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The Department of Tangents Podcast
35 minutes | Jun 29, 2021
S2EP6 - Comedian and Late Night Writer Jon Rineman
Jon Rineman started his career with as tumultuous and triumphant a 15-year run as a comic could envision for themselves. He started in 2003, then freelanced jokes for Jay Leno, wrote jokes for Seth Meyers including one infamous zinger at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner that earned the ire of a future president, and wrote for Jimmy Fallon at Late Night and the Tonight Show until 2018. He survived the vicious battles around late night, got to write for the WWE, got married, had his first kid, and then saw things deteriorate quickly, both personally and professionally. A lot of this is detailed in his new podcast, Here’s What People Are Talking About. I would refer you to that for some of the more intricate workings of his writing role and departure from Fallon we reference here. We address that, but we also talk about his new comedy card game, Anti-Social Skills, his post-Tonight Show gig teaching at Emerson College in Boston, and what he learned about the future of late night from his students. This one was a tough edit because we had so much to cover, so I’m hoping this gives you a taste of an extraordinary period in the life of a stand-up comedian and writer. You can find the podcast, Here’s What People Are Talking About, on Apple, Spotify, and all the usual podcast locations. Jon’s website is www.rinemania.com, and that’s where you can find at least a partial accounting of his late night monologue jokes. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @rinemania. Anti-Social Skills is at asskills.com, which should be easy to remember, and on Twitter at @antiskills and Instagram at @antisocialskillsgame.
34 minutes | Jun 29, 2021
S2EP5 - Stay Scary Podcast Hosts Lisa and Yinh
The Stay Scary Podcast is a silly podcast about serious horror, as described by host Lisa McGolgan. Every episode, Lisa and co-host Yinh Kiefer take a theme in horror films or horror lore, everything from insects to puberty, serial killers to doll parts, and have a ripsnorting good time going wherever that topic takes them. The show is as much fun to listen to as it is to be on, and taping this episode was the most fun I had in an interview this season. It devolves almost immediately, and it was a pile o’ fun. That’s right. Not a pile “of” fun, but a pile o’ fun, which is orders of magnitude higher. We discussed that age old favorite question amongst us ghoul-lovers, “why horror,” the origins of our own fandom, horror as a cultural touchpoint, and what actual scares us (hint- very little, but for Lisa and Yinh, the movie Terrifier certainly fits the bill). But you can see from this interview that you don’t have to be a fan of horror to enjoy the Stay Scary Podcast. Here’s Lisa and Yinh! You can find Stay Scary on Apple and Podbean and iHeart Radio and various other podcast aggregators. The show is also on social media, on Instagram at @stayscarypodcast and on Twitter at @stayscarypod. You can find Yinh’s podcast, Ten With Yinh at all of those same podcast locations.
31 minutes | Jun 29, 2021
S2EP4 - Musician Rob Kovacs
At first glance, Rob Kovacs seems to have wildly divergent interests in music. His latest album, Let Go, is lush and rhythmic piano pop. It’s organic and melancholy, and tells a very human story about snakebit would-be lovers who can’t come together and yet can’t quite find their way out of each other’s orbit. It’s built for sepia-tinged sunlight and dry scattered leaves. Look again, and you see his alter-ego, 88Bit, who orchestrates the mechanical soundtracks of throwback video games for piano. The music from Let Go seems as far as you can get from the three-channel ditties on your average NES system. But keep listening, and you’ll hear how they blend together, how they merge in Kovac’s particular style. We discussed both sides of Kovac in this conversation on a particularly nice day in his hometown of Cleveland – you can even hear the birds chirping in the background through his open window. You can find his work at the places he just mentioned, but in case you missed them, his website is www.obkovcsmusic.com, and you can find him on Twitter and Instagram at @robkovacsmusic. You can find 88Bit at www.88bitmusic.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @88bitmusic. Follow him there for tour and new release info.
