Wednesday, January 7, 2009

GET THEE TO THE MOVIE THEATER! (a rare serious post)


It’s not often that Hollywood deals with any Christian themes in an intelligent or respectful way. In fact, it seems that often the only times that the mainstream movie industry deals with Christianity at all is to portray its believers as either hypocrites, simpletons or buffoons. On the rare occasions that they actually show a character in a church, it’s usually for a wedding or a funeral – despite the fact that even the most limited estimates have shown that at least half of America’s 300 million citizens attend church services fairly regularly.

As a Catholic, I’ve found that my church is portrayed both better and worse than other Christian faiths. Yes, we are spared the pain of seeing our spiritual leaders portrayed as sweaty, quaking, self-righteous, pulpit-pounding televangelists, but on the other hand the last few years have shown that Hollywood has no problem seizing the headlines and showing priests as either pedophiles or at least questionable. Either that, or priests are forever in question of their vows of celibacy and are standing on the brink of having a torrid affair with a woman.

So, imagine my surprise to find that this holiday movie season has offered up not one, but two Oscar-worthy, thoughtful films that deal with matters of faith in an intelligent and exciting way: “Gran Torino” and “Doubt.” While these films tackle their issues from different angles, the results are grandly entertaining and provide plenty to talk about after viewing them. So get thee to their theaters!

“Gran Torino” has been seen by many critics as a response by its star and director, Clint Eastwood, to his own lengthy career of playing hyper-violent urban vigilantes like Dirty Harry Callahan. In five “Dirty Harry” films, he chased, beat and shot up seemingly dozens if not hundreds of the worst criminal perps in San Francisco, but in “Gran Torino,” Eastwood is a 78-year-old Korean War vet named Walt who has watched his working-class Detroit neighborhood change to the point where he’s virtually a lone Caucasian surrounded by Asians.

And Walt hates them all, as well as any other ethnic group that isn’t his own – Polish. It’s here that the film walks a fine and fascinating line, addressing racial tensions in a way that few manage to pull off. The 2005 Best Picture winner “Crash” managed to show race relations in a similarly brutal, bracing and ultimately redemptive fashion, but “Gran Torino” reminded me more of Jack Nicholson’s iconic and Oscar-winning performance as Melvin in 1997’s classic “As Good As It Gets.” Both Nicholson and Eastwood get away with saying thing that would get most of us either beaten or arrested, but manage to have audiences laughing because we expect them to be grizzled, uncensored and outrageous – and because they are poking serious fun at their characters along the way as well.

In “Torino,” the Catholic element comes into play right from the beginning, as Walt is seen at his wife’s funeral. He quickly makes it clear that he doesn’t respect his parish priest, whom he derides face-to-face as “a 27-year-old virgin” who doesn’t know anything about the real world’s problems and suffering. But that priest, played by Christopher Carley, refuses to back down because he promised Walt’s wife on her deathbed that he would persuade Walt to make a confession for the first time in decades.

As the story crystallizes around Walt’s determination to change by protecting his next-door neighbors’ kids from a street gang of their Asian peers, the priest keeps popping up, gradually winning Walt’s respect and forcing him to consider the moral implications of his urge to be a vigilante and perhaps go too far for his own legal and moral good. By the time the film is resolved through a series of clever, unforeseen twists, it is clear that Walt has been transformed by the wisdom of this man whom he once saw as naïve. And Walt’s response is an affecting parallel to the audience’s own initially derisive perception of the priest, taking us along on his faith journey as well.

Meanwhile, “Doubt” – as its title might indicate – heads in the opposite direction while still giving viewers plenty to consider about matters of faith and trust. Set in a Bronx Catholic school in 1964, shortly after the massive changes ushered in by the modernizing Vatican II conference in Rome, the story quickly sets up a conflict between the old-school nun who serves as principal and runs the school like a prison (played by Meryl Streep) and the young, new priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who wants to shake things up by treating the students as fully rounded young people who deserve doses of freedom and respect as well.

