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Engineer of the Exploding Whale Dies
November 1, 2013 8:19 AM   Subscribe

The hero responsible for the exploding whale video has died. The video is one of the first links I remember sending to people because of its awesomeness and still makes me laugh. Talk a little walk back through Internet history.
posted by theora55 (42 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
George: So I started to walk into the water. I won't lie to you, boys, I was terrified! But I pressed on - and as I made my way past the breakers, a strange calm came over me. I don't know if it was divine intervention or the kinship of all living things, but I tell you, Jerry, at that moment - I was a Marine Biologist! ...The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli! I got about fifty feet out and suddenly, the great beast appeared before me. I tell ya, he was ten stories high if he was a foot. As if sensing my presence, he let out a great bellow. I said, "Easy big fella!" And then, as I watched him struggling, I realized that something was obstructing its breathing. From where I was standing I could see directly into the eye of the great fish!
Jerry: Mammal.
George: Whatever.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:24 AM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember what that 10 megabyte dowload took, like, forever -- and that's when we were just upstairs from the Boston UUNet office on St. James Ave. which had a princely T3!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:27 AM on November 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


.
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:27 AM on November 1, 2013


buffering...
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posted by klarck at 8:28 AM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Somebody's got to tell Dave.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:28 AM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


The guy's laugh, just after the detonation but before the unpleasantly wet impact sounds, is my favorite part of this video. (It's what I imagined when I read about the whale landing on Magrathea.)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:28 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


(__-){.
posted by pipeski at 8:31 AM on November 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


` ,, , .
`:. . - ) * . ` {
, \ .
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:35 AM on November 1, 2013 [23 favorites]


Awesome quote from the KATU reporter in the first link: I told the news director at the time, 'I'm one the of the star reporters around here. I'm not going to go cover a dead whale.' He said, 'They're using dynamite.' And I said, 'OK, I'm going.'
posted by whir at 9:03 AM on November 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


I downloaded this over dialup from my dorm room and then my Packard Bell froze up because the hard drive was full for the first time, and I was like whoa, my hard drive is full. I never thought that would be possible. I probably showed this to everyone on my floor.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:07 AM on November 1, 2013


earthlink, yo
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:07 AM on November 1, 2013


Somebody's got to tell Dave.

I am given to quoting a line his about the incident in similar contexts:

"Here at the institute we watch it often, especially at parties."
posted by Fists O'Fury at 9:22 AM on November 1, 2013


My condolences to the engineer's family and friends.

Does anyone know what people normally do about dead beached whales? I know that sometimes they are taken away for autopsy in order to find out what killed them, but surely that's usually not the case. If I were in charge of the operation, I think my plan would be to wrap a big weighted net around the whale and tow it out to sea with a few tugboats, and then release it and let it drop to the bottom to get eaten up.
posted by Scientist at 9:29 AM on November 1, 2013


*
posted by schmod at 9:40 AM on November 1, 2013


  \ * | * /
   \ * * /
    \ * /
     \ /
      *

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:57 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


(that's an asplosion)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:57 AM on November 1, 2013


I saw this on a VHS tape which also included the original Tilton Farting Preacher videos. Friends, I did not actually pee, but it was a near thing.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:22 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


damn you for making me google "Tilton Farting Preacher".
posted by the bricabrac man at 10:33 AM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've heard of this but somehow managed to avoid seeing the video. That crushed car is something else.

The first viral video I saw was the LARP ogre battle ("Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt!").
posted by exogenous at 10:39 AM on November 1, 2013


". . . it might be concluded . . ." Pure gold.
posted by nostrada at 10:47 AM on November 1, 2013


A fish story that happens to be true.
RIP George Thornton.
posted by Cranberry at 11:20 AM on November 1, 2013


whale-hi.mov, 11,730,944 bytes. It is still in my "oft-mailed crap vids" folder from 1997.
posted by damehex at 11:37 AM on November 1, 2013


Is it coincidence the exploding whale happened the same year Black Sabbath released its first three albums? Bullsh*t, or Not.
posted by stbalbach at 11:43 AM on November 1, 2013


When I first moved to Portland, this was the story my friends referenced when talking about the local news. (That and something about a power company where the line "I like frogs" featured prominently.)