36 minutes | Jun 29, 2021
S2EP3 - Author Paul Tremblay
Last spring, I read a Tweet from author Paul Tremblay apologizing for his upcoming horror novel, Survivor Song. When he had turned in his final edits for the book months before, he could not have known how prescient it would seem, especially to his friends in the New England horror writing community. Survivor Song is set in Boston in the opening stages of an epidemic. A virus is spreading, hospitals are overwhelmed, the government is providing an inadequate response. I won’t go into too much detail here since I read the Tweet into the record later, but he even mentioned a lack of PPE. That is where we begin the conversation, which also covers the reissues of his early comic noir novels about a narcoleptic private investigator, The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland. His new novel Survivor Song is out in paperback in July, and The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland are out now wherever you get good books. His website is www.paultremblay.net, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @paulgtramblay
38 minutes | Jun 29, 2021
S2EP2 - Musician Jenee Halstead
Being an artist often means you spend your life looking for a place that feels right, finding it, and then leaving it as quickly as you can. Creative fulfilment as Brigadoon. In 2021, Jenee Halstead released Disposable Love, an album that sounds in many ways like the one she was always meant to make. With producer Dave Brophy and collaborators like Susan Cattaneo, Halstead has crafted an elegant pop album with a sonic palette that spans from her earlier acoustic sound to horn-driven R&B to something more ethereal. She took some chances to do something different, part of which was allowing herself to sing happier pop songs, which she says can feel even more vulnerable than some of the more folky confessional songs she has written in the past. But then, she’s always kept moving. She recently found new context in her writing after an Ayahuasca ceremony, and she’s looking forward to incorporating chants into her next project. That is all covered in this conversation about the arc of her career and the sound of Disposable Love. You can find her music on Apple and Google and Spotify and all the usual places. To keep track of the new stuff you can go to www.jeneehalstead.com and find her on Twitter and Instagram under @jeneehalstead. The new album is Disposable Love, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
36 minutes | Jun 29, 2021
S2EP1 - Comedian and Daily Show Writer Josh Johnson
I first spoke to Johnson in 2019 for The Boston Globe, and back then he was already an established headlining comic with a distinct voice. He is a smart joke writer at ease with his own vulnerability, and those are qualities that are only enhanced as he gets bolder as an artist. Most of this episode is centered around Elusive: A Mixtape, his album-length exploration of comedy and music. Johnson isn’t a singer or a musician, but he had an idea that he wanted to put stand-up and music together, so he called some musician friends and made an album that is at turns silly and thoughtful, with live comedy punctuated by music recorded in a studio. It also couldn’t have been easy writing for the Daily Show in a year when it felt like the world was ending, and Johnson shares how working with Trevor Noah has helped him both as a writer and a person. I should note that Johnson’s new one-hour Comedy Central special, Trevor Noah Presents Josh Johnson: #, was released after out conversation. But there was plenty to talk about concerning Elusive, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more from Johnson sooner rather than later. The new album is Elusive: A Mixtape, which you can find on Apple Music and Spotify and wherever you get your music. The new special, #, is on Comedy Central now. You can also see The Daily Show on Comedy Central. His website is www.joshjohnsoncomedy.com, and you can also find him on IG at @joshjohnsoncomedy and Twitter at @joshjohnson.
4 minutes | Jun 25, 2021
The Department of Tangents Podcast: A Brief (Re)Introduction
Season Two of the Department of Tangents Podcast coming Tuesday June 29! Six episodes, guests are comedians Josh Johnson and Jon Rineman, Stay Scary Podcast hosts Lisa and Yinh, author Paul Tremblay, and musicians Jenee Halstead and Rob Kovac! New format! Tune in!