Streep and Hoffman wind up in battle over a much more thorny subject, however: she comes to believe, through the tips of a naïve young nun played by Amy Adams, that Hoffman is engaged in an inappropriate relationship with the school’s first admitted black male student. While she has no direct evidence to support her belief, she rigidly sets out to destroy the priest anyway because she refuses to harbor doubt, considering it a weakness. Hanging in the balance are each of their reputations, as well as the well-being of the young boy, whom Hoffman claims he’s merely paying extra attention to in order to help him overcome the ill behavior shown him by his racist classmates.

“Doubt” cannily sets its dramatic fireworks – it’s written and directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter John Patrick Shanley (“Moonstruck”) as an adaptation of his own Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play – up in the early ‘60s, removing the film’s questions of inappropriate priestly behavior from the context of this decade’s earlier pedophilic scandals so that its larger questions of faith, morality, and yes, doubt can be dealt with without the distractions of wondering how close a fact-based film was hewing to reality.

A priest friend of mine dismissed “Doubt” without having seen it, saying that he felt the filmmakers caused damage to the public’s perception of the church merely by portraying the film’s three leads in their clerical outfits next to the title word. But I believe that as much as we’d like to think all of life’s questions can be answered with black and white statements by our pastors or solely through interpreting the Scriptures, a stronger faith can be achieved through occasionally questioning things for ourselves.

And films like “Gran Torino” and “Doubt” give us a great place to start.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

MY BATTLE WITH A GIANT CRAB (minds out of the gutter, we're talking seafood! )

So I was in San Francisco, which you can read more about in the post after this, and was looking for the best damn meals i could find in the city. I had already had clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl at Boudin's (Yummmm) and the best Chinese in the city at House of Nanking (where there's always a line, but SO worth it! When i figure out the photo thing, you'll see pictures of the weird stuff they gave me to eat!)

But I was determined to have a hearty plateful of seafood, and the tour guide on Mr. Toad's Wild Tour said that Crab Ciappino was the way to go. I found a joint on Fisherman's Wharf and settled in at a table and ordered away.

What i wound up with (I had no idea what i was getting into) was a giant bowl of tomato broth (delicious, by the way) but it was filled with giant crab pieces , all in their shells. I've only tried to eat this kind of thing one other time in my life and it wasn't pretty. Add in the red soup aspect and i was destined to look more blood-spattered than Sweeney Todd.

And like Todd, you have to brutalize your quarry when eating a crab. Who ever came up with the idea of catching this giant monstrosity that looks like it starred in "Alien," and decided that it was worth the effort of cracking it open repeatedly and fishing out the meat with a dainty fork? On the one hand, it's a decidedly macho process; on the other, decidedly effete.

And I'm sorry, but I'm with the folks of PETA on this one. They think foie gras is bad, but how about this?! At least we're ripping it to pieces once it's already dead. But as I contort my fingers to wrest slivers of crabmeat, I realize my hands keep going numb from the no-doubt-permanent nerve damage I subjected them to on the GoCar, from numbing cold and attempting to navigate the world's craziest streets with only handbrakes to save me.

This is too much work, i quickly decide - I don't want to fight my dinner, i just want to eat it! I shouldn't need the technical skills of a surgeon to complete my meal. But then, maybe this level of frustration is why the Old Testament book of Leviticus frowned on eating shellfish in the first place.

But as I finally get the hang of it, a rush of adrenaline kicks in and I start ripping and tearing it, limb from limb, eventually staring into its gaping maw. I feel like I'm wrestling this beast more than the old guy in "The Old Man and the Sea."

Best of all, they rward you with a hot towel at the end. I also have a photo of the heaping mess that resulted, but that will have to be posted when i learn the technological wonders of uploading photos!

WHAT I DID ON MY CHRISTMAS VACATION (A very bizarre report by me!)

WHAT I DID ON MY CHRISTMAS VACATION (a very bizarre report by me!)
San Francisco: It's long been known as the city of Rice A Roni, cable cars and really really gay people. But because it also is the world's cheapest plane ticket from LA and never gets covered in snow, I decided to make it my Christmas mini-vacation destination.

