Hartlepool Dockfest 2009, Day 1.

So, going by my many postings there, you can hazard a guess that day 1 of the Hartlepool Dockfest is now complete. Time to write up a review, and post pictures wherever necessary.

I headed off to the Marina, slightly annoyed at losing one of the rubber earbuds for my phone’s headpiece. That wasn’t a good start to the day. It meant that on my strut from Mercuryvapour Towers, to the afore-mentioned Marina was spent only half-listening to the music. The other half was spent trying to keep the earpiece in without having my head tilted to one side. Grrr.

Eventually, I arrived, and had planned to meet Andrew there. I phoned his mobile to see where he was.

I rang…

“It’s me, where are you at?”

I got some crypic reply back, along the lines of “If you’re calling for my brother, he’s out”.

Eh?

Eventually, the call fizzled out. I must have been in a position where he couldn’t understand me, or didn’t think it was me. I moved location and rang back…

“It’s Jamie, I know you’re out, you asked me to ring you when… oh.”

It had currently dawned on me that instead of ringing Andrew’s mobile, I’d rang his house phone. It was indeed his brother that answered, who must sound very similar to him on the phone, which means that Andrew’s brother’s brother was indeed out, and awaiting a call on his mobile instead of the house phone, as he was not in, as described in the initial call answered by Andrew’s brother’s brother’s brother. If you see what I mean.

So, I eventually get in contact with Andrew, and we meet up at the Wingfield Castle. He had his camcorder, needless to say, I took my camera.

The first “treat” of the day was the “Community Cavalcade” Now, I didn’t really know what to expect from this. Turns out, I should have expected very little. Best way to describe it was a town-wide school play, with kids singing in between. Of course, I didn’t realise this, and thought it was the opening ceremony. WROOOONG.

I could have cried. We started queuing at 11:30, didn’t get in there until 12:21. For the 51 minutes, we were in the blazing sunshine. My sunburn is back with a vengence. I wish I’d actually read what it is we were queuing up to watch.

I only took interest in part of it, and that part was when the music CD malfunctioned.

Despite the relaxing shade of the large entertainment tent, we abandoned the “cavalcade”, and by chance happened tofind one piece of “street entertainment” from a guy called Turbo Jonez. As you can guess by my “heartening” description of the cavalcade, it should now be clear that I don’t have a cynical bone in my body, in the same way that I don’t have a sarcastic one.

OK, I’m sarcastic and cynical, but when I say that this guy was one of the best street acts I’ve ever seen in my numerous years visiting these “maritime festivals”, I really mean it…

It takes a lot for me to laugh at stuff like that, but this guy was awesome. After his show had finished, I even went up and shook his hand, and had a quick discussion about the records and equipment used in his act. An all round nice guy.

There was a performance immediately after, next to the Wingfield Castle, about punishment in the middle ages…

I think there’s one of those every week. At this point, one of Andrew’s camera batteries had died, so he headed off to a top-secret location to put the battery on charge. While he did that, I took some photoes of the Thundercats…

OK, I could have said speedboat, but I didn’t.

We walked back in the general direction of the tents, and happened to stumble across the “FoodFest” tent.

As well as containing an oven, this place also behaved like an oven. I was dismayed to find that the recipe he was cooking contained smoked fish. Ugh. Oddly, I stayed in my seat, without running out of the place like a screaming girl. Turns out all of the savoury dishes being prepared over the weekend actually contain fish.

The guy running the workshop also had to teach this recipe to a bunch of children at the same time, something which he CLEARLY had never had any experience with.

COnsider the following paragraph as “Citation needed”, as I can’t remember the exact order of events, but one of the little kiddywinks, asks if the thing he is cooking it on is “hot”. The chef replies “Yes, that’s why it says ‘Caution Hot Surface’, pointing to a sign laid flat on the table in front of the hotplates. Slight issue with that, is that the child was too small to see any sign laid flat on the table, or understand the words, and was only asking the question because the chef turned over something in the pan with his fingers. Oh, man. I hope Andrew got it on tape, but I doubt he did, so I may have made the entire last paragraph up.

We walked out of the cookery class, and decided that refreshments were in order. I ended up paying £1 for a bottle of water, followed by £2.50 for a tray of curry and chips.

