Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement


How One Man Made a Difference: Review of Hotel Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda

What the "Hotel Rwanda" is can be argued, but what cannot be dismissed is the power of this two hour movie about how one man can make a difference.

Is "Hotel Rwanda" a story about internal, contrived politics destroying a country? Or it is dealing with how those in wealthier, more established countries prefer to pretend such trouble does not exist, that they need not become involved?

Is it about two very similar people groups killing each other? Could the movie be a reminder of how the systemic killing of a people group can happen today, that the evil of the Jewish Holocaust is not unique to the 1940s?

At first glance, "Hotel Rwanda" might look like a condemnation against the West's unwillingness to respond to an absolute carnage of genocidal hate. For some, they might see Bill Clinton, or the United Nations as impotent figures in this tragedy of humanity. They are easy figures to pick on, depending on the audience's personal politics, and the fact of who was in office at the time.

For me, the tremendous strength of the movie was one man's valor, of hotel manager's Paul Rusesabagina humble commitment to do the right thing, even though the world around him was chaotically destroying itself.

The plot is simple: two of Rwanda's people groups, the Hutus and Tutsis, are killing each other. Mostly, it was Hutu extremists trying to exterminate the Tutsis. A hotel becomes an ad hoc refugee camp, deftly managed by a man who preferred to be anywhere else. Can the hotel remain safe? Will the people hiding there survive?

Don Cheadle, perhaps best known for his portrayal as Sammy Davis Jr. in 1998's "The Rat Pack," is hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina.

Rusesabagina was just a businessman, the manager of the Belgian-owned Mille Collines, a top hotel in Kigali, Rwanda's capital. He worked hard to raise his family, and tried to keep politically neutral. When he saw neighbors killed, he kept his head low. When he brings in neighbors to be sheltered in the hotel, he still fights to retain his neutrality. However, when refugees start coming to the hotel by the dozens, he begins a new mission as the shepherd of a displaced people.

The bulk of the movie is shot within the hotel. Rusesabagina struggles to manage the appearance of a top quality hotel, since this image helps gird them against attacks. Bribes of money and liquor provide him with more protection, as do desperate calls from some 'guests' to their powerful connections outside of Rwanda.

When the camera takes us outside, we see awful scenes of gang-style killings. Although the Hutus and Tutsis aren't Bloods, Crips, Vice Lords or Latin Kings, but instead, are arbitrarily designated cultural groups, the murders are the same. Just as in any Chicago, New York or Los Angeles gangland war, the precise reasons for the constant violence are loosely based on dictatorial leadership, bigotry and bloodlust.

Listing the scenes which sank my heart is impossible. Singularly difficult to watch was the body-strewn road where Rusesabagina was driving.

"Hotel Rwanda" is not a movie to bring a young family. Like "The Passion of the Christ" and "Schindler's List," it has the kind of violence which is shown to remind us of the reality of the events being presented. Like in those movies, the audience I sat with sat stunned while the final credits rolled.

Like "Schindler's List," the antihero's commitment is the redemption of the story. Although 1 million "corpses were left behind," we see that although many men succumb to evil, not all do. Just as Oskar Schindler could not save every Jew, nor could Paul Rusesabagina save every Rwandan. But, just as Schindler helped a few, Rusesabagina also protected those he could.

Director Terry George might have chosen to dwell on what wasn't happening, and make this a political movie ala Michael Moore. He took the higher road, and tells a story of hope in the middle of a holocaust. I fully recommend "Hotel Rwanda." If the movie impacts you, please consider supporting relief efforts that continue in Kigali today.

Anthony Trendl
editor, HungarianBookstore.com

Neda Salehi, an Innocent, Murdered by Iran #neda

Iran is lead by evil men. While corruption and voting are not new bedfellows, or unique to Iran (Chicago is famous for this, especially under Mayor Richard J Daley's Democratic Machine), murder is less common. Not in Iran. Not under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Basiji sniper takes out teenage Iranian girl amid protest, Tehran, Saturday 20 June

Yesterday, Neda Salehi Agha Soltan was killed by Iranian militia. What will the USA do? I'm not sure what, or if, we should do anything. Our recent history intervening has not been good. However, our longer history of involvement shows that when we do nothing, things get worse. And we also know that when we entered both WWI and WWII, America was instrumental in ending both wars.

In 1956, Russian soldiers killed thousands of Hungarians who wanted their own country back. The USA stood passive, and Soviet forces won. Freedom was denied as those with the willingness to kill prevailed.

More currently was the USA's ignoring of the 1994 genocide of Rwandans, made famous by the movie Hotel Rwanda. (my review)

Whatever we do or do not do is only one question. The greater question is what will happen globaly as militant Islam grows, and countries like Iran continue to struggle with thugs like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in charge.



Happy Music for a Glum Day - Two Fun Music Videos for Cheering Up a Rainy Morning

Two music videos to make all you Chicagoans smile on a rainy day. The first one has two guys playing one guitar. Needs a little jug blowin', maybe a stand-up bass, don'tcha think? (Facebook readers click here to see the videos.)

Jerry's Breakdown composed by Jerry Reed, played by Antoine Dufour and Tommy Gauthier on a single guitar.
Please visit: myspace.com/antoinedufour myspace.com/tommygauthier

Stonebridge guitars and candyrat presents:
Spiritual Groove, composed by Antoine Dufour and Tommy Gauthier. From Antoine Dufour's album «Development» available on candyrat.com.

Please visit:


Cat Power and Dirty Delta Blues cover Amazing Grace (video)

Cat Power and Dirty Delta Blues cover Amazing Grace. And here's a nod to my friend Dylan, whose brother Judah Bauer (from Blues Explosion) plays guitar.

