Tuesday, November 29, 2005

...and we're back

I can't bring myself to clean my room. It's not that I'm lazy. It's just that it hurts to think about, and I'm no fan of pain. Besides, most of the problem can be accredited to my rather imposing mountain of laundry. I hate laundry. Mind you, I didn't hate it this much before. I always hated it, though. Now, I hate it in ways that defy expression. Figure in the five floors of stairs to my apartment, and there you have all my reasons for hating it as much as I do. I'll do it, sure... but I won't like it.

I arrived in New York yesterday morning, not looking forward to being back. Who'd have thought it? Me, not wanting to be in New York? Actually, that's not entirely accurate. I didn't mind being back in New York. I just didn't want to leave John again, and Kyadden (he's...uh... spending a few weeks with his Dad... being a kid of separated parents can be rough), and so many friends, and a house that was nicer than ever, and a real bed (not that the Red Destiny isn't a marvelous futon), and an X-Box (the 360 is on my Christmas list, of course), etc. I wasn't ready to leave it all. Hell, if I could've gotten all of that to follow me to New York, I'd have been ducky. Anyway, yeah, I wasn't entirely happy to be back, even though it wasn't New York's fault.

Almost immediately after I'd gotten off the plane, everything was double-time. I ran to pick up my luggage, ran to a cab, ran up to my apartment (well, not ran, exactly... limped and dragged my enormous luggage up the stairs, more like), ran back downstairs, ran to campus for a meeting with a professor. When I got to my meeting, I wasn't entirely prepared, but I settled in pretty well once things got started. Then, it got ugly, but I took it well. She said some rather insulting things about qualitative method and its role in psychology, which stunned me quite a bit... that it couldn't tell you information over large populations, that it said nothing of individual differences, that it served virtually no purpose in developmental research psychology, that it can be nice for discovering areas of quantitative study, but not much else beyond that. My brain was boiling, but I sat there anayway, cool as an icy wet towel. What's done is done, and she's said her piece. Rather than let it fester and eat at me (as I have to admit it has), I'm taking it up with the heads of my department tomorrow. Important people may not agree with me, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong. I mean, okay, people are entitled to their opinions, but at least let them be informed ones. There. I'm done. I'm sure I'll be venting more about this after I've talked to some people.

The meeting left me ruffled, not just because of the way the professor bashed my favored methodology, but also because she'd kept me a bit long, making me late to my class... which, funny enough, was Qualitative Methods. Adorable. The class raised my spirits a little, as it always does, but I was still in a nice little funk by the time I got up to my office to crank out a little bit of catch-up work after the week-long break. After a few hours of that, it was off to choir rehearsal, then home for a much needed rest. And to stare at the mountain of laundry that refuses to magically evaporate into clean, folded piles of pristene attire.

Today, I woke up late, around eleven, to the ringing of my phone. "Are you on the way yet?" Craig's voice on the other end shook me out of whatever sleep was still floating around in my head. I assured him I would be there in about two hours, then scrambled to throw myself together and stumble out of the apartment and toward the bus stop. About an hour and a half later, I was at the recording studio, accepting a cup of tea from Craig and chatting about our respective Thanksgivings. We laid down tracks for about five hours, completing three songs (that's a record for both of us, by the way) and feeling pretty good about the work. I headed home, stopping at an Applebee's for dinner before hopping on the Q train, encapsulating myself in my own little world with the aid of my brand new, beautiful-in-every-way iPod Nano (thank you, Chuck, for the gift that has changed my life and state of being... you are the greatest person to have ever been born in all of the world's history). If I was having any regrets about coming back to New York, they were gone now. If things keep up at this rate with the recording, I'll be able to pop out a CD by February, which would be nice. Then maybe I can make back some of the money it's taken to record the damn thing. But really, I don't care about the money... I just love doing this. Well, okay, I care about the money, too.

I'd best be off. The laundry pile is starting to talk, and it's calling me ugly names. That does it... I'm gonna kick its ass now.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

T'was the night after Thanksgiving

... and all through the house... I hear nothing. My own house, and I can't sleep. Figures. No problem; I'll just do a blog entry... just a quick one... and I'll be off to dreaming, no doubt.

