Friday, November 06, 2015

Rituals abound as LSU fans prepare for Alabama

Around the Bowl and Down the Hole, Roll Tide Roll!
Around the Bowl and Down the Hole... Roll Tide Roll!

Geaux Tigers!  BEAT SABAN!

RUN Saban RUN!

Geaux Tigers! Beat Saban the Sell-Out!

Beat Saban the Sell-Out!Geaux Tigers! Beat Saban the Sell-Out!

Geaux Tigers! Beat Saban!

Geaux Tigers! Beat Saban the Sell-Out!

Geaux Tigers! Beat Saban!

It’s Bama week in Baton Rouge, when a robotic elephant dangles from a tiger tail, a dog chews on a Nick Saban doll and a pig prepares to take flight.

LSU fans are a superstitious bunch.

Did LSU lose to Florida when you wore that purple jersey? Burn it, regardless of the $100 price tag. Did the Tigers stomp the Gamecocks when you debuted new pants? Wear them for every game for the rest of your life, and perhaps don’t wash them if you’re afraid of destroying the luck they carry.

No game brings out the rituals, traditions and superstitions in the LSU faithful quite like Alabama. And with LSU having lost the past four contests against the Tide, Tiger fans are ready to pull out all the stops to ensure a purple-and-gold win during LSU running back Leonard Fournette’s Heisman campaign season.

Laurie Laville, of Baton Rouge, abuses a robotic, stuffed elephant during Bama week each year. She started it shortly after Nick Saban, her former neighbor, became the icon of crimson and houndstooth.

Laville uses a tiger tail to make a noose for the little gray “voodoo elephant” to hang on gameday and incite coos from LSU and Alabama fans alike.

He’s robotic, but Laville “took his batteries out because we certainly don’t want him having any energy.” She and her friends hold his leg during kickoffs and they cover his black, beady eyes during key plays.

When LSU was losing the BCS National Championship game in 2012, they threw the voodoo elephant on the barbecue. He still has the grill marks to prove it.

“We take turns doing little voodoo things to him,” the 51-year-old Laville said with a laugh. “We do actually do crazy things. Sometimes I feel like it works.”

The abuse of an Alabama-related symbol is a common trend among Tiger fans. Judy McGehee, 60, pulls out a Nick Saban doll during Bama week each year for her dog to enjoy as a chew toy.

“One time I was just looking at him and just hating him and I thought, you know, he really does look like a Ken doll,” she said about Saban. “Doesn’t his hair look like it?”

She bought a Ken doll about five years ago, dressed him up in red fabric and turned him into the Barbie-fied version of Saban. Her Maltese, Leo, chewed the Alabama coach with gusto.

“Leo was a real tiger,” she said. “He just couldn’t wait to get Nick every year and do him some damage. But I was afraid I would have to go buy a new Ken doll.”

Leo has since died, and her new dog, Hank, sported a No. 7 LSU shirt while he faced off with Ken Saban this year. McGehee thinks the combination of the shirt and the doll was too much for Hank, who is timid.

She plans to let Hank have another go at the doll during the game.

While some LSU diehards try voodoo, others turn to God.

Bo Bienvenu, of Prairieville, told The Advocate that he would sport an LSU shirt this week to a papal audience in Rome. He said he hoped the blessings would help against Alabama, and added that he knows “the old alma mater needs divine guidance directing the governor and Legislature.”

Many LSU fans are hoping that their standard gameday traditions are good enough for a win against Alabama.

Aaron Caffarel, a 25-year-old LSU graduate, has a strand of lucky LSU beads with an Uncle Sam-esque tiger medallion. He noticed at the end of last season the Tigers played better when he wore the beads. The two times he was not wearing them were when LSU got blown out by Auburn 41-7 and by Arkansas 17-0.

He’s in a wedding on Saturday, but that won’t stop him from doing what he can to bring LSU luck. Caffarel will wear the beads under his tux.

Randy Rice, 65, will sport his lucky purple-and-gold-sequined LSU top hat during the game, and rub it for good luck. He said he also will carry on a tradition that he started decades ago.

Rice and his wife, Carolyn, kiss every time LSU scores, regardless of whether it’s a touchdown, extra point, field goal or safety. They will watch the game on TV, and it will be a good night if LSU keeps scoring.

The Alabama-themed rituals can also make it easy for Tiger fans to play tricks on one another. Whitney Borruano, 26, is part of a tailgating group called JK tailgating that makes “elephant chili” for the Alabama game each year.

“It was just regular ground meat chili,” she said. “We started telling people the night before we were going to make an elephant chili, and we had this whole story made up.”

Borruano said she and her friends convinced many fellow tailgaters that they were eating elephant meat, though they eventually told them the truth. But the tradition of calling their Alabama meal “elephant chili” has stuck.

And while most of the Alabama game traditions happen leading up to and during the game, K. Charles Bedell, of Prairieville, said he will only get to engage in his if LSU pulls out a win. He has a toy gray pig that’s 16 years old called Piglet, the Prairieville Pig.

He remembers the adage that “pigs would have to fly” for LSU to beat Alabama years ago. And when the Tigers won in the past, he attached some wings to Piglet and hoisted him from a tree, showing his neighbors that the adage was true.

Four LSU-Alabama matchups have come and gone since Piglet got to wear his wings. Bedell thinks it’s time for him to fly again.

Check out the article at The Advocate.

