If a week ago, anyone had said that the the New Orleans Hornets would be undefeated after two games, with one win coming on the final buzzer on the road and another coming in the form of a dominant performance against the Boston Celtics in front of a sold-out home crowd, it would be hard to take them seriously.
And yet here we are. The Hornets are a surprising 2-0 for the second year in a row under head coach Monty Williams and once again a team everyone thought was going to be bad to just-a-bit-better-than-bad shows that it can play ball. Normally, because the NBA season can be so long, you'd have to take the Hornets 97-78 win over the Celtics last night with a grain of salt. But with a lockout-shortened 66-game season, every game counts more than ever and the Hornets will take every win they can get.
Not that people should be planning any championship parades. The season-opening against Phoenix, though thrilling, came against one of the few teams picked to finish as bad or worse than the Hornets. Last night's win against Boston, though uplifting, came against a team that's opened their season with three road games in four days in New York, Miami and here, with the last two coming in the past 48 hours. At the very least, though, the Hornets have proven capable of taking advantage of teams not playing their best.
Williams has been quick to point out that the lockout ended only recently, and the reduced preseason has left teams shuffling their lineups and with players having to adapt quickly to NBA competition. Last night, the Hornets seemed liked they've been playing together non-stop for years on end, playing solid team defense and rarely missing assignments. Boston, meanwhile, managed to make just over 37 percent of their shots and looked more and more tired as the game wore on.
New Orleans had five players score in double figures last night, with Jarrett Jack leading the way with 21 points and 9 assists. Carl Landry has picked up were he left off last season after he replaced an injured (and now departed) David West and added 20 points and 11 rebounds. Most importantly, when Landry and Jack sat, the team didn't fall apart and after taking the lead in the first quarter, New Orleans never looked back. In the end, there was just no denying the fact that Williams had his players ready to play while Boston looked liked a disheveled version of its former self.
Of course, all of this could just be a mirage created by the shortened preseason, the rapid-fire regular season schedule and the lack of time to teams have had to scout each other since the lockout ended. After all, the Hornets barely even had a set roster as little as two weeks ago, not even Williams could tell how well his team would perform when the real games started (for his part, Williams downplayed expectations throughout the preseason, saying what a young team needed most was practice time that the Hornets didn't have. That lack of practice time and breaks to study film could well come back to haunt this team). It stands to reason that, eventually, other teams that have properly scouted the Hornets will bring them back to Earth.
For now, Hornets fans should bask in their team's second-straight surprising start to a season. And, even if this team does start to regress and ends up being as bad as everyone predicted, they have a solid base of young talent to build around and two draft picks next year to help the cause. All in all, it's fun time to be a Hornets fan.
Southwest Louisiana’s colony of endangered whooping cranes grew to 19 Tuesday, when wildlife officials released 16 young birds into the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Gueydan to join the three adult cranes placed there in March. The releases are part of a 15-year experimental program to establish a nonmigratory population of whooping cranes in Louisiana.
Similar programs to build whooping crane populations in the wild are under way in two other locations, and captive-breeding projects are being conducted at a dozen locations across the U.S. and Canada. The only self-sustaining natural wild population of whooping cranes nests in Canada, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) website. It also warns, “It is that all or most of the populations of these endangered birds could be wiped out from a single event such as a hurricane, disease outbreak, toxic spill, or prolonged drought. This makes the species vulnerable to extinction.”
Tonight, the New Orleans Hornets enter the Hive for the team's home opener, a Chris Paul-less crew of future champions and hungry NBA babies.
Overshadowed by Drew Brees' obliteration of the Atlanta Falcons at the Superdome on Monday Night Football, the Bees won Monday's season opener against the Phoenix Suns thanks to a last minute score from Eric Gordon. Tonight, with no footballs in sight, the Hornets have the city's full attention (or should have) at the New Orleans Arena, as the team takes on the Boston Celtics.
People who might have spotted the giant mug sign from Ted’s Frostop (3100 Calhoun St., 861-3615) being loaded onto a flatbed and trucked away one day last fall could be excused for thinking they’d witnessed the end of an era. In fact, it was part of a new chapter for a long-running legacy.
That mug is a 14-foot-tall, sheet metal relic from the glory days of the American burger stand, and it’s been a kitschy landmark along South Claiborne Avenue since it was first installed in the 1950s. More recently, it became a defiant symbol of Hurricane Katrina recovery.
Originally mounted on a high pedestal over the restaurant, the mug was knocked down by Katrina’s storm winds, landing upside down in the parking lot. Rather than right it, the Ted’s crew had it repaired as it stood, with frosted top to the pavement. When Ted’s reopened in 2006, the logo on its menus and T-shirts was even changed to show the mug upside down.
But the departure of the mug in September signaled a new start for Ted’s Frostop, which now has a new owner, a revamped menu and, as of last week, a newly restored mug sign returned to its original, frosted-side-up stature. Finishing touches coming this week include the addition of neon lettering, similar to the separate Frostop location in LaPlace, and a motor to make the sign spin on its base.
“I’m sure a lot of people will be upset that we don’t have it upside down anymore, but we want to signal there’s a renaissance going on,” says Peter Moss, who bought Ted’s earlier this year.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses fake Twitter accounts to monitor people. Really? I have never in my life suspected that.
In April, two months after DHS gave notice that it would be monitoring social networks in this way, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) fired off a public records request under the Freedom of Information Act. EPIC wanted details on the program: What type of software would DHS be using? What sort of training would DHS agents receive? Would HBGary — the tech firm that was earlier this year revealed to have been trying to use these very techniques in smear campaigns against Wikileaks, Anonymous and any labor union that dared to defy the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — be a government contractor on this?
