So what have I missed, y'all? It seems like a dozen months ago that I recapped the "American Idol" premiere and then the Sundance Film Festival began.

I assume you've been keeping up with Liane Bonin Starr's "Idol" recaps in my absence, while also keeping up with all of my Sundance coverage... 

Right?

I know I'm live-blogging on West Coast Time tonight, but let's get going with Thursday's (Jan. 26) auditions from Texas...

8:02 p.m. I'm confused by what the International Space Station has to do with "Spirit of the Sky." I'm also confused by the Houston/Galveston aspect of the auditions. "Idol" usually does a much better job of pretending that the auditions and judging are simultaneous. Tonight? Nobody's even bothering.

8:03 p.m. Our first contestant is being mocked for having a funny name. Because that's how "American Idol" goes. He thinks God is on his side. He loves to sing female pop music, which he describes as being in his soul. Not surprisingly Phong Vu's version of "Unbreak My Heart" is dreadful. He gets emotional and ceases to be able to sing, leading J-Lo to temporarily encourage him on. "I feel the pain is coming through me," Phong says of singing Toni Braxton. "You brought Toni here today, but there wasn't enough of you in it," Steven Tyler says, before adding that the melody was missing.

8:10 p.m. "Texas, the state you don't want to mess with..." Ryan Seacrest observes, before cutting to a montage of really bad singers from Texas.

8:11 p.m. You know, I didn't really miss this while I was away.

8:12 p.m. OK. Let's find somebody good, please? We've got a 17-year-old girl who shot her first deer when she was 15. She keeps its head above her bed, presumably as a warning to future boyfriends. Her family owns a restaurant/grocery store. They've been hit by hard times in recent years. Please be good...Skylar Laine is a bit like Lauren Alaina with a Shotgun. And less singing talent. But she's fine. After that build-up, they aren't going to send Skylar home. Instead, she gets a ticket to Hollywood and she even gets to bring in a friend to hug Steven. Initially, Steven is concerned, but Randy asks for her age and the friend replies that she's 19. Relieved that there's no chance for a sexual conquest with a woman that old, Steven condescends to hug the friend.

8:17 p.m. I don't usually get to watch "Idol" in HD because I'm usually watching on Slingbox on East Coast time. HD is J-Lo's friend. 

8:19 p.m. Preparation montage. This would be much better if we were also hearing people sing and sing well.

8:19 p.m. Our next contestant is Baylie Brown, who I actually remember from Season 6. She was 16 back then. She's 21 now or as Steven Tyler puts it, "Decrepit." She's a pretty gal. The judges all smile happily and put Baylie through to Hollywood. Hopefully we'll keep her away from future Antonella Barbas in the Hollywood Round.

8:22 p.m. We next move on to Kristine Osorio, who had a limited musical career, but put it on hold to raise three kids and briefly be married. She took out a loan to pay her divorce lawyer, but instead she bought a plane ticket and came to audition for "American Idol." Kristine has barely begun to sing when J-Lo says "Thank God." She's a good story and she has a good vote. America won't vote for her, but for the purpose of tonight's episode? I'll take any talent I can get.

8:28 p.m. We're back in space. Hi, Commander Dan Burbank and "Also Spracht Zarathustra."

8:29 p.m. We're told that Jennifer and The Boys Club are having disagreements, but who would have guessed that Miss Houston 2011 Rachael Turner would be earning the support of... J-LO?!? And that the two guys would be voting "No." Weird. Reagan Wilson also has J-Lo's vote, but the guys are unimpressed. The same is true of Cheyenne James. Are the guys messing  with J-Lo's head? If so, I endorse that.

8:33 p.m. Linda Williams, a dismal wailing bartender gets Steven's seal of approval, but J-Lo can't quite connect. This is a little strange. "That was awful," J-Lo says correctly. She keeps warning the other judges that they're going to be confused when they watch the show back. "Somebody help me," J-Lo yells, mid-makeup refresher. 

8:36 p.m. J-Lo is on the verge of going crazy, so Ryan Seacrest decides that it's time for a gag contestant. Meet 26-year-old Alejandro Cazares, who warns that "Today is the first day of the revolution." He dreams of standing in front of America and tells us that he is the Revolution. Sigh. Why must this revolution be televised? He wants to lead a revolution in which Lady Gaga can go platinum and Barack Obama can be elected president. "Isn't that the world we live in?" J-Lo asks. He butchers a Paramore song. "Your voice is not good enough for 'American Idol,'" J-Lo says plainly. Alejandro vows to fight for it, but Randy calls his voice terrible. Alejandro falls to his knees. He begs. "You have too much integrity for that. Too much dignity," J-Lo says incorrectly. "I've heard worse. There is worse!" Alejandro says, before being escorted out by a gigantic bodyguard.

8:43 p.m. There's something very strange about "Jersey Shore" advertising on "American Idol."

8:44 p.m. It's Day Two in Houston/Galveston. And Jennifer Lopez's belly-bearing outfit is the best thing to come out of this entire episode. Is there any chance that warehouse worker/college student Cortez Shaw could be the talent equivalent of Jennifer Lopez's belly-top? He came from a single-family household and believes that "American Idol is "opportunity at its greatest." His finger-snapping Adele cover has pretty much drained the emotion from the song, but J-Lo's enthusiastic. It briefly sounds like Cortez is going to get to sing again, which I'd appreciate, since that wasn't a good audition at all. Instead, the judges give him three "Yes" votes and I'll just have to assume he's got potential. Cortez the Killer announces he's going to win.

8:52 p.m. The day is coming to an end in Texas. Will we see anybody truly talented in the next 8 minutes? It's won't the shrieking woman in the stretch-pants. "I bet you're crazy in... on the dance floor," Tyler tells her.

8:54 p.m. Can we just skip to The Triumphant Episode-Closing performer?

8:54 p.m. Our last contestant? Ramiro Garcia. He's a worship leader at a local church. He was born... WITHOUT EARS. He was told by doctors he wouldn't be able to speak or sing. Holy cow, y'all. NO EARS. His version of "Amazing Grace" is elevated by maybe 50 levels thanks to the whole "NO EARS" story. And even without the story, he'd be pretty fine. "I like your insides," Tyler says. "I guess we're taking a leap of faith with you today," J-Lo says, while Randy calls himself "hopeful."

8:58 p.m. Apparently 54 people advanced from this Texas audition process? We... didn't see many of the good ones, did we?

What'd you think of Thursday's episode?