eclipse-mania!…

is in full swing. Right now we are just a couple of days away from what is probably the most anticipated event in at least a few years, possibly decades (think 2000, the Millennium?) – the total solar eclipse in America. As people will be traveling to points along the path of totality, getting to the event – wherever you are – is shaping up to be the “Mother of All Clusters” on the highways and byways. A few days ago Channel 7 here in Denver posted this graphic…

Courtesy of Colorado Dept. of Transportation (CDOT) and Channel 7, the Denver Channel.

600,000 freakin’ people… Hey, I told you Wyoming was booked up! And they will be on the road that day just here in this part of the country. In fact, that’s more than the number of people who actually live in Wyoming and call it home. Wyoming will double in population on August 21st. And I sure wouldn’t want to be heading up to Casper that day on I-25, usually a parking lot from Colorado Springs up to Fort Collins on good days… or Ogallala, Nebraska on I-76 and I-80, or on the road anywhere else. So we’re not.

Motel rooms have been booked up for months, the prices steadily going up into the stratosphere of motel room pricedom. It is a once-in-a-lifetime event – that’s true (although I do seem to recall we had a partial solar eclipse in the early 1960s when I was at elementary school in Dallas that day and we made pinhole cameras out of cardboard boxes to look at it safely). Services and restaurants in all the small towns along the path of totality will most certainly be overwhelmed for that one day. Business will be good, pumping some much-needed money into the local economy… and chaotic.

Path of the Total Solar Eclipse across America on August 21, 2017… Images courtesy of NASA.
The eclipse, brought to you by… Grease Monkey? No… don’t think so, and now apparently, they’ve run out of the free glasses.

It’s… ECLIPSE-MANIA!

A couple of links (please feel free to share):
From Space.com
And check this out…
Simulation of the eclipse in your area 

Here’s the deal: whether you’re in Caribou, Maine or Yuma, Arizona (or even in Nome, Alaska and Honolulu, Hawaii), you’re going to see something of the eclipse. In parts of Canada and Mexico as well. It may be partial, but it’s going to get dark. How dark depends on where you are. Here in the Denver Metro/Front Range area, we will have 93% totality… so it’ll be plenty dark. How dark? Well, after the Moon, the planet Venus is the brightest object in the night sky and currently it’s moving through the sign of Cancer; above 97% totality you should be able to see it. It’ll also get anywhere from 2-8 degrees (F.) cooler, depending on the totality of where you are.

Of course, when viewing the eclipse, wear the appropriate safety glasses/eyewear. Do NOT look at the eclipse directly or stare at it even with the glasses on. And it’s not a “Triple Dog Dare” moment.
Here’s an excellent post on this
.

Some new music from Nights on Venus from the new album…

So yes, the eclipse is a very big deal. This is perhaps one time where the hype surrounding an event is actually justified. Hopefully if you have paid a fortune for a motel room wherever you go, it will not be cloudy that day.

Astrologically, what could be the possible significance of the new Moon/total solar eclipse be in Leo? It depends mainly on the house placement and any aspects to other planets in the natal chart and also the progressed and solar arc charts. Since this is being billed as the Great American Total Solar Eclipse what possible significance would be suggested for the U.S. during this time? Let’s take a look at the chart of the U.S. for Monday…

Natal chart of the U.S.A., July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m…. Snapshot of August 21, 2017 at 1:31 PM, EDT. The total solar eclipse… note the Sun-Moon conjunction (new Moon) in the 9th house (Click to enlarge).

It is interesting to note that this is only the 3rd coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in this country’s existence. The first two: 1776, when we declared our independence and became the United States of America, and in 1918, which marked the end of the first World War and when the short-lived League of Nations was formed.

In the Transit to Natal chart above, the Sun-Moon – new Moon – conjunction occurs in the 9th house at 28 degrees, 53 minutes Leo. Aspects to: natal Pluto in the 2nd house (inconjunct), natal Moon in the 3rd house, opposition (wide orb, but significant I think, so allowed), transiting Uranus, 4th house (trine).

Emphasis here is on the 9th house, which in the broadest sense represents learning on the level of identity – learning, or in this case, re-learning who we are. Applied to an entire country: learning/re-learning who we are as a nation. We literally have to decide who we are now at a time when we, as a nation, are at our most politically divided and polarized since 1860.

