First Lines: Nightmares in the Sky

Nightmares in the Sky: Gargoyles and Grotesques is an coffee table art book, with photographs of gargoyles by f-stop Fitzgerald and an introduction by Stephen King. It is a nicely done book, but the introduction wasn’t all that.

Book read

f-stop Fitzgerald and Stephen King — Nightmares in the Sky: Gargoyles and Grotesques
First line
Although Marc Glimcher, who originally asked me if I would write an essay on gargoyles as a kind of preface to the book of extraordinary photographs which follows, thought that I would be the “ideal person” for such a piece, I had deep doubts.

Seen Live: Ayreon Universe

Nope. Couldn’t be done. How’d you image to get all those singers in the same place at the same time? Nope. Won’t happen. Justforgetaboutit. And besides, he’s not that big on touring/playing live anyway. He’d rather be working in his home studio like the hermit he is. So, no, it cannot be done.

And yet, despite all that having been said for a million times over and over again and again, it did happened. It really, really happened. Sixteen vocalists, an awesome band, just three shows (okay, and a tryout and public dress rehearsal), two years in the making, but: it could be done, and it happened. Ayreon Universe was the first time one could see Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon project perform live. And the Missus and I, we were there.

Was it awesome? Of course it was. Epicly awesome. Going in I didn’t really have a clue what to expect, apart the if you have that singer, they are surely gonna play that song, and as it turned out, the set list was great. Most of my favorite Ayreon tracks were played, and there was only one song that fell a bit flat for me, and that was “Collision”, which seemed to be the ‘watch us play really fast’ song, which was played very fast and was a bit of a tuneless drone.

If I had to pick a favorite moment, it would either be “Dawn of a Million Souls” sung by John JayCee Kuypers, or the mighty Damian Wilson completely stealing the show during “And the Druids Turned to Stone”:

In a few months there will be an official recording of this show available, for those who missed this epic show.

Seen live
Arjen Lucassen presents Ayreon Universe, September 16, 2017 at 013, Tilburg
Vocalists (in order of appearance)
Mike Mills (Toehider), Edward Reekers (Kayak), Robert Soeterboek (Star One), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion), Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Anneke van Giersbergen, John Jaycee Cuijpers (Praying Mantis), Maggy Luyten (Nightmare), Damian Wilson (ex-Threshold, Headspace), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot), Jay van Feggelen (Ayreon), Irene Jansen (Ayreon), Lisette van den Berg (Scarlet Stories)
Instrumentalists
Marcel Coenen (lead guitar), Ferry Duijsens (guitar), Johan van Stratum (Bass), Joost van den Broek (keyboards), Ed Warby (drums), Ben Mathot (violin), Jeroen Goossens (flutes, woodwinds), Maaike Peterse (cello), Rob Snijders (percussion on Comatose, drums on And the Druids Turned to Stone), Peter Vink (bass on Intergalactic Space Crusaders) and Arjen Lucassen (guitar on The Castle Hall and Amazing Flight)
Setlist (Spotify)
Prologue (Mike Mills)
Dreamtime (Edward Reekers)
Abbey of Synn (Robert Soeterboek)
River of Time (Hansi Kürsch, Marco Hietala)
Prologue: The Blackboard (Mike Mills)
The Theory of Everything, Part 1 & 2 (Mike Mills, Marcela Bovio)
Merlin’s Will (Floor Jansen, BVs)
Waking Dreams (Jonas Renkse, Anneke van Giersbergen)
Dawn of a Million Souls (John JayCee Cuijpers)
Valley of the Queens (Anneke van Giersbergen, Marcela Bovio, Floor Jansen)
Ride the Comet (Jonas Renske, Maggy Luyten, BVs)
Star of Sirrah (Mike Mills, Maggy Luyten, Hansi Kürsch, Floor Jansen)
Comatose (Jonas Renkse, Anneke van Giersbergen)
Day Sixteen: Loser (Mike Mills, BVs, Maggy Luyten)
And the Druids Turn to Stone (Damian Wilson)
The Two Gates incl. Band Introduction (John JayCee Cuijpers, Irene Jansen, Damian Wilson)
Into the Black Hole (Tommy Karevik)
Actual Fantasy (Edward Reekers)
Computer Eyes (Edward Reekers, Robert Soeterboek)
Magnetism (Tommy Karevik, Anneke van Giersbergen, Marco Hietala)
Age of Shadows (Marco Hietala, Hansi Kürsch, Floor Jansen)
Intergalactic Space Crusaders (Damian Wilson, Maggy Luyten)
Collision (Tommy Karevik, Marco Hietala)
Everybody Dies (Mike Mills, Hansi Kürsch, Tommy Karevik, Maggy Luyten, Floor Jansen, BVs)
The Castle Hall (Robert Soeterboek, Damian Wilson)

