Professor Media Matters

I am a media professional with 6 years as a TV producer and reporter, and college professor in the field of Communications. I am also a Conservative with a passion for pop culture. This will be my attempt to put the "me" in media. It will be my take on movies, TV, books, magazines, newspapers, the Internet and all that is the worldwide media.

Friday, May 05, 2017

KLOVE Racing

“I don’t want to gain the whole world and lose my soul.”
“Write your story on my heart.”
“The honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a hallelujah.”
These are some of my favorite lyrics from my favorite radio station, KLOVE. KLOVE is a nationwide, listener-supported Christian radio station. They feature a contemporary Christian music format featuring such artists as Toby Mac, Amy Grant and the Newsboys.

KLOVE radio also sponsors a car in NASCAR, fast becoming my favorite spectator sport. Driver Michael McDowell drives the #95 KLOVE car. KLOVE sees their NASCAR vehicle as an outreach effort, hoping to make more NASCAR fans familiar with their Christian music and Gospel message. I think it is a unique and admirable mission outreach. While I have yet to see McDowell win a Monster Energy Cup race (I did see him win an Xfinity race), I always root for him to do well because of his connection to KLOVE and Christianity.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS

This is a devotional from my book about my son, Parker's Story: Essays on Autism and Awesometism.

KEY VERSE:

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17

ESSAY:

            I was not popular in school. Student government, sports and other extra-curricular activities kept me busy and so I was well-known. But I was not popular in the sense of being among the cool crowd. My son, on the other hand, has the popular gene. People are just naturally drawn to him. For some it is his wild and naturally curly red hair. You would be shocked at how many women stop him in the grocery store to compliment Parker on his hair. Some have even wanted to touch it. The first few times it happened he acted all shy. Now that it has happened so many times he is used to it and he just ignores the women. For others, even those who see him at his worst -- full of tantrums and fits, they love him for his magnetic personality. So many of his teachers and therapists will secretly tell us that Parker is their favorite student. He is just one of those people who has the “it” factor and he has the swagger to go along with “it.” My son makes people laugh and smile and feel good about themselves. He is charming, charismatic and comical. He could run for President some day on his personality and popularity alone. His friendly demeanor is a God-given gift.

Preschool Pastor

            My son is part ham, part missionary. His teacher told me that for show and tell today at his public preschool he sang his class You Overcame by Jeremy Camp, which is his favorite church and Christian radio song. The song’s lyrics talk about how Jesus is worthy of honor and we should praise Him because He overcame death. The teacher and several of the kids didn't know the song before Parker sang it to them. Now they do and I bet he had them singing along. Another one of his teachers swears my son is going to become a pastor because he is always talking about church and God. Who knows, he may become the first autistic evangelist.

Classroom Crush

            Parker has a crush on a little girl at school. It is his first school crush, unless you count the crush he had on the drawings of Eve in his children’s Bible. He gets shy and embarrassed talking about his crush and won’t tell me too much. But from what I can gather, she is not in his kindergarten class. Her name is Sally. He did reveal to me she has brown hair and is pretty. I think she is older. She plays tetherball at recess. Bubba said he had a dream the other night where he rescued her. Oh my. He is starting young. He is only six.

Playground Poppa

            When I walk Parker to and from school every day I often get stared at by other children. On the playground they sometimes congregate around me. It is not because I look or smell funny, though I possibly do. I think it is because I am an oddity. Many of these kids, at a large metropolitan area public school, don't have a dad at home. They don't have a man who loves them, takes care of them and walks them to school. Maybe I represent a longing. The absence of fathers in the home is an American epidemic these days. The way I see it, me and Parker, we are blessed.

Adam and “Eveden”

            Because Parker does not have school for 11 days, thanks to holidays and furlough days from the school district, we have been doing lessons at home. I am readying my homeschooling skills I guess. We have been studying the story of Adam and Eve in Bubba's Bible. With his autism Parker struggles with reading comprehension. He reads quite well for his age but does not retain or understand what he has read. So his questions for today's reading were: 1) Who made Adam? 2) Who was Adam married to? And 3) What was the name of the Garden where they lived? He struggled with that one, wanting to call it “Eveden” not Eden. I think he was confused by two similar sounding words and was combining Eve with Eden. But he eventually got it. And then he got to color a picture of the Garden of Eden. We had fun and he is doing so well. His teacher said he is the smartest kid in his K-2 special education class and he is just a kindergartner.

