Irish-American Mythology




Mike Houlihan

 We had a sleep-over with our 5 year old grand daughter Charlotte over the holidays. I stopped by the Berwyn library to pick out some films I thought she might enjoy. Keeping her busy was my main goal, although I’d heard so much about “Frozen”, I’ll admit to being a bit curious.

As luck would have it, they had it!

I grabbed a handful of other kid flicks just in case. While browsing the stacks I came across an old favorite, ‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People”.

“Frozen” turned out to be great, but it was Darby O’Gill that I watched a half dozen times that weekend. Charlotte was too “Frozen” obsessed to appreciate the rich history of Irish mythology in “Darby” I was hoping to teach her.

Walt Disney released “Darby O’Gill” in 1959. It’s a folksy tale of how crafty old codger Darby and his daughter Katie outsmart all the leprechauns in Ireland. The film featured a young Sean Connery as Michael McBride, Katies’s future hubby.

What makes the film so fun is the delightful performance of the late Irish comedian Jimmy O’Dea as Brian Connors, the King of the Leprechauns. O’Dea is perfect as the conniving mischievous king with a thirsty weakness for poitin. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Jimmy O’Dea is somehow an Irish cousin of our own Man from Clare, PJ O’Dea!

You gotta hand it to the great Walt Disney. No way would they make a film like that today.

But what if they did?

Ireland has a rich history of mythology with stories that have stood the test of time. What about some of our own Irish-American mythology? What about a film based on probably the most mythological South Side Irish hero ever known? The Legendary Ferocious Frank O’Hooligan.

Born in Kilrush, County Clare in 1939, Ferocious Frank O’Hooligan, was the seventh son of Finbar and Mary O’Hooligan. The family emigrated to Chicago in 1946 where Finbar opened a tavern on 79th Street, not far from Sheehy’s Funeral Home and Riley’s Trick Shop.

Young Frank was enrolled at Little Flower where he would become the youngest altar boy in their history when he learned all the Latin for the mass in first grade. By second grade he knew all the priest’s Latin as well, and did not endear himself to many of the priests when he would ocassionally correct their pronunciation after mass.

Of course things were different in those days. A priest wouldn’t think twice about cracking the little wiseass across the kisser for his insolence. But Ferocious Frankie would have none of it and many’s the morning the sacristan would arrive to find one of the priests knocked out cold as Frankie polished off the remaining wine in the cruets and beat it out of the sacristy, “Hiya Mrs. Hickey, gotta run, late for class, I think Father fell down and hit his head!”

By the time Frankie entered Mt. Carmel as a freshman he was 6’6”, weighted 200 lbs, and the hair on his knuckles was like wire.

In sophomore year, he won a bet one day during Lent when he wolfed down thirty-six tuna sandwiches in one lunch period at Carmel. And these were the kind with the pickles in the tuna salad.

In the city championship game against Tilden at Soldier Field, O’Hooligan threw six touchdown passes, and caught three of them himself! Yes, he was mighty!

After declining a football scholarship to Notre Dame he married his childhood sweetheart, Mary, the most beautiful girl on 79th Street, the daughter of the proprietor of Riley’s Trick Shop. Yes he married Riley’s Daughter.

Frank and Mary had 11 kids in the old neighborhood. On his first day on the job for the Chicago Police Department he foiled a bank robbery in the Loop. Frank was cashing out his account on Christmas eve when two masked men pulled out shotguns and announced themselves and the hold-up.

O’Hooligan overpowered them both with a mystical wrestling hold he had learned in Kilrush from his father Finbar and instantly turned the two assailants into donkeys. Incredulous reporters asked him later how he did it, and Frankie told them he, “Just gave them the ol’ ass-hat!”

Probably his greatest feat was at Plumber’s Hall in 1968 at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade fundraiser. A faulty sound system had triggered an unusual outbreak of incoherence among all those attending, almost like the Tower of Babel. The demonic possession had everyone in the hall speaking in alien tongues.

Frank ran into the kitchen where they were cooking the corned beef and poured a fifth of Paddy’s Whiskey into the boilers.

