Astronomical Kid’s Got That X Factor!

September 30, 2011

Alright, I told you way back in February, and then again in June, that the young rapper Brian Bradley aka the Astronomical Kid is a force to be reckoned with! He’s got the lyrical skills beyond his years, a good message, style, passion, swag (as the kids would say), and definitely some X Factor to spare. And all of this was validated again tonight on the show, appropriately named, yes, that’s right the X Factor.

For those of you who are not familiar with it, The X Factor is a show, created by Simon Cowell, where he and three other judges (L.A. Reid, Paula Abdul, and Nicole Scherzinger) are not just looking for the next “good voice” or plastic pop star. They are looking for someone who has that special something that goes beyond a great voice, nice moves, and good looks. They are looking for a stand out artist who has, that thing people often have trouble describing, the X Factor. And for the highest reality television prize ever, the winner will be awarded a $5 million record deal.

Tonight was the fourth episode, and the last of the audition phase. I had seen a quick shot of Astro on the very first commercial, where he looked slightly timid; not his normal M.O. I watched for him last week and though he wasn’t on, he was on the commercial for this week, where he seemingly lashed out at Simon saying, “What’s your problem, son?!” My excitement for him turned into nervousness. Then, earlier this week, I saw a clip of Simon on the Jimmy Kimmel show where he was speaking about the “most obnoxious person” ever to be on the show, which he said was Brian (Astro). But in the same breath he said that he’s “destined for greatness”. I was not sure what to expect for tonight’s show.

Alas, when the show came on tonight I did not have to wait in suspense, because Astro was the very first artist up. He spoke confidently and maturely in his preliminary interview, and then took the stage, immediately greeting the crowd like a pro. He seemed cool and calm as the judges asked him various questions. They seemed to really like him. Simon leaned over to L.A. Reid (responsible for artists’ careers such as Justin Bieber, Usher, Rihanna, etc.) and began saying Astro was like a younger version of him, when suddenly, the kid lost it. “What’s your problem, man?!” Simon looked completely shocked, and was literally speechless. My stomach dropped, as Astro continued with his seemingly unprovoked attack on Simon.

And then, he called for the sound man to “drop the beat”, as Simon sat there like a deer caught in headlights. The beat started immediately.

As the music began to play, and Astro entered into an attention demanding performance of his Youtube hit song, “Stop Lookin’ At My Mom,” I realized his little tiff with Simon was just a genius, yet risky, intro to his song, pretending as though Simon had been making eyes at his beloved mother. The Astronomical Kid gave a strong performance, winning over the crowd, and the judges. As the song went on, I saw Simon’s scowl melt, and he realized what was going on. In the end, Astro won over the praises and the votes of all four judges, putting him through to the next round.

The question is not whether or not Astro has the X Factor, because it’s plain to see he’s got it. It’s just a matter of waiting to see if the judges continue to recognize it and keep him in the competition long enough for him to win, in this type of show that usually does not favor hiphop artists as much as singers. Whatever happens from here on out, The Astronomical Kid has represented hiphop and made it proud, not to mention making himself known as a fierce competitor on the X Factor! Make sure to tune in next week and support this young, talented Astronomical Kid.


Explaining Dippin’ Dots…

September 19, 2011

I was swimming in, what seemed to be, the Amazon River. The water was deep and an eerie dark green. Below me swam a school of gar. I became a little frantic, wondering if they were going to bite me. Paying more attention to the gar below me, and not to my surroundings, I didn’t notice a little boy who swam up to me. His “hi” startled me.

I looked up and saw a dark skinned boy (probably about 8-years-old), with jet black hair, and nothing but some sort of a loin cloth on, swimming beside me, smiling widely. I said hi back and smiled. The boy tried to speak to me in a language I didn’t understand. I tried to speak to him in English, but he also did not understand. I got the impression he could speak and understand a few words in English, but I didn’t even know what language he was speaking, much speak or understand it. We continued swimming down the river, occasionally looking at one another to smile.

After about ten minutes of silent swimming, the boy broke the silence and asked, “What are Dippin’ Dots?” I was shocked at his sudden English sentence, and even more so that he had somehow heard of Dippin’ Dots. I chuckled and asked him how he knew what Dippin’ Dots are. He shrugged and said he didn’t, with a “that’s why I’m asking you, dummy” look on his face. I told him, “It’s a type of ice cream, in tiny little pellets.”

He looked confused. I asked, “Do you know what ice cream is?” He said no. I thought for a moment. I asked, “Do you know what ice is?” He said no. I was perplexed at how I could explain Dippin’ Dots without the reference of ice cream or even ice. I asked him if he knew what cold was and he nodded yes and said, “Like the rain!” I knew that the rain in the Amazon was far from as cold as ice or snow or Dippin’ Dots, but realized that rain was the closest reference he had to cold, so I agreed.

