Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Who Was It Who Said...?

The line "Death ends a life, not a relationship" is quoted on several websites with attribution to Robert Benchley, but none, at least not any of the sites that I visited, offer any verification (such as when and where was it uttered or printed). In fact, the various websites all seem to be simply swiping it from each other with no attempt to verify. So, my question is: Does anyone have, or care to at least attempt to find, a source for the line?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel at Thurber House

Thurber House kicks off 2012 with a special evening featuring the bestselling, Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist/humorist Dave Barry and Emmy-Award winning TV writer, SNL alum, and Thurber Prize for American Humor winner, novelist Alan Zweibel!

Friday, January 13, 2012
Columbus Museum of Art
480 E. Broad St.
Reception: 5:30 - 6:45 p.m.; Reading at 7:00 p.m.

The two have joined forces to write Lunatics, a hilarious new novel of comic mayhem and sublime nuttiness. In alternating chapters, Barry and Zweibel have written an outrageous, laugh-out-loud humor masterpiece that tells the story of two 'joe schmoes' who meet through an escalating series of events, sending them running for their lives and ultimately solving everything from world conflicts to the perils of school soccer leagues. Universal Studios has already acquired the rights to make the film, and Steve Carrell is attached to play one of the leads.

Get up close and personal with these two funnymen at a wine and hors d'oeuvres reception followed by a reading. The new book, to be published January 10, will be available for purchase and signing by both authors.

Tickets for the reception are $45 and include reserved seating at the reading, space is limited. The deadline to purchase tickets for the reception is Tuesday, January 10.

Tickets to the reading only are $25.

Tickets may be purchased at http://www.thurberhouse.org/special-events.html.

Video of Mark Russell at the 2011 Robert Benchley Society Annual Gathering

Mark Russell has us all cracking up with his witty informal performance at the 2011 RBS Annual Awards Dinner.

Thanks again to Mark and Ali for making the evening such a hit!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Registration for the 2012 Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop is now open!

Registration for the 2012 Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop is now open! You can register at this link:

https://www.regonline.com/2012bombeckworkshop

The workshop sells out quickly -- typically in days or weeks -- so register soon to avoid being shut out.

The keynoters include:

Alan Zweibel, winner of multiple Emmy, Writers Guild of America, Tony and TV Critics awards for his work in television, film, theater, and print. His newest novel, Lunatics, written with Dave Barry, will be published in January 2012.

Jeff Zaslow, Wall Street Journal columnist and bestselling author of The Last Lecture, The Girls from Ames and Highest Duty. He recently collaborated with astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on their memoir, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope.

Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of hilarious and heartwarming novels, including the critically acclaimed bestseller Big Stone Gap. Her Lifetime television special, "Growing up Funny," garnered an Emmy nomination for Lily Tomlin.

Gina Barreca, author of It's Not That I'm Bitter: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World. She has appeared on 20/20, 48 Hours, NPR, the BBC, The Today Show, CNN, Joy Behar, and Oprah.

Ilene Beckerman, author of Love, Loss and What I Wore, which became an off-Broadway hit. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Ladies' Home Journal.

Two dozen writing and publishing professionals are part of our faculty, all there to help you become a better writer and marketer of your work. They include Pulitzer Prize recipient Connie Schultz, USA Today columnist Craig Wilson, and many more.

From the Mailbag

This just in:
Following up my October e-mails, may I just let you & your members know that my excellent contact in Surry has now aquired me a region free DVD of the Paramount shorts as well? He's Geoff Hogg (geoff hogg geoffhogg@btinternet.com) which my wife & i are so enjoying watching.
All the best, David C.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Save the night: January 14, 2012

Urban Noir Opening Night

Robert Benchley Society member Helen K. Garber announces her latest solo exhibition in Los Angeles: Jan. 14 - Feb. 25, 2012 @ dnj Gallery, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, Calif.

Helen has spent the last two years creating Encaustic Noir, the series of mixed media assemblages that will be exhibited in the main gallery.

dnj owner/director Pamela Schoenberg curated an amazing companion show of vintage night photography by the master artists who have inspired Helen's work.

You will be able to see original vintage images by Brassai Henri Cartier-Bresson, Andre Kertesz, Robert Doisneau and other renowned photographers in the second gallery. Pamela chose only photographers working in Paris in the 1930’s.

If you don’t know photographic history, please consider that they were among the real life characters represented in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

The reception takes place during Photo LA weekend http://photola.com/, when the international photographic community gathers in Santa Monica.

So please save the night of January 14 and enjoy stepping in and out of the past with Helen.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Limited Time Offer!

Order THE ATHLETIC BENCHLEY between now and Dec 23rd and recieve FREE two rare DOROTHY PARKER pieces, never before published in anthology. Rare Parker items from the height of her wittiest production, unearthed from The DAC News in Detroit. www.glendowermedia.com.

Algonquin Round Table Walking Tour

Algonquin Round Table Walking Tour, Sunday, Dec. 4, Noon-2 p.m.

Location: Algonquin Hotel, 59 W. 44th St (bet 5th and 6th Avenues)
Cost: $20

Walk in the footsteps of the Vicious Circle in the only walking tour dedicated to the city's greatest literary friends. See the places where the Round Table, lived, worked, played and drank. You'll visit the former homes, theaters and speakeasies associated with Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Franklin P. Adams, Heywood Broun, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman and many more. The walk begins and ends in the landmark Algonquin Hotel. The walk is led by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, president of the DPS and author of A Journey into Dorothy Parker's New York. RSVP to kevin@dorothyparker.com.

New Book by Kim Goldsworthy, "Lunch at the Algonquin," Features the 1920s Celebrities Known as The Algonquin Round Table

"Lunch at the Algonquin" is a new book by Kim Goldsworthy. A novelette of historical fiction, the book re-creates a dialogue between the group of writers known as "The Algonquin Round Table" or "The Vicious Circle," featuring Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley.

The author, Mr. Kim Goldsworthy of Rosemead, California, describes his historical fiction novelette as a re-creation of a one-hour luncheon attended by the famous Algonquin Wits of The Roaring Twenties or The Jazz Age. Specifically, the dialogue features the wit and sarcasm of Dorothy Parker (writer/screenwriter), Robert Benchley (writer/actor), Harold Ross (editor and founder of "The New Yorker" magazine), George S. Kaufman (Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright), and Marc Connelly (Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright), and others.

Like a fly-on-the-wall, the book records a typical conversation of this group as they eat lunch in the Algonquin Hotel in mid-town Manhattan, one afternoon in 1921, as they gab about the hot issues of the day: Prohibition; women's rights; radio; film; the Red Scare; the Sacco-Vanzetti trial of the century. They likewise converse about the little things, like pets, the theater, and what to do this weekend. In between bites, they spit their venom on each other as they toss off their insults and sexual innuendos between puns, word-play, literary allusions, and quotable quotes.

