Month: October 2009

I know we talk about the influence of Brer Rabbit all the time.  And all the time you guys are like, “Okay, crazy.  I’m sure he’s all over the place, just like I’m sure the groundhog’s winter predictions are 100% reliable.  Idiots.”

But!  Today we have (more) proof.  Behold Erin McKeown’s song “The Rascal”–

Lain and I had the privilege of seeing Erin the other night at Eddie’s Attic, and she was absolutely terrific.  When she played “The Rascal” — hey!  That’s similar in meaning to “trickster!” — there was some firm under-the-table kicking.  Yay for references!

On Sunday, October 25th, a chunk of the ceiling collapsed inside the Emily Dickinson Homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts.  This is my worst nightmare.

The Emily Dickinson Homestead Amherst, Massachusetts.  The ceiling collapsed.

The New York Times devoted one paragraph to the news, and I gasped no less than two times while reading it.

While it’s true I’m a big baby and easily scared, this is like a timely, direct line to what frightens me.  Happy Halloween!  (Perhaps I’ll go as a piece of front parlor plaster this year and pretend to fall on unsuspecting “guests of the museum.”  Topical costumes are always crowd pleasers.)

But for real, this hits a tad too close to home.  As part of our tour of the Wren’s Nest, we point out the huge gap in the floor between the “new” (1884) addition to the house and the original structure.  We chuckle!  It’s breezy in winter!  Brrr!  Haha, structural inadequacies!

And let’s not forget this doozie.

That is a piece of wood, holding up our hallway.  Now it’s an enforced piece of wood, which is only slightly more comforting.

Remember that time part of the foundation was missing?  Me too!  It was terrifying!

In short, as much as I empathize with the Emily Dickinson House and wish them the best, most of my thoughts can be summed up here — thank goodness our restoration took care of 97% of our issues, because otherwise I would have just peed myself.

Emily Dicksinon Homestead Photo: Nealy-J

Yesterday the Associated Press ran a travel story on the Wren’s Nest.  Read it here on ABC News.  Or on Yahoo! News.  Or in the Chicago Tribune.

Curtis Richardson performs the Brer Rabbit stories at the Wren's Nest for the Associated Press (Photo: Dorie Turner)

One of the cool things about an Associated Press article is that you don’t really know where it’ll end up.  In the El Paso Times?  Sure.  What about the Monterey County Herald?  Why not!  Say, the York Daily Record?  Hell yes.

Please tell us what you think about the article.  Keep in mind I have already heard every possible joke about being “spunky.”

Photo: Dorie Turner for the Associated Press

B-Side Radio interviewed our fearless leader and (equally not-threatened-by-fear) docent Jeri for their latest show, “Found.”  Listen to the podcast here — our story comes in at the 21:30 mark…

Little Girl Listening to Radio

…and is great.

Because of our location, we weren’t able to curl up and listen to this chat when it first aired.  Sadly, that privilege was only for the highfalutin’ city folks of Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Austin, and Syracuse.  (Dandies listening to XM/Sirius were also entitled to the honor.)

In fact, we don’t even know when it did air, though our educated guess is “recently.”  Luckily for us, the podcast works just as well and our listening experience was a delight.  Hope yours is too!

P.S. Thanks to Katy Shrout for being a great interviewer, as well as the mother of the 4-year-old who generously lent us her red wagon for the Decatur Book Festival.  It had cup holders!

Photo: Trebor Scholz

Mark Twain Boyhood Home

Keith Eggener of Design Observer gives us this thoughtful post on capitalizing on the historic homes of the famous, focusing on the Missouri homes of Mark Twain and Walt Disney —

“People go to Hannibal to walk the streets where the real children who inspired Huck and Becky walked; they go there ready to believe that an otherwise unexceptional white wood fence is the one Tom painted, or, at least, the one that inspired Twain to invent his story. Disney’s stories, on the other hand, are pure fantasy….”

Items discussed: history’s exploitation vs. its preservation, marketing dead public figures vs. live ones, how the Mark Twain Boyhood Home is like a snow globe.

Items not discussed: how Walt Disney’s recreated boyhood home — called “The Happy Place” — is not all so different from the story, “Brother Rabbit’s Laughing-Place.” Coincidence?

Last Thanksgiving I had the opportunity visit several great historic homes in Missouri (1, 2, 3, 4) on a house museum road trip.  I’m sorry I missed these two, especially given their unique relationships with Joel Chandler Harris (Twain, Disney).

Photo: Keith Eggener

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