Gishwhes 2015: Death to Normalcy!

Hipster Trap, Gishwhes 2015

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. 27 points


Every year, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the Would Has Ever Seen (Gishwhes, not in all caps, not with periods between letters, because they say so, at least for this year) invades the lives of thousands of people.  For one week, they find time to accomplish things touching, silly, bizarre, challenging and moderately embarrassing, with their registration fees going to the Random Acts charity.  Of all the things participants look forward to, normalcy is not one of them.


Victorian Smartphone, Gishwhes 2015

Using late 19th century technology and parts, build the smart phone Alexander Graham Bell would have built if only he’d had the time. 59 points


This gem is the brainchild of actor Misha Collins, who plays Castiel on the TV show Supernatural.  He gets other celebrities involved too, generally willingly.  William Shatner actually plays, for example, and various challenges involve players sending a variety of crafted items to others, who sometimes need to pose with the object, retweet a picture, or otherwise acknowledge the item.

One item did, however, require us to tweet a same-sex kiss to @RickSantorum.  I’m guessing he didn’t volunteer to participate.


Santorum Tweet, Gishwhes 2015

Death to Normalcy!

Construction Paper Dress, Gishwhes 2015

Design and wear an elegant gown consisting of only construction paper. 41 points.

“Death to normalcy” is the Gishwhes slogan.  This week of zaniness is meant to take people out of their comfort zones, get them to embrace something new, and bring a bit of joy to everyone.  It’s something I suspect Collins embraces on a daily basis, if his tweets and emails are any indication.

The tasks involve everything from tweeting a picture of your most inspiring book (9 points) to “get a president, a king, a prime minister or other official head of state to wear a real kale crown” (200 points).  Some of them sound impossible, but part of the fun is trying to figure out ways around the obvious obstacles.  For example, another item calls for creating an “encouraging message to space using either crop circle-style writing or some other form of land art” and then having it photographed from space.  I come to find out that, given more time, we could have gotten something photographed from a satellite. One of my teammates knows a guy.

Getting other people involved is an important part of the event as well.  Whether its putting something on Twitter or performing something in public, it’s about getting yourself out there and just perhaps putting a smile on someone else’s face.

Hammock over river, Gishwhes 2015

Kick back in a hammock that’s suspended from trees on opposite banks of a river. 71 points

This year I made Robert Downey Jr. out of salt and pepper and tweeted it to him.

This year I made Robert Downey Jr. out of salt and pepper and tweeted it to him. 51 points

With over 200 items to be completed over a span of eight days, no team ever accomplishes all of them.  The winning teams (and there are winners, although most people play primarily for fun) do get a majority of them done.  In comparison, my team finished about 30, so don’t be intimidated by the list.  The vast number of options means you have lots of flexibility in what you attempt.  I, for example, do a lot artistic projects.  Last year I created created a poster for a sci-fi movie starring Misha Collins and the Queen and re-creating a scene from Stonehenge Apocalypse, which is a truly horrible movie and which stars Misha Collins.  Oh, and it had to be in 1:87 scale.

Art not your thing?  Not a problem.  There’s charitable events (“Do something nice for a Random Acts volunteer (or for the staff of another all-volunteer organization)” 78 points), humorous activities (“Play ping pong underwater on an actual ping pong table. Crack a raw egg open and use its yolk as your ball.” 108 points), engineering feats (“Construct an iconic building over 2 feet high out of sugar cubes (or marshmallows),” which is much harder than it sounds, 55 points), strange places to be (“Tour a wastewater/sewage treatment factory dressed in formal attire with an accompanying violinist or flutist.” 82 points), and more.

Shut up and bowl in legalese, Gishwhes 2015

Translate your favorite slogan into legalese. 16 points

How big is this?

Over 15,000 people divided into over 1,000 teams complete every year in Gishwhes.  Each team is 15 people.  If you don’t have 15 people on your team, you will be assigned teammates so you have a team of 15.  I have no idea how they deal with any remainder. This means you can easily have people from multiple countries on the same team.

Some tasks are location specific, but those locations are spread around the world.  This year there were several in Times Square, but you can also drink tea on a high speed train in Japan or have a road trip in Scotland, which are just two examples.

Gishwhes always promises to be a bizarre week of silliness.  If you’re looking for something to challenge your daily routine and get you to do new things, consider participating in Gishwhes 2016.  You can follow Gishwhes on Twitter or Facebook, and you can get more information (including signing up for a mailing list) at

Zombie croquet, Gishwhes 2015

Let’s see a refined game of croquet on a public lawn of a historic site. All participants must be zombies. 74 points


Lucretia Strange, time traveler, has never met a historical period she didn’t like…except the 18th century, which was just rubbish.   You can find all of her articles HERE.  Her alter ego blogs at History, Interrupted.

History, Interrupted

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