Hollywood Week is officially over. Over. And see what it's left in our wake? Our brains have been melted over the course of hours to putty, incapable of processing any sound without Ryan Seacrest telling us how amazing it is first, incapable of taking any statements at face value without waiting for Steven Tyler to slither up from some corner of our brain (as he does), flip it and reverse it, incapable of taking in experience without Fox first pulping it into easily digestible story arcs, incapable of visualizing anything other than what Steven Tyler did to our sensibilities, still. Who knows what the live rounds will do to us? By May ours brains are going to register nothing but confetti and high notes. Please follow along while this happens. It'll help us cope.

Anyway, we'll just go ahead and spoil the big ol' twist of the night, which is that it's not over. You--and we--have now got to watch Idol on Tuesday as well to figure out whether David Leathers, Jr., Johnny Keyser, Richie Law or Jermaine Jones will be the 25th semifinalist. What a twist! What a potentially completely pointless twist after you realize that every top 24 contender has a Facebook page, as do only two of the final four. (Yes, you can make fake Facebook/Twitter accounts, but Twitter's been quick about suspending certain names, and Facebook requires you to have 25 likes on a page before you give it a custom username, which we found out while trying to make a fake finalist page for research. We have done more research on this than we ever wanted or needed to do, and please thank us.)

There. That was the twist. Your world is hopefully rocked. While you put it back in order again, here are...


24. This Upsetting Fact: The top 12 women are almost all white, and it was not for lack of talent. At all. Blergh.

23. Steven Tyler: Watch Jennifer's face closely as he begins his three-quarter monty. It is the truest thing in the show's history.

22. Jennifer Lopez: Not that we're going to un-dock her points for her Erika Van Pelt bodysnarking on Wednesday. Especially when her presence last night could be replaced by an emoticon without anyone noticing.

21. The Twist: “A shocking turn of events that will change everything.” To be sure, a new era in history is born every time a previously rejected guy on American Idol is added to the top 24.

20. Obvious Desires: 1. “I really hope that the judges see that from my past performances that I’m worth for the top 24.” --Shannon 2. “I hope that what I did was enough to get to the next round.” --Jermaine 3. “I hope that these contestants get a little more interesting.” --Us

19. This Quote: “It’s the most important night yet, and the Vegas strip is buzzing with energy.” Bless you, Idol, for finally taking the stick out of Vegas’ ass. This “energy” has everything to do with you and nothing to do with alcohol, drugs, sex, or money.

18. Multi-Person Dismissals: How dare you consolidate the final judgments of the youngest contestants?! David, Ariel, and Shelby had to witness someone’s celebration at the same moment as their defeat. Teenagers already have enough complex emotions to handle! God, Idol! I feel like you don’t understand me! No one understands me! #emo

17. Scott Dangerfield: Sings, looks and is presented like footage of a boy-band member ten years later. It's not that he's bad--he's one haircut and one visible guitar away from Phil Phillips--but he's clearly superfluous. But J. Lo said she wanted him to audition again anyway, which for those counting would be his third try. We get what the producers are doing. In 2025, once Idol is somehow still going with a judge's slate of Mandy Moore, Fred Durst and Randy Jackson and with cyborgs eligible to participate, Scott Dangerfield will get a big, juicy audition package about setting the world record for most Hollywood Week appearances.

For theology and Transcendentalism, click NEXT.


16. Randy Jackson: Anyone noticing his habit of commenting mid-performance? Punctuating every note and rest with applause? It kills the suspense, right? Is this some kind of producer deal, where for every cheer he forfeits one word of critique? Randy, you leave us with so many questions.

15. Theology: If you ever felt the urge to repent during tonight’s episode, it could be because the phrase “The Final Judgment” was uttered no fewer than eleven times. Or because you looked at Steven’s full moon a pinch too long.

14. Ryan Seacrest: Comment during show: "I just think Ryan's so nice." Yep. So nice, and so inobtrusive.

13. Jeremy Rosado: Is "transcendental," according to J. Lo. Transcendentalists: Emerson. Thoreau. Jeremy Rosado. Richard Marx, judging by what he does to "Angel." But don't listen to us; listen to Ryan, who explained to the world how Jeremy has become a star. Brook Farm never saw such so brilliant--well, at least not since the place got torched.

For Shannon's worst things ever, which do not include man tears, click NEXT.


12. Shannon Magrane: Worst things ever: genocide, suffering, Shannon Magrane replacing lyrics with deedle-deedle-dee on group day. But never mind the script; she puts a close enough approximation of soul, or at least of Joss Stone, into "What a Wonderful World" and is old enough for Steven to do skeevy calculations in his head, so she's through.

