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Around The World In 80 Blades - a shaving journal

Blade #34: Vi-John Super Platinum (continued)​

Round 3: Keep Calm and Carry On Shaving!​

This was a somewhat challenging shave, but despite going in with some trepidation, I’ve come out with a good shave and, errrmm, not *too* much irritation… so all’s well that ends well, as the saying goes!

The reason for all this uncertainty is that this was the first shave with this:

Gillette Aristocrat (2nd edition, circa 1948)​


… which I got for a ridiculously low price as ‘defective/ersatz’ – the seller said they couldn’t figure out what was wrong but that it shaves ‘very aggressively’… and since it’s a Rhodium-plated classic and came in an original metal case (which also needed some TLC), I thought it was worth a gamble to see if I could get some joy out of it.

After careful cleaning, sanitation and a bit of light polish, it certainly looks bright and shiny… and it opens and closes smoothly, so I don’t think there are any major mechanical flaws… but (as the seller also pointed out) when fully closed, one of the ‘wings’ does seem loose. Considerably less so with a blade loaded though, so I thought, well, let’s have a cautious go at this and see.

It’s definitely on the aggressive side, compared to pretty much anything I have. Not crazily so, in my opinion, and everything else I have is fairly mild, so I don’t want to panic. And it’s definitely efficient! But also not exactly smooth and easy.

So then I thought, maybe there’s a way to shim it up so there’s more downward pressure on the blade, and a bit more curvature to hold it more solidly – because maybe that looseness is causing the dreaded Blade Chatter…

OK, a narrow shim from underneath definitely smooths it out a bit, and I was able to finish the shave. I did end up with a weeper or two, and a bit of mild irritation – nothing too egregious, but I’ll consider it fair warning going forward.

So it looks like I need to experiment some more and find out: will this turn out to be a beautiful (but thankfully not too costly) mistake, or can I find the sweet spot with a bit more experimentation and practice, and end up with a prize for a pittance? Well, let’s see!

Round 4: Well how about that?​

Another session with the Aristocrat today, but after some research on shimming and other modifications, I tried something a little different. Since my goal is a slightly milder, more controlled shave, I was curious about reverse shimming, and also about tape strips. But I don’t want to gum up the razor with tape gum, and it also seems rather fiddly to get the strips in place on a TTO razor, so I had the idea: what about shimming from above, *and* adding tape strips to the shim, rather than to the razor? Much easier to get the strips in place on the dulled blade, and as the tape inevitably degrades with use and water, easier to replace, without gumming up the razor itself – but it should have the same effect. Two birds, one stone!

I am exceedingly happy to report that this had *exactly* the desired result. The blade is held firmly, the blade gap and exposure are slightly reduced, and the shave is much closer to what I’m after – still efficient, not mild per se but a *very* enjoyable shave, with all the wonderful balance and heft and overall feel of a razor of this pedigree but none of the harshness of the first outing.

I decided to play it safe and switch to a milder razor, my little Flare-tip Rocket, for the final ATG pass to ensure a smooth landing, which was a great way to finish the shave and, I think, a good way to send off the blade! Not a bad one at all, and I have the rest of a tuck to look forward to down the road.

Blade #35: Vijay Stainless​

And so we arrive at the first blade from Malhotra, who apparently claim to be the world’s largest shaving blade manufacturer (or so I have read in various places, though I can’t find an official company statement about it). They do state that they sell over 4 billion blades per year worldwide, which is a whole lot of blades no matter how you parse it. They are located in Mumbai.


Round 1: RazoRock German 37 (929shaving diamond handle)​

I decided to go with the slant as it’s been a while, and I thought I would try it out on the diamond handle; I think the odd angularity of the head enhances the Darwin-ish vibe even more! And again, I really do like the handle – a nice combination of length, weight, and feel in the hand. Very precise and good balance with the head, which is a bit heavier than the aluminum m90a.

And while my initial visual impression of the blade didn’t inspire confidence – it looks a bit cheap, to be honest – the shave was actually quite wonderful! Sharp and smooth in just the right measure for my tastes, and the razor and blade seemed to get along famously. An easy, comfortable, and very close shave ensued! I’m impressed!

