Category Archives: Retro reviews

Call for submissions: WIZ’s 2015 LONNOL Celebration

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Love of Nature Nature of Love Month–it’s on!

Valentine’s Day is over, but the good ship LONNOL is still available for booking. Perhaps you yet have tokens of affection you would like to ship out. If they have even the slightest touch of nature about them, we’re longing to publish them. Please search your files for poems, short fiction, short essays, mp3s of readings of your work or of other work that’s in public domain, your original artwork, etc. and share them with us and our readership. Less than two weeks remains in February, but if need requires, we will keep things afloat through March.

Along with submissions from our readers, we’ll have a fond feelings haiku chain, to be initiated soon.

Also, February 24th is WIZ’s birthday. We’ll be five years old. To celebrate, we’ll be offering one or more of WIZ’s old movie giveaways. Giving our readers presents on our birthday is something we really enjoy doing. To “win” an old movie, all you’ll have to do is read each movie’s review and comment in the comment section. WIZ will contact you with further instructions about how to receive your free DVD.

In the Northeast, winter has been ridiculous harsh and relentless. Here in the Four Corners region, we seem to be trembling on the brink of an early spring. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. Full steam ahead.

WIZ Retro Review Giveaway Double Feature: Come Next Spring and Merrily We Live

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Today is WIZ’s fifth birthday! To celebrate that and LONNOL Month, we’re giving away TWO free silver screen classics from days of yore for your viewing pleasure!

This first is a rerun from a previous WIZ Retro Review Giveaway, but it’s one of my favorite old flicks. Come Next Spring is a generous story with a quiet but strong heart.  Like many of these older films, rather than relying on in-your-face action sequences and special effects, loud soundtracks, and romantic drama that glues a box-office-compatible couple to center stage, Come Next Spring turns on resonant dialogue and actual, honest questions about family and community relations.

The story: recovering alcoholic Matt Ballot (Steve Cochran) returns to his Arkansas farm and the wife, Beth, and daughter, Annie, whom he abandoned twelve years earlier.  He’s more than a little interested to see what’s become of them since he left.  As he walks down the home stretch, he meets Annie.  Annie is a voiceless creature who keeps company with animals but runs away from her father, who doesn’t recognize her.  When Matt reaches the old homestead, he’s surprised to discover not only that his stoical and resourceful wife Bess (played beautifully by Ann Sheridan) has held everything together quite well without him but also that he has a delightful son, Abraham (Richard Eyer), born after Matt ran out on the family. Continue reading WIZ Retro Review Giveaway Double Feature: Come Next Spring and Merrily We Live

Retro Review: Come Next Spring by Patricia

Movie poster Come Next Spring

In spite of how elements of this movie’s storyline deal with the troubling subjects of alcoholism and abandonment of family, Come Next Spring is a generous story with a quiet but strong heart.  Like many of these older films, rather than relying on in-your-face action sequences and special effects, loud soundtracks, and romantic drama that glues a box-office-compatible couple to center stage, Come Next Spring turns on resonant dialogue and actual, honest questions about family and community relations.  No glamor kings and queens in this movie.  Its “just folks” actors provide it with a low-key, slow-moving charm. Continue reading Retro Review: Come Next Spring by Patricia

Thank you, 2012 LONNOL participants!

Valentine_Antique image woman bird cupids

Wilderness Interface Zone would like to thank participants who put their hearts in our Love of Nature Nature of Love Month.  The list includes:

Elizabeth Pinborough
Kathryn Knight
Gail White
Ashley Suzanne Musick
Sarah Dunster
Chanel Earl
Sarah Dunster
Mark Penny
Laura Craner
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Jonathon Penny

You all helped WIZ celebrate love and nature with fair fond tokens of well-worded affection.  Thank you!

Thanks also go to our readers and commenters.  There’s still plenty of room open (until March 24) on our LONNOL month giveaway of Typhoon, starring Dorothy Lamour and Robert Preston.  If you’d like one, please go to that post and leave a comment.  I’ll contact you for shipping information.  WIZ offers these DVDs free to readers in appreciation for your presence here and for your support of WIZ’s mission to create a rhetorically-diverse space for Mormon nature literature (though, of course, all nature writers are welcome–see submissions guidelines here).

Also, WIZ’s 4th Annual Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration will open on the vernal equinox, March 20, with categories for both competition and non-competition, an open-invitation spring haiku chain, another Retro Review, and other revelry.  Please make a note of the Runoff’s pending arrival and watch for announcements detailing this year’s activities and prizes.

Again, deepest affection to you, contributors, and to you, readers and followers of WIZ, for your continued presence here.

WIZ’s Birthday Retro Review: Typhoon

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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

LONNOL Month call for submissions

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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!

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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

WIZ Retro Review and giveaway: The Charge at Feather River

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Warning: As usual, this Retro Review may contain spoilers.

Don’t be fooled: Despite its somewhat predictable cavalry v. Indians plot and the flaming arrows shot directly at the audience to showcase the movie industry’s earliest 3-D special effects, The Charge at Feather River is about relationships—between misfit soldiers and their leaders, between rivals for a woman, between a young white woman and a Cheyenne chief and the people who come to her unwanted rescue.  At the admirable heart of this surprisingly complex story lies the bond that forms between a frontiersman and another captive woman, although as movie romances go, this one is understated and unique. Continue reading WIZ Retro Review and giveaway: The Charge at Feather River

Happy Birthday to us: WIZ turns 2!

Today WIZ celebrates its birth of two years ago (thanks again, Wm Morris) and its continued good health and growth.  Profound thanks are due its readers and contributors–as Sam says to Captain Faramir, you’ve shown your quality. I think Wilderness Interface Zone’s dream of building the ground story of a meeting place for Mormon and non-Mormon readers and writers of nature literature is being realized and showing boundless prospects for the future.  Debts of gratitude are due to be paid its supporters.

As part of its modest celebratory events, WIZ will post two Retro Reviews of vintage movies and offer copies of those movies in DVD form as gifts to interested audience members and WIZ contributors who comment on the review posts.  Each movie fits the Love of Nature, Nature of Love Month and has nature as a key element of its story, either as setting or plot vehicle.

How to get a free movie: Read the Retro Review I post today and/or the one I’ll post Monday, February 28. All readers need do is post a comment at the Retro Review and that will win each unique commenter one free copy of the movie under review.   I’m hoping that each Retro Review post garners 10 comments by unique commenters, but if they go over that, I think we’ll be able to meet demand.  If the unanticipated happens and commenters go way over the expected number, I may impose a cut off limit just to keep my sanity intact.

Thanks so much, loyal readers, for following WIZ’s content and posting comments, and deepest thanks to our contributors, who have heartily and with a great show of talent stepped up to provide for WIZ’s success.  I’m looking forward to this next year, which I anticipate to be exciting and filled with good prospects.

Profoundest thanks, friends.  This round’s two Retro Reviews will feature the films The Charge at Feather River starring Guy Madison and Helen Westcott and South of Pago Pago starring Francis Farmer and John Hall.  Today’s Retro Review is The Charge at Feather River.