Archive for April, 2008

Sneak Preview of the West End Tour of Homes

Written on April 30, 2008 at 1:23 pm, by Amelia

Though it’ll be in tomorrow’s print edition, today’s online Atlanta Journal-Constitution features a lovely article about a West End resident, complete with an awesome photo gallery.

Barbara English’s home will be featured this weekend in the West End Tour of Homes, which will be on and popping this Saturday and Sunday.

West End Tour of Homes picture featured in the AJC

(Unquestionably the Wren’s Nest staff’s favorite picture. That window is 11 feet tall!)

While Lain has mentioned this weekend’s many Wren’s Nest-related events already, we’re not afraid to drive the point home. Especially since this tour of homes offers a glimpse into many gorgeous abodes that, suffice it to say, people don’t always associate with this neighborhood.

Let’s recap–

The Kickoff Concert for the Tour of Homes featuring Theresa Hightower is here at the Wren’s Nest on Friday, May 2nd at 7 pm. Tickets for the concert are $25.

The Actual Tour of Homes will run on Saturday, May 3rd and Sunday May 4th from 1 – 5 pm. Tickets for the tour are $15.

You can buy tickets for both the concert and the tour here.

The Wren’s Nest will be open from 10 – 5 that Saturday and 12 – 5 that Sunday.

And maybe, if you’re lucky, we’ll put our terrifying dummies on the porch to celebrate the occasion.


Categories: West End |

Georgia Blog Carnival and Our West End Newsletter

Written on April 29, 2008 at 8:34 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Two new posts are up–

1. Georgia Blog Carnival links to our discussion on the word “bastard” as well as plenty of other posts about and occurring in Georgia

2. Our West End Newsletter posted its latest issue online. If you’re interested in what’s happening in West End, check it out.

If you’re not so interested, you can just read the article we wrote about the Grounds Coffeehouse.

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Categories: West End |

Hardware Store Customer Service

Written on April 29, 2008 at 9:50 am, by Lain Shakespeare

Yesterday was one of the worst days I’ve had at the Wren’s Nest. We were scheduled to tell stories for about 80 children up in Buckhead, and nobody showed up.


I woke up yesterday morning with two emails in my inbox: (1) “Where is our storyteller?” and (2) “I missed my connecting flight and won’t be able to tell stories in the morning.” In other words, this is pretty much my worst nightmare.

Luckily, the winter before I took a job here, I worked at Aubuchon Hardware on the frozen tundra of northeastern Connecticut.

Aubuchon Hardware in Stafford Springs

(Pretty sweet, huh?)

I learned a lot of things, but mostly I learned about what to do when you’re mixing paint and you put in too much red paint coloring and then you only find out after the customer has put some of the paint on his house.

Here’s what I do–

  1. Apologize (Sorry I messed up your paint.)
  2. Affirm (You have every right to be upset! Very few people want to live in a pink house, and I feel you, I really do.)
  3. Explain* (I must have put in too much red because I don’t really know what I’m doing, plus the guy who is supposed to do it just got fired and I’m filling in for him.)
  4. Apologize Again (Dude, I’m so sorry.)

Note: this is also helpful if you’re making keys and the key doesn’t work the first four times you do it.

Aside from giving the guy his money back, the best thing you can do–I think–is affirm the complaint. Even if you’re sleep-deprived, underpaid, and overworked, protesting is futile. Once you can affirm the complaint and empathize with the customer, you’ve got a small shot at regaining their trust.

Not only do you position yourself as someone who is on their team, but you’re also seen once again as a person and not the idiot who doesn’t know what’s going on.

Aside from that, I don’t know what to do, besides not dwelling on the past and ensuring it doesn’t happen again. Any other suggestions?

*Sometimes, if you do something really boneheaded, there’s no explanation necessary.

In this case, I thought an explanation was necessary because most of the circumstances were outside of my control. Being stranded in a different city at 11 pm is no fun, especially when you can’t find my cell phone number.

Decatur Storytelling Festival Saturday, May 3rd

Written on April 26, 2008 at 12:16 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

West End Tour of Homes not your thing? We’ve got you covered.

The Wren’s Nest is helping put on the Decatur Storytelling Festival next Saturday, May 3rd.

Decatur Storytelling Festival Presented by the Wren's Nest

It’s a first year festival, but I think it’ll be cool.

