Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Review of the Play “Interference” at The Player’s Ring, Portsmouth, NH through November 4

My son, Scott, is a very discerning observer and critic of music, films and theater. He is not easily impressed, so when he told me that I must make the trip to Portsmouth, NH to see the play, “Interference,” I decided to follow his advice.

With Scott’s permission, I am pleased to pass along his review that he sent out to friends and family who live in the area of the Seacoast of New Hampshire.

okay, as promised, here is my review of INTERFERENCE:

general info, from - Written by local writers Heather Bourbeau and Jacquelyn Benson, "Interference" opens at the Players' Ring,
105 Marcy St., Portsmouth, on Friday, Oct. 19 and runs to Sunday, Nov. 4. Shows are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. Tickets for general admission are $10 for members, $12 for non-members. Student and senior tickets are $8 for members, $10 for non members. Reservations are suggested and can be made by calling The Players' Ring at (603) 436-8123.

Okay, before i get into my thoughts about this show, i must be completely above boards about one fact; before even stepping foot inside the player's ring last Friday night, i ALREADY liked INTERFERENCE, the first play written by Heather Bourbeau and Jacquelyn Benson. how could i NOT? some of my closest (and longest running) friends were behind the acting, writing and acting in this Ghost story. i was already sold on it. what i had no idea beforehand, however, was just how much i would be absolutely BLOWN AWAY by this, scary, poignant, and very personal work.

INTERFERENCE is a worthy follow up to Sharp Dressed Productions premiere production, last year's ridiculously funny SHARP DRESSED MEN. like SDM, INTERFERENCE was masterfully directed by Andrew Fling. Mr. Fling showed a tremendous understanding of how exactly to use the relatively cramped quarters of the player's ring to create tension, incorporating a unique blend of offstage sounds and ingenious onstage audio-video props to keep the audience spooked for bulk of the show's duration. The blocking was fantastic, and Mr. Fling managed to get uniformly fantastic performances from all four (and a half...) cast members.

Matt Schofield had the somewhat thankless job of playing Max, the newer, skeptical paranormal investigator who had been less than understanding with his ex, and he gave an admirable performance. Joi Smith portrays Lucinda, the quirky, seemingly air headed medium, and she provides the show with a nice touch of humor and warmth. a fantastic revelation was Liz Crane’s intense and heartbreaking performance as Sarah, Max's ex who is plagued by a spirit from their past. In the role of Jason, the (somewhat) more experienced paranormal investigator, Greg Gaskell gives his finest performance to DATE (which is saying a great deal, considering the many fantastic performances the always reliable mr. Gaskell has given in the past.) . and, though he never PHYSICALLY appears on stage, Andy Nowacki gives an absolutely chilling performance as Jake, the spirit who is plaguing Sarah.

the true stars of the show are the playwrights themselves, Heather Bourbeau and Jacquelyn Benson. It's almost impossible to believe that this near perfect script is their first effort. the show has a perfect tone, starting off lite and casual, slowly building to an intense and frightening climax. in films, exposition is a tricky device, used to convey information about characters' pasts in a timely manner. often, flashbacks are utilized to aid in this storytelling tool. often, it is very obvious and clumsy. in live theatre, the use of exposition is even trickier, since there must be SOMEONE on stage at all times. INTERFERENCE has a great deal of exposition, (explaining Sarah and Max's breakup, Jake stalking Sarah, Jason describing past investigations, etc..) and the writers handle it masterfully. the dialogue is very natural, and i never got the sense of "here's the character telling me what happened to them earlier.". the device of having Max be hesitant to believe ANY possibility of the paranormal (and thus echoing the cynicism of the non-believers in the audience) worked quite well , and set the stage for the payoff at the end of the play, when Max finally puts a stop (or does he?) to Jake's terrorizing. i can honestly say that seeing this show was the most intense and exhilarating experience at live theatre i've EVER HAD.

There are still 3 more performances of INTERFERENCE. you owe it to yourself to go see this utterly amazing show.

I affirm Scott’s judgment about this show. I attended the performance last Friday with my son, Ti, and my daughter-in-law, Raluca. It was a thoroughly riveting and enjoyable evening of theater. If you are within a few hours’ drive of the New Hampshire Seacoast, I encourage you to make the trek this weekend to see one of the final three performances. If you miss this special sow, it may haunt you for a good long while!



