Article from the 12/23/2016 Catalina Islander

Since becoming "Catalina's Official Greeter", March 10, 2014, when the Chamber Of Commerce assigned me to greet the cruise ships and cross channel carriers, I have answered 61,118 questions.
RAIN NOTE:  We continually get moisture here and there with some rain bringing our season (October 1-September 30) total to 2.95", which is a bit DOWN from what used to be our of 14.29".  (Rick Harp, thanks for this information!).  We still have time!  HERE'S HOPING!  Grass and weeds are popping up all over!  Looking green and good!  Edison only allows us to water our plants one day of week, Tuesday, and ONLY between 5-7pm!  WATCH YOURSELVES!
LAST MINUTE GIFT IDEA:  You might want to consider as an appropriate gift the three hour PBS documentary, "WEST OF THE WEST", covering the history of the eight channel islands, including Catalina (with yours truly), that is only available in Avalon at the "Steamer Trunk" and the DC-3 (Airport).  If you don't live on Catalina, you can send me a check for $23, P. O. Box 1533, Avalon, CA 90704, and I will send you a DVD.  Even late, it will be MUCH APPRECIATED!
Speaking of Christmas gift giving.  I was down at the Mole on Wednesday taking the organist of the Casino, Jon Tusak (by the way, if you want to get a FANTASTIC free one hour organ concert, included in your price of movie admission, come at 6:30 and the show will start at 7:30.  REAL TREAT!) to the 7:45am L. B. boat and I couldn't believe how many Islanders were rushing to get to the mainland with EMPTY SUITCASES so they can hit the stores on the mainland and return the same day with their last minute "treasures"!
Speaking of gift giving; in the spirit of helping others, I am NOT giving out gifts or even Christmas Cards this year, but pooling all of this money together to provide sustainable water to a desperate village in a third/fourth world country.  I am praying for ALL of my family and friends when I do so that you will receive the BLESSING of this gift!
HOLIDAY DEPRESSION:  I understand it as I usually go into a major "tail spin" from "Halloween" to "New Year's"!  I decided that this year I wasn't going to focus on my situation (won't be able to be with Mom for the second year in a row), but those whose needs far surpass mine!  I have been working with Zella with "Meal On Wheels" home deliveries as well as helping a FANTASTIC ARMY OF VOLUNTEERS who served and delivered over 425 meals at the Avalon Community Church on December 18.  NO ONE WAS TURNED AWAY AND FOOD FOR ALL WHO NEEDED IT, due to so many wonderful contributions!!!  Need any rolls!?! lol! 
By the way, Jim and Sue Cheek, our cherished friends and neighbors for so many years, have sold their home on Clemente and are moving to North Carolina!  As has been their tradition for years,  they will be providing Christmas Dinner for ANYONE who doesn't have a place to be on this very important/sentimental/emotional day.  I will be there, with my world famous sweet potato casserole, so join me if you want to share!  WE WILL MISS THEM DEARLY!!!
CHRISTMAS MIRACLE:  I was notified by the great and generous people at the "Overlook" (previously the "Christian Science Church", East Whittley), that they want to get on the "National Register" and need documentation of one "original" particular postcard!  At our Rotary Christmas Party on December 14, at the newly renamed "Holiday Inn Resort, Catalina" (previously called the "Catalina Canyon Resort and Spa"), Autumn told me that she still had a few (around 10)  postcards that I loaned to her over two years ago.  Anna, from the "Overlook", showed me a picture on her IPhone of the EXACT postcard she needed.  I told her about Autumn's cards, BUT WAS SURE IT COULDN'T BE IN THE 10 SHE HAD.  CATALINA HAS BEEN SUBJECT TO 1000'S OF POSTCARDS!  GUESS WHAT, IT WAS IN THE 10!!!  WOW!!!
 