For four days, from Dec. 26-30, I jetted up to the city to see just what a "San Francisco treat" really entails. Thanks to the wonderful folks at (yes, this is a shameless plug hoping for even better future deals!) I wound up getting a round-trip ticket, three nights in the historic-status Hotel Whitcomb, and round trip Super Shuttle from the San Fran airport, all for just $401. I decided to make it a Christmas gift to me (awwwww.)

Well, my Christmas Eve really sucked. I spent it alone because my family is in another state, except for the aunt in Sherman Oaks who had begged me to stick around and spend it with her. Then she decided to have me come over Christmas Day, not Eve, and Christmas Eve is like the one night a year when you absolutely, positively can't call people to ask to come over. They're already miserable enough with their own families without the extra grief of allowing you to come over. So i did some pre-trip research and went to see "Milk."

Contrary to what you might think, it's not a documentary about cows or the dairy industry. Rather, it's the biopic of a guy named Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay man ever to be elected to office in America, before getting shot down in cold blood by a Christian fellow councilman who got off for the killing without a sentence because he claimed he had eaten too many Twinkies and went insane on a sugar high. (If that isn't reason to watch what you let your kids eat, I don't know what is! Moms, hide your Ho Hos!) I always thought that "the Twinkie defense" meant that that guy had testified he killed Milk after yelling out "Take that, you Twinkie!" So the movie was pretty educational. Sean Penn was terrific in it, except the whole time his voice sounded like an even more effeminate Mr. Rogers of "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" (if that's even possible). No matter how angry he got, or seductive, or whatever, Penn sounded like he was offering chocolate chip cookies to 2nd graders. He also kissed guys a lot, so if that bugs you, watch out. I still say Mickey Rourke deserves the Oscar for "The Wrestler," though.

At any rate, my hotel was indeed classic in style, with huge chandeliers in the lobby and a fancy doorman and bellman in full uniform, but the room was a little small and the bathroom was riDONKulous! Sitting on the toilet required yoga positioning that nearly exceeded my physical capabilities, and there was no tub - just a shower so tiny I had to fold into even further pretzel positions to scrub down.

On the plus side - for me, anyway - was that while the hotel was on the major thoroughfare of Market Street, which includes all the most glamorous stores in the city, the Hotel Whitcomb is about four long blocks AWAY from those glamorous stores. In fact, it's precariously close to the most skanky and questionable part of the city, called The Tenderloin, not due to its great steaks but due to the fact that young hookers of both sexes offer up their tender vittles to customers near there. THAT'S not the fun part; the fun part for me, since I'm a magnet for daily-life danger, was that one night when i woke up starving at 3 a.m., the front desk told me no one would deliver food that late but that i could "make a run for Carl's Jr. a block or so away." Sounded innocent enough. But i quickly came to realize when the guy said "Make a run for it," he meant it! The two-block journey to hamburger-land involved what i like to call a Human Video Game: having to run, jump, dodge, bob and weave my way around sleeping bums and incredibly aggressive panhandlers like I was playing a real-life game of "Frogger."

When I finally made it to Carl's Jr., I was treated to what apparently was the first night ever on the register for the male Filipino running it, as he kept swiping the debit card of the guy in front of me so many times that the guy finally said, "Dammit, if this burger combo winds up costing me $350 instead of $7.50, it's gonna be on YOUR ass!" I tried hard not to laugh, but that was quality comedy for 3 a.m. on a Friday. Meanwhile, some other badass came in, looking like Huggy Bear from "Starsky and Hutch" in a beanie cap, black leather jacket and pimp-daddy shoes from 1973. He apparently thought he WAS Carl's Jr. because he acted like he owned the place, belligerently asking other bums who were there long before him what they were doing and when they ignored him or gave unsatisfactory answers, he'd yell "Suck my d***!"

He kept ranting angrily about how much of that activity was going on, apparently "everyone" is doing it to him because he's so badass. I just put on my hoodie and prayed he wouldn't start talking to me. It was a lot of stress to go through just to eat a Guacamole Burger, is all I'm saying.

