EVERETT — After listening to this podcast, you might never look at your toaster the same way again.
You’ll yearn for adventure to go with that crispy bagel.
What’s up with that?
“Dispatches from the Multiverse” follows the escapades of Max, an absentminded engineer who accidentally invents a bagel toaster device that opens a portal to other dimensions.
Max is the alias for techie Tim Ellis, 39, creator of the improv comedy sci-fi podcast.
His storyline as Max: “Each week I visit a new alternate universe and no matter how strange it is, somehow I keep running into parallel dimension versions of my roommate Wilson.”
In real life, Tim’s roommate is his wife, Jeni, and they live on Wetmore Avenue in Everett with their daughter Maezie, 7, a third-grader with a Twitter handle, @MaezieJ.
Like his podcast alter ego Max, Ellis has a degree in electrical engineering from Seattle Pacific University.
The SeattleBubble.com blog he started in 2005 led to his day job as a market analyst for real estate giant Redfin.
He commutes from Everett to Seattle by bus. After his local stop on Broadway and 38th Street was shut down, he launched a website to protest, armed with a public records request. There is now a new bus stop close by.
Continuing his watchdog beat, Ellis also requested the city put up four-way stop signs at Wetmore intersections near his home that he said are unsafe. He didn’t get those, but continues to document close calls on a website.
This guy is such a data junkie that in 2016 he logged every cup of tea he drank: the brand, flavor, type of cup, time, duration, consumption by hour and month. He made a bar graph for each stat. For real.
Any amateur can make a podcast. All it takes is making audio files, which for Ellis is as brainless as making toast.
Ellis wanted to do a podcast, but not just any old podcast.
“I didn’t want to start something that I feel like is the oversaturated podcast of two guys sitting around just talking about some subject,” he said.
“I put down all my ideas and whittled them down. I surveyed my friends with a web survey for feedback. I made pilot episodes for four or five different podcasts. I sent them out to my friends.”
His co-host is Scott Trapp, who goes by the pseudonym Wilson on the show. Trapp, 38, is a software engineer for Liberty Mutual Insurance.
“We have ideas we come up with, usually one line, such as, What if there was a dimension where dinosaurs were small, like toy-dog sized? We come with a couple gags along those lines,” Trapp said.
That one hasn’t been done — yet.
The hosts’ kids also take part in making the podcasts. Maezie already has about five under her belt.
Guests include David Wahl, “Director of Awesome” at Archie McPhee. He plays a Bigfoot hunter in Episode 9, “Need to get rid of ‘em.”
Podcast scenarios have twists, with Max typically finding himself in a situation of sorts. He gets roped into an important presentation with Wilson at City Hall, strikes out at a speed-dating event staged by Wilson, and is thrust into a role as tax policy expert for Sarah Palin in a dimension where she is president.
“It’s good, like a jelly donut,” an online reviewer wrote. “Super entertaining and properly saluted podcast.”
For Justin Best of Lake Stevens, “Dispatches from the Multiverse” is a diversion from the political and true crime podcasts that he listens to on his daily commute to Seattle.
“It reminds me of the old-timey serial radio programs. It has familiar characters each week, but you never know what kind of adventures they’re going to get into,” said Best, a former Herald photo editor who now works at Redfin. “They do a good job with the polish, too.”
Ellis said each episode takes three or four hours to edit for a 20-minute podcast.
The recordings are done in his basement studio, around an IKEA table with four microphones and a red-shaded monkey lamp lighting the way.
“We’re making it up as we go,” Ellis said. “I want it to feel like a scripted show.”
Ellis tweaks the stumbled-over words, the hems and haws and weird mouth noises. He puts in the sound effects.
“Someone might go, ‘Jeez, you just splashed water over me,’” he said.
If he can’t get the sound from a free domain he takes his portable microphone and goes around the house and finds ways.
The podcasts have been downloaded in the UK and Australia.
The stage name Max is from Maxwell Smart, the bumbling genius spy from the ’60s show “Get Smart.”
Wilson is from the neighbor behind the fence on the 1990s show “Home Improvement.”
“Wilson was going to be a neighbor, but he morphed into a roommate,” Ellis said.
In podcastland, anything is possible.