Another Gishwhes season has passed and another winning team has been announced. This year’s winning team is Raised from Perdition, who were also runners up in 2015.
It’s become a tradition here at the Geekiary to chat with the winning Gishwhes teams each year. In 2014 we chatted with a member of Team Impala and last year I got to talk with various members of Widdermacker. My team, Team Subtext, came in a runners up for the fifth time this year, making us the longest running runner up Gishwhes team in the game. Will I someday be interviewing my own team mates? Maybe. But this year I’m honored to be able to talk to Raised from Perdition and find out about their incredibly exciting experience with Gishwhes 2016.
Are you all veteran Gishers or are there any first timers on the team?
Danielle: This year we’re all veterans – except Tia – some more than others. The team is mostly the same since the beginning of 2014 and at the time we were almost all beginners. It was good to see the progress of each other and of the team as a group as time passes.
Geoffery: This is my 3rd year gishing in GISHWHES.
Christine: Our San Francisco, Brazil and Chicago units have been gishing together since 2014. Vancouver unit joined us last year. This year we were fortunate to find very experienced hunters from Florida, Virginia, and Hawai’i. We could see our single gish virgin, from Connecticut, was a special talent from her first audition.
Tia: This was my first year, and it was pretty successful if I do say so myself! I found the team from an ad on Reddit, applied, and that was that!
Alexa: I started gishing when TRFP formed in 2014.
Were you confident that this was your year to win or was this a bit of a nail-biter?
Suzanne: We were fairly confident that we’d at least made runner-up with an excellent chance of winning, but with all the amazing items our competitors did, we figured it’d be a close race. There were flocks of rampant butterflies leading up to the reveal. We didn’t realize we’d won until Misha didn’t list our name on the runner-up list.
Christine: After the 2016 team firmed up, I believed we had a great chance at winning this year. We started with an amazing core of returning members, recruited hard and brought on strong hunters with specific skills. About halfway through the hunt, I knew we were rockin’ it and had a great chance. It wasn’t until we recovered our Message to the Universe space balloon that I felt truly confident we had a real chance for the win. I figured we were one of four or five teams who could take the prize: good odds, but not a sure thing given the excellence of others’ subs.
Tia: Although I was very proud of the team, I honestly did not think that we had any serious shot at winning, although I knew we’d make runner-up. Compared to teams that had been runner-up every year from the start and had every member returning, whose submissions were absolutely amazing, it seemed incredibly unlikely that we would win. I think that the difference between our team and other main contenders was that we had more individual items that we just knocked out of the park.
Alexa: The competition was fierce this year! Seriously, have you seen some of the stuff that the other teams have done? We knew we had a good chance of being runners-up again, but I don’t think any of us felt like we had it in the bag.
Christine: I did. I just figured there were a few others in the bag with us.
What item was the most difficult for your team to accomplish for Gishwhes 2016?
Geoffery: I can not speak for everyone when I say which item was the most difficult to accomplish for the team, but I feel that the letter into space was it.
Tia: The letter to space was certainly the most difficult item for me. While the item called for a letter–addressed to the universe and written by a child–being put into space by a space exploration company like SpaceX or NASA, I knew that there was no way they’d cooperate. So, I looked for the next best alternative, and after several dozen emails to various possibilities I found a company that sells weather balloons to send things into space, aptly called Sent Into Space. With luck, they agreed to help us out. We had about a month to actually send the letter into space, and since the company is based in the UK, most of that time was spent waiting for materials to be shipped and locating the materials we’d have to gather for ourselves, such as GoPros and helium. We decided on August 31 for our launch date, the last day of my summer vacation.
Unfortunately, my home state of Connecticut is on the coast and primarily forest, making it a terrible place for a balloon to land. Because the balloon drifts tens of miles over its ascent and descent, we had to drive several hours until we were far enough inland that the balloon could land in a nice area of farmland we picked out. After facing a variety of mishaps, like running out of helium and having the GoPros suddenly turn off before the launch due to overheating–causing concern that they would turn off before recording the whole flight–we launched three hours late and started driving along the course of the balloon as plotted by the satellite tracker in the payload.
Christine: The launch was a lovely success, but on the way back to earth, the balloon was blown off course and got lost in the woods. Tia searched for a long time but had to give it up as darkness fell in the forbidden forest. Frantic that the payload, and our footage, was gone forever – she set up an emergency conference call. We spent a day exhausting every possible option to find help, calling on champion geocachers and tree service experts to no avail. With everything left to lose, I pulled all my kids from school, packed up our Boy Scout tools, and drove from Chicago to Connecticut. We made a pit stop in Rochester, NY to pick up my husband and more climbing gear. With better GPS, we found the payload pretty quickly – tangled 50 feet up in the cedars. After hours of failed and strange efforts that included trying to knock it out with rocks, ropes, arrows, pulling and dancing, we sent my 13 year old son up into the canopy. He’s a great rock climber, but had never gone that high into trees. 90 minutes and an extendable pole later, Josh knocked the box down and we recovered the prize footage. Patient persistence won the day.
What was your most memorable Gishwhes item as an individual?
Maria: The scale replica of Kim Jong Un in sanitary pads was my favorite. It took several hours and hundreds of pads, and we had to nail him to wall just so he’d stand.
Alexa: The lutefisk-lute was insane to make. Each day of the hunt I would shape fish pieces onto the frame (two paint sticks and a mixing bowl) and freeze the result. When the entire thing was frozen and done, I installed the hardware to string it. I had done the math to make frets on the neck, but the instrument couldn’t be out of the freezer long enough to make that possible. I had also planned to do 8 strings, but reality set in at about day 5; it had 4 ukulele strings when I was done. We could only do about 4 minutes of video at a time with the lute before it started to thaw and the string tension would bend the neck. It never, ever stayed in tune.
