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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.

Oct 31, 2017

Happy Halloween! Welcome to the Halloween Fiction Special of the Department of Tangents Podcast. In this episode, I read my short horror story "Walter's Friends," originally published in One Buck Horror: Volume Four. I have been a freelance writer for twenty years, but only started pursuing fiction around 2010. Horror...

Oct 27, 2017

For the past several years, David Ramirez has been traveling around the country with an acoustic guitar, pouring his heart into his fine, passionate tunes. He’s mostly been doing that alone, with no band to back him, while the arrangements on his albums have grown both more subtle and more expansive. On his new album,...

Oct 19, 2017

When I first scheduled this interview with author Grady Hendrix, I was expecting him to be much more tongue-in-cheek about the subject of horror in print. He had named his book “Paperbacks from Hell,” and started his history of horror novels with The Little People and its unique creation, Gestopochauns – Nazi...

Oct 12, 2017

Writer/Director Ian McDonald has seen a lot of coming of age films, so when he decided to make his own, he had a few critiques and corrections. Some Freaks a story of changing relationships, the strain of feeling different from everyone around you, and ultimately doing what you need to grow. When Matt first meets Jill,...

Oct 4, 2017

Corin Ashley was in the middle of recording his powerful new rock and roll album Broken Biscuits in January of 2016 when his plans were derailed by a stroke. He was at the gym, feeling a bit numb, with a grey band obstructing his vision. That began what would be a nightmare scenario for anyone, much less a musician in...