Household Tips from Brian J.: The Emergency Salad Spinner

Have you ever wanted to make a delicious chimichurri sauce for dinner using fresh herbs from your garden, but you can’t find your OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner because your kitchen-invasive husband has put it in the garage or–heaven forfend!–donated it to a charity garage sale because you haven’t used it in years? However will you dry those little parsley leaves? You don’t have little towels in that size!

Never fear: You likely have an emergency salad spinner right in your laundry room!

Running the herbs through your washing machine on delicate can easily wash and spin dry your herbs without you getting your hands wet!

But don’t add oil and vinegar to your washing machine! It will just wash out with the water.

Old washing machines without the child locks are the best, since you can just run the spin cycle.

Tip: Washing them with denim helps to unlock the scents and flavors that are a key to chimichurri.

How Are The Guitar Lessons Coming, Brian J.?

Well, I mentioned I bought a guitar, and I tried to teach myself to play from YouTube videos and books. Which went about as well as I expected, so I enrolled in some lessons.

So for about two months now, I’ve been spending a half hour on Monday afternoons with an instructor and varying amounts of time on other days picking simple and sometimes coherent notes.

But the guitar instructor has been playing for decades, and his lessons are full of musical words I don’t know since this is just about my first music experience (aside from listening to it really loud). He would talk about chords, progressions, pentatonic scales, chromatic, and stuff, and I have no idea what he’s talking about. It sounds important, so I hope I’ll learn about it later once I’m done learning where to put my fingers at the same time.

But he did mention one word I do understand: staff.

Awww, yeah. I know all about the staff.

Hopefully, we’ll get to musical tonfa and musical escrima sticks soon, but probably not. They’re more per concussion instruments, as I’ve learned in my martial arts studies.

I Would Have Titled It The Blair Switch Project

On the way into church this morning (for my children’s school’s closing chapel, not because I attend services several days a week, although I guess attending school chapel means I sometimes do attend a couple times a week), I passed the book Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel displayed outside the library.

“Is that the actress from The Facts of Life?” I thought. It is.

They probably didn’t call it The Blair Switch Project because its creative choices extend beyond birch or pine?

I probably could have used this book back in the days before my children could be tried as an adult, which is far too soon now.

Poetry Tip

Be very, very careful when rhyming ermine and vermin in the sonnet to your lady love.

Because few people actually know what they mean, and she might think you’re a nerd.

Take it from me; I wrote the book on sonnets.

Grilling Tips from Brian J.

As you know, gentle reader, the Internet and newspapers last year wrote a flurry of articles–well, someone wrote an article, and the rest of the twenty-three-year-olds in professional journalism copied it–about the dangers of using wire brushes to clean your barbecue grill.

The story goes that a bit of the wire from the brush might fall out, stick to your grill, get stuck in your meat, you might eat it, and it might upset the stomach of a shark that eats you or something.

Gentle reader, I heartily agree with everything I read on the Internet, and don’t think you should use a grill brush to clean your grill!

Instead, use steel wool. The smaller metal fibers will have a more pleasant mouthfeel and texture when they get stuck in that meat that the Internet thinks you shouldn’t be eating anyway since it takes fifty acres of land better suited to sustenance-level farming with no herbicides and only cutesy little signs with emoji to keep the animals away to produce four ounces of round steak. Or so I read on the Internet when previewing this post.

A little bit of rust on the steel wool will also provide a little bit of umami–without the urban legendary dangers of Madison Square Garden.

Household Tips from Brian J.: Cleaning the Coffee Grinder

You might think, being a humble man of the people from humble origins such as I am, that I do not grind my own coffee. Friends, I can understand why you would think that! I am lazy and prefer to buy coffee pre-ground for me, and in large warehouse club quantities! I am not that particular about my coffee! It just needs to be hot. It doesn’t need to be hot, I will drink cold coffee from yesterday or longer (skim the mold first!).

But I do have a coffee grinder. As a matter of fact, it’s not my first! I bought the first after accidentally picking up a warehouse club sized bag of coffee beans, and I didn’t want to waste them! So I got a coffee grinder to use those coffee beans–and to see if I could really taste the difference (Did I? Who cares? I NEED COFFEE, ANY COFFEE, NOW!). But I found it difficult to clean the coffee grinder, so I ended up giving the coffee beans to a co-worker who is a coffee snob and donating the coffee grinder to a thrift store!

