Sunday, January 29, 2006

In a change to our previously scheduled programme...

Okay, I never thought I'd blog about Paris Hilton, but this story in the Telegraph is worth passing on:
Ever since her rise to fame on the international party circuit, the debate has raged in the gossip columns from Los Angeles to London. Is the heiress Paris Hilton really the most air-headed socialite the world has ever seen? Or, as her supporters claim, is her dizzy bimbo act so outrageous that it can only be a deliberate, if off-beat, self-marketing ploy?
Now, it seems, a leaked transcript of a legal statement she made in private may have proved the prosecution case beyond doubt. Her responses to a series of lawyers' questions reveal that the heir to the Hilton Hotel fortune admits not knowing some of her friends' names, thinks that everyone in Europe speaks French, and believes that London is not in the United Kingdom.
Her comments came when Hilton, 24, responded to a defamation lawsuit brought by the film actress, Zeta Graff, who has accused her of planting untrue tabloid stories about an alleged fight the pair had in Kabaret, a London nightclub, last June.
When subsequently quizzed on the last name of a companion identified as Terry, the best she is able to offer is: "It is like a weird Greek name. Like Douglas." Later in the interview, the woman whose surname is synonymous with international travel shows an astonishing ignorance of geography.
Asked whether the offending newspaper article appeared in any "UK publications", she replied: "No. There is stuff in London."
When Mr Stein pointed out that "London is a UK publication", she conceded "Right. UK. Whatever."
She then blamed her confusion about where the article might have appeared on the fact that she had spent last summer in Europe, where English-language television and newspapers were, she said, unavailable.
"I was in Europe the whole summer, and all there is is like French," she explained. "I didn't see anything because I wasn't in America."
Hilton, who is expected to inherit at least £30 million from the Hilton family fortune, also seems to show little sense of occasion or self-awareness. Under examination in the courtroom and facing a $10 million fine, she still thought it worth remarking aloud: "I'm hungry".
Asked what caused the nightclub bust-up with Ms Graff, Hilton explained: "I just said to her, she is old and should stay at home with her child instead of being at nightclubs with young people. And just that, I just - what else did I say? Just that she is not cute at all."
It is not the first time Hilton has portrayed herself as a resident of the more remote regions of Planet Celebrity. She has previously admitted to not knowing what a soup kitchen was and thinking that the giant retailer Wal-Mart sold only wall-hangings.
Some, however, believe her claim that she is simply manipulating her image to bolster her own Paris Hilton brand, which has made her a millionaire in her own right from franchising deals on nightclubs, television appearances, jewellery and perfume. She describes the brand as modelled on the doll, Barbie, whom she describes as "an American princess".

On a more serious note, the Telegraph reports that Venice's 'Moses' Dam project is under pressure.
The Telegraph reports the Pope's call for greater efficency at the Roman Rota as being a softening of the Church's position on divorce. *Sigh*
We also have a report on 'Ultimate Christian Wrestling'.
Like many American preachers, Rob Adonis delivers his sermons bathed in sweat, passion and a spotlight. He is, however, probably the only one who spreads the word while wearing a purple leotard decked out with Spandex crosses. As the 300lb, 6ft 4in professional wrestler puts it, he "wrestles for the Word".
Ultimate Christian Wrestling, the ministry he founded in 2003, tours churches and venues around the South, in what is - even by the Bible Belt's standards - an unorthodox drive to win converts.
Its matches feature traditional pro-wrestling moves such as headlocks and body slams, coupled with themes and stories from the Bible. Its mission is to "minister the Gospel of Christ to the Lost and to see lost souls saved".
Despite fierce competition from traditional churches, it has taken off in the Southern states where pro-wrestling is popular entertainment and the battle for believers' souls shows no signs of letting up.
Among church leaders, Ultimate Christian Wrestling's reputation has spread. The "Ultimate Armageddon Tour," which has clocked up 30 venues in Georgia, Florida, Virginia and Alabama, is about to expand into Texas and the Carolinas.
Among the 500-strong ringside audience at the Harvest Church was wheelchair-bound Mary Dial, 51, from Elberton, Georgia, and her son Rick, 33, a pest controller. "I used to drink Monday through Friday, but I've sorted myself out since I started coming to UCW," he said. "I've welcomed Jesus into my heart, and I often pray with the wrestlers when the show is over."
As they prepared to go on, 14 of the wrestlers - who go by such soubriquets as "God's Property" and "Damien Synn"- gathered in their changing room and prayed before an 8ft wooden cross. The same cross doubles as a ringside prop, with a wrestler dressed as a bloodied Jesus suspended from it for dramatic effect.
In the ring, fights featured "power dives" off the top ropes and the use of chairs as weapons.
The theme of the bout watched by the Sunday Telegraph was redemption, with a wrestler representing Judas Iscariot wilting before the crowd's angry reaction and attempting to seek forgiveness.
[Zadok's Note: Are we seeing the (re)birth of the Mystery Play in the Bible Belt?
Adonis, in real life a school teacher by the name of Rob Fields, began wrestling professionally in 1999. The concept of a Christian wrestling group, he said, was born when God appeared to him in a dream two years ago.
He accepts that this particular brand of muscular Christianity is not for everyone, but refuted the idea that faith and pro-wrestling are incompatible. He points out that in the Old Testament, Jacob wrestles with an angel.

Have previously unknown watercolours by Adolf Hitler been discovered in Belgium?

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