GISHWHES 2014: Death To Normalcy

The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen


gishwhes2014-full-logo - Copy


Spicing up my summer for the second consecutive year (reppin’ the 2013 GISHWHES pride), I survived  another charitably insane week of scavenging mayhem this past August. Keeping a little of the zany GISHWHES spirit throughout the year is a life goal, and has been so since before I even knew what GISHWHES was. Adulthood is not for the faint of heart or the unimaginative, and I am a firm believer that growing older does not mean “growing up”. People that cling to “normalcy” often lose sight of the beautiful whimsy in life, and it’s ever-underestimated capacity to showcase fun and kindness!

With that said, let me share with you some of my favorite successfully-scavenged items collected by my team during GISHWHES 2014, with hopes that it might inspire you to declare DEATH TO NORMALCY on your own in some small way that could transform a mundane day into something truly extraordinary!

Shower Style

Photo Prompt: You are off to a most elegant formal evening gala. Disaster strikes! Your outfit is ruined! Dress yourself in an outfit fit for such an evening, using only items found in your bathroom

bathroom dress

I may have missed my calling, because this was really fun. I wonder if there’s a market outside of GISHWHES for improvising clothing out of household objects. Hmmm. 

Ahead of Social Media?

A HEAD . . . GET IT? [I'm such a nerd!]

Photo Prompt: As you well know, all the actors who work on the CW network collect hand-painted paper-mache models of their own heads. Get one of these actors to post a photo on Twitter or FB of them holding your team’s painted paper-mache creation of their likeness.


Two of our AWESOME former teammates from Vancouver, who were in class for large chunks of the week and couldn’t be in the hunt full-time this year (much to our sadness as a team), did an AMAZING and very GISHWHES-ish thing, and helped make achieving this particular item possible!


Trickle-Down Economics

Photo Prompt: You’ve heard of Ronald Reagan’s “Trickle-down Economics”? The idea is that when rich people get richer, they spend more money doing things like getting their nails done and having their Porches waxed, and that in turn creates more jobs for pedicurist and car washers and other lower income families. Show us what trickle-down ice-cream-onomics looks like: One person on top, messily eating an enormous, melting Sunday, with two people on the floor below, trying to catch the drippings in their mouths as they fall. This needs to be a real mess.

ice cream

If I had to choose a favorite photo form the 2014 Hunt, this is the one. Not only does it have two of the best partners in crime featured (Eileen and Kayla – who inspire me on a regular basis!), but I think it’s the epitome of what I wish all my submissions could be: fun, artsy, creative, accurate, and ridiculous! Not to mention we had an audience of small children who thought we were a hoot (while their parents kept them at a safe distance so the crazy wouldn’t catch!).

Also, I may or may not have gotten frostbite on my fingers from grabbing fists full of ice cream and globbing them on myself and the girls. Sacrifice went into this one.

The Regatta Regalia

Photo Prompt: Stage a mini-newspaper boat regatta in a public fountain with at least four competing vessels. We must see intense competitiveness and gambling.


This event was like a fun, snooty-licious, fabulous, serendipitous oasis activity in the week of chaos. With a friend swinging by to take the pictures at a Manor house where we pretended we were supposed to be, everything kind of just came together at the right moment to make this photo happen!

Memoires of a . . . Mower?

Photo Prompt: Let’s see a fully dressed, face-painted geisha mowing the lawn.


Did I mention recently that I live on a busy street corner? 

Sauce Picard

Photo Prompt: Obviously, everyone’s favorite Captain of the USS Enterprise was Jean-Luc Picard. Create a heroic Captain Picard using condiments (mustard, relish, ketchup, etc.) for paint.


This beauty was a creation from one of my English teammates, and I’m still absurdly impressed!


Video Prompt: There is a retirement home in Baltimore, MD called Rolland Park Place. My grandmother lives there. Bring flowers, chocolate or funny homemade or store-bought cards for some of the residents. Since this is a bit nepotistic, if Rolland Park Place is out-of-the-way for you, do the same at another retirement home. You must interact with the residents.

nursing home

It seems that every year there is one scavenger hunt item that will touch my heart and renew a sense of sheer thankfulness that I get to be a part of something so wonderful and unusual, and that I get to meet people I would otherwise not know! This year, Theresa, our teammate from Australia, brought on this moment for me with her thoughtfulness and beautiful heart (sounds super cheesy, but I’m being honest!).

team family

See what I mean? How could I ever opt out of an experience that brings this kind of exposure to beautiful shared facets of human nature!


Photo Prompt: (three edited side-by-side-by-side images). Collect fruit from a tree on from which the fruit hangs over a public sidewalk. Make jam from the fruit. Eat it.


