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Off-Kilter

October 14, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Weird Baptisms Bureau: Some theologians might disagree, but we're pretty sure that if the technology had been available in ancient Israel, Jesus would've been baptized with a fire hose, which was the method used Sunday in North Carolina to christen an estimated 2,000 converts.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the sacred spraying was conducted by the United House of Prayer for All People, a denomination with 3.5 million followers nationwide. Led by bishop-for-life S.C. Madison, who is known to the faithful as "Precious Daddy" (his predecessor was "Sweet Daddy"), the denomination is noted for its brass bands and unusual church buildings, including one built to resemble Noah's Ark and painted with elephants, gorillas and other animals on the outside wall.

Normally, church ministers dunk new members in a pool behind the sanctuary, but it was closed for renovation, so a fire truck was brought in. The hose was set on fine mist to avoid injuries and was manned by church elders, with assistance from firefighters.

A spokesman insisted the unorthodox baptism was theologically sound: "It's not the water, it's the belief you have in it."

Lunatic Fringe Bureau: A numerologist in Washington claims that getting a new area code could alter your telephone's personality.

Apparently, the kind of calls you are most likely to receive is determined by adding up all the digits in your phone number, including area code. Once you have a sum, add the digits of that number together and keep adding digits until you get a single digit.

If your phone is a "one," it will supposedly attract direct, focused calls. Twos bring in emotional confessions (we wonder what Linda Tripp's number is), threes draw friendly gossip, fours are magnets for practical advice, etc.

And if you believe this, we also urge you to send Off-Kilter a check for the total amount in your bank account. We will then analyze it numerologically and return an amount that gives you good karma.

Human Lojack Department: Rich and famous people who are afraid of being kidnapped can now have a microchip implanted under their skin so police can track their location.

The $7,500 device, called Sky-Eye, is powered by electrical energy from the human body and can be detected by satellites, according to the London Times.

Unfortunately, the surgery to install the tiny chip leaves a small scar, which might be detected by kidnappers and "reopened" to remove the device.

Stupid Research Bureau: In response to news reports that Indiana University is launching a five-year study to figure out "how adolescents acquire sexually transmitted diseases," Chicago columnist Zay N. Smith asks, "You mean they do it differently than adults do?"

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno May Join British Spice Girls!" (Weekly World News)

Suggested nicknames include Granny Spice, J. Edgar Spice and Koresh Spice.

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Roy Rivenburg can be reached by e-mail at roy.rivenburg@latimes.com. Or write him c/o Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles CA 90053.

Unpaid Informants: Martin Miller, Associated Press, Wireless Flash News Service, http://www.tabloid.net

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