When the food was served it had a calming effect on the crowd and suddenly all could once again communicate and the babbling was reduced to a comfy murmur of intellectual repartee. The incident became known as “Frank O’Hooligan and the Corned Beef of Wisdom.”

But who am I kidding? Hollywood would never go for Southside Irish mythology. Except for maybe the final scene of the film at Frank’s wake.

His body was sent back to Dublin for burial and the Jewish undertaker, a cousin of Briscoe, was overhead telling his assistant, “I couldn’t close the casket with the size of his shillelagh!”

October 2014 Column from the Irish American News



Mike Houihan


Deep in slumber I thought I heard the voice of Henry McGlade, the guy who does the entertainment report on Sean Ginnelly’s Good Morning Ireland show, reporting on the shock and awe of people in Ireland when they discovered that the new Rose of Tralee had come out as a lesbian.

I gotta be dreaming, I thought to myself.

Then I heard McGlade’s excited voice break into his best rendition of Bill Zwecker when he reported the following.

The Hollywood Reporter brings us this exclusive! International film star and Academy Award winner Daniel Day Lewis has signed a multi-million dollar contract to play the coveted role of Irish diplomat Aidan Cronin in the film adaptation of the NY Times best-selling non-fiction paperback book for the last 52 weeks, “The Ambassador”.

“The Ambassador” has been a runaway hit since its debut, written by investigative reporter Izzy Cusack. It’s a potboiler about espionage and terrorist activity in Chicago in the summer of 2013. The terrorist plot was thwarted by the intrepid deeds of Irish Consul General Cronin and the book lifts the veil on the shadowy world of international intrigue that bubbled over in the Irish community of Chicago that summer.

Hollywood hopes to turn “The Ambassador” into an Irish James Bond style blockbuster next year. The story has enough twists and turns to excite audiences globally.

As most of us know by now, the terrorists had been plotting to poison a shipment of Guinness to Chicago that summer. Tracking down the suspects and making sure “the black stuff” was potable for drinking involved a labyrinthine society of Irish and irish-American Chicagoans.

Key to the investigation was the role played by an undercover agent of Interpol, a man from Clare, who posed as a mild-mannered retired all Ireland football and hurling champion named P.J. O’Dea.

PJ would call the office of the Consul General on a regular basis and speak with embassy administrator Pat Neary, with what seemed like Chicago political minutia and gossip, but was actually a highly clandestine code to set up an elaborate wire tap system designed to snuff out one of the prime suspects, an Irish accordion player named Joe Cullen.

The investigation ultimately cleared Cullen but the book went to great lengths cracking the code of PJ and Pat Neary’s conversations, including the cryptic remark O’Dea shouted into the phone as he concluded each coded conversation, hanging up the phone, “Let me speak to Marie!”

It was later discovered that the poisoning plot was triggered by rumors, panic and paranoia triggered by a pious pledge of a boycott of Guinness by an Irish-American radio personality named “Houli”, who was angered by Guinness pulling sponsorship of the Boston and New York St. Patrick’s Day parades and he labeled them “anti-Catholic”. Houli held to the boycott for six months but later acquiesced when Cardinal Dolan accepted the Grand Marshall post in the NYC parade and radio host Sean Ginnelly offered to buy him a pint one night just weeks before Houli was heading to Ireland, conveniently enough.

MGM also announced additional casting of the film, including Brendan Gleeson in the role of publican and immigration champion Billy Lawless, Finoula Flanagan as Pat Neary, Jim Carrey as Joe Cullen, Michael Fassbender as Vice-Consul Nick Michael, Olivia Wilde as Maedhbh Cronin, and the late Irish character actor Cyril Cusack as radio personality Skinny Sheahan.

Wait, what? And that’s when I woke up!


September 2014 Hooliganism Column from The Irish American News




Mike Houlihan


I’ll be in heaven next month. Just for a preview.

It’s the annual Skinny & Houli pilgrimage to the holy ground, Ireland! Somebody said, “Ireland is where the hand of God touches earth.” And I will give witness to that.

Last year on the Skinny & Houli trip as I sat in front of a pub, reveling in the fun being had by all, retired CFD Chief Mike Miller, stood outside the pub with me and said, “Well, you were right!”

