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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 13, 2017

<a href="http://andersparker.com/" target="_blank">Anders Parker</a> has been swerving all over the map, musically, for more than twenty years. He started out as the one-man band Varnaline with Man of Sin playing crunchy guitar rock, and since then he's done electronica, acoustic folk, and guitar instrumentals, changing up his sound and staying out of a rut. Parker has expanded his palette with collaboration, too, working with <a href="http://www.jayfarrar.net/" target="_blank">Jay Farrar</a> on the rootsy <a href="http://andersparker.com/music/death-songs-for-the-living/" target="_blank">Gob Iron</a> album, putting old Woody Guthrie lyrics to music with Farrar, Will Johnson, and Jim James with <a href="http://andersparker.com/music/new-multitudes/" target="_blank">New Multitudes</a>, playing duets with <a href="https://andersandkendall.bandcamp.com/" target="_blank">Anders & Kendall</a>, playing with <a href="http://andersparker.com/music/recordings-1994-1997/" target="_blank">Space Needle</a>, and serving as producer and sideman on <a href="http://krisdelmhorst.com/" target="_blank">Kris Delmhorst</a>'s <a href="http://krisdelmhorst.com/music/bloodtest/" target="_blank"><em>Blood Test</em></a>. He could have picked a lane and stuck with it, but that doesn't interest him.

<blockquote>"I always feel like I have to do the thing that I'm most interested in at the time to make it compelling to me," he said, sitting down in the front room of Boston's <a href="http://www.paradiserock.club/" target="_blank">Paradise Rock Club</a> before his gig opening for <a href="http://sonvolt.net/" target="_blank">Son Volt</a>. "And hopefully, in turn, people will find it compelling, as well." </blockquote>
Anders Parker has been swerving all over the map, musically, for more than twenty years. He started out as the one-man band Varnaline with Man of Sin playing crunchy guitar rock, and since then he's done electronica, acoustic folk, and guitar instrumentals, changing up his sound and staying out of a rut. Parker has expanded his palette with collaboration, too, working with Jay Farrar on the rootsy Gob Iron album, putting old Woody Guthrie lyrics to music with Farrar, Will Johnson, and Jim James with New Multitudes, playing duets with Anders & Kendall, playing with Space Needle, and serving as producer and sideman on Kris Delmhorst's Blood Test. He could have picked a lane and stuck with it, but that doesn't interest him.

"I always feel like I have to do the thing that I'm most interested in at the time to make it compelling to me," he said, sitting down in the front room of Boston's Paradise Rock Club before his gig opening for Son Volt. "And hopefully, in turn, people will find it compelling, as well."

Parker wrote his latest album, The Man Who Fell From Earth, in isolation of his country home in the Catskills. It's serene and warm, just Parker and an acoustic guitar, accompanied in spots by a string trio and pedal steel. That night at the Paradise, the songs shone in their most simple form in Parker's solo set. His haunting voice filled that room, floating to every corner. Son Volt was at their cleanest and most punchy. We talked about the optimism in Parker's music, his penchant for switching up styles, how the solitude of his home fosters his creativity, and about his various musical partners over the years. You'll hear a bit of the new album at the end, where I'll preview the song "High Flying Bird." After that, new comedy from Carmen Lynch with the first track from here latest album, Dance Like You Don't Need the Money. Enjoy! Share! Subscribe! Rejoice!
Parker wrote his latest album, <em>The Man Who Fell From Earth</em>, in isolation of his country home in the Catskills. It's serene and warm, just Parker and an acoustic guitar, accompanied in spots by a string trio and pedal steel. That night at the Paradise, the songs shone in their most simple form in Parker's solo set. His haunting voice filled that room, floating to every corner. Son Volt was at their cleanest and most punchy.

We talked about the optimism in Parker's music, his penchant for switching up styles, how the solitude of his home fosters his creativity, and about his various musical partners over the years. You'll hear a bit of the new album at the end, where I'll preview the song "High Flying Bird."

After that, new comedy from Carmen Lynch with the first track from here latest album, Dance Like You Don't Need the Money. Enjoy! Share! Subscribe! Rejoice!