tmcg: (gargoyle)
I hereby announce the Gilhoolie Awards. These awards, of which I hope there will be many, will be bestowed at will, and at times without the recipient's knowledge, on people or things that, usually in a random act of senseless efficiency or kindness, Make My Life Easier.

The Gilhoolie, also known as "the gizmo," is an ancient family heirloom, a metal gripper that helps twist off recalcitrant caps. It seems to no longer be produced by any company, although there are many comparable cap-twisters on the market. No longer being produced by any company is not a criterion for consideration for a Gilhoolie Award. Judging for the Gilhoolie Award is at my sole discretion and, moreover, at whim.

The recipient of the first Gilhoolie Award, in fact the motivation for the very founding of the award, goes to an unnamed checkout clerk at Waldbaum's. She guided customers through her line with preternatural speed and the authority of a security officer at an airport. "Have your club card out," she exhorted each customer who joined the line, addressing everyone as "mama" or "papi" with a delightful ethnic egalitarianism. "Have your credit card out, or your check card if you're paying by check." The woman ahead of me was paying by check, and received special instructions as the clerk was scanning her order through. When I got there, she scanned and bagged, I bagged and carted; it was an efficient, graceful, coordinated dance. I have never gotten through a checkout line faster. It was a thing of beauty.

There was a runner-up, an object that has slipped my mind. I'll update when I remember.

Honorable mention goes to another unnamed grocery clerk (I must learn to read nametags) who told me where I could buy Brita filters for a lot less than I was paying there. Making my life less expensive doesn't strictly meet the criteria, but is close enough for acknowledgment.

The first Gilhoolie Grand Master Award goes, on general principles, to Tom Powers, who just makes everyone's life easier when he can and is a way-cool guy.

tmcg: (Default)
"Your search - gilhoolie jar opener device - did not match any documents."
"Your search - gilhoolie jar opener - did not match any documents."
"Your search - gilhoolie opener - did not match any documents."

When your hands are totally effed up by martial arts and you kind of want them to get better, you acquiesce when they tell you that no, they really aren't going to open this fresh bottle of Diet Cherry Coke. You remind yourself that you are a tool-using Homo sapiens (cf. the packaging unopenable by opposable-thumbed hands). You get out...


The Gizmo is this thing we've always had around the house. It's the kind of object they'd give you in writing class as an exercise in describing the indescribable. It grabs the lids of jars and helps you open them. It's a kind of ratchet with dull grabber teeth. Mine, which I suppose amounts to a family heirloom at this point, says GILHOOLIE on the side. That's such a fun word that I don't know why we resorted to calling it the Gizmo. It's just fun to say, like "Cuddledown" and "Noodle Kidoodle" and "Pudgie's" and "We are the Fallorie Men." I looked for a link to post here as illustration, but while there are tons of other jar openers out there, from pieces of rubber in the shape of things like cell phones (who thinks these things up?) to jar openers that look like they would open only jars (nothing so small-diameter as a bottle) to complex electrical devices you have to install under a cabinet (if I have to get the drill out, screw it), I could not find a current version of the old Gilhoolie.

This is a great loss to Western civilization.

I will guard my Gilhoolie with my life, for it may be the last of its kind.


18 Oct 2005 update: Thanks to all the people who've commented! Apparently there isn't much information about the Gilhoolie out there, so a Google search now turns up this page. How...recursive! I've started a gallery of Gilhoolie pictures here. First entry is a scan from Ron Peterson of the gizmo's debut as a contest winner in a 1953 issue of Mechanix Illustrated. Actually two scans, one higher-resolution so the text is more easily readable. To think that the irreplaceable gizmo was invented by a retired dentist from Yonkers! Or maybe that's not so odd, since getting stubborn caps to turn can be like pulling teeth.

My Gilhoolie looks a bit different from this one, and the manufacturer seems to have moved to Connecticut at some point, so there was evolution after this point. I'll be uploading more pictures as I can. Also, check the comments here for more information.

Nov 2005 update: The Vermont Country Store sells Gilhoolies. Hooray!

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