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I post a weekly diary of the historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the US) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I featured this past week in "Cheers & Jeers". For example .....

If you've been staring at your TV screens recently ... it may be due to this particular ....

SEPARATED at BIRTH - socialite Jill Kelly - part of the David Petraeus/Gen. John Allen situation - and Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock.

   

OK, you've been warned - here is this week's tomfoolery material that I posted.

ART NOTES - an exhibit entitled A Coastal Sensibility is at the Umpqua Valley Arts Association in Roseburg, Oregon through January 4th.

CHEERS to a wonderful long Thanksgiving holiday ... spent with family and friends (many recounting their loss of power during Hurricane Sandy, but all back on-the-grid now). I hope that yours was good, too.

HISTORY NOTES - historians in the Balkan nation of Croatia believe they have found a Roman villa that belonged to King Arthur - leader of the Knights of the Round Table and Camelot and bearer of the sword Excalibur.

WEDNESDAY's CHILD is Scooter the Cat - who makes a difference in the lives of patients he visits as an animal-assisted therapy cat, and was named the latest ASPCA Cat of the Year.

FOR THE PAST 30 YEARS the African nation of Cameroon has been ruled by 'dear leader' president Paul Biya - and one essayist believes that in terms of economic development, political freedoms and social indicators, those thirty years have not been kind to Cameroonians.

ART NOTES - an exhibition of still life entitled The Aesthetic Moment is at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington through January 6th.

FOR THOSE OF YOU with children whose tastes run towards Justin Bieber: a BBC essay asks the timely question, "Can you shape your children's taste in music?"

A BRITISH SOCIETY of land surveyors has granted its first posthumous membership to .... the Scottish poet Robert Burns.

SCIENCE NOTES - a discovery in a lake in Antarctica may push the boundaries of what life can endure.

THURSDAY's CHILD is Tardar Sauce the Cat - also known as Grumpy Cat - who reached the front page of social news website Reddit in less than a day.

LOST in TRANSLATION recently was the French president Francois Hollande who - although (unlike his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy) is reasonably fluent in English - managed to add an English word to his congratulatory French message to Barack Obama ... which was faulty. Meanwhile, Sarkozy confused the French words for "weather" and "time" to Hillary Clinton a few years back.

Suggested SEPARATED at BIRTH by AAbshier in a different forum: Anne Fagerburg - a member of the cello section of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra - and, of course, Elizabeth Warren - the newly-elected Massachusetts senator.

   

ALTHOUGH it will not be released until after the holidays: an album of previously unreleased songs by Jimi Hendrix - with more record releases under his name after his death (forty-two years ago) than in his life - may show he was moving in a direction musically that Earth, Wind and Fire would achieve later on.

BRAIN TEASER - try the latest Quiz of the Week's News from the BBC.

HAIL and FAREWELL to the guitarist Mickey Baker who has died at the age of 87. He was a featured guitarist on many hit songs (notably Love is Strange) and wrote a guitar instructional book that is still in print ... five decades later.

   

I profiled him in this space nearly two years ago: which you can read at this link.

THIS PAST THURSDAY yours truly hosted the Top Comments diary, with a profile of a childhood hero of mine: Soupy Sales the TV show host and entertainer.

FRIDAY's CHILD was stuck on the roof of a vacant two-story building in San Antonio, Texas before the fire department got on the roof to get the cat down ... but the scared cat made its own way down.

...... and finally, for a song of the week ......................................... each Thanksgiving, when a noted Laurel & Hardy film runs on television, the work of a noted early 20th Century composer comes to the forefront - and in early American musical theatre, the All-Music Guide's Jason Ankeny believes that Victor Herbert was its most important composer, changing it from the "traditional Viennese operettas to American musical comedies".

Herbert was in a position to know: Born in Ireland in 1859, then spending his early years in England, moving to Stuttgart, Germany at age 8, playing cello in Vienna itself (for the Johann Strauss Orchestra) then studying at the Stuttgart Conservatory. He married the Stuttgart Opera soprano Theresa Forster in 1886 and - when she was hired by the then 'fledgling' Metropolitan Opera in New York - insisted that he be given a position (as cellist) in its orchestra. Victor Herbert thus joined her in New York at age 27, in time gaining American citizenship.

Eventually he became the conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony, while remaining a cellist and writing operettas of note. In 1907 (at age 48) he founded the Victor Herbert Orchestra and wrote extensively for Broadway. His material changed from his European roots into more American-based story-telling music with works such as "The Serenade", "Fortune Teller", "The Enchantress" and "The Dream Girl". Several of his operettas are still performed today by light opera companies (and on occasion by major companies).

He also wrote for the Ziegfeld Follies and wrote the first American score for a silent movie: 1916's "The Fall of a Nation" (yes, a forgotten sequel to "Birth of a Nation") which argued for the US to enter World War I. A commercial flop, it's now considered a "lost film".

And he was one of nine individuals (along with Irving Berlin and John Philip Sousa) who in 1914 founded the American Society of Composers, Artists and Publishers (ASCAP) and served as a VP/director for nine years.

Victor Herbert died in New York in May, 1924 at age 65. A 1939 biopic about him entitled The Great Victor Herbert wasn't too much of an exaggeration considering his output - 2 operas, 1 cantata, 43 operettas, 10 stage shows, 40 orchestral works and numerous other works for individual instruments. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.

   
   
His best-known work by the general public was the operetta Babes In Toyland  - which as noted, Laurel & Hardy bring to life in its film version The March of the Wooden Soldiers each Thanksgiving.

First, at this link is a trailer for the 1934 film. Next, the operetta/film's most notable work is the instrumental March of the Toys - performed here by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra:

For a composition of his with lyrics: one of his most famous came from his operetta Naughty Marietta - with lyrics written by Rida Johnson Young in 1910. The song Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life was prominently sang in a film version of the play by Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy - and by Allan Jones, Jan Peerce, Mario Lanza and Beverly Sills. The song was later used in the musical play Thoroughly Modern Millie - and as an ode to my late father's favorite singer, here is a version by Bing Crosby:  

Ah! sweet mystery of life, at last I've found thee;
Ah! I know at last the secret of it all;
All the longing, striving, seeking, waiting, yearning,
The burning hopes, the joys and idle tears that fall!

For 'tis love, and love alone, the world is seeking;
And 'tis love, and love alone, that can repay;
Tis the answer, 'tis the end and all of living,
For it is love alone that rules for aye!

Originally posted to DKOMA on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:30 AM PST.

Also republished by Shamrock American Kossacks.

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