Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

The Headless Horseman

Iron Maiden's Eddie as the Grim Reaper

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

Check out the article at

Halloween is the best holiday of the year!!!

Geaux Tigers

Check out today's Google art:

Google Halloween 10/31/09

Friday, October 30, 2009

Billy Cannon's Halloween Run - 50th Anniversary!

Billy Cannon's Halloween Run - October 31, 1959

Billy Cannon's Halloween Run - October 31, 1959

Billy Cannon's Halloween Run - October 31, 1959

Billy Cannon's Halloween Run - October 31, 1959

Billy Cannon's Halloween Run - October 31, 1959

Billy Cannon’s Halloween Run. Just the mention of those four words is enough to bring a sense of pride and joy to any LSU football fan.

Saturday's game against Tulane marks the 50th anniversary of the legendary game on October 31, 1959 in which LSU running back Billy Cannon returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown.

The return turned out to be the only touchdown of the game as the top-ranked Tigers defeated the No. 3 Ole Miss Rebels 7-3.

Cannon, now 72, admits that while he may be getting older, his memory of the run that Halloween night is still fresh in his mind.

“My mind is getting fuzzy but the run isn’t,” Cannon said. “The games that you win or lose big drift away. But the ones where the outcome of the game depends on every play, those are the games that you remember vividly.”

Both the Tigers and the Rebels were undefeated heading into the game, which only added to the hype surrounding the already heated rivalry.

“The week of the game it was just crazy,” Cannon recalled. “Everyone just wanted to talk football.”

The game also marked the first time that the stadium sold out since new bleachers were installed in the south end zone. Over 67,500 people crammed into Tiger Stadium to watch the much anticipated matchup.

“To be playing before that many people with them sitting in the aisles and everywhere else, it was quite a stir,” said Cannon.

LSU trailed 3-0 through three hard-fought quarters.  As Cannon stood at his own 11-yard line with just under 10 minutes remaining, he knew that in order for the Tigers to have a chance to win the game he was going to have to make something happen.

“It doesn’t take a genius to look at the scoreboard and figure out you are down and that you are running out of time,” Cannon said.  “Before the punt I said to myself that if I have a chance I’m going to take this one back up the field because if we are going to do something we are going to have to do it pretty quick.”

And Cannon did just that.

Ole Miss’ Jake Gibbs tried to punt the ball out of bounds, but instead the ball took a bounce at the 11-yard line right into Cannon’s hands.

“I got the perfect bounce,” Cannon said.  “If I had caught it on the fly I don’t think it would have worked out the same. I think the bounce made them relax a little bit and they were just surprised when the ball bounced straight to me. I was just as surprised as they were.”

After fielding the ball, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Cannon fought his way through seven would-be tacklers before finally breaking free around the 50-yard line. He then galloped his way into the end zone and into LSU history as the Tiger Stadium crowd erupted.

“There was a guy in the stands that was in the box seats that jumped out onto the field,” Cannon said. “He jumped on my back and he was beating me to death. One of my teammates, Donnie Daye, came over and pulled him off of me. He was so happy and going crazy. He was just going crazy and the whole stands were going crazy.”

Every year during the week of the LSU-Ole Miss game the black-and-white replay is shown numerous times on TV. These replays provide not only nostalgia for the fans of LSU football, but also for Cannon and his teammates.

“Over the years it has become a contest of who can point out what,” Cannon joked. “We have a lot of fun with it.”

“When I’m with Lynn LeBlanc, Lynn always says ‘Watch this block! Watch this block right here!’ because it was him making the block that took three guys down,” Cannon said, laughing. “But I tell him ‘Lynn I was by that guy before you even blocked anybody!’”

“Red (Brodnax) makes a block late in the play and Lynn accuses him of clipping and putting the whole team in jeopardy with the clip, but of course Red denies it,” Cannon added.

Fifty years have now passed since that Halloween night and Cannon’s punt return is still a prominent part of LSU history. But Cannon said he doesn’t want it to be remembered as an individual effort because it was a team effort.

“Not one of us on that entire team would have ever told you we were going to do something that would be so remembered 50 years later. We were there for the day, the moment, the game, and that period of time. That is all we cared about.”

Check out the article at LSU Sports.


Check out these articles on the famous punt return:

Geaux Tigers!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ares I Rocket Launch a Soaring Success!

NASA Ares I Launch - 10-28-09

NASA Ares I Launch - 10-28-09

NASA Constellation Program

NASA Ares Concept

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —  At 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Ares 1-X experimental rocket — the next-generation of America's space flight program — blasted off flawlessly through clear skies at Cape Canaveral.

This launch shows how challenging rocket science really is: Blue skies over the launch pad in Florida hid a variety of challenges, including static-filled clouds and high-altitude winds.

