good standing thinks the natural progression goes like this?

“First, Imma snag this improvised, short-range weapon meant to loosen lug nuts. Then I’m going even shorter range with a hatchet. And now, for the grand finale, we’re doing full shock-and-awe on the po-po by whipping out this Nerf crossbow. They’ll never take me alive, Cletus–never.”

According to the KOMO story, based on police reports, the whole thing started with this man road-raging and/or stalking two teenage girls in an SUV while he was driving his pickup. Five bucks says that pickup features at least two of the following: (a) various shades of bondo, (b) Bud Light cans littering the bed, (c) a MAGA sticker, and maybe (d) one of those chrome pipes so this tough guy can roll coal.

The girls called 911 and the cops found both vehicles. Any criminal with working brain cells, at this point, would find another place to be or another illegal scheme to pursue. You know, drive off to cook some meth, rob a 7-Eleven while dressed as a trailer-park ninja (this has happened, numerous times), or tie a chain around an ATM and try to yank it out with your pickup truck.

This man didn’t stop. He drove on the wrong side of the road, rammed police cars, went through a chainlink fence. You know, all the things. Only then did he cap this string of Good Decisions by seeing armed police closing in and reaching for that Nerf crossbow.

My only journalistic question is this: What KIND of Nerf crossbow? For they are legion.

The only way to put a cherry on top of this story is to find out that last detail, and to pray to Florida Man that the specific brand of Nerf crossbow turns out to be this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adopted girl dedicates herself to finding forever homes for senior dogs

If this story doesn’t make you feel something, go immediately to the ER for tests, because somehow, you’re still alive despite not missing a heart.

For years, Meena Kumar has run a pet sitting service, Pet Fairy.

image6

That’s cool. Not crazy uncommon or anything, but cool.

Here’s the twist: Meena was adopted, herself, so getting senior dogs adopted is a passion of hers, except she couldn’t volunteer at the shelter until she was 17, and she started doing this when she was 12.

What were you and I doing when we were 12? Yeah. Not this kinda thing.

And now she’s raised $14,000 to get that done. Is not a typo. We’re not talking four hundred, or fourteen hundred. Fourteen grand is enough to buy one Chevrolet Spark or ten classic Yugos plus a couple extra transmissions, because you’re gonna need those. Yugos tend not to go.

For her hard work, Meena is getting national press: Today.com, CNN, and now this blog, and it’s a miracle I’m writing about her, because there are Florida Man stories out the wazoo this week, like the people trapped in an elevator. Mechanical problems? No. Methed up idiot threatening people? No. An alligator was waiting to ambush them. Maybe the alligator figured out that this was a magic metal machine. Sit here, wait for the ding, and boom, like a fridge, fresh meat appears.

Get on with your bad self, Brainy Alligator.

So on this random Thursday, when we typically celebrate weird news, it’s nice to spotlight hard work and kindness.

Thank you, Meena–because this is the kind of story we need during the insanity that is 2020.

Washington Man tries to outdo Florida Man, almost succeeds

As a former journalist, I still love the news. If you cut me, I bleed newsprint.

Weird news is always interesting to read, with human beings and animals constantly finding new and unique ways of getting global attention. Usually for plumbing the depths of stupidity.

Nothing illustrates the why and how of weird news like Florida Man stories, named after newspaper headlines that start with “Florida man” and end with stuff like “snorts meth and robs 7-Eleven wearing nothing but My Little Pony T-shirt,” then in the story you find out after he ran off from the gas station, he hid from the cops in a nearby pond and was eaten by a one-eyed alligator who lost the eye in a famous battle with a drunken stripper back in 1985.

You think I’m exaggerating and mixing in plot elements from Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen novels. But I’m not. Go ahead, google “Florida Man” and read a few.

So it’s always fun when my medium-sized, square state tries to compete with Florida Man.

Doesn’t happen often. Florida Man is powerful, and my state is a great place to live.

But it happened recently.

Burglary suspect leaves thank-you note, tries to swim away from cops

That’s one take on the story, a good, straight headline.

Here’s why I like it, and also why it doesn’t quite meet Florida Man standards.

You only need a single element for a story to be news. In this case, a man burglarized a home.

That’s it. There’s conflict there, some kind of backstory–is he stealing things for drug money or is that home a specific target? There’s also suspense about the outcome–will the cops catch him?