He then quoted my column from August 2013, where I put the reader at the Pearly Gates and God offered reasons for the trip when He finally said, “Because life is short, kid.”

Mike Miller told me that clinched it for him. Guess what? Mike is back again this year for The Skinny & Houli Return to Ireland Tour. So is Brendan O’Brien, Dori Dillion, Denny Kearns, George & Barb Scully, and Froggie McGuire. And this time Froggie is bringing his girl friend Mary Ellen Duffy!

Those veterans of our shenanigans will be joined by more adventurous souls this year as we go north to Belfast, Derry, Donegal, and back to Dublin to hang out once again at the Fitzpatrick Castle. Yeah, everybody wants to go to heaven.

Can you blame them?

Now I know there will be naysayers shouting, “What do you know about heaven, Houli? What you need is a preview of hell!”

Well sorry to disappoint you negative thinkers but I’ve seen hell already and I don’t care to return.

It was many years ago. I was a young college bum in the company of fellow thespian, Rubenesque Rebecca Gould, who was babysitting her little brother Sheldon in her parent’s Lake Point Tower condo. Becky was blessed with a bountiful bosom that beckoned to me from across the room.

We commenced making out on the couch, and just as I was rounding first base, she burst into tears!

That wasn’t exactly the reaction I was hoping for and then I heard the flash of a Polaroid camera behind me and I looked up to discover little Shelly snickering as he held up a photo of me with my hand up his sister’s blouse.

“Ten bucks, shmuck, and you can take the photo with you!”

I wanted to strangle the lil devil but had images of his dad, Dr. Gould, having me arrested. So I paid up and bid Rebecca adieu. As I waited for the elevator in the hallway I heard her inside crying and arguing with Shelly and finally screaming at the top of her gigantic lungs, “You owe me five bucks!”

So yes I have had a glimpse of hell and her name was Becky Gould.

So remember, September is the final window to sign up for the Skinny & Houli Return to Ireland Tour in October, so if you wanna party with the big dogs, while the lovely Katie Grennan serenades us on her Irish fiddle all over the auld sod, call Cathy Featherstone at 847-542-1539 to book your passage. And remember, “Life is short kid.” so call Today!

I understand that not everybody can make it this year but you can come close to the experience by joining me for one or another of the following great events this month.

On Wednesday Sept. 10th we’ll be celebrating the 5th Anniversary of The Skinny & Houli Show at Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub. Join us and meet Irish Consul General Aidan Cronin, our special guest that night on the show, starting at 6PM. Gifts are not required but certainly encouraged!

Wed. Sept 17th hope to see you all at The Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame dinner at Hawthorne Racecourse when Minnie Minoso will be honored along with about twenty sports legends including our old pal from Mayo, boxing coach Marty McGarry, who will be picking up a “Lifetime Achievement Award”. More info at

And don’t forget Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day on Friday night Sept 19 at Plumber’s Hall, 1340 West Washington, Chicago. for more info.

This is a fundraiser for the Chicago parade and the second annual celebration put together by Local 130 Business Manager Jim Coyne. Forty bucks at the door includes food, beer, wine and soda with live music from “Hey Jimmy” and The Shannon Rovers. I will be there with my friend John Linehan selling our books, so hope to see you there. Last year was a blast!

Finally on Friday Sept 26 & Sunday Sept. 28, please join me in welcoming filmmakers Dave and Colin Farrell to The Gene Siskel Film Centre for the Chicago premiere of their dazzling documentary “A Terrible Beauty” based on the 1916 Easter Uprising in Ireland. This terrific film should be seen by every Irish-American seeking enlightenment. Hope to see you there!

So this month offers us a variety of heavens. And if that doesn’t float your boat, try finding Becky Gould in the phone book, just for the hell of it!



July 2014 Column from The Irish American News

Letters from the Chapel £1Hooliganism


Mike Houlihan

In your quiet moments, your interior life, when you speak to… or pray to God, what do you say?

Prayers are not always a desperate plea for help, sometimes you’re just goin’ along and thanking God while asking for all the help He is prepared to give. One doesn’t have to be desperate to plead for help. “Lord please help me Jesus.” is about as close to a mantra I’ll ever have. And I repeat that continually just looking for a parkin’ space.

