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Booping with Betty — Part II

Jim Korkis continues his series on the first lady of animation, Betty Boop. In this installment, Korkis recalls Betty’s heyday in the mid-1930s … as well as her unlikely career revival in the late 1960s.



Betty Boop did not get her own cartoon series until August 1932 with STOPPING THE SHOW. Betty performs on stage and does her impersonations of then popular personalities Fanny Brice, Maurice Chevalier and Jimmy Durante. One of the highpoints of her cinematic career happened in 1932 where she performs an unforgettable topless hula number in BETTY BOOP’S BAMBOO ISLE. Her ample charms are barely hidden by a grass skirt and a well placed flowered lei. (Most of the classic Boop cartoons had some incident of Betty standing in front of a light source so her silhouette could be seen through her now see-through gown or there would be a flash of underwear with a suggestive wiggle. And remember, the Fleischer Studio publicity release that announced that Betty was only sixteen years old and would always remain sixteen years old! Betty pre-dated today’s suggestive teen singing stars.)

Another key element to these cartoons that captured audience’s attention was the music. Unlike the sweeter, orchestral music found in the Disney and MGM cartoons, Fleischer leaned towards a stronger jazz beat. Such hot acts like Cab Calloway (MINNIE THE MOOCHER) and Louis Armstrong (I’LL BE GLAD WHEN YOU’RE DEAD YOU RASCAL YOU) heated up the sound track.

The last cartoon where Betty was able to flash her panties at the audience was the 1934 BETTY IN BLUNDERLAND where the cut flapper falls into the world of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. In 1934, the Production Code took effect. Concerned citizens were outraged by the low moral behavior and sexual suggestiveness portrayed in movies. Even cartoons could not escape their righteous wrath. Betty’s 1934 outing, RED HOT MAMA, was rejected by the British Board of Censors and was not allowed to be screened in England.

The Flesichers couldn’t make money from cartoons that couldn’t be screened so Betty was transformed. Yards of fabric were added to the top and bottom of her dress. Her wild animal friends and surreal stories disappeared along with her clevage.

What so many male admirers had failed to do previously was accomplished with amazing swiftness as Betty’s innocent sexuality and “boop-boop-a-doop” were taken away to be replaced with the new personality of a conservative young homemaker. To complete the process, Betty was given a cute puppy named Pudgy, a human boyfriend named Fred, an eccentric but loveable grandfather named Grampy and a kid brother named Billy Boop.

In SWAT THAT FLY (1935), Betty is now a simple minded but good hearted single girl who is in her kitchen preparing to bake when she and Pudgy must do battle with an annoying fly. It was typical of the domestic situation comedy plots that would now become the basis of the remainder of the series.

Now that Betty had become so dull, the studio concentrated on her supporting characters like Grampy. Thanks to his thinking cap (a graduation mortar board with a light bulb on top), he was able to devise a vast array of Rube Goldberg like inventions. Naturally, some of these useful gadgets backfired unexpectedly.

The character of Popey made his first animated appearance in a Betty Boop cartoon entitled POPEYE THE SAILOR (1933) and was spun off into a highly successful series of cartoons. Now, Betty Boop cartoons were being used again as a springboard to showcase other possible comic strip characters like Carl Anderson’s Henry, Jimmy Swinerton’s Little Jimmy and Otto Soglow’s The Little King. Teaming these characters with the new Betty proved disastrous and the Fleischers abandoned plans to develop the character any further.

Betty suffered through the next few years saddled with a muscular but oddly effeminate young man named Freddie who was supposedly her boyfriend and who appeared usually in the role or a lifeguard or a soldier and with a highly active kid brother named Billy who showed up to get into cute scrapes. These characters were a far cry from the earlier supporting cast of KoKo the Clown, Bimbo and Gus Gorilla.

In 1939, one of Betty’s last appearances was in MUSICAL MOUNTAINEERS where after running out of gas, she is befriended by a grotesque looking group of hillbillies who help her out with some of their potent moonshine. Betty’s dancing in this cartoon lacks the sensual wiggling that was her trademark in the pre-1934 cartoons. The last official Betty Boop cartoon, YIP YIP YIPPY (August 1939) doesn’t even feature Betty!