Apparently, according to Theresa, lemon jam is not as tasty as it may appear. 

Science Fiction?

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

Similar to the Bestselling Author  DMV readaloud (keep reading, you’ll see), we wound up with not one, but TWO incredible submissions from people who were gracious enough to collaborate with our team on this one!

The Transference

science ficlet

The Fictitious Inventor of Rubber Gloves

Photo Prompt: Erect a tribute to Horris Packard, the inventor of Rubber Gloves.


After some exploration, it was confirmed that this man did not actually exist (?). Thus, some creative (SPN related) license was taken!

The Elephant Octopus

Photo Prompt: Make a mosaic Elopus, 2 meters in diameter, made entirely of natural objects (i.e. no plastic, human-made materials, only leaves, rocks, dirt, flowers, wood, etc).


Not So Sweet Now, Are We?

Photo Prompt: Gingerbread Villages are always so cute and quaint. Make a gingerbread village that shows urban blight: needle exchanges, prostitution, heavy police presence, etc.

gingerbreadGingerbread hookers are a thing now, thanks to Misha Collins. I hope he’s pleased.

Chalk It Up To Supernatural

Photo Prompt: The writers and producers of the TV series, “Supernatural”, sometimes pretend they don’t like the limelight. Of course this is false-modesty. Immortalize one of them with a stately portrait done in sidewalk chalk art.

robbie thompson

Here Fishy Fishy Fishy!

Photo Prompt: Catch a fish, with a fish while dressed as a fish.

fishySadly, after finishing this task and herding the above 3-year-old and 4-year-old through one LONG & exhausting photo shoot, we found out that this item was actually supposed to be a video. Argh. Worst feeling. EVER. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the ability to re-do it as a video, so we submitted the image regardless, because it is still perfection-in-a-photo.

Not Fonzie.

Video Prompt: “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.)


We ALL Scream for Ice Cream

Photo Prompt: Feed your demons. You are not permitted to submit an image of you eating desert.

feed demons

 One of the best moments we had in getting this picture was just the staging of it while we ordered the sundae! New Englanders are surprisingly blasé about skeletons in public.

fred ice cream

Wrestle You For It?

Photo Prompt: 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. The images should be of you arm-wrestling across the counter and then you enjoying your movie.

movie ticketAnnelies, my favorite Belgian beauty, said that she didn’t win, but it was still fun.

Eye of a Tiger

Video Prompt: Sing a harmonized duet rendition of “Eye of the Tiger” with someone standing 30 yards away from you. The camera should be centered between the two singers and we should be able to see both in the frame.A museum-quality installation exhibition of the dishware in your cupboard. Artist Statement is NOT optional.

Pasta With Jam Sauce?

Photo Prompt: It’s summertime and everyone loves a lemonade stand. But then again, every Tom, Dick and Harry is setting up a lemonade stand in the summertime and the market is flooded. Respond to consumer demand and carve out your own niche. Let’s see two children manning a “Hot Pasta With Jam Sauce” stand.

pasta w jam

Note: if you haven’t seen it yet, you should see the video (below) that inspired this item!

Album Release

Photo Prompt: GISHWHES rock band album cover including one, some or all of your teammates

undercover band


It’s kind of awesome that this album artwork exists, especially considering the reality that everyone on the cover will probably never meet, but still got to share an awesome experience!

The End of the World

Video Prompt: Make a children’s Pop-Up book about the CROATOAN Virus ending the world.

croatoanForgive the speed of the video-reading. We already had to cut it down ridiculously short for the story, and we had to speed up the video to make it fit in the aloted time!

Chicken Soup For. . . The Soul?

Video Prompt: Your friend is in bed, not feeling well. Feed them a big bowl of warm (not hot) chicken noodle soup. One caveat: instead of feeding them with a spoon, use a leaf-blower.

leafblower in a nutshell


Photo Prompt: Jared Padalecki does not love Excel Documents. Post one to him on twitter that might change his opinion of Excel.



Video Prompt: Stand in front of a recognizable landmark or monument, wear something magnificent, and in whatever your native language is, complete the following sentence: “GiISHWHES makes me feel _____”

One of my favorite things about the brainstorming of this event was how perfect the idea came together, and how perfect the word “brave” really fits this whole scavenger hunt!


Trolling for Followers

Photo Prompt: Trolling for fish is when you drag your line slowly through the water hoping to fool a fish into snatching your bait. On your favorite social media site, create a new user. Your profile avatar will be a photo or drawing of Orlando Jones. Your user name will be evocative of “Orlando Jones.” Now, masquerading as Orlando Jones, troll for–and hook–at least 400 followers.


A Sweet Gesture

Video Prompt: 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, syrup or jam. Hold a sign on a busy public sidewalk that reads, “Free Hugs.” Enthusiastically attempt to recruit hug-victims.

