by Katie McCollow

Hello friends! Isn’t it exciting that Medium Happy is turning 50? Where have the years gone?

Obviously I’m joking- we all know Medium Happy has yet to complete a trip around the sun (or publish any actual recipes, which I think we can all agree is highly confusing)-I’m the one who turned 50, and what better way to commemorate this milestone than share with you the dread I feel at having lived half a century, yet am still no closer to meeting Zac Efron?

I know what you’re thinking; “She couldn’t possibly be 50, she doesn’t write a day over 32!” and that is so sweet of you, really. Turning 50 is such a relief, to be honest- I’m totally going to embrace hearing “You write great for your age.”

My actual birthday was a few days ago. I asked my mother, “Can you believe you have a child who’s 50?!” and she reminded me that I’m the eighth of her nine children. I only tell you that so you know that compared to all of my siblings except one, I’m actually very, very young.

I’m not one of those people who feels melancholy about getting older, especially now, when there’s so much other stuff to feel melancholy about. Is it cognitive dissonance or menopause keeping me in a constant state of emotional whiplash? One calls for hormone therapy, the other, hardcore pharmaceuticals. Either way, these days I get a disturbing thrill from chewing stale Gummi Bears and then counting my teeth.

So how did I spend the big day, you ask? Well it was beautiful outside, and beautiful days have been in short supply this year where I live- I feel like I can count on one hand the days the sun has shone this fall, so I went for a run. As I was leaving, my husband, wracked with bronchitis, was attempting to use the last of his limited oxygen supply to blow up a giant, gold number 50, making me wonder if my birthday surprise would be widowhood. He lived, the balloons still festoon my front windows, and all is well.

He rallied enough to take me to do one of my favorite things later that night, sing karaoke. I have no explanation why it’s one of my favorite things, since it never goes well. I’m about as good at karaoke as I am at ordering off a menu. Hmm, steak, chicken, pork…oooh what’s that you say, tonight’s special is duck tartare? Sounds repulsive! Make it a double!

If I were to stick to my wheelhouse at karaoke, I’d choose something like, say, Happy Birthday. That’s not even true- my real wheelhouse, singing-wise, would be to not participate, but if Instagram has taught me anything, it’s that we’re supposed to do things that scare us.

Does Instagram really know what it’s talking about? Why should I do things that scare me? Why am I supposed to ‘breathe through it and let it go’? Is everyone I meet really fighting a battle I know nothing about? Insty insists I ‘Don’t sit on my ideas, stand by them’- what about that duck tartare idea that made me throw up for two days? But then my jeans fit for 10 minutes on the third say, so I guess it did make sense. Fine, Instagram, you win. For now.

Where was I? Oh yes, karaoke. My logical mind says just say no, but the part of me that loves it when you look screams Bohemian Rhapsody!! Impossible to sing, and cripplingly long! Why should I be the only one suffering? As Ellen Griswold says, “It’s Christmas, and we’re all in misery.” OK FINE. We all know the part of me that loves when you look is the whole part, and none of my mind is logical. Must you rub it in??

Enough with the birthday talk. I’m sure it’s obvious to all you smart people that it is but a red herring to keep from talking about the latest elephant in the room that’s stampeding through this country and tearing (what’s left of it) apart.

I’ll warn you right now- I hold an unpopular opinion on this latest shriek-fest, and every time anyone, even a supposed “loved one”, asks me about it and I speak my truth, they look at me like I’ve morphed into an Orc, take me out of their contact list and block me off their social media before I’ve even had a chance to swallow my muffin. And that was not a euphemism, although you will find a reference to it in my high school year book.

I’m talking of course, about the new A Star is Born.

It was OK.

I didn’t hate it! But let’s get real, there was not an easier mark in that theater than me, me who loves nothing more than a doomed love story with a great soundtrack. I sat down, settled in with my Kleenex and waited in giddy anticipation for the waterworks to start.

Still waiting.

The good news: Bradley Cooper does a spectacular Sam Elliot impersonation. Also good news: the insomnia that’s plagued me since April is cured.