World Series Champions Boston Red Sox – My Top 10 Personal Memories from the 2007 Season and Post-Season

The Boston Red Sox have presented to their loyal fans a memorable 2007 season. From last winter's Hot Stove League through yesterday’s Rolling Rally to celebrate their World Series victory, it was a wild ride, full of much joy and a few moments of fear and doubt amongst the oft angst-ridden citizens of Red Sox Nation.

In Lettermanesque fashion, I am pleased to offer my personal Top 10 Moments in the Red Sox 2007 Season:

#10 – October 30 – The Rolling Rally to celebrate the Red Sox 2nd World Series Championship in 4 years.

I wondered if this year’s crowd at the parade would be as vast and as enthusiastic as the hundreds of thousands who braved a cold October rain storm to salute the 2004 team. I need not have wondered. The crowd was amply and their enthusiasm was unabated. I inadvertently had two experiences of watching this year’s parade. After a luncheon meeting in Chinatown, I made my way along Tremont Street to a spot opposite Boston Common, near the Suffolk University dormitories. The crowd lining the sidewalks was 10-12 deep as far as the eye could see. While awaiting the Duck Boats, chants of “Yankees Suck” competed with choruses of “Re-Sign Lowell – Re-Sign Lowell.”

Highlights of the parade included the following:

Jonathan Papelbon using a broom – emblematic of the Red Sox having swept both the Angels and the Rockies - to mimic rowing the Duck Boat down Tremont Street.

Big Papi, David Ortiz, clutching the World Series trophy while waving to the hordes that were screaming their approbation and appreciation.

Johnny Pesky riding in one of the lead Duck Boats – representing the link between the 86 years of frustration in the 20th Century and the Red Sox 21st Century of hope and accomplishment.

Manny Ramirez holding a microphone and proclaiming to the crowd: ‘I love you guys!’

When the parade had passed my vantage point on Boston Common, in order to avoid the crush of people, I walked to South Station and jumped on the Red Line – headed to my office in Kendall Square. As we came up above ground at the MGH stop, and began to cross the Longfellow Bridge, I look to my right and saw the string of Duck Boats. The cavalcade had left City Hall Plaza and was making its way through Cambridge back to Fenway Park.

#9 – May 28 – Trot Nixon Returns to Fenway Park as a member of the Cleveland Indians

Trot received a tremendous ovation from the crowd as soon as he took the field for batting practice. The love continued to flow throughout the game. In a very classy move, the Red Sox organization honored Trot and his wife at home plate before the start of the game for their many contributions to the community during their years with the Red Sox.

In the game that was played that day, Schilling was outstanding, with 10 strikeouts. The Red Sox just barely missed pulling off a triple play, and Kevin Youklis hit a rare Fenway inside-the-park homerun. The Sox were victorious 5-3.

#8 – July 2 – Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers – Ellsbury makes a strong first impression

This game represented the first time I used the term “electric” to describe the effect that Jacoby Ellsbury being in the line-up has upon the crowd. In this game, one of his first at the major league level, Ellsbury was on second base, and shocked the baseball world by scoring from second on a wild pitch. I had never seen that before. The crowd was in awe; the Rangers were in shock. The Red Sox secured a 7-3 victory when Eric Hinske cleared the bases with a 3-run triple.

#7 – September 12 – Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays - Ortiz shines with 2 homeruns

While David Ortiz had a very successful regular season based on the statistics that he put up, many fans felt he was having an off year because of his lack of dramatic walk-off homeruns that had become his signature on the 2004 season and beyond. His balky knee, that will require arthroscopic surgery in the off-season, largely keep him from hitting the kind of prodigious homeruns we have come to expect from Big Papi. As fans, we are spoiled! In this game, won by the Red Sox 5-4, all 5 Red Sox runs were scored as a result on Ortiz homeruns. He hit a 3-run HR in the 3rd inning, and then sent the fans home buzzing with a 2-run walk-off HR in the 9th inning! Thrilling!

#6 – April 20 – Red Sox vs. New York Yankees – Red Sox score 5 runs in the 8th inning

Any contest that matches the Red Sox against the Yankees has the potential of becoming an instant classic. This game featured an early 2-run HR by A-Rod, and the Yankees were dominating through the first 7 innings – leading 6-2 going into the bottom of the 8th inning. Joe Torre brought closer Mariano Rivera into the game in the 8th, and the Red Sox pummeled him - tagging him with a blown save and a loss as the Sox erupted for 5 runs and an eventual 7-6 victory. Papelbon came in for the 9th inning to earn the save. It was early in the season, but it was a harbinger of good things yet to come.

