Friday, March 30, 2012

Gorgeous Eggs for Easter

 Spring Hare on the postcard of Andrews's Thinkspace show.

Easter's just over a week away, so here are some lovely eggs you can admire and - if your involvement with Easter and eggs goes beyond plowing through Cadbury - be inspired by for your own crafting.


Bouquet of Lilies Egg, 1899

Fabergé eggs are THE eggs. What started out with a fairly simple white enameled egg containing a golden hen Alexander III commissioned for his wife turned into a family tradition of increasingly elaborate jeweled eggs from the Fabergé workshop.

Alexander III Egg, 1910. He's trampling the soul of the proletariat.

Of course, these intricate trinkets were being accumulated by the Russian royal family at the same time as many other Russians were living in poverty, and we know how that turned out. Most of the Imperial Eggs survived (Unlike Anastasia. Sorry, Dimitri.) and can be viewed in various museums. In 2009, they even went on tour in the Artistic Luxury: Fabergé, Tiffany, Lalique exhibit.


Anyone who dyed blown Easter eggs as a kid knows that getting an egg hollow while keeping the shell mostly intact sucks. Or blows. Anyway, it involves pin-sized holes, hyperventilation, and mouth-to-raw-egg contact. Imagine doing all that and then foregoing the tablet/cup dye process for the painstaking, multi-tiered process of pysanka, the Ukrainian method of creating vividly patterned eggs. The designs are made by covering different areas of the egg with wax while immersing the egg in different dyes. Traditionally, these were made with whole, not hollowed, eggs, so your masterpiece had a shelf life.

 Sharon Beals

I want to snuggle in feathers now.

If you'd like to experience the beauty of unadorned, natural eggs, the photography of San Francisco photographer Sharon Beals is the place to look. Although she photographs many subjects, her clear images of museums' nests specimens are the most well known and are the subject of her book Nests. The diversity in the eggs themselves and the nests built for them is fascinating. There are camouflaged tern eggs resting on seashells, tiny white finch eggs in woven trash, and lovely blue thrush eggs in a more classic nest. I first saw her photographs in an exhibit at the San Francisco Botanical Garden's library, and I've been enthralled ever since.

Image Credits:
Bouquet of Lilies Egg: Wikimedia Commons/shakko
Alexander III Egg: Wikimedia Commons/shakko
Pysanka: Wikimedia Commons/Luba Petrusha

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

9 Months More!

Best Week Ever blogger/Les Miz superfan Michelle Collins made a few critical notes on Hugh Jackman's Jean Valjean get-up, but she missed one important detail.

That isn't facial hair on that beard.

But questionable beard aside, how exciting to have a photo at last, tweeted by Hugh Jackman himself! The movie's coming out December of this year, which seemed much closer until I counted it out on my fingers. At least we're almost down to only eight months. I hope we get more photos soon, especially of the particularly attractive, scene-stealing, and British Thenardier clan they've assembled.

Like the Sopranos, but with petty crime and more singing.

Minus poor Gavroche, who gets the Thenardier name rescinded in the musical (to be fair, he had already moved out at, like, age eight). And minus the younger Thenardier daughter, Azelma, who doesn't make the musical. And then the two youngest kids who don't even get names in the book let alone a musical appearance, whom the Thenardiers sell to a woman for her inheritance scam but then the woman gets arrested and the kids are left homeless. It's a happy family.

Fun fact/spoiler: in the novel, Madame Thenardier also dies, and Thenardier finally ends up taking his one known surviving family member, Azelma, with him to New York, where he invests in the slave trade.

If I wanted to hop on the novel-sized cutesy fanfiction of classic novels bandwagon, I would totally write about Azelma's new life in New York City as the wealthy daughter of a blood-monied tycoon. Obviously she would wear fancy dresses, worry about her family's dark past being discovered, and have to decide between an old-money New Yorker douche and a penniless but passionate abolitionist. Actually, that sounds like $$$. Don't steal Hugo's my idea, Darcy-does-such-and-such people. I'll get to that right after I finish the pilot for my Vautrin and Javert buddy cop series.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hi, My Name Is Satan 2

What does humanity think of the concept of "the devil," and how do artists and writers use Satan as a character? Last time we checked out South Park's Satan, The Master and Margarita's Woland, The Powerpuff Girls' Him, and the titular Southern tourist in "Devil Went Down to Georgia." In this entry, we meet four more Princes of Darkness.