Suzanne: It was really fun making the Sinscreen commercial. I basically ran around and asked (reformed) supervillains to endorse my product on camera, and I was amazed that almost everyone I asked said yes. What’s more is that even though I gave them ideas for things to say, some of their ad libs were so brilliant that I struggled not to crack up behind the camera.
Geoffery: The most memorable item that was done this year to me would have to be the monument made out of sticks. My co-captain, Nina, and I did a lot of our items together. This one that we worked on was not only time consuming, but made a powerful statement. We did the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge and had myself and her husband dressed alike, holding each other, staring into the distance. While standing there, our stick monument was strategically placed in the foreground while the real bridge was in the background. This piece really was quite beautiful.
Christine: My greatest pleasures were watching Alexa struggle hilariously, obsessively with that damned lutefisk every night; and the down-to-the-final harrowing countdown moments we waited while Shiane went into epic balloon blowing mode to make the “Nerf Gun.” She loaded the footage just seconds before the hunt ended. Three seconds, if I recall correctly. Then we saw it, and it was ridiculously, absurdly beautiful.
The most important item for me was “Bury Your Regrets.” It was intensely personal, and brought a moment of sublime gravity to my hunt. One great beauty of gishwhes: the list always has some personal quest for absolution, grace. I was lucky it was mine this year.
Tia: Despite the fact that some of my other items (like the space letter, the cow in the living room, and the museum painting forgery painted by an eight-year-old) were probably more impressive and more interesting, I think my favorite and most memorable submission was my junk food recreation of the 1985 National Geographic cover picture depicting an Afghan girl. It was four feet tall and took forever, but while I was completing it on the second day I remember thinking to myself, This is it. I was finally gishing after months of anticipation, finally being able to combine creativity with ridiculousness for the sake of art, and I was immensely proud of the results.
Christine: Tia nailing the museum painting swap was that mid-hunt moment I spoke of, the one where I went, “Holy crap, we could win this thing!” It was really inspiring. I think, as a team, we feed off each other that way.
Any advice for people considering playing Gishwhes for the first time, or considering playing competitively in the future?
Suzanne: Getting to know your teammates – before, during, and after the hunt – is an invaluable aspect of Gishwhes whether you are playing competitively or just for fun. Not only does it make the whole experience much more enjoyable and can lead to some amazing friendships, but I’d also consider it one of the key components of winning. Our team had outstanding teamwork throughout the hunt on many items large and small, and part of the reason that worked so well was because of the bonds we developed with each other.
Maria: If you want to play competitively, get organized! We were in constant contact months before the hunt, and went over the list together when it came out. That allowed us to decide who could do items the best, and we had people for backup too. There’s no way we would’ve won without organization.
Geoffery: Being in constant communication is key to a successful team. One must build bonds and get to know one another to thrive and dream to win. This team has been around for 3 years and each member, be that new or old, understands that above all else, we must be involved with communication. This skill is not an easy for everyone, but if you can make it a priority, everything else will fall into place: organization, backup, and support. You won’t feel like you are taking on all the work because you will have friends that help carry the load and stress.
Christine: Recruit strategically, communicate, study successful gish work, practice, plan ahead, and be open to critique. Understand the expectations of your competitive mates. Get organized. Be fearless, persistent and confident.
Tia: Find the right team far in advance. Make sure everyone shares the same expectations and that everyone truly intends to participate, and to the same degree. In addition, no matter how competitive you are or how close to winning, don’t let it get you stressed or anxious. After all–and I’m saying this as someone whose life revolves around GISHWHES–it is only a scavenger hunt.
Alexa: To the new-to-gishwhes people out there: you can do it! When you first start gishing, every item looks impossible. By the end of the week though, you’re remembering your friend-of-a-friend who has the perfect costume or location or cow! Also, if you cheerfully & confidently ask people for help, they often will. For returning gishers: practice! Once we got the team roster set, we made intro videos and photos. It’s not only a great way to flex your gish-muscles a bit and get into the spirit, but it’s also a great way to get to know your teammates and their skills.
Christine: Collaborative leadership was key.
Even though you can’t win next year, will Team Raised from Perdition play on again in 2017?
Danielle: We didn’t talk about that yet. We’re still enjoying the afterglow of the winning. I love this team, I’m in it since the beginning. I don’t know how it would be to be in another team.
Geoffery: Yes, this team will definitely play on in 2017. I am not sure about what the other members of the team plan to do, but even though we can not win next year, we can be recognized as runner-ups and get placed in the coffee table book and that is good enough for me. Also, now that we have won, we can focus on relaxing (I hope) and just have fun!
Suzanne: Gishing is a wonderful experience in and of itself even if you can’t win. Next year I look forward to another challenging and adventurous week and I hope to achieve runner up and get in the coffee table book again.
Christine: I plan to gish for life.
Tia: I’ll definitely continue. Despite winning my first year, I feel I’ve learned a lot and can definitely improve. While we may have won this year, I would still like to test the limits of personal and team gishiness and continue playing on a highly competitive team, whether that’s with TRFP or not.
Alexa: Next year I’d like to be on a team of newbies. I want to share this joy and insanity with people who haven’t experienced it yet!
Christine: We must shout out to our former teammates and all the people who helped us along the way. Some of our mates couldn’t register this year, but were central support and important connections. We stand on the shoulders of giants and tiny, cute children. Our kids and Cub Scouts are our very best props. We’re looking for tips on smuggling them to Iceland.
Congratulation Team Raised from Perdition and thank you for sharing your experience with the Gishwhes community! Have fun in Iceland.
How about you lovely readers? Any plans to play Gishwhes 2017? Comment below!
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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