Last night's episode of America's greatest shining whirligig took us on a tour of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a ghost-filled place where musical legends will spend eternity in our greatest approximation of hell, the city of Cleveland.

Yes indeed it was a big rock & roll week at the Thunderdome, but of course that doesn't really mean that there was too much rocking and/or rolling. Mostly it was the typical Idol melange of mid-tempo caterwauling and overly enthusiastic judging. That said, it was a good night for these dull kids, as almost everyone hit high notes and managed to feebly impress me, the most important opinion-haver in television history. Let's cut to the chase, shall we?

The Good

Ohhh, that's who Haley is. The weird drifter who climbed into the studio through an open basement window had confused and befuddled all of us, every single one of us, for weeks until she busted out with "Benny and the Jets" last week and totally bennyed our jets. And she kept the momentum going this week! Using a growly blend of voice-rasp and hobo spices, Haley Dustpants of the Tin-Tinker Hobo Guild ably performed Jackie Jormp-Jomp's "Take Another Little Piece of My Heart." The judges had been comparing her to Janis Joplin for months now, so it was satisfying to finally see her do it and do it well. Sure she got a little too hoarse and screechy at parts, but in this, our 373rd Idol hunger games, I think we can excuse that. It was mostly a good, fun performance that ought to help sustain the glowing ascension of the Haley comet. (Though, I have to warn her. She sounded very hoarse in her backstage interview. If singing like that is killing her pipes, she should stop and seek a vocal coach immediately. I mean, look what happened to poor Daphne Rubin-Vega.)

Pia Toscana, who as many of you have noted sounds like a dish from the Olive Garden, hit all the right gooey fettuccine notes last night with a globby but proficient rendering of Tina Turner's seminal "River Deep, Mountain High." When we found out that she was singing this last week, I moaned that Pia has no soul, there is literally just an empty black jewelry box where a soul should be, and that lack would surely torpedo her performance. I see now how wrong I was! Not that she doesn't have a soul, Pia absolutely is not possessed of a soul, she is Angel after humping Buffy in his stony sex mansion. Rather, her soullessness is what makes her good. She's a bland automaton of singing strength, and therein lies her power. Who hasn't lain awake at night, wishing for a magical robot who sings beautifully all the classic songs we've come to know and love? She is the realization of all of our sad gay Dr. Robotnik dreams, and for that I like her. Sure there's the whole uncanny demon valley thing when you gaze into her cold Lucite eyes, but whatever. We're not gazing really, we're listening. And to listen to Pia is to pia your pants in cold, enjoyable terror. She's like a good horror movie. Bone-chilling and awful, but very well made.

Who else? Was Casey "Fozzled Bear" Abrams good? Sure, he was fine. He strummed out CCR's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" and it was perfectly decent. He was on key, he didn't make too many scary faces, and his beard is, if not fixed, at least under maintenance. His beard is a bit like Gaudi's Sagrada Familia church, it's never quite finished. (I was in Barcelona two days ago, and it was warm and sunny and old and beautiful, and now I'm here in this dreary town talking about American Stink Factory and isn't travel both wonderful and awful?) So yes, Casey did a good job. It was basically the wistful song he plays at the end of his last concert in college, knowing that the small but easy fan base will soon be gone, that in two weeks he'll be graduating and heading out to who knows where, and that is scary and wonderful and altogether confusing, but right now it doesn't matter. Because he's here in the darkened dining hall, playing to an audience of thirty or so friends and acquaintances, and outside the spring night is warm (he's not in New York), and the music sounds nice, the notes seem to be coming out just right, and sometimes that's all anyone needs in the world for a moment. Enjoy it, Casey! Graduation sucks.

The Bad

I'm officially tired of Jacob Lusk. I know that's terrible, because he's a big lovable Slimer ghost who seems very nice, but I'm just done with it. I'm done with it all. He was going to sing "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye, but then he didn't because it goes against his morals or something. And then Randy congratulated him for that? "Let's all congratulate Jacob for being a big Baby Huey who's afraid of his private parts." And everyone clapped. Ugh. Sex, guys. People have it. It's 2011 and civilization has been around for, oh, some 10,000 years. Can we get over this already? I mean sheesh. Anyway, so he decided to sing Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" instead, because nothing says rock & roll quite like that song, and it was just lame. He said "If people don't like this song and I get voted off, it's not because I didn't sing well, it's because they're not ready to look in the mirror." Um... right. Easy for a Slimer ghost who doesn't show up in mirrors to lecture us living humans about looking in the mirror. Also I'm just tired of his hokey uplift mumbojumbo. Every damn week has to be some sort of revival meeting and it's just tired. He works at a spa! It's not like he's some shaman. When America's current favorite spiritual leader is Jacob Lusk from American Dung Farm, America needs to read them some Dawkins and get over the whole spirituality thing once and for all. Harsh words I know, but this whole routine is just so beat. Sorry. I really am. You always hurt the ones you think would be fun at a karaoke party.

