Sunday, March 30, 2008

How does it feel to be a “Pregnant Man?”

Have you heard this recent news that has caused a worldwide frenzy?

This is a story about a legally married Oregon couple, whom the transgender (legally male) pregnant husband who is due to give birth a baby girl on July. To become legally a man, he underwent a sex change, chest reconstruction (surgical removal of breast), and having a regular testosterone injection, yet deciding to keep his sexual and reproductive organs and not opting for sterilization which is not a requirement for sex reassignment.

Obviously, a true man can never get pregnant. It’s up to you, whatever you call this-- a transgender, a transvestite, or a transsexual. Born in Hawaii as Tracy Lagondino, this “trans man,” Thomas Beatie and his wife, Nancy Roberts move to US mainland after getting married. Being a couple for ten years, their idea of having a child is more of a dream than a plan.

Here is a case of unusual couple whom the wife has no capacity to conceive even with the use of modern-day insemination technology because Nancy has underwent a hysterectomy twenty years ago. According to him,
“… wanting to have a biological child is neither a male nor female desire, but a human desire … the timing finally seemed right. I stopped taking my bimonthly testosterone injections. It had been roughly eight years since I had my last menstrual cycle, so this wasn’t a decision that I took lightly. My body regulated itself after about four months, and I didn’t have to take any exogenous estrogen, progesterone, or fertility drugs to aid my pregnancy … This whole process, from trying to get pregnant to being pregnant, has been a challenge for us … it took over one year to get access to a cryogenic sperm bank to purchase anonymous donor vials, and why Nancy and I eventually resorted to home insemination ...”
This is the second time he got pregnant. On the first, it was a failure, an ectopic life-threatening pregnancy with triplets, requiring a surgery eventually losing all his embryos and his left fallopian tube. His brother commented after the loss,
“It’s a good thing that happened. Who knows what kind of monster it would have been.”
But on this second occasion, he said,
“… we are proud to announce that this pregnancy is free of complications and our baby girl has a clean bill of health. We are happily awaiting … How does it feel to be a pregnant man? Incredible! Despite the fact that my belly is growing with a new life inside me, I am stable and confident being the man that I am. In a technical sense I see myself as my own surrogate, though my gender identity as male is constant. To Nancy, I am her husband carrying our child -- I am so lucky to have such a loving, supportive wife. I will be my daughter’s father, and Nancy will be her mother. We will be a family ...”
A lot of concerns have surfaced out. The possible effect of testosterone on the unborn child, although Beatie claimed otherwise. To one expert, there will be a certain extra level of confusion or complication that the child might later experience, "where I am from." One gay activist said,
“... In my experience, they were extremely well-parented and well-adjusted. The only unusual challenges these kids face come from members of the public who see gender ambiguity as a great wrong … Generally speaking, a man whose desire for a child is strong enough to overcome the obstacles that transgender men must face in bearing one is likely to be an extremely caring father …”
To all women who treat themselves as truly women, having bestowed by her Creator with all the latest available tools and updated add-ons or plug-ins for conceiving and giving birth, how would you play the role as a vital element of the said scriptural order, “Go and multiply?”

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Reminiscing Natalie Imbruglia in a Decade

It has been a bit more than ten years ago when I bought the first CD-album of Natalie Imbruglia titled, 'Left of the Middle.' Every FM Radio during that time plays this first hit single. Much more, her ‘Torn’ video clip becomes a favorite of MTV VJs all across the world in the '90s. I, myself was a witness to its phenomenon because I am traveling at that time. Even today, her music ’Torn’ is still in demand from every music lovers worldwide--young and old, presumably an all time favorite.

As the second of four female siblings, she was born on February 4, 1975 as Natalie Jane Imbruglia in a tiny beach town in Sydney, Australia. After her appearance as teen actress from Aussie soap [Neighbors] and several TV commercials [Coke and Twisties], she pursued her singing career in the UK, in which she considered later on, that it was the best and lucky move she had ever made in her life. Her first released single 'Torn' from RCA Records has become the most air-played with wild success in UK, and released later in US, the early part of 1998. Aside from receiving the MTV Awards for Best New Artist in 1998, she was nominated on Grammy for three consecutive times selling 9 million albums worldwide.

