Season 2, Episode 9: Sunset/Sunrise (Mystery solved?)

Sunrise. Sunset. Two beautiful times. When the world is, usually, still and quiet. Times of reflections. What is to come? What has already happened? If this isn’t speaking to all the fans of K&E, then maybe you need to go outside with your headphones and begin listening to the podcast again from the first episode.

The penultimate episode (next to the last, for those that were unclear), begins with a 1979 newspaper article from the Portland Oregonian. The Steinfield Pickle Factory, which had been in operation since 1922, has been the victim of a terrible explosion. Cause unknown. However, 120 employees are out of work and the future of the company is bleak. (Well, Vicki W. now you know.)

Dot is back. Moaning about how kids these days just don’t understand sacrifice and how “back in the day” you respected your elders. Especially your parents. Helena agrees. Especially since her daughter blames her for everything wrong in her life. Helena’s daughter seems upset because she had to care for her younger sister when Helena was doing time in the pokey. Poor Helena. Sleeping on a cot and peeing on a cold toilet (someone crochet her a toilet seat cover, STAT!) while her eldest daughter whooped it up in the “big city”. Also, the slop (AKA, jail food) was terrible. Who knew prison wasn’t a luxury spa?!?

Aloha Karen…. today is YOUR day! It’s her birthday! And, can you believe that Aloha Rob RUINED her last birthday?!? (I’m aghast at this accusation! Rob ruin something?!?) Every year, as per tradition (except when Rob ruins it by chucking the karaoke microphone through the TV screen and getting them kicked out of the bar) (By the way, that could happen to ANYBODY!), Aloha Karen sings birthday karaoke. So, this year, our sassy birthday gal is heading to her favorite karaoke bar (the only one in town that allows them entrance) to sing, sing, sing, sing, sing! Unless Rob gets too drunk and they are forced to leave. Whichever comes first. All other birthdays pale in comparison to Aloha Karen’s because, DUH!, it’s HER birthday. Happy birthday, Aloha Karen!

(Here, our favorite Karen, Sara Stapleton proceeds to sing, sing, sing, sing, sing! I admit, I laughed. Loudly. Hysterically. Tears streaming down my face to the incredibly poignant Bette Midler song, Friends. I have no clue how Sara managed to get through this. Soon, I found myself actually crying as I recalled the words and how they reflected upon my time spent with the podcast, roomie community, and Josh. But, thats a blog post for another time.)

Skype time between Sara and Josh! (Oh, this always means juicy information is on the horizon!) Josh finally spills the handwriting analysis. And, the answer we have waited for since the end of Season 1 is finally revealed. The letters are not written by THREE people. It appears that the Mark and Karen letters were written by the SAME person! (I wish I could add a shocking sound effect here but, since I can’t: Make a gasping sound on your own. Also, I think most of us have suspected, including Sara herself, that the letters were not 100% real. It’s just that Josh has finally verified that to us.) Which leads to Josh openly stating, with all the information he has uncovered, that the girls could not be that naive and stupid. It now appears that the letters were clearly written for comedic purposes. (Can’t say we haven’t laughed!) Based on some actual events but, embellished. Josh has also heard back from Darren. It turns out both Darren AND Josh have lived in every city the girls have. (Ok, seriously? I may be jumping on the conspiracy bandwagon. Now, I just need to figure out which one of you is Karen and who is the Ellen?)

Email from Darren. He’s not comfortable reaching out the BLEEP (the REAL Fish Ellen). As Darren has reread the letters, they have taken on a whole new meaning knowing that BLEEP (the REAL Fish Ellen) is the writer. He just doesn’t know BLEEP (the REAL Fish Ellen) well enough to want to broach the subject. However, Darren does remember some interesting conversations and tidbits about BLEEP (the REAL Fish Ellen). He tells Josh that during a conversation they had, BLEEP mentions she dropped out of interior design school because she felt the program was “creatively oppressive” and “stifled her unique point of view.” BLEEP is also a big fan of cats (#alwaysTeamEllen). BLEEP (the Real Fish Ellen) does NOT like her family. At all. Her family of friends are the only people that truly matter to her and she welcomed Darren to “the family” several times. (I have to wonder if BLEEP is a follower of Charles Manson?) The most shocking tidbit…. BLEEP (the Real Fish Ellen) was at one of Josh’s Twin Peak parties! (What the what?!? SO MANY QUESTIONS! 1. Really? Can we verify this? Pic or it didn’t happen. 2. What is a Twin Peaks Party? How do I get an invite? If I don’t watch Twin Peaks, can I still come? 3. What is your obsession with Twin Peaks, Hallmark?!?). Small world, indeed.

With all this new information, Josh asks Sara for her overall theories on how these letters came to be and who these people are. Sara thinks Mark is a writer. (Me too, Sara. Unless I am the writer. Unless, I’m not.) She feels Mark created a project based on real life letters and experiences he has had with tenants. Largely, based on the real life people that were found, as the main focus and source. Sara doesn’t feel that our Karen and Ellen actually lived together. But, our fearless leader, Josh has the answer to that. He has been keeping a theory to himself. (#notsurprised #TBAKing) Based on these facts; 1. Helena was arrested in the 80’s. 2. There appears to be no Dad in the picture. 3. Fish Ellen’s name was on the lease and not Karen’s. 4. Karen was a minor at the time. 5. After living in the cottage, Fish Ellen moved to Seattle and lived with Aloha Rob. Josh’s theory (which makes perfect sense and nails the final puzzle piece into the pictures) is that when Helena went to jail, Fish Ellen took in her younger sister, Aloha Karen (which is where Aloha Karen and Aloha Rob meet). Upon leaving the cottage, they all moved to Seattle together. Crochet Pants Karen was Fish Ellen’s original roommate, until she had to move out so that minor Aloha Karen could move in. (I swear, this makes sense, even if it seems convoluted!). This means that Mark, when writing his project, combined Crochet Pants Karen and Aloha Karen into one character. Josh also followed up with the Oakland Library Clerk (shout out to Nicki T!) once he had all the actual names involved. Our clerk was able to provide the following information; a parking ticket was issued to Aloha Karen across the street from the cottage. This links Aloha Karen to the cottage even if her name is not attached to it.

Marking the one year anniversary of her Dad’s death, Crochet Pants Karen is reflective. While the past year has been nightmarish, at times, Crochet Pants Karen has staked her umbrella in the metaphorical sand. She has found things she likes to do, the things she has to do, and has found tremendous life giving strength. Her children, her spouse, and her community of friends and family keep her sustained and provide a well of comfort. Crochet Pants Karen sitting on her porch, reading a book about the iconic Ava Gardner, remembers her father. The passage she reads speaks volumes. “I might have worn hand me down frocks and had dirty knees. Maybe, I didn’t always scrub them as often as polite little girls should but, we were never dirt poor. I was the goddamnedist tomboy you ever met. In the summer time I went barefoot and that was what farm kids did. Of course we were poor. It was the Great Depression. Everybody was poor. It cost you just to create. But, being hard up didn’t make us dirt poor.” And so, here is Crochet Pants Karen, with her own dirty knees. She isn’t as polite as she should be either. Being taught to be polite, because it quiets us, it limits us. Crochet Pants Karen sits, proudly, barefoot. Grateful that her family allowed her to dirty her knees. Reflecting on the road of loss. No more ruckus nights at the dinner table, with her father, telling stories together. Realizing that her passion for stories and her history itself may be the greatest gift.  (ARE YOU BAWLING YET?!? No? Ok, me neither. I swear. Ok, maybe just a little.) Crochet Pants Karen was just in Berkeley visiting her old friend, Miss Doctor Kathy, telling stories. Miss Doctor Kathy was her old neighbor (how’s her brother doing? What happened to the cats?) and they spent many nights together, talking in the yard, about what it means to be a strong woman. They were not neighbors for long though as Crochet Pants Karen’s roommate had a family crisis. That roommate, was a strong woman, at the young age of 20. She was soft yet, strong. Both sweet and sassy. Curious and convicted. Unfortunately, they did not remain in touch.

Crochet Pants Karen lived in the cottage briefly, with Fish Ellen. Fish Ellen had a family crisis and Crochet Pants Karen had to move out. Presumably to make room for Aloha Karen, a minor at the time, to move in. BAH BAH BUM! Sara proclaims, Mystery Solved! So, why doesn’t it feel done? Well, it may not and Josh says unless he had the balls (HIS WORDS, NOT MINE! I only recap! And, make up commentary that I usually add via parentheses.) then, we may never actually know what is fact and what is fiction. However, this seems a satisfactory hypothesis. Do the details really matter?

Dear Bonnie. MARK!! IT’S MARK! (The scoundrel responsible for this tale!) He has enclosed a, not so pleasant, letter from CW. Poor Mark. He has gone his whole life without being called a buffoon. (Until now.) Mark is tried of fighting the battle.

Dear Mark. CW! (Now, we get to know what he has to say!) CW is profoundly disappointed in Mark. Mark’s trivial conduct has nullified this production. Mark has not disclosed relevant information. In addition, he has exploited finances for personal gain and buffoonery. These actions have jeopardized the film and could have led to litigation. (Uh oh…. will I see Mark on the next episode of American Greed? Maybe listen to his story in a true crime podcast?) Mark is exhausting and behaves similar to the characters in his screenplay. (I pick Karen! He is a Karen! What’s Mark’s sign?) All funding is pulled and appears this project is a legal nightmare.

