There have been several shows that have shaped my idea of the silly and cool things men do, but one of the very best was “Home Improvement” which featured Tim Allen playing Tim (The Toolman) Taylor. Inside the show, Tim hosted a television program called “Tool Time” and the show plied it’s humor at so many different meta-levels.
In particular to this article, there was the man-grunt: a salute given to tools that were cool. The grunt was very expressive. It could sound like a question … sorta “aaaruu” … to a full blown guttural salute to unbridled power (which I won’t attempt to spell). For the uninitiated, this youtube link gives a good sampling of the expressiveness of the Grunt. Listening to it now, it appears to have a “gorilla” quality to it.
Given that the grunt is a desirable man-thing and that the grunt itself is a very expressive thing, I propose the following “Grunt Factor” score:
- Over Power Factor — OPF (3): This score is not about the absolute power of an item, but the amount of excess power applied to the problem. A v8 applied to a snowblower might score a 2.5 (really, I can think of bigger engines that could be made into a snowblower) but a v8 in a car is only a 0.5.
- Function Factor — FF (3): The overpowered tool has to be able to perform the function for which it’s been fashioned. Points can be assigned for speed and finesse as well as how you look doing it. No tool is truly cool without being functional.
- Operator Danger Factor — ODF(3): A tool is more grunt worthy if it looks dangerous. To pass the FF, it needs to have some safe mode of operation, but lets face it: many tools are dangerous if misshandled and a truly grunt-worthy tool is very dangerous if mishandled.
- Discretionary Point — DP(1): Like the Gilbert Music Wierdness scale (on which this is based), the discretionary point is here to correct a perceived skew in the score by the scorer. The discretionary point is awarded to items that seem more grunt-worthy than their score would otherwise indicate.
To give an example, in my most recent post, the Gas Powered Blender would receive a score of 5.5, in my opinion. I’m giving it 2 OPF points because while a chainsaw motor for blending is cool, I can easily imagine a host of other power supply choices. I’m giving it 2 FF points because while it performs the blending function with aplomb once started, I have observed several Youtube videos of people having difficulty starting the rig — which is also my experience of chainsaw engines. Maybe an electric start? Then I’m giving it one ODF point because while it is using gasoline, it appears to be fairly safe and simple to operate. I’m then giving it half a discretionary point because it is cool and mass-produced none-the-less.