Some of the comments people made were the best! Sadly, they seemed to avoid the camera whenever possible . . . although maybe they were just giving me a wide berth to avoid hugs.

free hug


Video Prompt: A New York Times best-selling author or Tony-award winning actor or actress doing a dramatic reading of a section of this:

I am STILL star-struck and reeling from the reality of having not one, but TWO amazing authors help my team with this item. I was already a fan, but Chris Grabenstein and Suzanne Brockmann definitely earned my undying appreciation on top of my admiration!



brockmann message

I just have to add that Suzanne Brockmann did this for us after an exhausting drive and despite the fact that it was 100% poor timing in her life. Seriously incredible.

Bird-Brained or BRILLIANT? (Both?)

Photo Prompt: Birds have style too. Create an architecturally-significant GISHWHESESQUE birdhouse. Hang it on a tree in a public park. On the photo, write the name of the park and the city and country in which it is installed.

obearI think the Misha in the Lighthouse is my favorite part of this.


Photo Prompt: Find a woman at Toast, East Perth, Australia on Friday morning 8:00-8:30 am (Perth time, of course). She’ll be wearing a red skirt, a purple GISHWHES t-shirt and a navy cardigan. Get a picture of her and you, with you holding up a piece of paper with your team name and “I found you in Perth, Australia!” written on it. Bring her a flower.




Jared Padalecki? How about . . . 

Photo Prompt: 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? Example: “Jensen Catkles” would be ½ cat, ½ Jensen. Tweet the image with the twitter handle of the actor your hybridizing and the hash-tag: #GISHWHESspecieshybridization. You only have to amalgamate one of the aforementioned men. Edit the tweet and photo into one image.


I cannot even think about this picture without laughing. Still.

The Grudge.

Photo Prompt: Forgive someone with whom you have been holding a grudge against.


Being Neighborly!

Photo Prompt: 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.


Please Pardon the Interruption. . . 

Video Prompt: 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.

Zombie TP Run

Photo Prompt: Zombies need to buy toilet paper too, right? What does that transaction look like?


 This was surprisingly easy to make happen, actually. The hair was quite a feat to get un-knotted afterwards, but otherwise it wasn’t too bad! Bonus moment: the picture above is what we submitted, but how great is this one:

20140805_213154Also, I think the zombie face was best perfected here: 20140805_211957-1

May Day in August!

Video Prompt: Do a maypole dance in a bus station (pilgrim attire and flower garlands required).


My 4 year old niece thought this was the best thing ever. . . as did many of the people waiting for their busses and trains.

Death to Normalcy

Photo Prompt: Using charcoal or chalk, stencil the term “D2N” on the exterior of a factory. (The “2” must be backwards, but I can’t figure out how to do that on this keyboard.)


 Fun fact: this is the marshmallow fluff factory!

Beat the Heat!

Photo Prompt: It’s August and in much of the world we’re sweating right now. In a region with plentiful water, let’s see gleeful children and firemen playing in an elaborate, temporary water park built by your town’s firemen using fire department equipment.

fire engine

Poor, Wonderful Baristas

Video Prompt: You know how at Starbucks they ask your name and write it on the cup so that when your latte is done, they can say, “Misha, skinny decaf grande latte – extra foam, extra hot, lightly sweet!” When they ask for your name, give the most ridiculous name you can think of when you order your Starbucks beverage. The video is of the barrista announcing your drink and your absurd name.

You’re a Trooper

Photo Prompt: 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.


Snarky Awe

Photo Prompt: Smoke and mirrors. Awe us.



Photo Prompt: Find someone with the exact same name as you who lives in another state, province, or country. We must see two photos together: the two faces and two ID cards with all private/contact information blacked out except for your names and birth dates.

Abigail AdamsNot only do we have twin names, they’re HISTORICALLY FAMOUS!!!

This Group Must Somehow Form a Family!

Photo Prompt: An image of each of the members of your team in Brady-Bunch style grid format. Photos should be mug-shot style with each team member holding a black and white sign stating their city and country of residence.

brady bunchMy Beautiful Team, hailing from Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Belgium, The United Kingdom, and Australia!

An Artistic Labor

Photo Prompt: Marge Simpson tummy-art. The “tummy” canvas in question must be that of a woman who is at least 7 months pregnant.

margeSeven? Try 9.


Photo Prompt: In Washington State, USA there is a woman whose legal name is “Life Has Meaning.” Another woman has legally renamed herself, “Table.” Find someone whose name is a noun, verb or a phrase, and take a photo with him or her and his or her driver’s license with everything blacked out except for his or her name.


Adoption Promotion!

