Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bill Evans and Shaving

Bill Evans ("Complete Bill Evans On Verve") on the stereo right now.

After banging together a highly-successful Shepherd's Pie and a whole pan of (zero carb) fudge last night, I'm taking a break from fancy cooking. Got me some hot wings from Newport Market and a glass of cheap red wine tonight.

Mr. Obama did what many Republican Presidents have done in the past: made appointments when congress was not in session. The GOP is outraged, but find anything they are not outraged by these days that doesn't involve giving the rich and corporations more tax breaks or promoting things that Christians like and I'll give you a buck.

(By the way, comments are turned off for anyone who wants to argue about this matter: forget it: this is my blog, get your own.)

Mrs Elliott came home from errands this afternoon and gave me a big smooch on the cheek.

I'm a lucky guy.

Some of my favorite television shows are returning after winter hiatus; and it's high time, too: a fellow can only watch so many Cheers reruns on Amazon. But some shows I enjoyed, like Bored to Death, have been canceled. Oh well.  As an educated white man I know I am supposed to be thrilled that Downton Abbey is starting up again, but it's only a mildly-interesting show at best.

Soapier shows, your ladyshows, like The Good Wife and Revenge are also raising their heads. Mrs Elliott enjoys them and I find them tolerable. But other shows she likes, like The Bachelor are, to me, stupid. I'm sure she feels the same way about the stupid shows I like, such as The League, The Life and Times of Tim, and Beavis and Butthead. 

Heck, even I know they are stupid.

Mrs Elliott doesn't care for Dexter, and frankly, after this last season's cartoonish episodes, I have doubts about it, too.

I'd like to watch Portlandia, having heard it's quite good, but our Bend Broadband tier o' shows does not include IFC, and I'll be damned if I'll pony up more bucks for one show. Amazon streams it for something outrageous like $4 an episode in HD. I can't justify that.

No sir, I just don't like it.*

Shaving. Yes, it's time to talk about shaving. Last year, H. Bruce Miller ("A Bend Treasure," Bend's unofficial goodwill ambassador) told me that he shaves exclusively with a safety razor -- a double-edge (DE) razor -- not one of your pathetic plastic multi-blade cartridge razors like I have been shaving with for the past four decades.

I was intrigued. Was I missing something?

So for Christmas I asked my kids to get me some DE shaving tackle: a shaving brush, a shaving mug, and a razor. They got me one out of three (the mug) but let me tell you: even getting one thing I asked for for Christmas from my kids is a friggin' miracle.

I took it upon myself to order up a nice razor (Edwin Jagger DE 87), some hard shaving soap (Mitchell's Wool Fat), a good brush (Vie-Long Gonzalo), an assortment of blades, and then shopped around town for other items like a good pre-shave oil (Burt's Bees Vitamin E and Citrus Bath & Body Oil) and a nice astringent aftershave (Thayer's Witch Hazel Aftershave) -- both found at Newport Market; and read plenty of shaving articles and fora online, and watched a few shaving instructionals on that YouTube.

(Where were we before the Internet?).

Plunging in, I started shaving with the new tackle a week ago. It's a different technique than using a pivoting Mach 3 blade: less pressure, no long strokes, more attention to each stroke.

Bruce loaned me a pack of the ultra-sharp Feather brand blades (Japan) which are not recommended for newbies, but Jack tends to try to skip the baby steps, and a few nicks and weepers aside, some initial fumbling, I'm now getting a closer, sweeter shave than I've ever experienced. I'm talking a baby-butt smooth finish which lasts for nearly 24 hours.

Pivoting cartridge razors, I'm seeing, are the automatic transmission of razors; double-edged razors are your manual transmission: much more control.

I have fine-tuning to do. Everyone's skin and beard are different and there are dozens and dozens of DE blades on the market, from far-flung places like Russia, Finland, Japan, Israel, Turkey, England, and elsewhere, to try. Each has characteristic qualities -- finish, plating, honing, etc., -- that work well with some skins and beards and not so good with others.

This shouldn't take more than a couple years to sort out.

* A pint of local ale for the first to come up with the animated show from which I lifted that line.


  1. * Ren & Stimpy. Make that a rich 'n tasty IPA, please.

  2. AND Mr. McCormack wins the "attribute that quote" derby. A fine Bend Ore. IPA will be dispatched to his Vista, Calif., residence asap.

  3. Boo hoo, Didn't know 'Bored To Death'had been cancelled. I'm with your Ms .. 'The Good Wife' is good, so is 'Parenthood.' The Daily Show and Colbert rank high on my list. It was quirky, but I enjoyed 'Enlightened' with Laura Dern, nice that her real mother played her TV mom.

  4. Congratulations on joining the Manly Brotherhood of the Razor, Jack. I gotta get me some of that Mitchell's Wool Fat shaving soap -- the name intrigues me. Where can I find it?

  5. "Where were we before the Internet?"

    Well, I guess most of us were taught how to shave by our daddies, as I was. (As you can tell from my picture, I started shaving at age 6.) I remember my father using Gillette Blue Blades. (They really were blue.) I don't think they even make them anymore.

  6. I think my old man always used an electric razor. I've tried them, off and on, over the years. I have a scarcely-used pretty high end Norelco/Philips rechargeable sitting in my bathroom cabinet right now. Tried it a few times, gave it up. Electrics are useless on my beard.

    I also remember the Gillette Blue Blades, used to play with the empty cartridges when I was a wee lad; they reminded me of military tanks or something I guess.

    Mitchell's Wool Fat shaving soap is available from many online sources, here's one:

    "Congratulations on joining the Manly Brotherhood of the Razor, Jack."

    Thank you. But is a "safety" razor manly enough? I am told that Bob Woodward uses a straight razor sharp enough to split a hair. Now that's as manly as you can get without switching to a double-bit axe.

  7. "It was quirky, but I enjoyed 'Enlightened' with Laura Dern [...]"

    Helen, I enjoyed "Enlightened," which I found to be more enjoyable than the other "wacky lady" shows like "The Big C" and "Weeds," even though, as Mrs Elliott notes, how could Dern's character have risen so high in the corporation before she was fired if she's as socially-inept as she is portrayed?

  8. "But is a "safety" razor manly enough? I am told that Bob Woodward uses a straight razor sharp enough to split a hair."

    From what I know of your kitchen experiences, I would say that using a straight (or "cut-throat") razor would be pushing the envelope much too far for you.

  9. "how could Dern's character have risen so high in the corporation before she was fired if she's as socially-inept as she is portrayed?"

    You should read the biography of Steve Jobs. "Socially inept" doesn't begin to describe him. "Raving narcissistic sociopath" is more like it.

  10. Dern's character is no Jobs. Her inappropriateness due to an inability to read social cues is not compensated by any brilliance or charisma. She's seemingly just an averagely-bright woman with no clue about how to relate to friends or co-workers.

    And yet before being fired for some workplace indiscretion with a superior (who was not fired), then re-hired so she would not file a sexual harassment charge against the company, she had, despite her obvious shortcomings, somehow risen to some upper-level management position.

    A woman with her lack of focus or social skills could never have been in the position in the first place (unless the boss put her there because he was banging her, and she isn't pretty enough for that), and so here we have the glaring flaw in the show's concept.

  11. "Electrics are useless on my beard."

    Electric shavers are THE worst shaving technology ever developed. They promote ingrown hairs, pimples and blackheads because (a) they tend to push hairs under the skin instead of cutting them off cleanly and (b) they don't scrape off dead skin and excess oil the way a blade does.

  12. Very nice post.really very very nice post.I liked this post.


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