Luck of the Irish

I do not know when the phrase “Luck of the Irish ” started.  I have heard it most of my life, so I assumed the Irish were lucky.  I also remember thinking that throughout history the Irish have been anything but lucky.  The people of Ireland for centuries have had very difficult lives, many moving to America in the mid 19th century due to a severe potato famine and much starvation in Ireland.  I learned in history class that the greatest export of Ireland to America was not potatoes, but people, a mass immigration to America.

Ironically the phrase “Luck of the Irish” may have actually originally referred to the traditional bad luck of the Irish.  One website on  the Internet mentioned that the term “Luck of the Irish” did originate in America during the 19th century, possibly implying that if any of the Irish were successful after coming to America, well, it was due to luck, not hard work.

I remember watching a movie as a child about 40 years ago and someone found a bottle with a little man inside.  I think he was a leprechaun.  He had the green hat, the Irish accent, and a bottle of whiskey.  Whoever found him in the bottle would be granted three wishes.  He looked the guy you would envision at the end of a rainbow in your quest to find a pot of gold.  It was fun to fantasize about, but I admit, it all of sounded far fetched, even to me as a young child.  None of us expects to find a little man in a bottle, much less a pot of gold, but we do have hopes of someday our luck coming through on something we would like.  I included a space on the game board of Treasure Trovecalled “Luck of the Irish” where players have the opportunity to draw from various stacks of situation cards available while playing the game.  In the process of drawing a card a player may win money,  or capture a treasure, or have the opportunity to travel to various places around the world on their journey to collect treasure.  On the other hand they may lose a turn.  Such is the luck of the draw.  Perhaps with a little luck, that is with the “Luck of the Irish” they may draw a good card.  If a player draws a lousy card, well let’s just say that could also be called “Luck of the Irish.”

Mysterious Island











Some of my favorite movies as a kid were Journey to the Center of the Earth(1959) and Mysterious Island(1961).  The problem was I often had to wait years before a TV station would air one of the movies.  This was long before VCR’s much less Netflix.  Both movies captured my imagination.  I may not know the dialogue verbatim but I can just about tell you what the next scene will be.  A few years ago I enjoyed watching the original Journey to the Center of the Earth with James Mason.  It was also just a few years ago that I saw the remake at thre theater.  The remake was not bad, but I still like the original. 


This past weekend I ventured to the theater to watch the remake of Mysterious Island.  My wife and I really enjoyed it.  The Rock did a good job.  I’m glad Hollywood wants to revisit this classic tales of adventure.  I’m not sure why movies get more unbelievable rather than more plausible, but that seems to be the pattern now.  It was still good entertainment.

            On my original version of the board game Treasure Trove I had a “Mysterious Island,”‘ because it is such an interesting name.  I placed it near Indonesia.  Most of the other Islands, if not all, that I did choose to place on the game board in reality exist.  For example, there really is a Buccaneer Archipelago, a Dragon Island, a Crocodile Island, a Shark Island, and so forth.  The two that are stretched a bit are Castaway Island, which I placed in the Indian Ocean, and Skull Island that I placed near Indonesia.  There is not actually a Skull Island but there are islands near Borneo where people do place the skulls of their ancestors inside caves for burial.  There were a group of French sailors sranded as castaways on an isalnd in the South Indian Ocean in the 17th century for many months.

Treasure Trove is a game of collecting treasure, but it is fun to think of all the exotic places on this globe that would be fascinating to visit, especially if there were treasure there.  Treasure Trove is a quest for fabled wealth but it is also an adventure.  I think it is something kids enjoy experiencing in the process of play.  I choose not to place Mysterious Island on the final version of Treasure Trove because I did not think many people had heard of the Jules Verne novel Mysterious Island, much less the movie made in 1961.  Now that a remake of Mysterious Island has been made, I wish I had left it on the game board.





     I will always enjoy adventure movies to exotic and remote destinations, especially if there is an element of treasure involved.

Genie Lamp

       “Look, it’s a genie lamp,” my oldest brother exclaimed.  “What’s a genie lamp?” I asked.  My oldest replied, “You know, like Aladdin’s lamp.  You can make a wish.”  My next oldest brother had a smirk on his face, but I was intrigued.

