T-minus 9 Hours – Getting Ready for GishWhes


T-minus 9 hours, 8 minutes and counting.

The item list goes live Saturday morning. After we crash the site a few times, we can sign in and see this year’s items. I’m told to expect over 200 items to choose from. Even with fifteen people on a team, no one group has ever completed every item. Fortunately, that’s not the objective.

I expect to talk more about how this week will be going, and I’ll try to post some pictures of some items-in-progress. We can’t share submissions (or finished items to be on the safe side) until after the hunt is over next Saturday.

I thought I’d share how to get ready for GishWhes and what to expect, at least in my little corner of the world.

For starters, I try not to panic. This is my third year, and what I’ve discovered in the last two hunts was that I’m gung-ho, planning, organizing, plotting, and then on Tuesday I’m wiped out. Like wiped out to the point that I wish everyone a good weekend, not realizing that the weekend is a long way from Tuesday.

Each year the hunt is different. As I said, this is my third year, and my third team. This is the first year that my team kind of knows each other. We can thank our teammate, D for that. She wanted to get a group together early, so we’ve been getting to know each other since registration opened. I really like my team. We’re a good group of people. Our teammates are based in CA, CO, TX, NJ, NY, GA, and Denmark. We have two sets of husbands & wives. I think we have a total of 12 kids between us to help us out. Usually, I’m the only one with kids, so this is kind of novel to me.

There were some problems last year (in general, not with my team) with the Shatnerhate, bullying sci-fi writers, and a more competitive streak than I think is intended. Some people spend a ton of money, some don’t sleep.

Personally, I don’t go that far. I’m in it for the fun, the stepping outside of my comfort zone, new experiences, and the new friends I’ll meet. That doesn’t mean that I’m not competitive. Once I get started, I want to keep going and take on more items than my original choices. My average is about ten items each year.

I don’t have a lot of money to spend, and at almost fifty (that really hurt to type), I need my sleep. I have high blood pressure and depression and three kids that pop in and out of the hunt with their needs. Don’t they understand that Misha needs me this week?!

Last year, I spent $14 and the year before I spent $28. I don’t think that’s too much to contribute. I also conscripted my kids into helping where I thought they could. Whether they wanted to or not.

This year, I’ve already spent $30 for my team t-shirt and a team pin. My shirt was a little more expensive than my teammates because I didn’t want white and I needed a larger size. I’m also a pinaholic. I got t-shirts for my two youngest kids as well, but that doesn’t count as part of my gishwhes budget.

I was informed that the gishbot (the computer that assigns teams and stuff) marked me with a star which means I’m the team captain. I have no idea how they arrived at this decision or what it means. Like most things GishWhes related, there is no rhyme or reason. My teammate declared that I needed to make a captain’s hat, which I spent today doing:




I’ve already told my husband and kids that tomorrow morning right before 9am, I will need my actual computer to access the team documents, my Facebook, and the item list.

Every year, the item list is full of surprises. However, there are some things that you will always need, and they will always be on the item list:

1. Kale

2. Sanitary napkins

3. Children and/or Old People

4. A Twitter item

5. A Stormtrooper item. Yes, from Star Wars. The 501st Legion has contacts to help out any teams that ask, and that they are able to help. They are very generous with their time, and do  help when they can.

6. Sock Monkeys

7. A Hair Item. It’s actually time for me to get my haircut but I’m going to wait until after the hunt in case I need to do something for my team. (NOTE: I will NOT shave my head)

8. There is a messy item – like death by chocolate and the elderly mud wrestling. See item #3. They might be related.

9. Some kind of Supernatural co-star harassment.
10. Other CW show involvement and/or harassment.

11. And of course, acts of kindness

Other useful items to have on hand include:

1. Chargers in a handy place for my phone, Kindle, and camera

2. 1st Aid supplies. If I have them, no one will need them, and the reverse is also true.

3. About $10-15 in cash

4. Granola bars and water bottles

5. Duct tape

6. Ziploc bags. Quart is the most universal size, freezer is the sturdiest. Use the zipper ones, not the slide; they are more secure.

7. Wet wipes, and whatever I have prepared won’t be enough

8. Make a list of local people and their skills/connections. Meet people and network.

9. Imgur, YouTube accounts for the Team. This year having a Tumblr is a good idea but not required

10. Internet Access

11. A Group Facebook and a Group Google Docs is an extremely helpful way to communicate and keep track of your submissions. (Make sure everyone on the team knows all the user names and passwords.)

12. Some way to take videos and photos. Last year, I used my cell phone for everything when I couldn’t find my camera. This year, I’m planning on using my camera – a Nikon Coolpix. Depending on what i”m photographing, I might also use my Kindle.

You’re never prepared enough, but it’s a good way to see how you work (and play) under pressure.

