Where: Virtual Global iPhone meeting

When: 21/08/08, 11:00 AM Eastern Time, on the second derivative of the convex maxima

Present: Everybody


The first few minutes were spent establishing iPhone contact.

Sherpa Joe said reception was exceptional at the top of Everest, “because it’s so high.”

Empty Shell gushed that she and Richard have His & Hers iPhones now; his is much bigger than hers. They joined the conference call from Hintonburg, where they were cruising around in  their brand new Jeep, where reception was great “because it’s so high.”  

La Chaise sounded a little harried, and said she was holding her iPhone between her ear and her shoulder while nursing a giant stool and spot-cleaning spit-up off her cushions.  “I wish I was high,” she said wistfully. 

Elfy connected from his bicycle which he said was gender neutral with a modified crossbar. “Do you think it makes me look queer?” he asked. A discussion ensued on the nature of queerness and how it’s no longer all that related to sexual orientation but is more about blurring the edges of gender roles.

“How come I don’t know this stuff?” asked Foxy, who was chatting on his iPhone while loping across Egypt.

Shagatha snorted.

“I call the meeting to order,” she said briskly, “Did you all remember to bring your breakfasts and beer?”

A chorus of oops ensued, and a few minutes passed uneventfully while everybody rounded up breakfast and beer.

“I’m sure you’re all wondering why I’ve gathered you here today,” said Shagatha, “Well. Have any of you noticed that the Elgin Street Irregulars have ceased blogging?”

Everybody started talking at once.

“They haven’t blogged since I stopped nipping at their heels!” exclaimed Foxy.

“Exactly,” said Shagatha, “We stopped metablogging them because our mission – to nudge them out of their complacency – had been accomplished. They were blogging fast and furious. Our work was done. But the moment we stopped nipping at their heels, they stopped blogging.”

Sherpa Joe suggested that perhaps they were consciously refraining from blogging in the hopes of luring us back into metablogging them.

“You think they miss our pithy posts?” asked Shagatha.

“We weren’t usually all that pissy,” replied Chaisey defensively.

“It might have nothing to do with us,” suggested The Eye, “Perhaps they’re just too busy to post.”

This possibility was discussed.

“Poor Aggie got a job,” said Empty Shell, “She’s a boss and everything.”

Everybody contemplated what it must be like to have a job and get out of bed every day and do your hair and pretend to give a shit about crap.

Everybody agreed that poor Aggie couldn’t possibly be expected to have a job and  blog too. Seriously, who could possibly be expected to do both? And Woodsy just moved, so maybe we should cut her some slack too. Give her a week or so to get the internet hooked up.

“Okay, so Aggie and Woodsy have got an excuse. But what about Coyote?” asked Foxy, “He doesn’t have a job.”

“As for the Chair, I bet he just sits around all day,” said Chaisey, “That’s what I used to do before I pushed this giant stool out of my bajingo.”

“As far as I can tell, The Independent Observer doesn’t actually do anything,” said Elfy, “He just watches other people doing stuff.”

“I think Conch Shell just lies on the beach all day long,” said Empty Shell.

“That evil Dwarf hasn’t worked a day in his life!” spat the Eye.

We could hear the whirring sounds through our iPhones as the Eye starting to spin. Everybody made soothing noises and changed the subject.

“How’s everybody’s cats?” asked Foxy. Everybody talked about their cats for awhile.

“Okay,” said Sherpa Joe after a few minutes, “What should we do about this state of affairs with the ESIs?”

“We can’t devote our entire lives to nipping at their heels,” said Shagath. “We have other missions to fulfill.”

“Like what?” asked Chaisey.


Followed by several gasps and a chorus of “ooooooohhhh!s”

“Okay,” said Elfy, “How about we just release an official statement expressing our feelings about the ESIs, and then we move on to our other missions?”

Everybody agreed.

With the help of a press agent, we carefully crafted the following statement:

“We, the Bank Street Irrelevants, wish to convey our exasperation and sadness with the Elgin Street Irregulars’ lack of momentum. Honestly, do you need to be prodded every step of the way? What about that Dating Paradigm? Wrap it up and put it in a bag already. As for that anticlimatic Top SeKrit nonsense, what was up with that? P.S. We miss you.”