#5 – October 7 – Game #3 of the ALDS at AnaheimSox complete sweep of the Angels

You already know what happened. Schilling was unhittable – going 7 shutout innings. The Red Sox broke open what had been a pitcher’s duel by scoring 7 runs in the 8th inning. I was privileged to join several members of Jacoby Ellsbury’s family outside the Red Sox clubhouse at Angel Stadium to celebrate with the players and the coaches the decisive sweep of the Angels.

#4 – October 24 – Game #1 of World Series vs. Colorado Rockies – Sox romp to 13-1 blowout to set the tone for the Series

This one was over early. Beckett was again dominant, striking out the first 4 Rockies batters. Dustin Pedroia hit the second pitch in the bottom of the 1st inning just over the top of the Green Monster, and the Red Sox never looked back. The game featured numerous World Series records, including Jacoby Ellsbury being only the third player to hit two double in one inning in a World Series game.

#3 – October 5 – Game #2 of the ALDS vs. LA Angles of Anaheim – Many hits his first walk-off HR as a member of the Red Sox

This game was a seesaw affair, with the Sox scoring 2 runs in the first inning, and the Angels countering with 3 of their own in the 2nd inning. Boston managed a single run in the 5th inning to tie the score, and then it became a battle of the bullpens. It looked like it might turn into an extra inning contest until Manny Ramirez came to the plate with two runners aborad and launched a gargantuan blast over everything in left field. The crowd erupted, strangers embraced and grown men cried. It was that kind of a game. Goose bumps! Thrilling!

#2 – April 22 – vs. New York Yankees – Sox hit four HR’s in succession to beat the Yankees 7-6

I could not have asked for a better birthday gift – an historic victory over the dreaded Yankees. In the bottom of the 3rd inning, against Yankees started, Jared Wright, Manny Ramirez, J. D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek hit solo homeruns in quick succession. This was the first time in Red Sox history that such a feat had been accomplished, and only the 5th time in Major League history. Those who attended the game with me will attest that I predicted that Lowell and Varitek would hit homeruns. Shocking, exhilarating, mesmerizing!

#1 – October 20 – Game #6 of the ALCS vs. Cleveland Indians – J.D. Drew Grand Slam in the 1st inning

I chose this game as my #1 memory of the season because it encapsulated so many aspects of the season. Despite the fact that the Red Sox held onto first place in the AL East for most of the season, they would often frustrate fans with “squanders” – failing to produce the timely hit and leaving multitudes of runners stranded on base. The first inning of Game #6 looked as if it would be another of these momentous squanders. After the Red Sox had loaded the bases with no one out to open the inning, Ramirez and Lowell made outs that did not advance the runners. Up came J.D. Drew, who in key situations all season had failed to produce, and who had become the fans’ bete noire for failing to live up to expectations or to in any way justify his high salary. The crowd expected nothing – except the usual pop-up or ground out.

So, when Drew took a might cut at the offering served up by highly-touted Indians’ starting pitcher, Fausto Carmona, we watched in wonder as the ball continued to climb into the autumn sky, finding the back of the wall behind the TV camera shelter in the centerfield bleachers. With that one swing, J.D. Drew had unleashed forces beyond anyone’s power to comprehend. In a moment, he was transmogrified from goat to god. In that one moment, he caused all of Red Sox Nation to think, or to utter, these words: “All is forgiven!” With that one swing he sealed the fate of the Cleveland Indians for 2007. Only hours before, the Red Sox had been perched on the brink of elimination – trailing in the Series 3 games to 1. Beckett had rescued them, leading them to a victory in Game #5. In Game #6, the Sox still stood on the edge of the precipice of elimination. But, with his swing leading to 4 quick runs, Drew and the Red Sox cut the heart out of the Indians. There was, from that moment, no doubt that the Red Sox would prevail in that game and in the 7th game that followed the next night. Game – set – match.

It was a glorious season. And with the young talent that has been developed within the Red Sox farm system or acquired through wily trades and free agent acquisitions, the Red Sox promise to be even stronger in 2008, 2009 and beyond. It is good to be a Red Sox fan.