In an individual’s chart, 9th house integration would usually occur through philosophy, religion, higher education, travels and long journeys – anything that would expand (Jupiter as the natural ruling planet of the 9th and Sagittarius) a person’s horizons intellectually and their own self-awareness and of the world they live in. The 9th house also symbolizes the principles (or lack thereof) that a person was instilled with – i.e., the law or social/moral code. Again, Jupiter. In the chart of a nation, this would symbolize the law, the code of ethics that guides a country, and would play out in the sociopolitical arena and also represent, along with the sign on the cusp of the Ascendant, the “face” that nation presents to the world at large. So some of what I’m going to talk about here has to do with law and those principles as they have come to the forefront at this particular time of the total solar eclipse on 8/21 in the U.S.

Eclipses themselves symbolize or signify an ending and/or a beginning. Where a solar eclipse occurs in a chart generally sets the tone for the next 4-6 months depending on when the next lunar-solar eclipse pair happens. Eclipses are also harbingers of change, sometimes profound change, and I would expect that is what we’re going to see over the next 6 months through the lunar-solar eclipse pair in February, 2018. I would go so far as to say that this is one of the most important 6-month periods ahead in the life of this country – especially in light of the events of the last few days – as we have now arrived at a crossroads. There also seems to be widespread awareness in this country that we have reached a crossroads now.

This eclipse comes right as we have an existential crisis in government.

The first thing I’ll say about this is that if you think these last 7 months have been chaotic, and they have been, the next month has the potential to be even more so. And then things should gradually stabilize more by February, 2018. Given the events now that have happened since last Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, the ending indicated here by this eclipse, is that this current “presidency” will come to an end. Trump will leave, or be removed from office within the next 6 months. It also would not surprise me if he resigned as early as Monday, August 21st, the day of the total solar eclipse. Being the total narcissist he has shown himself to be, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he would try to upstage this once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event just to draw attention to himself. This is one possibility signified by the eclipse. That he would resign would be the “easy” way.

The hard way? That’s where the aspect of the law comes into play. The Constitution provides remedies in times of crisis. Impeachment of course, is the one most people are familiar with, but that will take many months and does not guarantee removal from office. The most expedient way involves removal via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. Trump has shown no interest in actual governing, only ruling, and he has nothing but contempt for the laws of the land. He thinks and acts as if he is above the law and also now faces several legal battles (e.g., the emoluments hearing on October 18th), in addition to the grand jury hearing on his alleged collusion with Russia to secure the election. In other words, the law is currently operating as it should, acting as a check and balance to someone who would run roughshod over it, but the laws of the land could be severely tested during this time and if Trump will not abide by them, then that becomes a constitutional crisis and a long drawn-out battle that this country, as we’ve known it, may not survive.  This is not hyperbole.

Thomas Cole (1801-1848): “The Course of Empire – Destruction”, oil on canvas, 1836.

I hope he will take the easy way. That would be best for everyone, including him. In a very real sense, Trump’s “presidency” ended the day he did not denounce and disavow white supremacists, the KKK, and the neo-Nazis.

What happens next is up to all of us. It revolves around some central questions: who are we as a country now? What kind of nation do we need to be and become? Certainly not the nation we’ve seen these last 7 months.

Also from the new Nights on Venus album…

Enjoy the show Monday. Be safe. ‘Til next time…

Album cover for “We Are All Haunted by Something”, which was released on July 23, 2017. This is the old abandoned Apache Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico – shot taken in 2009. The image of the night sky is from Justin Marsh, added with his permission.
“Speed of Life” single, released on 10/9/16…

The new album, “We Are All Haunted by Something” has now been released. Includes the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”. Now available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, and Amazon MP3.

Speed of Life“,Unearthly, Santos and all previous Nights on Venus albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and also the NoV Website.

Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT
My two Reverends… “Goldenboy” on the left (a Rocco from 2002), and “Prince” (a Charger LE with the P-90 pickups from 2014) – not purple, but it came to me from Minnesota.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. He is available for personal astrological consultations. Contact via e-mail at carrington.ct@gmail.com

 

album released…

The new album, “We Are All Haunted by Something“, has now been released officially as of 7/23/2017, on the night of the New Moon in Leo. In a few weeks, the next New Moon… is also in Leo, which is something of a rarity, astrologically speaking, though it does happen every few years, and this is also the Total Solar Eclipse which will be occurring across the U.S. on August 21st.

Path of the Total Solar Eclipse across America on August 21, 2017… In typically American (exceptionalist) fashion, it is being called the Great American Eclipse. Image courtesy of NASA. Click on the image to enlarge.

I’ll be talking about that – what it might possibly signify for the next six months, astrologically – in the next blog post here in a couple of weeks, and yes, it IS a big deal. View responsibly, wherever you are. [Solar eclipses typically suggest the tone of events – in whatever house they occur on a chart for individuals or countries – for the next 6 months or until the next solar eclipse, which in this case, will be February 15, 2018.]