There were many reasons that the Fleischers cancelled the Betty Boop series. There was obviously waning public interest in the new domesticated Betty and it was becoming increasingly difficult (as it would later become for a domesticated Mickey Mouse) to come up with stories for the bland character. Also, at this time, the Fleischers moved their studio to Florida and decided to concentrate all their efforts and available manpower on their first animated feature GULLIVER’S TRAVELS (1939) which they hoped would match Disney’s success with SNOW WHITE. Mae Questel’s refusal to relocate to Florida may also have contributed to the decision. Because of the failure of the two Fleischer animated features, Paramount took control of the Fleischer studio and saw no reason to revive the character.

When the pre-1948 Paramount cartoons were syndicated on local stations in the late Fifties, the Betty Boop cartoons were syndicated on local television stations. By the mid-Sixties, these black and white cartoons suffered the fate of many other non-color cartoons by disappearing from a television landscape that was becoming exclusively devoted to color.

However, Betty Boop was being re-discovered by the hippie generation of the late Sixties who loved the classic comedians who were wild and disrupted society. The heroes of this love generation were W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, and the very sexy and weird cartoons of Betty Boop. (Like Disney’s FANTASIA, this new audience was discovering that Betty’s wild Fleischer antics were a perfect accompaniment to the taking of drugs which enhanced perceptions.)

National Telefilm Associates (NTA) who had acquired the rights to the Betty Boop cartoons saw from their rentals that Betty was still attracting attention on colleges. Sensing a new market, they had the original black and white cartoon shorts “colorized” by the primitive process of shipping the cartoons to Korea where they were traced frame by frame and the tracings then hand painted in color.

Using this method, not only was detail lost with many drawings skipped and backgrounds simplified but there were ridiculous color errors including a bright purple wolf in DIZZY RED RIDING HOOD (1931). NTA easily recouped their minimal investment to colorize the cartoons but these colorized efforts did little if anything to increase Betty’s popularity.

IVY Films put together a compilation feature of the original black and white cartoons called THE BETTY BOOP SCANDALS OF 1974. Besides such classic cartoons as BIMBO’S INITIATION and MINNIE THE MOOCHER, the compilation also included the first chapter of the BUCK ROGERS serial and some live action comedy shorts. The film was moderately successful in theaters but again became extremely successful on college campuses. A soundtrack album was even released.

NTA still wanted to cash in on their property so in 1976, they approached producer Dan Dalton with the proposal of editing a compilation feature of the colorized shorts to tie-in with the upcoming presidential election. Originally announced as BETTY BOOP FOR PRESIDENT, by the time the feature was completed nearly four years later it had been retitled HURRAY FOR BETTY BOOP.

The completed film uses excerpts from thirty-five different Betty Boop shorts ending with the 1932 short, BETTY BOOP FOR PRESIDENT. Throughout the film, the Devil in a variety of disguises tries to prevent Betty from winning the presidential election. Victoria D’Orazi redubbed Betty’s voice and Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers narrated the story as Pudgy the Pup. There were new songs recorded by Debby Boone and the Association which were included in the final soft rock soundtrack.

Dalton, along with some other writers, wrote new dialog for the film but made no effort to match these new words with the previously animated mouth movements. There were some attempts at being topical like when Betty cleans the kitchen and moans “Are you sure Carter started this way?, a reference to President Jimmy Carter.

New Line Cinema, which distributed the film, spent a minimum of $50,000 on promotion. New York publicist Alan Abel was hired to run a “Betty Boop for President” campaign. The campaign included supporters picketing the Democratic convention in New York. Boop campaign slogans were painted on New York sidewalks and walls. Victoria D’Orazi, the new voice of Betty, toured the country in a Betty Boop costume. This often caused some confusion because of the then current plans to develop a Broadway musical about Betty Boop (with rumors that actress Bernadette Peters would play the part as she did in a skit on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE). People were unclear what all this Boop publicity was supposed to be promoting. The film, after a limited series of theatrical bookings, recouped its cost finally by being sold to cable television.