On a more pleasant note, the rest of my stay in San Fran was absolutely fantastic, amazing, and yes, even FABULOUS!!! I got to my hotel at about 11 a.m. on Friday and hit the streets in search of a good tour a couple hours later. Now, you might think i'd take a bay tour on a boat, or hop a bus tour, but instead of a city bus tour i decided on literally spur of the moment (15 minutes before departure) to plunk down 50 bucks to be taken to the Muir Woods an hour out of town. Why there? Because they're one of the prime homes of the redwoods, trees so mindbogglingly tall, beautiful and old that they literally should serve as a case-closed argument for a Divine Creator of Earth and the Universe. It was cold, foggy and half the bus was composed of a tour group of Mexican fourth graders (literally from Mexico) but it was still one of the most amazing sights of my life. (I'm trying to upload my pix, but don't know how here. Anyone who can help advise, please write me at )

The next day, I engaged in the highlight of my trip: renting a GoCar. Now, i haven't driven in 5 1/2 years, and San Francisco is pretty much a suicidal place to start trying. It's home to 47 hills, and we're talking HILLS. Lance Armstrong probably couldn't bike these babies! Not to mention twists, turns and fast-paced traffic. So this could have been scary. Yet surprisingly, it wasn't.

The GoCar is a new technology only available in San Diego, San Fran and Miami so far - in which the three-wheeled vehicle (two in front, one in back) operates like a motorcycle, with hand brakes and acceleration and no use of feet - which was just as well because the thing is smaller than a Volkswagen Beetle and my legs kept going numb from being jammed inside. It goes up to 35 mph and has a GPS system in which a hot-sounding chick not only tells you where to go, but also narrates explanations of everything.

The downsides - which are quickly forgotten due to the amazing upsides of the thing, which looks like a modernized version of the motorcycle sidecars that Nazis used to drive in WWII movies - are that I felt I dislocated my left hip getting in and out and was almost certain a tore a ligament in my right knee (thankfully, neither actually happened). My hands were practically frostbitten from the fact I had no gloves on amid cold December air and no roof - the lack of roof also meaning i had to wear a ridiculous helmet the whole time that made me look like a very portly Speed Racer. (Again, there are photos, but i need someone to help me figure out how!) But it was exciting and liberating to drive, especially on Lombard Street - the world's windiest with eight immediate sharp turns in one block.

Sure, I'll admit I was shrieking the whole way down, but people were laughing and it helped distract me from the fact that my arms felt they were about to be ripped clean out of their sockets from holding the brakes so hard. Despite all that (or maybe because of the sheer thrill of it) I recommend it wholeheartedly!!

That night, I packed my night with two more "Yes Man"-style decisions. I'd learned that the incomparable '60s soul singer Darlene Love (who worked with Phil Spector on many songs, including the ultimate pop Christmas song, "Baby Please Come Home". I've grown up watching her on the Letterman show nearly every year since she started singing that song on his show the night before Christmas Eve each year since 1986, and there she has a gospel choir, a small orchestra, the house band and Paul Shaffer impeccably performing the song's vital piano riffs. I remembered Letterman saying "if you're in San Francisco, see her through Jan. 7 at the Rrazz Room," so bam - he told me to go and i went.

Darlene was performing without a choir and orchestra, but had '70s/'80s soul singer Melba Moore (I know, who??) open for her and Melba was surprisingly good - plus they both shared a TIGHT five piece band with drums, two horns, a guitarist and bassist that blasted right through countless covers from the era when women could really truly sing their guts out in a song. I was easily the youngest person in the room, as i was surrounded by middle-aged and older married couples and countless ecstatic gay guys (who run like Pavlov's dogs to any show featuring a diva like Love).

The show kicked off with a Love-Moore duet on "Heat Wave," which reminded me of the late great Sweeney Sisters lounge-act sketches on "SNL" in the '80s because these ladies came ready to WORK it! Love then left Moore to her own devices for awhile, which was mostly mediocre stuff, except Moore did a brassy interpretation of "The Long and Winding Road" in which she held the final note, Whitney-style, for at least 20 seconds at the end, leading to thunderous applause and yet another standing ovation from the gays in the crowd.

