Private Chef

Probably working in a Japanese steak house! This, from 2011. As is often the case, I feel Arlo’s pain. I almost certainly could augment my income with personal appearances. Lots of cartoonists do so by putting together a cabaret act, although it’s never called a “cabaret act.” Many cartoonists actually seem to enjoy performing live, indeed are almost compelled to do so. And they find very appreciative audiences. I can’t do it. Stage fright. There is little that unnerves me more than speaking in front of a group, even a small group of familiar people. I should say, delivering a prepared program. If the format is conversational, i.e. Q & A, I do all right, but when it comes to a presentation, I’m hopeless. The rare appearances I do make usually begin with, “Are there any questions?”

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34 responses to “Private Chef”

  1. No problems Jimmy. We get to know you well here at the blog. I am surprised at the stage fright as you are very knowledgeable and probably hold a very nice conversation. You are also quite funny and that goes a long way in public speaking. I sometimes stumble over my words and thoughts. Singing as a soloist at church has been a great way to help overcome nerves. If you have enough guts to sing in public, the rest is much easier.

    Still, I would love to meet you someday. Maybe you can come over to my house and show me how to flip burgers? I won’t judge your performance!

  2. Having delivered my first live performance with commentary as a floral designer, with much elevated commentary on the principles of design, I asked if there were questions?

    “Yes, I noticed you taped all your wifes with floral tape! Why did you do that?”

    there was obviously a learning curve and I was way over their heads.

    Thirty five years later I am still over their heads but I have learned to make them laugh, slip in all the basics and the higher principles and hopefully learn.

  3. This is my 30th year of teaching university physics and I still get butterflies at the start of every quarter. It goes away once I get a feel for the class personality but the first few days are nerve wracking.

  4. Ruth: That happened each fall for the first several yrs, but eventually I was comfortable to start with.

    One time, with a small organic evolution class, I actually started out by asking if there were any questions. Got a good discussion going, when the door opened and Elaine walked in with my lecture notes. I’d phoned her about 20 min. beforehand. This was when our kids were still grade schoolers and she had not embarked on her second college career and subsequent [unrelated] job.

    I still give an occasional program, on biology, music, theology, or even art appreciation, mostly for retired folks, but did a delightful gig for my grandson’s 3rd grade class maybe 15 yr ago, on mammal skulls. If I preach at BUMC or anywhere else, I usually do something involving bones for “children’s time.” A live boa or python is also a good prop, but I’ve not used one in church. I did use an empty beer bottle at BUMC once, commenting that they might not remember the sermon, but probably would remember, “He brought a beer bottle to church.”


  5. I spend a few years as a radio DJ and was never nervous on the air however on those occasions when I had to do a live remote…flop sweat.

  6. Just wanted to pop in and say, “Thank you, Jimmy, for the t-shirts”.

    And Jackie, shouldn’t ‘taping all your wifes’, whether with floral tape or something else, be something done in the privacy of one’s own home??? 😉

  7. Yeah Jackie I found the taping all 5 wives a bit over my head too. It actually made your post funnier, for what it’s worth.

    One thing that I learned about singing was if I did not go to church with any nerves at all, I was too confident. I usually take a deep breath, say a quick prayer and usually things work out. But when I start singing something easy…BAM! I have even lost track of the words the Lord’s Prayer that I have recited at least 3000 times!

  8. Were the scent his own, I doubt Ludwig would be in a sheltered spot w/ hackles up. Alley cat, maybe, but will bet canid, likely shortly before tree was bought. Peace,

  9. Steve, yours made me giggle over a frequent error I have. I learned the Lord’s Prayer with the word ‘trespass’, and am often caught out if the congregation I am standing in uses a different translation with ‘debts’ or ‘sins’. Sometimes even if I have mentally prepared ahead. The extra syllable really stands out.

  10. I didn’t know there was a word for this. I indulged in it though, just a few minutes ago when I hit an unpainted curb in the dark and found my tire flat when I got home.

    And the tire has those funny locking nuts so I have to find the special socket to get the tire changed. Here’s hoping the prior owner left them in the well with the spare. (used car)

  11. Looked again at Ludwig and tree cartoon. Enlarged. You are right, he hits one branch and smells strange odor before retreating in defensive position.

    I am so sick right now I thought I should let you know you are right and I am wrong.

    Just in case.

  12. Jackie, I may have missed if this is in relation to ongoing treatment, an inadvertent gift of torrential mucus form a close friend, or an early case of what sounds to be a very bad flu season coming. I have also seen stories of whooping cough hitting a wide range of ages.

    In any case, hopeful thoughts, best wishes, and good strong ju-ju being sent your way.

    Debbe, I think you also described a temporary weakness in your health. Some sympathetic thoughts for you as well.

  13. I am sorry to hear you are so sick, Jackie. I hope you will get over it soon. This year the VA gave me the triple whammy, flu shot, pneumonia shot and shingles vaccine. But I’ve read the flu shot is not very effective against the main strain that is going around now.

  14. Whooping cough! Pertussis!

    I never thought about that and this whooping cough!

    Have to go to Tulsa tomorrow for plastic surgeon and we are calling my oncologists in morning. They were supposed to refer me to some primary internists in their group and didn’t. We have no idea what to do when things go wrong. No one wants to mess with chemo patients.

    Last emergency room we were sent to was disaster. I am loath to go now.

    Once bitten twice shy.

  15. Like Arlo, this is probably a story I’ve related before, but I don’t care. 🙂

    When I was about 51 or 52 I began trying to cough my lungs up (pertussis). I was hauling a load across Texas and discovered that a full night’s sleep (10 hrs) wasn’t enough when I hit a rumble strip less than 30 minutes after pulling out of a truck stop. I stopped at the next one, called dispatch, told them I was shutting down for 24 hours for health/safety reasons, and went back to bed. Woke up at about 6 the next morning, felt much better and hit the road.

