Bartles & James Fuzzy Navel Flavored Malt Cooler

For those of you unable to measure the hours by the Cinnabon at the multiplex last weekend, I'm here to tell you (spoiler alert!): John Rambo has Burma's back.

Now, as anyone with a pulse can tell you, Burma, as John calls it (Myanmar, apparently, is for suckers), is ruled by an oppressive military dictatorship. Not only has the military lately trampled over dissident monks, but, as anyone who's sat through all 93 heart-thumping minutes of Rambo can tell you, they've been pretty tough on the Karen, too.

The Karen, an ethnic minority in the country's south, have for years sought an independent homeland along the Thai border. As an ethnic minority, the Karen.... Wait a second...Rambo?

That's right, John Rambo. He's back, madder and badder than ever.

But John's not alone. Sly Stallone's other signature character, Rocky Balboa (no hard feelings, Cobra), has lumbered into the ring for yet anther round. These two iron figures of 1980s-eat-nails-poop-chains toughdom will soon be joined at the box office by the likes of Indiana Jones, and later even those fantastic imps of yore, the Smurfs, are slated for an appearance.

Maybe it's the ongoing writers' strike. Maybe it's the misty remove of more than twenty years. Maybe it's the first sustained wave of nostalgia for Generation X. One thing, though, is certain: The '80s are having a moment.

But if big bangs and Jellies are back on the big screen, TV's not been caught napping. NBC recently relaunched the daddy of all reality shows, American Gladiators. (The Spandex, steroids and oversize Q-tips are all here. But for the presence of '80s über-grappler Hulk Hogan, the only meaningful update is that instead of Rick Springfield-inspired noms de guerre like "Laser" and "Lace," today's Gladiators take their cues from the War on Terror, with monikers like "Militia," "Stealth" and "Mayhem.")

The Gladiators are not alone. FOX is airing Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and NBC has announced plans to air a two-hour pilot for the relaunch of Knight Rider. (Goodbye, Trans Am K.I.T.T. Hello, Ford Shelby GT500KR Mustang K.I.T.T.) What's more, Salt-N-Pepa now have their own joint on VH1, and even Elvira, Mistress of the Dark got a breath of life when FOX Reality tried unsuccessfully to launch a show called The Search for the Next Elvira.

What with all this '80s candy rolling about, how could I pass up a bottle of Bartles & Jaymes Fuzzy Navel Flavored Malt Cooler?

Syrup-sweet and dyed the color of cloudy, dehydrated urine, my B&J cooler tasted like it packed a narcotic punch roughly equivalent to a bottle of Orangina. But whereas Orangina doesn't smack your mouth around with its citrus flavor, the fruit taste in a B&J Fuzzy Navel has the steroidal sweetness of Robin Coleman, that six-foot-one, 205-pound fury better known by her gladiatorial stage name, Hellga.

In other words, the B&J Fuzzy Navel lacks subtlety.

Then again, what do I know? B&J's heyday was a bit before my time, and my best memory of the wine cooler involves a hazy imagined future in which I crack one open on a tropical beach while listening to the dulcet sounds of Jimmy Buffett, a whole pig, perhaps, roasting somewhere off in the middle distance.

Still, if memory serves, I'd have been drinking B&J Wine Coolers, not B&J Malt Coolers. Oh well. It just goes to show: The '80s aren't what they used to be.

Seen a foodstuff you're too timid to try? Malcolm will eat it! E-mail particulars to keepitdown@mac.com.

 
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