Monday, August 17, 2009

Robert Benchley Society Announces Winning Writers for 2009

Boston, August 17, 2009 -- The Robert Benchley Society announces the winners of the 2009 Robert Benchley Society Annual Humor Award Competition. In first place, for his essay Let’s Click Up the Old Gang Sometime is Ed Tasca of Toronto, Ontario for his original and lively writing on a new topic, social networks.

Second-place winner is Brenda Pontiff of Los Angeles, Calif. for her essay A Teensy Weensy Renaissance, which Society judge and director Kevin Fitzpatrick described as, "clever, has good writing and funny.”

Con Chapman of Weston, Mass. took third place for a clever and well-written piece Foundations of Western Logic

Of A Woman At Home by B. Elwin Sherman of Bethlehem, N.H. Mr. Fitzpatrick said "original and has a new take on an old subject.”

Final judge Kevin C. Fitzpatrick Kevin has been a past judge of the competition. He is the president of the RBS Fascinating Crimes chapter in New York. In 1999 he founded the Dorothy Parker Society and serves as president. He is the author of "A Journey into Dorothy Parker's New York" and with Nat Benchley, is the co-editor of the new book "The Lost Algonquin Round Table" (Donald Books-iUniverse). Link for the book:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Round Table Author Kevin Fitzpatrick Named Final Judge of 2009 Benchley Writing Contest

Kevin C. Fitzpatrick Kevin has been a past judge of the competition. He is the president of the RBS Fascinating Crimes chapter in New York. In 1999 he founded the Dorothy Parker Society and serves as president. He is the author of "A Journey into Dorothy Parker's New York" and with Nat Benchley, is the co-editor of the new book "The Lost Algonquin Round Table" (Donald Books-iUniverse).

Link for the book:

Semi-Finalists Announced in RBS Humor Competition

The Robert Benchley Society Announces the Semi-Finalists (in alphabetical order) in the 2009 Robert Benchley Society Humor Award Competition:

Preliminary Judges of RBS Competition Complete Work

The preliminary judges of the 2009 Robert Benchley Society Humor Award Competition have completed their work of choosing the top ten out of 46 entries received. This year's judges were:
  • Author of Robert Benchley An Annotated Bibliography, Gordon E. Ernst
  • Writer and RBS Director, Eileen Forster Keck;
  • puzzle designer RBS Vice Chairman, Chris Morgan;
  • 2007 RBS Humor Award winner, Daniel Montville;
  • Radio personality and chairman of A Moderate State of Preservation Chapter (Ann Arbor, Mich.) of RBS, Tom Saunders;
  • RBS Director Pamela Siska and
  • Robert Benchley Society Chairman David Trumbull
.The RBS regrets that judging of this years competition is running a bit behind schedule as the Society President has been in Washington, D.C. lobbying the Obama Administration of stimulus money for the nation's vital humor industry.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What ho, members of The Wodehouse Society!

The all-online registration system is now available for "A Little Wodehouse on the Prairie," the Wodehouse Society convention coming up in St. Paul on 12-14 June. From , click on
"On-line Convention Registration" -- to start the process.

The "Schedule of Events" is also available in a bit more detail than as published in "Plum
Lines;" more info is being added daily.

Convention highlights you won't want to miss:
  • Wodehouse songs performed by soprano Maria Jette and pianist Dan Chouinard
  • Near-professional level, quasi-official quasi-Cricket Event
  • Riveting talks by International Experts
  • Costume contest and riverboat cruise, serenaded by the Barbary Coast Banjo Band
  • An Afternoon at the Races
  • Performances by the Chicago Accident Syndicate as well as the Northwodes
  • -Luxurious accommodations at the historic Saint Paul Hotel
  • Monday, February 16, 2009

    2009 Benchley Humor Competition Entries Due April 1st

    Entries for the 2009 Robert Benchley Society Humor Award Competition are due by April 1, 2009. Enter on the Robert Benchley Society website competition page at The winners will be announced the summer.

    And be sure to save the dates of October 9-12, 2009 for the Seventh Annual Gathering and Awards Dinner of the Robert Benchley Society. This year the event will be in Boston, Massachusetts.