    Lessons learned:

    1. The pertussis vaccine is good for about 40 years. Talk to your doctors and get a new vaccine if needed.
    2. Coughing up a lung can damage your vocal chords. In my case I lost the bottom of my range without gaining any on the top. I’m only now getting the lower notes back.

  16. Debbe, I hope you like that I am laughing. No, blue is definitely not favored. I mean, really, it makes it so hard to accessorize correctly. That you are joking about it is such good news.

    Similarl humor from a bad situation, we haven’t mentioned the Amtrak incident. I don’t have any real information out of the confusion of facts that are slowly starting to agree. But I have become aware of a new concept in railroading. I must have heard a sound bite many times, before I really paid attention to it on the Lars Larson radio program. What I had thought through the day was initial radio contact with first responders on scene, was made clear that it was the engineer of 501 (conductor?) conversing with dispatch(?), sorry if my terminology is not correct. The phrase that caused my misunderstanding was “we are on the ground”.

    I now understand that in railroad jargon being on the ground is a Very Bad Thing. As it means a failure from the normal condition of being on the rails. Increment the new item learned tally.

    I hope the NTSB investigation is presented clearly for those who deserve answers the most.

  17. Forgot to add the second laugh line later in the sound bite. I response to a question about current status, the reply came something close to, ‘when I exactly locate the rest of my train, I will tell you.” I know the guy was pretty shook up. But that is pretty clear communication in the midst of an overwhelming event.

  18. Morphy, on the Amtrak crash. The main issue seems to have been excessive speed of 80 mph in a 30 mph zone. Second issue I picked up from another story is that this is the first day this train has run over this particular section of track. They had just finished upgrading track for this route to handle speeds of 79 mph. I think someone got confused about where they could run fast and blew the curve, same as what happened in Pennsylvania.

  19. A few years ago, Mark, I asked my Primary at the VA about the shingles vaccine and he told me that he doesn’t recommend it under normal circumstances. He’s looked at the numbers and saw that the number of cases of shingles prevented per thousand doses is less than the number of severe reactions.

  20. Taping wives? Whether or not in public? I think would depend on type of tape and reason. Could be videotape recording some kind of public performance. Could be sticky tape for other reasons, (fill in your own).

    Anyway, I thought Jackie said Hal died, so who resurrected him?

  21. Sideburns: Your doctor may be right about the odds but have you ever known someone with one of those severe reactions? The mild case of shingles that I had was bad enough – I got the vaccine as soon as my insurance deemed me “old enough”.

  22. Jimmy, I help people speak for a living. Just three things in this venue that might help.

    1) Recognize that what you’re feeling just means that you care. There would be something wrong with you if you didn’t feel what you’re feeling.

    2) It’s the exact same biochemistry you experience just before the big game, or riding a roller coaster, or going to see a scary movie (or whatever you do for a thrill). In one case, you think of it as something to cultivate (e.g., being up for the game); in the other, you think of it as something you should get rid of. It’s not what happens to you but what you think about what happens to you that determines your experience. Learn to think of it as energy (being “up” for speaking.

    3) Since the Q&A and other conversational venues work for you, you have a great basis. You have a preconceived notion about what “speech” means. Don’t think of it as a performance; think of it as a planned conversation. That is, you think ahead of time about what you want to talk about, but you let it develop as it goes. Speaking isn’t about getting the words right; it’s about giving your ideas impact, and that means a conversation. They won’t remember the details, they will only remember impressions, and the most important part of it is YOU. So just be you and converse. Related: tell stories. That’s what people use to make sense of experience. Just the sorts of things you share right here in your blog.

    I don’t know if any of that helps, but it seems to help a lot of the people I work with. I hope you can share your gift even further!

  23. No, Ruth Anne, I haven’t. However, I trust my doctor to know what he’s talking about, and if he thinks that it isn’t a good idea for somebody of my age and health, I’ll follow his advice. If your doctor thinks the vaccine is a good idea for you, by all means take it.

  24. There is a new type of shingles vaccine that does not contain a live virus, unlike the older one.

    I had chickenpox as a child, meaning I’m at a higher risk of getting shingles so my doctor recommended I get vaccinated. I’ve read enough medical charts with shingles cases and aftereffects to make me want to avoid it. And I didn’t have any reactions to the older vaccine the VA gave me. I hope they will begin offering the new one instead, though.

  25. Trust in Doctors is a very important thing. So is having an open communication with him/her. I have certain family members that seem to have paranoia about everything in medicine and the bottom line is that they refuse to go to the Doctor. I have been seeing the same one for 22 years and have regular blood and urine draws (I’m on a medication) and he recommends tests that do me no harm and that my insurance pays for.

    I still think that I need to change my diet due my general muscle soreness and arthritis. My next visit, I hope to address that. In general, I think that he is doing a good job, if only someone that can filter out all of the contradicting medical information coming out of social media.

  26. Scleroderma is worse. Actually, you can make a case for many as the worst ever, especially if you watch a loved one go through it. Alzheimer’s?

    Shingles: Nasty chicken pox virus having another go at you. Had the mildest case in the world [L arm, then ring finger, then gone.] Wife had slightly worse case, sent us home from a retreat a day early. Former student*, shooting pains all over face and same side of body. [*She is now a noted, retired biophysicist in the Twin Cities.]

    Today’s TIP blogspot.

    Melcher is at least as cruel as he is funny. Actual scene is at a Westminster Inst., perhaps a decent old folks home.


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