the dust settles… suburbia, santa fe, and sea change…

We made the move back on July 6th and Erin and I have been here over a month now. The whole process has felt like falling into a black hole and now we have emerged on the other side, dropped off in generic, white-bread suburbia. All in all though, aside from the unrelenting glut of corporate chain stores and restaurants and the clusterfuck that is the South Wadsworth and Bowles area in Littleton, which we avoid as much as possible, I like where we are now as it seems to be a kind of “no man’s land” that the greedy developers haven’t discovered yet. That of course, will change, but hopefully by then, we should be moving again. We went from Golden Ridge to Dakota Ridge, traded in a view of the dilapidated trailer park to watch the goings on at the dog park, which is infinitely much better, and we’re still about 15 minutes away from Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison.

The view to the northwest toward Morrison, afternoon thunderhead. Yes, we live next to a freeway but we hardly ever hear it.

The energy has shifted in a big way over the last month… so much that is new and all for the better, but I underestimated my down time in the studio; I am only now getting back to work and it’s August. The addition and incorporation of new gear in a new recording space always slows things down a little and some of that had been anticipated – the purchase of my first completely analog synthesizer since 1986 – but replacing a computer, operating system, and installing a new version of the music software I’ve been using was not expected but became necessary. A certain learning curve is involved. As a result, the full album, Outlier, will be coming out sometime in the first few months of 2019. I’m already hearing that this is a going to be a very different sounding album from what I first envisioned. A sea change. So now a 2-3 song single release is planned for October, early November as I finish up with what has already been recorded and mixed and only needs to be mastered at this point.

All that’s missing here is a unicorn…

The dust continues to settle and new routines become established… In the meantime, we took a short weekend trip down to Santa Fe last week for the opera and to do all the usual Santa Fe things we do.  And it became a kind of nothing-goes-as-planned weekend (brought to you by… Mercury retrograde, of course)… from almost getting fried in the Waterfall pool at Ten Thousand Waves when a lightning storm moved overhead to power outages in town and technical difficulties at the opera the next day.

And now we have one!… Thanks Ed!

We ate enough excellent New Mexican food at Maria’s and the Shed with coin margaritas to make up for it. A much-needed road trip in the midst of all the recent changes. A brief pictorial here:

Sunday morning on Water St., downtown…
Santa Fe Opera House, waiting for sundown…
Another Santa Fe morning…
Art market on the Plaza…
Margs at the Shed… It’s very orange-y in here…
First ones at the Cowgirl on Guadalupe St., always a fun place…
Heading back home through the Springs, Pikes Peak in the center…

‘Til next time, when we’ve gone hiking for the first time this summer, just as it’s coming to an end (thankfully as always).

Cover artwork for the 3-song single/EP “Snow Day”, which was released on December 23rd, 2017. Available on all digital media outlets…
Cover artwork for the “The Wheels Are Coming Off” single, released on June 12, 2018. Click for the larger image…

The most recent releases from Nights on Venus are the 2-song single, “The Wheels Are Coming Off“, released this summer, and the 3-song single/EP, “Snow Day“, from December, 2017.

The most recent full-length release “We Are All Haunted by Something” was released in the summer of 2017 and includes the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”. All albums/singles/EPs from Nights on Venus are available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon MP3. and the NoV website.

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

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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),

new year, new songs… “heliotropic” and “blue mountains walking”…

2014... Abyss Lake from the top of Mt. Evans. Photo by Jon Kedrowski.
Abyss Lake from the top of Mt. Evans. Photo by Jon Kedrowski.

2014… the new year. Hope yours has gotten off to a great, rockin’ start. 12 days in, things have been somewhat uneventful aside from a short trip to Santa Fe to ring in the new year (a few pictures below). Also have already learned a new term: ‘polar vortex’; I expect there will be a movie of the same name on the SyFy channel in the near future.

I’m posting a couple of new songs here, recorded in the last three months, closing out 2013. I can say that there will be a new album from Nights on Venus in 2014 – I don’t know yet whether it will be a full-length album or a couple of 5-song EPs, but there will be at least one release, most likely in the fall.

HELIOTROPIC
(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

The new material is just starting to come together. This is always the fun part, when the first exploratory musical wanderings (a.k.a. “noodling”) and recordings begin to coalesce and gel into ‘something.’

