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By Mandy McGee

Here are a couple of campaigns in need of donations. Take a look and support independent arts!

The Austin, TX based band, Tele Novella, are in need of help getting a tour van. Touring can get pricey and being an independent or DIY band means you are paying for everything out of pocket with the hopes of making some money or at least breaking even. One of the biggest price tags can be renting a van to carry all your equipment and your band as well as all the gas it takes for said van. Take a look at their Indiegogo campaign

Do you remember the theme song to Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Well that was 90s sensation Nerf Herder! They are on a mission to make a new record…FINALLY!!! Help support them in their efforts via their pledge music campaign

By Mandy McGee

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I recently took footage from a Golden Gardens show I filmed and made a new music video for them. It is from an older album of theirs, Between the Siren and the Amulet. Golden Gardens is a Seattle based dreampop band that mixes velvety ambiance, mysterious melodies and haunting voices to calm your senses.

Here is the video for the song “The Golden Dawn”.

Golden Gardens-The Golden Dawn from Mandy McGee on Vimeo.

*Click the vimeo to see it bigger and in better quality

By Mandy McGee

I am so excited I was able to sit down and chat up photographer April Eddleton. As a photographer myself I love picking the brains of other photographers. I have known April for a while now, she and I grew up in the same area, and I have been following her creative journey and am very proud of her and the work she has done. 

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(Photo of April Eileen by April Dorothea)

Mandy: How long have you been doing photography and how did you get started? 

April: I’ve been doing photography professionally for a little over 2 years now. I started in high school by taking photo journalism. I really miss the dark room!

Mandy: How would you describe your style?

April: All over the place! I love to create! Lately I’ve been working on more and more headpieces and jewelry to go along with the shoots I’ve thought up. Lately I’ve been more in to editorial style photos, but I work with a lot of more alternative models, so people have come to know me for my more edgy styles. 

Mandy: How did you learn photography school or self taught? 

April: Well, I took photo journalism in high school. However, over the years I had forgotten most of what I had learned, as I didn’t really practice it until recently. So I had to re-learn everything. A lot was self taught via Google, as well as a few amazing friends giving me advice along the way. But mostly just from getting out there and just doing it. You’re going to make mistakes, and not every shoot will turn out the way you see it in your mind. But as they say, practice makes perfect! So getting out there and shooting, any chance you get, is the best teacher there is.

Mandy: Have you always wanted to do photography? 

April: I’ve been taking pictures since I was in elementary school. As a child, I almost always had a disposable camera on me, or a bag full of film. But I never really thought of it as something I wanted to do for a living until I was forced to make a change in my career. I worked at Geico for a long time, but due to kidney failure, was forced to go on disability. The first few months were rough, going crazy sitting at home (I am forever on the go) so I decided to pick my camera back up and haven’t put it down since! The health issues are still here, I am still on dialysis, but I found the silver lining in it- I rediscovered my passion for photography and art. Now I am doing what I truly love for a living!

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By Jason ‘Kantrip’ Calhoun

TV Review: Hit and Miss

Surfing Netflix for random TV shows to watch has become the main evening sport in my home. Some finds are really good, others are abysmal, and some leave a permanent impression on me. Neither wholly good nor wholly bad, but definitely food for a lot of thought. One such find was the 2012 Sky Atlantic (DirecTV) series, “Hit and Miss”. Starring Chloe Sevigny (Big Love, Boys Don’t Cry, American Horror Story: Asylum) as an Irish pre-op Transsexual assassin, who learns that she has an 11 year old son.

Mia, (Chloe Sevigny) has a pretty stable life going. She kills for the British mob, and packs away her savings to fund her gender reassignment surgery. Wake up, work out, take on a hit, come home, eat healthy, and maybe go on a date. She has her routine set and isn’t focusing on the future or the past. Just being Mia. One day she receives a letter informing her that her ex-girlfriend, Wendy has died and that Mia has an 11-year old son named Ryan (Jorden Bennie). Unsure what to do, Mia meets her son and finds that Wendy has left her custody of her other 3 children as well. All of whom are struggling to keep a small farm going. Mia’s presence upsets Levi (Reece Noi) and Riley (Karla Crome), Wendy’s 2 oldest children, and confuses Ryan. Not only have they lost their mother, but now they are left in the hands of an ex-boyfriend who is now a woman. Her problems multiply when the owner of the farm, John (Vincent Regan) decides he wants to assert his male-dominance over Mia and the children, and her boss, Eddie (Peter Wright) questions Mia’s ability to be a competent killer now that she has a family.

