So there I am, sitting in Atlantic City's charming yet crumbling Boardwalk Convention Hall days before the equally charming yet crumbling Miss America Pageant itself is to take place. A handful of contestants are taking turns rehearsing their "talent" segment of the competition, as each girl nervously tries to qualify as a finalist before the cameras roll, thus assuring herself of at least a few minutes of TV stardom. The pressure's on!


Some of these girl's talents are pretty impressive — such as Miss District of Columbia's "jazz harp" Gershwin medley — but they still seem like they are all acting out their childhood fantasies of becoming a diva/ballerina/concert pianist, as I sit through one Rodgers and Hammerstein, Mozart, or Andrew Lloyd Webber tune after another; each one served up with a smile and a wave and a big honkin' BROOCH.


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