One thing I’ve noticed so far: I’m playing a lot more piano – electronic though it may be (a Roland digital piano) – on these new recordings and it is featured on both of the songs posted here. “Heliotropic” is the album version… “Blue Mountains Walking”, a  mastered demo [that did not make the final album cut]. Enjoy!

BLUE MOUNTAINS WALKING
(© 2013 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Currently I’m working on a song entitled “Infinity Pool” which I’ll post here probably later on this month.

San Francisco St., Santa Fe...
Hangin’ out on San Francisco St., Santa Fe…
Luminarias...
The holiday season is one of the best times to visit Santa Fe… the lights and luminarias were still up.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi...
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi…
The Plaza at night, holiday season...
And the Plaza at night, downtown…
And another visit to 10,000 Waves on a chilly afternoon...
Another visit to 10,000 Waves Japanese bathhouse on a chilly afternoon…
I-25 near Wagon Mound, New Mexico...
On the road again, the return trip home… I-25 near Wagon Mound, New Mexico…
A short 2 hours later...
A short 2 hours later… the weather has turned nasty – freezing drizzle, then snow – and we’re stuck in an hour-long traffic standstill south of Colorado Springs. Numerous accidents when the road turned icy. Here, a moving van has overturned and spilled its contents all over the highway.
Almost home...
What is usually a routine 6-hour drive turned into 9-hour ordeal, but here we’re almost home…

santa-fe_5Until next time…

Another Day in Paradox,” the third album from Nights on Venus is available on CD and as digital download (MP3) as are the eponymously-titled first album (digital download only) and “In 4 the Evening” on CDBaby, iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon, eMusic, and other fine online retailers including the NoV website

"Another Day in Paradox" - 2013
“Another Day in Paradox” – 2013

Follow Craig and NoV on Twitter (@xlntsky) and Facebook.

in the land of enchantment…. a [mostly] santa fe pictorial

This week… a much-needed break for some rest and relaxation as Erin and I hit the road and headed south to New Mexico – the Land of Enchantment – to spend a few days in Santa Fe, my old stompin’ grounds. I was fortunate enough to live here for a couple of years in the mid-80’s – it’s one of my favorite places and over the years I’ve come back for visits when I need to get away for a while.

So, the last few days in pictures and occasional words…

At 10,000 Waves, a unique mountain spa in the Japanese onsen tradition with hot tubs, massage, and lodging in a beautiful setting on the way up to the ski area…
Interior of Caffe Tazza coffeehouse in Taos….

The first stop on the drive down was a short stop in Taos. It’s the more scenic route coming down from the north once you get off I-25 and go through Cimarron Canyon, passing by Angel Fire on the way.

From Taos, you continue south on Highway 68, dropping into the Rio Grande canyon at Pilar.

Back in the land of D. H. Lawrence and Georgia O’Keeffe….

Window and courtyard, Caffe Tazza, Taos….
Adobe archway, Taos….
Wood beams, wrought-iron chandeliers….
Wind sculptures in front of the Inn of the Governors….

One thing that was immediately noticeable when we drove in this time was how hazy and how dry everything looked. Santa Fe and Taos sit on high desert plateaus above 7,000 feet and it is an arid land with water at a premium, but I hadn’t ever seen it look this dry this early in the summer before; we didn’t see a single cloud in the sky for the first 3 days we were here. Hopefully there will be rain soon with those daily afternoon thunderstorms that always came through and cooled the air down.

The haziness was due to a wildfire in another part of the state. When it’s this hot and dry this early in the summer, both here and in Colorado, the fire danger runs very high to extreme. In fact, driving back to Golden yesterday I was shocked to see how little snowpack was left on the high mountains and we could see the smoke from a new wildfire up by Fort Collins. We have smoky skies again here today; we need RAIN! And hopefully we don’t see a repeat of the ‘Summer of Fires’ we had here in CO in 2002.

The restaurant courtyard at the Hotel St. Francis, Santa Fe….

When you come to Santa Fe, 10,000 Waves Mountain Spa Resort is definitely a must visit. I’ve been coming here since 1984 and it is by far the best place to relax and unwind in town when that’s what you’re looking for.

