Watched “Monsters University” with daughter on Saturday night, and enjoyed it utterly. There’s really not a moment where it feels like “obligatory cash-in sequel”. In short, they put that thing right back where it came from. Some critics noted that it hit all the usual notes for a buddy pic, the adversaries-who-become-friends and learn Life Lessons, but A) you knew they’d become friends anyway, and B) the way it weaves the characters’s growth in a nice double strand is as fluid a piece of storytelling in the genre as you’ll find. What knocked me out was the look of the thing - it’s like a real movie that just happened to have monsters in it, as if they filmed it on actual locations and dropped in the characters. What the first one was for hair - all those individual strands moving like the real thing, or as a real big blue furry monster would be - leaves are to this one, with about 1.5 billion leaves behaving like leaves, and looking like leaves in the October sunshine. I tweeted my wonder over this, noting that it was not as if they could go to the computer and set the dials on “October.”


They have a new lighting system. You can see it at work in the trailers

Afterwards daughter wanted to know if I’d seen the knockoffs of Pixar movies; some were available on Netflix. She dialed up “Kiara the BRAVE,” which had a minor red-haired princess and came out about the same time. Indian movie. Had nothing to do with the “Brave” plot at all; they just came out at the same time. It’s remarkably bad. The lighting, the models, the backgrounds, the plot, the writing - not a frame exists that doesn’t look like the cutscene from a 1999 video game.

It begins in space, with the planets talking to each other. The planets are all heads. Of course the planets are all heads. Kids instantly bond with talking celestial bodies whose smallest mouth movement would shatter continents.

They are discussing things down on Earth, where people live in a city made entirely of towers and stone bridges. The construction of these must be their main industry; no forms of agriculture or fabrication are evident. The place is called Dreamzone.

Since it is a fantasy world in the long-ago time, the people are called “Clouds.” Because. And the hero kid is Super Cloud. Or, as it’s spelled elsewhere, Super K. For Kids, perhaps; at one point he does shout “Kid Power” and all the other kids fly up in the air, fist-forward in the traditional posture. They elemental powers - rain, fog, wind, and so on, just in case the producers wanted the autographs of the "Airbender" intellectual property owners. I missed the part where this is explained. Or rather the animators and writers missed the meeting where this was supposed to be explained. It doesn’t matter.

Also since it is a fantasy world in the long-ago time, people occasionally have cellphones.

There’s a Gandolf-type who spends half the movie stroking his beard with a hand the size of his head:

This indicates wisdom. But for a wizard, he seems remarkably unable to figure out that the bars of his cell are wide enough to walk through.

Captain Jack Sparrow shows up for no discernible reason -

Well, perhaps it’s to repeat the fight on the giant wheel.

This fellow appears, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s some Indian movie archetype who shows up all the time and hence is expected.

If that’s the case, the audience knows why he vomits flowers, but it’s a mystery to me.

I know you're thinking: he has a bandaid on his head, like the Not-Jack Sparrow. Same guy? No idea.

The Kindly King is wearing 1970s glasses:

Everyone is lit like this.

We watched the whole thing, agog, laughing and clapping. Usually I don’t like to watch bad things just for the sake of watching something bad, but it’s different when someone shares your sensibility. This was the most fun together we’d had in weeks.


This week's installment has a different theme, I just realized: mid-fifties failure. But first:


Elsie? Elsie, is that you?

What horrible thing has happened to her? Some mutation literally gave her a swelled head, and she left her family to walk around buck-naked believing that human beings are attracted to her as something other than supper?

And now she's getting into the dark arts of magic? What the deuce?

Well, it's Elsie in 1938, that's what. Pre-Elmer, pre-calves. The ad shows the name of the artist: Walter Early. It's remarkable how little information there is about the man. He's ripe for recognition - he not only creatued an enduring ad icon, he did so with a humanizing style that invested a cows with delightful and distinct personalities.

At some point, of course, the advertising division decided that Elsie, as a cartoon cow, was played out. They needed something new and modern, and you couldn't have abstract UPA-style Elsie, after all that creamy art.


Oh, that was just a brilliant decision.


It's the clothing industry's brand-name version of "Chicken of the Sea."


The Fruit of the Loom brand dates back to 1851 in Rhode Island when Robert Knight, a textile mill owner, visited his friend, Rufus Skeel. Mr. Skeel owned a small shop in Providence, Rhode Island that sold cloth from Mr. Knight's mill. Mr. Skeel's daughter painted images of apples and applied them to the bolts of cloth. The ones with the apple emblems proved most popular. Mr. Knight thought the labels would be the perfect symbol for his trade name, Fruit of the Loom — a name that bears resemblance to the phrase "fruit of the womb", an expression meaning "children", which can be traced back to use in the Bible (Psalm 127:3).

I had no idea. Well, it's a small ad, but you get the sense of the graphics. The rest of the ad shows what you can get when you mail in the proof-of-purchase:

Compare the graphics on the socks and the graphic style on the Baby Sitter's Pal, and you can see how one style was heading out - fast - and the other loose abstract style, the modern style, was coming in hard. It was fresh, but everything would be poorer for its dominance. Illustration died in ads,for the most part.

Bonus fact: Fruit of the Loom owns B.V.D. But that's another post.



The name survives, but I'm not sure it's the same company. Or whether it matters. It looks absolutely ghastly.

Which brings us to . . .


Big double-truck for the roll-out:

As much as I like 50s product design in general, sometimes you wonder whether anyone was happy with the final result. It's like a package designed for the hard of hearing. It's by Sealtest? WHAT? It's by Sealtest.

The grid tells you nothing. The slanted logo tells you nothing.

They were so proud of this, too. The copy notes how you can identify your favorite ice cream just by the picture! Indeed - if the logo hadn't been covering it up. And the picture accomplishes one other thing: it makes you not want ice cream.

Even "Special Flavor" ice cream.

They also slapped a grid on the Cottage Cheese. I suppose these all stood out in the store, or in your fridge, and that was the point - but they didn't accomplish this by being interesting, just different.

At least they're not hideously busy like half of today's products.

That's it for today - I have a lecture to give and a column to submit, so no Work Blog. See you around.








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