We then watched a juggler with the worst sound system known to man, and then decided to head off to Navigation Point. This was to be my place of departure, as I wanted to go home for a bit or a rest before the music section started good and proper.

Daddykins picked me up, and I did certain tasks as take plenty of fluid on board, and examine my fucking sunburn in greater detail. Why is it, now, that when I was a kid, I could be out in the sun all hours of the day (well, yes, up until 6PM, Chad.), yet these days, my skin incinerates the second a bit of sun hits it? If that’s not evidence of a depleting ozone layer, I don’t know what is, or we may have just had shit summers in my childhood.

OK, back on topic.

I had arranged to meet Andrew again after I’d returned. By this time the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Cloud had spilled in from all directions, and by complete coincidence, Daddykins was heading off to the Marina by means of a taxi. I asked if I could jump in too. He answered affirmatively, and I’m glad he did, as the heavens opened whilst on the way there.

I got dropped off, and attempted to reach Andrew via the mobile airwaves. His phone was switched off. Bugger. Oh well, I was on my own for the night. No matter, but it would have been nice to not look like a Billy-no-mates all night.

The first couple of bands came on, and they were both… erm, “not my scene”, despite the fact I’d made my way to the front of the audience area, and now only had a 4-fit railing between me and whowever was performing. It was then, I came across a fear of dread, or maybe it was dehydration. I’d realised that if I was at the front, I’d be there for the long term. One of the bands finished, and the crowd dispersed slightly. I had to do it. I had to head to the bar. There were several reasons I was putting it off. Mainly the price. A “pint” of lager for £3.50

Of course, the reason why they charge through the nose for your beer, despite the fact you’ve been queuing up for 25 minutes before eventually receiving a plastic glass full of luke-warm piss, is that you’re receiving top-notch entertainment for nothing. If you’re thirsty, pay for it, like the freeloading whore that you are.

After queuing for 25 minutes before eventually receiving a plastic glass full of luke-warm piss, I head back to the front of the stage. Phew. There was still a little space. At this point, Andrew texted me saying that he also returned home for a bit, and will be there shortly.

He turned up in time to see the John Power Band. Now, I’d personally never heard of them. For some reason, I was expecting some type of large brass band number, thinking it would be a bit odd to but them on before the Lightining Seeds. Turns out, they weren’t. In fact they were another normal band. SOmething, somewhere mentioned that he was the lead singer out of “Cast”. My word, that was blast from the past, in a way.

It started off with several new tracks, or songs that were John Power Band only. Although enjoyable, it wasn’t something I was familiar with, or could enjoy, despite certain members of the female audience attempting to force themselves next to my perfectly reserved spot. Note to females, should you attempt to push your 4’10” frame into a space occupied by a 5’x” fat c*nt, you’re not going to succeed. It is likely that person will class it as the biggest sexual encounter he’s had for several months.

Something awesome happened during this. John Power announced that he was going to play some of his old stuff for the first time in years. Yes, all of the old Cast hits came out, including “Walkaway”… a song that is hard for me to explain. It’s one if the songs that made sense while I was going through puberty, but for no explicable reason, took no notice of it after that period.

I still knew every word, sang at the top of my voice, and for a short time, after the song finished, stood there shaking, as if some type of chemical bubble had burst in my brain… I’d never expected that I’d be singing that song, mere feet away from the person who brought it into my life in the first place.

Next up were The Lightning Seeds. Had my life been reaching up to this beautiful climax? You may remember my (clearly drunken) analysis of the song in 2004. I couldn’t imagine how good it would sound live.

Apparently, Hartlepool was their first gig for 10 years. They must have read my blog, and made sure they played on one of the nights I was off work. Thanks guys. Unfortunately, you might want to stop reading here…

… I thought it was, on the whole, awful. They really sounded like a band who had not practised together for 10 years, never mind just played a gig together

Technical difficulties marred everything they did, from squealing feedback, to whole guitars cutting out for no apparent reason, to the point where Ian Broudie closed his eyes and just realised that nothing was going his way. Many vocals were out of key.

If it really WAS ten years since the band last played together at a gig, I’m sure that the last thing they’d want to hear is constant chants of “It’s coming home, it’s coming home, football’s coming home” every time there’s a break between songs. Unfortunately, that particular fact wasn’t relayed to the audience by the “Real Radio” DJ who encouraged the audience to “ask” them for the song.