The author has included historical background to allow the reader to pick up the vibration of post-World War I America as expressed by the most literate New Yorkers living through the Jazz Age. For example, the newest interests of the early 1920s were mainly: the spread of the deadly Spanish flu epidemic; the spreading of jazz music; the propagation of radio as a consumer good; and the two newest Amendments to the U.S. Constitution concerning the right to vote ("women's suffrage") and the banning of alcoholic beverages ("Prohibition").

Popular interest in the Roaring Twenties and The Jazz Age is peaking right now, thanks to recent television shows like HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" and the Ken Burns documentary "Prohibition" which debuted on PBS.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED DIFFICULT

Boston RBS Chapter Enjoys Artists and Models Evening

On Friday, November 18, 2011, the Boston "We've Come for the Davenport" Chapter of the Robert Benchley Society enjoyed an evening of life drawing.


Above -- David shakes the cocktail of the evening, the aviation.

Mr. Benchley, prior to his writing career, was first an illustrator at the Harvard Lampoon and in the 1920s hung out with artists in New York City, so we believe he would fit right in.
Participating in the event were: Michael Coughlin, Stephen Helfer, Will Howitt, Rich Johnson, Danielle Lauretano, Christopher Morgan, Maria Paige, Jeffrey Quinlan, Peter Sheinfeld, David and Mary Trumbull, Lorenzo Wigfall, and Jean Wilson.
More photos are available at http://trumbullofboston.blogspot.com/2011/11/artists-and-models-11182011.html. WARNING, CONTAINS NUDITY.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop

The University of Dayton has announced that registration for the 2012 Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop will open Dec. 6th.

The 2012 workshop at the University of Dayton will kick off with a keynote talk from Alan Zweibel, an original Saturday Night Live writer and author of the 2006 Thurber Prize-winning novel The Other Shulman.

Online registration for the workshop, slated April 19-21, opens at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 6th. The registration fee is $375, the same as in 2010. For more information go to http://humorwriters.org/.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Benchley's "Of All Things" Available Free Online

Thank you, Chris Morgan of the Boston, "We've Come for the Davenport" Chapter of the Robert Benchley Society for alerting us that the complete text and illustrations of Benchley's 1921 book Of All Things was, last month, made available on Project Gutenberg. This is the second Benchley book, after Love Conquers All, to be scanned and uploaded to Project Gutenberg which make books in the public domain available free online.

Of All Things and Love Conquers All are also now available on the Robert Benchley Society website at http://www.robertbenchley.org/sob/index.htm

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED DIFFICULT

Photo Captioning Contest at RBS Annual Gathering

WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 12 -- Last evening the Eighth Annual International Gathering of the Robert Benchley Society was kicked off in Washington, D.C. In keeping with the group's tradition, the first evening's dinner was a casual affair. This time it was held at Buca di Beppo in the "Pope Room" where Benchleyites gathered at a round table with a bust of the Pope in the center.
Above and below -- Robert Benchley Society Annual Gathering Friday Dinner.
For entertainment the group competed in writing captions to go along with still photos from La Fea Más Bella, a Mexican telenovela (a sort of "soap opera").

Winning caption: "You just ate my hearing aid." By Jean Keleher of the Washington, D.C. "Lost Locomotive" Chapter.
Winning caption: "Why, yes, I am the minister of silly mustaches." By Matthew Hahn of the Washington, D.C. "Lost Locomotive" Chapter.
Winning caption: "Man, she really let that one rip." By Tim French, member at large from Alabama.
Winning caption: "I don't know! Who should be American idol?" By Christine McCarthy of the Boston "We've Come for the Davenport" Chapter.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New York City Benchley-Parker Round-up

David Trumbull, chairman of the Robert Benchley Society, and Kevin Fitzpatrick, president of the New York City "Fascinating Crimes" Chapter of the RBS and president of the Dorothy Parker Society plan to meet tomorrow. Wednesday, November 3rd, at 5:15 p.m. for drinks at the Lambs Club / Chatwal Hotel (http://www.thelambsclub.com/), 132 West 44th Street (btwn 6th Ave and Broadway) New York, N.Y. 10036 and welcome Benchley and Parker fans in Midtown / Theatre District to join them for a brief, informal Robert Benchley Round-up.

A History of the Lambs Club

Before becoming The Chatwal New York and The Lambs Club Restaurant and Bar, this iconic Stanford White-designed building was the epicenter of American for the 20th century. The building originally opened in 1905 as home to the prestigious Lambs, America's first professional theatrical club. Organized in 1874 by a group of actors and enthusiasts, The Lambs occupied a series of rented quarters before settling at 44th Street. The American club took their name from a similar group in London, which flourished from 1869-1879, in the name of drama critic and essayist Charles Lamb.

Stanford White, a partner at prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White, was the original architect of The Lambs clubhouse. His design principles embodied the "American Renaissance," as seen in his work on summer homes for the Astor and Vanderbilt families and such formidable structures as The Washington Square Arch, Madison Square Garden and the New York Herald Building. For The Lambs, he designed a six-story, neo-Georgian brick building featuring a facade ornamented with ram heads. A boisterous grill room and billiard room were on the first floor, a banquet hall on the second floor and a theater on the third floor. The top floors provided space for offices and sleeping quarters, often utilized by members traveling to The Great White Way from Hollywood. The size of the building was doubled in 1915 when an addition was constructed on the west end of the building, a virtual copy of the original. In 1974, the building was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks and Preservation Commission.

Since the club's founding, there have been more than 6,000 Lambs, with an elite roster reading like a Who's Who of American theater and film: Maurice, Lionel and John Barrymore, Irving Berlin, Cecil B. DeMille, David Belasco, Charlie Chaplin, George M. Cohan, Douglas Fairbanks, John Wayne, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Spencer Tracy and Fred Astaire, who was famously quoted as stating, "When I was made a Lamb, I felt I had been knighted."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED DIFFICULT

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mark Russell Confirmed to Attend RBS 8th International Annual Gathering

The Robert Benchley Society is pleased to announce that pianist and humorist Mark Russell, 2011 celebrity judge of the Robert Benchley Society Annual Award for Humor, will be attending the RBS Annual Awards Dinner on Saturday, November 12th. The dinner will be the highlight of the Eighth Annual Gathering of the Robert Benchley Society will be Friday through Sunday, November 11-13, 2011, in Washington, D.C.

At the Awards Dinner we'll be giving out two 1st Place Robert Benchley Society Awards for Humor. Tim French of Midway, Alabama will be presented with the 2011 Robert Benchley Award for Humor for his essay The Old Man and the Leaf Blower. Mike Tuck of Eden Prairie, Minn., will be awarded 2010 Robert Benchley humor prize for his essay Story Time with the Children.

http://www.robertbenchley.org/AG2011/registration.htm.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED MEDIUM DIFFICULTY

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Boston Benchley Round-up Planned: "Artists and Models"

WHAT: Life drawing

WHEN: Evening of Friday, November 18, 2011.

