23 March 2017

Review of Spirit

Depeche Mode - Spirit
Depeche Mode released their fourteenth studio album last week. I have listened to a a few times, giving it time to 'settle in'.  I have to admit that the first listen did not go so well.  As a fan, you expect certain things and while sometimes those points are not check, other unexpected points get checked on a positive...and negative note.

The general feel is this is a good album.  There are elements that, a producer and artist, would take out.  I am talking about the overuse of distortion and auto tune.  Depeche Mode has been around for thirty six years...well before distortion and well before auto tune.  They do not need it, they should not need it.  This is the first time working with producer James Ford.

As with my review of Delta Machine, I will go track by track, writing as I am listening.  Tracks written by Martin Gore, unless noted.  Here we go.

1.  Going Backwards -  This is a good intro song.  It draws you in with a great beat and lyrics.  Although, it took me a few listens to figure out that the first like is "We are not there yet", as there is a little too much distortion on the track. I thought Dave Gahan was signing "We-anna-bey-yah"...I seriously thought it was a different language.  8/10

2.  Wheres the Revolution - It is pretty easy to see why they chose this as their first single.  After listening to this track a few more times, I think this is great.  It has a familiar 'Mode-feel'.  The only part I am not a fan of is the "The train is coming...The engine's humming" part.  I think it sounds like a nursery rhyme, a case of lazy song writing....or what I call "copy/paste song writing".  Some people mistake "repetitive" as "catchy".  Strong track. 8/10

3. The Worst Crime - This is the best track on the album.  It has that Condemnation feel to it great lyrics and Dave's voice it euphoric.  For those that think the boys have lost it, they should listen to this track.  10/10

4. Scum - Way too much distortion and manipulation of Dave's voice.  Scum is an average song with below average arrangement.  This track suffers from being overproduced...sounds like Michael Bay produced this song. Luckily, it is short.  4/10

5. You Move -  Again, a little too much on the auto tune, here.  The lyrics are fine, but gets repetitive.  "I like the way you move, I like the way you move tonight..."  Yeah, I get it.  Track written by Gore and Gahan. 5/10

6.  Cover Me - Another 'slow' track.  Dave's voice works well on this one.  Not your typical Depeche Mode track, it sounds different...in a good way, and a relief from the last two tracks.  The end drags out a bit too long, but I am okay with it, as it has an 'updated 80's sound'.  Track written by Gahan, Peter Gordeno, Christian Eigner. 8/10

7. Eternal - First track with Martin on vocals.  Meh, it just sounds like an interlude it is the shortest track at just over two minutes.  It feels that they put it in here, at the half way mark, to say, "hey, Martin sings, too".  Average track that is overproduced.  4/10

8. Poison Heart - Well, this one rocks! One of my favourite tracks off the album.  Another great vocal performance from Dave. Track written by Gahan, Gordeno, Eigner.  9/10

9. So Much Love -  First thing you notice is there is so much distortion in Dave's voice.  This would be so much better if it was auto tuned down.  Great song, just ruined by auto tune and distortion...like a exotic car with a shitty paint job.  My ears ring from the noise after this track.  6/10

10.  Poorman - Love the lyrics to this track.  But, again...it suffers from too much post production.  If not for that, it could be a candidate for a single.  Oh, I hope it becomes a single so it and be remixed...or better yet, unmixed into something less distorted. Ugh, you can almost hear Dave's voice trying to escape the grabbing hands of the auto tune machine. 7/10

11.  No More (This Is the Last Time) -  Not sure what to think about this one.  Kinda average throughout, but has its moments where you think it can pick up, but falls back down.  Not the best, not the worst. Probably better as a B-side. Track written by Gahan and Kurt Uenala.  5/10

12. Fail - Vocals by Martin.  They say you want to end with a bang, not sure it this one fulfills that criteria.  I believe this is the first ever DM song with profanity in it, as Martin sings, "we're fucked".  Still, not a strong track to end the album...fail, indeed.  4/10

If you are like me and got the Deluxe Edition, you will be treated to five remixes.  I am not going to get into these, but they are your typical remixes.  Oddly, some of the remixed are less 'remixed' than the album track themselves.

