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.

 

it’s (all) about time…

Time isn’t holding up, time isn’t after us…” – Talking Heads, “Once In a Lifetime”

Funny… All these years (since 1980) I thought that lyric – written by David Byrne – was “time is an asterisk“. Or, put another way: “time is an *…” where the ‘*’ was some kind of x factor or unknown variable. That was always kind of intriguing and carried a certain mystery about it. What would that phrase mean?

Maybe that time is extremely fluid and entirely personal.

The venerable Little Bear Saloon in Evergreen, Colorado… Memorial Day, 5/29/2017. I practically lived here in the 1990s, especially when I actually lived in Evergreen for a few years, then worked here in the early 2000s. My friends and I used to joke about how when we all turned 60, in the far off distant future, we’d all still be going to the Little Bear, except now it’s no joke – I am 60 and I am still going to the Bear. Life’s little self-fulfilling prophecies.
The hike up Second Creek near Berthoud Pass and the view from the Broome Hut just below timberline.

Time is an asterisk could have been a song title on the soon-to-be-released new album in a couple of weeks since so many of the songs on there deal with the subject of time. “We Are All Haunted by Something” has gone to mastering in the time since I last posted and I apologize to readers for not posting during the month of June and being away for so long. It also kind of freaks me out a little that we are now past the midway point in 2017, that we’re 9 days into July, as this seems (to me) to be the fastest-moving year I can ever remember. Maybe other people have been and are feeling this too. This year just seems very accelerated, way too much. Erin and I have been hiking most weekends, working the rest of the time. Hiking and working, but now – for the most part – I can slow down a little. Only time won’t let me.

“But I tell you now… time is an illusion
Time… is not real
Time… is an illusion
Time… is the dividing line
Between what is true and what is not true
Between what is real and what is not real
Between what is so and what is not so
But who, I said who, who stands for time?
Who stands at the threshold of time?
Who decides what is true and what is not true?
We do, you and I…” – Todd Rundgren, “I Love My Life”

From our most recent hike yesterday on an absolutely perfect summer day, up Watrous Gulch near the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass. 14er Torreys Peak (14,267 ft.) is the high mountain in the center just a few miles away.

I think what we are most haunted by – even more so than our eventual demise in the physical – is time. Our perceptions of it, through the passage of time and we speak of its ravages (on the physical form), or when we feel like there’s never enough of it or alternately when we have too much of it on our hands.

“There Is Only Now” was the first song I recorded for what would become this album. Shortly after that, Prince died on April 21st. I had no idea then that his death would have such an effect on me. It literally threw me, my thoughts, back in time to the summer of 1984 and a very intense experience which his classic album “Purple Rain” was the soundtrack for. That was completely unexpected. Much of the new album was written and recorded during the time last year when I was revisiting a lot of memories and specific events from that summer 33 years ago now (e.g., “Ghost Towns of the 1980s”).

The final set list and sequencing:

Book of Detours
There Is Only Now
Speed of Life
The Indelible Imprint of Place
Llano Estacado
In Wilderness [Is the Only Sanity in the World]
I Just Wanna Fly Off to Iceland With U
Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)
Glamour: A World Problem
Relive Tomorrow… Today!
Ghost Towns of the 1980s
Hours Turn Into Years
Unusually Vivid Experience (UVE)
New Dark Age

The trail up Chief Mountain, Continental Divide in the distance.
My Old School, Steely Dan tribute band, at the Little Bear. They’ll be there again next Saturday, 7/15. Excellent band.

14 songs, for now… 14 months of work coming to completion. There are 4 more songs which didn’t make it onto the album but may be released as a sort of epilogue and EP by the end of this year. I took my time with this album; there’s more of a looser feel to it. And it comes out on July 23 – first available on Bandcamp and free for the first week (through July 29). A few more pictures from the recent hikes…

At the summit of Chief Mountain, June, 2017.
Toward the top of Watrous Gulch… 7/8/2017
Hiking up the trail on Second Creek, 7/1/2017.
The Watrous Gulch trail, Torreys Peak in the distance… 7/8/2017.
The “Shmoopies”, Second Creek… 7/1/2017

Until next time…

"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 Somethingis coming soon. Release date is set for July 23rd. 14 songs… including the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”.

‘Til then, “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 and Facebook.

