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Wednesday, 04 January 2006 00:00

Recommended diversions

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King of the Hill

I picked up a nasty rumor that Fox is planning to terminate my favorite cartoon show, “King of the Hill.” Shame, Fox! Shame! In my opinion, KOTH is not only the best cartoon show; it is also the best sitcom on TV. After six years, I know Hank and Peggy Hill far better than I know my own relatives. I worry about Hank’s secret shame (he has a small urethra) and Peggy’s qualifications as a substitute Spanish teacher at Arlen High School in Texas (and not too far from Crawford).

One of my favorite episodes is Peggy’s disastrous school bus trip into Mexico with her students. And that trio of beer-drinking buddies that loaf outside Bill’s house are composites of my old high school cronies: the chain-smoking paranoid, Dale; the speech-challenged Boomhauer, and poor old Bill, the barber, grieving for his absconded wife. My favorite episode? Well, that’s hard. Maybe “A Rover Runs Through It.”No, no, it is probably “The Shins of the Fathers” (Bill’s father, Cotton, lost his legs in WWII and his feet have been surgically attached to his knees). But, I’m neglecting Bobbie, the kid that gets emotionally involved with a manikin head...and the theft of Santa Anna’s wooden leg...Anyway; check KOTH out if you haven’t already. It will be around in reruns for a long time.

The Colorado Kid

Stephen King’s reverence for pulp fiction has prompted him to create The Colorado Kid, a mystery-thriller that can best be defined as homage to the old Gold Medal paperbacks of the ‘50’s (They sold for .25 cents!). With remarkable precision, King captures the style of a period, which stressed suspense, and the teasingly slow unwinding of a mystery. In this instance, we have a dead man propped against a trash bin on a windy beach in Maine. There is no identification. Who is he? Where did he come from? The stamp on a pack of cigarettes (the corpse is a non-smoker) proves that he came from Colorado, and a piece of undigested beef lodged in his throat suggests that he choked to death. However, tantalizing details begin to emerge. Where is his overcoat? Why do some witnesses remember him wearing a green jacket (which is also missing)? There are people who remember seeing him in Colorado on the morning of the day that he ended up as a corpse in Maine.

Most of this strange mystery is related in dialogue. As two old veteran newspapermen talk to a curious, young reporter, it becomes apparent that the telling of the story is an end in itself. In other words, the best mysteries are the ones that are never solved.

— By Gary Carden

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