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.
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…
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
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.
I knew the time change was happening early this past Sunday morning at 2 a.m. – that awful annual ritual and unnecessary rite of spring known as the setting of the clocks forward 1 hour, losing an hour of sleep. Fall back, spring ahead. And so I stayed up ’til 1:30 in the morning, finishing up a song mix because I was just this close to having it done and I was going to get it done tonight. I did. It actually might have been closer to 2:00 when I came to bed.
The first noticeable effects of my late night in the studio were that I slept/stayed in bed until 8:30 (still thinking it was 7:30) which is something I never do. Our kitties, Maxx and Cosmo, were concerned. Getting up by 6:45 is pretty much the max limit for me on any day, every day, 365 days a year whether I’m going to work, whether it’s the weekend or I’m on vacation. Most of the time my attitude toward sleep is that of the late great Warren Zevon: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” That morning I also didn’t meditate – something I do daily – and didn’t work out at the gym. Mostly I felt foggy, out of it.
Erin and I drank some wine later on in the afternoon and evening with dinner while we were watching a movie. At some point I bonked my left foot hard on the coffee table. It hurt like hell for a couple of minutes, then went away, and I didn’t think any more about it.
Monday morning, I woke up feeling even more foggy and out of it – went to work and felt strange all day. I felt even more strange after dinner so we took my blood pressure and saw that it was high. It hasn’t been high in months but then I’m also on blood pressure meds. I take another pill for it, we check the blood pressure a little later and it’s gone even higher. When it goes dangerously high about half-an-hour after that, I’m having some major-to-severe anxiety, I call the advice line at Kaiser as we’re having to consider a trip to the nearest Emergency Room. The nurse on the call tells me the doctor doesn’t think I have to go in. I schedule an appointment to see my doctor the next day.
By the time I get home Tuesday night, I’ve seen my doctor and she’s upped the dosage on my BP meds, for the time being; the toe is hurting even worse and in fact, turns out to be broken, and now everything in the immediate vicinity of the toe is starting to turn all sorts of colors in the red-purplish section of the color wheel. The toe itself is swollen, and this isn’t the little insignificant pinky toe we’re talking about here – this is the big toe… the “captain” of the toes (I will spare you the visuals lest it be the equivalent of somebody’s picture of what they’re having for dinner on Facebook – and hey, you need a food stylist for that to make it look good). We ice it down.
Erin and I are also supposed to go to Dallas this week for my Dad’s 88th birthday on Saturday. After the Monday night episode I make the call on Tuesday morning that we can’t go this week for the simple reason that we can’t be driving across West Texas where each small town that has a hospital is about an hour’s drive away from the previous one. If I have another pseudo-emergency with the BP or an actual real one… well, that won’t be good.
By Friday morning, blood pressure is fine, high normal range, but I’m hobbling around on a broken toe which in the end turns out to be the real/best reason for not going to Dallas this weekend – that, and Erin has been tired and exhausted all week, sleeping in late each morning, after the time change. We’ll go next month.
This was the week that wasn’t, much of it due to this stupid annual changeover to Daylight Saving Time. I had never had it affect me like this and I learned the hard way this time. The first thing I’ll say about it is this: if you’re going to stay up late going into the time change – don’t. Not recommended and certainly not worth it. Respect the time change… at least while it’s still in effect.
The second thing is: it doesn’t have to be in effect. Most people are accustomed to it, but why? This prompted some inquiry into DST, the history and why it came into being. This is something artificial that’s been imposed on all of us and it affects a lot of people each and every year.
This is a known, quantifiable phenomenon that has been observed over the years. This small time shift can significantly raise the risk of health-related issues. A 2016 study found that the overall rate for stroke was 8% higher in the two days after Daylight Saving Time. The Monday and Tuesday after DST in the spring have also been associated with a 10% increase in heart attacks, according to a 2012 study at the University of Alabama Birmingham.
