Guest Blogger: 1986 Year in Review?

When I asked occasional guest blogger and all-around curmudgeon Jason to submit a Year in Review post, he sheepishly admitted that, well, he really wasn't all that current with the doings of the past year, and asked if maybe he could wrap up another year instead. Not wanting to wait for a future year post, here's Jason's take on the wonderful world that was 1986:

The Best and Worst of 1986: a slightly overdue Year in Review

Chris asked me if I would like to write up some notes on memorable stuff from the past year. But since I'm nowhere near as current and hip as he is (finally - acknowledgement to my awesome hip-ness! - ed), that puts me at a distinct disadvantage. I figure I'm about 20 years behind the cultural times (less in books and film, more in music), but it's a nice round number so we'll go with it. So without further ado, my highly subjective and selective notable items of 1986.
(with special thanks to the Internet for reminding me of some of the things I'd forgotten, and apologies to any really cool things I missed).

Best Books:
  • Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card - Written, I think, before Card became a Mormon fanatic, or at least before it showed too much in his writings. This sequel to Ender's Game is perhaps the best book in that string.
  • IT, by Stephen King - One of King's creepiest books, I was all over this one. It even later managed to be made into a not-horrible TV miniseries with Harry Anderson of all people.
  • The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes - One of the best science histories ever written, this was my nonfiction Book of the Year a few years ago.
  • The Sportswriter, by Richard Ford - This is just a lovely novel about a man in a personal/spiritual crisis.
  • On Bullshit, by Harry Frankfurt - I haven't even read this yet, but I need to. What a title!
Worst Book:
  • The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy - Only because it gave rise to that god-awful movie later on...I'm sure there were worse books, but I'm the type to hold a grudge.
Best Movies (a fairly poor year for film overall):
  • Children of a Lesser God
  • Platoon
  • Stand By Me
  • Heavy Metal Parking Lot - Best.VH1.Special.Evah!
  • Pretty in Pink - Yes, I said it. John Hughes movies are much better in retrospect, compared to the dreck teenage movies of today.
  • Hoosiers - That Gene Hackman is good in everything! I love a feel-good sports movie...
Worst Movies:
  • Wildcats - ...unless it involves Goldie Hawn.
  • Top Gun - Keep in mind that I could have chose Howard the Duck or The Care Bears Movie II, but this was actually the top-grossing film of 1986, which I find extremely depressing. Crocodile Dundee was 2nd. I give you America in 1986.
  • Blue Velvet - I never get David Lynch, sorry. I acknowledge this is nowhere near as bad as the above.
Best Albums:
  • Paul Simon - Graceland: Highly listenable and introduced me to Ladysmith Black Mombazo. Every independent bookstore was required to play this by law.
  • Bad Brains - I Against I: Has any hard rockin' band since had a greater fall from awesomeness to lame-itude?
  • Metallica - Master of Puppets: Ah yes...never mind.
  • Megadeth - Peace Sells...But Who's Buying: Nice to see both sides of the Metallica split getting on well in '86, and ironic that Dave Mustaine is now far cooler that any living member of Metallica.
  • Motorhead - Orgasmatron: What a fantastic year for metal 1986 was, eh? I haven't even mentioned Maiden, Priest, or Yngwie Malmsteen, all of whom had decent new albums that year. Devil Horns!
Worst Hit Songs (I don't have a worst albums category; even then I was too smart to buy something that was demonstrably terrible based on what I could hear on TV and radio):
  • Mike + the Mechanics: "All I Need is a Miracle"
  • Genesis: "Invisible Touch" - Peter Gabriel used to hang with you guys? I bet his mom made him do it.
  • Van Halen: "Why Can't This Be Love?" - Just because, that's why.
  • Bonnie Tyler: "Holding Out for a Hero" - How's that working out for ya, Bonnie?
Guilty Pleasure, in retrospect:
  • Bon Jovi: "You Give Love a Bad Name" - If the Greatest Football Coach on Earth, Bill Belichick, likes it, why shouldn't I admit it?
Other Cool Things About 1986:
  • Masturbation - Hey, I was 13. What were you doing?
  • Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" video - see above.
  • Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys are taken to court by the PMRC, and win!
  • The Pixies are formed.
  • Boston Celtics win the NBA title AGAIN, and my beloved New England Patriots make the SuperBowl for the first time ever (unfortunately, they play Da Bears).
  • The first federal Martin Luther King day is observed.

Other Less-Than-Cool Things About 1986:

  • The same year that saw the deaths of Ray Milland and Cary Grant saw the births of Lindsey Lohan and Amanda Bynes. Enough said.
  • Chernobyl melts down. Uh oh.
  • Christa McAuliffe jokes.
  • Cliff Burton dies, soon to be followed by Metallica's coolness.
  • Game 6. It was a tough year for Massachusetts sports fans.
  • Celtics #1 draft pic Len Bias dies coked up before ever playing a game. See above.

Not sure whether this is Cool or not, you tell me:

  • Frank Zappa appears on Miami Vice.
  • The FOX Network is launched.
  • Knight Rider gets cancelled, and Designing Women debuts. America penalized 1,000,000 macho points.
  • The Voyager 2 first probes Uranus, and a comedy revolution is born.