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9/5/03 Page Two
Omar and Walter Matthau's Bogus Oscar Night


Walter Matthau likes to use the word "Cocksucker" a lot. I would complain, but it's funny. I wish I could get away with that.

We arrived in Hollywood years before the event now known as the Matthau Pickup. I knew instantly something was wrong. Matthau noticed it before I did.

"It's not 1978. It's 1979. You fucked up, but good!"

It was true. Somehow the time machine (which is a truly stunning piece of work if I haven't already mentioned it) noticed that in order to go to the 1978 Academy Awards, you had to travel to 1979, when the actually give out the awards to the films from 1978. Fucking Academy.

"You didn't miss anything from the '77 awards anyway," Matthaw assured me. "Woody Allen never shows up to these things."

"You know him?" I asked.

"He tried to cast me in some of his movies, but by the time I was interested, he stopped making good ones. Then Mia with all the adopted kids. I didn't want to be around that set."

"He's not with Mia anymore you know," I told Matthau.

"I figured as much. When she started adopting kids, he hated it. He kept saying, 'I'm not a dad. What am I ever going to get out of this?' "



So we went to the '78 awards. In '79.

The Dorothy Chandler Pavillion is not really a pavillion and I didn't see Dorothy anywhere. We went up the red carpet. People took photos of Matthau, but it was a little half-hearted. People kept asking him where Jack Lemmon was.

"In your ass, you little cocksucker!" he'd say and then chuckle heartily. Nobody even called him on that shit. Amazing.

In 1979, you could be dapper and have a sloppy moustache at the same time.

We ran into Dyan Cannon on the red carpet. She was posing up a storm. She paused to greet Matthau, who had taken a sudden interest in her. She ignored me of course (the time traveler!), but gave Matthau a big hug like he was her favorite uncle or something. "I'll see you when you've got a few more wrinkles on you," Matthau told her. That Matthau!

Everybody was snapping photos of Warren Beatty and it was easy to see why he got all the ladies. Dude was a stallion. Man. I got wood just standing on the same carpet as him.

Robert DeNiro looked dapper and young, as did Christopher Walken. They were intense and focused, not like the self-parodies they'd later become.

Hey, what's Gary Busey doing here?

"We all thought he had a promising future," Matthau told me when he saw Busey. "Who knew his teeth were the most talented thing about him?"

It was time to go inside.

At the entrance, Matthau was whisked inside, but they weren't ready to let me walk in.

"He's with me," Matthau said.

Nobody moved.

"It's not a gay thing," Matthau said. "Not that I have anything against that. My protologist is gay. Good guy. A little lingering during exam time, but fine otherwise."

Nobody said anything.

"Oh, screw you, you cocksuckers. He's my assistant. Let us in."

They let us in.

Matthau took me to the bar (they have a bar!?) and we got properly sauced up. That was good because I had forgotten that even with distractions like a refrigerator, cats and betting pools with friends, the Oscars are long and frequently boring. And they still hadn't done away with those gawdawful musical numbers. Matthau dozed off during one of them, when they played the theme from The Magic of Lassie. Brutal, y'all. Just fucking brutal.

Matthau woke up long enough to make cracks about people on stage ("Sure, Jane Fonda's a feminist now, but wait until she marries that cocksucker from CNN and starts cutting the crusts off his grilled cheese sandwiches," "That Jon Voigt is a real cocksucker"), but by the time they got the directing category, near the end of the night, I realized I'd made a horrible mistake.

This wasn't fun. This was kind of lame and depressing. Some of these people would be dead soon. Others would end up doing shitty work. A very few of them would become bigger stars, but mostly it was the Cavalcade of Eventual Mediocrity.

"Is it too late to get that schvitz?" I asked Matthau as they broke for another commercial.

We got the shvitz. It was awesome. A bunch of old, flabby guys talking about stocks ("IBM," I told them. "Get on that shit early.") and who they banged in the 1940s.

I was refreshed, but exhausted. Matthau told me he was ready to go back home to chill and put in a few bets on the '91 Oscars. Did I give him a few tips? Let's just say I helped a Matthau out.

The time traveling was smooth and perfect. I dropped Matthau off at his home. No time had passed for him in 1990, but he had just spent a night at the Oscars and at the spa. He was a tired, grumpy old man.

"I guess I won't be seeing you in the future what with being dead and all," he said.

"Yeah. Maybe we'll do this again sometime, though," I said. "Before you die."

"That would be nice," Matthau said. "But next time we eat first. I got a craving for some corned beef."

He disappeared into his mansion.

I came home.

I'm liking the time machine.



Hey, look at this! Stuff to buy! Haaawwwt-Damn!

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At some point you have to admit that putting a ceiling on beauty pageant contestant ages was not that bad an idea

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