Mike the Headless Chicken Strikes Back
First, the Band Names:
- Paint Shop Joe
- Headless Chicken Soup
- Out-of-Town Jasper
New Year's Editorial:
Embracing my Headless Chicken Heritage
"Avoid cliches like the plague. They're old hat."
I have two dark secrets. More really--but chief among these are that (1) when I am not making films or music, I am an engineering scientist, and (B) I grew up in Western Colorado. Let me be specific: I went to school in the hometown of Mike The Headless Chicken.
Figure 1. The Apocalyptic Bathroom Tissue
Of course growing up in the 80's, we never heard of Mike. It was a story forgotten for fifty years, buried in the hometown newspaper. Flash forward to 1998. I was making crazy money in the computer industry (well, money, at least) on the East Coast, little realizing that the computer industry had made its way back to my sleepy hometown. But sure enough, someone was archiving The Fruita Times onto LexisNexis for whatever reason. Keep in mind The Fruita Times is the kind of paper that lets you know who had Sunday dinner at who's house on Elm Street.
Fruita is the kind of town you'd get if a handful of people from Mayberry and Lake Woebegone decided to incorporate a new, smaller town, to get away from all the hubub.
Needless to say, during LexisNexis archive of The Fruita Times, Mike the Headless Chicken (M.t.H.C.) was rediscovered in a series of front page stories from 1945. And since this was the Wired era of the late 90's, the rediscovered story subsequently hit wire services worldwide as one of those "weird news" items. Newspapers ran with it, Newsweek, CNN, Usenet--the works. Mike was big news again, more than a half century after right-thinking individuals had brushed him from their minds..
Long story short, the rediscovered story hits Yahoo, all my engineer friends are laughing at this Podunk town out west.
I didn't say a word. I didn't even make eye contact with them.
Flash-forward once again to the distant future of 2005 A.D.. Flying cars and jetpacks fill the skys, robots have made physical labor obsolete, and rockets blast off to the teaming cities on Mars and the Moon.
It was Christmas, and I was flying home to visit my parents. As I made my way through Grand Junction's Walker Field airport, there was a display of Mike the Headless Chicken toilet paper.
You heard me.
Anyway, I was so distracted with work problems that I was in no mindset to enjoy a visit to my hometown, much less some inane bathroom tissue bearing the licensed image of decapitated poultry.
I almost rushed right passed the M.t.H.C. T.P., heedless of my own headlessness, if you'll excuse the turn of phrase.
Poultry In Motion
Suddenly it hit me; the blast of mixed metaphors was like a bull in the hand by the horns in the bush. Or maybe I was woozy from the change in altitude.
Either way, it suddenly all clicked. In a non-sequitur moment of near-Pythonesque revelation, I realized my long boyhood voyage had come full circle.
I was both that farm boy from a Podunk town and a geek at a faceless multinational company! What's more, the inner farm boy was more fun than the inner digital wonk. I had become a very boring guy.
Indeed, the creature running around with his head cut off was me.
A Demonstration of Correct Usage.
The story really ends there, but if you are the type of gentle reader who prefers a more externalized sense of closure, I offer the following "writer's embellishment".
This Writer's Embellishment is brought to you courtesy of the James Frey Foundation for Adding a Million Little Pieces.
So that day, I quit the computer industry an vanished into the upper San Juan Mountains between Silverton and Durango. I took up a new life as a carpenter with a colony of achievers and industrialists, creating a secret meritocracy based on accomplishment only, and nothing else.
If you chance to stumble across this hidden colony of supermen, don't ask for me by name. You'll never find me. Just keep asking yourself: Who is John Galt?
END OF WRITER'S EMBELLISHMENT
--M. Andre Wynkoop
I do not cast these off to be anonymous ramblings. I am proud of what I write, as long as my mom doesn't see it.
I would also like to apologise: I am the original author of that joke about the multipart mime. Sorry.