Lately, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has been trying to put the best possible face on state-government ethics. But despite some positive press coverage, the group's spin falls way short, particularly when it comes to Illinois.

In this weather, I pity the actors in Genesius Guild's production of Macbeth. In addition to the fact they're on stage wearing three layers of clothing and toting swords, shows are performed at Rock Island's Lincoln Park outdoor theatre, which draws little breeze, lots of bugs, and, of course, heat. Though these aren't ideal conditions for actors, or for audience members, people willing to brave the heat for three hours and put on the bug spray will be more than pleased to see an incredibly well-done yet traditional version of one of Shakespeare's great tragedies.

The great thing about life is the chance to know and love unique, inspiring, and truly noble individuals who make a difference in the lives they touch. Albert ("Al") Stafne is just such an individual. Al quietly painted for years as part of his intellectual expression - a fact not widely known by many who know him.

Two years ago, Iowa City’s Kelly Pardekooper released Johnson County Snow with his Devil’s House Band, and I called it one of my favorite records of the year. Not among my favorite indie releases. Among my favorites, period.

I was excited to check out New York’s Ulu when they came to Summerfest on July 12. I knew that they’d played at RIBCO a few months back, and I’d heard a snippet of Live at the Wetlands, Ulu’s second album, recorded in November of ’99.

• After countless years and a few false starts, Axl Rose and his next generation of Guns N' Roses are stepping out into the sunlight next month. No news yet of American tour dates, but the band has announced the new lineup will debut August 17 in Tokyo and weave through England and Belgium for a few weeks.

This is in response to the letter to the editor entitled "Grant and Johnson Parents Must Accept Change," published in the July 3-9, 2002, edition of the River Cities' Reader.

I am a fully "grown up" adult who has two children, one of whom attended Johnson Elementary School.

• With Eminem's heavy nick of the Malcolm McLaren scratch-and-street classic "Buffalo Gals" on his smash "Without Me" pumping the hot air of summer, my old-school heart is yearning for those crazy house-friendly hip-hop days of the 1980s.

• The pro-life Life & Family Educational Trust has announced the opening of the newly completed Women's Choice Center at 2711 Happy Joe Drive in Bettendorf. The Woman's Choice Center is a facility - located across the street from Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa - providing information about pregnancy, fetal development, and related issues.

Speaking with grace and ease, a pensive network anchor compared the America of today with the one of a year ago. His script had the ring of media truth at the start of a new season. "How different the summer is going to be for all of us," CNN's Aaron Brown told viewers.

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