Jiggery-Popery (Very Shaggy)

In all of Pundom, there is no one quite the match of John Barnstead and his excellent cat Pernicious who together gave us this effort on alt.callahans.

Pernicious the Musquodoboit Harbour Farm Cat, who, to his sorrow, has been following the threads discussing Pope John Paul II’s recent activities, has been inspired (God knows why, no doubt) to recount the following Hollywood (“Don’t you mean `Holy Rood’, Pernicious?” snickers the proverbial Patron at the Back of the Bar) Magic Moment:

“It was a general casting call,” Pernicious begins his tale. “Suzanne Sommers had been hired to play the female lead in the next episode of the Agent 007 saga, but had tripped over a large pile of cheeses while drinking a caffeine-fraught soft drink during a break between scenes, and, in the best theatrical tradition, followed the customary advice to `break a leg’. The director and producer of the project, Sidney Titely, was looking for a woman who would match Bo Derrick’s rating in that film she was in with Dudley Moore, but with a perter posterior and the cast iron lungs of a Bette Middler. The casting agencies had done their best, but had produced a bevy of candidates who looked more like opera diva daughters of that famous diva (Beverly something-or-ther?) gone to seed, than the stuff of Sailor Jim’s dreams. Finally, just when Sid was about to give up, he spotted HER in the crowd of vapid Valkeries: a rear end designed to send most of the male and a considerable portion of the female potential North American Movie audience mad with desire. Imagine his surprise when he discovered that the purr-fect candidate was a man…

Yes, not only a man, but a former priest, who was doing his best for all the closeted Catholic clergy in the world by organizing a campaign on their behalf along the lines of the `red ribbon’ campaign for people stricken with AIDS. His efforts involved everyone sending five dollars to a San Francisco post office box and receiving in return a five cent piece with a means to attach it to the lapel as a visible sign of one’s donation. He had been accused of in fact being an agent of Pope John Paul II, whom he had masqueraded as at the 1996 Gay Pride march in a beautiful electrically-illuminated robe. He had borne up under these suspicions remarkably well, organizing a march from San Francisco to one of the neighbourhoods of Los Angeles famed for being rioted in during the Johnson presidency, despite suffering great pain from improperly sewn footgear. He hoped to obtain there a new, albeit no doubt equally venial or mortal, electrical connection for his Pope costume.

All this meant little to Sid, however, who hired his man on the spot and immediately began rehearsals to continue the shooting of the film. They were practicing stunt work for the film, already under way. The former body double for Lee Marvin (also, by some quirk of fate, named Lee) was to be held up by HIS pert posterior by an iron-jawed SMERSH agent passing himself off as the mother-superior of a New York convent (they had wanted Whoopie Goldberg for the part, but she was unavailable…). Sid inquired whether his assistant, a Mr. Reed, recently employed at Sister Ray Enterprises, had managed to get Marvin’s body double tied down yet. “To a contract?” inquired Mr. Reed.

“No, to the table, you idiot!” replied Sid. Finally a cousin of Bela Lugosi who had a bit part in the film succeeded in renting some chains from the opera diva hopefuls still roaming the lot. The divas, who had once used them for a B&D session with an astronaut named Jim, had stored them in a Good Humour Man’s refrigerated box, so they had to be warmed up before being used. Then Lugosi’s relative secured the body-double to a prop borrowed from the set of one of the latest episodes in the Star Trek Saga, this one starring that guy, I forget his last name, you know, Chad something-or-other, who used to play a doctor in a TV series fifteen or twenty years ago…

Just at the crucial instant in filming the scene, members of the Los Angeles World Science Fiction Convention entered the sound-stage, laughing and joking loudly. This was almost the last straw for Sid. But the real last last straw came some weeks later, when the crew were on location on a lovely island, and Sid was ensconced with his new transvestite star in a clandestine beach house. It was there he learned that he was being sued by Sylvestor Stallone for breach of contract, claiming that Sid refused to hire him to play 007 because he felt he was too old for the part. That was the end of Sid’s career – he jumped from the Golden Gate bridge no sooner than he had returned to the West Coast after the sudden absconding of his star with several boxes of cheese and a case of cafeine-rich soft drink.

I can sum up this whole sorry tale in a sonnet, with the appropriate apologies to Robert Frost:

She is ass: in a field of Sills’ kin TEN
Bette Midlers, when a Sony Sommers’ bries
had tried the Dew and all lit popes re-pent
so that in guise the gentle gays were eased,
and their supporting sin troll -see dere?- Pole
that is their pin nickle and heaven word
and sick knee flies the soreness of the sole
seams to, oh, Watts or any sin goal cord,
butt’s trick Lee held by nun, is Lou’s Lee bound?
— By Count-leased Sills kin’s ties of Lovell thawed
to Everett’s Klingon earth — the Con passed round,
and only with its going, Titely sought
in the Capri -Sh!- nest his Sommers’ heir,
was of the Sly test Bond age made aware.

“I’d love to provide the original Robert Frost sonnet for the delectation of the Patronage-at-Large, but my respect for copyright is just too great,” remarks Pernicious the Musquodoboit Harbour Farm Cat sanctimoniously. “Those who are interested may consult “The Poetry of Robert Frost”, Holt, Reinhart and Winston 1969, p 331 [“The Silken Tent”].”

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