"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 16 March 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.


The Irish Curse


Murky Brown
If information is power, then the current wave of bullshit could appropriately be termed a "brownout."
Five years ago today in Suck.


TITLE: Kiss the Blarney Stone
AUTHOR: Shane Black III
PURPOSE: Representation
LOCALE(s): New York City
SETTING(s): urban, dank and grungy crime scenes, pubs with O' in their names
PERIOD: contemporary
FORM: screenplay, 130 pages
BUDGET: medium/high

GENRE PRIMARY: serial killer
SECONDARY: themed serial killer

LOG LINE: It's Kiss the Girls meets Along Came A Spider meets Seven meets Copycat, et al, meets Leprechaun In the Hood. A homicidal genius kills his victims in a series of grisly tributes to America's happiest holiday.


LIEUTENANT CASSIUS ROCHAMBEAU (M/3, 7 12, late-50s): The NYPD's top criminal profiler, CASSIUS is a legend on the force, having brought in the notorious Silicon Alley Stalker, but he's burned out and ready for retirement.

DETECTIVE BRIAN O'FERGUS (m/6, 3, 10, mid-20s): Rochambeau's fiery protégé, a second-generation Irish American who has rejected his roots after a tragic incident that took place on March 17 — revealed in a series of flashbacks.

THE KILLER: A shadowy and inscrutable criminal mastermind whose identity will shock even the most jaded audiences.

SYNOPSIS: We open on a chilly, ominous Groundhog Day in New York. CASSIUS and BRIAN are called to the scene of a homicide — the owner of a Celtic gift shop has been brutally tortured to death, left in the back room of her store in a wooden coffin, with a candle, a Kennedy half dollar and an airplane bottle of Jameson next to the corpse. The uniformed flatfoots on the scene are eager to dismiss the killing as a random crime, but Cassius immediately suspects something more sinister: Nothing has been taken from the store except a couple of Enya CDs and an "Irish Blessing" coffee mug. We haven't seen the last of this murderer, he tells his Brian, his temperamental sidekick.

Over the next few days a series of subtly-related murders bears him out. The owner of a Blarney Stone bar is found with shillelaghs driven into all his orifices. A line dancer in a Riverdance knockoff show is decapitated in Central Park by a wax record of John O'Sullivan singing "Danny Boy." A musician in a North Bronx fiddle-dee-dee band is locked in a soundproof chamber while Chieftains music is pumped at top volume, causing brain hemorrhaging. The manager of an Old Man Rafferty's restaurant is dismembered and turned into a meal of drisheen, bacon and cabbage.

After this last homicide Brian notes that fussy Irish people always point out that the real meal is bacon and cabbage — not corned beef and cabbage, as is believed in the US. But even this hint of the killer's expertise isn't helping Cassius put together a profile. He runs through all the usual serial killer MOs: Is the killer sending a religious message by collecting body parts in order to build his own Easter Sunday Jesus? Sending an aesthetic message by collecting beautiful women? Sending a technical message by imitating great serial killers of the past? Is he looking for love? Sending a message by using a seven-deadly-sin pattern? More confounding are the messages left at each crime scene: Catch-me-if-you-can messages in the form of dirty limericks, and cryptic signals like "26+6=1" written in the victims' blood.

We see a montage of Cassius scribbling on a scratch pad, crunching numbers, cross referencing clues. When another victim is found with his flesh cut into a ghastly shamrock pattern, Cassius understands: The killer is performing a series of Gaelic-themed crimes, and plans to cap it all off with a masterpiece murder on St. Patrick's day. But what is this sick genius's motive? Nothing in his experience has prepared Cassius for this criminal nemesis, who doesn't fit into any of the known patterns.

When the body of another gift shop owner is discovered locked in a storage closet with a nest of man-eating snakes, he gets his answer: The killer is a Hibernian fundamentalist out to rid the world of the faux-Celtic twilight and wee folk stage Irishism, to put St. Patrick back in St. Patrick's day. But who would bother spreading this message, when the schools and media are crawling with maudlin paddies and would-be McCourts, all of them boring the rest of the country with tales of The Troubles and the Great Famine and No Irish Need Apply? Trying to figure out who could possess such prudish zeal and harsh self-righteousness leads Cassius's hotheaded young partner back to the roots he has been trying to forget. Brian goes Hibernian, going on an underworld pub crawl, rediscovering such ancient rituals as dividing the meat, selling the pig and catching the herrings. Along the way, we begin to learn the secret that haunts him.

But before the two detectives can piece things together, startling new evidence appears. Meat and eggs are found buried in the yard of former President Clinton's home in Chappaqua, New York — an ancient Emerald Isle curse on one's enemies. Clearly, the criminal the media have begun to call "The Banshee Killer" is planning a diabolical finale against that arch-foe of human decency, the half-Irish, one-sixteenth Cherokee Bill Clinton. But this time, the murderer has slipped up, accidentally leaving a clue at the scene: a shovel with a Fox News Channel monogram. This piece of evidence leads our heroes to a suspect who has been right under their noses: TV Talk host Bill O'Reilly, a multimillionaire Irish American whose bottomless reserves of self-pity were bound to drive him insane at some point.

But when they bust O'Reilly, he laughs defiantly, and the story takes a dark new turn: The reason Cassius hasn't been able to figure out the killer's mind is that O'Reilly hasn't been working alone. In fact, these killings are the work of an Irish Catholic fringe group so fearsome and unyielding even the IRA steers clear of them — the Clinton-hating Irish pundits. They're all in on it: Peggy Noonan, Tim Russert, Michael Kelly, Chris Matthews, all of them.

But while most of the gang is rounded up, mastermind Maureen Dowd slips past a curtain of DC cops and, in a bravura action scene, penetrates the army of New York state troopers and Secret Service agents guarding Bill Clinton. Creating a melee of accidental shooting among the cops, she escapes with the ex-president held at gunpoint.

Following a hunch, Cassius and Brian track Dowd to a Staten Island microbrewery, and during a tense standoff over a gigantic vat of green beer, we learn in flashback the terrible secret Brian has been keeping: During a boozy visit with distant family members in County Cork, he was rolled by a group of hooligans, who gave him a swirly in a particularly nasty jacks. For a moment, it seems as if Brian is going to be immobilized by his own haunted past, but at the last instant he recovers, charging Dowd and taking a bullet in the head, but getting the ex-President out of her clutches. Dowd slips and falls into the vat, her body vanishing beneath the emerald suds.

Epilogue: Brian is now a quadriplegic, but in good spirits. As he sips an Irish coffee through a straw, he and Cassius share a good laugh: St. Patrick, as everybody knows, was actually French.

But just as we're fading out, we cut back to the microbrewery, now roped off and guarded by a couple of lazily inattentive uniformed cops. Behind them, we close in on the vat of green beer — suddenly, the moldy hand of Maureen Dowd emerges from the goo!

The End?

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courtesy of O'Magua


pictures Terry Colon


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