1. What book frightened you as a child?
All of the "Goosebumps" series, pretty much. I remember a book of Irish myths and legends that I was terrified of for a time. I've no idea of the title, though.
2. If you had to become a ‘living book (i.e. able to recite the contents of a book cover to cover upon request – reference Fahrenheit 451), what book would it be?
Something incredibly short (Spot the Dog?) because I'd rather read/write books than become one. If forced to choose a proper book, maybe Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca.
3. What movie or TV show scared you as a kid?
I remember having nightmares for weeks when my dad let me watch a TV adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Body in the Library. Not sure why this in particular freaked me out so much. Maybe because a very young girl was killed?
4. What movie (scary or otherwise) will you never ever watch?
I'm a horror fan who prefers psychological films. Gore to the extent of the Saw franchise turns me off. But if pushed I might still give it a go.
5. Do you have any phobias?
It's Vietnam Women's Day today (International Women's Day is also celebrated, but in March, as everywhere else.) So to mark the day, here’s something about one of the many notable women in Vietnam's history.
Nguyễn Thị Duệ was born in the late sixteenth century, under the Mạc dynasty. I don't know her parentage, but her name suggests that she was from an undistinguished family - Thị Duệ (pronounced, roughly, tea zway) means more or less "ordinary worker's daughter". (It's possible, though, that this was a name given to deflect unwelcome attention - a name to go unnoticed by?)
Of her poetry, I have struggled with the translation of just two lines. I like it very much, but I can't say it neatly enough in English. Here, in fourteen words, she gives a picture of a young girl (nữ nhi) straining to just barely touch the strings (lề) used to bind together the books of her time, and predicts with certainty that the girl who can do so much will advance, first to the humble copy-card used to learn characters (thiếp), and then to take her doctorate (trạng nguyên).
Nữ nhi dù đặng có lề
Ắt là tay thiếp kém gì trạng nguyên
She who uses all means possible to just touch the book's binding
Advances to spell out the words, and to win her doctorate.
The wetness has been a pleasure to the three quiet toads who live in our garden, at least. They are Big, Middle and Little, and like to lurk under damp things - leaves or the edges of the old lily-bowl. (Garden is a bit of exaggeration - there's a small paved yard, and in the corner a quadrant of earth, about a metre/four foot in radius. Not big, but big enough for three toads.)
There was a break in the weather on Sunday, and we took advantage of it to take a walk through the back lanes, and as it happened, found ourselves passing the Water Temple complex - it's not a big complex, but one with a long history, and with two temples, and multiple side-altars and shrines. It was marking a great day of some sort - the day wasn't in itself especially auspicious in the general calendar, so I think possibly the festival ceremonies were for particular community or family occasions, such as an upcoming marriage - there was a young couple front-and-centre in the side temple - but then again it's just over a week since the birthday/translation day of Princess Steadfast Jade, who is linked (if I've got my history and translations right) to this temple, and possibly it was just her celebration happening late. (It may have been two different events just happening in both temples at the same time, too.)
Anyway, everything was very splendid, with big paper horses and paper elephants and slightly smaller paper boats with dragon prows, and multitudes of paper guards and attendants, some with swords and some with cymbals, and of course real people as well... :) Most of the horses were lined up in front of the central temple, but the side temple had one horse and one elephant and one boat; the paper attendants were too many to count (ie while behaving properly, as opposed to standing up and craning!) in both places. In the central temple there were preparatory prayers going on when we first arrived, and then later the shaman/priest began to embody different personas, with different costumes and characteristics - the Forest Princess who dances, the General who declares, with swordplay, his determination to see justice, and so on. Meanwhile, in the side-temple, a scholar/priest was reading and chanting and striking a wooden bell, while people sat quietly and listened.
And here are some photos! :)
The elephant stands proudly with eight horses in front of the central temple. Every horse has a groom, but the sage elephant stands alone. :)
Mandarins and Generals and advisors as attendants in the side temple. (The thing that looks like an airconditioning duct is a snake - snakes wind around through the rafters.)
Musicians and ladies-in-waiting and a Queen (?) stand in attendance on the left-hand side of the side-temple; the side-altar is like a cave because the Mother-Goddess devotion is very nature-linked, very much seen in terms of mountains and forests.
Yuletide 2017 assignments have been sent. You can find your assignment by:
- going to your Assignments page on AO3, which you can find at https://archiveofourown.org/users/YOUR-USERNAME-HERE/assignments;
- looking down the left sidebar of the 2017 Yuletide collection to see the following list;
- checking your email, if you have collection-related emails from the Archive of Our Own enabled in your Preferences.
Stay Chill, Stay Silent
This is a secret exchange. Don’t announce what your assignment is. Don’t reveal to your recipient who you are or what you plan to write for them. In fact, please don’t contact them at all. You can send questions through the mods at email@example.com (but please read further in this post before you send any questions).
I have questions!!
Naturally! Right now there are three kinds of questions: questions that we would like you to send right away; questions that we ask you to hold off sending until October 15th; and questions we can’t help with at all.
Questions to send immediately
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Questions to hold off sending until October 15
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Questions not to ask us
- My assignment is terrible. Can I change it? - No. If you have an assignment that matches what you offered, please either work to fulfil it, or default.
The FAQ may answer some of your questions.
( Asking for more details through the mods )
Your assignment is due at 9am UTC on 18 December. In your timezone, that will not be the end of 18 December. It may be early. It may even still be the 17th.
(If you happen to be wondering, later, “when’s the deadline again?” you can check your assignment email, or look on the 2017 Yuletide collection - either at the top, or in the Schedule.)
And last and most important, have fun!