At $36 for 200 ml, Castle Forbes Lime-oil Shave Cream is one of the upscale uber-creams with a reputation for an extraordinary natural strong scent. Lathered up with the Dan Capshaw brush it produced a wonderful lather that was more than enough for three passes with the Merkur Slant-bar razor. Unfortunately, the cream was not sufficient to make up for the very aggressive Slant-bar shave that left my skin raw and howling after the alum block. I’ve used the Slant-bar before and it does take some getting used to, but in the interim I have also used some outstanding razors that produce a better shave with less irritation (E.J. Chatsworth, E.J. Loxley, and the Gem G-Bar). I cooled off with the Trumper’s Lime Skin Food, in keeping with the lime-theme, and the end result was a very acceptable 7.5 shave (It would bave been a 9.0 with a better razor).
First real shave since my return from Phoenix. What a relief! Chose to go the “simple” route – J.M. Fraser shave cream, the Dan Capshaw brush, and my 1940’s Schick injector with the big blade exposure and a fresh Schick (authentic) blade. The gloss cut was with Cromwell & Cruthers shave oil (not the best stuff, somewhat thick), but an outstanding result was had nevertheless. Trumper’s Coral Skin Food and a splash of Booster Lilac topped off what turned out to be a solid 9.0 shave.
Archaeologist daughter just arrived in London on her way to Greece and another Summer digging at Ancient Helike. First photos from London include, what else (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), but food shots of the most recent commestibles post-flight. And they say the Brits don’t know cuisine!!! Jacket potaotes with beans and cheese….mmmmmm!
I took my brand-new Canon G9 to Phoenix with me instead of lugging the Leica MP and a load of film in an X-Ray resistant bag. Here’s my inital reaction to using the camera for a week:
If you had told me 20 years ago that a camera like the G9 would one day exist, I would have speculated that perhaps yes, but not in my lifetime, or certainly not at an affordable price. The Canon G9 is a marvel of functionality that can detect faces, movement, and bright spots that require compensation. You can meter in the center, on a grid, or ask it to evaluate the entire picture to come up with the best exposure compromise. It can shoot in several color modes, in black & white, or in “positive film”. With the sounds off, the shutter is far quieter than even the legendary Leica M’s – almost imperceptible even to the photographer. In a nutshell, this camera can do just about every conceivable thing one could imagine…and for only $499 (plus applicable taxes…today…next week it will be cheaper!). It even has a viewfinder for those old-timers (like me) who can’t stand using the monitor screen.
Ironically, amidst all this functionality lies the camera’s greatest weakness…the functionality itself. In fairness, you could simply set it at one mode and stay there forever….but, you won’t! The almost endless options tug at you constantly, forcing you to second-guess yourself. “Hmmmm….maybe I should shoot this in color?” or, “Wouldn’t it be better if I used RAW instead of jpeg compression?”. “Maybe I should switch the meter to ‘evaluative’ rather than ‘center-weighted’?” Clearly, this isn’t the camera’s fault, its the photographer’s (mine). But if “form follows function”, we can extrapolate that notion a bit and say, “functionality should follow function”. If the function of a camera is to provide a near endless array of options with which to interpret what one sees, then the Canon is spot-on. If the function of the camera is to impose the least possible impedance between internal vision/feeling and reality, then anything that intellectualizes the process of taking a picture creates a barrier to fulfilling that function. And the Canon G9, as well as other high-end digital cameras, are very “intellectual” machines, akin almost to Artificial Intelligence where the machine’s “mind” substitutes for the person’s.
Don’t get me wrong…I like the G9 and will continue to use it….but I already have a hankering to get back to my MP and its Neanderthal simplicity.
Today’s shave was technically perfect…a smooth, virtually stubble-free skin. CADE shave cream applied brushless, and three passes with the Schick ST, plus alum block. But the overall experience was disappointing, too quick, too easy, and rather lacking in feedback…typical cartridge/disposable razor performance (although not as bad as with a Fusion). I have arrived at the conslusion, echoed by Kevin Johnson, that its a shame to miss a truly great shave just because you’re traveling. I’m going to go back to the drawing board on this travel routine once I get home.
Today’s shave was thoroughly unsatisfying…my fault really, I pushed the envelope of simplicity too far by choosing to use just the CADE oil and the Schick ST disposable (on its second day). The poor Schick struggled, and I found myself repeatedly going over the same spots trying to reduce the stubble. In the end, a reasonably smooth result was attained, but there was no pleasure in it at all. No alum block either. The only consolation was the CADE A.S. Balm which impresses me more and more each day. Overall, a 7.0 shave in the “new” numbers.
A couple of shots with the new Canon G9 camera. At the Phoenix convention center. Shot in 16:9 format and in B&W mode.
The Schick Slim Twin (ST) performed very well with the CADE shave cream applied brushless (frakly, I think this cream was designed to be brushless since it doesn’t lather up well with a brush). The gloss cut with the CADE shave oil was essential though, as the blade/cream combination had still let quite a bit of stubble after the first three passes. Still, the oil did its usual magnificent job with the result a near-perfctly smooth face. The alum bar spoke of little irritation and the CADE A.S. Balm plus a splash of British Sterling made up for some of the missing “pleasure” elements inherent in travel shaving. Overall a solid 8.5 shave.
“Phoenix in June????” That was the response of a friend when I told him I was off to Phoenix for a conference. “Man, no one goes to Phoenix in June!” Well, now I know why. At 110 degrees its so hot that even crossing the street from one air-conditioned buiding to the next feels like an eternity. But people adapt. Hotel entrances, outdoor terraces, etc. use a cool-mist system to create a “curtain” of water that apparently maintains about a 10-degree differential across the “wall”. IMHO its still too hot to sit there, but as Montralers know, people will go to great lengths to sit and eat/drink outdoors. Hopefully some photos with the new Canon G9 camera later today.
Up at 3:30 A.M. to catch my 5:30 A.M. flight to Phoenix by way of Toronto. Walking through modern airports reinforces my belief that most things aren’t designed by people who actually use them. Hence we have airports with kilometer-long corridors that older (and younger) people have to struggle to traverse with their luggage and various disabilities. Or maybe its just that design follows the money and not the customer! The mistake of course is that….the customer is the money!
Perhaps that’s unfair. Let’s say that when you are an “expert” in building something, it becomes increasingly difficult to relate to the non-expert who will use it, because you lose sight of the gap between your knowledge and the other person’s. Note for example, how easy it is to find a place when you’ve been there before, vs. how hard it was the first time. Then, someone asks you for directions and you give him what to you seem like perfectly clear instructions…but he gets lost just the same.