Back Issue 4 (8.12.2004)
Five albums to listen to while preparing dinner: one bachelor’s arbitrary list, Part I (continued in next issue of The Dissertation, or available in it’s entirety at Matt’s blog: http://manicandpedantic.blogspot.com)
by Matt Testa
1. OutKast, The Love Below, pepper stir-fry.
While this one dish won’t put you on PETA’s list of the Sexiest Vegetarians alongside Andre 3000, it is sexy in its own way. Pop in the disc and boil some water on the stove for your noodles or rice—or, if you're a real Italian paesano like me, with spaghetti or linguine. Wash and slice whatever vegetables suit your fancy to the funked-out jazz rhythms of “Love Hater.” Or, if you don’t have time to buy fresh, a bag of frozen stir-fry mix (Ice cold!!) will be fine. By the time it’s “Valentine’s Day,” your water should be boiling and your head should be bobbin’. Cook your starch and heat your frying pan with oil. When the oil starts to dance, that means that either “Hey Ya!” has come up on the stereo or it’s time to add the vegetables. Stir the contents regularly while shakin’ ya szechuan like a Polaroid picture. After your noodles have cooked and been strained to the beat of “Behold a Lady,” toss them in the fry pan with some hot and spicy oil. Not too much, though—you don’t want your breath to scare off the ladies. And in case you were wondering, Speakerboxxx makes a good soundtrack while you do the dishes.
2. Sloan, Action Pact, tuna noodle casserole.
Like most dinners, this one begins by chopping onions and boiling water. “Gimme That” is a great opener, one that energizes you to round up the utensils and ingredients you need. The energy and the pop hooks continue through “Live On” and “Backstabbin’” as your onions soften and your lips unconsciously form the shape of the words. One thing I know about “The Rest of My Life”: with its bouncy beat and sincere lyrics, it was made for bachelors to sing along to while they stir in milk and Campbell’s cream of mushroom. The only tricky thing about this meal is keeping an eye on the sauce while making sure that the noodles don’t overcook; the echoed refrains of “False Alarm” make a good reference point for when you should sample a noodle to see if they’re done. Most of the time, you can get everything in the oven by the time the syncopated riffs of “Ready for You” come on. For the twenty minutes that the dish is baking, you can start to clean up the kitchen over the choruses of “I Was Wrong” and “Fade Away.” Or, just sit back, open a beer, and rock out to the delicious smells and sounds.
3. Jacky Terrasson, Smile, pasta with tomato sauce.
The rhythmic verve and clever quotations in the opener, Bud Powell’s “Parisian Thoroughfare,” is enough to make my water want to boil (though it usually doesn’t literally do so until track three). The album’s title track contains a thousand sentiments; go with whatever one seems most dominant on that particular evening to choose which cut of pasta to cook. When I’m feeling pensive, it’s ziti; when I’m feeling bouncy, it’s elbows. Spaghetti is there for when I need comfort. The tomato sauce can also be as personal as you want it to be. I regrettably pour mine out of a jar while making empty promises to make some myself the next time; this hollow vow usually comes during “Sous le Ciel de Paris.” The dish comes together during the clipped phrasings of Terrasson’s solo on “Isn’t She Lovely?” (Aside: Should I really trust Stevie Wonder’s judgment on how attractive a girl is? I love Stevie and all, but if he were setting me up with someone, his endorsement is as useful as a quadriplegic’s trying to sell me a sportscar.) After you’ve finished dining, pour yourself and extra glass of red wine and brood your way through “Autumn Leaves” and “My Funny Valentine,” two standards in the songbook or wistfulness. Finally, warm your body (and your soul) with a hot cup of tea and hit the repeat button on the gorgeous “L’air de rien.”
New and Used
By Pete Burakowski
People from other countries singing well in English. Did you ever really stop to think about it? Coming up with a catchy tune is a trick in itself, and these guys appeal to our interests via a foreign tongue. Imagine yourself doing the same with what you remember from high school Spanish class: “Yo tengo un rabbit. Shit, rabbit isn’t Spanish.” Thus, today I would like to highlight several bands who have jumped linguistic hurdles en route to your radio.
Used: First Band on the Moon, The Cardigans (Sweden)
“Lovefool” (“Dear, I fear we’re facing a problem…”) was one of the greatest pop tunes of the 1990s, with its sharp disco guitarwork and the simple, yet infectious refrain. Alas, most people see the ghostly image of Leonard DiCaprio when they hear the song. Nina Persson also deserves serious props for her sultry reinterpretation of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”.
Used: Paradise in Me, K’s Choice (Belgium)
OK. This is a mediocre album with lyrics that I could have penned in middle school, which happened to be when this disc was released. However, Paradise includes the modest hit “Not An Addict” (“I’m not an addict, it’s cool, I feel alive…”), as well as the live crowd sing/clap-along “Something’s Wrong”, which starts off with the brilliant line “When your pubic hair’s on fire, something’s wrong.” Yes, that could be troublesome.
New: Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand (Scotland)
In theory, Scots speak English on a day-to-day basis, but have you ever actually tried to converse with one? An example of a line from a friend of mine from Glasgow (the hometown of this band): “I’dfiareintaerlikatrampintabagachips”, which translates to “I’d fire into her like a tramp into a bag of chips” and makes no sense anyway. Somehow, though, the lads in Franz Ferdinand manage to be somewhat coherent when they sing, as well as play some damn fine new wave rock. Many will point out that they’re not doing a single new thing on “Take Me Out” or “This Fire”, but isn’t that the point? Franz is a crisp, stylish album that bounces happily along with the fiery energy of a truly dance-minded rhythm section.
Top Five Summer Survival Tips
by Melissa Marsherall
5. Have a "theme" for each day. For example, Tuesdays can be "Nelly Furtado" day. On this day, everything you say must be sung to the tune of a Nelly Furtado song. This is especially amusing if you have to call, say, your credit card company to explain why you think they should waive the late fee for this month.
4. Try to incorporate at least one accessory from 1986 into your wardrobe every day. Don't have any accessories from 1986? Yes you do. You're just too embarassed to admit that you still have them hanging around. Care Bear brooches count. So do He-Man underoos.
3. Always ask for rainbow sprinkles with your custard at Anderson's. When the cashier brings you your cone, start singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." When you go to leave, pretend that you're talking to Toto and ask him if he wants a bite.
2. Tape the Democratic National Convention and watch it over and over again. Try and see how many times you can spot the following people, and score the appropriate number of points:
Janet Reno-- Two points
Hillary Clinton wearing anything but pink-- Seventeen Points
Any delegate from Kansas wearing a cowboy hat-- Four Points
Monica Lewinski-- You win
1. Approach random people at Thursday in the Square, and act like you know them. Don't use the usual "excuses" such as "we went to grade school together, remember?" Say things like "Remember when our parents took us to that nudist colony together? Boy was that fun!" or "Wow I haven't seen you since we left rehab. Have you been busted for kiddy porn again lately?"