Erin and I will be here in the Denver metro area viewing the partial eclipse which will be fine. We’ll both be at work that day and it will get all dark and eerie for about half-an-hour. I had made reservations in Ogallala, Nebraska a while back (only because Wyoming was already booked up), then watched as the hotel jacked up the prices every few weeks, saw what we would be paying, until I finally cancelled, and now I see that Nebraska is sold out as well. I have no idea what the going rate is now other than exorbitant (also in typically American fashion, i.e., greed).

So for now here’s the album… available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon MP3, and Bandcamp; you can listen to the full album here…

Or SoundCloud, full album here as well…

It is a Sunday afternoon right now and we are having a thunderstorm here in Golden – a good soaking rain which is always welcome in what is usually a dry summer, now as we head into August. Everything still looks green. Almost done with summer… thankfully.

The last couple of weekends we’ve gone up to Central City in the mountains… to see the opera. The Central City Opera is now in its 85th season at the opera house, a national historic landmark that was built in 1878. We saw “Carmen” by Georges Bizet, then Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte” yesterday… both excellent productions. If you’re here in the Denver area during July and August, I highly recommend going up there to take in a performance. Year in, year out, they are at the very top of summer opera companies in the U.S. so go see them.

The Opera House in Central City, CO…

I am taking something of a break for the time being, but usually that never lasts long. Originally, “We Are All Haunted by Something” was to be a double album and there are 9 songs in various stages of completion that didn’t make it onto the album as released. I will be working on those, finishing them up over the next couple of months and hope to have 4-5 completed by mid-November to release as a follow-up EP sometime in December, possibly also as a 2-disc CD offering.

"Speed of Life" single, released on 10/9/16...
“Speed of Life” single, released on 10/9/16…
Album cover for “We Are All Haunted by Something”, scheduled for release in July 23, 2017. This is the old abandoned Apache Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico – shot taken in 2009. The image of the night sky is from Justin Marsh, added with his permission.

The new album, “We Are All Haunted by Something” has now been released. Includes the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”.

Speed of Life“,Unearthly, Santos and all previous Nights on Venus albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and the NoV Website.

goldenboy_and_prince

Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT

 

 

 

 

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

 

more new music… another preview from “we are all haunted by something”

Just a short update as I’m starting to finish up pre-mastering on all the songs for the new album, one about every other week now. A little more than half the album is done now, in its final state to go to mastering, but even at the above rate there may be some slippage on the release date of June 24th. Hopefully not but we shall see – I don’t believe in rushing things.

The latest is:
THE INDELIBLE IMPRINT OF PLACE / LLANO ESTACADO
(© 2016/2017 Excellent Sky Records/Nights on Venus/Craig Carrington Thomas. All rights reserved.)

This is a 2-minute preview of “Llano Estacado”, not the full song – I’m still tweaking it. The Llano Estacado is the “Staked Plains” in West Texas and eastern New Mexico and has been described as the “table lands between Austin and Santa Fe.” The Spanish explorer Francisco Coronado described the area as mostly “a sea of grass” in the 16th century. That’s true – it really is. And, other than the various caprock escarpments, it’s insanely flat. My Mom, no less eloquently, described it – on our yearly road trips in the mid-to-late 1960s/early 70s to Colorado through Amarillo, Dalhart, and Clayton – like this: “There’s nothing out here. It’s so empty… how can people live out here?” That always cracked me up… because somehow they did and still do.

The caprock, eastern New Mexico...
The caprock, eastern New Mexico…
Rabbit Ears Mountain, near Clayton, New Mexico... August, 2001.
Rabbit Ears Mountain, near Clayton, New Mexico… August, 2001.

Lubbock, Texas is the largest city on the Llano; I was there for 4 years, getting my undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University. I lived in Midland 2 hours south for a little while afterward. Between those two cities… some lifelong friendships, some good parties, knowledge acquired, a little worldly experience, constant wind, occasional dust storms, some not-so-good jobs, and a lot of bad apartments. I’ve spent a lot of time in this area, having living there, but mostly traveling through it over the course of 6 decades. For whatever reason, for me this area never becomes old. I love it. It may be tedious to drive through but it never gets old.

South of San Jon, New Mexico...
South of San Jon, New Mexico…

Places define us, shape us, change us, and any place we’ve lived leaves its indelible mark upon us.

"Speed of Life" single, released on 10/9/16...
“Speed of Life” single, released on 10/9/16…

Speed of Lifeis the most recent offering from Nights on Venus. The 2-song EP was released on October 9, 2016 and is available on Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon MP3, and iTunes.

