InfoComm: A Wild Kingdom

When I was a kid, “family television” meant television to be watched by the family, and not television about families rehearsing for their court date or climbing over each other’s bodies to get to the throne. No, “family television” meant “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” hosted by noted zoologist Marlin Perkins. Each week, the show followed a predictable course: Marlin Perkins would remain in the studio while his intrepid assistant, Jim Fowler, trekked into the wilds. Marlin did the voiceover and instructed Jim on how to escape the clutches of the dangerous creatures found in the wilderness.

So, as I prepare to go off to yet another InfoComm show, I thought I would do our readers the same favor, and help them to navigate the dangers of the dense, artificially misted jungles of Las Vegas.

Welcome to InfoComm’s Wild Kingdom.

First, as you leave the oddly-themed and garishly decorated basecamp of your casino hotel, you are likely to encounter two of the convention jungle’s parasitic pests: the Lobby Lizard (lurkus longwindicus) and the Common Barfly. (Note: When encountering a lobby lizard, do not look it directly in the eye. This encourages their aggressive tendencies and they might approach you.) In the lobby, it is also possible that you will encounter one of the jungle’s newer lifeforms, the Preening Retweeter (repeatus adnauseous). The Retweeter is harmless, having become mesmerized by its own smartphone.

Brush off these minor pests. We are here for bigger game.

As you approach the show floor, it is likely that you will have to press your way through dense, slow-moving herds of Bewilderbeast (gawkus noobicus). Confused and seeking out others of their kind for strength in numbers, the Bewilderbeast is the new “end-user” life form introduced to the InfoComm Show Jungle as part of AVIXA’s marketing plan. This introduction of a new life form has altered the AV ecosystem forever. Once a rarity, Bewilderbeast herds now threaten to consume all available resources.

Press onward. You are nearing your first landmark: the main entrance. You can’t miss it. Not only is it surrounded by cascading video walls, it will often be circled by one or more sharp-eyed Order Hawks. You will be able to push safely pass them, as they are waiting for their favorite prey, the Yellow-Bellied Salesucker, who cannot resist the Order Hawk’s shrill cry of “Show Special… Show Special.”

As you venture onto the show floor, keep your eyes open for the wild Tchotchke Hog (teeshirtus grabimus). They roam the show jungle in small groups, and are often mistaken for domesticated beasts of burden because of the overstuffed tote bags they carry. Attempts have been made to tame the Tchotchke Hog, but they are considered too distractible for domestication, and are easily lured away by more shiny objects to put in their bag.

A distant cousin of the Tchotchke Hog is the Voracious Mintsnapper (a marsupial), who roams from booth to booth, filling its pouch with goodies. For your own safety, do not stand between the Mintsnapper and a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses.

The Selfie Bug might be spotted anywhere on the show floor. These strange creatures are quite harmless and can be distinguished by their awkward movements while attempting to position themselves to put their prey behind them. We are left to wonder what kind of natural selection created a creature that is obviously fascinated by its own plumage.

Maneuver carefully near the larger exhibits lest you encounter a Stripesuited Slick (pinstripus clingi). The slick attacks its prey by simply hanging on until the prey becomes tired, and gives up its credit card number. Stripesuited Slicks are mostly domesticated by the larger manufacturers, and are confined to their exhibits, but it is still possible to encounter a free-roaming slick. The buddy system is advised when you enter any area where free-roaming slicks have been reported, so that your buddy can extricate you with an “urgent message from the boss” should you be cornered by a slick.

A relatively new denizen of the jungle, always found near the VR exhibits, is the Blind Pointer. You are most likely to encounter this creature when it accidentally stumbles into you, a VR headset over its eyes, pointing and shouting at something that you cannot see.

Remember: At any time that you become lost, you can look for our version of the game warden — Show Management. Always recognizable in whatever brightly-colored plumage the execs forced them to wear, they can be an invaluable guide to the nearest watering hole, even if their estimate of the number of creatures coming into the jungle this year always seems a little high.

Finally, as you make your way to the exit, ignore the cries of the Order Hawks and their eager hatchlings: no, you don’t want to “experience a revolution in digital display.” You did that yesterday. It’s been a long safari, and there is a spot at the watering hole waiting for you back at basecamp.

Well, that’s all the time we have for this week’s show. And now for a word from our sponsors…