Round 2: mysterious Apollo, 1950’s?​

This charming little razor more or less fell into my lap, in pristine condition (might well be unused) and cased very stylishly, for a price I couldn’t refuse. The handle is quite similar to other Solingen-made ones of similar vintage, but this particular razor, from Apollo, I can’t seem to find a match for.

It’s a quirky shaver, in that with a blade loaded and the handle screwed all the way in it’s so mild that it essentially doesn’t shave at all, and the only way to make it do anything is to back the handle off a little, the way Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements suggest doing with a number of their razors. Or, perhaps, to use a shim from underneath… but I figure it’s always better to use a razor on its own terms where possible!

Once I had the blade aligned – no small feat, as until it’s tightened up the whole thing feels pretty loose and floppy, always a bit disconcerting – the shave turned out to be quite fantastic! Another sterling performance from the Vijay, and I feel like the Apollo is a serendipitous discovery!

Blade #35: Vijay Stainless, continued​


Round 3: Gillette Tech (‘pre-war’), RR Teck II (diamond handle)​

I had to scan back a ways to find the least-recently-used razors, and came up with this dynamic duo. With a bit more growth on than usual I wondered if the Tech would be efficient enough, but it was more than up to the task, like a car that hasn’t been driven in a while and seems (in a mechanical sort of way) overjoyed to taste the road again.

Hoping to avoid the ‘bad taste’ of a rough third pass, as has happened once or twice, I switched to the even milder Teck II for cleanup, but it turned out there was very little for it to do, as the XTG second pass with the Tech was evidently very efficient indeed! Anyway, I ended up smooth as a… well, you know the drill. And besides a touch of alum sting, no irritation to speak of! A very enjoyable shave.

The Tech is a bit like this blade. It doesn’t seem terribly exciting, but then you find that it’s just quietly and unassumingly delivered a fine result, with little fanfare but also no trouble. I’m quite enjoying it!

Round 4: Gillette Aristocrat Junior, 1955 (?) (or is it ‘just’ a Parat?)​

The Apollo was supposed to have been my final acquisition for a while, but then this one popped up and once again, as nobody else seemed interested, I thought it looked lonely and needed a new friend. But what is it? It sure looks like a Rocket Parat, but it came (and fits perfectly) in this classic, retro-groov-a-licious leather-bound case, which I’ve seen in English Aristocrat/Jr sets of the middle 50’s. But Parats I usually see in simpler, red plastic boxes.

Maybe a Parat in this kind of case was what was marketed as an Aristocrat Jr here in Germany? But I can’t find a picture of this exact razor in this exact case anywhere online. So I am left to wonder. Of course it may not be an original set, but since the seller said it had been her father’s (another reason to give it a new home, having lost my own father this year) and this very German blade-case was included, I rather suspect it was. Anyway, it cleaned up beautifully, looks great and opens smoothly; let’s see how it shaves!

In a word, perfectly. It’s obviously a close cousin to the Flare-tip and the Rocket HD (and a second-cousin to the Aristocrat and the Slim) so it’s not an earth-shattering discovery or anything, but just knowing that this pinnacle of design and engineering, serving its purpose so perfectly and elegantly, was reached in the middle of the last century, makes it all the more egregious that the same company then went on to trash their legacy with decades of crappy, wasteful disposables and cartridges. Ah well. Hindsight is 20/20, or so they say.

Oh, and the blade? Still superb. Not showing any signs of slowing down. Will definitely be giving it another round or two!

Blade #35: Vijay Stainless, still going strong!​


Round 5: Gillette New LC, 1930s​

The LC was feeling lonely and forgotten, and since I have the case open regularly (its blade case houses my ‘Coming Attractions’), it had ample opportunities to look up at me pitifully until finally I relented… and, truth be told, I was missing it too!

Actually, I had a quirky notion pop into my head recently that I should give my razors names… just for kicks… and it occurs to me that the LC could be Lucy. And since my family once had a much-beloved dog by that name, well, Lucy it is!

Unfortunately I was a bit distracted during the shave, never a good idea, and kind of forgot the across-the-grain second pass and jumped straight to against-the-grain, which I recognized and kind of half-corrected but not before a few strokes with more resistance than usual, so it was not optimal conditions to judge anything by.

