When Phyllis Diller appeared in Richmond in 1983

Ronnie Schell remembers Phyllis Diller in his latest edition of the Macdonald Avenue Spanker.

Comedian, actor and Richmond native Ronnie Schell is also a journalism fanatic who publishes his own newsletter from Los Angeles called the Macdonald Avenue Spanker, a missive for the folks back in his hometown.
In the latest issue of the Spanker, Schell, 80, recalls the 1983 fundraiser appearance in Richmond his fellow Bay Area comedian and longtime friend, Phyllis Diller, who died in Aug. 20, 2012 at 95.

The date way Saturday night, Oct. 2 1983.
It was a big comedy night sponsored by the Brookside Medical Center in San Pablo and was held at the Richmond Auditorium to an overflow crowd.
Many stars showed up to roast yours truly and the biggest star there way my longtime personal and professional friend, the late Phyllis Diller.
And she didn’t stop with the one Richmond visit. She came back to the Richmond Auditorium two years later to do her one-woman show with singer Kay Starr for another Brookside-sponsored, sold-out performance.
When Phyllis passed away last month at 95, it ended one of my longest and closest relationships with another performer.
I met Phyllis when I first started playing the Purple Onion in San Francisco. She was the headliner and we became very close friends, which encompassed over 55 years.
We worked together many times in clubs and on television and maintained a long personal relationship with her family and mine over the years.
She was truly a comedy legend and I will miss her.


Pinole: National Punctuation Day on Monday will celebrate the presidential election

The ninth annual National Punctuation Day, that event founded in Pinole that promotes correct use of punctuation (or in the age of texting, the use of any punctuation at all), returns on Monday with an election year focus.
Here is the official press release:

The ninth annual National Punctuation Day (NPD), the September 24 holiday that reminds America that a “semicolon is not a surgical procedure,” celebrates the 2012 presidential election with a literary challenge — vote for your Presidential Punctuation Mark in one, highly punctuated paragraph!

The rules for contestants competing for a box of punctuation goodies are: Write one paragraph with a maximum of three sentences using these 13 punctuation marks to explain which should be “presidential,” and why: apostrophe, brackets, colon, comma, dash, ellipsis, exclamation point, hyphen, parentheses, period, question mark, quotation mark, and semicolon. You may use a punctuation mark more than once, and there is no word limit.

Contest entries must be received by September 30 to be considered for prizes.

Founded in 2004 by former newspaperman Jeff Rubin, NPD is listed in Chase’s Calendar of Events and The Teacher’s Calendar, two directories published by McGraw-Hill.

The NPD website, in addition to highlighting the latest in literacy news and featuring incorrectly punctuated signs from all over the world, serves as a resource that helps educators teach good writing skills and helps students understand the basics of punctuation. Business people worldwide use it as a reference guide.

There’s even a punctuation newsletter! The Exclamation Point! contains articles on the latest literacy news from around the world, book reviews, and commentary.

NPD is celebrated in public and private schools, and universities, businesses, and corporations with activities, games, programs, and contests. It has inspired people to pay attention not only to their p’s and q’s, but also their commas, semicolons, and ellipses. NPD reminds us of the importance of proper punctuation for communicating clearly at home, school, or at work.

NPD has received worldwide media attention. Each year, Rubin is a guest on dozens of radio shows, and NPD receives significant newspaper coverage throughout the United States and the world. NPD has been covered in Canada, England, Korea, Australia, Ghana, and the Philippines.

“Casual shortcuts bred by e-mailing and text messaging have no place in school papers or professional business writing,” Rubin says. “In the business world, words have power and help decision-makers form impressions immediately. Careless punctuation mistakes cost time, money, and productivity.

“Successful people have good communication skills, and that includes knowing how to write properly. Punctuation counts. A misplaced comma can alter the meaning of a message.”

Visit the NPD website to learn how schools and companies can participate in National Punctuation Day and to schedule an interview with Jeff Rubin.

What can you do to participate in National Punctuation Day on September 24?
1. Visit the NPD website to become familiar with punctuation rules and issues.
2. Organize punctuation activities at your school, library, or office.
3. Share punctuation peeves with founder Jeff Rubin on his website.
4. Send photos of incorrectly punctuated signage to Jeff Rubin at his website.
5. Forward this information to spread the importance of proper punctuation.


Is WonderCon headed south for another year — or longer?

WonderCon, the mega comics/sci-fi convention that originated at the Oakland Convention Center 25 years ago, outgrew its host city and moved to San Francisco in 2003.
The convention grew to become the second largest of its kind on the West Coast, a major event that attracted tens of thousands of visitors ready to spend their money at the attraction at the Moscone Convention Center.
Because the Moscone was undergoing renovations this year, WonderCon moved south to Anaheim, with the promise that it would bring the hoopla of superhero and “Star Wars” costumed attendees back locally.
Most cities would be clearing the calendar for the prospect of such an attraction, but San Francisco is not most cities, and the Moscone in S.F. is mostly booked for 2013.
This article and this artiicle speculate that the show may be down south at least through 2013.
We still say it was its best and most enjoyable when it was in Oakland.