Archive for March, 2010

Uncle Remus Chicken & Barbeque of Chicago

Written on March 31, 2010 at 11:41 am, by Lain Shakespeare

Twitter is a phenomenal tool for listening.

For example, are people talking about Joel Chandler Harris?  Not that much. Song of the South?  Sure, especially with the release of the Princess and the Frog on DVD.  What about Uncle Remus?

Like you wouldn’t believe.

Uncle Remus Chicken & BBQ is, according to many on Chicago’s West Side, “the business.”

See what I mean?

Whenever I look at my saved search for “Uncle Remus” on Tweetdeck, I have to wade through unending praise of Uncle Remus Chicken & BBQ.  Either that or comparisons to its nearest competitor, Harold’s Chicken Shack, on the South Side.

So on a recent trip to Chicago, Amelia and I just had to try it out.  Accompanied by intrepid blog commenter Joe, Brer Lion shirt-owner Heather, and another guy named Joe, we set out for the W. Madison location.

There’s no seating inside Uncle Remus.  You read the menu that’s written on the wall in a shade of orange so neon that I think I contracted epilepsy on the spot.  The extremely reasonable prices, however, made up for it.  Once you decide on your order, you give it to someone behind a large pane of glass.  I gave our order to a lady wearing a shirt that said “Auntie Uncle Remus.”

While you wait (a surprisingly long time) you can either watch ’em fry everything up through the glass or stand awkwardly in the corner next to an inexplicably placed map.  We chose the latter.

Auntie Uncle Remus finally called our number, and we received our chicken through a 12″ x 12″ hole that sits about 6 feet off the ground.  It has something of a speakeasy quality to it.

We took the chicken to nearby Garfield Park to enjoy a little picnic before hitting up the Conservatory.

The verdict?  A resounding “meh.”

The mild sauce, occasionally referred to as “crack sauce,” is what keeps folks coming back.  It’s pretty good, and the chicken is better than this picture would have you believe.  We did not bother with the fries (and recommend that you do the same).  If you factor in the price, it’s a pretty good value.  That said, I’ll take the Busy Bee Cafe any day of the week.

Still, given the name, the product, and the experience, I think we all agree:

Mo Book Buyers Mo Problems

Written on March 27, 2010 at 9:30 am, by Amelia

This is what our bookshelf looked like after the Phoenix Flies locusts descended on it last week.

Its been a wonderful thing to see how many folks want to have the Brer Rabbit stories for their very own.  However, we literally cannot keep them on the shelves.  No matter how frequently we place orders, they’re simply not printed often enough for us to keep a full selection in stock.  What a problem to have, eh?

On Friday evening of last week we finally received a box of this beauty, which we had been waiting on for a few weeks.  We put them out, and by 3pm on Saturday, all were gone.  Like, 18 books.  Bonkers!

To solve this problem, we’re considering printing our own with Lain serving as author and illustrator and me serving as “person who tells Lain what to do.”  He does have a publishing history, after all.

This is all to say: if you want a book, tell us now!

1906 Brer Rabbit Illustrations by Harry Rountree

Written on March 24, 2010 at 11:06 am, by Lain Shakespeare

Lately I’ve been having a hard time deciding which Brer Rabbit illustrations are my favorite.  These illustrations from Harry Rountree are certainly giving Fritz Eichenberg a run for his money, mostly because of Brer Rabbit’s impressive commitment to smoking.

Look at that cigar!  And those pants!  Did M.C Hammer grow up on Brer Rabbit or what?

Lauren, designer of our website and fashionable friend, calls the pin/single suspender combo “a genius sartorial decision!”  I agree!

This picture combines two things I love — little rabbits performing manual labor for nefarious purposes and matching red jumpsuits.

Brer Rabbit and the dark night of the soul.  I really like this one’s composition.

I can’t help but laugh at this little rab crying over spilt milk, with Mrs. Rabbit rushing to the rescue.

Brer Rabbit has never looked so noble and proud as after enlisting his children to steal milk from Sis Cow, who is stuck in a tree.  Hooray raping and pillaging family outings!

Brer Bear is dressed perfectly for a picnic.  A+.

This last illustration is on the cover of our 1913 French copy of L’oncle Remus.

Ugh, I just don’t know — do you like these illustrations best?  Or A.B. Frost’s? Or Eichenberg’s?  Or Don Daily’s?  Or Barry Moser’s?

Tote Bags are the New Other Kind of Bag

Written on March 23, 2010 at 2:57 pm, by Amelia

After many a moon without them, we finally have tote bags back in our grubby little hands.  Welcome back, friends!

If you’re the type of person who carries things from one place to another, these tote bags will be perfect for you.  They not only hold things, but come with straps to keep your hands free and your shoulders laden with weight. Innovations!  Yes!

The totes come in a beautiful “natural” color and feature either Brer Rabbit in orange or our lovely logo in forest green.  Great for outfit coordination, they’ll prove the name of our museum is not actually “The Wren House” wherever you go.