Launching a rocket through these conditions isn't like a plane taking off from a landing strip: It's more like shooting a rubberband through a keyhole from across a parking lot.

At 11:26, NASA resumed the 4-minute launch countdown that had been on pause since 8 a.m Tuesday morning. The ignition system armed, the water and electrical systems activated, and at 11:30 a.m., the Ares 1-X experimental rocket blasted off through clear skies from NASA's launch pad in Florida.

The ship passed Mach 2, achieving speeds of over 1,540 mph. Then, at 22.2 nautical miles up in the air, "burnout" occurred, a stage at which the two segments of the rocket separate and the capsule falls back to Earth.

The test rocket includes a real solid-rocket first stage, with a mock second stage and dummy Orion crew capsule on top to simulate the intended weight and size of Ares I. Ares I-X is the tallest booster in service or about to fly and stands about 327 feet high — 14 stories taller than NASA's space shuttles.

This rocket could eventually take man into space, back to the moon. In an actual moon launch, the second stage of the rocket will contain the liquid propellant that carries the capsule further into space, and ultimately into orbit.

Clouds, snagged tethers and even a misdirected cargo ship within the danger area in the Atlantic Ocean contributed to an eventual postponement in Monday's scheduled launch of the Ares 1-X.

Check out the article at Fox News.

It's nice to see NASA's Constellation Program moving right along ahead of schedule. It would be really nice to see American astronauts avoid having to hitch a ride on Russian rockets!

Check out these interesting links:

Monday, October 05, 2009

Saints Getting It Done!!!

New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS — For the second consecutive game, the Saints’ high-scoring offense played a complementary role to its rejuvenated defense.

A week earlier, Drew Brees passed for fewer than 200 yards for the first time in 23 games as New Orleans defeated the Bills, 27-7, in Buffalo.

On Sunday in the Superdome, Brees against fell short of the 200-yard mark — the first time in four seasons with the Saints that he has played the entire game both times and failed to reach that plateau in consecutive weeks.

The NFL’s highest-scoring offense scored just 10 points to support the 14 scored by the defense in New Orleans’ 24-10 victory over the New York Jets.

The Saints received the opening kickoff and nine plays later they had a first down at the Jets’ 22. A holding penalty on center Jonathan Goodwin put the Saints behind schedule and the drive ended with John Carney kicking a 34-yard field goal.

After the defense’s first touchdown — a 99-yard interception return by Darren Sharper — New Orleans appeared poised to take a 17-0 lead when it drove to a first-and-goal at the one. Pierre Thomas lost a yard, Heath Evans got the yard back, and Brees threw two incompletions, giving the ball back to New York.

But the defense got the points the offense couldn’t when two plays later, Will Smith sacked Mark Sanchez and caused a fumble, which Remi Ayodele recovered for a touchdown.

The Saints failed in another short-yardage situation in the third quarter, when on fourth-and-1 from the Jets’ 28, Thomas was stopped for no gain.

“We drove down the field on the first possession of the game and got three points, very well could have had seven,” Brees said. “After that, it was about managing the football game. I look at missed opportunities to get points and penalties that stalled drives. We’re going to continue to try and get better offensively.”

The offense finally put the ball in the end zone when it needed to in order to secure the victory, driving 74 yards to a touchdown that gave New Orleans a 24-10 lead with 6:07 left in the game.

Along the way, the offense finally found a way to convert a fourth-and-1 into a first down for them instead of the Jets. They lined up at the New York 43 and enticed defensive tackle Kris Jenkins to jump offsides.

Goodwin said the Saints had no intention of snapping the ball. They said Jenkins was susceptible to jumping the snap count.

“All the linemen just started yelling a bunch of snap counts,” Goodwin said, “and I got a little lower to make it look like I was ready to snap it. Then Drew did a great job with a hard count.”

Six plays later, Thomas was running one yard for the offense’s only touchdown of the game.

“The defense played excellent all day and we just wanted to try and put the game away and take some pressure of the defense,” wide receiver Marques Colston said. “We wanted to try and distance ourselves a little bit.”

The Saints had 14 touchdown drives in their first three games and just one Sunday, but that represented just the third touchdown drive in 46 possessions against the Jets’ stingy defense.

“We did everything we needed to do, especially in the fourth quarter, to win the football game,” Brees said. “My job as quarterback is to lead that group of men and manage the game and put us in the best position to score points, take care of the football, and win games.

“I think the balance (153 yards rushing and 190 yards passing) — playing that complementary type of offense with the run and the pass — it’s good for the offense, it’s good for the players, it’s winning football games. In the end, it doesn’t matter how we get it done, it’s that we get it done.”

Check out the article at The Advocate.

Geaux Saints!!!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

LSU Quiets Critics after Intense Win!

