2004 Jeep Wranger: Noises and blowers and hot - oh my!

It started with little cricket noises coming from under the hood, only when driving forward. Turned up the radio (NPR of course!) and drowned them out. Then whenever I put on the defroster it blew out of the front vents only - and the crickets still sang. Turned the front vents towards the top of the dash to defrost the windshield and it kept getting hotter and hotter. Turned on A/C. Vent selector knob suddenly does not stop on each option (floor/defrost/etc.) so have to VERY CAREFULLY find where I can set it. Crickets were screaming this morning until the Jeep warmed up. After stopping for a while and restarting it, a burning smell came out of the vents.
Now there are two solemn vows I have taken in my life (not including the marriage[s]) and they are to never approach my children’s hair with scissors again (made to a barber) and to NEVER touch anything under the hood of my vehicle again (made to a mechanic). If anyone could give me some suggestions about what could be happening, I would appreciate it. Especially if it is cheap and effective. My radio only goes so loud.