GISH: What To Expect
With only a few days to go until the official start of GISH 2019, we here at Nerds and Beyond wanted to bring you some advice from some of the experienced Gish-ers on our staff. Here you can find how to prepare for the un-preparable, what to expect and how to not lose all your cool (fair warning, you will lose some.) Here are some of our tips and tricks for Gishing:
First and foremost, the most important thing to remember when gearing up for GISH is to expect the unexpected. Be flexible and prepared to think outside the proverbial box. There will be many items that have you scratching your head and wondering what kind of deranged mind even thinks these things up, but that is the beauty of GISH. It lets you unearth new skills and talents that you would have never thought to try out. Last year, I discovered I could sculpt a pretty good likeness of Queen Elizabeth out of chocolate and that an air compressor can launch a wedding cake nearly 10 feet into the air. Remember, while learning new and different things about yourself that your team is the best source of encouragement and collaboration. Communication amongst team members is the most important skill to cultivate during GISH. It can be the difference between having the best experience of your life and just feeling overwhelmed and confused. Of course at some point during the hunt everyone will inevitably feel that way, but good communication will help to ease that confusion and build life long friendships in the process.
When you first sign up for GISH, you think you are signing up for a fun scavenger hunt. What you don’t know is the hunt takes over your life for that week. It can be pretty overwhelming at first, looking at all the hundreds of items on the list at once, but the best way to tackle GISH is one small item at a time. Don’t let the insane tasks that are listed eat away at you. Do only what you think you can handle. Start small. Eventually you can work your way up to having an underwater business meeting, as I did a couple of years ago! Also, keep in mind that GISH is for a good cause and is all in good fun. Who knows, you might surprise yourself with your creativity!
If you think you can’t do something, stop thinking about it and try (within reasonable safety and law limitations of course.) I have done GISH for a couple of years now and some of my favorite items were ones I never would have thought I’d have participated in or even attempted (such as putting a rainbow mohawk on my cat and doing a photoshoot, an underwater office meeting with a Misha mask on and an underwater art gallery.)
Last year, I was better about asking around for different resources to complete some of the items. There was an item to play a giant crane game using an actual crane, so I contacted a construction company to see if they could help. They replied that more information was needed so that they could “run this up the chain”. In the end, they were not able to help out because they had safety concerns, but the thought of this wacky request going up the chain of command humors me and I hope it brought at least a small chuckle to those that received the request. So, even though I wasn’t able to complete the item, I didn’t fail the mission of GISH which is bringing good to this world. There was nothing to lose to just ask.
I was able to get two other items completed by asking around– someone let us use their Cycle Studio while I was dressed as a nun and someone else from a cosplay group went to a jewelry store dressed as a Lord of The Rings character (fun fact, after agreeing to help our team, he also mentioned that he went to school with Rob Benedict!) The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy what you are doing. Yes, there will be times you curse Misha, but that’s part of the fun. And when the timer runs out on the week of being Misha and GISH’s tortured puppet, there will be relief that you can get some sleep again, but sadness will be there as well.
But wait, there’s more! Don’t forget to sign-up for HARSH (Human Analysis of Really Strange Happenings.) After the hunt this allows you to review other Gishers’ Item Submissions and choose the top five for the item you get to review. Participating in this helps select submissions for the Coffee Table Book and for the GISH Hall of Fame. HARSH (previously known as FEGVEP) has been one of my personal favorite things about GISH.
I’ve done GISH every year for the past five years, three of those on a highly competitive level. So my advice is for those who really want to go for that winning or runner-up spot. I’ve been runner-up three times on two different teams and most teams on this level have the same or at least a similar approach to the hunt. Get together a team of diverse people with different talents. Being an “allrounder” can be a talent too, only so many artists have room on one team, so if you’re flexible, you’re golden. There are no general “rules” for competitive Gishing, but there are some definite points that are important.