But that was nothing compared to the rapturous response Love got when she took the stage again. As she burst through a succession of '60s songs, I felt like I was in the super-cheesy audience of one of those PBS pledge-drive specials where a bunch of '60s acts are shown singing their ancient one or two-hit wonders. She tore through "He's a Rebel," "Da Doo Ron Ron," and "Today I Met the Boy I'm Gonna Marry" before finally doing Tina Turner's "River Deep Mountain High" with such earth-shaking intensity I didn't even realize she didn't sing any Christmas songs the entire time. How heartbreaking. But still a masterful display of vocal power!

I then hopped a cab for yet another destination: Cobb's Comedy Club, a huge and respected venue where my current favorite comic on earth, Patton Oswalt, was headlining. The line literally wrapped around the block, which was perfect for the sharpest comic mind in the country - who went on to deconstruct both the Christmas holidays and religion itself in such a funny fashion that I couldn't help laughing, even though I'm Catholic and Oswalt's an atheist. That's a strong show!

Sunday, I hopped into an old '20s jalopy to take Mr. Toad's Wild Tour, which had a very funny tour guide named Patrick taking us around the city in a classic car that had had its engine converted to biodiesel. The driver let me be his sidekick, which basically covered for the fact i was the only solo traveler, but that was still preferable to the multitude of restaurants and other tours whose initial response to my "party of one" requests was "WHAT?! Really?!" Ah, nothing like being made to feel comfortable on vacation, eh?
So among the things I learned from the Mr. Toad tour are:
The city's Washington Square is actually a triangle of land, and features a statue of Ben Franklin rather than George Washington. But then again, this city's so gay, why should they bother to even get their FACTS straight, right?

Many houses with garages were built in the '20s, with the garages added in the '50s.

Steve McQueen's "Bullitt" character lived in an apartment at Clay and Taylor, directly across from the VJ Market.

Grace Cathedral has a labyrinth inside for no reason that our driver could figure out. You can take a free tour of it, though, and I suppose ask the guide yourself.

To be a member of the city's lavish Pacific Union Club, you must be male and Republican. And I bet, in denial. (Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, baby!)

Chinatown is home to 180,000 Chinese. They have no front yards there. So kids play in parks in other neighborhoods.

The Fairmont Hotel was where Kim Novak's residence was in my all-time choice for greatest movie ever: "Vertigo."

The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory (I have a photo, which will be posted soon!) is the one place that makes ALL the fortune cookies for the many Chinese restaurants in Chinatown. It's a tiny space that looks like a sweatshop, with 4 old women constantly stuffing fortunes into cookies coming off an assembly line apparatus as an old Chinese guy yells at them. I took a picture of that too, will be up soon i hope!

The third weekend in May, the Beta Breakers race is a 7 mile race through town which people can choose to run nude. (Look out Frisco, here i come! Don't worry i'm personal training first.)

Panhandle Park is an actual city park that had such a staggering concentration of bums, that that's where the word "panhandler" came from. The worldwide word for bums - amazing! (Don't you feel mentally enriched now?!)

SF city law says a house can't be painted more than 5 colors on the outside. (That actually USED to be a problem!)

The Grateful Dead used to live at 810 Ashbury.

Golden Gate Park is 3 1/2 miles long, which makes it bigger than NYC's Central Park even though SF is a mile smaller (7 miles rather than 8 miles).

The Presidio - former military base - rents its houses nowadays for $8,000 a month. But hey - you get 5 BR, 2 1/2 BA and an actual yard - a great rarity in SF! You're also paying for actual easy parking, and for having trees around.

SF only has 3 cemeteries inside it, at least one of which is ancient and defunct and another one which is for pets. But a small town called Coma (pop. 1,400) 10 miles south of SF has mor than 1.5 million people buried there so far from the city, prompting its city slogan "It's good to be alive in Coma."

The Golden Gate Bridge takes 4 years to paint. It's painted International Orange, not Gold. It got its name by being named "the gateway to gold" during the Gold Rush.

