MetaFilter: the Life of Riley
December 18, 2010 5:00 PM Subscribe
My brother often informs me that I live 'the life of Riley'. The other night while re-reading Bill Bryson's Made in America I noted he mentioned the origin of the phrase was a popular 1880s song (possibly 1883) Is That Mr. Reilly? by Pat Rooney, in which "the hero speculates on what he would do with a fortune", and revived for use during WWI. Curious, I found several possible origins, though the song remains the top contender. Dictionary.com defines life of Riley as "a carefree, comfortable, and thoroughly enjoyable way of living. The term became popular and eventually 'The Life of Riley' was used as the title of an American radio sitcom (Wiki), followed by a movie and television series. It was used again with the alternate spelling 'The Life of Reilly' in 1995 as the title of a short film from Ireland, and in a 2006 movie starring Charles Nelson Reilly. In 2009 'The Life of Riley' was the name of a British television comedy. Now that's a phrase with staying power. It's the name of an Irish band, an online store in the UK, it was used by a sign maker, and quite obviously, as the moniker of several drinking establishments, such as the Life of Riley Tavern in Portland, Oregon; The Life of Reilly - Irish Pub & Restaurant in Baltimore, in the United Kingdom as the 'Life Of Riley' in Glasgow, Lanarkshire; and 'Life of Reilly Pub' in Harrow, Middlesex; and with a strange possessive at the 'Life of Reilly's Pub and Grill' in Long Beach, New York. Let's also not forget the mysterious MeFite LifeofRiley, whose stats stand entirely at zero. My main reason for writing all this is to ask: how many Mefites use this term? I do, but unfortunately my brother is wrong: I don't live the life of Riley. I might one day, if I win the lottery . . .
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