OH NO! Poor Dot! A loud bang awoken her in the middle of the night! Gun in hand, she went to find the source. It was awful. Worst than any home invasion. Misty’s portrait fell off the wall! It landed on Mr. Jeeves the Butler and tore a giant hole into Misty! An emergency road trip to Sedona with Jackie is happening to repair the damage.

Well, it had to happen sometime. Helena is deleting the face books. Well, she can’t figure out how to delete it so, she just isn’t going to log in anymore. The damn thing is so stupid and such a waste of time. (It’s also really complicated. Just look at all the comments on the Facebook Complain Department page!). No one post on Helena’s wall anymore because she won’t see it. Because, she won’t be on the face books anymore. Don’t we have better things to do than be on this stupid internet page anyway? How about if we find cheap plane tickets to Seattle? Looks like Helena is heading to Seattle.

Love and Avocados…. and one more episode to go. Get those wine bottles and tissues ready, everyone!

Steph

 

 

 

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Two Sweet Sand Pigs: A Recap, and some pondering

It has seemed like forever, but the wait was over this week, with episode 8 of Season 2 dropping on Tuesday. Maybe it was the return of Rob, maybe it was the tropical setting of Hawaii; maybe it was a wonderful double-dose of Karens. Most likely, it was all of those things combined, that made this my favourite episode so far this season.
There is a new candidate in the search for The Real Karen, some pretty rewarding research for Josh and Sara, an interesting insight into Uncle Albert’s role in this adventure, and a right cracking pair of coconuts.

Before all that though, Helena was having her usual struggles with internetting, trying to find a route to the Boulders shopping centre. Dot weighs in, helpful as ever. What Helena needs to do is google Google on Yahoo, then google MapQuest on Google.
Seems a bit of a convoluted route to get to where she wants to go…
Probably representative of how the journey actually went. I’m pretty sure that Helena is a regular sufferer of road rage.

Whilst we’re on the subject of travelling, Helena is bemoaning the fact that she never gets invited to see her daughter Ellen in Seattle.
Dot chips in with the fact that she’d like to visit Seattle too, but doesn’t have time.
(Let’s be honest, it probably takes Dot 2 hours to write each Facebook comment. Between that and the curtain-twitching, there’s not going to be a whole lot of spare time for road-trips. Even if she does know how to use MapQuest.)

Helena portrays Ellen as someone harbouring a big grudge, and full of anger.
(Not sure where she could possibly have got those traits from, Helena!) This doesn’t sound like the Ellen we have come to know and love from the letters. But then, we all know that often the biggest arguments, and most serious of falling outs, often occur with those closest to us. Nobody could blame Ellen if she had disowned her mother, purely for being a huge embarrassment on social media. She wouldn’t want a misplaced rant about balding newsreaders, or the latest antics of the neighbourhood floozy, accidentally being posted on her holistic treatments’ business page.

Someone who is keen for Helena to visit, is Ellen’s sister in Hawaii. This is who, after some more caffeine/wine-fueled late-night Facebook stalking, Josh feels is a great fit for being the Karen that we’re looking for. Even better, she’s married, to an excellent Rob-candidate. They’re one of those couples that has a joint Facebook profile. Of course they are. It’s probably one of those written without any spaces either. “KarenandRobRedacted.”

These two are living it up in Hawaii, working for the Coast Guard. Aloha Karen, worryingly, doesn’t understand why swimming would be a necessary job requirement. Because, you’re on a boat right? Nowhere near the water…
Buuuuuut, she persevered, and managed to learn; despite the added hindrance of the salt in the water. Aloha Karen now seemingly defies science (as well as logic) and instead of gaining buoyancy from the salt water, apparently it pulls her down. You’d think she would float really well, on account of all the hot air she’s filled with!!!

Aloha Rob is so perfectly Rob. It’s almost too good to be true. Obviously a bit of a petrol-head, but seems to have as much luck with vehicles as he did with household appliances, back in the 80s. He has a cherished photo of himself with his convertible Corvette, which sadly he crashed and wrote off. He no longer has his precious “Choppers” either. Aloha Rob has obviously made it in life, as he was lucky enough to have 2 Harley Davidson motorbikes. Alas, they too, are no longer in his life. For once though (as far as we can tell) there was not a calamitous ending. Aloha Karen put her flip-flopped foot firmly down, and made Rob get rid of them. She feels he would be dead now, if he had kept them.
Perhaps, for the first time in her life, Karen is right! Rob, riding around Hawaii with complete abandon; a big, powerful, beast between his legs; would never have ended well. Karen describes the bikes as “crude, stupid, and make a lot of noise.”
Oh wait… Is she talking about the motorbikes? Or Rob?

Helena told us earlier that, as well as being mad at her, Ellen was also mad at her sister.
She’s obviously not so mad, that she turns down an opportunity to visit Aloha Karen in Hawaii.
We know that she’s been there, as, in keeping with one of the themes from early on in our Karen and Ellen journey; something has been misplaced in the kitchen. It’s Ellen’s bra and, unfortunately for her, Rob is the one to find it. How her bra came to be discarded in the kitchen will remain a mystery. But with these 3, anything is possible.
It would be interesting to know what kind of bushes they’ve got growing in their front garden. That’s all I’m saying.
I’m not sure Ellen will want the bra back now, after learning that Rob was parading around in it for an entire day. It’s pretty hot in Hawaii. There would have been sweat.
Gross.

Also, why are they discussing this on Facebook? Over-sharing on social media obviously runs in this family! Aloha Rob takes this to a whole other level, when the bra-talk prompts him to sing the praises of Karen’s “assets” publicly. The full, long, varied, and astounding list of names he has for them, can be found in the episode.
The least vomit-inducing of which, is probably “Hawaiian coconuts.”
I will never think of cows and sweaters in the same way, ever again.

We also hear from Rob, about how it was always his ambition to join the Air Force, just like his late father. This desire was born in childhood, and lasted all the way up to when Rob was a “new adult.”
(I’m presuming that this is referring to his second attempt at adulting; after the first resulted in the destruction of The Busy Beaver Christmas Tree Farm).
Unfortunately, Rob failed to get into the Air Force, so the Coast Guard became his destiny instead. His Dad once told him that his brain was more suited to being in the Coast Guard. I’m not sure that this says much for the standards of the Coast Guard’s employees!

Rob’s impassioned piece about how his Dad inspired him, moves Karen. She tells Rob that he always was “the writer in the family.”
This does fit with the Rob from the letters, as boy, did he like to write those letters to Mark. Even when Mark flatly refused to enter into any correspondence with him; he bulldozed on regardless.

We know that Letters Rob had a certain fascination with the Coast Guard. During the final episode of Season 1, Ellen tells Mark all about it. Karen, Ellen, and Rob; unable to distinguish fact from fiction (I feel their pain); used to ring the Coast Guard Station in Astoria every week when they were young.
They were obsessed with the TV show, “Gilligan’s Island,” and wanted to give The Coast Guard tips on how to rescue the stranded characters on the show. Karen, of course, wanted the reward. She was furious when the Coast Guard called their parents, and snitched on them. Rob’s Great Uncle told Rob that he should join the Coast Guard. If we are to believe that Aloha Rob is our Rob, this is a huge tick-in-the-box for known connections.
There is also a short clip at the beginning of episode 7, which I think from listening again, must be from “Gilligan’s Island”?
(We never had it over here, due to being out of jurisdiction.)
Anyway, the quote is, “Gilligan, I’ve got a bite.” So it seems pretty likely? Another subtle clue, of the kind that Josh likes to drop in, then rubs his hands in glee when we all completely miss it!

Something else that is reminiscent of Letters Rob, is the way things seem to also break in Aloha Rob’s presence. This time, it’s the remote control for the garage door.
(Honey being involved, is pure speculation on my part, but I wouldn’t bet against it.)
Poor Karen is having to get out of her car, to open the garage door manually. Can you imagine? The extra steps towards the daily Fitbit total, are definitely not worth the inconvenience. The remote for the golf-buggy door though? That one is working fine. Rob obviously had his priorities in order, when he was choosing one to be sacrificed.

It makes me laugh, how, just like Dot and Helena, they are having this discussion on Facebook. Even worse, because these two live in the same house!
Again though, is this a sign of old habits dying hard? Writing to complain about things, or deny responsibility for things, is the predominant theme of most of Karen’s and Rob’s letters to Mark.
Rob is keen to ask Karen, “How can I break something that I wasn’t even working on?”
I love to think that in the 30 years since we last heard from Rob, everything he touches has constantly been falling apart. Or exploding.

Which leads us on to surely the most compelling piece of evidence yet, as to Aloha Rob being our Rob:
He is obsessed with watching explosions on YouTube. Obsessed.
It’s his favourite thing ever, and he does it for hours.
He talks about one such video, where a firework was placed under a plant, to blow it up.
Could the Christmas Tree Farm explosion have perhaps not been an accident after all???
We will never know. But knowing that this sort of thing really floats Rob’s boat, (pardon the pun), definitely gives extra credence to the theory that this is THE Rob.