Photo Prompt: Go to your local animal shelter/rescue and hold a photo shoot for one of its residents. Make an adoption flyer promoting the animal using the photos you’ve taken and post them on telephone poles. Prove that your campaign was successful. (It can be multiple images photo-shopped into one submission)


Pool Shark?

Video Prompt: On a pool or billiards table, sink at least 4 balls with one shot. So we know it’s you doing it, wear a t-shirt displaying your GISHWHES team name. The more balls that go in, the more points.

Saving Lives

Photo Prompt: Register to be a bone marrow donor: you could save a child’s life or someone’s mom’s life. As a sign of solidarity on this item, I (Misha) pledge to register to be a bone-marrow donor myself during the week of the hunt. This item requires you filling out a form, receiving a “cheek swab test” in the mail, and mailing it back in. The registration process cannot be completed in just one week, but if you show us the photo of your online registration confirmation or email, you will qualify for points on this item. ONLY do this item if you’re serious about going through with the whole process. Even though we consider this one of the more valuable items on the list we are assigning a low point value to it. Really this item is not about points, it’s about trying to help a stranger. We need to see a screenshot of your application. Each application will be worth 3 points. If you edit several screenshots into one image of you and your teammate’s applications.



Knot a Problem.

Photo Prompt: Create the famous “Spider-hair-knot.” Eight long-haired people lying on their backs with their hair tied all together in one big beautiful weave or a nasty knot. Photograph from above.


I met 3 of these people just prior to being braided to them, and I have to say: it’s a great ice breaker. My friend James turned to me just before we started and was like: “FYI: I haven’t washed my hair in a few days.”

92 might not cover much, but OUCH:

Photo Prompt: Covering your unmentionables with something you deem appropriate, how many clothespins can you fit (pinched) on the rest of your body? We know; it hurts. We’re sorry, but no pain, no gain!



My poor teammate, Kelly, was unbelievably dedicated, and she tackled this, among a few other of the less savory items on the list.


Photo Prompt: Create the next hip facial hair look or hipster accessory.

instacool Our working slogan for marketing the Insta-Cool? “Moustache Fan: Keeping You Cool the Way they Kept Cool Before it was Cool”

Family Bonding Like You’ve Never Wanted It

Photo Prompt: Not to throw around big words, but “Hirsute” means “goat-like or hairy.” 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.

shave you later


Beauty in the Wild

Photo Prompt: Well done! You’ve just managed to catch a rare “Popcorn Child Monster” on camera.

Popcorn Child Monster

Genius Level Complexity & A Simple Task

Video Prompt: Create a Rube Goldberg machine that includes “Eye of the Tiger”, an image of John Travolta, a toilet plunger, and acorns, among other things.

Pucker Up!

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


The Next Doctor

Photo Prompt: “When I grow up, I want to be…” Have a child dress up as what they want to be when they grow up (lawyer, doctor, ballerina, dragon-slayer, etc.). Then stage the photo in the environment they would be working in.

benProbably the cutest thing about this item was how excited my nephew was to do it! When we got back in the car afterwards, we were getting buckled in/turning on the car, and I just heard Ben say to himself in his happy little 3-year-old voice “I is the Doctor.”

Candy? CanDID.

Photo Prompt: You at the beach, pool or on a boat, wearing a homemade, 99% edible, candy bathing suit. (The remaining 1% can be inedible thread or wire, but we don’t want to see it.)

on the beach in candy


candy suitGorgeous though it was, my suit was not exceptionally durable, and the trek to the beach almost proved too much for it. Thankfully, we made it through with a few photos intact and only a brief moment of toplessness, tactfully shielded from very-confused and disturbed pic-nic-ers by my loving team members.

Blood Donut

Photo Prompt: Suck blood from a doughnut.

blood donutOne of those times when red-eye worked to my advantage, if I do say so myself.

Well Look Who’s Checking You Out

Photo Prompt: Get all of the checkout employees at a supermarket to wear “Mishapocalypse” masks as they ring up customers. They all must be working their individual registers when you take the picture. There must be a minimum of four checkout workers. The more cashiers, the more points.

apocalypseI had to talk to three different managers to get this photo to happen, and I’m okay with that.

Ice Cream So Hot

Photo Prompt: GISHWHES has taken its toll this year. You deserve a break. Hit the hot tub with a couple of friends… wearing hats made of ice cream.

ice cream on head

Over the Charles and Through the Woods…

Video Prompt: Get everyone on a subway, bus or train car to sing “Over the River and Through the Woods.” There must be at least 8 passengers and it must not be staged (i.e. this must be a random collection of commuters, not your friends)

t singalong


Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive!

