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Don't know what it was like at your house earlier this year as the snow fell and cabin fever raged, but it was hard times at ours. Running out of milk was tough. But the worst? Running out of reading material.

So the first thing I did when we got back up to speed was subscribe to a bunch of new magazines for the house. I'd had it with reading back issues of Highlights for Kids and Newsweek by candlelight. Gimme some breathing room here, please!

Here's what's hot, slick and in-your-face on the newsstand this month. tofu is pop Hong Kong, covering an exploding high-gloss youth culture that churns all day and night. From "ladyboy" pimp nightlife to Gigi Leung's cover-girl status (nine CD releases in one year), from the Mandopop! report on China cool to a dozen pages of unique photo-essays, tofu is a fresh and very welcome change from the same-old East Coast and Euro print media.

The March issue of CODE does Hollywood, the NBA, and, as always, hip, casual fashions. As "The Style Magazine for Men of Color," CODE has already sold major ad accounts on its accessibility and credibility. Larry Flynt (the publisher!) has finally allowed some good writing and humor to take center stage in one of his magazines. A great Walter Mosley interview, a funny "discovering brother dipsy" sidebar and lots of great dish on the West Coast highlight the issue.

FourFourTwo is your window on the world's most popular sport, football. No, mate, not that sissy Yank game with the pointed ball. They're talking about the bleedin' free-for-alls fought over international soccer. Rivaldo dominates the latest issue. He's the sport's Michael Jordan. Or was MJ his sport's Rivaldo? Great stories of intrigue, rivalry, strategies and fate on a green grass pitch. You know how your office buddy feels about his favorite shade-of-blue basketball team? That's mild compared with the intensity of the football universe beyond our shores.

But, oh, the best magazine, with the best cover story to get us through this bleak midwinter? MAD whales on Harry Potter in one of their funniest spoofs ever. "Harry Plodder and the Kidney Stone" is just what we (and every 10- to 12-year-old in the world) need to get us to July when the real Harry Four arrives. Deftly rendered, MAD's Harry attends Pockmark's School of Wizardry, is best friends with Hermaphrodite Granger, and plays a wicked game of Squamish.

More by John Valentine

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