She had her fairytale wedding in Queensland on the New Year's Eve of 2003 to Daniel Johns [frontman of Silverchair and Dissociatives], whom she met in 1999. While Imbruglia lived mainly in Windsor, Berkshire, UK, on an island called, 'White Lilies,' where her second album 'White Lilies Island' was named, released in 2001; her husband Johns lived in Newcastle, Australia. In April of 2005, that was followed by 'Counting Down the Days' having the track, 'Shiver' as her longest running single after 'Torn.' Thereafter, her fourth 'Glorious: TheSingles1997-2007' was released in August, 2007. She has released four albums so far, and there are some variations as to the content tracks of these releases, some have bonus DVDs, whether Australia, Japan, UK, etc.

She become the face of L'Oréal as spokeperson ["Because I'm Worth It"], modeling for several of its products on TV commercials starting 2001 with a contract of five years, She also debuted in the movie 'Johnny English'[2003] along Rowan Atkinson and started the Australian film, in 2004, Elise announced to be release this month, March, 2008.

Last December, 2007 she is rumored to have auditioned in Wolverine [still on production] along Hugh Jackman, as she had always wanted to go back on her acting roles which began at the age of 16, on the same year she left high school.

Natalie also visited Africa on several occasions supporting campaigns for childbirth disease awareness as an ambassador for Virgin Unite joining forces with the United Nations Population Fund.

This year, January 4, just days after their wedding anniversary, a news report has astoundingly emerged. It is her split from her husband Daniel Johns. The pair made a joint statement:
"While we are very sad that our marriage has ended, we want to make it clear that our parting is amicable and we remain friends ... This mutual decision has not been taken lightly or quickly ... However, our career demands and our lives in different parts of the world have brought us to the point where unfortunately this difficult decision was necessary for both of us ... We have simply grown apart through not being able to spend enough time together ... We have issued this statement to set the record straight and to eliminate any need for speculation ... We will not be making any further public statements whatsoever in regard to this very private matter and politely ask that people respect our sincere wishes in this regard."
In UK two weeks ago, she joins campaign to save Windsor Fire Station from nighttime closure together with Sir Elton John, Ralf Little and Sir Michael Parkinson saying, "To Windsor Fire Station, you're a vital part of the community and I fully support your campaign to remain open ... All my love."

So, after a decade, the world is waiting now for her next big explosion--singing or acting!

Natalie Imbruglia - Torn [1997]

Natalie Imbruglia - Shiver [LIVE 2005]

Natalie Imbruglia - Glorious [2007]

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

“Under the Same Moon” Raises Political Issues Debunked in Human Dimension

This film is a crowd pleaser premiered in Sundance 2007, Toronto, under the title, “La Misma Luna.” It was greeted with standing ovation at Rome film festival as well. The story line characterizes an emotionally rich and poignant tale of a mother and son living in a world just on the opposite sides of the US-Mexico border bonded by an enduring love. Both characters have parallel stories which are interwoven into a textured tapestry of yearning and devotion that portrays a young child's persistence and courage ("find my mother before she forgets me") and a mother's sacrifices.

This nine-year-old wide-eyed Carlos aka Carlitos (Adrian Alonzo, Mask of Zorro) is one of the countless children left behind by parents who come to the U.S. seeking a way to provide for their families. His mother, (Kate Del Castillo, Bordertown) has worked illegally as a domestic in Los Angeles for four years, sending money home to her son and mother (Angelina Pelaez) to give them a chance to a better life.

When his grandmother died, leaving young Carlitos alone, the need for his mother reached to a point where he has to take his fate into his own hands. To find her, the kid heads north across the border, a journey from his rural Mexican village to L.A. Barrio. Carlitos faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles with a steely determination and unfettered optimism that earned him the grudging respect and affection of a reluctant de facto guardian and protector, a middle age migrant worker named Enrique (Eugenio Derbez, Padre Nuestro). Every time Carlitos faces life-and-death situations, director Riggen sends in a savior. These scenarios are shown when he is smuggled across the border, dealing with hopelessness after the loss of his money and more than one potential physical attack.

The unlikely pair finds its way from Tucson to East L.A., but the only clue Carlitos has to his mother's whereabouts is her description of the street corner from which she has called him each Sunday morning for the last four years. Unaware that Rosario is only hours away from returning to Mexico to be with her son, Carlitos and Enrique desperately comb the vast unfamiliar city for a place he has seen only in his imagination.

This film could have been a forum for a political debate about immigration laws, yet these issues are debunked by the story’s human dimension. A few have been mentioned, but never enough to distract from the movie's central message: what we will do for love. Finding mom is an impulse so basic that it makes talk of "illegals" sound like a dry policy debate.

In Rosario's case, it is the willingness to be away from her only son just to be able to give him a better standard of living. She shows a real strength when a simple solution to her problem presents itself.