(More after the jump)
I talked the other day to a pretty prominent conservative officeholder who’s constantly been discussing with people around the country the possibility of a new entrant or a push to draft someone. But who? One name he mentioned is Bobby Jindal, who is extremely knowledgeable, a favorite of conservatives, and has executive experience. One big problem: Jindal is with Perry — literally. Not only has he endorsed him, he’s been campaigning with him. For a Jindal scenario to work, Perry would have to collapse and Jindal turn around and immediately express interest in rising from his friend’s ashes.
The Louisiana governor has said he has no intention of running for president in 2012 — and, despite his early endorsement of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, he is not interested in being on the bottom of a Perry-Jindal ticket.
In other presidential sweepstakes news: Tonight's GOP debate, presented by Newsmax and originally set to be moderated by Donald "The Celebrity Apprentice" Trump, has been postponed indefinitely after several candidates turned up their noses at the notion of appearing with Trump.
From the director of Swamp Shark: Next year, Syfy, pioneer of cable-only intentional camp, will release Arachnoquake, its latest portmanteau-horror, starring Growing Pains' Tracey Gold (Carol Seaver!).
In the film, earthquakes unleash ancient giant spiders (albino spiders, even, because albinism is really scary, y'all!) on the streets of New Orleans.
Carol, with the help of Alan Thicke's mighty hands of justice and Kirk Cameron's pure God-fueled rage, will battle the arachnids — we hope.
Scene (again, we hope): The French Quarter is covered in spider limbs with only a few survivors searching the remains. Carol cradles Kirk Cameron's lifeless body, covered in thick wads of web silk. "Show me that smile!," she wails, tears filling her eyes. Alan Thicke, wearing a machine gun bandolier and covered in ash and blood, pulls her away. "Don't waste another minute on your crying," he says. "We're nowhere near the end. The best is yet to begin."
"You're right," she says, wiping her face. "As long as we got each other, we got the world spinning right in our hands — unlike these spiders, who only spin webs. Rain or shine, all the time, we got each other, sharing the laughter and love." /scene
Arachnoquake also casts Little Rascals' Bug Hall, and Edward Furlong, of Terminator 2: Judgment Day fame.
Swamp Shark, the Kristy Swanson-starring Syfy original, was the network's top-rated 2011... film, shot in our own Atchafalaya Basin. Next year, Syfy also will release Tasmania Devil, starring Danica Keller — or Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years'.
Going to farmers markets is a great way to keep up with which local foods are in season. These days, though, such visits are also pretty helpful for keeping up with what’s new in the local food truck scene.
For instance, the truck Geaux Plates is serving today, Dec. 27, at the Uptown edition of the Crescent City Farmers Market. This truck specializes in sandwiches made on Vietnamese-style baguettes, such as its bayou banh mi filled with lemongrass grilled chicken and boudin. They’ll be dishing at the market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A little later in the week, the truck la Cocinita begins one short-term stay and one longer residence at two farmers markets. On Thursday, the truck will be at the Mid-City edition of the Crescent City Farmers Market, serving from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., for what’s expected to be a regular weekly visit there by the American Can Apartments.
And then la Cocinita will truck on over to Hollygrove Market & Farm, where it will serve this Saturday, Dec. 31, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and next Tuesday, Jan. 3, from noon to 2 p.m.
A lot will be written about Drew Brees breaking Dan Marino's 27-year-old single season passing record, thousands of words all pretty much saying the same thing: Brees is one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks that has ever played.
There really isn't any way to overstate it. New Orleans is now home to not just a Super Bowl-MVP-winning, sure-fire Hall of Fame inductee, but also to a multiple NFL-record holder (the first being the record Brees set for completions in the Super Bowl). The significance of this record also can't be overstated. Marino, arguably the greatest NFL quarterback to never win a Super Bowl, originally set the record in his sophomore season in the league, nearly three decades ago and that same year he led the Dolphins to a Super Bowl appearance.
But while Marino set his record as a wunderkind and ended his career always coming just short of an elusive championship, the manner in which Brees got his record makes it all the more special. Brees broke the record after winning a Super Bowl and he did it in the tenth year of his career. This is a player that, back in 2006, people wondered if he would ever be able to move his shoulder without pain again, let alone play quarterback in the NFL. Now he'll be remembered as one of the best that ever played his position.
Some asinine cranks will try and tell you that Brees and coach Sean Payton were wrong in their pursuit of the record and that it was "classless" to have run up the score on the Falcons to accomplish their goal. The Falcons, to be sure, were pissed that they had to be the ones to give up the record on national TV in a game that also gave the NFC South Division title to their heated rivals. And, not that it matters, but Brees and Payton didn't need the Falcons permission to break the record and, if Atlanta really had a problem with it they could have, you know, stopped Brees.
Stopping Brees, as the Falcons and most of the NFL will tell you, is no easy task. The Falcons came close in the second half, limiting Brees to just 86-yards in the second half and, compared to his season averages, Brees didn't play like himself. But even on a night when Brees didn't play up to his ridiculously high standards, he still had his way with the Falcons secondary, moving the Saints basically at will up and down the field. Really, if the Falcons didn't want the Saints to run up the score, they could have refrained from intercepting Brees twice and letting him get the 30 yards he needed on that final drive earlier in the game.
All in all, this is just another reason to celebrate one of the greatest athletes in his sport and, certainly, the greatest athlete ever to represent New Orleans. In a city that needs no reason for a party, this is as good as any. Brees, though, isn't satisfied with just a single record, he's looking to win championships. And if you think the Saints' first Super Bowl celebration was something to remember, just imagine what it will be like if Brees lifts the Lombardi trophy the same year he played the best season ever as a quarterback.
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