One of the leg-warmer-wearing rupturing heart liberal guests Don Imus has on his show sometimes is a guy who tells a great story about the Tic Tac Toe Chicken in New York City. (Calvin Trillin?)

Anyway, who cares who it is. The story is what matters.

So, this Calvin guy has these folks visit him in New York, and he takes them to play Tic Tac Toe with the chicken. Their first comment is always,

"Yeah, but the chicken gets to go first."

He tells them, "Yeah, but it's a chicken."

Next, they say,

"The chicken plays every day. I haven't played Tic Tac Toe for years."

"Yes, but it's a chicken."

I don't know. Maybe I'm the only one who found this amusing.

Ah, the famed Tic-Tac-Toe playing chicken. You'll see them a lot in midwestern State Fairs, often next to the bearded lady, Lizard Man, and my personal favorite, Horton, the Heroin Junkie.

The scheme goes a little something like this :

  • Acquire a trainable chicken and a tic-tac-toe playing machine, the kind that never lose if they go first.
  • Modify the machine to beep after the human opponent makes a move, and at the beginning of a game. Also rig up a button that tells the machine to make a move.
  • Train the chicken to go and hit the button every time the machine sounds a beep. The best way is to reward the chicken with a kernel of chickeny foodstuff when it pecks the button.
  • Put the chicken in a cage and hide the button in the cage between panels so that people can't see what's going on there.
Now you're set to start parting fools and their money. The chump walks up, pays money, and the game starts. The machine beeps on the start of the game, so the chicken walks behind the panels and clearly pecks at something; a move is made. The rube moves; the machine beeps; the chicken pecks the button again and a move is made. To the idiot there, since the chicken is clearly hitting some kind of hidden panel of buttons, it must be the one making the move...

So, knife, that's the trick. You can stop training that poor monkey to actually play now. You're just confusing the poor primate, you know?

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