Two of our storytellers, Curtis and Donald, will be there spinning yarns all day. In fact, Donald’s the MC, so you know things are bound to get interesting. Here’s some more information.

If you’ve got kids or grandparents or a neighborhood at your disposal, the Wren’s Nest suggests you be at the Decatur Storytelling Festival, and then come see us on Sunday for the tour.

If you’d been planning on attending the West End Tour of Homes on Saturday, hey, no sweat! We’ll still have storytelling here at the Wren’s Nest with Miss Woodie at 1 pm.

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Categories: Storytelling |

Joel Chandler Harris Was a Bastard

Written on April 25, 2008 at 11:25 am, by Lain Shakespeare

It’s true.

Joel Chandler Harris

Yesterday, I got reprimanded for saying so.

Usually I make a point of saying that Joel Chandler Harris was a bastard for several reasons:

  1. Because it’s true.
  2. Because his mother was shunned because of it.
  3. Because the word conveys the severity of their situation.
  4. Because it’s usually funny when I say it.

It wasn’t as funny yesterday when a visitor suggested that I shouldn’t say that word. And then when I tried to explain myself, things only got more and more awkward.

The visitor explained that she herself came from a single-parent home, and she didn’t think it was appropriate for me to use the word “bastard” so off-handedly. I was very polite, once again stated my case, and finally retreated by saying that I wasn’t really a tour guide, merely the director–“what do I know?!”

But at this point it was clear that I was talking waaaay too much and was engaged in something like a verbal tar baby.

Finally I simply had to concede–yes, some people might be offended, and yes because of that, perhaps I should consider not saying the word bastard.

What I wanted to do was stamp my foot and squeal in the girliest way possible: “But it’s my museum! Oooh!


West End Tour of Homes and Concert

Written on April 24, 2008 at 10:08 am, by Lain Shakespeare

Unless you continually hit refresh on our main page, y’all will be pleased to hear that we’re having a concert at the Wren’s Nest a week from tomorrow.

Boogie Down, Y'all

The crowd boogeyed like whoa the last time we had a concert here. See?

The West End Tour of Homes starts here on Friday, May 2nd with a concert featuring Theresa Hightower. Tickets for the concert are $25.

I will be attending, that’s for sure, though mostly to coax Ms. Hightower into singing a jazz version of the Wren’s Nest theme song. You will not want to miss that.

The actual Tour of Homes will run on Saturday, Mary 3rd and Sunday May 4th. Tickets for the tour are $15.

Get this though–if you buy tickets to the Tour of Homes, you get in the Wren’s Nest for free. We’ll be open from 10 – 5 that Saturday and 12 – 5 that Sunday.

When was the last time you visited West End? Maybe next weekend would be a good time to check it out.

George Bolles Home, West End 1890

Sure, this particular house was bulldozed to build a highway, but we’ve got no shortage of beautifully restored Victorian and Arts and Crafts-style homes.

I hope to see you here next week. And I mean that. I’m not opening this place up on Sunday for nothing.

More Fan Mail for Miss Nannie

Written on April 23, 2008 at 12:42 pm, by Amelia

Children love Miss Nannie, and lucky for us, seem ready to display their affection through coloring.

We’ve recently gotten a new batch of fanmail for Miss Nannie, and it looks like the goal this time was to draw the Wren’s Nest. There were varying levels of success.


I mean, that’s clearly a house. And the border is totally in our colors. Save for the hovering M’s, this is spot on!


Judging from this picture, this student may have either enjoyed their time at the Nest or seen a ghost and lost the will to live/draw.


This one’s your pretty basic people-with-trees-living-in-them deal. Let’s cut to the chase: FROM ADONIS. Pressure!


There’s a lot going on here. Lain thinks it looks a person wearing a traditional African hat.

Maybe so. I think the hat looks like scribbled out initials. Perhaps it’s supposed to be embroidered.

Either way: why can’t this child come back?! S/he even wishes it. Be strong, little one.


I feel I can say, without bias, that this one is absolutely the best. Here’s why:

  1. Cursive. Duh.
  2. Two loves! That are color-accented! Beautiful!
  3. Look how much Callie loves Joel Chandler Ha. Ha!

Nice work, children! Nicer work, Nannie!

