Stories

Since we love books WAY more than college basketball, we just had to share this. So cool!

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In its fourth and biggest year yet, Out of Print's Book Madness tournament has given hundreds of thousands of fans a chance to vote their favorite books to glory. This year, Out of Print is taking it to the next level with "Hero vs. Villain."

Like college basketball's March Madness tournament, readers can complete a bracket and compete against fellow bookworms. But this year, it's all about the characters themselves, with fans voting on their favorite heroes and villains from classic lit.

Is Big Brother any match for President Snow? Will Harry Potter's magic be enough to defeat Atticus Finch? It is time to decide once and for all!

Brackets can be submitted through Sunday, March 23rd for a chance to win a $500 Out of Print gift card and other prizes. Voting begins March 24th.

To participate please visit, http://outofprintclothing.com/book-madness

mangosalsaOn holidays like Labor Day, the best dishes to serve friends and family are the ones that take very little effort to prepare.  That way you can spend your time enjoying the day not laboring in a hot kitchen.

Versatile salmon can be grilled, sauteed, baked, and braised. More often than not the preferred approach is to simply grill the fish--whole or filleted--with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, the Italian way. But there are times when a little more seasoning accents salmon's natural flavors.

Spanish style preparations saute the fish with fresh tomatoes, pitted olives, peppers, onions, and parsley. American barbecue relies on sweet-heat. Another approach, one borrowing from South American and Caribbean recipes, marries citrus with honey and garlic in a simple sauce.

Serve the roasted fish with a side of reserved pan drippings and a mango-grilled corn salsa and you'll have the perfect summer meal to be enjoyed with a glass of chardonnay or an ice cold beer.

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fighting-couple-300x264Saturday morning, I was headed downtown for a walk with my dogs.   On the corner of West End and 116th street, we passed a couple in the midst of a tiff.  She was crying and he was saying “I want to say something that will make you feel better!”  She replied “Then say different stuff!!!”  I chuckled and slowed the dogs down to catch more of their fight- eager for a little distraction from my walk.  The fight wasn’t explosive though, it was just a steam blowing off-er.  I slipped my earbuds back in and trudged onward.

Two blocks later, another couple was fighting.  Actually, it was more of a mutual whine than a fight really.  This time, there was something that needed to be picked up at the store for their baby (that was anxiously cooing from the sling around dad’s neck) and neither wanted to do it because there was other stuff that needed to be done.  Again, there was sighing, head shaking and clenched fists from both contenders, but nothing that entertaining.

We crossed into the park and stopped suddenly when we hit yet another couple deep in conflict.  He was bellowing about dirty laundry and she was yarping about laundromat quarters.  I honestly thought I was on some hidden camera show or something.  Three couples in less than 10 blocks?  Was this sunny day in May a secret relationship Armageddon?  I wiped the pond of sweat from my upper lip and thought, “Huh… maybe”.

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oscar.jpgThe Oscars are less than a week a way, and most people have already weighed in on their top choice for the year. So now it’s time to match your top choice with the perfect Oscar Entrée.

1. The Artist (Michel Hazanvicius) has been taking people’s breaths away—and voices. To match the brilliant silent picture, how about some cotton candy, which is a bit old school, light and full of air—the perfect, tasty, silent addition.

2. Join War Horse’s (Steven Spielberg) horse and feel free to treat yourself to a bowl of uncooked spaghetti, so you can join the main character (the horse), as he gnaws on straw.

3. Head out to the ballpark with Moneyball (Bennett Miller), and bite into a jumbo hotdog and extra large fries.

4. Laugh along with Minny (Octavia Spencer) in The Help (Tate Taylor), and indulge in double chocolate pie—leaving her SECRET ingredient out. Please. And thank you.

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When TV Snacks Had Style by Amy Ephron

ImageBack in the days when evening television was interactive family entertainment, when Ed Sullivan and "College Bowl" were on, my family used to gather in the TV room. In our house, that was the bar. It had a Fleetwood television built into the wall, with the controls built in next to the silk-covered sofa on which my mother would always lie, on her back, her head propped up by four pillows.

Next to her, on the coffee table, was a Dewars-and-soda on ice and a pack of Kent filters. My sisters and I would lie on the floor, my father would sit in his teak rocking chair, and we would watch television and eat TV snacks—clam dip baked on toasted Pepperidge Farm white bread; Beluga caviar, whenever anyone sent it over; a really disgusting (but great) dip made out of cottage cheese, mayonnaise, chives, and Worcestershire sauce, with ruffled potato chips; and Mommy's favorite, blanched and toasted almonds.

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Turtle Pancakes by Laraine Newman

larainemom.jpg My relationship with my mother was, um, complicated.  She was a kid herself in many ways, having been neglected by her own beautiful but narcissistic mother. She pretty much raised herself and from my jaundiced teenage perspective, my mother was a disgrace. She wanted romance and adventure and was frustrated by the mundane tomb of her obligations. Never mind the fact that she’d been a parent since the age of 19 with 4 kids.

