I asked if everyone knew what chimpanzee meant, and one of the kids responded by beating his chest. I said, "No, that's a gorilla. A chimpanzee is a bit like a gorilla, but it's a lot smaller."
"King Kong!" said one of the kids.
"King Kong is a giant gorilla," I said. "A chimpanzee is a big ape with black fur, like a gorilla, but it's a lot smaller than a gorilla, and certainly a lot smaller than King Kong."
"Oh, I know!" said another student, finally getting it right. "A chimpanzee is a 'black star'!"
They're not allowed to use Chinese in class without permission, so they often take advantage of the pun-translation loophole. The Chinese for "chimpanzee" is 黑猩猩, literally "black ape," and the word for "ape" is a homophone of the word for "star" (星星).
One of the other kids asked if the ants the chimpanzees ate were honey ants. I said, "No, because honey ants live in Australia, but chimpanzees live in Africa. I think the 'ants' they eat are actually white ants, or termites."
The day before that (August 3), in the comments on "Good riddance, Big Ben!" I had left a link to the 2020 Black Dog Star post "The Cronus Virus - It's Time!" without actually rereading the post myself. After the class, though, I checked my blog comments and saw one from Debbie that began thus:
I clicked on the Black Dog Star link and I'm very impressed with a lot of the information that mirrors my own. . . .
Her wording put the They Might Be Giants song "I'm Impressed" in my head:
I'm impressed, I'm impressedWhen that gorilla beats his chestFall to bits, I confess, I admit, I'm impressed . . .
With this playing in my head, I clicked my own link and reread the Black Dog Star post. I had linked to it because it connected Saturn and clocks with the birdemic and was thus relevant to my own post giving "Taiwan's Dr. Fauci" (whose Chinese name sounds like the Chinese for "clock," just as Fauci means "sickle") the nickname Big Ben. I had forgotten that it also included this image:
King Kong and the Black (Dog) Star!
That night, I listened to music on YouTube while doing the dishes, as usual. One of the songs it played was a Kill_mR_DJ mashup of Toto's "Africa" and Enigma's "Return to Innocence."
Looking at the screen, I saw that, in addition to Toto and Enigma, a band called "The Script" was credited, as the source of the instrumentals. I'd never heard of them.
Today (August 5), I had lunch at a restaurant, where a TV was playing music videos. I wasn't really paying attention until a live video from a concert came on. Before the song actually started, the singer was giving a little speech on the stage, in which he kept repeating that their band was The Script. Something like, "Whether you've been a Script fan since our first song, or whether this is your first Script concert, we want to say welcome to the Script family!" Then the music started, and I instantly recognized it as the track Kill_mR_DJ had sampled. My attention was now fully engaged, and then the lyrics started:
Yeah, you can be the greatest, you can be the bestYou can be the King Kong bangin' on your chestYou can beat the world, you can beat the warYou can talk to God, go bangin' on his door
King Kong beating his chest again! No black stars in this song, but Kill_mR_DJ had put it together with a song by Toto (the name of a famous black dog) -- called "Africa" (home of the "black stars," a.k.a. chimpanzees).
The reference to banging on God's door also caught my attention. Just before lunch I had, on a sudden whim, paid a visit to the Guashan Shaolin Temple, which I hadn't been to in years. It was the middle of a weekday, and the temple was virtually empty. On the ground floor is an emormous statue of Bodhidharma which has a very powerful presence, but I was there for the meditation room on the second floor. There's framed Chinese calligraphy on the walls -- 18 channeled poems dedicated to each of the 18 Arhats. When I first visited this temple, 12 years ago or so, one of these 18 poems attracted me as if by magnetism (it really feels pretty literally like magnetism!) even though I was basically illiterate in Chinese at that time, and when I touched the paper, I felt a powerful stream of energy flowing through me. (I hate to use "energy" in a New-Agey way like that, but I'm afraid it's the mot juste.) Today I immediately recognized the poem again, felt the same magnetic attraction, and felt the same rush of energy when I touched it. I'm much better at reading Chinese now, and it is the poem dedicated to Cudapanthaka -- called in Chinese 看門羅漢, literally "the Arhat who watches the door."
As I exited the meditation room, I looked back and realized that I had not entered by the main doorway -- a large circular opening with no door -- but by a side door.. This was a green door which, though it was propped open with a chair, had a sign saying "Arhat Energy Room Temporarily Closed."
Way to watch the door, Cudapanthaka! It's not the first time in recent weeks I've passed through a green door into a place that was supposed to be closed.
In the temple stairwell, I passed a window where a moth had become trapped between the glass and the screen. After some coaxing and a lot of sliding the glass and the screen back and forth, I finally got it to fly outside. The exact moment the moth flew out the window, a gecko jumped in the window and onto my arm.
Update: Immediately after posting this, I taught a different children's English class. Their assignment for today included this:
Two references to Toto the dog. Also Oz, a nickname for Australia. (I had had to explain that chimps can't eat honey ants because they don't live in Australia.) See also the references to Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion in this recent comment by WanderingGondola.