 

homestretch…

As we move further into the spring of 2017, I’m currently finishing up the mixes on a couple more songs – “Hours Turn Into Years” and “Unusually Vivid Experience (UVE)” – for the new album, “We Are All Haunted by Something“, scheduled for release on June 24. This is the homestretch now. There are two more songs to go, to be mixed and pre-mastered, along with any remaining tweaks on the completed songs, by Memorial Day weekend, roughly a month-and-a-half away. I’m sweating this one out right now and hoping I don’t have to push the release date out another month or so. The album is finishing up on schedule but there have been some personal/family issues; I will have a better idea of where things stand next week after we return from our trip to the Big D… Dallas.

The Big D…

Well, that’s a little too big for me… and a little too warm/hot, a little too humid, flat, crowded, whatever… Nice pic though with the new bridge. Meanwhile…

Preliminary album cover for “We Are All Haunted by Something”, scheduled for release in June, 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.

Although the sequencing for the album is not yet finalized – that’s next – the cover art and the songs for the album are. These are the ones that made the cut:

There Is Only Now
Speed of Life
Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)
The Indelible Imprint of Place
Llano Estacado
In Wilderness [Is the Only Sanity in the World]
I Just Wanna Fly Off to Iceland With U
Glamour: A World Problem
Relive Tomorrow… Today!
Unusually Vivid Experience (UVE)
Hours Turn Into Years
Ghost Towns of the 1980s
New Dark Age
bonus track (to be named later though I can tell you it is a cover song and it is well-known)

Further details about the bonus track, if it is to be included after the finished recording, will be divulged later, prior to the album release. For now, 13 finished songs over the course of the last year. And this project has now taken almost a full year going back to when it began the last week of April, 2016.

As for the album title, I’m not sure now when exactly the working title became what I was going to officially call the album when it would be released. I know it was very early on in the process as I was writing and recording the songs. And a lot of these songs seemed to organize themselves loosely around the theme of Time. The passage of time or a particular era of time can definitely haunt us because we’re very much influenced and bound by it. Also Place, which must be the reason why some places in our past we refer to as “old haunts”. I’ll revisit some of the process and thoughts behind what’s been going on for the last year and on this album closer to the release date.

What’s new? …Nights on Venus videos on YouTube are what’s new. They just kind of magically appeared, unbeknownst to me, which was a real surprise because I didn’t make them. Apparently YouTube did that and they’re up there, all 56 of them which is NoV’s released output to date. So check ’em out and thanks YouTube! Here’s one from the “Speed of Life” single, the B-side, “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”…

Oh, an update on the broken big toe (see previous post)… it’s pretty much healed at this point, just in time for hiking season.

At the trailhead to Linkins Lake…
"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.

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

 

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),

big bend revisited… memories of the end of summer 1971, and a new Nights on Venus single in mid-October…

Big Bend, as in national park Big Bend, in far West Texas, bordering Mexico, and separated by the mighty, muddy Rio Grande River. Think Fandango (a young Kevin Costner) and No Country For Old Men (Tommy Lee Jones)…

Still from the movie "Fandango" (1985)... Kevin Costner holds the bottle of champagne ("Dom") aloft before flinging it into the abyss...
Still from the movie “Fandango” (1985)… Kevin Costner holds the bottle of champagne (“Dom”) aloft before flinging it into the abyss… No, we did not have champagne with us on this trip as we were 14 and our handlers would have frowned on that. No beer either…
Map of Big Bend National Park... The dark line is the Rio Grande River and the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
Map of Big Bend National Park… The dark line is the Rio Grande River and the border between the U.S./Texas and Mexico.

I was reminded, via Facebook post this week (thanks John!), that today, August 27th, was the day the St. Mark’s School of Texas Class of 1975, from Dallas – about 92-93 of us – boarded buses, along with our Outward Bound instructors and select faculty from the school, and set off at 7:00 a.m. 45 years ago for the remote and rugged Big Bend country south of Alpine and Marfa for an adventure. We would be there for 10 days – 5 in the Chisos Mountains, 5 on the Rio Grande River.

This was the official start of our freshman year, 1971. The first Outward Bound trip (mandatory for us) had come into being that year as an alternative and replacement for the annual rite of passage known as Freshman Day at the school – a one-day melee which involved a lot of shaving cream, silly string, dunkings in the library courtyard fountain and general harassment from the seniors toward the incoming freshman class. The trip to Big Bend was supposed to end that tradition, which it did (I think), and was to be our rite of passage.

