Robert Benchley Society humor-writing contest for the year 2008 entered, with reasonable success in that I think my submission went through, as of shortly before 9 pm tonight. Thanks are due to gafennec, bunny_hugger, and skylerbunny for advice and copy-editing, in the slightly challenging process of shrinking my original entry about a professor who says he can turn peanut butter into diamonds down from its original 700 words to a slender 500 words (actually, 499, by the time I was done; I like to leave a little margin). With luck, it could be that something I wrote meaning to be funny will shortly be read by a person I've always held up as one of the funniest people ever.
Satisfyingly, the essay did improve as I trimmed things out, and I think at this length I reduced it to where there just wasn't real flab left. There were some digressions, including a parenthetical digression near the end that was looked at warily, but since the odd digression was an essential Benchley trait I think that's necessary to keep in. Unfortunately the only convenient online reference to Benchley, in more than famous single-sentence quotes (``But a dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down''; ``The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him'' which ironically is never followed by its successor, ``That remark in itself wouldn't make any sense if quoted as it stands''; ``There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't'') I know is the Project Gutenberg copy of Love Conquers All, and that's too much to read for review of one essay.
Now, recall that the Society web pages Protect Its Content From Copyright Thieves by making an alarm box pop up when one control-clicks (right-clicks) on the page. So I was pleased to see that the Official Entry Form, reached after paying the $10 fee through Paypal, is just a quite ordinary web page obscured by not having any direct links to it from elsewhere on the society's web pages, that just gives out the address to which to mail entries. They're so cute.
Trivia: As the wig industry grew in the 1680s, a pound of ash-brown hair could be sold in France for up to 150 livres. Source: The Essence of Style, Joan DeJean.
Currently Reading: Venus Inc, C M Kornbluth, Fred Pohl. Combination of The Space Merchants with The Merchants' War. I'm sure this sequel will be great, since it is the sequel written thirty years after the original publication of the more or less classic of the field, and written by the sole surviving writer of the incomparable pair, considering I never heard there was a sequel before. Of course, Pohl did keep his hand in writing some of the social attitudes that informed The Space Merchants, and science fiction forgets its own with the speed and eagerness of any genre, so that doesn't a priori make it ominous.