First Lines: Sleeping Beauties

Years ago, I read Owen King’s debut short-story collection cite We’re All in This Together, and I wasn’t really impressed. Being a fan of his father’s work, I guess I expected something more. So, when the announcement came that they were co-writing a full-length novel, I wasn’t overly excited.

Of course, I needn’t have worried.

Sleeping Beauties turned out to be quite an entertaining read. The plot — “What if all women in the world fall into a deep, magical sleep (which may or may not be caused by this mysterious woman who just turned up out of nowhere), and all men are left to their own devices?” — is probably mostly fluff, as neither the answer to that what-if (spoiler: men will be asshats) nor its feminist you-go-girl attitude should surprise you. But then you get to the characters (the book starts with a three and a half page long list of ‘em), and the world building, and the subtext, and all the other non-supernatural mumbo-jumbo that makes me like King so damn much. And again, that is where this book shines.

Book read
Stephen King & Owen King — Sleeping Beauties
First line
Ree asked Jeanette if she ever watched the square of light from the window.

Seen Live: Like a Bat Out of Hell (Zwolle)

In February, we went to see Like a Bat Out of Hell, a tribute to Meat Loaf and the music of Jim Steinman by a group of Dutch session musicians, in Amersfoort. As we liked the show a lot and the there was an interesting change in the line-up (Stream of Passion/Ayreon/Mayan singer Marcela Bovia took over for Floortje Smit, who had to step down due to personal circumstances), we opted for a second show, at Hedon in Zwolle.

I have little to add to that earlier review, but as that was in Dutch, I’ll repeat the key findings here: Like a Bat Out of Hell presented a great show, made with obvious love and respect for the music. The arrangements either followed the album versions, or a live version from the period where Meat Loaf toured with a single guitarist. Martin van der Starre, the project’s lead singer, had no intention to ‘play’ Meat Loaf, and the show was all the better for it. The highlight was, again, the ladies’ version of my favorite Steinman song, “For Crying Out Loud.”

Like a Bat Out of Hell plays “I’d Do Anything for Love” in De Bosuil
Like a Bat Out of Hell: The ‘Rock and Roll Dreams’ Concert, in Hedon, Zwolle om May 11, 2018
Martin van der Starre, Lisette van den Berg & Marcella Bovio (lead & backing vocals) / Menno Gootjes (gitaar, backing vocals) / Ronald Kool (piano & keyboards) / Johan Hendrikse (keyboards) / Richard Zoer (bass, backing vocals) / Sjoerd Rutten (drums)
Set list
Bat Out of Hell / You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) / Heaven Can Wait / All Revved Up With No Place to Go / Two Out Ouf Three Ain’t Bad / Paradise by the Dashboard Light / For Crying Out Loud // Life Is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back / Midnight at the Lost and Found / We Belong to the Night / I’d Lie for You (And That’s The Truth) / Dead Ringer for Love / It’s All Coming Back to Me Now / Total Eclipse of the Heart / Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through // I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)

First Lines: The Hate U Give

What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent?

Starr, a sixteen-year old girl and her friend get pulled over by a cop, and he gets shot. She wants justice for him. But he was black, and possibly a drug dealer, or a gang member, or both. But wanting justice and getting it, are two entirely different things. So, she has to ask herself, “What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent?”

Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give is an incredibly now book. It deals with #BlackLivesMatter, police brutality, race and racism, finding out who you are, and while it gave me the all the right feels and messages and pushed all the buttons that should make me go, “well, this is quite excellent,” it didn’t quite connect.

At this point, I was going to make an ass of myself by sounding incredibly white, explaining that, for me, this book might just have been a bit too ‘black,’ with all its black slang (“black people don’t talk like that all time, do they?”), black hip-hop-rap-pop-culture references (the title is derived from a Tupac song), black Jesus, black power and black this and black that. And then I saw Spike Lee’s most excellent BlacKkKlansman, and I decided that, no, my pretty white ass just needed some kicking.

Because knowing you live your life on the lowest difficulty setting is one thing, but not being an ass about it is something else altogether.

Book read
Angie Thomas — The Hate U Give
First line
I shouldn’t have come to this party.

How the GDPR Reminded Me To Always Use UTC When Working With Dates

Internet tech stuff ahead warning.

Due to the GDPR, I recently spent way too much time on creating a Cookie Wall of Doom. Unless you explicitly opt-in to some level of tracking, you cannot use the site. To prevent the customer from having Cookie Wall of Doom shoved in their face on every damned page, we set a cookie, which stores your preference for a year.

At first, I set the expiry with max-age=31536000, as I could not recall that that there would be issues, beyond no support in IE<9. (But if you insist on still using those, you are bound to have bigger challenges online than a cookie wall.) Alas, reports came in that in Internet Explorer 11 the Cookie Wall of Doom came back at the start of every new browser session.

So, back to good old expires:

var expiryDate = new Date();
expiryDate.setFullYear(expiryDate.getFullYear() + 1);
document.cookie = 'cookie-consent-pref=foo;; expires=' + expiryDate + '; path=/;';

Update the code, patch it all around, deploy all the things, and on to do something useful.

Alas, sad trumpet.

As it turns out, all browsers play ball with this implementation, except the two from Microsoft. Those appear to really insist that when the spec says that you should use a date-in-GMTString-format, you actually use a date in GTMString format. (And never you mind that toGMTString() is deprecated and you should toUTCString() instead.)

Using the code above, expiryDate gets set as “Wed Jun 06 2018 12:10:24 GMT+0200 (Central Europe Daylight Time)”, which works just fine in about every browser but Internet Explorer and Edge, who will claim that the cookie is set to expire at the end of the session. Which is ungood, and in this case, shows you Cookie Walls of Doom when it shouldn’t.

So another round of updating the code (document.cookie = 'cookie-consent-pref=foo;; expires=' + expiryDate.toUTCString() + '; path=/;'), patching it all around, deploying all the things, and back to doing something useful.

Remember, kids, always use UTC. It’ll save you a lot of frustration.

Seen Live: Three Free Gigs

Yeah yeah yeah. I know we’ve been here before: I intend to write some more stuff for my website, and then nothing happens, stuff keeps piling up, and in the end, all I’ve written in a year are a bunch book and gig reviews, and I am not even getting those done at the moment. Well, no more. I’m just gonna.


The Missus’s father and aunt sing in a choir. Earlier this year, that choir had a concert in a lovely local church at the yearly Gluren bij de Buren event. And it was lovely.

Seen live
Klein Kunst Koor: “Crossing Borders” at the Lutherse Kerk for Gluren bij de buren Amersfoort on March 11, 2018

Wende played a short set in Amersfoort for Record Store Day to promote her new album Mens. Like her previous album, Last Resistance, it’s a mostly electronic affair, and not exactly my cup of tea. I mean, she is a great singer and performer and she is really into it, but I just stood there and I didn’t get it. We seem to have grown apart somewhere. Which is fine, as not everybody has to enjoy all the things. Perhaps we’ll meet again, somewhere down the road.

Seen live
Wende at Velvet Amersfoort for Record Store Day, April 21, 2018

Last weekend it was time for the 20th Amersfoort Jazz festival. Free music, just around the corner. Due to reasons, we only saw the one act, but man, Shirma Rouse (and Band) would have been a tough act to follow. Rouse used to be one of The Netherlands’s most renowned backing vocalist, but now she’s out in front. She played an energetic set containing a lot of Aretha Franklin material, some of her own songs, and some more covers. Would I have know about her Shirma sings Aretha tour before it was over, I would not have minded more of that. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Seen live
Shirma Rouse and Band at Amersfoort Jazz on May 26, 2018