However, still a most satisfactory shave on all the important points. I’m not sure Lucy is my absolute favorite for finishing/detailing, though she gets the job done, but for first and (normal) second passes she’s quite brilliant!

One more shave for this blade and then it’s time to move along, I think!

Round 6: Gillette Slim, 1963​

If the LC was Lucy… I think the Slim should be McVouty, which was an alter-ego/a.k.a. of the legendary jazz pianist / all-round brilliant (and wonderfully madcap) entertainer, Slim Gaillard. I had the good fortune to see him live once, many years ago, just before he went on to join that great jam session in the stars, and he left an impression; he seemed like a bit of a kindred spirit, if I may be so bold.

It seems appropriate, too, for an adjustable – given that Gaillard was a multi-instrumentalist (like myself) and a polyglot (very much unlike myself), and wildly versatile – as well as much-beloved, by colleagues (including Charlie Parker and Dizzie Gillespie!) and audiences alike. Check him out!

Once again, McVouty delivered a magnificent shave. Out of curiosity I started on the maximum setting (9), and while it was definitely *very* efficient and needed a bit of care, it was by no means aggressive or rough in any way. No blood or irritation, just a solid clean first pass that made short work of two days’ growth.

Second and third passes at 6 and 3 respectively were equally enjoyable, while a final detail pass delivered a sublimely close and smooth result that, with a lesser razor, would almost certainly have left me with some weepers or razor burn, but not with McVouty! Zero alum sting, instant comfort. Joyous!

And with that, we must reluctantly bid farewell to the Vijay, and move on to one of its stablemates! (jazz afficionados may notice what I did there…)

Blade #36: Laser Ultra​

Another blade from Malhotra, Laser appears to be their most established brand, and indeed the only consumer-facing web presence I could find for them was at Lasershaving dot in (for India, obviously!). Mine came in a simple, single-layer branded waxed wrapper (I don’t have a tuck), and trumpets its triple-coated edge. Let’s get to it!


Round 1: Leresche 51​

Continuing with my razor-naming project, I gave this a bit of thought, since I’m quite attached to this one, and came up with Phénix – after the company that Leresche absorbed but obviously thought highly enough of to incorporate their winged logo into the brand. The French dictionary offers a second meaning: “personne unique en son genre, supérieure par ses dons”…

I also like that it’s a gender-neutral name, thus a tribute to a trans friend who has adopted a version of it. Finally, as mentioned, this razor is special to me because this was my first rescue/resurrection project (resurrescue?), rising from the ashes of neglect to spread its wings and shave again after who knows how long…

And oh, how it shaves! Once again, just a sublime session, ticking all the boxes of comfort, efficiency, and tactile pleasure. No blood, no irritation, no alum sting, no need for a fourth pass – pretty much a 10 out of 10 shave. Delightful!

The blade also deserves some of that credit, of course, for like the Vijay before it this one seems to just go about it’s business, quietly and without fanfare but with complete assurance. Are the two blades identical? Possibly, but impossible to know for sure.

In any case, first impressions count for a lot, so they say, and so far I’d say the Laser looks like another winner!

Round 2: Ming-Shi 2000s, PAA DOC​

Uh-oh, now I’ve started something with the names, does this mean I have to come up with names for all of them? Well, let’s see. The Ming-Shi is enormous, especially compared to all these little Rockets and so on, so we need a name that conveys size. So: Big Leo! Or maybe just Leo. (“We are the same. Leo and Big Leo.” “You’re synonymous?” “That’s right.” – The Freshman, a favorite and much-quoted movie in my family)

This was an odd shave as my face was still half-frozen from a dental procedure, but time was tight and I needed to shave before going on stage so I risked it. Very strange feeling, and I wouldn’t recommend it, but it all worked out with no blood or trauma.

For the final pass I switched to the DOC – which as the smallest of my razors (by a whisker, as it were) gets the seasonally appropriate moniker Tiny Tim – because Big Leo can be a bit clumsy in the tricky spots. I have to say I enjoyed TT (hey, we share initials!) more than I have in a while, and against all odds this turned out to be a most enjoyable shave!
Again, credit where credit is due, the Laser seems to be turning in some solid performances so far!

