free markets, free culture

Archive for the ‘remix’ Category

Molecular gastronomies

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Fancy Fast Food is a blog about re-mixing fast food, fancily.

From the blog: “These photographs show extreme makeovers of actual fast food items purchased at popular fast food restaurants. No additional ingredients have been added except for an occasional simple garnish.”

High-brow or low-brow? Despicable or brilliant?

In other words, where on the New York Magazine Approval Matrix would this blog belong? Here are some sample works:

McSteak & Potatoes

  • Popeye’s Chicken –> Spicy Chicken Sushi
  • White Castle –> Tapas de Castillo Blanco
  • Burger King Croissan’wich and Biscuit –> BK Quiche

Other extreme food makeovers:


Written by @hellopanelo

June 30, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Posted in food, hack, remix

The next Big Idea — the insaner, the better

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What’s a meta for?

Metaphor has scandalized philosophers, including both scholastics and semiotics, because it seems to be wrong: It asserts an identity between two different things. And it is wrongest when it is most beautiful.

– Walker Percy, The Message in the Bottle

Like the artist with collage, the author who arranges a metaphor has to ask — will it blend? That is, will the two disparate concepts come together and create a metaphor of new meaning?

Shakespeare says the world’s a stage. Life, to Forrest Gump, is a box of chocolates. A dream deferred, says Langston Hughes, is a raisin in the sun.

Creating and marketing nonsensical products

Big Think Strategy — a book from marketing maven Berndt Schmitt — continues this line of reasoning. What are the seemingly unrelated ideas we can pull together to inject new life and meaning to a brand?

Schmitt likes to rip up magazines to mix the metaphors.

The Big Idea is a card game you can play for the same effect:


Game theory + chaos theory = idea generation

The deck of cards features nouns and adjectives. Mix and match the cards, then try to market and pitch the resulting wacky products — Erotic Chowder, Mentholated Shampoo.

Sumana H. — intrepid marketer when she wants to be, and a previous interviewee — brought my attention to this game, by way of her pitched ads for these nonsensical products:

  • Edible High-Priority Chowder, to cure anxiety of choice at the salad bar
  • Herbal Natural Chainsaw, strong enough for a logger but made for a hippie
  • Networked Beer, to ensure you never feel like you’re drinking alone [Ed. note: Isn’t that what meetups are for?]

Cheapass Games, the cheeky manufacturers of this boardgame, challenge your marketing wits: “Do you think you’re the marketing whiz who can talk the public into a Perforated Kilt? Then you’re ready to play The Big Idea!”

[Note: Cheapass Games is an indie-nomics enterprise on its own, noting that most games are overpriced and generic. Dice, pencils, plastic parts — “these generic bits and pieces can account for as much as 75% of a game’s production cost, and that cost gets handed to you.”]

Not just a game: wacky product/service combos in real life

These (seemingly) nonsensical products — and services — are the wave of the entrepreneurial future folks! Just scroll through the list at, a running tally of new business ideas just ridiculous enough to work.

Like this, my current favorite — a mashup of current obsessions:


Written by @hellopanelo

March 27, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Benjamin Franklin takes on: remix culture

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I’m reading Ben Franklin’s biography in fits and starts. It’s slowly dawning on me how much of American culture this man predicated over 200 years ago. I always thought Founding Father types were distant, unrelatable, irrelevant to the multicultural modern American life as I knew it.

I love being proven wrong though — opens the mind to new possibilities — and this book is doing it.

The Almanack: precursor to the general-interest mag

Ben was a liberal borrower. I’m positive he would have joined his local chapter of “Creative Commons” had it existed back in the day or, more likely, he would have started the group himself.

Under the pen names “Poor Richard” or “Richard Saunders”, Ben published Poor Richard’s Almanack in the 1730’s. It was like a general-interest magazine, containing a miscellany of information every early colonialist would need: “lunations, eclipses, planets motions and aspects, weather, sun and moon’s rising and setting”… and, it’s strong suit, jokes, witticisms and clever aphorisms.

Think of it as an early-day Reader’s Digest or Saturday Evening Post, modern-day incarnations of this folksy Americana vernacular. (For you history buffs, Ben Franklin’s 1728 Pennsylvania Gazette paper became known as The Saturday Evening Post by 1821.)

Proverbs 2.0: borrow, recycle, repeat

What survives from Poor Richard today are the proverbs — the moral sayings that have become cliche: “Haste makes waste” or “Gold helps them that help themselves.”

In Ben’s biography, Walter Isaacson notes:

Most of Poor Richard’s saying were not, in fact, totally original, as Franklin freely admitted. “They contained the wisdom of many ages and nations,” he said in his autobiography, and he noted in the final edition “that not a tenth part of the wisdom was my own.” Even a near version of his “early to bed and early to rise” maxim had appeared in a collection of English proverbs a centurly earlier.”

Ben was a complete and unabashed remixer!…. of proverbs.

“Franklin’s talent,” Isaacson notes, “was inventing a few new maxims and polishing up a lot of older ones to make them pithier.”

Remix session: Old English proverbs edition

[The glass armonica was one of several musical instruments Franklin invented — and recreated in this modern-day scene by two jolly folks from The Black Horse Inn in Flourtown, PA.]

