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Deflecting the glare of cabin fever

January 25, 2007


Puget Sound’s pewter skies, beautiful for a time, eventually bring days of dullness to the mind and spirit. Even for a cosmophobe, reading keeps cabin fever at bay only for so long; then it’s time for dramatic intervention.

Sermons by the best preachers of the century (except mine, who keeps his preaching to his own flock) are available for free download on many websites. My iPod has played hundreds of them for me in the course of exercise, housework, yardwork, and waiting room duty. I frequent free download sites and load classic radio programs into my iPod. Then I can walk on my treadmill to surging buwaaaaahhhhas of Wurlitzer Theater Organ cues announcing that Ellery Queen, with the surly voice of Victor Jory himself, has deduced the murderer. Or I fold laundry to melodramatic violin strains, as Defense Lawyer Martha Bryant, mellifluously voiced by Mercedes McCambridge, thinks through her case, out-masterminding police, detectives, and her star-reporter boyfriend.

Scores of these shows are out there, and they are wholesome, corny, dumb, and absolutely wonderful. They entertain, but they also recall a time when there wasn’t a war, and when there was; when Dad was home for dinner, and when he wasn’t. Most of all, they revive a time when the home was the focus and locus of life-sustaining energy. Video arcades hadn’t even made the sci-fi scene yet, much less the mall.

And of course, there is the opera. I have yet to find free downloads of opera broadcasts; I listen to operas on the radio and at the Met’s website during live broadcasts. I enjoy the crowd sounds, the announcers, the intermission interviews, the plot commentary. I enjoy it much better than being there.

An eclectic spectrum, sermons, opera, and radio melodrama. The nexus is that all deflect the awful glare of cabin fever. They require varying degrees of mindfulness and different sorts of receptivity. Plug in your earphones, and suddenly your environment is alight with sound and engagement.

But it’s more than that. Great preaching, old time radio, and classical opera, if they interest us at all, appoint us to listen. Something is making sense to our senses. Maybe it’s just me, but this is something that has stopped happening with the news and with “talk radio,” a gladiatorial soundbite theater of stupid opinions. If Rush had listened to Benny Goodman instead of himself, maybe he wouldn’t have needed little blue pills.

I wonder whether Flash Gordon ever thought he’d have a career in drama therapy….

One Comment
  1. Mike Pitzler permalink
    January 25, 2007 6:41 pm

    Did you see, hosted by the family that sits two pews behind us?

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