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!

 

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Karen Karen Karen Recap (AKA #NotKaren #HashtagsAreBorn)

Holy Guacamole! This episode has certainly left an impression! Not sure what that impression is yet but, it is there, like a refrigerator door broken by a leg of lamb. (#WhereisRob) Let’s get down to crazy town and recap the insanity for you! (#WildRideAhead)

(DISCLAIMER: This recap includes my personal opinions regarding the podcast. All opinions expressed in this recap are mine and mine alone and may or may not align with other members of this community. These expressed opinions are of my personal feeling at the time I first listened to the podcast. Opinions may change over time. I also respect those that do not agree with me and ask for the same respect in return. #FreedomOfSpeech)

Once again, we begin with messages between Dot and Helena. (#FavoriteFunnyWomen) They are STILL discussing Jackie. (I wonder if poor Jackie’s nose itches all the time from so many people talking about her? #GossipGirls) Dot also tells Helena about her daughter’s wedding. It’s her second wedding (the first was to a man) and now, she’s married to her “friend,” who is a woman. Apparently, gay weddings are MOSTLY like regular weddings according to Dot. (#WhoKnew?) Helena doesn’t think she knows any lesbians, with the exception of her very nice butcher. But, the “gays” she does know are a hoot and they sure know how to have fun. Also, Barb died, and maybe she was a lesbian? (The transitions in these messages… I mean, we go from a gay pride parade to a funeral in one sentence. I would love to be a cat on the wall and really watch these women! #gaysarefun #funeralsaresad) Dot’s information regarding her daughter’s first marriage makes me wonder if Dot is Karen’s and/or Ellen’s mother? I have speculated on the possibility of a mother connection before, but now I am pretty certain. Oh, and Helena was arrested with Kris.

Josh contacts Sara with news we have heard before. Email Karen and the Strange Email Man share the same IP address. What DOES THAT MEAN? Sara is stunned. Well, Josh is going to contact Email Karen and see if he can get some answers. Sara is confused. It appears Email Karen has been a part of this since the days of the blog. Josh really feels like something is amiss. (Sure took you a LONG time to get your cat tongue back, Hallmark! LOL) Is Email Karen the Real Karen? Is she a fake? Why did Mark freak out about Email Karen contacting Josh? Is Fish Ellen the Real Ellen? (#SoManyQuestions) Fish Ellen feels authentic. Can we verify Fish Ellen and Email Karen? Oakland Karen? (I need a visual aid… I can’t keep up… maybe I need a #MURDERBOARD)

SHUT UP! Sara looks up a Karen who lived in the cottage (Jeeze, I’m confused. #SoManyKarens!) And, now we have Crochet Pants Karen! She lived in Berkeley. She has a blog! (#CrochetPants) Sara is laughing her head off about pink panties worn under crochet pants. (I REALLY need to see this blog!)

Can we connect Crochet Pants Karen to Fish Ellen?

Josh sends a message to Email Karen asking her to talk and BOOM, just like that, the legal net is thrown. Email Karen responds. She has been listening to the podcast. She was reading the blog. She read copies of the letters. She thought it would be FUNNY to insert herself into the narrative. (WHAT?!? WAIT?!? WHAT?!? #WHAT? #WAIT?WHAT?) She wrote the emails pretending to be Karen and she wrote the second email from Email Man JUST to mess with Josh. (YOU WHAT?!? WAIT?!? WHAT?!? WHO DOES THAT? HOW CRUEL! HOW MEAN! I mean, kinda funny but, #NotThatFunny)  Email Karen is supposedly this person’s mother-in-law. She says Email Karen never lived with an Ellen. She never even lived in Oakland. This person has just admitted that she catfished Josh. She thought this whole thing was “really funny” and is/was a member of our beloved Roomies group. (#NotMyRoomie) But, our research made her nervous and once Josh included her fake letters on the podcast she decided the joke had gone too far. She claims to be sorry. (However, she waited for Josh to contact her….versus coming clean on her own, so, I’m not buying it, sister. #HowRude) And, she doesn’t want to come across as stupid or a bitch. (Clearly, you aren’t stupid. Yep, I called you a bitch. It was a bitchy thing to do. #sorrynotsorry) And, so, this concludes the story of Not Karen. (And, the beginning of a hysterical blog by Torey searching for the identity of Not Karen. Also, I am #NotNotKaren) And, since Josh has asked, #NotAWitchHunt

Quiet, bad karaoke. (#DamnIWishIwasYourLover)

Sara is back. (#DudeYouGotCatfished) Where does this leave the research? Obviously Not Karen is not Karen so, who is Real Karen? Sara checks her murder board for a possible new suspect. What do you know, Crochet Pants Karen seems to fit! (#IfTheCrochetPantsFitWearThem) Is Crochet Pants Karen the real Karen? Are Karen and Ellen actually real? Will we find them?

