I, for one, am champing at the bit to get to Hollywood. Perhaps that's because "the best of the rest" audition episode felt like the television version of stew: whatever wasn't good enough to make it in before gets stirred together and brought to a boil. I simply can't take any more auditions.

So what did we glean from this rather tasteless treat?

Don't Compose Your Own Music

Granted, Wes would have had a great deal of trouble even if he hadn't been belting out his "Don't Worry, Don't Hurry" original medley.

A shiny yellow shirt and weird foot stomping is never going to win over anyone in any situation at any time, but why give the judges any more ammunition than they need?

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Do Make Paula Insecure About Her Age

When Ashley — one-third of the "Frisco's Car Hop" triumvirate –- said Paula's advice that she shouldn't wear so much makeup was "maternal," it played out brilliantly. Lots of horror and then laughter on Paula's part, big smiles from Simon, a few guffaws from Randy and suddenly Ashley, whose voice was no better than her friend Heather's, was onto Hollywood.

Don't Confess Your Love for the Judges

OK, sometimes it works. After all, a sassy Simon-lover named Gina made it through last night, but the people who express serious admiration or passion for Simon or Paula — sorry, Randy — always seem to be pretty talent-free.

The good news is that they also tend to be the types who take rejection pretty well, like Edward, who chattered so much after his audition about how cool it was to meet Paula that he barely seemed to notice how badly he did.

Do Cry

When Christa, eccentric even by "Idol" auditions standards, started weeping as she was leaving the room, Paula suddenly said she would reconsider her vote.

This was after listening to the girl sing so horribly — again, even by "Idol" audition standards — in an outfit so strange that even Paula had made faces during the performance.

The tears didn't ultimately make a difference for Christa, but they did highlight just how easy it would be to manipulate Paula through guilt.

Don't dress to "express your mood," like Christina did, especially when it means wearing a headband so that it looks like a fallen halo, on "American Idol" or anywhere else.

Anna David is a freelance writer. Her first novel, "Party Girl," is coming out in June 2007 from HarperCollins.

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