The Encourager

            My Bubba is a friendly and encouraging boy. For many autistic children, making eye contact is difficult and social interaction is awkward. But with lots of therapy, intervention and a God-given personality, Parker has developed a very personable demeanor. He likes to play games at home where he does the play-by-play sports announcing and celebrates his friends winning the big NASCAR race, hitting a homerun or scoring a touchdown. Bubba is always imagining good things for his school buddies and I sometimes have to remind him that it is okay for Parker to win sometimes, too. Last night when I went in to check on him, my son the encourager was chatting in his sleep. He was talking to one of his classmates: "Good job Keon! Way to go. I knew you could do it."

Parker’s Progress

            Parker's Behavioral Therapist visited his classroom today to assess his progress. She gave us an amazing report. Remember this is a boy born with up to 50% of his brain missing, a brain cyst, developmental delay, autism and cerebral palsy. She said he struggles with writing due to his cerebral palsy. But his math and reading skills are above those of his classmates. She had to talk to his teacher about skipping several math lessons so Parker would stay challenged. So proud of my boy. So thankful to God for hope in what could have been a hopeless situation.

Classroom Crush Part Two

            So Sally was his kindergarten crush. By first grade he had moved on: Bubba now has a crush on an older woman at school. She is NINE! Courtney is a cute, red haired, freckle-faced girl. He talks about her constantly. And his teachers say he tries to talk to her all day long. Last night in his sleep he said, "Hi Courtney."

Sunday School Silliness

            My son is such a ham. Yesterday while subbing in his Sunday School class the other teacher had all of the 5-7 year olds circle up. They had to say their names, what age they would turn on their next birthday and what they wanted to be when they grew up. I was surprised at how well the kids cooperated. Some wanted to be zookeepers, chefs or mommies. But when it was Parker's turn he said, "Parker. 7. I want to be a booger." The other kids erupted in laughter. He caught us teachers by surprise and we laughed, too. Seems like the boy is just as silly as his daddy.

Classroom Code

            At age eight Parker is at that stage now where he gets embarrassed when I drop him off at school or church if I say, "I love you.” My wife tells me this is completely normal. So Parker and I have invented code words for "I love you." Now when I drop him off I give him a big hug and say, "You have awesome boogers." Other people who do not know the code look at us strangely. That’s okay, we know what it means.

Parker’s Playmate

            Parker is developing a nice friendship with the Ukrainian boy who lives two houses down. Avenir is two years older and goes to the same school as my son. He likes to play catch with Parker. Avenir’s English is strong and he is a good kid. He doesn't mind that Parker doesn't know how to relate to him. With his autism all Parker knows how to do is repeat his favorite Disney movie lines. Avenir just smiles and keeps playing. I am grateful that Parker has a boy in the neighborhood to play with.

Sadness as a Good Sign

            When I woke up this Saturday morning I found Parker crying on the couch in the living room. I asked him why he was crying and he said it was because yesterday was Jose’s last day at school. He explained that Jose is a friend in his fourth grade special education class. He said he found out that Jose was moving and would be going to a different school. Parker was going to miss his friend and was expressing real emotion about it. For autistic children, the ability to show empathy and emotion toward others can be rare. Even though my son was sad, I was so proud of him.

APPLICATION:

            For most of us who do not possess the “it” factor that draws people to us in droves, we have to work at making friends and being friendly. God thinks very highly of friendship. Just look at some of the friendships in the Bible: David and Jonathan in the Old Testament and Paul and Timothy in the New Testament. Our challenge is to value friendship as much as God does. How can you show God that you value friendship as much as He does? What qualities of friendliness and friendship do you possess? Which qualities of friendship do you need to work on? Test out your skills by making a decision to develop a new friendship and strengthen the ones you already have.



