After I was all caught up with the Unforum archives, I sat back and thought a bit like this: “think think think think.” How many times had the mysterious power of the tapestry been mentioned? Three times ... on the placard, on the die-cut postcard and on the induction form.
Well, you don’t have to tell me three times. Actually, apparently you do. So what about these three “mythological figures”?
Europa: The placard very nearly aligns with the Greek myth “The Rape of Europa” except that in the
actual myth her attendants are not named. One website suggests that Europa represented a (possibly symbolic) lunar cow.
Lunar cow. Got it.
Pheloma: Appears as a Greek word defined as “a deceit, deception” in The New Nation by John Morris. There is also the microscopic/near-microscopic “wheel animal” named Cephalodella pheloma. According to one website, “Cephalodella pheloma is rare; we have found only a few specimens among Fontinalis and submerged sphagnum growing in soft, acid water in a shallow pond at Estellville, near Atlantic City, New Jersey.” It’s living in acid in New Jersey. Cephalodella pheloma is a bad-ass.
- Sybil: “Sibyl” was first mentioned by Heraclitus in the 5th century BC, credited with prophecy via the gods. Then, in 1976 AD, Sally Field won a specially-constructed 16-headed Emmy for her titular role in the made-for-TV TV movie “Sybil” about a woman with a dissociative identity disorder.
Wasn’t there a book on Sybil in the induction office? Yes. Maybe there’s something in that book. But that would mean that they expect people to visit the office three times – once for the induction, once after the walkabout, and then again for the book. That doesn’t make any sense. Or, really, you were supposed to process the tapestry/induction card/die-cut card before re-appearing on the 16th floor ... “okay, thanks for this second pleasant-to-hold key/key fob, and afterward I’d like to do the induction again.” Crazy.
I wasn’t going to be in the city any time soon, so I just posted a query on the forum to see if anyone had looked at the Sybil book. I also indicated that perhaps “sapelle mahogany” was the wood in the service elevator. Less than a day later, briareosH posted a link to the Esperanto version of the nonchalance texts. Here’s where it gets funny. Given briareosH’s earlier photo post that looked like a ginned-up version of Blair’s first letter, and now this post, I thought briareosH was an in-game character admonishing me indirectly via the nonchalance texts (“when the curtain has been thrown back the spell is easily destroyed and what good are the destroyers of magic?”) for posting a spoiler. All I could think was “Man, I don’t wanna be in requital I don’t wanna be in requital.” So I immediately erased most of the post, leaving the part about the elevator wood.
And then briareosH erased HIS post. For me this was confirmation; never mind that someone else had mentioned in the mean time that the link had already been posted and that’s probably why he removed it. This also meant I had to go see that book for myself.
I set out for the city a few days later with a JI/EPWA laundry list. First stop: the Emperor Norton Inn. The in-game character Katy Zwick had a semi-cryptic post that mentioned “The Emperor of the West” and nonchalance.com had a profile of Emperor Norton. Nothing was there, so I moved on to the library, to see if the books that Eva had checked out had any more secrets to reveal. While my eyeballs valiantly fought the optically-distressing carpet, I found that the exact books shown in the photos had no marginal texts added – it was an image-editing job. I also found two copies of Magill’s Cyclopedia and noted with errant satisfaction that the page that looked blank in briareosH’s photo was definitely not blank Stage II Stage II!!!
After that I went to the Wave Organ, which was sort of bittersweet for me because I had just been here with giant leaf gal discussing the inevitable fast-approaching permanent end of our days together, a complete coincidence. There was a geocache here with log books that had been signed by a lot of people including Organelle and ... briareosH??? But he’s in-game, man! He’s IN-GAME!!!
Around this time I typed “jejune” into my cheap rotty cellphone – and got a correction because the dictionary didn’t have the word “jejune” in it. The correction read: “kelvin.” You’re a little bit late on that one, Mr. Cellphone, but thank you for the tidbit (Mr. Cellphone passed away in early May of this year – R.I.P.).
I told another friend, Crumbly Donut, about the Jejune Institute in the most obtuse way possible (“it’s this ... thing ... that you must ... do ...”). Crumbly Donut went as soon as he could; I tagged along because I obviously had my own fish to fry. When we got to 580 California, Yams didn’t come down to greet us; when we got to the 16th floor, she was a he. While Crumbly Donut was mesmerized by the video, I flipped through the Sybil book, half-laughing to myself because I knew nothing was going to be inside.