Photo Prompt: Based on the Internet, which is always super reliable and never wrong, each year almost 100,000 people are saved by out-of-hospital CPR in the US alone… from everything from choking on food to heart attacks. Get an online or offline CPR certification. It only takes an hour or two to do it online (Internet search for “online CPR certification”); however, the Interwebs say it’s more thorough if you go into an actual class (among many other organizations, the Red Cross and YMCA’s host classes). Your choice. Submit an image of you holding up your Certificate. Bonus points if you do it with a friend.



Video Prompt: A lot of politicians oppose minimum wage laws. Let’s expand their horizons: pay an elected official less than minimum wage to do at least 1 hour of yard work for you.



Well, this could just go on forever . . .

. . . but this post is getting absurdly long, and I doubt anyone even made it this far! If you did, I hope you enjoyed viewing these moments as much as my teammates and I did living them! Please remember that all of the images and videos I shared are the property of my team and the only person we’ve signed a release to republish any of this outside of our personal use is The Random Act, Misha Collins, and other associated GISHWHES organizers.

Advice For Teachers

I’m not remotely a “veteran teacher” yet, but as I start off on year 7 of teaching, I have a few kernels of wisdom to pass along for those of you who find yourself becoming teachers. Or to those of you who need a refresher.

1- Most Importantly:  Enjoy it!

dancin chaperone

Enjoy what you are teaching, because then your students will enjoy it more, too. You probably already know that, but it bears repeating.

2- Second advice nugget (or maybe it’s part B of that last one): Even (and maybe especially) the kid that drives you INSANE needs some positive encouragement.

So, Enjoy your students. Try your best to find something to like/appreciate about each kid, because not only will help you be more patient with them,  it is vitally important for them. Maybe the most important thing they’ll get out of your class.

3- Remember:  Good Teaching is hard work.

So: work hard, but remember to use your resources (books/curriculum, coworkers, the internet, teacherspayteachers, etc) and not to stress yourself out too much over a failed activity or a bad day. Just strive to be better the next time.

4- Don’t let it go to your head: RESPECT your students – You are in a position of authority . . . so don’t be an asshole.

french sucks?

The worst teachers are the kind who abuse their authority to demean or belittle their students or perpetuate negativity. Don’t be that teacher. And if you have a bad day, which you are entitled to do because you are (contrary to popular belief) human, be up front about it. Tell your students “Hey, sorry guys, I’m having a rough day and I’m a little short on patience right now” – they deserve fair warning.

Also, if you (also because you are human) are a jerk and speak unkindly to a student or a class, apologize. You are not above apologies just because you are a teacher. Pull a kid aside and apologize to them 1:1 if you were rude to just them. Or, you know: Humble yourself and apologize to a whole class if you have to. Don’t let your role as a teacher absorb the nastiness that comes out of all human beings sometime and poison your classroom.

5- Fact: Your attitude sets the mood in your classroom.

Don’t underestimate this power. Wield it carefully, responsibly, and intentionally. If you can, set the mood firmly at JOY and go from there.


6- I totally understand that it isn’t possible 100% of the time, but: Explain your reasoning for what you are doing in class!

Sometimes teachers give a directive that seems pretty pointless, but actually has a lot of purpose. Explaining the purpose of an activity can change the way a student views it/participates in it. I mean, you might know why you’re doing something, as a teacher, but the students might be sitting their like “wtf, this is dumb” unless you explain the actual reasons, at least from time to time! Now, whether it will actually help change students attitudes regarding classwork is also up to the student, but I think (sadly) teachers are prone to generally underestimate students’ intelligence – Give them the benefit of the doubt and help them see the why behind the what of the things that go down in your classroom.

7- Tip: Behave as if you are the only adult role model kids might have, because you might be. 

Hopefully, God willing, your students are from loving families that take good care of them and love them and help them grow up into responsible and healthy adults . . . but that is not even usually the case. Everybody needs stable role models – people to emulate. You might not feel confident about being that person, but you are in a position of visibility that makes it inevitable that people will look at the way you act/live your life. Please live accordingly.

8- Seriously: Don’t be afraid to have a good time in your classroom.


LAUGH at things. We’re talking BELLY laugh. If somebody says something funny (and I do NOT mean unintentionally) then give yourself the freedom to bust out laughing at it! Laugh at yourself liberally. You are going to do ridiculous things as a teacher, and somebody might as well enjoy them!

9- VerbalizeSay the Good stuff.

If someone does a great job on something: tell them. If you like a student’s idea, tell them. If you think a doodle on a quiz is awesome: TELL THEM. Notice the good stuff, and do it out loud. I still remember some of the little comments that teachers said to me that made all the difference, even in something so little as noticing/complimenting my perfume. I also remember the bad ones just as clearly. . . so be cautious when you say the not-good stuff.

