Last night we saw our first individual elimination and the contestants were once again reminded that this is going to be no easy feat, to keep their wits about them and make it to the end. Was it a fair elimination? I think it certainly was.

Not to be all heavy-handed and whatnot, but it feels pretty silly to be writing about American Idol on days like today, when big, terrible, elemental things are happening elsewhere in the world. It all sort of diminishes the fun and importance, if there ever was any, of giving people dumb nicknames and writing soft-core Tim Urban fantasy. So, a moment to acknowledge the fact that we are all tiny and mostly helpless props in the world's big show, and that humility and awe exist for a reason.

Anyway. Moving on. Speaking of Japan, were the kids singing in Japanese when they trundled out on stage for their Michael Jackson medley group number? I mean, the group numbers are always festering horror shows but this really took the cake. This really was one of the worst in a good long Idol while. (Idol While: the new musical from Outkast and Paula Abdul.) Maybe it's the Michael Jacksonness of it — that so many people have mangled his memory while trying, indulgently, to honor it. Or maybe it's just that these kids aren't that good, and for whatever reason the sound mixing on this show is never right, people always seem under-miked. But yes. Whatever the reason, it was bad. Which is to say, it was good. You always want these group numbers to be bad. Always. Because it's so much fun to think about how, just a few months ago, these kids were cleaning toilets at the Cleveland Music Bowl or throwing a pitch at the big Garner vs. Middle Creek game, and now here they are, bebop-a rockin' in unison on a glowing piece of thick plastic while a glowing piece of thick plastic named Ryan Seacrest readies himself to ruin one of their lives. It's quite a thing! The swift and heavy moving of time. One minute you're one place familiar, and the next you're tap dancing on the moon with an old witch that used to be in a rock band. Only in the Universe!

So, OK, that was that. Next up on the dazzling performance list was a relatively staid number by ol' skinsuit himself, Adam Lambert. Aw. Our old friend. Don't you miss him and all his lumbering attitude? I kind of wanted to see him and Poopcloth (the cloth was back! It was moved slightly to the side so it wasn't quite coming out of his butt, but whatever, Lord of the Cloth: The Return of the Poopcloth, I'm excited about it) meet and shake hands or hug or something, because I'm pretty sure they would both disappear from having met the alternate dimension versions of themselves? I mean, really, isn't it funny that a mere two years later, Adam Lambert already has an aspirant or a copycat or whatever on the same show that bore him from its terrible soda-soaked loins? I guess American Idol is probably a wormhole or whatever where time accordions out, so to us it looks like it's only been two short years and there can't possibly already be a second coming of Adam Lambert, but in Idol time, like in Narnia, it's been like a thousand years or something. "Legend foretold of a new Adam Lambert..." and then there he is, pooping cloth and wail-banging away on his vocal chords. It's just the way Idol works I guess. Anyway, the point is, there was Adam Lambert singing a song last night, dressed in black, new skinsuit all buttered and buffed. Good on him.

Then someone named P. Dirty Money Puddly Pudding Wudding Dooding came out and sang the song "My Name Is Piff Wiggly Money Honey Gunny From Major Dad." It was a great song! Prawn Widdly is still so relevant in today's 2011 society. If you're interested, he's doing a small club tour this spring, meaning he will come and hit you over the head with a small club, which is less painful than actually sitting and listening to a whole concert of his music. (This paragraph brought to you by this dude.)

Ack! I forgot! Fozzy Bear wasn't there, because of that mysterious illness. Get better soon! What happens if he can't come back? They can't bring someone new in at this point, right? They probably just absorb the loss? (Richard's sad subtext here: "Colton????? Maybe????")

OK, now it's time to talk about the elimination. Ryan did his usual game of dragging it out, saying things like "You...are out... of a being not safe competition, because you are safe, so you have lost, the not being safe competition. Unless! You're actually safe, which you aren't. You're in! The bottom three, of winning? No, of losing. The bottom three of losing. Go sit on the stool." It's cruel and terrible and needn't be done anymore because it's just dumb. Stop it, Ryan. Just stop it. People like Padma Lakshmi are trying to imitate it now (like w/ Richard Blais) and it's just not good. Be done with it.

So, Ashley Rodriguez, Ashthon Whoever, and that strange stowaway girl who sang "Blue" were in the bottom three. None of them seemed terribly surprised. Ah well. Ryan did another little Rumpelstiltskin word dance about who was in and who was out and then it was declared that, indeed, Ashthon was out. Or was she!! They're doing the lamesville Judges' Save this year and so poor Ashthon was forced to sing her sad Diana Ross song to the judges, knowing, of course, that the judges were not going to use their one save on a Wild Card who got eliminated in 13th place. That's just not how it works. So of course we said goodbye to Ashthon and that was it. Everyone filed out and old Sven the janitor swept up the glitter and tears and skinsuit leavings and Ryan and Adam went for a drink at some shimmery bar overlooking the city and they talked about old times, and new times, and times they'll never know. Laughing and chatting, two small voices in this big stumbling group number of seven billion souls.