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Jens Dahlmann of LongHorn Steakhouse has lots of great tips when it comes to grilling



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Sure, for some folks, the Fourth of July is all about fireworks. But for the 75% of all Americans who own a grill or a smoker, the Fourth is our Nation’s No. 1 holiday when it comes to grilling. Which is why 3 out of 4 of those folks will spend some time outside today working over a fire.

But here’s the thing: Though 14 million Americans can cook a steak with confidence because they actually grill something every week, the rest of us – because we use our grill or smoker so infrequently … Well, let’s just say that we have no chops when it comes to dealing with chops (pork, veal or otherwise).

So what’s a backyard chef supposed to in a situation like this when there’s so much at steak … er … stake? Turn to someone who really knows their way around a grill for advice. People like Jens Dahlmann, the Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef for Darden Restaurant’s LongHorn Steakhouse brand.

Given that Jens’ father & grandfather were chefs, this is a guy who literally grew up in a kitchen. In his teens & twenties, Dahlmann worked in hotels & restaurants all over Switzerland & Germany. Once he was classically trained in the culinary arts, Jens then  jumped ship. Well, started working on cruise ships, I mean.

Anyway … While working on Cunard’s Sea Goddess, Dahlmann met Sirio Maccioni, the founder of Le Cirque 2000. Sirio was so impressed with Jens’ skills in the kitchen that he offered him the opportunity to become sous-chef at this New York landmark. After four years of working in Manhattan, Dahlmann then headed south to become executive chef at Palm Beach’s prestigious Café L’Europe.

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

And once Jens began wowing foodies in Florida, it wasn’t all that long ’til the Mouse came a-calling. Mickey wanted Dahlmann to shake things up in the kitchen over at WDW’s Flying Fish Café. And he did such a good job with that Disney’s Boardwalk eatery the next thing Jens knew, he was then being asked to work his magic with the menu at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill.

From there, Dahlmann had a relatively meteoric rise at the Mouse House. Once he became Epcot’s Food & Beverage general manager, it was only a matter of time before he wound up as the executive chef in charge of this theme park’s annual International Food & Wine Festival. Which – under Jens’ guidance – experienced some truly explosive growth.

“When I took on Food & Wine, that festival was only 35 days long and had gross revenues of just $5.5 million. When I left Disney in 2016, Food & Wine was now over 50 days long and that festival had gross revenues of $22 million,” Dahlmann admitted during a recent sit-down. “I honestly loved those 13 years I spent at Disney. When I was working there, I learned so much because I was really cooking for America.”

And it was exactly that sort of experience & expertise that Darden wanted to tap into when they lured Jens away from Mickey last year to become LongHorn Steakhouse’s new Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef. But today … Well, Dahlmann is offering tips to those of us who are thinking about cooking steak tips for the Fourth.

Photo by Jim Hill

“When you’re planning on grilling this holiday, if you’re looking for a successful result, the obvious place to start is with the quality of the meat you plan on cooking for your friends & family. If you want the best results here, don’t be cheap when you go shopping. Spend the money necessary for a fresh filet or a New York strip. Better yet a Ribeye, a nice thick one with good marbling. Because when you look at the marbling on a steak, that’s where all the flavor happens,” Jens explained. “That said, you always have to remember that — the higher you go with the quality of your meat — the less time you’re going to want that piece of meat to spend on the grill.”

And speaking of cooking … Before you even get started here, Jens suggests that you first take the time to check over all of your grilling equipment. Making sure that the grill itself is first scraped clean & then properly oiled before you then turn up the heat.

“If you’re working with a dirty grill, when you go to turn your meat, it may wind up sticking to the grill. Or maybe those spices that you’ve just so carefully coated your steak with will wind up sticking to the grill, rather than your meat,” Dahlmann continued. “Which is why it’s always worth it to spend a few minutes prior to firing up your grill properly cleaning & oiling it.”