Blog post, dated May 19, 2016, from Crochet Pants Karen. She is obsessed with crochet and is modeling her latest crochet pants. (#CrochetGoddess) This blog is one long run on sentence all about crochet pants. (#madyarn)

Blog post, December 19, 2010. Crochet Pants Karen is excited for bumper stickers. She sees a car with lots of cool stickers and just can’t contain herself. Crochet Karen also has quite a collection of bumper stickers, which I believe are also amazing new hashtags.  #1988 Bush/Quail, #GodBlesstheFreaks and my personal favorite, #IAteaKitchenSink! (Josh, if you don’t jump on this Marketing gem now and get this in your shop page, you may be missing out!) Also, it is hot where she is. It is even hot inside. So, she was in the water for two hours. (#RelevantInformation) And, they have to walk everywhere. (#CloseToDead)

Blog post, September 30, 2010. (#IndigoDoesntLiveHere #BetterThanBerkley) Also, Bill had a wake and there are really big cockroaches at the local hospital.

Blog post, May 1, 2017. Crochet Pants Karen is now almost 50 years old and updating her look. She still sews. (#FastestWayToMakeClothes)

Josh really feels these blogs are VERY Karen. However, he has a lead on a different Karen that is tied to Fish Ellen. (#MoreResearchNeeded #TheMysteryContinues)

Ellen is back with another mouse video! (#TeamEllen #PavedParadise #MiceAreFast)

#TheEnd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is ‘Not Karen?’ – A Suspect List

BLUF: It has been revealed that “Email Karen” was actually a catfish who had infiltrated the Roomie community. Who could it be?

In the latest episode of The Karen and Ellen Letters (S02|E05: Karen Karen Karen), Josh dropped a bombshell that threatens to erode the Utopian digital community that has formed in The Karen & Ellen Roomies discussion group on Facebook. While Facebook communities are often rampant with childish name calling, hateful trolling, and random postings of inflammatory political opinions, the Roomies have thus far avoided divisiveness in favor of agreeable, lighthearted banter, and, at times, deep personal disclosure that solidifies the friendship between each member.

In episode 12 last season, Josh told us “… I received an email. It was an email that I knew was trouble before I even opened it.” It was from someone claiming to have copies of the famed letters, and that there were discrepancies between what Josh knew, and what he or she knew about the story. This was after Josh had received several emails from someone claiming to be THE ACTUAL KAREN.

In episode four of season two, Josh revealed that the emails from the mysterious letter holder and from “Email Karen” came from the same IP address, indicating the same person sent both emails. Now, we find out that “Email Karen” not only had catfished her way into the story line, but had infiltrated The Karen and Ellen Roomies discussion group! I immediately began a mental list of possible suspects. I listed my list of suspected suspects on this list of suspects below. It should be noted that every suspect listed below has been included purely in jest, and absolutely no animosity should be held against “Not Karen,” whomever he or she may turn out to be. As Josh said, “All is forgiven.”

NAME: Laura (redacted)

Laura (redacted) is Canadian, but she neither seems overly tall, nor does she appear to need a shave.  Laura speaks English, but there is a possibility she also speaks French and wears loud flannel shirts. Laura has indicated intimate knowledge of Trailer Park Boys, a popular Canadian television series that pioneered the faux reality TV genre, so this may be a link into her involvement in the Canadian underground crime scene, ergo, she could feasibly be knowledgeable in identity theft and fraud. If this were Trailer Park Boys, Laura would be Julian, the muscular brains behind every scheme the boys try to pull on Mister Lahey (RIP John Dunsworth).

NAME: Stephanie (redacted)

Stephanie is deeply rooted into the Roomie community, and has publicly demonstrated not only her penchant for creative writing, but her ability to reproduce Karen’s style of correspondence, so there could be some mental instability packed away in there that resonates at the same frequency as the actual Karen from the original letters (j/k, don’t beat me up). Stephanie shows a great deal of anger toward “Not Karen.” Could this be a result of her genuine feelings of betrayal by a member of the Roomie community as she claims, or is she attempting to redirect suspicion from her onto other unwitting Roomies? Perhaps time will reveal sufficient evidence to decide whether this is the case or not. If this were The Black Tapes, she’d be the enigmatic Doctor Richard Strand, except that her voice wouldn’t be so deep and mysterious.

