Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

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.

Jan 31, 2019

This is an inadvertently Nashville-themed edition, as featured interview subject, comics artist/creator and musician Guy Gilchrist, and the musician behind this week's featured track, Ted Drozdowski, ply their trades in Music City. And for the second week in a row, the featured guest has a Jim Henson connection. A bit from his bio – Gilchrist created the Muppets comic strip and worked on <em>Fraggle Rock</em> and <em>The Muppet Babies</em>. But he also took over the comic strip <em>Nancy</em> for a number of years and worked on cartoons from <em>Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles</em> to <em>The Pink Panther</em>. And if that weren’t enough, he’s also an accomplished singer/songwriter. Which is why I brought my guitar, in case I could convince him to play a tune or two. Which he does just before the conversation begins, and then later, in separate segment, at his booth at the NorthEast Comic Con and Collectibles Extravaganza.

I was fortunate to sit down with Guy in front of a live audience at the Con, and Gilchrist was also one of the first people I met there. We talked at his booth where he was doing custom drawings for fans. He looked down at my laminate and said, “You’re underdressed.” I handed him the laminate, and he drew Kermit in a Red Sox cap. The Sox are his favorite team, and since they had just won the World Series, Gilchrist was in a great mood. It makes sense he would appreciate such a pastoral game. It became clear to me as we spoke how much he treasures gentleness and how much he sincerely wants to help make the world a more loving place. Just don’t mention zombies to him. You can hear for yourself why. He is passionate and irrepressible. I directed this interview the way a bumper directs a pinball. “That’s why they have a panel with just me,” he says at one point. “Everybody gets pissed off.”

Later on in the Con, I went back to Guy’s table to try to get him to sing one of his own songs. I didn’t get that, but I did get him singing “Poor Jenny,” originated by the Everly Brothers, which you'll hear in the short second segment. You can find out more about him at <a href="https://www.aguygilchristproduction.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">www.aguygilchristproduction.com</a>, or search for him on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/AGUYGILCHRISTPRODUCTION/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/GuyGilchrist" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Twitter</a>. And you can visit Guy at the <a href="https://necomiccons.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">NorthEast Comic Con</a> this weekend, March 15-17, in Boxboro, Massachusetts. And thanks as well to Gary Sohmers for allowing me to tape my first live episodes at the Con. I’ve got one more, with artist and animator Philo Barnhart, coming up in the next few weeks.

This week’s featured track is "Still Among the Living,” from <a href="http://teddrozdowski.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Ted Drozdowski</a>’s new album, <em>Coyote Motel</em>. It’s an evolutionary step forward from what Drozdowski has been doing with his band, Scissormen. It’s more psychedelic, more textured, and at times, more emotional. I don’t want to say too much about this, because Ted is the guest on next week’s episode and you’ll get to hear the story behind this track directly from him. I will say the reasons I chose this track, which opens the album, are that I love the main lyrical conceit, “I’m here, so you’re still among the living,” he sings, and because it features Ted’s epic guitar playing. It’s out It’s out now, and <a href="https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/teddrozdowski" rel="noopener" target="_blank">you can find it on CDBaby</a>, so pick it up!