Click Fraud - They Think They Caught Someone

I used to advertise online a great deal. Mostly, I have used Google, and to a lesser degree, Yahoo's PPC service.

Now, barely. I suspect click fraud. Hard to explain to novices, but essentially, when my ads would show up on other people's websites, I received more click (by far) than had those same ads shown up on Google. Since I felt Google was not addressing my concerns, I dropped most of my ads.

Looks like Microsoft caught someone doing it to them.

I have Google's ads up here. Those are pay-per-click. All the other ads you see on my sites and blogs only make me cash when you can buy something (If you buy from Amazon, click through my ad first, and I'll make 6%) Click --> Amazon

So I am glad as an advertiser and as an online publisher. I want to advertise more. I used to spend a couple thousand dollars a year. Now, just a few hundred. I need to trust the industry. I do not.

Good catch Microsoft.


Erik von Brunn's False Paradox

"I loved my father. But what he did was unforgivable," Erik von Brunn, 32, said.

Who is von Brunn? The son of James von Brunn, the white supremacist who is accused of killing a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The problem? Unforgiveability.

While I am in no place to suggest the younger von Brunn wants to forgive his father. Suggesting it would be easy would also be in error.

But he should. To claim love and in the next breath claim he cannot be forgiven misses so much.

I never met either man, and do not know what either believes. At best I know what the media is saying they believe. As a Christian, in the worst of situation, I still must forgive. Any less is hatred.

Kindle DX: Amazon's 9.7 : My Generation?

Being a frequent reader, I cannot help but consider this. If not this version, then the next? As much as I appreciate the feel of paper, I know that is just the anti-progressive in me thinking. There are times for tradition, but some traditions are over-romanticized. Convenience, portability, price? All good.

What would the best version of this look like? Color? The ability to write marginalia?

Kindle DX: Amazon's 9.7

Kindle DX: Amazon's New Addition To The Kindle Family

  • Slim: Just over 1/3 of an inch, as thin as most magazines

  • Carry Your Library: Holds up to 3,500 books, periodicals, and documents

  • Beautiful Large Display: 9.7" diagonal e-ink screen reads like real paper; boasts 16 shades of gray for clear text and sharp images

  • Auto-Rotating Screen: Display auto-rotates from portrait to landscape as you turn the device so you can view full-width maps, graphs, tables, and Web pages

  • Built-In PDF Reader: Native PDF support allows you to carry and read all of your personal and professional documents on the go

  • Wireless: 3G wireless lets you download books right from your Kindle DX, anytime, anywhere; no monthly fees, no annual contracts, and no hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots

  • Books In Under 60 Seconds: You get free wireless delivery of books in less than 60 seconds; no PC required

  • Long Battery Life: Read for days without recharging

  • Read-to-Me: With the text-to-speech feature, Kindle DX can read newspapers, magazines, blogs, and books out loud to you, unless the book's rights holder made the feature unavailable

  • Big Selection, Low Prices: Over 285,000 books; New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases are only $9.99, unless marked otherwise

  • More Than Books: U.S. and international newspapers including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, magazines including The New Yorker and Time, plus popular blogs, all auto-delivered wirelessly


Strength in Numbers?

100,000 good men can fend off a small legion.
20 fierce men can fight off a group of 10 tough men.
3 earnest men can take on 1 man.

and one holy man can take on the world.

This is the Day

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
-Psalm 118:24

I know this, but today, it is, and will be, good to remember. It is more than a Sunday school song or greeting card platitude.


Author and Poet? Defining Each.

My friend Justice Carmon plugged this blog in a recent post. (How Christian Are Superheroes, Really?). I certainly appreciate that. He called me an author and a poet. I wondered. Am I each? Either?

My poetry has been published by Decision, a major religious magazine maybe 10 times. They paid for it, and came back for more, assigning me projects. So I am a poet. I'll accept that. It is a long way from where I want to be, but it is still something I am proud of.

Am I an author? Depends who you ask. Justice may not have dwelt on the term a long time, and, given the question, he may think similarly as I do. Then again, by the technical definition, the one you'll find in a dictionary, he's right the first time.

Me? No, I don't think so. I am, not an author. However, Wikipedia allows for the possibility.

An author is defined both as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. The second entry goes on to clarify that, when using the term author, the "anything" which is created is most usually associated with written work.

I write. There's no question in my mind I am a writer. Not just poetry, but several blogs. I write for a living as well. Sometimes, when I write, it gets edited so much that it is hard to point to something and say, "I wrote that," but behind me are hundreds of pieces from speeches, articles, web content, brochures, newsletters, and even a radio commercial script or two. You already know about the poetry. I don't need to own every single word to know what I do. Besides, a good editor makes my writing better, and that's a good thing.

I have always associated being an author as being the writer of books. I have much of a chapter with my name it in two books (same content, similar books), but so far, no book.

Am I an author, again? No, not accordingly to my own definition, and, not according to the second definition.

There's a deeper thing about authoring. Wikipedia says it a person who gives existence to something. This I cannot do. Neither can you. This job is taken by He Who Can.


Heroes: Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989

The men and women who stood up for freedom June 5, 1989 are heroes. Anyone alive then remembers the unknown man who stood in front of several tanks. He faced death with military honors. Behind him though, even more unknown, are the ones killed before they could protest, away from the world's view.

Tiananmen Square protests of 1989

Now, as Twitter gets blocked by Chinese leaders who are afraid, it is clear the people want more. With 20 years gone, the lust for free speech and the right to pursue happiness continues.


Amazing Grace Played on Saw by Lina Anatasi (Aleki) Osorno

Tongan ukulele legend Lina Anatasi (Aleki) Osorno playing Amazing Grace with a saw. Go ahead and laugh, but I like it.