    Sunday, February 1, 2009

    FREE Martinis ... at the Algonquin at GLIMPSES OF THE MOON

    GLIMPSES OF THE MOON is fun and romantic--perfect for a date or a celebration with friends!

    FREE Martinis before the show

    For tickets call 866.468.7619 or

    FREE Ticket-- if you bring 3 friends. (this Monday only) Mention codeFREEmoon.
    "It plays only on Monday nights but elicits a Sunday kind of love." -- John Simon,

    "You'll leave with dreams in your heart and stars in your eyes." --Stage & Cinema

    John Updike and Robert Benchley

    In 1997, John Updike wrote a book review for The New Yorker of Laughter’s Gentle Soul: The Life of Robert Benchley by Billy Altman. I had the distinct honor of being contacted by The New Yorker to verify some facts in Updike’s review. It is obvious that Updike was a fan of Benchley’s work. He says: “I was a keen consumer of popular culture when Benchley was a part of it. I sat in the local theatre and laughed at “The Courtship of the Newt” and “How to Take a Vacation”; I read through his collections—“20,000 Leagues under the Sea or David Copperfield,” “From Bed to Worse or Comforting Thoughts About the Bison”—marvelling at their impudence; I would have even stayed up to listen to his ten-o’clock-Sunday-night radio program, “Melody and Madness,” if my parents had let me.”

    Updike’s full review may be found in the April 7, 1997 issue of The New Yorker, v. 73, issue 7, pp 88-94.

    --Submitted by RBS Director, Gordon Ernst

    Monday, January 26, 2009

    The Ties That Bind at "21"

    It is official: No ties required for New York's "21" Club. This was probably the only restaurant to require a tie for gentlemen; now "coat and tie" are optional.

    Sunday, January 25, 2009

    Mark your calendars!

    April 1st -- Deadline for entries to the 2009 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor competition. Watch this blog for details in a few days.

    October 9-12, 2009 Seventh Robert Benchley Society Annual Gathering. This year in Boston.

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Benchley Inauguration Day Special

    Just in time for Inauguration Day, Robert Benchley announces that the recession is over. You heard it here first. Watch Benchley explain how the economy works. Hopefully the White House is watching too.

    Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop Newsletter

    From Matt Dewald, director, Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop January/February 2009 Newsletter

    Sunday, January 18, 2009

    2008 RBS Humor Prize Winner Madeleine Begun Kane Judges 4th Annual HumorFeed Competition

    "Robillard's story was a delightful parody," said Kane. "And the title made me laugh out loud!" ...Read the story at

    Thurber House is now accepting submissions for the 2009 Columbus Literary Awards!

    The Columbus Literary Awards is a biennial award sponsored by the Greater Columbus Arts Council, and administered by Thurber House, that recognizes the most outstanding literary works produced by Franklin County writers in the genres of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Each winner receives an award of $5000 to encourage his or her writing career.

    Three judges in each genre will determine the winner. Winners will be notified in September and celebrated at a reception and reading in October.

    Guidelines and application form can be downloaded online at: All applications must be received at Thurber House, 77 Jefferson Avenue, Columbus, OH 43215 by 4:00
    p.m. Monday, May 4, 2009. Postmark dates will not be accepted.

    Mr Benchley in the Balcony

    Good morning! I am two things in this life (at least two)... a big fan of Mr. Robert Benchley and the webmaster of a motley website devoted to classic movies. Well, some of them aren't too classic. In any case, this week we shine a spotlight on a film starring Mr. Benchley, so I thought I'd bring it to your attention just in case you're interested.

    You'll find us at and be able to navigate your way to the Benchley lecture fairly easily, I hope.

    Clifford Weimer.

    RBS Director Gordon Ernst

    Indiana Boy Licks Light Pole, Gets Stuck

    HAMMOND, Ind. — In a scene straight out of the movie "A Christmas Story," a 10-year-old Indiana boy got his tongue stuck to a metal light pole. "A Christmas Story," you may know, was based on the writing of Jean Shepherd (1921-1999), a fan of Robert

    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    Benchley Liberty magazine articles now online at Google Books

    Great news for Benchley addicts! Google has begun to scan and display the contents of vintage magazines, including Liberty, where a lot of Mr. Benchley’s articles appeared. They're available at the Google books web site ( a wonderful, but still relatively little-known, online resource. (In fact, the Liberty articles are taken not from the original 1930s issues, but rather from 1970s reprints, so called "Nostalgia" Liberty magazines featuring the best of past issues. Not all of the original Benchley Liberty articles are available yet.)

