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Is how you say "in the jingle-jangle morning" in Jason Castro-ese. Translated into English, it means, "Please, I'm begging you. Kick me off this show.

It's almost over. In mere weeks there will be only frustrating presidential campaigns, ongoing wars for oil, recession, global warming, and the aftermath of the Myanmar catastrophe to occupy your mind. We'll each have to cope in our own ways. Grand Theft Auto 4 -- or is it 5 -- might be an option.

So I'm in Rowlett, Texas, this week. It usually happens that at least once during an American Idol season that I end up back home in Texas for a week to visit my mom at her nursing home and hang out with my brother and sister-in-law and their three kids.

It's a whole other experience watching the show with them than with a big pack of gays. First of all, my family actually cares, which is an emotion I've been unfamiliar with since the third season ended, notwithstanding my momentary eagerness to see The Boogie single-handedly implode the entire setup or my unashamed, still-correct affection for Carly Smithson.

These are the family members I've written about who go to the same conservative evangelical church as Jason Castro, who, by the way, begins the show by yawning right into the camera, a move that I can't deny is both a strong and happiness-giving protest statement about ... something ... plus it's visually compelling. Look, everyone! I couldn't be less excited to be here! Archuleta can't eat on performance day, but I can't stop nodding off!

Anyway, it's the tangential association between my family and JC that will provide this recap with something a little special: no bad swears. Like none. My family will want to read about themselves and they don't like it when I use the "f" word or the "sh" word or, well, any of those words. You're welcome, non-profanity-using family members. I hope you understand that you're cramping my vibrant literary style. Furthermore, it's also what's kept me all season long from joining in the chorus of media voices telling the dreaded one to put down the bong and practice his songs. Because guess what? If my sources are correct, he's not high. He's just a doofus.

My 12-year-old niece has her favorites (Archie and Cook, of course), my sister-in-law loves the show for its own sake, my brother can barely stand to be in the room when it's on, pausing in the living room only long enough to wonder aloud why we waste our time watching when there are perfectly good hockey games featuring brutal fights readily available on other channels.

I have to agree with him on the brutal fights. This show would be way more awesome if there were actual blood spilled. Oh, look, it's Antonella Barba in the audience. Or Jamie-Lynn Sigler. One of them, at least. I think. Maybe if they were both there, they could fight and my brother might stop and watch.

Oh, and there's Carly sitting right behind the judges. Carly Smithson, I mean. You know, THE BEST SINGER THEY'VE HAD ALL SEASON LONG? REMEMBER HER?

It's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Week (and please note that during the montage-y clip part where they explain what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame means to the uninitiated, that the music-bed is a Kiss song. Kiss are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, just so you know). But it might as well be Tribute to Martin Denny Week for as much as rock and roll means to the remaining Idols, since the show usually only allows one "rock" cast member per season. And it means even less to this season's "rock" cast member, David "I [Heart] Our Lady Peace" Cook. No, I won't let it go. I won't. Would it kill him to like some better bands? Wouldn't it be more excellent for everyone who has to come anywhere near him if he didn't become Scott Stapp? Or Chad Kroeger? Or ... I don't know... any of those other guys in any of those other awful bands. I mean, maybe those two are both really nice, kind to their old nonfamous friends, maybe bought their moms nice houses and whatnot. A pony for the baby sister. But could their music stop sucking so much that it feels like I'm being screwdriver-surgeried in my skull when I hear it? Could he not become that person? Could he stop being those people now, please?

So here he is, Cook, ready to cover Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf." He's grown his beard out a little more to provide some visual accompaniment to the song, even though it's not actually about a wolf. Or even a wild dog. It's about Simon LeBon having a groupie brought to his hotel room by one of the roadies, then chasing her around the hot tub until she passes out from the effects of a speedball. Next day? In a taxi, cash in hand, doesn't remember where it came from or how she got in the car, cabbie's been given a note that reads, "Drop the bird off at Harvey Nichols."

Cook howls and he whines, he pouts and he chews, he bares his wolf-teeth, all the while taking a casual walk back and forth onstage. It's not called "Strolling Like the Wolf," dude. Stalk that imaginary prey! Put some jungle war paint on your face and go!

But no one ever listens to me.

And of course Paula likes it so much she stands up in her seat to dance in place in her yellow dress, a wiggly banana-lady who, when it's her turn to comment, says that Cook made her hungry for even more. Of him. Nice. (P.S.: This song was also sung by the Big Bad Wolf in Shrek 2 for the "Far Far Away Idol" contest. I'm not sure why I remember that.)

