March 24, 2013

80's Magic: "Punky Brewster"

"I have two different feet, why shouldn’t I wear two different shoes?"

One of the things most endearing and charming about Punky Brewster is her outlook on life. I appreciate the way she is an individual, with individual (and ofttimes highly unique) ideas, and isn't ever made to feel ashamed for being who she is. Actually most of the time her perky, spunky, optimistic, ready-to-try-anything attitude is the focus, rather than being something other characters are trying to rid her of, as is so often true in other cases of a drastically-different main protagonist.

This attitude is strung throughout the show itself too. The episodes always managed to pack both comedy and heartfelt issues into one nice bright package. And talk about bright! I think even for the rainbow-infused 80's Punky Brewster was more multi-chromatic than one would even think possible!

Watching the series on DVD - oh how I love DVD releases of fave shows :D - the jolt of the 80's-ness of this show is quite powerful. The pop culture references, the original score, the fashions and set design, the plots... - I love that about it. Plus it has this very comfortable quality to it, like you're in the company of long-time friends and family. It feels for me (having been only a few years younger than Punky herself in the eighties) exactly like that decade felt when living through it (minus the extreme comedic situations of course). There were plenty of things going on that adults were conscious of during that time, but Punky captures the mood of what was important to a child's mind then. The honest level to the writing and the on-screen bond between the characters/actors are both key elements in this, I think. The emotions so often feel unscripted, like you're just watching a group of friends going about their daily joys and troubles, handled in ways you feel certain you'd handle them if you were there.

Here's the TV guide fall preview mention (thanks to Brandedinthe80's for it), from the now-so-long-ago year of 1984:

Punky is the quintessential little orphan girl, Shirley-Temple-esquely softening the heart of the crusty, old, lonely man - there's something so timeless about that :) And it was great to watch Punky best all the difficulties that having been abandoned by her mother caused, and become part of a new family and grow into a truly happy, exuberant young girl. I've made up my mind that when I'm ready for kids, I'm going to adopt, cos it just isn't right for there to be children who are already in this world who have no stable, loving family of their own.


And just for the fun of it, have a listen to the theme song for the Punky cartoon, "It's Punky Brewster"?

March 16, 2013

Person of Interest fan-art (sort of)

The following essay and reproduction I did for Fine Arts credit. I chose "The Red Tower" because I wanted to explore it so I could better understand it since it was used in my favorite current show.

Giorgio de Chirico’s “The Red Tower”
By Janis Kunz

         I hadn’t heard of, nor had I seen, Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico’s 1913 surrealist painting, “The Red Tower”, until it was used as part of a character moment in the CBS action-drama, “Person of Interest”. The character of Grace, an artist and illustrator, tells of a defining moment she had while in Venice, Italy:

GRACE: “I got to be two feet away from de Chirico’s ‘The Red Tower.’
His paintings have that sense of… mystery, of something looming.”

HAROLD: “Yeah, it’s like life is frozen in that moment,
and the universe is about to reveal all its secrets.”

GRACE: “Yes. And it did – in a way.
That’s when I knew I wanted to be an artist.”

         To me, on my first glimpse of it, I found the painting to be drab and sparse. So I was instantly intrigued as to why they had chosen it to be the piece so striking to Grace as to capture her imagination like that. There must be something about it I was missing. It was time to take a closer inspection.
         A quick trip to revealed that de Chirico’s works were an enormous inspiration to Surrealist painters, and that it’s his use of ‘irrational perspective, lack of a unified light source, elongation of shadows, and hallucinatory focus on objects’ that causes the dreamlike quality of his paintings. Plus, the fact that there is no event taking place within the painting can cause a feeling of melancholy or anxiety, as if ‘one senses the wake of a momentous incident’.
         Taking these things into account, as well as the characters’ dialog, I studied the painting – with its solitary tower imposing over the entire setting, its heavy use of shadow, its minimal palette, and its stark landscape – and I could see what it was they meant when they spoke of a sense of mystery and looming and an event about to occur. Other paintings by de Chirico’s, like “The Disquieting Muses” and “The Enigma of the Arrival and the Afternoon”, have the same sense of mood.
         Now when I look at “The Red Tower”, what had previously seemed drab and sparse, instead spurs my imagination. I feel compelled to fill the spaces, to wish to walk among them. I feel the desire to understand, or even solve, the mystery of that looming event. In essence, I can now look at the painting as Grace had looked at it, with a sense of fascination.