The saddest pumpkins at the OKC Zoo

The Oklahoma City Zoo was set up for their annual Haunt the Zoo celebration. The property was decorated with the best of classic Halloween paraphernalia: creatures from outer space, mad scientist's lab, the Wizard of Oz, monsters, scarecrows. More abundant than others were the quintessential decor of All Hallows Eve: jack-o-lanterns.

Since the jack-o-lanterns have been out in the warmer Oklahoma fall weather for several days, the pumpkins are in varying stages of collapse and decay. Here, I present you the saddest pumpkins at the Oklahoma City Zoo.


Six for Saturday

I wanted to post something yesterday, but time ran out. After the trip to the zoo, dinner with the cousins, and a visit to grandma's house to say farewell, it was after midnight by the time we got back to someplace with a computer. Then we had to pack and get ready for the 4:30 wakeup call and a 6am flight.

So, it's Saturday. And I'd like to take a look back to the zoo. More specifically I'd like to give you the zoo from my kids' perspective. Here are their favorite exhibits at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Chloe's three favorite creatures

Gorillas (she even came face to face with one of them)

Christian's three favorite beasts



Bed time play list

We're off to Oooooooooooooooklahoma.

In the process of being away from home, we're losing an important luxury: music for the kids. They are used to falling asleep listening to some ambient music only station on DirecTV. They get restless and devious in silence. Background melodies (provided it is down-tempo) helps calm them and sooth them into a slumbering oblivion.

We can't take DirecTV with us. Since we still wish them to fall asleep in a timely (and non-destructive) manner, we're on to plan-b.

My inner DJ is back, and I've compiled a lullaby playlist for the kids. As I've mentioned before, my definition of "lullaby" is a bit more liberally applied than most.

For those of you who eschew traditional lullabies but still need them for your kids, consider this my public service to you: the Casey Family Lullaby Playlist. Go find these songs on iTunes, or Amazon, or wherever you buy music.

1. Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, and Gillian Welch: Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby (from the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack)

2. Switchfoot: Twenty-Four (from the album The Beautiful Letdown)

3. Superchick: Breathe (from the album Rock What You Got)

4. Ben Folds: Gracie (from the album Songs For Silverman)

5. Third Day: Love Song (from the album Third Day)

6. Sarah McLachlan: The Rainbow Connection (from For the Kids - various artist compilation)

7. Joy Electric: Candycane Carrriage [lost in the forest] (from the Old Wives Tales EP)

8. Linkin Park: My December (from the One Step Closer single)

9. Owl City: Meteor Shower (from the album Ocean Eyes)

10. Matisyahu: Silence (from the album Light)

11. Family Force 5: Topsy Turvy (from Almost Alice Deluxe Edition - various artist compilation)

12. Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (from For the Kids - various artist compilation)

13. Switchfoot: Don't Be There (from the album Legend of Chin)

14. Ben Harper: Happy Everafter In Your Eyes (from the album Both Sides Of The Gun)

15. Sheryl Crow: Lullaby For Wyatt (from the album Detours)

16. Blue October: 3 Weeks, She Sleeps (from the album History For Sale)

17. Ben Folds: Still Fighting It (from the album Rockin' the Suburbs)

18. R. Kelly: The World's Greatest (from the Ali soundtrack)

19. U2: Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of [acoustic version] (from the 7 EP)

20. Joni Mitchell: The Circle Game (from the album Ladies of the Canyon)

21. Wilco: More Like the Moon (from the More Like the Moon EP)

total playtime: just under 80 minutes


And the winners are...

JJ's picture: The winner is my mom with Don't Make Me Look
Zu's picture: Leigh Ann won with One With God
Christian's picture: Cindy & Jeff tied with identical captions: Christian Shrugged

Thanks for playing along.


Five for Friday: the problem with Westboro

For those of us living in the Inland Northwest, there has been a presence among us that has dominated local news for the past couple of days: Westboro Baptist "Church."