WHERE: Beacon Hill, Boston, Mass.

HOW MUCH: $15 and B.Y.O.B.


The Boston "We've Come for the Davenport" Chapter of the Robert Benchley Society will have a Round-up on Friday, November 18, 2011. We have hired artists' models for an evening of life drawing. For $15, which covers the cost of the models and artists' supplies, you can join us for sketching, light snacks, drinks (B.Y.O.B.), and conversation. Maybe someone will read Mr. Benchley's essay "Artist’s Model Succumbs" to put us in the mood.

NOT AN ARTIST? Don't worry. None of us are. The idea is to expose ourselves to something new -- sketching -- in a fun atmosphere with friends. No one will judge you work.

Those of you who were with the Robert Benchley Society delegation at the 2007 Dorothy Parker Society "Parkerfest" in New York City remember that one of the highlights of the weekend was a party featuring a life drawing class modelled on Molly Crabtree's successful Dr. Skethcy's Anti-Art School classes. Let's see if we can have as much or more fun in Boston with pencil and pad.

For more information or to sign up email David or Mary at trumbull@trumbullofboston.org.

Monday, October 24, 2011

From the Mailbag and In Time for Thanksgiving

Over the weekend the following note was passed over the transom:
Since I assume that you know all things Benchley, I must ask you this pertinent (or IMpertinent) question: when I was in college I read a wonderful essay or short story that I sincerely believe was written by B.O.B about a family in the future sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner that mother worked so hard to prepare and finally, wiping her brow, she announced that it was ready. They all assembled at the table and she brought in a huge tray...with one large PILL-- Thanksgiving dinner for 17 people. As they all bowed their heads to give thanks, the baby reached over and grabbed the pill....and ate the entire TG dinner for 17 people. (think the baby exploded after that...)

DO YOU REMEMBER THAT STORY...AND WHERE CAN I FIND IT???!! I want to give a speech reading from it, and no one has been helpful. I remember at the time noting that it was written by Robert Benchley! Please CAN YOU HELP ME??! Sound familiar to you???

Many thanks, J.T.R.

To which Gordon Ernst replied:
That is a Stephen Leacock piece titled "The New Food" which appears in the book Literary Lapses. Here is a link to it:

http://www.online-literature.com/stephen-leacock/literary-lapses/10/

A rather ghastly ending.

Gordon Ernst

Mr. Leacock was an admirer of Mr. Benchley who wrote:
"Here, for example, is Robert C. Benchley, perhaps the most finished master of the technique of literary fun in America. Benchley's work is pure humor, one might almost say sheer nonsense. There is no moral teaching, no reflection of life, no tears. What Benchley pursues is the higher art of nonsense and he has shown in it a quite exceptional power for tricks of word and phrase."
--Greatest Pages of American Humor (1936).

Benchley Shorts Available for Region 2 DVD

From the mailbag --
Dear Mr Trumbull

You may recall that I e-mailed the Benchley Society earlier this year about obtaining the Benchley shorts DVD & had varying replies about whether region 1 would show or not in Europe. I held off trying that but have since discovered an excellent firm that was able to supply me with a region 2 compatible edition of the Warner Archive DVD via an agent in the USA. Their e-mail is geoffhogg@btinternet.com. I realize most of your members will be in the USA but there may be others like myself questing these splendid shorts.

All the best from Scotland ("as for the Scots- Good Lord, I won't be dare to show my face around there for a year!" ["A Belated Tribute"]),

David C.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED DIFFICULT

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED EASY

Friday, October 14, 2011

A New Bar Taps L.A. Literary History

Writers William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, William Saroyan and Raymond Chandler would meet up there . . . READ MORE AT http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2011/10/a-new-bar-taps-la-literary-history.html

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Yorker Q. & A.: Thomas Vinciguerra on Wolcott Gibbs

This week, Bloomsbury publishes “Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs from The New Yorker,” edited by Thomas Vinciguerra. The book aims to revive interest in this unjustly neglected figure from the magazine’s past in the same way that “Up in the Old Hotel” introduced a new generation of readers to the work of Joseph Mitchell. Vinciguerra kindly agreed to answer a few questions about Gibbs’s life and career.
Where do I begin? Starting in the thirties he reviewed plays as Robert Benchley’s understudy. Then, around 1940, he succeeded him as the magazine’s first-string theatre critic and held that job for eighteen years. In any given issue, he might have a serious short story, a comic casual, or a parody.
Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/backissues/2011/10/q-a-thomas-vinciguerra-on-wolcott-gibbs.html#ixzz1aVjnL5sH

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED MEDIUM DIFFICULTY

Friday, October 7, 2011

Benchley Washington Round-up

Cocktails and conversation were on the agenda last evening at the Founders Pub in the University Club of Washington, D.C. as local Benchley fans, Paul O'Day and Matthew Hahn were joined by David and Mary Trumbull from Boston for a small, informal Washington, D.C. Benchley Round-up.

The next planned Robert Benchley Society event in Washington will be the 8th International Annual Gathering, November 11-13. For details and registration visit http://www.robertbenchley.org/AG2011/registration.htm.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Boston RBS Chapter Learns about Grace and Glamour in 1930s Fashion

On Sunday, October 2, 2011, the Boston "We've Come for the Davenport" Chapter of the Robert Benchley Society enjoyed a "Round-up" in Lowell, Mass., to hear "Hollywood & Fashion: The Golden Age," a lecture by Patricia Warner, Professor Emeritus, UMass Amherst, at the American Textile History Museum. According to Professor Warner,
"In 1932, despite the Depression, some 60 million Americans—more than half the total population—went to the movies every single week. Most of them were women. The producers catered to them, giving them glamour and romance, but more importantly, wonderful cloths, makeup, and hairstyles to copy cheaply at home."
Professor Warner explained why clothes in the movies mattered. Society members arrived in period or period-inspired costumes.

After the lecture the group, consisting of Sharon Clark of Framingham, Mass., Jimmy and Eileen Keck of Providence, R.I., Jean Wilson of Charlestown, Mass., and David and Mary Trumbull of Beacon Hill, Boston, viewed the special exhibit "Grace and Glamour: 1930s Fashions" in the
Stevens Gallery of the American Textile History Museum.
"In the 1930s, graceful cuts and glamorous fabrics replaced the boxy, boyish styles of the previous decade. In the face of economic hardship, people embraced the streamlined shape, elegant styles and newly invented fibers of a hopeful modernism. This exhibit, open through October 16th, shows dresses and accessories typical of this extraordinary decade."

"Great exhibit for glamour pusses like us!" said Mary DiZazzo-Trumbull, a sentiment echoed by Eileen Keck who said, "It was lovely. We will certainly stop back and have a longer visit." Referring to the the group's after-museum-visiting cocktails and dinner at Cobblestones of Lowell, Eileen added, "And dinner & cocktails were wonderful. Good choice, Mary."

