May 3, 2010

It's All About The Mashup

It seems that people are still happening upon the old blog, and I want to invite all of you itinerant web surfers to come check out the new digs. Dance With Sunflowers is a steady contributor over at Entropy Squared.

May is Mashup Month at The Chaos Factory, and you'll find all manner of whacky combinations. And the fun is not limited to the main page, but the folks at A Story In 100 Words are getting in on the fun too. If you feel like trying your hand at a 100 word story, they will be happy to post it for you. Just send it along.

Some other new blogs you might be interested in. Dr. Friston Kuppernickel is documenting his attempts to take over the world at The Mad Scientist. And the Good Doctor has taken to blogging about his favorite college basketball team, at 62-60.

And if you just ended up here thanks to Google's image search, feel free to help yourself. That's what I did.

December 13, 2009

The Chaos Begins

This will be the last post on Dance With Sunflowers. The move over to the new domain, at, has finally been completed. All future posts will be found there. Please adjust your bookmarks and rss feeds accordingly.

You can find the rss feed here. In addition, you can follow Dance With Sunflowers and The Chaos Factory on twitter. Or join The Chaos Factory Facebook page here.

The new website is going to be more than just Dance With Sunflowers. There are going to be a number of new web experiments, combining storytelling, photography, film and whatever else strikes my fancy. Be on the lookout for two new blogging experiments which will start in the next week or two. The first is called The Man Out Of Time, the incredibly true story of Urashima Tarō and his quest to return to his family in 17th century Japan. The second is A Story In 100 Words, presenting daily literature in short bursts. Look for these and more in the near future.

Now, what you really want to know about. The Great Dan Brown Experiment will take place this coming Saturday, December 19th. Over the course of 24 hours (I hope) I will be reading The Lost Symbol, and live blogging about the experience. For those of you in the Western Hemisphere, the fun begins your Friday night. Please join me in order to provide me the moral support I need to devote an entire 24 hours to Dan Brown. Remember, all of this takes place at

Thanks to everyone who has been a part of Dance With Sunflowers. And I hope to see you all at the new website.

November 18, 2009

There Is Still Time For You To Celebrate International Mustache Month

There Is Still Time For You To Celebrate International Mustache Month

The mustache was invented more than 2500 years ago, by Peisistratos of Athens. As chronicled in The Histories of Herodotus, the original tyrant of the Greek polis carved the first mustache because he thought it made him look more execrable, and helped him accrue power. He fashioned it using a bronze blade*.

The American President also has a long tradition of imposing facial hair. What follows are the eight greatest examples of manifest destiny the new world has ever produced:

Grover_Cleveland_Mustache#8 Grover Cleveland
Cleveland was the leader of the Bourbon Democrats. This mustache makes it obvious why. The city of Cleveland is in fact named after his bourbon ’stache.
Andrew_Jackson_Brows#7 Andrew Jackson
Old Hickory reminds us that eye brows count as facial hair too. They look thick enough to erase chalk boards. Awesome.
Grover_Cleveland_Mustache2#6 Grover Cleveland
After failing in his reelection campaign in 1888, Grover Cleveland returned to private life determined to grow an even more daunting mustache. His reelection in 1892 proved his mission was a success, and made him the only president to be counted twice.
Rutherford_Hayes_Beard#5 Rutherford B. Hayes
Remember Captain Caveman? I am fairly certain Hanna-Barbara got the character design from this portrait. Hayes actually retired in 1879, but his beard carried out the rest of his term.
William_Taft_Mustache#4 William Taft
Taft’s Mustache, measuring 8 inches across, was the last facial hair to hold presidential office. It was known to have beaten Teddy Roosevelt’s ’stache in a wrestling match.
Chester_Arthur_Mustache#3 Chester A. Arthur
Much like Sisyphus, Arthur’s mustache and sideburns are forever striving to touch, but always falling just short.
Abraham_Lincoln_Beard#2 Abraham Lincoln
The only member of the Illinois Amish ever elected to federal office, Lincoln sacrificed his mustache in order to unite the country after the American Civil War.
Martin_Van_Buren_Burns#1 Martin Van Buren
Little known fact: Shortly before his death, Van Buren played the cowardly lion on Broadway.
Obama_MustacheOne can only hope that Obama realizes the majestic might of a properly grown mustache and return America to its rightful place as the most awesome nation of mustache growers this side of Russia.

