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Straight Shaver Interview - Doc4

Stepping up to the podium a lot of times an MC might say, "Doc4 needs no introduction" as if to say that everyone is aware of the fella. This time, im happy to say that Ian needs an introduction because you simply don't know this amazing dude well enough. B&B is absolutely lucky to have him around... and i feel lucky to read his interview.

Thanks Ian!!!

Who are you? / Where are you located?

I'm located in the wintry interior of British Columbia, Canada. I'm married with one young son (who will proudly tell you he's "doooo!", but it's more like doooo and a half) I'm a lawyer by trade, but that's rarely how I see myself. So no lawyer jokes, please.

How do you take your coffee?

Black and strong. If' I'm having an espresso, I'll take a shot of whipped cream on top, though.

What happened that made you seek a better shave, or if the chicken came before the egg, how did you find B&B?

I always have eggs for Breakfast and fried chicken for dinner, so that answers that.

Actually, I was reading the online Montreal Gazette for news about my beloved Habs, when I saw a headline about old-timey shaving, clicked on it and read what must have been an interesting story about funny non-disposable razors with only one blade. Well, there was mention of B&B, I googled, and the rest, as they say, is history.

What was it that held your interest?

Well, it was straight razors that drew me from the get-go. I guess it was the "old timey" aspect, coupled with a healthy dollop of masculine "look what I can do" bravado. You know, the notion of putting a deadly weapon to your throat every morning and thinking nothing of it.

How soon did you did you become a Moderator?

IIRC it was in about September of 2007, so about 7-8 months in. I didn't think it was that soon, quite frankly, but then I went and checked and it looks like this was the time. Sheesh, now I feel old.

If i remember from your posts, you started with DE's before switching to straights; What did you start with?

Haha, no. I was "Mister Straight" right from the get-go.

I did, however, start out with the Feather A/C, so maybe that's what you remember? I wanted something that didn't need honing and stropping to begin with, but pretty quickly moved on up to real straights.

If I remember correctly, my very first real straight was a Filarmonica 7/8 that I bought from Classicshaving for $99. :001_tt2: Ah, the good old days.

Shave Cream & Soaps? what did you find that worked well from those initial trials?

My first choice was TOBS sandalwood soap. I followed that up soon thereafter with T&H soap, and then tried the Three Sues.

I also ... ah, the good old days ... got a Scotto Sampler of creams and colognes ... and I think I was so gung-ho that I had a tub of TOBS avocado on order before my Scotto Samplers arrived. :001_rolle

Originally I found that TOBS products tended to dry out and "snowflake" on my face rather quickly, but that tended not to be a problem once I got better at lathering.

Where did you get your first straight razor? was it shave ready?

Classicshaving was my first supplier. I got a Filly 7/8 to start, and then a couple of historic TI's: a "tiptle" and a "covered tang" (if anyone remembers that gem that Classic was selling for about $225.) I'd get them honed there, so they were pretty much shave-ready. Then I discovered this thing called "e-bay"...

Determination is key with shaving with a straight, how did you push through the Month + of sub par shaves? did you know there was a light at the end of the tunnel?

Well, I was starting out with the Feather A/C, so sharpness was not a problem. :001_rolle I just took a really feather-light touch, and put up with all the weepers and nicks. The styptic pen was my friend. A far too stingy friend, but a friend nonetheless.

I had heard so many times about the 'learning curve' and the 'month of suckiness', so I just muddled on and put up with a bit more stubble by the end of the day.

Now my favorite question... if you were stranded on a desert island and could only choose:
3 razors:

I'll stick to stuff I actually have, rather than wishlist stuff.

Well, I have to bring my TIPTLE.
Beyond that, well, I have so many great choices. Part of me wants to bring the special ones you'd all recognise ... a Grelot with ram's horn scales, a Zowada Filly or Henckels, or other historic TIs or English razors ... and part of me wants to bring a couple of the somewhat humble razors that I have acutally honed myself and gotten great shaves out of afterwards. There's a rather grotty looking German razor that was the first one I ever honed ... as a practice razor ... but it took a nice edge and gave me some great shaves. It's a great feeling. I'm tempted to bring that one, but then I also just honed up a Jonathan Crookes vintage razor that gave me a top-notch shave this very morning.