The Robert Benchley Society was founded in 2003 as a forum for appreciation and discussion of the work and life of twentieth-century American humorist Robert Benchley. The Boston chapter, "We've Come for the Davenport" is the oldest of the six local chapters located in American cities in on the East Coast, West Coast, and Great Lakes area and takes its name from an incident in Mr. Benchley's life that took place in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood. There are also at-large members of the Society throughout the United States and other nations.

Upcoming Robert Benchley Society events include a Round-up of the Washington, D.C. "Lost Locomotive" Chapter this week. Next month the Robert Benchley Society will hold it's Eighth International Annual Gathering "A Capitol Idea" in Washington, D.C., November 11-13. This event will include the Annual Robert Benchley Society Humor Awards Ceremony and Dinner. This year's humor awards judge is pianist and humorist, Mark Russell.

Mr. Benchley, in the 1920s and '30s, wrote several essays that touch on the topic of wearing apparel, among them:
  • The Benchley-Whittier Correspondence
  • Ding-Dong, School Bells,
  • Dress Complexes,
  • The Four-in-Hand Outrage,
  • “I am in the Book”,
  • The Last Day,
  • My White Suit,
  • Old Suits For New,
  • Plans for Eclipse Day,
  • Summer Shirtings, and
  • What to Loll In.
as well as in his 1940 motion picture "That Inferior Feeling."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED DIFFICULT

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Treasurer's Report Ruined My Family

"To know my father is to know 'The Treasurer’s Report,' a monologue written by Robert Benchley of the Algonquin Round Table." is a line from Fiction Ruined My Family By JEANNE DARST, an excerpt from which is available on the website of the New York Times.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Diane Lynne Naegel, 1980-2011

Diane Lynne Naegel, August 31, 1980 - September 25, 2011

Diane Lynne Naegel was born August 31, 1980 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the first and only daughter of Sarita Diane Naegel and Mark Robert Naegel. Diane attended pre-school and grade school at Concordia Lutheran School and high school at St. Ursula Academy, graduating with Honors, both in Cincinnati. Diane studied and worked at the University of Cincinnati (parent's alma mater), in the co-op program of the College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning and graduated with Honors with a degree in Fashion Design in 2003. She was proprietress of the internet scarf business Lulette.com for a year before coming to New York to work in the fashion industry, first at the Gap and most recently at Osh Kosh Corp., designing children's accessories.

Diane met the love of her life, Don Spiro, in New York, and together they operated Wit's End live vintage jazz club, the only monthly jazz age club in New York. In 2009, Diane began to publish Zelda Magazine, first issue Fall/Winter 2009, and most recent issue, Spring/Summer 2011.

Diane was stricken with breast cancer in late September, 2010 and succumbed to the disease and its complications on the morning of September 25, 2011 in the presence of her betrothed, Don Spiro, her mother and father, brother, Mark Naegel, Jr., sister in law, Brittany Naegel, and several close friends. Diane leaves Diane leaves a legacy of beauty, kindness, grace, love and faith with her departure, and she touched the lives of her many friends and admirers. Her Christian faith has made her whole and gave her the strength and courage 'til the very end.

Dorothy Parker News

Annual Dorothy Parker Day in Long Branch
Sunday, Oct. 2, 10 a.m. Long Branch Free Public Library, 328 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ, 07740

This is the only celebration of Dorothy Parker in the Garden State. Since 2005, when a memorial plaque was unveiled at the location where her family beach cottage once stood, the residents of Long Branch of gone out of their way to put together a terrific celebration. On Sunday, Oct. 2, there will be a focus on the Round Table, with talks by local authors. Actors and actresses will perform Parker material. At noon, local restaurants will offer a Round Table-worthy luncheon, which is a great way to experience Long Branch. You can also walk to the boardwalk nearby and see the ocean. There will be screening of the Alan Rudolph film "Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle" at 1:30 p.m. The day will wind up at the official cocktail lounge of the Dorothy Parker Society on the Jersey Shore, The Mix Lounge at 71 Brighton Avenue. Come meet for an informal cocktail reception, in which the Dorothy-themed specials are sure to flow. For directions and additional information on Dorothy Parker Day 2011, contact 732-222-3900. Dorothy Parker Day is sponsored by the Library with the Long Branch Arts Council, the Long Branch Historical Association and the City of Long Branch. Don't miss it.

"A Journey into Dorothy Parker's New York"

New York Public Library Illustrated Talk - Free

Thursday, Nov. 3, 6:30 p.m.

Mid-Manhattan Library, 40th Street and Fifth Avenue, 6th Floor

212-340-0837 information line.
Wheelchair accessible.

Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, president of the Dorothy Parker Society and author of A Journey into Dorothy Parker's New York (Roaring Forties Press, 2005), will give an illustrated tour of Mrs. Parker's Manhattan. From 1893 until her death in 1967, Mrs. Parker called New York City her hometown. Come explore the residence apartments, hotels, speakeasies and haunts that defined her life. Learn about the locations that shaped her life, and that she shaped too. The talk is free and the book will be available.

Algonquin Round Table Walking Tours


Sunday, Nov. 13 and Sunday, Dec. 4

Location: Algonquin Hotel, 59 W. 44th St (bet 5th and 6th Avenues)

Cost: $20 ea


Walk in the footsteps of the Vicious Circle in the only walking tour dedicated to the city's greatest literary friends. See the places where the Round Table, lived, worked, played and drank. You'll visit the former homes, theaters and speakeasies associated with Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Franklin P. Adams, Heywood Broun, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman and many more. The walk begins and ends in the landmark Algonquin Hotel; it will be shortened to accommodate the evening start and finish time. The walk is led by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, president of the DPS and author of
A Journey into Dorothy Parker's New York. RSVP to kevin@dorothyparker.com.
Buy tickets in advance via TicketWeb:

•November 13

•December 4

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Subscribe for Free Robert Benchley Society Email Updates

Due to technical reasons our email distribution list of hundreds of subscribers to our free email news is no longer accessible. If you wish to continue your subscription (or start a new one) please click on the "subscribe to Robert Benchley Society by email" link at the upper right and you may add yourself to the list.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Benchley Round-up in Lowell, Mass. Next Sunday

Hollywood & Fashion: The Golden Age
Lecture by Patricia Warner, Professor Emeritus, UMass - Amherst.

In 1932 some 60 million Americans -- more than half the total population -- went to the movies every single week. Most of them were women. the producers catered to them, giving them glamour and romance, but more importantly, wonderful clothes, makeup, and hairstyles to copy cheaply at home. Learn why clothes in the movies mattered.