Arjen’s Speech
Amazing Flight (Jay van Feggelen, Arjen Lucassen)
Day Eleven: Love (Edward Reekers, Marcela Bovio, Ed Warby, Robert Soeterboek, BVs)

The Eye of Ra (Damian Wilson, John JayCee Cuijpers, Floor Jansen, Irene Jansen, ALL)

First Lines: Gwendy’s Button Box

Stephen King had a story he didn’t know how to finish. Richard Chizmar — owner of Cemetery Dance Publications, who have published quite a few deluxe editions of King’s books, and a editor and writer as well — offered to take a crack at it:

We were emailing in early January and he mentioned offhandedly a story he’d started some time over the summer, and he just couldn’t finish it […] As I often do, if he mentions a new story, I always say, ‘Well hey, send it to me if you want. I’d love to read it.’ I didn’t expect anything to come of it. But the next evening a file titled Gwendy showed up, and the body of the email read: ‘Do whatever you want with it.’

Et voila, as they say in France: Gwendy’s Button Box.

The story is a relative lightweight in King’s oeuvre: a man in a dark suit (his initials? R.F., natch.) gives twelve year old Gwendy a box with mysterious buttons—can she be trusted to use its powers responsibly? The novella is only a hundred-twenty-something pages long, and not a whole lot happens. This is perhaps why, while promoting the book, such a big deal was made of the novella’s setting. You see, apart from some minor appearances, the town of Castle Rock had been left alone since 1991’s Needful Things. It’s a nice touch, but it doesn’t make the book anything more than mostly harmless.

Book read
Stephen King and Richard Chizmar — Gwendy’s Button Box
First line
There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs.

Introducing Link Text and Location Copier, My First Firefox Add-on

Link Text and Location Copier, my first Firefox add-on, has officially been published. It allows you to easily copy the text and URL of a link (or the page title and URL) from the context menu. Right click a link, select the appropriate formatting (plain text, HTML, Markdown or BB Code) and paste it wherever you like. Who needs social widgets if you got an add-on like this?

I made this add-on because one of my favorite and most used add-ons, CoLT, will stop working with the release of Firefox 57 on November 14. In that version, support for XPCOM-based add-ons will be completely removed, in favor of WebExtentions, a new(ish) cross-browser system. Basically, WebExtentions are bunch of Javascript that may use privileged APIs, all zipped up.

So I thought, “It’s all javascript, so how hard can it be?”, cracked open a text-editor, and lo-and-behold, some hours later I had a working version. I githubbed the code, submitted the add-on for review, and before I even saw the approval e-mail or got the change to announce it to the world, there was already a five star review and a bug report waiting for me.

(Full disclosure: I tested the add-on in the Developer Edition of Firefox. So I was quite surprised that the text of the link always returns ‘undefined’ in the current stable release, Firefox 55. As it turns out, the contextMenu.OnClickData.linkText property was added in Firefox 56. #oops)

I have got two more things left on the roadmap: internationalization (translations), and customization (add your own formats). After that, I might even see if I can get it to work in all other browsers that use WebExtentions (Chrome, Opera, Edge).

Install Link Text and Location Copier from addons.mozilla.org.
Report bugs on GitHub. Feature and pull requests are also appreciated.