Maybe I'll take the Crookes and the Grelot quarter-ground with the rams horn scales. Ask me next month and I'll tell you two different ones. :lol:

2 brushes:

Two of each of the ones I have now, please. :001_tt2:

Oh ... just two total? Grrr ... okay. Well, I likes me some soap-brush-y backbone, so I'll have to take my Chubby2 two-band, and my Rooney Beehive. I'm really close to bringing my B&B LE 2008 and my Essential ... and my Chubby2 super prefix ... and ... oh, now it's a big list. :001_rolle

3 soaps:

Okay, the list is a lot harder than it seems ... do I include both my Penhaligon's tallow-first English Fern and the tallow-fifth Blenheim Bouquet? I've got to have Arlington, so do I miss the chance of Tabac's performance or Knize 10's scent?

Aw heck ... screw variety, I want my two Pens and the DRH! There, I'm happy. :001_unsur

2 creams:

I'm not nearly as much of a creams man as I am a soap man, but I have a few faves. Castle Forbes cedar/sandalwood is on the top of my personal list, both for performance, and for the great scent. I've got to have something cedar, after all.

That was easy.

The other choice ... harder. There are a lot of great ones out there that I have tried only a few times, or not at all. I've lathered my way through a couple tubs of TOBS, and enjoyed it ... but I think I'll take a leap of faith and grab that unopened tube of Flrois Santal I have stashed away.

& 3 colognes:

This starts easy, too. Dunhill for men (1934)

But there are so many others that I'd like to include ... Knize 10, AdP, Blenheim Bouquet, English Fern, Endymion, Eau de Beaux (l'Occitaine), Guerlain's vetiver, Dunhill Man ... dang this is hard.

Okay, Sophie's Choice ... I'll take AdP for summer and Knize 10 for winter. ... :crying: how did Penhaligons' not make my short list???


Again, this starts off easy. Musgo Real and Speick are my two absolute must-haves; Musgo for the winter and Speick for the summer.

What for a third? I've really taken a shine to Royall's bay rhum this month of BayrumVember, and Pinaud's bay rum is great too. I have bottles of Floris, Knize 10 and Pashana all waiting to be cracked open, and of course Arlington is fantastic. Ooh, and who could forget The Green Monster ... Canadian Aqua Velva in the glass bottle. But TOBS Victorian Limes holds a special place in my heart, not only for its great scent but because it was my first-ever real aftershave.

If I were recommending one of the two to someone else, I'd go with the Arlington, but for me I can't do without that TOBS lime scent. Done.

What is your strop preference and what is your stropping regime?

Tony Miller.

... I have his red latigo with cotton as my daily strop. Twenty back and forth passes on the cotton, and then the same on the leather.

When I travel, I get out my TM paddle strop, with Thiers Issard .25 paste on the paste side. Thirty back and forth passes on the pasted side and then the finishing side. The paddle is shorter than the hanging strop, thus the higher count.

What is your honing set up for ebay specials?

I have a coarse diamond plate for lapping my hones. I have a norton 4k/8k for the heavy lifting.

For finishing I have a small Escher that I bought from Tony Miller years ago. It came lapped, camphered, and ready to go. I have since added a Chinese 12k, a Thuringian (non-Escher) and a coticule.

One layer of electrical tape on the spine, and then it's off to the 4k for a go, followed by the 8k and then on to one of my finishing stones.

how often and what's your method for touching up your straights? favorite finish?

I'm pretty new to the whole "honing" game, so I've only done this a few times. But what has worked for me is one layer of electrical tape on the spine, a decent number of passes on the 8k, and then on to one of the finishing stones. I really don't have a favourite right now, although I do enjoy the finish I was able to get on that Jonathan Crookes the other day ... coticule, methinks.

How often do you work out? How did you get to a place where working out wasn't a chore?

In theory, daily. Usually it's hitting the gym at lunch, but my membership expired back in October and I haven't renewed it yet. :blushing: I try to work out at home in the morning or evening, but that usually gets shot down when my son says "dada ... play ... choo-choo!"

Are you currently reading a book? or perhaps even better; what book will you be reading next?


I remember back when I had time to read. Those were the days. The last book I was reading was Atlantic Meeting by H.V. Morton. Good stuff.

In college, I studied british history, and a few of the books that stayed with me, and that I'd read again simply as "good reads", and not just as textbooks, are:
George Dangerfield, The Strange Death of Liberal England
Lord David Cecil, The Young Melbourne and Lord M
G.M Young, Victorian England: Portrait of an Age

Favorite Movie or two?

Actually, this is something I have been able to find time for of late. I'm pretty much an "old-timey movie" kind of guy. I could go on and on listing dozens of my favourites ... but I'll try to cut it down ...
Zulu and The Man Who Would Be King ... the best 'ripping yarn' movies out there.
Twelve O'Clock High ... I cannot think of a better war movie.
Westerns ... John Wayne is the Man: The Searchers is his best, Rio Bravo is the most enjoyable, and Tall in the Saddle has the best poker scene ever.
I'll throw out some props to His Girl Friday and The Philadelphia Story as great comedies, and single out Vanishing Point as my favourite cult movie, and leave it at that.