Geaux Tigers!!! BEAT BAMA!!! BEAT SABAN!!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

LSU Baseball's Lil Brown Suga

LSU Tigers Baseball 2015

LSU Tigers Baseball 2015

LSU Tigers Baseball 2015 rally bear Lil Brown Suga

Zac Person speaks of Lil Brown Suga like he’s alive — like he’s a walking, talking animal instead of the furry, stuffed bear that he really is.

Lil Brown Suga asked to join the LSU baseball team, Person says. Lil Brown Suga has his own locker with “sleeping arrangements” in the clubhouse, and he’s got his own Twitter account, too.

He has a glove, a bat and a prime, cushy seat atop the bench in LSU’s dugout during games. He even has cool sunglasses and a white shirt emblazoned with “LSU.”

Is the bear this team’s new can of corn — a good-luck charm, a superstitious item often associated with baseball clubs?

Maybe, but the bear can thank his maker, Person, for what unfolded Sunday.

“I think,” Parker Bugg said, “we’re going to keep him.”

Three LSU pitchers threw a nine-hitter, walked none and struck out six, and the Tigers jumped to a big early lead, coasting to a 6-2 series-clinching win over Auburn on Sunday at Alex Box Stadium.

LSU (31-6, 10-5 Southeastern) won a third rubber match this season, avoided what would have been a second straight disappointing home series loss to a middling SEC team and claimed a series despite missing its best pitcher this weekend.

Person had a one-hit, three-inning start, Bugg threw four innings of one-run ball and Jesse Stallings wiggled free of a jam and closed out the game to deliver the Tigers’ third straight series win over Auburn (21-14, 5-10) in a precarious situation.

Coaches rested star freshman Alex Lange, 6-0 with an SEC-leading 1.39 ERA, this weekend because of arm “tightness” — not a serious issue, coach Paul Mainieri said. Austin Bain replaced him Saturday, leaving LSU to turn to a host of relievers Sunday.

No problem.

Person, Bugg and Stallings hurled a walk-less, nine-hit nine innings, and LSU broke out to a 6-0 lead in the third, chasing AU starter Rocky McCord and rebounding from Saturday’s 6-1 loss.

Lil Brown Suga watched it all — and even got a brief spot on the SEC Network’s online broadcast over the weekend. He’s similar to LSU’s new can of corn — a good-luck token that sat in LSU’s dugout during the run to the 2013 College World Series.

“We wanted a rally bear. So we got Lil Brown Suga,” pitcher Alden Cartwright said.

Person made the bear at the Build-A-Bear Workshop at the Mall of Louisiana earlier this week. The bear talks: When pushed, it plays a recording that pitcher Russell Reynolds taped.

“We were walking around the mall the other day for an off-day, and this bear came up to us and told us he was a huge LSU fan and would like to be a part of the team,” Person said Sunday, trying his best to keep a straight face. “He’s been running with us since.”

Usually the Tigers’ setup man, Person (2-0) said he was “surprised” by the start and didn’t know it until a Mainieri text at 9:15 a.m. Sunday. He got a win in his career-long three innings and rebounded from his only other start — a five-run, four-hit, 2.2-inning start at Florida last season that still angers him.

“I think in the Florida start my mind wasn’t in the right spot. I was too focused on, like, trying to prove I could still start,” said Person, who was 17-0 as a starter at LSU-Eunice. “In this one, I was like, ‘You know what? I come out and pitch regularly here. I can get guys out.’ ”

Person retired his first four batters and sat down the final two in the second with runners on first and second. He struck out the last batter he faced — No. 3 hitter Daniel Robert — with a man on first, eliciting a fist-pumping run back to the dugout to his friendly, fuzzy friend.

“Good-luck bear,” Bugg said.

Bugg helped shut down Auburn center fielder Anfernee Grier, who had three RBIs and five hits in the first two games of the series. He went 0-for-4 and hit into a double play Sunday.

Bugg tied his career high by pitching four innings, and he left two in scoring position in the sixth before a perfect seventh. Stallings limited the damage to one run in his first inning, the eighth. He allowed three hits but retired the final batter with runners at first and second and threw a perfect ninth.

“If you would have told me before the weekend began that we would have won a series and Alex Lange would not have thrown one pitch for us, I probably wouldn’t have been all that upset about it, quite frankly,” Mainieri said. “Obviously, it’d be nice to sweep the series, but even if Lange would have pitched, who knows if we would have beat (Keegan Thompson) last night?”

Mainieri hasn’t decided on Lange’s next start. He threw long toss on Sunday and “felt great,” the coach said, and many – including Bugg and Lange himself – expect the pitcher to return for a three-game series next weekend at Georgia (20-17, 6-9).

Lange threw Saturday, too, and will throw a bullpen Tuesday — at which point Mainieri will decide on his status for next weekend.

“Everything is looking good,” the coach said.

LSU finished with a combined 20 hits in the series against Auburn — its lowest total in any SEC series this season — and didn’t have a base runner for the final four innings. The Tigers did enough against McCord, though.

They started the game with back-to-back doubles in a two-run first and got another in the second. The first three batters reached in that four-run third, and Kade Scivicque hit a bases-loaded single to extend his hitting streak to a whopping 20 games.

“We didn’t play great this weekend,” Mainieri said. “Didn’t swing the bats like we’ve been swinging them, and yet we still won two our of three games.”

Now it’s on to a home game against Lamar (17-18) on Wednesday before a trip to Athens, Georgia. Lil Brown Suga is along for a ride — one that might not end for a while.

