Laughter Therapy in the news

Dad’s laughter therapy project has been in the news lately; it got a mention on NPR’s Day by Day last Friday. If you go on to read the USA Today story that Luke Burbank mentions, it’s pretty easy to figure out where the reporter found his sources. Also, for those of you who know Dad, some of Luke’s characterizations are pretty laughable. Patch Adams and George Patton would mix about as well as matter and antimatter, but it makes for good radio I suppose.
At first I dismissed Dad’s media prohibition (mentioned in the NPR story) as some PA officer with a limited imagination, but I changed my mind after reading the letters that USA Today received in response to their story. It’s all too easy to dismiss laughter therapy as yet another tool for public relations. With respect to the commenters and the challenges they face, it’s all to easy to draw the wrong conclusion from such a short story. This is not a Pentagon public relations tool, it’s just one program – and more like a labor of love for Dad – that the military has for family support. Nobody expects families to laugh off the situation, but the need for stress management should be evident to everybody.

ND Liturgical Choir Concert

Over Christmas break, reminiscing about what I used to do with my time before work and family started intruding on my whims, I was moved to check out the Notre Dame Lit Choir website. Elise and I sang with this group in college and have very fond memories of that time, and the winter tours are a choir tradition. Sure enough, I found that they were coming to the Boston area this year. I quickly alerted our good friends Tim and Kathleen (also lit choir alums) and scheduled a babysitter. I spent a couple of weeks eagerly anticipating the concert, and not just because it meant a Night Out Without Kids.
Tonight the choir treated us to two hours of wonderful music. Some of the old favorites were on the program, including Mendelssohn’s There Shall a Star, Viadana’s Exultate Justi and of course Ain’a That Good News – still a little too slow for my taste, and still a little square, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, a couple of new-to-me pieces really grabbed me: Hail Gladdening Light by Charles Wood, and Anton Bruckner’s Os Justi. Can’t get enough of that Bruckner.
I get to performances like this so rarely these days that the music transfixed me, though the fact that the performance was of outstanding quality certainly helped. I must admit that I don’t think we ever sounded as good as the current group. Gail Walton did her usual trick of extracting an exquisitely blended and dynamic sound with barely perceptible direction, which to this day leaves me awestruck. As Elise noted, we are more than fortunate to have studied with someone so talented and so obviously enthusiastic about her work. She opened a beautiful world to us, and every time I find another piece that I like, I think of Gail.
The other neat feature of events like this is that we generally run into people we haven’t seen in a long time, and tonight was no exception. Laura H – she’s something else now, of course, but I won’t dare trying to spell it – and Eileen…uh, somebody help me here…sat right in front of us. Eileen drove from New Hampshire to see the choir. Now that’s love!