10- It might sound silly, but: Smell Good.


By “good”, I mean clean and pleasant. No need to drench yourself in perfume or cologne. Also: Morning breath, coffee breath, days without deodorant? Don’t let these happen to your students. They deserve better.

11 – It’s Time to Come to Grips: Accept the fact that you ARE indeed a nerd.

You are a teacher. You became a teacher. You teach. THUS, you are a nerd. And not just a little bit. You are a huge nerd. Stop apologizing. Embrace it. Own it. Be happy.


12 -I promise this is the last one, I wasn’t even going to write this many, but I have to in case anybody reads it: CARE

Just because a kid looks like they are doing okay on the outside doesn’t mean they are okay. Never type-cast your students as “lazy”, “slow”, “troublemakers” or “problem-children”. They are far, far, far more complex than some oversimplified label you might give them. You don’t know their whole story, and quite frankly: they don’t know you well enough to give it to you just because you’re their teacher. So, even if it’s hard, even if you’re sick of an attitude or behavior (which I do understand is rough – students sometimes act like you’re not human, and that’s tough to take in and not eventually dish back) please strive to AUTHENTICALLY care.

Offer to help a confused student. Or, if you can tell one student is having a hard time but know that they might be embarrassed to ask for help, find a creative way to help them out. Be understanding (careful, don’t hear what I’m not saying: this doesn’t mean be a pushover/giving up on all standards). Take a minute to express your sadness and empathize if a student shares that their pet died. Keep granola bars in your desk, in case somebody doesn’t have a lunch or missed out on breakfast. Ask if somebody is okay if they seem a little off – even if it’s just by writing them a note on a post-it and subtly sticking it on their desk. Just: be kind.

love is the answer


The Mascot Gavotte: And the Award Goes To . . .



Recently, I was drinking my morning coffee and perusing my tumblr dash – you know: starting the day in a true summer-vacation fashion, and I came across a short blogpost (x) somebody had made about mascots .

blogpost about mascots

As you can see, the writer was basically saying that Mascots are a mockery of furries.

Tangent: What’s a furry, you ask? Well, Urban Dictionary gives a surprisingly-nuanced definition (which you can read by clicking here, if you’d like) that . . . also happens to be pretty long. So, if you’re feeling lazy, lets just define furries as a group of people who anthropomorphize animals to a bajillion different degrees – some of them assuming animal personas to the extent that they identify themselves as an actual animal.

So, now that we’ve got definitions taken care of . . . 

I read some of the comments on the original post, and it ultimately piqued my curiosity about the origin of Mascots. With a whir of my touch-typing fingertips (thank you Mrs. Green, wherever-you-are, it’s the best skill 9th grade gave to me), I started to peruse the massive compendium of knowledge concerning Mascots brought to you by the infallible Saint Wikipedia. (You might not be able to cite it in papers, but it’s a good way to start researching!)

Mascots of Awesome


Things I learned:

  • the word “mascot” essentially just means “good luck charm”, and owes its English-Language popularization to a French operetta from 1880 that recounted the story of a girl who brought people good luck as long as she remained a virgin
  • a surprising number of mascots are mules – I mean, yes, they’re stubborn and hardworking, but who wants to be an ass?
  • there are a lot of non-animal mascots (not all that surprising until you realize that many are non-human also)
  • while general sports mascots seem to be the largest denomination of mascots, there are also mascots for corporations, bands, and schools
  • Princeton University is the first school in recorded history to have a mascot
  • Victor is a shockingly common name for mascots Victor the Mascot

There is a whole list of mascots (probably incomplete, but still) on Wikipedia for your personal perusing pleasure, and (true to human nature) everybody thinks they have the absolute best. There are polls all over the place about which might be the greatest mascot. Personally, I don’t like #1/ “Best” titles, because they oversimplify. THUS, I have decided to provide you with my very own Mascot Awards Ceremony. I’m sure you’re on pins and needles, so I’ll get right into it.

The Friendliest Nut/Most Indomitable Mascot: Brutus Buckeye of The Ohio State University

Brutus Buckeye


To take this lighthearted nut at simple face value would be a mistake. Despite his visible cheer, Brutus has had quite a trying history, for an anthropomorphized nut, that is. He’s been kidnapped at least five times since 1965, from what I can gather, and I would daresay he’s come through more hard times than one Buckeye nut ever deserved. Yet, here he is, in 2014, still smiling. Brutus might be a nut, but he is a survivor, and that’s more than many mascots can boast.

The Wildest [Former] Unofficial Mascot to Ever Wield a Pineapple: Vili the Warrior of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Vili the Warrior


Now retired, apparently, this die-hard, pineapple-toting warrior was quite fearsome, from what I can tell.