After several poor efforts by The “Seeds” to get audience participation, the finale was about to come. “The Life of Riley” was first. Unfortunately, this caused a crowd surge that caused anyone in the very front row (i.e. me) to be bounced around like a turd in one of those choppy up things for when you don’t have a real sewer line thing…

The finale, an all acoustic version of “Three Lions”, went down an absolute storm. As the crowd dispersed, the chant of “It’s coming home, it’s coming home, football’s coming home” grew ever more quieter. It’s one of those odd moments, like when the band James used to close their gigs to the chorus of “Sit Down”.

Unfortunately, after getting the front row, I realised (long after it was possible to make any difference) I have been included in many, many photos. Some I posed for, some I didn’t. No doubt I’ll be in the mail again. Whooppee…

We’re finally getting a Lidl!

After approximately 20 years, the wasteland at the junction of Jesmond Road and Easington Road is finally “seeing some action”, despite the economic gloom. The land was acquired by Lidl several years ago, but was never developed…

It is currently in the process of being dug up. Blue temporary fencing surrounds the whole area, and a quick peek through the gates shows that building has started already, or rather the land preparation has.

It appears it’s going to be closer to Mercuryvapour Towers than what Netto is, with the added bonus of no uphill walk home.

Oh my word, it’s almost holiday time

Yes, it’s almost time that I shirk the responsibility of hosting a top class blog, and disappear to another part of the continent for a week. This means that I will be unable to keep you informed of such announcements as the server reboot / failure that took place on Tuesday Morning. Although I hate to keep you un-informed of realtime changes and problems to do with this site, it does mean that you will be with my irreplaceable wit and charm for a full week.

I’m sorry to break that news to you, and I’m sure you’ll all be devastated at the news. Yeah, righto.

Let me start off by saying I still have one niggling doubt. A doubt that I can’t explain in detail, though it is something that could easily mean that one of us does not fly. I have been assured that this “slight difference of opinion” has been corrected, but I will not know until we arrive at the check-in desk at Newcastle Airport on the appropriate day.

I shall, for once, pull myself away from looking forward to my holiday, and comment on what is happening right now. Looking out from the turrets of Merucuryvapour Towers, I can inform you that the sky is leaking. A lot.

It’s been another three days off where I’ve done quite a bit, but it feel like I haven’t. Let’s start off with Wednesday. It was the only day of the week where I was able to do what I wanted – the only day where the rain wasn’t constantly bouncing off the tarmac.

On Wednesday, I’d finished at 8AM. Normally, at this point I’d go straight to bed, in the vain hope of being able to get up at a reasonable time and make some use of the day. Thankfully, this didn’t happen, and I was physically able to stay up. Chris had phoned me the previous night, and we’d made plans to meet at the flea market. This was always doomed to failure.

I rang Chris at 9AM, as we’d planned, and arranged to meet in the town centre. Unfortunately, for once, *I* didn’t get the message, and totally misunderstood this simple instruction. Mohh. After a nice walk around the flea market (well, I say nice, I spent more money on CDs than I care to mention), I went for one last look through some records. Just as I was about to flick through them, I noticed the 242 approaching. My searching stopped, and I headed off to the bus stop, stuck my paw out, and alighted afore mentioned public transport.

Just as I’d got to Raby Road, my phone goes. It was Chris.

Him: “Where are you at?”
Me: “On the bus, going home”
Him: “Shit… I’m in the town centre”

Poo. I thought he was going to ring me when he was about to set off, and not when he was in the town. Oops.

All was not lost, however, as he had stuff to do in the town anyway, and he said he’d come straight up to Mercuryvapour Towers as soon as he’d finished.

I returned home, and while I was waiting for him, I did a bit of tidying, or rather, threw the hoover around the place for a bit. Hilarity ensued as I managed to get a bit of plastic stuck in the hoover brushes, meaning that every time it went over a bump or some sort, the thing screamed. Eventually, and with the help of one of those large forks you stab turkeys with, I freed it, and my hoovering continued unceremoniously.

Chris came over just as I was finishing. We sat around out in the back garden for a bit, deciding what we would do for the rest of the day. The weather was gradually improving, and it was eventually decided that we’d have a walk up to Hart. After all, the Sainsbury’s is on the way there, and Chris had yet to see it.