They've been protesting various schools in the Spokane/Coeur d'Alene area, reportedly attracted to our corner of the world by NIC's production of The Laramie Project. I had the displeasure of driving past their debacle during my morning commute to work and friends of mine have been posting pictures and comments on face book from the various counter-protests. And wherever WBC activists go, the counter-protests are sure to follow. As one friend mentioned, "it's nice to see them bring so many of us together for the same cause."

And the counter-protests here have been noticeable: 1200 at EWU, 600 at Gonzaga, a few hundred divided between the two high schools in Cd'A, and the Human Rights Education Institute was packed full of people this morning.

It seems that most everyone can agree on one thing: the members of WBC are ugly and vile people whose message of hate contradicts the message of the God they claim to worship. What people can't agree on is how to contravene their despicable acts. There seems to be four camps in anti-WBC strategies: 1) Ignore and/or do nothing, 2) Mockery or parody 3) Confrontation with anger versus anger 4) Vigils or alternative rallies at sites removed away from the WBC spectacle.

I don't think we've yet figured out the correct way to protest whatever it is Westboro Baptist is trying to accomplish. Unfortunately, I don't know if there is a right way. How do we combat shameless and unabashed hate?

There's a dilemma when dealing with WBC. We are presented five distinct problems that complicate formulating an appropriate resistance to their animosity.

1. The law is on their side. While their signs and methods are the clearest available example of hate speech, it is protected by the first amendment. As long as they are doing their business on public grounds (which they always are) and they never physically provoke others (which they never have), they're within their rights. The same provision that gives the rest of us freedom of religion and freedom of press also allows them the freedom of religion and the freedom to be offensive. The only debatable issue is currently being weighed at the US Supreme Court - at what point do their rights to free speech infringe on another's rights to privacy. Since standing on a street corner outside a public school doesn't invade anyone's privacy, there are no laws that they've broken. To further endear them in our hearts, Phelps is a former lawyer and most of his kids are lawers. They know what the law allows them to do and they know how to legally push their limits. It's constitutionally protected harassment.

2. They do not use logic. Their reasonings for picketing the varied schools here followed no logical order. Gonzaga was to protest binge drinking, stupidity, and "rampant fornication," among other things. They protested Moody Bible Institute because the future ministers there are really false prophets (false prophets because MBI does not preach WBC's "God Hates Fags" message*). Students at Whitworth University (according to WBC) spend more time pursuing "drunken sins than their academic studies." They were at Rogers HS because flipping off God has consequences. Eastern Washington University is a "cesspool." Cd'A HS because the faculty teach students to be "vain, selfish, sinful, violent, lusty, God-hating, brats." Lake City High School to remind people that there is a God. And Synagogue Chavurat HaMashiach because they're Jewish. The reasons they posted on their website and the corresponding scriptures they used to support their conclusions are the most nonsensical gobbledygook ever written.

3. They are conscientious tyrants. They operate under a guise of morality and they are convinced that they are acting on the side of righteousness. In God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis wrote, "a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies... those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."** Fred Phelps and his congregation believe they are morally superior and that they are commanded and compelled to preach their version of God's will. They have dozens of selectively chosen scriptures that support the idea to hate evil and to hate the enemies of God then they've twisted those scriptures to fit their convoluted purpose. And they are justified in their actions because the Bible says they will be blessed if people hate them. Nothing will ever convince them that they are either oppressive or tyrannical.

4. They are glory whores.*** They crave the media attention as it helps spread their message. The more obnoxious or combative the counter-protests, the more the WBC people will feel justified in their efforts to preach against America. If gays and lesbians are predominant and vocal in those protests, WBC will be further convinced in their mission to condemn homosexuality. Confrontation accomplishes nothing beyond bringing more undeserved attention to WBC's mission of malevolence. Even peaceful protests further their goals because the attention is still focussed on how wrong WBC is. It is as if Fred Phelps lives by the motto "I don't care what you think, as long as it's about me." It is this quandary that should be most disconcerting to Christians, as the Bible tells us to do all things to the glory of God - yet the members of WBC masquerading in feigned Godliness are doing all things for their own glory.