The Best Online Profiled Mascot: The Stormy Petrel of Oglethorpe University (Atlanta, Georgia)

Petey the Petrel


Petey the Petrel's Profile


Suffice it to say: In addition to his large, plague-mask-reminiscent beak, Petey the Petrel has a very well developed identity, folks.

The Scariest Vegetable Mascot: The Cobbers of Concordia College (In Moorhead, Minnesota)

Concordia College Cobbers


Seriously. Look at that face.

I never knew corn could be that intimidating, and I grew up surrounded by fields of the stuff. All I have to say is: These fans are missing a golden opportunity if they don’t make extensive wordplay involving the word “clobber”.

Also, as a side note, this leads to some interesting fan-base attire.

corn heads?


I wonder if any of their opponents have come up with some kind of corn-popper analogy yet.

The Smartest/ “Most Esoteric” Mascot: The Eutectic of the Saint Louis College of Pharmacy.

Morty the Eutectic


What on God’s green earth is a Eutectic, you ask? It’s the scientific process where two solids combine to form a liquid. (Yes, of course I looked it up. What non-chemist would know that kind of thing???) The best part about this nerdy team symbol is how seriously it is stil taken as a mascot, though.

Eutectics Fans


The Least Intimidating Mascot: The Banana Slugs of the University of California-Santa Cruz

banana slug mascot


Surprisingly famous, even making number 1 on ESPN’s 2008 top ten mascot names in College Basketball, this mascot doesn’t exactly strike fear into my heart at first glance. One snarky judge from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals of CA, even referenced them in an opinion discourse.

Supreme Court Banana Slug Nod


The Most Obscene, Yet Also Possibly The Most Unique Mascot: Scrotie the “friendly phallus” of The Rhode Island School of Design

censored box


This is exactly what you think it is. If you are at all interested in an AMAZING article about Scrotie, please click this link, because the author’s  lovely clear explanation of their mascot is matched in excellence only by the amount of penis-themed, chortle-inducing wordplay they use.   In an article he wrote for the Providence Phoenix, David Scharfenberg calls the RISD sports crew

“a co-ed assemblage that has been turning the dick joke into high art — OK, low art — for 50 years now.”

It’s also worth noting that the ice hockey team of the RISD are called the “Nads” . . . Fans apparently cheer them on with loud cries of “Go Nads!”. No joke. And don’t get me started on the RISD Pricks (a fencing club) and the RISD Seamen (a sailing club).

 The Cutest Mascot: Artie the Fighting Artichoke of Scottsdale Community College

fighting artichokes


Now, while they have attempted to render this many-layered vegetable-substitute-for-chips more intimidating with design, the plain truth of it is: Artie is adorable.



Honorable Mentions Due to their Pun-tastic Names:

Webst-UR the University of Richmond’s Spider



Whoo RU the Owl Mascot of Rowan University Athletics



Psalmody: Refuge

The chaotic whirling kaleidoscope of summer has left me feeling a little bit like Dorothy in Oz, waiting to get back to the familiarity and sweetness of my home routines. I have so many things to write about, adventures to recount, and stories to tell . . . but they will all have to wait just a bit longer as I have only just clicked my heels and woken up in my own home at last. It’s quite disorienting, actually.


I shall gather up the bits and pieces of my sanity and get back to you all soon enough. In the mean time, for the beautiful new day to come, a Sunday, I’ll leave you with a passage I found in the old Psalmody during one of my past trips home to Ithaca, NY. After re-discovering it recently, I decided it most definitely is fitting to share.


The MOMA; A New Favorite


Whether it’s scoffing at the extreme simplicity of a single-toned canvas, ogling the more bizarre Dada pieces, getting a close-up of Frida’s unibrow, or losing oneself in the raw beauty of Starry Starry Night, I submit that everyone has a plethora of reasons to visit the MOMA, or the Museum of Modern Art, in NYC. To be honest, I don’t usually count myself in the more avid or fanatical fans of modern art, but my foray in the magic of the MOMA left me reconsidering some of my preconceived notions surrounding the whole genre.

Thoughts, Tips, and Highlights

1.) Bring your student I.D. for a $10 discount!

moma entry

2.) Spend a long, long, long time looking at one of my new favorite paintings, Hide and Seek, by Pavel Tchelitchew

Hide and Seek

Seriously, though. . . the more you look . . . Tchelitchew

the more you discover . . .

hide and seek

it’s insane, yet magical in its level of detail and nuancetchelitchew

3.) Don’t blink, or you might miss Dali’s melting clocks, because that one is SURPRISINGLY teensy! Seriously. 