God, the Devil, and Bob - Matthew Carlson

This tragically short-lived series of (unlucky!) thirteen episodes featured a dream voice cast: along with veterans Nancy Cartwright, Laurie Metcalf, and French Stewart, James Garner voiced God and Alan Cumming voiced the Devil. The premise is that God, discouraged with humanity, decides to give Earth one last chance. One person will be chosen to see if humankind is worth saving...and the Devil gets to choose that person. After the Devil selects Detroit autoworker Bob Alman (Really? Not a Koch brother or DRC warlord?), the battle for Bob's soul is on! Not that it's a terribly harrowing battle. Sporting bleached hair and a leather trench coat, this Devil has vague plans of taking over the world someday, but his villainy is mostly limited to keeping God waiting at a car show and popping children's balloons. The show has been taken on by Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

The Sandman: Season of Mists - Neil Gaiman

You guys, Lucifer is so done with this Hell thing. It was okay for a while, he did it, whatever, but it's been long enough. In volume four of Neil Gaiman's classic Vertigo Sandman graphic novels, a cheeky-but-jaded Lucifer Morningstar decides he's quitting. Doubting he ever had free will at all and disillusioned about the very concept of Hell, Lucifer shuts the place down. After locking the gates and sacrificing his wings, he foists Hell onto protagonist Morpheus, "dream" personified. While various deities vie for ownership of the realm and Morpheus's sister Death deals with Hell's newly released inhabitants, Lucifer decompresses by camping out on the beaches of Perth, Australia. Despite only making a few appearances in the story, Lucifer proved popular and got his own spin-off written by Mike Carey.

Lucifer is befriended by a local at the beach.
The Sandman: Seasons of Mists panel - penciller: Mike Dringenberg; inker: George Pratt; colorist: Daniel Vozzo 

The Garden of Earthly Delights - Hieronymus Bosch

OMGWTF. Hieronymus Bosch, the Dutch painter who lived from 1450-1516, is known most for his extremely detailed, bizarre paintings. The most well known of these is his triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, and the most well known panel of that triptych is the one depicting Hell. Basically anywhere you look on a Bosch is going to have some crazy stuff going on, often something scatological or otherwise ass-related, and nowhere is that more true than this piece. In all the insanity, it's easy to miss the figure in the foreground, generally thought to be the devil/Satan/Prince of Hell. This figure is a scrawny bird-creature with a cauldron for a crown, eating humans and pooping them out. Meanwhile, other crazy shit, like a woman being forced to watch herself being groped by a demon in a mirror implanted in another demon's ass, happens around him. Yes, this is a classic painting and not a porn video Santorum is promising to ban. What's interesting about this portrayal of Satan is that while many artists and writers bestow upon him some power and semblance of his former angelic beauty, Bosch condemns him to the same humiliations and tortures as his subjects. This devil has no wry, bad-boy appeal, only misery.

It's a shame Bosch never got to see Human Centipede.

"Sympathy for the Devil" - The Rolling Stones

In this 1968 Rolling Stones masterpiece, Lucifer is stylish, over-scheduled, and thinks you suck at guessing games. Rather than engaging in fiddle competitions like his "Devil Went Down to Georgia" bumpkin counterpart, this devil involves himself in major political events. Despite the pretty tame "everyone is both good and bad" message, the song fueled late 60s/early 70s "omg rock music is satanism!!!" hysteria.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Four Adaptations I'd Like to See (If Done Right)

Still in mourning over the demise of my romcom-ready love-hate relationship with the Bradley Cooper Paradise Lost movie, I at least have Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby to look forward to. Sure, there are some concerns (Why is Daisy so much younger than Gatsby? Will the 3D be used to make Myrtle's mangled body come flying right toward us?), but sometimes the projects you have concerns about turn out the best, like how everyone was raising eyebrows over Christopher Nolan casting pretty boy Heath Ledger as the Joker and then Ledger was iconic. And you know Luhrmann can nail the decadent party scenes.