30 minutes | Jun 19, 2020
The Artist Check-In EP8: Bethany Van Delft - Comedian, Storyteller
This week I speak with Bethany Van Delft, a comedian and storyteller and so much more. Bethany hosts Artisanal Comedy every Wednesday on her Instagram, and she’s got a lot brewing she can’t quite mention yet. She adapted her show to the online comedy world very quickly, partly because she’s not willing to just give up comedy when real world stages are not available. We also talked about taking care of a family under quarantine and taking some time to pause as creative people to prevent burnout. The last part of the conversation revolves mostly around the Black Lives Matter protests, how social media has focused people’s attention in quarantine because they don’t have the usual distractions to move on to, and why this moment in history feels different from other flashpoints. It is always a joy to speak with Bethany, and we frequently go over time, but I managed to stop us twenty-seven minutes into what was supposed to be a twenty-minute conversation. So thanks to Bethany for the extra seven minutes!
89 minutes | Jun 3, 2020
The DoT EP112: Paul Hansen of The Grownup Noise On New Music, New Instruments, and Some Personal History
Welcome back to the Department of Tangents Podcast, a special new episode with Paul Hansen of The Grownup Noise. You may have noticed I haven’t done an official episode of the Department of Tangents in several months. More recently, I’ve been doing the Artist Check-In Podcast which focuses on how creative people are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. That series has a very particular focus, and this episode didn’t quite fit that. Paul and I have been friends for nearly 30 years. I was the drummer in one of his first bands when he was in high school, and it has been amazing to see where he has gone since we were playing Aerosmith, Joe Walsh, and Eric Clapton covers at high school dances. Paul is the songwriter at the center of The Grownup Noise, a beloved and hard to characterize indie rock outfit in Boston. Over the years, the band line-up has changed, but Paul has always been out front with his guitar and voice. This week, on June fifth, Paul is putting out a new Grownup Noise with a very new sound. The music was mostly constructed on an analogue synth, rather than Paul’s guitar. If you’re a fan, you’ll notice the difference in sound immediately. But you may also notice that, while Paul is challenging himself as a songwriter, this is still very much a Grownup Noise album. In this conversation, we cover writing and recording the new album, working with a new instrument, the decision to keep using the Grownup Noise name, and some of our own history. Much of this is focused on the music, but this is very much a conversation between old friends who know each other well. Which means the very first thing you hear is Paul asking me about my own process for writing fiction. I debated cutting the stuff where Paul asked me about my own work, but I think that also shows Paul’s generosity and curiosity as an artist and a human being. You will hear three songs from the album sprinkled through the conversation. You can look for the full thing Friday, June 5th on BandCamp, and look for more info on www.thegrownupnoise.com and search for The Grownup Noise on all your social media.
28 minutes | May 28, 2020
The Artist Check-In Podcast EP7 – Gregory Bastianelli: Horror Author, Storyteller
This week I speak with horror author and storyteller Gregory Bastianelli. Gregory released his winter-themed horror novel Snowball at the end of January. He had planned a full slate of appearances and conferences to promote the book, and all but a couple of these wound up being cancelled because of a COVID-19 quarantine. That has left him without a direct line to fans, something that an independent author counts on to sell books. We’ll talk about that, writing habits under quarantine, and the miserable New England winters that inspired him to write Snowball.
41 minutes | May 21, 2020
The Artist Check-In Podcast EP6 – Corey Rodrigues: Comedian, Actor, Host of Corey's Stories
This week I speak with comedian, actor, and now kid’s show host Corey Rodrigues. Corey was working on a cruise ship as late as mid-March, just as the full weight of the pandemic was coming to bear, and he tells us what that was like. Like most every comedian, Corey lost his bookings for the year, which gave him the excuse to start Corey’s Stories, the show he hosts every weekday at 7:30 now reading to kids. And if you’re listening on May 21, the day this comes out, go to noweherecomedyclub.com to see him on The Best of Boston Stand-Up with Kelly MacFarland, Dan Crohn, and Laura Severse.