If you don’t know the story, stop reading (although I’m pretty sure most of you clicked off at the mention of menopause) because I’m going to reveal the whole plot right now. And if you don’t know the story, why don’t you? This is like the 47th iteration of this thing, and it’s a classic. Not knowing the story is like not knowing Darth Vader is Luke’s dad at this point. (Aaaaand there go the rest of you.)

Spoiler Alert: In the pool scene, Jackson Maine is actually in the shallow end. I mean…

So Bradley Cooper plays this grizzled old musician who’s super famous. He’s an unkempt drunk and looks like he smells awful. One night after a show, he goes to a bar and falls hard for Lady Gaga, a chanteuse with eyebrows made of hockey tape. Possibly duct tape, but I’m from Minnesota.

Bradley Cooper: Mraw mraw mrawwww mmmble

Lady Gaga: You’ve earned my trust so I’ll sing in this parking lot late at night! WAAAAAAAAAAHHHH (her voice causes a hurricane, but everyone lives because of paper towels)

Bradley Cooper: Mrawwww mraww mrawwwww braaaap less make out slurp slurp ima make you famuzz brrrhhhh

Lady Gaga: This stage is so big and scary I’ll cover my eyes and hopefully my voice can shake the foundation WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH (it does)

Bradley Cooper: Mraw mraw mraw bppppphttttt

Lady Gaga: I’m famous now so my hair is light orange!

Bradley Cooper: mrah mrah less ge murried yer n ugly sellout ahmm deaf

Lady Gaga: Drunkard!

Bradley Cooper: psssssssssssssssssss

He cleans up his act and swims in a pool, she cancels a tour and then there’s a sad part and a big number at the end. There’s also lots of dull shots inside the seventies-era dental office they call home, and Sam Elliot (oh- he plays Bradley Cooper’s brother) says the F word about a million times. And about halfway through it you say way louder than you meant to, “Omigod is that Andrew Dice Clay?”

B-. It’s this year’s Dunkirk or the year before’s La La Land. It’ll probably win a boatload of awards, and I’ll remain the cheese standing alone. But life is not all mediocre movies, friends, so here’s a list of-

Five Books that are fun to read in October

5. Dracula– I have a really cool version, with super creepy illustrations. Now, when I say I ‘read’ this, what I mean is, I crank “Before the Summer Ends” on an hours long loop and sing along at top volume until my vocal cords bleed. I don’t listen to the rest of the soundtrack because it’s garbage.

4. The Haunting of Hill House– The best kind of scary- the psychological kind. I’m looking forward to watching the Netflix version of this, mostly so I can marvel at how great Carla Gugino looks.

3. The Liner Notes of the special edition of The Greatest Showman. Always the right choice, no matter the month. And again, the thought of never meeting Zac Efron terrifies.

2. Wuthering Heights– OK, you caught me- I bucked tradition and didn’t read it this year, opting instead for Agnes Grey, which I’d never read because I didn’t even know it existed until I went to the library to check out Wuthering Heights. Have I been italicizing too much? It feels like maybe too much. Anyway I’m not going to read two Bronte sister books back to back. It’s gloomy outside but c’mon.

That’s the whole list. Five books in a month? I don’t have that kind of time, you sillies. Until we meet again, I hope you all have a very Happy Halloween!

4 thoughts on “A MESSAGE FROM KATIE!

  1. Dear Katie,

    Happiest milestone birthday to you! I just celebrated a more daunting milestone, and I haven’t met Zac Efron, either. Keep speaking your truth, and pretending to know the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody. My go-to karaoke song is Super Freak, which is not as easy as it sounds (yow). If you don’t set the bar high, who will?

    An Inconvenient Ruth

  2. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Happy belated birthday, Katie! It seems we share a birthday week, my fellow Libran! Now that you are the big 5-0, will you be joining jdubs in AARP? I have never actually signed up (yet, still holding out against their “tri-annual” pleas so far), but I hear their discounts are killer. 🙂

    Your post has prompted an epiphany! If it’s Instagram that has taught us to “do things that scare us”, then I think a lawsuit is in order – a sociopath is in the WH thanks to Instagram!

