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Archive for August, 2008

Ditching the Nest in Favor of the Fest


Written on August 30, 2008 at 7:17 am, by Amelia

Lain and I will be at the Decatur Book Festival all day Saturday and Sunday.

We’ll spend the daylight hours being gregarious and talkative, and the nighttime being exhausted from behaving so far outside of our comfort zones.

Team Wren's Nest

(Smiling through the pain last year.)

Please come enjoy the festival, say hi at our tent (on Ponce), and take advantage of the best yearly opportunity to feel smart and literary while drinking beer.

If you don’t know what’s going on, take a look over at Paste Magazine’s new blog, Local:Atlanta.  They gave Lain (along with Baby Got Books, Wordsmiths Books, and Laurel Snyder) the opportunity to tell you what to do with yourself.  Take it from Paste!  Who took it from Lain!  Among others!

More fun: our storytellers will have the main children’s stage Saturday at 2pm. Huzzah! They’ll also be sprinkled throughout the festival both days, performing here and there.

But most importantly, please visit us on Sunday from 2 – 5pm at Several Dancer’s Core on the square. There we’ll be hosting a coffee house-themed literary salon to honor Vernacular, our teen-produced literary journal.

Vernacular Literary Journal Cover

Readings, musical performances, and much, much more await you.

Well, not much more, but the Editors would surely appreciate your support.

Thanks, and see you there!

The Wren’s Nest’s Fall Concert: Kingsized


Written on August 29, 2008 at 7:43 am, by Amelia

What are you doing on Saturday, September 27th?

Having Taqueria del Sol for dinner? Enjoying a rolicking good time with your friends? Contributing to a good cause? Jamming like you’ve never jammed before?

How about doing all of the above in ONE PLACE?! No, it doesn’t involve witchcraft.

Kingsized at the Wren's Nest!

It’s the Wren’s Nest’s annual fundraising concert!

We’re pleased as punch that the legendary Kingsized will be blowing the roof off our open-air amphitheater, and that sweet, sweet Taqueria del Sol will be providing the sustenance. Will I ever tire of their tacos? All signs points to: nope, not ever.

You can buy your tickets ($60 per person; dinner and swell times included) here at the Wren’s Nest or via credit card over the phone (404-753-7735). We’re working to set up ticket purchasing online, too. You’ll be the first to know when that happens, promise.

September 27th is rapidly approaching (see: what?!), so buy your tickets now! Or, if you must, tomorrow.

The Decatur Book Festival: Our Shortcomings and Our Triumphs


Written on August 28, 2008 at 1:27 pm, by Amelia

As you all hopefully know, the Decatur Book Festival is this weekend.  First and foremost, yippee!

Decatur Book Festival 2008

Just as in the past two years, the Wren’s Nest will have a booth at the Festival, so you should totally drop by.  I believe we’ll be by Church St. on Ponce de Leon. Our booth will be the white one.

Last year Lain drank beer while making Outdoorsman Matt do all the talking.

Lain drinking beer at the Decatur Book Festival

Things should be similar this year.

Also similar to last year: we will be selling the product of The Wren’s Nest Publishing Co.’s hard work.  This year it’s called Vernacular.

Vernacular Literary Journal Cover

(Note: This outstanding cover was done by a whippersnapper named Zach who totally needs work.  Interested?  Email him here: zach@craftymice.com)

To review, Vernacular:

  • is comprised totally of artwork and written pieces by Atlanta-area teenagers
  • was edited fully by six teenagers who worked on the journal throughout the summer
  • is the only publication created by and for the Decatur Book Festival
  • sells for $5, and 100% of proceeds go to ensuring we can do the program in 2009
  • is totally awesome, and buying it counts as your good deed for the day

So far so good, right?  We’ve got a booth on a street everyone can find, our literary magazine came together beautifully, and you’re coming by to say hello and buy things.  What could be better?

Well, it would be nice if we had books to sell at the book festival.

Due to our immense and overwhelming popularity (and some guy named Joel Chandler Harris), we’ve been having a lot of trouble keeping some of our most popular books in stock.  It seems like we’re ordering them every few days, yet we’re constantly running out.

The worst culprit is this guy:

The Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit

(This may literally be the last copy we have.)

We’ve currently got about a million copies back-ordered, but we’re not sure if they’ll make it in time for the festival.  Cross your fingers for us!

CNN en Español Tapes En Familia at the Wren’s Nest


Written on August 27, 2008 at 1:33 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Today CNN en Español is taping their program En Familia here at the Wren’s Nest.

CNN Espanol Cameramn filming at the Wren's Nest

I’m pretty sure the title of this specific program will be called “¡Este Museo Heule a Mierda!”, based on the fact that they kept on saying that over and over again.  I believe it roughly translates to, “This Is a Great Museum!”

The show will feature stories about storytelling from around the world, but it’ll be based at the Wren’s Nest.  Man, it sure does pay to be right down the street from CNN.