11. Man Tears: “I love to watch a man cry.” --Steven Tyler. Well, it was Stevey’s lucky night! Between Adam Brock and Jermaine Jones, we witnessed a moat’s worth of salty man tears.

10. Alliteration: "Now we jump to the judgment of gentle giant Jermaine Jones." This isn't exactly judicious.

9. Jermaine’s Mom: Jermaine and his mom call one another “my beautiful” and “my handsome” respectively, which straddles the border of “Cutesville” and “Too Cutesville.” She’s exactly the mom you want to see after facing rejection, so lucky Jermaine?

8. Jermaine Jones: Was anyone else dreading that Jermaine's palpable fear, visible shaking and audible breathing and all, would lead to another medic with smelling salts and Coke? That didn't happen. Nor was his performance worth elimination; it's a showcase of the bass clef and baritone voice almost as good as his sublime basso duo with Richie Law, but Idol values that like it values female rockers (i.e. it doesn't.) We will note the "gentle giant" thing here one more time and then bid it good riddance until Ryan invariably utters those exact words Tuesday.

For Bieber's long-lost quote, some long-lost spontaneity and one long-awaited breakout performance, click NEXT.


7. David Leathers, Jr.: David singing the Jackson 5 is almost too easy; it's so easy he didn't bother taking it above good karaoke. And he does not make it, and he is mobbed in the holding room by approximately zero girls. David "Mr. Steal Your Girl," outsmarted by Nigel "Mr. Steal Your Swag" Lythgoe. (I really advise you to do that Facebook test, though! Ahem.)

6. Eben Franckewicz: It was time for Justin Bieber's bi-monthly cloning session. The scientists took a clipping of his hair to replicate its flipping aerodynamics. They measured his larynx to record the precise proportions that'd make his falsetto melt instead of wavering or keening above the staff. Someone in the lab was a jackass and gave him a tuxedo instead of kid clothes, but there's no reason Idol can't hire a swagger coach. Probably Bieber's, because after that session he said "fuck it" and turned to Drake and LMFAO while the scientists were forced to cobble together a replacement Bieb, who is Eben Franckewicz. The process worked, but only just; if you watch his face closely during his last smooth note, you can practically see all the subroutines firing and the processor chugging to make his bottom lip quiver and eyes squinch. Nevertheless, when he sings "you are so beautiful," it tugs at all Fox's purse strings. Oh, also, you know what you just did, Idol? You just made me write Justin Bieber fanfiction. This is what you have done to my brain. At this rate I'll have fully regressed by age 30 to whapping the Twitter refresh button with my baby rattle.

5. Deandre Brackensick: Falsetto has done wonders for Usher and for multiple Boyz II Men. It does wonders for Deandre, too, whose performance gets ample screen time and judge approval. And he's distinctive enough to overcome getting essentially none of either before Hollywood Week. Hooray! People are starting to become good!

4. Skylar Laine: Says she doesn't think two country artists would be allowed into the top 24, which proves she has never watched American Idol before. Her performance was less Miranda Lambert than Laura Bell Bundy, her twangs and growls less natural than hairsprayed on. But it was compelling--a quality in singers talent shows tend to disregard by the semis, what's up Angie Zeiderman, hi there Rachel Zevita, what's up, Tiah Tolliver and Rebecca Loebe--which means we are rooting for Skylar. Randy's deployment of the phrase "young Reba" suggests that the producers are too.

3. Hallie Day: Extent of screen time: “I’M SO PUMPED RIGHT NOW! GOD!” Extent of our caring: nil.

2. My DVR: The closest I’ve ever come to straight-up making out with my DVR was tonight when it cut off right before Steven’s skeleton panties came off.

1. Hollie Cavanagh: Hi, Nigel Lythgoe. Now that we've got your Google Alert attention: this is how you make a breakout. Backstories don't matter, because I'd know fuck-all about Hollie Cavanagh without extensive Googling or sad amounts of DVRing. Staging doesn't really matter, because I was typing up notes when she began to sing and was jolted from my laptop. at what I heard. (Related: Halfway through her performance, J. Lo reached for Randy's arm like there was a Voice buzzer there.) Perfection doesn't matter; Hollie was juust close enough to being sharp (but wasn't) and too rough (but wasn't really.) High notes do matter, because her last one was flawless. There's just one thing missing from Hollie: a proper rock song, or at least a proper "Rumour Has It." Let's have more of this. Please. The live rounds are a-waiting.

Seductive City By the Sea; In Santa Monica, Fun & Food In a Romantic Setting

The Washington Post June 12, 1994 | James T. Yenckel The single most important thing to know about Santa Monica before you go is that it is not Los Angeles. You can walk almost anywhere you want to go in Santa Monica. Sea breezes routinely sweep away the smog here. And Disneyland is so far away, there's no need to feel guilty at all about not going there. For these reasons, and more, I took an immediate liking to this pretty little cliff-top city by the beach, just 15 miles west of central L.A.