Where to next?

Blade #36: Laser Ultra (India), continued​


Round 3: Fatip Open Comb Slant​

Where to? To Italy, of course! (I don’t know why 'of course', but it feels like the right thing to do)

Well, the Fatip is only longer than Tiny Tim by a millimetre or two, and is slimmer to boot, so we need another name to convey its small stature – but also, since it’s one of my favorites at this point, a razor I can honestly say I will never willingly part with, to convey its larger-than-life, particularly Italian style.

I have an abiding love for Italy (we’ll get there!) and the first time we went there – many years before AirBnB and the like – we stayed in a magnificent-but-rustic villa in the hilly northern-Tuscan region known as Lunigiana, with a lovely couple, Carlo and Rosi. We had spoken to Carlo on the phone and he had a gloriously powerful deep voice (‘basso profundo’, as he like to say), so we assumed he would present with a physique to match – but when we arrived he turned out to be quite small and wire-thin. But what a voice, and what a personality!

We stayed there several times over the years – and they eventually stopped letting us pay – and while we eventually lost touch, we have many wonderful memories. So I think all in all, the Fatip can only be named after Carlo!

So how did Carlo and the Laser get along? Brilliantly. A magnificent shave, worthy of the name! fabulous razor, wonderful blade; Italy and India for the win!

Round 4: Gillette Rocket HD​

How to follow up a shave like that? Why, with a legend, obviously! Made in England in the late 1950s, the HD is the heavy hitter in the Rocket family, and highly rated by afficionados. My first shave with it was quite splendid, and this one was… Even better!

Seriously, I know it’s boring to keep posting rave reviews here, but what can I do? The blade is excellent, and this razor, well, its reputation is well-deserved to say the least. It’s so perfectly balanced, so precise, so effortlessly efficient… a prince among razors!

But wait – it needs a name! I’m leaning towards Ronnie, after Ronnie O’Sullivan, widely considered the greatest snooker player of all time (and still, as of this writing, world champion and world number 1 at 47 years of age)… And nicknamed ‘The Rocket’ for his blisteringly fast style. He’s also one of the game’s heaviest scorers as well as a master tactician. Seems like a good fit for a razor of this calibre!

Anyway, no matter what we call it: Rocket + Laser = shaving bliss!

Blade #36: Laser Ultra (India), wrapping up​


Round 5: King C. Gillette​

Well it’s been a while, so a visit with the KCG is in order. First, by way of a name… I have a penchant for what I like to call ‘Oblique Significance’ – chains of odd connections that appeal to me and link two otherwise unrelated things. In this case, I’m going to take King C. Gillette’s middle name, Camp, which reminds me of Camptown Races, the famous 19th-century American minstrel song by Stephen Foster, which reminds me of Foghorn Leghorn, the cartoon rooster who used to hum it as he went about his mischievous business… and that reminds me of Mel Blanc, who voiced Foghorn (and dozens other legendary characters including Bugs Bunny)… who was certainly no stranger to ‘camp’ in the subversive/theatrical sense, and who one might, with some justification, call the ‘king’ of cartoon voice actors. Let’s stop the chain there and call the KCG: Mel.

So how did Mel fare with the Laser? Well, I can’t fault the result, a silky-smooth, bloodless BBS that was perhaps just a hair less insta-comfortable than the previous two, but I do have to report that the process was a tiny bit less enjoyable. There’s something about the feel of this razor, between the chunky handle and the ‘face feel’ of it, that just feels less refined, more awkward and clunky to me. It gets the job done, and done well, but I don’t quite love it, at least in comparison to others in the fleet here.

I suppose it might also be the blade starting to get a bit dull and tuggy, but I kind of doubt it. However, there’s only one way to find out for sure!

Round 6: Gillette Flare-tip Rocket, early 1960’s​

(warning: philosophical musings ahead!)