Museum Exhibition: Grace and Glamour: 1930s Fashions

In the 1930s, graceful cuts and glamorous fabrics replaced the boxy, boyish styles of the previous decade. In the face of economic hardship, people embraced the streamlined shape, elegant styles and newly invented fibers of a hopeful modernism. This exhibit shows dresses and accessories typical of this extraordinary decade.

Website: http://www.athm.org/exhibitions/current_exhibitions/index.php#grace

The lecture and exhibition are at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. For more information or to sign up contact David Trumbull at david@robertbenchley.org.

The lecture is at 2:00 p.m. Afterward we'll view the Grace and Glamour: 1930s Fashions exhibit and other exhibits at the American Textile History Museum. If there is interest in dining together I recommend the Athenian Corner (www.atheniancorner.com), 207 Market Street, Lowell 01852 - Tel. 978-458-7052.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED MEDIUM DIFFICULTY

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED DIFFICULT

Thurber House Humor Prize Semi Finalists Announced

Thurber House has announced the 2011 Thurber Prize for American Humor finalists. They are Mike Birbiglia, Sleepwalk with Me and Other Painfully True Stories; David Rakoff, Half Empty; and Rick Reilly, Sports from Hell: My Search for the World’s Dumbest Competition.

The winner will be announced on Monday, October 3 at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City where James Thurber once lived. Stay tuned to learn who won!

Apocalypse Now…Grab the Karaoke Machine!

Ed Tasca’s latest novel is a comic, cross-genre thriller that flies from page to page and asks the question, what will bring the world to an end.
All around her, Virginia, a conscientious, often paranoid spokesperson for the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (Agency of Homeland Security), sees an apocalypse unfolding behind the secret societies that may be involved in a biogenetic experiment on a strain of test bacteria gone wrong; while Bruno, a free-lance writer, atheist and cynic, is trying to dig up incriminating info on Homeland Security against Virginia’s will.

A mysterious feud is going on all around the couple as they reluctantly join up to investigate. The central conflicts in the narrative include their own constant quarrelling, skirmishes between unknown agents of different religions looking to invest bacterial DNA with their respective scriptures, spread their “Word” into the future and end the world.

The oddball characters, obstacles and disasters our principals face at every turn, and most vividly, Virginia’s peculiar dreams, lead her to believe the world is ending and something must be done to stop it.

The story is a comic take on the complications of Homeland Security interactions and the craziness of religious zealotry, climaxing with a confrontation and resolution that gives us a glimpse of apocalypse and how it might actually become reality. Virginia and Bruno wind up, in the most bizarre way, literally in one another’s arms and locked in an unholy embrace with a flayed decomposed corpse, surviving the mayhem and turning the whole tale into a surreal romantic adventure. Whether they have saved the world or not remains an unanswered question, but several compelling issues are raised about what could be the ultimate reason for any apocalypse to occur. Ed’s new book is currently available in e-book format at all online bookstores. Published by Aardwolfe Books, September, 2011.

Ed Tasca was the 2009 first place winner of the Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor Writing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

RBS Round-up in Lowell, Massachusetts

Hollywood & Fashion: The Golden Age
Lecture by Patricia Warner, Professor Emeritus, UMass - Amherst.


In 1932 some 60 million Americans -- more than half the total population -- went to the movies every single week. Most of them were women. the producers catered to them, giving them glamour and romance, but more importantly, wonderful clothes, makeup, and hairstyles to copy cheaply at home. Learn why clothes in the movies mattered.

Museum Exhibition: Grace and Glamour: 1930s Fashions

In the 1930s, graceful cuts and glamorous fabrics replaced the boxy, boyish styles of the previous decade. In the face of economic hardship, people embraced the streamlined shape, elegant styles and newly invented fibers of a hopeful modernism. This exhibit shows dresses and accessories typical of this extraordinary decade.

Website: http://athm.org/exhibitions/future_exhibitions/

The lecture and exhibition are at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. For more information or to sign up contact David Trumbull at david@robertbenchley.org.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED DIFFICULT

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mark Russell Thinks We Have Some Funny Writers

The Robert Benchley Society congratulates the winners of the 2011 Robert Benchley Society Annual Award for Humor Writing. This year's celebrity judge, Mark Russell, has ranked the top four entries and has provided comments to the writers, who are listed in order from first place and on:
  1. Tim French of Midway, Alabama, for The Old Man and the Leaf Blower
    My wife and I laughed out loud at the title. That alone, made me pick your short story as my favorite. The title was wonderful. And the premise, oh, so original. At that Great Sardis' in the Sky, Robert is amused, as is Old Ernie, wherever he is.

    Thanks for a delightful read.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Russell
  2. Robert G. Ferrell of La Vernia, Texas, for Up the Greek Without a Paddle
    I thoroughly enjoyed your short story. It takes off quickly with the first two sentences and maintained Benchley's level throughout. I loved the use of "#2iPencils and narrow-ruled iPads", and I laughed out loud at "please drop your fig leaves by the door."

    Thanks for an enjoyable read.

    Sincerly,
    Mark Russell
  3. Edward Southerland of Sherman Texas, for Certificates of Authenticity
    Your premise was nicely original. "Leonardo Da Vinci's plans for a steam powered blimp" and
    "Dr. Murney's Das Facten Wel Knowen are delightful. Who knew that people from Texas were so funny?

    Thanks for an enjoyable read.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Russell
  4. Steve Shrott of Toronto, Ontario, for Unblocking the Block
    Thank you for an enjoyable read. I liked the Marx Brothers rhythm you had going in your short
    story. Having, on occasion, suffered from writer's block, you had me going with the first paragraph and kept my attention throughout. Loved "must pea" may be the coffee table book of the decade."

    Sincerely,
    Mark Russell
This year's Annual Award Dinner will be held in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, November 12th as part of the Eighth International Robert Benchley Society Annual Gathering "A Capitol Idea," November 11-13, 2011. For more information about the Annual Gathering and the Award Dinner, visit www.robertbenchley.org/AG2011/registration.htm.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED MEDIUM DIFFICULTY

Friday, September 2, 2011

Art Reception September 21st

Helen K. Garber & Images from the Venice Historical Society

September 13 - November 13, 2011

Art Reception

September 21, 2011

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Joe's Restaurant - 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd. - Venice, California

Post Reception Dinner @ $45.00 including tax & tip

Valet parking available behind restaurant
For Reservations: 310 399 5811

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED DIFFICULT

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rare East Coast Earth Quake Shakes up Washington

-----------NEWS from CPSC-----------
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814, www.CPSC.gov
Report an Unsafe Product: http://SaferProducts.gov

********************************************************

Note: yesterday, with the confusion caused by the earthquake on the East Coast of the US and having certain functions, including the subscription list messages, transferred among various people, we inadvertently sent an email with the subject line "FW: not sure if Rick is online since we all got sent home because of the earthquake" when the subject line should have been "News from CPSC - Two Recalls". The message did come from CPSC and the content of the e-mail (the two recalls) was correct. We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience this may have caused.

