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Chutes, Ladders, And Dagger Hours

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Illustration by Tara Jacoby

If you have read this website for any length of time, you are familiar with the very specific art form of being a Hater. As with many mediums and expressions within art, being a Hater is not for everyone. But to get deeper into this, we must ask: From where does the wellspring of hatin' come? What is it that makes a person take a heel turn in the sort of otherwise reasonable situation that daily life regularly provides? As we move through life and step into each new version of ourselves, must we release The Hater Inside? Is it possible to be a good partner, a good parent, and a good Hater?

For this week’s episode of Normal Gossip, Kelsey was joined by none other than our editor Justin Ellis! After several seasons, we have finally tricked him into coming onto the show. The editor is now edited! Kelsey brought Justin first to an indoor playground nestled in a southern exurb—it is called FUNFINITY—and then into the maelstrom of Facebook group drama surrounding the families that frequent this facility.

Justin was gracious enough to gab with me about his stint as a guest. This conversation was not condensed or edited for length and appears as it occurred.

Jae Towle Vieira: Let’s talk origins. What was—

Justin Ellis: I never agreed to this interview. Or to do the show. I was bullied! Now I am being SLANDERED.

Yes. What was the first widely beloved institution to make a hater out of you?

I'm gonna have to say The Care Bears Movie. That movie went to some fucked-up places that still haunt me. No one should let children watch animated movies from the 1980s.

Wes Anderson, Gene Wilder (including Timothée Chalamet’s cursèd impression of Gene Wilder), and cronuts all bring the Scorpio out in me. What makes the Aries come out in you? Other than the VR goggles and ice dancing?

Alex and Kelsey will not stop talking about astrology charts, and I am concerned that our coven is growing too powerful. Wait, you don't love Gene Wilder? "I'm hysterical and I'm WET" is one of the best line reads of all time. I'm making a note of this, Jae.

The Normal Gossip team picked this story just for you, in order to showcase your glorious ire. How do you think your friends and colleagues describe you when we’re gossiping about you? 

People are talking about me? Are there diss tracks? Does Kendrick know? I have to assume my friends and colleagues talk about me in the hushed and fearful tones that come with deep admiration. My love is like an iron fist. This is as it should be.

Your enemies? 

Must live with the nagging fear that I am a true triple threat! And that I have a locked box with all their worst secrets ready to be released to Interpol and TMZ in the event of my unlikely demise. Be well!

Now let’s gossip about Kelsey and Alex. What is it like to be their editor? What is it like to wake up every day as the captain of this strange ship? 

[redacted] But aside from that they are perfect angels who have never done any harm in this world.

A little birdie told me that you may have worked in the theme park at the center of the Mall of America once upon a time. How did that experience shape you?  

Those files are sealed! I am a family man! THIS PRESS CONFERENCE IS OVER.

As always, thanks for listening to Normal Gossip! Please subscribe on Pocket Casts, Overcast, or wherever else you listen. You can also follow Normal Gossip on Instagram. Here is the transcript of this week’s episode. If you have gossip to share, you know where to find us! Email us at, or leave a voicemail at 26-79-GOSSIP.

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