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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.

DoT EP55: Hadron Gospel Hour's Rich Wentworth plus New Music from Courtney Marie Andrews

Mar 23, 2018

This week’s episode is a conversation with podcast host/artist/musician Rich Wentworth. He is co-creator of the Hadron Gospel Hour podcast, a serialized sci-fi/comedy show about the adventures of a scientist who accidentally blows up the multiverse working on a way to weaponize the Hadron Collider. He and his partner Mike, played by co-creator Michael McQuilkin, jump in and out of the rift to visit different timelines and occasionally do battle with evil. The podcast also features sketch comedy, horror, and original music – Wentworth and McQuilkin are both musicians and songwriters. It’s a hell of a good time, and an incredibly immersive audio environment.

Wentworth is also an accomplished graphic artist. He’s done album covers for Brian Setzer and comic book covers for IDW’s ROM title and, it should be mentioned, designed the Department of Tangents logo. In the conversation, we talk about Wentworth’s artistic influences and his aspirations in comics, which may include a Hadron adaptation somewhere down the line. We also get into how the Young Ones series influenced Hadron, the humanism of the Muppets, and so much more. Find out more about the podcast at the Hadron Gospel Hour site, and about Wentworth’s art at his Spy Island Industries site.

This episode also marks the two-year anniversary of the Department of Tangents Podcast. It kicked off on March 18, 2016 with EP1 featuring comedian and author Brian Kiley, whom I interviewed on the Universal lot in Los Angles where he works on Conan, and a featured track from musician Brendan Boogie, who would pop up again in EP6 as a guest talking about music and his latest movie, Sundown. It has been a joy to do this, and there is a lot more on the way – new stuff in featured tracks, including more audiobook excerpts, more short horror fiction, and of course, more interviews.

Our featured track this week is “Kindness of Strangers” from Courtney Marie Andrews’ new album May Your Kindness Remain, out today, March 23. Andrews has a rich, powerful voice, and this is an album to get excited about. Recommended if you like Neko Case, Kelly Hogan, Jason Isbell, or Kathleen Edwards. Take a listen and check out Andrews at