The "well, we think this will be enough dynamite" is the same sort of thinking that lead to some of the wiring in most homes, I am sure. Thankfully, there's less exploding blubber in our house.

And by less exploding blubber I mean none at all, your house may vary
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:19 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I first read this, I took it to mean that the person who had recorded the video or put it on the Internet or something had died which would have been enough. But George Thornton -- with his 'I'm confident it will work but I'm not sure how much explosives we need' interview -- was always what made the video pretty perfect to me. RIP George.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:23 PM on November 1, 2013


Am I the only one who finds it surprising that we're still watching what look like transcoded versions of whale-hi.mov, instead of KATU having found a better copy of the bit?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:36 PM on November 1, 2013


Cranberry: "A fish story that happens to be true."

Marine mammal story.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:47 PM on November 1, 2013


Does anyone know what people normally do about dead beached whales?

Here in Canada we get the fuck out of the way of the bears and wolves.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:51 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know what plans have been made for George Thornton's remains?

Just askin', in case KATU wants to send a reporter...
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:07 PM on November 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


Well, I'm confident that it will work. The only thing is, we're not sure just exactly how much explosives it will take.

Now that's something I would be proud to have carved into my tombstone.
posted by flyingfox at 2:07 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know what plans have been made for George Thornton's remains?

Just askin', in case KATU wants to send a reporter...


Damn, I LOLed until I choked, and I have a feeling this comment is very unPC.

I'll just drop this here and leave the room in embarrassment.
.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:28 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


You build hundreds of roads - do they call you the road building engineer? You build dozens of bridges - do they call you the bridge-building engineer? But you explode one whale...
posted by Flitcraft at 3:01 PM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Kakaesque: my roommate had a copy of that same tape. Small world (though you and I are not so far apart)
posted by Ogre Lawless at 4:15 PM on November 1, 2013


It's that woman's slow, measured voice calmly saying, "Here comes pieces of..." before breaking composure, "my... god!" amidst the noise of splattering chunks of flesh thudding across the landscape.

It must have been horrible for her. But I lose it every time.
posted by ardgedee at 4:45 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


This book has a good discussion of the rights to beached whales in colonial America. Native Americans and early settlers engaged in "drift whaling," harvesting beached whales or those who had wandered close enought to shore to be pulled in. Rights to such whales were disputed among municipalities, natives, fishermen, etc., and towns apportioned rights and levied taxes. Fascinating stuff.

This has some more info:

"In March, 1644, the town ordered the town [Southampton, Long Island] divided into four wards of eleven persons to each ward, to attend to the drift-whales cast ashore. When such an event took place two persons from each ward (selected by lot) were to be employed to cut it up. 'And every Inhabitant with his child or servant that is above sixteen years of age shall have in the Division of the other part,' (i. e. what remained after the cutters deducted the double share they were, ex officio, entitled to) 'an equall proportion provided that such person when yt falls into his ward a sufficient man to be imployed aboute yt'
posted by stargell at 5:22 PM on November 1, 2013


.
posted by Canageek at 5:55 PM on November 1, 2013


Thornton declined to be interviewed, saying only, “No, it seems like whenever I talk to the media, it blows up in my face.”

I can NOT believe this is true. Could he really have said this? If so, the guy must be the king of tongue in cheek humor.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:10 PM on November 1, 2013


.

one of the first videos I ever saw on the internet and still makes me chortle
posted by doogyrev at 8:07 PM on November 1, 2013


I hope he's still Blasting Blubber Beyond All Believable Bounds in the afterlife.

.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:22 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's raining whale, hallelulia, it's raining whale, amen!
posted by Gungho at 4:46 AM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


flyingfox: "Well, I'm confident that it will work. The only thing is, we're not sure just exactly how much explosives it will take.

Now that's something I would be proud to have carved into my tombstone.
"

The thing is, I still can't tell whether they used too much or too little.
posted by vanar sena at 6:34 AM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, I'd say they used exactly the right amount.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:24 PM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


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