Me and Elvis, among others

‘Tis the season….Elvis tree ornament (from Flickr)

 Teaching The King

There’s been a question in the back of my mind for a long time: is the plural of “Elvis” Elvises or Elvi? If you said you went to Vegas to see fifty flying Elvises would that be correct? Just asking.

Don’t ask me why, but I taught an Elvis segment in my class today. Maybe it’s the season, or the cold weather, or maybe I was feeling especially jolly, but for the first time in my entire adult life I sang in front of a class. With a microphone. Love Me Tender. OK, I sang along with Elvis, but still, I sang. Then I taught the song to the class and tried to make them stand up and sing it in partners. What prompted this? I don’t even like Elvis. I will blame it on the strain of trying to teach dependent clauses and transitional phrases. Or maybe it’s the fault of the delicious coffee from my new stovetop coffee maker.

Love me tender,
Love me sweet,
Never let me go.
You have made my life complete,
And I love you so.


Oh, it’s coming back to me now. It was the writing lesson I found online, with the life of Elvis as the subject. I printed a bunch of Elvis sentences, cut them apart, scrambled them, then handed them to pairs of students to make sense out of. They were instructed to put the sentences into categories – reasons for his fame, early life, musical style, death – and then write a couple of paragraphs using all the sentences. They could combine them, use transitional phrases, or whatever. We ended up with some good Elvis stories. On top of it all, I got to teach the word “erotic” (Elvis danced erotically). I tried to swivel my hips as a demonstration, but my booty-shakin’ days are long gone, and I just jiggled some fat. I ended up telling the students it’s a synonym for “sexy.”


My Saturday classes, at the International Performance College in Xindu, run from 9 to 12:15, then from 1:45 to 3:15. As usual, the highlight of the teaching day was lunch. The class and I ate chuan cai (Sichuan cuisine): gong bao chicken, salt-fried pork, shredded potatoes, beef and carrots in red sauce, and mapo doufu (spicy tofu).

In the afternoon I had “interviews” with the students, holding the microphone up to them so every word was heard. If a student used too much Chinese translation, I had them repeat the entire conversation with me in English once they figured out the right words. Then each student (only 5 of them today) had to teach the class how to do something. As a demonstration, I taught how to do the “tree” posture in yoga, losing my balance. We also learned how to do a traditional Chinese dance, how to draw a rabbit, how to walk like a gorilla, how to sing The Carpenters’ Yesterday Once More, and how to draw an apple using correct light and shadow.

Afterward, when my teaching assistant and I were dropped off back in central Chengdu by the school bus, I went to Carrefour to buy some bread and butter (I get cravings, OK?), and also picked out a pretty set of 5 coffee cups and saucers, each a different pattern, as an early birthday gift to myself. The shopping crowds and traffic downtown were insane. I kept my cool, and almost started to enjoy the Christmas muzak in the store. Go figure.

All in all, it was a rewarding day.


My favorite photo today
In the absence of my own digital camera, I often rely on Flickr to illustrate my blog. This photo’s so good that you can feel the cold and the snow on the Paris street. Also, it reflects my nostalgia for Paris, and my plans (tentative) to return there in 2010.


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