WIZ’s Birthday Retro Review: Typhoon

Typhoon poster3

Today is WIZ’s third birthday, and we’re in the mood to give gifts to our loyal readers.   For its giveaways, WIZ chooses flicks that feature nature in some way.   Our featured movie this time: Typhoon, starring Dorothy Lamour and Robert Preston.

This movie comes from an age when Hollywood trotted out the tropics when it needed an idyllic backdrop to frame one of its golden-throated beauties. Because, you know, nothing makes nature look better than a sarong-clad peach.     Typhoon contains several formulaic parallels to The Jungle Princess (reviewed here on WIZ), the movie that launched Lamour’s acting career.   Typhoon is another eye-and-ear candy adventure-romance starring Dorothy Lamour and animal friends along with a young Robert Preston in a screenplay that features cutting-edge special effects for 1930s-era films (Typhoon was released in 1940). Continue reading “WIZ’s Birthday Retro Review: Typhoon”

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LONNOL Month call for submissions

Antique valentine woman rose butterfly3

Roses are red;
Their odor is heady.
LONNOL month’s here–
Are your Valentines ready?

It’s Love of Nature Nature of Love Month on Wilderness Interface Zone, and we’re looking to publish love abroad.   Do you have a message of friendship and love you’d like to send someone? WIZ is looking for original poetry, essays, blocks of fiction, art, music (mp3s), videos or other media that address the subject of love while making references to nature.   We’ll also take the flipside: We’ll publish work about nature intertwined with themes of love.   Besides original work you’re welcome to send favorite works by others that have entered public domain.   So if you have a sonnet you’ve written to someone dear to your heart–even and perhaps especially your pet hamster Roley Poley or faithful horse Old Paint–or perhaps a video Valentine or an essay avowing your love for a natural space near and dear–please consider sending it to WIZ.   Click here for submissions guidelines.

Besides rolling out a (hopefully) heart-embroidered carpet of love-art, we’ll also be running two WIZ, nature-laced, romantic DVD giveaways, Typhoon, starring Dorothy Lamour and pre-Music Man Robert Preston, and a Pre-Hays Code movie, King of the Jungle, starring scantily clad Buster Crabbe as Kaspa the Lion Man.

We hope you’ll join the celebration.   Let’s warm up February with fond feeling.

WIZ’s 2011 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration begins!

800px-Western_Meadowlark_singing

Light’s rise sparks bright blooms:
birdsong, fields of it, vining–
spring’s first green flourish.

These mornings, I step outside my back door to hear the hush of winter thrown off by a clamor of birdsong–the crackle of starlings, jazzy riffs of purple house finches, a lonely two-syllable call from a flycatcher,   screeches and churrings of magpies, ravens’ gravelly croaks, a woodpecker drumming a juniper tree, jangling songs of meadowlarks outshouting everyone.   Quite stunning, this send-off of the season of low, cold light.   And I can’t help but detect in the intertwining of different avian dialects the bloom of flowery beauty and signature fragrances of meaning.

The language of the birds, or the green language, is the mythical, magical language of wisdom and divine insight thought to pass between birds and those humans with ears to hear the music of the cosmos with which birdsong is thought to be impregnated.   Some traditions equate la langue verte with the adamic or perfect language.   Many folks might consider any relation between birdsong and human utterances and comprehension illusory.   But if you listen closely, you will hear chirps in the language of many species ranging from rodents (prairie dogs’ alarm calls sound bird-ish, and the noisy grasshopper mouse chirrups constantly) to cats (chirps and trills) to amphibians (our Woodhouse toads pip at us) to insects to puppies to people–especially babies.   My nearly 19-year-old disabled daughter, who can understand more words than she can say, chirps, hoots, and trills in response to questions and other words of address.   After nearly two decades of studying her bird-like, tonal language, I think I can rightly claim that I’ve gained from it deep, magical insight–including into the quiddity of human expression.   Because of my experience with her and what I think I hear in the language of birds and other animals and insects, I’ve begun to wonder if, rather than acting as the basic phoneme of   a foreign language spoken by creatures with which we think ourselves to have little in common, the chirp might just lie at the root of human expression.

Whatever else it’s said to be, the mythical language of the birds is highly poetic, layered with multiple strata of meaning, playful, punful, sliding, gliding, beguiling to the ear when performed aloud, and, when conveyed in written interchange, deeply engaging of the mind’s inner ear.

For WIZ’s 2011 Spring Poetry Runoff and Celebration, let’s see if we can outshine the birds in their spring ceremonies.   Human language can be just as green and gorgeous, just as textured and as alluring as the language of the birds.   And when it comes to the opening of new prospects and possibilities, human language can have no rival.   Even the language of the birds lags behind the best effects of the best human language: opening-the-possibilities acts of authentic creation.   Poetry, with its multifaceted, many-leveled effects and metaphoric prowess–its strength for getting across–can create, so to speak, more world.   As John D. Niles says in Homo Narrans: The Poetics and Anthropology of Oral Narrative, “It is through such symbolic mental activities [as storytelling and poetry] that people have gained the ability to create themselves as human beings and thereby transform the world of nature into shapes not known before.”

So this Spring Poetry Runoff, let’s go green in our language.   I don’t mean Green, as in supportive of social or political movements touting environmental protection.   In some cases, that language is the least green of all.   I mean let’s go green, as in producing living, doing, being language that acts to open possibilities by virtue of its creative élan.   I mean let’s give out words that don’t just describe experience, they create experience, providing raw materials that others can recombine for their own narrative needs, thus altering, here and there, world and worlds.   Referencing John Miles Foley, Niles   calls this cosmoplastic, or “world-building” energy of human language, “wordpower.”

During this year’s Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration, we’ll not only be running the poetry contest with prizes in the Most Popular Vote Award and Admin Award categories but also an open-invitation haiku chain (a developing tradition on WIZ), a non-competing category for those poets wishing to participate in the Spring Poetry Runoff just for fun, the Runoff Rerun (re-publishing of one of last year’s poems), and other activities.

Hope you join in.   It’s spring.   Let’s sing it up.

To review submission deadlines, rules, voting procedures, and prizes, go here.

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Photo of singing western meadowlark by Alan Vernon.

WIZ Retro Review and giveaway: South of Pago Pago

South of Pago Pago cover art

Yep, this review probably contains spoilers.   Also, because its themes address directly environmental issues, I’ve given it a more thorough critical treatment than I gave The Charge at Feather River. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read it.   Finally, this movie contains intense battle scenes and a frightening pirate villain, either of which might be unsuitable fare for sensitive minds, be they adult minds or juvenile.

The beauty, intensity, and flair of this 1940 action-adventure flick caught me by surprise.   After watching the Dorothy Lamour vehicle, The Jungle Princess, I expected a tropical paradise movie of similar ilk. Geographically displaced animals.   Childlike but sexually forward leading men or women.   Backward natives who are slaves to superstition. Lots and lots of giant ferns.   I anticipated cartoon villains and expected that the water beneath their pearl-scooping pirate ship would have more depth than the ship’s crew. Continue reading “WIZ Retro Review and giveaway: South of Pago Pago”