On its face, “Hit and Miss” is a lot to take in. The creators throw several culturally sensitive plots and characters into 6 episodes, and I was worried that one or more of these topics would be mishandled. To my relief, the show balances it all masterfully, only letting small details slip through the cracks.

The biggest and easiest aspect of the show to mess up was Mia. There is very little media out there that accurately and positively portrays Transsexuals. I’m glad to say “Hit and Miss” handles the subject matter expertly. While filming Chloe Sevigny did extensive research on surgical procedures, hormone treatments, and the experiences of people who transitioned. She was fitted with a prosthetic penis for the role, which was uncomfortable for her physically and emotionally. In the scenes where Mia catches images of herself in a mirror, or someone sees her naked, the discomfort she expresses is genuine. The show addresses her sex life in a frank and honest manner. “I’m straight”, Mia says in the first episode, when one of the children calls her a faggot. Little more is said on the matter, until Mia finds herself attracted to a local ex-rugby player, Ben (Jonas Armstrong). As their relationship develops both Mia and Ben have to have very honest conversations, that most dramatic TV avoids. Ben wrestles with being in love with Mia, despite her being physically a man. Mia struggles with intimacy and letting Ben in, when she isn’t comfortable with her own body. All of this on its own would make for a great show, but there are still several other elements of Hit and Miss to review.

Mia’s job as an assassin is also presented in a straight forward manner. She isn’t donning catsuits, big hats, or glasses for her jobs. On the job she wears dull-colored shapeless clothes (Hoodie, BDUs, Work boots), and moves with a purpose. Killing is done in a cold and emotionless manner. There’s little suspense or drama in her job. Just get dressed, kill, and leave. If Mia has to chase her target or fight them, the combat is quick and to the point. She isn’t a superwoman, so if she gets hit or lands wrong she gets hurt. When she is assigned a job, the show makes a point of expressing how much time has passed between the assignment and the hit itself. Sometimes days pass by before we see her go after a target. Even after Mia moves into the farmhouse with the children, she still maintains her loft in the city where all of her equipment is stored. This prevents the possibility that her work life and personal life will intersect. I get the feeling that Sevigny and the writers did just as much research on contract killers as they did Transsexuals for the show.

Of course it would be a very boring show without some drama. Enter Wendy’s children and the farmhouse. When Mia arrives she is met with hostility and confusion by the newly orphaned family. Wendy’s eldest daughter, Riley outright distrusts Mia until the two bond half-way through the series. Riley plays the typical distrustful teenager. She is scared, hurt, and reluctant to let anyone help her with her problems. Aside from caring for the two youngest children, she also swims daily and is having an abusive affair with the landowner, John. Levi is the second oldest, and while uncertain of Mia, is more than willing to let her help with paying the bills and takes her to task when it appears she is going to run back to the city. That’s not to say that he is faultless. Later in the series he becomes an errand boy for Mia’s boss and is happy to leave his siblings to go hang out with his friends in the city. Leonie (Roma Christensen) is the youngest of the 4 siblings. A sweet young girl that loves ballet, and talks to the ghost of her mother frequently. The inclusion of Wendy’s ghost feels out of place, but since she only appears to Leonie it gives the young girl some moments of small character growth.

Lastly, there is Ryan, Mia’s biological son. A shy 11-year old boy who is often bullied, and will run to sleep in a tent outside rather than bond with his siblings after their mother dies. While the large portion of the show centers around Mia, Ryan’s time in the spotlight is memorable. Not only has he lost his mother, but he’s met his father who is now a woman. The pair bond in the sweetest of ways. Mia teaches Ryan how to box, how to stand up to bullies, and then how to ensure the bullies never come back. When Ryan begins to question his own gender identity, Mia talks to her son frankly about her own experiences and how to listen to himself in defining who he is. When he does, Ryan finds out just how much like his father he is. The final scene of the last episode pours a lot of cold water on just what does run naturally in the family.