I think I’m ready. No, no, really, I think I’m ready, but we’ll find out tomorrow at 9am!

Stuff and Things – Rosaries




My First Rosary

Growing up Jewish, rosaries were as unfamiliar to me as the Chinese language. I’m not sure I ever saw one outside of a television show, and even then it would have been a fully habitted nun.

When I first began attending Mass, the woman sitting in front of me prayed her rosary before the mass. Every morning I would walk in, sit behind her, and glance over her shoulder as she worked the beads. It was both equally intriguing and foreign to me.

In the Fall of 2013, I traveled to Williamsburg, Virginia to participate in a LARP (think dinner and a show except there’s no audience) and Premiere Viewing of Supernatural. I was staying with a friend who was working on props for the event. Among her prop work, she gave me my first rosary, the one in the second picture, that she made for me by hand. It’s beautiful. It is in my two favorite colors: greens and silver. I was touched that she would spend the time and honor me with her gift. As soon as I returned to New York, I brought it to my priest to bless it. It is primarily the rosary that I use. It not only brings me closer to G-d and Jesus and the Blessed Mother, but it also ties me to friendship and love here on earth.

In the first picture are my other rosaries. These were lovely gifts from special people who helped foster my Catholic education.

In the first photo, from left to right:

This gold rosary is very shiny and has the delicate features of a necklace. It was sent to me for Christmas after my baptism from my dear friend and godfather. He stood up for me as a witness at my Easter Vigil, but more importantly, he introduced me to the practicalities of knowing Jesus: compassion, forgiveness, and loving one’s neighbor no matter what. Those three things, those ideals, changed my heart and my life forever.

Second in line is the rosary I’ve already spoken about.

Next is the white one. This is from the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. I was given this by the RCIA teachers who taught me the class on Mary. They are a couple who I know from my memoir writing workshop, and they have a large devotion to Mary. They collect Mary statues and pictures/icons from all over the world, and they are magnificent. This rosary comes in a little clear box with a gold picture of the shrine/Fatima icon.

The fourth is not actually a rosary, but a chaplet. Chaplets have less beads than a rosary, and are personal prayer devotionals. This one is the chaplet of St. Anne’s, and was a gift on my baptism day from another couple who taught me during the RCIA program.

I don’t pray the rosary daily, but I will often be called to at the oddest moments, and I try to stop, take a breather, and pray.

Stuff and Things – Y Ddraig Goch


For those of you who don’t speak Welsh, the subtitle translates to The Red Dragon. The Red Dragon, Y Ddraig Goch is the national symbol of Wales, and in addition to being pictured on the official flag, it is pretty much on everything else in country.

When I was there, I picked up stuffed red dragons for each of my three kids, but for myself I got this little keychain. For the longest time, I had it clipped to my pocketbook, and it went everywhere with me. His tag fell off, but the plastic hangy thing is still attached to his ear. On his left side, as you can see if you squint and zoom in, he has a patch of the Welsh flag attached.


A few years ago, I was in the post office, my purse slung over my shoulder with the red dragon hanging in the front. I finished my transaction, and the postal clerk asked if I went to college at Oneonta. It is a state college in upstate New York, and I had in fact graduated from there.

I was confused how she knew that, and she pointed at my red dragon. My response was that it was a Welsh dragon, not an Oneonta red…

And then I realized, and it hit me that I hadn’t realized it before, but the coincidence was ridiculously obvious to me and I chuckled. I might have said that I guessed it was after all.

At college in Oneonta, our mascot was a red dragon. I lost that in the twenty-five years and I’d been carrying around my Welsh dragon and never once associated it with my college mascot.

So in the 1980s I had red dragons, and in 2009, I went back to Wales and got a different red dragon. It only cemented my connection to Wales. There are many threads attaching me to the land, and their only connection is me. In my mind, it makes sense. It’s a faith thing.

Thursday Travels – Llanrwst, North Wales



One of my favorite pictures from my visit in 2009.

Across the bridge to my left is a wonderful tea house. Excellent cup of tea and scone with cream and jam. I was too nervous to take photos “publicly” so I don’t have any from inside. As I recall now, though, there may have been a sign that said no photos, but I don’t precisely remember. I was very conscious of not being a typical tourist, but I’m not sure that if I went back that I would care about that. I love taking and looking at photographs. I love the view through the lens.

Behind me is a circle of standing stones. At the time I thought they were ancient stones and I gave them that reverence. When I arrived home, I did some research and discovered that those stones were placed there to commemorate the 1951 Eisteddfod. Fun fact: my friend’s grandfather won the crown at that year’s competition. He was a well respected and well known broadcaster for television and radio.

On the river you can see two swans, who were happy to pose for my other pictures.

