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The Day Donny Died

Section: Lebowskia  | Date: May 25th, 2010

the day donnie died In loving memory of Theodore Donald Kerobatsos (Dec 13th 1957 –Sept 21th 1991)

By Rev. Jorge Eduardo Alcalá

It’s been more than ten years since I first saw The Big Lebowski and I’ve still been wondering about the exact dates when everything took place. So I started tying up loose ends, trading information, and following leads. I even called the boys down at the crime lab. Unfortunately, as most Coen Brothers films end, I didn’t really get anywhere, and that’s cool, that’s cool.

If any of you want to follow me in my quest to unveil The Dude’s chronological timeline, feel free to do a jay, and we’ll take this hill together. We can discover one of the greatest mysteries of our time, “When did it all happen?”

Day 1:

Looking at The Dude’s check written for half n half is the first of many clues. Ol’ Duder writes September 11, 1991, but we know the check’s post-dated and not for immediate deposit. We learn later in the film The Dude shopped at Ralph’s at least one week before the date written on his check, most likely Wednesday, September 4th, 1991.

That night Jackie’s men, Woo and the blond thug, break into The Dude’s home and pee on the rug.

donnie bowling Day 2:

His Dudeness joins Walter and Donny at the bowling alley. We’re not really sure what time of day it is. This could be the evening of day one. It’s definitely not Saturday though because Walter is bowling. We all know how strictly Walter follows his Jewish faith.

Day 3:

El Duderino, wearing different clothes, goes to the big Lebowski’s home to seek retribution for his rug. The sun is out so we can safely assume this is a new day. We know it’s a weekday because the big Lebowski chastises the “other Lebowski” for dressing so poorly. If we look ahead to what we learn in day four, we can safely assume this is Thursday the 5th. Why is this not Friday the 6th, you ask?

The confrontation with Smokey occurs this evening, and we know this because Walter and Dude exit the bowling alley at night. We know this cannot be Friday because that would make it Erev Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. Even though Walter breaks the rules of his religious faith later in the film, we know, at this point, he shouldn’t be out bowling and waiving his “fucking gun around.” Therefore the third day is Thursday, September 5th.

over the line Day 4:

Following our logic, this would be Monday September 9th. This all hinges on Marty’s line, “Dude, tomorrow’s already the tenth.” Marty’s dance quintet will be performed next Monday (September 16th). The Dude makes his second visit to the big Lebowski’s home where he learns Bunny has been kidnapped. This is a bummer, man.

This afternoon takes us to the bowling alley with The Jesus and Liam. Maude reclaims her rug from The Dude’s bungalow, and Duder makes his third visit to the Lebowski mansion.

This evening The Dude and Walter attempt to deliver Bunny’s ransom money and fail. Later in the evening The Dude asks Walter, “What are we gonna tell Lebowski?” After bowling, The Dude, Walter, and Donny discover the Gran Torino has been stolen. The league game between Quintana, O’Brien and their third partner vs. The Dude, Walter, and Donny is rescheduled from the 14th to comply with Walter’s religious beliefs.

dude donnie and walter Day 5:

Tuesday, September 10th, 1991. The police officers are at The Dude’s bungalow investigating two thefts. At midday The Dude pays Maude a visit at her home. Immediately after this, Duder has his discussion with the “other Lebowski” ending with an envelope containing a human toe.

The afternoon is spent almost getting thrown out of a family establishment. Fortunately Walter only stayed to finish his coffee. The Dude probably did the right thing by getting out of the diner before things heated up.

This evening The Dude tried to relax in his tub, but we all know the Nihilists stopped by to trash the bungalow and drop a marmot into the bath water.


Wednesday, September 11th, 1991. At some point in the morning The Dude recovers his car from the impound lot. Midday finds Walter and his bowling team being served peanuts and refreshing drinks by Gary at the bowling alley bar. Maude breaks up the party by phoning The Dude directly at his favorite hangout.

This afternoon finds The Dude making his second visit to Maude’s loft.

