[There was a video here]

Another one bit all the dust last night, as our group of tributes was whittled down from thirteen to twelve, another quick, relatively bloodless death in these early stages of the final round.

Ugh, last night's elimination episode was a snooooozer, wasn't it? Just nothing interesting happened. I mean, many terrible things happened, but are terrible things interesting? Actually, I guess they are. If they weren't, this website wouldn't exist, probably. The whole internet basically! What the hell am I talking about?? Terrible things are fascinating! So guys, last night's episode was amaaaaazing!!!

Let's see! First there was a sad opening reel thing that showed interviews with some of the contestants where they talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up, and mostly people were like "a poop farmer" or "a dog mangler" or "Ryan Seacrest," but poor Scotty McReary said "an astronaut, but... I did'na have'a the brains.... for it.... the space job." Yeah, it was good. "For it, the space job." — Scotty McReary. So that was sad and lame and then it was time for the saddest and lamest thing ever invented, the American Idol group number. This one was a mash-up built around the word "born," so the boys sang "Born to Be Wild," because if you were to use one word to describe a male who auditions for American Idol and makes it to the top 12, it would be "wild." They are just a crazy bunch. And then the girls sang Lady Goggles' hit smash "Express Yourself" "Born This Way," a song about 22-year-old gay boys who live in Astoria. (I mean, seriously, isn't that who that song is for/about? Maybe they live in Jersey City? And they like work at New World Stages and are always stumbling around Therapy on Thursday nights and wear v-necks and are always buying the latest Apple products? Their iPhones have white cases and they looove Chelsea Handler? This is what we're dealing with, America. Here in New York City. They're all named Adam or Mark and they have a lot of opinions about Aaron Tveit. Maybe I just need to stop hanging out with theater people. Maybe that's it. I'm sorry. Let's continue.) So the group number was awful as always and everyone's a disaster. Shocking!

Then there were two "professional" musical performances, the first from your Cousin Phil Dweezy. And oh dear. Your Cousin Phil has been having a tough go of it lately. I talked to your Aunt Karen the other day and she told me that he's been real disappointed since the Idol show ended last year. Sure he was excited and all when he won, and the tour sounded fun, seems he met a girl who he... well, palled around with for a while, so that's good, I guess, that he's out there dating. But ever since then, since this past fall, not a lot's been happening. He put on a little weight and grew some kinda beard that your aunt really doesn't care for. She's a little worried. But I told her, I said "Keeks, listen to me. He's a good boy and he's doing fine. You know us Dweezys, we're a tough bunch. You just tell him to keep his chin up and he'll be fine. And tell him to shave!" She got a kick out of that last part, I tell ya. Anyway, I know you want to go out and see your friends, but you need to look through those boxes in the garage first, they're full of old junk that I don't think you want anymore, and your father is going to have a fit if they stay there much longer. So why don't you go and do that now, huh?

Poor Phil. He just kinda whiffed it with a sad song about nothing. Speaking about sad nothings, can we have a conversation for a second about the Black Eyed Peas? I watched the Super Bowl last month because I'm a huuuuuge commercials fan, and they performed some straight up bullshit that was the dumbest thing I'd ever heard. Dumbest thing until last night! God are they awful. They are so, so awful. William (refuse to type the periods, period) was wearing a plastic hair-helmet and cosmonaut oufit and playing a white piano, while Fergie (who, girl, work, is what she's had done, just saying) wore a white Marilyn Monroe dress and warbled something. And then the other two, who no one has ever cared about (except the literary world, which only reads the most important of books — keep it on the positive!), came out and started talking into auto-tune microphones. I had no idea that you could do live auto-tune! That's a horrible development in human progress, isn't it? Just a terrible no good thing to have happen in this parable we call humanity's history. They are the worst band in the entire United States. The gawky kid who lives down the street and practices with his band, Crunk Dog, in his garage has created a better band than the Black Eyed Peas. I'm willing to give Hoobastank a life-long pass if they can do something about the Black Eyed Peas. Who likes this music? Teenage robots? "Yes. Yes. Good time jams. Keep them pumping. Yes. Processors responding favorably to computer voice nonsense. Yes. All-American good times. Let's get in this automobile and drive recklessly to the party at the quarry. Yes. Enjoyment." It's the most cynical bullshit music currently being made today, and that includes the Ark Music oeuvre. No one likes this music, but some suit out there in Hollyweird decided that everyone must like it, because of the auto-tune and silly outfits and the guy from Las Vegas. Someone pour sea water on them from a helicopter. This cannot stand.

