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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.

Mar 10, 2017

Welcome to a new Department of Tangents Minicast with Georg Altziebler, singer/songwriter behind Son of the Velvet Rat. In February, Son of the Velvet Rat released Dorado, a spare but shimmering album produced by Joe Henry. In 2013, Altziebler moved the band from Austria where they had already established themselves...

Dec 7, 2016

Sam Phillips fans have reason to celebrate this fall. She has a new mini-album out, called Human Contact Is Never Easy, which includes four songs that may wind up on a new album, called World On Sticks, she expects to release in 2017. You can read my review of the mini-album in the New Release Roundup from November 25,...

Nov 30, 2016

When I interviewed <a href="" target="_blank">Alejandro Escovedo</a> for this episode, we were sitting in the green room upstairs at the Brighton Music Hall in Boston. He’d just spent ten hours on the road from Toronto on the day after Thanksgiving to get there. You can hear the...

Aug 15, 2016

A conversation with musician Ruby Rose Fox. Fox released her debut album, Domestic, in May. It's soulful, it rocks, and it has something to say (you can read the review on the Department of Tangents Blog). It's an impressive statement from a songwriter who knows her own voice, even more impressive considering Fox really...

Apr 28, 2016

Some of my most enjoyable interviews have happened when I don't ask too many questions. The subject has so much to say, it just pours out and I have to time the pauses like an American Ninja Warrior leaping across an obstacle course to ask a question. It was such with guitarist Richard Lloyd, best known for his...