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baz luhrmann, sunscreen song, '90s music

The video for "Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)."

On June 1, 1997, the Chicago Tribune published columnist Mary Schmich's fantasy commencement speech entitled, "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young." In the piece, she lamented that "Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out," but most of us, "will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns."

Next came her attempt to share the knowledge she's learned with the graduating "Class of '97." In the column she shares one piece of advice she is sure about—“wear sunscreen”—and a litany of wisdom that she admits “has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.”

Among Schmich’s observations is that we should remain close to our siblings, appreciate our youth and never be reckless with other people’s hearts.

The title of her piece suggests it would never be embraced by her target audience. But in a strange twist of fate, it would become a pop culture phenomenon that in the late ’90s was an inescapable part of youth culture.


Soon after the column’s publication, Australian film director Baz Luhrmann was working alongside Anton Monsted and Josh Abrahams on a remix to the 1991 song “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)," by Rozalla. The song had appeared in Luhrmann’s film “William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet.” During the sessions, Monsted received an email with Schmich's column, but it was attributed to writer Kurt Vonnegut.

Back in 1997, there was no social media so things went viral through a new technology called email.

The team thought a spoken-word version of the speech would go great over the song and reached out to Vonnegut for his approval. But after doing some early-era internet sleuthing, they discovered it was written by Schmich. Australian voiceover artist Lee Perry was given the task of doing the spoken-word vocals and his deadpan delivery would become iconic.

The original release opened with the line, "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of '97" but it was changed to “'99” on subsequent releases. The song would go on to be a major worldwide hit and imbue a generation with simple, but profound advice on how to live their lives.

Twenty-five years later, many of the lines in the song are still etched in the minds of countless people.

While Schmich's words are powerful, when set to music and played continuously on MTV, VH1 and the radio, they were hard to forget. The song also has an emotional heft and a wary sincerity to it that's mesmerizing. Some of the song’s greatest lines, “Do one thing every day that scares you,” “Don't be reckless with other people's hearts” and “The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself,” have come to be embedded in the culture.

In the beginning of her column, Schmich admits that her advice—besides the bit about the sunscreen—is purely anecdotal, but she was onto more than she knew. Research has backed up a lot of her advice and proves it's worth taking.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Research shows that the greatest opportunity for personal growth is to step outside of one’s comfort zone. Also, when exposed to our fears, we have the greatest chance of overcoming them.

“Exposure is hands down the most successful way to deal with phobias, anxiety disorders, and everyday fears of any sort,” says neuroscientist Philippe Goldin. “Simply repeatedly exposing ourselves to the thing we’re afraid of—ideally in a positive way—gradually brings down the physiologic fear response until it’s gone, or at least manageable.”

Further, when we stay in our comfort zone for too long we are prone to boredom and stagnation. According to Positive Psychology, what lies outside of our comfort zone is an amazing place called the growth zone.

“Don't waste your time on jealousy.”

Twenty-five years later, Schmich’s words mean more than ever. Because, as Moya Sarner wrote in The Guardian, we “live in the age of envy. Career envy, kitchen envy, children envy, food envy, upper arm envy, holiday envy.”

Ethan Kross, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, adds that we are constantly bombarded by “Photoshopped lives, and that exerts a toll on us the likes of which we have never experienced in the history of our species. And it is not particularly pleasant.”

Overcoming jealousy has less to do with ignoring what others have than appreciating what’s ours. Lindsay Holmes, Senior Wellness & Travel Editor at HuffPost, says that people who are free of jealousy “take stock of their blessings,” “don't seek approval from other people” or “compare themselves to others.”

They also probably spend a lot of time off Instagram.

​​“Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.”

Negativity bias is a real issue. We always remember insults more vividly than compliments because the human mind evolved to look for potential danger and to remember trauma to keep us safe. It's great in practice but terrible when reading the comment section on Facebook.

Schmich admits she has a problem with this because it’s hard-wired into human psychology. Hopefully, over the past 25 years, some of us have learned how to get it right and to ignore the haters.

“Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.”

Since Schmich’s column was first published there have been countless studies on how unrealistic beauty standards affect women and yes, they “make you feel ugly.”

Dr. Laura Choate wrote in Psychology Today that these impossible beauty standards make girls think they should be focused on having the “perfect physique” and “believe something is wrong with them if they are somehow unable to reach this goal.”

Problems with body image are related to a host of problems including low self-esteem, depression, excessive dieting and eating disorders.

“Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.”

A study published by NPR found that during middle age (Gen X, I’m looking at you) and older, indicators of well-being—mood, health, morale, stress, depression, loneliness, life satisfaction—are tied to how you feel about your brothers and sisters.

“You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.”

If you remember when “The Sunscreen Song” was a hit back in the late ’90s then you probably have warm feelings of nostalgia for those times. But as Schmich points out, we always look at the past through rose-colored glasses. Psychologists call this “rosy retrospection” and it’s the reason why some people think that America should be made “great again” or that the ’90s was the greatest decade ever.

The ’90s may or may not have been the greatest decade ever, but it must have been a pretty cool time if a massive pop hit was simply someone sharing practical life advice young people should pay attention to and, low and behold, they did.

Oh yeah, summer is coming up. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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