Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste


Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as wellβ€”his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.


On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Blubbery Infamy

February 26, 2016

It happened in 1970, ten years before Mrs. Chatterbox and I relocated from Southern California to Oregon. It was a moment sure to live forever in the annals of Oregon infamy. Until Bob Packwood (U.S. Senator 1969-1995) humiliated Oregon with his sexual peccadilloes or Tonya Harding (1994 Winter Olympics figure skater) soiled the state with her icy indifference to morality, this was Oregon’s great claim to shame.


In November of 1970 a dead sperm whale washed up on the beach at Florence, Oregon. The Oregon Highway Division settled on a questionable method to dispose of the rotting carcass. The solution for removing tons of rotting whale included—dynamite.


Years ago this video gained wide circulation when Dave Barry wrote about this incident in his newspaper column, and the event became well-known internationally a few decades later when the same footage was circulated on the Internet. It was also parodied in the 2007 movie Reno 911!:Miami.


If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to view it, check out this video and find out what massive chunks of flying blubber can do to a car.








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70's ingenuity at its best.
By: Daniel LaFrance on February 26, 2016
Disgusting! Pelted with bits of dead, smelly whale. And that car - wow, that was a large chunk of whale. Shoving it out to sea wasn't a viable option?
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on February 26, 2016
I'm losing it. I misread the title as blueberry. Hah!
By: Uncle Skip on February 26, 2016
God forbid they should consult a marine biologist on how to handle this!!
By: Tabor on February 26, 2016
The stuff of which sitcoms are made. Priceless.
By: Al Penwasser on February 26, 2016
I can't decide whether that was disgusting or hilarious. Never heard of Bob Packwood or Tonya Harding - do I need to know more, or is ignorance bliss?
By: Mike@A Bit About Britain on February 26, 2016
Never heard of this, since no one was hurt, I am in tear laughing! You could not make that up. Please tell me it wasn't Republicans in charge.
By: cranky on February 26, 2016
Oh ho- I remember this- what a hilarious mess-and it created quite a stink too! Happy weekend!
By: Kathe W. on February 26, 2016
I can remember seeing that on the news back then. Be assured I do not want to. Sigh.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on February 26, 2016
I'm sure the head engineer, after scraping whale guts off his hard hat said to himself - Every Day's a School Day. Or at least I hope hie did.
By: Rick Watson on February 26, 2016
That was weird. As in, really, really weird. And somewhat funny. Thanks. Greetings from London.
By: A Cuban In London on February 26, 2016
I knew I'd seen some show do that. You'd think they would have realized blowing up a whale was a bad idea.
By: PT Dilloway on February 26, 2016
Here is Dave Barry's column for those who are interested: I am absolutely not making this incident up; in fact I have it all on videotape. The tape is from a local TV news show in Oregon, which sent a reporter out to cover the removal of a 45-foot, eight-ton dead whale that washed up on the beach. The responsibility for getting rid of the carcass was placed upon the Oregon State Highway Division, apparently on the theory that highways and whales are very similar in the sense of being large objects. So anyway, the highway engineers hit upon the plan — remember, I am not making this up — of blowing up the whale with dynamite. The thinking here was that the whale would be blown into small pieces, which would be eaten by sea gulls, and that would be that. A textbook whale removal. So they moved the spectators back up the beach, put a half-ton of dynamite next to the whale and set it off. I am probably not guilty of understatement when I say that what follows, on the videotape, is the most wonderful event in the history of the universe. First you see the whale carcass disappear in a huge blast of smoke and flame. Then you hear the happy spectators shouting “Yayy!” and “Whee!” Then, suddenly, the crowd’s tone changes. You hear a new sound like “splud.” You hear a woman’s voice shouting “Here come pieces of… MY GOD!” Something smears the camera lens. Later, the reporter explains: “The humor of the entire situation suddenly gave way to a run for survival as huge chunks of whale blubber fell everywhere.” One piece caved in the roof of a car parked more than a quarter of a mile away. Remaining on the beach were several rotting whale sectors the size of condominium units. There was no sign of the sea gulls, who had no doubt permanently relocated in Brazil. This is a very sobering videotape. Here at the institute we watch it often, especially at parties. But this is no time for gaiety. This is a time to get hold of the folks at the Oregon State Highway division and ask them, when they get done cleaning up the beaches, to give us an estimate on the US Capitol.