Day 7:

Thursday, September 12th, 1991. The Dude finally takes a trip to Maude’s doctor to get his jaw checked out. After crashing into the dumpster, Dude finds out little Larry Sellers was responsible for stealing his car.

donnie bobbleheadDay 8:

Tuesday, September 17th, 1991. Marty finally performs his dance quintet at the Crane Jackson’s Fountain Street Theater.

In the late afternoon/early evening Walter confronts Larry Sellers and gets The Dude’s car banged up. Burgers are later acquired at the In-N-Out near Radford.

Dude spends his evening at Jackie Treehorn’s garden party in Malibu. He is later arrested and attacked by the Chief of Police. After mouthing off to the officer, Duder is hit with a coffee mug in the exact spot the big Lebowski suggested for a tattoo.

Day 9:

Wednesday, September 18th, 1991. In the wee hours of the morning, The Dude returns home to find Maude in his bathrobe. The least he could do was help Maude conceive because he’s a good man, and thorough. Afterward new shit comes to light, and as Duder is trying to get a hold of Walter we learn it is Erev Shabbos. We now have two options: a) We have no idea what The Dude has been doing the past three days or b) Walter is just wrong, plain and simple. Walter begs the question and I’ll answer it for you….he is. It’s Tuesday, not Friday, but The Dude doesn’t correct Walter. Ol Duder probably doesn’t even know what day it is (“Is this a weekday?”) but eventually talks Walter into driving them both back to the Lebowski mansion. This is the fourth trip to the big Lebowski’s home.

donnie ashes Day 10:

It is sometime between September 18th and September 21st, 1991. This is the sad day Donny dies. If what Quintana said was true, the semi-final has been rescheduled and will be played Monday the 23rd.

Day 11:

After Donny’s death we find The Dude and Walter speaking with Francis Donnelly at the funeral home. Later that day Donny’s mortal remains are committed to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean Duder’s face. The Dude has finally had it with Walter’s shenanigans, but they make amends and decide to go bowling.

It’s here in the bowling alley Gary says, “…Good luck tomorrow.” This brings us to September 22nd, 1991. Donny most likely died on the previous day, Saturday the 21st, a few hours after the end of sabbath.

big-lebowski-ashes Am I wrong?

I know, I’m just an asshole, a bum, someone the square community won’t give a shit about, but we’ve got plenty of time to argue…Coffee anyone?


*Thanks to Chalupa this article is in decent English. Past versions were written by men unable to achieve a level field of play. No funny stuff.

** Also thanks to Ms. Jamtoss for her permission to publish my homework.

[Editorial We’s note: There is an alternative theory (see the comments at the bottom of this dudespaper article as well) that the whole thing took place in August 1990, mainly due to the fact that’s when Bush the Elder gave his speech announcing that “this aggression will not stand.” Which would mean the Dude post-dated his check by some 13 months!]

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35 Responses to “The Day Donny Died”

  1. chalupa on May 26th, 2010 7:34 am

    Felicidades amigo! I see you finally got that venue you’ve been looking for.

  2. Joe on May 26th, 2010 12:33 pm

    You mention Marty’s dance quintet will be on Monday, 16 Sept, then mention that he actually danced on Tuesday the 17th.?? Did he do 2 performances. I admit, it was a riveting performance.

  3. Rev. BillZ on May 26th, 2010 1:04 pm

    I’m so confused, which is easy to do. In your numbering of the days I became lost when you jumped from day 7(Sep. 12th) and day 8(Sep. 17th). Whoa! My head is spinnin’ and it ain’t from too many cocktails, though that’d be alright, as an option, but not to be true just now. So, as I read your trail of the mystery, my mind boggles and I finally decide, let’s go bowling…

  4. chalupa on May 26th, 2010 1:06 pm

    There are a lotta ins and outs to this case.

    I believe the “Day 1”, “Day 2”, etc refer to days in the film, not actual sequential days on the calendar.

  5. Jorge Eduardo Alcala on May 26th, 2010 2:24 pm

    Chalupa, much abliged.