To a frequent L.A. visitor, as I am, Santa Monica proved on a recent visit to be a seductive oasis in an encircling desert of urban sprawl - a politically independent entity with odd quirks and lots of charm. A bit old-fashioned, it sports a downtown fishing pier thrusting into the Pacific with a boardwalk Ferris wheel and carnival rides like many a bygone beach resort. And yet it also is home to some of the trendiest - and best - restaurants in the country.

As I sampled the local menus for three days, I became convinced Santa Monica is well on its way to becoming one of America's capitals of fine dining. By this, I mean original menus that are filled with strange but very tempting dishes that I don't see anywhere else. I savor new and unusual ingredients and taste combinations, and for me meals in Santa Monica became an exciting adventure. Prices ranged from moderate to very expensive, and the dishes were uniformly good.

The abundance of fine restaurants reflects the city's role as the increasingly fashionable new residence for the rich and famous of Southern California. And yet Santa Monica, with a population of about 90,000, still retains an easy-going, hometown quality befitting its humbler working and middle-class past.

The clash of cultures results in some odd compromises. On each Saturday morning, two blocks of downtown Arizona Avenue are blocked off for a traditional farmer's market, where fresh produce of all kinds is sold. But, as a sign of trendy times, the heaping mounds of fruit and veggies on display are all certified as organically grown.

Santa Monica took some hard blows in the Jan. 17 earthquake, and several older apartment buildings were damaged. But the city's hotels, restaurants, museums and other visitor attractions escaped serious harm and are all fully in operation. The toppled portion of the Santa Monica Freeway serving the city was reopened last month.

Perhaps because the sunsets are so gorgeous, I came to think of Santa Monica as very much a city for romance - a place more appealing to visiting couples than to families because of the sophisticated nature of its attractions. By day, my wife and I toured Santa Monica's wide array of unusual shops and its contemporary to avant-garde museums and galleries; explored the communities of Malibu to the north and Venice to the south; and enjoyed a succession of superb and very leisurely lunches. And in the evening, we watched those unfailingly beautiful sunsets, and then we strolled to a nearby restaurant for yet another long and splendid meal.

Certainly, the city's setting is conducive to romance. It is perched atop a high, yellow-rock bluff overlooking a three-mile-long sweep of beach on Santa Monica Bay. Palm-shaded Palisades Park, a slender, beautifully landscaped garden, stretches along the cliff's edge for a mile and a half. Here is where we took wake-up walks before breakfast, enjoying the view of the turquoise sea, and returned in the evening to catch the ruby red sunsets. Had the weather been just a bit warmer, we would have taken the stairway down to the beach just below.

For, of course, Santa Monica is a summer beach resort that - by reputation, anyway - attracts lots of young and beautiful bodies of both sexes. I can't verify this personally, however, because we flew to Santa Monica during the winter to escape the East Coast's ice storms. As a winter resort, Santa Monica does just fine too. Every day brought sunny skies and temperatures that were pleasant enough for comfortable outdoor dining if not for swimming. here santa monica zip code

The reason I mention eating so often is that this became the focus of my visit once I had discovered what pleasures awaited. My days were planned carefully so that I was never in any danger of missing a meal. Indeed, our first stop after checking into an ocean-view hotel, the art deco Shangri-La, was lunch at a nearby restaurant called Zenzero. Sleek, even stark in decor, it features a blend of Californian and Asian cuisines. We opted for an outdoor table, and I ordered grilled chicken nicely seasoned with lemon and pepper. It was served with a heap of fresh-made, bright orange yam chips. My visit was off to a good start.

A stroll on Santa Monica's historic pier is nearly obligatory, and fun. Built in 1908, it is the oldest pleasure pier on the West Coast. It attracts ordinary folks in the form of numerous fishermen napping beside their tackle boxes and also the curious. In one spot, a sleekly muscular couple dressed only in his and hers sequined bikinis warbled rock tunes for coins. Nearby a flutist garbed as Davy Crockett also serenaded but with a classical repertoire. We caught a ride on the pier's 1922 carousel, which was featured in the Paul Newman/Robert Redford movie "The Sting." Each of its 44 horses is hand-carved, and no two are alike.

The liveliest place in town, especially in the evening, is the three-block-long Third Street Promenade. Once a decaying shopping street, it has been transformed into a pedestrian-only plaza lined with offbeat crafts and clothing shops, sidewalk cafes, bookstores, some of Santa Monica's top restaurants and - by my count - 17 movie theaters. At night the scene becomes a good-natured street party drawing lots of sidewalk performers. One night we watched a man standing on his head while yodeling and playing a guitar. Just down the way, an eight-member men's vocal group sang Broadway melodies.