These beauties are a steal at $7 a pop and will be up on our online store soon.  In the meantime, shoot us an email if you want one!

Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. Entering its Fourth Lap!

Written on March 17, 2010 at 10:16 am, by Amelia

Since 2007, we’ve been lucky enough to work with incredible student editors to create three exceptional literary journals.  So we decided to stop while we were ahead.


Nope, we’re entering our fourth year with the Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. and couldn’t be more excited.  Sure, we’ve been harping about our new KIPP STRIVE program, but behind the scenes, WNPCo. is on and poppin’.

We’ve sent informational packets to all of the English Department heads of every high school we could think of in Fulton and Dekalb counties and have already heard back from several students interested in Editor positions.  It’s working!

“What do you mean, Editor positions?” you ask.  You crazy ignoramus!  Looks like it’s time for me to break down the whole program.

  • –> Throughout the summer we work with a team of 8-10 student editors, all Atlanta-area high school students, who do all the work for us while we take the credit.  Just kidding!  Kind of!  The students really do make all editorial decisions, including which pieces to include, how to format the text, the name of the publication, choosing the cover, etc.  They also learn how to market the journal, and are responsible for soliciting all of the submissions.
  • –> The submissions are all from Atlanta-area high school students.  They include short stories, essays, poetry, and artwork — and they’ve been darn good, if I do say so.
  • –> The journal is created with and for the Decatur Book Festival, the country’s largest independent book festival.  The journal debuts there on Labor Day weekend and the Editors organize a literary salon to celebrate the journal and its contributors.
  • –> Because of our ties to the good people at the DBF, we’ve also been able to do great things like tour the AJCtour Paste Magazine’s offices (the students’ favorite trip each year), and have writers, authors, marketing professionals and other experts in the publishing world talk to the group throughout the summer.  Which is important, because Lain and I don’t know what we’re doing.

(Our 2009 Editors deciding which of Paste’s awards to steal.)

Lots and lots of information about the program can be found here, including the Editor application due date (*cough* May 9th) and the submission deadline (*double cough* July 5th).

I suggest taking a gander and then telling every teacher, parent, and overachieving teenager you know about the program.  We can only get the word out so far, which is where you come in!

Also, you know what’s fun to do?  Our bidding!  Thank you very much!

Phoenix Flies — Be at One of Its Many Destinations or be Square!

Written on March 5, 2010 at 5:28 pm, by Amelia

Starting tomorrow and continuing through the 22nd of March, Phoenix Flies 2010 will be upon us.  This truly amazing opportunity to see a huge number of Atlanta’s historical attractions — on the cheap — should not be missed.

Like so many of the other participants, the Wren’s Nest will be offering special events and extended hours, in addition to free admission for the weekends of Phoenix Flies:

  • On (Saturdays) March 6th and 13th, we’ll have our regular hours (10am – 2:30pm) with two storytelling sessions: 11:30am and 1pm.
  • On Sunday — you heard me — March 7th (as well as the 14th), we’ll be open from 1 – 4pm, with storytelling sessions at 1:30 and 3pm.

In other words, don’t believe a word of what you read on Pecanne Log.  Except the part about Oakland Cemetery.  That’s all true.

    Phoenix Flies is put on by the Atlanta Preservation Center every year and, simply put, provides an outstanding range of events, almost all for free.  If I may be a crybaby for a moment, this is one of the few times it really busts my hump to work at such a small place, because in order for the Wren’s Nest to be open for Phoenix Flies, we can’t, you know, attend many other events.  Boo hoo.

    So please, see all the neat things you can — for me.  I beseech thee.

    “Ooh, Yeah, History Right There.”

    Written on March 4, 2010 at 4:47 pm, by Amelia

    The Wren’s Nest was featured this morning on CBS Atlanta in their “Blog Stew” segment, airing at 5:43am.  I missed it.  Shoot.

    Luckily, the whole clip can be found right here.  We’re at the beginning, in case you can’t free up more than 58 seconds in your schedule.

    Sue Rodman, of the wonderful Field Trips with Sue, led the segment, and was kind enough to highlight the Wren’s Nest as one of the many, many worthwhile destinations being showcased this weekend as part of Phoenix Flies (more on that tomorrow).

    The best part is that they’re basically scrolling through the Wren’s Nest Facebook picture page as they chat, meaning that Lain and I are now totally famous photographers.  Well, along with Jonathan Hillyer.

    Wait, did I say that was the best part?

    I meant that the real best part is the quote featured in the title of this post, which embodies how I feel when I walk into the Wren’s Nest every single morning.  Breathe it in.

    This clip also highlights a challenge we face every day at the Wren’s Nest: “Joel Chandler Harris” can be very hard to say.  Most frequently, people lob off the Harris and drop an “h,” leaving us with the esteemed Joel Candler.  Being that we’re in Atlanta and Candler is a name seen often around town, it’s understandable.  Plus, I mean, three names?  Who does this guy think he is? Mary Lou Retton?

    Anyhow, thanks to Sue Rodman and CBS Atlanta for showcasing the Wren’s Nest this morning — it was great!