As prayers go, the human race has been blessed with a whole arsenal of prayers written by Irish saints and scholars.

So I’m always on the lookout for a good prayer, most of them work. Sure you can’t beat The Memorare, but each situation seems to beg for specific prayers. Hence the football term “The Hail Mary”!

What else you gonna call it?

I stopped by a chapel recently in a former Catholic hospital in Chicagoland. My grand daughter Charlotte, the four-year-old firecracker, had broken her arm on the monkey bars and we were all gathered at the hospital to hover over the little darling. Poor kid was scared too.

Thank the good Lord that’s all it was. I thought of that as I walked to the elevators to Charlotte’s room. Nothing sadder than a sick kid. I walked down the hall and passed the chapel, peeked in the door, and thought, “quick prayer for Charlotte”, and entered.

Unfortunately the chapel was very secular, it had been scrubbed of any Catholic influence, it seemed. A cross was visible in a corner, but no crucifix, and a podium, no altar really. Anyway, it kinda gave me the creeps.

I knelt down and tossed out a few requests and some thanks as I scanned the room. There was a light shining on a book that appeared to have prayers or pleas for help written in longhand on the notebook.

I leapt from my seat and started reading the prayers. Many were about “Dad” or whoever was currently in the hospital. Families of stroke victims, children in danger, the gamut.

I felt guilty reading the personal prayers of strangers, but read them I did, voraciously!

The Prayer Requests book was on a small pedestal and was actually only a loose-leaf three-ring, binder with hundreds of unlined pages to write on. Each page had a typed quote from Jesus, like “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Folks wrote their prayer requests like they were signing Jesus’ year book, some with flowers or little happy faces and some that were…well let’s take a look, shall we? The names are pseudonyms.


Heavenly Father, I am asking you to look down on Reg Murphy. Right whatever it is that he is going through, please take it away from him Lord. Show him that you are able in all things. Lord I’m just asking you to touch him, right now Holy Father, take all the evil spirits away from him now Father, Lord. Show him that I really love him Father, and I really need him. Give him one more chance Lord. Let him see all things are your willing Lord, in Jesus name Amen.”

This leap of faith, this testimony touched me. I tried to imagine what was going on with Reg. Some illness? A tumor? Or was he in the mental ward, “take all the evil spirits away”. It was a mystery.

And that’s as it should be I guess. Lord knows what the problem is with Reg. He knows everything. That makes it so much easier when praying. It’s not like you have to put things in context for God, he figured you out a long time ago. You don’t even have to name names in your prayers. He knows.

But spying on the letters in the chapel suddenly made me feel guilty when I read the note below.


Lord I want a divorce! God please help me today. My husband Ike left me over three months ago after we had celebrated our one year anniversary. He is with another woman and we still married. He deserted me and is committing adultery. I want to get a divorce soon. He is smearing his dirty sin of adultery and lies in my face daily.”

And then she signed it, Hillary Clinton.

Sorry couldn’t resist that joke right there folks. She did sign her name but I won’t go there.

Anyway I feel bad for that lady on 5/20/14. It seems her prayer is written as if God is gonna say, “That’s not what he told me!” And do we really have to put dates on letters to Our Lord? Hey lady, He knows what time it is.

I picked up the pen and wrote in Jesus’ yearbook.

Lord, my protector and my salvation…

I don’t have to tell you what I need….

You know my situation.

Thanks for healing Charlotte and her arm..

I pray she will never come to any more harm

Please help Mrs. Murphy and her husband Reg…

Zap his evil spirits and talk him off the ledge.

That lady asking for a divorce from her husband Ike…

Needs to understand why he took a hike.

He done her wrong and Ike’s in a heap of trouble.

Only you Lord, can patch this up with them,

so please Help them out on the double!

As for me, sure Lotto would be nice..

But I know you’ve got more challenges ahead for me…

So please just give me the strength, patience, and wisdom…

To continue to roll the dice!


April 2014 Column from The Irish American News



Mike Houlihan

Local police are concerned that three venues in the Chicagoland area will not be able to contain the fans expected to turn out for the book launch of “More Hooliganism Stories” this month.