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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

RACING ON A PRAYER

“Oh say can you see?” In the United States, amateur and professional sporting events usually begin with those words, the first lines of the National Anthem. It seems perfectly fitting and appropriate to me to pay patriotic tribute to our nation before boxing, basketball and baseball. But there is one professional sporting event in America that does more than just the Star Spangled Banner. NASCAR begins their pre-race event with a prayer. A Christian prayer. They pray to God. They say “in Jesus name, Amen.” I love it. The televised prayer comes just before the anthem and the four most important words in racing, “Gentleman (or Drivers) start your engines.” Why don’t more sporting events start with prayer? Why is only NASCAR willing to honor the Almighty? A couple of quick thoughts as to why: 1) NASCAR is very big in the South, known as the “Bible Belt.” The people of the Southern United States seem more predisposed to accepting Christian tradition. 2) Auto racing is a very dangerous sport and the prayer almost always requests that the Creator keep the cars and their drivers safe from harm. When you have large objects made of metal hurling around a circle at 200 mph, praying for safety seems wise. Regardless of why NASCAR does it, I am grateful they do. My son loves to watch NASCAR. And every week he sees the drivers and their pit crews praying on national TV. The prayer is always offered by a pastor, usually one from the local area of the race track. For those at the venue who are looking for a home church or some spiritual guidance, they now have a name and a face to look up in their region. And to the national TV audience watching at home, often on a Sunday, praying in Jesus name reminds them of God, maybe even convicts them of sin. Praying before the race is a win-win for everyone involved. Let’s pray that more of the sports world will follow NASCAR’s lead.

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Monday, May 01, 2017

The Homeless Informant – chapter outlines
To promote my first novel, I wanted my chapter outlines to stand out and be memorable. So I made them rhyme. Call it the rhyming. Here is a description of each of the 40 chapters in this twist and turns soap opera style story.
11-    THE REUNITING
Lilly and her teen son Noah have a fight. It’s on Halloween Eve night. She reluctantly takes her family to the church site. Lilly and her long lost friend Penny reunite. Penny’s marriage to Steve is a fright.
22-    THE TELLING
Lilly worries about her friend. But she knows she must also tell Jeff, her husband. Jeff can’t believe Penny’s marriage has come to an end.
33-    THE INFORMING
Jeff and Lilly meet to inform their kids about Steve. No one understands why he would leave. When Penny comes over they discuss not mentioning it because it would make their daughter Gracie grieve.
44-    THE TALKING
The kids scram so the adults can talk. Penny says she doesn’t know why Steve would walk. This makes Jeff balk.
55-    THE ESCAPING
Penny and Gracie are in danger. In their complex their neighbor is a violent stranger.
66-    THE MOVING
Lilly insists that Penny and Gracie move in. The whole group tries a new living arrangement on for a spin.
77-    THE INVESTIGATING
Jeff’s friend Kasey is a P.I. He will look into finding that Steve guy. Kasey’s questions cause Gracie to cry.
88-    THE ARRESTING
The police officers who rescued Penny are on a stakeout. But the identity of the perp they wanted is in doubt. Who they arrest is interesting to find out.
99-    THE TESTING
Will Penny pass the test? The results have her in a state of unrest. Lilly reminds her she will be blessed.
110- THE MEETING
The police officers meet the D.A. She is intense with personality Type A. To get the drug kingpin would make her day.
111- THE STRESSING
The kids are stressed in their crowded abode. The moms try to get them in calmed down mode. One day at a time is the motto that’s told.
112- THE INTERROGATING
The D.A. interrogates Steve, the homeless male. He must cooperate to avoid jail. She wants him to lead her to the drug kingpin in the midst of a sale.
113- THE SPOTLIGHTING
The D.A. goes to the press. She says the police have created a mess. Letting a known drug dealer go leaves her in duress. But if not for the spotlight she’d say a lot less.
114- THE DEPARTING
Noah and the younger kids leave early for movie night. Noah wants to get the concession stand just right. The moms advise him how to get the youngsters to behave and be polite.