Lauren Alaina, a child who was born in 1994, went up on stage last night and belt-blared Urethra Franklin's (I'm twelve) "Man I Feel Like a Natural Woman Are Doing It for Themselves." Do you, Lauren Alaina, feel like a natural woman? Do you really? Because last time I checked, you're younger than the movie Jurassic Park. Last time I looked at my old sun dial and did my Mayan date calculations, you were born one year before Clueless came out. You were a wriggling baby while I was a wriggling weirdo melting inside at Cher being butt-cray in love with Josh. I find it strange, then, that you feel like a natural woman. Or any kind of woman. An unnatural woman maybe? That might make sense, Lauren Alaina who is sixteen years old. I couldn't even focus on her singing, because it was such a hilariously weird choice of song. It was like if Jacob Lusk sang "Fuck the Pain Away." It just didn't jibe. Y'know? Am I being too strict here? It was just so off and corny. She's kind of a big corncake in general, isn't she? I guess people like that? I don't know. I just don't know. Lauren Alaina is a confusing, mysterious woman.

Night Terrors

Willy Whisperssssssss. Do you hear that rattle and hiss, the clank clank clank of bones on wood, bones on wood, bones on wood? That's Willy Whispers doing his tinkly Mr. Bojangles bone dance, a skeleton wearing a top hat, a monocle stuck into an empty eye socket. Willy the Whispers sang "Folsom Prison Blues" last night, a song written the year he died, and he accompanied it with perhaps the strangest lurch-dance he's done yet. His bone legs were flailing around the stage like toothpicks in a windstorm and his eerie Willy-style Willy smile never left his face. If The Who wrote a new acid-rock musical based on Chuck Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Willy would be how they envisioned Jacob Marley. "Sssscahhhroohoohooooooge-ah!!!!" he'd clamor, voice like sandpaper, a draft of wind billowing his moth-eaten waistcoat. Willy, guys. Gives me the... well, the hims.

Another person who fills my heart and brain box with pains and lightning, of a different sort, is James Durbin. Suffering Saint Cecilia is that kid irksome. I'm not going to broken record about this too long this week, you all know how I feel about Poopcloth and his poopclothy ways, but I will mention that I hated, hated how they treated him slowing it down and singing a George Harrison song like it was the biggest musical sea change since Dylan freaked out all those people in Newport. James Durbin wailed slowly this time instead of quickly. That's not exactly Madonna releasing an electronica album. (Aw, remember Ray of Light? Lauren Alaina doesn't. Because she was three.) I just wish everyone would stop it with the Durbin business. Just stop it everyone, won't you?

Baby Lockthemdoors did an Elvis jam last night and whatever, he's still going to win the show. Nothing scary there. What was scary was when that throng of a little goils (Lauren Alaina among them) came running up on stage after he was done sing-sangin' and hugged him. He seemed mortified, the judges seemed repulsed, and Ryan... Well, Ryan was busy thinking other thoughts.

When a Man Loves

Hahahhaha. Won't you just laugh forever, clutching your hands to your chest and twirling and probably farting a little, thinking about Stefano singing "When a Man Loves a Woman" last night? Isn't that the funniest thing? He didn't sing it well, but that's not what's funny, duhhh. I wonder what Ryan felt. Was he tickled? Angry? Hurt? Indifferent? For her part, J. Lo was totes enthusiastic, throwing up her hands in delight and sighing heavily with her eyes. I'm sure Ryan didn't like that part. I'm sure there's a part of Ryan, deep down in the blocked, cluttered caverns of his insides, that felt angry. Angry at a world that doesn't let Stefano sing an honest song. That makes him say "woman" and "loves" instead of the truth. Instead of the strange knotty facts of what's happened. Of the furtive, anxious car ride up through the hills of Hollywood. Of the opening of the large heavy wooden door, Stefano's tentative first steps into Ryan's house. Then the echo of feet coming down the hallway and then the brown blush of Tim, the first meeting, the awkward assessment. The night before Tim and Ryan were sitting on one of the house's balconies and Tim turned to Ryan and said, voice thickly coated with wine and Dunhill smoke, "I'd like to meet your new one. I think you owe me that, don't you." Ryan sighed, put his head down. "Of course. I think you'll like him. I think we, the three of us, we could all get along." Tim laughed a low, throaty laugh and took another long pull from his cigarette. "I'm sure I will, baby. I'm sure I will. You bring him around tomorrow, OK?" Ryan nodded. OK. OK.

And then all the nervous waiting and now finally this. The dreaded meeting. Ryan would have been lying if he said he wasn't just the slightest bit, well, turned on, these two cubs circling each other, sniffing the air. What happened next, well, we'll leave private for Ryan, Tim, and Stefano. But let's just say that when Tim watched Stefano's performance at home last night, he clapped his hands, once, hard and loud, and let out a single "Ha!" He then padded over to the bedroom bar and poured himself another drink, staring at the two other glasses that had been there since the morning, when his two men got up and set off for work.