Go Little Mouse. Go. (Season two, episode two recap)

We start the show off by what sounds like an ultrasound of a baby’s heart beat. (Well, that’s intriguing. What could that mean?)

The familiar ding letting you know you have a message. The writer (Who I assume is Helena from the last episode? Listed as in Mendocino, California in 2012 from the video.) is replying to Dot. Poor Misty. Rest in peace, you were a cute little guy. Isn’t Jackie from the cul-de-sac bridge club? Patty, with the crystals, is married to Paul now. What a floozy! Helena prefers to stay put. She doesn’t want to go on dates and doesn’t like cruises. Helena does go to Scottsdale sometimes. She went to Mexico once… and the antiques were so cheap! Really, why buy antiques now? They are so expensive compared to how much you paid for the same thing 30 years ago. (I mean, this is sound logic, isn’t it?)

Josh reflects on the podcast and the letters. (Very introspective.) The journey of the letters from a funny story, shared with friends, to a podcast and the mystery surrounding the writers. We learn that Jeff Powell (the voice of Mark) has sent Josh an email that changed everything. It contained additional letters. Letters that were not in Josh’s original gift. (HUZZAH! Season Two material!) Josh and Sara begin delving into the “lost” letters. (HUZZAH! A murder board was born!) And an unsigned letter, written prior to 1990, that felt like a mistake resurfaced and possibly had more of a connection than originally thought.

This is MY transcription of that letter:

“George, hello. How are you doing? I hope everything is going well. For you. I hope everything is going good with your kids and all the changes. As for myself, I’m bored as Hell. I went out briefly today and watched TV with a friend. Of course, I locked myself out and now I have to wait until after dinner for my landlord to come let me back in. So, I’m just kicking back waiting for mail call until then. So, I can get more depressed. I’ve got a cold or the flu and I feel like shit. Damnit, my back hurts like Hell.  I need someone to rub it. But, there’s no one here. My friend, Jennifer, left today. Remember, I told you she’s got the shit? She had to go to Chowchilla. I can’t wait to get over the wall. Well, the mail just came. No new letters from you. I know you told me to write. And, if you’re not going to write I would appreciate it very much if you would just let me know what’s up with one fucking letter and I won’t bother you anymore. After over five years you can do that much, can’t you? I am so upset. I can’t believe I’m still writing. You would think I would get the hint by now. Well, I am not going to keep wasting envelopes, I don’t even have, on someone that doesn’t write back. So, I won’t bother you anymore. Or, at least until I get a letter from you. And, it’s not just you. No-one has written me back. I give up. But, when I do get out, I know things are going to be different. I KNOW things are going to be different for me.”

Who is this mystery person? Who are they writing? What wall? These are all questions we have yet to be given answers to. Is this person in jail? A half-way house? A mental institution? It is both perplexing and frustrating.

Another bad karaoke interlude. This one, “Head to Toe”, at Di’s Karaoke in 2014.

Back to that email and additional “lost” letters Josh received from Jeff. Our host reminds us of the firewood letters from season one, episode three. There are several more letters pertaining to the free firewood, along with some that were slightly different from those Josh had. We hear the original three letters followed by the “lost” versions of those along with an additional five more! (Sorry, Ellen, no new fireplace for the cottage. Mark is being stingy with the free firewood!) But, wait, there is still more!

New letters have surfaced between Ellen and Mark regarding an ant problem in the cottage’s kitchen. I discovered a few new gems of information from these letters. (My Ellen obsession continues!) Ellen has tried yelling at the ants to get out but, they just won’t leave. (Maybe she should try washing them?) Mark tells Ellen he knows she is yelling because he can hear her from his office. (MARK’S OFFICE IS NEXT TO THE COTTAGE?!?! So, why are they writing letters? I’m super confused here. I would expect Karen to just march over and bang on his door when she wanted to discuss something.) As they continue to go back and forth regarding the ants and how to rid the cottage of them, Ellen tells Mark she is going to meet her mother at their church to bake brownies for gift baskets. (Did you read my Ellen blog post? Do you have your own Ellen “murder board”? Have you figured out the next gem yet?) Ellen’s mother lives close by! Close enough that they attend the same church. BUT, WHY IS ELLEN GOING TO CHURCH? She’s JEWISH! (Remember?) Would’t she say she was going to synagogue? SOMETHING DOES NOT ADD UP!!! (Or does it?)

Jump to San Francisco, California 1989. Mark is writing Bonnie again. He is sharing school work that was left in the cottage by Ellen. It’s her Geography 101 work done in August of 1988. I’m pretty sure she failed Geography 101. (This homework warrants its own blog post. It’s hysterical!)

