Archive for September, 2007

Him? Really? Is he funny or something?

Written on September 26, 2007 at 1:00 pm, by Amelia

Today two people asked Lain Shakespeare to autograph the copies of the Brer Rabbit tales they bought.

Seriously.  This guy.

Just to reiterate, this person, this person right here, was asked to autograph something.

This autographing business is not an unusual occurrence here at the Nest. Lain’s brand of celebrity appeals to a very specific segment of the population; luckily, it overlaps directly with the folks who come to a house museum devoted to Joel Chandler Harris.

Now, there’s no question I’m a fan of Lain Shakespeare. He gets a firm “pretty good” rating in my book. And I ask him to sign stuff all the time, like my paychecks.

So is this a new trend I’m missing? The autographs of people 3 generations removed? Somebody fill me in.

Bye Bye Butters

Written on September 25, 2007 at 1:27 pm, by Amelia

This Sunday we had our very last Soy Nut Butter meeting. It was bittersweet, to be sure.

Front Cover of Soy Nut Butter

As you may recall, Soy Nut Butter is the name of the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co.’s literary magazine created, edited, and awesomed by Atlanta-area teenagers. They created a pretty fantastic product, if I do say so myself, and my pride swelled to a peak as we engaged in the most awkward group hug of all time. Seriously. There was a countdown.

Because we here at the Wren’s Nest are devoted to science above all else, we knew we had to use a flawlessly scientific method to evaluate the Editors’ Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. experience.

Bunsen and Beaker

Thus I give you our Editors and their Thumbs-Up or Thumbs-Down evaluation.

Megan, Butter

One thumbs-up! (Nice display, Megan. Very subtle.)

Egan, Butter

Egan, straight from the ballpark, brings us the second thumbs-up!

Michael, Butter

And Michael pulls the double! Watch out folks!

Cat, Butter

Cat, sticking with what we know, brings another Up to the table.

Batman aka Sallie

Editor Sallie* with a super thumbs up!

Austin, Butter

Austin’s thumbs-up is in your face, because that’s just how Austin rolls.

Dina, Butter

Our shyest Editor, Dina, with the Up.

Terra, Queen Butter

Uber-Butter Terra is not giving the thumbs-up because a tree fell on her house, but because she loves Teen Literary Magazines, like all cool people.


Awkward group shot!

It’s been a great literary-fueled ride, this Soy Nut Butter, and I couldn’t have asked for better company along the way. I’m gonna miss these Butters, I am.

Oh! But before I forget, if you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Soy Nut Butter, shoot either Lain ( or me ( an email and we’ll go from there, or send a check to the Wren’s Nest** specifying how many copies you would like ($5 a pop!) with your address. What service!

Thanks everyone, it’s been great.

* Sallie was felled by illness and could not make our final meeting, but this picture captures her finesse nicely.

** 1050 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., Atlanta GA, 30310

Thermoses (Thermi?) Aplenty

Written on September 21, 2007 at 4:07 pm, by Amelia

Here is a snippet of the conversation Lain and I had as we drove to the Wren’s Nest this morning: “Oh man, Thermos is the best name EVER.” For a person, that is.

There were no hearty soups to enjoy later in the day, nor coffee to transport, so why were we discussing the magnitude of the word/name “Thermos”?

Thermos Greenwood and the Colored People, now known as The League of Decency

Because, of course, Thermos Greenwood and the Colored People is the name of a band fronted by Tommy Dean, who is of course the current frontman for the League of Decency, which is of course the band who will be playing at the eagerly awaited and rapidly approaching Wren’s Nest Concert. Of course.

That’s them, above. Clever, eh?

Naturally, this was not the last time “Thermos” came up in the day’s conversations.* Somewhere between lunch at Thumbs Up Diner and telling Imani that Bugs Bunny is Brer Rabbit’s brother, Lain stumbled upon this awesome site.

With pictures from legendary concerts – 1971 was a good time to be a rock and roll fan in Georgia, thank you Allman Brothers – and testimonials to boot, it’s worth a look.

Hippies in Georgia

(This is what Abernathy Blvd. is going to look like on October 6th.)

Also, if you’re me, it a great way to wallow in the pain of being born approximately 30 years too late. Thanks a lot, mom.

*Remember when I said this site brought upon a second “Thermos”-inspired batch of excitement? A Brer Rabbit t-shirt awaits the first person who can figure out why. All the clues are at your well-linked fingertips!

