Robert Benchley Society
Los Angeles "Uncle Edith" Chapter
Los Angeles, April 19, 2007
Scott Ratner, Jesse Levy and Bill Goldsmith held a dinner meeting of the
Uncle Edith Chapter at Musso & Frank's, Saturday, April 14.
Musso's, founded 1919, is the oldest eatery in Hollywood. Benchley, Parker,
Sherwood must have dined there. Raymond Chandler had a favorite booth where
he wrote and drank, drank and wrote, wrote, drank, drank, drank.
Scott is a magician, writer, as excellent a dinner companion as one can
find with XY genotype. (No XXs showed up.) Jesse is lean, witty, makes
award-winning short films. We were in fine fettle. Scott's musical, 'Murder On the High Cs' is
in production. During the meeting, Jesse received a call from an actress
who wants him to direct a feature film. I, too, was in luck. My
malpractice suit would settle out of court. ('Wrong leg! Wrong leg!' ,
that's all I hear. So I'm a bit dyslexic.)
Scott is something of a Benchley scholar. He quoted literary criticism of
Benchley, could quote from numerous pieces. At age 9, he was exposed to 'My
Ten Years in a Quandary'. It was in the family book case, he avers, his
mother having bought it because the dust jacket matched other books. I
countered with my own first Benchley, age 12. At a library, I randomly
picked up 'Inside Benchley'. Nerdily, I read 'The Social Life of the Newt',
assuming it was a serious science essay. However, when I came to, 'It is
early morning, and the workers are just appearing hurrying
to the old log which is to be the scene of their labors. What a scampering!
What a bustle! Ah, little scamperers! Ah, little bustlers!' my laughter
was loud enough to attract attention. A young lady
across the table looked inquiringly. Unable to speak, I displayed the book.
She said, 'Oh, Benchley.' which summed it up.
Both Scott and Jesse did sleight-of- hand. I took a spoon.
Scott has a collecton of Benchley's films. He favors the MGM Benchley
shorts over Paramount.
Our next meeting may be to see our hero fumbling in black and white.
Los Angeles, Sunday, October 9, 2005
Glamourous Hollywood was agog last night at Musso & Frank's which hosted
the founding meeting of the Uncle Edith Chapter, Robert Benchley Society.
The L.A Times, Variety, and Hollywood Reporter were 'tipped', and sent no reporters.
Sixteen invitees resulted in seven acceptances, four actually attending, a
response of 25%, which compares favorably with current rates on
certificates of deposit. The turn-out left plenty of table room for a
display of Benchleyanna, including books, biographies, and a Gluyas
Williams anthology, none of which were touched.
In keeping with the Algonquin tradition, conversation sparkled. The guests
bantered the parking problem on Ventura Blvd., planned computer classes for
Weight Watcher employees, and gossip from the International Monetary Fund.
Wit was rampant, but the prize went to Marco, who, when asked to bring the
salad cruet, said, 'Oil be right back with it.' (At least, that's what it sounded like.)
The meeting ended with a motion to adjourn, heartily seconded by all.