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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 4, 2019

If you are used to our usual theme song, do not adjust your iPod at the beginning of this episode. This week, we open music from this week’s guest conversationalist, Micropixie. It is the title track to her latest album, <em>Dark Sight of the Moon</em>, and yes she does realize that sounds like another album you may have heard of. Throughout this episode, you will hear a few other songs sprinkled into the mix, including “Nocturnal Concrete Mountaineering” from her first album, <em>Alice In Stevie Wonderland</em>, as well as “New Year’s Day” and “Back To Our Future” from the new one.

Micropixie is one alter ego of musician, artist, and self-identifying intergalactic pop tart Neshma Friend. Micropixie is an alien come to Earth to study humans, perplexed at our behavior towards one another. She is not alone. Friend’s other alter ego, Single Beige Female, isn’t having a good go of it, either. Through the eyes of these characters, Friend is both pointed and playful, taking on weightier topics like gender politics and global conflict. And she does all of that over instrumental tracks that are laidback and groovy. As I say later on in this interview, this is definitely headphone music, ideal for a good set of old fashioned cans on a home stereo. Or these days, some noise-cancelling headphones Bose or Beats. Either way, this music demands your attention.

We start the conversation talking about one of Friend’s earlier jobs, exchanging currency for tourists in Paris, which she did not enjoy nearly as much as making music. You can find out more about what she’s up to at <a href="http://micropixie.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">micropixie.com</a>, and search for her on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Micropixie/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/Micropixie" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Twitter</a>. She’s be hosting an <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1050624561790423/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">album release party at Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco on April 9</a>. <em>Dark Sight of the Moon</em> will be available as a <a href="https://micropixie.bandcamp.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">BandCamp</a> exclusive on April 12 and will get a wider release on April 26.

Our featured track this week comes from comedian Jess Salomon, whom you may remember as our guest on episode 54 of the Department of Tangents Podcast. Salomon has an interesting back story. Before she started comedy, she studied law and worked for a U.N. tribunal on war crimes. A Canadian transplant, she now lives in New York, where she recorded this album in November at the New York Comedy Club. Her comedy can be political, but also a bit silly, as you’ll hear on this track, “Duels.” The album is called All the Best Choices, and it was released earlier this week. Find out more about Jess at <a href="https://jesssalomon.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">www.jesssalomon.com</a>, and look for her on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/JessSalomonComedy/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/jess_salomon" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/jess_salomon/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Instagram</a>.