Bill Murray links

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There’s a Bill Murray interview in the latest Esquire that has some good stuff. There’s also a few parts that should have been cut.

I’m not trying to be coy. It’s just practical for me. When the phone started ringing too many times, I had to take it back to what I can handle. I take my chances on a job or a person as opposed to a situation. I don’t like to have a situation placed over my head.

As a bonus, here’s Raab’s big profile of Murray from 2004 where he talks about not enjoying the making of Steve Zissou:

“A fireplace.” Murray sounds sardonic; I’m unsure if he’s joshing about the fireplace. He spent five months in Italy this past winter making The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, due out this Christmas, his third film with director Wes Anderson. Apparently, fireplace or no, it wasn’t fun, at least for Mr. Bill. All the action takes place on a boat–Murray’s character, Steve Zissou, is a Jacques Cousteau type seeking to avenge his partner’s death by shark–but Murray won’t discuss the awful details.

“It’s like talkin’ about war stories,” he says. “I can’t even think about it. My impression of Italy before doing this job was that it’s one of the greatest, most beautiful places in the world. After this job, if you say ‘Italy’ to me, it’s like a whole lotta cockroaches in one room–you don’t know what to deal with first. It was by far the hardest job I’ve ever had, and I always work hard. I work the same hard on all of ’em. But this one–I’ve been kidding about it, saying they almost broke me, and they may have and I just don’t know it yet.”

Well, I say, I’m sure it’s gonna turn out to be a good–

“God damn it,” Murray snarls, “the movie better be the greatest movie ever made. If it’s not, I’m gonna kill Anderson. He’s a dead man. If it’s not the greatest movie ever made, or in the top ten, he may as well just move to China and change his name to Chin, and he better get himself a small room in a small town–and even then, I’ll hunt him down.”

And then because I love you all very much and I was bored yesterday, I went looking for as many Bill Murray articles as I could find. It was hard to find the articles, if any written about him in the 80s and 90s, I think because it’s only been since about Lost in Translation that he’s gotten the current level of respect. Even still, I was surprised not to find longread profile pieces on him in Vanity Fair, NY Times Magazine, etc.

August, 1984. Bill Murray and John Byrum. Rolling Stone
November, 1988. The Rumpled Anarchy of Bill Murray. New York Times
July, 1990 Bill Murray. “Quick Change” artist. rogerebert.com
February, 1993. Groundhog Day Review. NYTimes.com
January, 1999. A conversation with actor Bill Murray. Charlie Rose
February, 2001. Bill Murray. Salon.com
December, 2004. Life enigmatic with Bill Murray. USA Today
December, 2004. Never Out Of His Depth. Washington Post
February, 2005. Shotgun Golf with Bill Murray. ESPN
October, 2005. Pearce meets Bill Murray. The Guardian
June 2010. Bill Murray: The Man Who Knew Too Much. BlackBook
July, 2010. Bill Murray: The Curious Case of Hollywood’s White Whale. EW.com
July, 2010. Bill Murray. The Moviefone Blog
August, 2010. Bill Murray Is Ready To See You Now. GQ

Bill Murray links

Super bugs

This article about Craig Venter trying to bio-engineer organisms to do stuff, like clean up pollution or make fuel, is pretty fascinating. It also mentions the word ‘fart’ in the first paragraph and had me looking through the New York Times archives for early mentions of the word (the mentions seem to be all abbreviations or typos until the 1970s).

When I think for too long about the future, I sometimes get depressed, but these bugs could be a solution if they can get worked out in time.

The appeal of biological machinery is manifold. For one thing, because organisms reproduce, they can generate not only their target product but also more factories to do the same. Then too, microbes use novel fuel. Chances are, unless you’ve slipped off the grid, virtually every machine you own, from your iPhone to your toaster oven, depends on burning fossil fuels to work. Even if you have slipped off the grid, manufacturing those devices required massive carbon emissions. This is not necessarily the case for biomachinery. A custom organism could produce the same plastic or metal as an industrial plant while feeding on the compounds in pollution or the energy of the sun.

