Actor Bill Murray turns 70

The Cubs win the Series! (2016)

bill murray.groundhog-day-drivingAs I perused the Wikipedia page of Bill Murray, I discovered a potential link. “Murray’s direct paternal grandfather was from County Cork, while his maternal origins are from County Galway.” I have fourth cousins from Munster, County Cork.

Of course, I first remember him from NBC’s Saturday Night, which he joined after Chevy Chase left. I don’t recall him from ABC variety show Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell, and I did watch that single season. (The NBC series added Live to the title once Cosell’s show was canceled.) I associate Murray mostly with Nerd scenes with the late Gilda Radner, and the lounge singer performing the Star Wars theme. He was also Bill Murray the K in the Rutles TV movie, which was a Beatles parody.

He went on to have a great movie career. One of the first three VHS tapes I ever purchased was Groundhog Day (1992). I always loved that film, as it speaks of redemption. But I’ve only seen a fraction of his films. I’ve never seen, for instance, Meatballs (1979) or Caddyshack (1980).

Murray movies I’ve seen

Stripes (1981) I didn’t see this until 2018, while I was giving blood. While dated, it had its moments. He was great in a small part in Tootsie (1982). Ghostbusters (1984), Scrooged (1988), and What About Bob (1991) I remember fondly; Ghostbusters II (1989) was a lesser effort.

His body of work since 2005 that I’ve watched, all in the movie theater, that I wrote about is not an overwhelming list. It includes Get Low (2009); Moonrise Kingdom (2012); Hyde Park on the Hudson (2012); and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).

Also, he voiced characters for The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009); The Jungle Book (2016); and Isle of Dogs (2018). His voice is always both familiar and evocative.

I feel I’m going to have to watch The Royal Tennenbaums (2001) and Lost in Translation (2003) again. Murray was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actor in a Leading Role in the latter film. He did receive the Golden Globe as Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. Yet I found both of them terribly… frustrating. Sometimes, you’re just not in the right mood for a particular film.

In 2016, Bill Murray was deservedly awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor by the Kennedy Center. The following year, he was touring a “series of ‘songs and literary recordings’ accompanied by chamber music.” I saw a bit of this on CBS Sunday Morning at the time.

Baseball has been very, very good to him

“In 1978, Murray appeared in two at-bats for the Grays Harbor Loggers Minor League Baseball team, credited with one hit and a lifetime batting average of .500.

“He is a part-owner of the St. Paul Saints independent baseball team and occasionally travels to Saint Paul, Minnesota to watch the team’s games.[43] He also owns part of the Charleston RiverDogs, the Hudson Valley Renegades, and the Brockton Rox. He has invested in a number of other minor league teams in the past… In 2012 he was inducted into the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame for his ownership and investment activities in the league.”

And his love of Chicago sports teams is legendary, especially for his beloved Cubs. He has done commentary for games and sung Take Me Out to the Ballgame. He was present when the Cubs took Game 7 to win the 2016 World Series, after a 108-yar drought. He’s a fan of other sports as well.

In spite of a list of possible feuds in the past, he now seems comfortable in his skin.

NSFW video: Earl Butz and “Loose Shoes”

About an hour into the film Loose Shoes was a short musical sketch based on Earl Butz’s joke that also gave the movie its title.

ButzA3622-19Earl Butz, who was born 105 years ago today, was one of the worst US government officials ever. He was Secretary of Agriculture in the Cabinets of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. “His policies favored large-scale corporate farming” which has damaged the family farm to this day, and arguably “led directly to overproduction of corn and a subsequent rise of obesity in the United States.” But “he is best remembered for a series of verbal gaffes that eventually cost him his job.”

Butz resigned his cabinet post on October 4, 1976… News outlets revealed a racist remark he made in front of entertainer Pat Boone and former White House counsel John Dean while aboard a commercial flight to California following the 1976 Republican National Convention. Continue reading “NSFW video: Earl Butz and “Loose Shoes””

MOVIE REVIEW: Get Low

The movie Get Low was occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, but it wasn’t cornpone humor as it might have been portrayed.

When I was growing up, living next door to my Grandma Williams’ house in Binghamton, NY was a crotchety old man named Pete Nedahall – not sure of the spelling. We – my sisters, my grandma’s next door neighbors on the other side, and I were mighty afraid of him. If you stepped on his property to retrieve an errant ball, you were afraid that this stocky man might come out, wearing a T-shirt and boxer shorts, with a pitchfolk, which he did from time to time. But mostly he yelled at us in his thick eastern European accent, perhaps Hungarian. Some of the neighbor kids would taunt him. His wife Kate was actually relatively pleasant to us, but when she died, he became even more embittered. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Get Low”