But then, where does that leave Karen Crochet Pants?
She is also a great fit for being Letters Karen.
We have a quick check-in with her, to see what she’s been up to. That dangerous pastime of crocheting has left Karen Crochet Pants with a bad back; so whilst it’s recovering, she decided to join Facebook. She marvels over how many hundreds of people she could invite to be her “friend.”
Good for you Crochet Pants. You wouldn’t want to be one of those saddos with only 50 friends; like Catfish Karen’s mother-in-law.
My ears pricked up, when I heard the names “George” and “Mark.” Especially when we learn that the Mark in question, is someone that she corresponded with in the 80s.
Could it be the “George” mentioned in the mystery letter, from the incarcerated woman?
And more importantly, could it be our Mark???
They are very common names, but it’s intriguing nonetheless.
After adding all these people, Karen Crochet Pants isn’t at all worried that she’ll be spending too much time on Facebook. She describes it as “a controlled addiction, that I can walk away from, any day.”
Oh Crochet Pants.
Little do you know.
I innocently clicked “join” on one facebook group, and now look what’s happened!

Just as I was thinking that Aloha Karen seemed to be the most likely fit for Letters Karen, Crochet Pants comes up with some ridiculous ramblings, definitely worthy of Letters Karen. She flits from one subject to another, with little sense or connection.
She’s talking about a trip home, then some strange hallucination about being on a plane full of Women Of A Certain Age, all doing crochet.
Then we jump to the self -proclaimed Yarn Goddess of Illinois having lunch with a random child, and planning ahead for her next 6 years of crocheting adventures.
Our Karen or not, I would definitely like to continue hearing from Crochet Pants and her blog. It is filled with more gems than Patti-with-the-crystals’ (possibly stolen) handbag.

Josh reminds us in this episode, that Karen Crochet Pants, as well as Fish Ellen, can be traced back to the cottage, but that they hadn’t found exact dates as to when.
In an inspired move, Sara contacts the Oakland Public Library E-Answer Service.
An extremely helpful Clerk, (brought brilliantly and vibrantly to life, by the extremely talented Nicki T), provides some really useful information.
She gives Sara and Josh the names that she has listed, for residents of the cottage between 1979 and 1991.
Some are redacted, or missing, but the Caldwells are listed as living there between 1986 and 1991. (No mention of the cats though.)
More importantly, a “Karen” is listed in 1987.
The Clerk has also found something else that Josh requested, but of course he did not share that with us this episode.

Not content to leave us with one cliffhanger, the episode ends with another revelation, that lends itself to provoking more questions than answers.
We’re back in 1989, and Uncle Albert is writing to Mark.
He has “redrafted” everything. And wants to check that Mark is happy for certain names to remain unchanged.
These include: Hal, Bonnie, Annette, Karen, and CW.
The address will also remain unchanged.
Uncle Albert urges caution on Mark’s part; and implies that he feels that some of these details should definitely be altered. He is wary of any verifying information being left in, such as local business names.
(I for one, will be very upset if “Positively Electric”, and “Reliance Appliance”, are made up!)
Albert warns that “anyone with a good reputation” wouldn’t “move forward” if identifying information is included.

What for? Publication? Pitching it to someone? To David and Leslie?
I know a lot of us had a feeling that at least some of the letters had been embellished, or made up. Mark was always the prime suspect, with Bonnie high on the list of subjects also. But dear old Uncle Albert? He certainly snuck in under the radar! Something is definitely a-foot here. Suspicions grow further, when we hear Uncle Albert’s list of which letters he has removed:

•Ellen’s letter regarding her mother and sister
•The updated lease
•Karen’s original notice to vacate
•The Trespassing Correspondence
•The Coast Guard Series

Totally frustrating, as of course, we are now desperate to know what was in these letters!
What secrets did Ellen disclose about her mum and sister?
Did Mark issue Karen with that eviction notice, that he kept threatening her with?
Who trespassed, and where?
Was Rob caught impersonating a law student at Tufts University, that doesn’t even have a Law School?
Was Annette prostrating herself on Mark’s porch late at night, begging him to listen to her suicidal plans, just one last time?
And here’s the Coast Guard again!
We definitely need to know what that is all about, after this episode.

One thing’s for sure, Uncle Albert is a lot more involved than I think any of us had realised previously.

So what do we know about him?

We first meet him in episodes 4 and 5 of Season 1, with Mark asking Albert to write to Karen, on University headed paper. To help her get to grips with the difficult issue of jurisdiction. Mark also shows him some of Karen’s letters.

By episode 7, listening back, knowing what we know now, there are definite hints that Uncle Albert is possibly “doing” something with the letters. He states that he has been inspired to “write some of the letters we’ve written in our minds, over and over.”
At the time, I thought he meant responses to Karen, like the one he sent regarding jurisdiction.
But now, it takes on a whole different meaning. Is this where he and Mark started “creating” their own versions of the letters? Albert also says that he has shared the letters with various friends and colleagues, who all found them highly entertaining.
Is this what sparked the idea that there was perhaps an opportunity that could arise from these letters?

In episode 10 of Season 1, Mark is found writing to Albert, and an unknown person called Benji, sending them quotes from the girls’ letters. Also, sending notes from phone calls he had with them.
During the Season 1 finale, Mark sends Ellen’s homework to Albert too.
Again, I thought at the time, it was because, like the rest of us, Albert and friends just found it all highly entertaining. He is obviously a lot more canny than I gave him credit for.

Of course, Bonnie is involved as well. Mark gives her the complete low-down on Karen, Ellen, and several other previous tenants. I think they were all in this together!

Re-listening to all of that, Josh also implies that Charlie Worthington plays a big part in what goes on as well.
This is also yet to be revealed!
There are a lot of “TBA”s that need wrapping up in the final two episodes.

Over to you, Josh!

 

Karen Crochet Pants , Fish Ellen, and The Golden Girls

Episodes 5 and 6 of Season 2 were both so full of shocks and revelations, that I’ve had to have a lie-down, before even attempting to write a blog post.

Now that the drama over Catfish Karen has died down, I thought I’d try and take a look at Karen Crochet Pants and Fish Ellen, and see whether or not they seem to be likely contenders to be our girls. I’m also going to try to work out where the new stars of Season 2, our very own “Golden Girls,” Dot and Helena, fit into the picture.

After we dramatically found out that Email Karen wasn’t our Karen after all, but instead an intrepid blog reader, who had well and truly caught Josh in her Catfish net; the hunt was back on to find a legitimate Karen contender. The indomitable Sara already had an alternative suspect lined up; and in episode 5, introduced us to Karen Crochet Pants.

This is a Karen who can be linked back to Mark’s cottage in the 1980s, and is the right age to be our Karen. She writes a blog, and Josh describes her writing style as “aggressive.” This definitely sounds like the Karen we know and… quite like sometimes.

As her nickname suggests, Karen Crochet Pants is self-admittedly obsessed with crochet.
Sara gives Karen Crochet Pants’ announcement that she is wearing her “brand new, homemade crochet pants” the fanfare it deserves, by singing it.
Sara is already pretty perfect in my eyes, but this took her stardom to a whole new level.

There is certainly a confidence in Karen Crochet Pants’ writing, that seems familiar. She calls herself “Karen the crochet goddess,” and uses a couple of long, loopy sentences, that could easily have been written by Season 1 Karen.
Another moment that seems to be perfectly Karen, is her pondering on the money-making prospects of her new venture.
“I’m not going to be taking many orders,” she writes. “But that’s ok, since I could really use the money.”
Come on! This has to be Karen, surely?

There was a passing statement in the blog, as a prelude to Karen Crochet Pants’ next topic, but it jumped out at me.
Apparently, Karen Crochet Pants buys her dog treats at a coffee shop. Again, this is just too perfect.
I can hear it now:
“Ellen wants the dog treats from the pet shop on the corner; but I want the ones from the coffee shop, that are sold in little muslin bags.”

Anyway, on to the main subject of this post, and that is Karen Crochet Pants’ bumper sticker collection. She lists some of the highlights, and one immediately stands out.
“1988 Bush Quayle”
There were several references to this election in the girls’ letters, and hints that Karen may have links to the Bush family.
We’re off to a good start with these.
“War is Peace.” Literally makes no sense. Perfectly Karen.
“A woman without a man, is like a fish without a bicycle.” These fish seem to follow them everywhere.
There is also, “Loud & proud lesbian;” and “Real families value gay relatives.”
These made me prick my ears up on a second listen, because Dot and Helena have a discussion about various gay friends and relatives at the beginning of the episode.
Could there be a link there?

Back to Crochet Pants’ blog, and she is feeling pretty close to death, as she is having to walk everywhere. A slight tendency for drama and exaggeration perhaps? Where have we come across that before…?

The first discrepancy I noticed is that Karen Crochet Pants briefly mentions her mum. This doesn’t fit with the narrative that we’ve been given previously. As we were told that Karen’s mother is dead. It’s an extremely fleeting mention though, so we’ll have to wait and see whether it comes up again.

