1984 Was a Good Year for a Lot of Things

Following up on Kottke’s list of culturally relevant movies that came out in 1984, and Fimoculous’ list of culturally relevant albums that came out in 1984, I thought I’d find the culturally relevant list of books that came out in 1984. Using the best selling books as a barometer, you get the following list. Which seems kind of meh, no?

Fiction
1. The Talisman, Stephen King & Peter Straub
2. The Aquitaine Progression, Robert Ludlum
3. The Sicilian, Mario Puzo
5. The Butter Battle Book, Dr. Seuss
8. Full Circle, Danielle Steel
9. Life & Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz, Joan Rivers
10. Lincoln: A Novel, Gore Vidal
Non-Fiction
1. Iacocca: An Autobiography, Lee Iacocca
4. Pieces of My Mind, Andy Rooney
5. Weight Watchers Fast and Fabulous Cookbook
6. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School…, Mark H. McCormack
7. Women Coming of Age, J. Fonda & M. McCarthy
10. Weight Watchers Quick Start Program Cookbook

But you may also be interested in the NY TimesEditor’s Choice: Best books of 1984. Interestingly, neither of these lists have “Bright Lights, Big City”, “The Hunt for Red October”, or “Neuromancer”.

And then I fell completely into the rabbit hole of determining 1984’s status of one of the more culturally relevant years ever. On the stage, David Mamet won a Pulitzer for Glengarry Glen Ross, and Jeremy Irons, Tom Stoppard, and Glen Close all won Tony Awards. Doug Flutie won the Heisman, Desmond Tutu won a Nobel Peace Prize, and Michael Jordan, Charles Barkely, and John Stockton were drafted.

Of course, don’t take my word for it, Bill Simmons has 84 reasons 1984 was a good year including his covering of:
Television

27. NBC’s Thursday night lineup: “Cosby,” “Family Ties,” “Cheers,” “Night Court”…and “Hill Street Blues.” Just a murderer’s row…
28. “Miami Vice,” Season One…
29. “Growing Pains” and “Charles in Charge” both launched. So did the underrated sitcom “It’s Your Move” with Jason Bateman, who should have been one of the five biggest stars of that decade…
35. During the 25th anniversary Motown show in February, Michael Jackson performed “Billie Jean” and unveiled the moonwalk…

Music

42. Also, MTV launched the Video Music Awards that fall — and if you don’t remember Madonna rolling around in a wedding dress at Radio City Music Hall, you obviously weren’t a horny teenager in ’84.
44. If that wasn’t enough, ’80s college music took off — that Cure-Smiths-REM-Depeche Mode-New Order sound that holds up to this day…
48. Come on, tell me you didn’t like these songs: “99 Luftballoons”…”Darling Nikki”…”Cruel Summer”…”Yah Mo Be There”…”Sister Christian”…”Sunglasses at Night”…”Relax”…”Head over Heels”…”Pride (In the Name of Love)”…”Caribbean Queen”…”Panama”…”Billie Jean”…”Hot for Teacher”…”Somebody’s Watching Me”…”Boys of Summer”…”Jungle Love”…”Missing You.”…(Note: Chuck Klosterman is having a heart attack right now.)
49. Run DMC became the first rap act to produce a gold record. It’s true.
51. That’s right, this was the holiday season when Band Aid came out with “Do They Know It’s Christmas”.

Movies

58. “Splash” and “Bachelor Party” — Tom Hanks makes The Leap.
(And speaking of leaps, how ’bout Larry B. Scott appearing as the gay frat brother in “Revenge of the Nerds,” then the only black member of Cobra Kai in the same year!.)
65. Not only did the porn industry shift completely to video, but Traci Lords, Christy Canyon AND Ginger Lynn made their X-rated debuts in ’84….

Pop Culture and Other Stuff

72. …this was the year of “What’s my beef?” — both the Wendy’s commercial and Leno’s bit on Letterman’s show.
75. The Supreme Court made it legal to tape shows with a VCR.
82. By the way, the final list of “People and things in their absolute primes in ’84”: Bird, Bernard, Montana, McEnroe, Gretzky, Sam Malone, Hulk Hogan, Letterman, Sonny Crockett, Jason Bateman, Springsteen, Prince, U2, Murphy, Schwarzenegger, Michael Jackson, Morrissey, Robert Smith, Kathleen Turner, Shannon Tweed, Billy Zabka, Traci Lords, Ginger Lynn, Christy Canyon, Ronald Reagan, Heather Thomas, Heather Locklear, Paulina Porizkova, the Cold War.
83. Rolling Stone was offered the chance to buy MTV, and Sports Illustrated was offered the chance to buy ESPN. Both magazines decided against it.

So there you have it. What year compares?

1984 Was a Good Year for a Lot of Things

Mad Men Season 3 Preview Roundup

Mad Men Season 3 starts on Sunday and I am…excited. Here’s a round up of some of what’s been said about the show in the last couple weeks.

-Like cocktails? Here’s a Mad Men Cocktail Guide.