I'm in Texas again. It's bizzare, actually, and moreso than I'd imagined it would be. The house looks great (kudos to John and company, who performed so many wonderful revisions here and there), and Kyadden can't seem to stop purring, happy as he is to be back. The thought's been crossing my mind more and more that he might be best off staying here until the end of winter break, after which he can go back with me to New York. I mean, he's really happy... the question, then, is if I share his sentiment.

Of course I do. Sure, it's bitter sweet that things are so great here and I'm not around to enjoy them. Nevertheless, I'm quite happy where I am in New York, believe me. Besides, so much of this great stuff is going to end up coming to New York with John when he moves up there next summer, so I'm not going to get too torn up about things. For now, though, it's been a lovely little visit. I'll take it easy for the next few days, enjoy my time with John, and soak in some lingering Texas warmth before heading back to my apartment in the Bronx. Neither my house nor my apartment feels entirely like home for me, to be perfectly honest... and yet, it seems right that I should call them both my home, because they both very much are. Somehow, that seems to work out just fine.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Idillically pathetic, pathetically idillic

Okay. I have to report this. I mean, I never thought it would happen to me. I thought, "That happens to other people... not me." There's no history of it in my family; there's nothing in my personal history that would predispose me to it or put me at risk of it. You just never think it'll happen to you, and then it hits home, and it's more real than you could ever imagine. That's what's happened to me, and I'm dumbfounded by the ugly, horrid truth, which I'm now forced to face as grim reality...

I cussed out a cabbie.

Why would I do that? I've been confronted with ineptitude before, and it never affected me so potently as this. And to cuss out a complete stranger first thing in the morning... it's just not me. I would never do such a thing. That is, of course, until yesterday morning. I was running late for the van to Lincoln Center, so I figured I'd take a cab. On a previous late morning, taking a cab to the van did the trick beautifully, and I caught the van with no trouble. This time, I assumed things would be no different, and a cab pulled up as if on cue, just as I'd set foot onto the street. I told him to take me to the other side of the Fordham campus, where the vans were waiting. The cabbie, in a thinck and unintelligeable accent, said, "Okay. I take you." He then proceeded to drive in entirely the wrong direction. I gently corrected him, repeating that I wanted to go to the Fordham campus. "Oh, okay, okay. That is then I taking you." Right. So we turned around again, only now in another wrong direction. I had only three or four minutes left now in which to reach the van, so I remind him, a bit more forcefully this time, that I asked to be taken to the Fordham University compus. "Oh," he said. "You no say university." That's when I lost it. In a nutshell, I gave him a rundown of a definition of the word campus, punctuated with some slightly off-color terms here and there. By the end of my cab ride, I had missed the van by five minutes, I was still on the wrong side of campus (although I'd finally managed to at least get there), and I refused to pay the cabbie the fare he asked for... he wanted eight bucks, I gave him five. Frankly, he's lucky to have gotten that much.

Tonight, I was all set to perform at an open mic in the lower east side, at a place called the Orange Bear Bar. To be honest, it sounded like a gay biker bar to me, but I had it on good authority that it was actually a neat little live music venue without any specific alternative lifestyle flair. Anyway, I went, arriving just in time... to fnd it closed. No open mic, not even a light on. No problem, I thought. I was pissed, sure, but I wasn't about to tuck my guitar between my legs and run home just yet. After a couple of phonecalls, I discovered another possible open mic taking place just a few blocks away. Okay, more like fourteen blocks away, but whatever. Actually, it was at Micky's Blue Room, where I'd performed the previous weekend, so I knew the area a bit. So, guitar strapped to my back, I hiked out to the Blue Room. Sure enough, there was an open mic going on... for stand-up comics. Really, really bad ones. I stayed around and had a few beers while these painfully unfunny people tried to play to me, the only non-comic there. After about the fourth beer, they still weren't getting any funnier, so I left. From there, I literally walked the streets, combing the blocks and blocks of bars and live music venues in search of a possible open mic or performance opportunity. After a good bit of that, I gave up on the search and went in to Katz's for a bite (and what may well be the best cheesecake I've ever had). All in all, not a great night, Then again, no a bad one, either.