Immediately though, there’s another tick in the “for” column; with a charming chant where Karen Crochet Pants proclaims that where she lives now is “better than Berkeley, better than Berkeley.” Confirming that connection, at least.

Karen Crochet Pants is also concerned about cockroaches that have been found in the local hospital. This really reminds me of her sending the rat article to Mark, early in Season 1. Pests, and pest control, seem to be another running theme with Karen and Ellen.

There’s another subtle connection, right at the end of Karen Crochet Pants’ writings for this week. She says that she sews as well as crochets, and enjoys it, despite it making her crazy. One of the very rare examples in Season 1 of Karen actually doing something for herself was when she sewed up her jeans, after ripping them on the decking.

These are only small coincidences on their own; but add them up, and Karen Crochet Pants seems like a fairly strong contender for our Karen.

She isn’t the only suspect though.

Josh may have found another contender on Fish Ellen’s Facebook page.
They know each other, and this Karen can be connected back to Oakland in 1987-1989.
There’s a short clip of “Karen” talking and complaining to someone called Sharon.
Is this a teaser from Fish Ellen’s Facebook Karen? Karen and Sharon? That would be funny.

Speaking of Ellen; if episode 5 was all about Karen, Karen, Karen; episode 6 was a complete Ellen-fest of wonderfulness. With a couple of emotional moments thrown in for good measure. Which is what it has been like with Ellen all along, hasn’t it?
Full disclosure, my disbelief is very easily suspended. I desperately want the roots of this story, and it’s main characters, to be real. That being said, I really think that there is some compelling evidence for Fish Ellen being the Ellen that we’ve been looking for.

Josh had spent several sleepless nights perusing Fish Ellen’s Facebook page. From his findings, he presented us with The Greatest Hits Of Fish Ellen.
Like any “best of” album, there are lots of upbeat numbers; interspersed with a few more sombre and melancholic ballads.

We first find Fish Ellen happily cooking for Thanksgiving.
A woman after my own heart, she’s promoting vegetarian alternatives for the big day. Fish Ellen would happily advise if anyone fancies trying a “meat-less or poultry-less” Thanksgiving.
This made me laugh straight away. It definitely sounds like Ellen! Surely poultry is meat?!

Continuing on the themes of Animal Rights, and of course fish, Ellen wants us to all join with her, and “Save The Salmon” on the 1st of December.
I’m not entirely sure what we’re saving them from; but Fish Ellen’s passion is infectious. I’m with her all the way.
(Just an aside – according to Google, this was a Rally that really did happen. Something that made me giggle, was that out of about only 3 posts on the Event page, one of them was someone asking if it was going to be live-streamed. I reckon that was Helena.)

Fish Ellen is obviously more at home in the kitchen now than back in the avocado-behind-the-oven days. She spends an afternoon baking, and conversing with her Grandparents from Beyond The Grave.
Fish Ellen feels that they’d be a bit disappointed that neither she nor her siblings had had any children. Which is an interesting insight into her life. I always felt personally, that Ellen would have made a much better parent than Karen.
We also learn that Fish Ellen’s Grandparents has escaped from the Nazis. That’s a huge thing to go through! Ellen of the letters would often reference the Nazis, in both her correspondence, and the homework that we’ve heard this season.
This, and Fish Ellen being very in touch with her spiritual side, bodes well for Fish Ellen and Letters Ellen being one and the same.

Fish Ellen loves a good environmental campaign to get behind too. She wants to stop the creation of The Nigerian Super Highway! This highway could be very bad news for wild gorillas if it goes ahead, and Fish Ellen is adamant it should be stopped.
Presuming that she’s our Ellen; she has obviously forgiven the wild gorillas’ ancestors for murdering Guru Patel. She never did seem to be one for holding a grudge.

One thing that Fish Ellen and I do disagree on, is whether or not Benedict Cumberbatch is a beautiful freak.
Sorry Fish Ellen.
He’s really not.
Even being British can’t swing it for him, I’m afraid.

Listening to the various posts from Fish Ellen, I thought one of the most compelling pieces of evidence in favour of her being The Ellen, was the constant string of cat references:
• Comcast is not akin to 2 cute kittens.
• Fish Ellen takes advice from the best-selling feline author. (Seems as good a place as any to get advice from?)
• She has her eye on a 6 foot tall painting of over 37 cats.

A CAT PAINTING? You couldn’t make it up.
I wonder if the 37 pairs of eyes move on this one? They’d be following Fish Ellen’s every move around her cottage.
Maybe I’m reading too much into it, to also pick up on the fact that she lives in a cottage.
Or maybe her taste in accommodation was established by the first place she lived in independently?
I really hope that this particular cottage is every bit as gauzy and dreamy as any Ellen could hope for.

I almost forgot the one that is just so good, that it almost can’t be true.
Fish Ellen muses: “If I had a kitten for every kitten I wished I’d had I would have so many kittens.”
Either Josh used a bit of artistic licence to adapt this; or this just HAS to be our Ellen.
It is just too similar to the famous Ellen quote: “I wish I had a dollar for every dollar I wish I had.”

Unfortunately for Fish Ellen, she can’t have any cats, because of her mouse programme.
This made me smile, as I had presumed that the mouse-release videos had come about as a result of a pest-control problem. Along the lines of the ant infestation.
I had imagined that Fish Ellen hadn’t wanted to harm them, and that they’d therefore rapidly multiplied. Hence why she ended up with so many, to capture, and then release.
But this makes it sound like she is possibly taking in sick and injured mice, and re-habilitating them.
That thought warms my heart, and would be so perfectly “Ellen”.

Much as I already adore Fish Ellen, I was slightly concerned to discover that she has “patients.” Surely she’s not a nurse, or a doctor? That would be a bit of a stretch to believe.
Whoever the patients are, they have been upset and worried by the current political climate. (I don’t think they’re alone there).
Or could they be animal patients?
Fish Ellen would definitely have to be very in-tune with them to know their political persuasions; but I wouldn’t put it past her!

I ask this, because to celebrate the 4th of July weekend, Fish Ellen is hosting a free Animal Acupuncture Festival. Just come along, and have your precious pet poked and prodded, free of charge.
This is sweet, generous, and worrying, all at once.
Here, an acupuncture treatment for a dog can cost upwards of £50.
Yet Fish Ellen is doing it for free?!
I’m a bit worried that she has just borrowed some of Karen Crochet Pants’ knitting needles, and is sticking them into unsuspecting animals, willy-nilly!

One of the biggest and most bizarre moments of episode 6, was finding out that Josh has 2 mutual friends with Fish Ellen.
Let’s just pause for a moment, and think about how insane that is. What are the chances?
It just adds weight to my belief that Josh was well and truly destined to have these letters, and tell this story.

One of those mutual friends, Darren, explains how he once met Fish Ellen on a weird, drug-fuelled camping trip.
He is now on her mailing list, and gets emails about all kinds of alternative therapies, and environmental campaigns.
She even offered advice to Darren on the best treatment for his foot, after he broke it at Christmas.
(Am I the only one wondering whether he dropped a frozen leg of lamb on it?)
Darren asks Josh if he should contact Fish Ellen. Of course, Josh is going to make us wait until a future episode, to find out whether he does or not!
Also, who has a public profile, yet keeps their friends’ list private?
Another example of a wonderfully Ellen-like contradiction.

As well as all the sweet and funny moments that Josh discovered within Fish Ellen’s Facebook page; there are 2 sad and poignant moments also.

Firstly, Ellen’s car is broken into, and her laptop stolen.
In another completely crazy twist of fate, this happened directly outside where Josh was living at the time. What a missed opportunity!
Just think, Josh could have invited Ellen in for coffee/wine/chicken nuggets, while she awaited recovery.
Another pointer towards the fact that Josh is destined to always be connected to these people.
And can I just ask, who lives next to an ex-mortuary?!
No wonder Fish Ellen had bad luck there. Bad Spirit Central.

Fish Ellen is understandably down and disappointed after this happens.
She announces that she doesn’t believe in Karma.
Josh feels that this is a moment where Fish Ellen seems to be the complete opposite of the Ellen of the letters; who seemed to believe extremely strongly in Karma.
I disagree though.
Fish Ellen is still referencing Karma. I just feel that she has unfortunately been battered by the often cruel realities of life over the years.
In fact, it was Josh himself who predicted that this was probably going to happen, towards the end of Season 1:

“I want Ellen to live in a world that is as sweet as she is. And it breaks my heart that the world is probably going to break her sweet, little, naïve, soft shell at some point.”

I’d say that this is exactly what has happened to Fish Ellen.

An even more distressing and upsetting moment comes when we find out that Fish Ellen has had what sounds like a pretty serious car accident.
She was in the hospital for a long time, and still seems to be experiencing huge amounts of distress and trauma. It was obviously an extremely harrowing experience, and I actually felt a bit uncomfortable listening.
It was very moving and upsetting; and served as a sobering reminder that these are real people, who have to deal with very difficult times in their lives; as well as the fun and frivolity.
Fish Ellen says that at that moment, she just wants a cat or a friend to hug her.
I wanted to reach into the podcast, and give her a really big hug myself.