But the script by Ligiah Villalobos, a Mexican native now living in the United States, takes that plot line in a refreshing direction. She says,
“As an adult, there have been a lot of issues in my life as a result of feeling this kind of abandonment twice from both parents," …"And so that is actually what I wanted to explore, that sometimes parents feel like they're making the best decision for their children, and it may not necessarily be the case. So whether it's in the arms of strangers that happened during World War II, or whether it's through Operation Peter Pan, which is also what happened with a lot of the children -- 14,000 children -- in Cuba, or whether it's through these mothers and fathers that because of circumstances, financial circumstances, have to come and live in this country, these kids are left behind."
For Carlitos it is the long, dangerous trek he is willing to make to be with his mother. The travels of Carlitos ring true because the character doesn't suddenly morph into a child with an adult's sensibilities. He's a kid, which Riggen underscores through the constant mistakes Carlitos makes along the way.

Movies like this that put children in jeopardy have to be handled in a delicate manner. There needs to be enough danger for the audience to be devolved through the story. But depicting too much danger the movie becomes manipulative or even exploitative; but the director was able to overcome these odds.

Patricia Riggen, 37, a Guadalajara-born and Columbia University-educated, and a first-time director shows the skill of a veteran in how she handles such a delicate situation in this new Spanish-language feature film "Under the Same Moon." She has the talent for putting emotion on film; she knows how to get those tears flowing, both on screen and in the theater.

In a recent interview, Ms. Riggens said,
"I want to remind people that it's about the human condition and the separation of loved ones … All of the conversations and controversy are always focused on the economic or political side of immigration and not on the human family side of it … That's what I wanted to look at. I didn't want to do a political film. I just wanted to show the human side of this story that we hear every day … I felt like there were two cities, I didn't quite know how to feel about it, being Mexican myself. Every single service is provided by immigrant hands. It was very different, and it made me conscious of the situation. I started talking to people about their situations, how they crossed, why they were there, where were their families. I got involved with their stories … I just want to shed a little light on the people that are around all the time – your gardener, your cleaning lady, the taxi driver, your waiter," she says. "They all have stories, they all have loved ones, and they all have their struggles."
It would be easy to dismiss "Under the Same Moon" as portraying only interest of those who understand or care about immigration issues. But the heart of the film is a story of how love can make people move mountains--that is a universal theme.

Director: Patricia Rigen; Writer, Ligiah Villalobos; Producers: Patricia Riggen and Gerardo Barrera; Executive producers: Norman Dreyfuss, Ram Bergman and Ligiah Villalobos; Music: Carlo Siliotto; Other Cast: Maya Zapata, Carmen Salinas, Maria Rojo and Marlo Almada with America Ferrera and features a cameo appearance by the legendary band Los Tigres Del Norte who also contribute to the film soundtrack.

MPAA rating: PG-13 for some mature thematic elements.
Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes. In limited release.

These are what the actors say with some clips

Trailer - "Under The Same Moon"

Download HD Trailer-480p: Kindly use Mozilla and please be patient...

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Paterson’s Sudden Ascent to Power

Is he a role model to the blind?

In an unseen twist of fate, David A. Paterson [D], 53 was sworn in, Monday, 17th of March in a packed Assembly Chamber at the state Capitol Albany, NY., by Chief Judge Judith Kaye as the State of New York’s first African-American black governor [the nation's third since Reconstruction]. His oath was made with his wife Michelle holding the Bible, as his stepdaughter, Ashley and his son, Alexander watched.

From a lieutenant governor of 14 months[Spitzer’s running mate], he rose to be the New York's 55th chief executive after the resignation of Eliot Spitzer amid allegations of hiring a high-priced escort call girl. A graduate of Columbia University [history, 1977] and Hofstra Law School [law, 1982], he was elected to the senate at the age of 31 representing the Harlem's 29th District, and also served as assistant professor at Columbia University's School for International and Public Affairs. He also worked as prosecutor before entering politics. He has a younger brother Daniel, who works in the New York state court system. His father, Basil [81], is the former New York's secretary of state, senator and deputy mayor. His wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, who has a graduate degree in health services policy, worked as director of government affairs in North General Hospital from 2002 to 2005.

In his address of the joint session of the New York legislature [with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno on the background], he said,
"This transition today is an historic message to the world: That we live by the same values that we profess, and we are a government of laws, not individuals ... We move forward ... Today is Monday. There is work to be done ... There was an oath to be taken. There's trust that needs to be restored. There are issues that need to be addressed ..."
which was interrupted several times with thunderous applause. Among the attendees are Sen. Hillary Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg [New York City], and governors from three neighboring states.