    Yes, yes, the dance quintet was performed on Tue, sept. 16th. Sorry, it was a typo.

    The numbering corresponds to the days in the film. That’s why we go from one day in the calendar to other (18th to 21st, for instance).

    It’s a purt good story, dontcha think?

  6. Don White on May 27th, 2010 7:00 am

    How do you figure the semi-final with Jesus and Liam was rescheduled for a Monday? Doesn’t the Jesus say “I would have fucked you in the ass Saturday. I fuck you in the ass next Wednesday instead. Wooo! You got a date Wednesday, baby!”?

    And I’m not really buying Walter being wrong about it being Shabbos.

    I think your thinking about this case has gotten very uptight.

  7. Robert the Dude on May 27th, 2010 9:17 pm

    Dude, you made so many time jumps I thought you might go back to the future, but you never quite got up to speed. 8/8 is the date that Walter bid us to “Mark it zero!” Your loopy timeline makes the movie’s plot look like a geometric proof. I was going to say that at least you got the names right, but now, I’m not sure. What is your source for Donny’s birthdate?

  8. Jorge Eduardo Alcala on May 28th, 2010 5:12 am

    Again, a typo. Of course the match was rescheduled to wednesday.

    The source of Donny’s birthdate is Steve Buscemi’s.

    Why do you say that Walter yells Mark it zero on august??

  9. chalupa on May 28th, 2010 5:25 am

    Dudes, some of you seem to be getting really uptight about this article. So it’s Jorge, and he made a couple of typos. Just take it easy, man.

  10. Robert the Dude on May 28th, 2010 8:38 am

    Nobody’s uptight here, chalupa. For my part, I think that Rev. Jorge is not serious about this here story. I find it confusing and amusing, and I think that I see the method to his madness. That’s just like, my opinion, man, and you can rest assured that I am always taking it easy. Calmer than you are.

    Come to think of it, calling every obvious error a typo just won’t wash. We know this is your homework, Jorge.

  11. Robert the Dude on May 28th, 2010 6:16 pm

    There are certain elements of this film that constantly spawn discord. Marty or Monty? Just who is the “miserable piece a shit”? The big one of course is, when did this all take place?

    There is no consensus on the date of the Dude’s first coming. It’s all just like, an opinion, man, and that’s cool. I applaud anyone who tries to tackle the case that confounded The Dude for nearly two Hours. The way I see it, the TV news clip, “This will not stand”, marks the date at 8/5/90. The Dude visited the old man in his grey stone mansion the next day, Monday Aug.6. On the 7th, nothing happened, that’s the day that the old man cooked up his little scam. Wed. Aug.8 “Over the line”. The next morning, Thursday Aug.9, the call from the league office, Marty visits, “tomorrow’s already the 10th.”

  12. Robert the Dude on May 28th, 2010 6:25 pm

    Rev. Jorge, thank you for bringing this shit to light. I respect your like, opinion man.

  13. Robert the Dude on May 29th, 2010 1:48 pm

    Here’s a Wiki quote that really ties this thread together. On the DVD, the 8/8 scene is titled “Over the line!”

    Acting on the policy of the Carter Doctrine, and out of fear the Iraqi army could launch an invasion of Saudi Arabia, U.S. President George H. W. Bush quickly announced that the U.S. would launch a “wholly defensive” mission to prevent Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia under the codename Operation Desert Shield. “Operation Desert Shield” began on 7 August 1990 when U.S. troops were sent to Saudi Arabia due also to the request of its monarch, King Fahd, who had earlier called for U.S. military assistance.[27] This “wholly defensive” doctrine was quickly abandoned when, on 8 August, Iraq declared Kuwait to be the 19th province of Iraq and Saddam Hussein named his cousin, Ali Hassan Al-Majid as its military-governor.[28]

    The United States Navy mobilized two naval battle groups, the aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS Independence and their escorts, to the area, where they were ready by 8 August. A total of 48 U.S. Air Force F-15s from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, landed in Saudi Arabia, and immediately commenced round the clock air patrols of the Saudi–Kuwait–Iraq border areas to discourage further Iraqi military advances.