    Speaking of the White House – I saw a internet heading earlier that said “Tweedledee & Tweedledum had Lunch at the White House today”. HAH, it’s more like TweedleDUMB & Tweedle DUMBER.

    Anyhoo, I have a request. Think of it as my Xmas present. What, you & jdubs already HAD something picked out? 😉 Well, you can keep or return as THIS “gift” won’t cost you a dime! (Well, ok, time is money, so maybe it will). Bill Simmons & Malcolm Gladwell used to do this “chat via email” thing & then publish it for all their readers. It was a hoot. I’d love for YOU & jdubs to do the same. Please, please, please! 🙂

    Finally, besides The Greatest Showman, what are your favorite movie musicals?

    • Susie B.,

      What Katie and I don’t want the world to know is that her husband is far wittier than either of us. He’d have to join us, but then you’d realize you’ve been reading the Jan Brady version of a decent blog all these years…

  3. Thanks for the birthday wishes, ladies. I’m very much the Libra- I tend to see both sides of everything, I can’t order off a menu or pick a movie…I haven’t even named two of my kids yet. Is it a blessing or a curse? Can’t decide. John and my husband and I have a text chain that if ever published, would land us all in the White House.

    Now that I’ve admitted I can’t pick a movie, here are my picks for best movie musicals!! I have to limit my choices to things that were written for the screen and not adapted, otherwise we’d be here all day.

    Hairspray- yes, it was on the stage, but it was adapted for the stage from the screen before it was adapted again for the screen, so it doesn’t count. Plus Zac Efron.

    High School Musical 3- Don’t even try to diss it, it’s so much fun, especially if you see it with a bunch of 8-year-old girls who leap to their feet the second it starts and sing along to every song. Plus Zac Efron.

    Yankee Doodle Dandy

    Holiday Inn

    Singin’ in the Rain

    The Greatest Showman

    Moulin Rouge- now on stage in Boston, my daughters insist we make a trip when it hits Broadway…but, and I hate to say this because I’m a fan Aaron Tviet, but his ‘first look’ video of “Come What May” left me cold. He sings it perfectly, and that’s all fine and dandy, but he doesn’t rip my heart out and if I’m gonna shell out the dough for that, I need a guarantee I leave the theater in a stretcher. By the way, Ben Platt wins the ‘ripped my heart out, pulverized it, made it into a pate and ate it on a saltine while I died a thousand deaths’ award’, hands down, for Dear Evan Hansen. Best performance I’ve ever seen, by anyone. Except Zac Efron in 17 Again. if either of them takes over for Moulin Rouge, I’m in.

    I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few, and it will eat at me all night.

    Best Zac Efron movies:
    The Paperboy- It’s super weird and disturbing, and ZE spends a lot of time in his underwear.
    5. High School Musical 1, 2 and 3
    4. Baywatch- some say it was terrible. Those people are clearly blind, he’s adorable. I mean it’s adorable.
    3. 17 Again- basically a perfect movie. All that’s missing is singing.
    2. The Greatest Showman- Even if he hadn’t been in it it would’ve been an A+. I’m so glad he’s in it, though, his trapeze/ballet with the equally attractive and appealing Zandaya is The. Most. Romantic. Scene. Ever. Filmed.
    1. Change of Tune- OK, he hasn’t made it yet. It’s the movie my sisters and I wrote two years ago for Adam Lambert and Jeremy Jordan, but we all agree ZE could easily play both parts and we’d all be the better for it. (Mr.s Lambert and Jordan, if you’re reading this because of Google alert or whatever, I TAKE IT BACK PLEASE CALL ME.)

    Worst movie musicals, adapted or otherwise:
    Jersey Boys- nothing says ‘musical’ like…Clint Eastwood?
    Les Mis- I thought I liked it when I first saw it, but I know now I was just weak and scared to buck the crowd.
    Little Shop of Horrors
    From Justin to Kelly- you know what? I have very find memories of seeing this, because it was with my daughter for her birthday and she loved it. I take it back, I love it too.

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