GiShWhEs 2015 – With A Vengeance

If my first experience with GishWhes (the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen) was Die Hard, and last year was Die Harder, then that would make this installation Die Hard With A Vengeance, right? Not a fantastic metaphor, but still somehow fitting, since this was definitely a scavenger hunt that my team, Team HowWeDo, tackled WITH A VENGEANCE.

August 1st began a whirlwind week of daring stunts, crazy acts, and trying to edit any video footage successfully down to less than 14 seconds. Sleep was scarce and adventures abundant! Now, I could share all 130-or-so items that my teammates and I wound up officially submitting, but that might be overkill in the sharing department. Instead, here are all of the items I was personally involved with making (with their descriptions), interspersed with a handful of my favorites from my AWESOME teammates across the world:

  • Kick back in a hammock that’s suspended from trees on opposite banks of a river. (Make sure it’s a safe section of a river to be suspended over.)


  • Get 10 of your friends to stand on a field or lawn. Strap inflated balloons to 5 of your friends’ stomachs. The other 5 friends must pop these balloons using only the impact and weight of their bellies or their bums (they can’t use hands, feet, mouths, or anything sharp).

  • Do a dramatic reading of your grade-school report card.

  •  A drawing, painting or digital image (no photoshopping of existing images) of Misha and the Queen as 1950 pin-up BFF girls.

Misha & the Queen

  • Show us what Supernatural will look like at the start of Season 50.

  • Find someone you love and butter them up; literally, cover them in butter and then give them a big hug.

  • The 2015 gishwhes mascot Dinomite asks you to pick a number between 1 and 1000, asks you 10 questions with yes/no answers, and then guesses the number. What were the 10 questions?


  • Have at least 3 people in a domestic or office setting, completely camouflaged to match their background.


  • Have a tea party with a special needs child or pediatric cancer patient dressed as a character from “Alice in Wonderland.”


  • Schools, hospitals, and prisons are notoriously dismal places that are in desperate need of art to brighten them up. Get permission from one of these places to create a giant Gishwhes-themed (mascots, items from the past, kindness, etc.) wall mural.


  • Blow us away with your amazing cosplay as a famous inanimate object.

cosplay famous inanimate

  • Show us your idea of love. Caption the image if you wish.


  • At the time I’m writing this, the price of crude oil is $48 per barrel. A barrel of oil is 42 gallons. So presumably for about $1.14, you should be able to get a gallon of crude oil. Let’s see you handing $1.14 (or your country’s currency equivalent) to an employee of an oil refinery, oil transportation or oil extraction company while they hand you one gallon of crude oil.


  • Write a thank you letter to a teacher or mentor from your past that you never sufficiently thanked. Mail it. You may submit an image of the letter, or if you wish it to remain private, submit an image of you mailing it. But you must mail it or bad karma will be rained down upon your toothbrush.


  • Make a nest and nest in it, dressed as a Russian Nesting Doll. Submit as two images side-by-side: 1) the image of your nesting-nesting doll, 2) and a fully functional, hand-made QR code, that links to the image of your nesting doll.


  • How do you do it? Everyone on your team has such beautiful mustaches? Do you have some sort of hair growth cream you slather on or pills you all take? Let’s see a grid photo of everyone on your team that features your mustaches prominently.


  • Create a cocktail dress or tux out of flowers (you can use foliage, but at least 50% needs to be flowers). Photograph yourself in a contrasting “greenless” urban setting. – Olivia Desianti


  • They say, “A dog is a man’s best friend,” but they are sexist. Dogs can be women’s best friends too. To prove it, make one entirely out of feminine hygiene products. The dog must be at least 40 centimeters tall. (See how international we are? Look at these units!)


  • The cats are coming! Prepare your dog for battle. Outfit him or her with armory, weaponry, cutting edge laser gear – whatever it takes to create a canine of mass destruction.


  • You’ve just received an invitation to the annual Color Me Pretty Construction Paper Gala. Design and wear an elegant gown consisting of only construction paper. You must be posed with a antique or hotrod car/motorcycle (that will take you to the Gala, of course) or in front of the Gala itself which takes place in the most stunning public building of your city.


  • Let’s see a portrait of Robert Downey, Jr. or Ironman made entirely of salt and pepper. Tweet it to him (@robertdowneyjr) with @gishwhes in the tweet. SUBMIT a link to the image to us, NOT a link to an image of the tweet – but you must tweet it to him for your image to count.


  • Stop hiding your true talent. The world deserves to see it. Without using special effects or trick editing, make a person disappear.