One, quantity and quality are important if you want to go for a win/runner-up spot. Most teams in that cycle complete 95% or more of the list and most of those items are completed in high quality with something a little special in order to get those bonus points. Sometimes getting creative can get you points, sometimes it won’t get you any. Yes, they want that picture from space but maybe the picture you submitted where you’re crying with ice cream and a bottle of wine trying to call space companies will make the coffee table book.
Be aesthetically pleasing. Framing and backgrounds of your pictures are important! Take pictures from different angles in front of different backgrounds and for the love of everything, don’t film in portrait mode. Landscape is the (only) way to go.
Also, there is one point to clear up: No, none of the high-ranking teams pay to get their items done. At least none of the ones I know. It’s mostly about networking and finding the resources you need. My advice for people going fully competitive is: keep having fun with it! Most people don’t understand that being fully immersed into a competition can be a lot of fun. I remember seeing my teammates’ work and just being so inspired by their creativity and feeling the utter joy when we’ve accomplished a high-ranking item.
I first learned about GISH right when I got into Supernatural. I started watching all the interviews and clips on YouTube, stumbled upon an interview with Misha Collins and saw the trailer for this little scavenger hunt. I didn’t expect it to change my life so much in the past couple of years. GISH makes you not only step out of your comfort zone, it throws you out of it, buries it and it’s never seen again. You learn about talents you never thought you had, you are surprised by the kindness and openness of those people around you. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as free, happy and creative as I did when I was doing GISH these past few years, because it’s one week of complete and utter distraction. I’m retiring from GISH with three medals, friends around the world and so many amazing memories. It’s truly an enrichment to my life and I don’t regret one second of it. Okay, maybe I regret getting heat stroke. Or the glitter. But if you’re doing GISH for the first time, please prepare for a magical experience. No matter what level you’re Gishing on, I know you’re going to have a blast!
If you’re a rural, small-town Gisher like myself, the hunt can seem impossible. My first year I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do any items because I didn’t have nearby stores that I could just run to if I needed random supplies and I certainly don’t have other Gishers in my town to help out. This is where getting help from friends, family and even strangers is key.
Each hunt, after the list is released, I head over to Facebook and just start listing off things I might need help with. Helpful tip: Local buy/sell groups are the way to go. Seriously, you’d be surprised with what people have lying around that they’d be more than happy to sell to you for cheap (and sometimes just give it for free.) My local buy/sell group is how I found most of the things I needed to complete tasks that I was sure I couldn’t do. I found a goat and a boat, work coveralls, tutus, volunteers to assist with items where a group of people is necessary and I even tracked down a local professional Stormtrooper cosplayer that I didn’t even know existed here!
Over the years, I’ve become a lot more comfortable with asking for weird things and most people around here just ask, “Is it that time of the year again?” when I post my list of things I need. In all honestly, people are eager to help as long as they get to eventually see the weird outcome of the item.
My tips for GISH: enjoy this time to be a little weirder than you “normally” are, wait until after the week is over before you decide to throw random things out (you never know what you’ll need!) and take a breather every once in a while.
When someone asks me what to expect during the hunt, I usually just laugh (a little maniacally) and say “insanity”. My suggestion is: find one item that looks like fun to start with and just do it. Once you get that one item under your belt everything else becomes a lot less impossible or out of reach. Also ASK FOR HELP! Talk to your friends, family, coworkers, random strangers on the street and ask if they would be willing to help with items. You’ll be surprised by how many people are willing to do crazy things in the name of fun and absurdity.
Don’t expect to sleep much but try to get a couple hours daily. Drink lots of fluids. I recommend a daily primal scream of “Dammit Misha” just to release some of the frustration. And remember, if it’s not fun don’t do it, regroup and try a different item.
There you have it! Nerds and Beyond’s 2019 GISH pregame. Stretch out now, stock your fridge and supplies, warn your friends and shake off whatever semblance of normalcy you’ve retaken since last year (just stow it away for a week, you’ll need it again once you’re done. Or will you…?) First timers get ready and veterans rejoice, GISH is here!