Old English version:

  • “Fresh fish and new-come guests smell, but they are three days old.”
  • “Three may keep a secret if two of them are away.”
  • “A muffled cat is no good mouser.”

Philly dub-style remix, feat. Benjamin “B. Frank” Franklin:

  • “Fish and visitors stink in three days.”
  • “Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.”
  • “The cat in gloves catches no mice.”

21st century remixes?

  • “Stick the houseguests at the HoJo
  • Stop Snitchin’
  • … and I’m still trying to figure out the cat in gloves reference

Written by @hellopanelo

March 22, 2009 at 9:51 am

Celebrate theft, embrace cliche, and go see Soul Samurai already!

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Talent imitates, genius steals. In the spirit of yesterday’s quote, here are 3 random picks from the
Cultural Remix Blender:

A) I Heart Wong Kar Wai

I ❤ Wong Kar Wai is a collection of short films in the visually-saturated, melancholic-love style of the famed Hong Kong filmmaker. “If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then these films are pure adoration.”
(Hollywood is the biggest recycler of them all, often to the point of formulaic mass appeal. Some directors strives for exact artistic replicas, like Gus Van Sant’s 1998 Psycho, which remakes the classic 1960 Hitchcock film, scene for scene, shot for shot.)

B) Dutch-style portraiture

Hendrik Kerstens’ quirky portraits are an uncanny take on Vermeer… or any Flemish painting where the women wear odd headgear.

C) Soul Samurai

I’m not usually a play-pusher, a fangirl, or heck, even that excited about “live theatre” but I’m on a mini-campaign for this show since I saw it two weeks ago. Beyond WOM marketing and the standard social media blasts, I’m twitter-stalking the playwright and broadcasting the last shows to relevant mass email groups. I even nudged a freelance writer to pitch a review (accepted by!)

Soul Samurai is great on many levels: writing, set design, acting talent, multimedia storytelling.

But the strongest point was the genre-busting! It had comic books + Kill Bill + Shaft + smart sexy heroines + mixed martial arts + puppets + blaxploitation + live-action digital shorts + philosophical pimp wordplay + post-apocalyptic American Apparel outfits.

And breakdancing. Lots of breakdancing. It takes place in Brooklyn after all.

“All of that… in a play? I’m impressed,” says Cheryl Metzger, who has yet to see it. (Hint!)

“It’s like it was made of all these cliches,” says Catherine Chiong. “Familiar phrases, and things I already knew — but put together in a unique way.”

The force of cliches can be powerful in the hands of a gifted author. Literary critic Umberto Eco tells us that familiar cliches are the force behind films like Casablanca, which is “not just one film. It is many films, an anthology.” It’s love, it’s death. It’s music and seduction. It’s all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, and “we’ll always have Paris.”

Arielle Schiff, fan of the Vampire Cowboys theatre company (producer of Soul Samurai), notes their shows are “always so fun and funny, and then there will be a really poignant moment that is surprisingly touching.”

As Umberto Eco explains it: “Two cliches make us laugh. A hundred cliches move us.”

Show ends March 15. Tickets on sale here, $20 with discount code VAMPFAN.

Written by @hellopanelo

March 3, 2009 at 3:15 pm

band of thieves

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Written by @hellopanelo

March 2, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Posted in free ideas, likeminds, remix

Link roundup

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Written by @hellopanelo

March 1, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Free as in beer, free as in speech

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Wedding- and funeral-crashers have nothing on NYC-event-crashers.

On any given night, from gallery receptions to magazine launches, we’ve got a city just begging us to take their free wine, beer, crackers, and cheese. Sometimes you even walk away learning something new.

Creative Commons NYC held a salon in the city last night, hosted at the loft space of web video company For Your Imagination. (Nice digs — open space with an enormous green screen, tapestry rugs, and rows of shabby chic sofas. Reminded me of an old Alanis Morisette stage, or the beginnings of an Anthropologie window scene.)

Between Yuenglings, learned a few things by osmosis…


Machine-readable copyrights

You can add some metadata (HTML snippet) to your Creative Commons license so that machines (computers, servers) can recognize your copyright. Can’t pretend to know what this means, but it’s all about making the computer smarter, and promoting (dun dun dun!) the semantic web.

Socialist commies

Sometimes open-source conversations give people the heebie-jeebies. All this talk of distributed wealth and progress for all brings some people uncomfortably close to socialism or communism. Mike Hudack (CEO of cc-friendly videoblog service brought up the persistent question of “How is all this free stuff gonna make us money?” He emphatically said that remixes aren’t gonna make us money. Growth will make us money. He had a great quote about developing a “class consciousness” for a new generation of creative thinkers. Unfortunately I can’t reproduce his thought process here… but this idea of class is a recurring theme…


Back to your roots

The guys from Indaba music-collaboration site showed up. They pointed out that music was made for sharing and mixing — it’s all digital and multi-track these days. Business models at major record labels are gradually changing, and relaxing its rules on remixes. Quick quote from the guys:

“At the end of the day, people care more about The Roots than the kid who remixed them. The remix just drives them back to The Roots.”

Written by @hellopanelo

February 25, 2009 at 7:30 pm