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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 9, 2017

Today Erin Judge celebrates the one-year anniversary of her debut novel, Vow of Celibacy, which is on sale for $1.99 on Amazon if you are a Kindle person. I caught up with Erin at the Women In Comedy Festival back in April when she was in town for the Women In Comedy Festival doing stand-up with CAKE Comedy. We talked about comedy then, but didn’t get into her work as an author. So the anniversary was a good opportunity to talk about Vow of Celibacy and what Judge may be doing as a follow-up. Vow is a breezy, entertaining novel with serious underpinnings about body image and sexuality.

“The book is a fun, upbeat, fast-paced novel about female friendships and relationships,” she says.

The main character, Natalie, is a plus-sized, bisexual woman working in the fashion industry. Judge wanted to write something fun but still thought-provoking, and has found it has had an unexpectedly wide appeal. It also won “best fiction” from the Bi Book Awards. We weave in and out of talking about the book, about Judge’s connection to her protagonist, the differences between her stand-up and the book, and the follow-up she is reluctant to write in the wake of the 2016 election. In between we got into a variety of topics, from Wonder Woman and Ghostbusters trolls to the politics of horror to the difference between performing comedy and drama. And in one of my favorite bits of our conversation, what the Nanny and the Dog Whisperer might have to teach comedians.

Find out more about Erin Judge on her Web site, and find Vow of Celibacy on Amazon. You can also head to the CAKE Comedy Web site to find out about their future projects.

After the conversation, listen for “Photograph Of the Future,” a track from Zion Rodman’s debut album, You’re Invited. Rodman is an amazing singer/songwriter with a particularly clear and smooth voice. You can find out more about him on his Web site.