iTunes Helper: misnomer
Thanks for your reply. All normal now. (Even though I was freaking out until I found a fix.)
I renamed it: iTunes Hell per Startup
One good result from this glitch: it prompted me to check all my System extensions & plugins, and I found a bunch of ancient doo-doo in there. Lots of auto-update notifiers don't really work, and the only way to get them is to ask the plug-in directly when it's open: Java, WMV, Perian is dead, OpenBase is unneeded, etc.