I was 14 at the time. I had just come back to Dallas from my first summer of working up at the Evergreen Conference in Evergreen, Colorado only the week before. Mostly I was helping out with routine maintenance and kitchen duties, although the first job I was assigned was to clean out the incinerator which probably hadn’t been touched in a couple of decades. It had to be the dirtiest, nastiest job my supervisors could think of to give me as an initiation and I’m sure they were laughing their asses off that entire week I was cleaning it out. On the brighter side, I was always off work by 2:30 and could hike or hang out down at Bear Creek the rest of the afternoon; there’d been a summer romance with a girl from the Midwest, and The Who’s album Who’s Next had just been released and was on the Denver FM stations constantly. “The Song Is Over” (featuring Nicky Hopkins’ excellent piano work) from that album quickly became my favorite song and still is to this day.

And then came the trip to Big Bend…

Casa Grande... Big Bend, 1971. Photo courtesy of Mark Walsh.
Casa Grande… Big Bend, 1971. Photo courtesy of Mark Walsh.

First of all, it’s absolutely beautiful country – if you’ve been there, you know and if you haven’t, you should definitely go. I remember we got there late in the afternoon and were glad to get off the buses after 12 hours. We quickly divided into groups – several of them would go to the river first, several would stay in the mountains. I was in one of the groups that would get the mountains first. We all ate hamburgers for dinner, then got our gear and said adios to the groups that were headed for the river… and later we camped out under a cloudless sky filled with a million stars. Will never forget that… I just stared up at the sky for the longest time, ’til I fell asleep.

Cover from the St. Mark's yearbook, The Marksman, 1972...
Cover from the St. Mark’s yearbook, The Marksman, 1972…

And the first five days of the trip in the mountains were the best, at least for me. We hiked the trails, hiked up to Lost Mine Peak with 35-40 lb. packs on our backs; I remember I was reading John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath at the time and had it tucked away in my pack. The days were predictably hot (but it was a dry heat), the nights cool because it was the desert. One classmate broke his ankle and had to be carted out – I remember that; the highlights: a 200-foot free rappel down a sheer vertical rock wall where you could lower yourself as fast or as slow as you wanted, an overnight mini-solo in the wilderness, and of course, those cool desert nights. We may have all sweated like pigs during the day, but the mountains were “no sweat” and essentially familiar terrain.

Pictures of the Big Bend experience from the Marksman, 1972...
Pictures of the Big Bend experience from the Marksman, 1972…

The same could not be said of the days on the river, the muddy Rio Grande. In fact, as I thought about this trip in the weeks leading up to it, the time on the river was the part I had been dreading. For good reason as it turned out. Most of the time in the boat on the river was boring – if it got too hot, which it inevitably did, you just rolled off the side into the river and floated along. There were raft wars, wasp wars, swatting at the damn wasps with the frying pans in our packs, but then I also remember one day hearing the guys in the boat up in front of us starting to sing John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” so we all started to sing along in ours. That was cool.

I remember being in the boat – and we were always switching into other boats – that helped two guys cross the river from the Mexican side to the U.S. side. I remember seeing dead livestock in the quicksand near the river, a dead horse… a body floating downstream, lifeless. A human body. Those who were in that particular boat that day will remember… ’cause we were all a little freaked out, even the Outward Bound guy. Most of the time on the river was fairly peaceful and then you’d have the occasional rapids and everyone would work as one to get through them. For whatever reason I happened to see a lot of death on the river. At 14 years of age, it leaves an impression… Can’t unsee it.

And then there was the last day… It was supposed to be an easy day – only one last set of rapids before the takeout point. I wish I had all the pictures I took on this trip – I was telling a classmate I had shot 12 rolls of film on the trip, actually was bragging about it as I was a bit more of a camera buff back then, in the photography club at school and all. But they were lost that last day, never got to see ’em – my camera, waterlogged and ruined even before the raft turned over. The following passage comes from a journal entry I wrote much later, 25 years after the fact, looking back on what happened, and now 20 years ago… For those who remember, this will fill in some gaps.

What I remember about that last half-mile or so before the takeout point… I see the three of us – Mark, Mike, and me – in the boat, coming through the rapids and it was late in the afternoon; it was actually quite beautiful because there was that “cinematic honeydew light” that you get just ahead of sundown. The golden hour. We were actually coming through those rapids quite late in the day and I remember watching the boat up in front of us – I was at the back of our boat, playing captain. But the boat up in front of us hit a hole in the middle of the river; I watched their boat dip into it and then watched as it veered off way to the right toward the rock wall on the south side of the river. I remember thinking we had to avoid that hole and so we started paddling harder and I was trying to steer the boat as best I could away from it. Well of course, that proved futile and we ended up dipping down into it as well. And sure enough, we started drifting way to the right just like the boat in front of us did. Even so, I didn’t think we were in immediate trouble – then just as quickly realized we were. That would have been when the boat was getting too close to the rock wall and then as the boat got stuck against the wall by the current moments later.