Off we went, and of course, the stop off at Sainsbury’s was included. Chris bought some pop, I bought a bottle of water, two Mars Delights (at the awesome price of 18p each) and, to top it all off, a Calippo. I haven’t had one of those since I was a kid.

We got served by the loudest, most over-enthusiastic assistant I think I’ve ever heard in my life… “HELLO SIR! THAT WILL BE £1.86! THANK YOU SIR! HAVE A GOOD DAY NOW!”

I was trying to work out whether she was just being sarcastic, or whether she really was that loud.

We left, and the walk countinued westward. We walked along the old abandoned road which is becoming ever familiar to me. I was surprised by the fact that a field which had presumably been left fallow this year, had turned into a sea of poppy red…

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It wasn’t the only one, there were two fields on the way there. Eventually, we reached Hart, and although we’d enjoyed the walk, it became clear that we’d reached the problem I’d faced each time I was there… there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in Hart. Well, OK, there were pubs, but considering I’d came out without my wallet, it wasn’t something I’d be able to partake in. Not that I particularly wanted to, anyway.

Of course, I came up with the wonderful idea of taking more photos while we were there. None of them turned out particularly, awe-inspiring, especially when I asked Chris to take some of me. None of them turned out good at all. In fact, this is probably the only one that doesn’t make me wretch…

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Oh, wait. It does. Hooooorp.

After a good walk, and about half an hour of trying to get a good photo of a bee on a flower (and failing miserably), we returned home. Chris stayed for a little while longer, before he headed home. It was about 4PM at that point, and I was starting to feel tired, so I had a lie down on the sofa for a couple of hours. At roughly 6PM, the doorbell rang, it was Andy The Iridium Fan (see gallery) with DVD in hand, of the maritime festival which he’d recorded over the weekend. I didn’t attend this semi-annual event, which took place from 4th – 6th July, for you see, the weather was truly awful.

Chris came back over at about 8PM, and all three of us watched the DVD again, pointing out the goings-on in the background. and having a general good laugh at it.

Andy went, which left me and Chris to discuss the world, and marvel at the musical delight of the Sky News theme. It appears I’ve gotten Chris addicted to it too. Awesome.

Chris went, and I lapsed into a coma until the following morning.

Thursday was the day when I would start getting really prepared for this holiday. Money exchangement was about to take place, shoes would be bought, batteries would be charged, hair would be cut.

At approximately 14:28 and 32 seconds, we left the house, and went off down the town. Daddykins dropped me off at the town centre. Now, the plan was this. I’d be dropped off at the town centre, Daddykins would go somewhere, do what he had to do, then meet me a bit later on the Marina, outside of Brantano, the shoe shop. Fair enough. Seems straightforward.

So, off I toddle to the post office, debit card in hand, hoping to draw out some monopoly money Euros. I approach the lady behind desk 11. the Bureau De Change.

Me: “Can I have €300 please” (whilst holding up card)
Her: “Um… do you have a drivers license or passport?”
Me: [resigned to defeat at such an early stage] “Er, no… didn’t think you’d need it?”
Her: “Pop your card in the slot, I’ll see if I can withdraw cash for you”

[fx: computer bouncing across desk, smoke pouring out of the top of it, big flashing red lights, Family Fortunes ‘Ick-urrrrr’ sound effect repeating over and over]

Her: “Computer says no.” (note, approximation)
Me: “Er, but if I go and draw out the cash from a cash machine and bring it here, it’ll be OK, yes?”
Her: “Yes. Something to do with the Bank Of England”
Me: “I see… I’ll be back in a minute, then”.

I walk no less than 50 yards to the cash machine, withdraw the appropriate funds, and walk back to Desk 11…

Me: “€300 please…”, I say with a little twinge of sarcasm in my voice, though I try not to overdo it, as I know it’s not the cashiers fault.

Without hesitation, the funds are retrieved from the drawer, and I end up with a wad of notes.

I can’t help but think, “LOL, WTF”. Can someone explain to me why I can’t exchange currency when paying from my own card, without having ID, yet exchange it from cash drawn out of a cash machine with exactly the same card? The only difference is that I’m entering my PIN number onto a different sodding keypad.