Frenzied female fans of Irish American News columnist Mike Houlihan are expected to mob the entrance to three Irish pubs in the next few weeks.

Houlihan is scheduled to appear at the pubs to promote his latest book, the sequel to his immensely popular debut tome “Hooliganism”, which enraptured readers and critics alike. Said Houlihan, “We were going to call it “Son of Hooliganism” but that sounded too much like a Godzilla movie, and besides I’ve already got two sons and their lives are already miserable enough thanks to me!”

The new book features Houlihan’s columns from the last six years as well as a foreword written by former 19th Ward Alderman and Cook County Sheriff Mike Sheahan. In the foreword, Sheahan makes allusions to the crime of “Hooliganism” which led to the imprisonment of feminist rock punk group “Pussy Riot” in Russia.

Once again the book’s cover employs the deceptive photo of a much slimmer Houlihan from the year 2000 which triggers hot flashes and drives many women into menopause. The author has been heard to remark, “Yeah, that’s my First Holy Communion picture!”

Houlihan will perform excerpts from the book and reportedly will be telling some dirty jokes he learned from Betty Loren Maltese. Additional traffic precautions should be taken by anyone in the neighborhood of these venues on the following dates.

Wednesday April 9th, Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub, 400 North McClurg Court, Chicago.  7-9PM.

The book launch will take place immediately following the taping of the Skinny & Houli Show that night so get there early to avoid the horde of Hooliganism fans.

Thursday April 10th, Cork & Kerry Irish Pub, 10614 South Western Ave. Chicago.  7-9PM

Mob action details from the 22nd Police district will be on call to handle the swarm of Southside sluts who spurned the Hooligan in his younger days.

Friday, April 11th. The Claddagh Ring Pub, 2306 West Foster, Chicago. 7-9PM

A stones throw from the Hooligan’s birthplace, this venue could be the most dangerous of them all because of certain units of the AOH Ladies Auxiliary.

Members of Pussy Riot will not be in attendance at any of the “More Hooliganism” launches. Unconfirmed reports say they will be very busy on those evenings in Siberia.

“More Hooliganism” is also available online at



February 2014 Column in the Irish American News




Mike Houlihan

I had drinks with my crazy brother Brian one night over the holidays. When we were kids we called him Tommy, but about thirty-five years ago he insisted that everybody start calling him “Brian”.  Maybe he figured he’d done enough damage with one name so he should start using an alias. But what’s in a name? This rose by any other name would still be a hooligan!

We went to Glascotts on Halsted for our reunion, not far from his bachelor pad on Clybourn. He’ll be seventy this month and he’s the original dirty old man, hoping to meet some dirty old ladies at the senior citizen complex where he lives. The only cougars Brian will be meeting these days would be staying at Sheehy’s.

Forty years ago we hung out in this neighborhood, in this very bar. Like time travelers now, we sit and marvel at the changes today. Once we were the young bucks chasing chicks in Glascotts. Now we’re the creepy old guys sitting off to the side ogling the trixies on their I-phones.

I order a couple of pints and Brian and I talk of the good old days, growing up on the ol’ southside. The Hallidays were our next-door neighbors then; widowed Muriel and her eight kids, a great family. Ray was the oldest Halliday and he and Tommy went to Brother Rice together every day, after eight years of Christ the King grammar school. They were the same age and they were pals.

I had just run into Ray myself at my brother Danny’s wake a few weeks earlier and he was the usual gregarious, energetic, spitfire he’d always been. He told me he was sorry to have missed Tommy and he asked me to send his regards.  I told my brother this in Glascotts and he proceeded to tell me an old story.

When they were both about sixteen, Ray had a job as a busboy at the Martinique/Drury Lane on 95th Street.  It wasn’t until Tommy watched him one night in Waxman’s drug store drinking coke after coke from the pop machine and scarfing Mallo bars that he realized, “Ray is making some serious coin!”

Hey Ray, can you get me a job bussing tables at the Martinique?

“Maybe!” Ray said with a huge grin as he consumed his candy.

The next day as they were thumbing home down 95th Street from Rice, Ray told the driver, “Let us off here, I’ll take you in to get you the job”

Tommy was amazed.


