Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


This is my private life

Filed under : Life in general
On August 16, 2007
At 11:35 pm
Comments : 36

And now some talk about me. But not about me.

You will of course remember that I told you I was part of a clan. Not The Klan, just A Clan. Well, you might have skimmed past that in which case, welcome to the information that I have five million cousins! And I know all of them! I mean, Pi is like my third cousin once removed. Do you know your third cousin once removed? Maybe it’s second once-removed, who knows. Except… someone knows. A lot of people know. This is because lots and lots of people in my tribe have decided it’s imperative that we keep track of every member and document it all on spreadsheets and family trees and Internet sites. Can you tell I don’t have a lot of interest in this? It’s kind of like the letters I get from Johns Hopkins about reunions: if I wanted to be in touch with you, I would be. But it’s worse, really, because due to the plethora of family occasions I already am in touch with all these people. I don’t need a map to tell me how I’m related to them.

Yes, I’m going someplace with this. The other day, a cousin of mine signed me up for some website where family trees can be documented and connected. Being the control freak I am, I don’t like to be signed up for anything, so you can imagine my dismay upon hearing this from the same cousin who is responsible for 80% of the spam on my main account, resulting from the myriad 90’s coupon & savings sites for which he signed me up. But wait, there’s more! He uploaded pictures of everyone in the tree. See, it’s not that the picture was the least flattering one of me you can imagine (and it was), it’s just that most of you can’t imagine. Because as far as I can possibly control, there are nearly zero images of me on the Interweb, let alone one that is connected with my actual legal name plus my e-mail address, which could be searched by anyone. These three things are the holy trinity which I never like to be connected in any form.

I know, this is weird. Most people who have blogs (well, I have no empirical evidence, but most I’ve come across) have sites littered with their picture. Several of my readers have enthusiastically allowed me to post pictures of themselves and their families. And I’m pleased to do it. But it’s not me. As a matter of fact, many people I know from the web for years don’t even know my last name. Some of them don’t find out until we meet and at the end of dinner I hand over my credit card. And it’s not even an Age of Information thing, I have always been like that. If the busdriver asked me my name as a kid, I’d make up a fake one. Not that I needed to, I have like eight names, which is the “convoluted reason” I don’t use my name on my answering machine, as referred to in the last comment on this post. But I don’t like people I don’t know knowing too much about me. This may seem odd considering all I’ve revealed, but since no one can actually connect it to me, Becca Realnameburgsteinovich, I’m fine with it.

Recently, Arjewtino asked me why I set things up this way. I came up with some plausible reasons, like stalkers and the fear of being Dooced (fired from my job due to things I’ve said about my company on the blog), but in thinking about it I realized it isn’t really that. I mean, yes, I have had some wackos whom I’m pleased could not find out where I live. And no, I don’t know if my company would like me saying things about them, which is why I don’t, even though most of my readers don’t even know what company that is. But sometimes I have cool pictures which include me and I wish I could show them or that I could do something fun, like this “guess my age” thing J-F had up the other day which involved a photo. And I admire people like Esther Kustanowitz who posts under her real and actual name. But I can’t quite bring myself do any of these things.

To put it another way, lots of people want to be famous. I am not amongst them. I don’t really want to be known by anyone I don’t know except as Magic Jewball or one of my various forum screen names. Then I can keep my actual self squirreled away until I know you (and I know if I knew you, dear J-Ball Reader, I’d love you). When I was in a commercial in Baltimore and people at the mall looked at me like they knew me, I freaked out. When my voice was used on an Insane Clown Posse CD, my name was not involved. And I wouldn’t even let them use my voice at first. Then they offered to pay me and that made it all OK! But that’s neither here nor there.

So in the end, I wrote a frantic e-mail to and left several vehement phone messages for my cousin and he reacted in his golly-gee-whiz, “I was just trying to do something nice” way. But I didn’t mind. I don’t even mind that my picture on the family-tree site is now a black square saying “picture removed at user’s request” or that a group e-mail went out to thirty members of my family asking them to not post any photos tagged with my name. I don’t mind looking like a nutjob as long as I’m an anonymous nutjob.