Yeah, it sucked that I didn't find a gig tonight... no biggie. Because there I was, my guitar on my back, walking up and down the streets of the lower east side, soaking everything in, writing lyrics in my head, hearing music all over the place coming together to form a single resounding melody in the core of me. I don't think it gets any better, any more idillic, than that very image. And cussing out cabbies, on top of everything else... perhaps I'm absorbing more of New York than I thought. Someone even told me earlier today that I look very upper west side. Yeah, right. I don't think I look like much of anything, but it doesn't matter. I like where I am, who I am, what I am, what I'm doing. And if it takes walking up and down the streets of this mystical place to truly thrive in it and make it my own, then so be it.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Taking stock (and a breath)

I've been twenty-nine for a month now. That leaves me eleven months to do lots of cool stuff. That way, by the time I'm thirty, I can say "Yeah, I did that back in my twenties," or people can think, "Wow, and she did all that before she was thirty." I'm doing my best, but I doubt I'll move mountains or anything, which I guess is okay. I can be a slightly cool twenty-nine year-old and still sleep okay at night.

I've always been inclined to give myself ultimatums. I'm not sure why, really, but it's always been something I do. And some of them will be weird, too... like if I'm trying to accomplish something, I might say that, by the time my hair has grown to a certain length, I will have gotten that certain thing done. I use dates, too, of course, but that's more of a daily thing. For weekly or monthly goals, it tends to get strange. It's like I'm constantly racing with time and the things that abide by it. The race, though, is usully no more than competitive sport for me. It's fun, actually, to try to get something accomplished before the buzzer. Perhaps that explains my penchant for procrastination... the thrill of the chase of the deadline? To be honest, I wouldn't put it past me. It's strange, I know, but it's a rush, no matter how you look at it. Some people would consider waiting till the last minute on finishing a paper or project to be nothing more than an issue of laziness or disoranization. I'm the nut that actually plans things that way. Jeeze... thinking about it now makes me think I'm something of a twit... I get by pretty well, though, so I can't be doing too badly, despite my bizzare motivations in schedule-making.

I had a hell of a day on Tuesday. I got up in the morning and got ready for my photo shoot, which would provide images for the website and the CD insert. It was minutes before I had to leave, and I still hadn't decided what I was going to wear... I had to choose two outfits for the shoot. I ended up layering my outfits, one over the other, so I could save time on changing when I got out there. Then, as I was leaving, Jane made a change here and there... made me
change jackets, added a scarf... and I was off. After getting a little lost in the financial district, I finally found my makeup artist, Nicole, who was waiting for me at a Starbucks down the street from City Hall. We discussed the two looks for the day over a quick breakfast, then walked over to the fountian at City Hall Park, where we'd be meeting Casey, the photographer. While we waited, Nicole sat me down on a park bench and started my makeup. That was weird... having people walk by and stare, even stop and point and ask one another if I was someone... certainly not something I was expecting. A little before she finished on my first look, Casey showed up and got ready; we did some shots at the fountain (where this one was taken), and then he moved us to a nearby street with some cool stairs and doorways. From there, I changed clothes, Nicole did new makeup things to my face, and we were off to the pier, where we got a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge. By the end of the two-hour shoot, we were laughing, telling each other stories, and getting pretty comfortable with one another. Next time I do one of these, I'm definitely using the same crew. (Incidentally, if you want to see more of these, go to my website... the link is over on the left.)

I headed straight from the shoot to my recording session with Craig, who I'd chatted up over the last couple of days and was ready to start working with. We have a great woring dynamic... very give and take... and I think we complement each other nicely. The proof can be found on the website... I've posted the song we did, which we finished in one sitting, suprisingly. After that was over, I went home, sat down, and zoned out. Talk about a long day... but I have to keep this up, don't I? I mean, I only have eleven months. I'm giving myself till March to finish the CD, so I should be able to make that deadline. I'm also performing at least every other weekend at different venues, just getting out there and keeping myself freaked out enough to keep working like I've got everything to lose. Maybe, by the time I'm thiry-five or something, I can be a rock star. Or by the time my hair's grown longer. Or something like that.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Keeping up with the whoevers

I'm not going to put forth any false pretences here... I'm competitive. I think I manage to maintain my urges at healthy levels, but it's still... you know... a "thing." I'm a fencer... if I wasn't competitive, I'd suck, yeah? And I'm a doctoral student, which has competition written all over it. And I married a borderline megalomaniac. By borderline, of course, I mean jumping back and forth over the line, stomping on it, kicking it around... that kind of borderline. Fine, then... I'm competitive. So why am I completely unphased these days by everything and everyone around me?