Go Sox!

Friday, October 26, 2007

An Interim Report on the Red Sox 2007 Post Season – Behind the Scenes Snippets of California Dreamin’, NY Minutes and Fenway Reveries - Part II

American League Championship Series – Opponent, Cleveland Indians

After romping to an easy 10-3 victory behind Josh Beckett in Game #1 at home against the Indians, the Red Sox fell on hard times. Curt Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Tim Wakefield each failed to complete the fifth inning in their starts, and the Red Sox found themselves in the all-too-familiar position of having their backs to the wall with no wiggle room. The sports talk radio airwaves were heating up with the denizens of Red Sox Nation bemoaning their fate. Fans were complaining about everything from J.D. Drew’s lack of production, Dustin Pedroia’s failure to hit in the post season and Dike-K’s mythic “gyroball”! It was in the context of this woebegone state that I found myself scheduled to head to New York City for a couple of days of meetings. Not wanting to appear to be a fair weather fan, I traveled wearing my trusty Red Sox cap.

Game #4 – at Cleveland (viewed on TV in CT)

My first stop on the way to NYC was to spend the night in Westport, CT with the Cross family. Sean is a huge Yankees fan, and his wife, Marla, was raised in Cleveland, so is a vociferous supporter of The Tribe. At one point, her step-father was part of the ownership team of the Indians, so Marla is more than just a casual fan. We watched Game #4 together. It was an evening of dueling sofas - with me sitting on one sofa wearing my Sox cap, and Marla holding court on the other sofa festooned with her Cleveland cap – replete with a grinning caricature of Chief Wahoo – in serious need of orthodontic intervention! The game did not go well. Wakefield was out-pitched and the Red Sox fell 3-7 to an Indians team that seemed to have taken their measure. Trying to be a gracious guest, I congratulated Marla and went to bed in a funk.

The next morning Sean and I took an early train from Westport into the City. My wearing that Red Sox cap - with the telltale scarlet letter “B” on the front - for two days while plying the sidewalks of Manhattan elicited enough comments for me to fill a book. I will share with you only the best and most egregious.

At one point on Wednesday morning, I was hurrying up 5th Avenue, trying to be on time for a meeting. I had forgotten that I was wearing the offending cap, so was taken aback when a construction crew foreman in the midst of a coffee break on the sidewalk looked me up and down and yelled: “You’re goin’ down, man – you’re goin’ down!” Not realizing at first that he was reacting to the Red Sox cap, my first thought was: “What a rude thing to say to a nice old man who is minding his own business.” And then it hit me that he was eloquently offering his prognostications on the chances of my favorite baseball team bouncing back from the 3-games-to-1 hole that they had dug for themselves.

Later that afternoon, I had a few minutes between meetings, so I slipped into the huge Toys R Us store in Times Square. I was looking for a stuffed panda for my grand-daughter. I found one that I thought she would like, paid for it, and passed through the metal detector on my way back out onto the street. A security guard on duty at the door stopped me in my tracks: “Sir, please wait right where you are.” The guard approached me with a serious scowl on his face and proclaimed: “Are you not aware, sir, that it is illegal to wear that cap in this store?” And then he broke into a huge grin.

Later that day I was meeting with a candidate of mine at the Starbucks on Madison Avenue and 36th Street. As we began our conversation, a man walked up to our table, looked at me, pointed at my cap and declaimed: “You have got the wrong letter on that cap. Instead of a ‘B’ it should have ‘ABB’!” And then he walked towards the door. At the door, he hesitated a moment, and then returned to my table: “You are probably wondering what I mean by ‘ABB,’ right? It means ‘Anybody But Boston’!” He exited, triumphantly, stage right. At that moment, an elegantly coiffed woman who looked like a displaced Beacon Hill dowager, approached the table (which was beginning to take on the feel of a miniature Grand Central Terminal!) She leaned down towards me, placed her delicate alabaster hand gently on my shoulder and whispered: “Are we playing tonight?!

“No, ma’am, this is a day of mourning, of rest and of the team recharging their batteries. Game #5 will be played tomorrow night.”

“Good luck to our Red Sox,” she offered, as she returned demurely to her seat.

It was a lovely New York minute!

