August 18, 2007

Umisho

So we're up to what now, episode 6?  Kaname is normal enough, but the mermaid Amuro has yet to rise above brainless twit, and none of the other characters are really developing much at all beyond their primary quirk, all of which we discovered by ep 2.  At the rate it's going I can't see that this will ever rise above a bottom-feeder fanservice vehicle.  Love the gradient hair though.

Posted by: mparker762 at 09:32 AM
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Friodur Day

Rooney small style 1 brush
Truefitt & Hill Luxury Shaving Soap
Hand American strop
5/8 Henckels Friodur


The Friodur is a NOS vintage razor, and a lovely shaver.  Friodurs are like that...
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Posted by: mparker762 at 09:24 AM
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August 14, 2007

Lovely Complex

I snagged the first episode when it came out and enjoyed it.  I became distracted by other things while waiting for the second episode to arrive, but I recently ran across it again and snarfed down the next 16 episodes.  Once I started I couldn't stop.  It's a really fun mix of comedy and romance.  It's a high school romance story, but the two leads are a lot of fun and the show never really descends into emo territory.  Otani (the guy) is shorter than most girls, but Risa Koizumi (the girl) is much taller than most guys.  Both of them have a complex about their height - Otani has been derided as a midget for too long, and Koizumi gets compared unfavorably to a giraffe.  But they have fun personalities and similar interests, and both their friends and the viewer know that it's just a matter of time until they work through their respective hangups and realise they are right for each other.

For Koizumi this happens after only a few episodes.  But Otani takes a lot longer, and the middle of this series largely consists of Koizumi banging her heart against Otani's thick head.  He likes her, and even considers her a friend.  But he can't get over being shorter than her, and he can't make the leap to thinking of her as a girlfriend.  Koizumi gives up on him several times only to realize that deciding to stop loving him doesn't mean she actually will stop loving him.

Good stuff.  I'd love to see this in R1, but hopefully it won't get licensed for a few months - I'd hate to have to wait years to see how it ends...

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Posted by: mparker762 at 08:29 PM
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Going straight...

I started out in 1982 with a Gillette Trac-II.  Twin blades, non-pivoting head.  Things worked well for many years, but a little after the Sensor came out the old Trac-II and Atra blades mysteriously declined in quality.  Shaving became a painful chore as the blades dragged and pulled against my whiskers.  I wound up growing a beard, and kept it for nearly a decade, using a Braun foil electric for edging duties.  Then I started getting gray hair in my beard - not the distinguished salt-and-pepper stuff, mind you, but an ugly piebald pattern.  I picked up a Mach 3 and found that it was just as unpleasant shaving my beard as the late-generation Trac-II blades. Replacement screens for the trusty old Braun were becoming unobtainable so I upgraded to a shiny new model with a docking station, automatic cleaning system, and shaving computer.  It died two days after the warranty period expired.  I got another - it also died right at the end of the warranty period.  I got a Norelco - it shaved fine for less than a week before it started pulling and blistering my face.  I bought a new cutting blade and got the same result.

Frustrated, I picked up one of the new Fusion razors and got an absolutely great shave right off the bat.  The second day's shave was pure hell - the five blades had apparently taken off a lot of skin along with the hair and on the second day there wasn't enough skin left and the blades were scraping too close to the nerves.  Shaving every other day wasn't an option.

At this point I was getting desperate.  The last really great shaves I had ever had were with the old Trac-II back before Gillette nerfed the blades.  My best shaves were old-school, so I decided to try going even older-school.  I noticed that the double-edge razor blades were still available, and some quick Google-fu revealed that the Personna blades made by American Safety Razor were pretty good, and that some web stores were bringing in very blades from Germany and Japan.  This looked promising, so I bought a DE razor ($15 on ebay) and a pack of Personna blades ($1.50 for a 10-pack at Wal-Mart).  Since I was tiptoeing into the old-school pool I also got a shaving brush ($10) and a puck of Williams Shaving Soap ($1) from the grocery store.

The first day's shave was pretty good.  Not as good as the old Trac-II, but definitely one of my best shaves in years.  My experience with the Vision made me skeptical - you can get away with anything once - but the second day's shave was also pretty good.  And the 90th shave three months later was also pretty good.  The exceptions was the goatee region around my mouth and the lower neck area, both of which were still tough going.  The DE wasn't leaving these areas raw and blistered like the electric and M3, but it wasn't shaving them very close either.  The problem in these areas are tough whiskers that grow very flat so that the razor can't get them close when shaving with the grain, but which tend to snag and catch when shaving against the grain.

