Monday, July 14, 2008


Sarah and I went down to Louisville this weekend for a festival: Lebowski Fest. It is a little like a Star Trek convention, only with funnier costumes, wittier conversation, and more white Russians. We drove down Friday and arrived at about 10:30. We missed the documentary about the event and a couple of the performers, but we were present for the outdoor screening of The Big Lebowski.

Typically I am not a fan of people who speak the dialogue of a movie as you're watching it. Punchlines get ruined, emphasis is lost, and I'm not watching a movie to listen to you. But at Lebowski Fest, it is a bit different. I think the entire movie was spoken by the audience, but the level of emphasis imparted by the speakers varied so much. Lines that you might consider to be insignificant might be shouted by someone else. I actually found this viewing to be pretty enjoyable.

The next day started at about 5pm when we headed to the Garden Party. This was at the same location as the movie screening, only now along with the musicians they had some fairway games set up.

Game One: Ringer Toss. Get into the driver's side of The Dude's car and toss the ringer (bowling bag filled with Walter's underwear) over the car. If you hit the Nihilist, you win a prize.

Game Two: Dunk the Marmot. Hit a catapult with a mallet to launch the marmot. If it lands in the tub, you win. I won some Nihilist Gum (they don't believe in flavor).

Game Three: Mug Shot. Throw a coffee mug at a picture of The Dude. If you hit him in the forehead, you win.

They also had a couple of games of Cornhole set up. The boards had silkscreens of various Lebowski characters. We played a couple of games before heading to the bowling center for the Bowling Party. The line started forming at about 7, but the doors didn't open until 8 so it gave us an opportunity to check out some of the costumes people were sporting. There were plenty of Dudes, Walters, Jesuses (Jesi?), and Maudes, but other costumes were clever and/or obscure. A couple required some explanation, such as the woman wearing a lampshade and carrying what looked like a log wearing a baby bonnet. She was "New Shit Coming to Light", a line from the movie. My favorite of this type of costume was "Beaver Picture": two girls in beaver costumes walking around with a cardboard picture frame so that people could get photos. Awesome. That required some major dedication on their part because it was really hot and muggy on Saturday, so those costumes must have been uncomfortable.

Sarah and I didn't do costumes, but I wore my Oberlin button down bowling shirt and Sarah wore her Cleveland Steamers t-shirt (they're a roller derby team, sickos). One of the guys standing in line in front of us not only was from the Cleveland area (there were a lot of Cleveland people, actually), but he also works at Sherwin-Williams, just a few floors above Sarah. Very small world.

When we finally got into the bowling center we scrambled to find a lane to bowl on. A guy in a Dude costume invited us over to play on Lane 22, so we joined him. A few others joined our lane and we started to play. Sarah had an amazing first game, bowling a 197. This would ultimately be the 4th highest score of the night overall. After the first game we had some people leave and new people join us, and it was a pretty steady stream of people mingling, taking photos and enjoying the atmosphere as you sipped your beer or white Russian. Jeff, The Dude on our lane, and his wife (dressed as Ms. Jamtoss, the teacher who graded the homework assignment left by Larry in the car) were a constant presence and they are awesome.

At about 10, the guy who played Liam (The Jesus' bowling partner who shakes his hips at the beginning of the movie) got up on the makeshift stage and did a ball-buffing and hip-shaking demo. About ten minutes later, he joined us on our pair and rolled a couple of shots and took pictures. He's a really nice guy and is just tickled about his entire Lebowski experience.

About an hour later, the costume contest got underway. There was a general category for costumes like Beaver Picture, a superhero named Not-on-the-Rug Man, and This Aggression Will Not Stand -- two people dressed in Middle Eastern garb circa 1991 rolling around on office chairs. There were also separate categories for Best Dude, Walter, Jesus, and Maude. The winners in those categories would bowl in a one-shot roll-off, the winner receiving a check for $0.69 (ref. the grocery store scene). Maude won.

We ended up staying to the very end of the bowling and then headed over to the host hotel for the afterparty. I think what I enjoyed most about the whole event was that despite all of the alcohol flowing and the abundance of Walters at the venue, I did not see anyone being a jerk or engaging in obnoxious behavior. Everyone just seemed to have a good time and wanted everyone else to have a good time.

Everyone was an Achiever, and proud we are of all of them.

If you would like to see pictures and some video, click here:

Lebowskifest 2008

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