November 26th, 2008

Snapping Fingers

Setting: Small-town Wyoming, Modern day USA
Poor sap getting hurt: 19 year old girl

A character wants to make another character scream in pain. The first of these ways is to snap each of her fingers one after the other. So I want to know:

- What would be the simplest way to do this?

- How would the fingers look/feel after this?

- What would be the way of treating/repairing four fingers broken on the same hand? Would there be a complicated cast thing or what?

Dressiest and Best: Women's Wear, White-Tie; also, Paris Performance Venues

Setting: Paris, France. Likely the The Palais Garnier. Present day.
Searched: Variations on "white-tie," "premiere", "first-night", "theater", and "opera" with "appropriate attire" and "dress-code." Also searched for music venues in France, and read through the Wikipedia articles for each, visited the sites for each, but still in quandary.

1: A famed violinist is giving the last performance of his career in Paris. He's a bit of a traditionalist, and his standards for his venue (especially the acoustics) are as high as you might imagine. Would the Palais Garnier be the best choice available to him in the city, or is there another venue (in Paris, or elsewhere in France) that possesses better acoustics or would be more appropriate to someone of his status?

Meanwhile:

2:A female character is expected to attend the aforementioned concert (for the moment, assume at the Palais Garnier.) The event is white-tie, and it's critical that she be irreproachably garbed for the occasion, since she is attending on sufferance. Searches have turned up lots of information about men's dress, but for women I keep finding the less-informative "ballgown" or "evening formal dress."

Maybe this isn't as confusing as I'm making it, but --what does "ballgown" mean in a modern context? I know the standard in historical periods: during the Regency (for example) a woman would not wear a ballgown to the theater: she'd wear a gown-for-going-to-the-theater, which had totally different standards of design and didn't need to look good on the move.

So: what does "ballgown" mean here?

ETA: Here "irreproachably garbed" does not mean "Cinderella fantasy." Actually, quite the opposite: she needs to meet the standards of the event and do so stylishly, but also discreetly. If anyone notices her for her costume, and remembers her long enough to come find out her name, she'll have done it wrong.

Son of Edit: Female protagonist is thirty --so not quite Barbara Walters territory, but definitely not going to want to wear what the starlets are wearing.

1920s Chinese Psychiatric Hospitals And Foreigners in Laogai

A mishmash of questions here, all have been searched using a mixture of terms on Google ("mental hospitals china/shanghai", "asylums shanghai", "mental health" etc.) and checking them out elsewhere, but they're all either very vague or non-existent.

1) What psychiatric hospitals or asylums were in Shanghai in the 1920s? I'm sure I found a website some months back saying that the first professional mental-healthcare association was set up in Shanghai in the early 1910s, but I cannot find it.

2) It's circa 2005. A white middle-aged American businessman is heading to China as part of a somewhat shady business venture to sell telecommunications equipment that's vaguely illegal to sell to a foreign (and Communist) power. Before he leaves, certain government men take him aside and ask him to pay particular attention to Chinese telecommunications systems, otherwise when he comes back he might be pulled aside for treasonable sales. In China he's arrested as a spy (which he is, but he's not James Bond, he's just your average white-collar shmoe trying to make a buck); he's tried and sentenced; the US government disavows him. He ends up in a laogai, where he will remain for the next three years. Is this improbable? I've been trying to find out if foreigners, particularly Americans, might end up on the sharp end of Chinese law, but found little. Only a couple of references to naturalised-American-Chinese seem to slip out, so I'm not sure if he'd simply be extradited. Any help?