***************************************************************

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to School with Benchley

"Although it hardly seems credible, it is almost time to begin packing the kiddies off to school again. Here they have been all summer, the rascals, tracking sand into the dining room, rolling Grandma about, and bringing in little playmates who have been exposed to mumps (when Daddy himself hasn't had mumps yet, and mumps for Daddy would be no fun), and in all kinds of ways cheering up the Old Manse to the point of bursting it asunder.

"...I can remember the time (by pressing my temples very hard and holding my breath) when the opening of school meant simply buying a slate with a sponge tied to it and a box of colored crayons. No one, to my knowledge, ever used a slate and a sponge. They were simply a sentimental survival of an even earlier day which the man in the stationery store forced on children who were going to school. The colored crayons were, of course, for eating.


"But we bought our slates and our sponges and our crayons (sometimes with a ruler for slapping purposes), and then never used them, for the school furnished all the pencils and pads of yellow paper which were necessary. One of the great releases of my grown-up life has been that I don't have to write on a yellow sheet of paper with blue lines ruled on it half an inch apart. I don't like to have to write my lines half an inch apart, and now that I am a great big man, I don't do it. That's one of the advantages of graduating from school."



From "Ding-Dong School Bells" by Robert Benchley, Benchley Lost and Found

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED EASY

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED EASY

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED DIFFICULT

Monday, August 1, 2011

Another RBS Success Story

Robert Benchley Society member and winner of the 2009 RBS Award for Humor Writing, Ed Tasca, has just been declared the Grand Prize Winner for his new screenplay.

Ed’s screenplay, Vinegar and Brown Paper, won the 5th Screenplay Search Screenwriting Competition! The story, comprised of a wilderness battle of man against beast in an attempt to recover his wounded son and a back-story of a family disintegrating because of hidden secrets, is told with virtually no dialogue - a unique feat that makes the most compelling use of cinematic narrative.

Screenplay Search is one of the most respected competitions for screenwriters. The winner of the Screenplay Search Scriptwriting Competition will have his script presented to literary managers, producers and directors, who are looking for top-notch scripts for development and production.

Parkerfest Set for Aug. 21 & 22

This just in from the Dorothy Parker Society:
Sunday, Aug. 21, Noon-5 p.m.
Jazz Age Lawn Party & Festival on Governors Island.
Join us as we have a Sunday afternoon picnic party at one of New York's greatest parks, the one that is located on Governors Island in New York Harbor. Dress up in period 1920s attire. Live music by Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra. A dreamy afternoon rendezvous of live music and dance, instruction in period dances, picnicking, a "best pie" judging competition, a vintage automobile exhibit, and more. The ferry ride to the island is free from Manhattan & Brooklyn. Tickets are available in advance for $7; $10 at the doors (kids under 12 free) buy tickets here.

Monday, Aug. 22, 6 p.m.
Algonquin Round Table Walking Tour
Location: Algonquin Hotel, 59 W. 44th St (bet 5th and 6th Avenues)
Cost: $10

Walk in the footsteps of the Vicious Circle in the only walking tour dedicated to the city's greatest literary friends. See the places where the Round Table lived, worked, played and drank. You'll visit the former homes, theaters and speakeasies associated with Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Franklin P. Adams, Heywood Broun, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman and many more. The walk begins and ends in the landmark Algonquin Hotel; it will be shortened to accommodate the evening start and finish time. The walk is led by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, president of the DPS and author of A Journey into Dorothy Parker's New York. RSVP here.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED EASY

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED MEDIUM DIFFICULTY

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED DIFFICULT

Monday, July 11, 2011

Parkerfest Set for August 19 - 21

We just heard that the Dorothy Parker Society is planning this year's Parkerfest for August 19th through the 21st in New York City. Watch for more details.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

From the Mail Bag

Hello,

I have inherited a copy of the Woolen Mitten Situation, my father was in sales, promotion and I assume he got it through one of his numerous contacts in his field. I am curious about the possible value of the work.

It says:
“Some time one of THE CURTIS PUBLISHING COMPANY’s bright young men. As revealed by him in confidence to the members of the Association of National Advertisers, Inc., on the occasion of their annual dinner at the Ambassador Hotel, Atlantic City, N.J. November 9, 1926

First Edition Published by the Champion Coated Paper Company Illustrations by kind permission of Messrs. Henry Holt and Company Of this edition 500 numbered copies were printed on Champion eggshell paper, Unfortunately the numbering machine got stuck or something so that this and every other copy is No.99999”
Please let me know what you think it might be worth and if you are interested. Pages are numbered through 9 although there is a half 10th page at the rear to finish the story and several blank pages at the end.

Thank you

Sincerely
K.G.

Sunday Sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED EASY

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Robert Benchley Society Announces 2011 Humor Award Winners

  • Winners (in order from first place through fourth place)
    1. Tim French of Midway, Alabama, for The Old Man and the Leaf Blower
    2. Robert G. Ferrell of La Vernia, Texas, for Up the Greek Without a Paddle
    3. Edward Southerland of Sherman Texas, for Certificates of Authenticity
    4. Steve Shrott of Toronto, Ontario, for Unblocking the Block
  • Monday, July 4, 2011

    The Peterkins Celebrate the Fourth

    The day began early.

    A compact had been made with the little boys the evening before.

    They were to be allowed to usher in the glorious day by the blowing of horns exactly at sunrise. But they were to blow them for precisely five minutes only, and no sound of the horns should be heard afterward till the family were downstairs.

    It was thought that a peace might thus be bought by a short, though crowded, period of noise.

    The morning came. Even before the morning, at half-past three o'clock, a terrible blast of the horns aroused the whole family.

    Mrs. Peterkin clasped her hands to her head and exclaimed: "I am thankful the lady from Philadelphia is not here!" For she had been invited to stay a week, but had declined to come before the Fourth of July, as she was not well, and her doctor had prescribed quiet.

    And the number of the horns was most remarkable! It was as though every cow in the place had arisen and was blowing through both her own horns!

    "How many little boys are there? How many have we?" exclaimed Mr. Peterkin, going over their names one by one mechanically, thinking he would do it, as he might count imaginary sheep jumping over a fence, to put himself to sleep. Alas! the counting could not put him to sleep now, in such a din.

    And how unexpectedly long the five minutes seemed! Elizabeth Eliza was to take out her watch and give the signal for the end of the five minutes, and the ceasing of the horns. Why did not the signal come? Why did not Elizabeth Eliza stop them?

    And certainly it was long before sunrise; there was no dawn to be seen!

    "We will not try this plan again," said Mrs. Peterkin.

    "If we live to another Fourth," added Mr. Peterkin, hastening to the door to inquire into the state of affairs.