There are great white sharks swimming off Baker Beach, which is clothing optional. I guess people go nude there if they want to make dinner a little easier for the sharks. ************************************************************************************Enough Enough about the city, though...Well, actually, one last thing before i detail my epic battle with a bowlful of crab cioppino. Despite taking 4 or 5 different tours there (I also went to Alcatraz at NIGHT - scary!), I realized at 4 p.m. my last day there - 4 hours before my ride to the SF airport! - that no tour had shown even a sliver of the gay part of town. How can you go to SF and not see the gay part? Unless it's ALL the gay part and you just don't know it?!

So i asked a tour driver why and he said everyone's still scared of freaking out midwestern tourists who might freak out if their kid sees two guys holding hands or kissing. But as a grown man who had already survived a screening of "Milk" just the other day, I was prepared for it! I decided to hop a cab and simply ask the driver "Take me to the gayest part of town!" Which i did, and the driver said "you mean the Castro, right?" I didn't know if that was a code word so i said "Just the gayest part. I only have four hours."

Which made it sound like i was looking for one last miracle lovefest, even though i'm straight. So the driver took me down the world's most convoluted collection of backstreets and wound up dropping me off right across the street from the Castro Theater! And guess what they were showing that night? No, not "Brokeback Mountain" or a porno, but "The Sing Along Sound of Music." Complete with a costume contest!!! If THAT wasn't the gayest thing to do on a Monday night in SF, i don't know what was! And applying my "yes man" principle, i slapped down $15 to go watch it! I've never seen so many guys dressed as nuns or Maria Von Trapp in one place in my life! And others dressed in lederhosen! More than 1400 people singing as if it was their one shot on the "American Idol" auditions - LOUD being the operative word here- to some of the catchiest songs in movie history. With events like that, it's no wonder I would love to move there.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Yes, it's Jan. 4, which means i'm four days behind, but anyone who knows me isn't surprised.

So, 2008 was pretty good for me. I met Mickey Rourke, Kevin Smith and Jay Leno - all personal favorites of mine (You can read the stories about Rourke and Smith at other places in these blogs, but Leno swore me to secrecy...Ooo!)
I had nasal surgery that enables me to breathe normally and sleep decently for the first time in at least a decade. I went through hypnotherapy and had great results. I learned to do a radio show and launched one on America's #1 talk station (off right now, back in March at the latest). I published one book (co-authored), and just finished another, a book of Sedaris-style essays about to go out to agents. I dove into the LA spoken word scene and got a better reponse than my standup ever did (though that's kicking butt too now!). I got promoted at my job and lined up some exciting opportunities for '09 that i can't mention yet. And i started my first novel ever!

But I also drove away my best friend, which i will eternally regret. I also had the lamest New Year's Eve ever, because I came back from San Francisco the day before and everyone had already either left town or settled on their own plans because I was gone and they forgot me during my trip. So despite having one of the best years of my life, I wound up at home by 10 on NYE and fighting sleep by 1130. I finally, like an 83 year old man, was about to fall asleep at 1130 and so i set my alarm clock to wake up at 1155 in order to see the ball drop and then shoot myself in a ceremonial suicide. :P

Well, i was so clouded with sleepiness that i mis-set my alarm, and wound up waking up at 1225 a.m. instead. I missed the damn balloon drop, and i'm only 37 years old!!! This, combined with a series of mishaps that resulted in me seeing "Milk" alone at 730 on Christmas Eve due to another set of bad circumstances, has made me resolve to finally kick my life further into gear and not be in thiis position next year. I want to have a real girlfriend (or by some miracle, a wife) by my side by next holiday season.

And so I'm opening up the process for that quest. My life's an open book and maybe i can draw tips from you guys and inspire some folks as well through humor...

But these past three days, i've made some big moves...

I finally signed up with a real therapist to help break through my mental walls that keep me back from submitting my movie scripts and comedy material to agents despite people who've read them thinking they're hilarious. I also am going to figure out the walls blocking me in relationships. Gotta take care of the mind if you're gonna use it right. I start next Friday, Jan. 9!