It was the summer of 1963, I was nine, and never happier in my life.  Dad was in the military and we as a family had just moved to Germany.  We were waiting to get housing on base so we were temporarily living in a house located on a farmer’s land.  There were trees to climb, barns to play hide-n-seek in, and forests to explore.  This particular day my three brothers and I had decided to hike in the woods.  It was at that time my oldest brother noticed something brown and metallic-looking nestled among the leaves.  That’s when he discovered the lamp.  “Let’s take it home, clean it and make a wish,” my brother excitedly said.  Sounded great to me.

We went on hiking for a few more hours before returning home.  I’m assuming he cleaned it up but I cannot recall what it really looked like.  At the time I not sure what a genie lamp would have looked like.  I had heard of a genie in a bottle.  I now wonder if the lamp he found was some sort of old oil can for pouring into kerosene lamps.  It had that elongated spout like a gravy boat or as he said, an Aladdin’s lamp.

I recall arguing with my brothers about what we would wish for.  “I want a million dollars,” my younger brother said.  At first I said I wanted to be a baseball player like Mickey Mantle.  Then I got cute and said, “I know, I’ll wish for three more wishes,” as if no one had thought of that before.  My next oldest responded with “why just three?”  My bubble burst when the oldest said you’re not allowed to do that.  You lose all your wishes when you do that.  “Who says?” I asked.  “That’s the rule,” he said.  I think you can envision how the conversation went, how it is among kids.  Decades later when I took my kids to see Aladdin with Robin Williams he commented, “nix on wishing for more wishes.”   That finalized it once and for all in my mind.  I chuckled when I heard Robin Williams say that.


After he cleaned the lamp up, we took turns rubbing the lantern and making wishes, at least that is how I remember it.  I’m sure my brothers have a different take on the story.  I can also assure you none of our wishes materialized.

In the 1960’s on Saturday nights we watched I Dream of Jeannie with Barbara Eden.  My imagination raced wondering what I would wish for.  I think my dad enjoyed looking at the female genie.  Now that I’m older, I don’t blame him, nice looking woman.  Fast forward to 2010.   If you had one wish, what would it be?

I Dream of Jeannie series

Interesting how each of has thought about wishing for something.  We do it in our minds all the time.  We also dismiss it very quickly form our minds.  Let me ask you, would you wish for something very specific like winning the lottery, or a gold medal at the Olympics.  Would you rather wish for something more generic like having good health or long life.  Perhaps you would wish for something noble like bringing healing to a loved one.

One of my initial thoughts is, “who cares, it’s never going to happen.”  Well, it might happen more than we realize.  First of all, it really did happen for someone.  Not the genie in a bottle, and not that anyone has a direct line to God to answer their wish list.  But remember the story of King Solomon.  God told him I will give you what you desire.  God was pleased when Solomon chose wisdom.  Solomon used his wisdom to rule well(quit successfully) and to acquire wealth.  A lot of men also envy Solomon because he had over a thousand wives.  However, if you read some of his writings such as Lamentations in the Old Testament, Solomon may not have been as happy as we think he was.  He was a King, he was powerful, he was rich, he had fame, he was liked, he had lots of wives.  Sounds like he had it all, but something was missing.

Let me ask you another question. Why would God want to bless Solomon and not the rest of us?  Of course he cares for each of us.  It’s just that we have a limited, if not distorted, view of what would make us happy if we could wish for it.  If we were to take the time to realize the many of the good things life has provided us, perhaps our wish list would not be too long.  Hopefully, all of us should be more inclined to appreciate what is directly in front of us.  It is also hopeful we would seek more relationship with the creator who provides good gifts in their right time.

I’ll just give one you simple example.  When I was a young man I hoped and prayed for a good wife.  I’m about to go eat a bowl of soup and a cheese sandwich with her.  I’ve enjoyed her company for 35 years.  I’ll let Solomon enjoy the feast of a King and all his women.  I don’t have to deal with all that the decisions involved in being a King.  I think I’ll enjoy my peaceful evening.

I don’t think you or I will find a genie in a lamp but I hope we take the time to realize just how many good gifts(wishes) we may have already received, and where they come from.

It is still fun and imaginative to dream of finding that genie.  Good luck to you.  One of the situation cards included in the board game Treasure Trove reads as follows:


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A Golden Fleece



logoLast week I watched the recently released movie Clash of the Titans.   A remake from an early 1980’s version.  My son commented on how much better the special effects are today.  I’m not sure I agree with him.  I say this because I believe the special effects from movies made years ago, even decades ago, seem to capture the imagination more.  At least they do for me.  Let me give you an example.

