COVID making you ‘coo-coo’? Watch Bob Baker’s marionettes

Dance · Theater

Feeling a little …. um …. wobbly? Who isn’t? The Bob Baker Marionette Theater Bead Men are here to give you some ‘At Home Happiness’ with their rendition of spacey track “Coo Coo U” by The Manhattan Transfer. Okay, Bead Men, do your thing! Selected lyrics for sing-a-long below.

Coo coo u
I think you’re coo coo
I think you’re coo coo
I think you’re coo coo
Coo coo u
Coo coo u
I think you’re coo coo
Coo coo u
How did you get so coo coo
How did you?

They say it’s a fact that your head is cracked
You have blown your stack, you’re a maniac
I just heard the news that you blew a fuse
You’re a paranoid and your head’s a void
How did you get so coo coo
How did you?
(Look in the mirror)
You are in a fog since you slipped a cog
They will set you free with lobotomy
Your cerebral vault has a single fault
It is quite well known you’ve become a clone
Seen any good games shows lately?
(I like the news)
I like game shows
Psycho neurasthenic too much TV

Songwriters: Bill Louborough / David Wheat
Coo Coo U lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

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Beautiful work, Miriam Nelson, in ‘Picnic’ (1955) 4

Dance · Film

It was a delight to learn, after checking credits (“Who did this?”) on this sexy dance between William Holden and Kim Novak in PICNIC (1955), a YouTube phenomenon, that the choreographer was our good friend Miriam Nelson who died in 2018 at age 98. Deliciously done, Miriam.

It was my honor to share a meal with this (rare, female) film choreographer, occupying a red leather banquette at The Smoke House restaurant in Burbank. She gave me her very distinctive memories of Jack Cole dating to the 1930s in revues. The widow of dancer/choreographer Gene Nelson lived right around the corner at the time. Miriam was a very good friend of Robert Birchard and he often told me about her before I had the chance to meet her. She wrote in her autobiography as follows about her number for PICNIC:

“I was hired to teach Kim (Novak) and Bill (Holden) to dance in Picnic, 1955. They would be filming all day and I would get them in the evening, when they were both tired. That wasn’t the only challenge I encountered. Kim was painfully shy and inhibited, not a good thing for a dancer, and Bill didn’t want to dance, so I had to deal with that. I also dealt with rehearsal conditions in Hutchinson, Kansas, which were unusual to say the least. We rehearsed at a jukebox joint surrounded by bar patrons.”

From Miriam Nelson’s autobiography, My Life Dancing With The Stars

I do wish James Wong Howe had kept his camera fluid, although he does have beautiful framing shots … I don’t love the closeups, but I “get” them. I appreciate the little choreographic details, like when the duo changes their hand grip, the pauses (a perfect thing to give non-dancers to do), and the way Holden is leading Novak toward the end. I like how Miriam staged the couple right at the brink of falling into the water. Marvelous.

choreographer miriam nelson, courtesy orange county register
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Tenor-sax somersaults & trampolines: Sonny Rollins in 1967

Music · Reviews
by 
SONNY ROLLINS photography by John Abbott Each December, the marketplace offers up some must-have jazz-related item. A newly-minted LP collection, a CD or DVD box, or doorstop book—something that pushes aside everything around it. In 2020, that was unquestionably Sonny Rollins in Holland (Resonance). The two-CD compilation of previously unissued live performances by the tenor ...

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Our New Year’s Baby, Christian Holder, with tail

Dance
photo courtesy christian holder Well he couldn’t be cuter, could he? A New Year’s Baby — with a tail! A very good tale accompanies this photo … Christian Holder was born in a trunk, but not in Pocatello, Idaho; rather, in the faraway island of Trinidad. Moving to his mother’s native London while still an ...

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Film
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Long live the long-legged Ann Reinking 2

Dance
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Alvin Ailey in 1984: I’ll pass on Black ‘My Fair Lady’

Dance
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For cinephiles, Francophiles, feminists: ‘Young French Cinema’! 2

Film
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Blowing in the wind, in a COVID-era dance by Jody Sperling

Dance
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Buy Bobo, support Bob Baker Marionette Theater

Theater
In 1945, the only clown out of eight manufactured marionettes coming down the Bob Baker assembly line was Coco. One day Bob Baker decided to create a new character from the scraps and discards left on the cutting tables and floor. Bobo was born. Bobo, in his day, was a success. Thousands of Bobos were ...