During the latter part of episode 6, we hear from someone we haven’t heard from for a couple of episodes.
It’s Dot’s and Helena’s “acquaintance,” Patty With The Crystals.

To be honest, it’s hard to make heads or tails of most of what she says, but the cult-like “Seekers” is obviously still up and running.
Oh, and there’s a promo code for her pet portraits; if anyone still needs a last-minute Christmas gift.
If you want your inner-animal brought to life on canvas however, you need to have an in-person consultation.
(Josh? Sara? This seems an opportunity not to be missed!)

Then, the big finale.
Patty, with or without her crystals, is commenting on one of Fish Ellen’s Facebook posts!
Fish Ellen is trying to find a companion, for a road-trip home to Scottsdale.
So they know each other!
But – and here’s the strange bit – our usually sweet, kind, friendly Fish Ellen, is completely ignoring Patty’s comments on her post.
Patty would like to go with Fish Ellen.
Can’t Fish Ellen see her comments?
Patty can see them?
Why isn’t Fish Ellen responding?
In the end, Fish Ellen finds someone to go with, and Patty is left to say that it’s probably for the best.
She’s going on a crystal harvest that weekend.
Patty wishes Fish Ellen all the best for her trip back to visit the desert.
And her Mother.

Her Mother???

So this is where Dot and Helena must come in.
They’re in Arizona.
We know from Ellen’s rental agreement, that that is where Ellen was born.
Why was Fish Ellen blanking Patty though?
Perhaps Dot and Helena hold the answers to this too.

Helena told Dot at the beginning of Season 2, that Patty stole her husband Paul. Could this be why Fish Ellen has a beef with Patty?
Did Patty break up her parents’ marriage?
If that’s the case, that would make Helena Fish Ellen’s Mum?

It’s funny, back when the Arizona connection originally came up, I leant towards Dot as the most likely candidate to be Ellen’s mum.
She retired back to Scottsdale; talked about beggars and poverty like Ellen did; went on holiday to Mexico like Ellen.
They both share a love of animals, and seem to have an upbeat attitude to life.

However, this episode, we heard Fish Ellen say that neither she, nor any of her siblings have any children.
Yet in episode 1 of Season 2, Dot tells Helena that her children are all grown up, with families of their own.
So this doesn’t seem to work after all.

Dot’s daughter was married to a man, but is now married to a woman. Remember Karen Crochet Pants’ bumper stickers? Remember Rob?
Could Dot be Karen’s mum???

Which leaves Helena.
She seems the polar opposite of both our Ellen, and Fish Ellen though.
Glass half-empty, moany, not keen on animals.
Although, I could not be more different from my mum, so this definitely does not rule Helena out.
Helena also said the infamous line, “Can you imagine?”
Ok, Josh could have put that in there as a red herring. But if not, that has to be a huge clue!
Plus, we’ve now got Fish Ellen ignoring Patty’s comments on her post. This would make total sense, if Patty ran off with her father.
It would also make it totally hilarious that Patty is brazen enough to ask to road-trip with Fish Ellen, and have a reunion with Ellen and her mother!
All those crystals must have given her an ultra-thick aura.

I felt by the end of episode 6, that Fish Ellen really seems a great fit for our original Ellen.
With the connections to “The Golden Girls” trio, things are starting to slot into place.

We still haven’t been given any concrete connections between Fish Ellen, and Karen Crochet Pants though.
So I’m really looking forward to hearing how the next potential Karen, who definitely does have a connection, measures up.
Fittingly, we hear from her to conclude the episode.
She’s having some problems with sand.

Can’t wait for Episode 7, to get to know her better.

Recap of Best-Selling Feline Author (#Stephaniewritescommentaryinparenthesis)

The sounds of water, possibly an ocean, open the episode. (It’s not a train noise as I originally thought.)

Helena is writing, presumably to Dot again. It was the worst 118 days of her life. (That’s almost 4 months, which is also almost 6 months so, she was there for almost half a year!) Kris was in longer. (Oh…we are getting some information on why this old broad was in the clink! I am imagining that Helena looks like the kooky, hippy woman from Orange is the New Black.) They were arrested for vandalizing and destruction of private property. But, Helena says it was really just PROTEST! (What the heck was she protesting in the 80’s? Popped collars? Leg warmers? Big hair?) Don’t even get started on Paul…that piece of trash. (Wow, Paul really wronged Helena! Abandoned “us”? Who is “us”? Was Paul a former boyfriend, husband, lover?) Then, in true Helena form, the anger and juicy gossip immediately turns to something goofy and lighthearted…Dot, did you ever get that pet portrait of Misty?

ABC 7 News: GET RID OF THAT BALD GUY! I DON’T CARE FOR HIM. HE TALKS LIKE HE HAS A MOUTH FULL OF PISTACHIOS. I THINK HE THINKS HE’S BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE. AND, HIS TIES ARE ALWAYS WRINKLED. STEAM THEM IN THE SHOWER…DONT IRON THEM. (Good advice, Helena.) OOPS, Helena…the face books are so complicated and you posted that on your own page, not ABC 7 News.

Sudio Headphones. (sudiosweden.com) Go buy some. Josh says so. PROMO CODE: LETTERS

Oh dear…more karaoke? Guns ‘n Roses? Thank goodness…we aren’t really subjected to it because, Josh comes on. He sounds tired. (4:30am, good time to leave a message. Don’t ever call me at 4:30am. I’m not pleasant at 4:30am) Ha! Josh the Stalker has been stalking Fish Ellen on Facebook! (Dude, you need another hobby. Maybe you should go play Animal Crossing Pocket Camp. Which is totally fun and we have our own Fish Ellen! My ID is 61545653315) He also found something shocking but, of course, it is TBA. (Always TBA with this guy. LOL)

The following are highlights from Fish Ellen’s Facebook page:

It is Thanksgiving. And, Fish Ellen is listening to Arlo Gutry, cooking and hanging out both physically and metaphysically (I totally snorted) with people she loves. No one should eat turkey on Thanksgiving. You should go meatless and/or poultry-less. Fish Ellen is happy to share her tips for how to go meatless and/or poultry-less and then both she and the turkey’s will be thankful. 

On December 1st there will be a rally to SAVE THE SALMON! (Will salmon be served for lunch? Asking for a friend.)

Like a good Jewish person, Fish Ellen has been baking cookies all afternoon and evening. (What do bad Jewish people do?) She is channeling her grandparents and wondering if they would be upset to know that none of their four grandchildren procreated. (One of those grandchildren is Fish Ellen’s sister! SHE HAS A SISTER! But, sadly no children of her own. I kinda think Ellen having a child would be AMAZING!) Grandfather and Grandmother escaped the Nazi’s and tried to impart good wisdom. Fish Ellen had some guilt about not having children but, guilt isn’t a reason to have kids. (Fish Ellen is extremely smart about this.) #JewishChristmasCookiesandConversationswiththeDead

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH IS A BEAUTIFUL FREAK! (Well, not according to Josh Hallmark.)

Could do with a little less introspection? But, why? I’m introspecting my introspection! (That giggle is possibly better than Josh’s. Sorry, Hallmark.)

Comcast is NOT akin to two cute kittens. They are often deserving of four letter words. Comcast is VERY bad. They stink. #fightthefuturecomcastcablecompanystinks

This is a six foot painting of over 37 cats. (Oh, please, someone find this photo!) Fish Ellen is going to get this painting. (also, she lives in a little cottage!) Apparently, the white cats are the best. (Well, this is also not try according to Josh Hallmark. Unless he just doesn’t like white cats?)

Fish Ellen is taking some advice from the current best selling feline author. (A quick google search did NOT provide me with the answer of who this author may be. I may have to do more sleuthing. Or, do you have to be a cat to know this information? Also, can someone PLEASE delete my browser history when I die?) Unexpectedly, she emotionally, energetically and cognitively  crashed. She has been holding a safe container for her feelings. (Is it glass? Plastic? Decorated with crystals?)  And, in true sweet Ellen fashion, she also stores the bad feelings of her patients. (Wait? Did she say PATIENTS? I relistened about five times..she DID say patients. CLUE ALERT!) It’s only a metaphorical safe. (Guess that answers my earlier question) Fish Ellen has been holding her emotional breath. Last night she exhaled into an exhausting cry but then exhaled some more into a recovery bath. (I would get dizzy and pass out from all that.) Fish Ellen is grateful for a safe, warm home and emphatic friends. #safesarespacesforemotionswhichareourtruevaluables

STOP THE NIGERIAN SUPER HIGHWAY! THERE IS NOTHING SUPER ABOUT A HIGHWAY! ESPECIALLY ONE THAT HARMS WILD GORILLAS! WRITE TO YOUR CONGRESSMAN! DONATE TO THE NATURE CONSERVANCY! #nothingsuperaboutahighwaythatharmsgorillas

It is the 4th of July. Which is a great holiday unless you are an animal or a Native American. While, Fish Ellen cannot help Native Americans, she can help your animal! She is offering FREE animal acupuncture services for your pets at the first ever Animal Acupuncture Festival! Be sure to get there early because this is going to be VERY popular! (Really? VERY? Was there a 2nd annual Animal Acupuncture Festival? Where can I go to sign Jewelie up? Will first aid be provided to pet owners?)

