Nightclub Mama Gives Men the Skinny on That V-Day Chocolate

Wondering if those Valentine's Day chocolates from your sweetie means she's serious? If you're in Japan, just ask the madam.

The Mainichi Daily News enlisted one of Tokyo's most esteemed nightclub mama-sans, or madams, Shiho Masui, to decode the calorie-rich gifts.

Shiho, who spends well over $16,000 each year on Valentine's chocolate for her elite clientele, tells the paper's readers how to discern if their gift assortment is chocolate given with warmth, "honmei choco," or that given out of obligation, "giri-choco."

Just because the sweets come from the drug store, doesn't mean they're cheap.

"They don't need to be expensive," Shiho said. "But there's a high likelihood that a woman who is prepared to find rare or different chocolates is also putting feeling into the gift."

Japanese men struck with cupid's chocolate arrow will have a month to reciprocate the kindness. It's tradition for men to bestow gifts of white to their honeys on White Day, March 14.

Only in California, Kids ...

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Zoo paid $4,500 to an expert in the ancient Chinese art of feng shui to ensure three endangered golden monkeys on loan from China can have a strong life force.

Consulting the feng shui expert was part of the cost for a $7.4 million enclosure for the golden monkeys debuting at the zoo later this year. Feng shui focuses on balance in design to promote health and happiness.

Feng shui is in demand among high-end architects and interior designers, but Beverly Hills-based feng shui expert Simona Mainini said the Los Angeles Zoo's effort may be a first in animal enclosure design.

"It's very experimental," Mainini said. "We don't have any books on feng shui for monkeys. We just have to assume that Darwin is correct and that there is a connection and what is good for humans is good for monkeys."

Next Time, Say It With Flowers

SAN RAFAEL, California (AP) — A man who allegedly faked his own kidnapping to keep his wife from finding out he crashed her new car could face criminal charges, police said.

Police said the 35-year-old man told them two kidnappers held him up at gunpoint at a San Rafael bar Saturday and ordered him to drive to Santa Rosa, where he purposely crashed the car into a wall to escape.

Under questioning Monday, he admitted to investigators he made the story up, including detailed descriptions of the nonexistent kidnappers, police said.

"As far as we can tell, he was alone in the car," police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said.

The man was actually heading to a casino in Sonoma County when he accidentally crashed his wife's 2007 Ford Focus and was worried about how she would react, Rohrbacher said.

Police were still considering whether to file charges against the man for making a false report.

We Said Spruce It Up, But This Is Ridiculous

SHANGHAI, China (AP) — Villagers in southwestern China are scratching their heads over the county government's decision to paint an entire barren mountainside green.

Workers who began spraying Laoshou mountain last August told villagers they were doing so on orders of the county government but were not told why, media reports said Wednesday.

Some villagers guessed officials of the surrounding Fumin county, whose office building faces the mountain, were trying to change the area's feng shui — the ancient Chinese belief of harmonizing one's physical environment for maximum health and financial benefit.

Others speculated it was an unusual attempt at "greening" the area in keeping with calls for more attention to environmental protection. Photographs of the mountain showed the exposed rock covered in an artificial green the color of Astroturf looming over houses against a scrubby background.

The official Xinhua News Agency estimated the cost of the paint job at $60,600 and quoted villagers saying that if spent on actual plants and trees, the money could have restored a far greater area of barren mountain.

Laoshou mountain was quarried for more than two decades but ordered shut recently following complaints about dust and noise from villagers.

Officials have also been trying to stem environmental damage in the surrounding Yunnan province where logging and development of mountain areas have been blamed for heavy floods down river.

A women who answered the phone at the Fumin county forestry department said they were also unaware of reasons behind the paint job.

"This is an order from above. You should ask the leader from above. I don't have any information on this," said the woman, who like many Chinese bureaucrats, refused to give her name.

99 Problems, This Diamond Ring's Just One

HOLLIS, N.H. (AP) — A house painter accused of taking a $7,000 diamond engagement ring from a condo he was working at apparently swallowed the ring during a break from questioning at the police station — and it was caught on tape, police said.

The 44-year-old painter was charged with theft and falsifying evidence. Doctors had to perform emergency surgery on the man to get the 1.2-carat ring out. He was arraigned from his hospital bed.

Police said the ring had been hidden under a mattress in a room where the painter had been hired to work. The owner said he was hiding the ring for his brother, so his brother's girlfriend wouldn't see it until the time was right.

Police brought the painter in for questioning. During a break, and with investigators out of the room for a few minutes, a security camera caught him swallowing the ring.

"I'm not sure what goes through people's minds when you're in public and there's cameras everywhere, but yeah, it is on tape," Lt. James Sartell said Tuesday.

Compiled by's Sara Bonisteel.

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