  • Take your mom, dad or other family member that you don’t give enough attention to (based on what they’ve done for you over the years, or perhaps, what you’ve done to them) to lunch or dinner. Both of you must be cosplaying established or newly invented comic book heroes. If you’ve created new heroes, caption the image with their names.


  • Your friend loves cake, so being a good friend, you offer to take them out for cake at a nice restaurant. Alas, you discover when you arrive at the restaurant, that your friend has recently undergone medical treatments that prevents them from moving their arms, so you will have to feed them. Unfortunately, light is harmful to your eyes so you must be blindfolded. While blindfolded, stand behind your seated friend in a fancy restaurant and put your arms under their armpits and feed them cake with your hands. Trust us. This is going to work out beautifully.

  • Death’s funeral.

Death's Funeral

  • You’ve been hired to design the cover of National Geographic’s next issue, “Discovering The Padalecki.” Do a drawing, painting or digitally created image (you may photoshop existing images for this item) of the new tropical species that has been discovered, much by accident, by workers building an inland dam.


  • You may not know this but William Shatner is a big My Little Pony Brony (a male fan of the My Little Pony series.) He wants to share this interest with other actors. Create an image however you wish of one of your favorite actors as a My Little Pony and tweet it to them. Get the actor to retweet your image and hashtag #Shatnermademedoit @gishwhes. Submit a screencap of the actor tweet.


  • (Time lapse this down to 10 seconds.) Dressed in something celebratory, hug someone you love, motionless, in a very crowded location. You must hug them for 20 minutes without moving and time lapse it. Add your favorite score to the video.39 POINTS

  • You know how sometimes you look at your child’s weird behavior and think, “Where did you come from? You certainly didn’t come from me.” Well, after extensive DNA analysis (thanks for sending that in) we just discovered they did not, in fact, come from you. They came from the new planet that was just discovered: Earth2.0 ( They’ll behave better if you stop trying to make them human. Dress them up or convert them back into keplerians and take them to a park, playground, ice cream shop (or similar).

alien children

  • Order a sandwich at a deli consisting entirely of condiments. There can be no bread, no meat, and no veggies. Eat it at the counter.

  • Depending on which self-proclaimed expert you speak to, the universe is likely heading towards a Big Freeze, Big Rip, Big Crunch or a Big Bounce. Act out what that looks like in your own interpretation using whatever props or moves you need.


  • The Department of Consumer Kale Residency has decided 2015 is the year to find its favorite hotel lobby in the world. They’ve asked us to help. Put on your most beautifully designed hat (hat must be made of kale) and evening gown or tux and get a picture of you in your town’s finest and most elegant hotel lobby with a maid or bellman.


  • Perform this EXACT choreography wearing similar wardrobe as the man depicted here but with one of your pant-legs tucked into your sock: – Do your dance while a dog watches you.

  • VIDEO. You know those people that stand around with signs offering to give away “free hugs?” Add balance to the universe (and bolster capitalism) by asking for something in exchange: hold up a sign on a busy sidewalk that reads, “Hugs $5” (or whatever you think you should charge). Donate anything you make to your favorite charity. Don’t pocket it. Bad karma will be rained down on your butter knife.

  • CNN has a video that they created that will play if the world ends. What would your end-of-the-world broadcast be if gishwhes caused it? Create it and then tweet it to @cnn #endoftheworld @gishwhes. (SUBMIT the video link to us, not the tweet, but you must tweet it for the points to count.) – Jane Lowther

  • Tweet a photo of two men or women kissing each other (clothed) to @Ricksantorum. We need to see the Tweet with #facerealityRick @gishwhes.


  • Last year saw the epic battle for mascot supremacy. Document this action packed tale in a fitting comic book strip that includes this year’s mascot (Dinomite) as well. Be sure to include all of gishwhes’ heroes, heroines, and super villains! – Roxy Fox


  • You know how when you draw lines to connect the stars in a constellation you see the image of the thing it’s supposed to be? You connect the stars in the Big Dipper and you see a giant ladle. The Stars of “Supernatural” deserve their own constellations. Connect the dots of stars to create a constellation in the likeness of a Supernatural actor. Your constellation must be crafted from an actual high-resolution telescope photo of stars in the night sky. You may not overlay an image over the night sky. You must connect stars to form the shape. You may use an existing image (or images) of the night sky.


  • Make and wear a “Save The Unicorns” t-shirt and stand in a crowded public place asking people to sign a petition to “Save The Endangered Unicorns.”