Literary adaptations are a tricky thing. If it's a novel and not a short story that's being adapted, some aspects will have to be whittled down or cut. And if it's a beloved novel, there will be asshole fans like me who will probably only be satisfied if the movie turns out exactly as we had pictured in our head.

Anyway, here are four movies I would totally produce/bankroll if I won a reasonably large lottery. Hopefully they'd avoid becoming an entry in a sequel to Nathan Rabin's My Year of Flops (or at least make the "secret success" or balls-out "fiasco" categories).

Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood has quite the oeuvre to choose from, but I think 2003's Oryx and Crake would translate best to the big screen. This is the post-apocalyptic story of Snowman aka Jimmy, whose best friend Crake and their lover Oryx have created a brave new world and left him alone with it. Through flashbacks, we learn how the desolate Earth reached this point. Atwood's alternative near-future of corporation-run cities and execution-themed reality TV shows feels eerily real and, along with the other timeline's wreckage-scattered silent beaches, would make for a compelling movie setting. My biggest concern here would be the handling of Oryx's character. There's how Jimmy sees her, but there's also the between-the-lines Oryx, the survivor of childhood exploitation with her defiant stare. This project would need a director and actress who can see Oryx as more than just "tragic love interest."

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami

My dream is for David Lynch to take one of these novels on. This is probably the most unlikely to happen of all my dream projects, but hear me out. Yes, Murakami novels tend towards the unwieldy, Lynchs' fanbase is smaller than studios would like, and both artists have their own very strong motifs and points of view, but I think there could be magic here. They both tend towards magical realism, borrow from genre, utilize music, are masters of atmosphere, and deftly juggle multiple planes of reality in a single work. Stylish, controlled scenes like the infamous Winkie's nightmare in Mulholland Dr. remind me of Murakami's ability to present bizarre situations in a matter-of-fact way. And they both have a thing for mysterious nightclubs. With their noirish mystery and range of visuals, I think The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World are best suited to film - and to Lynch in particular.

Notre-Dame de Paris/The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo

I've written about my favorite novel that is so not an appropriate source for a Disney movie before. But even non-Disney attempts at filming this novel have stumbled, generally getting caught up in the costumes and melodrama (the lucky French have a record-breaking RENTish stage musical of it, however). Notre-Dame de Paris needs a filmmaker who understands the characters, their inter-connectivity, and their society. 1400s Paris is depicted by Hugo as a dirty, dog-eat-dog world - it's a tense, dangerous time for anyone who stands out. Frollo, Quasimodo, and Esmeralda are all suspected of being the devil at some point by a paranoid, lynch-happy populace, and they all experience the grand Notre-Dame cathedral as both safe fortress and isolating prison. It's a large story of humanity and a society in transition, and also a small story of makeshift families that almost make it, but ultimately fall apart. BTW, Phoebus and Fleur-de-Lys would be perfect dinner party friends for Tom and Daisy.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

I think the biggest roadblock with adapting this novel, even moreso than concerns about race, is that it gets weird. Really weird. We all know about the raft and slavery thing, but remember the whole part with the King and the Duke? Seriously, that goes on forever. And then once Huck finds Jim, Tom shows up, and Tom's antics bring the process of freeing Jim to a dehumanizing crawl. I think these issues can only really be tackled by a screenwriter and director who get the tone of the piece and are able to be true to that without making a ten-hour long movie. Huckleberry Finn is a satire, but also very, very dark. Most adaptations try to gloss over the serious child abuse in the beginning and play the story up as a feel-good old-timey adventure, which works okayish until you get to con men putting on bizarre nudie shows. These traveling scoundrels were kind of the ShamWow guys of their time, and some of the then-topical humor just doesn't translate to contemporary audiences. All is not lost, we just need someone who can contextualize Twain's tour of the South appropriately and present with their own vision what Twain was trying to say - something beyond "omg white boy has adventure!!!"

Sunday, March 11, 2012

San Francisco Literary Mags: Local Oldies

San Francisco's a literary town, so I decided to do a series of blog posts about its literary magazines and journals. How many posts this series will have I do not know, but the first entry covered the big three: ZYZZYVA, McSweeney's, and Zoetrope. This post features two smaller, but quintessentially San Franciscan, literary journals. 