5. Doing nothing is not appropriate. JFK once said, "the only thing necessary for evil to triumph in the world is for good men to do nothing." As Phelps's gospel of hate and vengeance is diametrically apposed to what the church should stand for (love your neighbors, love your enemies, a ministry of reconciliation, reasoning together, becoming all things to all men, that God is love) I can think of no other way to describe the members of Westboro Baptist other than evil. If we do nothing, if we say nothing... They triumph. They succeed. They win.

So I'm at a loss. Reason and logic are ineffective. Confrontation won't work, but neither will ignoring them. And we can't restrict or prohibit their venom through law. How do we overcome their hateful themes?

* I apologize for the offensive language. I find their flippant use of the word "fag" to be abhorrent. Unfortunately, there is no better way to expose their villainy than through their own words.
** You can read the full C.S. Lewis quote in context HERE."
*** I am sorry for the crass language. I was just being honest.


Five for Friday

It's been a crazy work week. The resulting consequence of insanity and employment being tossed into the same blender is cognitive malfunctions by Friday night. Then my brother published a new post on his blog, reminding me that it was the end of the week and I've yet to post my 5 things.

Problem? Only if you consider my TGIF induced brain lapse. And since my mental capacities are not functioning to it's highest capacities, I'm electing to take the easy blog idea and share a few favorites with you.

1. My favorite animal: Oreamnos americanus, aka (please don't laugh) the mountain goat. I've admired these animals since Toby and I chased them across a snow covered ridge in the North Cascades during the summer after 6th grade. Yes, I know they're not the prettiest beasts, but they are among the most agile creatures to walk this earth. They might be ugly to some, but I think they're the most noble looking of all the animal kingdom.

2. My favorite place that I've never visited: Nordland Norway. More specifically, the Lofoten Islands. Nordland is one of the least populated places in all of Europe and Lofoten is one of the most remote geographies in Nordland. This archipelago juts away from the Norwegian mainland north of the Arctic circle and is home to the world's largest deep sea coral reef. Aside from the wild life, majestic mountains, countless lakes, and the small villages (like Reine) the drive along E10 from Bjerkvik to Å and back would be a fantastic road trip... at least in summer.

3. My favorite mistake. There's a girl that I dated for a few months after moving to Nampa. She wasn't a bad person, but it was clear to everyone except me that it was not going to end well. Our split was the primary factor that influenced my decision to change churches (as to avoid having to attend church with a girl that wanted nothing to do with me). And in a case of timing is everything, a coworker invited me to her church where I met Steve and Nate - two guys who shared musical interests similar to mine. We sparked an instant friendship. Steve and Nate introduced me to Tommy, who lived at Ellen's house. I started going to the weekly Bible study at Ellen's house and eventually moved in there. That's where I met Bekah. So that girl in Nampa was bad for me, but she was the catalyst that led me to the girl who would be come my bride. I won't complain.

4. My favorite charity. To Write Love On Her Arms. I've written about them before, and if you have any opportunity to support them - do. TWLOA does some great work helping people break the cycles of depression, suicide, and addiction.

5. My favorite style choice that drives my wife crazy: self-descriptive clothing. At this given moment, my selection is limited: a "White and Nerdy" hoody, a Pillsbury Dough Boy neck tie, Fruit Loops t-shirt. If my wife would let me, my self-deprecating wardrobe would be much larger. However, Bekah poo-poos some of my greatest finds (like the Twinkie t-shirt I found a couple weeks ago) and steers me toward more sensible selections. The way I see it, she should be thankful that I got rid of the "Dork" t-shirt I used to wear when we first got married.

How about you? Any fashion choices that maddens your significant other? Any place you've never been to that you'd consider a favorite destination?


Pop quiz

Poltergeist: is it...

a) A scary 1982 Steven Spielberg movie about a haunted family
b) A scary pseudo-scientific psycho spiritual phenomenon
c) The scary poopy diaper I just removed from my youngest's hind end


Don't Make Me Look

Please give me a caption for this photo.

