GISH 2019 over and out

Once again, Wrenn and I participated in the Great International Scavenger Hunt, a.k.a. GISH, hosted by the magnificent Misha Collins (best known as the guy who plays Castiel on Supernatural). We were part of Team Inevitable Meta (a combination of two previous teams that didn’t have enough members individually this go ’round), and we did a bunch of cool things. (Here’s what we did in 2018, 2017, and 2015. I also participated in 2014, but didn’t do a blog post on it. We skipped 2016 due to having to move.)

GISH is designed to make the world a weirder place, and there are also lots of compassionate and charitable things — but most of the 200+ challenges are just plain silly, which is part of the fun.

Here’s what Wrenn and I did as our contributions to Team Inevitable Meta (all together, we as a team submitted 57 items, which is about a fourth of the list, which is pretty dang good, considering)…..

Item 17: Trip the light fantastic. Literally.

So I tripped over a light labelled “FANTASTIC!” Can’t get much more literal than that……

17 -- Trip the Light Fantastic

Item 30: The recorder is an under-appreciated instrument, with roots in ancient times. The depth of its mythical sirenic tones are magical and hypnotic. So what better place to play this divine woodwind than amongst the most beautiful sites in the world? Play the Kansas song “Carry on, Wayward Son” at sunset on a recorder, overlooking one of the following: the Grand Canyon (Arizona, US), Angkor Wat (Cambodia), Machu Picchu (Peru), Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal (India), the Colosseum (Italy), Iguazu Falls (Brazil), Stonehenge (UK), Egyptian Pyramids or the Sphinx, Tikal (Guatemala), Angel Falls (Venezuela), Atacama Desert (Chile), Arashiyama Bamboo Grove (Japan), The Azores (Portugal), Boulders Beach (South Africa), Cappadocia (Turkey), Cliffs of Moher (Ireland), Disko Bay (Greenland), Lake Tekapo (New Zealand), Na Pali Coast (Hawaii, US), Sagrada Familia (Spain), Eiffel Tower (France), Reynisfjara (Iceland), Trolltunga (Norway), Ubud (Indonesia), Sydney Opera House (Australia), Banff National Park (Canada), Niagara Falls (New York or Ontario), Yellowstone (Wyoming), El Capitan (Yosemite), Statue of Liberty (Liberty Island), Eilean Donan Castle (Scotland), Neuschwanstein Castle (Germany), Matterhorn or Zermatt (Switzerland), or Chichen Itza (Mexico).

We chose the Statue of Liberty, obviously, and while we couldn’t go to Liberty Isle itself (it closes at 5, and sunset isn’t until 8.15), we were able to overlook it anyhow from Battery Park. I’ve been playing the recorder since I was five, so playing “Carry on, Wayward Son” was a piece of proverbial cake…..

Item 78: The Enterprise wasn’t the only vehicle in the not-so-final frontier. Show us Star Trek covered wagons. Tweet your image to @WilliamShatner with the message, “Admit it, Bill. This is how you really voyaged.”

Wrenn put this one together. Here’s the tweet:

Here’s the wagon she put together. Since Louie was trying to “help,” she decided to incorporate him into the piece, figuring they’re re-creating “Catspaw”…..

78 conestoga wagon enterprise final

Item 98 was the traditional team image. In this case: The hot new trading card battle game is GISHémon! Create a trading card for each of your team mates with their photo and stats (location, Gisher type, powers, etc.) as the powerful kindness monsters they are. We must see each teammate’s unobscured face for it to count.


Item 130: A cyanotype photo of junk-food wrapping or junk-food.

Wrenn made a cyanotype of Twizzlers, Swedish fish, and gummy bears to make a pretty couple of flowers!

130 - cyanotype

Item 135: The aliens have been in Area 51 for decades. Why do they stay? Because of all the amenities, of course. Show us the leisurely life of aliens at Area 51: the best Retirement Community in the Universe! We want to see elderly aliens playing shuffleboard, mahjong, and bingo, getting alien spa treatments, doing tai chi and pilates… You get the idea. Post your submission to social media tagged #GISH, #Area51 & #SocialSecurityCheXFiles.