    Alas! Amanda, by mistake, had waked up the little boys an hour too early. And by another mistake the little boys had invited three or four of their friends to spend the night with them. Mrs. Peterkin had given them permission to have the boys for the whole day, and they understood the day as beginning when they went to bed the night before. This accounted for the number of horns.

    It would have been impossible to hear any explanation; but the five minutes were over, and the horns had ceased, and there remained only the noise of a singular leaping of feet, explained perhaps by a possible pillow-fight, that kept the family below partially awake until the bells and cannon made known the dawning of the glorious day,–the sunrise, or "the rising of the sons," as Mr. Peterkin jocosely called it when they heard the little boys and their friends clattering down the stairs to begin the outside festivities.

    They were bound first for the swamp, for Elizabeth Eliza, at the suggestion of the lady from Philadelphia, had advised them to hang some flags around the pillars of the piazza. Now the little boys knew of a place in the swamp where they had been in the habit of digging for "flag-root," and where they might find plenty of flag flowers. They did bring away all they could, but they were a little out of bloom. The boys were in the midst of nailing up all they had on the pillars of the piazza when the procession of the Antiques and Horribles passed along. As the procession saw the festive arrangements on the piazza, and the crowd of boys, who cheered them loudly, it stopped to salute the house with some especial strains of greeting.

    Poor Mrs. Peterkin! They were directly under her windows! In a few moments of quiet, during the boys' absence from the house on their visit to the swamp, she had been trying to find out whether she had a sick-headache, or whether it was all the noise, and she was just deciding it was the sick headache, but was falling into a light slumber, when the fresh noise outside began.

    There were the imitations of the crowing of cocks, and braying of donkeys, and the sound of horns, encored and increased by the cheers of the boys. Then began the torpedoes, and the Antiques and Horribles had Chinese crackers also.

    And, in despair of sleep, the family came down to breakfast.

    Mrs. Peterkin had always been much afraid of fire-works, and had never allowed the boys to bring gunpowder into the house. She was even afraid of torpedoes; they looked so much like sugar-plums she was sure some the children would swallow them, and explode before anybody knew it.

    She was very timid about other things. She was not sure even about pea-nuts. Everybody exclaimed over this: "Surely there was no danger in pea-nuts!" But Mrs. Peterkin declared she had been very much alarmed at the Centennial Exhibition, and in the crowded corners of the streets in Boston, at the pea-nut stands, where they had machines to roast the pea-nuts. She did not think it was safe. They might go off any time, in the midst of a crowd of people, too!

    Mr. Peterkin thought there actually was no danger, and he should be sorry to give up the pea-nut. He thought it an American institution, something really belonging to the Fourth of July. He even confessed to a quiet pleasure in crushing the empty shells with his feet on the sidewalks as he went along the streets.

    Agamemnon thought it a simple joy.

    In consideration, however, of the fact that they had had no real celebration of the Fourth the last year, Mrs. Peterkin had consented to give over the day, this year, to the amusement of the family as a Centennial celebration. She would prepare herself for a terrible noise,–only she did not want any gunpowder brought into the house.

    The little boys had begun by firing some torpedoes a few days beforehand, that their mother might be used to the sound, and had selected their horns some weeks before.

    Solomon John had been very busy in inventing some fireworks. As Mrs. Peterkin objected to the use of gunpowder, he found out from the dictionary what the different parts of gunpowder are,–saltpetre, charcoal, and sulphur. Charcoal, he discovered, they had in the wood-house; saltpetre they would find in the cellar, in the beef barrel; and sulphur they could buy at the apothecary's. He explained to his mother that these materials had never yet exploded in the house, and she was quieted.

    Agamemnon, meanwhile, remembered a recipe he had read somewhere for making a "fulminating paste" of iron-filings and powder of brimstone. He had written it down on a piece of paper in his pocket-book. But the iron filings must be finely powdered. This they began upon a day or two before, and the very afternoon before laid out some of the paste on the piazza.

    Pin-wheels and rockets were contributed by Mr. Peterkin for the evening. According to a programme drawn up by Agamemnon and Solomon John, the reading of the Declaration of Independence was to take place in the morning, on the piazza, under the flags.

    The Bromwicks brought over their flag to hang over the door.

    "That is what the lady from Philadelphia meant," explained Elizabeth Eliza.

    "She said the flags of our country," said the little boys. "We thought she meant 'in the country.'"

    Quite a company assembled; but it seemed nobody had a copy of the Declaration of Independence.

    Elizabeth Eliza said she could say one line, if they each could add as much. But it proved they all knew the same line that she did, as they began:–

    "When, in the course of–when, in the course of–when, in the course of human–when in the course of human events–when, in the course of human events, it becomes–when, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary–when, in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people"–

    They could not get any farther. Some of the party decided that "one people" was a good place to stop, and the little boys sent off some fresh torpedoes in honor of the people. But Mr. Peterkin was not satisfied. He invited the assembled party to stay until sunset, and meanwhile he would find a copy, and torpedoes were to be saved to be fired off at the close of every sentence.

    And now the noon bells rang and the noon bells ceased.

    Mrs. Peterkin wanted to ask everybody to dinner. She should have some cold beef. She had let Amanda go, because it was the Fourth, and everybody ought to be free that one day; so she could not have much of a dinner. But when she went to cut her beef she found Solomon had taken it to soak, on account of the saltpetre, for the fireworks!

    Well, they had a pig; so she took a ham, and the boys had bought tamarinds and buns and a cocoa-nut. So the company stayed on, and when the Antiques and Horribles passed again they were treated to pea-nuts and lemonade.

    They sung patriotic songs, they told stories, they fired torpedoes, they frightened the cats with them. It was a warm afternoon; the red poppies were out wide, and the hot sun poured down on the alley-ways in the garden. There was a seething sound of a hot day in the buzzing of insects, in the steaming heat that came up from the ground. Some neighboring boys were firing a toy cannon. Every time it went off Mrs. Peterkin started, and looked to see if one of the little boys was gone. Mr. Peterkin had set out to find a copy of the "Declaration." Agamemnon had disappeared. She had not a moment to decide about her headache. She asked Ann Maria if she were not anxious about the fireworks, and if rockets were not dangerous. They went up, but you were never sure where they came down.

    And then came a fresh tumult! All the fire-engines in town rushed toward them, clanging with bells, men and boys yelling! They were out for a practice and for a Fourth-of-July show.

    Mrs. Peterkin thought the house was on fire, and so did some of the guests. There was great rushing hither and thither. Some thought they would better go home; some thought they would better stay. Mrs. Peterkin hastened into the house to save herself, or see what she could save. Elizabeth Eliza followed her, first proceeding to collect all the pokers and tongs she could find, because they could be thrown out of the window without breaking. She had read of people who had flung looking-glasses out of the window by mistake, in the excitement of the house being on fire, and had carried the pokers and tongs carefully into the garden. There was nothing like being prepared. She had always determined to do the reverse. So with calmness she told Solomon John to take down the looking-glasses. But she met with a difficulty,–there were no pokers and tongs, as they did not use them. They had no open fires; Mrs. Peterkin had been afraid of them. So Elizabeth Eliza took all the pots and kettles up to the upper windows, ready to be thrown out.

