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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.

Nov 16, 2018

I’ve written about Ryan Lee Crosby’s music in the past. I’m not sure when the first time was, but back then he had finished playing with his rock band, Cancer To the Stars, and had moved on to a more acoustic singer/songwriter sound. He has been the type of musician that, if you lose track of him for a little while, he may be doing something completely different when you find your way back. 

That’s what I found with his new album, River Music. Crosby moved on from singer/songwriter mode to an acoustic blues sound a few years ago, and has now started to incorporate Indian raga music into his sound. River Music is a blues album at heart, but with an expanded instrumental palate that mixes tabla drums and harmonicas, 12-string electric guitar, and a 22-string Indian slide guitar called a chaturangui. The new music is partly composed and partly improvised, creating an eclectic but meditative musical experience. 

Crosby has also developed quite a following in Europe, and when I caught up with him earlier this week, he had just gotten back from an extensive tour. This week's featured track is "I'm Dissatisfied" from the album. It's called River Music, and you can find out more about that, Crosby’s past work, and his upcoming tour dates on RyanLeeCrosby.com.

Visit http://ryanleecrosby.bandcamp.com