But that was ten years ago, and when I recently made the same mistake again, I had a dilemma! Do I send the coffee to the co-worker whom I have not seen in ten years (weird, but a tempting idea!)? No, friends, I bought another coffee grinder, and I discovered this easy trick to clean it out every time!

If you’ve used a coffee grinder, you know that the bits of finely ground coffee cling to the side stubbornly after you’ve emptied it.

You can’t immerse it in water, and the grinder blade makes it tricky to get a moist or dry cloth in there. Especially around the axle of the blade! But I accidentally discovered this fool-proof method for loosening and getting those reluctant particles of caffeination out:

I drop it on the floor!

The impact loosens the covalent bonds between the ground coffee and the grinder, and its position on its side ensure the particles fly all over your kitchen floor, you can walk over them in bare feet and absorb the caffeine from them later! Because these coffee grinder particles are so fine they will slide right under your dustpan edge if you try to sweep them up.

And the coffee grinder?

Spotless!

But, Brian J., isn’t this a little rough on the coffee grinder?

Well, gentle reader, I don’t care, I NEED COFFEE NOW! Also, the grinder only has to last me the duration of this bag of coffee beans, as I still prefer some industrial machine grind my coffee for me (and blend in some protein-rich insect parts that are actually allowed under the Whole30® diet!).

A Valid Substitution?

I always see instructions that say Enter Your Pa’s Sword, but, to my knowledge, my father never owned a sword.

I do have my grandfather’s saber. Would that work?

To be honest, I’m not even sure why my grandfather had a saber. I didn’t know him well; he died when I was four. From about the time of the bicentennial, it hung on the wall of our place in the projects, on the wall of the mobile home in the trailer park, on the wall of the house down the gravel road in the valley, and my mother’s house. At least here at Nogglestead, it’s not lonely.

If this won’t work, I also have a filleting knife from my other grandfather.

A Photoshop That Fans Of Eric Carle and John Godey Will Appreciate

Soon to be a major motion picture:

The Taking of Pelham 123 To The Zoo

Come on, it’s a mash-up of 1, 2, 3, to the Zoo, a children’s book by Eric Carle, and John Godey’s gritty thriller The Taking of Pelham 123.

Of course, I probably didn’t have to explain that to you, gentle reader. Certainly you are well-read, or at least used to my obscure sense of humor by now.

When it’s time to leave somewhere, I still say to my children, “1, 2, 3, to the zoo.” But they’ve started to doubt our destination is actually the zoo in these instances.

Not The Store I Hoped For

So I saw the Battery Outfitters on Campbell the other day, and as I needed some supplies, I stopped in.

I was greatly disappointed! I hoped to pick up some 105mm shells for my M119A3 and some 150mm shells for my Paladin (well, what kind of mobile artillery did you think I would own?), but all this store had was small power cells.

It’s back to the black market for me, I guess, and grizzled guys named Sergei and Michal.

But it takes a lot of concentrated fire to keep Japanese beetles off of my peach trees. Also, for keeping peaches, leaves, branches, and limbs off of my peach trees.

Follow the Logic In My Humor, Here

So my beautiful wife is working her way through computer Spanish lessons, and yesterday, as we were driving, we passed some daisies, her favorite flower.

“What is the Spanish word for daisy?” she asked me because I took Spanish for four years in high school and a year and a half in college.

To be honest, although Dr. Pasero told me I probably could have tested out of college Spanish–that is, taken a test to prove I had enough knowledge of Spanish equivalent to the required two years of Spanish at the university–I took the college Spanish anyway, mainly because hauling myself from my corner of Milwaukee to the campus early in the morning for the test was a pain to my pre-Freshman mind (although I eventually got pretty good at it as my college career progressed).

I even took an extra Spanish class because it was taught by the brother of a fellow who worked with me at the grocery store, and I often got chided for deploying my sense of humor by directly translating from the English idiom to Spanish. That is, the absurd things we say as Americans that are clearly made ridiculous to non-native speakers.

But I digress.

