The Flaming Lips make a film and Arts DEVO goes under the knife

I heart my nose tube.

I heart my nose tube.

Happy Thanksgiving, Chico.
I hope you are thankful. I know I am!

Without a doubt I am sincerely grateful that today I cannot swallow any food that is more firm than a ripe banana. I am actually thankful that I spent the better part of last week with a couple of tubes lodged in my sinuses. I am sincerely, down-on-my-knees and praise the holy, roasted Turkey God grateful for hocking up deep-red loogies into paper towels and not having the energy to get out of my soft living room chair.

Even though, as you’ve likely guessed by now, I have been experiencing some sort of uncomfortable physical recovery as of late, my spirits are high because in return for the nastiness, I am much, much less worried about a lifetime of fatigue, depression, irritability, brain-tissue loss, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, stroke, premature death and unholy snoring.

Function and form
Dr. Monroe Sprague is my new favorite Chico sculptor. He is the master of his medium, which in the case of the dual procedures he recently performed on me to address my chronic sleep apnea—one uvulopalatopharyngoplasty and one septoplasty—happened to be my uvula, tonsils, soft palate and nasal septum.

For me, the first sign that I was in good hands (besides the fact that he had already done good work for Mrs. DEVO in the past) was the fact that the good doctor has a stylish handlebar mustache. Something about the fact of my otolaryngologist paying such close attention to what’s going on around his own nose is so very comforting to me.

Already, even though the healing is still in progress, the artist’s detailed cutting, shifting and re-setting has opened things up enough for me to feel like I’m getting the oxygen-loaded, heart-pumping, snore-free rest that my body has been deprived of for years.

A sincere thanks …
To Dr. Sprague and his office, to workmate Meredith Cooper, to the various well-wishers and to my wife and my sisters for their commitment to keeping me well-fed, -read and overall stress-free. Seriously, when you subtract work, chores, bathing, dressing, opening doors, talking on the phone and chewing food, your stress really does disappear and your days become deliciously long.

So, what did I do with a wide open week, away from Chico’s calendar of arts and fun? I did three things, from the same spot, for hours on end: Read (Sports Illustrated’s Fifty Years of Great Writing, the poetry of Richard Hugo), watched TV (relived much the NBA playoffs from the ’80s on NBA TV) and pet my dog. Life is not bad.

The Martian.

Christmas comes early
One of my greatest personal heroes is Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne. It’s not so much for his and the Lips’ recorded output (though I dig it, especially the raw, gnarly, horror-show noise and sing-along melodies of the band’s early years—up to 1995’s Clouds Taste Metallic ), but rather his dogged carpe-diem devotion to living life. Or, how Coyne put it in the 2005 documentary on the band, Fearless Freaks : “When there’s things that I wanna say to people, or things that I wanna do, or things I feel need to be expressed, I just go and do it.”

What the band has gone and done most recently is release the film they’ve been working on on-and-off for the last seven years, Christmas on Mars. And, all over the country, film houses, art galleries and music festivals are holding showings and multimedia parties of the “fantastical film freakout featuring the Flaming Lips.”

On Friday, Dec. 5, the newly opened TiON art space will take its turn, and it’s inviting everyone to dress up and come watch the film on a giant screen and experience the story of the first Christmas on Mars. Visit for info on the show, and for info on buying the DVD and soundtrack CD.