“How many, Eye?” I asked again. “How many of the ELgiN StreEt iRReguLars are doppelgängers?”

The Eye frowned and looked at the pickle jar. I thought I might be able to slip that one in with the last one, but I was mistaken. I put in a dime. I was getting dangerously low on dimes.

“So, how many?” I said.

“Most of them. A couple are clones, one is a changeling, and one is actually an evil twin. That’s how they got to be so self-referential. No actual human being could possibly keep it up.”

‘Changeling,’ I wrote.

“Woodsy is a doppelgänger, of course,” the Eye said. “The one on Elgin Street I mean. And you know about Aggie.”

“Would I be able to tell?”

“No. Fox wouldn’t either. He just thinks he would.

“But I would,” the Eye added.

“How are Elf and Aggie doing?” I asked, hoping Eye would take it as a pleasantry and not a question. I only had one more dime.

“Oh, fine. They like to have barbecues and invite the neighbours. In the evening they watch TV. Very dull if you ask me.”

‘Barbecues and TV,’ I wrote in my book.

“The only one who is actually himself is that little dwarf. The evil fourth one.” The Eye started spinning and blinking when he mentioned Fourth Dwarf.

‘4th Dwarf real dwarf,’ I wrote. It was all so shocking that I didn’t even have time to be shocked. I was going to have to spend a good long time reading over my notes and being properly shocked later on. I thought I’d do that when I was on my way to find Shelly.

It was time to ask. I put my last dime in the pickle jar.

“Where is Shelly, my one true love?” I asked. My voice was trembling. “What can I do to win her back?”

“That rotten little dwarf,” the Eye muttered. He was spinning faster. I wasn’t sure if he heard my question at all. “Should be in the hoosegow,” he grumbled, spinning harder and zooming in and out.

‘Hoosegow,’ I wrote. “What about Shelly?” I asked. 

“Shelly!” the Eye yelled, spinning like crazy. “Empty Shell? That little airhead? Forget about her!”

“But I Iove her!” I cried.

“Nonsense!” Eye shrieked. “You love her little pussy cat. You love her frilly panties. She’s vacant! Hollow! Absent! Truly empty! Nobody home! Forget about her!”

‘Forget about her,’ I wrote.

I didn’t know what to say. Now that the Eye pointed it out, I could see that he was right. All of a sudden I felt a lot more peaceful. The Eye, however, was spinning so fast I thought he might break apart into a million eyelets.

I tried to make some normal conversation to chill him out. I was out of dimes anyway. “Did you hear that Shania Twain and Mutt Lange broke up?” I said. “The Fourth Dwarf says he’s going after her. He wants to put his boots under her bed.”

Maybe it was a mistake to mention the Fourth Dwarf.

“Not my Shania!” the Eye screamed. “He better not touch her! That little dwarf better keep his smelly dwarf mitts off my Shania or there’s going to be trouble!”

His voice went so high he sounded like a big wasp or a small chain saw, and with that he took off, ricocheting from peak to peak, heading west at a fantastic clip. I don’t know if he was on his way to get Shania and put his boots under her bed — not that he has any boots, being an eye and all — or to toss the dwarf in the hoosegow. Probably both.

I was a little tired from running across Europe and half of Asia, so I climbed up on the platform and took a long nap. Later I changed the sign. I raised the rates a bit.

Personal trainer
Yoga instructor
12¢ an hour
Exact change please


It’s peaceful here, and I have a fantastic view of the whole world. I grew a beard and it came in white. I’m sure somebody will come along pretty soon. Somebody that wants some yoga lessons.

I hope they have plenty of change. Especially dimes and pennies.

Eye had rigged up a little platform with a rickety ladder going up to it. He was sitting on the platform in an egg cup. He had a pickle jar full of dimes and a sign.

is IN

All will be revealed
Answers 10¢ each
Exact change please

I had enough change for approximately 3 to 5 answers. I got out my notepad and a pencil so I could take notes. I wanted to be sure and get my money’s worth.

I tossed a dime in the pickle jar.

“How come Fox fell for a human dame?” I asked.

I was expecting the Eye to start spinning and turning and zooming in and out like he used to do, but he just sat there thinking, and he didn’t speak until he was ready. It was very unlike him.

“She’s not human, she’s a wood nymph,” the Eye said.

“A wood nymph?”

“A supernatural being with limited magic powers. Fox isn’t her lover, he’s her animal familiar.”

I’d heard of that before, but I couldn’t remember where. It was shocking. “Can I have a supplementary question for free?” I asked.

“As long as it’s on exactly the same subject,” the Eye said. I had to admire his business acumen.

“How come Fox walks upright when he’s around Woodsy?”

“That’s the nature of the relationship. The animal familiar helps his mistress perform magic spells, and in exchange he gains the power to take human form. Woodsy can also take the form of a fox. She often goes out as a fox at night.”

“How did they meet?” I asked. I knew I was pushing my dime, but I couldn’t resist.

“Fox was driving cab in Geneva. Woodsy got in. The rest is just details,” the Eye said. “Next question.”

I was scribbling like mad in my book so I wouldn’t forget anything. ‘Animal familiar,’ I wrote.

Next I wanted to know about the bANk sTREeT irReLEvanTs. I tossed another dime in the Eye’s jar.

“How come the BSIs all quit blogging at once and took off like that?” I asked.

“Our work was done. The ELgiN StreEt iRReguLars no longer needed to be nudged out of their complacency. They’d moved on to real estate and dating advice. Very dull if you ask me.”

‘Dating advice,’ I wrote in my notebook.

“It was a hard job nudging them, but it had to be done,” the Eye said. “Being cruelly ignored like that, and never even receiving our prizes for all the challenges we won… it was tough. But our noble hearts enabled us to carry on.” Eye and I shed a brief tear for the noble hearts of the bANk sTREeT irReLEvanTs.

“Next question,” said the Eye. But there was more I needed to know about the ESIs.

“How many of the ELgiN StreEt iRReguLars are doppelgängers?” I asked.

[to be continued…]

Zurich… Budapest… Odessa…

It was a long way to Nepal. I had plenty of time to think. I had a lot of questions and not many answers, and it was tearing me up inside.

Who the heck is Woodsy? What made Fox fall for a human dame? What’s he doing walking upright? When did he get his taxi licence?


Shelly! Married! Why did she do it? Why? Why? Didn’t the videos mean anything to her? Why? Why? Why?

I almost went back to the Schnapps, but I’d sworn a vow and my vow was my word and my word was my bond. So I stuck to boilermakers.

Mashhad… Kabul…

Just how many of the ESIs are really doppelgängers? Is Woodsy one? Is the Fourth Dwarf one? Is the Coyote one? Is the Chair one?

What if Shelly was a doppelgänger? Would I be able to tell? What if Sidney Crosby was one? Would I be able to tell? What if I was one? Would I be able to tell?

Delhi… Kathmandu…

Why can’t Pittsburgh score a goal? What’s the future of dating? What’s aqueous humour again? What the heck is a dirndl? And always, Why? Why? Why?

The questions were tearing me apart. There weren’t enough boilermakers in the world to soothe my restless heart. I was counting on the Autonomous Eye to fill in some of the blanks. 

Outside of Kathmandu I saw a slimy trail leading up Everest. It had an aqueous, humorous, ocular feeling to it, like a joke about a one-eyed parrot, so I followed it to the summit.

I blinked… He blinked…

“Hello Joe,” said he.

“Hello Eye,” said I.

Oprah in Trouble!

 The New York Times just wrote this article about the tarnishing of the O brand and they point out some startling facts.

– The average audience for The Oprah Winfrey Show has fallen nearly 7 percent this year, according to Nielsen Media Research.

– The circulation of O, The Oprah Magazine, has fallen by more than 10 percent, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, and the magazine is now seeking a new editor in chief after the announced retirement of its longtime steward, Amy Gross.

Oprah’s Big Give, an ABC philanthropic reality show, beat every program on television except American Idol in its premiere week this winter, but steadily lost nearly one-third of its audience during the rest of its eight-week run, according to Nielsen.



