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Raging Pencils by Mike "everlution" Stanfill

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Cutting Edge

"I hit him to get his attention. I shot him to calm him down. I killed him to reason with him." - Henry Rollins

block planeLong Story Short: Shave and a hair cut, two cents.

Like millions of men in this country I shave using a multi-blade razor, but I draw the line at anything offering more than two blades as that, in my experience as a lackey of the advertising industry, is just a cheap gimmick.

And like those same millions of men I'm mystified how the replacement cartridges can cost as much as $2 apiece. Little bit of plastic, tiny shard of metal, nothing revolutionary.

It's a marketing scam, of course, not unlike printer toner and ink. But what can you do? I don't exactly have a Dinty Moore-quality beard so these little whisker's have gotta go.

The first option I tried was the budget-priced, generic store brand, but each blade lasted about a week having been apparantly crafted from recycled Yugos. Next.

I then tried a vintage safety razor, the kind that opens like a flower when you twist the handle. I reckoned if it was good enough for my father then it's good enough for me.

Big mistake. I don't how men in the 50s and 60s used these accursed things but in practice the effect was more like a block plane than a modern ablutionary device. Next. (PS, anybody wanna buy a vintage Slimline razor?)

So I gave up and went to eBay, looking to swing a good deal on the real item. Almost instantly I found a guy in Hong Kong selling Gillette Sensor 10-packs for $10, a price which included shipping. Deal!

Now this is where it gets interesting as I discovered that not all blades are alike, and the Asian version of this particular blade is infinitely superior to the American version.

A close comparison between the domestic and Asian cartridges revealed the blades are slightly farther apart in the foreign brand. This means the accumulated whiskers wash out completely, meaning less rust, meaning the blade stays sharper, meaning it lasts longer. A LOT longer. The last blade I used lasted three months and never once nicked or cut my beautiful puss.

Not once.

In all honesty, at about the same time that I started using these Asian blades I read David Bodanis' "The Secret House". This amazing book, written in 1986, looks at the world around us with a scientist's eye, analyzing everything we generally take for granted. One of which was aerosol shaving creme.

It turns out this stuff is designed to look good and feel good, but not to work very well. It's a triumph of marketing over technology. The author's choice was soap and, surprise-surprise, he's right. I now slather my chops with Dove soap and along with these new blades I haven't had a nick or a cut in three months. And I shave in the shower without a mirror.

I can't believe it took me this long to figure this out.

If you doubt me, try it yourself. The soap is free and the blades will only set you back a ten-spot. What have you got to lose except the dough you normally fork over to Schick and Bristol Myers?


end rant

Raging Pencils is a minor personal conceit of:

Mike Stanfill, Private Hand
Mike Stanfill, Private Hand
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