CULTURE TO GO

          Savor that "everyone" for a second: Rodriguez's democratic view of filmmaking is refreshing, not to mention grounded in experience. Rebel chronicles the funding, making, and selling-to-Hollywood of Rodriguez's break-out first feature, El Mariachi, a snappy little action picture shot in Mexico for a microscopic $7,000. You may have heard the story--how Rodriguez raised a chunk of the needed funds by checking himself into a drug research hospital--but it's a good one and it bears retelling. Here's a guy who wrote some fast food out of a scene to save a couple bucks, but eventually directed the film's sequel for $7,000,000 (Desperado, basically El Mariachi times a thousand starring Antonio Banderas). Rebel may be a one-day read, a how-to book padded out with a script, but for low-income, non-genius filmmakers like myself, it's inspiring as all get-out. (Peter Scholtes)

Naomi Shihab Nye and
Paul B. Janeczko, eds.

I Feel A Little Jumpy Around You: A Book of Her Poems & His Poems Collected in Pairs

Simon & Schuster

          This anthology is high-concept, like a mountain. Of ice cream. The cherry on top is a tired thesis that goes something like this: Boys and girls are different. So very different. Boys suckle on baseball, paper routes, dad's motor oil--this according to co-editor Janeczko. Shihab Nye, his female counterpart, chimes in with the reminder that "less is silly to women," in that from the get-go, girls instinctively "honor the tiny, the tedious, the particular minutia." When they turn into women, they shop for condiments, know where the commas go, and can trade neck massages at parties without shame.

          So go the ground rules for this 196-poem collection, arranged into his & her couples like wallflowers at a square dance. These pairings are meant to echo each other, to show that either sex can tackle subjects like eating apples with separate-but-equal insight. It's a daring project, this stab at gender-bending poems into some kind of argument about how boys and girls write their own galaxies into existence. To their credit, the editors managed not to print the work in blue and pink type. But for all the reckless theorizing about dicks and tits that is this book's reason for being, if it weren't for the authors' names tagged to the poems, odds are no reader could tell who wrote them.

          I, for one, failed to detect in any of the poems a line break, a diction, a meter, a moment of punctuation that might finally end the gender war. Nonetheless, the foolish intent of this anthology shouldn't get in the way of enjoying some of the great work in it, moving and funny and right poems by Galway Kinnell, Li-Young Lee, Anna Swir, the obligatory Robert Bly, Jack Gilbert, and a host of lesser-knowns. Going into them, it's best to remember that Jumpy was published as a Simon & Schuster Book For Young Readers. Recommended audience: ages 12 and up. (Josie Rawson)

Gavin Lambert

Inside Daisy Clover

Midnight Classics/Serpents Tail

          Midnight Classics has published Inside Daisy Clover as a campy, late-night read on Hollywood in the late '50s--a marketing take that seems to sell short author Lambert (perhaps best known for his novel The Goodby People and for several screenplays, including I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and Sons and Lovers). It doesn't take long to see that this book could have become an American classic, and that Lambert's heroine--one of the first insightful teenaged girls who isn't all Pollyanna petticoats--is quite rare. Daisy Clover sits in the same tree as Catcher in the Rye's Holden Caulfield: a pensive smart-ass stuck in an oppressive age with a batch of glum, hypocritical adults.

          The racy paperback describes Daisy's glittery rise to Hollywood fame through her less than impressed eyes. She has bounds of personality and singing talent, but no patience for being wrapped in ribbons and touted as Magnagram Studio's virginal child star. The studio head, Mr. Swan, is a dictator in the same ranks as MGM boss Louis Mayer, putting himself in the middle of his actors' most private affairs. Daisy supports this tyrant's business (not to mention her pathetic older sister and mentally unstable mother) with her talent, and supports herself with a fast-and-loose mix of vodka, benzedrine, and older men. By the age of 18, she's divorced, with child, and a has-been; at 24, she's set to make her big "comeback" in Atlantic City.

          As a great cautionary tale, Inside Daisy Clover evokes the lives of many a Hollywood star (Jean Harlow and Judy Garland come immediately to mind). This book will likely incur a physical beating being carried from porch to bed to tub to kitchen: It's hard to leave it until you've consumed every page. (Amanda Ferguson)

WEBSITES

McSpotlight

www.mcspotlight.org

          Never underestimate McDonald's. As if spawning Britain's longest-running civil suit in history--the infamous McLibel trial--weren't enough, just last month the burger chain threatened to take legal action if the owner of McMunchies, a British sandwich shop, refused to remove the "Mc" from its name. Apparently, McDonald's claims to be the "registered user" of this prefix, thereby making half the centuries-old names in Scotland null and void.

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