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Our feature package this week updates some of our favorite stories from the past year. And when it came to illustrating that idea on the cover, it seemed a perfect opportunity to send our best John Newsome impersonator to the courthouse with slumped shoulders and a 12-pack.

Though it may have been a little short on holiday spirit, the idea made us laugh, and, well, we just gave in to it.

Hopefully, you'll find all of "Strange brew" (with a second installment coming next week) to be enlightening, or at least entertaining, and a good way to wrap up 2008 and look forward to 2009.

But we don't feel right, just leaving it at that. As we finished this week's paper, we spent a lot of time working on a late-breaking news story. It's the one about Kelly Murphy, a 22-year-old mother and wife, who was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in her rented Manitou Springs home last week.

A little good may come out of the tragedy, in the form of a local law or perhaps a statewide one requiring detectors in some, if not all, residences. In the meantime, though, sadness reigns in her circle of friends and family.

With that, and the fragility of life, in mind, we temper our satire with sincerity. So please accept our heartfelt wishes for a holiday season that's as safe and happy as possible.

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