LSU Tigers beat Georgia Bulldogs - Oct 3, 2009

LSU Tigers beat Georgia Bulldogs - Oct 3, 2009

LSU Tigers beat Georgia Bulldogs - Oct 3, 2009

LSU Tigers beat Georgia Bulldogs - Oct 3, 2009

LSU Tigers beat Georgia Bulldogs - Oct 3, 2009

ATHENS, Ga. — Tired of getting ripped locally by fans and the media for being inept on offense?

Then drive 88 yards on 12 plays with the game on the line Between the Hedges.

Tired of hearing how the offense is underachieving?

Score twice in the final 2:53 to escape with a Southeastern Conference road win.

Tired of hearing how you can’t run the ball?

Then go to Sanford Stadium and bounce off a tackler like a Herschel Walker highlight reel en route to a 33-yard game winning touchdown in the last minute of a key SEC game.

That’s what LSU’s embattled offense did Saturday in a 20-13 win over Georgia.

It was a monkey off the back of offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, a vindication of quarterback Jordan Jefferson, an emergence of freshman Rueben Randle and a return to form for running back Charles Scott.

And it was a not-so-subtle “Shhhh” to the critics.

They did it by pulling through in the clutch and becoming all-of-the-sudden explosive when, for the first 53 minutes it had alternated between being unable to finish drives in the first half and unable to drive at all in the second half.

The Tigers had only one second-half first down before they went 88 yards on 12 plays to take a 12-7 lead on Charles Scott’s 2-yard touchdown with 2:53 left in the game. And when that wasn’t enough after the Bulldogs quickly answered with their own touchdown with 1:09 left in the game, LSU responded.

The Tigers went two plays and 38 yards for the winning touchdown. Scott, a 1,000-yard rusher last year who has hardly seemed to fit in with this year’s offense, ran over Georgia linebacker Marcus Dowtin on a 33-yard run for the game winner with 46 seconds left.

Yeah. Big, physical backs can be useful, even on a team full of spread-the-field athletes.

That’s 126 yards and two touchdowns in the final two possessions after managing 242 yards and no touchdowns in the first nine drives.

How on earth do you explain that?

“We can throw and catch it,” head coach Les Miles said.

With more than just the usual players. On the 88-yard drive, Jefferson converted third-and-10 by finding Randle, who had two first-down catches for 29 yards on a drive where the Tigers’ two reliable senior receivers, Brandon LaFell and Richard Dickson, both dropped passes.

This was a drive about an “emergence of a fine young player,” Miles said of Randle. And Jefferson not only converted a third-and-10, but also a first-and-15 after an illegal shift killed a 17-yard pass. But Jefferson scrambled 26 yards to keep the drive alive.

The final drive? It was about Scott giving LSU its longest run of the year not in an insignificant moment against a bad team, but on the road in the final minute against the No. 18 team in the country. In other words, when it counts.

So, sure, this offense sputters and stalls and drives you crazy, but it also knows how to win.

Check out the article at The Advocate.

I couldn't agree more with the above article... except that not ALL of the critics are quiet. But, who cares what they say? They sure talked their trash two years ago... how many times did we hear "overranked'? But they shut up after Ohio State went down in the NC game, didn't they? They don't know what they're talking about, anyway. Hell, we shouldn't even have rankings this early in the season.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Curious Giraffes Heralded Rhino's Birth

Baton Rouge Zoo

Curious Giraffe

Baton Rouge Zoo - Newborn Rhino

BAKER — Zookeepers knew something spectacular was occurring late Sunday night.

They knew something was happening when they spotted BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo’s four giraffes standing near the back of their exhibit, peering over a wall and staring.

Turns out, the giraffes were watching the birth of a black rhinoceros.

Four days later on Thursday morning, 21-year-old black rhinoceros Gemstone wouldn’t stop pacing.

Gemstone and her newly born female calf had been safely tucked away in a holding area to give them time to bond since the birth.

But just after 8:30 a.m. Thursday, zookeepers opened a gate between the holding area and the black rhinoceros exhibit and ushered the pair into their new home.

Seconds after Gemstone and the calf walked into the exhibit, Gemstone started pacing up and down the dirt a couple of feet away from the gate.

The entire time Gemstone paced, her 4-day-old calf trotted next to her.

Gemstone looked frustrated and snorted several times to show her displeasure with the new surroundings.

Sam Winslow, the zoo’s assistant director and curator, said Gemstone was snorting because she was nervous about being in a new location with the calf.

The birth was the first for a black rhinoceros in North American captivity in the last 12 months, said Mary Woods, a spokeswoman for the zoo. It’s one of three such births in the past 12 months worldwide.

The calf doesn’t have a name, but Woods said the zoo plans to have a naming contest soon so the public can get involved.

On Thursday, the 75-pound calf closely followed her mother.

Like Gemstone, once the calf grows up, she could weigh up to 3,000 pounds, Winslow said. That’s bigger than a 2006 Toyota Corolla which weighs 2,615 pounds, according to Toyota’s official Web site.

