Feds ask man to get rid of rubber chicken

Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Times
June 1, 2004
By Tom Barnes

To magician Mike Norden, the early-morning call from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency two weeks ago seemed more than a little strange.

Norden - who calls himself Norden the Magician - listened to an investigator from the CFIA prod him with a litany of questions surrounding a prop he uses in his magic show.

In an interview Monday, the Maple Ridge magic man explained how the inspector from the federal government agency tasked with putting a lid on the spread of the Avian Flu virus wanted to know about a chicken named Rufus.

Norden, 29, confirmed to the man on the other end of the line that yes, he does in fact use a chicken during his magic act, and Rufus plays a key role in pulling off one of his biggest tricks.

"I thought he was phoning to book me. I thought 'Great, a big government agency show,'" Norden said from his Albion home, admitting that steady work for Norden the Magician had been hard to come by.

He says the inspector then wanted to know if Norden and Rufus had been performing any gigs out of town recently, along with more and more questions about his movements especially with Rufus.

"I thought this was weird, no one one had gone in-depth about my chicken before," he explained.

The caller he had logged on to his web site (www.magicshows.ca) and read that Rufus the chicken is in on the magician's act.

Norden replied that he was aware of the Avian Flu chicken cull taking place in the Fraser Valley and he had removed any reference of Rufus from his site.

"With the Avian flu thing around, I shouldn't really be pushing a chicken act," he said.

The inspector then asked what has become of Rufus.

He wanted to know because even though Norden wasn't touring with Rufus any longer the bird could still fall under the backyard bird category, which meant that just like the millions of commercial birds that have been killed in recent weeks, Rufus could be subject to the same fate.

Norden was told that there is currently a lot of misinformation circulating out there and backyard flocks are not exempt from the kill order.

Norden said he's been keeping up to speed on the Avian Flu crisis and is aware of the rumours and misinformation.

Norden then told the man from the government exactly what he needed to do to ensure Rufus would never be taken away and sent to gas chamber.

Then Norden said: "Look, I know there is misunderstanding, let me tell you it's a rubber chicken I perform with."

There was a silence on the line, which was finally broken by the inspector.

"At that point he just said 'Oh' (and) kind of laughed," Norden said, adding that before the inspector hung up he advised Norden to update his website to indicate that Rufus is not a live bird but one of the $5 standard issue, novelty store variety.