Except on pages 16 and 62.
The little pyramids on the pages were obviously big fat fingers pointing to the book right next to Sybil: Pyramid Power. I rifled through the book, didn’t see anything. Confusion. Dejection.
Our next stop was lunch. I told Crumbly Donut that I had some extra information that I needed to act on, and I could tell him about it after he went through the motions with the card and we would figure it out together, or he could do the research on his own and maybe eventually we’d synch up, no pressure and good luck. He chose the former, and with that we left the restaurant to go on his EPWA-guided walkabout. While we roamed the city, I kept quiet about anything game-related and paid special attention to my body language – I wanted to avoid the Clever Hans effect as much as possible, though Crumbly Donut does like oats and sugar cubes. While at the lockboxes, we saw an EPWA fence sign I hadn’t noticed before. Kiss that fence goodbye! Crumbly Donut had a hard time with the alley posters, but found the missing phone immediately. After Crumbly got an eyeful of 3ls3wh3r3, I blathered on about what I had found. Then we shuffled toward the reception area; he wanted to see if Mr. Yams knew anything about the new information.
“So what do you think about that elevator wood, ‘sapelle mahogany?’”
“Oh yeah ... you know which one I like ... the ‘burl walnut.’”
Dead end. After we ended up on the ground floor, Crumbly Donut suggested (through action alone) a canvassing of elevator bank woods. There were what, eight, nine elevators? He pressed the button, an elevator came. He ducked inside, glanced at the plaque. Pressed the button again, a different elevator showed up. Shuffle shuffle glance. The elevator bell rang as each one arrived. It was Saturday and the place was deserted. The security guard was only 30 feet away. Ding! ... ding! ... ding! We infested that elevator bank. One of them was sapelle mahogany, but it clearly was not a service elevator. At one point Crumbly Donut hopped aboard one without a word and disappeared. “TWO CAN PLAY AT THIS GAME!!!” I didn’t scream and jumped in another. I ended up on the 12th floor walking around what was clearly a satellite Jejune Institute operation what with the offices and hallways and such. When breaching office areas, have a piece of paper in your hand and look determined but not too determined because that’s constipated. After sitting in on a few meetings, I rode the elevator back down to the ground floor. It was a fun day of permeating elevator happiness.
I had a wayward thought that maybe the pyramid stood for the Transamerica Building. Crumbly Donut humored me, so off we went. The Transamerica Building is a pyramid-shaped pyramid filled with ancient Egyptian treasures/dead royalty or modern efficiency cubicles/working stiffs ... I could go either way on this one. We approached the front doors.
“More security guards.”
“And they’re just going to stop us.”
“I wouldn’t even know what to say. This isn’t it.”
Crumbly Donut and I bailed and ended up in another part of the city. At some point Crumbly Donut was talking about going home, ending the day’s adventure. “Wait. I want to go back. I really didn’t get a good look at the Pyramid Power book.” This was something I wasn’t sure about – maybe they’d turn us away? For some reason Crumbly Donut entertained my daft notions again and we returned to the receptionist’s desk. Third time’s the charm. Who uses the word “charm” anymore? Charm. Charrrrrrrrm. Lucky Charms. Isn’t that redundant? “You’ll never lay a hand on my Auspiciously Favorable Lucky Charms.” Crumbly Donut provided cover.
“We loved the induction so much we want to go again.”
Straight to the book while we were being Britishally auto-welcomed. There, on page 16, a map of the elevators on the floor (16th!) indicated which one was the service elevator, and another small graphic indicating that one should push the “down” button. Page 16. Duh. Same as the Sybil book, same as the Unmason brick. 16 I can understand, it’s the floor number and every locker would be prefaced with it ... but 62? Was that just assigned to them, and they ran with it? Or did they choose it? Page 16 also featured a lovely diagram of a Sthenometer which was used in thee olden days of psychic detection to root out sthenos. Page 62 didn’t have anything except, of course, critical passages about the awesome power of pyramids (personally I mold/carve all my food into pyramid shapes before eating – believe me when I proclaim I will never rust). I put the book away and we shuffled by reception again, pushing the “down” button on the common elevator panel. Vague mumbling between us ... how is this ... what ... ? Then my brain kicked into gear and noticed the second panel sitting on the side wall of the elevator marked on the map. “Ah, ah ah.” Another button was pushed.
