GISHWHES 2014 - Pope Tats, Breakdancing Cars and Potato Cannons - Oh My!

What is GISHWES? Seriously... you're still asking that? Here's an explanation...

GISHWHES is the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. But really, it is a global family of kind-hearted, brave (and maybe a little insane) people, who cater to the whims of one uniquely crazy patriarch, actor/activist, Misha Collins. Geez, that sentence was comma happy, wasn't it?? Pardon my lack of focus. You see, I'm still recovering from my GISHWHES experience and nursing a GISH-hangover. If you're not a GISHer, this may not be making much sense. Allow me to clarify - if that's possible - what a week of GISHing actually means. This year was my second as a GISHer. My 2013 experience was good (obviously... I came back for more), but this year was simply amazing. Now, I truly understand what it means to GISH. 

I jumped all over registration this year. Registration costs are minimal (around $20 minimum. You can contribute more, and receive impressive gifts for doing so), and proceeds go to Random Acts, Misha Collins' non-profit charity. Last year, I caught onto GISHWHES at the last minute. This year, I was lucky enough to start scouting out a team to join a bit earlier. I can definitely say that there is an advantage to planning ahead. It is nice to get a little feel for who you will be teaming up with before the scramble begins. Teams consist of 15 members. If you cannot put together a full team in advance, your team will be randomly completed by the ever so competent GISHBOT. My team this year was "Fanchester United", and I cannot say enough about this fantabulous group of people! We came from all over - Florida, Texas, Utah, Arizona, Iowa, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Slovenia, and Brazil! There were a few clusters of people that knew each other previously, and some of us that were totally unfamiliar to everyone else. Isn't it funny how it only takes a week to transform this into a "family"? I was a bit disappointed that my kids didn't want to register this year. (I guess 2013's "toast underwear" was too traumatic for them) However, I sincerely thank them for helping me take some photos and NOT sharing them online before we were allowed to do so. :)

Once teams are assembled, all you can do is wait... wait for that list. It's kind of funny to watch the emotions unfold on social media during this time. Waiting GISHers go from thrilled to terrified - anxious to giddy in mere seconds. It's like thousands of elephants in tutus waiting for the starting gun at a race. Once that gun goes off, watch out and have your cameras rolling because there will most assuredly be clumsy, brilliant, heart-warming hilarity afoot. 

When the list is released, the countdown begins! Teams have a week to knock out as many tasks on the list as they can. Each item is assigned a point value (generally based on difficulty), and the team with the most points wins. This year's prize? 

"The 2014 winning team will be flown to King’s Landing (or thereabouts) in Croatia, Europe where they will set sail on a pirate ship captained by Misha Collins for an all-expense-paid weekend of survivor-style adventure, mayhem and wonder. In addition to the trip to Croatia and any pirate "treasure" they find, members of the winning team will also receive the GISHWHES Elegant Elopus Pendant. We only make 15 pendants every year. Wearing it will forever mark you as one of the Grand Masters of GISHWHES."

So... simple enough, right? Ha! You haven't seen the list yet! This year's list consisted of 196 items - a combination of photos, videos, and even Excel spreadsheets and artwork; depicting acts of charity, kindness, insanity, creativity, and might. We were all set up for list release with a stellar spreadsheet ready to go. Let me just say... no amount of advance preparation is enough. When that list drops, you feel like someone just threw 100 banana peels at your feet - while you're blindfolded and wearing roller blades on a sheet of ice! (Hmm... maybe an item idea for GISHWHES 2015?) My advice on tackling the almighty list? Look it over once and get your giggles out. You'll see a great many things that you want to do, but can you do them? Some items are very geographically specific. If you live in Idaho, you probably shouldn't sign up to meet someone in Qatar. I had issues with my video camera this year... know your limitations, and know your strengths. When you go through the list a second time, start committing to the items you feel most prepared to do. Make sure you are thinking of the 14 others you're working with... pull your load and let them do the same! Our team worked so well with item swapping and picking up the slack as we encountered life's distractions along the way. This kind of teamwork is crucial to a successful hunt! Communicate, be prepared to help, and be on top of new developments - in the game and on your team! It really does all happen so fast! All week long, messages in every forum possible were flying between us Fanchesters. I'm convinced some of us were messaging in our sleep. 

Now, about that list! You're just dying to know - aren't you? I won't be posting the full list here, but I AM sharing almost all of our accomplishments as a team. Each picture and video below represents something we completed for GISHWHES 2014. Each is labeled with the task it represents. I did miss a few along the way, but as a team we accomplished so much more than any of this shows! We have registered as bone marrow donors, learned CPR, and masqueraded as one of thousands of Orlando Jones imposters during the Fauxlando Twitter invasion... and that was only the beginning! Take a tour of our experience below, and then continue reading... (Click on any pic for full size. A few videos posted thumbnail pics afterward, and I cannot seem to correct that. Scroll on!)