Cover artwork for "Unearthly"... photo/design by CCT
Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT

Unearthly, Santos and all previous albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and the NoV Website.

goldenboy_and_princeFollow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky),

post-wedding bell/honeymoon/election/media blues…

It’s been quite a week. This November, everything got real…

One part of this post will be the fun stuff, one part will be rant. I’ll do the fun stuff first…

We came, we saw, we got married…

erin_craig_bell_tower
The Shmoopies get married… Church of the Transfiguration, Evergreen, Colorado, Nov. 5, 2016. About to ring the bell… Some history here. My family came up to the Evergreen Conference, of which the church used to be a part, every year from 1965-1971. I worked at the conference from 1971 through 1975, my first job, and one of my duties was to ring this bell for the morning services. This was the first time I had rung the bell in 41 years.
Highland Haven, Evergreen...
Highland Haven, Evergreen…

And we partied afterwards. Mightily. Loudly. A fun time was had by all at Lariat Lodge just up the hill on the other side of the highway – the reception was excellent, thank you guys! – and thank you everyone who came and celebrated with us. Erin and I are very glad all of you were there with us for our “alternative” wedding! It was one of the best parties I’ve been to in a while. Yay us… we did it!

On Canyon Road, Santa Fe...
On Canyon Road, Santa Fe…

And then we hit the road for a few days… down to Santa Fe, where I used to live for a while in the mid-1980’s. And our favorite place, Ten Thousand Waves. I had been going to the hot tubs since 1984 but I had never stayed in their rooms/suites before. Actually they’re more like casitas – small houses, and I highly recommend them. Do the full experience. Staying on site there, at the compound up in the foothills of Santa Fe at 7,700 feet, is an experience not to be missed. We went into town, checked out the art galleries, mostly on Canyon Road, and all our other favorite places. Santa Fe doesn’t change a whole lot, particularly around the plaza and everything that doesn’t radiate off of Cerrillos Road, and that’s one thing I love about it. The air always seems to carry the scent of piñon, the high desert light is bright and intense, adobe everywhere (“if you don’t like adobe, go home…“), and there’s always that spiritual vibe about this place.

there's our next house, up there on that hill... Twilight in the foothills.
There’s our next house, up there on that hill… Twilight in the foothills from our front porch at Ten Thousand Waves.
A roaring fire in the casita...
A roaring fire in the casita, Shmoopy’s toes…

There’s a song on the next Nights on Venus album (scheduled for spring/early summer, 2017) entitled “The Indelible Imprint of Place”… this is what I’m talking about. Always love a spiritual vibe in a place. Santa Fe may be our next home (for me…again) and chapter in life… and I certainly hope so.

Chili ristra at Geronimo restaurant, Canyon Road...
Chili ristra at Geronimo restaurant, Canyon Road…
Sculpture, Canyon Road...
Sculpture, Canyon Road…
Dining at Izanami...
Dining at Izanami…

A week later I wish we were still in Santa Fe.
There was just one little fly in the ointment… well, actually a rather large one. There was that whole election thing last Tuesday…

And now, the rant…

In the space of a week I’ve gone from fucking pissed to thoroughly disgusted… well, I’m still fucking pissed but mostly just more disgusted at this people-of-WalMart-WWE-reality-TV-shitshow-spectacle of an election. Sure, it’s all fun and games… ’til someone elects a fascist.
#NotMyPresident
#NotMyCulture

Stupid, stupid, stupid!!

To those who voted for Trump, you have absolutely no idea what you’ve done and I only have one thing to say to you…

Oh, what was that? Say it again…

Very sorry… and very, very soon, just like those poor souls over in the UK who voted for Brexit and then wanted to have a do-over vote when they realized what Brexit actually meant. Unfortunately, this is way worse and now all of us are on board.

The recurring image that comes to my mind about what happened and what’s most likely to happen now going forward is this scene from the movie Mulholland Drive with Naomi Watts and Laura Harring. When Harring’s character Rita begins talking in her sleep, Betty (Watts) awakens her from her nightmare and tells her “it’s OK” to which Rita responds, “No, it’s not OK.”

The last few days I’ve seen some posts come across my news feed on Facebook from people saying we need to come together now and unite as a country and get behind President-elect Trump. Fuck that. Go peddle that happy horseshit somewhere else.

Even President Obama said yesterday that “Americans need to reconcile themselves to a Trump presidency.” In this context, reconcile sounds more like “resign”. That’s not acceptance, that’s resignation. And so the normalization of these things begins – things that cannot and should not ever be normalized, including, but certainly not limited to, the demonization of others for starters.