Sometimes, rather than a chain of oblique connections, the namesake just jumps out at me, and in this case, the svelte, stylish Flare-Tip reminds me immediately of Twiggy, the 1960’s British cultural phenomenon sometimes considered the first ‘supermodel’ (and these days known more properly as Dame Lesley Lawson). The Flare-tip is slender, to be sure, but also a little flamboyant, and the vertical strips on the TTO knob remind me of her famous doll-like eye makeup, as well as bell-bottoms (a.k.a. flares!). So, Twiggy it is!

Before reporting on the shave, I want to ponder for a moment how different all these razors are, despite all fulfilling the same function. Much is made of humans being a tool-using species, endlessly clever problem-solvers, but we are also an aesthetic one, and we like our tools to look and feel beautiful while we are using them. There is something compelling about a tool that not only performs its function elegantly but is a striking example of design and craftsmanship in and of itself. Pick a seemingly utilitarian task, and you can find examples of absolutely stunning tools designed to fulfill it. Shaving is certainly no exception!

Moreover: the aesthetic difference between Twiggy and Mel is almost as extreme as that between Big Leo and Tiny Tim, or between McVouty and Carlo (insert your own wildly different pair if you like)… Yes, they all do the same job, but the total experience of using them, the ‘vibe’ if you will, is very different.

Still, many people would likely wonder why one person would not just settle on the one that suits them best and stick with it. And indeed, lots of people do. But some of us are restless, driven by a need for variety, with eclectic tastes; we cannot sit still and be satisfied by one experience when there are so many others out there waiting to be discovered!

But there is also a contrary attractor, the pull towards that which we know and love; like settling into our own bed, or a well-worn piece of clothing. Looking over my little collection here, I am intrigued by the strange array of patterns and forms, shapes and sizes, and of course the quirks and contingencies which have led to these specific objects being in this specific place; and each one has a significance, which is triggered and brought to mind each time I use it.

I guess this dichotomy – the fresh appeal and excitement of the new and novel versus the warm comfort of the familiar, the reliability of the tried-and-true – is kind of central to my way of navigating the world; an argument can probably be made that it’s a pretty core part of the human experience!

Whoa, that was a tangent! Back to Twiggy and, at long last, the Laser.

The not-unexpected verdict: Another stellar shave from this stellar razor and blade. Twiggy is a little longer than her sibling Ronnie (the Rocket HD) but of course, lighter and differently balanced, a bit more head-heavy – which is preferable, I think, to handle-heavy – but the deep knurling gives a very positive grip, and the slightly shallower head geometry makes her possibly even more precise in tight corners. It’s hard to choose, and thankfully I don’t have to – they are both just fabulous razors.

And the Laser, for its part, on its last outing, performed quite excellently as well – a hint of the tugginess on the tough chin hairs on the first pass but otherwise, didn’t break a sweat. Smooth sailing, not a drop of blood or a whisper of irritation, essentially no alum sting and a fine BBS result!

Hard to move on, but as has happened before, we won’t be moving very far!

Blade #37: Topaz Platinum (India)​


Round 1: Gillette Aristocrat, 1948​

Well it’s Christmas day, if you’re into such things (we do enjoy the season, though not in a religious way), so perhaps a special razor is in order. I had to think a bit to come up with a name for this one, but when it appeared, it was crystal clear.

On the wall in my parents’ house, for many many years, was a framed print of an old portrait of a man in naval uniform, on the deck of a ship, looking very noble and (ahem) aristocratic, with a spyglass under his arm and a bulldog at his feet. My father had found it, when I was a boy, in a cavernous barn-turned-second-hand-shop while we were on vacation, and for some reason it spoke to him; and so Lord Charles Beresford, for that was the name inscribed at the bottom of the print, came home with us to join our eccentric family.

A little research on LCB (properly, Admiral Charles William de la Poer Beresford, 1st Baron Beresford) indicates that he was born into nobility (the younger son of the 4th Marquess of Waterford), rather a sporting type (it seems to have run in the family), and quite a popular figure of the day. He also seems to have had a somewhat mischievous streak; as Bill Bryson reports, a story from the 1890s told of ‘Charlie B’ letting himself into what he believed was his mistress’s bedroom and, with a lusty cry of ‘****-a-doodle-doo!’, leaping into the bed – only to discover, no doubt to the surprise of everyone involved, that it was occupied by the Bishop of Chester and his wife!