Haight Ashbury Literary Journal
Haight Ashbury Literary Journal remains one of the champions of the old Haight: a Haight of hippies and weed and poetry readings and anti-war demonstrations. The journal was founded in 1979, and is kept going by editors Indigo Hotchkiss, Cesar Love, Taylor Landry, and Alice Rogoff. Each tabloid-style issue (only $4 each), is crammed with poems and illustrations. The content is certainly not all (or even mostly) centered on social issues or San Francisco, but this is a locally focused, socially aware publication. Full disclosure: I've been published in issues 28.1 and 29.1. 

Fourteen Hills
This glossy biannual is the literary journal of San Francisco State University, staffed by its rotating group of creative writing MFA students. Considerably younger than Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, it was started in 1994 and has provided the city a consistent university publication ever since. Fourteen Hills Press also publishes the Michael Rubin Book Award, but that is only open to SFSU students.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lace, Sun, and Lizards: Picnic at Hanging Rock

Not gonna lie. I did not first learn of Peter Weir's 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock through my non-existent thorough study of cinema. I learned of it in a fashion editorial, where a dress I liked was described as "very Picnic at Hanging Rock," which I then Googled. I watched the trailer and some scenes on Youtube, and then added it to my Netflix queue at position #1. Then a few weeks later, I watched the sensual, eerie music video for Alpine's "Hands," and the film was referenced again in the comments. I was motivated to finally watch the current Netflix DVD I'd had for way too long.

Adapted from the novel by Joan Lindsay, this is a hard movie to pin down. What happens in it? On Valentine's Day in 1900 in Australia, a group of teenage girls from a strict British-run boarding school go for a picnic at Hanging Rock. Three of the girls and a teacher do not return. They are searched for. One is eventually found. What is it about? That is up for debate. Both budding and long-repressed sexuality. The folly of Europeans moving into lands they hardly know. The futility of hanging on to something that has already slipped away. Imperialist British culture and its attempts to conquer and contain all in its path: continents, nature, women...

No really. I love my bow. Thanks, Victorianism.

When the story starts, the girls are already preparing to go out to that fateful picnic. They are romantic in temperament and sisterly in affection, helping each other with corsets and flouncy white dresses, reading love poetry aloud, surrounded by Valentines and flowers. We are introduced to ethereal Miranda, beloved of her roommate: plain, serious-faced Sara. Sara is told by a similarly mousy teacher that she will not be allowed on the outing. Headmistress Mrs. Appleyard sends them off with strict instructions regarding gloves and safety. A bespectacled girl looks annoyed by the admonishments against tomboy antics. And the students, chaperoned by affectionate young Mademoiselle de Poitiers and scholarly older Miss McCraw are taken by carriage into the wilderness.

The ridiculous gap between aristocratic Victorian British culture and the reality of Australia becomes even more apparent when they reach the picnic grounds. Another group is there: a British colonel, his wife, their nephew Michael, and Albert, their roughshod Australia-raised servant (a compelling John Jarratt). This wealthy British family's starched collars and heavy clothing are terribly out of place in this hot land of poisonous ants and snakes - a fact they seem determined to ignore. While the old couple continue with their proper English lunch, the two young men bond over a bottle of wine.

Did you learn nothing from Heart of Darkness?

In their white dresses, the girls lounge in the shade, reading poetry and playing with each others' hair. Then three of the girls - Miranda, the glasses-wearing Marion, and dark-haired Irma - ask to study the base of the rock. They are granted permission, and chubby-girl caricature Edith (yes, there's a scene of her shoveling down cake) insists on going along. As they head farther away, catching the attention of Michael and Albert in the process, the behavior of Miranda, Marion, and Irma becomes odder and odder. They walk with purpose, occasionally stopping to talk philosophy, remove articles of clothing, and dance. And then finally, they leave Edith behind and continue up the rock and out of sight.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Appleyard anxiously awaits the return of her charges and employees. When they finally do return, they are distressed and the three girls, as well as Miss McCraw, are gone. Were they raped and murdered? Did they fall into a crevice? A massive search turns up nothing. Michael's story is inconsistent, but there are no bodies, no clothes, no anything. Weeks pass, and although it is clear they are no longer on the rock, or likely alive at all, an increasingly Miranda-obsessed Michael talks Albert into another dangerous search. Strangely enough, they find Irma - concussed and corsetless. But her reappearance only adds to the mystery: the rock had already been thorouglhly searched, she claims to have no memory of the events, and while her hands are badly scratched, her bare feet are clean and unmarked.