Off to get my shoes, then. Brantano is a good quarter of a mile away from the town centre, so a small walk was in order. It would also give Daddykins the time to get from where he was going, to the car park outside of said shop, where he arranged to meet me. I entered the shop, and after a good old browse, I elected for two pairs of size 10’s that looked reasonably comfortable. I approached the check out to be greeted with… nothing. There was NOBODY THERE. What the hell? I was stood there for at least 10 minutes. Nobody came. I even resorted to tactics such as staring at the CCTV camera and shrugging my shoulders in the off-chance that someone was watching it, and would come out and serve me. I almost even resorted to setting off the store detector alarm in the hope of getting someone to come and serve me. Although I’m sure this idea would have worked, I decided against it, and thought I’d just stick it out and see what turned up

Eventually, an “assistant” made her way down the store, and I eventually got served. Awesome.

Now, by this time, I was positive that Daddykins would be in the car park waiting for me. I arrive out the store, and look about.

No car. You have GOT to be kidding me.

At this point, you’d be thinking that it’d be a good idea to ring him up and let him know I was waiting. this would indeed be a good idea, unfortunately, my phone was sat at home, on the landing, on charge. How handy.

At this point, I was wondering what had happened. Could it be that Daddykins didn’t hear me correctly? I clearly said “Brantano”, but was he thinking of somewhere like Staples? TK Maxx perhaps? They’re all down there too, though the other side of the marina. I must have walked the entire car park twice. No sign of him.

Every car that entered the car park got my evil eye at some point, as I attempted to read the registration plates as they went past. None of these cars matched the description I was looking for.

After approximately 20 minutes of standing around twiddling my thumbs, hoping that messages had not been misunderstood, here comes Daddykins. He flashes his lights, and I once again sigh, shrugging my shoulders. This was surely a day of me getting pissed around. I enter the car and ask where he’d been.

“Oh, I gave you an hour, so I went to the marina and got some fish and chips. They were gorgeous”. Eventually, I had to ask him to be quiet about how nice they were, as he failed to get me any chips, and I was not particuarly amused about being kept waiting for god knows how long while he stuffed his face.

After an amazing plate of curry, admittedly cooked by Daddykins, and using a jar of curry sauce that we paid 4p for. It’s the cheapest price I’d paid since I was working at Sharwoods. And it was delicious.

Thursday night saw me at the club. I wore a pair of my new shoes in by having several games of snooker. It was one of those games where I didn’t do well, I just got very lucky. Thirteen-cushions-and-in-off-the-light types of shots. I’d not played for a month, so it was surprising I’d potted anything at all.

I got a lift home from Chris’s dad at the end of the night, and I retired to bed after a couple more cans. In fact, here I am arriving home…

Oh, OK yes, I only included that image because the streetlight at the bottom of the road is off again. Someone climbed up a few nights ago and stole the photocell from the top of it. Speaking of streetlights, I explained my undying “love” for streetlights. (for want of a better expression… after all, there are some people who just take their obsession too far). He found my interest a bit weird, butalso strangely fascinating. Apparently, he’s going to take photos of streetlights outside of his house and allow me to identify them. I doubt he’ll remember, but it would be an interesting experiment either way.

Ahem, moving on swiftly. Friday came like a bolt out of the blue, or rather grey, as all it has done all day is rain. Considering this is the summer, it’s been shit so far. Today was the day I concluded my holiday purchases. Thanks to Thursday’s prick-about, I never had chance to get my hair cut, so I went on Friday instead. I always go to the same barbers, Ian Taylors on Church Street. Unfortunately, Ian Taylor died a couple of years ago, so the shop front is currently being repainted, along with the sign sayign what it is. I almost walked right past it. Not a good advertisement.

After a haircut which technically I didn’t really need, but considering I was going away on holiday, hasd anyway, I headed off to Asda, in order to stock up on some food. Now, what’s odd is that I didn’t buy any beer, or anything for the holiday, yet still managed to spend over £30 on grub for myself.

I returned home, laid on the sofa, watched Countdown, and promptly fell asleep on the sofa, eventually waking up to hear the theme from Channel 4 News as it was finishing.