The second element is the thank you note, which lets this story go viral. Who leaves a thank-you note? Was it done out of kindness, or did the burglar know the victim? Are we talking a 40-year-old professional criminal starting to feel remorse or a 9-year-old budding psychopath who’s watched too many episodes of HANNIBAL?

Our story’s third element adds value. He doesn’t run from the cops, or drive off to start a car chase. He tries to out-swim the cops. Funny to picture and if there’s video footage, that’ll go viral, too.

But it’s missing a fourth element, the special sauce of Florida Man stories: gonzo nuttery.

How would this story end if it happened in Florida?

That’s the fun part. He would have jumped into that canal and been eaten by an alligator, sucked into a bottomless sinkhole, or swim all the way to the Cayman Islands.

That fourth element can’t do all the work. It needs a character in conflict, a mystery about motives, and a head-scratching gesture. You need those three foundations for your final Florida Man Cherry on the Top of this Ice Cream Sundae of Madness.

 

Rampaging prairie dogs invade tiny Nebraskan town–is South Dakota next to fall?

Now, you might think I made up that headline, or stole it from The Onion.

No.

This isn’t a cheeky story written as clickbait by an overworked intern with $149,291 in student loans to pay off and zero job prospects BECAUSE OF THE FRIGGING APOCALYPSE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

We’re talking about a real story, printed in all sorts of Papers of News, because the almighty Associated Press wrote it. Here’s the link: ‘They’re out of control’: Prairie dogs threatening western Nebraska towns, officials say

It’s crazy short, so here’s the text:

Officials in Nebraska’s Panhandle are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture for help and are exploring other options to control what they say is an encroaching prairie dog problem in the region.

The Cheyenne County Board commissioners said Monday during a meeting that the animals are threatening to overrun the towns of Lodgepole, Sidney and Potter if more is not done to control their numbers, the Scottsbluff Star-Herald reported.

Commissioner Philip Sanders said the animals caused nearly $3,000 in damage last year to 2,600 acres in the county. The animals, he said, are already inside Lodgepole, a village of about 300 people.

“I’m willing to take any help that we can get at this point, because I feel like we’ve let Lodgepole down,” Sanders said. “We’re going to let other communities down. We can’t do this any longer. … I don’t want to eradicate (prairie dogs). God put them here for a reason. I get it, but they’re out of control.”

There is only one USDA wildlife specialist to help control animal populations — including coyotes, porcupines and raccoons. The county wants the USDA to hire additional staff, but the agency says there’s no money for it. Now, the county is looking at private-sector help and even volunteers from the community to help control the prairie dog population.

Prairie dogs are native to Nebraska and live in colonies that create vast underground tunnels. They are considered important to the region’s ecological balance, but many people view them as pests that destroy valuable grassland and pose a danger to cattle that can step in prairie dog holes and break legs.

Oh, this is beautiful. It’s the setup for a horror movie: (1) a tiny town of 300 people that’s ten miles west of nowhere; (2) rampaging animals that have tunneled inside and could be anywhere; and (3) a single government agent standing between them and total mayhem.

And it’s not like that one wildlife specialist can suit up, grab every weapon left in the sheriff’s gun cabinet, and crawl through the tunnel to the villain’s lair for the climax of Act 3, because these tunnels are itty bitty. Maaaybe you could win the day if you march Papa Smurf in there, though I suspect the prairie dogs would eat him up in about two bites, and no director would be willing to go double mumbo jumbo by combining Evil Prairie Dogs with Papa Smurf Shows Up in a Live Action Movie.

No. You need to time travel back to 1984 and find this man, the hero we need and deserve, the man who knows how to deal with the prairie dog menace.

More weird news stories for your amusement:

How weird news teaches us great storytelling

Murder Hornets expose the dark roots of our deepest fears

Zombie chicken breast wakes up, walks off restaurant table

Top 10 creepy sea creatures — and why creatures are a staple of our weird news diet

The Exploding Whale and the explosion of weird news

Real geniuses dressing up as ninjas to rob gas stations

Real animal that should NOT exist: the blue dragon mollusk

 

 

Murder Hornets expose the dark roots of our deepest fears

There’s a science to cute animals—Charismatic Mega Fauna—with their big eyes. They look like babies to us, even if they’re fully grown.

And there are reasons why we are irrationally afraid of the opposite, which I’m naming Scarymatic Mega Trauma.

The fear is there regardless of the actual threat.

Murder Hornets belong in this category. They look scary, even if the actual threat is low, and they have arrived in my square-shaped state on the Left Coast of ‘Murica.

