What do we mean when we talk about home?

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HOME: Stories From L.A., a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network, is on a brief hiatus, and returns for its fourth season in October. If you haven't heard the show yet, this might be a good time to catch up with an episode from the archive -- like "The House On The Hill," about a forgotten figure from the Golden Age of Hollywood; or "A Home, A Murder, A Mystery (or two)," about a house that saw a horrific murder in 1959 and then sat empty and silent for more than 50 years; or "Rose, Mercedes and The Days Of The Dead," about what an L.A. actress did to encourage the troublesome spirit of her late grandmother to vacate the house they once shared. (Hint: It involved sage. And hammers.)

HOME looks at home in the broadest sense -- as a place, a feeling, an aspiration, a dream. Do you have a story about home that takes place in Southern California? If so, I'd love to hear from you. Drop me a note. Tell me a story. And maybe you can have a hand in helping me figure out: What do we mean when we talk about home?  Read the rest

What happens when you bring a kid from the other side of the world into your home forever?

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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.:

What happens when you bring a kid from the other side of the world into your home forever? How does it change what home means to her? And to you? This week it's the story of one mom, the daughter she chose, and the way they keep Ethiopia alive in the home that's now theirs.

PROGRAM NOTE: This is the last episode of Season 3. HOME, a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network, returns in October for Season 4. Subscribe to the newsletter for updates and between-seasons bonus content. 

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Dancers in the house

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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.

A roving. shifting company of dance and performance artists is nudging its audiences to think about home differently -- by bringing one-off, site-specific performances to houses, live-work spaces and tiny apartments all over the Los Angeles area. Meet homeLA.

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TV Dreamland

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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.:

When TV producer Phil Savenick started collecting vintage TVs and TV memorabilia, he didn’t anticipate that he’d end up with what he now calls a “dreamland of televisions” in the living room of his West Los Angeles home — or that he’d end up helping the family of the man who invented TV heal some old wounds.

HOME is a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network. If you like the show, take a minute to drop by the iTunes Store and give it a rating and/or review. 

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Belushi, Bette and Beverly Hills

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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.: The process by which one place stops being home and another starts -- it's a mysterious thing. It happens, most often, when we're not paying attention. And sometimes, as it did for comedy writer and transplanted East Coaster Janis Hirsch, it happens in stages. First she started to feel at home in Los Angeles; but it was only later, after a series of addresses and a run-in or two with Bette Davis, that she landed in the exact place that would be, finally, her home.

HOME is a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network.

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NEW: The HOME mailing list is live. Sign up now for instant-ish notifications of new episodes, behind-the-scenes information about the show and bonus content. It's free and ad-free, and we promise we'll never ever ever sell your address or otherwise use your information to annoy you.  Read the rest

Rose, Mercedes and The Days Of The Dead

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How do you encourage a dead woman to leave your house? It helps if you have a hammer, balloons and confetti.

This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., the story of actress/writer/artist Rose Portillo, and of the Los Angeles house she was born into. It was the scene of her family's ascent, assimilation and culture clash, and of the long process, spanning life and death, of Rose coming to terms with the contentious spirit of her grandmother. 

HOME is part of the Boing Boing Podcast Network.

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A Pod To Call Your Own

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HOME is a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network

Do fries go with that home?

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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.:

It looks like a Hopper painting plunked incongruously down on a busy commercial street in West Los Angeles — The Apple Pan, home to freshly-baked pies and what hamburger aficionado George Motz says may be the best burger in America. But the affection Angelenos have for The Apple Pan only starts with the food. It’s an oasis, a rock, a spot out of time, essentially unchanged since the day it opened in 1947. It may not be the kind of place where everybody knows your name, but if you’ve been going there for a long time, as it seems like most of its customers have, it is the kind of place where the countermen most likely know your order. Warmth, familiarity, stability in a rapidly-changing landscape… aren’t these some of the things that make a place a home?

With this episode HOME wraps up its second season. We'll be back in June with an all-new season; subscribe now and you won't miss a thing. 

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Comedians describe the tricky balance between the road and home

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The crowning paradox of the touring comic's life may be this: You have to leave home to make a name, but without the grounding and security of home you may not have anything to say. This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., three experienced comedians on striking the tricky balance between the road and home.