I just signed up for 15 sessions with a personal trainer for just $300! ($20/hr. vs. most people paying at least $60/hr.)

And i'm going to continue my writing class and start an improv class at Upright Citizens Brigade, so i should finally meet some more comedy folks and I'm also going up at least Mondays and Wednesdays at the Ha Ha Cafe in North Hollywood becuase my friend Lisa Mesa runs it and is willing to take me!

So body and mind are gonna get pummeled into shape this year, as well as my spirit as I'm also going to be getting some spiritual guidance monthly from a super-cool priest friend...

Time to get real about my life. A sadly former best friend often asked me, "Hows that working for ya?" about each aspect of my life that i was fine but really wasn't. Now I realize it needs to change, improve, upgrade.

And now's the time. How about yourselves?

THE WEEKLY KOZ (All the news that you might have missed, for damn good reason)

Today - Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009 - is the first Sunday of the new year, and as such I'm launching my new feature "The Weekly Koz," in which I post a few of the most bizarre and outrageous stories of the week, some with commentary from me. Just hoping to spread a few laughs amid all the bad news out there - what else should you expect from "America's Funniest Reporter," right? From time to time, i'll be updating daily or midweek, so keep coming back!!!


"What are you doing here?": man asks wife at brothel
Wed Jan 9, 2008 10:23am EST

WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish man got the shock of his life when he visited a brothel and spotted his wife among the establishment's employees.
Polish tabloid Super Express said the woman had been making some extra money on the side while telling her husband she worked at a store in a nearby town.
"I was dumfounded. I thought I was dreaming," the husband told the newspaper on Wednesday.
The couple, married for 14 years, are now divorcing, the newspaper reported.

Police: Car damaged by flying Christmas tree
By Elizabeth Dinan
January 02, 2009 1:48 PM
NORTH HAMPTON — A perfect storm of high winds against a disposed Christmas tree, launched the tree into the front grill of a passing Ford, say police.
On Dec. 30, police were called to the area of 122 Post Road at 12:48 p.m., for a report of a "single car accident involving a Christmas tree," according to the town's public police log.
When officers arrived, the driver of a 1998 Escort said he was motoring along the road when a Christmas tree that was left on a curb for recycling, became airborne and "blew into the grill of the car," said the police department's administrative assistant, Jessica Miehle.
"The Christmas tree flew out and attacked him," joked Miehle, who did not know the extent of damage to the Ford.

Charles Barkley DUI Update: Quest for Oral Sex Allegedly the Cause
Most of the time when people get a DUI, the drunkenness and police blotter is the full extent of the spectacle. Leave it to Charles Barkley, though, to really make media waves after reportedly getting busted on suspicion of DUI.In a story that was custom built for some old-school sports blogging, Barkley reportedly told police that he was driving drunk because he was seeking to score some fellatio from a young lady.

According to the officer who wrote the report, "He told me that he ran the stop sign because he was in a hurry to pick up the girl I saw get in the passenger seat." The officer continues: "He asked me to admit that she was 'hot.' He asked me, 'You want the truth?' When I told him I did he said, 'I was gonna drive around the corner and get a b**w job. He then explained that she had given him a 'b**w job' one week earlier and said it was the best one he had ever had in his life."
But wait! There's more! According to the report, Barkley not only was looking for oral sex, but he also had a handgun, which has somehow become the least discussed portion of this story.And, in simply amazing Tommy Boy fashion, Barkley allegedly extended the offer to "tattoo my name on your ass" towards a civilian police employee at the police station if he could sneak out of the DUI, which he quickly (I suppose) corrected. In other words, yes, this should do wonders for his 2014 gubernatorial run.

(AH, CAN YOU IMAGINE THE JOY OF HAVING THIS FAMILY RUNNING AROUND THE WHITE HOUSE? I admit i was briefly brainwashed by Sarah's beauty and spunk, until she used the same "surprise" lines in countless speeches and couldn't admit what magazines she reads. Now I'm just glad we're not going to have a shotgun wedding with these two at the White House.)
Palin's Daughter Gives Birth to Son

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Dec. 30) - The daughter of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has given birth to a son, a magazine reported Monday.