*This is in fact patently untrue on a number of different levels.

November 8, 2009

Giant Cabbages From Outer Space

There are two surefire signs that Autumn has officially arrived in Beijing.

First of all, you have the two week stretch of November that is invariably the coldest of the year, thanks to the Government’s central heating rules. In America, you might think of central heating as the thermostat control that lets you turn up your heat as high as your electricity bill will allow.

In China, however, central heating is the neighborhood controlled system that allows one boiler to provide warmth to an entire village. In Beijing, November 15th is something of an informal holiday every year, as that is the date when the city’s boilers switch on. But for those first two weeks of the month, you find yourself bundling up to go to the bathroom, and showers gain you entry into the polar bear club.

The second sure fire sign of Autumn in Beijing is the deluge of 白菜 that descends on the city like an alien invasion. Harking back to the 3 vegetable winters of decades past, every old woman in the capital stocks up on the hardy cabbages, buying enough to last a family all the way to spring.

Speaking of alien invasions, I finally watched District 9 this week. Definitely worthy of all the hype. I especially enjoyed the father and son prawns. The strongest characters in the movie.

The only drawback was the documentary style. The feel of it was nice, but I was constantly annoyed because too often the scenes were shot in places and circumstances that never would have allowed for cameras. Inside the alien hideout? Close-ups during a firefight? If you are going to use the faux documentary technique, go all the way. Otherwise, YOU, the filmmaker, have violated our tacit agreement by which I, the viewer, have agreed to willingly suspend my judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative.

And I hate it when that happens.

October 31, 2009

Francis Bacon And The Sorceror's Stone

One of the hottest pop culture trends is the mashup. You take two or more disparate ideas, creative works, images or DNA sequences, and you combine them into a cohesive whole capable of generating offspring.

My friend Ben is a big fan of Girl Talk. The musician takes hundreds of soundbytes from various songs and blends them into one track. Ben is a pretty popular guy, so I assume that his likes and dislikes are representative of all Westerners. Girl Talk must be awesome.

Another example are the novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. These take the classic Jane Austen tales and complement them with scenes of monstrous mayhem.

Unfortunately, I have no musical talent, so song mashups are out. And even if half the novel is already written for you, it's not like I have the time to write half a novel. I am a busy guy, and time doesn't grow on trees.

So I am left with trying to figure out a way to mashup my blog. A blog mashup might look something like this:

Wizards of Waverly Place is an Emmy Award-winning live-action Disney Channel Original Series which stars Selena Gomez, David Henrie and Jake T. Austin, as three siblings with magical abilities.

The show centers on the Bacon family, which includes Alex, her older brother Justin, and their younger brother Max; Alex's best friend Harper is also part of the storyline. The three Russo siblings are wizards and live with their father Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban KC, an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and a former wizard.

Bacon served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. Although his political career ended in disgrace, he remained extremely influential through his works, especially as philosophical advocate and practitioner of the scientific revolution. He is also a former wizard, who chose to give up his powers to marry his wife Theresa, a mortal, due to a rule forbidding wizards to marry mortals.

Bacon's works established and popularized an inductive methodology for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian method or simply, the scientific method. His demand for a planned procedure of investigating all things natural marked a new turn in the rhetorical and theoretical framework for science, much of which still surrounds conceptions of proper methodology today. He is proud of his magical ancestry and teaches his children about the proper uses of magic in "Wizard Training Class."

The children are not allowed to use magic without supervision, and only one of the three will keep their magic abilities once they are adults; this will be determined by a magic competition. Alex often gets into trouble for using magic unsupervised. Justin always makes sure Alex does not get into any more trouble than she's already in. Along the way, all of the kids learn moral lessons relating to friends, family, and school.

The Bacon family owns a sub-sandwich shop on Waverly Place.