Game #6 – at Fenway Park, October 20

Unhittable Josh Beckett, channeling Bob Gibson of the 1967 Cardinals, came to the rescue in Cleveland, won Game #5 and ensured the Red Sox would live to fight another day and return the series to Boston – with the Red Sox still trailing 3 games to 2. In Game #6, the Sox would be facing Fausto Carmona, who had been bruited as Cleveland’s 1-A Ace, just behind C.C. Sabbathia in ferocity and “stuff.” Boston countered with Curt Schilling. There would be no bloody sock this year, just a determined warrior finding a way to win battles even without the devastating fastball that had been his bread and butter throughout his storied career.

I knew – from the moment I climbed from the Green Line T station up to street level in Kenmore Square – that this was going to be a memorable evening. The electricity in the crowd was palpable and contagious. There was the buzz of a thousand conversations as the throng headed to Yawkey Way. Hundreds without tickets to the game stood in line and jostled one another hoping to gain entrance to some of the neighborhood’s popular eating and drinking emporia – The Cask and Flagon, Boston Beer Works and Game On. Yawkey Way and Gate A were packed shoulder to shoulder with fans wearing all manner of Red Sox apparel.

Schilling shut the Indians down in the 1st inning. In the bottom of the inning, the Red Sox loaded the bases with no one out. Up came Manny – who struck out. Mike Lowell flied to shallow right – not deep enough to score Pedroia from third. It looked like a potentially huge squander for the Red Sox. There was little expectation that J.D. Drew would do anything in this situation. The inning that looked so promising only moments before was slipping away. Drew had been disappointing fans, team mates and himself all season long. Brought in at great expense to provide protection in the batting order behind Ortiz and Ramirez, J.D. Drew was almost as reviled by Boston fans as the set-up man who dare not speak his name: Eric Gagne! And then Drew took a swing at a Fausto Carmon offering and it soared towards the centerfield bleachers – and into immortality. A Grand Slam! The Sox were up 4-0 in the first. Game – set – match! It was at that moment that the game was won and the series was effectively in the bag. As Drew crossed home plate and walked to the dugout – amidst the pummeling and adulation of his team mates and awash in a sea of hysterical and jubilant cheers from the crowd, I turned to the person sitting next to me and said: “J.D. Drew, all is forgiven!”

The Red Sox scored 6 more runs in the 3rd inning, and the rout was on. In successive games, the Red Sox batters had eviscerated Cleveland’s two aces and had cut the heart out of the Indians team.

World Series – opponent Colorado Rockies

Game #1 – at Fenway Park, October 23

Leading up to the opening game of the 2007 World Series, the crowd entering the ball park seemed more subdued than the one that filled the stands for the final two games of the ALCS. The promised rain held off, and Maestro John Williams led the Boston Pops in an arrangement that he had written especially for this occasion of the Star Spangled Banner. It was soul-stirring. As the final chords were reverberating through the old ball park, the obligatory flyover took place. Four Vermont Air National Guard F-16 fighters from the Green Mountain State soared over the Green Monster, their afterburners illuminating the inky sky, their roar igniting the crowd. Now – at long last, we were ready to play our proper role of 10th player and co-pilots in support of the team taking the field.

Josh Beckett did not falter. He struck out the side in order in the top of the 1st inning. Another day at the office for the Red Sox young phenomenon of the fall. In the Red Sox half of the inning, Dustin Pedroia made history when he poked the second pitch offered by Jeff Francis just over the lip of the left field wall. He added his name to the World Series history books as only the second batter to lead off Game #1 of a World Series with a homerun. Many more records would fall by the time the dust had settled on the Red Sox 13-1 thumping of the previously streaking Rockies, who won their NLDS and NLCS in cakewalks through the Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Mountain Men from the Mile High City had been brought back to earth - and back to sea level - with a thud.

Early in the game, I turned to the woman sitting to the left of me and said: “You look very familiar. I am sure we have met.”

“You look familiar, too. I am Dick Radatz’s daughter.”

“Of course. We met at Autograph Alley, where your Dad used to sign on a regular basis. We really miss him.”

“I miss him everyday. He would love to be here tonight.”

(For those of you born after 1965, Dick Radatz, a.k.a. “The Monster” was the Boston Red Sox first real closer. He was the Jonathan Papelbon of his era. A member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame, Radatz died in 2005.)

