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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 20, 2018

Daniel Kraus has written a number of novels, including Rotters, a great horror novel I’m reading now. What puts him front and center right now is his work with Guillermo del Toro on the Oscar-winning story for The Shape of Water. Kraus had the idea years ago that he might want to do something about a love affair blossoming between a creature and an employee of a lab. He was already working with del Toro on the Trollhunters book, which became the series on Netflix. He mentioned the idea to del Toro, and that got the ball rolling. You’ll hear more about that in the conversation.

That opened up the opportunity for Kraus to work on his own version of the story in novel form. He used the backbone from the script and expanded the backstory and mythology to paint a fuller picture of the characters, most notably the heavy, Strickland, and his initial relationship with the creature. That was a large chunk of the conversation, but Kraus is currently working on another collaboration of sorts, finishing off a novel that George Romero had been working on that would span the history of his zombie movies. We also got to talk about horror in a more philosophical way, how the concepts of humanity and beauty work within that frame. Find out more about Kraus on

After the conversation, our featured track this week is “Let’s Fool Around Til the End of the World” by 6 String Drag from their new album Top of the World. This has been a great year for 6 String Drag fans. Not only did they release a remastered 20th anniversary version of their classic rock and roll Americana album High Hat, the put out the all-new album. You’ll hear more about that next week, when 6 String Drag’s Kenny Roby will be the interview guest. You can find the music at their website,