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Sunday, January 30, 2005

Photos

Ouch

like pulling teeth

Going through some old photos this weekend, I found this photogram, made by placing items directly on the photo paper and exposing it to white light. The little bits are sea glass, and the tooth came straight from my jaw. The things I do for art.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Sightings

Lame is… western Michigan

This was the logo and tagline for a tourism campaign launched in 2000 by a certain city in Michigan. God bless ’em.

Sounds like hell

Picking on a tourism effort by Kalamazoo is like picking on differently abled children, so I’ll just leave it at that.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Sightings

Lame is… part three

Ah, another press release, and I’m sure they wouldn’t bother unless it was about something very important. How ’bout the lead on this one? That’s what we journalists call a “zinger.” Or something stupid like that.

Yeah, don’t waste your money. Instead, “plan to surprise your pet.” Like that takes planning.

Once again, this first appeared on Lame is… in 2001.

You better believe it!
This Valentine’s Day, Say it With Kibbles
Iams Survey Reveals Pets are America’s True Sweethearts
DAYTON, Ohio, Feb. 9 /PRNewswire/ — Don’t waste your money on chocolates and flowers this Valentine’s Day.
Instead, devote your attention to the one creature in your life who gives you unconditional love every day of the year &mdash your pet.
You won’t be alone. In a Good for Life® survey conducted by The Iams Company, pet owners across the country revealed that they had special Valentine’s plans for their pets:
•41 percent of pet owners plan to give their pets a special food treat
•19 percent will shower an extra amount of love and attention on their four-legged friends
•16 percent plan to surprise their pets with a special Valentine’s Day toy
“This Valentine’s Day, you won’t be the only one to whisper those three little words to a furry friend,” said Lara Strazdin, manager of communications, The Iams Company. “In fact, our survey showed that 91 percent of pet owners have said ‘I love you’ to their pet.”

Monday, January 10, 2005

Sightings

Lame is… part two

This is the kind of garbage that PR people get paid to write and distribute every day of the week. Whenever I got upset about my job at the ad agency, I would read a few of these and remember that things could always be worse. In this case, I was thankful that I didn’t have to a) design menstruation-themed web sites for teen girls, b) write about those web sites as if they were good things or c) carry a business card that says “Vice President, Global Feminine Care Strategic Planning.”

I think this press release is from 2000, and it became part of Lame is… in early 2001.

Ms. Period Face
Teen Girls Have a New Place to Hangout
Always, Tampax and Alldays Launch BeingGirl.com
A New Website Designed By and For Teenage Girls
CINCINNATI, July 26 /PRNewswire/ — BeingGirl.com, a new website for teenage girls is being launched today by Always pads, Tampax tampons, Alldays pantiliners, and Always wipes. The site creates an entertaining place for teens….
The development of BeingGirl.com was driven by an advisory board of teenage girls…. The site offers more than 500 articles on serious topics the teens have said they would like to learn more about…. Just as important, they said they would also like to have fun on-line. To address that, Ms. Period Face and screen savers like the Super Femmes and dancing tampons, as well as having e-mail greetings available, provide light-hearted entertainment.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to women’s health, this site offers information and connections that can help teen girls make important decisions that will positively impact their lives,” said Tom Handley, P&G vice president, Global Feminine Care Strategic Planning….

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Projects

Lame is… danesch.com 1.0

It’s been four years now since I started this site, and something got me thinking today about the very first pages in this space. After digging through some old CDs, I found my first web site, devoted entirely to the ridicule of that which deserves it. It was called Lame is….

The name was one I had been hanging onto for years (it was first conceived of as a xeroxed zine, if that gives you any idea). It came to me in a nightmarish vision that combined two bugbears from my childhood: the sleepy-eyed, pointy-nosed naked dwarves of the “Love Is…” comic that were everywhere in the ’70s, and the little French waif of Broadway’s Les Miserables, who was all over the New York–area media in the ’80s. (If the concept still isn’t clear, click on the picture for an explanatory animation.)

Lame is...

Beginning in January 2001, Lame is… delivered excerpts from stupid corporate press releases, bad photos from stock collections and the AP wire, and a small amount of original writing that strived to be funny.

From a technical standpoint, I was largely clueless, so updates were tedious and difficult. Ripping off other people’s content grew tiresome, too. Lame is… ended within a few weeks.

There are a couple of things in this folder of old stuff that still make me snicker, so I’ll be posting them shortly.


Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Site news

From the like-you-care dept.

Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!

In another bold yet largely invisible design improvement, I’ve gone back and cleaned up all the code for this site to make it compliant with standards established for the web. These standards exist to ensure that everyone, regardless of operating system or browser, sees the same web page. Like English, the languages that describe web pages can be written many ways, but there are certain well established dialects that offer the best chance of being properly interpreted by your computer.

After getting everything up to snuff here, I ran all the pages past the people who wrote the rules. They describe it like this:

Validation is a process of checking your documents against a formal Standard, such as those published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) …. It serves a similar purpose to spell checking and proofreading for grammar and syntax, but is much more precise and reliable than any of those processes because it is dealing with precisely-specified machine languages, not with nebulously-defined human natural language.

I wonder why this standards-compliance stuff appeals to me…

Anyway, the best browsers, like Firefox and Safari, are designed to adhere to W3C standards. They are the ones that will give you the best results with sites like mine. Microsoft Internet Explorer, on the other hand, seems more interested in its own proprietary standards than those developed by the founders of the web.

This site should still work fine with IE, but it would look better on Firefox or Safari.


Sunday, January 2, 2005

Rants

New Jersey place names: a broader view

A comment on the New Jersey town names post made me realize a fault of my analysis: I worked from the official list of municipalities in New Jersey, which excludes non-municipal places like your Basking Ridges and your Wortendykes. For those, you have to check out the state’s page of official localities. There are fewer than 600 municipalities in New Jersey, but more than 3,000 localities. A fair examination of the state’s naming habits would be based on the larger group of names.

And what a group it is. I take back everything I said about an apparent lack of creativity in the names of places in New Jersey.

To the people of Pork Island, Poverty Beach and Nummytown, I apologize and plead ignorance. Until this week, I was shamefully unaware of your localities and others like Feebletown, Scrappy Corner and Lower Squankum. In some 14 years in the Garden State, I never had the opportunity to visit Blue Ball, Chestnut Neck or False Egg Island Point. Foul Rift, Buckshutem and West Chrome simply weren’t on my radar, and neither were Bivalve, Cheesequake and Great Piece Meadows. Hayti and Hacklebarney, Bargaintown and Pestletown, Moe and Mower, Communipaw and Comical Corner — these are all exactly the kind of names we need more of.

All the same, these are just a few names out of a few thousand, and no guarantee that the list as a whole isn’t as unimaginative as the list of town names. As unique as these names sound, New Jersey seems determined to recycle and reuse. Example: In Gloucester County, there is a place called Manunkachunk. Miles away in Warren County lies another place — Manunka Chunk.