Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you

Imagine if you knew a person named Fourth of July, and he came up to you on the Fourth of July, slapped you on the back and said, “Hey, buddy, happy fourth of July!”

Or if you knew somebody named Valentine and he or she (because Valentine would be a great name for a girl, especially a girl gangster) gave you a big red heart, imagine that.

And so — have a wonderful day.

The posts, the posts are calling

Chicagoans love St. Patrick’s Day, and Sun-Times writer Mike Thomas apparently loves it more than most. He has a pair of stories in Thursday’s paper about, first, the greatness of Danny Boy and, second, how he once competed in a Danny Boy singing contest.

Know this: It ain’t easy. Its wide dynamic range falls just outside the vocal comfort zone — kind of like “The Star Spangled Banner” and much of the Led Zeppelin canon. And it shouldn’t be rendered too slowly. Or too quickly. Or too mawkishly.

Read on. Me, I’m more partial to Irish Lullaby (or Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, I can’t find a solid source on the name). Family reasons. But from glen to glen, I’ll give you Danny Boy to bring the house down.

Holiday story worth your time

Like with any other major holiday, St. Patrick’s Day stories in the nation’s newspapers are a mixed bag. Mostly, that bag is full of junk. St. Patrick’s Day at school, at the nursing home, at the local pub and Irish historical society office. But in yesterday’s Washington Post, Foreign Service writer Mary Jordan has a winner, all about the wacky and growing cult of clover.

Ed Martin, a retiree in Alaska, hopes to soon become the world record holder for collecting real four-leaf clovers. Martin, 73, who operated heavy machinery, said he tooled around the United States in a motor home for years picking the clovers to give away.

“I always got a smile,” he said in a telephone interview. Several years ago, Martin decided to get serious about collecting, and he said he now has about 80,000 four-leaves pressed into plastic sheeting. Officials in his small Alaskan town of Soldotna are preparing the paperwork to nominate him for a Guinness world record.

The current record holder is a Pennsylvania prison inmate, George Kaminski. While serving time on a kidnapping conviction for the past 25 years, Kaminski has gathered 72,927 four-leaf clovers. He found them, one at a time, hidden in the grass of prison yards.

Meet these people and the guy in Mexico City who sells them out of his station wagon.

St. Patrick’s Day, one year ago

The United States dropped a push in the U.N. Security Council to earn approval of a second Iraq disarmament resolution. “We regret that in the face of an explicit threat to veto, the vote-counting became a secondary consideration,” said John Negroponte, the American ambassador to the United Nations. This screengrab summed up well the mixed emotions of the day. In less than a week, the country was at war.

I also ate soda bread.

St. Patrick’s Day, two years ago

Finally saw the Chicago River dyed green.

St. Patrick’s Day, various years past

Tom Convery, a friend and a fine Irish-American, introduced and re-introduced me to a fine Irish prayer:

May those who love us love us,

And those who don’t love us

May God turn their hearts,

And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,

May He turn their ankles,

So we’ll know them by their limping.

It’s that time of year

Ireland’s Greatest Hits in the CD player. Elvis’ take on Danny Boy on Winamp. Yesterday, dressed up in green shirt, green jacket, and Pat hat (pictured left — ugly, isn’t it?). Went downtown with Linz yesterday and saw the Chicago River dyed green for the parade. Stopped in at a packed Houlihan’s next to the river. Drank a green beer. It’s a good holiday.

If they can dye the river green today, why can’t they dye it blue the other 364 days of the year? — Dep. Biggs, The Fugitive.