The first thing that happened when the boat got stuck was that Mark, who was sitting up at the very front, got swept away by the current. The river just swept into the boat with such force he was gone in an instant, and I can still remember that look of surprise he had because he turned around in the water looking back at us and then he was downstream, gone. I remember that being kind of an ‘oh shit’ moment and yeah, I knew we were in trouble. So it was just me and Mike in the boat at that point and he’s still trying to paddle and I’m trying to push us off the rock wall with my paddle. I was noticing also that the water was pushing against the boat with such force that the boat was starting to inch its way up the rock wall itself and eventually it was going to turn over on us. Mike turned around and yelled, “What are we gonna do, Thomas?” It was very clear we couldn’t stay where we were and wait for the boats behind us. The river wasn’t going to let us do that ‘cause it was going to flip the boat over on top of us. It seemed like the only thing we could do is try to jump and swim away from the boat and the rock wall as far as we could, get out into the current and go with it. That would be the instinctual thing, right? I yelled back at Mike to swim hard toward the center [of the river]. That was the plan, so he pushed off and went into the river and now I’m all alone and the boat is even more at an angle.

I don’t remember being scared here, probably because there wasn’t time to be scared and possibly because I didn’t fully understand just how dangerous a situation we were in. Sometimes it’s good not to know. A few moments later, I took a deep breath and moved my foot to the left side of the boat, getting ready to push off… then tried to push off but my foot slipped and next thing I know I’m in the water, underwater, and the boat has landed on top of me. OK… now I’m scared. There were some duffel bags in the boat, a few strongboxes and some other equipment but there wasn’t a whole lot which was good because that stuff wasn’t tied down and now this stuff is landing on top of me and I was pushing my way back up to the surface through it. There were only three of us in the boat when this happened. Usually there were 4-6 of us in a boat and one instructor from Outward Bound or one of the teachers who came on this trip but for that last set of rapids we did not have any of the ‘grown-ups’ on board.

When I was still underneath the boat and trying to push it away, I did surface briefly then went back under. I surfaced a few seconds later and saw the sky, caught my breath, and went back under again. There was no control over anything – I was just simply at the mercy of the current. I remember thinking, “Well, this is it, I’m gonna drown…” and the next thing I knew, I could see the sky again and I’ve got a small canister of Kodak film in my mouth. Really. This time I was able to keep my head above water and I was just carried along with the current.

Eventually that current brought me into the same small inlet where it had deposited Mike. We both ended up in a small eddy in a cove on the Mexico side of the river, then scrambled up out of the water onto a small grassy area and watched while the last couple of boats passed by us. I started blowing a whistle, trying to alert any of the boats passing by; Mike pulled out his pocket Bible and was praying (he eventually became a preacher). That we both “landed” in this semi-hidden cove I’ve always thought of as highly providential (the second meaning of the word). It took an hour-and-a-half to two hours to send a motorboat in and get us out of there.

The way we were... Big Bend, 1971
The way we were… Big Bend, 1971

All three of us eventually got to camp that night, ate dinner as we were all starving by then, re-told what had happened out there on the river. Everything I had brought on the trip was lost; the clothes I came out of the water wearing were the ones I wore on the bus the next day heading back home. At least they were dry by then. By the time the buses got to Sweetwater on I-20 on September 6th, and the local Dairy Queen – 200 cheeseburgers ordered, oops sorry, 198 cheeseburgers and 2 hamburgers owing to a classmate’s allergies (hey Robert!) – things started to feel more “normal” again. Actually, those were the best-tasting DQ burgers I ever remember having had, before or since.

For the next year(s?) St. Mark’s decided to hold the freshman Outward Bound trip elsewhere… which turned out to be the Pecos Wilderness area in New Mexico near Santa Fe. As far as I know (I transferred to Irving Cistercian the following year, but not because of the trip), the Class of 1975 was the only class who ever made the trip and completed the course in Big Bend – we were trailblazers! And for those who made this trip and were there, I salute you! It is an indelible part of our experience, individual and collective. On this 45th anniversary.

Nights on Venus News:
The new single “Speed of Life” will be released mid-October. Yes, the David Bowie song “Speed of Life”. Licensing/permission has been obtained. It will be a 2-song single also featuring a new original “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not A Robot)”, both instrumentals, and the two songs will be on the album “We Are All Haunted By Something”, scheduled for release in June, 2017. Stay tuned for updates. A mini-interview I did recently with Bandwidth Daily should be up online soon.

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_730Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky),