Archive for October, 2006

Wren’s Nest on Wheels

Written on October 24, 2006 at 3:21 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Well, today I gave my first speech in front of a group of people not in elementary school. The Midtown Rotary invited me to talk about what I do here. Man, sounds boring to me.

The food they had at Ansley Golf Club was excellent, and I even tried the pecan pie. I’ll spare you the full story for now, but the first time I tried pie I was seventeen years old, sitting next to Andrew Young, and he was trying to pressure me into eating his slice of pecan pie. It’s hard to say “no” in a situation that surreal, no matter how afraid of pie you really are.

Anyway, my presentation went well, I think. The pace was much faster than they were used to, which, I hope, was refreshing. Then I surprised them and let one of our master-storytellers, Akbar, take the stage. He knocked ’em dead. I’m pretty sure that Akbar was probably the first person to step inside Ansley Golf Club wearing a dashiki.

After the show, one gentleman suggested that the Wren’s Nest organize an official group of storytellers that travel to schools, churches, etc. Now, the idea had occurred to me before (if they’re not coming to us, go to them), but this gentleman proposed it in such a way that really made me consider it as a legitimate route. Tell me: why shouldn’t we have a touring company? I’m trying to figure out a good reason why not. Everyone leaves the Wren’s Nest satisfied; but hardly anyone ever comes here in the first place. What do you think? Go on, you can use the comments.

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Categories: Atlanta, Storytelling |

Literary Trivia

Written on October 21, 2006 at 10:58 am, by Lain Shakespeare

We’ve got some crazy books all throughout the Wren’s Nest. The other day I was rummaging up in the attic, seeing what I could see, and I came across a bunch of autographed books from the turn of the century.

There’s a book written by Andrew Carnegie, signed by Andrew Carnegie. A book by Rudyard Kipling, signed by Rudyard Kipling. A book by Margaret Mitchell, signed by Margaret Mitchell. Yes, it’s Gone with the Wind. No, it’s not a first edition.

In the Kipling book, the author signed the title page by crossing out the typed Rudyard Kipling and writing in his name instead. Mr. Kipling had children of his own and actually read the Uncle Remus stories to them before bed.

Andrew Carnegie was also a great admirer of Joel Chandler Harris, and his efforts, along with President (Theodore) Roosevelt’s, raised the money so that this house could become a museum. Thanks, buddy.

I don’t know what Margaret Mitchell thought of Uncle Remus and Joel Chandler Harris, but I do know that her house in Midtown burned down due to arson. Twice. Amazingly, the room that she lived in remained untouched by fire. Once you’re done visiting the Wren’s Nest, definitely check out the Margaret Mitchell House.

Also, I just discovered the title of one of our prominently displayed books from the nineteenth century. I’ve walked by it everyday since I’ve been here, but I wonder why I had never noticed Female Beauty and the Art of Pleasing before. I wonder what that’s about. Sorry, no link for this one.

Okay, I lied. But only a little.

Written on October 18, 2006 at 10:46 am, by Lain Shakespeare

Turns out I wasn’t cold at all yesterday morning. Our office was actually quite toasty, thanks to my man / Board Chair Marshall. I guess some people take pleasure waking up at six in the morning and turning on the space heater in old house museums. More power to them.

So why did I pretend to be cold in my last post? Well, I didn’t really. You see, some blogging software has neat tricks installed that allow you to type posts ahead of time, and then specify the time for it to be published online. Trickery! On Monday when I wrote the post, it was freezing and I fully anticipated the same for Tuesday morning. But lo, Marshall came and ruined the fun / made the office tolerable again. Next trick: posting pictures.

In other news, the journalist from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution did indeed pay a visit this morning right on through to the afternoon.

For those of you who have never talked to a journalist before, let me tell you: it’s just fine and dandy when you get to talking, but the second s/he leaves, oh it’s terrible. For the past ten hours I’ve been trying to think up ways I can explain that my quotes are out of context. I’ve come up with these so far: “Oh, that was taken out of context,” and “No no no, you see, that was taken out of context!” Pretty good, no?

The thing about journalists is that while they can give you great (free) publicity, in order to do so, they write down what you say. Therein lies the problem. I can’t be held accountable for what I say! My gosh.

While the scope of the article probably won’t mean the Wren’s Nest is in the headline, I could totally see the Wren’s Nest featured in a sub-headline: “Man-Boy Protects the Nest, Neglects Shaving Responsibilities.” If you ever want to find out about any neuroses you might have lurking, go find yourself a journalist to interview you. Then wonder what he’ll write. Oof.

Look for some totally awesome Wren’s Nest content in the AJC come November.

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Categories: Storytelling |

It’s a little chilly.

Written on October 17, 2006 at 8:40 am, by Lain Shakespeare

What do you get when you mix a rainy fall evening, a real old house and a five thousand dollar debt to Atlanta Gas Light?

You get pretty freakin’ cold is what you get. Now, replace that five thousand dollar debt with a forty-seven hundred dollar one …and you get just as cold.

I don’t know how long my fingers can hold out typing in these harsh conditions, so from this point forward I’m only typing with one hand while the other rests safely underneath my leg.

This could be good timing. I’ve got an appointment with a writer from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this morning regarding the sixtieth anniversary of Song of the South. You know, the controversial Disney film loosely based on the stories recorded by Joel Chandler Harris. Well, the AJC is doing a story on its 1946 Atlanta opening, and since I’m an expert* on the subject, they’ve come to interview me.

Check out that opening quote on the Song of the South page while I switch hands:

“The first books I ever read were the Uncle Remus stories. Ever since then, these stories
have been my special favorites. I’ve just been waiting until I could develop the proper medium
to bring them to the screen.” – Walt Disney

Speaking of being frozen, is it asking too much to thaw out Walt Disney‘s cryogenically frozen body long enough for him to sign a check or three?

Or maybe, just maybe, the freezing cold at the Wren’s Nest will spark this enterprising reporter from the AJC to focus his story on our small house museum that’s making a comeback grassroots style. Give this man a Pulitzer already! Come on!


“Tar Baby” Revisited

Written on October 14, 2006 at 12:43 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Like I always say: if you wait long enough, someone will do the work for you.

Okay, maybe I don’t always say that and maybe it’s not true at all, but at any rate I got lucky this time. First, an article from the estimable yet awkwardly named Tampa Bay’s Ten that covers the not-so-recent verbal “blunder” by the governor of South Carolina. Why this is news nearly a month after the fact is beside the point, I guess. Hey, at least the headline is a little incendiary.

Now, take a gander at this recent article from The Chatham Journal Weekly, fresh (well, maybe a little stale by now) off the presses in Pittsboro, NC.

I’ll let you weigh the issues without too much of my preaching but I do think it’s a shame that the language of African American folklore has been reduced to a convenient political issue. That said, I think white Republican men prone to spewing forth down-home colloquialisms may be on to something. I mean, they’ve gotten in trouble for saying “tar baby” three or four times this year alone. Initially I thought that they’d learn from the first two times, but now it seems like the more they say it, the more attention they’ll grab. Perhaps they’re banking on the fact that voters will see right through the cries of racism, reaffirm their disdain for the “politically correct” left, and march straight to the polls.

Yes, white Republican men, I see what you’re up to. I can only hope for a national scandal that ushers people through the doors at Wren’s Nest. Or at least one that reminds folks that we’re still here.

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Categories: JCH, Tar Baby |

What time is it?

Written on October 13, 2006 at 3:16 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Today is a busy day at the Wren’s Nest. We have a group of Cub Scouts coming to plant some fall flowers for us after they get their tour and storytelling. We have a group of eight gentleman playing hookey from work. We have some descendents of Joel Chandler Harris as well. Shoot, everyday should be like this one.

We’ve got all of these people here at the Wren’s Nest, and all of ’em got to eat sometime. Good thing we’re in West End.

I know it may be hard to believe, but there are indeed great restaurants on this side of town. Once you try it, you’ll know. Once you know, you’ll make an effort to eat out here regularly.

One of my favorite restaurants is one of the most curiously named: Q-Time. Their slogan is: “Miss ya mamma’s cookin?” I’d say thats pretty apt. It’s one of those “meat and three” joints where you get heaps of serious soul food for easily less than $10. Make sure you have the sweet potato souffle before you head out the door.

The Wren’s Nest isn’t the only hidden gem in West End. I’ll clue you into a few more along the way as I discover them.

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Categories: West End |

More Ghosts and a little Faulkner

Written on October 10, 2006 at 10:19 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

I know some of you have been wondering about the ghosts here at the Wren’s Nest. Well wonder no more! On Saturday November 11th (yes, the eve of my half-birthday, thankyouverymuch) we shall know once and for all which ghosts, if any, roam the grounds of the Wren’s Nest!

You say that’s crazy? I say you’re crazy! After all, we’ve got electromagnetic field detectors, Geiger counters and electronic voice phenomena. Not to mention infrared motion detectors and portable thermometers. If these precise scientific tools cannot be relied upon to detect ghosts, I don’t know what can.

Anyway, ghost hunting should be a …different way to spend a Saturday night. Yes, it’s an all-night affair. If you want to join, by all means holla back.

Unrelated, I visited Faulkner’s Oxford, Mississippi home, Rowan Oak, over the weekend. If you ever get the chance, boy howdy, do visit. Not only is it immaculate and well manicured, you get to see where Faulkner went a little nuts and wrote the outline to A Fable, one of his late novels, on the walls of one of the upstairs rooms. Props to the curator who let me in for free.

That reminds me: Joel Chandler Harris was indeed a little before Faulkner’s time, though some critics contend that Harris’ work had a direct influence on Faulkner, especially in regard to his African American characters. Ironically enough, I haven’t read enough Harris (yet) to validate or dispute that argument. So I’ll get back to you. Or maybe I’ll get back to just me. I’m not sure yet if that’s something that normal people care about.

Where is the closest pawn shop?

Written on October 4, 2006 at 4:50 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

I totally forgot to mention our concert on Saturday night. We had about 250 people in attendence, and Faye Raye was marvelous. The weather was perfect, folks brought wine and picnics, and nobody cried.

I am convinced that the Wren’s Nest is the best outdoor concert venue in Atlanta. Nowhere else can seat at least 800 on a lawn in front of a rustic (read: crumbling) stage under a canopy of magnolia trees. It’s intimate, old Atlanta, and really cool. (more…)


Categories: Atlanta, Events |

Eight Janices Agree

Written on October 3, 2006 at 2:25 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

The average age of the people working in my office, including myself, is like 63. Except for Star, who is twenty-five, and myself, everyone in the office has a “Miss” before their name. I’m not sure what you have to do to become a “Miss” once you’re already a “Mrs.” but I’ll bet you have to be super tough and pass all sorts of skill tests involving baking.

Anyway, what this means is that instead of gathering around the water cooler and talking about current events and television shows like “The Office,” we gather around the water cooler and talk about current events and television shows like Golden Girls. And Designing Women.

Of course, this is right up my alley. (more…)

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Categories: Events |