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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 10, 2019

This is the last of the four podcasts I taped last November at the NorthEast Comic Con and Collectibles Extravaganza, which happens twice a year out in Boxborough, Massachusetts. Philo has had a long and varied career, and we get into his resume straight away in the interview and drill down from there. You’ve seen his animation work on Disney’s <em>The Little Mermaid</em>, <em>The Smurfs</em>, <em>Super Friends</em>, and more. You may even have heard his voice if you’re a fan of early animated video games, but I will make you listen to find out more about that.

Barnhart comes from a family of animators – mother Phyllis was an animator and cel painter, and Philo used to go with his dad Dale when he worked as a background artist for Disney. Which is how he was nearly the voice of Winnie the Pooh. We are also both huge Yellow Submarine fans, which I enjoyed exploring with him. He is a delightful and colorful conversationalist.

You can find out more about his work at <a href="http://www.silverphoenix.net/about.html?fbclid=IwAR3fJYo8v4tsufaLgFA1KQZYLg2igEbX6fqhofxTA-RnfmvRRFaQKDyl0-w" rel="noopener" target="_blank">www.silverphoenix.net</a>, or search for him on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Philo-Barnhart-Art-1008613735893232/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. And you can find out more about Northeast Comic Con's guests and schedule at <a href="https://necomiccons.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">NEComicCons.com</a>, or search for them on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/NorthEastComicCon/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/NEComicCon" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Twitter</a>.

This week’s feature track is “Permanent Crush” from Matt York’s upcoming album, Bruisable Heart. York is an exceptional songwriter and performer, which you already know if you heard him on EP49 of the podcast and checked out his music. I’ve had the pleasure of playing with Mr. York on a few occasions, and I can tell you, he is a prolific and musically restless fellow. I’ve heard a couple of different versions of this song and some of the others he’s working on, and you’re in for a treat when the final album drops early this summer. Look for news about that and York’s other work at <a href="http://www.mattyorkmusic.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">mattyorkmusic.com</a> and on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/mattyorkboston/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/mattyorkboston" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Twitter</a>.