"A CHORUS OF ONE"
There is a malody/disorder that inflicts millions of us, yet you will never see a telethon or a single dollar raised for this infliction.  It had a MAJOR impact on 1/3 of the 90 Rotarians/guests who showed up for their Christmas Party on December 14.  I have been plagued by it since I was 5 and still have it, but to a lesser degree.  It is called "Mouthing".  In case you aren't aware of what this means, let me share my terrible tale of woo!  I was always a pretty normal kid, until I entered Kindergarten!  The teacher would get us all together, boys and girls, to learn songs to sing at one of our many school programs  Enthusiastically, I would BELT THEM OUT like everyone else, but the teacher would always look toward my section of the group and make a terrible face!  She would then point her boney finger in my area and express her fear that "someone was singing 'off key'!"  Being sure that it WASN'T ME. When we were asked to continue to sing, I would "let it rip"!  AGAIN, THE LOOK, AND THE POINTING IN MY DIRECTION!  The next time I decided to just "Mouth" the words!  She now smiled and no pointing or ugly face!  IT COULDN'T BE ME!  I tried "really" singing again in first grade through elementary school, but again with the looks and pointing, so continued to "mouth" all the way through high school!  Ask Mom, I AM OFF KEY!  I now even "Mouth" in the shower!!!
From the 1970's-80's, the "Avalon Community Chorus" would perform George Frideric Handel's "Messiah".  Soon after I played Christ at the "Easter Sunrise Service" (Islander column, March 25, 2016, "Christ The Lord Is Risen Today".  All of my past posts, www.catalinaislandman.com), under the inspired direction of Margaret Felkley, she passed by my special events business, "Catalina Island Odyssey", 215 Catalina, around October, 1977, and yelled out to me, "We are short of 'bases' for the "Messiah" this year. Show up for rehearsal TONIGHT!"  WHAT, ME SING, OUTLOUD!?!  I quickly caught up with her and explained my "affliction".  I told her that I wanted to meet with her BEFORE the rehearsal that night and have an "audition".  "No one has EVER 'auditioned' for our chorus, but in your case, Chuck, I will make an exception!"  That afternoon I found myself in the basement (now the youth center) of the Community Church where Margaret was set up at a very old piano.  I sat next to her on the bench.  "Let's see your range."  She started somewhere in the middle and kept going lower and lower.  I kept "Ahing" lower and lower until we got down to the bottom!  "Wow, you really do sing LOW!  I think I understand your problem.  You probably say lower than the other kids in school and found yourself trying to sing 'harmony' and not the 'melody' that teachers wanted to hear.  Boys and girls basically sounded the same at this age!"  I WAS DIAGNOSED!  I AM NOT AN ANIMAL, I AM A HUMAN!!!
At the rehearsal I realized that I had never learned to read music.  The best I could do was to find my base line and then when the notes went up, I went up, and when they went down,...!  Seemed to work!  I have NEVER learned to really read music!
The day of the performance, we all went up on stage.  For the first time I realized HOW many were in the soprano, alto, and tenor sections and there were ONLY four of us bases!  GREATLY OUTNUMBERED!  We were comprised of Jimmy Cowell, Rene LaPlante, myself, and an older gentleman, who will remain nameless, so I don't get sued by his family for slander, but sold insurance.  HOW OLD WAS HE!?!  I figured that he must have sung in the original "Chorus" in 1741! We were usually accompanied by a string quartet.
Early in the performance I realized that I didn't have a trained musical ear!  Whatever the other parts were singing, I would "try" to sing with them.  That REALLY caused problems when I tried to mimic the sopranos!  Jimmy and  Rene would stand on either side of me and sing DIRECTLY in my ears to keep me DOWN in my range!  I have the funny feeling that Handel HATED singers, as he seemed to have us ALL singing at least one octave higher than we were meant to!  LOVED seeing/hearing the sopronos "stripping their gears", but then it came our turn!  We had to start REALLY low to make it!  I had rehearsed with the four of us, but when it came time for us to sing as a "chorus", I realized that I was the ONLY ONE SINGING!  Jimmy and Rene had to save their voices for their solos and the other gentleman, I don't think even realized that he was on stage.  I WAS ALONE!!!  Somehow I made it through all of the songs, but then came the "Hallelujah Chorus"!
The "Messiah" is made up of two parts.  The first half was the Christmas Part while the second half pertained to Easter.  Luckily it is rarely sung at one time as it took HOURS to perform.  The "Hallelujah Chorus" was at the half way mark.  Tradition has it that King George II, on March 23, 1743, when the "Messiah' premiered in London, stood up at the "Hallelujah" part.  I think I know why.  It is so long at the point in the program that the King had to adjust his shorts!  WHEN THE KING STANDS, EVERYONE STANDS!  Musical historians, take note!
When the time came for this, what I believe, most beautiful part; the one that EVERYONE knows, Margaret would stand facing us and could NEVER hold back her tears.  Of course, no one but us saw this and we bit every part of our mouths to hold back OUR tears.  TALK ABOUT EMOTIONAL!  Now, once you get into the "Hallelujah Chorus", you had better pay attention.  If you lose you place, HEAVEN HELP YOU! It will be like being run over by a fast moving train.  Jimmy and Renee were off in their own world, while I had to hold the music for "the other guy" and try to show him where we were with my finger.  It became apparent, quite early in this song, that he wasn't able to keep up so he sat down and now there were THREE!  Whenever the part came for the base "chorus", YUP, I sang alone!
After we took our bows, left the stage and stood outside of the Casino Theatre or Ballroom (we seemed to rotate back and forth), where our family and friends would mob us with kind words, hugs, and tears, I would often hear "Chuck, we loved  hearing you sing!"   My response was always, "You AREN'T supposed to hear me sing; I was part of a chorus!"  Of course, I humbly had to acknowledge that I WAS the base chorus!"  I went on to play "King Arthur" in our production of "Camelot", but another time for that story.
For the first time in print I want to share something VERY IMPORTANT to me.  When attending Oregon State University in 1965 (I flunked out!), I first heard "Handel's Messiah" and of course the "Hallelujah Chorus".  I WAS MOVED LIKE I HAD NEVER BEEN BEFORE OR SINCE!  I then found out that it only took Handel 24 days to write this!  DEFINITELY INSPIRED.   I realized that Handel had been TOUCHED by God to write this and so I was so TOUCHED by it to completely believe in God!  For this reason, HOPEFULLY you will ONLY hear me wish you a "Merry Christmas" and NOT "Happy Holidays"!  "Holidays" are "Veterans", "Memorial", "4th of July", "Labor" days, and even then we use their names, not simply "Happy Holiday", so  why do it at Christmas!?!  I AM NOT ASHAMED OF GOD AND CHRIST!  If you celebrate another religion at this same time, BE PROUD TO STATE YOUR BELIEFS!  I am TIRED of "political correcting" the most important things in my life or anyone's life!  "MERRY CHRISTMAS" to all my readers!
 
BEST OF 2016
As I did last year, I want to repost the column/s that had the greatest response.  The four were:  "I Want The Mermaid", February 6, telling the story of the art director of the Casino, John Gabriel Beckman; "You Must Let Others Know How Much They Are Loved", March 4, the effect of my brother's suicide; "I Am The Greatest", June 17, the evening I spent with Muhammad Ali; and  "50 Bottles With Notes In The Sea", August  5, 19, 26, Sept. 2, my history of  throwing messaged bottle into the ocean.  If you want to refresh your memory, www.catalinaislandman.com,  Let me know  your favorites, 1-4, 1(best), 4 (least).
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