By: fishducky on February 26, 2016
It's a wonder how some people find their way out of bed in the morning! Too funny, since no one was injured.
By: messymimi on February 26, 2016
What's next, dropping turkeys out of a helicopter? Don't drop Tonya Harding. I rather enjoyed her shenanigans.
By: Val on February 26, 2016
"Dear insurance agent: I need to make a claim..."
By: Pixel Peeper on February 26, 2016
I remember that, and it was funny, when he retired, he said that of all the stories he'd had over the years, the only one that people would remember is that "WHALE STORY"!! When I was taking a class for Public Information Officers, (long story, trained and never used), that was what they used for a basis for our public info item... Whale guts. Yay. Cat
By: Cat on February 26, 2016
I remember hearing about this. I'm not sure where but it definitely registered a memory when I read about it. The thought that comes to mind right now is what was the other choice. Did they take a vote for dynamite versus let's say giant bonfire. I would just love to see the list of ideas that didn't quite make the final cut because there had to be some real doozies on there.
By: Mr. Shife on February 26, 2016
Thanks for the evening laugh! I don't remember it, but then I would have only been 13 at the time.
By: Sage on February 26, 2016
I haven't laughed like this in a while. This is something you could find on a sitcom..in fact, where is George Costanza:)
By: Birgit on February 26, 2016
Unbelievable! Never have seen anything like this. Made even more hilarious by the sober tone of the reporter. What were they thinking?
By: Tom Cochrun on February 26, 2016
I had completely forgotten about this until watching the video. Oh, to be an expert!
By: Mitchell Is Moving on February 27, 2016
how funny. people can be so stupid.
By: ellen abbott on February 27, 2016
"Claim to shame" - that's hilarious! I'd heard of this, but I don't recall seeing the footage and I though it happened in CA. That was one dark day for beach-goers!
By: Lexa Cain on February 27, 2016
How funny. As soon as I read" dynamite" I started laughing and shaking my head. Who really thought this would be a good idea??
By: Arkansas Patti on February 27, 2016
Okay, but there's no use blubbering about it.
By: Tom Sightings on February 27, 2016
“Tonya Harding (1994 Winter Olympics figure skater) soiled the state with her icy indifference to morality” Not to mention her whining and blaming everyone but herself for every bad thing that ever happened to her. She was working at a bar in Sisters last I heard. Remember when her shoe lace broke? About the whale, you almost seem to imply that the explosion didn’t go well, yet think of all the money that some hardware store made from selling all that dynamite. I, personally, just speaking just for myself personally and me alone, am among those who think it was a conspiracy on the part of Kansas to make Oregon look bad while drawing attention away from itself as being the actual place that the whale washed up. It was truly a very odd incident. As for the seagulls, I don’t guess there was any attempt to scare other creatures away before setting off the blast.
By: Snowbrush on March 3, 2016
"people can be so stupid.” Oh, come on, Ellen, you act like Texas wouldn’t have made this mistake, but, really, what else could they have done? True, what they did was a mistake, but given the stink and how long it wouldn’t take the whale to either rot or be eaten in a notable tourist area, they were in a bad spot. I guess cutting it up would have been the best option, but how do you persuade people to take on such a job. Maybe they could have given panhandlers whiskey in return for doing it.
By: Snowbrush on March 3, 2016
That was a shame, although I understand the problem. There must be a better solution in 2016 should this recur.
By: Michael Manning on March 3, 2016

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