There are talented folks all over the place, and I'm seeing more and more of them every day. In the department, I'm constantly astounded by the ability the other students display in class, in conversation, in their work. I have my contributions, sure, but they're a little harder for people to grasp, given the qualitative spin I tend to put on everything. These guys, though... they're really something. There isn't a single one of them that doesn't belong here, wrapped up in this PhD program. And , wonder of wonders, everything's copacetic where I'm concerned. In fact, I want nothing more than for them all to excel and kick much ass at everything they do, even when it means they'll inevitably outshine me in the department, win grants and fellowships out from under me, and so on. Still, no biggie. Weird.

On the music front, the fact that I've been accosted with talented people from every direction goes without saying. Every time I go to one of these gigs, I sit in the audience, baffled by the ability I'm witnessing. These people consistently put my guitar playing to utter and complete red-faced shame. They're established, confident, and on the move... they're freakin' idillic postcards of how to be professional. Even when their songs aren't necessarily the best in the world, they pull it off with class, and they still play exquisitely. I get pissed at myself for not being as good, but, crazy as it seems to me, I'm not out to beat anyone. I just want to go out there and do my thing.

My theory on it, for now, is that New York has me so far out of my element and feeling so absolutely miniscule that I can't really get into a funk about these things. I get out there and do my best, and it never feels like it's anywhere close to enough, but I do it, and I do it pretty compulsively. Oddly enough, I think that's a good thing... you know... not getting all flustered about competing. I mean, it doesn't exactly change anything, really. Besides, I think I do okay. I got into the gigs, just like the other people who I gauk at so frequently. And I'm trucking along in the psych department, just like the brilliant ones, and I haven't been kicked out yet. Interesting. Maybe some would think this train of thought a little ridiculous, but I find it pretty intreaguing. Life's a lot easier without the stress of wondering who's better, or what I have to do to be better than the... um... competition. I mean, I wasn't cutthroat about it before or anything, but I thought about it a great deal. Maybe it comes from being in a collegiate music school for so long. The point is that I think I'm finally getting over it, and that's nice. Is it maturity? I don't think so... I hate maturity. It gives me the creeps. I think this is something better.

I think a great many people, at any stage of life, suffer from the competitiveness affliction, even to the point of ugly jealousy. And jealousy sucks. I wasn't ever particularly prone to jealousy, but I've seen it, and it's pretty annoying and sad. Sure, it's a natural part of being human, I guess, but it's still a pain to deal with, no matter where it's directed. I'm not advocating the erradication of negative human impulses... or maybe I am... but seriously, life's a lot nicer without it. If you're ever jealous of someone, it's not a pleasant feeling. Why go there? Okay. there's my two cents.

Completely off topic, I got a new office today... it's my own. My precious. The professor I'm a T.A. for has an office on campus that he never uses... that he's never even seen... and he offered it to me today. It's... (sniff)... it's beautiful. It's... dare I say it... very much the likely object of jealousy. Whatever. It's a killer office, and it's mine, mine, MINE! MUAH-HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Yes...

Maybe that's a good way to keep the competition bug at bay... keep ending up with really cool things happening to you... they tend to keep you distracted.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The dusty road of progress

I'm being held to a pretty enterprising promise. Prompted by my performance this past Sunday (which, incidentally, went well, I think, based on more requests for where to buy my CDs and how to get onto my non-existant e-mailing list), John made me vow the other day that I'd have a CD, a website, a mailing list, and promotional stickers ready to go before my next NY Songwriters gig. Bastard.

Not wanting to fall prey to his ridicule, I'm on it. I was in Brooklyn today, meeting with a guy who has a home recording studio. We talked for a good while, sharing personal philosophies on music and performance, life stories, etc., and I feel confident in saying that I think I've found myself a recording producer. Next Tuesday will be our first official recording session, I'm happy to report. He had me play a couple of songs for him, and he seems to like what I do, so it's a date. On top of the recording, he's also agreed to help me choose songs for the first CD, as well as give me a hand with setting up the web things. So anyway, yeah, that seems to be under way.