Syesha sings "Proud Mary." The Whitley from A Different World version. Fast, yes. Hair-throwy, yes. Sparkly-costumed, yes. The hips, refusing to lie? Yes. Squeaky-clean, a thousand times yes. Does Syesha know what Tina Turner used to sound like back in the 1960s when she was living The Pain and scorching every stage she landed on? Could Kathleen Battle out-grit this girl right now? I'm guessing no to the former and yes to the latter. If I were watching this episode on an iPod, it would be so easy just to put one of those Fantasia postage stamps on the tiny screen to cover Syesha's face and travel to another, shoutier place in my imagination. I learned how to do that sort of thing by reading lots of books, young people. Never underestimate their power.

Mr. Castro has become suddenly fascinating to me. Just last week he told Entertainment Weekly that he was a touch freaked out by a fan sending him 150 balloons and that he was kind of ready to be sent home. But hey, JC, guess what? I've got Uma Thurman on the phone here with me and she's got some stalker stories she wants to tell you about, ones that'll make your dreadlocks freeze and fall off your head like murderous icicles impaling all the shorter people below you.

So now I'm very ready for him to sing Nena's "99 Luftballons" in honor of his touch with superfandom and all its attendant slash-fiction and unsettling gift-getting opportunities. Instead, he goes with "I Shot the Sheriff," a highly specific, politically charged Bob Marley song that makes as much contextual sense on the Idol stage as "Jesus Christ Superstar." But, unlike Carly, WHO'S BETTER THAN ALL OF THESE PEOPLE IN CASE YOU'D FORGOTTEN, he can't pull off his choice. I've heard versions of this song sung at dorm-room keggers that feel more authentically reggae. He's not shooting any sheriffs, but he's about to take out both his own feet.

"What were you thinking?" asks Simon?

"I WUZ THINKIN' 'BOUT BOB MARLEY! YEAH!" grins JC. Meanwhile, in Rastafarian Heaven or wherever he is, Bob Marley is thinking about building a time machine so that he can go unwrite that song. As his numbers are flashed on-screen, it appears that the man is mouthing the words "Don't vote" to the viewers. Dang, I hope so.

What's David Archuleta wearing on his shirt? Bats? Doves? A flock of seagulls? He sings "Stand by Me." My sister-in-law says, "He kind of reminds me of Clay Aiken."

"Really?" I say.

"Yeah, something about him. Like he's not of this time."

"I hate Clay Aiken's hair," says my 12-year-old niece, referring to the current Aiken Spamalot coif. This prompts a TiVo pause and my explanation that Clay's audience is more like women who are our parents' ages and that Archie is for girls slightly younger than the 12-year-old niece. He's like a Jonas Brother, or the boy Hannah Montana. My opinion is met with a general sense of agreement. Seacrest tells Archuleta that he appears as though he's going to pass out. Poor child. You'd be going to pass out too if the Great Sing-tini was out in the crowd, waiting to dress you down for slight vocal imperfections after the show.

And then they all do it again. Cook's back and I get a better view of the beard this time. All sculpty, like he decided where to stop shaving at the bottom of it to make it "neat." I've never been a fan of that manicured thing. I like scruff, not topiary. And another thing, his clothes. They gotta go. Not that I want to see him naked. I just want all "rocker outfits" to leave this planet on a spaceship headed for the sun. I know this is coming from a man who wears pretty much nothing but boots, jeans, and black T-shirts with band logos on them. But I think that's a fairly simple combination. The rings and the skulls and the shiny coats and the necklaces and leather studded bracelets and the straps and hooks and snaps and WALLET CHAINS and "graphic tees" and everything else, however, scream of trying hard. It's is like wearing a sign on your back that says, "Kick me. I don't really listen to Motorhead at all. Not even once."

So he does "Baba O'Riley." It's fine. Could it be the clothes that have made me dislike him this entire time? Also the hair? Oh, wait, now he's yelling "teenage wasteland" in that totally fake-sincere emotional way he does, and then ends it like Pat Boone. So I just remembered why I dislike him. Sincerity is gay.

Syesha is going to do "A Change Is Gonna Come," which is this amazing Sam Cooke song. Syesha talks about all the parallels between the song being popular at the time of the civil rights movement, which, she explains, was "a pivotal moment in history," and then about how her own life is at a pivotal moment.