But nothing makes you appreciate your mother more than psychedelics.  When I was 15, my best friend and I decided to try Mescaline and drive up to her grandfather’s house in Trancas.  Right on the beach, we thought this would be a glorious place to trip.

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Leading Lady by Robert Keats

gigi2.jpgMy mother’s name is Gladys, and the name just doesn’t fit her.

She’s felt that way all her life. So, years ago, she started coming up with new names and identities, as her inner spirit looked to break free from her outer Gladys.

The first time Gladys became someone else was at the start of her freshman year at the University of Illinois. She was among the ninety percent of the girls at school who were from Chicago, and Gladys wanted to establish herself as different and exotic. So she made up a story that her father worked for the diplomatic corps in India.

The response was phenomenal.

After passing herself off as an American living in Bombay, her phone was ringing off the hook. All the guys wanted to go out with her. Everyone wanted to get to know the girl from Bombay.

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Maybe It's In the DNA by Emily Fox

iced-tea-ii-posters.jpg My late grandmother, may she rest in peace, was very, very good at the things she was good at, and spectacularly bad at the thing she was bad at, which was cooking.

She could sew and knit and organize into oblivion, and she could draw and paint, and she had beautiful penmanship and made her bed so neatly and perfectly that you could bounce quarters off the surface. Every photograph she ever put into an album (chronologically, always, all of them) was labeled and dated, and she balanced her checkbook to the penny. She could crochet. Her collection of antique hatpin holders – she had hundreds of them – was kept spotless. She saved every dollar she ever had and could account for every dime she ever spent. She had the most beautiful long nails that she kept impeccably manicured in pearly bubblegum pink. But cook? My Bubby could ruin a bowl of cereal.

The three things you could always find in her refrigerator were artificially sweetened iced tea, powdered milk, and margarine. So you can imagine the shivers of unhappy anticipation that went through our bodies when Bubby invited us over for a meal.

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My Own Betty Crocker by Seale Ballenger

bettycrocker.jpg As Mother's Day quickly approaches, I am reminded of the many reasons I love my mother.  She is smart, kind, funny and she makes one hell of a good Hershey Bar Cake - you see, I grew up with Betty Crocker.
 
While Wikipedia defines Betty Crocker as "an invented persona and mascot, a brand name and trademark of American food company General Mills," my own personal Betty Crocker is a flesh and blood person who happens to be related to me and goes by the name of Jodie.
 
While I was growing up the fictitious Betty Crocker was famous for such delicacies as "dunkaroos" (snacks containing frosting and cookies) and "mystery fruit cake;" but my own in-home version could whip up just about anything to rival her. 

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We Always Have Paris by Brenda Athanus

brendaage6.jpg Like a mother hen sweetly teaching their young how to find the water and food bowl is the way our Mother taught us how to appreciate the world of wonderful food that awaited us at a very young age. We were on our first trip to Europe, I was 6 and my sister was 11 when my mother became very ill in Paris. We were staying in the 5th Arrondissement at the Lutetia Hotel and as my mother faded in and out of consciousness she was worried that we needed to eat. She gave us money and told us that we weren’t allowed to – #1 not cross any streets and #2 we had to hold each other’s hands. We could eat what ever we wanted and we were armed with plenty of francs.

On our first sojourn, we happily discovered a precious little Bistro with a delightful French female owner that surely must have wondered what the story was with the two small hungry American children popping into her restaurant hand in hand. But all curiousness aside, her mission was to feed us and introduce us to French food and maybe our story would unfold.

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Mom's Favorite Banana Cake by David Latt

motherlatt My mother happily referred to herself as a “good eater.” Although she was very petite, she could out-eat even our teenaged sons. Every year for Mother’s Day the Southern California branch of the family would drive to Little Saigon in Westminster and eat at Dong Khanh, where my mom ordered her favorites: lemon grass chicken, lobster in black pepper sauce, chow mein noodles with squid, vermicelli with bbq pork, spring rolls and a large bowl of pho ga — chicken vermicelli soup.

As much as she loved Dong Khanh’s food, though, she insisted that the dessert be homemade. Since I was the cook in the family, I happily took on the assignment, and the waiters at Dong Kahn had long ago accepted our ritual so they were always ready with a stack of small plates and forks.

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Gooseberry Pie by Doug Cox

gooseberrypie.jpg Gooseberries have nothing to do with geese. The berries are bigger than a pea, smaller than a marble and are pale green or ruby red, depending on the variety. Wear gloves when you pick them. The bushes are covered with thorns. I dare you to eat one raw without making a face. They are beyond tart.

Gooseberry pie is an acquired taste. The only places I know to get it are Du-par’s Restaurant (L.A.’s Farmers’ Market, Studio City and Thousand Oaks) and my mom’s kitchen in Edwardsville, Illinois. Call me be biased, but I like Mom’s better. She has made it just for me for at least 35 years. And yet, I’m not a bit spoiled.

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