“So far, all of the guys enjoy being around him,” Person said. “As long as he’s making friends on the team, I don’t see why he can’t travel with us.”

Check out the article at The Advocate.

Congratulations Tigers on staying at the top of the polls this season! Can't wait to see what's in store for this collection of great players!


Monday, March 16, 2015

LSU Tigers in the NCAA Tournament!

LSU Tigers Basketball - no. 35 overall seed in 2015 NCAA Tournament

LSU Tigers Basketball - no. 35 overall seed in 2015 NCAA Tournament

LSU Tigers Basketball - no. 35 overall seed in 2015 NCAA Tournament

LSU Tigers Basketball - no. 35 overall seed in 2015 NCAA Tournament

LSU Tigers Basketball - no. 35 overall seed in 2015 NCAA Tournament

LSU’s upset loss to Auburn in the Southeastern Conference tournament Friday begat 48 hours of hand wringing and rampant speculation, bracketology dissection and bubble watching, and probably in at least one corner, an exorcism for the Tigers’ free-throw shooting.

As the hours ticked away until the 5 p.m. NCAA selection show, LSU guard Josh Gray had to go on Twitter to relieve his jitters.

“I(‘ve) never been this nervous in my life,” Gray said.

Turns out, Gray and the rest of the Tigers had no need to strain their giblets. The butterflies could wait until the next time they toe the free-throw line.

LSU, despite its eccentric mood swings, its ability to come within a contested 3-pointer of toppling the best team in the nation, and its knack for losing to the SEC’s cellar dwellers, was in the NCAA tournament with room to spare.

Lace up some fresh Nikes and get ready to go dancing, fellas.

It’s been a long time coming.

It was not, apparently, a long time debating for the NCAA selection committee.

The committee seeds the entire tournament 1-68. LSU came in just about in the middle, as the No. 35 overall seed, ninth in the East Regional, taking on No. 8 North Carolina State on Thursday night in Pittsburgh.

I participated in the NCAA mock selection exercise last month in Indianapolis. Judging by that experience, LSU was a fairly easy pick.

The selection committee starts by choosing a bunch of teams that are absolute locks as at-larges, 20 or so squads like Kentucky and Kansas and Oklahoma and, most likely, Arkansas.

Then comes a series of votes as teams are transferred over into the tournament, like layers of a cake, a few at a time. My guess is LSU, despite the Auburn loss to fall to 22-10 overall and a No. 56 RPI, made it into the field sometime Saturday.

Why the huge disparity between the Tigers’ RPI and their overall seeding, the speculation and the rather secure seed LSU wound up with?

The reason, NCAA selection committee chairman Scott Barnes said, basically came down to quality wins and the look of the Tigers as a quality team.

“They had two great road wins against Arkansas and West Virginia, plus a sweep of Ole Miss,” Barnes said after the bracket was unveiled. “Then there’s the eye test. As you think about LSU, that really came up often among the committee members.”

“The eye test.” The Tigers look the part of an NCAA tournament participant. They play an exciting, up-tempo, fun-to-watch brand of basketball. The kind of ball that gets you noticed. The kind of ball that had the TV folks set LSU up with a prime-time game on TBS against N.C. State.

“I think we’ve been an exciting team to watch all year long with what we’ve been able to do on the road at West Virginia and Arkansas,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said. “And we’re still the only team in the country to play Kentucky to a two-point game. Although we’ve had some setbacks because of the inexperience of our team, our guys have done a tremendous job of bouncing back.”

The slow but steady progress LSU has made in three years under Jones — from sitting at home with 19 wins two years ago to 20 wins and winning a game in the NIT last year — begs the question: Can the Tigers do more than just earn an NCAA bid?

In North Carolina State, LSU gets a team much like itself, one that beat a No. 1 seed in Duke (not that the Tigers have a win that good) and had a close loss to ACC champ Virginia but also stumbled against ACC lowlights like Wake Forest, Boston College and (like LSU) Clemson. Awaiting the winner of their game is East Regional top seed Villanova on Saturday.

No NCAA tournament path is going to be an easy one, but for LSU, winning a game or two is at least doable. N.C. State has 13 losses. And Villanova (32-2), for all its success, has at least been tested a couple of times lately by Providence (63-61), Creighton (76-72) and Butler (68-65). And it stands to reason: If the Tigers can come within a contested 3-pointer of ending Kentucky’s unbeaten dream, they can play with anyone.

There’s no telling with this LSU team. Could be one-and-done, could be in the Final Four (the former being more likely, of course).

But whether or not the Tigers belong in the NCAA tournament? That’s not worthy of debate.

Check out the article at The Advocate.

Congratulations Tigers on your 21st appearance in program history in the NCAA Basketball Tournament!!!

Check out the History of LSU in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament


Friday, March 06, 2015

NASA Dawn Probe Enters Orbit Around Dwarf Planet Ceres

NASA Dawn Probe Enters Orbit Around Dwarf Planet Ceres - March 6, 2015

NASA Dawn Probe Enters Orbit Around Dwarf Planet Ceres - March 6, 2015

NASA Dawn Probe Enters Orbit Around Dwarf Planet Ceres - March 6, 2015

NASA Dawn Probe Enters Orbit Around Dwarf Planet Ceres - March 6, 2015

The year of the dwarf planet has begun.

NASA's Dawn probe arrived at Ceres today (March 6) at about 7:39 a.m. EST (1239 GMT), becoming the first spacecraft ever to orbit a dwarf planet. Dawn's observations over the next 16 months should lift the veil on Ceres, which has remained largely mysterious since it was first spotted more than two centuries ago.