So, in honor of my father, who loved to tell that story, Lord Charles Beresford shall henceforth be the name of my 1948 Aristocrat – made a little over 100 years after he was born. A noble name for a noble razor!

And this is also, of course, a first shave for a new blade, the Topaz Platinum. Made, apparently, by a subsidiary of the Malhotra group in some convoluted way (distinct from the Laser wing in Hyderabad?): “HLM, flagship company of the Malhotra group, was incorporated in 1945 in Kolkata. It manufactures stainless steel safety razors and razor blades, under the established brand, Topaz”. I only have a single, which came in one layer of branded waxed paper, glued closed but with no glue or wax on the blade.

I’ve read mixed reviews, so let’s see how they get along with Lord Charles!

First pass with one shim (reverse, i.e. from above, with tape strips) was quite good – efficient and comfortable. I added a second shim on top to make it a bit more gentle for the rest of the shave, and this worked well but it was still a little rough on the third, ATG pass – leaving a few red spots which barely qualified as weepers… This of course may be partly on the blade, which I have a feeling is not quite up to the standard of the Laser and Vijay, nor Vidyut’s offerings, but further research is needed to pass judgment either way.

Just to see how this would affect things, I tried a quick fourth cleanup pass with a third, narrow shim underneath the blade (along with the others on top), the idea being to increase the curvature a bit. This made the whole thing even more gentle, and made for a very close and reasonably comfortable result, albeit with a bit of irritation and alum sting (soothed fairly quickly with my ‘Australian’ Tea Tree Oil balsam). This configuration might become the default setting for third passes in future, depending on whether the roughness turns out to be the blade…

Well, that’s about enough for today! Hope it’s a good one for you!

Blade #37: Topaz Platinum, continued​


Round 2: RazoRock SLOC (Halo handle)​

There was only ever one possibility for the name of this one: Captain Joshua Slocum.

Born in 1844 in Mount Hanley, Nova Scotia – a place I’ve been through numerous times, as it’s a hop skip and a jump from where my parents lived for many years – Captain Slocum was the first person to sail around the world single-handed. His book about the feat, “Sailing Alone Around The World” is a classic by any measure (and, I can attest, well worth reading!), and was described by a prominent reviewer as “the most extraordinary book ever published.”

“I had resolved on a voyage around the world, and as the wind on the morning of April 24, 1895 was fair, at noon I weighed anchor, set sail, and filled away from Boston, where the Spray had been moored snugly all winter… A thrilling pulse beat high in me. My step was light on deck in the crisp air. I felt there could be no turning back, and that I was engaging in an adventure the meaning of which I thoroughly understood.”

Since I’m engaged in my own circumnavigation, as it were, Slocum is a natural touchstone; I just hope my adventures don’t end the same way (he disappeared in 1909 and was presumed lost at sea; strangely, he never learned to swim and considered it a useless skill!)

Back to business. I’m happy to report that the Topaz turned in a much better performance today, even though that leads me to think I still don’t have Lord Charles Beresford fully dialed in. Not to worry, plenty of opportunities to keep refining technique!
I thought it fitting to use the Amici, my travel brush, to match Slocum’s seafaring spirit – and for a splash of colour!

This was a quite enjoyable shave, as has so often been the case with Captain Joshua. An excellent BBS result with no irritation, but a few tiny weepers did appear, which – given that I know the CJS is a mild and forgiving razor, leads me to think the Topaz might indeed be of a slightly lesser calibre, but it’s certainly acceptable and worth another outing or two, anyway!

Round 3: RazoRock M90a (Diamond handle)​

Since I’ve more or less married this handle and head, they form a unit for the purposes of naming as well as shaving, so I thought I’d look a name that reflected the Darwin-esque nature of the handle but also the more modern look and feel of the head.

The answer came while I was shaving – a fantastic, glorious shave that instantly reminded me of all the reasons I am so impressed by this razor, especially now that I’ve found a handle that brings out the best in it. It’s precise, smooth yet remarkably efficient, and I’ve come to quite enjoy the feel of the aluminum head, especially its pleasant audio and tactile feedback.

