Friday, September 26, 2008

Heroes 3

Just watched the first two episodes of Heroes series 3.

I must say that I'm a little bit disappointed. It's beginning to be a bit like 24 in the same way that at first it was very exciting because there was nothing else like it on TV before, but after the first series the show is enslaved by its own formula, turning what once was an exciting innovation into a cliche.

Once again we get a glimpse of an apocalyptic future that must be prevented, a character disappears to find himself in a faraway place all alone, Sylar is hunting heroes to get their powers and get caught again (until his next escape), twist family relations between characters are revealed, characters die (but not really) and characters pop back and forth in time.

Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad. There are several exciting new plots, but they are all tied together by the same cliches. The name of the season, and one of the future visions, imply that it's going to feature a villains team up. The show hasn't been going on long enough to pull off something like that properly. It's something that would've worked better in series 5 or 6, which I'm pretty confident Heroes is going to reach. Still, it could be interesting.

My biggest problem is with the time traveling elements. They have played a major part in each storyline so far. It's very hard to write time traveling intelligently. If you go from future A to the past and change it into future B you will also change yourself. The you that exists in future B won't need to go back and change future A since it doesn't exist anymore, so if you end up not going back in time to change the future, then it'll still be future A after all. Confused? You should be. What's worse, the time traveling isn't even used in new ways. Once again we get glimpses of a future where the characters are darker due to some cataclysmic event or alternatively we see the world explode. Again.

The only plot that really holds my attention right now is Mohinder's transformation which could lead to some interesting subplots as long as it's not going to be a Fly ripoff (the actor is not entirely unlike Jeff Goldblum).

Another problem I have with the show is with the action scenes. Smallville doesn't feature the best storylines in primetime action dramas, but they very often have spectacular fight sequences that are almost good enough for the big screen. With Heroes even the season finales feel very cheep and underwhelming.

Obviously I do like this show, otherwise I wouldn't be writing so much about it.. It's always entertaining and addictive, but it can be so much more...


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Writing comics... Again.

I've been writing and drawing comics ever since I learned how to write - probably even a bit earlier than that. I still have a few notebooks full of stories that for the most part I can't decipher nowadays. But the passion was always there. The best way to know what you meant to do as an adult is to look back at what motivated you as a child and adapt that into a practical job the best way you can.

From about the age of eighteen I also started trying to send submissions to various editors in Marvel, DC and other publishers. That makes it over a decade of trying to break into the comics industry. Admittedly, I wasn't ready right away. My first few pitches were written in terrible English (it's not my mother tongue and I only started using it on a regular basis when I moved to the UK at the age of nineteen) and were quite unimaginative and, quite frankly, crap. I got better with time, both as a writer and in my ability to attract the attention of editors and get them to listen to me. But getting close doesn't cut it.

I then decided to simply start making my own comics. Unfortunately I'm not a great artist. Fortunately, being on an animation degree course I made many lifelong friends who are. Together we created Cheese Comics (link on the side). We created some stories, printed them and sent them everywhere. It was disappointing that nothing came out of it, and looking back at these stories they weren't perfect. But they weren't bad either. They were certainly a great learning experience. Sadly those books led nowhere other than a few positive reviews and the fact that I got a proper job in the games industry led to me not writing any comics over the last few years. I did spend some time writing a movie script and a children's book, but neither made it. The movie script got enough positive reactions from various producers and studios to reinforce in me the notion that I am after all a good writer (nothing can crush an artist's self-esteem more than repeated rejection), but I was still not making money from it.

So now I'm going on another round. Being a stay at home papa for the next few months give me more time to write than usual as Blake is a very easy baby. So I'm writing three comics projects with three different artists and another movie script. I won't lie and say that I'm doing it just for fun. I hope one of these projects will be "the one". Comics-wise I'm writing a child-friendly slapstick comedy, super hero and action horror.

And it feels good. I like writing.

I'll be sure to post updates, sketches and previews as soon as we get stuff done.

Stay tuned!


Friday, September 05, 2008

The quest for a decent mobile.

