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 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.

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!

I Can’t Wait To Get Over The Wall: A Recap, and A Lot Of Questions

After the hundreds of questions that Episode 1 threw up, we are left with even more after Episode 2. I would definitely say that it is the craziest and most mind-boggling episode yet of The Karen and Ellen Letters.

We start, as last week, with Helena and Dot, back in 2012. The accompanying video lets us know that Helena is in Mendocino, CA.
Helena goes down in my estimations immediately. Referring to the recently departed Misty as a “he.” Talk about disrespecting the dead!
Helena seems a real Debbie Downer.
She doesn’t like the heat. She doesn’t like cruises. She doesn’t like the price of antiques these days.
“Why pay $40 for something that was $10, 30 years ago?” she queries.
Although, maybe she does have a point here. Depreciation is a real thing!
However, genuine antiques will of course increase in value.
Take a Cellini mermaid clock for example. Its value would surely increase by at least 34.4% annually?

Do we think that Helena has echoes of Karen about her?
Picking fault, moaning, and questioning the cost of things?
I’m not sure. But they’re not completely dissimilar.

We hear from Josh, about the journey he has been on, with both the podcast, and the letters. About how Season 2 really started taking shape once Jeff (who plays Mark), had told Josh about the “lost letters.”
Josh describes how what is real, and what is not, has become fluid, and is constantly merging.
I think that is a fitting description of this episode; and leads perfectly into what comes next.

To me, this is the most perplexing and mysterious letter to ever be featured on Karen and Ellen. (So far.)
Josh explains that he originally dismissed it as being in the file incorrectly. It isn’t even signed. However, both he and Sara feel they are fairly sure now who wrote it.
(They’re not sharing of course!)

The writer is female, and the recipient is someone called George. Presumably a man, but could be a woman possibly?
The only George we’ve heard brief mention of before, is George Bush, when the links between Karen and the Bush family were mentioned. Surely, it couldn’t be to him???
Our anonymous writer asks after him and his kids. She’s bored and fed up.
She’s locked out, and won’t be able to get back in until her landlord comes after dinner.
She just has to sit and wait for “mail call.”

I wondered if this was an American phrase that I hadn’t heard before. Looking it up, the first results that came up were for a TV show about the US military, that had aired in the 2000s.
Reading on, I don’t think the author was drumming her fingers, waiting for her favourite programme to come on. “Mail call” in this context, seems to be the distribution of mail, in some form of institution.
And I’m 90% sure that the institution is Prison!
The writer’s friend Jennifer has left, to go to Chowchilla. Which, Google reliably informs me, is a Central California Women’s Prison.
Our author wants to get out too. But not to another prison.
She can’t wait to get over the wall, and is certain that her life will be different afterwards.

She is getting angry now. She hasn’t heard from George. He told her to write, but doesn’t reply. It has been 5 years, and she’s fuming.
It’s not just George. Nobody is replying to her letters.
She’s not going to “carry on wasting envelopes she doesn’t have.”
Now is it just me, or does that definitely sound like a Karen or Ellen-ism?

She is not going to write anymore. Or until George writes back.
This writing to George, to tell him that she isn’t going to write to him anymore; is reminiscent of Karen calling Mark, to tell him that she’s still not speaking to him.
(Season 1, episode 10).
Surely Karen couldn’t have ended up in prison?
Was there one mess that even Daddy or CW couldn’t get her out of?
The “landlord” reference seems out of place. Could it be a nickname for a member of staff? Or a Freudian slip, from past correspondence?

Whoever she is, she is very angry and upset that nobody bothers to reply to her. (Where’s Mark when you need him?)
She vows that things will be different, once she gets out.
I hope that we find out who she is, and if they were.

After writing my notes from the audio episode, I then listened again with the accompanying video. What stood out, is that the letter is estimated as being from “before 1990”.
This confuses things even more!
From the tone of the letter, I was leaning towards the author probably being Karen. But that dating would put it extremely close to when she was giving Mark almost daily headaches, as his tenant.
I don’t know what to think now!

After a pretty dark, and intense start to the episode; some more atrocious karaoke, courtesy of Di’s bar; serves to lighten the mood.
(I’m wondering if this is just a random find by Josh; or could it be someone we know? I wouldn’t put it past Josh to sneak that in!)

It’s time to hear from Ellen!
She’s back on Mark’s case about that free firewood again.
But there’s a bit of a preface from Josh first. This is some of the correspondence that makes up the “lost letters;” and they’re troubling somewhat.
There are subtle differences between some of these letters; and the ones that Josh already had.
If some of the letters have been changed, what else has?
There are already some suspicions over some of the most ludicrous of Ellen’s writings. For example, the Roger Rabbit letter; and the drug-sniffing dogs article.

Ellen comes across less ditzy in these new letters; and more petulant and selfish. Fairly “dog in the manger,” and rude.
Childlike maybe?
I can’t help but think of the theory at the end of Episode 1, about Ellen being Karen’s and Rob’s daughter.