  •  Throw a conspiracy theorist party complete with tin foil hats and suspicious guests. – Joe Diaz


  • The Tooth Fairy is on strike. Invent another fairy that provides a service in your home for your children, or your dorm room/apartment for your roommates. Dress up as the fairy providing the service, and then caption the image with what you are.


  • The problem with growing kale is that hipsters are always trying to sneak into my garden to steal it! Show what a trap would look like to catch these pests. Extra points if you capture (alive) a real life hipster.


  • Many school music and art programs are underfunded. Find a local school art program that needs instruments, art supplies, etc. and donate a needed item to it (as well as try to find others to donate to it). The image should be of you presenting the item(s) to the teacher/administrator at the school.


  • Turn your living room into a giant snow globe with fun props and falling “snow.”


  • Read “Call of the Wild” to a dog in a public place. They must be within 10 feet of you.

  • Let’s see a refined game of croquet on a public lawn of a historic site. All participants must be zombies.


  • IMAGE. Create the Impala or any iconic object from “Supernatural” out of compost scraps.


  • Stand in front of your garden holding up a sign with your best unorthodox or hard to believe gardening tip for the First Lady of the United States. Tweet it to @MichelleObama and include “@gishwhes” and “#gardeninghack”

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.00.54 AM

  • The setting is a candle-lit romantic dinner for two. Let’s see the “spaghetti” scene from “Lady and the Tramp.” Both of you must be dressed for the hot date. Super bonus points if it’s in an actual nice restaurant.


  • Locker Love. Post messages of love or support on or in lockers of students that you think might need it.


  • Use recycled computer or cell phone parts to create a video-game inspired diorama.


  • Do your best 1950’s June Cleaver impression and vacuum the lawn.


  • A stunning origami floral centerpiece.


  • Random Acts’ August #GetKind theme is Literacy. Hold a book drive and then turn your automobile or bus into a mobile free book give-away. Each book must be bookmarked with a positive or kindness message. The image you submit must be you in front of your mobile book-give-away-vehicle with the books and with a recipient.


  • Let’s see the Leaning Tower of Gishwhes.


  • Let’s see a conquistador riding a giant tortoise or a man throwing a frisbee to an iguana which catches it in its mouth. Only because I think you deserve an easy item or two here and there, this should be done as a zoetrope versus doing it with actual tortoises and iguanas. You’re welcome.

  • Tweet a picture of you holding up your most inspiring book or book title with the hashtag #booksnotbullets and @gishwhes.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 3.34.01 PM

  • Commit a random act of kindness and have someone take a picture of what you’re doing and caption it. Here are some examples: Tweet it to @RandomActsOrg if you wish but submit to us the image only.


  • Carrie Fisher is known for her portrayal of Princess Leia in Star Wars. Her memorable hairstyle was often called the Princess Leia Bun. Bake a portrait of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in bread.


  • Present an artistic depiction of a famous Italian landmark – on a pizza.


  • Ich bin ein Berliner! Und ich bin Berlin! Dress accordingly in front of a Berlin national monument.


  • Register to vote, then take photographic proof of this event (i.e. you at the post office getting it done, you all holding your registration cards, etc.). In the photo hold up a sign that reads, “If Richard Speight Jr. can’t be King, I’ll settle for democracy.” (Or something else that indicates that democracy is your tolerable second choice of political systems.)


  • Make a portrait of a CW actor using only naturally shed hair/fur of your pets.

Tim Omundson - WOof

  • “Your room looks like a Pigsty.” Make this common parental figurative phrase a literal reality.


  • Work opportunities are scarce since the Death Star blew up. Let’s see a stormtrooper working at their job as a waiter, fast food line prep, car mechanic, postal worker, deli sandwich maker, road-repair worker, etc).


  • At least four people doing a harmonized round of tongue-twisters.

  • Sign up to your country’s organ donor register.


  • Matthew 14:22, “Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.” and so did the best of you Don’t submit unless you solve the puzzle or you will be docked points.  IMAGE. Impress a clergyman or woman with one of the following: John 2:1-11, John 9:1-12, Matthew 14:15-21


  • Writer Elizabeth Meriwether describes a game called “Frolic” she and friends played while driving through Scotland. Anyone could yell out “Frolic!” at any time and they’d pull over the car and run up and down the hills. Inspired by her, host your own “Medieval Booty-Shake!” road trip in Scotland. Film a video of you and your friends, pulling over at any castle in the country, jumping out of the car, yelling that phrase, and doing just that. We must see the castle in the background. You can time-lapse if you wish but we must hear the phrase.