I want a dress like this to hike in.

Why do these four go missing? Why is Irma returned? We are given so little about them and their inner lives, but perhaps these four women were the most internally at odds with the oppressive ideal of Victorian womanhood. Miranda's close, sensual relationship with Sarah - was it more than platonic? Sarah writes poetry about Miranda and tells her photograph that she loves her. Miss McCraw's musings on the geological history of Hanging Rock hint at an intellectual mind longing for more than the life of a spinster school marm. What did Marion want from life? What desires does Irma harbor? I am reminded of Tarjei Vesaas's novel The Ice Palace, in which an adolescent girl conflicted about her sexuality makes a fateful trek to a frozen waterfall.

Weir wisely avoids falling into the formulas of a mystery, horror, or police procedural. Shots of the stunning but threatening Australian landscape and wildlife are plentiful and lingering; expository scenes and dialogue are minimalist. Gheorghe Zamfir's dramatic pan flute is often the only accompaniment. The beauty and power of this approach makes the few scenes near the end that veer into camp (a very unsubtle descent into alcoholism, a foreboding voiceover) all the more jarring.

After Joan Lindsay's death, a previously unpublished chapter, "The Secret at Hanging Rock," was released, giving an earlier version of what happens to the girls and Miss McCraw. However, I think the choice to leave it out of the novel was a wise one. While the ambiguity will be annoying to some, a resolution doesn't feel fitting here.

Screenshots from Blu-ray

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hi, My Name Is Satan

Being on my Paradise Lost kick has made me think of all the different artistic interpretations of Satan we see, and how very different they can be from each other. What counts as satanic? I can only assume Milton's Satan would give Marilyn Manson the side-eye and that the Satan of South Park would be horrified by Lars von Trier's Antichrist. What do we, as humanity, think Satan is? The embodiment of pure evil? A victim of circumstance? A champion of free thinking? A ridiculous superstition? A metaphor for a necessary component of balance in the universe? With the devil-as-character, writers, musicians, and artists can express their thoughts on these age-old theological/philosophical questions, regardless of religious affiliation. Here are the first four in a series I have no idea how long will be.


South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut - Trey Parker and Matt Stone

In 1999's landmark movie musical from future Tony Award winners Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Satan is a gentle red giant who dreams of experiencing the innocent joys of Earth like flowers, mountaineering, and gay cruises. Sadly, he's stuck both in Hell and in an abusive relationship with Saddam Hussein. But maybe our favorite young Coloradans can help him find the strength to stand up for himself? Seemingly neither evil nor a charismatic leader, it's unclear how this guy ended up ruling the underworld. Of course, with Parker and Stone both being snarky atheists who yet have a big ol' soft spot for religion, it makes sense that from them we'd get a cartoonish but sympathetic Satan.

The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov

Bulgakov's complicated, censored, beloved novel was written mostly in the 1930s, but not published until decades after the author's death. A satire of Soviet Russia, the novel deals with the censorship faced by writers at the time (hence the not-being-published-for-decades-and-even-then-censored thing). The plot concerns Margarita, a party official's wife, whose lover, known as the Master, has been institutionalized for writing a novel about Pontius Pilate - a big no-no in the atheistic and paranoid USSR. But Margarita finds an ally when Woland (Satan in disguise as a professor) arrives in Moscow with his vibrant entourage, including fan favorite Behemoth, a wisecracking demon in the form of a large black cat. They're preparing the most Tim Burtonesque party of all Tim Burtonesque parties, and they've chosen Margarita to play hostess.