Just as I’m questioning her, Ellen pulls it back.
With a completely ludicrous, but totally Ellen-like request, that Mark creates a fireplace in the cottage. So that Ellen can make use of the free firewood that she is obviously entitled to.
Of course, Guru Lahera would need to be consulted over the Feng Shui aspects of the decision.
Ellen would like a marble fireplace; Karen prefers pottery. This is more like the Ellen we know and love!

But to echo Josh’s thoughts, why are the letters different?
Has someone invented or embellished some letters? Mark?
Remember when Angry Karen contacted Josh in 2012? When requesting that the blog be taken down, she says:
“I want you to erase the things I said in there. Especially the things I didn’t say.”
Is some of it completely made up?

Back to the episode, Ellen and Mark are dealing with a whole new problem.
And it’s brilliant.

Ellen has an ant infestation in the kitchen. They won’t leave, despite her yelling at them.
Mark apparently already knows this, as he has heard Ellen yelling, from his office.

He can hear her???

Is this Mark at his facetious best, saying that he can hear Ellen, despite being miles away? Because she’s being so loud?
Or does he really live very close to the girls?
If this is the case, why the need for the letters at all?
Unless they were more like notes passed back and forth, under door mats. This would explain the sometimes very rapid succession of letters.
(And the reason that Karen never bills Mark for postage!)

Getting back to the pressing problem of the ants, Mark wants to kill the ants, with a spray made from orange peel.
(Only Mark would have an ant spray made from the peel of a thousand Blood Oranges…)

Ellen is horrified.
She does not want the ants murdered, and needs time to think.
Mark agrees to wait; which I did think was slightly strange for a landlord with a pest-control issue. Although, we have seen Mark exercise (or is it exorcise?) extreme patience and restraint with the girls before.
Ellen reports the sad passing of 10 ants; and wonders if the soap found close to their bodies is a prime suspect.
Not a totally outlandish suggestion; as we know the soap has previously led to the death of other animals.
(RIP Extraordinarily Clean Fish.)

Mark reveals to Ellen that she will be killing ants daily, just by walking around.
Ellen debates whether it will be safe to walk outside, ever again!
She starts catching and releasing the ants outside; and also seeks advice from her mother.

We haven’t heard too much of Ellen’s family before.
In this instance, Ellen reports that her mum is straight to the point; telling Ellen she has too much time on her hands.
She suggests that Ellen’s time could be better spent, helping make gift baskets and brownies for the church.

We need to pause a moment here.

Church?

Towards the end of Season 1, there was a lot made of the fact that Ellen was Jewish; and was having to deal with anti-Semitism from Karen’s Grandmother.
There was that fairly emotional exchange of letters between Ellen and Mark in Season 1, episode 11; in which Mark offers advice, and personal narrative.
Surely that can’t all have been made up?
But something is amiss here.
Even Ellen can’t mix up “church” and “synagogue!”
She also apparently showed her mother Mark’s letters about dealing with anti-Semitism.

There has been a big focus on Ellen so far this season.
She must be real, as Bonnie has requested her letters, for whatever legal wrangling is going on.
We know that Karen, Rob, and Ellen have all been found.
It seems impossible at the moment to untangle what is real, and what isn’t.
(I need to make a mental note to ask Josh whether or not he has ever managed to trace Bonnie, or Charles Worthington.)

Back with the ants, in a sudden turn of events, Ellen has had a change of heart.
She rather flippantly announces that Mark can now spray the kitchen, as she has “lost interest in the ants.”
This seems very dismissive after how passionate she seemed previously about saving them.
Is this just typical Ellen short attention span?
Or perhaps the “creator” of the letters got bored of the subject…?

Speaking of subjects, Mark’s last correspondence in this episode is to forward some homework of Ellen’s that he’s found, to Bonnie.
The subject in question is Geography.
There is a lot of it!
I won’t go into it here, but there are some real gems, which I will highlight in a separate post.

From Ellen’s perplexing homework, we finally get to hear again from the even more perplexing “Detectives.”
The male detective, who I’m reliably informed is called David, is yelling at Leslie.
Demanding to know the status of the “special project.”
A rather harassed-sounding Leslie assures him that the whole team is en route, and that there’s a meeting on Tuesday.

What can all this be about?

My gut feeling was that it is probably connected to the Yahoo political forum conversations from 1999; briefly featured in Season 1.
The contributors are discussing a possible scandal linked to the Bush family.
One of them even claims to have a copy of the letters.
However, thanks to the video that goes along with the episode; we know that the Detectives conversations pre-date this; coming in 1998.
Can they still be linked?
Is the person claiming to have copies of the letters, the same person who emailed Josh back in 2013?
And is this in turn, one of the keepers of the “lost letters”?
Or are they all separate people?
Just how many copies of these letters are there???

We’re all in need of a huge exhale after all that; and it comes in the form of another mouse-release video from Ellen.

A piano plays us out, and I’m as usual hoping that it’s Annette.
And with that, it’s a wrap for Episode 2!
If anybody thinks they have the answers to any of the many questions, please share them.
I’m still as confused as ever!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s that girl?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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