"Rhinoceros" by Albrecht Durer, 16th century...
“Rhinoceros” by Albrecht Durer, 16th century…

Nope. Not going along with that either. There comes “A Time for Refusal“. Keep your humanity and basic decency intact. Don’t go along with the crowd, the mob, or the “new normal”.

Currently, the results of the national election show Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by over 2 million votes (a lead that continues to grow, btw, a week later… hmm). It’s way past time for the Electoral College to go, to be gone. A couple of petitions: Make Hillary Clinton President on December 19 . The electors of the Electoral College still have to do a formal vote that day. This petition has 4.3 million signers as of this morning. It’s a longshot of course but if you really don’t want to see Trump take office, it’s one of the last chances you may have.

The 2nd: Abolish the Electoral College .

And finally there’s this, which may be the most effective. E-mail the electors directly at Ask the Electors.org . Longshot for sure… but it’s the last line of defense before Dec. 19th.

How bad could things get here in the U.S.? Chris Hedges over at Truthdig has a few ideas on that in his most recent essay. Well worth a read, even as sobering and bleak as it is. What’s that expression?… “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

Also a good read this week, complete with some helpful hints for future reference, comes this essay from Masha Gessen, “Autocracy: Rules for Survival“.

As bad as the outcome of the election was, equally bad was the media coverage of it and the campaign pretty much from the get-go. In fact, the media coverage has been more infuriating and I didn’t even watch much of it on TV. They are more than complicit in this national disaster. It was just pervasive everywhere you went – online or otherwise. The sensationalistic headlines, the coverage of Trump seemingly 24/7, the polls, the dissemination of lies, the Twitter fights and ridiculous reports of them as if they were real news, and on and on ad nauseum. Again, disgusting. This applies equally to the leftist media outlets as well as those on the right.

And oh, I love this from Thom Palmer’s Truth in Politics blog. He gets it right.

The election cycle needs to be shortened and all the pundits, the pollsters, the smarmy commentators, most of whom don’t deserve the air time they get, et al. need to go the way of the Electoral College, i.e., out the fucking exit door, get rid of them all. It wasn’t just pervasive, it was abusive. The American people are in an abusive relationship with its endless proliferation of media and addiction to it. And you know what you do when you find yourself in an abusive relationship?… You walk away from it; you leave…

And you go on with your life. Live your best life now.

"Speed of Life" single, released on 10/9/16...
“Speed of Life” single, released on 10/9/16…

Speed of Lifeis the most recent offering from Nights on Venus. The 2-song EP was released on October 9, 2016 and is available on Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon MP3, and iTunes.

Cover artwork for "Unearthly"... photo/design by CCT
Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT

Unearthly, Santos and all previous albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and the NoV Website.

Erin & Craig... in front of the "hobbit hole"...11/5/2016
Erin & Craig… in front of the “hobbit hole”…11/5/2016

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky),

“speed of life” single available now…

The new 2-song single “Speed of Life” has been released as of 10/9/2016 and I have included both songs here in today’s post.

SPEED OF LIFE
(Written by David Bowie. © 1977 Tintoretto Music and Screen Gems-EMI Music. All rights reserved.)

And the ‘B-side’…
CONFIRM HUMANITY (I’M NOT A ROBOT)
(© 2016 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Recording info:
Recorded and mixed July – August, 2016 at the ‘Cave Recording Studio, Golden, Colorado
Craig Carrington Thomas – all instruments, programming, engineering and production
Mastered by Brian Hazard at Resonance Mastering, Huntington Beach, California, September, 2016
Cover artwork by CCT

About the songs… starting with the ‘B-side’ first…
When I first started recording “Confirm Humanity…”, I thought it was kind of a goofy song but I liked the beat and the synths. Actually by the end, I really like what the song turned into and I’m very pleased with this one. The title of the song is a ready-made… I was on some website, signing up on their mailing list and there was a captcha that asked me to: Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot). I thought that was kind of funny. Boom. Title. The sort of sinister surf/spy guitar part was played on my Danelectro baritone. There’s no bass part on this and that double hit on the snare drum… I must have listened to “Incense and Peppermints” around that time – the infamous double hi-hat hit – and it just got stuck in the ol’ subconscious.

Speed of Life“… this is the opening track from David Bowie’s album “Low” in 1977 and marked his new collaboration with musician/producer Brian Eno for the next three albums, the Berlin trilogy – “Low”, “Heroes”, and “Lodger”. I was somewhat surprised to learn that “Speed of Life” was Bowie’s first instrumental, especially since he already had 10 studio albums released by then.

