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Archive for January, 2007

Tar Baby Continued


Written on January 29, 2007 at 12:46 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Last week I directed your attention to an editorial in the Charlotte Observer that discussed the contemporary implications of the phrase “tar baby.” I also pointed out a very specific instance of my idiocy. Thank goodness that’s behind us.

Yesterday the Charlotte Observer published my response, more or less. A truncated cut-and-pasted version is available in the print edition of Sunday’s paper and online. Read it here.

Also online, however, is the full version of my response. Read the full version here.

Pretty cool. To tell you the truth I’m glad folks are arguing about this. And while it’s clear that mine is the most important, informed and eloquent opinion (trust me), it’s refreshing that many people are willing to write in to their local newspaper to weigh in.

Although there are some pretty harsh criticisms, things could be worse. How many people are writing about Lewis Latimer these days? Except for this blog, of course.

I believe at some point, the Charlotte Observer turns from “free” to “free when you sign up.” So for documentation purposes, I’ve included my entire response here…after the jump.

Just so nobody’s confused:

Link to original editorial.
Link to cut-and-paste response.
Link to full response.

(more…)

Ghost Hunt 2007


Written on January 27, 2007 at 9:11 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

During every ghost hunt ever performed in the history of the Wren’s Nest, I have blogged live updates.

Tonight, friends, is no exception.

Scooby
(That’s me in the glasses)

8:04 pm – The Gulf States Paranormal Society is here and they appear to be ready. These guys have some serious equipment too. There are cameras in every room hooked up to a computer in the kitchen. Man, I hope the ghosts don’t hack the firewall, bypass the mainframe, and–enough.

It feels a little like we’re in a heist movie and we’re the bad guys and we’re kicking some serious intelligence. It’s like Ronin meets Resident Evil meets Joel Chandler Harris meets me meets the Gulf States Paranormal Society.

Actually, it’s more like (more…)

Editorial Pandemonium!


Written on January 25, 2007 at 2:40 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

In Sunday’s Charlotte Observer, Editor of the editorials page Ed Williams focused his weekly editorial on the issue of the tar baby. Please read his comments here. Go on, I’ll wait.

A few days later I read the article and felt compelled (ahem–thank you, Jodi) to respond since I happen to know a thing or two about Joel Chandler Harris and “The Wonderful Tar Baby Story” by now.

So, after a night of sittin’ and thinkin’ and a busy morning of writing, I formally responded to Mr. Williams via email in hopes that he’d publish the article. Like a point/counterpoint kind of thing. Or, in my wildest dreams, an Even Stephven kind of thing.

Except, of course, my name is Lain and his is Ed. And this is where I ran into trouble.

See, I submitted this terribly astute, well-researched and masterfully crafted essay that was proofread by a family member, someone with the nickname “eagle eye,” and two eminent Harris scholars.

All this trouble, and nobody noticed that I completely called the editor by the wrong name.

Four times.

Incredible. How did I catch this error you ask? Oh, you know, he emailed me about it.

Let’s recap: after Mr. Williams, who has been editor for over 30 years, writes his weekly article and I, a twenty-three year old schmuck, pick his argument apart and deride his skewed logic, I have the nerve to go ahead and refer to Mr. Williams as Mr. Edwards throughout the entire piece. And then! after reading my criticisims, Mr. Williams is forced to kindly inform me that he will be editing that part out, since there is “no Mr. Edwards involved in this anywhere.”

To my credit, reread the first sentence of this post. It wasn’t too hard to mistake Ed Williams, the Editor of the editorials page and author of the editorial, for William Edwards.

It’s all sorted out now, but seriously, who is the jerk in this scenario? This guy. And no, it’s not Marshall.

I’ll let you know if and when they publish my editorial. Either way, I’ll post it one day soon.

3 Comments

Categories: JCH |

From Civil War to Civil Rights


Written on January 20, 2007 at 11:44 am, by Lain Shakespeare

Victory is mine!

After four months of procrastination and several excruciating minutes of tinkering, I have finally figured out how to post pictures on this blog! Someone buy me a drink! Miss Nannie, I’m looking at you.

For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking of an idea that these two other dudes and I conjured up one day at lunch. We were thinking of ways to reconnect the Wren’s Nest with Atlanta, and the bus tour tentatively titled “From Civil War to Civil Rights” arose as a pretty cool option. So cool in fact, I’ve taken the time to present it to you in interactive map form.

Take a gander below and by all means click on the picture for details.

Atlanta has a very rich and seemingly disjointed history with two major movements: the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. Some (me, at least) might argue the case for another important movement–ahem, hip-hop–but I’ll spare you for now.

As different as these two events in history are, there is a clear progression from point A to point B. Sometimes it’s easy to ignore the evolution, or perhaps sometimes events just seem to close to home, as it were.

“From Civil War to Civil Rights” makes perfect sense to me, anyhow. Not only do the sites on the tour (Grant Park, Cyclorama, Oakland, Wren’s Nest, Herndon Home, Margaret Mitchell House, King Center) weave an intricate tapestry of history, but so too does the journey itself. By encompassing both the east and west sides of town and traveling down Peachtree Street and Auburn Avenue, this tour proves itself pretty darn comprehensive and totally feasible.

Click on the link so you can read more (just click on each red or yellow point), come back here and tell me what you think. Good idea? Bad idea?

Louis and Lewis


Written on January 19, 2007 at 12:51 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Well well well, look who it is. I know sometimes it seems like I’ve forgotten about this blog, but darn it that’s just not true. The truth is, I’ve been way too busy selling Br’er Rabbit golf balls.

Actually, the truth is, over the weekend I was in a little town you may have heard of called New York City. It was a pleasant, if hazy and exhausting vacation, and of course I have come away from it knowing that I will never eat another buffalo wing again. Oh, and I saw a few house museums to boot.

