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Bill Murray is helping to flog Ireland. So what’s he getting out of it?

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The wires are alive with the news that Bill Murray is in Ireland to play golf. He will hack his way through courses such as Druids Glen, Rosapenna and Ballybunion for a YouTube series called The Links Life.

The format has been with us since those pro-celebrity golf things in the 1970s when Bruce Forsyth and Telly Savalas joshed about the weather in Gleneagles. Supported by Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland, the project seeks to flog our bunkers and semi-roughs to the good burghers of Boulder and Beijing. Good luck to it.

We can guess what Murray gets from the project. A friend of the old country for a long time – he played the then-young Cat Laughs comedy festival in Kilkenny a quarter of a century ago – the actor will enjoy a free holiday attacking a sport he enjoys. If you have any worries about his swing, check out his beautiful drive at the Kawaguchiko Country Club in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. There are worse ways of spending the late summer.

Bill Murray travels the world in crumpled clothes that nobody else would match together. Nobody much cares who he is dating. None of the hoopla seems to impress him

What do the makers get from Murray? Plenty. Now 70, Bill Murray has managed the not-inconsiderable feat of remaining fashionable for half a century. He worked his way through Chicago’s prestigious Second City improvisational group in the early 1970s before gaining mainstream fame with Saturday Night Live in the middle of that decade. He achieved a further jump up the ladder in hit movies such as Caddyshack, in 1980, and the massive Ghostbusters, in 1984. In recent decades he has moved towards a more-upmarket school of nonconformity with directors such as Wes Anderson and Jim Jarmusch.

Were there an annual Buster Keaton Award for deadpan then Murray would surely have dominated it as Rafael Nadal dominates the French Open. What really secures his enduring cool, however, is the notion that he exists outside the celebrity machine. He travels the world in crumpled clothes that nobody else would match together. Nobody much cares who he is dating. None of the hoopla seems to impress him.

From what we can judge this is not any sort of act. He apparently does not have an agent or manager. If you want to pass him a script you have to phone his own number and leave a message. It has been reported that this creaky system caused him to miss out on roles in films such as Monsters Inc and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Does he care? If you miss out on Bill that’s your problem, not his.

His reputation for being a tad difficult does little to dispel this perceived oddball status. A few years ago the Guardian dug out a quote on his behaviour from Harvey Weinstein, which, given the source, now reads somewhat unfortunately. “Being a Murray-ite is a religion, where you can behave as badly as you want to people, and they still love you,” the notorious producer said in 2014. “I used to feel guilty about behaving badly, and then I met Bill, and it feels so much better.”

To be fair, most of the stories concerning Murray – an alleged falling out with Chevy Chase, further alleged tensions with Richard Dreyfuss – date from decades ago. The man whom Dan Aykroyd labelled the Murricane seems to have matured into a less volatile eccentric. “I remember a friend said to me a while back, ‘You have a reputation,’” he commented recently. “And I said, ‘What?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, you have a reputation of being difficult to work with.’ But I only got that reputation from people I didn’t like working with, or people who didn’t know how to work, or what work is. Jim, Wes and Sofia, they know what it is to work, and they understand how you’re supposed to treat people.”

Crying on the inside: Bill Murray in Quick Change
Crying on the inside: Bill Murray in Quick Change

That mention of Jim Jarmusch, Wes Anderson and Sofia Coppola helps define his current place in the entertainment ecosystem. In the very funny Quick Change from 1990 – still his only feature as director – Murray, playing a bank robber in circus disguise, is asked, “What the hell kind of clown are you?” Murray shifts not a muscle in his face as he replies, “The crying on the inside kind, I guess.” Well, quite.

He was never easy on the red carpet. He has never been a hearty joker. It was recently reported that, in his early days on stage, he was saved from suicide by a glance of Jules Adolphe Breton’s painting The Song of the Lark at the Art Institute of Chicago. Following the failure in 1984 of The Razor’s Edge, an adaptation of the W Somerset Maugham novel that he wrote himself, Murray, still hot from Ghostbusters, moved away from acting to study philosophy at the Sorbonne University in Paris and didn’t return to film for four years. That is the sort of independent thinking that appeals to directors such as Jarmusch, Anderson and Coppola. That determination to plough his own quiet furrow has kept him relevant and kept him in style.

Do not let his YouTube jaunt fool you into thinking he is sliding into semi-retirement. He has signed on for the next Wes Anderson film and will reprise his role as Peter Venkman for the imminent Ghostbusters: Afterlife. We may have the young peasant girl in The Song of the Lark to thank for his creative longevity.

‘Well, there’s a girl who doesn’t have a lot of prospects,” he recalls thinking. “But the sun is coming up anyway, and she’s got another chance at it.’ So I think that gave me some sort of feeling that I, too, am a person and get another chance every day the sun comes up.”

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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