  14. The Dudely Sage on May 30th, 2010 3:11 pm

    There´s something that aint right here…

    I´m not so enlighted about the burial rites in the U.S. but at least in Sweden where I live, you don´t just go and die at a Saturday evening and the next of kin can go and collect the remains at the Sunday morning after.
    Probably they are not that fast in the U.S. either…
    I mean, what happens when you die and will be cremated ?
    Well, in Donny´s case the paramedics would come and pick his body up and then they will take it to a hospital where a doctor will examine the body to make sure that he is dead, right?
    What happens next?
    Probably Donnys body will be taken down to the morgue and there they will examine the body further and I can almost bet on that it will not be transfered from the morgue until at least the next weekday.
    OK, when it has been taken to the cremation facility, there is some processes there also which probably takes some time, I don´t know how long but maybe at least a day.
    So probably Walther and The Dude could not pick up the remains of Donny until at least the Wednesday after he died (five days).
    So the date of death could not be the 21st because then they would not recieve the remains until the 26th and the finals that is the 23rd have not yet been played, right?.
    The consequences for this must be, If they returned poor Donny to the Pacific ocean the 22nd as mentioned above, the date for Donny´s death would be September the 18th 1991 and maybe earlier but not later. Am I wrong here?

  15. Jorge Eduardo Alcala on May 30th, 2010 4:29 pm

    Dear, dear Dudes:

    Here I go. The easiest way for me to answer would be by saying: you’ve got your story, I got mine. But, hey, we’re sympathizing here.

    First of all, my apologies. Somewhere in the article revisions, believe it or not, some of the dates got all messed up.

    Here you can see the original document -again, it’s written with my basic English skills-:

    Second, of course we’re talking about a fictional story with a fictional calendar. There is no way the dates can completely match with the actual calendar. This has been already discussed in many forums. We have, then, several options:

    1. It is not shabbos in the 4th visit.
    2. It’s not a working day in the first one.
    3. Someone is not telling the truth.
    4. The days of the movie (day 1, 2, etc) are not sequential days since there cannot be 2 shabbos in the timeline.

    Based on the above, you can, arbitrarily set the initial date based on the Bush’s speech and the eye-raki invasion (1990, and it carries the inconvenient of the banknote), or you can set the initial date based on the banknote (this option is plainly incompatible with Bush’s speech). In my opinion, fictionally speaking, the timeline works better if we consider that the banknote is not post-dated more than a few days, but I respect the other opinion as well. Either way, the calendar in the movie is entirely fictional.

    Rev. Dudely Sage makes an excellent argument by pointing out that there should be, at least, 1 more day prior to the beach scene. Donny died 18-19 or sept. 20th. Let’s take a closer look: we know that The Dude lives alone, has never been married, and Walter has an ex. Both of them go to the mortuary agency and we see no members of Donny’s family. We can infer from there that he is single and has no contact with the rest of his family. If they don’t even appear at the funeral, it means that they have passed away or that they have lost contact with him. That’s why we see Walter and The Dude at the agency.

    Finally… if we set the initial date on august 1990, then Donny lived one less year.

    I rather think of him living until 1991.

    I appreciate your comments, respect them and would like to thank to you all for taking some minutes to read this paragraphs and share your thoughts, as I have shared mine.

    The Dude abides.

  16. Jorge Eduardo Alcala on May 30th, 2010 8:02 pm

    1. It is not shabbos in the 4th visit.
    2. It’s not a working day in the first one.
    3. Someone is not telling the truth.
    4. The days of the movie (day 1, 2, etc) are not sequential days since there cannot be 2 shabbos in the timeline.