“Yeah, come on.”

So Ray took him into the Martinique/Drury Lane complex and was giving Tommy the world tour. He took Tommy into the kitchen to look at the food, then the place where all the tablecloths and napkins were stored, the walk-in freezer, and the whole shebang. Meanwhile my bro is getting irritated with Ray’s culinary class and wants to get to sign up for his new career as a busboy.

Okay I get it. Now who do I have to meet to get the job?

Ray chuckles like Ronald Reagan and says, “Well!”

Suddenly he lights up and grabs Tommy by the elbow. “Say, how would ya like to shake the hand of Pat O’Brien?”

Pat O’Brien?

“Yeah, Pat O’Brien!”

Pat O’Brien the movie star?

“He’s a friend of mine! He’s doing “Father of the Bride” at the Drury Lane. He’s my buddy, come on.”

Ray raced up a set of stairs and led my brother down a long hallway and up to a door that he then knocked on with authority.

In those days Tony DeSantis, the impresario behind the Drury Lane, had a swanky apartment built adjacent to the backstage area for the stars who appeared at his theatre. It was convenient and classy for the stars and nobody bothered you, until Ray Halliday knocked on Pat O’Brien’s door.

Pat O’Brien was the legendary Irish actor, best friends with Jimmy Cagney and Spencer Tracy, and had appeared in hundreds of classic films, usually as the friendly priest who steered the gangsters along the right path. He was also memorable for playing the title role in “Knute Rockne, All American” as he urged the lads back to the gridiron to “win one for the Gipper!”

My brother was skeptical of Ray’s friendship with the actor but didn’t want to miss the chance to shake hands with the great Pat O’Brien. Tommy had show biz aspirations himself and thought maybe Cagney and O’Brien could discover him and cast him as a young Spencer Tracy in their next gangster flick.

Ray rapped on the door three times very insistently as Tommy looked over his shoulder and wondered what he would say to Pat if he opened the door. Maybe some bologna about being Irish and how his mom went to mass every day and how he has five brothers and a sister and they’ve seen all his movies.

Ray is pounding on the door now and finally it opened and there he was, Pat O’Brien.

He looked much older than he did in the movies of course because most of them were made in the forties. Brian told me, “I kind of half expected to see him wearing his roman collar like the priests he played in “Angels With Dirty Faces”, and to hear him say, ‘Hi ya fellas, whaddya know, whaddya say?’”

“But he actually reminded me more of Dad, in his dress pants and wearing one of those t-shirts with the spaghetti straps, ya’know a wife beater. And he also looked very pissed off!”

Pat looks at the two teenagers and barks, “What is it?”

Ray goes into his routine, “Hiya Pat, it’s me Ray, remember?”

“Yeah, the bus boy, whaddya want kid?”

I want ya to shake hands with my next-door neighbor Tommy Houlihan!

Pat O’Brien turns and stares at him and I think that’s probably about the time my brother had the first inclination to change his name.

Brian tells me,  “Pat O’Brien now has smoke coming out of his ears, and his blood pressure starts boiling. Whatever he had been doing when Ray knocked on the door was a lot more important than shaking hands with the busboys buddy. He slammed the door on us and said, ‘Get lost!’ or words to that effect.”

I asked Brian, “Did ya ever get the bus boy job?”

He didn’t. But I’m sure Brian can use that Pat O’Brien story on some of the ninety-year-old cougars in his building. None of the other dirty old ladies would remember him.



June 2013 Hooliganism–The Irish American News

Unfortunately he's having a good year.

Unfortunately he’s having a good year.



Mike Houlihan

On special assignment for the Irish American News I recently visited the devil.

It was hard to nail him down for an interview, the guy is as slippery as an eel, an electric feckin’ eel!

I was ushered to his suite by a short German guy with a Hitler moustache. Hey wait a minute! That was Hitler!

As I followed Adolph down the hall, I mused to myself, “Wow, Hitler is the butler in hell. He deserves something worse than that. How bad could it be, being the butler in hell?”

Just then a large naked Jewish lady stepped out of the shadows and slapped Hitler in the face with a very wet used diaper she had been wearing.