Overall the album is slightly above average with a score of 6.5/10.  There are some great tracks in the beginning of the album that really hit. But unfortunately, there are some tracks at the end that weighed down the rest of the album.  Most of the damage to the album falls on the overuse of auto tune and distortion...being overproduced.  I would love to hear a clean version of this...or even the 'naked' remixes...which would have been an awesome second disc, instead.

Hoping more of this album will grow on my as I listen to it more. Maybe these track will sound better live.

06 March 2017

The James Bond NATO Strap

Being a guy, you kinda default into being a 007 fan.  Being a watch fanatic, you kinda get into straps, as well.  Among the many James Bond gadgets and accessories is his watch, and of course, the watch strap.  In the films, Bond has worn Rolex, Breitling, Hamilton, Seiko, TAG Heuer, and currently, Omega.  In the books by Ian Fleming, Agent 007 wears a Rolex.  But we are not talking about the watches, just one of the straps.

Sean Connery as James Bond wearing a Rolex Submariner on a NATO strap
While most watches come on either a metal bracelet or leather strap, the Bond character chooses to wear their watches on a nylon NATO strap, mostly likely due to his military background.  Sean Connery can been seen wearing a nylon strap with a Rolex Submariner in many of the James Bond films.  Connery's strap is a black strap with two olive stripes, on either side of the olive are thin red stripes.  

Daniel Craig as James Bond wearing an Omega Seamaster on NATO strap
Daniel Craig's NATO strap, as seen in some of his Bond films, is a black strap with two grey stripes.

These straps are widely available from many manufactures and in different colour combinations.  Most important, they are available in the Bond style.  Some are great, some are not so great.  I have a purchase a few at different price points to compare.  

NATO straps by Phoenix (top), Cincy Strap Works (middle), and Omega (bottom)
I should mention that of the many versions out there, these are the best ones I have found so far based the tightness of the nylon weave, via images.  Others out there have a looser weave and have cheaper look, based on images.  When looking for nylon straps, I recommend ones with a tighter weave.

The images below will show the Phoenix strap on the left, Cincy Strap Works in the middle, and the Omega strap on the right.  These are all 22mm wide.

Strap ends
The Phoenix strap (left) is the least expensive of the three, at $10-15.  This is also the thinnest of the three straps at 0.8mm. Although the Phoenix strap has a tight weave, it feel stiffer than the other two straps.  It also feels a little flimsy, especially if you are wearing on a large or heavy watch. 

Nylon straps are usually finished by melting the ends to prevent fraying.  Notice that the Phoenix cut and sealing is not as smooth as the other two.  All straps reviewed have sealed holes.

The Cincy Strap Works strap (middle) retails for about $24.  Great strap for a great price.  It is slightly thicker than the Phoenix at 1.25mm.  The version I have is the "Seat Belt" version, feels a lot like a seat belt and also has a glossy-like finish.  It has a silky smooth feel and wears really comfortable on the wrist.  

Looking at the hardware, the Phoenix and CSW are rounded.  The Omega has squared hardware, and Omega logo on the bottom loop.  

You can see that the colour on the straps are slightly different from each other, something you really cannot see and compare when ordering via images.  It really does not bother me too much.  I personally like CSW's tone of grey.

The Omega strap is the most expensive of the three, it can set you back around $250-300.  That price gives you a thicker 1.5mm strap and noticeably smoother finish that you can feel.  

Each buckle displays the company name.  The Phoenix and CSW have etched logos on the left side of he buckle, while the Omega has an embossed logo on the center of the buckle.  The hardware on the Phoenix is locked in by (I assume some sort of) sonic welding.  The other two locks their hardware with stitches.


Obviously, you get what you pay for.  