The Red Sox kept pounding away at Francis and his successors who attempted to douse the flames of the red hot Boston batters. By the time five innings had been played, the Red Sox led 13-1 – and it was not that close!

The Red Sox relentless pursuit of another World Series Championship had gotten off to a sterling start. Not even the presence of Eric Gagne on the mound in mop-up duty in the 9th inning could quench the crowd’s delight and enthusiasm.

As the 9th inning wound down to the inevitable denouement of a Red Sox victory, Ms. Radatz prepared to leave before the final out. She turned to me, offered a bear hug and a kiss on the check, and softly said: “Thanks for remembering my Dad.”

Yes, indeed. It was a special night in a special place that is home to a very special team.

Go Sox!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The National Do Not Call List – Time to Renew Your Listing

A few days ago I received this timely reminder from a friend that it is time to renew listing our cell phone numbers of the Nation DO NOT CALL list.

NOTICE....2 days from today, all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sales calls. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS!

To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222.

This process to add your cell phones to the DO NOT CALL list takes less than 1 minute. Please do this NOW to protect yourself from unwanted calls and charges that will add up quick.

It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time.

· It blocks your number for five (5) years.

· You MUST call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked.

· You cannot call from a different phone number.

I followed these steps with my regular cell phone and my Blackberry, and in each case, it took less than 1 minute.


An Interim Report on Memoirs from the Red Sox 2007 Post Season – Behind the Scenes Snippets of California Dreamin’, NYC Minutes and Fenway Reveries

It is no secret to readers of The White Rhino Report that the Boston Red Sox have been an important part of my life since I was a toddler. This season has been one of great joy and excitement for those of us who call ourselves citizens of Red Sox Nation. This post season, in particular, has offered a banquet of emotions for those following the vicissitudes of the team that calls Fenway Park home. Let me offer a few nuggets from my personal experiences of following the Sox these past few weeks – from the American League Division Series up through last night’s stunning 13-1 victory in Game #1 of the World Series.

American League Division Series – Opponent, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Game #2 at Fenway Park – October 5

It was an instant classic game. The game lasted for 4 hours and 5 minutes, and was witnessed by the largest crowd in Fenway Park playoff history. Daisuke Matsuzaka lasted only 4 2/3 innings, so it became a battle of the bullpens. As is often the case, the Boston bullpen prevailed. Angels manager, Mike Sciosia, was not about to let Big Papi, Red Sox DH David Ortiz, beat his team, so Ortiz walked four times during the game. The last walk back-fired on the Angels, because it brought to the plate Manny Ramirez, who had never had a walk-off homerun in his bizarre and illustrious career. That all changed with one incredibly quick flick of his wrists as he propelled a pitch, offered by Angels’ closer “K-Rod” Rodriguez, far into the back sky and in the general direction of the North Pole. It was a prodigious blast – one of the longest homeruns I have ever witnessed. That hit lifted the Red Sox to a 6-3 victory and a 2-0 lead in the Series.

I was accompanied at this game by my good friend, Dr. Phil Anderson. He had come up from Washington, D.C. to spend the day with me at a series of meetings at Harvard Business School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Phil had grown up on the South Shore of Boston, and is as rabid a Red Sox fan as I am, so he was thrilled to be in town during the playoffs. Phil is a decorated veteran, having served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Phil is battle tough and battle tested. He has seen it all. Yet, as we stood together taking in the enormity of what Manny Ramirez had accomplished before our eyes, I could tell by looking at Phil’s eyes that he was deeply moved by the specialness of the moment we were sharing together with Manny, his teammates, and 37, 706 of his closest friends. What a special night! What a privilege to witness it first hand!

Game #3 at Anaheim – October 7

When I learned that the Red Sox would be facing the Angels in the ALDS, my first thought was: “Is there any way there could be seats available on JetBlue to the West Coast that would allow me to use my free round trip that is about to expire?” Much to my surprise, the answer was “Yes!” So, I booked a flight to San Diego, and made arrangements to stay with Craig and Lauren Balben, the newlyweds I wrote about earlier this week when they had to evacuate their home in San Diego in the path of the wild fires. (I just learned from Craig this morning that their home was spared.) Craig took care of securing tickets, so we are set to make the trip up to Anaheim for Sunday’s game.