Old Adolph just took it in stride, pushed back by the force of the gooey diaper, but then just wiped some mocha slime from above his moustache and said, “Thank you Mrs. Finkelstein!”

He smiled at me as he softly vomited into his mouth and put his hand on the knob to the devil’s door. “His Excellency will see you now.”

I sneered at Der Fuehrer, “I hope Mrs. Finkelstein does that to you a lot.”

He clicked his heels, “She does, every one hundred and ninety-six seconds…or so.”

As the door closed behind me, a double batch of Depends slammed into his kisser.

I looked about the sumptuous room with a spotless onyx desk with little beams of light occasionally blinking thru the cracks.  You could hear the soft murmur of sinners trapped inside that desk. The huge panoramic window looked out on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. I wondered why Beelzebub had chosen this view and then I heard a dark voice behind me.

“Futures clients.”

Old Scratch picked up the remote and started clicking around the world via the window to Vegas, Kuala Lumpur, Amsterdam, and Chicago; scenes of avarice, lust, and homicide in all his favorite places.

“Have a drink, Houli. I’ve got some Irish Whiskey or some Guinness, whatever you like.”

I was apprehensive, I’ve been slipped a Mickey before and if anybody was gonna do it, it would be this sick creep.

I think I’ll just stick to this bottle of water I brought with me, if you don’t mind, Lucifer.

“Please, call me Lou.”

Let’s not get too chummy; I’m here for your story, not to go dancing with you.

“We’re very patient down here Houls, we want to make you a future client.”

I whipped out my reporter notebook; glad that I brought the water because it was starting to feel really warm down here.

Okay, I guess most of us already know how you got started in the evil business, and how St. Michael kicked your ass down here for eternity.

“Well, of course that’s exactly the narrative that the haters, racists and bigots want you to believe. I think the truth lies a bit further down the road.”

Yeah sure Lou, right down the ol’ Hershey highway.

“You’re boring me…so what’s this interview all about, what’s your angle? Who do you write for again?”

The Irish American News

He laughed as he drained his drink- Baby’s Blood on the rocks. “Oh we’ve got plenty of your Irish cousins down here, don’t you worry about that.”

He picked up the remote and on the screen was the village of Moneygall when the President visited the town of his Irish roots.

“You know how you love watching ‘The Quiet Man”, Houli? Well this is my Quiet Man.

Whaddya mean?

“Barak, Barry, my man, the best client I’ve got. Evil Inc. is booming, thanks to him. Millions of babies murdered, Benghazi, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the IRS scandals, and spying on the AP reporters. He’s made evil cool again! This kid is the best thing that’s happened to me since Stalin.”

Yeah, maybe it’s time you slowed down, cuz right now it looks like the world is goin’ to hell.

“Well, duh! It’s only taken me two thousand years.”

Don’t count your chickens, Lou.

“Oh yeah? Watch me dismantle the Catholic Church over the next couple decades. And all it took was Obamacare and a couple dozen pedophile priests. Ireland is ready to legalize abortion, they are toast!”

I stood up, backtracked toward the door, and opened my water bottle; it was really getting hot down there.

“Come on Houls, it’s only your soul. I can have Lindsay Lohan here in five minutes!”

He picked up the remote and suddenly the picture got fuzzy and the sound went blippo screeching so loud the devil put his hands over his pointed ears.

What the hell is that?

“Damn, somebody is jamming my connection with prayers.”

Don’t you get it, devil boy. The tide is turning. The media is turning on your buddy Barry.  Even the mopes at MSNBC are having second thoughts, including moral zombies like Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris “The Tingler” Mathews.

I took a swig from my water bottle, flung open the door, and discovered Hitler over Mrs. Finkelstein’s knee as she spanked him. The devil was pissed now.

“You’re not going anywhere!”

I spit a mouthful of the water in his face.

“Ahhhh that’s holy water!”

That’s right Lou, adios sucker!

I leapt over Hitler and ran down the hallway and made it outta there just in time.  Something tells me it’s gonna be a very hot summer.

December 2012 Irish American News Column

Mike Houlihan

Sol Hepatica opened the bottom drawer of his desk, pulled out a bottle of Bushmills and poured himself four fingers of fortitude.

