Tag Archives: Russell Brand

Glenn Greenwald’s book on Snowden and NSA is fascinating, and terrifying. Russell Brand tears apart Fox News. And a beautiful story about a man learning to swim

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If you don’t know exactly who the writer Glenn Greenwald is, you’re probably not a liberal.
Greenwald, a fire-breathing columnist for The Guardian newspaper, is a hero of mine, and many others, for constantly railing against the National Security Agency and the incredibly intrusive and illegal surveillance they do on Americans and non-Americans alike, all under the often-flimsy guise of “the war on Terror.”

Greenwald was firing his missiles via his scathing columns on his blog, known to a fairly small readership, until former NSA employee Edward Snowden (above) chose him in mid-2013 to help leak the most explosive set of U.S. government documents since the Pentagon Papers.

Now, everyone has their own opinion on what Snowden did; personally I think what he did was surely illegal but 100 percent heroic and patriotic, for exposing the enormous lies, and way-bigger-than-they-said spying operation the NSA has operated since 9/11.

Greenwald has written a book, “No Place To Hide,” that’s 50 percent about his incredible adventure with Snowden and how he met him, and how crazy that week in Hong Kong was when they began writing about the leaked documents, and 50 percent breaking down exactly what the NSA does.

It’s chilling. It’s terrifying. It will certainly keep you thinking long and hard about putting any personal info on the Internet (no worries, both Twitter and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have been remarkably compliant in helping the NSA spy on their users).

Greenwald writes clearly and concisely, both about Snowden’s motives for leaking the NSA information, and about the specifics of how the NSA and other branches of government, in full cooperation with private companies like Verizon and Google, are in every corner of Americans’ lives.

He points out the hypocrisy of the U.S. government scolding the Chinese for their spying efforts, yet shows how America does exactly the same thing. He also, amusingly, points out just how cozy the establishment Washington media is with the NSA and other government offices, to the detriment of transparency and shining a light on the illegal spying that’s gone on.

Whether you agree with what Snowden did or not, Greenwald’s book is fascinating. Definitely recommend reading it.

 

**Next up, I’m  not really much of a Russell Brand fan; don’t have much against him, but not necessarily a fan of his.

Still, I’d heard he’d been making these videos excoriating Fox News for their Ferguson coverage, so I checked out one that DailyKos.com had sent me.

Highly entertaining! Best excerpt:

“They say Conservatives… What they are ‘conserving’…Actually, it’s hatred they’re trying to conserve, misery, they’re trying to conserve, existing power structures, they’re trying to conserve.”

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**And finally, this story just about knocked my socks off. It’s from N.R. Kleinfeld at the N.Y. Times, who is a master storyteller, and it’s about a seemingly-simple topic: a 33-year-old man with a lifelong fear of water, trying to learn to swim.

It’s beautiful, it’s honest, and it’s oh so real. I loved this story; courage comes in so many different forms.

“Rock of Ages” wildly entertaining and ridiculous. A rap song about sippy cups. And Wimbledon, my favorite event, begins

After enjoying the hell out of “Rock of Ages” on Broadway a couple years ago, there was no way I wasn’t going to see the movie.
And after seeing it on Friday night, I can happily report this: It’s thoroughly, awesomely entertaining, and also completely, utterly ridiculous. So, about what I expected.
If you saw the play, you know the story: Bright-eyed starlet comes to Hollywood in the late 1980s, takes a job at a famous dive bar, meets up and coming singer/bartender, and hilarity and heartache ensue.

Julianne Hough is no Meryl Streep here, but she does a good job in the Sherrie role. Diego Beneta gets the “Drew” role, and he’s OK.
And Tom Cruise, who I mocked and cringed about after he was cast? He was terrific as insane rock star Stacee Jaxx.
But the real revelations are Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand, who steal the show with a brilliant man/love relationship, culminating in a wonderful dance to REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling.”
There were way too many people in the movie (Bryan Cranston and Mary J. Blige were basically wasted in their roles), and of course the story was ludicrous, but man did my fiance and I have fun at the movie. We sang, out loud and in our seats, many of the great songs (there were only about 10 other people in the theater, FYI) that were the soundtrack of our Gen X childhoods.

No, it won’t win any Oscars. But I doubt I’ll have a better time at any movie this year.

**And now, something I feel certain you’ve never seen before: A 2-minute rap song about a kid having milk in his sippy cup.
You’re welcome.

**Ah, Wimbledon. When tennis nuts like me wax poetic about the splendor of grass, the strawberries and cream, the majesty of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club… God I love it. It begins today, and I actually tried to go in person this year for the first time ever (I toured the grounds on a trip to England in 2007, but it was in March, so, you know, not the same), but tickets were impossible to get. Still, I will get there one day.

As for this year’s tournament, I’m amazed at how many people in the tennis media are picking Roger Federer to win it. Don’t get me wrong, Fed is a God to me and I’d be as happy as any Fed-phile if he did win it again. But I feel like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are just pretty far ahead of everyone else right now, and I can’t see anyone but the two of them raising the trophy two weeks from now.

But hey, it’d be a fantastic story to see Federer win it. But the pick here in Djokovic on the men’s side, and, what the hell, Serena Williams on the ladies side.