43 minutes | May 14, 2020
The Artist Check-In Podcast EP5 – Tanya Gold: Book Editor, Writing Coach, Literary Omnivore
This week I speak with book editor, writing coach, and self-described literary omnivore Tanya Gold about how her job has changed, and how it hasn’t, during the quarantine. We get into the finer points of the job – why every editor isn’t always a fit for every writer, the subjective nature of editing a poetry collection, the need for writers to strive for improvement. Tanya also went through a corona-like sickness without access to testing, which is something I’m sure some of you can relate to. Plus, book recommendations!
36 minutes | May 7, 2020
Artist Check In EP4 Rick Jenkins - Comedy Studio Owner, Comedian
My day job is talking to artists for different publications, which means I know a lot of people whose livelihoods have been impacted by the quarantine associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. In this limited series I’ll be talking with comedians, musicians, sound engineers, authors, and creative people about how they are handling this personally and professionally. This week we get the comedy club owner’s perspective from Rick Jenkins, who owns The Comedy Studio in Somerville, a club that has fostered a lot of talent through the years. The Studio had to shut down in March, but eventually started doing regular streaming shows featuring stand-up, variety shows, and interviews. Rick is still showing up to the Studio in his vintage Johnny Carson suits, and we kicked off the conversation talking about masks and trying to keep a normal routine.
35 minutes | Apr 30, 2020
The Artist Check-In Podcast EP3 – Don White, Musician, Storyteller, Author
My day job is talking to artists for different publications, which means I know a lot of people whose livelihoods have been impacted by the quarantine associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. In this limited series, I’ll be talking with comedians, musicians, sound engineers, authors, and creative people about how they are handling this personally and professionally. This week it’s Don White, musician, storyteller, and author. Don is a friend of mine and always a good conversation. Full disclosure, I work with Don on his PR, so I saw how gigs began to disappear in March when venues started to shutter. But as you will learn in this interview, Don adapted quickly to start doing Zoom shows, which may be something he continues to do once the pandemic has passed. You can support Don by finding him on his website at DonWhite.net and booking him for a Zoom show or buying his music, DVDs, and book from his online shop.
55 minutes | Apr 22, 2020
The Artist Check-In EP2: Chris Johnson, Musician, Sound Engineer
The Artist Check-In is a limited series of conversations with comedians, musicians, authors, and creative people about how they are handling, personally and professionally, the quarantine conditions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. In this episode, I speak with Chris Johnson, a musician and sound engineer, who is responsible for the sound of this show’s theme song. He is also the bass player for Deafheaven, who had to cancel a tour and are trying to figure out how to record a live album when people can’t gather to watch live shows. If you’re a musician trying to record from home, there’s a good discussion about what Chris can do for you remotely and what to think about in setting up a home studio. To book Chris for mixing and mastering and other associated production duties, you can find him at The Electric Bunker. You can also check out his work as a musician in Doomriders and Summoner on BandCamp, and at Deafheaven.com.
28 minutes | Apr 16, 2020
The Artist Check-In EP1 Dave Rattigan - Comedian, Booker, and Teacher
My day job is talking to artists, mostly comedians, for different publications, which means I know a lot of people whose livelihoods have been impacted by the quarantine associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a limited series for which I’ll be talking with comedians, musicians, sound engineers, authors, and creative people about how they are handling this personally and professionally. Up first is Dave Rattigan, a comedian, booker, and teacher.