The Black Addams Family

Written on April 22, 2008 at 1:43 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

A few months ago, the folks at Sketchworks Comedy asked us if they could use the Wren’s Nest to film a sketch that would play during their live show. We’re pretty cool, so of course we said yes.

The sketch was the Black Addams Family, and it’s just now online–

YouTube Preview Image

Given that I like what’s funny and that Joel Chandler Harris is an author whose work has sometimes been called stereotypical and racist, I found the premise of the Black Addams Family at the Wren’s Nest remarkably intriguing.

It’s also really well done. Compare it to the original version, and I think you’ll be impressed–

YouTube Preview Image

What made the Black Addams Family even more interesting was a bit of conversation I overheard between some of the cast members who were taking a break. They were talking about the Wren’s Nest–

“Isn’t this place racist or something?”

“I don’t know. I think they’ve got a bunch of tar babies running around.”

The Black Addams Family is a parody that relies on two things: (1) the creepy house that happens to be the home of Joel Chandler Harris and (2) racial stereotypes being funny.

Ironically, it was exactly this type of humor, often used in the 19th century by white writers, that Joel Chandler Harris sought to avoid.

Many writers who wrote stories involving blacks relied on stereotypes through overwrought dialect or blackface-like presentations. (The enormous difference between that and the Black Addams Family is that this time black folks are, of course, in on the jokes.)

Joel Chandler Harris, meanwhile, distanced himself from his peers by presenting a black protagonist, Uncle Remus, in a way that was respectful and meticulously faithful to African American folklore.

For example, when Uncle Remus tells the little boy the story of the great deluge and the little boy mentions Noah, Remus explains that Noah isn’t in the story. It’s significant that Remus doesn’t conform to the Noah’s Ark story accepted by white America–he gives legitimacy to his own, African American version of the story.

This kind of cultural equality was, suffice to say, somewhat rare in the southern United States during the 19th century.

One hundred years later, Harris is often confused with his peers who mostly relied on stereotypes for yuks, and his (along with Uncle Remus’) reputation has suffered.

It’s kinda complicated, but I think that there are three morals here–

  1. Go see Sketchworks in Decatur.
  2. Historically, Joel Chandler Harris hasn’t had great marketing.
  3. When you’re holding a bucket of KFC, a fake illegitimate child, and the afro pick for Cousin It’s hair, it may be the absolute best time to discuss racism. Or maybe it’s the worst. There’s not much in between.

I’m just sayin’.

Where in the World are Wren’s Nest Critter Tees?

Written on April 21, 2008 at 3:10 pm, by Amelia

Behold! Below is a picture of Friend-of-the-Nest Heather, running in the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run in D.C.

Heather, Friend of the Wren's Nest, Sports a Br'er Lion Critter Tee During the Cherry Blossom Marathon in Washington DC

She’s sporting none other than a Brer Lion Critter Tee.

And she finished 254th (out of 6,000)!

Was her success a result of hours of training? Or was it the result of a clutch, last-minute wardrobe selection? We’ll never know. But we certainly have a hunch: nice try, Heather–great job, t-shirt!

So where else have our Wren’s Nest Critter Tees been? Send us your pictures, complete with location, and we’ll post them on the website. That’s right– we just offered you the opportunity to be internet superstars! Holy moly!

Here are some suggested locations, to get the ball rolling:

  • On top of Mount Everest, worn over oxygen tanks and wind-resistant parkas
  • In the deep, deep depths of the ocean, worn over oxygen tanks and shark-resistant bodysuits
  • On the sidelines of your professional football game, worn over oxygen tanks and linebacker-resistant pads

Or anywhere else you can think of, oxygen tank-related or not!

We’ll be waiting (im)patiently for your photos starting… now!

Jeri Has Returned!

Written on April 19, 2008 at 9:57 am, by Lain Shakespeare

With a sling and everything!

Jeri McWilliams, Docent

(Jeri, before she broke her arm.)

If you’re feeling limber, stop by today to say “What up Jeri!”

Plus, Miss Woodie’s telling stories today at one. Plus, if you’re a card-carrying Atlanta PlanIt member, admission is only a dollar.

If you can’t make it, you’re in luck because I’m feeling generous. Here’s a story from Miss Woodie, new to the internet–

Woodie Persons – Br’er Gator Meets Trouble

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