If I had a kitten for every kitten I wished I had I would have so many kittens! #icanthavecatsbecauseofmymouseprogram (#soFishEllenbuyscatpaintingsinstead)

SKYPE. Josh is calling Sara. OH MY GOD! Josh has TWO mutual friends with Fish Ellen on “the face books”. (#sorrynotsorry) One of these friends, Darren, has been to the Karen and Ellen Letters reading parties. (Josh you can only get excited ONCE in your life!) What if Fish Ellen has been under Josh’s nose the entire time? (We also got a GREAT Josh laugh moment. I need this as a ringtone! Can I get a Josh laugh ringtone as blogger payment?)

Fish Ellen: Usually she is all love, light and Miss Happy-Happy Sunshine. But, today is a hard day. Her car window was broken and her laptop was stolen. (THAT SUCKS!) To bad she didn’t have renter’s insurance since it’s a scam. (RENTER’S INSURANCE? Does she drive a rental car or does she not know what CAR insurance is?)  The missing computer costs over a thousand dollars. Well, now Fish Ellen DOESN’T believe in karma. She doesn’t believe God only gives you as much as you can handle. She believes sometimes, people are truly amazing but sometimes people are just plain old mean. 

Josh and Sara are back discussing how in 2012 Fish Ellen’s car broke down IN FRONT OF JOSH’S OLD HOUSE! (Mary Christ and Holy Guacamole!) Fish Ellen was in front of Josh’s house for SIX FULL HOURS one day and he never even knew it. (Fish Ellen was RIGHT THERE! You could have cast a hook and snagged her!)

Josh is writing a message to Darren, he is asking about his relationship to Fish Ellen and how he knows her. Darren replies that he met her on a drugged out camping trip and Fish Ellen was taking photos of him. Darren gets weird emails from her regarding tree therapy, acupuncture, and legalizing marijuana. (How do I get on Fish Ellen’s mailing list?) Also, what is tree therapy? Is it therapy FOR trees or therapy for humans USING trees? How would you “use” a tree?) She also recommended some electrotherapy to Darren when he broke his foot. Would Josh like for Darren to get in touch with her for him? (YES, DARREN, YES WE WOULD! Oh, wait, not sure our opinion counts here but, all roomies vote YES anyway.)

Fish Ellen: I am heading to my first tree therapy session and I am feeling overly emotionally overwhelmed. I am surprised that I am myself so weepy and juggling around so many emotions that are hard to name and hard to find. What if this doesn’t work? What if it doesn’t help me? These cognitive issues which look like not being able to find words, not being able to follow a train to thought, not being able to remember things are the last significant vestiges of last years car accident. I spent so much time in the hospital trying to find my words but, also trying to find forgiveness. I just really want someone or a cat or a friend to hug me. (I have nothing sassy to add here. I am sad now, This makes me sad.)

Wind Chimes! Patti with the Crystals is back! Today she awoke with manta, “if God is awareness and I am aware then through my awareness I am partaking of the awareness of my source, who is God, our Mother Earth.” (My head hurts just trying to listen and transcribe that. Also, I am confused and think I need a drink now.) Blah, blah, blah…..some mumbo jumbo about monotheism.  (She knows what monotheism is? Kind of impressed, actually.) Patti has a husband and a dog. (She says so amiss the mumbo jumbo.) Patti has a friend named Juno Windraven. (Is she a teacher at Hogwarts? Please, let her be a teacher at Hogwarts!) Juno has discovered the creator Gods. (Did she copyright the find? Call the Discovery Channel?) Patti wishes all seekers a Happy Thanksgiving. Followed by a commercial for Pet Portraits and portraits of your inner amimal! (Just use promo code: EARTHMOTHER)

Fish Ellen: I’m looking for someone who wants to drive a car from Scottsdale, Arizona up to Seattle or Portland this week or next week. If you know someone who wants some west coast travel.

Patti with the Crystals: Are you going to see your mother? I would love to fly out for a fun little girls bonding trip.

Fish Ellen: Hi everyone! I’m still looking for a road companion down to Scottsdale.

Patti: Oh, Ellen, I would love to join you. Do you not see my earlier message?

Patti: Ellen, did you not see my comment? Did I post them correctly? I can see them. Can you?

Fish Ellen: Hi everyone! Never mind, I’ll be going with my friend, Nita.

Patti: Ellen, I’m so glad you found someone to go with you. It probably would not have worked out for me because I am going to do a crystal harvest. Have a special time reconnecting to the desert earth and your mother. 

(What did I just hear? Apparently Fish Ellen and Patti are connected in some way. But, did they have a falling out? Why does Ellen ignore Patti? Is that bad karma?)

Ocean noise again. KAREN IS BACK! She really loves being at the beach but, she doesn’t like all the sand that gets everywhere. (Um, Karen, sand comes with the territory. It’s kinda a rule of the beach.) However, Karen does like dolphins, boats and Mai Tai’s. ( Mai Tai is an alcoholic cocktail made with rum and citrus juice. Who wouldn’t like that? Also, is the beach reference a clue?)

Alright fellow listeners, it’s time to stop being a cat on the wall and start sleuthing! I believe the truth is out there. Love and avocados! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Interview with Sara Beth Poole (Ellen)

I was lucky enough to get a chance to ask Sara Beth Poole some questions about the podcast. (Holy Mary Christ! Ya’ll know I’m totally #TeamEllen and I was totally fangirl-ing when she agreed!)

Do you listen to the podcast? If you listen, what are your theories?

I do listen to the podcast! I genuinely love it, especially this second season as it is a complete mystery to me where this will all end up. Josh has completely left me in the dark as far as where the story is going which makes it really exciting to listen. I only have the vaguest of ideas based on the recordings I did. I don’t have any theories of my own, but I do think that some of the ones I’ve heard are plausible. The exception is the one where Ellen is Karen and Robs’ daughter, it makes no sense, why would she pay rent if she were their child??

How do you manage to not crack up reading the letters?

To be honest I do a lot of cracking up during recording! I send Josh edited files so the listeners don’t get to hear my bloopers.

Is Ellen’s voice your own or acting? How did you determine what Ellen’s personality would be? Has anyone ever recognized your voice as Ellen?

Ellen’s voice is higher and quite a bit more childlike than mine. She is so endearing and sweet and I wanted that to come across as soon as you heard her speak. I did a lot of character development for the staged reading we did years ago, but a lot of the quirks that make Ellen Ellen are things that I grew up with in my new-age household. Stuff like astrology, crystal healing, chakras, and gurus were totally normal topics of conversation for my mom and her friends, so I had a lot to draw on there. Ellen is largely an amalgamation of the hippy-dippy women I knew growing up with a healthy dose of naivete, sort of like Stevie Nicks meets Elmo. No one has ever recognized my voice as Ellen, but I have to admit I would love that!

Josh has stated you are not really on social media. However, do you know about the Facebook group? Do you know about the Roomies? How do you feel about being a celebrity to all the Roomies?

What little I know about the Facebook group I learned from the podcast and from a quick email Josh sent us during season 1 to let us know how much the podcast had took off. I had no idea I was a celebrity to the Roomies!! How exciting! I deleted my Facebook account after the election last year and I don’t see myself resurrecting it, but I am SUPER sad that I don’t get to interact with y’all in cyberland. I think it’s so interesting and cool that you all have been able to connect in a real way and make friends on the internet. I didn’t think that happened anymore!

Who is your favorite Karen and Ellen Letters character?

It’s so hard to pick a favorite character!!! I’m feel really connected to Ellen so my first instinct is to call her my favorite, but there is so much to love about everyone. Maybe it’s a cop-out to answer this way but I really love the way the characters have come to life through my fellow actors and I think we all do an amazing job.

Do you have a favorite letter? (Ellen’s or anyone else) Favorite episode?

Oh my goodness… it’s so hard to decide! In general I love Ellen’s letters the most because she is soooo loveable and sweet and truly hilarious. Thinking about it I have to say that the drug-sniffing dog letter is my #1, but I also really love the series of letters between she and Mark in which she opens up about being scared to go to Karen’s grandmother’s house. It’s a very vulnerable human interaction between she and Mark, and some seriously genius character development if these letters aren’t real.

What is your favorite “Ellen-ism”?

I love the way she talks about karma. It’s a concept she’s clearly very passionate about but little understands. I think there’s a lesson to be learned there about the ways that we impose concepts on others that we would do well to apply to ourselves or something.

Why do you think Ellen has a problem with Scorpios? What does THAT mean?

Haha!! In astrology, Scorpios have something of a bad reputation. Many expect them to be devious or perverse, secretive, controlling or vengeful. It’s the sign of Scorpions, snakes, and vampires. Ellen has clearly either had some very bad experiences with scorpios in her life or learned astrology from someone who has a bias against them.

Thank you, Sara Beth for sharing with us!

Jurisdicted To Love: A Recap

Episode 4 was an absolute cracker of an episode.
Packed full of brand new quotables from our favourite four letter writers.
With enough intrigue and mysterious circumstances, to keep us in the perpetual state of confusion, that has over-taken us all this season.