    And… the most accurate one:

    5. The calendar in the movie doesn’t have 7 days in one week. It’s a Coen calendar with shabbos every now and then, Bush broadcasting speeches in 1991 and days that lasts more than 24 hours: they go to the dance quintet, visit Lary Sellers, Walter smashes the new ‘vette, the buy In and out burgers, The Dude visits Jackie’s place… later, The Dude is unconscious for the drug in the caucasian, then awakes in the patrol and is taken to the police office, later, The Dude is in the taxi, then he walks home, makes love to Maude, calls Walter and goes with him to Pasadena… all in the same day (!). This special calendar works perfectly. You know why? Because all the narrative that makes a reference to it causes in the viewer the planned effect: a surprise within a frame of reference.

    And… even with those rules that propose an alternative logic and a slower than normal flow of time, there is a solid case in considering that the movie goes happens in sept 1991 or in aug 1990, it all depend on where you stand : on the banknote or on the tv-speech, dontcha think? Has it ever occurred to you?

    The Dude abides.

  17. The Dudely Sage on May 31st, 2010 9:40 am

    That´s cool man…
    we all know It´s just a film, but it´s a kind of interresting debate anyway.
    Just take it easy man…

  18. Robert the Dude on June 1st, 2010 8:27 am

    Early in the article, you claim that The Dude changed clothes between the first bowling alley scene and his first visit to Greystone mansion. That’s clearly incorrect. Same clothes, same day, Aug. 6/90. First you claim that it’s a weekday, then you say it isn’t.

    The next bowling scene was Wed. Aug. 8. They are all wearing different clothes, it is most likely a new day. I believe that Wednesday is their regular league night.

    The next day was Thursday Aug. 9/90. All of the events from Marty’s visit up until Donny’ death took place Thursday morning to Friday night/early morning Sat. The Dude pulled an all nighter. The police visited at night, Dude visited Maude right after that, also at night. When The Dude arrived at Maude’s it was dark, when he got home it was early morning Friday. His hair was wet so he had a shower, or perhaps he just dunked his head in the toilet for a refresher. After the limo scene he met Walter for coffee. Still morning. The coffee and yelling did not calm his nerves so he took a bath. Nihilists arrived, etc.

    The Nixon bowling poster shows up on Thursday Aug. 9 because Nixon resigned on that day in ’74.

    Erev Shabbos fell on the correct time, Friday evening. Donny’s funeral was likely the next day, Sat. Aug. 11. Or perhaps Sun. the 12th or Mon. the 13th.

    There are so many things wrong with your article, I could go on and on. I think that I’ll just write my own.

  19. Jorge Eduardo Alcala on June 1st, 2010 8:04 pm

    Dear Robert The Dude,

    Please do, man. I won’t go into the details in your reply, that’s not my point. Just a short annotation:

    There is no way you could make the events match with the calendar you’re proposing. The keys are:

    -The banknote. You believe it was postdated more than a year? Even if he’s a lazy guy, I wouldn’t consider that option.

    -Tomorrow’s already the tenth. Marty’s quintet is to be performed NEXT tuesday. So.. it would be aug 14th 1990. Right? All the events happen that day on.

    -The semis are to be played next wednesday, and that would be… aug 22nd?

    Yes, I have considered that Brandt is dressed in the first hours of a new day, and it seems to me a little forced. C’mon, man, it’s a movie, the timing is unrealistic and it was designed with other things in mind.

    It’s a shame we don’t have anything but small or indirect clues. Interesting what you’re saying about Nixon. As I said, it all depends on where you stand.

  20. Robert the Dude on June 1st, 2010 10:21 pm

    The only part of the story that doesn’t fit into my time line is Marty’s claim that his cycle is on Tuesday. Walter also claims that it’s Erev Shabbos on that same night. One of them must be wrong.

    Also, you’ve got the Nihilists waiting 8 days before finally coming back for the money. I guess they don’t want it that bad after all.

  21. chalupa on June 1st, 2010 10:26 pm

    I can see it taking the nihilists a week to track down The Dude. They weren’t exactly top-notch detectives.

  22. Jorge Eduardo Alcala on June 2nd, 2010 6:28 am

    Well, I guess it’s time to eat the bear since we’ve agreed in some basic things:

    * It is not shabbos in the 4th visit or someone is not telling the truth.