So, um ... Syesha, sweetie ... I think you just compared your career to the civil rights movement? I mean, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt here that you can weigh the difference. I'm feeling generous. Especially since at the end of the song the following things happen:

1. Carly leaps to her feet in a standing ovation. LOOK HOW CLASSY CARLY IS BEING!

2. Paula stands up and applauds too, then breaks down and cries.

3. Syesha breaks down and cries even harder.

It's all very sweet and heartfelt and kinda real (and necessary, frankly, because with Brooke gone, someone needed to pick up the slack on public weeping). Also? Great dress. Did Rami make that for her? Jason Castro could come out right now and invent a new way to create fire and he'd still be doomed.

Good thing, then, that he comes out and SUCKS IT EVEN HARDER than he did the first time onstage.

He picks a nice song. though, "Mr. Tambourine Man." I hope he does the William Shatner version. Then he'd have his go-home wish all locked up.

"What's that song?" asks my sister-in-law.

"You'll know it when you hear it," I tell her. She does. In fact, I think she may have been able to sing it from memory better than JC manages to do because in the middle of the chorus, he blanks on the words "in the jingle-jangle morning" and just goes, "unh unh unh unh unh unh unh unh" instead. So, no Shatner. But close.

Then Archuleta sings "Love Me Tender," boils all the sex out of Elvis, and brings down the house. Not necessarily the house I'm sitting in, of course. But that house there. And probably some other ones,too.

On to Elimination Night ...

It seems easy to call now. Jason goes tonight, Syesha next week, then The Davids fall into line with Archie at #1 and Cook at #2. Cook's older fans don't vote as much, I'm figuring. But then anything could happen. I mean LOOK AT CARLY.

But what does it matter, really? They've all gotten major media exposure. Danny Noriega will probably put out an album and tour around at gay pride festivals. Amanda Overmyer will figure something out that will allow her to take blood pressure and holler out "Me and Bobby McGee" to some paying customers on her off-hours. That one guy in the a cappella group is going to continue a cappella-ing himself all over the place, I'm sure. So no, Seacrest, it's not exactly correct when you say that "their future rests in your hands" when you open the show tonight. It just doesn't. If it did, The Boogie's win would have translated into Daughtry-like record sales. So would have Jordin Sparks's (and don't talk to me about "No Air," because that's a Chris Brown piggyback ride and everyone knows it). The good news is that this show is ultimately meaningless. The future is wide open. Even for Jason Castro, who gets to exit gleefully tonight, and who could probably wind up with a Christian pop career if he wanted one. I know he hasn't been overtly Christian on the show, of course, so in a way he's like those stealth school-board candidates who want to have evolution taken out of the science books but don't tell you that until they win the election. But something tells me he's not that insidious. That would require effort. He's more like someone in Switchfoot.

And in addition to meaningless, I also think this show is a big fat liar. How is it that the ratings can be slipping and the votes at an all-time high like Seacrest says? How dat?

But who cares. It's time for:

1. Group singing. "Reelin' in the Years," featuring the worst, walk-back-and-forth-onstage nonchoreography I've ever seen in my entire life. And yeah, I realize that sounds hyperbolic. But no. It's not. Meanwhile, one of the big men behind this show, Nigel Lythgoe, was the choreographer of one of the most mind-shredding musicals ever, 1980's The Apple, a glitter-disco-rock musical about the futuristic entertainment-industry-controlled world of 1994. You'd think he'd have intervened in this current debacle I'm witnessing here, thrown some sequins on everyone, wrapped them in aluminum foil, and forced them to do jerky New Wave motions onstage or something. It's not like he doesn't know how.

2. Archuleta is safe. Like you were wondering.

3. Footage of the Idols going to Las Vegas on a private jet. The private jet had its own big bed. Jason Castro lies down on it and says, in what may be the most mocking tone of voice I've heard him use all season, "Sleeping in the sky. Whoo-hoo-hoo. Cool." Dude, you are giving me so many gifts this week, you have no idea. Then they see Love, the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show. The camera cuts to some dolphins jumping out of a pool. No reason for this, really. It's just fun to watch dolphins in captivity in the middle of a Nevada desert. Then we see a fan grab Castro and kiss him. His response: "Scary."

4. Cutting to the chase, because do you want to know about boring old Maroon 5 or Bo Bice singing? No, you don't. I just decided for you. Jason Castro gets the shove. And I've never seen anyone seem so happy about it in seven seasons of watching this frightfest of a show. He was a dolphin in the desert. A bong with no weed. A man with no memory. And now he gets to go home and relax and -- oh, wait. The tour. Sorry, Mystical Hair Dude. You're still 19 Entertainment's slave.

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