And here’s another article about super bugs, this time genetically modified mosquitoes bred to pass down genes that makes the offspring self-destruct (they couldn’t say die?) shortly after hatching.

Doyle’s solution? To move ahead with a controversial experiment that has been in the works since before he arrived: importing and releasing millions of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that have been genetically modified in the labs of a British biotech firm called Oxitec. These minute marvels of science are tweaked to pass down a gene that causes their progeny to self-destruct soon after hatching. Only males would be released; theoretically, they would breed with normal females and spawn offspring that keel over and die just before adulthood. The dengue-spreading population would collapse generation by generation.

Super bugs

The case against Stan Lee

This is a strange one. Alex Pappademas goes to meet Stan Lee with the implied intention of raking him over the coals for the injustice done to Jack Kirby, Stan Lee’s co-creator of The Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four, among others. The thing is, it doesn’t seem like Pappademas is passionate about comics, in one way or another (if he mentioned his feelings in the piece, I missed it). And after doing a fairly thorough job making the case against Lee, he lets him off the hook in the 10 minute interview. Still an interesting read.

On the other hand, I can’t conceive of any scenario in which ambushing and pissing off a man who’ll turn 90 in December will make me feel awesome. Stan has no power. He’s a pensioner whose job is to travel around walking red carpets and telling people he approves of movies other people have made based on comics he wrote in the ’60s. If Stan suing Marvel 10 years ago was like Colonel Sanders suing Kentucky Fried Chicken, confronting Stan in 2012 about the injustice done to Jack Kirby by Marvel would be like grilling Mr. Peanut about the business practices of Kraft Foods.

The case against Stan Lee

Patrice O’Neal profile

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc has a great profile in NY Mag of the comic Patrice O’Neal who passed away last year. It was hard to find a representative paragraph, so this will do. Just read it.

O’Neal’s work fought back not by running from the stereotypes but by refashioning them and trying them on, to see what fit—and what didn’t—and he coaxed his audiences to do the same. Could women really deny that they wore sexy clothing at work to turn men on? Didn’t all men have “rape-y” thoughts? O’Neal was determined that his comedy be something scary and exciting that he and the audience were creating together—they wouldn’t be able to pretend they hadn’t been a part of it afterward.

Patrice O’Neal profile

Neil deGrasse Tyson Playboy profile by Carl Zimmer

Cool profile of astrophysicist extraordinaire Neil deGrasse Tyson in Playboy by Carl Zimmer (not linked to Playboy). One thing I didn’t know about Tyson was he was the first to say Pluto was not a planet.

Tyson’s demotion of Pluto only came to the public’s attention when Kenneth Chang, a New York Times reporter, noticed there were only eight planets featured at the Rose Center. When Chang asked other astronomers to comment, they called the decision absurd. Letters of protest poured into the museum. But Tyson held firm, and in the years that followed, astronomers discovered other icy bodies at the edge of the solar system that were even bigger than Pluto. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union decided to classify it as a dwarf planet.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Playboy profile by Carl Zimmer

Mindy Kaling profile

Mindy Kaling is awesome. Here she is getting the NY Times Magazine treatment

Kaling would most likely find both the Fey and Ephron comparisons facile, irritated as she is by the media’s tendency to define funny women in relation to one another, as if they’re all competing in a game of musical chairs. A recent “E! Online” poll incensed Kaling by asking, on the hundredth anniversary of Lucille Ball’s birth, which of three red-haired young actresses is the next Ball.

“They’re saying that the essence of Lucille Ball was in the color of her hair,” Kaling said. “Was Conan O’Brien like, ‘I’m a redhead!’? Maybe this isn’t exactly the right person, but they would never think the Lucille Ball essence could have been transferred into a man like, like Sacha Baron Cohen. Or they’d never be like: ‘Who’s the next Peter Sellers? Is it Steve Carell? Or is it Danny McBride? Now, let’s pit them against each other and talk about both of their weaknesses, because there can only be one.’ ”

2 other profiles. 1 and 2.

Mindy Kaling profile