One of the things that surprised me as a new parent is the fact that baby mobiles are so rubbish and useless. You're not asking much from a mobile: a selection of soothing melodies and a bunch of toys to spin around. There's a selection of small features you just expect to be there: volume control, a timer, on/off button.

This mobile lives up to its name. It really is poo.

The first mobile I bought was this Winnie the Pooh one. It looked quite grand and colourful so I overlooked the $59 price tag (Canadian dollars before tax). Surely it's a worthy investment. It had two tunes and a jungle ambiance, as well as a light and sound display, not to mention lovable Winnie the Pooh characters hanging off it. Bargain!

So what went wrong? The first thing we noticed was the low volume. The volume control allowed you to turn it from "is this thing on?" to "if I stick my ear to it I think can hear something." The next problem was the fact that the two musical options were essentially the same five seconds on an infinite loop. On the box they had the chutzpa to describe one of the options as "Classical music medley". The light and sound feature was actually nice and it came with a remote control which is a very nice touch.

But none of the good and bad things mattered when the mobile broke within a week. It started activating itself on its own which was not only annoying (and somewhat creepy) it was also killing the battery. I took off the soft toys and threw away the whole thing down the garbage chute.
Green Mobile: Powered by parental fingers.

We resorted to a little Winnie the Pooh mobile that came with Blake's Graco playpen. It was very simple, only one tune and no fancy light shows, but Blake loves it. The only problem, made worse by the fact that he loves it, is that you have to turn it on manually by winding it up and even then it last for only a couple of minutes which is never enough. I could forgive the lack of volume control if I could just had an on/off button.

The folding playpen didn't survive the return trip from a quick visit to LA (and ended up also going down the garbage chute), so we bought a new one which came with a similar mobile with three generic bears. On the plus side you didn't have to wind it up manually. On the minus side you couldn't turn it on at all! The three bears were just hanging there in the air over Blake's head. Even giving them a spin with your hands was futile as they came to a complete stop right away. it came with a box that had little lights on it and music options. All very unimpressive and even quieter than the original Winnie the Pooh mobile. Thankfully the windup mobile from the previous playpen fit this one as well so we still use it occasionally.

If this is a Happy Safari, why do all the animals try to commit suicide?

When we returned this week from Canada I went up to the attic to take stuff down that we bought before we left. I was delighted to discover a Happy Safari mobile. it looked really impressive on the box and I allowed myself to hope that maybe this time it will actually have all the desired features.

Well, no.

Such a shame. It's actually quite exciting with arms going up and down, three music options that don't grate as fast as you'd think, light effects and lots of interesting toys. Blake loves it and can lie on his back and dance to it for a long, long time.

So what's wrong with it? Where do I start? For one thing there is no volume control and this time the music is too loud. It's really distracting to anyone nearby and I'm not sure how good that volume is for babies (though Blake managed to fall asleep to it more than once). The toys hanging off it fall off easily with the smallest touch, which creates a hazard for the baby. And I have no idea who's the genius who decided to put the control panel facing the inside of the crib rather than the outside, as the baby can easily kick it in the middle of the night and activate it with blaring music (and a rain of toys).

My quest for the perfect mobile is over. I'll just have to accept the ones I have with all their flaws. How difficult it is to create a battery powered mobile that has a timer, on/off button, volume/mute control, toys that are secured properly, guaranteed not to break in a week, decent low/high volume range? Even better, one with an option to plug in your iPod and have complete control over the music. What can I say? I'm a dreamer.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Back home

I just realized my last post was the one announcing that I went back to playing World of Warcraft and then silence for a while... Well, I wasn't just playing WoW for all that time.

We came back to London at last. Toronto was great, but it was so good to be reunited with the dogs after over three and a half months and to introduce Blake, who's now well into his fourth month, to the doggies. We had a small pizza party on Sunday and got to meet some of our good friends who we've also missed.

Now "real" life begins. I have to take care of a three months old baby and two big Great Danes. That's quite a lot of work. We also decided that I should work from home for a while, and work for the next few months means writing and working on various projects (children's story/comic, movie script and other bits and bobs). I'm trying to settle into this new routine and have done quite well with that considering we only returned on Friday night and also still have lots of unpacking to be done with.