Here’s the Tweet:

Here’s the original picture. We live near a park that has an actual bocce ball court and we own a set of bocce balls, so we did our elderly aliens playing that, also using Dale’s old walker.

135 -- Area 51 retirement home

Item 154: It’s GISH University, Year 2! Each person on your team must attempt to learn a new skill they have never tried before and document the experience, including the first attempt.

We only had a minute-and-a-half to show all this, and we had more than a dozen people on the team, but we did our best to show our new skills. In my case, it was a third-degree black-belt kata that I’m still learning.

Item 159: Right a great American novel. This is not a typo.

I went with Moby-Dick, which many consider the great American novel, and filmed this right-ing of Herman Melville, with the aid of fellow author Megan Mackie:

Item 201: From Spider-Man’s web shooters to Batman’s ability to brood and spend money, if comic books have taught us anything, it’s that what makes us unique is what makes us super. But not everyone has internalized the message. Without being self-deprecating, identify one trait, offbeat skill, or feature about yourself that, properly applied, could be the origin of your new superperson identity. It can’t be an existing superhero in culture. Create a poster that showcases your superperson identity and what your flaw or feature-turned-superpower is. You may use Photoshop for this one.

I didn’t really need much editing on this, because I had a convenient image that summed up my superpower, to wit, writing: the cover art for Without a License. I just needed a superhero name….

201 -- superhero identity

Item 203: Before he was an Assbutt, our 2019 GISH Mascot was an Asserpillar. Illustrate or create a page from the award-winning children’s book The Very Hungry Asserpillar. (As you know from reading the book, each page features an important life lesson or moral, so make sure yours does, too.)

Wrenn put this together, based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and providing a very GISH-y message.

203 Veryhungryasspillar

And finally, item 206: Spoiler alert! Nobody has time to really sit down and read anymore. So, bring the stories to them. Recreate major plot points of classic books by acting them out at your local library. But in deference to library ‘rules’, you must be silent, so you’re going to have to use interpretive dance on this one.

Once again, we went with Moby-Dick, in this case because I had a handy prop, to wit, a stuffie of the blue whale from the American Museum of Natural History (along with a J. Jonah Jameson action figure, a chopstick, and some twine). We filmed at our local branch of the New York Public Library.

GISH is always great fun. We weren’t able to do as much as we would have liked due to my travel schedule (though I did item 159 at Tampa Bay Comic Con), but it was fun as always.


a plea to help the people of Laos

As we have every year for the last several years, Wrenn and I are doing the Great International Scavenger Hunt, a.k.a. GISH, run by the Mighty Misha Collins (the guy who plays Castiel on Supernatural). While the general point of the hunt is to bring a little weirdness into the world, a big part of GISH is charitable things, from minor to major.

This year, GISH has teamed up with photographer Giles Duley to help the people of Laos, who have hundreds of unexploded mines in their country, and which need to be cleared out as, five decades after they were placed, they’re still going off unexpectedly and killing people.

Please if you can donate anything, it would be greatly appreciated and might save a life. This particular link is the one from our team, InevitableMeta, but any donation is a worthy one.

Thank you!

GISH 2018 over and out

For years, Misha Collins, who plays Castiel on Supernatural, has run the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, or GISHWHES for short. Last year was the last GISHWHES, and many people were sad, but wondering what Collins would do this year.

This year, he debuted GISH. It’s pretty much the same thing: a scavenger hunt of two hundred or more items where you have to do something silly. Or crazy. Or creative. Or charitable. Or absurd. Or all of the above. Or some of the above.

Wrenn and I were once again involved, joining our crazed buddies in a team we have been calling Inevitable Innuendo. While some people are in it to win it, we’re just in it to have fun and do silly things. We’re never going to win the hunt, but that’s not really the point. We had a blast.

Here’s a look at what Wrenn and I did:


Re-create a moment from a beloved cartoon series. I figured Hong Kong Phooey was perfect for this, so I got into my karate uniform and took a picture to match a freeze-frame from the opening credits of Hong Kong Phooey.