    But where was Mrs. Peterkin? Solomon John found she had fled to the attic in terror. He persuaded her to come down, assuring her it was the most unsafe place; but she insisted upon stopping to collect some bags of old pieces, that nobody would think of saving from the general wreck, she said, unless she did. Alas! this was the result of fireworks on Fourth of July! As they came downstairs they heard the voices of all the company declaring there was no fire; the danger was past. It was long before Mrs. Peterkin could believe it. They told her the fire company was only out for show, and to celebrate the Fourth of July. She thought it already too much celebrated.

    Elizabeth Eliza's kettles and pans had come down through the windows with a crash, that had only added to the festivities, the little boys thought.

    Mr. Peterkin had been roaming about all this time in search of a copy of the Declaration of Independence. The public library was shut, and he had to go from house to house; but now, as the sunset bells and cannon began, he returned with a copy, and read it, to the pealing of the bells and sounding of the cannon. Torpedoes and crackers were fired at every pause. Some sweet-marjoram pots, tin cans filled with crackers which were lighted, went off with great explosions.

    At the most exciting moment, near the close of the reading, Agamemnon, with an expression of terror, pulled Solomon John aside.

    "I have suddenly remembered where I read about the 'fulminating paste' we made. It was in the preface to 'Woodstock,' and I have been round to borrow the book to read the directions over again, because I was afraid about the 'paste' going off. READ THIS QUICKLY! and tell me, Where is the fulminating paste? "

    Solomon John was busy winding some covers of paper over a little parcel. It contained chlorate of potash and sulphur mixed. A friend had told him of the composition. The more thicknesses of paper you put round it the louder it would go off. You must pound it with a hammer. Solomon John felt it must be perfectly safe, as his mother had taken potash for a medicine.

    He still held the parcel as he read from Agamemnon's book: "This paste, when it has lain together about twenty-six hours, will of itself take fire, and burn all the sulphur away with a blue flame and a bad smell."

    "Where is the paste?" repeated Solomon John, in terror.

    "We made it just twenty-six hours ago," said Agamemnon.

    "We put it on the piazza," exclaimed Solomon John, rapidly recalling the facts, "and it is in front of our mother's feet!"

    He hastened to snatch the paste away before it should take fire, flinging aside the packet in his hurry. Agamemnon, jumping upon the piazza at the same moment, trod upon the paper parcel, which exploded at once with the shock, and he fell to the ground, while at the same moment the paste "fulminated" into a blue flame directly in front of Mrs. Peterkin!

    It was a moment of great confusion. There were cries and screams. The bells were still ringing, the cannon firing, and Mr. Peterkin had just reached the closing words: "Our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

    "We are all blown up, as I feared we should be," Mrs. Peterkin at length ventured to say, finding herself in a lilac-bush by the side of the piazza. She scarcely dared to open her eyes to see the scattered limbs about her.

    It was so with all. Even Ann Maria Bromwick clutched a pillar of the piazza, with closed eyes.

    At length Mr. Peterkin said, calmly, "Is anybody killed?"

    There was no reply. Nobody could tell whether it was because everybody was killed, or because they were too wounded to answer. It was a great while before Mrs. Peterkin ventured to move.

    But the little boys soon shouted with joy, and cheered the success of Solomon John's fireworks, and hoped he had some more. One of them had his face blackened by an unexpected cracker, and Elizabeth Eliza's muslin dress was burned here and there. But no one was hurt; no one had lost any limbs, though Mrs. Peterkin was sure she had seen some flying in the air. Nobody could understand how, as she had kept her eyes firmly shut.

    No greater accident had occurred than the singeing of the tip of Solomon John's nose. But there was an unpleasant and terrible odor from the "fulminating paste."

    Mrs. Peterkin was extricated from the lilac-bush. No one knew how she got there. Indeed, the thundering noise had stunned everybody. It had roused the neighborhood even more than before. Answering explosions came on every side, and, though the sunset light had not faded away, the little boys hastened to send off rockets under cover of the confusion. Solomon John's other fireworks would not go. But all felt he had done enough.

    Mrs. Peterkin retreated into the parlor, deciding she really did have a headache. At times she had to come out when a rocket went off, to see if it was one of the little boys. She was exhausted by the adventures of the day, and almost thought it could not have been worse if the boys had been allowed gunpowder. The distracted lady was thankful there was likely to be but one Centennial Fourth in her lifetime, and declared she should never more keep anything in the house as dangerous as saltpetred beef, and she should never venture to take another spoonful of potash.
    ----------------------------------------------------
    The Peterkin Papers by Lucretia P. Hale (1820-1900). Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, c1886, c1914.

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    Sunday Sudoku

    Complete the grid so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 framed block contains the letters P A R K B E N C H (only once) RATED DIFFICULT

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    My Word!

    Don Bradley, member of the Boston "We've Come for the Davenport" Chapter of the Robert Benchley Society, passed on this item of interest:
    In the Spring 2011 "The Hemingway Review" they have included this topic by Nat Benchley. I received my copy of the "Review" yesterday.

    Abstract: In the mid-1930s, the humorist Robert Benchley invited his friend Ernest Hemingway up to his suite at the Royalton Hotel in New York. During the visit, Hemingway wrote lewd or silly inscriptions to Benchley in four of his books: In Our Time, A Farewell to Arms, Green Hills of Africa, and The Fifth Column. Here Benchley's grandson Nat offers up those inscriptions for edification and amusement.

    http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/hemingway_review/summary/v030/30.2.benchley.html

    * * *

    Robert Benchley, in his essay "Why Does Nobody Collect Me?", which appears, beginning on page 354 of Chips off the Old Benchley, describes Hemingway paying a visit to Benchley's room in New York City, during which the author and adventurer "took a pen in his chubby fist, dipped it in a bottle of bull's blood, and wrote the following:
    To Robert ("Garbage Bird") Benchley, hoping that he won't wait for prices to reach the peak [blank]. From his friend, Ernest ("[blank] [blank]") Hemingway
    The "Garbage Bird" reference in connection with me was a familiarity he had taken in the past to describe my appearance in the early morning light of Montparnasse on certain occasions. The epithet applied to himself, which was unprintable except in Ulysses, was written deliberately to make it impossible for me to cash in on the book."

    Benchley goes on to describe Hemingway's personalization of Mr. Benchley's copy of A Farewell to Arms, in which he "filled in each blank in the text where Scribner's had blushed and put a dash instead of the original word in every case."

    Robert Benchley Society

    For more information about the Robert Benchley Society, local chapters near you, our annual Award for Humor, and our Annual Gathering, visit The RBS Website