Do I miss game design? Very much. I also miss being in an office environment with some cool people to hang out with and chat to. But with that said I do look at things with rose tinted glasses. Not having office politics or bosses to answer to is always nice, not to mention no commute and an incredibly flexible schedule (which it has to be when you take care of a baby).

The dogs have accepted Blake very well. Old Kato is always good at adapting to change. Younger Leo was always a bit neurotic. Us being gone for nearly four months has only made him more clingy and needy and the presence of the baby made matters worse. Leo is used to being the baby and suddenly we're making funny noises to a new creature. Though he wasn't aggressive, he did bark a bit in distress first, but very quickly he calmed down when he noticed we still play with him and Blake is, after all, another human for him to love so he actually gets more love now. Blake enjoys staring at the dogs and occasionally touch them. He seems, so far anyway, not to be bothered by the stinky steam of death that comes out of their mouths.

"Yes? The boss is resting, please come back another time."

The five of us are finally together. When we're all in the same room together, that's true happiness. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

I like icing, so bring it on!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Off the wagon.

I was clean for almost a year, but I fell off the wagon last week. I had a weird dream about World of Warcraft (too weird and abstract to really explain) and then next morning I was downloading the game and reactivating my account. That took a bit, especially when facing Windows Vista issues when trying to apply patches. But I'm back.

Being a full time dad is tiring, but my son does sleep in good chunks so I do have some free time to kill, but due to fragmented sleep not enough concentration to actually do anything really productive. Hopefully that will change as he'll gradually sleep more through the night and so will I. So I decided to use the free time to play some WoW again.

And it feels good. Most particularly the guild chat and being able to joke around with many friends while completing repetitive yet addictive tasks. Most of my friends moved a server so I created a new character there and still wait for my main Rogue (or Puppy Love fame, see side bar) to be moved in a paid transfer. Unfortunately this is delayed due to some payments problems though I know my card is fine as I used it to reactivate the account only days ago. Weird.

It's odd considering I was sure that I was done with the game for good. Damn you Blizzard.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gay Fathers of Toronto

In anticipation for our son's birth, I created a Facebook group for gay parents in London. With London being such a supposedly gay friendly place I expected to be flooded with new members. As of today there are only 22 members, most of them are lesbian couples with a few people who wish to become parents and those who had their children before coming out of the closet. For all I know there are no people in our situation in the group yet, a married gay couple who conceived a child using in vitro fertilization. While I'm happy to associate with any type of gay parent, it'll be nice to know people more like us. We have met only one couple so far, entirely by chance, at the clinic where our son was conceived.

Last Thursday we attended a meeting held by GFT: Gay Fathers of Toronto. It is surprising and disappointing that there's no similar organization in London. London seems to be very gay friendly when it comes to "the scene", but not so much when it comes to gay families. But that's a subject for another post.

From the website we knew more or less what to expect from the meeting. Most of the men that night (if not everyone but us) became fathers the "normal" way and only came out of the closet later. It turns out that Blake was the first baby to attend the meetings so we made a bit of local history. We tried attending since we got to Toronto, but ended up missing it again and again for various reasons. We made quite an entrance with the stroller and Blake was quite well behaved throughout the meeting as long as one of us kept moving his stroller back and forth.

I exchanged looks with my husband. We both initially thought the same thing: what are we doing here? This is not what we wanted. But as the evening went on we found ourselves joining the discussion passionately, sharing experiences from our growth during the last decade. Many of the men there were quite closeted and we had to fight the urge to grab them by the hand and pull them out of the closet. I know it's not an easy process for most people and it certainly wasn't for me all these many years ago when I was certain I'll only come out of the closet once my mother passed away.

As a teenager I was very scared and couldn't imagine my future, it was all just a blank. And here I am thirty years old, married and a parent. I have this urge to outreach other young homosexuals and show them that being gay doesn't mean they can't have a family or be happy. After the meeting on Thursday I realized that age has nothing to do with it. Homosexuals of all ages need to have that message drilled into their heads.

I really think we had a positive impact on those people and we'll be happily attending any other meetings that will be held before we return to London next month.