At the entrance of 10,000 Waves, the beginning of the ‘goat path’….. As the sign tells you, 91 steps, 60 vertical feet gained (and 47 calories burned)….
The entry way to the main building at 10,000 Waves….
Our private hot tub for the afternoon…. this is ‘One Wave.’ Surrounded by piñon and cedar trees…. Tip: If you book a private hot tub, you’ll want to book one for at least a couple of hours if possible, because, believe me, one hour here won’t seem like nearly enough. Take your time…. enjoy!
Go ahead, take the plunge…. the cold plunge, that is. Water temperature in the hot tubs averages 102-104 degrees – the water here is about 40 degrees. Brrrrr…. but it’s invigorating!
Back down the ‘goat path’ at dusk….
Evening arrives on Canyon Rd…..
El Farol on Canyon Rd…. the oldest operating restaurant and bar in Santa Fe – the building dates back to 1835 – with a tapas menu (all of the food is excellent). There’s live music in the bar on most nights and occasionally, flamenco dancing…..
On the Plaza, downtown Santa Fe….
Chili ristras in the courtyard….

We didn’t go to a lot of art galleries on this trip but we did make it over to the New Mexico Museum of Art. This is a separate museum from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum which is a couple of blocks away, but it has several of her paintings in its collection.

The Plaza of course, is the central hub in downtown Santa Fe that everything was built around dating back to the early 1600’s, and it makes for great people-watching. For a great view of the whole Plaza, try the balcony at the Marble Brewery on San Francisco St. Great craft beers and specialty pizzas from the Rooftop Pizzeria (in the Santa Fe Arcade). It’s a great place to hang out in the early afternoon.

Upstairs at the New Mexico Museum of Art….
The balcony at the Marble Brewery, overlooking the Plaza….
Downtown, mid-afternoon….

Love Margaritas? Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen is a must visit as well. It’s been a fixture in Santa Fe since 1952. The food – mostly authentic Northern New Mexican cuisine – is always excellent, especially the carne adovada. But the real reason to go is the Margaritas – over 100 varieties. They’re the best in town… and the best anywhere. Personal favorite: The Moonglow and the Grand Moonglow.

Santa Fe bills itself as “The City Different”…. that’s true – it is a totally unique place and a different world here. It’s a world with its own different pace of life, one that’s still a little slower, even in the age of wi-fi and Android apps.

More Canyon Rd. at sunset….

I also like the fact that, even though I haven’t been a ‘local’ here since 1986, I still always feel like one whenever I visit. A lot of my old haunts are still here and don’t seem to change… too much. There’s a definite routine – probably due to the fact I’m a creature of habit much more than I care to admit, but also because I just plain love these places I’ve come to know over the years. There’s just a unique, one-of-a-kind vibe here you don’t get anywhere else, and I never get tired of it.

Other places to check out when you come for a visit: the Loretto Chapel (with its famous staircase), the Palace Restaurant, Tomasita’s (restaurant), the Ore House (where I used to tend the bar), the Shohko Café (great sushi), and the Técoloté Café – great breakfasts, always crowded, so sit at the community table… you never know who you’ll meet. Bookstores: The Ark bookstore and also the Collected Works downtown.

“Dos Gatos Grandes”….. outside a downtown gallery

Be sure to bring some extra cash-ola, because you never know what you’ll be bringing back home for the house, decor-wise.

Best time to visit: If you’re planning a trip here, the best time, imho, is between Thanksgiving and Christmas… less crowded, cooler, and with luminarias on most adobe structures, a more magical time to visit. We’ll be back then, when the Nights on Venus EP is completed later this year.

To round out the trip – and for the full ‘road-trip experience’ – a few pics from Salida, Colorado on the way back to the Front Range….

At Benson’s downtown Salida, CO….
Art gallery and kayaks…. downtown Salida….
“The Vic”…. the Victoria Restaurant and Bar in Salida…. live music here every weekend…
Hey, great title for a song…..
“In 4 the Evening,” the new album (no. 2)…

In 4 the Evening” is the second album from Nights on Venus and is now available as a digital download on CDBaby,  iTunesAmazon.mp3,  Bandcamp eMusic,  and other fine online retailers, and now also available on CD.

Purchase the full album through Bandcamp or CD through the NoV website and you will receive the 4-song EP (slated for release, Dec., 2012) for free as a bonus.

Follow Craig and NoV on Twitter (@xlntsky) and Facebook.