"Since its discovery in 1801, Ceres was known as a planet, then an asteroid and later a dwarf planet," Dawn mission director and chief engineer Marc Rayman, who's based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. "Now, after a journey of 3.1 billion miles (4.9 billion kilometers) and 7.5 years, Dawn calls Ceres 'home.'"

NASA officials got a signal from Dawn confirming that it's healthy and in orbit at about 8:36 a.m. EST (1336 GMT) today.

The milestone comes just four months ahead of another highly anticipated dwarf-planet encounter: On July 14, NASA's New Horizons probe will zoom through the Pluto system, giving scientists their first good looks at that faraway dwarf planet and its five known moons.

Dawn of the solar system

The $473 million Dawn mission launched in September 2007 to study Vesta and Ceres, the two largest objects in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Vesta's diameter is 330 miles (530 km), while Ceres is about 590 miles (950 km) wide.

Both Vesta and Ceres are leftovers from the solar system's early days, planetary building blocks that would likely have kept growing if not for the interfering influence of Jupiter's immense gravitational tug.

The two bodies are "intact protoplanets from the very dawn of the solar system," Dawn Deputy Principal Investigator Carol Raymond, also of JPL, said during a news conference Monday (March 2)." So they're literally fossils that we can investigate to really understand the processes that were going on at that time."

Dawn orbited Vesta from July 2011 through September 2012, when the probe departed for Ceres. So today's arrival made history in another way as well: Dawn became the first spacecraft ever to orbit two objects beyond the Earth-moon system.

The mission's spaceflight feats are made possible by Dawn's innovative propulsion system, which accelerates xenon ions out the back of the spacecraft. This process generates tiny amounts of thrust; it would take Dawn four days to go from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h), team members have said.

But Dawn's ion drive is about 10 times more efficient than traditional chemical systems. So the engines can keep firing for weeks, months and years, accelerating Dawn to tremendous speeds.

"With the 1,000 lbs. [454 kilograms] of xenon propellant that was loaded on board, Dawn has already accomplished more than 24,000 mph [38,624 km/h] of velocity change," Dawn project manager Robert Mase of JPL said during Monday's news conference. "To put that in context: That's more than it takes to get a vehicle from the surface of the Earth up to the International Space Station."

Thanks to ion propulsion, Dawn crept up on Ceres slowly and gradually. The probe eased into orbit today without the need for any harrowing make-or-break maneuvers.

The Mysteries of Ceres

Ceres is an intriguing world that in many ways looks more like the icy moons of the outer solar system, such as Jupiter's satellite Europa and the Saturn moon Enceladus, than its rocky neighbors in the asteroid belt.

For example, the dwarf planet is thought to consist of 25 to 30 percent water by mass, mostly in the form of ice. Ceres may also once have had (and might even still possess) an ocean of liquid water beneath its surface, as Europa and Enceladus are thought to. Indeed, some researchers believe Ceres may be capable of supporting microbial life.

"It's really going to be exciting to see what this exotic, alien world looks like," Rayman told in late January. "We're finally going to learn about this place."

Dawn is not equipped to search for signs of life. But the probe might be able to spot evidence of an underground ocean (if it exists), if it burbles up in places to interact with surface rocks, Rayman said. Measurements of Ceres' surface temperatures, when coupled with models of heat transportation through Ceres, could also shed light on the question of underground liquid water, said Dawn principal investigator Chris Russell of UCLA.

Dawn will also investigate two Ceres mysteries that have cropped up in the past year or so. Mission scientists will try to figure out just what is producing Ceres' mysterious bright spots, and they'll attempt to confirm and characterize a tenuous water-vapor plume spotted recently by researchers using Europe's Herschel Space Observatory.

Overall, Dawn will characterize the dwarf planet in detail, mapping out its surface and determining what Ceres is made of, among other tasks.

"We'll do typical planetary geology, more similar to what we do on Mars than what we did with Vesta," Russell told

This work will not start immediately; Dawn will spend the next six weeks spiraling down to its initial science orbit, getting there on April 23. The probe will then begin taking Ceres' measure from an altitude of 8,400 miles (13,500 km). Dawn will study the dwarf planet from a series of increasingly closer-in orbits until the mission ends in June 2016.

Sizing up Dwarf Planets

While Ceres and Pluto are both dwarf planets — a category created by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2006, when it demoted Pluto from a full-fledged planet in a decision that remains controversial today — they're quite different from each other, Russell said.

"Pluto formed differently, formed at a different time and formed out of different materials" than Ceres, he said.

Pluto is also more than twice as wide as Ceres and lies more than 14 times farther from the sun than the queen of the asteroid belt does. So the data returned by Dawn and New Horizons will likely not paint a unifying picture of just what it means to be a dwarf planet, Russell said.

"The legacy [of the two missions] is freeing these bodies from arbitrary labels based on their size or their ability to scatter other objects, or whatever the IAU had going through its head," he said. "These bodies are being liberated from classification, and we now can understand them in their own right."

Check out the article at

I can't wait to see the new photos!!! Check out the live updates:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Live Long and Prosper!

Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015 - Live Long and Prosper!

Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015 - Live Long and Prosper!

Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015 - Live Long and Prosper!

Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015 - Live Long and Prosper! is deeply saddened to report the passing of Leonard Nimoy. The legend -- an actor, writer, producer, director, poet, host, voiceover artist, photographer, husband, father and grandfather, as well as Star Trek's beloved Spock -- died today at the age of 83 at his home in Los Angeles. Nimoy succumbed to the end stages of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), an illness that resulted from years of smoking and which afflicted him despite having quit smoking three decades ago. In 2014, he announced via Twitter that he was battling COPD and urged fans to stop smoking before it was too late.

Nimoy's career spanned generations. Born and raised in Boston, he started acting as a boy, but moved to Los Angeles at age 18 to give it a go on a professional level. He worked his way up from small roles in the likes of Queen for a Day, Zombies of the Stratosphere and Them! to major guest star turns in such shows as Broken Arrow, Dragnet, Sea Hunt, Twilight Zone, Wagon Train and The Outer Limits. At one point, he acted in an episode of The Lieutenant, a show written and created by a rising behind-the-scenes talent named Gene Roddenberry, and he acted in an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with a young Canadian by the name of William Shatner.

It wouldn't be long before their lives intersected again. Roddenberry created Star Trek: The Original Series, tapping Nimoy to play Spock and Jeffrey Hunter to play Captain Pike. NBC rejected the pilot, but asked Roddenberry to try again. The second pilot once again featured Nimoy as Spock, but after Hunter opted out of his contract, Roddenberry hired Shatner to play Captain Kirk. DeForest Kelley, who'd turned down the role of Spock, came on board to portray Dr. McCoy, and that unforgettable trio -- complemented by Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei and, starting with season two, Walter Koenig -- formed the cast that would see Star Trek through three seasons of the original show, 20-plus episodes of an animated series and six feature films, not to mention numerous television commercials and countless convention appearances.

Nimoy at times waged an internal battle when it came to Spock. He titled his first autobiography I Am Not Spock. Twenty years later, though, he wrote I Am Spock. He turned down the proposed Star Trek: Phase II series, but returned for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Spock died in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, only to be resurrected for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, which Nimoy directed. He also directed Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and produced and developed the story for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and, as a tie-in, he guest starred as Ambassador Spock on two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And in 2009, after 18 long years, Nimoy helped J.J. Abrams reboot the Star Trek franchise by playing Spock Prime in Star Trek (2009), passing the torch to Zachary Quinto, who became a close friend. He also voiced Spock for Star Trek Online, made a cameo in Star Trek Into Darkness and was reportedly in talks to appear in the upcoming Star Trek film at the time of his death.

Beyond Star Trek, Nimoy's many film, TV and stage credits included Mission: Impossible, A Woman Called Golda, In Search Of..., Equus, Never Forget, Vincent, Standby: Lights! Camera! Action!, The Simpsons, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Fringe. With his friend and TNG's Q, John de Lancie, he created Alien Voices, which staged and recorded radio play-style productions of classic and original sci-fi/fantasy stories. And yes, who could forget Nimoy's music pursuits, which included such tunes as "Proud Mary" and "The Legend of Bilbo Baggins"? Nimoy joined Twitter in 2010 and gave William Shatner a run for his money, tweeting more than 1,700 times and amassing more than one million followers.

He was also a friend to, helping re-launch the site in 2010 with an opening statement, granting an extensive, career-spanning interview in 2011, contributing a guest blog in 2012 about his creation of the split-fingered Vulcan greeting, and checking in with us often over the years for interviews and with updates on his current projects, as well as to answer specific questions about Star Trek as they came up. He ended his emails to us as he did every tweet to the public, with the acronym LLAP... Live Long and Prosper.

Back in May 2012, teased Nimoy about being the busiest retired man in history. Asked if he truly considered himself retired, Nimoy replied, "Yeah, I do. I am. Look, I liken myself to a steamship that's been going full-blast and the captain pulls that handle back and then says, 'Full stop,' but the ship doesn't stop. It keeps moving from inertia. It keeps moving. It keeps moving. It'll start slowing down, but it doesn't stop. It doesn't come to a dead stop. That's the way I am. I still have a few odds and ends things that I enjoy doing. I don't want to get up in the morning and have nothing to do that day. That would be boring." Perfectly logical, right? And in his final tweet, which he posted on Feb. 23, Nimoy wrote, "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP."

Nimoy leaves behind his wife, Susan Bay, two children and several grandchildren. Please join in offering our condolences to his family, friends, colleagues and millions of fans around the galaxy.

Check out the article at

R.I.P. Spock!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Monster Black Hole is the Largest and Brightest Ever!

Monster Black Hole Is the Largest and Brightest Ever Found

Monster Black Hole Is the Largest and Brightest Ever Found

Astronomers have discovered the largest and most luminous black hole ever seen — an ancient monster with a mass about 12 billion times that of the sun — that dates back to when the universe was less than 1 billion years old.

It remains a mystery how black holes could have grown so huge in such a relatively brief time after the dawn of the universe, researchers say.

Supermassive black holes are thought to lurk in the hearts of most, if not all, large galaxies. The largest black holes found so far in the nearby universe have masses more than 10 billion times that of the sun. In comparison, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way is thought to have a mass only 4 million to 5 million times that of the sun.

Although not even light can escape the powerful gravitational pulls of black holes — hence, their name — black holes are often bright. That's because they're surrounded by features known as accretion disks, which are made up of gas and dust that heat up and give off light as it swirl into the black holes. Astronomers suspect that quasars, the brightest objects in the universe, contain supermassive black holes that release extraordinarily large amounts of light as they rip apart stars.