  • Paint a stately, magnificent portrait of world or state leader after they’ve turned into a Clicker zombie.


  • Contribute the recipe for ‘Dinomite’s Fluffy Bites’ to and get at least 20, 5-star reviews from people who enjoyed the recipe.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 11.31.47 PM

  •  Show us something you find beautiful that most others would deem ugly.


  • On Friday, August 7th at 12:00PM in your local time, go to the most prominent location in your city dressed in a nun’s habit. You must provide an image of you in the nun’s habit in front of the landmark doing a “power pose.”


  • Back to school! Pack a backpack (or more!) full of school supplies and deliver them to a local school or school collection sight.


  • All Random Acts staffers volunteer long hours. They get no pay and often get too little praise. Do something nice for a Random Acts volunteer (or for the staff of another all-volunteer organization).


  • Help Misha and Gishwhes get an Erdös number for real this time. Go to  and complete the tasks, per the directions you find there. Submit a screenshot of your certificate of completion.


  • (Slide-show). Using only pictures of actual tattoos, relay a memorable moment in history or a fairy tale.

Although it still feels like we barely scratched the surface of the 215-item-long-list, I am so proud of myself and my teammates for doing all that we did! As always, the week left me exhausted (physically and emotionally), sunburnt, sporting extra bugbites and some unusual bruises, in need of a shower, desperately in need of doing laundry, and inhabiting an unusually filthy house. . . and I wouldn’t change a thing. Another year of zany fun in what I hope will continue to be a long line of years and a life-long tradition!

GISHWHES Networking: Crazy Beautiful Extended Family!

I recently posted about my experience with GISHWHES scavenger hunts in both 2013 and 2014, and I know I’ve already talked about the brilliantly fun community of GISHWHES in the past, but I don’t think you all truly understand the ridiculously awesome group of people involved in this annual undertaking. Meeting new people during GISHWHES isn’t limited to your 14 teammates, or even to the unsuspecting “normal” folks who you ask to become your GISHWHES accomplices. Oh no. GISHWHES is more of an expansive creative community than that! Surpassing all geographical and a heck of a lot of social boundaries and bypassing the red tape of society’s “norms”, there are beautiful pockets of gish-community to be found all over.

One of my favorite “places” to find community during this most recent hunt, which continues to be a lovely forum in the post-hunting months, is The GISHWHES Network on Facebook. With a roster of just over 2400 people from all over the world, this network proved to be a daily source of encouragement and community during the hunt! By the end of the week, the feeling of camaraderie I had with just teammates at the onset had ballooned out to encompass so many more people!

The GISHWHES Network

awesome design via: Jennifer L. Anderson’s post in The GISHWHES Network

What are a few of the benefits I’ve experienced from GISHWHES networking?  Well gee, twist my arm, I guess I can take a moment or two to tell you. . .

GIF source

First: The Creativity of Other Gishers is both Inspirational and Impressive!

Throughout the hunt, AND after, creative people shared their inventive perspectives on the hunt in ways I would never have dreamt up on my own. One perfect example was a poem that one Gisher, Elise, posted a day after the hunt ended this year. Forgive the fact that I will be sharing this masterpiece with you via several image/screencaps of an actual posting. I didn’t want to have anyone think I was responsible for this gloriousness, because the author, Elisa Welch, deserves ALL of the credit for her creativity!!!

Poem Part 1

Poem Part 2

Poem Part 3

Poem Part 4

Second: Other Teams Succeed Where Yours Has Failed . . . and it is well worth witnessing.

Some items are outside of my realm of influence or capacity to complete, despite how many e-mails I send or phone calls I make. I have come to accept this at the end of every hunt thusfar, although I never seem to quite accept it until we’re out of time to try. HOWever, where some (read: I) have failed, others will succeed . . . and honestly? It’s pretty freaking amazing to get let in on their success.

Exhibit A: ACTUAL ACRE-SIZED wolf-rooster-hybrid CROP DESIGNS!
Team Vatican Cameos


Exhibit B: FRICKIN’ UNBELIEVABLE beautiful and awesome and yet somehow still hard core POPE TATOOS

gishwhes pope tattoos

linked sources from left to right: via, via, via, via, via, via

Third: Like soldiers who shared a foxhole, Only a fellow Gisher Truly understands…

One unifying factor for this delightful conglomeration of gish-folk is that enjoyed the absolute ridiculousness of frenetic GISHWHES activities, and can all understand what it means to exist in scavenger hunt mode. The day after the hunt, the following thread took place, much to my delight!

