Reluctant Townie: I'm starting to develop a fear of flying

This past week was the kind of week I will tell my grandchildren about when I am old and gray, as I recount the tale of how it was socially acceptable to enjoy the music of "Weird Al" Yankovic for exactly eight days in 2014, and what a glorious time it was to be alive on planet Earth, full of gentle ribbing, popular music parody and all-around merriment.

Letter from Birdland: Our pollinators need more love

I wrote last week that I'd tell you more about my conversation with John Marlin, the curator of the prairie in front of the Archives Research Center, and ever since our conversation, I've noticed more and more little pockets of prairie on campus.

Look ahead: Top picks from Melissa Merli for the week to come

Look ahead: Top picks from Melissa Merli for the week to come

Top of the Morning, July 27, 2014

She told me she learned the Pledge of Allegiance more than 50 years ago as a grade-schooler in Atwood.

So I asked Sue Falk if she still remembered the words.

It took her all of eight seconds to prove it, getting from "I pledge" to "justice for all" lickety-split.

Ask 'Mimi' July 27, 2014

From Joan Jett to a tip on upcoming music in local parks to the local connection to Lyle Lovett's upcoming show, Melissa "Mimi" Merli has you covered.

I heard Joan Jett is performing at the Decatur Celebration. True?

Getting Personal: Michael Smith

Getting Personal is a Q&A with a local personality. Here, Michael Smith, the superintendent of the Tuscola school district and a social media maven, chats with The News-Gazette's Paul Wood. Smith is about to start his fourth year in Tuscola after working 17 years in Oakland. "I've been truly blessed to work in two schools and towns that are absolutely wonderful," he said.

Studio Visit: Josh Quirk

Studio Visit is a Q&A with a local artist. Here, a chat with Josh Quirk. The professional drummer who plays with several bands, including the Brat Pack, recently chatted with The News-Gazette's Melissa Merli:

You're known for being a versatile drummer. Is there any style you don't play?

For the retirees, July 27-Aug. 3, 2014

For information about services available to older adults, contact Karen Bodnar, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 48 E. Main St., Champaign, IL 61820, phone 359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Senior Center are administered by Family Services of Champaign County.

This day in history: July 27, 2014

Today is Sunday, July 27, the 208th day of 2014. There are 157 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

Business and professional briefs, July 27, 2014

New jobs

Carle chooses vice president. Matt Kolb has been hired as vice president of the Carle Neuroscience Institute.

He formerly worked for Allina Health System in Minneapolis as vice president of operations, neuroscience and spine services.

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