Another fun fact: This bridge is said to be one of the ones designed by Inigo Jones.

Movie Wednesday – Annie




This is one of those surprising movies that my son and daughter both like. Usually, they’re at each other’s throats disagreeing over the week’s movie. There are only a handful that they both love and request with equal fervor.

I know there was some controversy with the casting of this reboot, but I personally happen to think the cast is perfect. I remember glancing at the comic strip as a child, but I don’t remember the original Broadway show or movie with Victor Garber.

What I found in this modern take were the small tributes to the original story, and how easily this story was adapted for the modern viewer. I loved Annie commenting on how big her hair was. I looked at my kids and told them that the original Annie also had big hair.

She is a sweet, optimistic girl who likes everyone and believes the best of them. She’s certain that her parents are coming back, and she waits outside the restaurant where they left her.

She infects Will Starks with her bubblyness and it changes him for the better. He reminisces with her about how he grew up, and he really cares about her.

It’s a heartwarming, hopeful movie with a great and familiar soundtrack. I love that I had enough musicals in my childhood that their bursting into song was normal. My son wasn’t used to it and he asked why no one in the backround noticed that they were suddenly singing and dancing in the middle of the city street. I think I’ll introduce him to some old classics like The Sound of Music and West Side Story.

I’ve seen this version of Annie twice and we’re rewatching it this afternoon before we have to return it to Redbox. I don’t find it tiresome at all.

Jamie Foxx and Quevenzhane Wallis made a fantastic pair. The supporting cast was also superb. I especially liked Adewale Akinnuoyep-Agbaje as Mr. Stark’s driver who has a good sense of humor and a fondness for Annie. In fact, everyone has a fondness for Annie except for the bad guys, which should give you a clue that they are bad guys. How can anyone have a bad thing to say about her?

This is one of my favorite movies that I’ve seen this year.

Talyn’s Heroic Journey in #Farscape Is Now Available on Kindle


The writer is the friend of a friend. This caught my eye because Farscape was one of those shows that I missed along the way. My husband’s friend sent us his DVD set of the series when he finished with it, and it still took us a few years to get to it.

I felt that the show had its issues, but that was my nitpickyness of being a longtime science fiction in space fan. It felt like a cross between Star Trek and Babylon 5. There was a good ensemble cast, unusual characters who didn’t fit their stereotypes, a home on the ship, friendship, and a good story.It was futuristic and modern.

One of the arcs that I found interesting was Talyn’s story. For those who are unfamiliar with the show, Talyn is a ship. He is a living ship and the hybrid offspring of the living ship, Moya, that the crew travels on. His story is unusual, and I was so excited to see Natacha’s book about his journey.

It is now available on Kindle, and I’m looking forward to reading it and seeing how close my own thoughts mesh with hers.


Natacha Guyot

Do you like Farscape? Do unlikely heroes interest you? Are redemption stories compelling to you? Then, you’ll probably want to check out my eBook, Talyn’s Heroic Journey in Farscape:

Created in 1999 by Rockne S. O’Bannon, the Science Fiction television series Farscape focuses on the eclectic crew of a living ship called Moya. One of the supporting characters, Talyn, is Moya’s hybrid offspring, is born at the end of the first season and also experiences his own heroic journey.

Since the show belongs to the Science Fiction genre, it is interesting to study how a non-human character that isn’t even humanoid might become a hero. While cyborg and alien heroes have existed in Science Fiction narratives of many kinds, it remains rather rare that a space ship, even alive and sentient, is given significant character development.

Three elements are of particular significance in the analysis of hybrid’s heroic…

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Stuff and Things – Green Glass Lamp



I’ve seen lamps like this growing up. I think my grandmother may have had one in her basement. She had a weird, spooky basement that had shelves and books and a round table in the room. I used to read Nancy Drew down there. Maybe that’s why I remember it as spooky.

Other than that flash, I hadn’t remembered which family member had the green glass lamp, but I hated them. I don’t even know why I hated them.

And then I forgot about them.

Last year, we were staying with my mother-in-law over the Thanksgiving holiday and I noticed this lamp in the bedroom where we were sleeping.

I wanted it!

It’s not a bedroom lamp; it’s a desk lamp.

It’s like the lamp on the desk of a great detective or private eye, two of my dream jobs as a child. It reminds me of the table lamps in the bunker on Supernatural, and I was immediately drawn to it.

My mother-in-law gave it to me and it’s been a centerpiece of my office ever since. It makes me feel like a real writer. I try to surround myself in my writing space with things that inspire me, and this lamp has definitely fit the bill.

It’s a writer’s lamp!

I kind of love that as a young person I hated this type of lamp because I think it can stand as a symbol of life’s changes. It shows how far I’ve come. It’s not just growing up; it’s growing out.