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of heat … Again, before you officially get started grilling here, Jens says that it’s crucial to check your temperature gauges. Make sure that your char grill is set at 550 (so that it can then properly handle the thicker cuts of meat) and your flattop is set at 425 (so it can properly sear thinner pieces of meat).

Okay. Once you’ve bought the right cuts of quality meat, properly cleaned & oiled your grill, and then made sure that everything’s set at the right temperature (“If you can only stand to hold your hand directly over the grill for two or three seconds, that’s the right amount of heat,” Dahlmann said), it’s now time to season your steaks.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold here. You can’t be shy when it comes to seasoning your meat. You want to give it a nice coating. Largely because — if you’re using a char grill — a lot of that seasoning is just going to fall off anyway,” Jens stated. “It’s up to you to decide what sort of seasoning you want to use here. Even just some salt & pepper will enhance a steak’s flavor.”

Then – according to Dahlmann – comes the really tough part. Which is placing your meat on the grill and then fighting the urge to flip it too early or too often.

“The biggest mistake that a lot of amateur cooks make is that they flip the steak too many times. The real key to a well-cooked piece of meat is just let it be, “Jens insisted. “Of course, if you’re serving different cuts of meat at your Fourth of July feast, you always want to put your biggest thickest steak on the grill first. If you’re also cooking a New York Strip, you want to put that one on a few minutes later. But after that, just let the grill do its job and flip your meat a total of three or four times, once every three minutes or so.”

Of course, the last thing you want to do is overcook a quality piece of meat. Which is why Dahlmann suggests that – when it comes to grilling steaks – if you’re going to err, err on the side of undercooking.

“You can always put a piece of meat back on the grill if it’s slightly undercooked. When you over-cook something, all you can do then is start over with a brand-new piece of meat,” Jens said. “Just be sure that you’re using the correct cut of meat for the cooking result you’re aiming for. If someone wants a rare or medium rare steak, you should go with a thicker cut of steak. If one of your guests wants their steak cooked medium or well, it’s best to start with a thinner cut of meat.”

Photo by Jim Hill

As you can see, the folks at Longhorn take grilling steaks seriously. How seriously? Just last week at Darden Corporate Headquarters in Orlando, seven of these brand’s top grill masters (who – after weeks of regional competitions – had been culled from the 491 restaurants that make up this chain) competed for a $10,000 prize in the Company’s second annual Steak Master Series. And Dahlmann was one of the people who stood in Darden’s test kitchens, watching like a hawk as each of the contestants struggled to prepare six different dishes in just 20 minutes according to Longhorn Steakhouse’s exacting standards.

“I love that Darden does this. Recognizing the best of the best who work this restaurant,” Jens concluded. “We have a lot of people here who are incredibly knowledgeable & passionate when it comes to grilling.”

Speaking of which … If today’s story doesn’t include the exact piece of info that you need to properly grill that T-bone, just whip out your iPhone & text GRILL to 55702. Or – better yet – visit prior to firing up your grill or smoker later today. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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Brattleboro’s Strolling of the Heifers is a sincere if somewhat surreal way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont



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Some people travel halfway ‘around the planet so that they can then experience the excitement of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. If you’re more of a Slow Living enthusiast (as I am), then perhaps you should amble to Brattleboro, VT. Where – over the first weekend in June – you can then join a herd of cow enthusiasts at the annual Strolling of the Heifers.

Now in its 16th year, this three-day long event typically gets underway on Friday night in June with a combination block party / gallery walk. But then – come Saturday morning – Main Street in Brattleboro is lined with thousands of bovine fans.

Photo by Jim Hill

They’ve staked out primo viewing spots and set up camp chairs hours ahead of time. Just so these folks can then have a front row seat as this year’s crop of calves (which all come from local farms & 4-H clubs) are paraded through the streets.

Photo by Jim Hill

Viewed from curbside, Strolling of the Heifers is kind of this weird melding of a sincere small town celebration and Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade. Meaning that – for every entry that actually acknowledged this year’s theme (i.e. “Dance to the Moosic”) — …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something completely random, like this parade’s synchronized shopping cart unit.