President Bush sent his congratulatory call on Monday morning. According to White House press secretary Dana Perino,
"He said that his friends in New York had told him that while it's a big job … that you can handle it ... knows that Lt. Gov. Paterson will be able to do a great job, and that he looks forward to meeting him soon."
Regarding the New York’s estimated $124 billion budget this year facing a deadline this April 1, he was appraised by Joseph Bruno saying, "David is going to be right in the middle." Sheldon Silver said, "It's a daunting task, but I think with all the good will that's created, with the leadership of David Paterson, we're going to have a logical conclusion to a budget process."

Because he was legally blind since infancy [an infection had made his left sightless and his right with partial vision], there are some ridiculous, uncalled-for blind jokes and funny comments about him. One said that he might be blind also of his predecessor’s wrongdoings speculating that he will pardon him. Another said, “… a blind leading the blinds … he may never see that America is doomed.” Another one rebutted, “… excited to see somebody with disability to do so great.” Paterson once said, “I think people’s perception of me sometimes is that I see more than I actually do.” On an interview, days before being sworn, he responded with humor and frankness,
“I kind of feel like the student who’s getting ready for the final exam, but they didn’t attend any classes.”
Congratulations for the New Yorkers and hope that he will be accorded due support not only by the people of Harlem [as he is considered as their favorite son] but by all citizens of the State of New York.

Today, a staggering 70% of the nation’s legally blind are unemployed. Has he given hope to the visually impaired Americans?

Paterson Signs Five Bills Into Law
New N.Y. Governor Addresses Affairs

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

This is my 'Mr. Right To Be'

As we meet for the first time, I should feel, he wants me because he is interested. He may be able to express those qualities the way he gave his compliment, his detailed attention, his sincere look, and even his gentle touch. He may provide himself an ample amount of willingness to move the relationship onward. Those constant e-mails, phone calls, text-messages may not be enough for him to know me more, to touch me, to see me, and to admire me.

Right after we met, I may soon found out that he had achieved at least a certain point in his life having a good job because he went to college. Or maybe, he was able to learn the ABCs of his parent's business if ever he inherited one. He has the efforts of continuously seeking new horizons for opportunities, challenges, skills, and even possessions.

As time goes on, I may discover that he is a guy who really meant what he says, whatever words he speaks are coupled with corresponding concrete actions. Whenever he couldn't promise everything, at least, he always tries to keep the relationship moving onward. I should not be in a situation finding myself checking him up through the phone in the wee hours of the morning because he is with someone else.

As we move forward, getting emails, text-messages, and occasional plans aren't enough to what we need and shared with. He should be devoted, reciprocal, mutual, inasmuch as I am to him. I should feel what he gives is meaningful and valuable as what I have offered him.

He should have good friends whom I like that when he is with them, I am assured and certain, that he is a man I know and love whether with him or apart, He will not turn to somebody else if ever I am out of sight. Whenever he is with my friend, I know for sure that he will be as charming, enhancing and engaging as he is, and not detracting or undermining.

He will like me for who I am. If ever I'm having a bad day, or saying something he doesn’t like, I just expect, his view of me will remain the same with his firm adoration. I should be aware of a guy who suddenly changes his perception if ever I behave differently from his expectations. In order to keep his approval, I shouldn’t feel being suppressed.

Whenever we are in an argument, if ever I feel bad or terrible about myself, he should not antagonize me, instead he will consider both the good and bad out of me. And when it is over, it’s over, that’s it. He should relieve himself of suspicions and bad feelings. No matter what, he must love me as a good person as I am.

If he is the one really right for me, he should have a certain degree of tolerance in terms of the unexpected and unknown issues that will befall us. He will not keep on grappling and leasing me down in every moment of the day to make him feel secure. He should give me my dignity, independence and privacy I deserve, knowing my capabilities, limitations, boundaries, and not blocking me out or keeping a distance to exert dominance.

He has the willingness to talk and to listen as well. Whenever a relationship obstacle is molding up, shall we say, if he starts friendship with a flirtatious girl and I let him know that this will create a problem, he must be sensible about what I feel and he must be concerned enough to come up with a workable solution. Learning his mistakes and modifying his action are paramount.

Rather than reacting solely to his problem, if ever there is, he must take the initiative to seek his own solutions. He should reach out for help, talk about it with friends, and if necessary go to and attend therapy, find resources and anything that will bring him nearer to the changes he needs for himself. His super-ego, reluctance or stubbornness should not prevent him in taking positive steps to have a responsible relationship with me.