    For example, Benchley’s article, Defying the Conventions, from the June 4th, 1932 issue of Liberty, appears with its original illustration and interesting period ads.

    To see the magazine hits, just do a simple search at, and you’ll get relevant magazine hits listed among the book hits. But better yet, you can isolate just the magazine hits by first going to “advanced search” and clicking on “magazines.” (I got 77 magazine hits for “Robert Benchley”).

    I also did an advanced search for “Dorothy Parker” and discovered, among the 146 hits, her August 16th, 1924 Liberty article, Every Woman an Interior Decorator. Again, this scan is from a 1970s reprint.

    The Google magazine scanning program is brand new (it began in December, 2008), so many more magazine issues will undoubtedly be added to the list over the coming months. Currently you can search back issues of such titles as Liberty, ("nostalgia" reprints only, so far),Popular Mechanics, New York, Jet, and The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. (Now there’s an interesting combination of titles!)

    The magazine article scanning program is part of a major copyright agreement that Google recently reached with publishers to make information from out-of-print books and old magazines available online. The Google blog site has an article about the agreement: Search and find magazines on Google Book Search. By the way, Google notes on their site that they have received copyright permission to display these scanned articles.

    Speaking of Google, Gordon Ernst informs me that there is a great set of Life magazine photographs of Robert Benchley performing in a radio show. You can see them here. Thanks, Gordon!

    - Chris Morgan

    Friday, January 9, 2009

    Sometimes it is better to just give a man a fish…

    The Fishing Trip That Got Away
    A new comic novella
    By Ed Tasca

    “Riveting—I could not put it down. Each intrigue spins you to the next, and it's all laced together with Tasca's insights and his characters who leap off the page. Tempered with Tasca's patented sudden turns to craziness.” Horace J. Digby, Award-winning Humorist and Director, Robert Benchley Society.

    A fishing adventure goes spectacularly awry when two anglers unwittingly make campsite in the middle of a great black bear's den.

    To order a copy, please go to or any other online bookstore, or to the publisher’s website:

    Thurber House Presents a Doggie Photo Contest

    Thurber House Presents a Doggie Photo Contest in Conjunction with Evenings with Authors Event featuring Merrill Markoe!

    ImageEnter the first ever Thurber House Doggie Photo Contest, as part of the Evenings with Authors featuring consummate dog lover, Merrill Markoe, on Friday, January 23 at the Columbus Museum of Art at 7:30pm.

    The Guidelines
  • Entries may only be sent via email
  • Photos may be either color or black & white
  • Photo should be sent to Meg Brown at Please include your name, telephone number, and the name of your dog in the email
  • Must be present at the event to win. Tickets are $18 in advance ($15 for students and seniors) and $20 at the door ($18 for students and seniors). Tickets can be purchased online at: or by calling 614-464-1032. NO real dogs allowed at event
  • The deadline for submission is Thursday, January 22, 2009 at noon.

    The Judge
    Merrill Markoe, a former finalist for the Thurber Prize for Humor, is an Emmy Award-winning writer who will read from her latest hilarious novel, Nose Down, Eyes Up, about four talking dogs, a man who won't grow up, and his confused relationships with women. She will award two lucky dogs with the honor of either being "Most Likely to Talk" or "Most Likely to Be Portrayed" in Markoe's next book.

    The Prizes
  • Gift certificates, one for a pet bakery and one for a pet boutique
  • A signed copy of Markoe's latest novel as well as a copy of her Thurber Prize finalist, Walking in Circles before Lying Down (also about dogs, of course!)
  • A $10 gift certificate to the Thurber Country Bookstore at Thurber House
  • A picture of your winning doggie signed by Merrill Markoe!

    Click here to purchase your ticket!

  • 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