This photo gives you some idea as to the proportions. I had no idea. It was very strange…it’s the equivalent of finding out George Washington was only four feet tall, or something.dali1

4.) Appreciate the airy openness and beauty of it all!


5.) Don’t miss the art they hang over by the elevators. . . this Georgia O’Keefe, for example:georgia o'keefe

6.) Brush up on your knowledge of some big names before you go. . . Matisse, Picasso, and Pollack, to name a few. 


7.) Knowing a little French was very helpful with understanding many of the paintings!french

8.) Whatever else you do, take a moment to really appreciate the energy captured by each brush stroke in Starry Starry Night. 



9.) Know your Dada


10.) Don’t overlook the lesser-known wonders while questing for the big names!definition

Bonus: Take at least one silly picture. . . because there you are, in the presence of tangible relics from Art history!silliness



Happy adventuring at the MOMA, I can’t wait for my next visit!





Nightmare on Memory Lane

Like any self-respecting and morbidly curious person, I have a hard time resisting the allure of boxes upon boxes of yellowed documents, brittle papers, and time-induced-sepia-toned photos. Old things fascinate me in a way I cannot truly put into words. When I decipher the beautiful handwriting from the back of a postcard written in 1857, there is a small glimpse into another world. Maybe I just read too many time-travel books as a child, but I am enthralled by the slightest hint at a story behind the artifact. To feed this strange obsession with the memory lanes of people long gone from this world, I occasionally indulge in my desire to rifle through the boxes that pile up in my favorite antique store up in Gloucester, MA. On my latest trip, I decided to collect some of the eeriest photos to share. So, without further ado, here is one strange and unnerving trip down several long-forgotten memory lanes, with imaginary backstory, courtesy of yours truly.

#1:  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and the clandestine affair ended in vengeful bloodshed. two boys two girls

#2: The Unhappy Short Man and His Captive Bridethe short man

#3: Just before the Killing Spreecreepy

#4: What Horrors Has She Seen?what horrors has this woman just witnessed?

#5: They never again spoke of their grim purpose for entering the woods that day.the woman on the right tho

#6: When they looked at the photo, the twins saw the pale image of their murdured father hovering beside the family.eery

#7: Refusing to allow war to split their family apart, the youngest children they took matters into their own hands, uniting everyone in death, for all from hell

#8: The six survivors made a pact never to tell how their simple excursion had resulted in the death of a friend.not a fun picnic to be on

#9: The most ruthless gang of murduresses in American History, photographed with two victims just before the attack.creepy beyond all reason

#10: Their Parents would pay for their transgressions. . . with their lives.fearsome family

#11: Quaking in Fearthey are so frightened

#12: They will come for you, make no mistake about that.terror twins

#14: Final sighting of woman with her kidnapper.something is wrong here

#15: And then the game went horribly, horribly wrong.what is happening?

#16: She is forever watching you; her gaze fixed on you. crazy eyes

#17: The smile of the matriarch was the only herald of impending doom.20140717_150213

#18: Children possessed, these small tyrants prepared for the final take-over

#19: She wished for escape as they planned her eternal exit. There was only one way to leave the crew.20140717_144421

#20: His death looked like an accident.20140717_151114

#21: The demons that possessed them lay in wait, planning their next meal, the photographer, with delight.20140717_150906

#22: Family secrets must be guarded at all costs, and they grimly prepared to do just that.20140717_145538

#23: When the baby was born, the other children began their lifetime of servitude to their new and volatile master. At age one, when this photograph was taken, only two slaves were left.20140717_150534

#24: When the doll became human, not a soul could have predicted the tragedies that would ensue. 20140717_145641

#25: The painting that absorbed the youth of its owners20140717_145531

#26: The three brothers would stop at nothing to find wives.20140717_150642

#27: It was in medical school that he found his true passion, live dissection. creepy2

#27: The orphan girls had no choice but to pretend all was pristine in their dark world.creepy6

#28: The one-room school house and its devious occupants.creepy0

Well, now I’ve officially creeped myself out. I have an overactive imagination, I know. Sorry if you are overly disturbed by my morbid fascination for the dearly departed and these eery glimpses into lives long-past (which were probably perfectly normal, but certainly don’t look it!).

It’s Summer?!

funny gifs


When did that happen? I was teaching school a few days ago! (Actually, seriously. Like 9 days ago I taught school.)

I shall endeavor to keep anyone and everyone posted on the summer adventures of Cakey Hankerson. . . they shall include wedding showers, family reunions, traveling to most major cities on the easter seaboard (slight exaggeration, but at least a few), finally reading some books, planning fall classes, moving into a new school, the 30th birthday of my dear older brother, GISHWHES 2014 and hopefully lots of sunshine and recharging of the metaphorical batteries!

Happy Summer Everyone!