Gemstone gave birth to the calf following a 16‰-month gestation period, Woods said.

The father is a black rhinoceros named Tatu.

Winslow said zoo officials need to keep Tatu away from his calf and her mother.

“He could kill the baby. That’s just the wild instinct of the male,” Winslow said.

The calf will live at BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo for two years, Winslow said.

After that, she will be shipped off to another zoo.

The black rhinoceros breeding at the zoo is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.

The plan is a population management and conservation program that manages the breeding of species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population.

Woods said there are less than 4,000 black rhinoceroses left in Africa.

Winslow said poaching for rhinoceros horns is the main reason the animals are an endangered species. The horns are used in the Asian medicinal market, Winslow said.

Winslow said a black rhinoceros matures in five years and can reach the 3,000-pound weight in that time.

Winslow also said the baby rhinoceros will trot right next to Gemstone for the first two years of her life.

Check out the article at The Advocate.

Awww, how cute! We'll have to go pay the newborn a visit soon!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

2009 Baseball National Champions visit Washington!

LSU Baseball 2009 Champions visit Washington DC

LSU Baseball 2009 Champions visit Washington DC

LSU Baseball 2009 Champions visit Washington DC

LSU Baseball 2009 Champions visit Washington DC

LSU Baseball 2009 Champions visit Washington DC

WASHINGTON - That the national champion LSU baseball team traveled through the federal city Wednesday on a bus from a company called “Champion Coach” seemed fitting.

Thirty-one players made the trip, which included a luncheon, a reception at the White House and a visit with Vice President Joe Biden. The president was out of the country. “I’ve never been out of Louisiana before except to play baseball,” said William DeLatte, a redshirt freshman third baseman.

As much as it was important to visit the nation’s most famous house, coach Paul Mainieri made it a point to schedule visits to war memorials that included the Vietnam Memorial, Korean Memorial and Arlington Cemetery.

“It’s only possible because of their sacrifices,” Mainieri said at a luncheon for the team hosted by Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, of Louisiana. “And I think it’s important for them to understand that.”

But Mainieri was not dampening the excitement. The coach said he had trouble sleeping the night before looking forward to the trip.

“It’s the most amazing country in the world and they’re inviting LSU to Washington,” Mainieri said. “I told the players, this is a taste of victory.”

Five of the LSU players who went pro after the Tigers won the college baseball World Series in June came back for the honors.

Outfielder Jared Mitchell once had a chance to visit the White House to meet George W. Bush as part of the 2007 football national champions. Mitchell got permission from the Chicago White Sox, who he now plays minor league ball for in Arizona, to return to join his teammates.

“It’s like I was blessed twice to be able to come around a second time,” Mitchell said. “And I couldn’t pass it up.”

The only player missing from the team visit was relief pitcher Chad Jones. He also is on the LSU Tigers football team. The pitcher and safety had a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown last week and played critical roles in two goal-line stances in the team’s victory against Mississippi State.

Jones is preparing for Saturday’s football game against the University of Georgia.

“I said you’re not invited,” Mainieri said chuckling. “You’ve got to get ready for Georgia.”

The bus pulled up to Landrieu’s home on Capitol Hill and the first thing the players saw stepping off was the Capitol four blocks away. But they acknowledged the White House is what they set their sights on.

“It’s every kid’s dream to win the World Series and come to the White House,” said Micah Gibbs, a junior catcher. “It’s kind of a fantasy for every kid, and when you get here it really sinks in about what kind of impact you have.”

Blake Dean, the team’s slugging designated hitter, said it was special to be in the city with his fellow players.

“I’m going to take away a lot of memories with my teammates,” Dean said.

The White House reception was not open to the media.

Bill Franques, an LSU spokesman for the team, said afterward they were given a tour and met Biden in a room in the West Wing, where a reception was held. The vice president spent 15 minutes with the players before excusing himself for a meeting in the situation room over Afghanistan, Franques said.

Biden, an avid Philadelphia Phillies fan, was recently inducted into the Little League Hall of Fame for his service.

Mikie Mahtook, a center fielder and sophomore from Lafayette, called the experience “awesome.”

“It’s something you see all the national championship teams doing,” Mahtook said. “And you’re doing it.”

Players autographed a team jersey for Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, of Metairie. Scalise wore the jersey in the annual congressional baseball game, which Republicans lost.

“These guys were inspirational,” Scalise said.

Adding, that’s not to mention the fodder for ribbing Texas congressmen that the team provided for beating University of Texas in the World Series finals, Scalise said.

“It gave us something to give our Texas colleagues a real hard time about,” Scalise said.

Check out the article at The Advocate.

Congratulations once again, Tigers! Sorry you couldn't make it, Chad... but, you have some Georgia Bulldogs to think about!!!