The regular elevator arrived due to my errant button-push, but it was shunned. After awhile it got the hint and went back down to hang with its friends. Then the service elevator arrived. There were pads placed over the rich luxurious psycho-sensual tropical African panels which any proper wood boffin could tell you was sapelle mahogany. The doors closed and we started to descend. So, what now? Uhhh. We tried to stop the elevator on a lower floor, but it was as if the entire button panel had been deactivated. Because it was.
This was a psycho-sensual elevator. We were probably headed for ground floor, or the basement. So we had less than 16 stories (12 ... 11 ...) to figure out exactly what to do in an elevator we had no control over. A friend later told me that she “would have cried” had it happened to her.
No, we did not cry. We did not cry, my kittens. We were Prepared for this. I approached the pads and started flipping them, looking for big clues underneath. For some reason Crumbly Donut immediately went to where the wood indicator plaque usually is. He flipped the pad. He was seeking sapelle mahogany.
Underneath the pad there were two plaques. The upper one told us all about elevator wood. The lower one did not.
BEWARE FALSE JEJUNERY
become attuned 107.9 FM Upper Dolores Park Area
We were so carried away with staring at this plaque, trying to get a good shot of it – in case it had turned out to be a word puzzle or some such in addition to a direction – that we didn’t notice the doors opening. And the security guard behind them.
“What are you doing here you’re not supposed to be in here!!”
We voiced our apologies and shuffled out of there. Was she in on it? She had to see us looking at the double plaque. And what about all of the people coming into 580 but leaving “undetected by front door security?” Did the people organizing it tell the guards there’s going to be some abnormal stuff going on, or did they just hope for the best?
While we were wending our way to Dolores Park, I had an errant thought: “Well, Dr. Hal has to be involved, somehow.” As soon as we parked and tuned into the radio broadcast, there was Dr. Hal, talking about nonchalance. An excerpt:
“You like cartoons, don’t you? Of course you do. Everyone likes ... cartoons. Now picture in your mind a cartoon character, any cartoon character, sleeping. You’ve seen this cartoon before, haven’t you? Observe, as our animated protagonist stumbles blindly out of bed, down the stairs, and out the front door, onto a busy street. He easily but narrowly dodges impending danger, seemingly without effort or awareness. [...] It’s a certain definite attribute this character possesses, to be able to stumble and goof through life, with nary a care, prodigiously protected and provided for by the invisible hand of good fortune. This ability, to be supported and guided by extraordinary good luck, is called ... Divine Nonchalance.”
The broadcast ran for about eight minutes then looped. There were certain phrases like “buried deep beneath the arctic tundra” and “for they are but whited sepulchers” that made us think maybe there was an Arctic Street in San Francisco or perhaps we were being guided to the Columbarium, etc. These ideas were eventually dismissed as feverish ravings of desperate, unsound minds. Of craziness.
I went back to transcribe the radio broadcast days later, and the first time I heard it, as I was driving up to the park, I was sure I heard Commander 14 say the word “alphabet” during a bout of static. I became obsessed with this because of other phrases in the broadcast: “Use your key and follow the signs,” “Follow the secret instructions enumerated in this broadcast.” How vicious would that be, to have a broadcast that loops nine times, say, and has a slight change on the tenth? After listening to a clear broadcast several more times, I gave up (desperate, unsound, etc). The broadcast ended with a woman’s voice: “This has been a particle of an upcoming radio transmission from the Elsewhere Public Works Agency to be broadcast on this channel in this location at a point in time within January of 2009.”
So I wrote to the EPWA asking if February was key.
As are most EPWA efforts, Commander Fourteen’s Radio Nonchalance transmissions are both sporadic and unpredictable. Having said that, a special dispatch from Elsewhere is due, and divine nonchalance may just prevail in this case. Difficult to tell, really.
It sounded like February was key.
Say, why not continue on to the next part: Transaction.