Archive for July, 2007

Wren’s Nest Publishing Company Adventures


Written on July 31, 2007 at 2:26 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Amelia mentioned our Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. venture in this very blog not too long ago.

That’s all fine and good, but I think it’s worth stressing just how neat this program is.

It’s neat mostly because we get to think of cool things and then do them, like hang out with Hollis Gillespie.

Hollis Gillespie

(This picture, submitted by the author herself, is admittedly a little fuzzy …you know, like the morals of the Wren’s Nest Staff)

For those of you who don’t read Creative Loafing or Paste Magazine or listen to NPR from time to time, Hollis is a foul-mouthed humorist who’s seen some real, live success lately.

We thought it’d be cool to hang out with her, so we said, “Hollis, wanna hang out?” And she was all like, “Uh, yeah sure.”

Easy. Real easy!

Amelia already mentioned that we took a field trip of Paste Magazine, who taught us a little something about design.

Paste Magazine Logo

For you old folks, Paste Magazine is like Rolling Stone, except it’s about music.

Then tomorrow we get to go to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to take a tour of the place.

The Atlanta Constitution Building

(Not this one, where Joel Chandler Harris worked, but the newer one, which is less awesome.)

They’re going to teach us how to layout our magazine. And they’re going to print our magazine for free.

Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll be like, “Hey Pulitzer Prize winners, can we interview you for our literary journal?” And then all the Pulitzer Prize winners in the building will stand up and be like, “Uh, yeah sure.”

It’s that easy!

That New Kanye West Video


Written on July 28, 2007 at 3:12 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

It’s no secret that I’m into hip hop.

Working at the home of Joel Chandler Harris has only intensified my appreciation, what with issues of dialect, dual personalities, and stories deeply rooted in race, class, and region.

Plus, working on Saturdays has given me an opportunity to watch hip hop videos, especially when it’s quiet and I’m bitter about not having a traditional weekend.

Kanye West is one hip hop personality that I appreciate.

He’s as literate as he is brash (and boy is he brash!), and has a way of honestly framing his own contradictions that I don’t think many hip hop artists have been able to touch.

Recently Kanye has been in the news pretty much solely for being a brat, and just when you think he’s spoiled, stale, and maybe even a little washed up, he hits you with a video like this one. Wow.

Kanye West Can't Tell Me Nothing

(The staff at the Wren’s Nest can’t stop watching this one)

Zach Galifianakis, the ostensible star of this video, is a very funny comedian with an unwieldy last name. I love that this video is silly, but beautifully shot, seemingly earnest, and somehow poignant.

It’s not easy to overlook the fact that it’s a white guy giving voice to a song written by a black guy. Joel Chandler Harris, anyone?

Hot Fuzz: Historic Preservation or Bust


Written on July 26, 2007 at 12:20 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

[So, I wrote this post a few weeks back and promptly forgot about it. Yikes! Since Mercenary Amelia is on vacation and I’m currently immersed in techsoup.org, this seems an appropriate time as any.]

Mercenary Amelia and I caught a movie the other day–Hot Fuzz–at the local theater.

Hot Fuzz
It was both hilarious and explosive. See?

Not only that, but the film is really well done, surprisingly subtle, and thought provoking.

Here’s the rundown–a straight laced London cop is reassigned to a sleepy community because he’s making all the other officers look bad.

The town is notoriously peaceful, bucolic and historic, but there’s something sinister just beneath the surface. All of a sudden, members of the community start suffering from fatal and improbable “accidents.”

Without spoiling too much, I can tell you that one community member, whose home doesn’t match the community’s historic fabric, meets a brutal demise.

Hot Fuzz is a lot funnier now that I’ve attended my fair share of community meetings dealing with development and preservation. And the film really got me thinking about what is and isn’t historic preservation.

Take the Wren’s Nest–it’s a McMansion Original Gangsta. See the before:

Muse Home

And the after:

Muse House Renovated

Worth preserving? Of course! It’s a significant structure, one of only two of its kind remaining in Atlanta, and the home of one of the more significant authors of the 19th century. Plus, it was originally built by George Muse when he was 16. Muse, for those of you native Atlantans, went on to found Muse’s, a men’s clothing store downtown, now lofts.

Okay, now how about something like the Plaza Theater itself:

Plaza Theater

Worth preserving? Totally! It was built in 1939, maintains a sleek art-deco character, and that sign! Wow. It’s the only one of its kind in this town, and has some neat sordid history.

But just because something is old, does that make it worthy of preservation?

What about, say, for those of you in Atlanta, Emory Village in Historic Druid Hills? Or Buckhead’s East Village?

Or the rundown shack next to your house that’s about to be bulldozed to make way for a new three-story “craftsman bungalow”?

What about the Plaza in the 70s, when it was an adult theater and probably pretty decrepit-looking?

Goblins in the Garden


Written on July 24, 2007 at 11:46 am, by Lain Shakespeare

I spend my Saturdays like most people.

You know, I go to work so I can host a photography shoot in the backyard of the Wren’s Nest for a team of burlesque dancers dressed as goblins who have, incidentally, brought a keg of beer.