"Miracle of the Slave" - Tintoretto
“Miracle of the Slave” – Tintoretto. If you’ve ever taken an Art History course, you’ve seen a slide of this painting.

Also very interesting when the licensing came back and I saw the publishing credits for “Speed of Life”. The first listed publisher was Tintoretto Music. Tintoretto was a 16th-century Italian painter during the Renaissance in Venice, most well-known perhaps for his painting, “Miracle of the Slave” (1548).

David Bowie in front of a portrait he painted of Iggy Pop in Berlin in 1976…

David Bowie was certainly a Renaissance man in his/our own time – musician, singer, songwriter, actor, art collector, and artist with artist being the broadest, most all-encompassing word to describe him. His paintings are probably the least known of his creative work but you can see several of them in this excellent article and interview with him from 1998, reprinted by the New York Times just a few days after his death this past January. And that’s really how 2016 began, what has set the tone for this year with the news of his death only 10 days in. It has been, for the most part, a very somber year; he and his artistic presence and sensibilities are very much missed.

“Speed of Life” is among my favorite Bowie songs and a song I have done live a number of times over the years, with various bands and at solo gigs. This is the first recorded version I’ve done of the song, in tribute to him and his life. I hope he would have liked this version.

A few milestones this month of October and on into November:
Nights on Venus turned 6 on October 8th.
I turned 60 on October 16th.
Erin and I get married this week.

"Speed of Life" single, released on 10/9/16...
“Speed of Life” single, released on 10/9/16…

Speed of Lifeis the most recent offering from Nights on Venus. The 2-song EP was released on October 9, 2016 and is available on Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon MP3, and iTunes.

Cover artwork for "Unearthly"... photo/design by CCT
Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT

Unearthly, Santos and all previous albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and the NoV Website.

Craig, end of July, 2016...
Craig, end of July, 2016…

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky),

 

fall is here… finally (yay!)… “speed of life” single releases on 10/9

Once again it’s time for the annual fall leaf tour and post. Fall has arrived (sort of… still a little too warm right now) and the last couple of weekends Erin and I have taken a couple of drives into the high country and done a few hikes. But first…

Early morning on the road up to Squaw Pass and Echo Lake...
Early morning on the road up to Squaw Pass and Echo Lake…

Some Nights on Venus News:
Mastering on “Speed of Life” finished up over the past week and the 2-song single will be released this Sunday, 10/9 on CD Baby and on Bandcamp initially. You can get both songs as free downloads on Bandcamp for the first week, through 10/15, and they will appear here on a post this Sunday via Soundcloud. Here is a look at the cover artwork:

Artwork on "Speed of Life" single...
Artwork on “Speed of Life” single…

squaw_pass06This coming Saturday also marks the 6-year anniversary of my little musical endeavor, Nights on Venus… another milestone. Work continues on a full-length album – “We Are All Haunted by Something” – which is scheduled for release in 2017.

And now, back to the annual fall color “porn”…

Aspens at Ponder Point...
Aspens at Ponder Point…
Looking toward the Continental Divide, already a dusting of snow...
Looking toward the Continental Divide, already a dusting of snow…

squaw_pass04

squaw_pass08

Echo Lake...
Echo Lake…
West of Empire...
West of Empire…

And of course, with the arrival of fall, winter won’t be far behind. We’ll be breaking out the skis, boots and poles pretty soon, getting ski tune-ups and watching “Hot Dog, The Movie” – classic, silly ski movie from the 1980’s (think the ski ballet competition and Chinese downhill). Yep, Erin and I are still just a couple of ski-bum wannabes…

ineptitudedemotivator
Wheeeeee!
Cover artwork for "Unearthly"... photo/design by CCT
Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT

Unearthlyis the most recent offering from Nights on Venus. The 6-song EP was released on December 30, 2015 and is available on Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon, and iTunes.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Santos, Perspective and all previous albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and the NoV Website.

Craig, July, 2016...
Craig, July, 2016…

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky)

 

 

new year… goin’ through the vinyl… hidden gems… and an inadvertent review of boston’s “third stage” album, 30 years after the fact…

Happy 2016!

Early morning on the slopes at Copper Mtn.
Early morning on the slopes at Copper Mtn.

I hope your new year has gotten off to an excellent start, ten days in. Wishing you all the best and let’s keep the good stuff going all through this year.

Brrrrrrrrrrrr...
Brrrrrr… Yeah, it was a tad nippy up at Copper 01/01/16

With the release of the new EP/album Unearthly the last week of 2015 – and now available for download on CD Baby and iTunes, streaming through Apple Music, Tidal, et al. – it’s time for a little break… replenish the well so to speak.

