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TraceyJohn.com

I’ve decided to be less confusing and put all my writings on www.TraceyJohn.com.

Thanks!

It started with a magazine cover.

The cover of Gourmet magazine, circa 1984, to be exact:

Blame my mom for the hats.

Yes, that’s me and my identical twin sister, Courtney. (No idea which one is me. Let’s just say the one on the right.) We’re standing outside Di Palo’s cheese shop on Mott Street in Chinatown, New York, apparently intrigued by a box of candies. My parents said a photographer came by and asked to snap our picture. The next thing you know, we’re on the cover of a food magazine. (Story: Chinese toddlers — the new delicacy?)

Anyway, no big deal. I never became a model (hard to believe, I know) and no one tried to eat me (that I’m aware of).

But a few weeks ago, my cousin sent me a cryptic Facebook message. Something like, “Hey, you’re in Weird New Jersey!” Um, no Cousin. I’m in weird Brooklyn apartment eating weird, leftover Chinese food. What are you talking about? I shrugged it off.

When I saw her a few weeks after that, she showed me this book she bought called “Weird New Jersey, Volume 2” (yes, she’s from New Jersey). It’s the series of books that compile strange, secret places and local legends in various states. She flipped to page 268. There was a story called “Collage House Creeped Me Out!” The writer had stumbled upon an abandoned Texas Chain Saw Massacre-looking house off of Route 23 South in Sussex.

So what does he do? He goes inside.

So inviting.

He said there were two bedrooms. One had pictures of cars and airplanes meticulously cut out and pasted all over the walls. Okay, kind of odd but who hasn’t put up pictures of whatever hobby they’re obsessing over during their youth? But in the next room…

Tons and tons of pictures glued onto many pieces of posterboard. And not pictures of cars or trains or planes…

But pictures of children and teen girls from catalogs and magazines, just playing with toys, wearing Huggies or modeling underwear and swimwear. The book included some photos of these collages.

I think you can see where this is going…

The collages.

Yep, there we are. You can’t miss it.

Super. Gross.

The writer said the visit took place in the late 1980s. I wonder if the house is still there and who owned it; I’ve since e-mailed the authors of the book to try to learn more about it. I’ll let you know if I find anything out.

But if it’s still there, I think a trip to Sussex is in order…

MTV

This is probably the best goodbye e-mail I’ve ever gotten at MTV. I didn’t know the guy:

Dear (adjective) MTV Co-Workers,

It’s with a heavy heart and a salty tear I say (verb) .  It was truly a(n)  (adjective) to work with you all.  I’ll especially miss   (noun) and all of his/her (verb) antics. I can honestly say that MTV.com has some of the most  (adjective) and   (adjective) team members I have ever worked with. You will all be genuinely (verb) .

Take care,

[name removed]

I typically despise all the April Fool’s pranks that circulate the Internets, but I always do enjoy whatever Blizzard does. It’s probably because I’m a huge nerd.

My favorite this year was their made-up class for “Diablo III” called “The Archivist,” whose knowledge-based powers cause books to swirl around their enemies. Lethal librarians, if you will.

Diablo 3 Archivist Class

The gameplay video for the “Shush” spell simply shows a giant old man face with a single finger held to his lips… then the nearby enemies spontaneously explode into chunks of blood. (Oh, how I wish that was really in the game.)

Another thing that made me laugh was this fake dialogue tree full of geeky insider jokes (“In my day, there were no colors,” “The cows haunt my dreams,” “When it’s ready, of course”) and other quips.

Diablo 3 Archivist Dialogue Tree

Links to the other games are below. There are quite a few screenshots and videos to go with them; I wonder how Blizzard found the time to create these elaborate pranks when “StarCraft” and “Diablo” aren’t out yet. I’m sure people have already complained about how they should be working on the actual games instead, blah blah blah…
Continue Reading »

At MTV.com, I sit next to a bunch of music writers, including the inimitable, lovably sarcastic, secret teeny-bopper Tamar Anitai, who edits the pop culture blog Buzzworthy.

One day she pulls me to her cube and is like you have to hear this band. But not in a “these guys are awesome” kind of way.

When I walked over to her computer, I had several reasons to be skeptical about the artistic merit of this group.

1. They look like this:
brokeNCYDE

2. Their name is “brokeNCYDE.” For several seconds, I pondered if they meant “Broke Inside” or “Broken Side.” Or even “Broke and Side.” Either way, I’m irked by the spelling.

3. They are self-described purveyors of  “Crunk/Screamo/Electronica.” Crunk, a genre of music popularized by highly respected and not-at-all-laughable-or-ridiculous rapper Lil Jon; Screamo, a severely bastardized version of the hardcore and emo music I used to love in high school and college; and Electronica (add this to sound “edgy”).

Then I heard their music and saw their video. Please watch their video for “Freaxxx” and turn the speakers up (a party will likely break out at your office or wherever you are).

Freaxxx!

Done? I think you’ll get it after the first minute or so. These guys are obviously joking, right? They can’t possibly be attempting to gain any substantial riches or fame from this. Unless they’re attempting to make some sort of ironic social commentary on the state of the music industry and the misogyny prevalent in hip-hop (somehow, I doubt this).

So passing judgment in one fell swoop, I blurted out, “Worst thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Hands down.” Tamar asked if she could quote me for a Buzzworthy blog entry. Sure, why not? It’s not like anything you say or write that’s put on the Internet ever comes back to bite you in the ass. In the comments section, I even wrote that I stood by my opinion and said (somewhat jokingly, despite my claiming to be serious) I’d be willing to interview brokeNCYDE. …

Cue to now. Why I brought this all up in the first place. While I was at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last week, I received an e-mail from their management requesting an interview to allow the band to discuss their music and have “the opportunity to respond to one writer’s opinion on them.”

First, I laughed because the opportunity actually happened and presented itself so quickly. But now my dilemma — should I do it? Following the Buzzworthy blog post, there were bizarre allegations of rape against the band as well as a few comments about how we shouldn’t even bring attention to brokeNCYDE. And clearly, they’re contacting me to get coverage on MTV.com.

Well-played, brokeNCYDE. Well-played. But I’m not sure I’m taking the bait. My personal blog that no one reads may be the only publicity you get.

I am, however, willing to take suggestions on this. And like with all of my blog entries, I assume zero comments means that what I wrote is perfect and awesome, and my opinions are in fact absolutely correct (and certainly not indicative of a lack of readers).

Tracey’s Fart Farm

I Googled the word “Tracey” because I was bored. The very first thing that came up — “Tracey’s Fart Farm.”

For reals:

Tracey's Fart Farm

As far as I can tell, it’s a website run by an enthusiastic fart-lover named Tracey, and it documents  the best stories, poems, sounds, links and euphemisms… all related to flatulence. You can even send a “crap-o-gram” to friends.

Why it’s not called a “fart-a-gram”? C’mon, let’s not be crass here.

I Started a Blog…

Hunter S. ThompsonFinally. Because I don’t have enough writing to do on a daily basis.

And yes, the name is terrible but all the good ones were taken.