Title comes from:

Oingo Boingo – Private Life


36 Comments for this post

  1. kb says:

    I wish I had felt like that when I first entered the internet. I figured it didn’t matter if my name and picture were up because nobody would care about me anyway.

    Then along came Nutjob on WWO.

    So then I had to go back and clean up as many of my tracks as possible. Thank goodness I got married not long ago and changed my name! which meant I could leave up the really old stuff like reviews and work-related articles that included my old name.

    I had to retire my username from then on, unfortunately. Nutjob took away from me the one thing my precious uncle left me. Oh well.

    I do admit I love though. Because of the work other people have done, I have traced my ancestry back to Adam & Eve! (Seriously … one night I stayed up all night clicking on little green leaves to fill in my charts, and wandered first through England and Germany and France, through Richard II “le Bon” De Normandie, then Norway, then Persia, and suddenly found myself clicking through familiar names like Jecoliah Bat Ahab, Hezekiah Ben Ahaz, Azariah Ben Ahimaaz, all the way through Seth Ben Adam, and Adam, First Man! (Whoever entered this stuff got past some pesky problems by entering names such as “Asshur Descendants” which seems to have conveniently covered many years.)

    Now I don’t believe that I actually am a direct descendant of Richard the Lion-Hearted, but it is fun to pretend-believe. I’m sure people have screwed up the records in there and I just inherited them upon clicking.

    I *have* managed to discover that I am Richard Nixon’s 6th cousin twice removed, Theodore Roosevelt is also my 6th cousin, four times removed, Jane Austen is my 7th cousin six times removed, and apparently Audrey Hepburn is my 14th cousin once removed (although I spy a teeny problem with dates in her line, with a baby born two years after its daddy died. Hmmmmm.) Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling, Alfred Tennyson, Elizabeth Browning, and Aldous Huxley are all on the list as well.

    I am one of those who would like to be famous but not insanely so. Perhaps I’ll be a writer like my ancestors. 🙂

  2. JFB says:

    My blog is apocryph : my real name is not JF Berthet. It’s a character I invented for the internet.
    My name is Aldebert Rigodain, I live in Namur near the French border. I’m 48 and work in a chinese take-away restaurant called “les Délices de l’Orient”, where me and my family enjoy perfect anonymity.
    One is never too cautious, especially these days…

    OK, now seriously, how do you get a domain name without giving away your name and address ?

  3. ~dogandmusiclover~ says:

    Your voice is on an Insane Clown Posse CD? Which one?!

  4. Pious B says:

    We’re second cousins once removed. If you hadn’t removed yourself from the family tree, you would have known that.

  5. Becca says:

    Wow, kb, I knew you had a bunch of names but I had no idea you went through that. I’m glad it’s over, though. And I’m honored to have someone related to so many great figures of history on my site. I think Pious B is probably the most famous person I’m related to.

    JF, this solves so many mysteries for me about why your IP address shows up as “lesdé” That poor guy whose picture you stole for your site must wonder why people mistake him for someone else.

    BTW, that story made me laugh and laugh. OK, so the way you get an anonymous domain name is through your host or whomever you buy the name from. Mine is separate (host is Hostgator, domain was purchased from I bought something called “Private Registration Service” which adds another $9 to my fee per name (I have .com, .org, .net) and is well worth it. So my domain is registered to “Domains By Proxy” and no one knows who I am except, of course, Godaddy and Domains By Proxy.

    Why, Dog, I never realized you were a Juggalo! I am on The Amazing Jeckel Brothers and boy am I proud. 😉

    Pi, don’t be hating because I got my awful picture removed. You know you want out of there as much as I do.

  6. Alex says:

    You told me “Picture Removed at User’s Request” WAS your last name!

    But I suspected you weren’t being completely honest with me. I couldn’t see how you’d fit all that on the registration forms for the SAT, or anything.

