I’m The Taxman

Kiss the Wiener

Kiss the Wiener

So, what does a song by The Beatles have to do with the Snake Alley Festival of Film…or even Iowa? Keep reading Sunshine. We’re getting there.

In 1962 a movie about two con men premiered in Mason City, Iowa, not too far from Burlington. One of the songs from that movie was recorded by The Beatles on their 1964 album titled “Meet The Beatles.” The name of that song was “Til There Was You.”

When they were filming the movie, Jack L. Warner (of Warner Bros.) wanted Frank Sinatra to play the lead. The writer insisted on someone else and his choice was final. The movie made the writer’s choice into an A-list Star.

So, why did I choose a song called “The Taxman” in a blog about the Snake Alley Festival of Film? Because April 15th was tax day. It was also the final deadline for entries into the film fest.

But you can still be a winner.

Guess the name of the movie, the names of the two men who played the con men (starting with the guy who beat out Sinatra), and the first name of the writer of the movie.
If you get all three correct, you’ll win a prize. Get two correct and win a prize for second place. Get one right and you get a third place prize.

The prizes? First place gets to kiss the winner of the Cyn-A-Palooza wiener dog races. Second place gets to kiss two dogs, and third place gets to…well, you get the idea.

The judges are working their eyeballs to the bone. It’s gonna be a great fest.


Lonnie and his Dad

Lonnie and his Dad

Well, it looks like I’ve been outed! And by my own son, no less!

If you’ve been following The Snake Alley Festival of Film blog, (You ARE following the blog, right? RIGHT?) Then you’ve probably noticed that the intrepid blogster mentions various folks from time to time in the posts. These are people I met at last year’s film fest and decided to spotlight in the blog.

To a man (or woman as the case may be) they busted their humps helping make the first annual Snake Alley Festival of Film the huge success that it was. They deserve all the recognition they get. I (of my own volition) chose to honor them in my own humble, irreverent, and inimitable, style with humor, affection, and a touch of sarcasm. And…since I live 1500 miles from Burlington, down in Tampa, Florida…I can get away with a lot!

Anyway, to make a long story short, I created a fanciful tale about Lonnie and Cyn in my last blog post. It must have stirred up some dust (hee-hee-hee) because Lonnie felt the need to “out” his poor, aged father, to the world as the blogger of record.

In the picture at the beginning of this post you’ll see a picture of Lonnie and me. (I’m the pretty one on the left.)

I will be there again this year for The Second Annual Snake Alley Festival of Film…so come up and introduce yourself. I promise I won’t put you in this blog. NOT!

Signed, Lonnie’s Dad

“A Tale of Original Sin!”

Wiener Dog Races

Lonnie and Cyn

And so it came to pass that actor, writer, and director, Lonnie Schuyler did gaze upon the countenance of Iowa girl Cynthia Stiefel. And he was sorely tempted by her to leave The Garden of Weird and Evil (Hollywood) and follow her to the land of milk and honey (known locally as corn and pigs!)

Thus did they wed and began a life of business and civic endeavors in a town called Burlington in the land of Iowa.
Cynthia (or Cyn as she is now called) opened a boutique and named it Original Cyn’s. She became involved in the revitalization of Burlington’s downtown area and with the help of other merchants began an annual street festival that draws many travelers to the area and promotes the main street and downtown revival.

This festival…called Cyn-A-Palooza, is replete with games, sales, live jousting with those intrepid ferret and weasel hunters, (actually—Wiener dog races) and fun for the entire family.

Lonnie gazed upon this land and the river that runs by it and saw that it was good. He thus began to make movies utilizing the river and surrounding lands. As his movies took him to other towns and film festivals, he realized that his betrothed had led him to an ideal location for a film festival.

With visions of using the refurbished Capitol Theater and Burlington’s revitalizing downtown, he began planning a film festival to be unique among others. He sensed that using the towns major landmarks would be the key to making it stand out. With the church steeples as a backdrop and Snake Alley as a theme, The Snake Alley Festival of Film was born.

And so…with much fanfare, and to once again bestow much merriment on the town of Burlington, in the land called Iowa, the 10th Annual Cyn-A-Palooza will take place on June 8th, following the 2nd Annual Snake Alley festival of Film. (June 6-8)

Be there or thou-est will be square!

Ahh, Spring! It’s Number One with a Bullitt!




Since Spring has sprung, it’s time to do some spring cleaning. In that vein, let’s “clean up” some old business. (The question I asked in the last post.) In this age of Google searches, I was surprised that no one named the actor in last post’s trivia question. He was none other than Steve McQueen.

And just to show you what “sticking with it” can get you, in 1968, just ten years after his debut in The Blob, Steve McQueen’s Solar Productions Company made the movie “Bullitt.” Bullitt was a box office smash and won an Academy Award for Best Film Editing. (See what practicing your craft can get you.) It also won an Edgar for Best Motion Picture Screenplay.

The car chase scenes (now considered an industry standard) were filmed in and around San Francisco near Lombard Street. Lombard Street is often cited as the crookedest street in the U.S., but we here in Burlington know better. Our own Snake Alley is the “Most-est Crookedest,” and we’ve got “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” to prove it.

Okay, San Fran, we’ll give you the Golden Gate. But we’ve got a bridge here that’s nothing to sneeze at. Especially when it’s lit up at night. Talk about romantic. A warm summer evening at The Drake, under a moonlit sky, with the bridge in the background, and the girl of your dreams…

Enough of that! Because…believe it or not, the deadline for late entries is rapidly approaching. So, if you want a shot at winning an “Alley,” you’d better get on the stick, slick!