At $15, the Phoenix is a great strap.  Why not get two or three at that price?  It does feel thin, especially compared to other similar type straps out there.  I got my Phoenix strap through GasGasBones.

The Omega strap, some might say, is over priced.  But, the quality is superb.  After all, this is the Official James Bond strap. You can get the Omega strap at an Omega Boutique or Omega Authorized dealer.  I got mine through eBay.  

By far the best bang for your buck is the Cincy Strap Works strap.  At only $24, you get quality very close to the Omega strap without the Omega price.  Check out the CSW website to order yours and view their other items.

Now, go out there and save the world.

02 March 2017


Here we go, again.  We get a longer month, so we should get more calls.

2 March 2017
  951-215-7230  Riverside, CA - Riverside is one of those cities that one would expect to have a telemarketing firm.  It is kinda in the middle of nowhere, way outside of Los Angeles.  I am sure it is cheaper and easier to have a sketchy business there.  Probably a good place to visit, but not a place you want to live...especially since there is a telemarketing hub there.  Fuck you!

4 March 2017
  858-208-4280  Poway, CA - "Poway" sounds like an onomatopoetic word, describing a weak punch.  You know, like in the comics.  Or, it could the lost brother of Snap!, Crackle!, and Pop!  Actually, there was a fourth brother named Pow!  But Poway? (with a question mark) is the one that represents soggy Rice Krispies that have been sitting in milk for too long.  Makes me crave for some Rice Krispies, which is what one should experience on a Saturday...and not a stupid telemarketing call.  Fuck you!

8 March 2017
  323-209-2032  Huntington Park, CA - No, not Huntington Beach...that is the good Huntington.  This is a call from Huntington Park...the not so good Huntington.  Did you think a telemarketing company can afford a plush place like Huntington Beach?  Of course not...unless they route the number.  Really why have a 'Beach' and a 'Park' with in 35 miles of each other.  Way to confuse everyone in Southern California.  Fuck you!

12 March 2017
  650-480-9777 San Mateo, CA - Remember those texts I was getting from Door Dash?  If not, step into my time machine:  February 2016March 2016, November 2016, and December 2016. 

See what I have been dealing with for over a year?  I have tried texting back and communicating with Door Dash via support@doordash.com, surprise, with no results.  The last time I got texts, I was 'lucky' enough to also get texts from the delivery guy...what they call "dashers".  I was able to communicate that I am NOT Lori, and had him tell Door Dash to check their records.  I even decided not to post that communication here.  It stopped for a while...until tonight.

Normally, one would think that this is a wrong number. But, as mentioned I asked to have this issue looked at.  Assuming that he did it, we can classify this as a mistake.  Ah, but here is where we get all M. Night Shyamalan over this.  The first five texts where from Northern California, at least the area code (650) and restaurants were.  This time, while the number is from the San Mateo ares, you can see that the restaurant is in Southern California.

So, unless fucking Lori ordered Thai food from Manhattan Beach and had that shit driven up 400 miles to San Mateo...two things are happening here.

1 - That cunt Lori is now down in Southern California and still using this service, AND did not update her number with Door Dash.  That cunt keeps using my number as here contact number and I keep getting these text...and can do nothing about it.  Oh, I have tried blocking...they just re-route through another number, so I get these fucking updates on food I am not eating. God damn it, Lori fucking owes me dinner.

2 - This is a telemarketing scam designed to 'advertise' for Door Dash.  I mean, what are the fucking odds that I keep getting updates for this "Lori" character.  I have added a new tag to my posts, "Door Dash", to help track these fuckers.

Either way...fuck you, Lori...and fuck you, Door Dash.

14 March 2017
   203-983-5988  Greenwich, CT - Ah, a good old fashion telemarketer call. No text to read, just your garden variety robo-call to ignore.  Hey, what if "Lori" is the name of the robo-calling system.  Like L.O.R.I., as in Lazy Operator Redialing the Innocent.  Fuck you!

