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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 30, 2018

This week's episode is a panel discussion with comedians <a href="https://www.facebook.com/kathecomedy/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Kathe Farris</a>, <a href="http://emilyruskowski.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Emily Ruskowski</a>, <a href="http://www.erinspencercomedy.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Erin Spencer</a>, and <a href="https://www.carolynplummer.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Carolyn Plummer</a> with new music from <a href="https://illuminatihotties.bandcamp.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">illuminati hotties</a>. It's the very first time the Department of Tangents was recorded live in front of an audience. <a href="https://necomiccons.com" rel="noopener" target="_blank">The North East Comic Con and Collectibles Extravaganza</a> expanded its podcast panels and its comedy offerings this year, and I was lucky to nab all four comedians on the Friday night show presented by <a href="http://bostoncomedyfest.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">The Boston Comedy Festival</a> before they took the stage. That's BCF founder <a href="https://www.jimmccue.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Jim McCue</a> we're thanking at the end.

I haven’t done a lot of panel shows before, but if they are as interesting as this one, I may have to make a point of doing more. Farris, Ruskowski, Spencer, and Plummer all have great stories of how they got into comedy and found who they were as comedians. Farris started and then stopped for years due to family obligations. Ruskowski is a social worker. Spencer bombed on purpose her first time onstage. Plummer has worked every kind of room you can imagine, from clubs to, as she calls them, “dead animal lodges.” A good chunk of the conversation centered around identity and experience. And there were some delightful moments where the comics asked each other questions, and I just got to sit back and listen.

<strong>Carolyn Plummer</strong>
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<strong>Emily Ruskowski</strong>
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<strong>Kathe Farris</strong>
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This week’s featured track, “Pressed 2 Death” by illuminati hotties from their album <em>Kiss Yr. Frenemies</em>. If you like your hooks with a sense of humor, this is the band for you. The songs are witty and fun, but some of the punchlines are in the music. It’s a punk attitude, they’ll give you a song you can hum and a raspberry. Literally, in this case. Enjoy “Pressed 2 Death” by illuminati hotties.