Caption courtesy of Becky Casey

One With God

Please give me a caption for this photo.

Caption courtesy of Leigh Ann

Christian Shrugged

Please give me a caption for this photo.

Caption Courtesy of Jeff & Cindy (who both had the same idea at the same moment, although... Cindy posted her comment one minute ahead of Jeff)

ps: Shmily Face Photography was a close 2nd (3rd?) with her caption "We're gonna take over the world"


In case you missed it...

Miriam (my sister-in-law) is proudly displaying my kids on her blog. I could duplicate the post, but I enjoy giving her some extra blog-traffic. So, hop on over and enjoy the awesomeness of my three kids.

And a big thanks to Whim Fancy for the best photo shoot ever.


Five for Friday: Pop-Culture Mash-Ups

Do you emember Venn diagrams? Venn diagrams were those funny circles used to compare two or three separate items to see what they had in common.

I'm going to use them today to prove a point (Mrs. Wilson would be so proud - I probably haven't used a Venn diagram since I was a 5th grader in her classroom).

My point? There is nothing new in popular culture. The people who make movies and produce television shows know this - and in fact, they capitalize on it. I have five examples that should help make clearer that what you watch on TV or what you see in the theater are imaginative (or not-so creative) rehashings of previous ideas.

1. Starting off simple. A+B=C: Godzilla + The Blair Witch Project = Cloverfield.

2. A little more complex is comparing 3 items. When you get A+B+C=D, there may be things that A and B have in common that are not shared by C. Likewise B and C have commonalities not a part of A. Example: Fantastic Four + 7th Heaven + Teen Titans = No Ordinary Family. However, the combination of any two items result in differing selections. Yet the sum of all parts result in ABC's new show about a family with super powers.

3. Now that that we've covered the two primary types of Venn diagrams, lets go back to the two circle version: Gilligan's Island + The X-Files = LOST

4. Sometimes, crazy things happen.* With the success of a perfect blend of ingredients, the result of one mash-up could be the catalyst for another: LOST + 24 = FlashForward, LOST + Alien Nation = V, Alien Nation + 24 = Threshold. The sum of all parts equals The Event.

5. Finally I give you a Venn diagram within a Venn diagram. This is the strange instance where the end result is any of the four parts, yet any two parts make nothing other than the final answer. Confused? Let me explain: The so-called White Horse prophecy + Armageddon with some conspiracies mixed in and TEA Party endorsement, you get...

Glenn Beck. No other place will you see Mormon history blended with Revelationy thinking. Glenn represents the Tea Party and and organizes events. He makes his money spouting insane conspiracies with no basis in fact. He frequently drops the exact phrasing allegedly spoken by Joseph Smith in the White Horse Prophesy. He is predicting apocalyptic bloodshed if we don't do what he says. All four parts could stand on their own, but combine any two, and you always end up with the same product: Glenn Beck.

* It is of special interest that LOST, 24, and The Event all feature something very bad happening to commercial airplanes during their debut episodes. Culturally induced aerophobia.

Note: all images used are the property of their owners.


At the Stars

I set out this evening for a brisk walk with a lot on my mind. This morning's fog lifted, the daytime breezes died, and night had fallen.

And with the darkness, came the stars. It took me a while to notice. For 20 minutes, I kept my focus on the side walks in front of me, occasionally looking up aware of the passing traffic. My gaze changed as I rounded a corner. In the sky before me, bright and undeniable, Ursa Major - the Big Dipper.

Captivated, I walked north for a while until I had broken free of the porch lights and street lamps of urban sprawl. No longer walking with my eyes on the path ahead, I was staring into the heavens.

The rest of my walk was dominated by thoughts of stars. They were once of source of wonder and amazement. Now I rarely notice their existence. How long has it been since I stared into the beautiful expanse above us? I went stargazing during my junior high years with my brother and a mutual friend who was working on a project for her astronomy class. Kelly and I looked for constellations at summer camp in high school. I witnessed the northern lights while driving home after work about ten years ago. Bekah and I drove out into the Boise foothills to watch a meteor shower once when we were dating. Beyond that... nothing.