I got an early start in the morning. There was still one more piece of the puzzle I had to find. Where was the Autonomous Eye, that weird little twirly guy?

He could definatly be a pain in the butt, always spinning around and zooming in and out and mouthing off about everything, and chasing after the Fourth Dwarf, who everyone except the Eye knows is really [Redacted], but I felt responsible for him just the same. Just like I did for all the BSIs.

Besides, I thought he might know something. He might know something about Shelly — Married! Married, damn it! — something that might help me to win her back.

Weird as he is, the Eye knows a lot. He doesn’t miss much.

Foxy came down part of the way with me. As soon as he left that mountaintop meadow he went back to walking on all fours. And he quit talking like Yoda. We stopped about ten times for beers at little wayside inns they have there in the Alps. It was a lot of fun.

True to my vow, I didn’t have any Schnapps.

I kept meaning to ask Fox about Woodsy, but I never got a chance. Foxy had fallen for dames before, but never for a human dame. Not that Woodsy was exactly human. I had a lot of questions, but Foxy just wanted to sing drinking songs and flirt with the waitresses in their little dirndls. Just like he always wanted to do.

Then he said he had to go and kick the shit out of some coyotes in the Black Forest, so we parted ways and I headed east. Fox said he thought the Autonomous Eye went east, and that was good enough for me.

I knew where the Eye would be. He’d have to be the highest eye. The top eye. The eye in the sky. I headed overland for Mount Everest.

Mount Everest, Nepal! That’s where he’d be.

“So Foxy, where’s Elf?” I said. We were relaxing after dinner. Fox had some nice Cuban cigars. Woodsy was doing whatever it is that wood nymphs do.

“Where do you think? North Pole.”

“North Pole!”

“Where else are there any elves?”

“Yeah, but he tried that before. That Santa’s an abusive bastard.”

“Elfy’s got it under control. He unionized the elves.”

“Unionized them?”

“Yup. CUPE.”


“Canadian Union of Pissed-off Elves.”

“I’ll be damned. So I guess I better get back to Geneva and get the cats and shlep them up to the North Pole. Which way is the North Pole from here Foxy?”

“That’d be north, Joe.”


“It’s way up at the top Joe.”

“Maybe I could ski across Finland,” I said. “Like Diane Keaton in Reds.”

Diane Keaton was hot in that movie, but now she looks like my grandmother.

“Could do that,” Fox said.

“I’m going to need some kind of sled so I can haul the cats. Maybe some kind of boat for the last part.”

“Could do that, but there’s no need,” Fox said.

“What? What do you mean?”

“It’s taken care of. Woodsy’s people already delivered the cats to the North Pole.”


“Right after we left the alley.”

“I’ll be damned. So Woodsy has people?”

“Oh yeah,” Fox said. “In a manner of speaking,” he added.

“Still I’d like to see Elf. What made him take off like that Foxy?”

“A dame.”

“A dame?”

“What else?”

“Was it that fairy in the absinthe ad Foxy? She was hot. For a fairy.”

“Nah. It was Aggie. It was always Aggie for Elf.”

“That can’t be, Fox. Aggie’s down on Elgin Street. She does crafts and stuff. And shopping. She’s their muse you know.”

“Not her.”


“That’s not her.”

“How can that be, Fox?”

“Did you read my post about the words you’re going to need to know?”

“I skimmed it.”

“You skimmed it.” 

“I don’t have a lot of time for reading, Fox. I have to work out and practice my yoga and everything. Look after the cats. Work on my tan.”

“Doppelgänger,” Fox said.

“Doppel what?”

“Evil twin, Joe.”

I gasped. I was completely knocked out. Aggie not Aggie? Aggie Aggie’s evil twin?

“It’s better to say doppelgänger,” Fox said. “Doppelgängers are mysterious. They’re not necessarily evil.”

“Which one has Elf got with him Fox?”

“That’s Aggie,” Fox said.

“How can I tell if it’s really Aggie and not her doppel… doppel… doppelgänger?”

“You can’t,” Fox said.

“I can’t?”

“No,” Fox said. “But I can.”