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I am one of the many people who believe Dolly Parton to be a national treasure who should be worshiped at every opportunity, no matter what she does to her face — which, at this point, is kind of depressingly too much. I have loved her even more ever since I read about the interview where somebody asked her about Bill Clinton and she just laughed and said, “He’s a horny little toad, isn’t he?” It was so laid-back and so obviously possessed of both honesty and perspective that it made me her fan for life.

Anyway, I think Dolly Parton is infinitely more deserving of a theme night than lots of past buffoons, including Gloria Estefan. I looked forward to seeing her interact with the contestants, and I was not disappointed. Well, I was disappointed in a lot of the singing, but not in Dolly herself.

Ryan Seacrest’s April Fool’s Day Gag: Boo.

Brooke White: I love Brooke; I really do. But unfortunately, her appeal is narrow. (By the way, people who say “gal,” as she did about Dolly — and as I KEEP SEEING all over the place, it seems like — are generally my natural enemies, but I make an exception for Brooke, because..I still like her.) I liked her performance of “Jolene,” but you kind of have to be an angry person for this song, and I’m not sure Brooke is comfortable being angry. Or…maybe “raw” is what I’m looking for. One of the guys in the band looked exactly like Dr. Phil, is the other thing, and that totally freaked me right out. Who gave Dr. Phil a drum? The other thing with Brooke is that she doesn’t grin inappropriately all through the song the way, say, Diana Degarmo used to, but she can’t not grin at the sheer joy of performing, which sometimes takes her right out of the performance, ironically. As Dwight once said of Michael Scott’s breath, “Good not great.”

David Cook: He’s a rocker! A rocker! They tried to help him out by giving him a chance to thank the people who are actually responsible for his wildly original arrangements, so you know the producers are following stupid internet controversies, which…actually isn’t that comforting. I couldn’t help noticing Dolly’s comment that he “seems certain.” That is not the highest musical compliment I’ve ever heard, particularly since it’s also something you might say right before someone goes over Niagara Falls in a laundry basket. This was okay, and his hair was less idiotic than usual, but I’m just over this whole thing. When what he does isn’t kind of freaky, I find it boring. I guess it’s positive, strictly speaking, that I feel like I could hear this on MTV tomorrow, but it would be by a band that’s already been invented, so the question becomes: Is David Cook Necessary?

Ramiele Malubay: Perfectly okay. Fine. Dolly is using way too many words that mean “small,” though, for this to be good. I’ve never seen anybody start off so hot and turn so quickly into the most boring person in the competition BY FAR. I’m surprised she stays awake through her own performances. It’s not even cruise ship — a cruise ship would be like, “Maybe you should try a singing diner first.” A friend has convinced me that she is benefiting from the Jasmine Trias effect on a few fronts, and if she doesn’t get bounced this week — when she clearly deserves it and hasn’t yet even been in the bottom three — I’ll be 100 percent convinced that she is indeed. I liked how Randy said he wasn’t “mad at” her. How could you be mad at Ramiele? It would be like being mad at your middle cat. Not your old, smelly cat, and not your young, adorable cat. Your regular middle cat who never scratches anyone, but whom you might forget to pick up at the vet for a few days after you get home from a trip.

Jason Castro: What’s tough about this one is that I like the song, and I really wanted to hear Dolly sing it instead. When it’s a really Dolly-ish song, I don’t want to hear anybody else sing it. It was noteworthy that she sang along with him; I did take that as a sign that she was really enjoying it, because that’s what musical types do — they can’t not jump in if it sounds good. I still think the “busking” comment from last week stands, and I totally wouldn’t be shocked to see him in the subway. But I’d give him money, for what that’s worth. Oh, and: you are not a “weary pilgrim,” dick. I don’t hate you, but you are barely post-pubescent, so be careful of the “I have been beaten and battered by life” songs. Because seriously? You’re not selling it, at least to me.

Carly Smithson: I really enjoyed this. I cannot understand what’s up with her high notes, though, because all the punch goes out of them. I thought the arrangement was lovely and brought something new to the song, and she sounded great — except on those higher notes, which sounded like she was squeezing them through a straw. Not just the glory note at the end (which was more like a nice-try note), but some that came earlier. I just feel absolutely certain that she cannot possibly win, but I also think she’s one of the most talented women, and when she stays low, I just love her voice. I don’t know if she needs a coach or needs to drink some tea or what, but there is something up there.