In addition, I've been in contact with a photographer who works with musicians, and he's given me a pretty good quote on a two-hour shoot. This way, I can have decent pictures for promo material and CD covers. Holy hell... am I really doing all this? Can I afford all this? Doesn't matter. I'm not chickening out now. And believe me, I think about backing out on a five-minute basis. I have't done a photo shoot since... God... high school, back when I was kind of attractive or whatever. Now I'm chubby and painfully ordinary, and I'm doing a photo shoot for my promotional material. Gee... I can't wait to see a bunch of pictures of myself that I absolutely hate and look fat in. And I'm not being modest, either. I mean, I'm pretty pudgy in person, but in photograph version, I'm especially rotund. But hey... it's gotta be done, eh? I mean, I'd rather it didn't, but I gotta. Crap. And hey... maybe this will result in some sort of chubby girl cult following. Fat girls of the world unite, or whatever. Ugh... that's wretched. But who's to say? A chubby following is better than none, yes?

I have to keep writing. I need new things, new material, new stories to tell. I can't get boring. I can't stop the wheel now, not after I've turned it this far already. And I have a guy who wants to lay down tracks for me and help me get out there. Do I have an audience? Probably not. That's not the point, though. I gotta do this. 50 Cent has it right... get rich or die tryin'... I mean, you die anyway, but getting rich would be nice. I just want to get out there and do this. I can't remember a day in my life that I haven't been ravenously hungry for this. PhD or no, this is my calling. The PhD is fringe. Is that so wrong, though? I mean, so what if I want to be a scientist on top of everything? Damn the conventionalist rationale that I ought to be grounded in singular goals. How's this for singular goals... I want to be a rock star. Look at the PhD as an elaborate hobby. If anyone has a problem with that, you're more than welcome to come to New York and try to talk some sense into me. Till then, I'll let you struggle with the fact that you can't come up here because you have too many obligations keeping you from getting on the plane. Case in point: they didn't stop me, and here I am. I deal with that every day, but I don't regret it. As for the husband I left at home? He's made me promise to get my first CD out there by the next gig. That's right... he's on my team. Just knowing that convinces me that I can't possibly be stopped. Then again, anyone's welcome to try to prove me wrong. Honest... I'll be waiting.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Reflecting on the state of things

I've got friends with nice homes and nice cars. Friends with kids. Friends with high-falutin' jobs and fat paychecks to match. Friends with their own burgeoning businesses. Friends with agressive investments and cute little stock portfolios. They're all my age or close to it, all people I've known for years. I see them, and I see me. And then I just kind of sit here and draw a blank.

Okay, so I'm in school right now. No one expects someone who's in school full time to focus on much else, I know. And I've had a couple of major setbacks with my health or whatever, so I've gotten a weird late start. I got married young, and I can say that I'm one of the few from my peer group that's still happily married to my first spouse... that's one I credit to luck and not much else. And I don't want kids, although I can't deny the constant peer pressure and the occassional pitying looks I get from people who assume I'm, um, "one of those women." I mean, I kept my last name... ooooh, I'm such a rebel. So I don't have the high-end job, the big house, the bad-ass car (well, I did... but I sold the convertible before I came to New York... sniff), the stock portfolio... call me crazy, but I'm starting to feel like a loser.

John's a lucky boy. He's one of those people that has a purpose, a calling, and more than enough talent to get it done. At the moment, he's a high school Latin teacher. If you're gonna be a high school teacher, you're still impressive if you're teaching Latin. People ask what he does, and when he tells them, they always say, "Oh! A Laitn teacher... wow." And they're genuine about it. Then, of course, he'll be starting his PhD work next year, after which he'll be even more impressive. Besides that, he's also a bouncer, and damn good at it. He gets "Oh! A bouncer... wow" a lot, too. And he's typically the funniest person in the room (unless John Sauvey's in the room with him... then, it's pretty steep competitiion). What can I say? My boy's pretty damn cool.

With me, they seem impressed, but only vaguely. "Oh, a PhD in psychology? Wow, that's... huh. Wow." Then there's the rest. "Oh, and you're a bouncer, too? That's... wow. Interesting. Boy, that must be scary." I used to have a good "in" with being an opera singer. People seemed kind of mistified by that, even though I never figured out why. Nowadays, I bring up the fact that I write my own music and perform, and that's not nearly as cool. Just about all of my friends still introduce me as the opera singer. Bummer... I was kind of hoping that what I'm doing now could still be considered interesting. Hell, I think it's a lot more interesting. Whatever... maybe that's just me. Besides, who wants to discuss psychology? No one I run into seems to be too interested. That's fine... it's not necessarily on the top of most people's lists as random conversation. As for people in the field, they tend to bug me... they're quantitative folks, and they inevitably rub me sideways.

