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In Which Opus and Kevin Visit The Future : Trophy Wife

In Which Opus and Kevin Visit The Future

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Opus and Kevin play an imaginary game
Opus and Kevin play an imaginary game from the future.
photo: Linda Abbott

This past Sunday, Opus and I got our collective geek on at the annual Wired NEXTFest downtown at the LA Convention Center. Opus went as part of his All New Year project. I went to do recon for the upcoming Robot Apocalypse. And our companion – photographer Linda Abbott – was there to document it all. It was an afternoon full of exploration, shenanigans, and SCIENCE (said while twirling one’s finger upward)!

Kevin pwns Opus in Brainball
Kevin pwns Opus in BrainBall
photo: Linda Abbott

One of the highlights included BrainBall – a game in which opponents sit at opposite sides of a table from each other, a magnetic ball between them, and a headband that measures brainwaves strapped to their heads. The idea is that the more relaxed your mind is, the further you push the ball toward your opponent. It was like the Russian Roulette scene from Deer Hunter. Only with our minds.

I totally pwnd Opus in all three of the three games we played, using a deadly combination of my awesome brain-fu plus shouting word problems at him (“A train leaves Chicago at 4:30 PM at 70 miles per hour…”).

Opus and Kevin sign autographs
Opus signs autographs for his non-existant fanbase
photo: Linda Abbott

Other shenanigans included sitting at the empty NASA booth and signing the photos left over from the astronaut autograph session (no need to thank us), and trying to crawl into the spacepod they had set up.

But our main occupation that afternoon was fucking with the robotics people. In keeping with my recon mission, I asked each robot vendor what the easiest way to disable their robots would be once they start going crazy and killing people. Most of the scientists we encountered didn’t have much of a sense of humor about my line of questioning. Or much else for that matter. No one got the Cylon joke Opus cracked at the artificial robot flesh booth.


Man/Robotman
It’s slightly comforting to know that the first round of killer robots will all look like old Chinese scientists. It’s when they start looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger that we need to worry.
photo: me

One woman who did have a sense of humor was the daughter of a Chinese robotics developer/professor who had made a robot replica of himself. Camcorder in hand, she filmed the audience’s reactions to her father’s attempted leap of Uncanny Valley. Turning her camera to Opus and I, she asked what we thought of the entire thing. That was a mistake.

After recording a few minutes of our anti-robot japes, she put down the camera and asked, “Are you two actors?” We, of course, denied the accusation, which prompted her to follow up with “. . . Or sitcom comedians?“ As if being a sitcom comedian is somehow different from being an actor and (judging by the tone of her voice) a far inferior occupation.

But perhaps the best moment of the day (and one of my crowning achievements in life, really) occurred while Opus and I were investigating the “Future of Entertainment” section of the hall. After playing a game of 3D Pong (which you would think would just be regular ping pong, but it wasn’t), we came across a simple white cube, about waist-high, with a light shining down on it. Clearly meant for an exhbit that either hadn’t been or was already set up and taken down, the cube was now bare. So I came up with a new use for it.

I told Opus to stand opposite me and, with the cube between us, we crouched down. With determined looks on our faces, we started moving our hands in a way that suggested some type of back-and-forth game was being played – complete with celebration after points “scored.”


Two kids try to play Kevin and Opus' imaginary game
Kids are gullible
photo: Linda Abbott

Sure enough, after a few moments, we started to draw a small crowd around us. People curious as to what we were playing and why they couldn’t see it.

But the crowning moment occurred when two boys asked us if they could step in and play our game. After Opus and I positioned them exactly where we were standing (since it was the only place they could “see” the game), we tried to hold in our chuckles as they actually tried to “play” our imaginary game. It was amazing.

Sure, we’re jerks for duping childen. And being smartasses to the world’s top scientists. But whatever. Next year, we’re bringing a videocamera. The NextFest is too fertile ground for comedy to remain unplowed.

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