Find an odd integer other than 1, that is the sum of its divisors (24 pts)

You or your pet, in period costume, seated on a Game of Thrones-style kale throne. Make it so good that GOT producers would want it as a marketing poster. (62 pts)

Some regions have legendary monsters like the Loch Ness Monster... Catch the mystery monster on camera that haunts your hometown. (41 pts)

Batman or another superhero playing bingo at a crowded recreation center. (71 pts)

Supernatural nail art. With Glitter. On hairy toes. (19 pts)

You are off to a most elegant formal evening gala... Dress yourself in an outfit fit for such an evening, using only items found in your bathroom. (49 pts)

It's "me time." Spoil, pamper and be decadent to yourself like you never have before. Oh, and P.S., you’re dressed as a Stormtrooper. (48 pts)

collecting trash... You must be wearing something that shows you seriously know how to party. (51 pts)

There's someone in your life that will someday be gone. There's something you used to do with them that you enjoyed...Do it now, before it's too late. (31 pts)

Create the next hip facial hair look or hipster accessory. (14 pts)

(66 pts)

Suck blood from a doughnut. (10 pts)

Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus. (59 pts)

You wearing a homemade, 99% edible, candy bathing suit. (53 pts)

Deliver a dozen decorated eggs to an employee at Duncan Toyota on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. (29 pts)

Draw a New-Yorker-style cartoon for the caption "I told them he was half-elephant! (19 pts)

Have an image of Pope Francis permanently tattooed on yourself. (64 pts)

Get the official twitter feed of another nation or any country's large federal agency to show their “fun side” in a twitter reply to you that mentions your twitter handle and #GISHWHES. (53 pts)

Let's see the Elopus professionally recreated in the foam of a café’s hot drink. (24 pts)

Come up with the meaning for the Internet abbreviation "IDGHP" and use it in social media. If you get it to catch on, extra points. (31 pts)

Hit the hot tub with a couple of friends... wearing hats made of ice cream. (37 pts)

Launch a protest outside a McDonalds claiming the superiority of post-and-lintels to arches (39 pts)

If GISHWHES were a destination vacation, what would the brochure look like? (35 pts)

Make a gingerbread village that shows urban blight: needle exchanges, prostitution, heavy police presence, etc. (97 pts)

Create a piece of furniture that hasn't been created yet but would be very useful. Demonstrate its use. (34 pts)

The NSA staff has been outed as sharing inappropriate photos discovered during Internet surveillance. Submit the photo you think is most likely to have come from Misha's computer. (26 pts)

Many people go their whole lives without really getting to know their neighbors. Find a neighbor you've never met and offer to sweep their patio, mow their lawn or help them with some other task they have to do. (27 pts)

A museum-quality installation exhibition of the dishware in your cupboard. (27 pts)

(62 pts)

Find an object that you’re holding onto for all the wrong reasons. Destroy it mightily (17 pts)

Create a heroic Captain Picard using condiments for paint. (19 pts)

Shave a recognizable corporate logo onto a hirsute man’s back or chest hair. Bonus points if the man is holding a product emblazoned with the same logo. (23 pts)
If Jensen Ackles, Jared Padelecki, Misha Collins, or Mark Sheppard were part man/part animal, what would it look like and what would its name be? Tweet the image with the twitter handle of the actor your hybridizing and the hashtag: #GISHWHESspecieshybridization. (31 pts)

Challenge a movie theater employee: If you beat them in an arm-wrestling competition, they have to give you a free ticket. If they beat you, you’ll buy one. Either way, you get to see a movie. (40 pts)

Zombies need to buy toilet paper too, right? What does that transaction look like? (67 pts)

Make a tiny adorable mouse from boogers. (29 pts)

Go through a drive-through at a fast food restaurant in your invisible car. (36 pts)

GISHWHES rock band album cover including one, some or all of your teammates (25 pts)

Feed your demons. You are not permitted to submit an image of you eating desert (22 pts)

Create a magnificent piece of GISHWHES or Elopus-related art (57 pts)
One of my big pet peeves is that parades only seem to happen on certain designated holidays or for special events. Obviously, it is our god-given right to have a parade anytime we want. Build a Mardi Gras-style parade float and drive it down main street. We must see something related to GISHWHES on the float (a mascot, an item, etc. (108 pts)
Have a child dress up as what they want to be when they grow up. Then stage the photo in the environment they would be working in. (61 pts)

A family of at least four enjoying a formal dinner. All of the place settings, serving utensils, dishes - basically every non-food item above the tablecloth - must be made from Legos. (63 pts)