Now we move in time to Manhattan, Kansas; 1998. The two detectives are back and they are discussing the status of their “special project”. Maybe they aren’t detectives at all? Poor Leslie, she sounds more like an under appreciated secretary in this segment. (Dude seems RUDE.)

Washington State, 2016. Ellen has posted another mouse release video again! This trap is different from the last one she used; it’s a different brand…she thinks.

Go little mouse. Go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who’s that girl?

Ellen is my favorite girl and letter-writer. I have a gauzy image of her in my head; she is quirky, charming, sensitive, and a hippie artist. But, what do we actually know about her? While Ellen is a prominent role in the podcast, we know surprisingly little about her. Ellen spends most of her letters updating Mark on the events of Karen’s life. Karen seems so self-centered that most of her correspondence revolves around herself and future husband, Rob. This leads the listeners, and rabid Roomies, to the constant discussion of theories surrounding the mystery of Ellen. I went down the rabbit hole to gather information and think as hard as I can think about who’s this girl.

This is the “factual” information I uncovered from the podcast, per each episode, along with some of my own thoughts:

S1E1: Ellen moves into the cottage one month later than Karen. She is an artist majoring in Interior Design at UC, and had been studying in Washington over the summer. Ellen, by her own admission, doesn’t handle financial responsibility well.

S1E2: August 8, 1987: Ellen officially arrives at the cottage and has bad feelings about the place. She has a guru and is requesting an exorcism to drive away bad spirits from the property. (Ellen is superstitious and believes in ghosts and spirits.) Ellen washes fish, literally. I think she’s a free-spirited hippie based on what I’ve heard so far.

S1AftershowE2: We find out that the cottage had a koi pond in the backyard. Fish were “washed” with Dawn dishwashing detergent. Josh states he the thinks the girls are about 18-19 years of age during this time period. Josh also knows which prominent family one of them is related too.

S1E5: Ellen (and Karen) lived in the cottage for more than one year. Ellen has changed her college major and now wants to become a school teacher. (Just like Karen.) I feel like Ellen is more of a “follower”. She also seems to get pushed around and taken advantage of by Karen.

S1E6: Josh states in this episode that he had proof of Karen, Rob and Mark’s existence but, not Ellen. Ellen writes that she is moving out at the end of September 1988 since she cannot afford the rent without Karen. (Karen and Rob are getting married. Never is it mentioned that Ellen was a part of or at the wedding. Strange.)

S1E7: Ellen is a volunteer for the Bush for President campaign. (She’s a Republican!) This is her first election. Would this put her between the ages at 18 and 22 in 1988 if she means this is her first PRESIDENTIAL election? (We also learn that Karen’s father still controls her trust fund until Karen turns 25 and therefore, Karen is younger than 25 years of age.)

S1E8: Ellen used to work at her Uncle Gary’s pickle factory which had an explosion. November 1988, Ellen moves out of the cottage and back to Portland, Oregon. She has a job secured at the Busy Beaver Christmas Tree Farm which later closes down due to a natural gas explosion caused by Karen and Rob.

S1E10: Ellen writes a letter to the editor of a Berkeley newspaper regarding drug-sniffing dogs. Ellen states she is a Gemini, which puts her birthday approximately between May 20 and June 20.

S1E11: Ellen states she is Karen’s best friend. Ellen is Jewish. Ellen is also sensitive to how she is treated regarding her religion.

S1E12: Ellen’s favorite game is Parcheesi. Ellen was educated at home by Ms. Fletcher, along with both Karen and Rob.

S1E13: Ellen is a year older than Karen. Now, Ellen says the pickle factory was owned by her Uncle Henry? Is this a mistake or a clue? Mark states Ellen went to a community college in Oregon before transferring to Berkeley. He also says Ellen flunked out of college after one semester. Sara Stapleton thinks she has found Ellen.

S2E1: Ellen’s rental application is where I feel we learn the most. Ellen was born in June at 4:13am in Tuscon, Arizona. She does not smoke. 1984 and prior, Ellen lived with her parents. She was in Budapest, Hungary between May 1984 – June 1985. Ellen moves to Berkeley, California in June of 1985. Ellen receives monthly income from her parents in the amount of $1200 in addition to $350 a month from a family trust fund. Ellen formerly worked at an ice cream company. Ellen catches a mouse with a humane trap and releases it.

“There may be nothing to all this but, on the other hand, there may not.” -Ellen

Here are some of the theories I have seen floating around the Roomies page on Facebook:
• Ellen is a figment of Karen’s imagination.
• Ellen is a figment of Mark’s imagination.
• Ellen is Karen’s second personality.
• Ellen is a fake name and person made up by Karen.
• Ellen is a fake name and person made up by Mark.
• Ellen is just a child, possibly the child of Karen and Rob.
• Ellen is only Rob’s child.
• Ellen is the incarnation of the Goddess Nemesis.