Photo by Jim Hill

And for every piece of authentic Americana (EX: That collection of antique John Deere tractors that came chugging through the city) …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something silly. Like – say – a woman dressed as a Holstein pushing a baby stroller through the streets. And riding in that stroller was a pig dressed in a tutu.

Photo by Jim Hill

And given that this event was being staged in the Green Mountain State & all … Well, does it really surprise you to learn that — among the groups that marched in this year’s Strolling of the Heifers – was a group of eco-friendly folks who, with their  chants of “We’re Number One !,” tried to persuade people along the parade route not to flush the toilet after they pee. Because – as it turns out – urine can be turned into fertilizer.

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of fertilizer … At the tail end of the parade, there was a group of dedicated volunteers who were dealing with what came out of the tail end of all those cows.

Photo by Jim Hill

This year’s Strolling of the Heifers concluded at the Brattleboro town common. Where event attendees could then get a closer look at some of the featured units in this year’s parade…

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

But as for the 90+ calves who took part in the 2017 edition of Strolling of the Heifers, once they reached the town common, it was now time for a nosh or a nap.

Photo by Jim Hill

Elsewhere on the common, keeping with this year’s “Dance to the Moosic” theme, various musical groups performed in & around the gazebo throughout the afternoon.

Photo by Jim Hill

While just across the way – keeping with Brattleboro’s tradition of showcasing the various artisans who live & work in the local community – some pretty funky pieces were on display at the Slow Living Exposition.

Photo by Jim Hill

All in all, attending Strolling of the Heifers is a somewhat surreal but still very pleasant way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont. And that’s no bull.

Photo by Jim Hill

Well, that could be a bull. To be honest, what with the wig & all, it’s kind of hard to tell. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Sunday, June 4, 2017

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Looking to make an authentic Irish meal for Saint Patrick’s Day? If so, then chef Kevin Dundon says not to cook corned beef & cabbage



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Let’s at least start on a positive note: Celebrated chef, author & TV personality Kevin Dundon – the man that Tourism Ireland has repeatedly chosen as the Face of Irish Food – loves a lot of what happens in the United States on March 17th.

“I mean, look at what they do in Chicago on Saint Patrick’s Day. They toss all of this vegetable-based dye into the Chicago River and then paint it green for a day. That’s terrific,” Kevin said.

But then when it comes to what many Americans eat & drink on St. Paddy’s Day (i.e., a big plate of corned beef and cabbage. Which is then washed down with a mug of green beer) … Well, that’s where Dundon has to draw the line.

Irish celebrity chef Kevin Dundon displays a traditional Irish loin of bacon with Colcannon potatoes and a Dunbrody Kiss chocolate dessert. Photo by Tom Burton. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Green beer? No real Irishman would be caught dead drinking that stuff,” Kevin insists. “And as for eating corned beef & cabbage … That’s not actually authentic Irish fare either. Bacon and cabbage? Sure. But corned beef & cabbage was something that the Irish only began eating after they’d come to the States to escape the Famine. And even then these Irish-Americans only began serving corned beef & cabbage to their friends & family because they had to make do with the ingredients that were available to them at that time.”

And thus begins the strange tale of how corned beef & cabbage came to be associated with the North American celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. Because – according to Dundon – beef just wasn’t all that big a part of the Irish diet back in the 19th century.

To explain: Back in the Old Country, cattle – while they were obviously highly prized for the milk & cheese that they produced – were also beasts of burden. Meaning that they were often used for ploughing the fields or for hauling heavy loads. Which is why – back then — these animals were rarely slaughtered when they were still young & healthy. If anything, land owners liked to put a herd of cattle on display out in one of their pastures because that was then a sign to their neighbors that this farm was prosperous.

“Whereas pork … Well, everybody raised pigs back then. Which is why pork was a staple of the Irish diet rather than beef,” Dundon continued.

So if that’s what people actually ate back in the Old Country, how then did corned beef & cabbage come to be so strongly associated with Saint Patrick’s Day in the States.? That largely had to do with where the Irish wound up living after they arrived in the New World.