Hilarity on The GISHWHES Network!

We might be insane at the end of a hunt, but we all at least understand the insanity and band together and laugh uproariously at it!

Fourth: You get to collectively share in not just the hunting, but the judging!

At the end of GISHWHES, you can volunteer to be a judge for which submissions may wind up in the “GISHWHES Hall of Fame” at some point. Even if you don’t win the hunt, this is definitely a goal for most teams. I wound up judging for about 5 different items, and enjoyed most of it immensely! Some of the posts that people shared during the judging were almost as good as judging the items yourself!


I sent out a blanket YOU ARE AWESOME note to the person responsible for this video, hands down a favorite of mine.

And there were just some generally fun silly moments that came along with judging things – especially because you kind of naturally have a built-in respect for most of the submissions, since you know the kinds of effort that go into even the simplest of submissions!

jensen monkey


Fifth: You Suddenly Find that your Bizarre Hopes and Plans for the Future are shared by Many Others


Only a fellow Gisher can truly understand that feeling, when you are cleaning out your attic and attempting to de-clutter your home . . . and you just cannot bring yourself to throw away the life-sized paper-mâché  goose. Or the absurdly large tube of green body-paint. Or the three full-sized nerf broadswords.

Then there are the random ideas that sound certifiably insane to strangers, but unusually wonderful to those of us who have participated in the memory-making mayhem. seconded


And so it goes, you see?

Gishwhes Networking is not your average experience.  

It is an induction into a gloriously quirky, creative and unusual extended family; a multi-faceted group of strange relatives you never knew you wanted before you have them!

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.

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!).

Paris Recommendations:

I have written about Paris before, complete with fairly descriptive recommendations and explanations for said recommendations. . . but with many friends about to embark on a Parisian adventure, I thought it was important to give some current,  somewhat succinct, and perhaps more practical suggestions for prospective visitors.

7 Things I Wholeheartedly Recommend in Paris:

These are listed in no particular order of importance, and are all “worth it” in the extreme. If you don’t want to get caught in crazy touristy traps or the crush of an overwhelmingly over-stimulating museum for the duration of your visit, that’s normal. These are my strong suggestions for anybody visiting who wants to catch a good glimpse of what Paris has to offer . . . and I’ve included some helpful practical info for planning your visit!

Le Musée Rodin

What is it? A gorgeous, stunningly-beautiful-yet-manageable, non-overwhelming, highly worthwhile, indoor-outdoor museum that contains MOSTLY the gorgeous sculptures and artwork of François-Auguste-René Rodin.

Practical information:

  • Entrance fee = 9 Euro, or included with  Paris Museum Pass access
  • Hours of Operation: 10am- 5:45pm (last entrance = 5:15pm), every day BUT Monday
  • Location = 79 Rue De Varenne (closest Metro stops = Varenne or Invalides)

rodin museum - a glimpse


What is it? Have you ever seen the GIGANTOR paintings of water-lillies that Monet did? Like: entire walls? This is that.

Practical Information:

  • Entrance fee = 9 Euro, or included with Paris Museum Pass access
  • Hours of Operation: 9am-6pm (last entrance at 5:15pm, also closed on Tuesdays and the morning of July 14th)
  • Location = Jardin des Tuileries (see below -closest Metro stop = Concorde)

Orangerie - on a map

Les Catacombes:

What is it? Lots and lots of bones, stacked eerily underground in a beautiful-yet-terrible reminder of human mortality. It’s morbid, yet memorable; fascinating.

Practical Information:

  • Entrance fee = 8 euro
  • Hours of Operation: 10am-5pm (last entrance at 4pm, also not open on Mondays)
  • Location = 1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy (closest metro stop is Denfert-Rochereau)

catacombs - a glimpse

Le Marché aux Puces

What is it?  Pure magic in the form of one of, if not THE, world’s biggest flea market. Antiques, clothing, housewares, art, EVERYTHING. Feel free to poke around on the M.A.P. website for more info.