Rollerblade through a museum - Steve Martin style - but wearing a sock monkey hat. (64 pts)

Visit an orphanage, a children’s hospital or a juvenile detention center dressed as Cookie Monster and distribute cookies. (68 pts)

Two people kissing across the Russia/Ukraine Boarder. If safety is a concern, the image may be two people (anywhere) wrapped in a Russian and Ukrainian flag, kissing each other. (112 pts)

An angel made from feminine hygiene products (31 pts)

Pose for a multigenerational, gender-swapping Sears-style family portrait. (27 pts)
Cavemen get a bad rap, but really, they're no different from you and me. They like to dine at fine restaurants just like us! (53 pts)

“Jump the shark”. You will be penalized if you are bitten or eaten by a shark, so plan accordingly. (Liberal interpretations of this item are encouraged.) (21 pts)

(Time-lapse). Dress as a Matryoshka doll then strip layers off (51 pts)

Have an elderly person teach you an "old-school" skill now considered obsolete. (33 pts)

Convenience stores need much more oversight. Give Red Cards to customers in a convenience store while dressed as a referee. You must explain their infraction after handing them the card. Whistle optional. (40 pts)

You see people holding up signs from time to time that say “free hugs.” I have always been wary of those people. I don’t know what it is they’re after. Are they trying to cop a feel? Get me to buy a timeshare? I avoid them. But your “free hugs” sign won’t leave any doubt in the readers’ minds… Wearing a bathing suit, cover every inch of your exposed skin with honey, whipped cream (peanut butter has been removed), syrup or jam. Hold a sign on a busy public sidewalk that reads, “Free Hugs.” Enthusiastically attempt to recruit hug-victims. (98 pts)

Create a Rube Goldberg machine that includes "Eye of the Tiger", an image of John Travolta, a toilet plunger, and acorns, among other things. (91 pts)

Stand in front of a recognizable landmark or monument, wear something magnificent, and in whatever your native language is, complete the following sentence: "Gishwhes makes me feel_____" (28 pts)

A NYT best-selling author or Tony-award winning actor or actress doing a dramatic reading of a section of this: (112 pts)

Create an Oscar-worthy love scene between William Shatner and Larry King using creative editing of existing footage of each of them. (21 pts)

Time-lapse: Re-enact the 1980’s “Pepsi Challenge” with a twist. Take two human molars and put each in a glass. Pour Pepsi into one glass and coke into the other and allow them to sit for 72 hours. Remove. Which is better for discoloring/dissolving teeth? Coke or Pepsi? (32 pts)

Shoot a potted plant off a fence post with a potato canon. Not a potato gun, a potato canon (50 pts)

Assemble a puzzle with a minimum of 50 pieces in one sitting. The video must show the box with more than 50 pieces and then you putting the puzzle together. For ease of assembly you must be wearing wool mittens or gloves throughout the assembly of the puzzle. (28 pts)

Pressure wash something you really shouldn't pressure wash. (33 pts)

Have the proprietor of a crowded sports bar turn off all the televisions. Then, you must serenade the patrons with a song accompanied by an acoustic guitar. The video must show the proprietor turning off the TVs, and the patrons’ reactions as you (and a friend if you wish) sing the song. (74 pts)

The 1980s were great for break-dancing and neon clothing. Remember the “backspin?” Have a junker car do a "backspin" (upside down) on a piece of cardboard set to 1980s rap. The car must have some neon decoration. (167 pts)

Still with me? Yes.. you saw ALL that right! We did alllllll that, and more! I hate to play favorites, but I do really have to hand it to Erin (@spncrossroad). I think the entire team was floored when she posted the pics of her brand new Pope Francis tattoo! This girl is an absolute animal, folks! While I'm at it... please take a peek at Erin's amazing Roadhouse efforts, and donate whatever you can. This girl has a heart of gold, and more dedication than I can even express! As for the rest of the Fanchesters... way to go! We scrambled, we struggled, and we did it! Most importantly, we all learned so much about ourselves and made amazing friends along the way. I think most of us admitted to crying a time or two over the beauty of the entire journey... and how well we supported each other this week. Absolutely, this is a team to keep for 2015! Meanwhile, maybe we should all make sure we have passports. Croatia may just be getting a visit from Fanchester United pretty soon!

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I'm proud of this amazing team and proud of these amazing people I got to know and share this week with, creating and living la vida loca. I know that pride is a sin, but I can't help but feel it. You all were amazing people, supportive and lovely, I can't put into words how happy I am for having met you and taking part of this madness with each one of you. xoxo
I couldn't be more honoured than to be part of this Amazing Team!! I Love You All Immensely!! <3