16 March 2017
  323-454-2032  Los Angeles, CA - So, we are back to California calls.  Fuck you!

17 March 2017
  323-580-0496  Los Angeles, CA - Fucking, Los Angeles!  Given today is St. Patrick's Day, this could have been a drunk dial...but no.  As usual, a call from an unknown number is a fucking telemarketer.  Wait, what if it was a drunk robot.  Fuck you!

21 March 2017
  951-420-0576  Perris, CA - Perris sounds like Paris...and I can guarantee that Perris, CA leans further away from 'romantic city' and leans more towards shit hole.

Oh, I did see something on the news the other day regarding something about mobile phone companies given the green light to block telemarketer calls.  Yeah, right.  I real do not see this happening.  I would not be surprised if mobile providers are getting a little kickback from telemarketers.  Like I said, I just saw this on the news...and bam, I get a telemarketer call.  The government did jack shit with their Do Not Call List.  I doubt the mobile companies are going to put a dent into this.  Prove me wrong.  Fuck you!

23 March 2017
  951-420-0576  Perris, CA - Oh, a return caller.  Did you forget to route the call through a 'new' number?  Ha, you guys suck.  Uh, how is that telemarketer blocking coming along, huh?  Yeah, I thought so.  Fuck you!

29 March 2017
  323-701-0304  Los Angeles, CA - Coming down to the wire.  We are in the final days of March and this months looks to be a busy one.  Look at all these calls.  Today we have another telemarketer...surprise!  Two more days to add to one of the more busy months in recent history.  Fuck you!

30 March 2017
  310-849-8930  Beverly Hills, CA - This is what I get. I suggest maybe these fuckers call me to close out the month...and guess what happens.  Of course I get a call.  Folks, this is the real March Madness.  Fuck you!

  310-849-5780  Beverly Hills, CA - Wait, what?  Changing the suffix does not make you less of a telemarketers.  Is there some sort of event going on that I do not know about, like an election. What is with these calls.  Fuck you!

31 March 2017  
  951-331-3380  Banning, CA - Well, last day of the month and they had to get one more call in.  I guess it is a great month for telemarketers.  I remember this number from last month.  So, we have a return caller.  The city name is what really stands out to as we have all been trying to ban telemarketers. Fuck you!

  844-606-3478  - Second call of the day...like I said busy month.  So, I did a little checking and this number is leaving bot messages to the tune of "we are the IRS, you owe us money, the cops are on the way, give us a call so we can empty your bank account".  Ah, see?  It is tax season, this may explain the higher number of calls this month.  I image these calls should continue well into next month.  The fucking telemarketers are trying to scam you by using the IRS's name.  Pretty sure impersonating a government official is illegal.

Oh, I did a little more research, and the 844 area code is not assigned to a geographical location.  It is one of those toll free numbers like, 800, 866, 888, etc.  At least, if I try to call back, it is toll free.   Obviously, I did not pick up.  But, the bot did leave a message.  Now, I have one of those long outgoing messages, mainly so bots and telemarketers will have trouble leaving messages or will not be patient enough to wait it out.  In this call, the bot did leave a message, but it only recorded the tail end, basically asking me to call back at that number.

Pro tip tangent:  If you need to leave a message for someone...someone that may not have your number...say your name and give your number first, and again at the end.  Then, go into your spiel about what your call is about. That way, when they listen to your message, they can listen to what you have to say...but they do not have to listen to your whole damn boring message again, just to get your number.  So, name and number...your message...name and number...and say thank you.

Oh, but it could be legit, right?  Uh, no.  First of all, I would have to file my taxes first before there is an issue with it. I still have two weeks to file and another few months before the real IRS reviews it.  So, way too soon for someone to contact me.  Also, when I look up the number, the IRS should come up...not a site that lists telemarketer numbers. I am stupid, but I am not that stupid.  Fuck you!

  310-863-4729  Redondo Beach, CA - Third call of the day.  Hmm, I am not sure if this is a legit number.  No bot message was left and no flags come up from searches.  Or, it could be a newly routed number.  I do not know.  Just in case, fuck you!