115- THE PATROLLING
The Police Officers patrol the neighborhood in their squad car. They hear on the radio the press and the D.A. spar. They worry and wonder did she go too far?
116- THE DISCOVERING
Noah discovers a homeless man outside the church. With his begging for food Noah won’t leave him in the lurch. He thinks he sees Uncle Steve and that renews the search.
117- THE FIGHTING
Lilly tells Jeff that Penny is with child. With the crowded house and finances Jeff could go wild. After a fight, she helps him calm down so his mood becomes mild.
118-  THE DREAMING
Gracie has a bad dream and falls out of bed. She is scared of the violence and is missing the man to whom her mother is wed. Penny tries to comfort her and kisses her head.
119- THE REASSURING
Noah tells his mom & dad what he saw. He thinks it was Uncle Steve, don’t guffaw. He gets reassurance from his ma and his pa.
220- THE KIDNAPPING
Archie, the drug kingpin has thugs. They kidnap Steve to protect the drugs. They beat him up badly, he is not leaving with hugs.
221- THE SHARING
Lilly and Noah share with Penny about seeing Steve. Penny isn’t sure what to believe. She doesn’t think Noah would deceive.
222- THE WARNING
Steve and Archie chat. Protecting Archie’s drugs is where it is at. If Steve is a snitch Archie warns he’ll be dead like that.
223- THE CONFESSING
The adults go for coffee. They want to update Kasey. Kasey asks for them to provide photo I.D. Penny confesses that Steve used to be a druggie.
224- THE REVEALING
Steve and Officer Gustafson meet. Steve won’t return to the druggie life he once beat. All he knows about Archie he reveals to him complete.
225- THE THANKSGIVING
Lilly’s family celebrates in style. Their Thanksgiving praises go the extra mile. It restores Penny’s gratefulness and makes her smile.
226- THE TRUSTING
Steve goes to Archie’s house. He is uncomfortable with the rich louse. But Archie trusts him so it’s best not to grouse.
227- THE CONFIRMING
Lilly takes Penny to the Crisis Pregnancy Center. There we meet Lilly’s mentor. A confirmed pregnancy is a part of Penny’s splendor.
228- THE PLANNING
Steve, the police officers and the D.A. discuss their plan. They need Steve to be the man. The D.A. doesn’t talk but demand.
229- THE EXPECTING
Gracie discovers her mom Penny is expecting. This has them both reflecting. Steve’s disappearance remains perplexing.
30- THE PREPARING
Officer Gustafson prepares Steve for the potential arrest. He’s wearing a wire and a bullet proof vest. To stay out of jail he will do his best.
331- THE COLLAPSING
While Christmas shopping with Lilly, Penny takes a fall. Will the baby survive her collapse at the mall? The medics are called and her bleeding they stall.
332- THE GUNNING
Archie believes Steve is the one. He trusts him and gives him a gun.  Archie acts maniacal and thinks it is fun.
333-  THE WORRYING
The ambulance takes Penny for a ride. Lilly stays by her side. Might Penny be worried that the baby has died?
334- THE SHOOTING
Archie and Steve try to do the drug sale. Steve is determined that the wiretap not fail.  Officer Gustafson shoots a bullet from his gun and Archie he does nail.
335- THE DIAGNOSING
The doctor’s diagnosis is a pre-eclampsia mess. Penny while pregnant must stay on bed rest. They are monitoring her blood pressure and trying to manage her stress.
336- THE INCLUDING
The D.A. wants the limelight for the successful drug bust. Including my officers, says the Police Chief, is a must. The heroic officers steal her thunder as the D.A. makes a fuss.
337- THE RECOVERING
Steve recovers in his hospital room. His nurse for therapy says down the hall he must zoom. He stumbles upon Penny and wonders is their marriage doomed?
338- THE WALKING
Lilly and Nurse Amy talk. They decide Steve needs to walk.
339- THE BEEPING
In Penny’s hospital room Steve falls asleep. He is awakened by the blood pressure monitor’s beep. Into emergency surgery to save Penny and her baby they must leap.
440- THE NAMING
 A miracle baby is born to the Mathers family. Their bond has become stronger and saving their marriage is key. To meet the new baby Lilly and her brood gather to see.  When the baby girl is named after her Lilly is moved and happy.





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