So far, astronomers have discovered 40 quasars — each with a black hole about 1 billion times the mass of the sun — dating back to when the universe was less than 1 billion years old. Now, scientists report the discovery of a supermassive black hole 12 billion times the mass of the sun about 12.8 billion light-years from Earth that dates back to when the universe was only about 875 million years old.

This black hole — technically known as SDSS J010013.02+280225.8, or J0100+2802 for short — is not only the most massive quasar ever seen in the early universe but also the most luminous. It is about 429 trillion times brighter than the sun and seven times brighter than the most distant quasar known.

The light from very distant quasars can take billions of years to reach Earth. As such, astronomers can see quasars as they were when the universe was young.

This black hole dates back to a little more than 6 percent of the universe's current age of 13.8 billion years.

"This is quite surprising because it presents serious challenges to theories of black hole growth in the early universe," said lead study author Xue-Bing Wu, an astrophysicist at Peking University in Beijing.

Accretion discs limit the speed of modern black holes' growth. First, as gas and dust in the disks get close to black holes, traffic jams slow down any other material that's falling into them. Second, as matter collides in these traffic jams, it heats up, emitting radiation that drives gas and dust away from the black holes.

Scientists still do not have a satisfactory theory to explain how these supermassive objects formed in the early universe, Wu said.

"It requires either very special ways to quickly grow the black hole or a huge seed black hole," Wu told For instance, a recent study suggested that because the early universe was much smaller than it is today, gas was often denser, obscuring a substantial amount of the radiation given off by accretion disks and thus helping matter fall into black holes.

The researchers noted that the light from this black hole could help provide clues about the dark corners of the distant cosmos. As the quasar's light shines toward Earth, it passes through intergalactic gas that colors the light. By deducing how this intergalactic gas influenced the spectrum of light from the quasar, scientists can deduce which elements make up this gas. This knowledge, in turn, can provide insight into the star-formation processes that were at work shortly after the Big Bang that produced these elements.

"This quasar is the most luminous one in the early universe, which, like a lighthouse, will provide us chances to use it as a unique tool to study the cosmic structure of the dark, distant universe," Wu said.

The scientists detailed their findings in the Feb. 26 issue of the journal Nature.

Check out the article at

Cool stuff!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Happy Mardi Gras!!!

Krewe of Muses - Saints Spin the Bottle 2015

Krewe of Okeanos - Skinz and Bonez

Krewe of Thoth - Hell Float

Krewe of Bacchus - Bacchagator

Krewe of Bacchus - Bacchawhoppa

Krewe of Orpheus - Smokey Mary

Krewe of Orpheus - Trojan Horse

Krewe of Orpheus - Leviathan

Krewe of Zulu

Krewe of Zulu

Krewe of Rex - The Boeuf Gras

A boa served as a weathervane on Lundi Gras evening (Feb. 16), its feathers flying sideways as local and visiting New Orleanians gathered to kick off Mardi Gras with the traditional Spanish Plaza ritual: the mayor handing over the key to the city to Rex, King of Carnival, for a day of revelry.
After a cloudy, warm day, the forecast called for cold rain any minute. Everyone just prayed it wouldn't turn as cold and wet as last Mardi Gras, when people's lips turned as blue as their wigs. As the Soul Rebels Brass Band played, "I Can't Go for That."

A flock of brown paper napkins skirled across the pavement but the daiquiris still flowed even though the fountains didn't -- management had to turn off the water jets after the wind started blowing them into people's faces, attendees said.

Still, "rain or shine, people want their daiquiris," said Fat Tuesday staffer Amber Arceneaux.
Also, many had come from places up north where a forecast of 45 degrees sounded downright balmy. "To know my friends are at home getting 12 inches of snow ..." gloated Amy Graf, from Louisville, Ky.

"For them, this is springtime," said Vernon Coy, her father's old friend. He said he'd attended every single Spanish Plaza Lundi Gras celebration and pooh-poohed the forecast -- then admitted bad weather might curtail his Mardi Gras plans. Usually he and his friends from Kentucky stand at St. Charles and Napoleon but if it rains, "we stay in my house and play cards."

Perhaps the river was choppy, but no one knew and it didn't matter: For the first time in more than a century, Rex was to arrive by rail. The Ya-Ya Sisters stood on a bench overlooking the train tracks, wands held aloft.

The three friends, all in their 60s and born within 13 months of each other, had to shelve their three-foot-tall headdresses due to the wind. But you'd never know anything was missing, bedecked as they were in sequins, animal prints, feathers, bling and dangles.

"Since the hurricane, we all moved away so this is how we get together," said Wanda Punch, her blue curls blowing around her face. "Each parade is a new suit," she said -- all, she clarified, made from recycled materials. She beckoned a man over for a photo, saying, "We need some beef for our sandwich."

After a few false alarms -- including a streetcar holding barely more than a lone woman, who waved gamely at the crowds -- an ear-splitting whistle sounded and the train chugged into view. Two heralds squeezed themselves onto the back platform to play a fanfare for Rex, Christian :Christy" Brown.

Brown threw his arms open wide like a victorious quarterback, beaming and saying, "What a wonderful way to arrive."

He was hustled up to the stage for the reading of his Mardi Gras proclamation and the exchange of gifts with King Zulu, Andrew "Pete" Sanchez. The plumes on his attendants' helmets blew half-horizontal as Brown proposed a cessation from work, school, governance and ordinary selves.

Despite the gold robes, he was a Rex more jovial than regal: Sanchez greeted him by his real name.

