Tangentially Speaking

Organic, revealing conversation with fascinating, freaky folks.
Ever wanted to hang with a dominatrix, comedian, famous health guru, or Italian prince? Here's your chance. Tangentially Speaking is dedicated to the idea that good conversation is organic, revelatory, and free to go down unexpected paths.

142 - Nathaniel Farmer (Pacific Crest Trail Hiker)

Nathaniel started at the Mexican border in April and has been walking north ever since. He's covered thousands of miles through deserts, valleys and ridge lines. We talk about the sorts of people he's met on the trail, the highs and lows of walking several thousand miles, and what sorts of insights one gets about home from wandering so far from it.

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(Photos from Nathaniel's Instagram account).

Music: Find Your Way (Joel Havea), Smoke Alarm (Carsie Blanton).

141 - Alice Dreger (Author/Historian of Science)

Alice recently resigned her position as a professor at Northwestern University's Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program over her refusal to surrender academic freedom. For more on the situation, see here and here. Read her thoughts on sex-positive parenting, the technology of birth in the US., and her live tweeting from the back of her son's sex ed class at Alice's site. Get a copy of her book here (Amazon).

The entire issue of the magazine that eventually led to Alice's resignation is available here. The article that triggered it all is called Head Nurses. Well worth a read.

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Music: If You See Her (Among Savages) - iTunes.

140 - Eric Berkowitz (Author: The Boundaries of Desire)

Eric Berkowitz is a San Francisco-based author and human rights lawyer. His journalistic work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, California Lawyer, and the Washington Post, as well as websites such as Huffington Post, AlterNet and Salon. His books on sex and the law both kick serious ass. Download this episode.

Listen to our conversation about Eric's first book here.

Link to Boundaries of Desire. Link to Eric's earlier book, Sex and Punishment.

Music: In Between the Lantern, by Bobby Lee. YouTube video of the performance here. More of his music here.

139 - Jon-Jacob Deal (Iraq Vet)


Jon was an active-duty US Army infantryman from 2003 to 2006. A third generation service member, his first tour was in Korea.  While there, Jon was part of a deployment that sent his unit to the Sunni Triangle in September of 2004. They mostly operated in and around the town of Habbaniyah, which was about halfway between Fallujah and Ramadi.

Jon is now in Portland, where he lives and works on a small organic farm run by a lesbian couple ... a long way from Fallujah.

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Music: "Flag," by Ed Dupas; "The Brightside of the Sun," by Basin and Range; "Smoke Alarm," by Carsie Blanton.

138 - Susan Block (The Bonobo Way)

Susan Block has done everything from organizing orgies to climbing the Golden Gate bridge in the middle of the night. She's an adventurer in many realms, but is most well known for her work in sexuality. She's hosted TV programs on HBO, published books and essays far and wide, is a well-known sex therapist, and puts together one of the most bizarre and interesting parties in Los Angeles every Saturday night in Bonoboville, the former motel she and her husband converted into a suite of offices and studios for her various productions. Our conversation touches on all these things, but we focus mostly on her new book, The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace Through Pleasure, and the relevance of bonobos to our understanding of human sexuality.

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137 - Mark Manson (Author, blogger)

Mark is a very good writer, blogger, and author. We have a lot to talk about: travel, women, writing, negotiating our need to write about our lives versus the right to privacy of the people in our lives, etc. You can learn more about Mark's work here. Download this episode.

136 - Aaron Alexander (Movement Medicine)

Aaron uses various methods to help people inhabit their bodies in the best way possible, from Rolfing to massage to structural realignment. Aaron has taken his work as a therapist and converted it into self-care techniques to empower others in their own bodies. He teaches workshops around the world demonstrating how to move functionally and utilize self-care tools to relieve pain and move properly. We had a good time talking in Burnside Park, where we took a break every fifteen minutes or so to allow Aaron to run around, do handstands, and other health-inducing activities. Meanwhile, I shifted my weight from one butt cheek to the other...

Aaron's site (& Part II of this conversation)

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135 - Rod Dow (Legendary Smoke Jumper)

Rod and Justin (episode 99) met years ago fighting forest fires. Justin and I drove up to Rod's amazing spread east of Mount Rainier and spent a night in Paradise. As you'll see in the photos below, Rod's building skills are equal to his firefighting abilities. He's a tough, smart, open-hearted, humble man who'll no-doubt be embarrassed at being called "legendary," but everyone else says that's the word for him. Get a copy of Rod's book!

Download this episode.

Theme Music: Basin and Range/Carsie Blanton. Featured song: Nostalgia, by James Thomas (Before the Light).

134 - David Steinberg (Sexuality Author/Photographer)

David Steinberg is an author, photographer, and radically sane guy. We talk about his inadvertent work with the CIA, what it was like to be plugged into the anti-war political world of San Francisco in the late 60s, and his lifelong refusal to accept shame as a sensible response to human sexuality. Join us in Portland's Laurelhurst Park for this wide-ranging, intimate conversation. Download this episode.


Opening theme: Basin and Range.

Kim Churchill, "Don't Leave Your Life Too Long." iTunes link.

Closing theme: Carsie Blanton, "Smoke Alarm."

133 - Sonya Lea (Wondering Who You Are)

In their 23rd year of marriage, Sonya's husband, Richard, suffered a brain trauma that erased his memories of their life together. He didn't know her, didn't recognize their children, and had to re-learn how to live his life. He'd forgotten everything—even sex.

An excerpt from her book on Salon.com. Get Wondering Who You Are at Amazon.

Music. "Flag" by Ed Dupas, "Love" by James Thomas & "Smoke Alarm" by Carsie Blanton.

Download this episode.

130 - Devlin Baker (Fusion Researcher)

In the lab.

In the lab.

For just an instant, Devlin Baker created a tiny star in a warehouse outside Bellingham, WA. He's working on a project he (and his backers) hope will result in medical technology, the production of vital materials, and eventually, cheap, clean, limitless energy. Download this episode. Visit Devlin's site.

Opening Theme: Brightside of the Sun, by Basin and Range.

Closing song: Zirconium Fire, by Dwayne Hoover.


129 - Kevin Johnson 2 (Musician/Cave Explorer)

Kevin and his wife, Carol near Austin.

Kevin and his wife, Carol near Austin.

Before/After shot of that same river showing the crazy floods they had recently.

Before/After shot of that same river showing the crazy floods they had recently.

Kevin Johnson is a key player in the growing floatation movement. He owns the Zero Gravity Institute in Austin, TX, where he designs, sells, and installs the most innovative float chambers around. But he's also a very accomplished musician, songwriter, and cave explorer. Talk about a multi-faceted mofo! Download this episode.

128 - Bailey Jay (Transwoman)


Bailey Jay is a trans woman who is a pornographic actress, adult model, cutting-edge thinker, and podcaster. She's very smart, very funny, and pretty much my kinda girl. She's a regular on Jim Norton's show on Sirius XM, and was recently featured on Inside Amy Schumer. Download this episode. 

Bailey's porn site (NSFW). Her blog (SFW).

Here's a scoldy, tiresome piece in Slate about the interview with Amy Schumer, but at least it includes the video so you can decide for yourself whether it's offensive or not.

Music: Tok Tok Tok, Albert Pla.