HOME is a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network. If you like what you hear, please consider leaving the show a rating and/or review at the iTunes Store. 

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Thanks to Cathy Ladman, whose one-woman show, "Does This Show Make Me Look Fat?", opens soon; Brad Upton, whose upcoming tour schedule is available here; and Jackie Kashian, who can be heard on The Dork Forest and The Jackie and Laurie Show. Read the rest

A Life at sea, on land

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How far would you go to rescue the remains of a bygone world you've loved since you were a kid? Peter Knego went to Alang, India, and then did it again and again, to save what he could of the great ocean liners being scrapped there. But he didn't just want to save the ships. He wanted to live in one. And to a remarkable degree he's succeeded, filling his home in Oceanside, CA with a breathtaking array of maritime memorabilia. 

This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., one man's mission to recreate, in landlocked miniature, the great days of the oceangoing ships. 

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Former Starbucks designer on what makes a "third place" feel like home

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Suppose you wanted to design a home away from home. What would you put in? What would you leave out? What kind of seating would you have? (Soft? Hard? Low? High?) What kind of tables — big working slabs or intimate little two-tops?

A good “third place” may seem casually homey, but its design is the end result of a million tiny decisions. This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., it’s a conversation with Kambiz Hemati, who oversaw store design at Starbucks for two years and now owns Love Coffee Bar in Santa Monica, where he gets to think hard — and think small — about what makes a place feel like home.

Thanks for listening. And if you like what you hear, please subscribe and leave us a rating and/or review on the iTunes Store. 

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A home, a murder, a mystery (or two)

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Up in the manicured hills of Los Feliz, a neighborhood that boasts at least three famous murder houses, the one with the weirdest history may be the Perelson house... where, deep in the night of December 6, 1959, a husband and father of three lost his fragile grip and went terribly, shockingly crazy. But the story only starts there.

Why did Harold Perelson snap? What does it mean when, without warning, the safety of a family home is shattered from within? And how do you explain what's happened to the house since? 

This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., a mystery that's endured for almost 60 years, and the crime that set it in motion. 

Thanks for listening. And if you like what you hear, please subscribeRead the rest

Unmaking a home: A story of life, death, Christmas and trash bags

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[I'm a huge fan of Bill Barol's podcast, HOME: Stories From L.A. It's the first podcast Bill has produced, and he knocked it right out of the park. HOME is one of the best narrative podcasts I've ever listened to. If you haven't listened to the six episodes from the first season yet, you are in for a treat. I'm very excited that for its second season, HOME has found a home in the Boing Boing podcast network. Thanks for sharing your work with Boing Boing's audience, Bill! – Mark]

HOME: Stories From L.A. asks the questions: What do we mean when we talk about home? And what does it mean to be at home on the edge of the American continent? In Season 1 we looked at the midcentury house on a hill where a forgotten genius from Hollywood's Golden Age lived out his last years; the empty spot on a Hawthorne street where Brian Wilson first dreamed of the harmonies that would make The Beach Boys great; the chicken magnate who's trying to keep a desert town on the old Route 66 from vanishing; the wandering that led an ex-Buddhist monk to the tech sector of Venice Beach; what it means, and what it meant, to grow up in the San Fernando Valley; and the fight to keep a venerable old Hollywood apartment building weird. 

This week, to kick off Season 2: 

When an elderly parent dies after a long life of lovingly acquiring things, she leaves behind more than memories for her kids. Read the rest

Me, Al Franken and the worst meeting in the history of show business: a true story

I've never publicly shared my story about The Worst Meeting In The History Of Show Business, but this seems like an appropriate time, for reasons I'll get to in a minute. 

In the late '90s I was working as a sitcom writer, and in the spring of 1998 I was between jobs and needed one. My agent lined up a meeting for me with Al Franken, who was then running a show called "Lateline," a behind-the-scenes comedy about a TV news program. Franken wanted to meet me, my agent told me, because I had a news background, having been a writer for Newsweek before I moved to Los Angeles. My recollection is that "Lateline" was produced out of New York; Franken would fly out to Los Angeles to hold a few days' meetings with prospective hires at a hotel in West Hollywood. And so the meeting got set, for breakfast a week or so later. I arrived a little early and found Franken in the hotel restaurant, where he was meeting with another writer. He asked me if I'd mind waiting for a few minutes, so I took a seat in the lobby.