“When the Irish first arrived in America following the Great Famine, a lot of them wound up living in the inner city right alongside the Germans & the Jews, who were also recent immigrants to the States. And while that farm-fresh pork that the Irish loved wasn’t readily available, there was brisket. Which the Irish could then cure by first covering this piece of meat with corn kernel-sized pieces of rock salt – that’s how it came to be called corned beef. Because of the sizes of the pieces of rock salt that were used in the curing process – and then placing all that in a pot of water with other spices to soak for a few days.”

And as for the cabbage portion of corned beef & cabbage … Well, according to Kevin, in addition to buying their meat from the kosher delis in their neighborhood, the Irish would also frequent the stores that the German community shopped in. Where – thanks to their love of sauerkraut (i.e., pickled cabbage) – there was always a ready supply of cabbage to be had.

“So when you get right down to it, it was the American melting pot that led to corned beef & cabbage being found in the Irish-American cooking pot,” Dundon continued. “Since they couldn’t find or didn’t have easy access to the exact same ingredients that they had back in Ireland, Irish-Americans made do with what they could find in the immediate vicinity. And what they made was admittedly tasty. But it’s not actually authentic Irish fare.”

Mind you, what Kevin serves at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs (which – FYI – Orlando Magazine voted as the area’s best restaurant back in 2014) is nothing if not authentic. Dundon and his team at this acclaimed gastropub pride themselves on making traditional Irish fare and then contemporized it.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Take – for example – what we serve here instead of corned beef & cabbage. Again, because it was pork – rather than beef – that was the true staple of the Irish diet back then, what we offer instead is a loin of bacon that has been glazed with Irish Mist. That then comes with colcannon potatoes. Which is this traditional Irish dish that’s made up of mashed potato that have had some cabbage & bacon mixed through it,” Kevin enthused. “This heavenly ham – that’s what we actually call this traditional Irish dish at Raglan Road, Kevin’s Heavenly Ham – also includes some savory cabbage with a parsley cream sauce as well as a raisin cider jus. It’s simple food. But because of the basic ingredients – and that’s the real secret of Irish cuisine. That our ingredients are so strong – the flavors just pop off the plate.”

Which brings us to the real challenge that Dundon and the Raglan Road team face every day. Making sure that they actually have all of the ingredients necessary to make this traditional-yet-contemporized Irish fare to those folks who frequent this Walt Disney World favorite.

“Take – for example – the fish we serve here. We only used cold water fish. Salmon, mussels and haddock that have been hauled out of the Atlantic, the ocean that America and Ireland share,” Kevin stated. “Not that there’s anything wrong with warm water fish. It’s just that … Well, it doesn’t have the same structure. It’s a softer fish, which doesn’t really fit the parameters of Irish cuisine. And if you’re going to serve authentic food, you have to be this dedicated when it comes to sourcing your ingredients.

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

And if you’re thinking of perhaps trying to serve an authentic Irish meal this year, rather than once again serving corned beef & cabbage at your Saint Patrick’s Day Feast … Well, back in September of last year, Mitchell Beazley published “The Raglan Road Cookbook: Inside America’s Favorite Irish Pub.” This 296-page hardcover not only includes the recipe for Kevin’s Heavenly Ham but also it tells the tale of how this now-world-renown restaurant wound up being built in Orlando.

On the other hand, if you happen to have to the luck of the Irish and are actually down at The Walt Disney World Resort right now, it’s worth noting that Raglan Road is right in the middle of its Mighty St. Patrick’s Day Festival. This four day-long event – which includes Irish bands and professional dancers – stretches through Sunday night. And in addition to all that authentic Irish fare that Dundon and his team are cooking up, you also sample the fine selection of beers & cocktails that this establishment’s four distinct antique bars (each of which are more than 130 years old and were imported directly from Ireland) will be serving. Just – As ucht Dé (That’s “For God’s Sake” in Gaelic) – don’t make the mistake of asking the bartender there for a mug of green beer.

“Why would anyone willingly drink something like that?,” Dundon laughed. “I mean, just imagine what their washroom will look like the morning after.”

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Friday, March 17, 2017

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