(Just a side note…with much thanks to Laura Woodard! If you want the latest blog post to show up in your inbox, click on the box in the lower right-hand corner that says “follow.” Fill out the form that pops up and each new post will show up in your inbox like magic! Thanks, Laura! We’ll talk to the webmaster about making it bigger or more visible.)

Beware the Ides of March

The Ides of March

The Ides of March

It appears that spring is on the way here in Iowa! The weather is getting warmer and the blobs of snow have disappeared. And YOU missed the March 1st deadline to enter your film in the Snake Alley Festival of Film. Not to worry there, Bunkey! You can still make the late-entry deadline of April 1st. (No fooling!)

Speaking of blobs, there was an Indie film that premiered in 1958 titled “The Blob!” It was shot in and around the small town of Downingtown, Pennsylvania and was the debut for a new actor (now deceased) who went on to become a well-known action star.

The Blob was shot for the grand total of $110,000 and went on to gross millions. The actor took a flat fee of $3000 instead of a percentage of the receipts, because he didn’t think it would do well and he had to pay rent and buy groceries. The theme song was written by an emerging songwriter named Burt Bacharach and went on to become a nationwide teenage hit.

The Blob itself was made with silicone and food coloring.

Can you name the lead actor in this cult classic Indie film?

An Oscar Is So Passé! You Really Want An Alley!

Capitol Theater, Lonnie Schuyler, and the coveted Alley Award

Capitol Theater, Lonnie Schuyler, and the coveted Alley Award

This beats an Oscar!

This beats an Oscar!

Think about it. If you watched the Oscar’s, it seems like every Tom, Dick, (there were a few of those) and Harry gets one for something. Best director, Best Toenail Collector, Best Butt-Kisser…you name it, there’s an award for it.
So which one has more value? If you drive around Hollywood, there are so many Oscar’s that people are using them for door stops. You can buy Oscar key chains, little plastic dashboard Oscars, and even Oscar toilet paper holders. BUT…the one thing you don’t see in Hollywood is an Alley. Alleys are so rare, that very few people have ever seen one, much less won one.
Last year at The Snake Alley Festival of Film a handful of dedicated film makers walked away with an Alley. This is a unique award that will inspire admiration from all who see it. You could read the covetous looks in the eyes of the few Hollywood types that were there. On the last day of the fest, as they gazed with envy on the winners of the Alleys, they knew they had to settle for watching Lonnie Schuyler man-handle his wiener.
If you want a chance to be one of the few people in the world who has an Alley sitting in your trophy case, you need to get your entry in. The final deadline is April 1st and we’re not fooling. (If you enter using the “Without a box” link, you can get a little extra time to polish your work of sheer genius.)

How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck?

536081_476782242338176_302552757_nEverybody remembers that old poem about woodchucks. But what most of you don’t realize is that a woodchuck and a groundhog are pretty much the same critter. It just depends on where you live. And with Saturday being Groundhog Day, we thought it appropriate to bring it up.
Here in Burlington we have woodchucks. (At least that’s what everybody calls them.) Ours are a little smarter than that one named Phil in Pennsylvania. Ours know better than to stick their heads up in the dead of winter just to see a shadow.
Ours wait until June to see The Snake Alley Festival of Film. (Actually they come out to hear the live music at the after parties. They’re notorious party animals.)
And of course, this year, we’ve got the Super Bowl right after Groundhog Day…so a nosy little woodchuck might want to see who’s winning. Or make a prediction before the game. In fact I think I hear one giving me a hint, so be very quiet. Sssshh! What’s that? It sounds like he said “Niners” or was it “Nevermore?”
FYI—the name Woodchuck has nothing to do with wood. It was adapted from what the Algonquin Indians called these creatures…”Wuchak.” So when you’re here for the Snake Alley Festival of Film in June, say hi to “Wuchak.” Just don’t ask him to “chuck wood.”

Big Weekend Coming Up!

598517_476834982332902_1755190590_nYessiree! It’s time for the Super Bowl. This is the one day of the year that’s responsible for more people missing work than any other. The Monday following Super Bowl Sunday has the highest absentee rate of any Monday all year long.
The Super Bowl is on Sunday, February 3rd this year. It is exactly two days after the Early-bird Deadline to get your entries in to the 2nd Annual Snake Alley Festival of Film.
We are already seeing a lot of really good entries. Don’t get sidetracked and wind up getting shut out. On your way to buy wings, beer, snacks, and more beer for the Super Bowl, drop your early-bird entry for the Snake Alley Festival of Film into the nearest Post Office Collection Box. Then you can watch the game and root for your favorite team with a clear head. For those of you outside of the U.S.A., the Super Bowl is sort of like the World Cup.
F.Y.I.—we think those excessive absences are caused by the consumption of too many chicken wings! But that’s just a theory! But the early-bird deadline of midnight, February 1st is not…so get those entries in the mail.

Why You WANT To Get Writer’s Block!

For most writers, having writer’s block is one of those things that keep you awake at night. It doesn’t matter if you’re a novelist, a journalist, a playwright or a short story writer…having writer’s block can turn the most macho writer into a quivering mass of self-doubt.
But if you write a short screenplay to enter into the Snake Alley Festival of Film’s screenwriter competition…you really want “Writer’s Block!” Because “Writers Block” is the name of the award given for the best short screenplay.
If you saw the awards given to film makers last year, you’ll have an idea of the caliber of this unique award. It’s a first for this year, and the winner will have bragging rights about being the very first writer to ever win this award.
Early submission deadline for all entries (including this one) is February 1st. Go to the website http://www.snakealleyfestivaloffilm.com and click on the box marked (I’m not joking here) “withoutabox” for all the details.
Then just imagine that you’re amongst your peers and one of them mentions that he has writer’s block. You can respond, “So do I! I keep it on a shelf in my office!” Then smile enigmatically and casually walk away.