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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.

Apr 1, 2019

I interviewed Daniel Sloss a few weeks back for the <em>Boston Globe</em> when he came to town with his new show <a href="https://danielsloss.com/2018-uk-european-tour-of-daniel-sloss-x/" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><em>X</em></a>, a deeply funny and sometimes devastating look at masculinity and the #MeToo movement. You can find that piece in the archives at <a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/2019/02/21/with-netflix-help-audiences-are-getting-know-scottish-comic-daniel-sloss/sfRHWvecy6F1FicFcXETyI/story.html" rel="noopener" target="_blank">bostonglobe.com in the February 21 edition</a>. There are two segments I wanted you to hear that didn’t make the final story. The first is about offensive jokes, and the second is about “dad jokes,” some of the dumb things that make Sloss laugh, and why didn’t wind up being a squeaky clean TV comic. Sloss has never been one to shy away from a joke that might offend someone. He’s not looking specifically to offend anyone, but he loves making an audience uncomfortable. I asked him about this, and he had a great response, much of which was unprintable for the Globe.

Sloss has a tendency to say he’s not very smart, even though he has a lot of what I think is pretty smart material. He was quick to say that while he is a curious person and might study a subject to inform himself, he never went to university and he can’t change a fuse. He also talked about the silly and stupid things that make him laugh, something I have found isn’t uncommon amongst even the sharpest of comics. He now appreciates his dad’s humor because he sees how it tortures others the way it tortured him as a kid. We also spoke about how some of his first big breaks came from television appearances for which he had to work clean, and how he had to leave that behind to become the comic he is now.

To find out more about Sloss, his Netflix specials, and where he’ll be appearing next, go to <a href="https://danielsloss.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">www.danielsloss.com</a>.