Besides some witchcraft and the over-the-top ball for Hell's elite, there's not much traditionally evil about Woland. Although his name references Faust, the bargain here is a force for good. When Margarita is offered a wish from Woland in exchange for being hostess, she uses it to secure mercy for one of Hell's inhabitants and is then rewarded with reunion with the Master. Woland and Jesus (called by the Hebrew Yeshua here) even agree upon eternal peace for Margarita and the Master and salvation for Pilate. Other interpretations of the devil would be so embarrassed!

Woland trolls in Klimowski & Schejbal's graphic novel adaptation.

The Powerpuff Girls - Craig McCracken/Cartoon Network

Him was the most dastardly of all the villains in Cartoon Network's clever, pop-artsy series, and he totally counts as an interpretation of the devil, right? Yeah, Him totally counts. I mean, look at the guy: the red skin, the black goatee, the penchant for evil, the otherworldly realm...classic Satan. But then there's the flouncy pink trim on his outfit, the thigh-high high-heeled black boots, and that eerie falsetto (provided by the prolific Tom Kane). It's a little disconcerting to see another cartoon that has the gender non-conforming character be the devil, but while South Park's Satan is a salt-of-the-earth guy and "out" in a matter-of-fact way, The Powerpuff Girls' Him is mysterious, malicious, and a badass. He's truly scary, and not just because his appearance and mannerisms threaten the gender binary. Plus, his character design - with its stylized lines, bold color blocking, and quirkiness - perfectly encapsulates the series' aesthetic. Props to Cartoon Network for taking a chance by allowing a transvestite devil on TV.

Rock on with your bad boots!

"Devil Went Down to Georgia" - Charlie Daniels Band

This song is awesome and fun. The devil apparently has some sort of soul quota, is a skilled musician, and enjoys a good ol' country hoe-down. He's under deadline to get more souls (seriously, who is he reporting to?), so he challenges fiddler Johnny to a fiddle contest, which is apparently the demonic and fiddle-themed version of a cop waiting for someone to not turn on their turn signal exactly X feet before turning so you can give them a ticket. This Faustian bargain involves the classic elements of pride and promises of a material reward, but here humanity triumphs. Not that there's much fanfare over it. Johnny's more interested in his fiddle skills than salvation, and the devil is a good sport about it. They probably both prefer BBQ to manna.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wasting Time on Youtube 2

Youtube is the worst. It's the ultimate time suck. You get stuck in a loop of "one more video" and then it's 3am and somehow via "suggested videos" you've transitioned from a link your friend posted on Facebook to the midst of the turtles-humping-pigeons subgenre you didn't know existed. That's why it's so great when you find a new favorite prolific channel - hours and hours of videos to catch up on and no ventures into that "weird part" of Youtube. 

Last time, Smosh, Mr. Arturo Trejo & Amigos, Kids React, and Epic Rap Battles of History were featured.

Actress Issa Rae captures all those painful, relatable awkward moments - from desperately rummaging to avoid someone to blurting out small talk about colon cleansers - in this popular webseries. J, our singing-in-the-car protagonist, navigates dating, friendship, the workplace, and life in general...awkwardly.

Cute Win Fail
That VOICE. Toby Turner is known for his vlogs, but you can spend way more time than you intended catching up on Cute Win Fail, the show where your votes are converted to list form on an unknown blog counted to decide which was the "most epic" of that episode's three clips: one cute, one a win, one a fail. This show is the potato chips of Youtube, but potato chips are yummy.

Oh, Kassem, you gorgeous-playing-ugly comedian you. You don't need to try and impress the Ray William Johnsons of the world. You're better (maybe?) than that. The premise of California On is that skinny-jeaned and personable Kassem Gharaibeh interviews the stoned, spacey denizens of Venice Beach about anything ranging from aliens to the revolution in Egypt. On his second channel, Kassem and his crew have way too much fun with a green screen while answering fans' questions questionably. Both make for hilarious, compulsive viewing.

Kittens. Kittens and kittens and kittens and kittens. This channel belongs to a Persian cat breeder and features thousands(!) of videos of some of the most adorable Persian cats and kittens you will ever see. If you're in a mood that can only be ameliorated with fluffy baby cats, this is your place. I know cat and dog breeding is controversial, but this lady seems to be one of the good ones who loves her animals and makes sure they get good homes.