He should not assert power and control over me especially in making mutual decisions. He must not leave me wondering what he is doing or where he is. If ever he is earning more, his status in his job, and even his power should not be a factor to make me feel that I would be nothing without him.

Do these sound self-centered or egoistic? … Or maybe assertive. . . .

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

US Election of 2008 – The Presidential Candidates

US Election of 2008 has brought presidential aspirants in, trying to convince voters that they are just regular folks. As these candidates tour the country trying to inform Americans of their political beliefs and their policy agendas, may we take a look at how these public figures lead their private lives and the factors that highlight them. There are so many of them, however, just the leading four are considered here.

John McCain, Republican

Senator John McCain comes from a military family where both his father and grandfather were U.S. Navy admirals. He has been married twice. His current wife Cindy is 17 years his junior. McCain has 7 children including a 15-year-old adopted daughter from Bangladesh.

The McCain’s have a combine two units in Phoenix's brand-new luxury-condo tower for $4।7 million.

According to HGTV's Web site, this is a Western-style home in Arizona and purchased the house next door to expand their living and entertainment space, making it a single 7,000-square-foot apartment providing amenities such as a zero-edge rooftop pool, an in-house spa, and 24-hour concierge service.

According to MONEY magazine, McCain's net worth is over $40 million. The bulk of his wealth comes from his wife Cindy who is chairman of Hensley & Co., the Anheuser-Busch beer distribution business she inherited from her father. She is an only child and is in charge of the family trusts that are worth millions.

John McCain drives the popular Cadillac CTS. While at home in Hidden Valley, Arizona, his idea of fun is barbecuing.

Mike Huckabee, Republican

An Arkansas governor (1996-2007) and a former Baptist preacher risked ridicules by moving into a trailer -- a nice one -- while the governor's mansion was being renovated. He did it to save taxpayers' money, endured jokes such as, "I'm sorry. I'm running late today. I was on the interstate and got behind the governor's mansion." His current home in North Little Rock, Arkansas is a bit roomier at 5,124 square feet. The house, built in 1991, has a market value of $563,640, according to the local tax assessor.

One of Huckabee's claims to fame was his success at dieting. While blaming his weight on his upbringing, he wrote his book, 'Stop Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork,' "in addition to being Southern, I'm also a Baptist, which means that while we 'officially' do not drink alcohol or use tobacco, we are free to eat every kind of food imaginable as long as we fry it and consume it in large portions."

Huckabee drives a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe and 1995 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. He plays bass in the band Capitol Offense, which opened for Grand Funk Railroad and Willie Nelson.

Hillary Clinton, Democrat

Senator Hillary Clinton of New York is the candidate having the most famous spouse -- former President, Bill Clinton whom together have one daughter, Chelsea (28) who is also rallying support and speaking publicly on her behalf.

After moving out of the White House in 1999, they paid $1.7 million to move into a Dutch colonial five-bedroom, four-bathroom, 5,200-square feet, circa 1889 house in Chappaqua, N.Y., sits on an area of 1.1 acres in a woodsy Westchester suburb. This is now valued by at $4.13million.

Although their post-Monica Lewinsky debts forced the Clintons to ask Democratic fund raiser Terry McAuliffe to guarantee their original loan, lucrative speaking engagements and Hillary's book deal afforded the couple to buy a second home in D.C. 16 months later for $2.85 million.

Hillary Clinton is worth between $10 million and $50 million. Much of her wealth comes from Bill's speaking fees. He has earned millions since leaving office. She is driven around in a Ford hybrid by Secret Service agents when she is at home. She once told Marie Claire magazine that she loves to walk in the outdoors, "just breathing and letting it all go."

Barack Obama, Democrat

Senator Obama seems a pauper compared to the other candidates, with an assets of between $456,012 and $1.1 million. He and his wife Michelle have daughters Malia (9) and Sasha (6). Barack Obama is officially a hunk. 'People' magazine included him on its A-list of beach babes such as Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jessica Alba and Hugh Jackman.

In 2005 he and his wife Michelle, an administrator at the University of Chicago Hospitals, spent almost as much as the Clintons, $1.65 million, on a Georgian-revival home surrounded by a wrought-iron fence in Kenwood, a landmark district on Chicago's South Side. This is a large, 3-story stately brick home with an estimated value of $1.9 million. A leading Chicago newspaper describes it as a "96-year-old Georgian revival home that has four fireplaces, glass-door bookcases fashioned from Honduran mahogany, and a 1,000-bottle wine cellar." Obama's biggest brand-name supporter Ophra Winfrey, lives on the pricier North Side. (For further reading, "Lifestyles of the Presidential Candidates.")

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