New York Times, Beltline Follow Ups

Written on September 20, 2007 at 1:31 pm, by Lain Shakespeare
Exterior of the Wren's Nest, Courtesy of the New York Times
  • The New York Times finally got with the program and ditched the Times Select service Tuesday. Good riddance! Previously pay-to-read archival material has been released.
WABE Reports on the Beltline

West End Neighbors, Circa 1890

Written on September 19, 2007 at 11:24 am, by Lain Shakespeare

The actual Wren’s Nest house is a Queen Anne Victorian in the East Lake style.

Basically, that means it’s asymmetrical, has a wrap-around porch, and steals from a hodge-podge of other Victorian styles. At the time, we weren’t the only Queen Anne on the block.

George Bolles Home, West End 1890 has a great photo album of our neighbors circa 1890. If you tried to find this one, you’d be sitting right in the middle of I-20.

It’s funny to think that at some point, these type houses went out of style and were demolished. Seriously?! Look how crazy that one is!

Tricksters and the just plain tricky

Written on September 18, 2007 at 1:26 pm, by Amelia

One of the funniest and/or disturbing things about the Brer Rabbit and Uncle Remus tales is that Brer Rabbit almost always wins. Seems reasonable – he is the protagonist after all. What’s bizarre is that it’s often pretty questionable whether Brer Rabbit should win.

Brer Rabbit nailing Brer Fox's tail to the Roof
(Roofing and tails just look so much alike.)

I mean, flat out, he’s not particularly likable. He’s cunning, clever, and manipulative, consistently tricking others into doing what he wants. He rarely lives up to the “hero” part – as we typically define it – of the literary trope he represents: the trickster hero.

One of the originals, Brer Rabbit exists in a gray area between good and evil, where wit trumps all. He’s in pretty great company, though: think Bugs Bunny, an easy association, but even the likes of Robin Hood and Bart Simpson fall into the mix.

The Emperor's New Clothes- counts too!
(Remember that crazy tailor? What a trickster! Also, vanity = bad.)

Technically you need to be an animal to be a trickster hero, but we can make this leap together, right?

What keeps us coming back to Brer Rabbit is that, for some reason, we find him (and the other tricksters) redeemable. Outwitting a murderous persecutor is something we can all relate to, and humorously!

The difference between the trickster and the simply tricky is obvious in most good storytelling, and usually makes for pretty blatant good vs. bad storylines. Or, in the case of the totally awesome movie Lain, Matt and I saw last night, Billy vs. Steve storylines.

People don’t always think of documentaries when they think of good storytelling, but that’s because they’re being dumb. As friend-of-Joel-Chandler-Harris Mark Twain once said, “Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.”

King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

The highly recommended documentary I speak of is King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (trailer) (official site) about the quest of two men to get the world’s highest Donkey Kong score. Yeah, that’s right.

In the left corner we have Billy Mitchell.

Billy Mitchell, not broadening his horizons

To sum up, he’s not really someone you would want talking to your children, for fear he would teach them a rather skewed history of… everything.

In the right corner we have Steve Wiebe (pronounced wee-bee, for his sake and yours).

Go, Steve, Go!

Steve teaches children professionally and you would probably trust him to do approximately anything.

You should absolutely see this movie, not only because it is a great example of storytelling, but because it’s just the kind of pulled up by your bootstraps effort we at this pulled up by our bootstraps house museum like to support…. and because you will learn the word “chumpatize”.¬† Victory!

Steve Wiebe victorious!

Newsletter Rejection

Written on September 17, 2007 at 11:42 am, by Lain Shakespeare

We sent out our first e-newsletter over the weekend, exceptionally written by fellow blogger Amelia. If you’d like to receive it, shoot me an email at

Wren's Nest Newsletter, First Edition

We use a company called Constant Contact. They provide an email database and the means to create good lookin’ emails.

There are a lot of rules you have to follow to ensure Constant Contact that you’re not a spammer, and the first time around, I think I broke every rule.

After uploading my entire address book, I was in the midst of weeding out the email addresses I didn’t want to include. All of a sudden my account was suspended. I had to call the company, answer questions for approximately fifteen minutes, and assure them that no, I’m not a spammer, I just don’t know what I’m doing.

I got away with a stern warning. Since I am terrified of the wrath of the Constant Contact people, I went back through again and made sure that the people I on the email list were only those that would want to read about the Wren’s Nest.

Luckily for me, and perhaps a little scarily for you, I can see exactly how successful this was. The program lets me see who opened my email, who didn’t, who thought I was a spammer, and who said, “No thanks, I don’t want to receive this in the future.”

