Using Hitler As a Sleep Aid

The comely Orlando Bloom in Lord of the...zzzzzzzzzz

Lately my wife has been using The Lord of the Rings trilogy to help her get to sleep. If you set it at the exact perfect volume to ambient room noise ratio, you can manage to hear none of the dialogue and all of the epic, magisterial, snooze-fest of a score. Plus if you happen to wake up three hours later it will still be on, and invariably you will see onscreen one of the beautiful people, rugged men like Viggio Mortensen or comely women like Liv Tyler, Kate Blanchett or Orlando Bloom.

Her go-to sleep inducer, however, is still a documentary. Any documentary really, but especially one with an English narrator about the Third Reich. There’s something so relaxing about the dulcet tones of Adolf Hitler delivering a particularly animated speech that it knocks Mary El out like the lights in London during a blitzkrieg. I fear she would have made an absolutely terrible Nazi. Not only is she incapable of letting injustice go unnoticed (as the 40-yr-old loser pizza delivery guy in Blockbuster who made an ignorant remark about Jews’ tipping habits will attest), but she would have fallen dead asleep in the middle of a Hitler speech and snored her way to SS suspicion.

My sleeping regime is counter to hers in every aspect. If I’m watching all but the most mind-numbing documentary or movie, I’ll get into it and force myself to watch it until the end. I just saw the remake of Karate Kid on cable with my boys over the weekend. By the time the big finale fight came, one was asleep and the other had wandered away to draw and there I was by myself, watching Will Smith’s kid do that preying mantis move. I’ll say this: it’s the best acting I’ve seen Jackie Chan do, though his previous movies are admittedly an easy act to follow.

I prefer Springsteen or Sportscenter to put me to sleep, neither of which my long-suffering wife can stand. She’s bothered by the sound of the sneakers on the court during basketball highlights. Yes, it’s there if you listen hard enough. All that squeaking. Ironically is is precisely basketball highlights that put me to sleep, especially college which is the least interesting of the major sports to me (unless you count NASCAR, which has the relative interest level of watching my eight-year-old’s school chorus. Once the photo of him with the little tie is taken, there’s not much left for me.)

Sometimes I’ll wait until the documentary has done its job, pry the channel changer from my wife’s snoozing grasp and put on the E Street Radio station. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I’m a complete Springsteen geek, a “brucefag” as it’s called among those in the know. I dragged Mary El up to a concert in freakin’ Buffalo once, hoping that the legendary power of The E Street Band in performance might push her in the direction of being able to stand his music. I asked her what she thought after the concert and got one of those unenthusiastic “he puts on a good show”s. She wasn’t saying it with her eyes. Ah well, she tried, and the woman did stand on line for three hours in 95 degree heat—while pregnant—to ensure that I scored tickets to a Jersey reunion show. Still, I’ll be happily dozing off to the dulcet tones of Bruce Springsteen when I hear that tell-tale sigh. She woke up and realized she wasn’t in occupied France anymore. Off goes Bruce and on comes Der Fuhrer.

I think what I need is to hunt down a German tribute band to recreate all of my favorite songs. It’ll sound like Hitler singing, without any of that bothersome subliminal anti-Semitic rhetoric. It won’t be Bruce, but marriage is a compromise, right?

Nah, I’ll just wait ’til she falls asleep again.

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    • Joel Flowers
    • March 7th, 2011

    I need to take her on a whirlwind tour of Berlin – the Reichstag, memorials, etc. Finish up with a tour of Munich on the way to Dachau. She’ll be comatose….

    • Joel Flowers
    • March 7th, 2011

    …and the only thing worse than seeing the movie of “lord of the Rings” is reading the book. Puts me out every time I try.

  1. I actually like the movies, but you have to dedicate way too much time to them. Three Lord of the Rings equals at least six regular movies.

  2. Documentaries are wonderful sleep aids indeed. But I would worry about the osmosis effect, if I listened to hitler every night while sleeping.

    I like english accents myself and find them comforting like lulabyes, which sucks for me since I fall asleep on many of those I wish to watch instead of sleeping.

  3. Once that middle-class English accent starts narrating about tanks rolling through Russia, there’s not a soul who can resist nodding off.

  4. Very amusing post. I’ve had a number of arguments over the quality (or lack of) in those “Rings” scores. That slow main horn-fanfare theme just strikes me as cheesy, though it is always nice to hear real orchestras. Aside from that, I like those films.

    We used to call the History Channel on TV the Hitler Channel. It had that little “H” logo, and it seemed like every other program was about Nazis. Now that their overnight programming has devolved into UFOlogy and infomercials, I find it even easier to sleep to.

    PS-What an admirable profession you’ve chosen! A tough job, but so important.

  5. @ Mikey — I’d call it more of a vocation than a profession, since a job usually involves getting paid. My wife and I used to call it the Hitler Channel too (swear), and yes it does suck now. History International is a little better.

  6. Good take. I’ve always felt that even the novels in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy are incredibly overrated since they are really just rip-offs of so much of Norse and Celtic mythology. Hitler as a sleep aid, eh? Well ,at least his speeches are good for something!

    • Joe Gayton
    • March 10th, 2011

    God, the fun things I learn about you guys!

  7. I do like your writing here it is pretty comical, however a good documentary on science, history or animals would actually keep me awake.

    Planet Earth series or Ken Burns The Civil War would keep me up all night. Another great one was called Battlefield it was on PBS it was like playing a game of risk, the troops, commanders, weapons breakdown etc.

    I do think if it is like “Super size me”, I might go off to nod land myself.

    Good luck with your blog, will check back.

  8. @ Balladeer–Mary El is sure she was a Polish Jew in a former life. Her connection to the Holocaust is uncanny.
    @ Joe–We’re an open book…not one you’d want to ever read, but open nonetheless.
    @ safety–Thanks! With Burns I really have to LOVE the topic he’s talking about. I thought Baseball was great, others…I never made it through before zonking. I’ll stop by soon to see what you’ve got going.

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