NAME: Matt (redacted)

Matt is one of only a handful of active Roomies who happens to be male. This is a dangerous line of thinking, as my gender in this situation could possibly implicate me as well, and I am 90 percent confident that I am not the culprit. Now, this could be a Trojan Roomie, an alter ego, or a catfish account of sorts, or Matt could be a legit person. There is absolutely no way to know for certain. I’ve seen enough episodes of Burn Notice to know that the best way to avoid suspicion would be to impersonate a female member so as to blend in … unless we’re dealing with a master of psychological manipulation.

NAME: Nikki (redacted)

Nikki has been described as a K&E brand ambassador, and is undeniably a super fan of the show. Is she a rabid enthusiast, or could it be a symbolic act of penance to atone for her previous catfishing shenanigans? She probably didn’t do it, but she is from Arkansas, so the 5th grade writing level Karen employed in her letter writing could be easy for Nikki to reproduce. Admittedly, this connection is flimsy at best. There may be nothing to this, but on the other hand, there may not. But, I digest. If this were S-Town, Nikki would be Brian Reed, because she’s been telling us an incredible story this whole time.

Vicki (redacted)

Vicki is one of the famed “Vickis” of K&E Roomie lore. On the Karen & Ellen Roomies discussion group on Facebook, Vicki often posts things about pickles, which indicates she may have personal knowledge of the events leading up to the fiery demise of Ellen’s uncle’s pickle factory. If this is true, Vicki could be way more involved with the saga of Karen, Ellen, and Rob than we previously thought. If this were A Scottish Podcast, Vicki would be Ivan the Disemboweler, because Vicki straight up slays.

NAME: Sue (redacted)

Sue admitted on an Aftershow that she was present for a letter reading gathering on or about the same time Josh’s blog was active. Sue had intimate knowledge of K&E, access to Josh’s email address, and, as this act of deception appears to be a prank that over the years grew out of control, rather than one of malicious intent, it is feasible that a close friend of Josh’s could be motivated to do this for laughs. If this were Tanis, Sue would be M.K., as she is deeply connected to the dark realms of the internet while at the same time a part of the narrative of the story as a whole.

NAME: Staci (redacted)

Staci is one of three fortunate Roomies who has appeared on an Aftershow (S02/E04 AfterShow, “The Roomies”). In the episode five spoiler thread on the Roomie page, Staci exclaimed, “SHE’S A ROOMIE?” And then, “is she still in the group?” and then, “COME FORWARD CATFISH KAREN!” Was this surprise expressed on Facebook genuine, or a farce designed to mask her true identity as “Catfish Karen?” If this were an M. Night Shyamalan film, Staci would be the guy in The Sixth Sense who was dead all along and didn’t know it.

NAME: Charlie (redacted)

Charlie’s last name has been redacted even though she’s famous, and I’m pretty sure it would be difficult for her to sue me (in Portland small claims court) for libel since she is a public figure. Charlie co-hosts the In Sight Podcast which is a true crime show, so she is familiar with covering cover-ups when people cover up their crimes, giving her the perfect cover for pulling off this fantastic prank. If this were episode 67 of In Sight, “Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?,” Charlie would be Anna, the mysterious woman who in 1953, mysteriously told the Wolverhampton Express and Star that a German spy ring was responsible for the demise of an unknown woman whose skeleton was discovered in a tree.

Click here to listen to S02|E05: Karen Karen Karen

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!

Season 2, Episode 3…WHAT DID I JUST LISTEN TO?

WOW! Just WOW! That is about all I can say about Season 2, episode 3. In my legal opinion; it was full of twists, turns and just a maze of insanity. This blog post will be in two parts. Part one will be the transcribed notes I took, in real time, while listening. Part two will cover additional episode information as well as a peek behind the After Show.

Here are the notes I took as I was listening to the episode for the first time. WARNING, this blog may not be suitable for all readers.