This year, there was a GISH app, which aided us in the hunt. You got to choose an avatar as part of the hunt, and on Tuesday we were told to pick a favorite Impressionist painting as our avatar and then find someone not on your team who had the same painting. I figured everyone would go for Starry Night (thank you, Doctor Who), and besides, my favorite Impressionist painting is Monet’s Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lillies. I had no trouble finding someone else (a nice person named Alexis) who matched. At least six folks on the team had to find a match, and we did it…….


27 beard garden

One item was simply: beard garden. So Wrenn put this together on my beard. I lost a lot of little tiny hairs on this one………………………………..


Karaoke is always fun, and karaoke in a library is even more fun! But libraries are quiet, peaceful places, so our library karaoke had to be silent. We figured everyone was gonna do, “Carry on, Wayward Son” by Kansas, so we went for another song Supernatural used, “Renegade” by Styx, used to great effect at the end of one of my favorite episodes of the show, “Skinwalker” (the episode that introduced FBI Special Agent Victor Henriksen, one of my favorite recurring characters).


69 -- history of humanity poem

A challenge I particularly was happy to do was a poem summing up human history, but only 50-100 words. We decided to go for a sonnet. I did the first draft — which started out silly and somehow got cynical. Wrenn edited it rather severely, making the cynical more prominent. The end result is above, which is a true collaboration. (Though the final couplet is all mine, and I’m damn proud of it.)


86 Putin on a Ritz

This one was all Wrenn: Putin on a Ritz. I think it speaks for itself…..


90 - team photo

One of the team items was to do a group photo where we’re all in a mailbox. My sister from another mister, Laura Anne Gilman assembled all our various photos and put us in mailboxes. (I deliberately used the selfie I took of the expression on my face while suffering through watching Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.



One Wrenn and I did together was this challenge to create a page from a book about Winnie the Pooh’s mobster cousin Vinnie da Pooh. So I did the text and Wrenn did the illustrations and layout for Vinnie da Pooh by Ay! Ay! Milnecci.


121 Goodnight Moon to setting sun

This one didn’t work out the way we wanted to because the weather didn’t cooperate. We had way too much rain and clouds the week of GISH, so we couldn’t get a good sunset. (Doesn’t help that we’re on the east coast.) But the challenge was to tuck in the sun and read Goodnight, Moon to it. Goodnight, Moon is one of my favorite picture books, and I really really wanted to do that one! It was Wrenn who came up with the idea of finding a web cam (in this case from Santa Monica) of the sun setting, and I had a blankie and a mug of jasmine tea to tuck in the sun with (it’s dark, but it’s there), while I read a copy of Goodnight, Moon off my iPad.


139 Misha nomination

Another challenge was to endorse Collins for an award, but to do so out of pity rather than merit. I figured I’d take advantage of my being an author of Supernatural fiction to make it more entertaining…….


Roger Miller’s “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd” is a litany of things you can’t do, but it’s okay, because you can be happy. The challenge here was to do one of those things Miller said you can’t do. I went with the line about how you can’t drive with a tiger in your car. I, in fact, drove with sixteen tigers — stuffies, of course. (I may have a slight tiger fixation………..)



162 Castiel with dinosaur

We were challenged to create a painting of Castiel with a dinosaur, which Wrenn did via her mad image-wrangling skillz.


186- New Skills

And finally, we were challenged to each pick a skill we’d always meant to learn but hadn’t gotten around to and take at least one step toward learning it. I always wanted to play the harmonica, so I bought and started reading a book on how to play harmonica, and Wrenn always wanted to try her hand at quilting, so she took some Doctor Who scraps and started a Whovian quilt.


And there you have it! The rest of our team did lots of other nifty things, from literal superheroes to unicorn hats to tattoos and more besides. Our team is insane, GISH is insane, and I love ’em all.

Oh, and here’s Wrenn’s colloquy on what GISH meant to her this year:


GISHWHES over and out

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):

item 15 Groucho a piece of fruit


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…………………..

item 66 act out movie title


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.

item 84 re-creation of a childrens book illustration


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!

item 17 spicy art


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:

item 173 re-create a scene from a Supernatural novel

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……

item 185 tree-hugging


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.

Item 8


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.