+
Heroes

He plays music to roaring crowds, but his best shows are for a much different audience.

Freddie Fuller is a country and folk music singer-songwriter who has entertained audiences at venues in and around Austin, Texas. He has recorded two albums, created a one-man show on the history of the Texas cowboy, and even performed for troops overseas. But some of the most profound performances of his life have also been some of the smallest, quietest shows.

Freddie performs personalized, acoustic concerts for people who are dying.

For the last four years, Freddie has worked with a small nonprofit called Swan Songs to bring the gift of music to people facing terminal diagnoses. Freddie and other Swan Songs musicians have played over 500 intimate concerts as a celebration of life for people nearing death, as well as their loved ones.


Why music? The answer is simple for Freddie: "Music is one of the few things that we as humans will allow to touch us in the deepest spots in our hearts."

In the United States, death is usually something that stays out of sight, out of mind.

Our conversations about the end of life are steeped in euphemism, and the actual process of dying seems to happen behind a veil — usually in a hospital or nursing home facility, rarely at home.

But treating death as taboo isn’t a recipe for having a "good death." Informed, nuanced conversations about the end of life can be helpful for both demystifying death and helping families navigate their grief. And a growing chorus led by health care professionals and social workers is calling for change in how we deal with death.

Swan Songs and its musicians are quite literally part of that chorus.

Since 2005, the nonprofit has fielded requests from the loved ones and caretakers of people with terminal illnesses and cultivated a community of local musicians who can help fulfill the recipient’s musical wishes.

When Freddie joined Swan Songs, he had already had the unique experience of playing music for his mother, who had cancer, as she approached the end of her life.

"I remember getting in bed with her in her hospital bed with a guitar, and I started singing to her," Freddie said. Years later, before his father passed away, he did the same thing — this time, with his five children in the room to share the experience.

The sense of hearing, Freddie noted, is usually the last sense to deteriorate at the end of life. So even if the recipient of his performance seems unable to respond or connect, they may still be hearing the music.

A recent Swan Songs experience reaffirmed Freddie’s believe that music has connecting power.

Another Swan Songs musician, Pam, had asked Freddie to perform a particularly special concert — one for her own dying father. When Freddie arrived at the hospital, about an hour outside of Austin, he found that Pam’s father was comatose and close to death. He gathered at his bedside with Pam and her sister and began to play.

"I played for 45 minutes or so," he says. "I played the last song, sang the last note, and hit the last guitar chord, and he took his last breath. We sat there very reverently and drank up the power of that moment."

That moment spoke to the essence of Swan Songs, Freddie says. Surrounded by music and love, his recipient passed on.

Freddie put his guitar back in his case and stepped into another role: that of a comforter and a friend. It was a short, soothing moment in time during a life landmark that is often cloaked in fear and despair.

That’s what Swan Songs is all about: bringing joy, connection, and peace to death, one of the most human experiences of all.

The Prince Charles Cinema/Youtube

Brendan Fraser dressed as Rick O'Connell.

Brendan Fraser might be making the greatest career comeback ever, racking up accolades and award nominations for his dramatic, transformative role in “The Whale." But the OG Fraser fans (the ones who watch “Doom Patrol” solely to hear his voice and proudly pronounce his last name as Fray-zure, for this is the proper pronunciation) have known of his remarkable talent since the 90s, when he embodied the ultimate charming, dashing—and slightly goofball—Hollywood action lead.

Let us not forget his arguably most well known and beloved 90s character—Rick O’Connell from the “Mummy” franchise. Between his quippy one-liners, Indiana Jones-like adventuring skills and fabulous hair, what’s not to like?

During a double feature of “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns” in London, moviegoers got the ultimate surprise when who should walk in but Brendan Fraser himself, completely decked out in Rick O’Connell attire. The brown leather jacket. The scarf. Everything.

Keep ReadingShow less
@boglarkagyorgy/Instagram

"The Trout," performed by Samsung.

One might expect to hear Franz Schubert’s "Die Forelle," more widely known as "The Trout," at the philharmonic orchestra. However, Boglarka Gyorgy noticed her washing machine playing the catchy classical tune. Apparently, this is a feature for a particular Samsung line of washing machines.

Being a professional musician herself, she couldn’t resist the urge to grab her violin and perform an impromptu duet with her appliance—and then post it to Instagram, of course. The result was a hilarious, impressive and viral hit.
Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Woman without an internal monologue explains what it's like inside her head

“She's broken my mind. I don't even understand what I'm not understanding."

PA Struggles/Youtube

An estimated 50-70% of the population doesn't have an internal monologue.

The notion of living without an internal monologue is a fairly new one. Until psychologist Russell Hurlburt’s studies started coming out in the late 90s, it was widely accepted that everyone had a little voice narrating in their head. Now Hurlburt, who has been studying people's "inner experience" for 40 years, estimates that only 30-50% of the population frequently think this way.

So what about the other 50-70%? What exactly goes on inside their heads from day to day?

In a video interview originally posted in 2020, a woman named Kirsten Carlson gave some insight into this question, sharing how not having an inner dialogue affected her reading and writing, her interactions with others and how she navigates mental challenges like anxiety and depression. It was eye-opening and mind-blowing.
Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

Surprising Australian interview from 1974 shows just how weird it was for women to be in a bar

“You think women are going to be shocked by your language—that’s why you don’t want them in here?"

Surprising interview from 1974 shows how weird it was for women to be in a bar.

Once upon a time, things were weird. This is sure to be a sentiment that children of the future will share about the rules and customs of today, but knowing that fact doesn't stop things from the past from seeming a bit strange. In a rediscovered video clip of an Australian *gasp* female reporter in a bar in 1974, it's clear pretty quickly that she's out of place.

It's almost as if she's describing her movements like Steve Irwin would do when approaching a wild animal in its natural habitat. Her tone is even and hushed as she makes her way into the bar telling viewers how she's going to make her way to the barkeep, who also looks to be a woman. So I guess women were allowed to work in bars but not drink in them?

Honestly, that part was a little confusing for me but seemed the norm by the reporter's reaction. But what was not normal was a woman squeezing between men and ordering a drink and the men letting the reporter know that the bar was no place for a woman...unless you're the bartender. Who knows? 1974 was a wild year apparently.

Keep ReadingShow less

Self-dating is one of TikTok's latest trends.

Miley Cyrus' official music video for her new single "Flowers" is less than two weeks old, and it's already racked up a whopping 108 million views on YouTube. The smash hit also broke Spotify's record for the most streams in a single week, knocking K-pop superband BTS and their hit song "Butter" out of the top spot.

There's a reason "Flowers" is making waves. It's not only a catchy tune, but an empowering one, especially for women who've been socialized to believe they need a significant other to make them happy.

While most post-break-up songs are filled with heartache and lament and perhaps a bit of resentment, "Flowers" takes a different tack. While Cyrus sings about not wanting a relationship to end, she ultimately realizes she can give herself what she wants from a partner and it's incredibly liberating.

Keep ReadingShow less

The cake that Karly Blackburn sent to Nike.

Even though the United States is going through a labor shortage, high-profile jobs are still tough as ever to get. In a world where hundreds of applicants send in their resumes for the same job, it can be hard to stand out.

Karly Pavlinac Blackburn of Wilmington, North Carolina, was lamenting that the jobs she wanted were too competitive when a colleague suggested the 27-year-old do something dramatic to get her name out there.

"I was actually talking to my former colleague about getting in front of employers—and he was like, 'Well, Karly you need to do better ... show up in a creative way ... what about a resume on a cake?'" she told Good Morning America.

So Blackburn did just that.

Keep ReadingShow less