En Familia is hosted by Carolina Escobar, who was late but forgiven.

CNN Espanol's Carolina Escobar

CNN en Español reaches every continent ending in ‘merica, which is good because most of our foreign visitors hail from Europe and Asia.  We need to diversify our portfolio.

I’m not sure what kind of legacy Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit have in Spanish speaking countries.  We do have a copy of La Fiesta del Zorro from Argentina, but I think we’re bigger in Japan.  They sent their film crew first, anyway.

La Fiesta del Zorro- Joel Chandler Harris in spanish!

Just in case nobody had heard of Brer Rabbit, the film crew suggested that my sister bring over my family’s Song of the South poster.

Song of the South poster

Apparently Disney goes a long way in terms of Latin American street-cred.

The crew, the producer, and Mrs. Escobar have all been terribly gracious and promise they’ll send along the final video when it’s finished.  I’ll upload it if I can.

What Do Woodrow Wilson, William Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, and Andrew Carnegie Have in Common?


Written on August 26, 2008 at 4:02 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

They all used to be on the letterhead of the Uncle Remus Memorial Association.

Uncle Remus Memorial Association Letterhead: Woodrow Wilson, WIlliam Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Carnegie

(Here’s the entire list, in case any of you are really into Atlanta history.)

I wonder if they were all aware that their names flanked our materials, or if Andrew Carnegie was just like, “Ladies, ladies, chill out!  These Presidents–these Presidents are so busy, they’ll never know.  Go ahead, put them on the stationary.  And if anyone complains, I’ll take care of ’em.”

Also, no offense to our current board, but come on.  You guys are clearly not famous enough.  I’m looking at you, Harold.

The Wren’s Nest’s Phones Are Dead. Bad News?


Written on August 26, 2008 at 10:59 am, by Amelia

Finally, our dreams have come true.

No, we didn’t receive a check for 5 million dollars.  Or get sponsorship from Coca-Cola.  Or find an all-you-can-eat softserve store around the corner.

But our phones are dead.

Finally, Lain and I can completely stop speaking to people and rely exclusively on the comforts and lacking social interaction of email.  Yes!

Really, the phone interrupts us.  A lot.  And while we like people coming to see us, staying on the phone with them while they yell directions (and occasionally, expletives) at their driver can take up a lot of time and get us mightily off track.  So can trying to convince someone that despite what mapquest says, our street does still exist.

This is like a surprise vacation.

Anyhow, the phone culprit seems to be this gal.  Hi Fay!

The weather at the moment

Though it’s clearing up, over the last few days the weather has been excellent for our drought needs and “terrible” for our phone line needs.

We can’t be quite sure when the phone went out, so apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you.  I know you all just love to call us here and gab the day away.

In the meantime, we’ll be working to get this fixed and enjoying the silence while it lasts.  Email if you need us!

The Wren’s Nest Possibly Under New Old Ownership


Written on August 22, 2008 at 10:09 am, by Lain Shakespeare

SCENE: THE WREN’S NEST, LATE AFTERNOON

(Gallant executive director LAIN SHAKESPEARE prepares to leave the Wren’s Nest when the doorbell rings.  CRAZY WOMAN IN PINK, who had been seen mysteriously rolling a suitcase around in the back yard, appears at the door. LAIN does not know she is crazy.)

LAIN: Hi!  Are you here for a tour?

WOMAN: Yes!  May I come in?

LAIN: Actually, we closed at 2:30.  And normally I’d let you come in but I’m running late.

WOMAN: Aha!  Will you be open tomorrow?  And how much does a tour cost?

LAIN: Yes, and it’s $8 for adults.

WOMAN: Would you charge me if I said this was my house?

(LAIN cannot respond to this question and stares vacantly for nine beats.)

LAIN:  …yes, I think I would.

WOMAN:  But this is my house.  I built it.  So you’re going to charge me to see it!?!

LAIN: (voice cracking) …oh?

WOMAN: Yes, I built this house with my husband and my brother.

LAIN: (pointing to the house) Are we… talking about… the Wren’s Nest?

WOMAN: Yes!  In fact, I have things planted all around the house.

LAIN: Things?  What kind of things?

WOMAN: (ignoring this) When my husband and I divorced, we decided to keep this house as neutral ground.  So we can both come here.

(LAIN squints real hard, as if it will make this woman make sense.)

WOMAN:  At least, that’s the way it is until I can move all my stuff out.

LAIN: What kind of stuff do you have in here?

WOMAN: (smiling wide) My Ouija board.  And Jumanji.  Have you ever heard of Jumanji?  Say, is this house haunted?

LAIN: Ma’am?  I don’t think so.  Do you have somewhere you can stay?

WOMAN: This is my house.

LAIN: Yes, but I mean for toni–

WOMAN: (emphatically, but with a smile) My house.

(LAIN and WOMAN exchange awkward goodbye, ending the most confusing conversation that has occurred on the premises in recent memory.)