So here’s what research turned up… A brief history of Daylight Saving Time:
DST is used to save energy and make better use of daylight. It was first used in 1908 in Thunder Bay, Canada.
Germany became the first country to introduce DST when clocks were turned ahead 1 hour on April 30, 1916. The rationale was to minimize the use of artificial lighting in order to save fuel for the war effort during World War I.
Not to be outdone, “Fast Time” as it was called then, was first introduced in the U.S. in 1918 when President Woodrow Wilson signed it into law to support the war effort during World War I. The initiative was sparked by Robert Garland, a Pittsburgh industrialist who had encountered the idea in the UK. Today he is often called the “Father of Daylight Saving”. An industrialist, huh… well guess who this benefits?
Year-round DST, also called “War Time”, was in force during World War II, from February 9, 1942, to September 30, 1945, in the US and Canada. Again with the war stuff… it’s always about war.
From 1945 to 1966 there were no uniform rules for DST in the US and it caused widespread confusion especially for trains, buses, and the broadcasting industry. As a result, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 was established by Congress. It stated that DST would begin on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October. However, states still had the ability to be exempt from DST by passing a state ordinance. And Hawaii, Arizona (most of the state), and parts of Indiana did just that.
The US Congress extended DST to a period of ten months in 1974 and eight months in 1975, in hopes to save energy following the 1973 oil embargo. Remember the lines at the gas stations back then?
The current schedule was introduced in 2007 and follows the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which extended the period by about one month (during Bush II). Today, DST starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.
Daylight Saving Time is now in use in over 70 countries worldwide and affects over a billion people every year.
Questions that come to mind… DST saves energy, for whom? Who specifically benefits? And how much? What kind of energy are we saving here? Oil, coal? What are the costs to both workers and businesses in terms of down time due to health-related issues from the time change? Is DST best filed under the Nietzsche axiom that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never liked Daylight Saving Time and I agree with Hawaii and Arizona (and parts of Indiana) – we don’t need it anymore. As more and more of our energy moves away from fossil fuels and is supplied by renewable sources, it’s time for DST to be gone. Permanently. Natural is best.
Here’s the latest mastered demo from the forthcoming album, “We Are All Haunted by Something”, due out on June 24, 2017. Another song about rampant and endemic narcissism, particularly as fueled by ubiquitous social media. The title comes from the Alice Bailey book for all you fellow metaphysicians out there. Happy listening… It’s disco! The halcyon days of the late 70s beckon…
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.
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.
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.
Places define us, shape us, change us, and any place we’ve lived leaves its indelible mark upon us.
Happy 2017 to everyone! I hope you have had an excellent start to this new year, now 20 days in.
Work continues on the new album… Finishing up songs one by one, getting the mixes done for mastering, and so I include two more songs – the mastered demos – from the album, “We Are All Haunted by Something”, here as another preview. I am scheduling the album for release in June this year. 15, possibly 16 songs. It is supposed to be a double album but I want it to fit on one disc (there will be a CD) – i.e., under 80 minutes… so we shall see.
Release date will be finalized by the end of this month.
And now that it’s January 20th, let’s talk briefly (very briefly) about what’s happening today in the U.S. There will be an inauguration ceremony today in our nation’s capital… and it will be completely bogus. The coronation of the illegitimate “president”… President * Asterisk *. Das Kleinkind führer (the Toddler leader)… one Mr. Donald Trump (I agree with Rep. John Lewis). I really don’t even want to talk about him because that’s giving him the attention he craves.
#ROBO: Resist, Oppose, Boycott, Obstruct… These are the keywords for what’s coming
Suffice to say, I will not watch the inauguration today and I urge you to do the same. If you do have the TV on, turn it to the Food Network, HGTV, or the National Geographic channels. There’ll be no coverage of it on those and some other channels. BOYCOTT it. #Boycotttheinauguration I applaud the 50+ congressmen and women who have said they will not attend the inauguration… or watch either. #NotMyPresident #NotMyCulture
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…
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.