Practical information:

  • Hours of Operation: usually open on weekend days, although Sunday seems to be the best bet for the most vendors!
  • Location:  Up and Down and in and around Rue des Rosiers in St. Ouen  (WAAAAAY up North in Paris- closest metro stop is probably at the Porte de Clignancourt)
  • IMPORTANT:  make sure you find the real Antique Market and the actual place because there is also a cruddy couple rows of vendors which can be misleading and cause you to be highly disappointed. . . don’t be fooled by this external nonsense. Find the real “Marché aux Puces” Because on the outside it’s all just crappy modern junk, not the antique mecca that I heard so much about. . . . and then I stepped into the magical old fashioned fairy-tale world that is antiques. . . and it was all better.

puces - a glimpse of what it's like

Versailles – la Domaine de Marie Antoinette

What is it? It’s the place where Marie Antoinette lived out her fantasy of being a peasant/actress/normal human being when, in actuality, she was the Queen of France, and not a popular one. It’s adjacent to the GIGANTIC and opulent chateau of Versailles, and sometimes people skip it because they assume it will just be more of the same opulence and gilt. HOWEVER, it’s beautiful, it’s quaint and it’s akin to setting foot into a setting for an old-fashioned fairy tale.

Practical information:

  • Entrance fee = 10 euro (although that does not include admission to the big palace of Versailles – the TOTAL “passport” ticket to all parts of Versailles is 18 euro)
  • Hours of Operation:
  • Location: Place d’Armes – 78000 Versailles, quickest access for travelers is by RER C, a train quite like the commuter-rail. To quote the website: “To get to the palace of Versailles, make sure to buy a ‘Paris – Versailles Rive Gauche’ ticket for zones 1-4”

domaine de marie antoinette - a glimpse

l’Arc de Triomphe – CLIMB IT

What is it? To quote Akon’s personal assistant, whom I overheard say this to the rapper himself whilst visiting the Arc: “This is a famous french monument.” To quote Sherlock Holmes: “Do your research.” Aside from its historical and cultural importance, if you climb the towers this is the absolute best view of the city of Paris!

Practical information:

  • Entrance fee = 8 euro, or included with Paris Museum Pass access
  • Hours of Operation: 10am to 11pm – cost =  to go up – if you’re there this weekend it’ll be crazy b/c the 14th is Bastille day, so there should also be fireworks and such
  • Location: Place Charles de Gaulle – at the top of the Champs Élysées (closest Metro stops are Georges V or Charles de Gaulle- Etoile)

arc de triomphe - a glimpse

Les Bateaux-Mouches

What is it? It’s a boat tour that takes you up and down the length of the Seine River, allowing you to see the sights and relax your aching tootsies at the same time. You can see the path/direction of these boat tours in the picture below! Bateaux mouche map - explanation

original map via

Practical Information:

  • Entrance Fee = 13,5 Euros
  • Timing information: Frequency – a bateau-mouche leaves about every 20 minutes. Duration –  about an hour and 10 minutes
  • Location/Departure point: Pont de l’Alma (on the northern side, or Rive Droite/Right Bank) at a place called “Port de la Conférence” in the 8th arrondissement (le 8ème).

Bateaux-mouches - a glimpse

In Conclusion:

There are many sights not included on this list. . .including (but not limited to) La Tour Eiffel, Le Musée D’Orsay, and Le Louvre. These are incredible/beautiful/worth while too, but I tried to keep the list above as succinct as can be. ALSO, there is the question of food. Paris has phenomenal food, but you can fall into the touristy food traps like anyone else and miss the magic. I won’t go into food here, but I STRONGLY recommend you check out Parisian food-suggestions from David Lebowitz [x] [x], whose food-blogging about Paris revolutionized my taste-bud experience of this fine city.

eiffel tower

Travel safe, friends, & amusez-vous bien!


Family, Nutella, and Photobombs

When I last visited my brother  Zachary and his wife Natalie in Philadelphia, my older brother, Nathaniel, also made the trip. We went to a small Italian grocery store. We took this picture, although I didn’t know what faces were being made behind me at the time it was taken:

nutella and I

The next weekend, after I’d returned to Boston and Than was back in D.C., my parents also visited Zach and Nat in Philly and posted this picture:

nutella and Mom

I love my family!



GISHWHES 2013: Team UndercoverCivilians

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted some of my adventures, which grad school, teacher back-to-school, and GISHWHES will do to you. But fear not, I’ve still had adventures aplenty.

GISHWHES, which stands for The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, was a magical experience. One week, 156 crazy items to scavenge photos/videos for . . .

Just A few of the AWESOME  adventures that GISHWHES inspired for my teammates and I: 

1.) “Roost on a busy sidewalk until your egg hatches. Announce the birth with a squawk (no more than a 15 second video).”

2.) Create a dynamic, documentary short film exposing little-known facts about your hometown (two minute video).

3.) Go to work dressed as a robot. We must see clips of you getting ready in the morning, commuting, and arriving at work and doing your job. We must also see the reactions of people you pass on your commute and/or at work.

4.) Get your team’s new ice cream flavor on sale in an ice cream parlor. The new flavor must have a catchy new name and must be a combination of ingredients that we (the judges) have never before heard of in an ice cream. The ice cream shop employee must tell a customer what is in your ice cream and the customer must sample your new flavor.

5.) Find an example of someone who engages in sustained generosity in your community and then do something nice for them.  In the video, you must describe what the person does for their community, and then show what your kind gesture toward them is.

6.) A preacher in church condemning GISHWHES and GISHWHESHEANS.

7.) A university professor giving a technical explanation of why the telegraph will inevitably be making a comeback.

8.) Find a dog named, “Castiel.” Call it. Have it come when called.

9.)Write a haiku about waiting. Post it (no graffiti!) at a bus stop.


10.) While showing some sign of the dragon-attack on your clothing or body, panhandle on a sidewalk (NOT ON A MEDIAN IN TRAFFIC!) with a sign that reads: “A DRAGON BURNED MY CASTLE DOWN.”

Panhandling Princess

11.) Bear and Dragon clothing made from Kale.


12.) Make a picture book for preschoolers explaining the Pythagorean theorem.

my book

13.) You are what you eat. Prove it.

you are what you eat

14.) If Gishwhes were a moving or shipping company, what would its slogan be? Let’s see the slogan on the side of an 18-wheeler. Letters must be at least 3 feet in height. No illegal graffiti allowed! You must have permission from the owner of the truck and we must see the entire truck in the image.

ship it

15.) Make your country’s flag from food or food packaging.

map it

16.) Make a cozy quilt from old dirty socks. Snuggle up in it alone or with your best friend.


17.) Let’s see a portrait of Chris Hardwick from the made from dried fruit.


18.) Taxidermy animals dressed for and playing or doing one of the following: roller derby, doubles tennis in whites, a 4-some of golfers (must be traditionally dressed with knickers), cricket players in whites, disco dancing (in 70s disco clothes), synchronized swimming (with nose clips), or a karate class (black belts).


19.)Go through a fast food drive-through with an adult dressed as a baby in a car seat in the back. The adult must have a pacifier in his or her mouth and must be pre-verbal.

Baby Adult

20.) Release the Kraken.Release the Kraken

21.) Mexico is famous for the perfect desert: the churro. We know churros are delicious, but what else are they good for? Improve on perfection by modifying a churro to serve an alternate non-food purpose.

churro swords

22.)A fully dressed nun in her habit going down a waterslide or swinging on a rope into a river.


23.) Viking Rats.Viking Rats

24.) Little Jack Horner, Little Bo Peep, Peter Pumpkin, Little Boy Blue and the Queen of Hearts at a late-night vice-ridden poker game.

Nursery Crimes

25.) You, dressed as The Flash in the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) tunnel. If this is too difficult, you will get full credit for dressing as The Flash in any actual, operational particle accelerator.

flash at Cornell!

26.) Shoot a real life comic book page. In other words, shoot 4 photographs of something that looks like it would be in a comic book or graphic novel and arrange the photos like panels onto one page. This must be an original story with original characters and it must be staged, not photoshopped. You have to figure out how to make the thought or dialogue bubbles and lettering during the shoot.

Comic?27.) What would a teddy bear hostage situation look like?

teddy bear hostage

28.) Create an online dating profile for your pet on a real dating site.

winky's dating profile


  1. Let’s see you and a friend, side-by-side, donating blood or platelets. Wear something festive on your head to commemorate the occasion.


30.) Rage against the dying of the light.dying of the light

And there were so many more!!!

I’m kind of happy for the break, but already looking forward to:


Ithaca, New York

I strongly recommend a few wonderful things that I happened to do in Ithaca this past weekend.

#1: Eat lunch at Viva Taqueria

Viva Taqueria!

I had a Daddy-Daughter date while waiting for my car’s new tires to get aligned, and let me tell you, the burritos are killer!

#2: Bask in the glory of Wegmans


My love of Wegmans is no secret. This place is magical . . . I mean, rainbow roses and a hummus bar? Where can you go wrong? I can’t wait until these abound in Massachusetts!

#3 Walk around “The Commons” in Downtown Ithaca

downtown Ithaca

The Commons is currently under construction, so there are lots of temporary community art projects everywhere to spruce it up! Even if that wasn’t a draw though, there are loads of fun and quirky shops down there to explore!!!

#4: Go out on Cayuga Lake

Cayuga Lake

#5:Go Blueberry Picking at Glenhaven Farms

Blueberry Picking at Glenhaven I have picked blueberries at this farm for as long as I can remember, and they are always delicious! It’s also quite a lovely rural setting.

#6: Visit at least 1 waterfall

Taughannock Falls


There are just tons of waterfalls in Ithaca, and this is the one that is closest to my house, Taughannock Falls. One of my favorites, though, is called Lucifer Falls, which is found at Upper Treman State Park.

#7: Go to the Farmer’s Market

Farmers Marketvia

This is the best place to find local color, beautiful artwork, delicious fresh bread, baby kittens, flowers to make you swoon, cambodian stir fry, mountainous ears of corn, artisan earrings, hand-painted pottery, and other generally fun shopping. Little Known Fact about Abigail/Cakey: my first non-babysitting job was directing traffic at this Farmer’s Market. Yup. Glamorous. They also have insanely good ethnic foods on site. Oh, and I once had the best Tapioca pudding of my life at the Farmer’s Market. No joke.

Brakes over Break…

Usually, a trip “home” to Ithaca, NY means a lot of beautiful experiences, and this long weekend trip was no exception! From sunrise on the lake (with Dad in a fishing boat!) to blueberry picking with Mom to local beer-tastings with dear old friends, this past weekend had a lot of lovely moments.

HomeHowever . . .

. . . getting home turned out to be a bit more of a pill than usual. On the usually 5.5-6 hour drive home, I got a flat tire. Then I got another one. Lets just say by the time I got home, it was a good 12 hours after I’d begun driving, and I was new-best-friends with a lovely woman named Deborah at the Honda dealership in Oneonta, NY.  Four tires later, our local mechanics let me know that I ALSO happened to have a little issue with my break pads. . . a little issue with the fact that they were 90% worn away.

thems the brakes...

Woof. Thankfully, I have a father who is a genius with car maintenance of all kinds. Determined to gain myself a new skill, I decided to learn from the master (Dad) and DIY the heck out of this task. I am going to share my newly acquired skill, but you should know that I will be doing this in completely non-technical terms, which only befits my actual skill-level.

 First, we assembled the tools needed.

Dad's Workbench

My Dad has an incredible (and incredibly disorganized) workbench (as you can see in the picture above). This is like the Room of Requirement for people who need to work on cars. Inside, we (ahem: Dad) found everything we needed for the job ahead. That would be (from left to right in the picture below): a ratchet wrench, a screw driver (not a phillips-head!), a C-clamp, some Caliper grease, a set of wrenches, a few different sets of ratchetty-top-things. Not pictured: we also used a hammer-wrench (to get the bolts off the tires easily) and a big jack (to hold up the car).

Tools needed to change brake pads

After we had the requisite tools and had taken the wheels off of the car while it was jacked up, we started by removing the bolts from the Caliper (with the ratchet wrench), and taking that off of the wheel well. You have to do this part carefully because  you don’t want to have anything happen to the hose that connects it to the rest of the car. We sort of gently balanced the caliper on the top of the tire-mount-thingy. Then you take out the old brake pads (see above). Which leaves you with something like this:

Caliper Off, old break pads off

At this point, use the C-clamp to push the compressor piece back in on the caliper.

See the pushed-out thing below?

Caliper detail . . .

image source, other image source

Just make sure the C-clamp is placed inside the caliper, not on the rim anywhere (because if it is on the rim, then you will wind up bending this piece of the caliper and the breaks won’t work as well.) Once that is pushed in, then you are gonna want to prep the new brake pads. This involves taking something called Disc Brake Quiet (or, as I like to call it: Red Goo), and putting some (not too much) on the two outside parts of the new brake pads that are going to touch the caliper. This will keep the brake from squealing or making any unhappy noises.

Disc Brake Quiet ON

partial image source

Then, with a little care to not get red goo on yourself, you slide the new brake pads into the notches we saw earlier, red goo side facing out, and then all that remains is to screw the caliper back on nice and tight (with your ratchet wrench!).

There they are - New Brake Pads!The last step, once the caliper is re-attached, is to put the wheel back on and take your baby for a test-drive! Be sure to hit the brakes hard a couple of times, just to make sure you did it correctly!  Oh, and remember to congratulate yourself, because you just saved yourself some money and learned to change your own brake pads!!!

Isn’t that cool?