• Once a month, members of the Quill and Swill gather for a book discussion. We select our choices by examining book reviews, bestseller lists, and listening to personal recommendations.

    Almost always our conversations are intelligent, stimulating and lively. We represent a variety of backgrounds and personality types and we find each other thought provoking, entertaining and supportive.

  • Did you know the word prom is short for promenade in the United States and Canada? This semi-formal (black tie) dance is usually held at the end of a high school academic year. Since the 1890s, the prom has been considered to be young people’s first formal outing.

  • Second to Christmas, a favorite holiday of mine is the Fourth of July. Perhaps this rings true with many Americans this year. But what year would be complete without the obligatory Fourth of July picnic. I think somewhere in the Constitution our forward thinking forefathers included a clause, making this a required activity for American citizenship.

    I am not one for parades. If you have seen one parade, you have seen them all. I can think of something better to do than standing along the streets with a herd of noisy people I do not know watching silly little floats go by.

  • Lights flash, a siren sounds and a big, red firetruck races down the street. “It’s Marion County Fire Rescue (MCFR) on its way to a fire,” you might think. You watch the truck slow down and are surprised to see it stop at a house that isn’t on fire or even smoking. An MCFR rescue unit has also just arrived and the crew races into the home, the firefighters from the truck following close behind them. Moments later, they run out with a man secured to a stretcher, his wife standing tearfully at the door.

  • According to the Internet site, Bizarre, Crazy, Silly Unknown Holidays, today is Twins Day. There will always be a number of funny stories involving twins, sometimes when one identical twin is mistaken for the other. Pun Alley takes a look at some of these stories to celebrate the twins holiday.

    Patriotic to The End

    A couple had twins, two identical girls, born on the 4th of July. The father, being patriotic, said, “We will name them Liberty and Justice, after the pledge of allegiance.”

  • We are experiencing auto burglaries once again. Most of the cases are around the 103rd Street areas and some in the Sun Valley area.

    As in the past, a vast majority of the entered vehicles are unlocked. The culprits can easily and quietly open the car and steal whatever valuables you have left inside. We have had GPS systems, money and DVD players stolen.

    I have spoken about a term some call these types crimes as “creeping” because someone walks quietly through a neighborhood checking cars to find the unlocked ones.

  • Today is the last day of school. While students are looking forward to their vacation, mothers foresee more work for themselves and are already waiting for the reopening of school. Stories from the school year have found their way to Pun Alley.

    Higher Education

    Two kindergarteners were standing outside of school one morning. “Do you think,” asked one, “that thermonuclear projectiles will pierce the heat barrier?”

    “No,” the second one said, “once a force enters the sub stratosphere - ”

  • One of the longest-standing debates in investing is over the relative merits of active portfolio management versus passive management. With an actively managed portfolio, a manager tries to beat the performance of a given benchmark index by using his or her judgment in selecting individual securities and deciding when to buy and sell them. A passively managed portfolio attempts to match that benchmark performance, and in the process, minimize expenses that can reduce an investor’s net return.

  • Remember Steinhatchee from our list of unusual Florida town names? Courtesy of the Creek Indian forebears, aka meant down or dead, isti meant man and hatchee was their word for creek. They’d be tickled to know the entrance to Steinhatchee River has been named Deadman’s Bay by those pale faces who settled down in the area.

  • I met a woman recently who showed me something special she carried in her Bible. She had never met me before and therefore it was very ironic that when she opened her Bible to show me what she had inserted, I could not help but smile and tell her it was “beshert,” fated, that this was to happen. Inside her Bible was a clipping of one of my columns I had written a while back and it was on tolerance and anti-Semitism. This got me thinking: if we could only focus on the things that unite us instead of the things that divide us, how much better religious relations would be.

  • From patriotic concerts to a bicycle parade, barbecues and fireworks, this area is gearing up for a weekend of red, white and blue fun. For those looking for a way to celebrate Independence Day, there is something for everyone. So here are some ways to celebrate and enjoy and the holiday weekend:

  • Having a good time may not be the highest priority in life but it sure beats hitting your thumb with a hammer. Sometimes, try as we might, having a good time is an elusive dream.

  • Hold on! Hold on! Stop the presses. I need to point something out. It is a common mistake. Maybe “mistake” is not the correct word. I think “occurrence” is probably a better choice. Either way it is something that needs to be addressed.

  • Playing the Ultimate Showdown keeps the FLYP sessions exciting to the kids as well as the staff.

    As of Thursday, July 23, the original 64 fictional characters had been narrowed down to the Final Four: Phineas and Ferb vs. Curious George; Aslan vs. SpongeBob Squarepants. The kids will decide the winner at the last FLYP session on Thursday, July 30. We’ll let you know the Ultimate Champion in the Aug. 14 issue.

  • This is the time of the year when rain is a frequent visitor, especially in the afternoon. It is then that a person is tempted to go outside and dance in the rain. One famous singer was so caught up with a rainy afternoon that he did his famous, "Singing in the rain." At my age, the only dancing I do is the bathroom shuffle, which has become more frequent than usual lately.

  • Our series about Marion County museums trots right along with the Florida Carriage Museum, a colorful candidate whose 400 acres straddle both Marion and Lake counties. As their brochure promises, it is waiting “… for those who value history, love pageantry and enjoy the unique.”

  • It all started with an Ice Cream Social at Joy Lutheran Church on Saturday, April 25, when approximately 100 people attended to enjoy the ice cream and give to a worthy cause of providing shoes for the homeless children of Marion County. This event also included entertainment by the Cherrywood Songbirds, who contributed not only their talent but also money.

  • Recent rains along with the high temperatures of summer have brought all kinds of activity, but not what we really want. Besides mosquitoes, there are all kinds of flying and crawling things — ants, beetles, flies, bees and spiders. Now is the time to clear out the spider webs in your brain and enjoy some puns.


  • What is a Build America Bond? Investors have a new mechanism for investing in municipal bonds, courtesy of the American recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. As part of the Obama administration’s economic stimulus program, the bill authorized a subsidy for local and state governments that issue what are known as Build America Bonds (BABs) to finance capital expenditures.

  • In celebrating my recent birthday, I found myself caught up in a case of nostalgia. I never imagined I would really get this old. Not that I am old, mind you, but I have reached the point in life I never thought I would when I was younger. Had I known I would get this old, I would have saved some of the energy I wasted during my teenage years.

    How was I to know that as you got older your supply of energy began diminishing?