David Archuleta: Yeah, I know. The technique is there. But I have never seen a contestant on this show go so deep into the competition and be so committed to doing exactly the same thing every single week, to the point where you couldn’t tell the difference between the performances with the sound off. He makes the same faces, he makes the same gestures, he begs you with his fist to understand the importance of what he’s saying, and he bores me to death. Talent is a rare thing, and he’s absolutely packed with it, but there’s no artistry to me at all. There’s never any momentum or build to his performances at all; they start off earnest and fully committed and go nowhere. He also hits at least one big bum note every week, as he did this week as soon as he went for the big high melismatic crapola, and he never, ever gets called on it, which is irritating. I know he’s probably going to win — although I no longer believe it’s as entirely inevitable as I once did — but it just does nothing for me. It’s elevator music. Pleasant, but meaningless.

Kristy Lee Cook: She has been rehearsing for this moment since she was three. It looked it. I’m just relieved to know that in addition to America, she also loves her mom.

Syesha Mercado: You knew it was coming, and you knew that she wouldn’t — as she claimed — do a simpler, more Dolly-like version. You knew she would do Whitney, because she couldn’t help herself. If you’re going to turn into a diva cliche, girl, do not actually sit on the piano, as this takes you into the territory of becoming a caricature of yourself. Lots of inappropriate breaths in the middle of phrases, too, and that’s not helped by trying to do a gigantic belting thing while seated on a piano. As one of my pals texted, you could also tell that she totally believed that the judges were going to utterly freak out and that everyone would call it the performance of the decade. You could really, really tell she didn’t like it when that didn’t happen. “Pedestrian” wasn’t what she was expecting, and that’s exactly what it was to me, too.

Michael Johns: THERE you go. I picked this kid at the beginning of the season, and part of my reason was that he’s sexy like an adult instead of sexy like a high-school student, which is the typical Idol kind of sexy, if by “sexy” you mean “cute.” Which Idol almost always does. A show that can make Clay Aiken into a sex symbol could really use a guy who seems like he could actually impregnate someone. Er, not to be indelicate. But most of all, I picked him because I thought he was a good singer, and this was the first night in weeks and weeks that I felt really vindicated. This performance was awesome. Bluesy and restrained; confident and creative. He seems like a natural, like a real musician who’s already a musician, instead of someone who’s trying to convince people he’s a musician. He’s not going to win, and he’s been horribly inconsistent, but I was so glad to see him perform once in the way I was anticipating when I PICKED HIM IN THE POOL.

So the short version is that I have to have a root canal.

Sensitive tooth, related to but apparently not the result of a recent bout of sinus/cold nonsense that started right after I left my job. ROOT CANAL! The good news is that I had already decided to continue my premium dental insurance — because I have some crowns as a result of relentlessly grinding my teeth as an adolescent, I always take the best possible dental insurance — so that will help. Nevertheless, BITCHES! (And by “bitches,” I mean “my teeth.”)

I hate going to the dentist. I hate the chair, I hate how incredibly uncomfortable the x-rays are, I hate how they blame you if the x-ray thing slides around in your mouth, I hate how they poke everything, I hate how the dentist pokes around making notes for ten minutes before saying anything. I appreciated this particular dentist’s dry sense of humor and fairly delicate touch, as well as the fact that he did not at all unload the “your teeth are a horror show” speech that I think everyone secretly dreads, especially when overdue for a cleaning.

But it was one of those “we have to do this, and then we really SHOULD do this…and this…and this…” visits, which I hate. This is partly the result of having those crowns, which don’t last forever and therefore periodically have to be redone or resealed or whatever the hell, but I still hate it.

I’m not even writing, am I? I am JUST COMPLAINING.

I did like this dentist, whom I found partly with the assistance of Yelp.com, of all things. And my dental insurance. It was also good news that there doesn’t appear to be an infection or an abscess or anything gross like that in the sensitive tooth…just a tooth with a crown going bad, as they do. I never know how to feel confident that I’m not being suckered when it’s that “here are the ten things I’d like to do, in order of priority” speech. Work down the list until I run out of insurance? Until I run out of money? Until I hit things that can wait until I have a regular job?

It’s one of those things…one of those things I hate, and worry about, and get frustrated over, even though it doesn’t really matter. I am well aware that in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t matter. In a year, it won’t be on my radar.  But it just fills me with dread and misery and makes me Hatey O’Grump all day long.

I hope that tomorrow will return me to my normal, more chipper status. Today? BITCHES!

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