“I don’t look at the whole Oscar thing at all. I don’t know what campaigning means. I’m not here campaigning. I’m not on the road to campaign. I’m on the road to get people to see the movie. Because we’re kind of the little engine that could, if you would.” — Nebraska‘s Bruce Dern to HuffPost‘s Ricky Camilleri. Mr. Dern knows exactly what campaigning means and how the game works, trust me.

Dern mentions the Raincheck Room (8279 Santa Monica Blvd.), an old-time West Hollywood saloon frequented by out-of-work actors. A little less than two years ago I wrote about a moment that happened (or more precisely didn’t happen) in the Raincheck in June or July of ’81.

I was with a girlfriend, and the first thing I noticed after entering the main room and ordering a drink was actor Scott Wilson, sitting at a table with a friend. Wilson played murderer Dick Hickock in the 1967 film version of In Cold Blood, and this was foremost on my mind. After mulling it over I told my girlfriend that I wanted to go over and get Wilson’s autograph and (this was crucial) ask him to write “hair on the walls” below his name.

The phrase came from Truman Capote‘s nonfiction novel and the film version of same. Prior to their late-night visit to the home of Kansas farmer Herb Clutter, Hickock promised his psychopathic accomplice Perry Smith that no matter what happens “we’re gonna blast hair all over them walls.” So I thought it would be cool to get Wilson to offer a little riff on that. Seriously. But I wimped out, thinking he’d probably be offended. That was probably the right thing to do, but I’ve felt badly for years about it.

The things that won’t leave you alone later in life are the ones you chickened out on. If it;’s a ridiculous idea, don’t do it. But if you’re just intimidated, don’t succumb to that. Man up and do it.