    * The days of the movie (day 1, 2, etc) are not sequential days since there cannot be 2 shabbos in the timeline (or again, someone is lying).

    * The Knudsens are involved. There is no fncking way they’re innocent. They’re probably printing “In search of Fawn” calendars in the farm, and those are not accurate at all.

    My respect to you all.

  23. Robert the Dude on June 2nd, 2010 8:30 am

    Jesus it’s not that complicated, man. What the fuck do the desk nuns have to do with anything?

    Have you considered that maybe Marty’s performance was a rehearsal or a preview?

    There was only one Shabbos, AFAIK. Sat. Aug.11. That’s why we see Walter reading the Bible, like every good Jew should do on the Shabbos.

    What the fuck are you up to Jorge? Did Dafino send you here to pump me for information? Are you enjoying your acid flashback, sir?

    Chalupa, the Nihilist’s found The Dude’s house the day after the hand off. Not bad for fucking amateurs.

  24. chalupa on June 2nd, 2010 10:47 am

    Robert you strike me as not very Dude at all. You just need to take it easy, man. The calendar is not the issue.

  25. Robert the Dude on June 2nd, 2010 1:07 pm

    Maybe some folks are forgetting their sense of humor here. I’ll just get myself a lane.

  26. Rev Wendy on June 3rd, 2010 1:05 am

    This is too far out for me.
    It’s late, and I hate math.

    I’ll come back when I have to use the John.

    Good effort, i’m willing to take your word for it, so therefore i am the most Dudely Dude here. Cuz i abide.

    hahahaha OH JUST KIDDING. I love you all.



  27. Rev. Tom on June 10th, 2010 2:44 am

    Great article, Dude

  28. dayna on January 6th, 2011 3:55 pm

    Incorrect information on Day 10: “This is the sad day Donny dies. If what Quintana said was true, the semi-final has been rescheduled and will be played Monday the 23rd.” According to the Jesus, “YOU GOT A DATE WEDNESDAY, BABY!! WOOO!!”

    Sorry to have to call you out.

  29. Davie Sandusky on July 13th, 2011 7:35 am

    Bush’s “aggression will not stand” speech took place on 8/06/90. So either the check was post dated over a year, or…? “What day is this?”It actually was 9/11/91 and Cohens thought there were better quotes from the “aggression” speech than from the New World Order speech.? I’m doing a Lebowski podcast on 9/11/11, so I thought I would get my dates straight. But, Fuck it. I’m doing it anyway. I have come to the conclusion that there is no consistent time line.

  30. Davie Sandusky on July 13th, 2011 7:50 am

    Ok. So I think everything happened mid September, Bush’s speech on the television in the background was from a news channel special that was showing a Gulf war retrospective. Since that was all wrapping up at the time.

  31. chalupa on July 13th, 2011 5:12 pm

    A podcast? Is this a regular thing you do?

  32. Davie Sandusky on July 14th, 2011 3:46 am

    Yeah. I only have 2 episodes so far. I put them out on the 15th of every month. 2 hours of music. I try not to talk for more than a minute and a half. http://daviesandusky.podomatic.com/entry/2011-06-17T07_53_40-07_00

  33. Larrylongballs on March 12th, 2012 7:10 am

    Your thinking is very uptight. Look to who benefits and there is your answer. Jackie Treehorn is right dude. He gave Duder an unknown substance that sent him on a trip of inestimable time. When Duder finally gets picked up from the police it happens to be on the Shabbas. The Dude was tripping from Wednesday through to Saturday. Its the only logical answer. Jackie Treehorn sent him on a three day trip.

  34. JEA on March 12th, 2012 8:58 am

    That was a hell of a caucasian…

  35. Eric on June 22nd, 2012 1:32 pm

    Um…what? And…thanks! :D I love everything written here because I’m sipping on Kessler whiskey and I realize the truth is always found when doing such. Carry on.

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