You didn't seriously think the networks were going to let a month go by without a singing competition to sweeten the ratings, did you? And we certainly didn't hope you thought Fox would let January pass without its star show. Yep: American Idol descends upon us once more, specifically by descending upon Savannah, Georgia to find the worst and best voices the country has to offer and hasn't already offered during the show and its followers' umpteen other seasons.

We'll be watching along, of course, because that's what we do. And we'll bring our ultra-comprehensive power rankings we did for The X Factor to Idol, that show's big sister. But before the show, we're bringing back another tradition: the prop bets! Predict what'll go down in Georgia, maybe make a dollar or two (note: Popdust does not endorse actual gambling et cetera so on so forth), then check back tomorrow for our take.

How many golden tickets will be given out?

Fewer than 10: +250

Fewer than 30: +100

Fewer than 50: 0

Fewer than 70: +500

More than 70: +1000 and a nap voucher for the producers

Which song will appear first?

Anything by Michael, Stevie, Celine, Whitney, Mariah or Alicia: -500

"Rolling in the Deep": -100

"Baby": -50

"Hallelujah": +100

"Forget You": +200

Anything by J. Lo or Aerosmith (sorry, Randy): +300

Nobody will do any of these: +500 to your score and our Idol respect

What'll be closest to the proportion of crappy auditions to great ones:

Entirely crappy auditions: +500

75-25: +100

50-50: 0

25-75: +250

Entirely great ones: +2500, but Idol immediately gets canceled, rendering your bets null and void

Who will be the first to cry:

An auditioner: -100

An auditioner's family and/or posse: -50

Jennifer: 0

Steven: +100

Ryan: +200

Randy: +500

Simon Cowell will show up from The X Factor to provide deus ex cross-promotional tears: +5000

How many girls will Steven hit on?

Zero: +300

Fewer than three: -50, but much

Fewer than five: +100

Fewer than eight: +300

Fewer than twelve: +500

More than twelve: +1000

Everyone who auditions: +2000, to your score and to his number

How many of Steven's statements will even make sense?

Zero: +500

Less than one-quarter: +250

Less than one-half: +100

Less than three-quarters: 0

All of them: +200

How long into the episode will J.Lo's annoying Fiat commercial run?

Less than 15 minutes in: -100

Less than a half-hour in: -0

Less than an hour in: +50

Toward the end: +250

It'll never air: +500

Who will say "in it to win it" first?

Randy: -100

A successful auditioner: -50

An unsuccessful auditioner: +50

Jennifer: +100

Ryan: +300

Steven: +500

Nobody: +1000

Which past Idol winner will be mentioned first?

Kelly Clarkson: -500

Carrie Underwood: -200

Scotty McCreery: -100

Jordin Sparks: 0

David Cook: +50

Fantasia Barrino: +100

Kris Allen: +200

Ruben Studdard: +500

Taylor Hicks: +1000

Lee DeWyze: +2000

How long will the longest note be held?

Fewer than 10 seconds: -200

More than 10 seconds: +250

What nudity-related stunt will a contestant pull first?

Mooning: +100

Flashing: +200

The full monty: +500

None of these: -250

Will there be any awkward allusions to Ryan Seacrest possibly-maybe leaving?

Yes: +200

No: 0

Will there be any awkward digs at The Voice and/or X Factor?

Yes: -100

No: +100

How long will the longest obvious joke/viral-video bait audition (think "Pants on the Ground") last?

Fewer than 10 minutes: -100

More than 10 minutes: +500

How long will it take for the contestants to marvel at how a contestant's so young?

Less than an hour: -200

More than a hour: +200

They won't: +500

What will be the most arduous tale of how auditioners got to Savannah?

Traveling hundreds of miles: -250

Traveling thousands of miles: -100

Traveling lots of miles despite their car breaking down: +50

Traveling lots of miles despite their parents disapproving: +250

Traveling lots of miles and simultaneously experiencing a sob story: +500

Embarking upon a Rat Race-style comedy of errors just to make it to Idol: +1000

Will an auditioner proudly announce that she traveled all the way to Savannah because her name is Savannah?

No: 0

Yes, but her travel and dreams will be thwarted: +100

Yes, and she'll make it: +500

When will the Internet start complaining about so-called "plant" contestants with prior record deals?

Immediately, over Twitter: +200

A few hours later, on forums / after Wikipedia comes back up: -100

The next morning: 0

A few days later: +200

Nobody will ever complain about this: +1000

Have yourself a happy gift-buying experience

The Record (Bergen County, NJ) November 19, 2008 | LINDA FLOREA, THE ORLANDO SENTINEL LINDA FLOREA, THE ORLANDO SENTINEL The Record (Bergen County, NJ) 11-19-2008 Have yourself a happy gift-buying experience By LINDA FLOREA, THE ORLANDO SENTINEL Date: 11-19-2008, Wednesday Section: BETTER LIVING Edtion: All Editions ORLANDO, Fla. Want to avoid the last-minute-buying rush? If so, it's time to map out your holiday shopping strategy. Here is a look at what you should consider. in our site hp warranty check

Price You can either buy today or take a gamble and wait for a sale. Tod Marks, a senior editor at Consumer Reports, says consumers should consider buying clothing early in the shopping season while there are plenty of sizes and colors.

But waiting to buy electronics might pay off because if sales of items such as flat-screen TVs are slow, retailers may cut prices closer to the holidays to clear out inventory.

A word of warning, however: The credit crunch has hit retailers, too, so they are stocking smaller inventories to avoid unloading unsold items at clearance prices after the holidays.

What's there today may be gone tomorrow. Do you feel lucky?

Returns Suppose you buy your child that "I've got to have that" toy now 53 days before the holiday and on Christmas morning, Junior's tastes have changed. If the store has a strict, 30-day return policy, you may be stuck with that unwanted present.

So, smart shoppers should ask if the return period has been extended through the holidays. And asking for a gift receipt should be automatic.

"Most retailers have gone to a 30-day return policy," said Daniel Butler, vice president of retail operations for the National Retail Federation. "Each one sets its own policy, though, and that is why you need to check." He said the rules often will be posted at the cash register.

Marks said with increasing fraud in merchandise returns, many retailers are following policies to the letter. But others are more lenient, and if you don't open the box, they will take it back.

Layaway Is layaway gone forever? Maybe not.

Even though Wal-Mart, the nation's No. 1 retailer, axed its layaway department in 2006, the Depression-era practice of putting aside your purchases to be redeemed when you finish paying for them is trying for a comeback.

Kmart is one of the few retailers still offering layaway and has made a point of letting customers know it's out there. in our site hp warranty check

A company that started in 2005 and operates out of Tallahassee, Fla., eLayway, offers virtual payments for goods and services from more than 1,000 online merchants. Michael Bilello, senior vice president of business development, said the company hopes to offer virtual layaway to customers at real-world stores in the future.

Warranty If you are buying something with a warranty, check to make sure it does not expire before your gift is unwrapped. Marks said that most electronics have a 90-day warranty, but some retailers shorten warranties in hopes that the consumer will buy an extended warranty. He said those rarely pay off, calling them a "sucker's bet."