“What is the Spanish word for daisy?” my beautiful wife asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. It’s true: My Spanish vocabulary was never that good, even in my Spanish class days. It eroded over time, but it got a little bump when my children were really little and had a number of bi-lingual board books. But as a couple of recent birthdays have illustrated, that was also a while ago, so my Spanish vocabulario has dwindled again. You make your conversation that fits your knowledge; if I had to, I would simply call it flor. But I am digressing again.

“I don’t know,” I said, and note: here is the joke: “I still call her Ciela.”

Now, let me explain:

In the television program Agents of SHIELD, this one character is called Skye for a while, until she meets her parents and discovers they named her Daisy.

Now, everyone on the program calls her Daisy. It took me a half season to do it, too.

You see, Ciela is a feminization of the Spanish word for sky. So I was saying I still say sky instead of daisy.

Well, I guess you had to be there.

My wife got it after a moment. So I got that going for me.

So if you read me savaging modern comedies and saying, “Why don’t you try it if you think it’s so bad?”

Because, gentle reader, my humor often requires a particular set of arcane knowledge–say, the Spanish language and familiarity with the Marvel television universe–and perhaps footnotes and flow charts. So I cannot write a screenplay with jokes everyone will get. Heaven knows I wrote a full evening play full of obscure jokes that crack me up but might be lost on many people.

And, besides, the perfect, sophisticated comedy film has already been written.

9 1/2 Ninjas. I have seen that movie more times than I can count. Or probably should.

The Depth and Breadth of Noggleian Humor

So I was talking with my beautiful wife about Ludwig Wittgenstein this morning, as I just heard a lecture on him in the (long) Great Ideas in Philosophy lecture series I’m working through (now, almost within 10% of completion!).

I told her how I had difficulty because every time the lecturer said his name, I’d miss a couple of lines because I’d repeat the pronunciation of the name.

“Vitgunsteen,” I repeated to her.

“Vitgunstine,” she corrected.

“It’s his progeny who pronounce it VitgunSTEEN to distance themselves from the mad doctor,” I said.

Mel Brooks mashed up with 20th century idealist philosophers.

When you see me smiling at nothing, that’s what’s going on in my head.

Household Tips from Brian J.: No Icing? No Problem!

When customizing a store-bought cake, you might find that you don’t have any white icing, or the white icing you have is from the 20th century and has crystallized enough that you’re planning to polish it to make jewelry to give to your beautiful wife for your upcoming wedding anniversary.

Don’t panic! You can use Elmer’s School Glue to customize your cake! It’s non-toxic and washable, which means your cake will be dishwasher-safe (top rack only!).

Good Lord, Internet people, I am only kidding. Please do not actually do this. I’m not sure how much non-toxic stuff one can ingest before toxicity occurs, but it’s probably more than nothing. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for this product is remarkably unhelpful. I did do some research on this post to see if I could find out if it would actually not be harmful if swallowed, but that fact is all No information on significant effects. Don’t eat. Don’t huff. Don’t Hoff. Don’t even read this post. It’s not funny after all.

National Lampoon’s Vacation Is The Best Retelling Of The Grapes of Wrath Ever

So upon further reflection upon the book The Grapes of Wrath, I realized that I liked it better when it was retold as National Lampoon’s Vacation.

What? You’re a skeptic? Listen, they’re the same exact story just in different eras and with a slightly different focus.

Joseph Campbell’s monomyth cannot account for all the similarities.

Consider:

  Grapes of Wrath National Lampoon’s Vacation
Broken down vehicle Jalopy Wagon Queen Family Truckster
Deaths on the trip Granma, Gramps Aunt Edna
Transit of dead body Mother lies with dead body overnight to escape from Arizona Aunt Edna taken to relative’s house
Encouraging strangers invite reflection Casy, the former preacher Christie Brinkley, the woman in the red Ferrari.
Danger in the Desert Inhospitable conditions Car crash
Theft Family eats peaches when picking Clark cashes a check by taking money from the motel register
Destination disappointment California closed to Okies Walley World closed
Violence at destination Tom Joad kills again Walley World guard held under gun, made to ride rides
Sequels “The Ghost of Tom Joad” by Bruce Springsteen National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Vegas Vacation, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

You see? The same story!

Trust me, I have an English degree which uniquely qualifies me to find such obvious parallels and to write about them at great length.