... before I get really carried away.

With what fictional/historical character do you most identify?

Hmm ... I don't know if there is a specific person to best exemplify this, but the early Romans really impress me. Maybe more wishing I could be like them rather than me actually being like them. Kind of like in The Philadelphia Story ... we all want to be Cary Grant, but really we're just Jimmy Stewart. Throw in a good dollop of Doctor Who (mostly Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee) and there you have it.

Do you have any motto's, sayings, or quotes to live by?

Read my sig line lately? Be there or be square ... only I can do both. You have to put a lot of emphasis on the "I" like you are taking pride in a real accomplishment.

Paul said we have all sinned, and fallen short of the Glory of God, and Hamlet said "use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?" That stuff breeds humility and kindness.

In The Art of War, Sun Tsu cautions against acting out of anger.
No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique. If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are. Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.

What has been the best advice you've gotten from a member at B&B?

Wow, there's lots. It's actually quite remarkable just how much great information is to be found here. One thing, though, sticks in my memory. Back when I was new to this site and wetshaving, I read a review by Joel of a particular straight razor with custom scales that were, shall we say, not what they should be. I shortly after received in the mail (from the same internet seller who had sold Joel his razor) a razor with custom scales that were far from okay, and it was remembering Joel's willingness to speak his mind and his objective high standards that gave me, n00b that I was, the courage to tell the vendor that I didn't think the edge of the razor should be rubbing agains the top of the scale when I close the razor, and the scales are hideous. Well, I got my money back. :wink2:

Anyone with some time on his hands should go and dig out Ouch's how-to knife sharpening videos from the vaults of the barbershop. :thumbup1:

I think more than anything, what I learned from B&B is "this may not be how the internet is run, but it's how the internet ought to be run!"

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new at this, what would it be?

One thing that really helped me when I was starting out, was to actually stick with one soap or cream for a few weeks straight. I know, I know, you have all these products that just came in the mail and you want to try them all ... heck, youd shave three times a day if you could! But stick with one product, and over the course of a few weeks your lathering skills will improve a lot ... much more quickly than if you keep bouncing from product to product.

And as for how newcomers to B&B should comport themselves ... well, if you find yourself defending yourself by talking about how "you can't see body language or facial expressions over the internet" ... well, it means you've just made an @$$ of yourself and you need to apologise. (And if you find yourself typing a post in which you explain to B&B that you "call them like you see them" or you "speak your mind no matter what" or some such similar expression ... dude, it's not us, it's you. :001_tt2:

But I think if you can learn to flourish at B&B as a gentleman, that will stand you in good stead for succeeding in life as a gentleman, and what can be better than that? I'd never have thought that I could "meet" fellows on the internet and come to like and respect them, become friends with them even, simply through chatting about shaving and such, but there you have it ... the wonder of B&B, and the miracle of the internet. Thank you, Al Gore, for inventing it. :wink2:







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Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
All I can say is this- if there were only one interview that I could write the questions for, I would have wanted it to be this one.

Ian is one of the true legends of the site. :thumbup1:


Wanting for wisdom
You can't see my body language . . . ha

I'm really enjoying these interviews. I glad to see there is at least one other person on God's green earth who takes their coffee black.

I had a Kafka esque moment a little while ago when the lady behind the counter decided to stir my black coffee with the milky sugary spoon she used to stir the coffee from the previous customers' order.

Oh bother . . . I do rant sometimes.


"To Wiki or Not To Wiki, That's The Question".
You can't see my body language . . . ha

I'm really enjoying these interviews. I glad to see there is at least one other person on God's green earth who takes their coffee black.

I had a Kafka esque moment a little while ago when the lady behind the counter decided to stir my black coffee with the milky sugary spoon she used to stir the coffee from the previous customers' order.

Oh bother . . . I do rant sometimes.

I only drink black coffee... :tongue_sm
Awesome interview, Josh!

Ian its always a pleasure to read a bit more about you and enjoy your wit. :thumbup1:

You are both a couple of class acts!


Stumpy in cold weather
All I can say is this- if there were only one interview that I could write the questions for, I would have wanted it to be this one.

I have my answers all ready ...

"no comment"

"no comment"

"no comment"

"Where'd you get that moose, Fawlty? Japan?"

"no comment"

"that's what she said."

"really really no comment."
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