  7. Arjewtino says:

    I think if I ever met you, Becca, you would have a normal body but in the place where your face should be, there would just be a black circle with a white question mark on it.

    Yeah, that’s about right.

  8. Becca says:

    Alex, fitting Becca Realnameburgsteinovich on there was no picnic either, I assure you.

    Arj, really? Because most people picture me as a messy-haired kid in striped pants, I have no idea why. But that’s OK, for a short time there I imagined you as an Argentinean football jersey with a Jewish star necklace.

  9. Alex says:

    Arj, wouldn’t that make Becca look kind of like the Riddler? I mean, obviously, if the Riddler were wearing striped pants and standing in a mud puddle….

  10. carol anne says:

    I have to guess! You are either on “Fuck the World” or “I Stab People”. Or maybe it’s “Another Love Song” (which warms my heart everytime I hear it). Am I close?

  11. Becca says:

    I don’t know if you’re allowed to call him Arj, Alex. That’s because I don’t know if I’m allowed to call him that, I just did it.

    Carol Anne, it doesn’t matter, they’re all marvelous! I just actually listened to my song on Napster for the first time ever. I know that seems strange but they only played me my piece because that was all I cared about. I have to tell you, I’m even more freaked out than I was before, if that’s possible. But if you’re really a Juggalo and are interested, e-mail me and I’ll tell you.

  12. Alex says:

    OK, well, just in case I’m not: Becca started it.

  13. Suby says:

    I’m the same.

  14. Becca says:

    Alex, if I jumped off a building and called it Arj would you do that too? Huh, huh?

    Hey everyone! Suby’s real name is Louth Q. Mouth. Was I not supposed to tell?

    I think it’s about time to start my weekend. Clearly I’ve already had a few.

  15. Jan says:

    How many names can one girl have? You Jews. So mysterious and multi-name-ious, with the Jewish name and then the American version and 3 middle names …

    I actually think I know them all. Although I didn’t know the nickname you use with your family until last weekend.

  16. Jan says:

    p.s. My name’s not really Jan.

  17. KP says:

    Your name is really Becca?

  18. Becca says:

    Jan, we need all those names to confuse the goyim. And see, it’s working! But actually I’m the Jew with the most names of anyone I know, because there’s a backstory which maybe one day I’ll tell. So in my case, all the Jews are confused too. Story of my life. And the name I use with my family is actually the name they use with me. I just get renamed by everyone. Or subtract an n from renamed.

    PS, it’s not? Wait, is that why Mr. Jan kept snickering every time I called him that?

    KP, no, actually it’s not! That is one I renamed myself. In the early days of the Interweb it never occurred to me that the folks on the other end were real people, let alone that I might ever meet them. So I invented a nickname I’d never been called before. But, well, you know how that worked out and now I have many, many iFriends who became IRL friends as well as two exes whom I met in cyberland, who call me Becca (well, I have no idea what the exes call me now, we’re not really in touch). It felt weird for a while, but not anymore. It’s been ages. So at this late date, I would have to say that Becca is really my name.

  19. KP says:

    So what you’re saying is that you really *are* Jan?

    I am thinking of changing my real name to Kay Pee just to make my life easier, so I hear you.

  20. I get the wanting to be anonymous thing. I don’t care if everyone in the whole wide, real world of my life (except my employer) knows that I blog but there are limits.

    [ironically redacted due to references to another forum I’m on… sorry Ima, I’m forever editing your comments but I like to keep all the Worlds of Becca separate ~Becca]

    I think my biggest fear is whackjob stalker types. I’m flypaper for freaks in the real world. I don’t need cyberpsychos to have access, too.

  21. Arjewtino says:

    Becca, you can call me Arj because you know me (blog-wise). The rest must call me Mr. Arjewtino or Mr. AJT for short.

    That is all.

  22. Damn. I did it again. I’m really sorry.

    Does that help?

    I’d do penance but I’ve done that once already in the past week and that’s enough for a retired/recovering Catholic.