Six of us made the trip up I-5 from San Diego to Anaheim - the Balbens and I were in one car, and three of their friends were in a second vehicle. We arrived in Orange County a couple of hours before the scheduled time for the first pitch – plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere at Anaheim’s National Sports Café, which serves as headquarters for Red Sox Nation in Southern California. We were surrounded by hundreds of loud and jaunty fans sporting Red Sox and New England Patriots apparel. In that convivial company, we watched the first half of the Patriots game against the Cleveland Browns. At half-time, we walked through the Angels parking lot to the stadium.

The game was taut and tense through the first seven innings. David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez combined for back-to-back homeruns in the 4th inning off of Jared Weaver, who was locked with Curt Schilling in a game that featured excellent starting pitching. Schilling ended up pitching seven shutout innings. The issue was decided emphatically when the Red Sox scored 7 runs in the 8th inning. They cruised to a 9-1 victory, and secured the elimination of the Angels from the playoffs. They had bought themselves a ticket to the American League Championship Series, and it was time to celebrate on foreign turf.

On September 17, I published an article in this Blog about Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox impressive rookie outfielder.

Partly as a result of that Blog article, I had an opportunity to meet several members of Ellsbury’s extended family at Fenway Park towards to end of the regular season. Some of his family members live in LA, so when I had confirmed that I would be traveling to California for Game #3 of the ALDS, I contacted the family to let them know that I would be coming. We agreed to meet at the ballpark as soon as the game was over. We did indeed meet by the Red Sox dugout. My small entourage from San Diego joined with four members of Jacoby Ellsbury’s family as we descended into the bowels of Angel Stadium to join the other Red Sox families that were celebrating the Sox series sweep.

Knowing of my interest in languages, Jacoby’s aunt had taught me the Navajo phrase used for greeting, so when Jacoby emerged from the club house to meet with family, I was able to shake his hand and greet him with: Ya'at'eeh”! He seemed pleasantly surprised. We had a chance to congratulate Red Sox manager, Terry Francona, Kevin Youklis, 1st base coach, Luis Alicea and several other members of the Red Sox. After about 20 minutes of conversation and picture taking, we left the family room and the stadium, and returned to the National Sports Café with the four members of the Ellsbury in tow. We basked in the afterglow of the Red Sox victory over a very satisfying meal of Southern California fare. It was a great day of “California Dreaming”!

To be continued . . .

Watch for Part II tomorrow!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

URGENT PRAYER REQUESTS – Behind the Scenes with the Southern California Fires

Let me add a few human faces to your awareness of the disastrous fires raging out of control across Southern California. In the process, let me also solicit your prayers on behalf of those who are being impacted by the fire storms.

A couple of weeks ago, I flew to San Diego to stay with my friends, Craig and Lauren Balben. Together we attended Game #3 of the Red Sox – Angels American League Division Series (More about that in another posting). I stayed in the Balben’s apartment in Sabre Springs, near Poway. Yesterday, as the Witch Creek Fire fire raced in their direction, they evacuated their home to stay with Lauren’s mother in nearby Bonita. Last evening, it became clear that Bonita was also in danger of being in the path of another rapidly advancing wildfire - the Harris fire, and they decamped to Coronado – safely across the water from the main portion of San Diego.

I received a call last night from my friend, Mike Harris. Mike is a New Englander and an ardent Red Sox fan, but he now lives in Colorado. Instead of our conversation focusing, as you might imagine, on the upcoming World Series between the Colorado Rockies and the Boston Red Sox, Mike was calling to inform me that he had just received a call telling him to prepare to travel to San Diego. Mike works as a fire fighter, primarily fighting forest fires in the Rocky Mountains. So, ironically, Mike Harris is being sent from Denver to fight the Harris fire in San Diego County.

As I read the updates this morning, it is clear that these are very dangerous and devastating fires that are being fueled by a long draught and vigorous Santa Ana winds. The fires have already claimed victims among residents and firefighters, and have destroyed countless homes and businesses. As you go through your day, please keep in your thoughts and prayers my friends – Craig and Lauren Balben and their family, and Mike Harris and the hundreds who are fighting the fires up and down the coast of southern California.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

What Does It Take to Save a Life? The Dollar4Life Campaign

I have written in the past in The White Rhino Report about the work of Prize4Life, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for ALS. Cambridge-based Prize4Life has just initiated a brilliant fundraising campaign that everyone can afford to contribute to. Let me share with you an e-mail message from my friend, Nate Boaz, the organization’s Executive Director.