One of my all time favorite movies came out in 1964, Jason and the Argonauts.  I think it is one of the coolest movies ever made.  I first saw it when I was about 11 years old and have seen it many times since.  I remember the joy I had when I visited the video store in the late 80’s and checked the movie out to watch with my son when he was about six.  It is now also one of his favorite movies.  When he was about 11 years old the movie Jurassic Park came out and we saw it four or five times at the theater.  He collected dinosaurs for a number of years.  When he gets older I’m sure he will look back on Jurassic Park the way I do Jason and the Argonauts.  We all have movies that bring back good memories.

Jason and a group of Greek sailors( Argonauts) take the ship Argos on a long dangerous voyage overcoming many challenges in order to reach a land far away said to contain lots of wealth and a fleece made of gold that possessed supernatural powers.    talos

My favorite scene is when they have to fight the huge metal statue called Talos.  There was no way they could have defeated the imposing figure except he had a weakness, an Achilles heel.  Jason pops the plug on the heel of  Talos and all this green liquid comes pouring out and big Talos crashes to the ground.  I admit it looked like a bunch of antifreeze but I still think it was cool; pardon the pun.

Jason and his sailors go on to encounter and defeat other creatures and obstacles on their epic journey.  He asks for and receives the assistance of the Greek gods on his voyage.  Another scene in the movie I really enjoyed was when he fought a bunch of skeletons.  You could stab them but you couldn’t kill them.  It was not until about 30 years later that I saw a documentary on how the special effects for the movie were done.  The skeletons were actually clay figures and the special effects creator had to bend the clay figures a little, take a picture, bend, take a picture, and so forth.  The pictures were then sequenced to create motion.  This one scene took three months to create.  Think about that in the context of today’s computer generated special effects.

The scene that has never really done it for me was when Jason sees the “golden fleece,” but has to defeat the “Hydra,” to capture the prize.  The fleece looked fake to me even as a child and so did the hydra.  The hydra was a multi-headed dragon protecting the fleece that Jason had to fight.  Have you ever wondered where these strange creature stories in Greek mythology came from?

In high school I had to read the Iliad and the Odyssey.  Homer’s 8th century B.C. novels tell how Ulysses and his men on one their adventures had to fight a huge man called Cyclops who had one eye in the middle of his forehead.  Archaeologists now know that elephants once lived on the islands of the Mediterranean Sea but were probably gone by the time of Homer.  The skeletal remains of the elephants would have included very large skulls.  The people of the ancient world were intrigued by the one big hole in the middle of the front of the skull.  You and I know the hole is for the elephant’s trunk but for the people of Greece at that time they did not know much about elephants.  To them the skull was big and looked like a giant eye socket.  It would have been a huge man they thought.argonaut sea creatureThe term Cyclops was used by Homer to describe such a huge man or beast.

As for the hydra, sailors would tell stories of dragons and large sea creatures with long arms, (tentacles).  We know these to be giant squids as well as the Komodo dragons of the Far East, (Indonesia).  With a little imagination the writer of Jason’s story put the two together to create the hydra, the multi-headed dragon.

It is also thought that during the time of ancient Greece there were rumors of a wealthy kingdom that possesed much gold on the far eastern shores near the southeastearn portion of the Black Sea, near present day Armenia.  For the sailing vessels of those days it would have been a challenging adventure.


Researchers believe Jason’s journey took place in the Black Sea, probably on the north shores of Turkey.  I recently saw a documentary about a group of researchers who built a wooden ship to retrace his epic journey.  On the game board for TreasureTrove I placed a drawing of a ship with “Argonauts,” next to it.

A couple of footnotes worth mentioning:

  1. There is a small black squid indigenous to the Black Sea called an argonaut.  I should have included this in the footnote section of the game booklet but forgot to do so.
  2. A couple of excellent movies for the 7 to 12 year age range for journeys are, In Search of the Castaways made in the early 1960’s,  Journey to the Center of the Earth produced in the late 1950’s, and the Golden Voyage of Sinbad made in the 1970’s.   For adults, the original King Solomon’s Mines of the 1950’s, Shangri-La also of the 1950’s, and of course the recent Indiana Jones movies.
  3. There is a story in the Old Testament in the book of Judges where an Israelite judge named Gideon seekboxtops God’s advice as to whether or not he should lead the Israelites into battle.  He uses a fleece of wool to communicate with God.  (The Book of Judges, chapters 6 and 7).

To learn more about the board game go to