He was about to lay off fifteen hundred employees at his magazine, “Ingrown Toenail Monthly”.

He knew the business was tanking back in August, but kept it alive in hopes that Romney would be elected. Now with Obamacare breathing down his neck he had to pull the plug.

The magazine had been a huge success for most of the last decade. Dreamed up one night at the bar in Ken’s on Western Avenue when Sol and some pals had joked about starting a satirical skin mag that featured only ugly women. They printed up one issue as a gag and it exploded in popularity beyond their wildest dreams.

Within six months Sol had become a celebrity as the publisher and editor of “Ingrown Toenail Monthly”, appearing on talk shows like “The View” where Whoopi Goldberg praised him for his contribution to women’s equality and alleged comedian Joy Behar told Sol, “You’ve opened up a whole new world for overweight, big mouth bitches like me.” The audience roared with laughter, and Barbara Walters said, “Sol, you’ve given all of us another option, and for that we sarute you.”

What Sol had done with his publication was at first shocking to America, but then just as quickly embraced as a true measure of an original look at beauty. The Prince Charles/Camilla spread where they were photographed together in the barn had broken every publication record in the industry. The royal couple donated their fee for posing to Planned Parenthood.

Without even being aware of it, Sol Hepatica had turned the world on its’ ear. He would never use the word, but it was all over the gossip columns, “Ugly was now cool. Ugly was beautiful. Ugly has become hip.”

Sol Hepatica had made beauty irrelevant. The ladies who posed in “Ingrown Toenail Monthly” were a cross section of race, social stature, and international origins. But they were all frightening to behold. Sol would demur, “We feature the girl next door, if you lived in a trailer camp in Hegewisch.”

Sol pored over the books as he poured himself another. His wife Hazel marched in and grabbed the bottle, taking a big swig and plopping herself down on the couch. “Sol, dummkopf, it’s over baby. You gotta lay off everybody tonight, bubala. Or we are broke.”

Sol removed his glasses and ran his old hand over his eyes, “Hazel, do you have any idea what today is?”

Hazel took another long pull on the whiskey and smacked her lips. “It’s Monday!”

Sol stood up in rage behind the desk, “It’s Christmas Eve!”

Hazel laughed in his face, “Sol, you’re Jewish!”

Sol sneered as he looked at Hazel, lying on his couch like a Hippo in heat. He’d met some hideous creatures in this biz, but Hazel was ugly on the inside as well. Sol had long since discovered that she was the devil incarnate but he had made his bargain.

“I’m not laying anybody off on Christmas, we’ll pink slip ‘em all on New Years Eve.”

Hazel protested, “You putz! It’s over. The Twinkie is dead Sol, and so are we!”

Suddenly there was a knock at the door

Sol opened the door and standing there was the most beautiful young woman he’d ever seen. An older biker type guy with a beard stood behind her. They were both covered in snow and looked like they were cold. Hazel got off the couch and joined Sol at the door and stared at the couple in awe. The girl was pregnant and her smile was ebullient in spite of the situation.

“Hi, I’m Mary, this is my old man Joe.”

Joe said, “Hey.”

Mary’s mere presence was ethereal in its loveliness and Sol and Hazel were dumbstruck. Mary said, “Our Harley wiped out in the snow and we’re gonna need to file an accident report, mind if we use your phone?”

Mary had somehow captivated Sol’s soul. He smiled, “Sure, help yourself. I’m Sol and this is my wife Hazel.”

Mary smiled. “What a night, huh? Merry Christmas, you guys.”

Hazel blurted out, “We’re Jewish.”

Mary laughed, “For real? So are we!”

Well of course you know the rest of the story. Hazel and Sol drove Mary and Joe over to McNeal Hospital where she gave birth to a baby boy just after midnight. Hope had come knocking on Sol Hepatica’s door and he answered it on Christmas Eve.

“Ingrown Toenail Monthly” soon changed its format and it’s name to “Beautiful Babies”, featuring adorable infants. Sol and Hazel made a fortune.

Here’s hoping the spirit of the infant Jesus enlightens us all as well.

Merry Christmas!

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