We start with a quick reprise of the 2012 emails; between Email Karen and Josh; and also the one from Anonymous Email Man.
We first heard these towards the end of Season 1.
It sounds like they’re being read in some kind of time-tunnel; like they’re just out of reach. I really love how Josh has done that in these past couple of episodes.
It reminds us that we’ve heard them before, without needing to say it.
The effect is also that you might quite not catch all that is being said; that it’s a bit of a mystery. This really sets the scene nicely, for what is to come in the latter part of this episode.

Helena is first up in Episode 4, with what I’m sure will become a classic moment.
She has accidentally posted a recipe for Baked Ham to Dot’s Facebook page.
Frantically trying to delete it, Helena is becoming more and more enraged. It is a priceless, “older generation versus technology” moment.
Although… if we’re being honest, we’ve probably all been there. Especially in the early days of Facebook.
I for one, certainly said a prayer of thanks to Mary Christ, when we got the option to delete, and edit our posts.

Before Helena manages to get to the point, we’re hit with an ear-drum explosion. The worst of the bad karaoke so far. So bad, in fact, that it’s brilliant.
An extremely bad, slightly sweary, NKOTB cover.
A lot less PG than the original version, and a lot less vocally talented. (And that’s saying something!)
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m imagining that this is Rob and his mates, on Rob’s Stag-do.

Mark provides us with the first letter of the episode, and it’s to Bonnie.
He is explaining how to deal with bizarre tenants, such as Ellen. He also referred to his experience with her, as a “story.” Is this a clue? Justifying his character development of Ellen perhaps?
Although, when Mark mentions having to have lots of patience to deal with someone like Ellen; this does sound pretty genuine.

Talking of our whimsical tenant, she gives us another weighty helping of homework this week. Ellen seems to do an awful lot of Geography and Western Civilisation classes, for someone who is a budding artist! Some particular highlights come from Ellen’s insights into Canada, Colombia, and Germany.

Ellen states that her knowledge of Canada comes mostly from watching late-night TV.
Bound to be accurate then, if that’s the case.

Canada is next to the US, but their money is worth a lot less.
It is almost entirely covered in woods, meaning that sleds and sled-dogs provide the main means of transport. Despite everyone wielding axes, there isn’t any crime in Canada. Therefore, a Police Force isn’t necessary. Instead, cheerful Mounties wander around on horse back, spontaneously bursting into song as they go. Canadians appear to be slightly conflicted over their identity. Some speak French, to try to be like France. Others speak English, to try to be like the US.

I actually learned something from Ellen this episode. I didn’t know that Michael J Fox was from Canada. He is, Ellen informs us, an exception, rather than the rule, because he is vertically challenged. Apparently, most Canadians are very tall. They indulge in the popular hobbies of ice hockey, and seal-clubbing! Major Bad Karma Alert! Ellen is completely outraged. Having seen the odd ice hockey game, I’m not sure which is the more violent pastime!

Ellen does not seem to be a fan of French Canadians in particular. Maybe it’s something to do with the fact that they favour loud, plaid shirts, over a nice fake-fur trimmed top. Or possibly, because they always look like they need to shave. I’ve never noticed that personally. I’ll be sure to inspect Celine Dion’s chin more closely, next time she’s on TV.

Perhaps the most startling revelation that Ellen gives us, is that for all these years, we’ve been wrongly thinking that Polar Bears are white. This native Canadian species is actually black! It’s only due to them being covered in so much snow, that they appear deceptively white. Move over David Attenborough, Ellen is after your job!

Leaving Canada behind, we next travel a long way South to Colombia. Surprisingly, Ellen doesn’t start out too badly. Colombia is in South America; is a Spanish speaking; and predominantly Catholic country. All going well so far.
Then the train goes off the rails with Juan Valdez.
According to Ellen, Juan Valdez picks all the coffee in Colombia himself. All whilst wearing his trusty “sun-brero”, to protect him from the heat. Ellen is pretty suspicious of Juan Valdez; and feels that there is definitely something fishy about him. (Somehow, we even get back to fish with Ellen.) She notes that he is also very short; definitely not a Canadian then.

Ellen feels strongly that Colombia should concentrate less on their coffee, and more on their drug problems. (I hope to goodness that the Colombian police dogs aren’t addicts. That would really tip Ellen over the edge.)

There is also a high chance of getting kidnapped in Colombia. I kind of wish that Karen and Rob had gone to Colombia for their honeymoon. Imagine the correspondence if they had been kidnapped? Karen could have penned her own ransom letter. She is extremely well-practiced at demanding money, after all. I’m wondering how long it would have been before the kidnappers would have offered someone money to take them away?!

Back to Ellen, and we’re in Europe now. Germany, to be exact.
Ellen proclaims that she is definitely not going to be mentioning the Nazis; as this is Geography class, not History class. Cue Ellen then immediately talking about the Nazis…

Her hearing is obviously about on a par with her spelling; as she informs us that the Nazis used the Jews as “escaped goats.” Possibly another childlike quality, that may point to Ellen being younger than we first thought? The historical context is correct though, as Germany is still a divided country at the time of Ellen’s homework, in 1988. This does tie in with the dates of the letters.

We heard in Season 1, that Karen had told Ellen that German is a “gutter” language. Ellen mentions this again in her homework; which is dated a couple of weeks later than that letter in Season 1. This could show that Ellen remembered what Karen had said; and included it in her homework. Or is it another clue that the homework provided inspiration for the letters? Or vice versa?
Time, or Josh, will tell. I hope!

Ellen does have an extremely good point about German car parts though. I can tell you from personal experience; that they are definitely hard to get hold of; and are very expensive! It seems that Germany is a pretty straightforward country; and this suits Ellen. She can state with confidence, for example, that hamburgers come from Hamburg, and cologne comes from Cologne. This formula will come unstuck a bit later on however; when we visit Mexico.

Before we venture on holiday with Karen, Ellen, and Rob though; we make a brief diversion to Thailand. Famous for its cats and twins; Thailand has also given the world a dangerous Thai food epidemic. Better cross Thai off the takeaway food options.
The Thai food epidemic had started in Russia. Those pesky communists are never far from the source of trouble.

Whilst the Geography had the juiciest titbits; there were definitely some highlights from the Western Civ homework too. This week, we learn that The War of The Roses didn’t occur in England, as first thought. Instead, it’s a football game in Pasadena.
Also, the Western Civ teacher tries to fool the students, by asking about books authored by Friedrich Engels. But Ellen is no fool!
“Trick question! Trick question!,” she exclaims in the manner of her “Bad Karma! Bad Karma!” proclamation. Repetition is reserved for only the most serious of situations.

Some final nuggets to take away:
Trotsky was a Scorpio. And we all know what that means by now.
Frederick The Great, and Catherine The Great? Well, they were both great!

And there endeth this week’s lesson.

We move from the countries featured in Ellen’s homework; to a literal change of jurisdiction for Ellen. In her first letter of the episode, to Mark, she apologises for not writing for a while. Herself, Karen, and Rob, have been on holiday in “Alcapulco,” Mexico. Ellen thinks that Karen’s father paid for them all to go on holiday; as he knew they’d been under a lot of stress recently. More like he needs a break from them all; and their innate ability to attract calamity!

(Perhaps Karen’s father should have sent them to Colombia. They could have been kidnapped, and been out of his hair for good. Or Canada, where they could have fallen prey to a hungry polar bear; whilst lost somewhere in the nation-wide woods.)

The highlight of the Mexico trip for Rob, is being able to legally drink there.
(And we all know how much Rob likes the law!)
Confusingly for Ellen, alcohol doesn’t come from “Alcapulco.” This doesn’t put Rob off though. He gets completely and utterly wasted on Tequila; then promptly throws up everywhere. (I do not think that the Tufts Admissions Department would have been very impressed with this behaviour.)

Ellen also warns against drinking the water. It made Rob even sicker! Karen and Ellen have an ingenious idea to drink melted ice, instead of water; in an effort to avoid becoming sick like Rob. But they end up getting sick too! Can you imagine?

Meanwhile, Karen and Rob have had a very rare stroke of genius. They’ve realised that they can defy C.W.’s instructions not to write to Mark by simply enclosing their letters with Ellen’s. That way, Ellen is the one sending the letters; not them. So they have written to Mark; and Ellen has dutifully enclosed their letters in her envelope.

Karen’s letter is straight into classic Karen.
Opinionated, self-righteous, indignant, and bossy!
She tells Mark that he is not to snitch to C.W. this time; as it is Ellen sending the letter, and not her. As has happened several times before, Karen finishes her letter, or not as the case may be, by just stopping mid-sentence:
“I think you still owe me some ………”

Money?
Vacumms?
Cat Paintings?
Instructions on how to sue someone?

Answers on a postcard.

Rob certainly has plenty to say though.
Season 2 has been a bit lacking in the Mr. Rob Esquire department.
This letter to Mark has definitely been worth the wait.

Rob is back at his belligerent best right away. “My wife Karen,” and “Legal Advisor to Karen,” feature multiple times.
Despite writing a (partial) letter to Mark herself, Karen leaves it to her trusty legal advisor to really tell Mark how it is. Karen can embarrass whomever she pleases, whenever she pleases to embarrass them. This includes herself. Rob tells Mark in no uncertain terms that they are “going to un-loop your jurisdiction loophole.” He is personally going to “motion in lemons you;” whatever that means!

