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'America's Got Talent' recap: Auditions roll through Houston and Minneapolis

June 9, 2011 |  9:35 am

After watching the cheesy "America's Got Talent" audition train roll through Houston and Minneapolis in Wednesday night's double episode, my 8-year-old son, Max, turned to me and declared, "Well, that wasn't so bad."

I agree, it was considerably better than Tuesday night's Seattle audition train wreck and left me hoping for continued improvement.

We got a little more back story from some of the performers, which helped us care at least a bit about how they fared onstage. We got a little less of the weird Howie Mandel-Piers Morgan rivalry, which grows irritating quickly. And we got some genuine talent and intriguing curiosities: As far as circus sideshows go, this one had some interesting acts.

I will say that the judges don't seem to get out much. Two of the acts they declared to be something they'd never seen before were well done but not terribly original. You can see something like the Sandou Trio Russian Bar, in which a female acrobat does flips to land on a slender bar held by two trusty male helpers, in the Big Apple Circus. (Wait, I think it's the same troupe! I'm still confused about whether the acts on "America's Got Talent" have to be amateur. Can they be professional performers, as these people clearly are?) And the Silhouettes, while very cute and earnest, were a direct Pilobolus knockoff.

Among the most memorable acts, without regard to city or order or performance:

Lys Agnes: A stunningly beautiful singer with a surprisingly lush vocal tone and a very sad back story (her beautiful, supportive fiancé was killed in a car crash two years ago), she sang "Ave Maria" -- breathtakingly.

Dan Mink and Melanie Joy, "The Rhinestone Ropers": A pretty standard rodeo knife-throwing, sharp-shooting act, but impressively performed.

Darren "Professor Splash" Taylor: Belly-flopped into a kiddie pool with 12 inches of water in it (and maybe a spongy mat underneath it?) from a height of 26 feet. Said he intended to break the world record for such a dive (there's a world record for such a dive?) during the course of the competition. I'm a little worried he'll break his neck a third time, but not that worried, really.

Tim "The Kinetic King" Fort: Max's favorite performer of the night, this weirdly charming Minneapolis ultra-nerd sets up elaborate chain reactions using things like popsicle sticks. His dream? "To go on, win a million bucks, then buy my mansion in Hawaii and have a bunch of Playmates for girlfriends, of course, have a cable channel running non-stop Buster Keaton comedies and have my own pool for scuba diving." Morgan puts him through for that reason alone, as would I have. [For the record, 12:20p.m., June 14: A previous version of this post misstated Fort's name and has been corrected.]

Dani Shay: What do you do when you're a female singer-songwriter trying to make a go of it and it turns out you look just like the biggest male teen heartthrob to break through in years? You write a funny song about dealing with that very fact and go on "America's Got Talent." The entire song can be watched on YouTube here. Cute.

Daniel Joseph Baker: This 19-year-old boy won my heart not with his fierce and fearless bravado, but with the giant sweat marks underneath his arms that showed just how much he had staked on this. (Awwww.) He sang a surprisingly compelling version of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," and seemed genuinely surprised himself when the judges let him through. 

There was also a parrot who could sing and respond to questions and a cute 6-year-old boy named Tanner Edwards who danced very well, though I don't really understand why anyone would put their 6-year-old child through this. (He looked so scared standing alone onstage while the judges weighed his fate. Oh, horrible.)

Oh and also? I liked the guy who sang "Truck Drivers Aren't Supposed to Cry," Walt Winston. I thought he had a sort of Jonathan Richman charm. I went looking for more of his "No. 1 hits," which I found here.

What did you think of the show? Favorite acts?

'America's Got Talent' recap: Seattle auditions, yes or no?

'America's Got Talent' recap: Season 6 premieres (not to everyone's delight)

-- Amy Reiter