Brown also gave a weather forecast.

"Tomorrow will be clear skies. And wonderful temperatures and big crowds! I hope you will come out," he declared.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu praised Brown and Sanchez' contributions to the city, saying, "Can you think of another place you would rather live in the world than New Orleans?" Cheers drowned out his answer.

"We've asked the mayor to consider Rex' proclamation," emcee Errol Laborde said, as the wind whipped off his ball cap. Would he give over the streets?

"Because Rex asked me to suspend belief," Landrieu said, "I'll do it on the condition that you return the streets to me with all of the potholes filled." He handed over the key and shouted, hoarsely, "All hail Rex!"

As fireworks reflected off the windows of the high-rises and a plane shot off gold sparks overhead, Brown waved again and again. All the dignitaries left as swiftly as they had come, leaving the plaza to the partiers.

Even after decades on the Spanish Plaza, "It never gets old, never grows old," said Coy, the local with Kentucky friends. "Nothing but the best and no rain." He shook his beer and his hips, singing, "Mardi Gras mambo, mambo, mambo."

And people danced around the stilled fountain for just a few minutes, until those green-purple-and-gold umbrellas were needed for real.

Check out the article at

Here are some Mardi Gras headlines:


Friday, February 13, 2015

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2015

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2015 - St. Valentine's Day Masquerade

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2015 - St. Valentine's Day Masquerade

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2015 - St. Valentine's Day Masquerade

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2015 - St. Valentine's Day Masquerade

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2015 - St. Valentine's Day Masquerade

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2015 - St. Valentine's Day Masquerade

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2015 - St. Valentine's Day Masquerade

A 35-year tradition in Baton Rouge, the Krewe of Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade seems to get more irreverent as it ages. The Krewe of Partylons is no different.

Joining together in 1998, a group of thespian friends named its new krewe after Mary and Buford Bordelon, who were dubbed Mary and Buford “Partylon” as they frequently entertained large groups spontaneously at their home.

Now remarried, Mary Pittman said that since Buford Bordelon’s death in 2001, the Krewe of Partylons, a group he loved, gives a toast in his honor before each parade. Then, it’s down the route for the celebration, with thousands of screaming patrons hoping to catch a string of disco-ball beads.

Now preparing to ride in the Spanish Town parade for its 17th year, the krewe, best known for its huge disco ball-bedecked float, are ready to take this year’s parade theme, “St. Valentine’s Day Masquerade,” to a new level of raunchy with their “Tainted Love” installment.

Noting the well-known political incorrectness of the parade, Pittman said that she and her krewe will be depicting the “love” between people like Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Bert and Ernie, Kermit and Miss Piggy, Morticia and Gomez Addams and more.

“The tainted love is sort of warped lovers and couples,” Pittman said.

But it isn’t as warped as her krewe has gotten over the years.

They’ve been “The Plank Road Personnel,” portraying pimps and ladies of the evening in accordance with Spanish Town’s 1999 “Leathers and Feathers” theme. They have also been mad scientists as “The Jury-rigging formula for Edwin Edwards.”

And while masking up may be a good time for anyone, what makes the costuming most fun for the krewe is the escape from their day jobs.

Riders, who must be at least 18, work in varying professions, from professor to priest, two architects, a church secretary, a welder, an engineer, a paralegal, a claims adjuster and many more. The variety of careers is also a reason why krewe members rarely see each other outside of their Spanish Town duties.

Pittman said they begin meeting each year just after the SPLL (Society for the Preservation of Lagniappe in Louisiana), the board who facilitates the annual parade, reveals its upcoming theme.

“The planning process is so much fun because we make a party out of everything,” Pittman said.

When the krewe first joined the parade, Pittman said lots of hiring-out was being done to create decorations for the float, but now the Partylons have a graphic designer onboard.

This year’s float will also carry a live DJ to make the disco ball all the more fitting.

Pittman also said the krewe often covers its float and travels with decorations and items to be used as judge-bait, but unfortunately the group has never won any awards at the parade. However, it did snag its first-ever Spanish Town-related win on Jan. 31 for best table decor at the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Ball.

At the end of Mardi Gras season, Pittman said all the decorations are recycled for later use, as the Partylons also ride in the Baton Rouge Halloween Parade.

But, there are never any throws left to save.

“Throws never make it past parade day,” Pittman said, laughing.

Construction along River Road and surrounding areas has created a change in this year’s parade route (see accompanying map). This year’s court is Queen Johanna Smith and Grand Marshal Allen Kirkpatrick. Honorary King is the late Shelby Holmes.

Check out the article at The Advocate.

It's Party Time!!!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Congratulations Odell Beckham, Jr.

LSU's Times Square Billboard Tribute to Odell Beckham, Jr. - February, 2015

LSU's Times Square Billboard Tribute to Odell Beckham, Jr. - February, 2015

LSU has celebrated former Tiger and current New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year with a billboard in Times Square.

Beckham, an All American at LSU where he played from 2011-13, was selected with the 12th pick in the 2014 draft by New York, had 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns despite missing the first four games of the season. He was the 12th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

The billboard is located above the Good Morning America Studio on the 1500 block of Broadway at 43rd and 44th avenues. It’s scheduled to run through at least Thursday.

The sign was designed by Krystal Bennett-Faircloth of the LSU Sports Information Department. It features Beckham’s one-handed catch that he made against Iowa in the 2014 Outback Bowl along with one of his New York Giants action shots. A LSU football helmet along with the slogan, “Born on the Bayou” is featured on the sign as well as the LSU football Twitter handle @LSUfball.

