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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 gimmick.

And like those same millions of men I'm perplexed that replacement cartridges can cost as much as $2 apiece. A little bit of plastic, a tiny shard of metal, nothing revolutionary. Very puzzling.

It's a marketing ploy of course, not unlike printer toner and ink. So I went in search of alternatives.

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. (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, with the Asian version of this particular blade appearing to be somewhat superior to the American version.

A quick comparison between the domestic and Asian cartridges revealed, to my untrained eye, that the blades are slightly farther apart in the foreign brand. This may mean any accumulated whiskers wash out more completely, meaning less rust, meaning the blade stays sharper, meaning it lasts longer, etc, etc., etc. The last blade I used miraculously lasted three months and never once nicked or cut my beautiful puss.

Not once.

While I'm abusing the commonly accepted modern American methods of shaving I should mention that about the same time that I started using those Asian blades I was reading David Bodanis' "The Secret House". This entertaining 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 cream.

It turns out this canned goo is designed more to look good and feel good rather than work most effectively, a triumph of marketing over technology. The author's choice was plain old soap and, after giving it a try, I'm convinced. I now slather my chops with whatever bar is handy and it works fine.

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, if you can find them. What have you got to lose?


end rant

Raging Pencils is a minor personal conceit of:

Mike Stanfill, Private Hand
Mike Stanfill, Private Hand
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