So, who could qualify as a modern Darwin (well, *more* modern anyway; I’m definitely dating myself here!) – someone whose originality, clarity and precision of thought have made a profound impact on the world, and influenced me profoundly? The answer came in a flash: Gregory Bateson.

For those unfamiliar, Bateson was “an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician, and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields” (thanks, Wikipedia!)… For a deeper dive (but still more accessible than his own seminal works, ‘Steps to an Ecology of Mind’ and ‘Mind and Nature – a Necessary Unity’), I am happy to recommend Morris Berman’s wonderful ‘The Re-enchantment of the World’ which contains, among other things, a superb introduction to and summary of Bateson’s thought.

He was also rather a master of the pithy phrase, so I highly recommend a quick seach for ‘Gregory Bateson quotes’ – they reveal a remarkably incisive mind, the breadth and range of his interests notwithstanding.

In any case, my strange hybrid now has a name: the Bateson!

And how did the Topaz fare when faced with such clear, penetrating inquiry? Quite superbly, I’m happy to report! I don’t know whether it’s one of those blades that needs a couple of shaves to hit its stride, or whether the other two razors were just not quite as good a fit for it, but in any case, this was a 10 out of 10 shave, so the Topaz deserves at least some of the credit!
The gems harvested for the Brainy Quotes site had more than their share for people wanting to understand their shave den adventures beyond a dismissive YMMV. Or even a contemplative YMMV.

A good selection, and interestingly, almost no intersection between those and the ones I was looking at on AZQuotes.com - a lot of gems there too, including this one which I love (though it's more about Picasso than Bateson, it's clear why it resonated with him):

Somebody was saying to Picasso that he ought to make pictures of things the way they are - objective pictures. He mumbled that he wasn't quite sure what that would be. The person who was bullying him produced a photograph of his wife from his wallet and said, "There, you see, that is a picture of how she really is." Picasso looked at it and said, "She is rather small, isn't she? And flat?"

Some more that resonate with me:

"The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think."
"The creature that wins against its environment destroys itself."
"Yes, metaphor. That's how the whole fabric of mental interconnections holds together. Metaphor is right at the bottom of being alive."
"There are times when I catch myself believing that there is such a thing as something; which is separate from something else."
"Creative thought must always contain a random component."
"Some tools of thought are so blunt that they are almost useless; others are so sharp that they are dangerous. But the wise man will have the use of both kinds."
"Those who lack all idea that it is possible to be wrong can learn nothing except know-how."
"We are discovering today that several of the premises which are deeply ingrained in our way of life are simply untrue and become pathogenic when implemented with modern technology."

... and the classic:

"Surrender to alcohol intoxication provides a partial and subjective shortcut to a more correct state of mind."


Lounging On The Isle Of Tugsley.
The M90A’s recollection of Picasso’s story was outstanding! It seems Picasso could be a kleptomaniac at times as he took things quite literally.

The M90A’s last quote is one I hope applies to all inebriates be they chemical or intellectual.

Blade #37: Topaz Platinum, last blast​

Round 4: Gillette Tech (‘Pre-War’, 1940-ish)​


Well, this year of many challenges has ended with another, as I have finally managed to come down with Covid, after nearly three years successfully avoiding it despite frequent exposures.

Nevertheless, the show shave must go on! This journey started exactly a year ago, and I have to say it’s been a nice, steady, enjoyable little project for me, a constant in a year that brought many changes, including loss and grief.

So to wrap things up for AWEB Year One, I’ve selected the Tech, which was my first vintage razor, bought as a kind of impulsive tribute to my father, as I figured it was made around the same time he was born (it’s likely impossible to date it precisely, but pretty close anyway!).

He was a complex man, brilliant and eccentric and full of apparent contradictions, with very serious and very silly sides that seemed equally essential to his character. He thought about things very deeply, and felt things very powerfully, and cared about people a lot. For all that he could be difficult or even infuriating at times (as I suspect is not uncommon), I miss him enormously, and I imagine I always will.

So this razor will be named for him, and I’ll go with his not-often-used middle name, Owen, because I like it, and it feels right (as someone who uses his middle name instead of his first). Owen it is!