As an aside, I think it is a real shame that canned foams and gels have superceded the shaving brush and shaving soap.  Very few of the canned lathers seem to soften your beard at all; you can get a closer shave using only hot water, and it's just as comfortable.  Using a shaving brush and soap does a couple of things.  First it cleans the oils and dirt off your face (shaving soap is still soap after all).  Secondly it softens the beard by saturating it with water, and the lather keeps the water from evaporating too fast.  And finally the swirling motion with the brush helps get the whiskers to stand up.  It is cheap too - a puck of traditional hard shaving soap will last between 6 and 12 months.  With this sort of life expectancy, inexpensive soaps like Williams ($1/puck) are an incredible deal and even fancy English soaps from venerable firms like Truefitt and Hill ($12/puck) are still much cheaper than grocery-store creams or gels.  And the soaps (at least the English ones) smell much better than the canned stuff.  Even for guys using the newfangled cartridge razors a brush and soap should be a major step up in shaving closeness and comfort.  But I digress...

In searching around on the net for a solution to my goatee area I was surprised at the number of recommendations for the straight razor. The claim was that the heavier blade did a better job cutting stiff whiskers, and because there was no safety guard the blade could be dropped very flat to slide underneath the tips of the whiskers and get a clean cut without digging in.  I was skeptical - skeptical that I could use one safely, and skeptical that a straight would do as well as its fans were claiming.  But I had already taken a large step back in time with the DE razor; trying a straight was just one step farther.

Posted by: mparker762 at 07:59 PM
Post contains 872 words, total size 5 kb.

August 12, 2007

From the halls of Montezuma...

Rooney small style 1 brush
Penhaligon Blenheim Bouquet soap
Hand American strop
6/8 Clauss USMC straight razor
Pinaud Clubman aftershave

Posted by: mparker762 at 09:00 AM
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August 06, 2007

TIPTLE day

Rooney small style 1 brush in finest badger
Truefitt & Hill Luxury Shaving Soap
Hand American strop
5/8 Thiers-Issard "Pierre Thiers Limited Edition"
Pinaud Clubman aftershave

This particular Thiers-Issard is a limited run of roughly 400 blades that they found in the back of their warehouse a few years ago.  They were hand-forged by the company's founder Pierre Thiers in the late 1800s from Sheffield steel, and had apparently been set aside and never used.  These razors are an odd thing both by vintage or modern standards.  For one thing they are all slightly different, which is consistent with hand-forging but still strange in an era where these things were mass-produced the way Mach 3's are today.  But some consistent styling elements include:

- the barber's notch at the end of the blade (in a variety of sizes and positions)
- a bellied blade with an "S" shaped spine, the scalloped jimping on the bottom of the shank (you can clearly see this in the photo)
- the double-ground but only half-hollow blade (most double-ground blades are paper-thin in the middle of the blade, but on these razors the sides of the blade are only slightly dished in despite two passes on the grinder)
- the small duck-tail tail on the razor

Also in an odd turn for Sheffield steel, these razors seem to have a very high carbon content and take an extremely fine edge.  Most Sheffield razors of that vintage aren't terribly hard - they will take a good edge but won't keep it very long, but they are easy to hone.  Razors in that era from the other major steelmaking regions like Solingen, the USA, and Eskilstuna (Sweden) tend to be much harder than Sheffield razors.  But this TI razors, made from Sheffield steel, is a standout performer even compared with the best modern razors using the best modern steel.

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Posted by: mparker762 at 06:23 AM
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August 05, 2007

Friodur day

Rooney small style 1 brush in finest badger
Trumper's Violet soap
Hand American strop
7/8 Henckels Friodur
Murray & Lanman Florida Water

I've been fussing around with a stainless C-Mon the last few days and decided to switch things up with the greatest of the stainless razors, the Henkels Friodur.  This particular razor is sporting a set of Oryx horn scales, but more importantly it takes and holds an extremely fine edge - this razor has needed honing only once or twice in the last few years.
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Posted by: mparker762 at 04:11 PM
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