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Lebowskifest

The Coen Brothers' classic The Big Lebowski hit theaters more than ten years ago, and while it didn't make a big splash at the box office, it's enjoyed a cult status which only seems to grow as time goes on. If ever proof of cult status were required, though, Lebowskifest would be exhibit A. It all started in 2002 in Louisville, Kentucky, when the fest's two founders (also known as the "Founding Dudes") realized they both shared a passion for quoting The Big Lebowski and reasoned that if people were willing to go to tattoo conventions and classic car conventions and Star Trek conventions, wasn't it reasonable that people might also come to a convention which featured free bowling, Lebowksi-inspired costume contests and a bar stocked with White Russians? As the Dude himself said, "If you will it, it is no dream."

timemag.jpgThe fest grew, and now is held several times a year in different cities around the country. It's become a two-day party, which not infrequently features guests who appeared in the film: everyone ranging from Jeff Bridges (the "Dude" himself) to the Big Lebowski himself (David Huddleston) and the guy who played Saddam Hussein in the Dude's elaborate, Busby-Berkeley-style dream sequences. It's even spawned a copycat festival across the pond, in London, known as "The Dude Abides." A journalist for the Guardian describes the scene at a 2005 Dude Abides fest:

Alongside myriad versions of The Dude (lank hair, woolly cardigan, shorts) there was every interpretation of the film's significant scenes you could think of: three men in red Lycra catsuits were wielding giant scissors, re-enacting a nightmare The Dude has about having his testicles chopped off by nihilists; the wheelchair-user Jeffrey Lebowski mentions having his legs blown away by "some Chinaman in Korea" - a Chinaman turned up clutching two severed legs.

Over a soundtrack of Creedence Clearwater (The Dude's kind of band) and as many White Russians as you could drink, the bowling commenced in earnest. The large number of attractive women - many dressed as bowling pin-clad figures from The Dude's fantasies - suggested that these Big Lebowski fans did have a life outside of the film, and by the end of the evening the drunken bad behaviour confirmed Scott's claim that this was indeed cooler than the average Star Trek convention.

"London can be a lonely place. The Dude is the kind of guy we'd all like as our friend," he said from his wheelchair (he came as Lebowski). Then a nihilist screamed, "I believe in nothing!" and grabbed Scott's wheelchair to send it careering down a bowling lane and hit a perfect strike. That was the last I saw of him.

For those of you who are interested, there's a Lebowskifest coming up in LA on May 7-8 at the Wiltern Theater, where 8-year-old Japanese guitar prodigy Yuto Miyazawa will rock the house, followed by a screening of the movie (akin, I imagine, to screening the Rocky Horror Picture Show surrounded by devoted fans). Day two is all about bowling, White Russians, costumes and surprise guests.

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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