That was then, this is now, It’s now just after 1AM on Saturday morning. Considering I’m at work for the next few days, this may be the lat post I make before I go away…

At this point, I would like to introduce you to my twitter account. While I am away from my computer, I can keep you informed of shit from my mobile. I bet you can’t fucking wait.

Seriously, I would like to use it to keep track of my “small” movements. It will also give me a chance to use some of the 200 mobile text messages I get allocated each month, yet never use. I will not use it while I’m out of the country, however. You’ll just have to imagine I’m having a nice time. I’m sure you’ll receive a desperately thorough write-up of what went on when I get back, however.

Paris beckons. Auf Weidersehen!

It’s finally, finally happened.

Since I started attending flea markets and car boot sales back in about 1993, when my Aunt Rose took me down one Wednesday morning, I have been after owning one object. It has, as far as I know, never been there. Everything else has been sold, including broken smoke alarms, rubbers in potties, and more second-hand underwear than you could shake a nasty gonorrhea infection at.

This particular object is, thankfully, none of the above, it is in fact a 7″ copy of “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby and The Range. Eagle-eyed flickr-ists will notice I already have one copy, but I got that from ebay. It’s easy to get them ebay. There’s no challenge, and no sense of achievement.

Yeterday, I awoke on the sofa at 8AM. It looked like a sunny day, so off I went.

Something which is very odd, is the fact that around near where I live, they’re flattening the old hospital buildings which have been there for years. Lots of years. I’ve discussed on here that I’m glad to see the back of them, as they were very cold and sinister. Not nice places to be in at all, especially when you’re a six year old getting your chest x-rayed in them… ooo, childhood flashback.

Anyway, yes. There buildings, I believe, date back to the days when treatment was more of a punishment. I have heard it used to be a mental asylum of some sort. The surrounding walls actually have broken glass bottles embedded in the concrete. I don’t know whether that was to stop people getting in, or to stop them escaping. I guess I’ll never know. Either way, these buildings have now be reduced to this.

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Anyway, I put the camera away, and headed towards the flea market, a mere short bus ride away, which cost me £1.05. Jaysus.

I had no intention of staying a while, or anything over a few minutes, if I’m honest, but it was pretty busy, and there were a good few stalls there, for once.

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However, the ones that stood out, were the ones I didn’t expect to be any good. There’s always a few stalls which appear to be full of garbage and rusty metalwork or rusty tools, which nothing worth looking at. I walked past one of these stalls, and saw some random guy flipping through some records. I had been bitterly disappointed by the CD’s on offer from one of the stalls which are normally quite good (£1 each, and I’ve bought some great ones from there in the past.), so I thought I’d take a look. That’s when I found “it”. Its yellow, creased cover, staring back at me. The title, arranged in a semi-circle, in the middle of the cover. It was all there. I was holding it in my hands. For ten whole seconds, I just laughed to myself, and thought “Heh, Cool” as I placed it back in the box along with the rest of the records I was holding.

Of course, I suddenly had a moment of clarity, and it suddenly struck me, that this was the moment I’d waited for since way back. Every single flea market, car boot sale, record fair I’d ever been to, had been all for this moment. I was about to buy “The Way It Is”. I handed my shiny pennies over (well, OK, they were 50p each, and I bought about another 6), and I walked away with a sense of satisfaction, as if to say to myself “I’ve done it. It’s all over. It’s finished”.

The day didn’t just stop there, I continued my searching for other stuff. The next stall along had an Andrew W.K’s “I Get Wet” buried amongst the likes of Engelbert Humperdinck and Pavarotti. Needless to say, I snapped that up. I’ve been after that CD for years too.

I walked around the stalls, to see that Eric has returned permanently. Eric owns one of the good stores, he used to be the one near the Corner House (or whatever it’s called now), but in his own words, he gave up for a couple of years. I did miss his stall, as he always had a good (and varied) collection of CDs. He’s back, but with a smaller CD collection. A few other things are missing too, but hopefully he’s going to be there for a few more years to come. He had a sealed copy of Sandi Thom’s CD (oh, I wish I was a punk rocker, etc) for £2, so I bought that. I’ve not listened to it yet, as I’ve got the Andrew W.K. CD on repeat. His album is only 35 minutes long, but every track is a winner. The longest track is 3:33 in length.

Overall, a fantastic day music-wise.