Which means skiing on New Year’s Day and more skiing for the first 3 months here, and also the first major project of the new year. The one I’ve been putting off for 9 months since I brought all the LPs up from Dallas. The one called “going through the record collection”, as in vinyl, and it looks like this…

Rob (John Cusack) going through his ginormous record collection... from the film "High Fidelity" (2000).
Rob (John Cusack) going through his ginormous record collection… from the film “High Fidelity” (2000). In the movie, Rob owns Championship Vinyl, a record store, and yeah, this is pretty much me – a vinyl nerd, though not a vinyl fanatic (yes, there is a difference). I see Brian Eno’s “Before and After Science” there on top…

I realize this is a very age-specific thing here, although, believe it or not, vinyl records are making a comeback now. But if you’ve grown up with just downloading or streaming, you might ask: why even bother with these relics? Well, I love the vinyl/LP format… that’s what it really comes down to. That and the quality of sound from a clean copy (no pops, scratches, static, etc.). I love the CD format as well. Here’s an interesting little infographic I found out there on the web…

Recorded music formats through the years, 1980-2009...
Recorded music formats through the years, 1980-2010… What I find fascinating about this is how long the cassette tape format lasted, how long it endured… right up until 2004 and then, poof – it’s gone. Cassettes were actually more popular than CDs until 1991. And also note something of a resurgence in vinyl from 2008-2010. A trend that has only continued since then… Kind of mesmerizing to watch.

And it’s not that I don’t want to go through most of these records and listen to them again. On the contrary, it’s just that, that is the problem in and of itself: I will end up listening to many (most) of them and the process of going through them will take at least twice as long. And after a week of this, that is exactly what has happened.

Styx! "Suite Madame Blue" is on this one...
Styx! “Suite Madame Blue” is on this one…

The overwhelming majority of these vinyl record albums come from the inventory of my former, and currently defunct, art gallery/record store, Excellent Sky Gallery & Empire Records (2003-2007) in the small mountain town of Empire, Colorado, 36 miles west of Denver. The rest are from my own personal collection over the years. I had thousands of records in the store at one time; I still have quite a few left… and as I started to go through them I was surprised by how many I have that are still unopened, 8 1/2  years after the gallery closed and decades since those albums were first released. I had completely forgotten.

So I’ve been listening to these artifacts (relics) all this week… and right now. I’ll let the character Rob, from High Fidelity – who’s something of a hero to me – explain:

books-matter-high-fidelityRob is the main character from the film which comes from the book, High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, and if you loved the movie, check out the book as well – it’s a good read. Sifting through the unopened albums, I come across these gems:

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - back cover from Hard Promises (1981)
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – back cover from Hard Promises (1981)

ZZ Top – “Eliminator” and the follow-up, “Afterburner” from the mid-1980’s (and for some odd reason I have 4 copies of their album  “Fandango” and they are well-played).
U2 – “The Joshua Tree”, from 1987… that weird time when the music industry was switching from vinyl to the next big thing – CDs.
Sting – “The Dream of the Blue Turtles”, his first solo album from 1985 – features the hit “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” and “Russians”…
Patti Smith – “Horses”, still unopened, though I suspect not for long.
Shoes – one of my favorite power-pop bands from Zion, Illinois and their album “Tongue Twister” from 1981…
Prince’s “1999”, unopened…
The Pretenders’ 1st album from 1980…
and, OMG… Paris “Big Towne, 2061” – Bob Welch’s band between Fleetwood Mac and his solo career.
And on and on it goes…

Record sleeve, Times Square soundtrack (1980)
Record sleeve, Times Square soundtrack (1980)

OK, so I’m working backwards through the alphabet here; continuing on I find surprisingly clean copies of Three Dog Night’s “Suitable For Framing” and “Harmony” (and one very embarrassing, politically incorrect – by today’s standards – inner gatefold photo of the band)… 4 copies of Elton John’s “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player” (?), and even the more obscure albums like the “Times Square” soundtrack (from the equally obscure 1980 film) play quite well after all these years… and, Head East! And here I think of the old RIAA “this record will never become obsolete” notification on the back of the early Beatles’ albums.

From 1986, Boston's 3rd album, "Third Stage"
From 1986, Boston’s 3rd album, “Third Stage”

Eventually I come to Boston. “More Than a Feeling” Boston. Their album, “Third Stage” from 1986. 8 years after their previous album “Don’t Look Back”, which was their 2nd album. 8 years between albums is a mighty long time, especially back then. I’d never heard the album in its entirety, just the two hits – “Amanda” and “We’re Ready” – and it’s unopened. So yeah, it’s time to open it, give it a spin…

Nazz Nazz, their 2nd (and best) album from 1969... with original in-store labeling!
Nazz Nazz, their 2nd (and best) album from 1969… with original in-store labeling!

