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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.

Feb 1, 2017

I heard <a href="http://www.donwhite.net/" target="_blank">Don White</a> on the radio long before I met him. He would tell these wonderful stories about his family, often followed by a heartfelt song. I <a href="http://archive.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2007/01/05/hometown_is_still_whites_muse/" target="_blank">interviewed him for my then-weekly column for the <em>Boston Globe</em></a> a couple of times, talking about humor and songwriting, and where the two intersected. About a decade ago now, I moved into Don's old neighborhood in Lynn, and have since gotten to see him work in his own community, trying to help his fellow aspiring artists figure out how to balance their creativity with the rest of their lives and encouraging them to keep at it. I've worked with him on his PR and had many a conversation about music, especially Frank Zappa, and stand-up comedy. In this conversation, held in Don's living room in Lynn, we covered a lot of practical stuff about staying creative and Don's own curiosity - how he spent a few months studying silent comedy to help his stage presence and what he learned about passion from watching Judy Garland.Don's latest album is called <em>More Alive</em>, and you can find out more about him and where you can catch him live <a href="http://www.donwhite.net/" target="_blank">on his Web site</a>.

After the conversation, stay tuned for one of my favorite songs from <a href="http://www.johncraigiemusic.com/" target="_blank">John Craigie</a>'s new album, <em>No Rain, No Rose</em>, which <a href="http://nickzaino.com/departmentoftangents/2017/01/31/new-release-roundup-ty-segalls-focused-freak-out-tift-merritts-songs-of-quiet-strength-john-craigies-jamboree/" target="_blank">I reviewed for the New Release Roundup</a>.