What a great loss.

When I returned home tonight, I stood in the middle of our cul-de-sac and studied the sky. How much could I remember? Found the bright star Vega, located the northern cross, and (for the first time that I can remember) saw Jupiter - a bright red dot sparkling low in the south eastern sky. I stood in awe. Forgotten were the stresses of being an adult in modern America, the craziness of my kids, the sweat dripping down my sides, the pain that had been plaguing my lower back. All lost in the splendor of creation.

Do you ever stare at the stars? Do galaxies and foreign suns amaze you or bore you? How long has it been since you simply looked up?



reason and impulse

We’ve all heard about those people who fly by the seat of their pants, wing it, or go with their gut. There’s also the other side of the spectrum, people who over-think everything. And someone somewhere at any given moment is debating the difference between book smarts and street smarts.

We have brains. We have heart. If you use one, you better be willing to employ the other. I propose the best course of action is to balance the mind and instinct, that your cerebral pursuits should serve your intuition, that your feelings should benefit your knowledge.

To act with one and not the other is a reckless invitation to disastrous consequences. Perhaps the following illustration could explain what I mean.


Without this

Could get you a

In the

But this

Without this
Makes you look like an

Any questions?


Five for Friday

It is out: the 100 worst songs (according to AOL) ever recorded.*

Skimming through the list, there are some obvious choices. Songs that deserve their place in the history of the most atrocious sounds ever produced by pop culture. Hollaback Girl (will drive you bananas), My Humps (I don't see how referring to your womanly features as humps, lumps, or junk is attractive in any form), How Bizarre (or as OMC sings/raps in the song 'Howbih zuh'), and Laffy Taffy (the song that makes Pac and Biggie turn in their graves).

But I must admit, about half of these songs have found a home in my iTunes library. Granted, some of them are obligatory possessions of a former DJ (Blue Da Ba Dee, Gettin' Jiggy Wit It, Mambo No. 5). A few are songs I truly enjoy and can not fathom why they're on that list.

These are my five favorite supposedly worst songs ever.

1. One Week. The tongue twisting lyrics, cheeky references to Sailor Moon, The X-Files, Sting, and Harrison Ford... this song is a nugget of pop-music goodness. Toss in a sing-along chorus and this should be on best of the 90s lists.

2. Breakfast at Tiffany's: Another 90s gem, but this time a one hit wonder. Despite the implausible concept, the song is catchy and filled with more melody than 75% of the other songs on this list.

3. We Didn't Start the Fire. OK, I'll admit it. This really is a bad song. This is where one of the greatest songwriters of the 70s and 80s ran out of ideas and decided to string a bunch of words together like throwing mud on a Plexiglas window in hopes that something sticks. But I still like it.

4. Tubthumping. Yes, I realize that this song is about imbibing in far too much alcohol. Yet it never fails to bring a smile to my face when I hear it. The only thing I can't stand is the creepy baby with the photoshopped smile on the album cover.

5. I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles). This, without question, should not be on this list. Unless you hold to the snobbish belief that quirky equals bad. And this is not just my superior taste in music speaking. This opinion of mine is universally shared by music fans everywhere. This song is one of the best love songs ever, one of the best uses of song in a movie soundtrack, a pop-rock anthem, and one of the most beloved songs in modern alternative music. It's been covered by punks (MxPx) jam bands (Phish) and a highly successful contemporary Christian artist (Steven Curtis Chapman).

The existence of I'm Gonna Be throws the rest of the list into question. Then again, Make 'Em Say Uhh and Popozao are both on that list and are absolutely horrid tunes. So maybe the list should be called 80 of the worst songs ever plus 20 that show the music critics at AOL Radio are jaded and hate normal people.

*A big hat tip to Liz for posting the link to the list on facebook last night