    ~irreverent interlude~
    Hail, Becca, full of blog
    ~end irreverent interlude~

  23. Alex says:

    Oh, Ima, that’s the kind of mistake anybody could make. I remember, once I accidentally posted Becca’s home address, cell phone number, bank information and Social Security number. She edited all that stuff out, too. She’s just a little meshuggeneh about that kind of thing. 😉

  24. Becca says:

    Rock on, Arj, rock on.

    Hail Becca full of blog! I wish I could make that my tagline! It doesn’t go very well with the whole “Jew” part of Magic Jewball, though, does it? Oh well.

    I think it was my serial number that chapped me the most, Alex.

  25. sarpon says:

    You don’t have to be so paranoid about everyone knowing your serial number as long as you keep your lot number a complete secret. That way, when they issue the recall, no one will be really sure if you have to be turned in or not.

  26. Mary was a Jew. It could work for you.

    Thanks, Alex. I feel much better now.

    ~going off to find out what meshuggeneh means~

  27. Becca says:

    Sarp, I think I expired long ago.

    Ima, I’m pretty sure it means “conscientious.” Yes, definitely.

  28. kb says:

    So “meshuggeneh” is actually a word? Wow, everybody in one of my theatre communities has been talking for a long time about a fun play they were all in a few years ago, “Meshuggenuns”. I guess I always assumed the name of the play was the nonsensical, “Miss Sugar Nuns” (Pronounced Miss Sugah Nuns).

    Thanks for clearing up a years-long misconception!

  29. Becca says:

    Yes, it’s a Yiddish word and means crazy. It might be the most well-known Yiddish word other than chutzpah. But I have some chutzpah saying that when I know so little Yiddish.

  30. For the most part, I’m comfortable with writing under my real name. Keeps me a little more restrained. Because oy, if I were anonymous, there’d be no accountability, and no chance it would get back to me or my family, and then I’d really be writing strong stuff…

  31. Becca says:

    You have a secret blog none of us know about, don’t you, Esther?

    Actually, as anonymous as this blog is, I still sometimes consider a second, even more anonymous blog. Some day.

  32. Alex says:

    Call it Magic Gentileball. Nobody will ever guess.

  33. kb says:

    I have a top-secret blog. That’s the only place I ever write.

    Mostly because it’s too boring to let the world see. It’s all about meeee! Who wants to spend that much time inside my insecure head?

  34. Lydia says:

    I have an anonymous top-secret blog, too, about the interesting side of my life.

  35. Celia says:

    Sincere question:
    If you don’t want anyone to read it, or don’t think anyone would want to read it, isn’t there still the option of writing something that you do not post to the internet?

    Or are you saying you want people to read and comment on what you wrote, but you don’t want anyone to know you wrote it? Because I get how the internet potentially gives you that, although I don’t really have the impulse to do it myself.

  36. Becca says:

    It’s funny, I almost didn’t post this post at all but I’m glad I did as it’s clearly a topic in which people are interested.

    Alex, I made that very joke last year to DuJane regarding other stuff that was going on at the time. It’s funnier now!

    kb and Lydia, really? See, I knew people did that. I should do that.

    Celia, here’s the answer, at least for me. The purpose of this blog is not to let it all hang out and have a place to write about my innermost feelings. Its purpose is to entertain and let me write expository essays that I hope will make people laugh, because that’s my greatest joy.

    I sometimes would like to do that first thing, though, because, quite frankly, at certain points, as you know, the truth of my life is stranger than fiction and would be at least as interesting as this stuff if not more so. But it’s private. However, if I did a secret blog that I told no one about, not friends, not family, not Internet acquaintances, I could do that. How would people find it? The same way people I don’t know find this one: Google, links, etc.

    So yes, people would read my stuff and wouldn’t know that I wrote it. Then I could say quite a few things that I can’t say here. I already write things I don’t post to the Internet. But I think a lot of it could be as interesting to other people as this one: the mundane and the unique, all written in the sarcastic, humorous style I hope is mine. Only the subject matter would be different.

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