Saturday, July 12, 2008


My son was born seven weeks ago and now that I'm getting over the initial baby shock I'll be trying to write again.

I planned to write a lot about the experience of being a parent, but when it actually happened not was I only too tired to write, I also found the whole experience to be very personal. But I guess I can share some aspects of my new life.

I don't really recognize my life anymore. So many changes in so little time. First I left my job of over three years and now I'm in Toronto for several months away from every semblance of my former life with the sole exception of my husband who is my only constant. I especially miss my dogs so much that it hurts. We had a picture of them as the laptop's wallpaper, but it had to be changed as it became too painful to look at it.

And there's of course this little guy who needs to be taken care of full time. Since my husband still works on the phone and the computer, it means that I need be the full time mommy, a job I enjoy most of the time. I haven't had a good nigh sleep since the birth, but I got used to it by now. Overall my son is a very good baby. The long term plan is for me to kick off my freelance career again or at least use the time to write more, but with the lack of sleep I find it hard to concentrate and produce work. At least I get enough time between feedings and changing and bottle making to genuinely relax by taking extra naps, play videogames or watch TV.

A nap right now would actually be nice!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


We've been in Toronto for a week and a half now. We had enough time to get over the jetlag, settle in our flat and shop for food and baby stuff. We have everything now, except baby. We even visited him on the weekend and said hello to him through the surrogate's belly.

I miss my dogs so much, but other than that I'm quite happy here. The President's Choice Buffalo Hot Chicken Wings and the breaded white cheese sticks are alone worthy of immigration. It's also nice to watch American television just as soon as it airs.

Mister baby seems insistent to be born a Gemini.



Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Rosie Millard is an idiot Part 2

Just a quick update on Rosie Millard. I googled "Rosie Millard is an idiot" to see how high my blog post about her will show up. It was the first, but surprisingly it drew other interesting results... This and this.

This woman has spent mind blowing amounts of money, got into debt and declared poverty while still sitting on a real estate empire estimated in the millions. Not only she's a filthy liar and criminal, she is also a woman out of control. So there is no wonder she can't get her children to show any moderation when having to share a toy (and surely she can afford four DSes).

For her to have any complaints aimed at videogames is just so outrageous and laughable at the same time.

Happier times before Nintendo destroyed their lives forever.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Rosie Millard is an idiot and a crappy parent.

The Daily Mail had a new anti video games article. The interesting thing here is that it's not to do with violent content that's not unsuitable for kids, it's against any type of videogames whatsoever.

In this article Rosie Millard essentially claims that her kids were perfectly behaved until she introduced a Nintendo DS into their lives. Well, what the hell did she expect when introducing a shiny toy they can only play one at a time? If she forced them to watch TV one at a time or eat one at a time, there would be a similar outcome, if not worse. Why not just starve your kids for a day and then throw a Kitkat into the middle of the room you lunatic?

Why didn't she buy them a Nintendo Wii that they could've played together? With Wii Sports not only four people can play at once, they also get some physical exercise.

I know several families with very well behaved children who do play videogames on a regular basis. They parents manage to regulate the amount of time their children spend on videogames and ensure they don't neglect other aspects of their lives. Cutting something out of the kids' lives is easy; moderating it requires more effort and skill. The only conclusion is that Rosie Millard is a bad parent. Her kids obviously enjoy videogames and now, after getting a taste, will have to witness in frustration how their friends keep enjoying this unique form of entertainment.

Another argument Rosie Millard made, was that playing videogames was an utterly unconstructive activity. Oh, there we go. That's what this is all about. Just another angle to attack videogames by an old generation that simply doesn't understand the medium. Rosie, your children seems to enjoy it, isn't that enough? On top of that videogames improve hand-eye coordination, reading skills, problem solving, creativity and much more. But that's a subject for another post. The best answer for the Rosie Millards of the world has already been written by Richard Bartle.

The happy family, safe from the evils of Nintendo


Blue Badger Gallery

Ace Attorney on the Nintendo DS is one of my favourite game series and I should probably write about it more in the future. The Blue Badger is a very minor character from that series. To call him a character will be pushing it, as he's really nothing more than a fictional mascot.