EDIT, 1:59 PM:  (Editor’s note–In my rush to get everything down on paper, I totally forgot the wackiest part!  Please forgive, and you can insert these lines anywhere above where it makes sense.)

LAIN: So, um, what’s your name?  How long have you been in the neighborhood?

WOMAN: I am the mother of time.

Harris Family Reunion Pictures


Written on August 21, 2008 at 11:33 am, by Amelia

You may recall that the Wren’s Nest hosted a Family (and friends) Reunion and Centennial Celebration on Saturday, July 19th.  It went swimmingly, in case you were wondering.

Attendees of the Harris Family Reunion

(Hi everyone!)

And now, but a quick month later, we’re ready to post the pictures!  Thanks for maintaining an undoubtedly high level of excitement for this long.

Sign-in at the family reunion

Here’s Board member Jodi signing in guests, as Jim Auchmutey breathes it all in.  Thanks for the article, Jim!

Storytelling Garden Fishbowl

Look how many people we had!  You can see our super fancy tent in the background too, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Happy Attendees

Boy howdy, was everyone having a great time.

The Reveal of the Harris Family Tree

The big reveal: the Harris family tree.  Breathtaking, really.

Gil Watson and the Children

Here’s Gil Watson, local Harris impersonator, amusing the children with tales of sweating through wool suits and later having your fake mustache fall off as a result.  Or, you know, Brer Rabbit.  I’m really not sure.

Wren's Nest Board Members in attendance

These are some of our Board members.  Very few of them read the blog.  So, um, hi to the three of you that do!

The Youngest in the Harris Family, Getting Fresh

These are some of the youngest folks in the Harris family and, if I’m to understand it correctly, our future.  The future looks like it’s getting fresh.

You can find more pictures (like, way more — probably more than you want) on our Facebook page. Not a fan of the Wren’s Nest yet?  What’s the deal?

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Categories: Events, Victorious! |

Decatur Book Festival Poetry Slam Qualifying Round


Written on August 20, 2008 at 1:07 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Over the weekend the Wren’s Nest hosted a poetry slam.  It was one of four preliminary rounds for the Decatur Book Festival’s poetry slam on Labor Day weekend.

Kalina, Winner of the Wren's Nest Round of the Decatur Book Festival Poetry Slam Preliminaries.  Phew.

Kalina Harrison, of Grady High School, won.

I don’t want to take anything away from Kalina–she was pretty dope–but she didn’t have much competition.  As in, zero.

What’s weird is that last year the poetry slam was a very popular feature at the Decatur Book Festival.  You could hear the crowd reacting from all around the square, and the performers were off the figurative chain.  What’s the story?

Here are my questions:

  1. Is poetry slamming a dying art that peaked with hep cats in coffeeshops in the 1990s?
  2. Did the Decatur Book Festival just not get the word out to the right people?
  3. Are kids just plain ole lazy these days?

If someone could provide us with the correct answers, that’d be great.

Tropic Thunder Starring Uncle Remus, I Mean Robert Downey Jr.


Written on August 19, 2008 at 12:07 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

On Friday Tropic Thunder, the action-satire directed by Ben Stiller, opened in theaters.

Robert Downey Jr. stars in the film and plays Kirk Lazarus, an absurd method actor who undergoes skin pigmentation treatment to better portray a black man on screen.

Uncle Remus I mean Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder.

My “Uncle Remus” Google Alert has been blowing up ever since.  From CNN, and echoed by a few others (1, 2):

Downey’s blackface performance is an appalling mixture of Mr. T and Uncle Remus, but at the same time he endows the actor with enough straight critical intelligence to appreciate the severity of their situation.”

Downey’s character, Kirk Lazarus, creates a seemingly tough (like Mr. T) and sagacious (like Uncle Remus) onscreen persona.  But since Lazarus is method acting (and rarely shooting the movie-within-the-movie), he’s ridiculed for failing to stop acting like a black war hero when the cameras aren’t rolling.

So that part of the comparison is fair.  But it’s unfortunate that the CNN journalist ignores the intelligence of Uncle Remus.  No offense, Mr. T.

I doubt it was a choice–Uncle Remus is so often connoted as shuffling and dimwitted, no matter what was originally written.  It’s not unlike what’s happened to the connotation of “tar baby” recently.

When Joel Chandler Harris wrote the Uncle Remus stories in the late 19th Century, Remus was a significant departure from other black characters in popular fiction.  Uncle Remus was a philosopher revered by the author, not a minstrel presented only for cheap laughs.

In 1986 Ralph Ellison wrote:

“Aesop and Uncle Remus had taught us that comedy is a disguised form of philosophical instruction; and especially when it allows us to glimpse the animal instincts lying beneath the surface of our civilized affectations.”

Reading about Uncle Remus in movie reviews, you’d have no idea what Ellison was talking about.

Film critics and historical characters aside, if you like extremely inappropriate jokes and meta-fictional hijinks (like the staff of the Wren’s Nest), Tropic Thunder is for you.