Standard operating procedure dictates that when you open a vinyl record album and put it on the turntable the very first time – its maiden voyage – you burn a copy onto another format. From the 1970’s through the mid-90’s the blank cassette tape – usually from Maxell – was the de facto choice for this. Then later in the 90’s, it was on CD, CD-R. And when you had burned a copy, you put the vinyl record back in its sleeve and never, ever took it out of its sleeve again, for any reason. Under any circumstances…  unless/until of course the tape got jammed up or the CD started skipping…

Craig demonstrating the proper technique in handling vinyl...
Craig demonstrating the proper technique in handling vinyl…. Hey, this is important! – I’m not kidding!

This is how you make your vinyl last – treat it gently, treat it kindly, and it will reward you with years of ‘high-fidelity’.

Had imports too, because as a used record store, that's what you do.
Had imports too, because as a used record store, that’s what you do.

So, back to Boston… I’ve been listening to this album most of this past week – now burned on CD-R of course – revisiting 1986, which in the Boston/Tom Scholz universe sounds very much like 1978. Which is to say they picked up where they left off and I kinda love it, as it takes me back to that time of their heyday when I was in undergraduate school in the late ’70s. That trademark layered guitar wall-of-sound that can level tall buildings if you would only crank it up high enough is still in effect on “Third Stage”, and it’s a great-sounding album. Great-sounding now, again by today’s standards, and I’m sure this was even more awesome back in 1986. I’ve got the two sets of oversized speakers so I’m crankin’ it; Erin comes down to the basement and says, “You’re like a teenage boy in the basement!…” and I’m like, “So, what’s your point, Shmoopy?”

And so she sits down and listens to the album with me…

Inner sleeve from Boston's "Third Stage" album (1986)... the pipe organ pipes.
Inner gatefold photo from Boston’s “Third Stage” album (1986)… the pipe organ pipes.

Like I said, 8 years is a long time to go between albums and as it took 6 years to record “Third Stage”, according to the liner notes, it seems that the rest of the original band drifted off to other things ’cause only Tom and the late lead singer Brad Delp appear here. Have to say I think this is their best album, even more than their impactful debut album from 1976. This in spite of the fact that the guitar riff from “I Think I Like It” is a lift of a riff from Journey’s “Anyway You Want It” (it is, listen to it). Tom, what were you thinking? Dude, you graduated from M.I.T. – you know better. Also very interesting is the pipe organ pipe motif in the album artwork – it’s in the body of the spaceship on the cover and then on the inside sleeve photo, dimly lit in red light. Real curious about that – would like to hear the story, as I have more than a passing familiarity with pipe organs. Just sayin’…

Mmmm, yum... Now doesn't that enchilada plate look good? From the inside sleeve photo on ZZ Top's "Tres Hombres" album (1973). I'm assuming this feast came from Leo's on N. Shepherd in Houston, TX.
Mmmm, yum… Now doesn’t that enchilada plate look good? From the inside gatefold photo on ZZ Top’s “Tres Hombres” album (1973). I’m assuming this feast came from Leo’s on N. Shepherd in Houston, TX. This… this is what you miss by not having artwork that you can actually see on a vinyl record album. Enchiladas!
Prince, "1999" from 1982
Prince, “1999” from 1982

Well, it has been fun this past week re-discovering, re-acquainting myself with the old record inventory, and the fun will continue until I’m done consolidating… as in the meantime I find 3 very good (+) to excellent copies of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”. If you’re a vinyl LP aficionado you know the scoring system:
M – Mint (unopened, unplayed)
NM – Near Mint
EX – Excellent
VG+ – Very Good plus, but not excellent
VG – Very good
G – Acceptable… and I never took anything below this in the record store, because if I played it and couldn’t listen to it – excessive pops, scratches, static, whatever – I wouldn’t sell it.

Which is my way of saying I hope to re-open the gallery/record store at some point in the future, back up in the mountains… preferably sooner than later. I’m making plans to paint again in 2016 after a 6-year hiatus, along with continuing the recorded work I’m doing in Nights on Venus. Full-length album this year, possibly by August…

Cover artwork for "Unearthly"... photo/design by CCT
Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT

Unearthly, the new 6-song EP was released on December 30, 2015 and is available on Bandcamp, CD Baby, and iTunes.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Santos, Perspective and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and the NoV Website.

Summit selfie... Mt. Flora, October, 2015
Summit selfie… Mt. Flora, October, 2015

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.