Want to hear about ’em? Well, tough.

First things first, the Louis Armstrong House in Queens is amazing. Louis didn’t spend much time there since he was on the road so much, which is perhaps why the house is in such pristine condition. Either that or the fact that it was deemed a National Historic Landmark while the Mrs. was still occupying the house.

Inside, every single thing is original. While the Wren’s Nest has mostly original stuff, this house has original everything. Since that everything came from the 60s, it is all totally sweet, in a way only an electric blue lacquered kitchen can be.

Also neat are the little doorbells inside each room. Louis liked to record more than just music and they’ve made exceptional use of his recordings throughout the house. Each time the guide presses a doorbell, a new Louis Armstrong recording plays be it of his family eating dinner in the dining room or talking about his record collection. If I were you, I’d request the one where Louis tells dirty jokes to a small child. We should get a few doorbells of our own here at the Nest.

The Lewis Latimer House, just two train stops away, also made an appearance on my tour. The Latimer home’s indoor furnishings are kind of like the Wren’s Nest’s cash reserves: lacking. It’s a perfectly good house, but it seems like they’re going through a period of what we here in the pros like to call “transition.” Learning about Latimer though was a little crazy. Next time you use the restroom on a plane, well, you’ll know who to thank.

New York is such a rich town, I’d imagine running a house museum there is a little troublesome. There is so much to do that these get swallowed up by obscure neighborhoods way out in the boroughs. Even with someone as recognizable as Armstrong, it must be a tough sell when there’s so much else to do. I can’t even imagine trying to push the Latimer House.

At least there’s a cool website to tie them all together. If you’re interested in this sort of thing–and who isn’t? Come on!–look no further than the Historic House Trust of New York City. The map on the homepage is an excellently executed idea worth stealing, in my opinion.

Stop the Presses!


Written on January 11, 2007 at 12:39 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

The mother lode has just arrived.

Yes folks, we have Br’er Rabbit golf balls.

For those of you disappointed that we don’t have Wren’s Nest golf balls, well, tough. The design was way too intricate to fit on something that small. And consider the dimples! We just couldn’t do it.

Thanks to Bubbling Creek for their willingness to print a Br’er Rabbit on everything. Now including tote bags, pencils, erasers, post cards and golf balls. Hopefully we’ll have some more Br’er Rabbit stuff on the way.

Any suggestions? Coffee mugs? Shot glasses? You tell me.

12 Comments

Categories: Brer Rabbit |

Production? No thank you.


Written on January 10, 2007 at 2:12 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

This morning we have a special visitor. Her name is Imani and she is three, no two, no three, wait…two years old. Her birthday is Marth 6fth.

Imani is perhaps the most articulate two year old I’ve met which means she speaks in gibberish very quickly and then sums up her tirades with “…FOR REAL!” She is working very hard today at the Wren’s Nest. Between eating Cheese Nips and boogie dancing to Robin Thicke jams, she is “workin’ SO hard.”

Yeah, if workin’ means break dancing.

Imani is therefore making it nearly impossible for me to work. So it’s as good a time as any to blog. While the Wren’s Nest is not normally a day care, it is a nice break every once in a while to have small children around so we can teach them to say things like “whoopsie daisies” and “the ocean is only six feet deep!”

Before Imani came I was trying to send out our new membership letters, type up our board meeting minutes, write a director’s report, pay a few bills, and send thank you notes. Then our printer broke. And then I ran out of stamps. Then Imani entered the picture.

It is a wonder how anything gets done here.

Usually it’s just luck. The other day a visitor named Lauren came into the Wren’s Nest and said, “Hey this place is neat. Let me do your website.”

Then I said, “Okay!”

So I’ve got that going for me. Luck, that is.

Luck and a website, maybe.

3 Comments

Categories: Fundraising |

Good Friday. So Far.


Written on January 5, 2007 at 4:10 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Some of you may have been wondering–ahem, Scotty, “Hey what’s Lain up to aside from not writing in his blog?” Others of you may have been wondering, “Who is Lain?”

Well I’ve got some answers. I’m Lain, and I’m the executive director of the Wren’s Nest. As such, I am still unsure of whether my title is capitalized. Also, I get to do cool stuff for free. Don’t believe me? Read on!

So today I said to myself, “Eagle eye Amelia Trace is here, it’s raining outside, and I …don’t want to go into work.” So I didn’t. Well, not until two o’clock anyway. Instead of work, I went to the Atlanta History Center.

A few of you have already been there during school field trips years ago. Same here. But let me suggest that you revisit it because it is so much cooler than you remember.

Plus, starting January 15th, you can visit and see the King Papers on display. If you’re from Atlanta, you’d probably better since your city spent $32 million acquiring them. Trust me, it’s worth the price of admission.

You want to know how I know? Because I’ve already seen it, jerks. For free, behind the scenes, with a personal tour. That’s right, you heard me. They have sound domes, childhood notecards that influenced King throughout the rest of his life, and the I Have a Dream Speech displayed right next to the video that plays on loop. It is, in a word, dope.

Read the speech, then watch it and try and pinpoint where King decided he didn’t need a script anymore. It’s funny–he started writing and rehearsing the speech in the 50s. King had performed it a few times and tweaked it to perfection. Then, when he finally gave the speech in front of thousands at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., he started on track with the script and then …just took off, freestylin’.

The rest is history. And now it’s right down the street. Included in the exhibition is King’s report card. The class: public speaking. King’s grade: C+.

Unfortunately, we only had two hours and had to leave. Try telling that to Amelia Trace when she’s perusing displays of outdated modes of medicine. I’m lucky I got out alive. But I’d go back in a heartbeat. Let me know, and I just may go with you.

2 Comments

Categories: Atlanta |