Bristol Palin, daughter of former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, is now a mom. The 18-year-old gave birth Saturday to a baby boy named Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston, People magazine reported Monday. The baby's father is Levi Johnston, shown with Bristol on Sept. 3 at the Republican National Convention.
Bristol Palin, 18, gave birth to Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston on Saturday, People magazine reported online. He weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces. Colleen Jones, the sister of Bristol's grandmother, told the magazine that "the baby is fine and Bristol is doing well."
The governor's office said it would not release information because it considers the baby's birth a private, family matter. Palin family members, hospital employees and spokespeople for the governor's former running mate, John McCain, either would not confirm the birth or did not return messages from The Associated Press.
The father is Levi Johnston, a former hockey player at Alaska's Wasilla High School.
Palin announced on Sept. 1, the first day of the Republican National Convention, that her unwed daughter was pregnant. The campaign issued a statement saying Bristol "and the young man" would get married.
Levi Johnston's mother eventually disclosed that her 18-year-old son was the father. The following week, the young man attended the convention in St. Paul, Minn., when Palin accepted the vice presidential nomination.
The announcement that the unmarried Bristol Palin, 17 at the time, was pregnant immediately drew concerns that it could damage Palin's credibility as a religious conservative. But many observers noted the pregnancy served to humanize the Palins and showcase the candidate's rejection of abortion.
Sherry Johnston, Levi's mother, said in October that Bristol and her son were considering a summer wedding.
Levi Johnston told The Associated Press that month that he and Bristol loved each other and wanted to get married. Johnston, who dropped out of high school to take a job on the North Slope oil fields as an apprentice electrician, said he was a little shocked to learn that Bristol was pregnant but quickly warmed to the idea of being a father.
He said the two had planned to get married even before Bristol became pregnant.
Johnston, an avid hunter, hinted at the time that they were expecting a boy. He said he was already looking forward to taking the boy hunting and fishing.
Johnston's mother was arrested on felony drug charges this month after state troopers served a search warrant at her Wasilla home. According to authorities, she sent text messages to two police informants in which she discusses making drug transactions involving OxyContin, a strong prescription painkiller.
Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, have five children ranging in age from Trig, 7 months, to Track, 19. In between are Willow, 14; Piper, 7; and Bristol.

Charity homes built by Hollywood start to crumble
John Harlow in Los Angeles
RESIDENTS of a model housing estate bankrolled by Hollywood celebrities and hand-built by Jimmy Carter, the former US president, are complaining that it is falling apart.
Fairway Oaks was built on northern Florida wasteland by 10,000 volunteers, including Carter, in a record 17-day “blitz” organised by the charity Habitat for Humanity.
Eight years later it is better known for cockroaches, mildew and mysterious skin rashes.
A forthcoming legal battle over Fairway Oaks threatens the reputation of a charity envied for the calibre of its celebrity supporters, who range from Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt to Colin Firth, Christian Bale and Helena Bonham Carter.
The case could challenge the bedrock philosophy behind Habitat for Humanity, claiming that using volunteers, rather than professional builders, is causing as many problems as it solves.
April Charney, a lawyer representing many of the 85 homeowners in Fairway Oaks, said she had no problems taking on Habitat for Humanity, despite its status as a “darling of liberal social activists”. She said the charity should have told people that part of the estate had been built on a rubbish dump.
One man pulled up his floorboards to find rubbish 5ft deep under his kitchen. Other complaints include cracking walls and rotting door frames that let in rats and ants. Many residents have complained of mildew and mysterious skin rashes.
One resident said her children were suffering from skin complaints. “The intentions are good, but when the politicians and big-shot stars have left we’re stuck with the consequences. This house looks pretty but inside it either stinks or sweats,” she said.
Judy Hall, the charity’s local development director, said recently that it had been dealing with about 30 complaints. She added that skilled work was carried out by professionals.
Some residents dismiss their neighbours’ worries. Diennal Fields, 51, said people did not know how to look after their homes: “It’s simple stuff: if there is mildew, don’t get a lawyer, get a bottle of bleach.”