Nathan Boaz wrote:

What does it take to save a life?

Avi Kremer is one of my best friends. Three years ago he was a normal, healthy 29-year old. Then he was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Now he is confined to a wheelchair, and can barely use his hands. ALS is rapidly destroying all of his physical functions. The disease is fatal and there is no cure. Unless we find one, he will die soon. Last year I joined forces with Avi and top researchers in the field to found Prize4Life, an innovative non-profit organization that is already removing the obstacles that stand in the way of a cure. But we need your help. We are asking you to give $1 at and to spread the word about our unique campaign. It is your support more than your money that is important – we aim to demonstrate how a large number of small donations can result in meaningful impact. The power of one, times a million, can help us find a cure. If you choose to give $1 and to tell your friends about the Dollar4Life campaign, if you put the information on your blog and on your website, if people see it and they give and tell people too, then that $1 will quickly become $100 and then $1,000 and eventually $1 million. That $1 million could save Avi's life and the lives of the 500,000 people around the world who have ALS. Please go to to make your donation. Each donation will light up a pixel in the portrait gallery of ALS patients on the website. We hope that with your help we will light up one million pixels and brighten the life prospects of ALS patients everywhere. To learn more about the Dollar4Life campaign and Prize4Life*, the organization that will receive the full amount of every donation, please visit . If you would like to contribute with a check, please make it payable to Prize4Life, Inc. and address it to
P.O. Box 381708, Cambridge, MA 02238-1708.

Thank you,
Nate Boaz

*Prize4Life, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax-deductible.

I urge you to repeat the process that I have just followed over the past 5 minutes. I logged onto the website (, I watched the very moving 2-minute YouTube video clip of Avi Kremer describing his struggle with ALS, I clicked on the “Contribute One Dollar Now” link, I shared my credit card information. I watched as my pixel was added to the photo gallery of ALS patients. And then, I decided to share this unique opportunity with you, the readers of The White Rhino Report.

Please do your part by clicking onto the Website and follow up by distributing this message throughout your network of networks.

On behalf of Nate and Avi and ALS patients around the world, I thank you for caring and for taking a concrete step to translate that caring into action.

God bless.


Monday, October 01, 2007

A Great Opportunity for Boston Area Residents to Support Wounded Soldiers – October 19 in Danvers

My friend, Richie Sheridan, was Captain of the Hockey Team at West Point. Since leaving the Army to pursue a career in medical device sales, Richie has remained a staunch supporter of the Army hockey program. Richie mentored a young cadet, Derek Hines, Class of 2003. Derek, a native of my hometown of Newburyport, Massachusetts, also served as Captain of the United States Military Academy Hockey Team. After graduating from West Point, Derek served as a lieutenant with the Army in Afghanistan, where he was killed on September 1, 2005. In his memory, Derek’s family has created the Derek Hines Soldier Assistance Fund. The organization’s website articulates the goal of the fund:

Our goals are to provide support to Massachusetts's soldiers who are recovering from injuries incurred while on active duty.

In the e-mail from Richie Sheridan below, you will find details about a fund-raising activity for the Derek Hines Fund to be held on Friday evening, October 19 at the Sheraton Ferncroft in Danvers, Massachusetts.

This is a tremendous opportunity for many of us who believing in supporting our troops to put our money where our mouth is. I have already purchased my ticket for the event, and I urge you to consider joining the Hines family, the Sheridan and me on the 19th.

Here is Richie’s invitation:

Dear Friends & Family,

We will be holding a Bingo Night benefit for the 1ST LT Derek Hines Soldiers Assistant Fund Friday, October 19th at 6:30pm at the Sheraton Ferncroft in Danvers, MA.

As many of you know, Maryanne and I were very close to Derek. We cherish the memories of sponsoring Derek as a cadet and take great pride in the accomplishments he achieved during his time on active duty. Please visit to learn more about this superhero. Of particular note is the video of his Dad’s accepting the NCAA Award of Valor on Derek’s behalf in the news section of the website.

We hope you can join us. Tickets for the event can be purchased online at

I hope this finds you well,


I encourage you to visit the link to the Derek Hines Fund Website. You will be inspired by the spirit that drove this young man to accomplish great things in his sort lifetime.

I look forward to seeing many readers of The White Rhino Report in Danvers on the 19th!