I was fiddling with photoshop and ended up with this:
I then decided to try and create various Blue Badger versions of famous characters. These drawings were NOT done from scratch. Sadly I can't draw that well. This is mostly photoshop magic (though I know some of them lack polish and are on the border of being utterly rubbish) This is what I created so far:


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Wii Fit

OK, I had this for almost a week now and I used almost every day, so I'm more or less ready to write my take on this fitness phenomena.

Carrying the box home was a fantastic exercise. I just had to switch hands occasionally to make sure I got an even workout. This is a sturdy piece of equipment, not some rubbish toy.

It works. I found myself working quite hard and was sore the next day. In fact, I was a little sore almost every day, on the different muscles I used the previous day. It seems to give a good workout (as in tiring) to all the muscle groups, but it doesn't really give you enough direction to build your own customized programs.

It's amazing how unbalanced I am. Even when standing supposedly still during a breathing exercise the screen info showed me how much I was wobbling all over the place. But just like the visual aid in Singstar helps you correct you pitch, Wii Fit helps you improve your balance by showing you exactly what you're doing wrong. My Wii fit age varies between 34 and 41 based on what appears to be pure luck. At least now that I turned 30, I'm closer to my Wii fit age. I can get away with saying stuff like "not bad for someone in his thirties".

The aerobic and balance mini-games are fun and are perfect for parties with people taking turns. (or at least I thought so: no one wanted to play anything at my 30th birthday party, just drink and talk - I am getting old!) Hula hoops is amazingly addictive and my favourite. It's odd to find yourself controlling various mini-games by shifting your balance, but you get used to it very quickly and accept it as legitimate game controls very quickly. The yoga and strength exercises are slightly more of a proper exercise and are less "fun".

I'm no yoga expert, but the game got me really interested and even consider taking a yoga class in the future which is by itself a great achievement. I don't think there's a true replacement for a human guide. Also, the various postures are fragmented and so far I didn't see an option to flawlessly string a variety of moves into a full workout with proper warm up and cool downs. Clicking in and out of activities breaks the flaw a bit.

Also, one activity expected me to bend down and touch my toes without bending my knees and I couldn't do it so I just pushed as much as I could. The program still praised me, even though I didn't quite get it right.

It's a lot of fun and a great way to get a genuine workout that you can do on its own or mix up with gym visits, joggings or anything else. I believe that Wii Fitness alone is good enough for the average person who wants to keep fit. Obviously if you have more specific muscle building and cardio requirements, it won't be enough.

Unlocking additional exercises and mini-games by simply playing the game is a good way to encourage you to keep on playing. I hope the novelty isn't going to wear off before new software arrives for the peripheral.

Considering I'll be cooped up in flat for months after the birth of my baby, it'll be great to be able to sneak in a few minutes of exercise here and there.

I look forward to see what new software will be developed for it by Nintendo and other developers (Fit Monkey Ball please!)


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Farewell my twenties. Don't forget to write!

One of the nice side effects of getting married and having a baby is that I really don't have any time to genuinly freak out about turning thirty between the two events. On the 29th I'll be thirty so it means I have only a little over a day to enjoy what's left of my twenties.

As the birth of the baby gets nearer and nearer, I find myself reading every bit of information I can get my hands on and listen to various parenting podcasts. I know that nothing will prepare me for the real thing so I won't lie and say that I'm not at all nervous. From what I understand something would've been wrong with me if I wasn't nervous, if I was very casual about it.

So in light of this exciting and mind blowing responsibility, I really couldn't be bothered much about turning thirty. I had a nice little birthday party with friends I collected in England over the last decade, all people I met in my twenties (except for my husband who met me just before when I was nineteen). So if I'll meet as many great new friends over the next decade, I can't wait! On the other hand, I could see I was getting older (as well as my friends) as previous birthday parties had people playing videogames all night, while this time everyone just drank, chatted and laughed.

I enjoyed my twenties, I enjoyed my life so far. But I'm ready for a change. It's like you've been to a restuarant and had a really nice appetizer. It was tasty, but you can't just sit there forever, eventually you'd want to move to the main course.

Well, I am. Thanks for the oysters, bring on the lobster!

