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Fiz - 4.12.06 

Pop quiz

When we first heard about Coke BlaK --- the new bastardization of classic Coca-Cola via infusion of "natural flavors and coffee essence" (and yes, that goofy spelling is intentional) --- we were nonplussed. At best it seemed like the tackiest derivation of the so-five-minutes-ago Hollywood It combo Red Bull and vodka. At worst it sounded... really nasty. So when the product finally hit shelves last week we held an impromptu taste test.

Turns out we were wrong. Coke BlaK doesn't suck --- at least, not entirely.

Sure, a few of the pickier folks deemed it "disgusting" and "ew...gross." But the majority of the soda samplers here found it surprisingly tasty. "It's better than I thought it would be --- I expected the worst," said one writer."

A whiff from the over-packaged glass bottle (covered mouth to foot in shrink-wrapped plastic) suggests a sickeningly sweet brew; it smells like Jelly Belly coffee-flavored jelly beans taste. But the actual flavor is light and pleasant, essentially like cold, carbonated coffee. One person detected a hint of licorice; another pegged it as slightly caramelized cane sugar.

That said, we wondered who, exactly, would buy the stuff. The price is outrageous --- nearly $2.75 per 8 ounce bottle where we picked it up. And hardcore coffee drinkers aren't likely to switch to soda for their caffeine fix. Our prediction: within a year or two Coke BlaK will go the way of Crystal Pepsi.

Idol hands, devil's playthings

Anyone who watched last week's ouster of Mandisa from TV phenomenon American Idol could rightly think that our nation has lost its collective marbles. (See also: the 2004 presidential election.) How else to explain the fact that far less talented singers like Ace Young or Bucky Covington could still win the singing competition when our powerhouse diva has been given the boot?

Actually, you could lay some of the blame on For three years now the website has campaigned for AI viewers to call in and vote for the crappiest singers in an effort to keep them on stage, thus upping the schadenfreude factor for the snarky among us at home. Previous VFTW picks include Season 3's red-headed John "Crooner" Stevens and Season 4's Scott "Sausage Fingers' Savol, both of whom undeniably were the worst of their lots. And with more than 3 million hits on the VFTW website, those two gents likely owe some of their overlong stints to the site's savvy brand of pop culture sabotage.

This year VFTW initially championed embryonic nerd Kevin Covais, but after the Chicken Little lookalike got snuffed in Week 2 the site decided to "back" twangtastic country gal Kellie Pickler. So far so good, as Pickler has yet to land in the bottom three despite strictly average vocals, while legitimate stars-in-the-making Katharine McPhee, Paris Bennett and Elliott Yamin hover near extinction. Well played, VFTW. Well played.

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Kota Ezawa in conversation with Bruce Barnes @ Virtual George Eastman Museum

Kota Ezawa in conversation with Bruce Barnes @ Virtual George Eastman Museum

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Golden Palette Art Trail: The Colors of Fall @ City of Canandaigua

Golden Palette Art Trail: The Colors of Fall @ City of Canandaigua

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Rochester City Ballet: Ballet Reawakened @ Livestream

Rochester City Ballet: Ballet Reawakened @ Livestream

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