As some of you may know, for each of the last seven years, Misha Collins — who plays Castiel on Supernatural — has run the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, or GISHWHES for short.
For each of the last three years, I’ve been part of one of the 15-person teams that tries to do as many of the various Scavenger Hunt items as possible in a week. Last year, my participation wound up being minimal due to unexpected apartment hunting, but this year I was back with the same team, Inevitable Innuendo, and this time Wrenn joined me for the fun.
Here’s what the two of us did as our contributions to Team II’s glory:
One item was described very succinctly: “Groucho a piece of fruit.” The thing is, it doesn’t take much to “Groucho” anything: just add eyebrows and a mustache, painted on in black (preferably but not necessarily in greasepaint), a pair of glasses, and a cigar. Heck, that’s all Julius Marx did to “Groucho” himself, which is also all that his brother Harpo did to look like him in the famous mirror scene in Duck Soup.
So I Groucho’d a small watermelon (since my glasses wouldn’t have fit on a big watermelon):
Speaking of Groucho, another item was to visually do the title of a movie. My original plan was to do Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead because I was in Denver International Airport at the beginning of the hunt, but sadly I didn’t get to DIA in time — I took one shot at looking corpse-like while riding the train to my terminal, but it was too blurry to see the DIA logo behind me. And I had a plane to catch.
So I went with Plan B: Duck Soup, as I ducked a can of soup…………………..
Another item was to re-create an illustration from a favorite children’s book in three dimensions. Now one of my favorite kids books ever is the 1942 tome The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde H. Swift & Lynd Ward. So it was simplicity itself to re-create one of the illustrations in the book just by going to the lighthouse (which is still there 75 years later) and getting a picture at the right angle. (I’d wanted to re-create the cover, which you can see by clicking on the title in this paragraph, but there was nowhere to stand to get that particular shot…..) It also gave me an excuse to visit the little red lighthouse. I take pictures of the great gray bridge every Thursday during the school year, but the lighthouse is harder to get to, so it was fun to do that.
Artistic skill was required for this next one, so I was out. Wrenn, however, was very much in: spicy art! Re-create a comic book cover or a beloved cartoon character using only spices. Armed with ground cloves and curry, Wrenn went and re-created Scooby Doo!
One item Wrenn and I had to do, as we’re the only Noo Yawkas on the team. Every morning, The Today Show is live in a studio in Rockefeller Center that’s on ground level, and people can stand outside and watch in through the window. The item was to hold up a self-shaming sign, but a shame that’s minor and inconsequential. We decided to go with “PLAYING HOOKY FROM OUR FREELANCE JOBS,” which is what we were actually doing. (So meta!)
For the first hour on Friday, you could occasionally see me right next to Matt Lauer’s bald head, and then shortly after the first hour, we held up our sign. (The security folks asked us to not hold up any signs until after the first hour, as that was when the serious news was happening. This was absolutely correct of them to so insist, as it’s horribly inappropriate to hold up silly signs of any sort while Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, et al are discussing things like possible war with North Korea, Taylor Swift testifying about being groped, and batteries exploding.)
Anyhow, I recorded our DVR’s recording of the big moment in question, when Wrenn held up our sign for all to see:
One item was to come up with a list of items we wish were on a GISHWHES list. One of our mighty team members, Catherine Sharp, took all our various suggestions and actually formatted it in the GISH style.
C# (as we call her) took it one step forward by putting me as taking #9 and submitting it, which leads me to the next one. Wrenn, my brilliant wife, suggested as an item to re-create a scene from a Supernatural novel, and you get bonus points if the author of the novel is involved in the re-creation.
The item after the above one was to actually do one of the things we suggested, and we went with this one, as it was perfect for us to do — I’ve written three of the Supernatural novels (the first, third, and fourth, in fact), and one of them (Nevermore) takes place right here in the Bronx. So we did this:
Pity this wasn’t a real one, as Jeff Mariotte, Joe Schreiber, Rebecca Dessertine, David Reed, Christa Faust, John Passarella, Alice Henderson, Tim Waggoner, and/or Yvonne Navarro could’ve gotten in on the fun…………..
Another item was to get a bunch of people together in a national forest or a park and hug trees. Because tree-hugging is awesome. Wrenn got a bunch of her fellow Ingress players together in Martin Luther King Jr. Triangle Park here in da Bronx to hug some trees……
Finally, we have the traditional mosaic of the whole team (there’s almost always at least one). In this case it was supposed to be candid pictures of us all doing everyday activities that were actually surveillance photos by aliens. The mosaic has all of us and identifies where we are and why the aliens would want us. My sister from another mister, Laura Anne Gilman put the mosaic together, and came up with the one-word descriptions. For our parts, I’m “gusto,” and I’m practicing karate in our back yard, while Wrenn is “dauntless,” teaching Kaylee how to use the internet.
There are other cool things our team did, including picking berries, couch surfing (to wit, going surfing on an actual couch), getting a tattoo (two of our team did that), dancing with animals, and on and on and on. Oh, and driving a big-ass stuffed teddy bear across the country in stages………..
This is apparently the last GISHWHES — I can see how Collins might be a bit burned out on the whole thing after seven years, as it gets bigger every year — and it will be missed, but I think if it is the end, it’s going out on quite the high note.
For our part, we enjoyed doing fun, noble, silly, glorious, absonome things with people who were already friends and people who became friends. Just a delight.