I guess with this analogy, grandchildren will be dessert and death will be the bill.


Monday, April 21, 2008

My Many Faces

Just a little bit of fun using the following face transformer:

The original picture:

And that turned into the following:

This is supposed to me as baby, child and teen. I never actually looked like that, but it's still a bit creepy.

Not sure what I'll look like as an old man, but this looks quite convincing.

This is me in different ethnicities. Yikes.

And this is me as a woman. What a cow!

And this is me as a manga character and an apeman.

This is lots of fun and very easy to use, so give it a go.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Bregman to Blumental

It's cool to meet new people who know me only as Michael Blumental. For others the change is quite hard to swallow and I still have to correct friends and acquaintances when they refer to me as "Bregman". Heck, I even have to stop myself as well when I find myself typing my old name.

I guess to some extent I'll always be Mickey Bregman to myself as well. It's not that I don't like that name or anything. I consider changing my name to be a little sacrifice as it was such a huge part of my identity, but I am certainly growing into my new name and getting used to it already. At least I get to keep the same initials which is convenient as I sign most of my emails with them.

The reason I changed my name is simple: our children. I know many couples, gay or straight, adorn their children with a double-barrelled name. I don't knock it, it's still a fair solution and some names actually sound quite good when paired together. But Blumental-Bregman or Bregman-Blumental sound absolutely horrible. A bit too law firmish. Our kids are going to have enough unique issues to deal with, better at least spare them from having this spelling nightmare for the rest of their lives. What I always wonder is, what happens when two people with double-barrelled names meet and marry? Do they give their children a quaruple-barrelled name? At some point you will have to trim the fat. The simpe fact is, I don't think the actual name really matters that much. A rose by any other name blah blah blah.

Anyway, there wasn't really any other solution. We both planned to have at least one biological child each... So then what? They'll have different last names? It will totally fragment the family and is probably the worst possible solution we could think of.

And then it hit me. I'll just take my husband's name and we will all be unified under the Blumental name. My older brother can be in charge of manufacturing little Bregmans. My mother voiced her disappointed with the choice and I pointed out to her that she wasn't always a Bregman, she also changed her name. My brother teased me that I was "being the woman" and my reaction was "so?". I genuinely don't see "being the woman" as a bad thing. What's good enough for generation upon generation of women (including my mother and grandmothers) is good enough for me.

We are the Blumentals. Hear us roar!



The actual process of changing my name is a whole different matter. Passports, driving license, national health insurance, credit cards, national insurance, pension, tax office, bank account... Going through that process again is reason enough for me not to divorce anytime soon!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Zombie Survival Guide & World War Z reviews

I knew about the Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z for a while, but never got around to reading them (which is odd considering what a huge zombies fan I am). So I bought both of them and read them back to back. Well, technically, as it took me several months to finish the Zombie Survival Guide, but on the same day I started reading WWZ and finished it in a little over a week.

It is not to say that the Zombie Survival Guide was bad. In fact, it is a very good book. It really does feel like an authentic survival guide, which makes it a bit of a slow reading in places. I ended up being a bit bored and getting back to the book every few weeks only to abandon it again. But near the end it got really exciting and turned out to be worth sticking with. The result is a unique book unlike anything you have read before. The amount of research that went into it is amazing and while I’m not an expert in any of the covered areas, it felt real to me. The text is written with such conviction and consistency that the illusion simply works. As soon as I finished ZSG I went straight to World War Z.

If ZSG is a slow burner, WWZ is a fast paced page-turner. Dropping the survival guide format, WWZ is pure storytelling, collecting interviews with survivors from the war against the zombies. Each short story can almost be standalone, but together the stories paint a bigger picture, covering the war from the very beginning to the aftermath all over the world.

That is not to say that WWZ is not as well researched as ZSG. In fact, it covers such a massive scope that dwarfs ZSG almost out of existence. The story takes place all over the world, featuring characters from many different cultures and covering many aspects of the war. Here you might spot some small holes when the author covers areas you are familiar with, but those minor accuracies are forgivable all things considered. Not only because the author covers a scope that is virtually impossible to cover flawlessly by any one person, but also because even when you spot those flaws, the story keeps moving and urges you to carry on and just accept this reality. You want to believe it.