-Lots here from Vanity Fair, including a word on their obsession with set design:

A scene-setting anecdote everyone in the Mad Men orbit tells is how Weiner came onto the set one day and focused on some pieces of fruit he said were too large and shiny and perfectly formed; produce in the early 60s—period produce—wasn’t pumped up. Get smaller, dumpier fruit, he ordered. (Depending on who was telling me the story, from cast members to network executives, the offending produce morphed from apples to oranges to bananas, but Amy Wells, the set decorator, said definitively: it was apples.)

HuffPo’s take.

-The New Yorker on advertising Mad Men:

The theme of season three is change. “We wanted our key art to be more high-concept,” Schupack explained, unveiling the new poster, which hits this week: Draper is sitting in his office, looking nonchalant, as water rises up to his knees.

mad-men-season3-hed

-From Esquire, Christina Hendricks and some other female players.

-Story about the real life person Don Draper is based on.

In the 1960s, Draper Daniels was something of a legendary character in American advertising. As the creative head of Leo Burnett in Chicago in the 1950s, he had fathered the Marlboro Man campaign, among others, and become known as one of the top idea men in the business. He was also a bit of a maverick.

Playboy is getting Madmenized for the next couple weeks.

Interview and podcast with Jon Hamm.

-Talking with the Mad Men costume designer:

Bryant mixes original creations with vintage pieces for the principal cast’s wardrobe, which is designed from scratch, starting with sketches. Her use of kaleidoscope colors, sparkling jewelry, brilliant prints and florals can be deliciously distracting.

-New York Magazine got into the act with a profile of Christina Hendricks

Which is kind of the point of Mad Men. Bad is sexy. And then just very, very bad. The show lures you in with a glittering surface, but just below is a hothouse of homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and a more general and crushing sense of isolation.

and Pete Campbell whom everyone hates except Matt Weiner apparently:

“I went to an all-boys school, and Pete’s like the kids I went to school with. He could have been Holden Caulfield’s roommate, who borrowed his coat and didn’t bring it back.”

and a handy Guide to the First Two Seasons.

-Finally here’s the Wall St Journal on the story, which seems to be getting a lot of play this year, of the writing staff that is mostly female:

The story centers on Don Draper and his shadowy past, but a key part of the series, the writers say, is its complicated female characters. “It’s less skewed than it appears,” says consulting producer Maria Jacquemetton.

Mad Men Season 3 Preview Roundup

“Twitter is a media/marketing vehicle disguised as a social network.”

Or full quote from this Mediaite.com interview with Bill Simmons: “Facebook is a social network; Twitter is a media/marketing vehicle disguised as a social network.” It’s interesting to see how hard Bill Simmons has fallen for Twitter because a couple months ago he was bashing it. In general, I think his take on media/journalism is too simplified, but this quote about Twitter is right on.

“Twitter is a media/marketing vehicle disguised as a social network.”

Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell

What is it, Malcolm Gladwell Week on Unlikely Words? Bill Simmons just put up a 3 part email discussion (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), check it out if you want to say goodbye to your morning. Not sure if this is a resurrection of the Curious Guy feature Simmons used to do a couple years ago, but if you want to say goodbye to tomorrow as well, here are the other Curious Guy discussions.

NBA Commissioner David Stern and Bill Simmons

Bill Simmons and Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban

Curt Schilling and Bill Simmons

Bill Simmons and Chuck Klosterman Part 1 and Part 2

Malcolm Gladwell and Bill Simmons Part 1 and Part 2

Bill Simmons and the Screenwriters of ‘Rounders, Brian Koppelman and David Levien and Part 2

The OC Creator Josh Schwartz and Bill Simmons

Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell

A Bettors Explanation of the Economic Crisis

Also in the Bill Simmons Mailbag I mentioned yesterday, a Bettors Explanation of the economic crisis. By accident.

You just reminded me of something: There should be a section on eBay that allows the auctioning of enticing future bets. For instance, a few weeks before the NBA season, I placed $300 on 15-to-1 odds that Cleveland would win the 2009 NBA title. Those odds have dropped to 2-to-1. Not that I would (after all, Cleveland is going to win the 2009 NBA title), but shouldn’t I have the option to sell that $300 ticket on eBay? What if someone bid $1,200 on it (which would be a smart move because, again, Cleveland is going to win the NBA title) and I was guaranteed a $900 return on my investment? Should I take the money? This would be a fun Web site, you have to admit. And if eBay can’t do it, then why couldn’t the casinos themselves build a Web site that allows people to sell future tickets and get a second cut on the action? It all makes too much sense.

And then he gets called on it in part 2 of the mailbag.

Q: Just got done reading Part 1 of your mailbag. While your idea of auctioning off Vegas bets sounds like a great idea, do you realize that you just suggested the same scenario that ruined the mortgage industry and the entire economy?
— Tom, Pittsburgh

SG: Time for the greatest three-word comeback of all-time when you don’t have a comeback … yeah, but still!

A Bettors Explanation of the Economic Crisis