After a few moments the telephone rang at the host's station, which sat in the lobby, a few feet outside the dining room entrance, and about 20 feet from where I was sitting. The host answered the call, listened for a moment, then went inside and came back with Franken. The writer with whom Franken had just met, their meeting now concluded, continued through the lobby and left. Read the rest

Mind Blowing Movies: Funny Bones, by Bill Barol

Recently, Boing Boing presented a series of essays about movies that have had a profound effect on our invited essayists. We are extending the series. See all the essays in the Mind Blowing Movies series. -- Mark

Mind Blowing Movies: Funny Bones, by Bill Barol

[Video Link] 1995’s Funny Bones, by the British writer/director Peter Chelsom, is either a comedy about dark things, like betrayal and manslaughter, or a drama about funny people, like a pair of retired vaudevillians who are winding down their days scaring children in the spook house on the Blackpool amusement pier. I’ve seen the movie, conservatively, two dozen times and I still don’t quite know how to describe it. I’ve never shown it to anybody who didn’t turn to me at least once with an incredulous look in their eyes, a look that says: “What the hell is this?”

This is exactly what I love about Funny Bones -- it is sui generis, and impossible to boil down. I can tell you the broad outlines: Failed standup Tommy Fawkes, the son of revered funnyman George Fawkes, flees Las Vegas and returns to the tattered seaside town of Blackpool where he grew up, in search of the indefinable substance that makes people funny. Once there he discovers that he has a half-brother he never knew, and that this odd, shy sibling is the unwilling recipient of the comedy genes, the funny bones, that Tommy so desperately desires. But those few quick strokes really -- you have to believe me -- they really don’t do justice to this odd, dark, deeply funny and witheringly sad story, or to the faded netherworld of fringe show business in which Tommy finds himself, casting frantically about for something to keep him from going under. Read the rest

Andy Griffith: Before Mayberry, A Movie Monster

Boing Boing recently presented a series of essays about movies that have had a profound effect on our invited essayists. We are extending the series for several additional days. See all the essays in the Mind Blowing Movies series. -- Mark

Andy Griffith: Before Mayberry, A Movie Monster, by Bill Barol

[Video Link] If for any reason you doubt the power of television, consider the long career of Andy Griffith, who died this week at 86. Griffith had one TV role that was merely successful and one that was almost archetypical. That’s a pretty good run for any actor. But TV didn’t just give to Griffith. It also took away, and it’s here that the medium shows its muscle in a really astounding way. Griffith’s long TV career effectively effaced a film debut that, fifty years later, is so vivid and visceral that it startles with every viewing. The facts that Griffith played a bad guy in his first film role, and that both the performance and the movie, Elia Kazan’s 1957 A Face In The Crowd, are largely overlooked today -- these are testaments to TV’s power to swamp any cultural phenomena that have the poor judgment to get in its way.

Hang on, there’s more. What’s doubly delicious about this is, A Face In The Crowd is a cautionary tale about the power of -- Anyone? Anyone? Yes: Television. Griffith, who came from nightclubs and the stage and had no resume as a dramatic actor in 1957, plays Lonesome Rhodes, a drifter who stumbles into national prominence thanks to the demagogic power of the then-young medium. Read the rest

Adventures in self-publishing: Why I took a year's work and tried my hardest to give it away

[I am reading Bill's novel now and really enjoying it. Look for a review from me soon -- Mark]

When John F. Kennedy was asked how he became a war hero, he’s supposed to have replied: “It was involuntary. They sank my boat.” That’s how I became a self-published novelist: A large number of New York publishers rejected Thanks for Killing Me, my spiky little crime novel about the aftermath of a con gone wrong. They did so for an exquisitely heterogeneous variety of reasons. One liked the plot but not the characters; another liked the characters but not the plot. A couple thought it moved too fast, and a couple found it too leisurely. About the only consensus was that none of them felt optimistic about their chances of selling a caper novel, and a first novel at that, in a declining publishing market. Being the self-starter that I am, I took these rejections in stride and leapt into action, throwing the manuscript into a drawer and sulking for eighteen months. Read the rest

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