I will not go into any spoilers, but the scope is so big that I don’t think anything is left uncovered. I don’t know what is left for Max Brooks to write about in a third zombie book, but somehow I am sure he could think about something if he wanted to. I am a big fan and would love to see more.

Highly recommended. World War Z is the better book by a mile, but the Zombie Survival Guide is also a very good read. While it's not necessary to read both, they work better together by painting a bigger picture. Stick through the slower parts of ZSG and you won’t regret it.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Who's Your Papa?

For many years we were trying to figure out how to become parents. Shall we use surrogacy? Partner up with lesbians? Adopt? We never actually thought past that point.

After we learnt we were pregnant and expecting out first child, that is when other questions popped out of nowhere.

One that I found particularly intriguing was: what should our children call us?

To our dogs we were both daddy. If either of us asks the dogs "where's daddy?" they'll excitedly run to the other daddy. Jokingly we'll each refer to each other as "evil daddy". That's not an issue, since the dogs can't talk and won't be calling us daddy.

But what about a child? For a child mommy and daddy are the names of his parents. When a kid calls for his mommy he means only one person. How can we both be daddy?

We can't.

So I came up with a very original solution. Since I grew up with parents who were russian immigrants in Israel I called my father both papa (russian) and later aba (hebrew). I decided to go with papa, as that sounds more universal (pronounced like Tapas without the S). So we'll be daddy and papa. Out of curiousity I did some research and found out that most gay couples have used that "very original" solution!

Other solutions include calling each parent daddy with their name afterwards (for example daddy Jack and daddy Mark). It's OK, but doesn't work for me.

To make things more complicated, I then realized that being papa puts me in a great disadvantage. Most children books, tv shows, movies and so on always refer to mommy and daddy. Papa is never mentioned! There are many cute baby clothes that refer to "daddy's little mate" or "%50 Mommy %50 Daddy". No papa...

So the solution for now is to buy some french baby clothes in Montreal that refer to papa. As for the depiction of papa in children's fiction? Well, if it doesn't exist I'll have to create it, but more on that later.

So there you go. One of the many unique little "problems" we keep encountering on this wonderful journey.


Monday, April 07, 2008


This is a story about a female to male transgender person who decided he wants to keep his female organs intact so he could have his own biological children.

I thought I’ve seen it all, but wow. This is pretty mind blowing. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it when I first read about it. The story doesn’t go into those details, but I assume once Thomas Beatie had all the biological children he wanted, he would finish his transformation.

I was always a little scared by the concept of transgenders. Not transgenders themselves, not who they are before or after the transition. What I found scary was the process. I can’t possibly imagine how it feels to feel like you are trapped in the wrong body. To view your penis or vagina not as a source of pleasure, but as a foreign object. I suppose the nearest non-transgender people can imagine what it feels like is to imagine what would happen if they were kidnapped and were forced to have a sex change operation. What would you feel like if suddenly there was a fleshy slit between your legs? Or the other way around, suddenly there’s this dangling piece of flesh between your legs. I find the idea repulsive and unpleasant. And I can only guess that’s what transgenders feel like from early childhood.

Now if gay people need courage to come out of the closet, transgenders need a hundred time the courage to do that. To tell your family and friends the news that will cause many of them to turn away from you. To embark on this long journey of gender reassignment and live with the fact that even with the best and most expensive treatments out there, some unlucky individuals will get to be only an approximation of the opposite sex with little things about them giving away their original sex (which in turn makes them a target to vicious strangers).

So when I read about Thomas I was so impressed. Even though his reassignment isn’t finished, he’s got a massive set of balls already. Not only did he start the process of change, he made a very clear and very practical plan to stop halfway in the process in order to have his own biological children. That takes an amazing amount of conviction, especially in light of his family’s attitude. This man is going to be a fantastic role model for his children.

When I was a gay teenager I assumed that I’ll never have a proper family, maybe just a long term boyfriend if I’m lucky. And here I am married and one month away from the birth of my first son. When there’s will, there’s a way.

Good for you Thomas Beatie. You’re the man!