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The Department of Tangents Podcast

Years ago, playing a sort of improv game with friends in which we all picked super powers based on our personalities, I dubbed myself “Tangent Lad.” I was not a very strong superhero, and I could not defeat a super villain on my own, but I could distract them with Monty Python quotes and football trivia. I have many times since apologized to an interview subject in my capacity as a journalist by saying, “I am either very good or very bad at tangents, depending on how you feel about tangents.”

I had a rough time coming up with the concept and naming this blog/podcast. I knew I wanted to create a place where I could address things I’m passionate about – comedy, music, and horror. Finding a name that communicated all three of those things proved a bit impossible. I bugged my friends, and they all tried to help. To no avail. Then I thought, maybe I’m approaching this from the wrong angle. Maybe my lack of focus should be the focus.

As a journalist, I have written for The Boston Globe since 2000, starting out writing CD reviews and then writing a regular column on comedy for seven and a half years. I still contribute there, and to Kirkus Reviews, and other publications. I’m also a musician, and released my debut full-length album, Blue Skies and Broken Arrows, in March of 2015. And I’ve been publishing short horror fiction for a couple of years.

I like to climb into things I love and see how they operate. That’s what the Department of Tangents is for. I’ll be writing regular features, essays, and news bits about the big three – comedy, music, and horror – and offering clips from people I’ve taped interviews with over the past nearly twenty years of writing. Some of the best parts of the interviews I’ve done have been completely off-point and inappropriate for print. I’ll get to explore more of that here. I’m also hoping to convince some friends to tell me about the things they love that I might not even know about, and pass that along to you.

The DoT podcast might be short or long, depending on where the conversation leads. You cant purposefully create an interesting tangent in conversation – it has to happen naturally. But I can confidently forecast that there will be moments in the individual podcasts where things veer off wonderfully.

The main thing here is love. To write about the things that make I’ve loved forever, and some new things that might stand the test and be around, at least for me, for decades to come. I’ve had to be critical in my writing at times, and it might not all be nonstop roses here, but in the end, what I really want to talk about is the good stuff. That’s why I will regularly write about things I think are “Perfect,” even if someone can demonstrate empirically that they are flawed. Still perfect to me.

Also, fish.

I hope you, dear anonymous surfer person, will come to expect only the highest-quality, free-range, grass-fed tangents. And I hope some of you love the same things I do and find it useful. Or at least a welcome distraction until the others get here.

May 30, 2016

When I spoke with Nathan Fillion in 2010 for a site called Culture Mob, Castle was still early in its run and there was talk about a sequel to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. There is still occasional talk of a sequel, but Castle has just ended its run at ABC. I remember tossing out a few references to see what might...

May 15, 2016

This was one of my favorite interviews, not only because Carl Reiner had so much to say, but because he and his crew were such warm and gracious people. I sat for a couple of hours in Carl Reiner's living room, asking questions about every aspect of his career, from Sid Caesar's Caesar's Hour and Your Show of Shows to...

May 13, 2016

My guest for Episode 6 of the Department of Tangents Podcast is musician and filmmaker Brendan Boogie. When I sat down with Brendan in his living room in April, he was about to release a new album called Last Words with Brendan Boogie and the Broken Gates, and launch a Kickstarter project for his latest film, Sundown....

May 9, 2016

I interviewed Margaret Cho back in October when she was stopping through Boston on tour. At that point, she was still months away from releasing her new album, American Myth, which came out April 29. We spoke a bit about the songs on the album, especially one of the singles, "I Want To Kill My Rapist," and about her...

May 5, 2016

My guests for Episode 5 are filmmakers and musicians Michael J Epstein and Sophia Cacciola, who have been working at the hellish pace of writing, producing, and directing one horror film a year for the past three years. Two of them, Ten and Magnetic, are available to stream now, and the third, Blood of the Tribades,...