Things could get a little less peaceful in Rock Island now.

You might not be able to tell the difference yet, but once word gets out, citizens will probably take to the streets en masse, making loud and unusual noises at will, perhaps even beating sounding vessels or hallooing.

You might have heard that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich wants to "re-finance" some state debt, which will supposedly free up $1.9 billion to help close the state's massive $4.8-billion budget deficit.

But the media coverage of this plan has been ill-informed, at best, mainly because the governor has done a good job of obfuscating the issue.

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.

• 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.

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.

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.

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