Move Over, Comic-Con

Lebowski Fest causes devoted fans to dress in odd costumes, say weird things and converge all in one place. Sound familiar?

"The Big Lebowski" was a brilliantly funny 1998 movie starring Jeff Bridges as a SoCal slacker named The Dude. The character has deep thoughts but little motivation to act on them.

The Dude’s existence is summed up in his movie response to a question about what he does for recreation: "Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback."

San Diego, get ready for Lebowski Fest. The 14-city summer tour comes to town for the first time July 26-27. There’s a screening of the movie at the House of Blues the first night, followed by a bowling party the second night.

Will Russell and Scott Shussitt are the Founding Dudes of Lebowski Fest. Their traveling celebration of testosterone-fueled existentialism (that's as close to any label you can put on the flick) drew about 400 in San Francisco recently, and the Founding Dudes expect San Diego attendance to be similar.

"The film screening is fun because everybody screams out the lines," Shussitt said. "The screening gets us in the mindset for the bowling party, where we basically re-enact the movie."

Attendees dress up as characters from the movie (which also starred John Goodman and Steve Buscemi). There's a costume contest, a trivia contest and unlimited bowling. Plenty of The Dude's trademark White Russian cocktails will be consumed.

Shussitt said he's seen the movie more than 100 times, but in true Dude fashion, he hasn't kept track of the exact number. Nor does he know all the lines.

"I know most of the lines, but it drives my wife crazy when I say them while we watch it," Shussitt said. "But I have memorized a lot the characters' hand motions, so I do those, mostly."

Ron Donoho is a regular contributor to and a contributing editor to His Web site ( is dedicated to news, sports, culture, happy hours and all things downtown.

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