“Yes, like the rain. Imagine each raindrop painted a different color and tasting like your favorite flavor.” He smiled. At that point I wasn’t sure if he was ready for the conversation to be over, or if he really understood me. We swam on. Eventually we came to a point where we got out on the river bank and spotted an old abandoned house. We curiously walked up to it and opened the front door.

The door creaked open. At our feet, right in front of the entry way, a stuffed lion’s head, that had apparently been hanging on the wall, was laying upside down on the ground. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The lion was struggling to breathe, and began growling at us. The little boy poked it with his foot and the lion lethargically snapped at him, almost biting his toe. I told him I don’t think we should mess with it. He, of course, didn’t understand me, and continued nudging the lion head with his big toe. Eventually the lion bit his foot, and did not let go. I’m not sure what happened from then on, but I know when I got back home, I got on the internet and ordered Dippin’ Dots online and mailed them to the boy. I’m sure they were more like a drink by the time they got to him.

This, of course, was a dream.

The First Afrikaans Poem I Learned…

September 16, 2011

Ouma en Oupa sit op die stoep

Oupa gee ‘n harde poep

Ouma vra, “Wat maker?”

Oupa se, “My maag is seer!”

Ouma se, “Eet ‘n peer.”

Oupa se, “Dan poep ek weer!”

You’re the Woman…

September 15, 2011

Until today, driving in the car listening to the radio, I never understood what Bryan Adams was talking about in his song “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman”. This is because, until this very day, I always thought he was singing, “When you love a woman then tell her, that she’s really woman. When you love a woman then tell her that she’s the woman.”

She’s the woman? Huh, Bryan?!

I was confused because, that never seemed like a great enough compliment for a woman that you really loved. I mean, if a girl told a dude, “You’re the man,” that would probably work, and possibly even win his heart over. But I always thought Bryan was really missing the mark when he was advising us guys to just tell a woman that “she’s a woman”, at times when we want to express that we really love her.

Today in the car I actually heard the lyrics for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised at them. They are actually good things to tell a woman, and not just telling her that she is a woman. I even think that if we took Bryan’s advice, women would probably love us more. Well, I’m glad that’s all cleared up now, and that I never took (what I believed to be) his advice!

Don’t forget…

September 11, 2011

When you smile, don’t forget to smile with your eyes.

When you laugh, don’t forget to laugh from your gut.

When you speak, don’t forget to speak from your heart.

When you dance, don’t forget to dance with your inner child.

Don’t forget to sing.

When you love, don’t forget how much it costs.

When you fall, don’t forget to get back up.

When you hurt, don’t forget to heal your wounds.

When you’re walking through hell, don’t forget to keep walking.

Don’t forget to hope.

When you come across a rose, don’t forget to smell it.

When you are in the company of a child, don’t forget to hug him.

When you see the color purple, don’t forget to notice it.

When you breathe, don’t forget to appreciate it.

Don’t forget to live.


I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to me.



Light Bulb Moment…

September 10, 2011

One time the light bulb in my bathroom burned out. I didn’t have any new bulbs, but luckily I had some candles. So, I put a candle in there temporarily, you know, until I could get to the store to buy a new light bulb. Time went on and I never made it to the store, or forgot about bulbs when I was there. That candle burned all the way down and I replaced it with another candle. And then repeated that a few more times, with a few more candles.

Finally, I ran out of candles. So I was forced to go to the store to buy some more. And just as I was walking up to the register, with a brand new pack of candles, I realized the light bulbs and the candles share the same aisle. Yep. That really happened.


September 8, 2011

Death must occur, to make way for new life.

Like a beautiful picture within a picture, we see this cyclical theme of life and death within this very life itself.

I am certain that those of us who fear death have not made peace with the new life that is to follow this one, whether in this world, or the next.

But oh how magnificent the picture of life and death is painted for us in the Seasons, mocking those who have found no peace, reassuring those who have.

Winter chills. Spring thaws. And Summer rejuvenates.

But before all of that can happen, Autumn must come, and shed the remains of Seasons past.

And in wonderful, exaggerated drama only found in nature, the leaves begin to die and change colors; deep reds, yellows, and oranges reminding us of fire, and multiple shades of brown, mirroring the hues of the soil below.

Fire that cremates and soil that buries the remnants of Seasons past; the painted splendor and drama of a welcomed death.

And then the winds of change come, blowing, even howling and singing, stripping and shedding, reminding us that beauty is found within death, and can even be a time of celebration, as nature’s colorful confetti flutters and falls to the earth.

And on the ground, the dead layer of Seasons past lay rest, but have by no means died in vain.

As the leaves decompose, the soil soaks up all the nourishment it can from the dead leaves, and graciously dissolves all that cannot be used.

The trees stand bare, but only for now. In a few Seasons they will flourish, and bloom, and thrive again.

But the old had to be shed, to make way for the newness that is to come.

Death must occur, to make way for life.