Spending WAY too much time reviewing all the information presented above leads to MY theory:
Ellen is related to Rob. She may be his sister, step-sister, or cousin. It has been my long standing feeling that the girls are related in some way. Based on the letters, it seems as if Ellen, Karen, and Rob have known each other most of their lives. They watched Gilligan’s Island as kids and were schooled together. However, Ellen speaks about Karen’s father and Karen’s grandmother. Ellen states she is Jewish and Karen’s grandmother does not approve. So, that implies that Karen is NOT Jewish? (I’m on the fence about Rob’s religious affiliation; if he was Jewish too, then wouldn’t Karen’s grandmother take issue with him too?) Anyhow, I feel this rules out that Karen and Ellen are directly related, at least through birth. Knowing that Karen and Rob were married and later divorced -if the divorce was messy- this would help explain why Karen and Ellen are no longer in communication. (we learned that tidbit in an Aftershow, which I did not review as in-depth. However, I am still in the process and will amend this blog post once I’ve completed that task.) Ellen seems to be a free-spirit and doesn’t seem like she would be partially adept at technology. Which can explain why finding an online footprint may be difficult. She could also have married and changed her last name, making it harder to find her. Mary Christ! My brain is spinning. I need to know who IS this girl?!?

Do you have theories of your own to share? Did I miss anything? ( I mean, that could happen to anyone!) Please, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

 

S2E1 Recap; How to Catch a Mouse (and a Hangover)

I’ve been waiting for many long weeks, re-listened to old episodes and pondered so many questions. But, finally, the wait is over and the gang is back! I was giddy as I grabbed a glass a wine and settled in for the season two premiere. An adorable little voice greeted me with the disclaimer. (Laila, I hope Josh has hired you to do more work for him! Great job!) Old school dial up sound. (That brings back memories!) And, then, what? An email to someone named Helena? Is this the most depressing email ever? Have I accidentally started the wrong podcast? Then the familiar jingle begins and I realize I must have been punked. (It’s the only explanation I can come up with.) Mark gets a letter from Bonnie requesting additional correspondence. He replies that he should have stopped writing but felt bad not responding to Ellen. Mark also states he is sending all remaining letters to Bonnie and has requested no more letters from Ellen. (WHAT?!? NO!!)

Bad karaoke interlude and we are taken back in time to Karen sending a cashiers check for her first month’s rent and security deposit. (It makes me so happy to hear Karen try and validate all the reasons why she shouldn’t have to pay. I’ll drink to that!) Time hops again… now Mark is telling Bonnie about Ellen’s rental application. Ellen’s voice is heard reading the application. Her income is money her parents give her and she requests her landlord be either a Gemini or a Sagittarius. (Has poor Ellen been wronged in life by a Scorpio? Is it time for more wine yet? I really wish I knew where “Budapesk” was.) A letter from Mark to the girls and the snark is BACK! A “lost” light is non-negotiable as the landlord’s financial responsibility, and he won’t pay for the binoculars to spy on the fishy neighbors either. Mark requests the remaining rent due and says he will stop by to collect. Of course, the girls don’t hear the doorbell ring and in Mark’s next letter, he “offers” to contact the police and file a report for the “stolen” porch light since Karen does not want to pay for a new light. (oh, this is getting goooood. Mark has his sassiest pants on! More wine, please!) Karen seems a bit scared that Mark may follow through with his threat and sends the money.

Two new voices; possibly detectives? “Where did you even get this?”

Skype. Sara is calling Josh and stalking Karen!! (GULP! POUR! GULP!) Has she found Rob? Is Rob 60 years old? No, Josh, this DOES NOT ADD UP! (I need to see Sara’s Murder Board!) Has Sara also found Ellen?!?

Ellen is making her first video. And, releasing a mouse she has caught with a humane mouse trap. (Of course she would.)

I’m super confused…and it has nothing to do with the wine. Probably. (Cheers!)

 

P.S. After I wrote this recap, I found a better one on The Karen and Ellen Roomies Facebook page. It’s so good, I feel I should share it. This is season two, episode one summed up by the lovely voice of Karen, Sara Stapleton.

We hear some new voices. They cause confusion. We hear our faves, Karen, Ellen and Mark. They’re funny. We hear Josh and Sara. They really confuse.”

So, this is what she said, now we definitely need more to drink!

 

 

Season One, so many questions!

Dear Josh,

I want you to know that I listened to season one of The Karen and Ellen Letters and I have something to say about that. I say I have a LOT of questions. I need to ask these questions of you so that I know what will happen when you answer my questions.