Rob almost becomes Dr Evil-esque in his demands for the 1 million dollars that Mark still owes Karen. They have run out of both patience, and deals. They mean business this time. It sounds as if Mark’s lack of gratitude at being left the valuable cat painting, and mermaid clock, has been the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

We even get a PS in this letter. Methinks that maybe Rob isn’t quite as full of bravado as the rest of the letter would suggest! Rob tells Mark several times, not to tell C.W. about this letter. C.W. doesn’t need to know, because Rob has fired him. And C.W. doesn’t need to know that Rob has fired him; and Mark had better not tell him that either.
So there!

Mark does write next, but not in reply to the 3 holiday-makers.
He has more pressing issues at hand; and has written to Bonnie about a recent phone call he’s had with C.W. Mark is extremely offended and affronted. C.W. not only called Mark a buffoon, among some other choice words; but he hung up on him as well!
Of course, we’re all desperate to know what is going on. But alas, Mark doesn’t elaborate.
He just pleads with Bonnie to “fix” anything that he’s done, that may jeopardise “the deal.”

What deal is he talking about?
Just the deal with Karen over the money?
Or rights to the letters?
A TV deal???

Despite being called a buffoon, Mark is willing to do whatever is necessary to put things right. We’re not used to Mark not seeming in control, and sounding vulnerable.
Whatever is going on, it’s obviously worth a lot to him, in one way or another.
He even goes as far as to describe whatever “it” is, as a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

There’s no time to try to find any answers; as we’re quickly back in the comedic world of Dot and Helena. No, Helena is telling Dot; she doesn’t talk to Patti. Frankly, I’m not surprised, if Patti stole her husband! Also, “Yikes” is definitely an under-used expression these days. We ought to bring that back. Helena asks Dot how her daughter is; and whether said daughter still has “that nice friend.”
Is it possible that one or both of these girls could be Karen and/or Ellen???

We conclude episode 4, hearing from Josh.
This is where, if possible, this episode becomes even more mind-boggling than episode 3.

Josh is trying to marry-up Email Karen and Fish Ellen, but without success.
Email Karen had confirmed that she knew, and lived with, an Ellen. But Ellen isn’t actually Fish Ellen’s real name. Suddenly, after staring at the anonymous email from “email man;” Josh sees the clue he’s been looking for. The anonymous email and Email Karen’s emails were sent from the same IP address.

So the same person sent both emails?
Somebody is pretending to be Karen?
But hasn’t Josh been in touch with Email Karen via Facebook?
How does any of this add up?
Do we know for sure that “Email Man” IS a man? How do we know, if the email was anonymous?

Tantalisingly, Josh leaves us with the beginning of a message to Email Karen. Saying that they need to talk…
….And that’s it! That’s a wrap for episode 4.
Will any of the hundreds of questions be answered in episode 5?
Maddeningly, we’ve now got to wait a fortnight to find out!

A Recap in Real Time: Episode 3 – In My Legal Opinion

I was a little confused when Josh sent us through this episode.
As it had the same title and description as Episode 9, from Season 1.
However, I just presumed that he’d had too much wine; or not enough coffee; or both.

It turns out that it wasn’t a mistake; and all will become clear. Well, maybe not clear…..
Anyway; here goes. This is my stream of consciousness, as it happened.

Josh sounds funny. Is he on the phone?

When was he talking to Mark? Why were the letters on the internet; and who put them there?

COME BACK!

Yes! You tell her Dot. Misty was a girl.

Stop with the Fahrenheit, you crazy Americans.

Well, Jackie sounds like a lazy-arse!

Actually, she sounds a lot like Karen!

Why does everyone they know die? Must be the soap.

My money is on Helena not remembering.

Patti! The floozy!

Watch your handbag, as well as your husbands apparently.

OMG. Patti is an artist.

IS SHE ELLEN???

Pet portraits! Yes, commemorate Misty.

If she’s a thief and a floozy, I highly doubt it Dot…

Is this a plane? Where are we going now?

Who is this?

THIS IS NOT SARA!

Deana??? How come?

Well, I’m sure Rob will sort it.

BUT THIS IS KAREN’S LETTER.

Who are these imposters?

We have heard these letters… but why now again?

WHAT IS GOING ON?

“Karen” needs to be one of the drinking words for the Aftershow.

Are these letters exactly the same? Need to check. E.g. “Legally Yours”.

Could these be slightly different versions again? Some bits seem different, and longer.

THIS IS STEVEN!!!

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

This must be a parallel universe.

Why are the voices different?

DON’T CHANGE ELLEN, GOOD GOD

(I still love you Donna.)

Didn’t work long enough?! Wasn’t it 20 minutes?

The Christmas Tree Farm will forever be my favourite.

I love how they brazenly ask Mark for jobs.

Rob is good with electricity. Not so good with gas though…

I wonder if they ever got another job? Ever?

I actually can’t cope with these different voices.

JOSH. What the F is going on?

I still love that Karen asks Mark to help her sue him.

Steven. Stop it.

I would respond to Rob.

Well, anyone could get abortion muddled up with jurisdiction…

Mark must have no life if he’s writing on Boxing Day.

Read and re-read. As if that will make any difference.

That’s right. Bullet points may simplify. Good call.

“No, I won’t help you sue me”. How selfish.

But it’s a great cat painting. Just some tongue damage.

Oh, please do rent to Karen again.

Again, I would respond to Rob. Write to me.

“VERY sincerely.” He means business now.

Now Rob is writing on New Year’s Day. They really do have no lives.

Karen has read the bullet points, and doesn’t give a shit.

Take your bullet points and shove them, Mark!

Well, maybe it wasn’t on purpose. But you did break quite a lot, Robert.

Oh yes, so unfair to not help someone sue you.

“My client Karen”. Lol.

Oh Christ, the cat painting is no more. RIP. Say hi to Misty.

“Visual ipecac.” I’d forgotten that gem!

But these are still all the wrong voices.

JOSH. EXPLAIN PLEASE.

Speaking of bad karma, I think Josh is due a dose…

Doomed baseball stadium? Baltimore? I don’t recall this.

We know you have no idea Karen. And yes, you are dumb.

Almost 200 dollars!

Why didn’t they take these with them?

CUT???

CUT?!?!?

WHAT???

OMG, it’s that flipping detective.

WERE THEY FILMING?

It’s like the Truman show!

Where the F is Lesley? She’s always AWOL.

Hello? Explain please, Joshua.

I love this song!

Oh, maybe not by karaoke lady…

I’m singing along anyway.

Ooooooh, Josh and Sara! Is it Reveal Time?

TELL US ABOUT ELLEN!

Give us the research!

Karen & Rob – is it really them?

Of course he’s rich!

A daughter from a previous marriage? Did Patti steal her husband too?

Wait. 2 previous kids?

A son together? DAMIEN!!!

Wedding photos? We need to see these.

No Josh, it definitely doesn’t make sense.

So Karen is confirmed…?

12 years too old for the letters?

A minute to marinate. Lol. Josh is cooking. So is my brain.

Ellen is not a child! Of Karen’s. Good

There’s records of a Karen living there.

Age was off though, so discounted.

Blimey, poor Mark had to deal with 2 Karens.

NO ELLENS???

But a Jewish name? Please be Ellen.

SHE IS ARTISTIC!

PRINTS OF FISH?! Shut the front door!

PTSD from fish-washing? I’m dying!

Surely this has to be Ellen.

Please let this be Ellen.

Ooooh, she’s the right age.

How can there be no connection?

Did Mark combine them?

An amalgamation of his craziest tenants?

There can’t be another Karen, because “email Karen” emailed Josh.

I DON’T WANT TO BELIEVE EITHER!

SHOW US THE FISH!

Of course Ellen is beautiful. Mark’s a bitch.

Yes, this is a lot of information.

My head hurts.

A PICKLE FAMILY?!

This is my favourite Sara revelation so far.

Oh god, I’m dying! Again!

Just make up a connection. We’ll take Jewish.

“Fish Ellen”!

I think Mark may have combined the two.

But then didn’t Email Karen confirm to Josh, that she knew Ellen? So Ellen must be real?

Ellen wouldn’t have been there as a child, surely?

Sara said she was a tenant. So 18+?

Karen’s been around.

9 years between marriages.

Did her children live there? They must have done.

I’m so confused right now.

Maybe Email Karen rented a different property of Mark’s? But she mentions the car wash etc?

Karen & Rob can’t be connected to the cottage.

Fish Ellen connected to cottage, but not Karen & Rob.

I don’t want it to be fake.

Oooh, who’s this?

PATRICIA?!

PATTI WITH THE CRYSTALS!!!

IS PATTI ELLEN?!

Definitely sounds crazy enough.

“Seekers”. OMG, it is a cult! Nicki T was right!

IT IS ELLEN/PATTI! Pet portraits!

She has definitely immortalised those fish.

Soul-maps! Like the astrology.

I definitely need a map to navigate this episode.

Stop it with the bells.

DON’T LEAVE IT THERE!!!

I need a lie down. Bloody Hell.