So, a shave to ring out the year, with a razor named for my father, with a blade that I wasn’t sure about at first but has quietly shown itself to be rather excellent. Vamos!

(He said, fighting the strong urge to remain propped up with pillows on the couch…)

We got off to a good start, and the first pass felt quite reassuring. The Tech is not the smoothest razor in my fleet (to be fair, I have some *verrry* smooth razors, so competition for the title is strong) but it’s fairly efficient at getting through the weeds. Second pass was similarly confident.

It’s the final pass where this one sometimes leaves me a bit raw (hey, my father had his rough edges as well, as no doubt do I), but I’m gradually learning that I just have to go a bit slower, use less pressure, take a bit more care. Not the worst lesson to learn, in shaving as in life, even if it takes some time to really learn it.

Happily, the result, for this final shave of a year that has had some very rough moments indeed, was quite OK – no weepers, a bit of alum sting, quickly devolving into a close, comfortable result. Phew!

The Topaz has grown on me, from a fair-to-middling start, through a couple of really superb shaves, to a solid finish. I would use it again without hesitation… but this also feels like a good moment to move on. We’re not quite halfway through the journey, but it’s been an eventful one so far!

Well, surrounded as I am by the noise of Berlin’s absurd fireworks mania (and that a full 6 hours before midnight, though in all honesty it’s been ramping up for a few days already), I guess that’s a wrap!

As they say around these parts, have a good slide into the new year! („Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!“)
Hope you feel better soon! That was an outstanding writeup, the COVID-brain hasn't hit you too hard obviously :)

Awww, thanks! I am a bit old-school in the sense that I think the written word matters, and even these odd little journal entries that few will ever read deserve a bit of thought and care. I realize that makes me a bit of a dinosaur, but hey, I feel in good company around here! Anyway, I seem to be recovered, time to catch up on post or two...

Blade #38: Gillette 365 (India)​

Round 1: Gillette Aristocrat Jr / Parat, 1955​


Time to launch year 2 of the AWEB journey, and this seems like a good combination to get things rolling in the right direction!
The first order of business is a name for this fine razor, and I believe I have just the ticket! I made a small nod to the world of music, and specifically jazz piano, with my Slim Gaillard tribute, but it strikes me I need to pay proper tribute to a few of the giants. Who’s the most Aristocratic of them all? There can only be one, and his name was Duke.

Composer, arranger, bandleader, brilliant pianist, statesman and one of the most important creative minds and forces of the 20th century, the career of Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington spanned 50 years and his influence in all spheres of jazz is inescapable. There are too many glorious musical highlights to list, but a couple of personal favorites are Money Jungle, a strange but compelling trio outing with Charles Mingus and Max Roach, and the New Orleans Suite.

OK, so we have a razor and a name! Now for the blade.

The Gillette 365… I have two of these, singles in waxed paper wrapping, from two different online shops. One source says it’s Platinum-coated, the other just calls it Stainless, but they look to be the same thing from the cheap seats here, so I don’t know whether to call it one thing or the other. The one I opened and am using here is only printed on one side, which I don’t think I’ve seen before – the other side is blank except for 4 wax dots where it was stuck to the paper.

Either way… locked, loaded and lathered, let’s go!

Immediately I can tell this is a sharper blade than anything I’ve used in a while. It’s very smooth but very efficient and I feel like if this razor were not so mild the 365 could easily be dangerous.

The first pass is closer than I’ve had in a while, but very comfortable indeed. Although the second pass is equally smooth, a couple of tiny weepers appear, and a few more again after the third; I don’t feel them at all but it’s very clear that nothing further is required, this is a very close shave indeed!

I kind of have to compare this to its Rocket siblings, as they are so close. On one hand this one is smooth as silk, but then they all are. I think I prefer the heavier handle of the HD, this one feels a bit thin in comparison – but not as pleasantly grippy as the Flare-tip. But it’s still extremely enjoyable to shave with, I’m not complaining! If this were my only razor I would still count myself lucky!

Wait, wrong legendary jazz bandleader/pianist! We’re talking about Duke Ellington, not Count Basie! (Did I just give this entry a classic Basie ending? I believe I did!)
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