So I try to look on the bright side. I may be older than most people in my spot, but that just makes me better at it, I guess. My music is getting better... I just need to put out a CD or something. I've got a mortgage, even if it's in another state and in a house I'm not living in at the moment... still, it's my mortgage. And I may not have any kids (and I'm all smiles about that, trust me), but I've got my cat here in New York, my two pups and two ferrets in Texas, and Trouble, my niece-cat. And I may not have money, but I've got... um... okay, I don't have anything to say on that one. Money would be nice. Don't believe what they tell you. Money buys happiness. I'm not saying you can't be happy without it, but you can buy it. It's like love... same thing.

I guess I'm not doing too badly. I may end up with money someday. As soon as I'm a rock star. And I mean that, by the way. I could do it. I've done plenty... what's a little "rock star" sprinkled on top? Besides, in the wise words of my roommate, I'll always have my PhD to fall back on.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Stay tuned for our next episode of "Deja Vu", followed by a special edition of "Grad Students Gone Wild"

I think it goes without saying that the last three months have been a little surreal. This past weekend, though, might just qualify as a little more than disturbing coincidence. The University Choir had its first two concerts this weekend, and I had a solo. That, all by itself, is weird enough. Having a classical solo was the last thing I thought I'd ever be claiming again. Friday involved a longer rehearsal than usual, during which we ran through things and solidified the order of the program. Jane and Rosa had invited me to go dancing in the city, but I had to turn them down, which broke my heart... I never turn down an offer to go to the city. Nevertheless, I had an early rehearsal on Saturday morning, along with a perforance. Ordinarily, that wouldn't matter, but I had a solo, and it was a tough one... If I was going to do this thing, I wasn't about to embarass myself in front of a bunch of undergrads.

Saturday came around, and we had our morning rehearsal. An early morning choir rehearsal? Jeeze... I haven't had one of those since, oh, my Texas Girls' Choir days? Unbelievable. Besides, my coffee hadn't kicked in, and the undergrads were more annoying than I think they've ever been. After rehearsal, we got an hour for lunch, then we got on a bus... to New Jersey. Again, unbelievabe. I aven't been on a choir tour like this since... yep, you guessed it...

We got to a church in New Jersey, got dressed, sat through a mass, and performed. There I was, singing a classical solo (a weird little Benjamin Britten piece... my solo had something to do with a mouse), in a black choir dress, with a university choir. Did I miss something? I mean, the whole thing, for me, was riddled with flashbacks of my time as an undergrad in the Baylor music school, back when all of this would have made perfect sense. But now, ten years later... this was just weird. After the performace, the undergrads were talking to me for the first time, telling me I did a good job, wanting to know if I'd sung before... adorable.

As soon as the bus pulled in at Fordham, I hopped off and walked home. I got through the door to find Jane and Josh on their way out, and Jane was dressed as a zombie cowboy. I told her she should add a bullet wound, and it ended up being a nice touch. They invited me along, and I couldn't refuse a second time... besides, Sunday's choir performance wasn't until the afternoon, so I could afford it, especially after sitting on a bus to and from New Jersey with a bunch of undergrads. Jane threw a red feather boa and a pair of red sequince devil horns on me... I was a yuppy demon for Halloween. As for the party, it was really great. How could any party with beer and a pinata not be?

Here's Jane, looking lovely and morbid as a dead cowboy with a bullet hole in the side of her head.

Time to attack the eyeball pinata... Wonder Woman didn't bring her truth lasso, but the broomstick didn't do too bad a job.

Following the superhero theme, here's X-Men's Gambit, having a go at the eyeball, with questionable success.

No party could be complete without communists. Here's a random Cuban guerilla fighter, showing his comrades how it's done.

And now, for the cowboy contingent. Jane didn't crack the pinata open, so she's looking to take it out on me.

And, at long last, Tex lets loose, the great eye is toppled, and the free peoples of the Halloween party needed no longer fear the blindly swinging broomstick of doom.

Here I am as a yuppy demon, reaping the benefits of the eyeball pinata's demise.

Here's Fidel Castro, getting cozy with Reuben, who's sporting the battered eyeball. Ah, brave, brave Fidel.