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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.

Aug 28, 2019

This is the third and final interview I recorded at NECON 2019, which I have previously described as a mashup of a horror writers conference and summer camp with adult beverages. I attended NECON for the first time in 2018, and this week’s guest, Matt Moore, was my roommate. Lucky for me, he is also a fine and...


Aug 22, 2019

This is the second interview I recorded at this year’s NECON conference, which is part horror author’s conference and part summer camp. It is with Scott Goudsward, a very busy fellow. I’ve been trying to catch up with him for months, but as you are about to find out, Scott has a lot of jobs. He has written two...


Aug 14, 2019

Pornsak Pichetshote edited other people's books for DC for years before he attempted to write his own. He didn’t give himself an easy out. His first series, now collected as a graphic novel, is <em>Infidel</em>, a horror story that explores xenophobia. It’s hard enough to do horror and politics well separately...


Aug 8, 2019

In early July, rumors started to surface that MAD Magazine was going to cease publishing new material and just reprint old stuff with new covers. MAD has been around since 1952 and has influenced multiple generations of smart asses. The eulogies came quick and heavy, and they’re still coming, even though we’ve never...


Aug 1, 2019

This is episode 100 of the podcast, and I thought about doing some sort of compilation of previous interviews, as I’ve done a couple of times in the past, to commemorate that. I decided against that for a couple of reasons. First, I haven’t accomplished everything I want to with this podcast yet, so it’s not time...