So that's that. That's me being inordinately angry on a gorrrrgeous Friday. (Seriously, all I want to do right now is yell "See you in hell, jerks!" and run outside and never come home.) Let's move on to the business at hand. The eliminations! I think it will surprise exactly nobody when I say that the bottom three were Naima, Karen, and that weird stowaway girl who no one seems willing to do anything about. It will surprise exactly nobody. They weren't even surprised! Didn't that kind of suck last night? Their reactions to being in the bottom three, that kind of "Oh reeeally? Gee, what a surprise" attitude? I mean, it wasn't a surprise, not one bit, but like... c'mon guys. I know it's sad and scary and probably a little embarrassing, but let's have a little decorum here. Rolling your eyes and feigning shock to indicate how unshocked you are doesn't inoculate you against embarrassment. It just makes it worse! I don't like seeing bad attitude on this show. Nothing about the contestants' experience should result in a bad attitude in the three hours a week they're live on television. It's just not good politics. I don't care for it.

Whatever. Ryan did his little tell 'em two-step and we found out that Karen was to be put in a cannon and shot out of the Thunderdome into the Children of Men-esque streets of Los Angeles. She was sad but not surprised. She sang for her supper — an unheroic "Hero" — and the judges pretended to deliberate. Randy did a lot of head nodding, J.Lo tried to seem concerned, and Steven just sat there wriggling and writhing in his outfit, which was the witch's costume from the second act of Into the Woods when she gets her fabulous makeover. (See, I just can't stay away from the theater people.) When Karen was done singing, Randy was like "Yo, this isn't unanimous dawg, but naw, it ain't gonna happen this week." It wasn't unanimous? Bulllllshit. There was someone on that three-person panel who thought that Karen Rodriguez, twelfth place eliminee, should be given the one glorious lifesaver afforded to the judges each year? I call shenanigans early and often on that one. I know people liked Karen and they were just trying to let her down easy, but that's not the way to do it. No sir. I mean, I suppose it's possible that Bernadette Peters over there might have rattled her witch tongue and said strange things that sounded like she wanted Karen to stay, but I doubt it. I think they were all just pretending and that's not what you should be doing on a reality show. (Sigh.)

That was it! Everyone filed out and there were tears and a pizza party for Karen, where Scotty and Thia continued their little flirtation, Scotty making Thia laugh and say "You're so weird," Scotty in turn laughing at that and making any excuse to touch her. And Willy Whispers sat in a corner, whispering to himself, staring hard and weird at Naima, imagining what her dreadlocks might taste like. Lauren Alaina and Fozzie Bear got in a conversation about something, some movie or TV show they both love, and they yattered on about that, becoming friends, "He's like an older brother," I'm sure she'll say at some point. And Karen looked at it all through tear-swollen eyes and knew she would miss it, but knew not for long. And in all the commotion and tears and pizza and feelings, no one noticed Stefano slip out, walk down the hall, open a door and step into a utility closet, where Ryan was waiting for him. No one suspected a thing when Stefano leaned in and kissed Ryan hard on the mouth, the way he'd been longing to do since, oh, he didn't know when. Since forever maybe. At least since he'd knocked on Ryan's car window the night before and Ryan had rolled down the window and they'd both just darted into it, a quick furtive kiss, and Stefano said "OK, good night," and ran away. And now, in this strange cluttered closet, Ryan kissed back with passion and soon they were pulling off clothes and kicking off shoes and doing the things people do when they've gotten that far and can no longer turn back.

And up there in those Hollywood Hills, in that sleek, dark mansion that Idol money bought and built, Tim Urban sat alone, waiting for Ryan, feeling suddenly a stab in his chest, as if the world had just gotten smaller and bigger all at once. As if it was suddenly spring and some new, terrible plant was poking up out of the earth.