Constant Contact Interface

Constant Contact assured me they’d have my head on a stick if anyone even thought about clicking the spam button.

Good thing nobody has so far; however, two people have opted for “No thanks!” The first person was someone who I totally meant to take off in the first place, who I’m sure has no idea what the Wren’s Nest is. My bad.

The second person though, was a little surprising. Any guesses as to who it was?

Lain and Marshall

None other than Wren’s Nest board chair extraordinaire Marshall Thomas.

Um, excuse me?

To fully grasp the situation, read the above and replace “the Wren’s Nest” with your favorite Fortune 500 Company. In perhaps the entire world, I figured that if only three people would want to receive this email, one of them would be the chairman of our board.

I’m gonna give him the benefit of the doubt this time, but next time I may have to suspend his account indefinitely.

Decency at the Nest

Written on September 14, 2007 at 1:24 pm, by Amelia

If there is any truth I hold to be self-evident about Wren’s Nest blog readers, it’s that y’all love to jam. Am I right? I knew it.

And boy howdy, are we going to give you a reason / opportunity / time and place to do so. You see, friends, the Wren’s Nest is putting on a real, live concert with real, live performers! We’re even admitting real, live audience members!

League of Decency Concert poster

(If the poster is this great, just imagine the possibilities for the actual concert!)

First and foremost, y’all should come. Seriously.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll tell you why.

1. The music. The League of Decency has not only been an Atlanta/Little Five Points (does anyone remember The Point?) mainstay for over 20 years, but they promise to become more indecent as the night progresses. YES.

2. The food! Oh yes, we’ll feed you. With Low Country Barbecue! Delicious!

Low Counry Barbecue logo

3. The atmosphere! The Wren’s Nest amphitheater, outside on a beautiful night, with tables set up to best cater to your eating/dancing needs.

Wren's Nest Amphitheater
(This picture is from January. The concert will be on a lovely day in October (the 6th). Upgrade!)

4. The drink! Though not included in the price, Papa Shakespeare promises libations worth your trouble.

5. Oh, and in case you didn’t guess it earlier, this is a fundraiser for your very favorite struggling house museum.

Lain and Amelia get Awkward
(Lain and I, unsure of how to interact at a typical dinner. If only we had a concert in front of us to ease the tension!)

For more details, like the cost of tickets and how to purchase them for you and all your friends head to the Wren’s Nest website. Oh gosh, this is gonna be awesome.

    One Year with the Wren’s Nest Blog

    Written on September 13, 2007 at 12:01 am, by Lain Shakespeare

    Happy Birthday, us.

    Executive Director Lain as a Baby
    Here are a few stats that’ll give you an idea of how far we’ve come–

    • Blog rank (out of 6 million) Sept ’06: 6 million
    • Blog rank (out of 8 million) Sept ’07: 790,000
    • Average monthly pageviews, Aug ’06: 0
    • Average monthly pageviews, Aug ’07: 4,288
    • Average unique daily visitors, Sept ’06: 0
    • Average unique daily visitors, Sept ’07: 48
    • Record for visitors in a single day, pre-Sept ’06: 0
    • Record for visitors in a single day, post-Sept ’06: 129
    • Visitors have come from this many countries : 46
    • We’ve had this many total visitors: 4,161
    • Number of posts: 144
    • Number of comments: 599

    Hey, not bad. And it’s not really our doing either–it’s yours!

    Happy birthday to us, sure, but thank you to you for making the Wren’s Nest what it is today. We sure wouldn’t be here without you.

    If you’re feeling nostalgic and want to kick it old school, here’s what we were doing at this time last year.


    Categories: Birthdays, Bravery |

    In the Year 2000

    Written on September 12, 2007 at 11:14 am, by Lain Shakespeare

    Since we’re in the museum business, our job is mostly to preserve and interpret the past.

    Sometimes I wonder just how accurate we are, and I often wonder about the reverse–how someone like Joel Chandler Harris would have imagined the future. Is our interpretation of his era just about as ludicrous as his interpretation of our era would be?

    The Year 2000 Envisioned by France

    This is a gallery of interpretations of the future from France circa 1910, thanks to the Bibliothèque nationale de France. I figure Joel Chandler Harris, who died in 1908, would have envisioned the future in the exact same way.

    Either that, or the exact same way that Conan and Mr. T envision it.

    Thanks, boingboing.