  • Josh? Did you fall down a well? Should I call Lassie to help you?
  • Mark wasn’t surprised to hear from Josh when he first contacted him. Hum?
  • Someone else contacted Mark previous to Josh to discuss the letters.
  • Misty WAS a girl. Duh.
  • Jackie is a red head who is married to Frank. Is this relevant information? Store it away for later just in case.
  • Patty. Patty with the crystals. (Lord help me if I ever make a friend named Patty because I will use this phrase constantly!)
  • Patty is an obnoxious talented artist. Ellen is it you?
  • Bouncing along to the familiar jingle.
  • Is this an airport sound? What’s up with all the sound effects this season? They MUST mean something. Or maybe they don’t.
  • Dear Mark….WAIT! WHAT? THIS ISN’T SARA! Or is it? Is Sara using a different acting voice? I know this voice. But, IS this Sara?
  • Oops, I missed what was said. I’m trying to figure out this voice thing.
  • HOLY CRAP! WHERE IS ROB? What is happening? Who IS this? Is this the right podcast? Is Josh messing with me? Is this some joke? Ha, not funny Hallmark.
  • UGH! What did Fake Rob say? I missed it. Are these the same old letters? I’m going to have to relisten.
  • I HAVE NO IDEA WHY STEVEN PAPPAS IS TALKING? Is This Adulting? This is weird. DRATS! I can’t pay attention to anything being read. I’m barely listening to what is being said.
  • This is all kinds of wrong.
  • DONNA! Donna, why you Ellen?
  • Hum….there must be a REASON for this. Are these some kind of audition tapes? Is this representative of finding voices for the show? Is this an audition for the live shows? Maybe a theater show?
  • You pod people need to go back to your own shows. This is like being at a Persian Bizarre.
  • Freaky.
  • I’m totally lost. I’ve quit listening. I’m still trying to figure out who Fake Karen was….I don’t think it was Sara. But, I KNOW that voice. Ugh….which podcast host is that? These are all podcast hosts!
  • Steven, can we get a mental health check in?
  • mute = moot. STILL FUNNY.
  • Steven isn’t so bad…when I actually LISTEN. It’s just alarming to hear him in this role.
  • Donna has the cutest voice. I could get used to Donna as Ellen. I’d still cry over Sara Beth not being Ellen though.
  • I keep waiting for Donna to giggle. Will she giggle? I don’t think she’s going to giggle. What’s the Varmint! this week, Donna?
  • CUT!
  • CUT!?!?
  • DIRECTOR! NOT DETECTIVE!
  • I still feel bad for poor Leslie.
  • So, this IS a show! OH MY GAWD!
  • Hum…..someone contacted Mark BEFORE Josh….was it about a show?
  • At least the pod people voices make slightly more sense now.
  • BAD KARAOKE! “Tell it to my heart….” HELP! My ears may bleed. This is BAD. But, catchy. Ugh, it’s going to be stuck in my head. Damn you, Hallmark!
  • Sara and Josh…please, make heads or tails of this! I need info!
  • “The more it makes sense, the less it makes sense.” PREACH!
  • KAREN WAS MARRIED BEFORE ROB! Rob is her SECOND husband!
  • Wait? This does NOT add up.
  • Karen had a kid before Rob too! IS ELLEN THAT KID?
  • Doing the math. This isn’t right.
  • Are time lines off? Were letters altered in the time line?
  • Something doesn’t add up. It smells like avocado. Hee hee….avocado. I crack myself up.
  • Records of who lived in the cottage doesn’t include Karen.
  • Didn’t Mark state that Karen’s dad co-signed lease? Maybe it was in his name and therefore, Karen wouldn’t be on lease but, her father would.
  • But, Ellen’s name IS on a lease. Sara confirms it is an Ellen who has a SUPER Jewish name, is an artist, into natural healing and lived in Portland! Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
  • Sara’s Ellen also paints FISH! FISH!
  • Are these letters even real? At all? Or just made up? I mean, its a fascinating story but, maybe it is all fake.
  • I need to see these prints of fish. Now.
  • Josh snoops on Sara’s Ellen and says she’s pretty! OF COURSE ELLEN IS PRETTY! She’s an angel. #TeamEllen.
  • SO MUCH NEW INFORMATION!
  • Two different timelines?!?
  • Possible Jewish pickle factory owners.
  • (I can’t even translate what I wrote next….it’s A LOT of arrows. Like a paper murder board. I need a cork board, push pins and red string. STAT!)
  • Josh, HOW DID YOU VERIFY EMAIL KAREN? I want to know your vetting process.
  • Patricia….Patty? Patty, with the crystals? One in the same? I mean, come on….they have to be, right?
  • Patrica is a visionary. Wind chimes are playing. Pain? Joy? Seekers? Psychly? Is psychly a word? Da Fuq is happening?
  • I want a pet portrait done of Jewelie….how do I make that happen?
  • What’s a SOUL MAP?

WHAT DID I JUST LISTEN TOO?

 

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.