The odds aren't good. Three out of four auditioning singers are going home this week. Tuesday night, the group of 96 was cut down to 44, more than half the contestants. On Wednesday night, twenty more are going home and weíll be left with our final 24. For some reason other than logic, the producers are insistent that we have a gender balanced final twelve. After all, there are those fantastic group numbers, and when there are few or no boys, like last year, itís hard to make believe itís all about love, unless it's Lesbian Love and that's just not happening on Idol. All power to the ladies of all sexual preferences. Maybe itís a backlash against women winning two out of three American Idols. They are determined to make us love the boys and girls equally. It would serve them right if six boys were the first ones sent home from the final twelve. Anyhow, I guess the tour is as much a moneymaker as any other of the numerous octopus-like arms of this organization. Thereís the TV Show, The Tour, and finally the recordings, which may or may not make you rich, but at least might buy you and your momma a new house.

The reveals of who goes forward are reverential in tone beforehand, and afterwards either tear-filled or jubilant - typical fare at this stage of the game. We finally get to see whom we are going to hear soon. The snippets of singing weíve seen so far really havenít been very revealing. The personalities are more evident than the talent at this point. Young Barbara Streisand channeler, Mikalah seems ready for her close-up. I think sheís Simonís girl this year. Itís bitten him in the ass in the past (Carmen Rasmussen). Youíd think he would get over it. The sixty-foot walk to the judgeís table for the final decision conversation seems torturous and unnecessary. The camera in the elevator is nearly offensive.

Most performers were graceful until we get to Faith. Not only does she not make it, she gives us a total breakdown of the negative aspects of her life. Men, home, and career are all on the downside according to her. This was her last chance. (Please Not Again!) Was there ever a bigger misnomer than this quitter? Ryan follows her outside to prolong the drama and try to make more show out of nothing. We even get to see a loserís performance that was pretty damn good. Paula explains that itís about consistency throughout the Journey or something like that. How consistent was Paula's brief career in Pop? Janis Joplinís consistency sucked, but she achieved brilliance at times. Some performers are like that, but not Idols I think. These days you have to be ďONĒ at all times. Youíre a role model and all that. No excesses means no excesses. It can really make you miss the 60ís at times.

There seems to be a few interesting singers, some strong personalities, and some quirky characters. We can only hope itís a good mix. Iím sure there will be at least one contestant that is not dipinomically correct. Thereís usually one in every crowd. Tonight, the producers save some drama for late in the show, just in case you thought about snacking or changing the channel. Two girls and only one space left. Three guys with two spaces left. It is the last decision the judges will be making (yippee!), because from now on weíre in charge of deciding who stays or who goes. Unless youíre one of the conspiracy theorists who think the entire thing is fixed from the start. Why bother watching at all if youíre convinced someone other than us is making the cuts?

The good part is next week we finally get to hear them sing. Thatís the whole purpose of our interest, isnít it? We get to cast our votes and complain loudly when the lines are busy. Every year, despite my anxieties, curses, claims of never watching again and belittlement of the whole process, I still get a little bubble of excitement just before the performances. There might be an Idol out there somewhere yet, just waiting for our well-deserved adulation. Maybe the next Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell is hiding amid the glamour of Hollywood. You dream about who you want as Idol and so will I. Good luck on getting your calls through. Now the fun begins.