  1. Did you find Ellen? Is Ellen pretty? I bet she’s pretty; respite what I heard on your show. I bet she’s a magical, crafting fairy who lives in a sparkly house filled with rainbows and chocolate.
  2. Are Rob and Karen still married? Did they go on a second honeymoon to Italy? Did Karen ever buy Venetian blinds? Are Venetian blinds allowed in her jurisdiction? I bet Rob can get a court order to allow them. Is Rob a famous lawyer now? Or, maybe a judge? I can see Rob as a judge. Rob should judge “America’s Got Talent.”
  3. What does THAT mean?
  4. Are Ellen and Rob related?!? I wonder if they are siblings? Or cousins? Someone somewhere is related. I believe this in my heart. I’m very confused as to them all being educated together. Were they home schooled? Did they get kicked out of real school? What kind of patience and skill must a teacher have to work with Karen, Ellen and Rob on a daily basis? Did Rob take over and teach because he’s so smart?
  5. Did Karen and Rob have a boy or a girl? Or did they have a girl or a boy?
  6. Why are Karen and Ellen no longer friends? Didn’t they pinky swear to be BFFL? If they had pinky swore they have broken the unbreakable vow of best friendhood. That is bad karma.
  7. I need to know more about Maaarrrrk. Does Mark hate cats? Is he on blood pressure medication now? I’m not a stalker (or am I?) but, an internet expedition uncovered some information I need to know. You stated in a comment on November 24, 2011; “After I began blogging I tracked down Mark and interviewed him regarding the girls. That interview, among others, will appear once the letters have all been published on the site.” I need that interview. This is less of a question than a request. I can trade you a cat painting and a wall cabinet.
  8. Who is “you know who”?
  9. What did the handwriting expert find? You are going to share that in season two, right?
  10. I think a list of ten questions is a better than a list of nine. So, my final question is, what is your favorite color?

As you can see, these are questions I have to ask to find out the answers to my questions and I sincerely hope that you will answer these questions in season two. I expect season two will be just as terrifical as season one…if not, I’ll have the legal net dropped on you.

Love and Avocados!

Stephanie

 

 

Season One Recap

In the Summer of 1987, two teenage girls moved into their first apartment. In the Spring of 2017, I was introduced to them. And, I laughed so hard I may have peed a little…or maybe not. How can one describe The Karen and Ellen Letters? It’s a lot like describing avocado air. The letters will linger with you, haunt your senses and make you wonder what is happening. In other words, as Josh Hallmark, the creator and podcast host says, “Trust me, you’ll love it.”

If you have not listened to season one….I’m not sure why you are here. You really need to go start listening. If you are too lazy to do that, please, allow me to give you the quick details.

Karen and Ellen move into an apartment leased by their new landlord, Mark. Karen begins writing a series of letters to Mark regarding issues and needs she has with her new place. Since Karen has, clearly, never lived on her own before, her listed items tend to be a bit ridiculous (I can only imagine if Karen had text messaging; she would be sending her lists in all emojis and caps lock). Mark as the landlord, must respond to her requests and give direction. When Ellen arrives, she too begins corresponding with Mark. Over time, we begin to learn more about Mark and the girls and see glimpses into their personalities. Both girls are in college. Ellen is an art student. Karen dates Rob. Fish are washed. Someone comes from money. People receive free firewood. Mark is OVER it all. Especially when Karen decides she wants to haggle over the rent and gets her boyfriend, Rob, involved – I mean, Rob is really smart and is considering going to law school at Toughs University. The legal “battle” might not have gotten so ugly had the jurisdiction just been more clearly defined. Karen and Rob get married and head off on a fabulous honeymoon in Italy. Ellen has a deep emotional conversation with Mark. And, eventually, the girls move out of the apartment. However, Ellen keeps Mark up to date on how they are fairing. (Mark must be thrilled he owns property and not a Christmas Tree Farm.) And, there are security deposit reimbursements (as well as deductions) to be made.

Freshly Washed Fish
BRB! Washing my fish!

In addition to the letters, the listeners also follow the journey to authenticate them. Where did the letters originate? Are these girls for real? Is this a huge prank? The girls are so endearing and comical and dare I say, clueless? How can they actually exist? Can you really use a leg of lamb to break a freezer door? What about Mark? Is the snarky, exasperated landlord just a figment of someone’s imagination? Josh takes us down the rabbit hole and begins to explore the fact from the fiction. Lots of questions are asked. Some are answered. And so, in the end, we are left wondering have Mark, Karen, Ellen and Rob been found? Who are they? Where are they now?

I’m excitedly waiting for more information, after show drinks, and hopefully, lots of 80’s music in season 2. This story is practically too good to be true even if it could have happened to anyone but, this tale only happened on The Karen and Ellen Letters!

Love and Avocados!

Stephanie