Goblin in the Garden
(Photo by Derek Jackson)

See?

Now, this warrants an explanation, but I don’t think it’ll make any more sense than it does now.

Here’s the deal. My buddy Erin helped out at the Wren’s Nest Fest, painting faces and being generally awesome.

Hoola Hooping

(Hoola-hooping in cowboy boots. Like I said–awesome!)

Erin happens to be the captain of Black Sheep Burlesque. She also happens to produce photo shoots. Upon seeing our backyard, she said, “Lain! You know what this would be perfect for?”

And then I said, “Um, a house museum!”

“No! A photo shoot where Black Sheep Burlesque dresses up as goblins! I’ll produce it. We’ll have three highfalutin professional photographers host it, and then charge an entrance fee for other photographers to join us, and the call it Goblins in the Garden! Don’t let the burlesque part worry you–it’s all PG. Oh, and we’ll stay out of the house.”

This really resonated with me. At least the part about the burlesque troupe. I think I stopped listening after that. She’s real tricky, that Erin.

Anyway,you can find more Derek’s pictures here, more pictures by other photographers here, and I’ll be sure and let you know when the professionals let me see their work.

Zapped!


Written on July 20, 2007 at 12:02 pm, by Amelia

It’s no secret that the Wren’s Nest has seen better days. While we’re on the up-and-up (for real), certain elements leave something to be desired. Take, for example, my recent trip to the bathroom.

Walking around barefoot, as I often do (pretend it’s to preserve the carpets, if you must), I realized nature called. I headed into the bathroom, took care of business, and was standing at the sink when I felt a painful sting in my elbow. “Ow!” I yelped.

I then noticed that the light switch chain was right at elbow height. Assuming the little bell-shaped end was sharp, I took hold of the chain to get a closer look.

Bad move. It hurt, oh! it hurt. I called Lain in and, slightly bewildered and certainly afraid, said, “Lain? I think I was just mildly electrocuted.”

Lightning

(If we can somehow… *harness* this lightning… *channel* it… into the flux capacitor… it just might work.)

Lain, ever the comfort, replied, “Oh yeah. That happens to me a lot when I’m not wearing shoes.” Lain then nonchalantly wrapped his hand in his shirt, turned off the light, and I proceeded to wash my hands in the dark.

I can see why Joel Chandler Harris was wary of electricity. And bathrooms.

Famous Simpsons, Familiar Places


Written on July 19, 2007 at 3:37 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

The results are in!

First stop (of two), Eatonton! …and a veritable meeting of the minds.

Meeting of the Minds

From left: Joel Chandler Harris (Lain), James Brown (John), Brer Rabbit, Sir Salman Rushdie, Mark Twain (John). Picture by Steve Enniss.

Next up, awkward small talk at a wedding at the Wren’s Nest–

Wedding at the Wren's Nest

General Custer (Deb), Joey Ramone (Tim), Janis Joplin (Josh)

They might need some drinks.

At least one of the folks in the next picture has actually visited the Wren’s Nest before–

Visiting the Wren's Nest

Lucrezia Borgia (Chauncey), Teddy Roosevelt pre-Spanish American War (Amelia)

JB may be the hardest working man in show business, but he really knows how to ruin a moment. Teddy looks livid.

And finally, I imagine these ladies visited the Wren’s Nest with their book club–

Storytelling!

Janis Joplin (Lauren), Aretha Franklin (Kristin), Pocahantas (Munch)

Thanks to everyone who participated! If you still want to play, I’m happy to update this post with a few more. If I missed yours, please let me know!

EDIT 4:25 PM: Of course, I forgot one.  My bad, Scotty!
Some things never change–

Longing

Carson Christiano, Lain Shakespeare, Vincent van Gogh (Scotty).

Vince, buddy, give it a rest.  You don’t even have a shot.

Historical Simpsons Avatars Are Due


Written on July 18, 2007 at 12:04 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

…tomorrow at high noon. I’ll post them soon after that.

Don’t be shy! Make them awesome! It’s a lot of fun, and we’ve already got some great historical figures. For more information, check out the previous post.

In the mean time, I’ll be preparing for a board meeting.

Joel Chandler Harris Finally Gets a Simpsons Avatar


Written on July 16, 2007 at 1:42 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

The Simpsons might as well not release their movie this summer.

There’s no way it will live up to CREATING YOUR OWN SIMPSONS AVATAR online …or, in my case, creating the avatar of historical figures.

Here’s Joel Chandler Harris–

Joel Chandler Harris Avatar

And now here’s the real Joel Chandler Harris, looking gruffer than usual–

Joel Chandler Harris Writing

Though the Simpsons avatar idea is both amazing and addicting, there’s a sad truth–many historical figures didn’t have the luxury of creating avatars for themselves on the Simpsons Movie website.

In fact, I think it’s a little late for most historical figures, so the burden falls on the rest of us–the faithful readers and writers of the Wren’s Nest blog.

What would your favorite historical figure look like in the Simpsons?

If you send me your historical Simpsons avatar, I’ll post it right here on the world famous Wren’s Nest blog.