No sooner had we stepped onto the street when a jovial vendor with a fancy cart filled with body massage devices attracted our attention. He was waving a small rolling pin-like object while he loudly described its benefits. When we stopped, he proceeded to give each of us a 60-second shoulder massage with it. The brief workover was surprisingly refreshing, and now I regret I didn't buy one of his items.

The promenade is pleasantly landscaped with potted trees and bushes, which are illuminated at night with tiny white lights. Huge topiary dinosaurs towering above the street add a touch of fantasy, and the festive look is further enhanced by colorful banners draping from overhead. We dined at Remi's on the promenade, where I ordered roasted veal loin rolled with arugula and oven-dried tomatoes and served with a roasted shallot sauce. I sipped espresso at Congo Market, a '50s-style beatnik coffeehouse down the street.

We spent much of one day exploring more shops, galleries and the Santa Monica Museum of Art on Main Street, another offbeat commercial strip about a half mile south of the promenade. Ah, but first we headed for lunch on Main Street at celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck's Chinois on Main restaurant, where the menu is a blend of Asian and French cuisines with California flair and the ambiance is casual, crowded and noisy. The Asian-themed decor features bold splashes of black, green and fuchsia, a backdrop for two life-size porcelain peacocks. As for the food, yummy. I chose barbecued salmon with black and gold noodles served with a mint vinaigrette. And I eagerly succumbed to dessert when I saw this item listed on the menu: "cashew and banana tart with green tea ice cream." I loathe driving the traffic-clogged freeways of Los Angeles, and one of the reasons Santa Monica appealed so much to me was that during much of our stay I could leave our car parked in the Shangri-La lot. But a car was a convenience on two excursions I considered essential to my visit - a 15-minute drive north to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, the Hollywood beach colony, and a 10-minute drive south to funky little Venice. go to web site santa monica zip code

The Getty Museum is renowned for its great collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, which range in period from 3000 B.C. to 300 A.D. But the building and its gardens, set high on a bluff above the Pacific Coast Highway, are in themselves well worth a visit. They are a re-creation of an ancient country house that once stood outside the Roman city of Herculaneum, which was buried along with Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. The trees, flowers and other plant life duplicate the vegetation that might have been found in a Roman villa of that era.

When the museum opened in 1974, the building drew sharp criticism as Getty's "folly" because it represented an architectural style of the past rather than being something fresh and creative. But a Roman villa with its splashing fountains, courtyards, colonnades and terra-cotta tile roof seems exactly the right place to display the ancient world's vases and statuary. Indeed, the villa also fits perfectly well into the present-day Southern California landscape, which in many ways has the look of southern Italy. In one graceful garden is a bronze statue of Hermes, the messenger god, which shows him seated on a rock. He seems completely at home there.

After our museum visit, we sought out Geoffrey's in Malibu, a hillside restaurant with an ocean view and outdoor seating. Sailboats skittered across the bay like ghostly waterbugs, and we settled back to enjoy the panorama with a leisurely glass of wine and lunch. This time I opted for a salad of asparagus and shrimp with blue cheese dressing.

The beach which Santa Monica faces stretches for about 26 miles along the Santa Monica Bay shoreline from Malibu in the north to Palos Verdes in the south. Much of it is a part of the state park system, and parking and restrooms are available. The Pacific Coast Highway edges the beach from Santa Monica north to Malibu, and the drive is pleasantly scenic. Above the highway are the dry, rumpled hills dotted with lavish homes that were swept by the savage Malibu fires last year.

South of Santa Monica, the Pacific Coast Highway turns inland, so you have to find your way to Venice through neighborhood streets. It is a raffish little resort and residential community with a fine beach. Behind the beach runs Ocean Front Walk, a zany, Coney Island-type boardwalk that attracts hordes of sightseers and more than enough curious sights. Roller skaters zip by in near undress, muscle builders in tight shirts flex mountainous biceps, fortune tellers shuffle their tarot cards, toddlers drip melting ice cream, proselytizers seek converts to their causes - "Legalize marijuana" read one sign at a makeshift stand - and everybody gawks at everybody else. It is an ongoing show, and anybody can star.

Later we drove back to Santa Monica anticipating one more sunset and, of course, one more great meal. I always know a trip has been fun when I'm reluctant to leave, and I sure hated to say goodbye to Santa Monica. After all, I still held a lengthy list of restaurants I wanted to try. If you like good food in a romantic setting, Santa Monica is the place for you. And remember, take along a pair of walking shoes.

James T. Yenckel