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Old 01-27-2016, 07:21 AM   #1
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Benchley, Robert: Chips Off the Old Benchley (Collected shorts). v1. 27 Jan 2016

Chips Off the Old Benchley by Robert Benchley (1889-1945)

Contents first published in various periodicals 1915 ~ 1936. Book collection Chips Off the Old Benchley first published 1949.
The text of this book is in the public domain in countries where copyright is “Life+70” or less. Due to copyright restrictions, illustrations by Gluyas Williams (1888–1982) have been omitted.

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Robert Charles Benchley was an American humorist, actor, and drama critic. His main persona, that of a slightly confused, ineffectual, socially awkward bumbler, served in his essays and short films to gain him the sobriquet “the humorist’s humorist.” The character allowed him to comment brilliantly on the world’s absurdities. (—Encyclopedia Britannica)

Benchley's humor influenced and inspired many humorists and filmmakers, among them E. B. White, James Thurber, S. J. Perelman, Horace Digby, Woody Allen, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, and Dave Barry.

Benchley is best remembered for his contributions to periodicals such as Life, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker. Collections of these essays and articles stand today as tribute to his brilliance.


EXCERPT from “American Sporting Life: Dozing”
Spoiler:
We Americans are a hardy race, and hardy races need a lot of sleep. “Sleep, that knits up the ravelled sleave of care,” Shakespeare has called it, and, except for the fact that it doesn’t mean much, it is a pretty good simile. I often think of it myself just as I am dropping off into a light doze: “Sleep, that sleeves up the raveled care of. . . knit, that sleeps up the shaveled neeve of pfor – pff – prpf – orpffif’ trailing off into a low whistle).

One of the most charming manifestations of sleep which we, as a nation, indulge in as a pastime is the Doze. By the Doze I mean those little snatches of sleep which are caught now and then during the day, usually with the collar on and choking slightly, with the head inclined coyly to one side, during which there is a semiconscious attempt to appear as if we were really awake. It is in this department of sleep that we are really at our best.

Of course, there is one form of doze which, to the casual observer or tourist, gives the appearance of legitimate sleep. This is the short doze, or “quickie,” which is taken just after the main awakening in the morning. The alarm rings, or the Lord High Chamberlain taps us on the shoulder (in the absence of a chamberlain a relative will do. And right here I would like to offer for examination that type of sadistic relative who takes actual delight in awakening people. They hover about with ghoulish anticipation until the minute arrives when they may legitimately begin their dirty work, and then, leering unpleasantly, they shake the sleeper roughly with a “Come, come! Time to get up!” and wait right there until he is actually out on the cold floor in his bare feet. There is something radically wrong with such people, and the sooner they are exposed as pathological cases the better it will be for the world). I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be nasty about it.

At any rate, we are awakened and look at the clock. There are five minutes before it is absolutely necessary to get out of bed. If we leave shaving until night, there might even be fifteen minutes. If we leave dressing until we get to the office, snatching our clothes from the chair and carrying them downtown on our arm, there might even be half an hour more for a good, health-giving nap. Who knows? Perhaps those few minutes of extra sleep might make us just ten times as efficient during the day! That is what we must think of – efficiency. We must sacrifice our petty opinions on the matter and think of the rest of the day and our efficiency. There is no doubt that fifteen minutes’ more sleep would do wonders for us, no matter how little we really want to take it.

By the time we have finished this line of argument we are out pretty fairly cold again, but not so cold that we are not conscious of anyone entering the room. We feel that they are going to say: “Come, come, don’t go back to sleep again!” and we forestall this warning with a brisk “I know! I know! I’m just thinking!” This is said with one eye partially open and one tiny corner of the brain functioning. The rest of our powers add up to a total loss.

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Text was obtained from the Internet Archive. Punctuation, italics, and diacritics have been formatted. Chapter-end links provide access to table of contents and title index. Embedded font for titling.

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Just chip away at it for awhile, and suddenly you find you've read it all!
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