Rules–

  1. Must be someone I’ve heard of.
  2. That someone must be dead.
  3. That avatar must be emailed to lain@wrensnestonline.com.

That’s it! Hop to it!

Thanks to Baby Got Books for the link and the idea!

Ghost Hunt 2007, part 5


Written on July 14, 2007 at 12:02 am, by Amelia

Full disclosure: I’m afraid to come into the Wren’s Nest alone at 10:00am on a sunny day.

That, friends, is because I am the weenie to end all weenies. I am the weeniest weenie that ever weenied. Thus the fact that I am at the Wren’s Nest at 11:36pm on a ghost hunt is not only a testament to my commitment to this house, but also my own stupidity. I shall not sleep for days.

GHOST

Luckily, I am not alone in my stupidity. Other than Lain, who is pretty okay, this ghost hunt – oh wait, have I not mentioned we’re conducting a Friday the 13th ghost hunt? – also involves other friends of the Wren’s Nest, who stand at varying levels of bravery/stupidity.

At the moment, the good folks of Ghost Hounds are going from room to room with a psychic (I think?) who is telling us things about the rooms that we already know, but that she doesn’t. Gack!

11:48pm: oh god oh god. The doorbell just rang. Who the deuce was that?!

11:49pm: Ghost hounds say it was someone living. I have no proof. In the meantime, they’re asking if anyone is pregnant. Lain, do you have something to share with us?

11:52pm: I’m not sure how I feel about this ghost business. But I do know how I feel about this frightened business.

By the way, there is a live webcast and you, dear reader, can find it here:

Live Webcast

[EDIT: The webcast has been archived here. Just scroll down a little.

It’s long and sometimes static-y, but why wouldn’t you want to see Lain discussing ghosts with a psychic and Patrick Burns, star of the television show Haunting Evidence?

Patrick Burns

(Patrick Burns — big time ghost huntin’ celebrity)

Also present is Reese Christian, currently writing a book about ghosts in Georgia.]

11:59: The conversation here is filled with statements like “that was the chair!” and “oh no, that was a person!” I mean, really. How often do you need to clarify that.

12:45: The web chatters are not only asking questions, but making claims about happenings in the house. I’m going to need a briefer about paranormal perception. It works across the sea? Christine from Australia says so.

We’ve now gone into the attic (bad web reception), the hall, and the front parlor. In the hallway, a spirit was, ah, detected? like, 3 feet to my left. Was I brave? Heavens no.

1:06am: The great thing is, the Ghost Hounds are cracking jokes, making fun of each other, having a grand old time. Someone has made the comment “Fear the living, not the dead”. I’m not sure where that puts me, confidence-wise.

1:11: The ghost hunt is over? I have survived? The Ghost Hounds are now discussing ghost hunting celebrities? It’s all true.

Looks like Friday the 13th served us well, and Saturday the 14th had little to offer. Apparently, over 100 folks were tuned into the webcast, all jazzed and brave. Maybe that’s because they weren’t here. Though with that many fans, perhaps the Wren’s Nest will become the new hot spot for ghost -excuse me, spirit – enthusiasts from all over. We’re certainly not complaining.

A Day at the Wren’s Nest


Written on July 13, 2007 at 2:16 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Many of you have asked what it is we do here, and I usually have a hard time responding concisely. Welp, here’s one day’s worth–

8:16 am – Wake up.

8:21 am – Wake up for real this time.

9:02 am – Head to Wordsmiths Books to investigate the “Editor’s Picks” section that will become “The Wren’s Nest” section for the month of August. We are replacing the estimable Baby Got Books team, so we’ve got some chock-filled quality to live up to.

9:18 am – Deliver new brochures to Decatur City Hall.

9:29 am – Stop at Chick-Fil-A for Customer Appreciation Week and a free chicken biscuit.

9:40 am – Pick up contributions sent to my parent’s house instead of the Wren’s Nest. Steal coffee.

10:15 am – Arrive at the Wren’s Nest.

10:17 am – Bookkeeping.

11:18 am – Head to lunch meeting at No Mas! Cantina with folks from the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. I neglected to write down the time for the meeting, so we’re heading out early and bringing books.

12:59 pm – Return to the Wren’s Nest.

1:00 pm – Sift through the mail.

1:12 pm – Start writing a lot of overdue thank you notes. …or get distracted and write a blog post.

2:12 pm* – Lead (haha) the Wren’s Nest Publishing Company. Today’s topics–fonts, author biographies, what does soy nut butter really taste like?

4:15 pm – Play with dogs at the house I’m housesitting.

7:00 pm – White Lawn Party. You know, just like P Diddy does, but this time with swim team parents / hot shot lawyers.

7:30 pm – My sister’s graduation party.

10:00 pmGhost Hunt complete with live webcast and maybe even a ghost or two. I’m hoping my all-white outfit will help us out in this regard, as well as my inevitable inebriation at the start.

Sunrise, Saturday– Head home!

*All times past this point are estimations, thankyouverymuch.

**At some point I might add pictures to this post, but you may notice that I’m already a few minutes behind schedule!