Great White Sharks, crocodiles, and snakes all fall into this category. They have squinty little eyes and sharp teeth and a total lack of pettable fur.

Yet the numbers show we’re completely wrong to fear most Scarymatic Mega Trauma.

HERE COME THE MATHS.

Doesn’t matter.

Still scared of getting into the ocean with them. Thanks, Spielberg. I will never learn to surf because of you.

Sharks kill an average of six people per year. Worldwide. Moo-cows are far more dangerous at 20 per year.

Wolves (scary!) kill 10. Adorable dogs? 17,400.

There are some animals that do scare us for good reasons. Lions, tigers, and elephants are on that list, along with crocodiles, scorpions, and snakes. Do not mess with any of them, or try to have them as pets. Joe Exotic is not a role model.

Others creatures are deadly, but neither scary nor cute. Freshwater snails (4,400) do not inspire fear. They just murderize you.

Goats seem cute, despite their horns. You’re not afraid even if 200 of them take over your streets in California.

The biggest killer is the lowly mosquito, who we see as more of a tiny nuisance than the second coming of Ted Bundy. Mosquitos take out 830,000 people per year, which is insane.

I think our caveman brains explain the lack of fear of the mosquito. We don’t just divide animals into (a) Charismatic Mega Fauna and (b) Scarymatic Mega Trauma. There’s also (c) Can I Take This Wild Animal?

That’s the acid test: if we locked you in the Thunderdome with Animal X, would you come out alive and victorious? You see things like mosquitos as so small and easy to smoosh that it doesn’t register as any sort of threat. With a skeeter or freshwater snail, we’re overconfident. No problem, despite the deadly diseases of the blood sucker or the poisonous venom of the tiny snail. Who’s afraid of a snail? Come on.

So yes, there are Murder Hornets in my backyard, and they qualify as Scarymatic Mega Trauma, but I am not afraid. Keep your snakes and snails away from me, though.

Also: There’s a recent photo on the Series of Tubs of this man holding an adorable little octopus in his hand, except it’s a blue ringed octopus, which has enough venom to kill almost 30 humans. Don’t pick those up.

 

Related posts:

Weird news you can’t improve: Feral hogs find and destroy cocaine worth $22,000 hidden in woods

As a former journalist, and a fan of weird news, it’s rare for a story to fully combine (a) dangerous wild animals, (b) stupid criminals and (c) illegal drugs.

Usually, those sorts of ingredients turn into a different sort of weird news story, a Florida Man-style escapade with the possibility of somebody winning a Darwin Award.

But this time, it’s just comical.

I’ll post the link to the story below, but since we’re talking inverted pyramid journalism, you already get the key details.

Feral hogs find and destroy cocaine worth $22,000 hidden in woods

More importantly: What makes this story so good?

A total surprise

I’ve never heard of wild hogs finding and eating cocaine. Pretty sure you haven’t, either.

With so many sources of news online or in print, and the ability to search the Interwebs for old stories, truly new and unique stories like this rarer than a Kardashian born with an allergy to TV cameras.

Your typical weird news story about dangerous wild animals has them doing typical animal things. You know, a bear getting into your house to raid the fridge or swim in your pool. Stuff you can totally understand and predict. If you were a bear, wouldn’t you munch the nom-noms and then take a nice swim? Course you would.

Nobody, not even a crack team of screenwriters in Hollywood sitting in the desert after hitting a bong incredibly hard, would ever come up with feral hogs eating a stash of cocaine in the woods.

Karmic payback

We are wired to think of things in terms of stories, to root for heroes and hope bad guys fail.

This is a case were bad guys fail in a spectacular and funny way.

Oh, you thought hiding the cocaine in the woods was smart? GUESS WHO ATE IT ALL.

A growing problem

Feral hogs are no joke. Go ask farmers in Texas.

Over in Italy, where this happens, the population of wild pigs just doubled. Not from a few hundred roaming the woods like a four-legged Robin Hood and his band of merry, hairy buddies, sniffing around for truffles or Peruvian blow. We’re talking about TWO FREAKING MILLION feral pigs.

That’s not a little problem. That’s the first five minutes of the horror movie known as DAWN OF THE DEAD, CAUSE THE COKED UP WILD HOGS ATE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

Need to shorten that title, but you get the idea.

Here’s a crazy video compilation of when wild pigs attack hunters. I don’t blame the pigs for fighting back. It just shows you how quick and tough they are. Now imagine two million of them in the woods.

 

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