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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 23, 2016

I went to Boston Comic Con this year thinking I'd walk around and talk to a few artists for three or four minutes and make a nice, snug little minicast. My plans changed quickly. There were so many great artists and writers, and people selling strange and wonderful work, that I wound up with about an hour or interview material. I learned a lot from these folks about the comics industry - what independent and self-published authors are up against, what an ambitious author can get done in three weeks sleeping just three hours a day, how cons can be a place where artists and writers find each other, and how the very nature of comic cons have changed drastically in a short time. <a href="" target="_blank">David Petersen, creator of Mouseguard</a>, put it in perspective when he said that comic cons used to be places to find the hard-to-find thing. Now you can find those things on comic book shop Web sites or EBay, so now the creators are the thing people are seeking out (well, that and a throng of incredibly well-designed and/or completely inappropriate costumes).

Petersen was first up, followed by doll-maker Jessica of <a href="" target="_blank">Mystic Asylum</a>, publisher and creator Tyler James of <a href="" target="_blank">Comix Tribe</a>, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl</em></a> and <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Archie</em></a> artist <a href="" target="_blank">Erica Henderson</a>, author and creator of the <em>Seven Forges</em> book series <a href="" target="_blank">James A. Moore</a>, elf-ear maker Lindsay of <a href="" target="_blank">The Elven Caravan</a>, artist and co-creator of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Shutter</em></a> <a href="" target="_blank">Leila del Duca</a>, artist and novelist <a href="" target="_blank">Drew Blank</a>, and one half of <a href="" target="_blank">Sun Bros Studios</a> Brad Sun.

It was amusing and enlightening talking to these folks, and I now have an even longer reading list to contend with. Enjoy the conversations, and support the work of these artists and writers!