20 minutes | Nov 25, 2019
DoT Minicast Lou Gramm on the Foreigner Reunion, New Music, and Living In Rochester
I know I have said this podcast is on hiatus for the year, and technically, it is. I’m developing new ideas, both for the Department of Tangents Podcast and some new podcast projects. But, this interview came through after I had made that decision, and it has a bit of a special meaning for me as I get ready to head back to home to Bloomfield, New York for the holidays. Bloomfield is just outside of Rochester, one of the most hardcore classic rock cities in the nation. Foreigner was a staple on local radio there when I was a young fellow, at least in part because Gramm is from there. And, as I found out in this interview, Gramm still lives there with his family. The occasion for the interview is the release of a new Foreigner live album, Double Vision: Then & Now, a CD and DVD combo that includes the current line-up of the band plus a reunion of original members Gramm, Mick Jones, Al Greenwood, Dennis Elliott, Ian McDonald, and Rick Wills. The album was released November 15, and I hope you can head out to a local brick and mortar record store to pick it up. If you’re in Rochester, you can try the Record Archive, Bop Shop, or House of Guitars. I just might see you there. Gramm was supposed to join the band again for some dates, but had to bow out due to illness. He’s fully mended now and hopes to get another chance to do that in 2020. He’s also got some new music of his own, which he says harkens back to his days in Black Sheep, his band before Foreigner. We talked about what it felt like to be onstage with the original members and the current members of the band, and I get to debunk at least one story told to me by a schoolmate from high school about meeting Gramm on the Canandaigua Pier years ago. Watching the video footage of the show, I was surprised how many of the songs I could sing along with, how many I remember hearing on my old stereo in my room on WCMF, which broadcast from Rochester. And I surprised myself in the interview by how much of a fanboy I became. I was not expecting that reaction from myself. Apparently, though, I’m not alone. Gramm says he gets people telling him stories about how Foreigner’s music fit into their lives through the years. I thank him for his patience.
113 minutes | Oct 17, 2019
DoT EP111: Lamont Price On the Joy of Halloween and Horror, Plus New Music from Even Twice
This is the Department of Tangents special joy of Halloween and horror episode with Lamont Price. I love Halloween, and so does Price. And that’s really the only inspiration for this episode. Price is an incredibly entertaining human being, so we sat down with no real notes and not much of an agenda other than to discuss why we love the holiday, horror movies and books, what scares us and what doesn’t. We talked about trick or treating as kids, how that was part of the first taste of independence you get as a kid. And we go through all the major creeps and spooks to weigh in on how and why they scare us – ghosts, zombies, werewolves, vampires, serial killers, aliens. To prepare for the episode, we went to a couple of Halloween stores before we taped. You can watch Price’s Instagram to see if any of the videos from those visits pop up. Until then, enjoy Price rocking out as Slimer on his Twitter page. Ladies, why won't you let me love you? pic.twitter.com/YhBvP7JFqo— Lamont Price (@LPizzle) October 16, 2019 Look for his "Lamont’s Boston" segments on nbcboston.com, and find him on Twitter under @lpizzle and on Instagram under @lpizzle12, and on his site at lamontpricelive.com. Our featured track this week is “Collector of Things,” the first track from the new Even Twice album, This Is Boomerang. Believe it or not, Even Twice is just two guys – drummer/singer Pat O’Shea and bassist/singer Bob Hait. They make a beautiful rock and roll racket together, and for a two-instrument band, they cover a lot of different styles on Boomerang. There is a driving, punk edged sound at the heart of it. But sometimes it sounds like sludgy prog rock a la King Crimson’s “20th Century Schizoid Man.” Sometimes, as on “Collector of Things,” it sounds like 60s garage rock, rough around the edges but with a solid melodic center. You can find the new album on Spotify or better yet, buy it on BandCamp. Find them on Twitter under @EvenTwice, and look them up on Facebook. This is “Collector of Things” off of This Is Boomerang by Even Twice.