Check out the article at The Advocate.

Congratulations Odell Beckham, Jr.! Geaux Tigers!!!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Battle of New Orleans Centennial Anniversary

Battle of New Orleans Centennial Anniversary - January 8, 2015

Battle of New Orleans Centennial Anniversary - January 8, 2015

Battle of New Orleans Centennial Anniversary - January 8, 2015

Battle of New Orleans Centennial Anniversary - January 8, 2015

Today marks the bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans, the last great salvo in the War of 1812, also known as our “forgotten conflict.” If you know anything about the conflict, it’s likely that it is some of the famous events that led up to the end of the war, such as the burning of the White House and the successful defense of Fort McHenry (which inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner”).

But our “forgotten conflict” left an indelible mark. The War of 1812 not only launched America, then a fledgling republic, onto the world stage as a force to be reckoned with, but also made famous our nation’s seventh president, then Major General Andrew Jackson, who led a modest group of volunteers to victory against a battle-tested British army in the Battle of New Orleans. The War of 1812 was fought to win greater respect for American rights at sea, which the British routinely violated in their search for victory against France in the Napoleonic Wars. But the European contest ended in 1814, and thereafter the British were able to concentrate on the United States and had the young republic on the ropes.

The aim of Britain’s Gulf Coast campaign was to occupy territory that might be used as a bargaining chip in the peace negotiations then underway at Ghent in modern-day Belgium. The main target was New Orleans, the largest city in the West and the outlet for virtually all farm commodities produced for export beyond the Appalachian Mountains. Confident that they could easily defeat the “dirty shirts,” as they called Jackson’s army of amateurs, the British were eager to bring matters to a head. But Jackson, who had an instinctive grasp of military strategy and tactics and an iron will, slowed the British down in three preliminary battles before they launched their main attack on Jan. 8, 1815.

At 6 a.m. on that cold and misty January morning, a Congreve rocket fired into the air south of New Orleans was the signal for some 5,000 British troops to advance against Jackson’s army, about the same size, behind a well-fortified line that was stretched from the Mississippi River in the west to an impenetrable cypress swamp in the east. The battle lasted less than 30 minutes, and the result changed America and stunned the world. By the time the smoke had cleared, the British had sustained 2,000 killed, wounded, missing or captured. Jackson’s own losses were only 71. This was the most lopsided defeat ever suffered by a British army. News of the battle spread like wildfire across the United States and immediately transformed the entire war into a glorious American victory.

For the rest of the century, many Americans celebrated Jan. 8 as much as July 4, and Jackson’s triumph quickly became encrusted in myth and legend. One myth held that the U.S. victory had produced a favorable peace settlement, although the peace treaty, which did not mention the maritime issues that had caused the war, was signed two weeks before, on Dec. 24, 1814. Later this notion was replaced by a more plausible (and persistent) myth that the battle was fought after the war was over. But this, too, was untrue because it took six weeks for the treaty to cross the Atlantic, and the war ended only after it was ratified by the United States on Feb. 16, some five weeks after Jackson’s victory.

Other myths have been equally persistent. Among these are the notion that the Kentucky rifle won the battle (it was mainly artillery); that Jean Lafitte and his pirates played a central role (an exaggeration based on a combination of the romantic appeal of pirates and a fake Lafitte diary that surfaced in the 1950s); that the British planned to sack the city if they won – known as the “beauty and booty” myth – (there is no credible evidence for this); and that the British would not have surrendered southern Louisiana if they had prevailed (again, no evidence). These myths have endured because they endow the victory with greater meaning, foster an appealing self-image and promote a notion of unconventional Yankee success that Americans still find attractive.

The real significance of the battle is not that it spared New Orleans or preserved Louisiana but that it shaped how Americans remembered the war. In celebrating Jackson’s victory, Americans have chosen to ignore that the peace treaty was silent on the neutral rights for which they were contending. They have also forgotten how close the young republic came to military defeat, economic collapse and national bankruptcy (the Treasury having defaulted on the national debt in 1814). Instead, Americans prefer to remember how Jackson’s ragtag frontier army that included free blacks as well as French and Spanish residents decisively defeated the conquerors of Napoleon and the Mistress of the Seas.

The victory made Jackson the hero of the age, catapulted him into the presidency and launched a buoyant postwar era that is still called the Age of Jackson. The victory boosted American self-confidence and gave added meaning to a war whose legacy was destined to be profound and lasting. The War of 1812 opened the door to territorial expansion, marked the birth of the American military establishment, shaped the political landscape until the Civil War and forged a national identity. “Don’t give up the ship” and “We have met the enemy and they are ours” entered the American lexicon. “The Star-Spangled Banner” became a popular tune that Congress made our national anthem in 1931. The war also produced an iconic ship, the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”), and gave the Kentucky rifle an inflated reputation as a war-winner and game-changer.

The War of 1812 may have seemed a small and inconclusive contest, and Jackson’s great victory may have had no impact on its course; but both the battle and the war played a central role in shaping the nation.

Check out the article at US News & World Report.

For a complete list of events commemorating the Battle of New Orleans Centennial, check out

I'm fascinated by history, and by how much can be forgotten in such a relatively short period time. The details fade away and only legend remains. I always look forward to such an anniversary, for the opportunity to examine the specifics more closely.

For more information on the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans, check out the following: