The world's shortest story was written by Augusto Monterroso: "Upon waking, the dinosaur was still there."

We're not asking you to replicate that feat, but we are asking for your entries in a limbo contest for fiction writing.

The general reaction to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's appointment of Bradley Tusk as his new deputy governor to replace Doug Scofield is not exactly drawing rave reviews.

Scofield resigned as deputy governor to "spend more time with his family" after less than two months on the job.

• One of the strangest pairings in music comes this Tuesday when Geffen Records releases the soundtrack to House of 1,000 Corpses, the new Rob Zombie-directed horror film. Among odd tracks from the Ramones, Buck Owens, and Slim Whitman are six new sick tracks by Zombie, one of which is his "Brick House 2003," a twisted re-make featuring original Commodore Lionel Richie.

Illinois State Representative Julie Hamos (D-Chicago) begged me last week not to make her out to be some kind of lone-wolf hero or get her in trouble with her fellow legislators. But what she did rates a notice.

As reported by CBS News last week, if the Pentagon sticks to its current war plan, one day in March the Air Force and Navy will launch between 300 and 400 cruise missiles at targets in Iraq. This is more than the number that were launched during the entire 40 days of the first Gulf War.

Nnenna Freelon's passion for singing in public was ignited at the age of seven, when she faced an audience alone for the first time. She said that she was petrified, but after finishing singing "Amazing Grace" and seeing the smiles and hearing the clapping and "Amen"s, she wanted more.

• Are you cold, wet, and ready for the blossom of spring? Come, my friend, into the warm pulse of the bottom end of the pool, as two new releases of bass exploration - one a five-star reggae classic from 1980, and the other a nu-funk slammer - are the perfect antidote to the winter blues.

By now, you've probably heard that new Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was so surprised about the actual size of the state's budget deficit that he is considering breaking his campaign promise to not raise taxes.

An absolute necessity in politics is to have friends outside of the political game. Most political types understand this and routinely delineate between their political friends and their "real" friends.

A lobbyist, legislator, reporter, etc.

Secretary of State George Ryan sat on a couch in his Chicago office, reading a document in early September of 1998. It hadn't been a good day. The feds were closing in, the media was turning against him, and election day was just two months away.

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