85 minutes | Oct 10, 2019
DoT EP110: Monster, She Wrote Authors Lisa Kroger and Melanie R. Anderson On the History of Female Horror Writing, Plus New Comedy from Corey Rodrigues
If you ask a random reader to name foundational women horror writers, you might get two or three names. Mary Shelley. Shirley Jackson. Maybe Daphne du Maurier or Anne Rice. But as Lisa Kroger and Melanie R. Anderson point out in their new book, Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror & Speculative Fiction, if that’s where our knowledge begins and ends, we’re missing out on a lot. Eli Colter, who wrote, amongst other things, weird westerns. C.L. Moore who helped introduce swashbuckling rebels into the sci-fi canon. Angela Carter’s re-imagining of folk tales. There are also works of literary fiction we might not put in the horror genre, like Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Kroger and Anderson give readers a primer on women writers whose work you may have missed, and puts it in a historical context. You can learn about the origins of the gothic story, the influence of spiritualism in writing and pop culture, how writers supported their families with their short works, a bit about pulp magazines like Weird Tales, and even how one writer put together a group of mystics (or mystic-adjacents) to help guard the coast of England during World War II. But beware – Monster, She Wrote is likely to add considerable height to your reading pile. A note about the sound quality – we tried to do this interview with Skype, but it kept cutting out. So we had to do it the old fashioned way, the way I started recording interviews in the last century, on speaker phone with a recorder. I’ve sweetened it up a bit through some plug-in magic, but you’ll notice the switch a few minutes in. Monster, She Wrote is out now from Quirk Books and you can find out more about it at www.quirkbooks.com or wherever you get wonderful books. You can also keep track of Lisa Kroger’s work at www.lisakroger.com and Melanie R. Anderson at www.melanieranderson.com. The Know Fear Podcast is at www.knowfearcast.com, and on Twitter under @knowfearcast. This week’s featured track from the new Best of Boston Stand-Up, Volume 1. Boston has a long and fine tradition of stand-up comedy, and this album is a good introduction to some of the funniest comedians you can see regularly around town. Veterans like Steve Sweeney, Don Gavin, Tony V., Kenny Rogerson, and Jimmy Dunn; more recent headliners like Kelly MacFarland, Will Noonan, Dan Crohn, Christine Hurley, and Corey Rodrigues, who you are about to hear. This is a bit about Rodrigues going out for a day at the beach, and the reaction he got when he tried to put on sunscreen. I won’t give away too much, but Rodrigues is black, and the audience at this taping was mostly white. That allowed Rodrigues to have a little fun with their expectations partway through the story. Look for more of Rodrigues’s stuff on the Dry Bar Comedy YouTube channel, and find his album, My Turn, on Apple Music and Google Play. His Web site is www.coreyrodrigues.com.
89 minutes | Oct 2, 2019
DoT EP109: Sue Costello On Staying Positive, Sexism, CBS, and Simmah Down, Plus New Music From Rebecca Turner
Sue Costello is someone I saw early on in Boston, specifically playing a show organized by Jimmy Tingle that featured Costello, Patrice Oneal, and Steve Sweeney. She has always been tough, and she wears her Dorchester roots with pride. We got into some thorny topics here, including pervasive sexism in the entertainment industry and her dealings with CBS as the Les Moonves scandal was breaking. She has survived sexism in comedy and in the television industry and come out of it trying to find a way to get people to communicate more productively, to get to a truth. As she says, the empaths need to grow some balls, because the bullies are winning. That’s part of the philosophy behind her new talk show pilot, Simmah Down with Sue Costello. She wants people to be real about the ugly things in their lives and not be afraid to talk about them. The show is in a pilot stage now, but it’s up on YouTube now. Watch it here: You can keep up to date on news from Costello at www.suecostello.com, and find her on Twitter and Facebook under Sue Costello and Instagram under iamsuecostello. She’s also filming a new movie called Mow, which you can find on the social medias on @mowmovie. Our featured track this week is “Living Rock” from Rebecca Turner, from her upcoming album The New Wrong Way, out November 6. This will be Turner’s third album, and her first since 2009’s Slowpoke. Since then, she has continue to write and play, but family and work concerns kept her from finishing a new album. The New Wrong Way is a culmination of ten years of writing and tweaking the songs, which were recorded starting last winter. The featured track is the opening song from the album, a riffy roots-rock tune called “Living Rock.” Find out more about Rebecca Turner at https://rebeccaturner.net.
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