Beyond Mia, Ryan, and assassinations the show treads into some pretty standard dramatic waters. The skeezy abusive landowner that is sleeping with Riley presents very tangible threats to Mia and her family, but is unaware just who he is dealing with. Of course Riley’s affair has predictable results, with predictable response from John. Ben, the boyfriend, reacts in a rather tasteless manner to the gender and sexual issues that come up. Eddie, Mia’s Boss, uses Mia’s personal troubles to his professional benefit all the while doubting how useful she is to him anymore. Then there are the moments where both of Mia’s worlds cross-over. These are all story-points you would expect to come up with the cast and setting presented here, but since the series is only 6 episodes long there isn’t much tension built up and some of the characters and relationships feel flat. For example, after helping Mia buy the farm from John, Eddie begins storing contraband on the farm and employs Levi as an errand boy. There’s no mention of what he is hiding on the farm, just how deep Levi has been introduced into the organization, or who Eddie answers to. If the series was longer, I have no doubt that these stories would develop into their own arcs, but within the first season, they are window dressing at best.

The only story I had any major issues with, was the one explored in the final episode. From the start we are told that Mia grew up with a traveling fair, left when she came out of the closet to her family, and things became antagonistic after that. In Episode 6, Mia and the family go to the fair only to learn that it is the fair of her childhood. Upon seeing her brother (who doesn’t see her), Mia sneaks off to find her mother, demands that her mother leave with her, and is then assaulted by her brother. What her brother does to Mia is brutal. It sets the tone for the rest of the episode and makes you feel as violated as Mia. While the creators nailed the feeling of confusion, isolation, and crippling self-doubt, they failed to really give the viewers any amount of connection or history to Mia’s former family. Why does she want to take her mother away from her brother? Beyond being incredibly violent and intolerant, just what makes him such a big boogie man to the professional assassin? Again this is where the limited number of episodes worked against the writers. If there had been more episodes or even seasons, they could have built up more history, fear, and tension for this encounter. Even the resolution felt rushed and out of character.

All complaints about the rushed and generic story-lines aside, Hit and Miss is a great series. It addresses the topics of Transsexual transitioning, and growing up in a non-traditional household. All of the actors commit to their roles and the emotions they convey feel real. I get the feeling that there were plans for additional seasons to the show. Especially after watching the final episode. The series ends on a maddening cliffhanger where all of Mia’s secrets are set to spill out. If you are in the mood for something with action, drama, and realistic portrayals of alternate lifestyles then watch Hit and Miss.

By Mandy McGee

Tele Novella just released their newest video for the single “Trouble in Paradise” on their fourthcoming Cosmic Dial Tone EP, which is due out on June 14 on Lolipop Records. The Austin based psych-pop band combines classic ’60s rhythms with macabre undertones.

Tele Novella // Trouble In Paradise from tina rivera on Vimeo.

By Jason ‘Kantrip’ Calhoun

Batgirl #31
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Fernando Pasarin
DC Comics

Gail Simone brings back one of her most iconic villains in this month’s Batgirl. As Barbara continues to wrestle with world-breaking revelations in her personal life, she must also race to save her roommate Alysia from a new enemy appearing in Gotham. Meanwhile someone is shadowing Barbara Gordon’s every step, but why?

The Good:
It looks like Gail Simone is getting the freedom she needs to shift Batgirl in the direction she’s been hinting at for the past year. Elements of the events from Batgirl Annual #2 appear here along with the caustic Michael from Knightfall’s organization. Bits and pieces of previous stories are assembling to form a big threat that Batgirl will have to face on her own. Its a nice change in pace considering how disjointed the series has felt due to the infinite amount of interruptions it has had due to crossovers and changes in creative teams.

Also Ragdoll is back!! Simone’s insane triple-jointed mercenary/murderer has appeared in The New 52 with his love of Monkeys and bizarre ethics intact. Where as most of the villains in Batgirl so far have not hesitated to kill, Ragdoll is a change in pace. He’s as insane as the rest of Batgirl’s rogues gallery but it’s clear he’s working with a handler and a set of rules. Even better, there is a panel where he makes a call to check in with his “Boss” and asks that he/she give his love to his/her wives. As a fan of Simone’s Secret Six, I couldn’t help but squee at what that conversation implies for future characters that may appear.

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