Monday, May 22, 2006

Lebowski Fest

The Austin edition of Lebowski Fest was held this past weekend. We went both nights and totally acheived.

Friday was kind of a bust. It was at Maggie Mae's, which should have been the first omen of doom. We got there about 9:15 and the Recliners were playing. I only recognized one member from when I used to see them back in the swingin' lounge days of the mid-to-late 90s, but they still did what they were meant to do. Knowing the movie was going to be shown on the rooftop deck at midnight, we headed up there and staked out a table. Later, the film's Nihilist band, Autobahn, performed a comedy/music bit. What I could hear made me laugh, but the sound getting piped up to the roof wasn't that hot (omen #2). Then the Yuppie Pricks came on and did what they do. I've never seen them, nor had any desire to, so pardon my indifference.

Finally, it was time to start the movie. It had been years since I'd seen it with a big crowd, so I was looking forward to it, imagining a Rocky Horror-style screening. And it might have been just that, which is what they had in Vegas last year, or so I would hear the next night. But there were technical difficulties that seemed to involve both the audio and video. And maybe because of that, maybe not, Maggie Mae's let their usual clientele of frat-boy goldbrickers and strumpets in. Apparently, Nihilism is a popular ethos for the collegiate crowd, because they sure as shit didn't give a rat's ass about the movie, standing everywhere (blocking our view of the screen), and too loud to hear the now-cranked audio of the movie.

So we said, "Fuck it, dude," and went home to watch the movie that should have won Jeff Bridges an Oscar.

Night 2 (Bowling, Costumes, Trivia, What Have You) went better. After a trip to the Quonset Hut for costume pieces and accessories, we made a mud pit in the back yard and did some belly flops. Uh, why? you might ask. Well, when you're dressing up as Walter's Buddies Who Died Face Down In The Muck, these things are necessary. Am I wrong?

The Highland Lanes were jam-packed and we hopped onto a lane with some total strangers, but not The Stranger. The bowling took forever, but I didn't care that much as I was having a great time, checking out some of the other costumes, getting the occasional knowing nod from other Acheivers. We had our picture taken with Big Lew Abernathy, one of the inspirations for Walter. He knew exactly who we were dressed as, said we were his favorite costume, and pulled out the original pair of Walter's yellow aviator sunglasses. Nice.

While we're bowling, there's also Big Lebowski trivia going on. Could I be in a better Geek Heaven? I think not. The first round consisted of 8 multiple choice and 2 fill-in-the-blanks. They then pulled 20 random names from the stack of those who got all the questions right. Not being 100% sure on a couple of the questions, I was bemusedly suprised (like the Dude when he finds out Jesus is a pedarast with a record and did time in Chino) when they called my name. For Round 2, they took us in a back room and gave us a page of 10 f.i.t.b. questions. Again, I felt that I got most of them, but there was a couple I wasn't too sure on, like the number of the Dude's apartment.

Shortly after Round 2, they held the finals for the costume contest, where they paraded everbody who dressed up on a stage. They did groups of Dudes, Walters, Maudes, and Jesus', though there was only one Jesus, and he wasn't in a purple jumper. Tragedy. Of the costumes that weren't those characters, there were some definite gems. A couple of Strangers, a couple of Jackie Treehorns, one red-bodysuited Nihilist with real oversized scissors, one vine-wrapped Dance Cycle, a Frame of Reference, an unintentional Little Larry Sellars, a Pissed-On Rug, and a Queen in Her Undies (definitely the most obscure costume). To be judged by audience approval, it sounded like we were top 5 at least. So it was a good thing that I put some muck in a tupperware and brought it with us for re-application.

Then came the announcement for the trivia finals. Son-of-a-bitch they called my name, along with 2 other worthy adversaries. First question: name as many symbols as you can that are on the Lebowski Fest Austin poster. Unfortunately, I had studied the movie and not the poster, so I floundered on this question. Next, were some verbal question; oh shit. If you couldn't answer, it went to the next person. #1: Name Autobahn's album. The guy they asked didn't know it, so it came to me: Nagelbett. Point for me. #2: Name Smokey's bowling team. Shit. None of us got it. (Answer: the Cavaliers) #3: Name the family diner where Walter and the Dude enjoyed a cup of coffee. All I could come up with was "Mel's." (Answer: Johnny's). The final question, or task, rather, was to name as many characters from the movie in 30 seconds. I saw my competitors' answer sheets and had several more than one and it looked like a few more than the other. Walking away, I felt pretty good, thinking I'd at least secured 2nd place. Any way it turned out, I'd be one of the top 3 Lebowski geeks in Austin. Good to know I could cross something off the Before I Die To-Do List.

Finally, it was time for the awards. They gave a few trophies out to the high bowling scorers (245 was the best). Then one for farthest traveled (Springfield, Massachusetts), and one for hardest traveled (car broke down 60 miles outside of Austin, with 2 dogs, 1 being a Pomeranian). Next up was the trivia. I got 2nd place and a golfer trophy (with removable club)! Very nice. On to the costumes--I can't remember the order, but the winners in the Other category (ours) were the Queen In Her Undies, the Nihilist, and the Dance Cycle. Then, it was on to Best Walter. No, wait, Best Group Costume... to Walter's Buddies. Woo-hoo! Competitors bested! Except we were the only group. Who cares, we won! Suck it, Lone Nihilist! Then it was on to the Jesus', Maudes, Dudes, and Walters. The guy who won Walter was awesome, really pulled it off, especially with the facial expressions. As he went up to accept his award, he pulled us up with him saying, "I couldn't have done this without my buddies!"

Then, it was good night to the Fest, and to Big Lew. At some point during the night, I overheard somebody asking one of the organizers if they thought they'd come back to Austin next year. He said yes, but only if there's more costumes. I've got some ideas, so consider yourself warned.

Pictures from the 2nd night are here.

Take 'er easy for all us sinners, Dude....


At 5/22/2006 01:00:00 PM, Blogger zenbetty said...


At 5/22/2006 02:31:00 PM, Anonymous mad said...

awesome! you guys are true believers!

At 5/23/2006 01:32:00 PM, Blogger Mike V. said...

proud we are of all of you.

looks like an awesome time.


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