Dana in Muni-Land

So for those who followed my adventures yesterday with the bag lady shopping cart, the skanky pseudo professor who reeked of alcohol and injured my shin, and my general bad attitude, I am happy to write I had a better day today. It started out much like yesterday at work (as in, I must KILL someone or explode…), but slowly improved through a combination of yoga breathing exercises and my sense of humor. I think my night of relaxation and Dark Shadows movie helped too. Reading all the comments on the post certainly brightened up my day, as did reading everyone else’s (I’ve decided Marvin is quite happily one of the zaniest fellows I’ve ever ‘met’ and am delighted to have made his acquaintance via this blog challenge). So many good tips, interesting articles, great links and overall fun reading material!

By the time I left work, I was in good humor and looking forward to a game of Muni Roulette. Muni Roulette has very simple rules: whatever train comes along first is the one I take and I have to figure out a way to walk home from one of the stops along the route. Today my destination was actually West Portal where I was meeting Dave at 6pm for our Thursday wine tasting at Wine Styles. I wanted as hilly a route as possible (I’m feeling as plump as a force fed piglet these days). I didn’t have my bag lady shopping cart and I DID have my walking shoes (yes, I am one of THOSE women who will put on tennis shoes and socks with my work clothes. Today’s socks were black with the skeletal structure of the feet and shins on ’em) and a new paperback book to read as I walked. I had two hours to get to West Portal. The possibilities were, if not infinite, certainly varied.

The first train was a J. This was doable. I could take it to Noe Valley, wander up into the hills and do the hike up Clipper (at the foot of the hill is a sign warning trucks to use a low grade – steep hill ahead!) and down Portola. It was only a one car train, but without the cart and the crowds of yesterday, it shouldn’t be a problem. As I started to board the train, someone brushed me and boarded ahead of me.

Yes, folks, it was Skanky Professor Man, wearing the same clothes as he’d had on yesterday and still clutching a plastic bottle full of unidentified liquid. Gah!! I jumped back from the door and decided the gods of Muni Roulette would forgive me if I waited for the next train. I had no desire to have my good mood shattered by the sight, smell or sounds of another crazy Muni rat. Especially not one who’d already pissed me off enough to inspire violent daydreams. Not a good thing.

So I took an L train and jumped off at the Castro Street station on Market. I walked up 17th to Stanyan, down Stanyan to Parnassus, from there to 8th Street and then up into this amazing little hilly neighborhood with winding streets and houses that inspire the imagination. Very little of this route is flat and it took me an hour and a half to reach West Portal. During the walk I made friends with an Irish Setter named Maggie (a fine name for an Irish dog) who thought I was more interesting than her owner. I ended up going on a little detour up a hill to keep Maggie from running down into a trafficky area. I was glad I did; I stumbled on this little side street with a series of old stone staircases. One led down onto another curving street and another led up, lined by trees. If you stood at the bottom of this staircase, you could see an old weathered stone house covered with moss through the trees, like something out of a gothic novel. Shades of Dark Shadows and Collinswood! I plan on going back with a camera. I will be using the location in one of my books.  It’s the sort of place you just KNOW holds the magic wardrobe or portal to another time and place.

I love walking in this town. You see things you don’t see when you drive and discover little pockets of the past side by side with the present. I get ideas for my writing all the time…and have started using them instead of going ‘oh, yeah, that’s cool’ and forgetting about it.

Come visit me one of these days. I’d love to give you a walking tour of my favorite parts of San Francisco!

Dark Shadows

Okay, I’m gonna carbon date myself here…  I am watching HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS on Chill and remembering how addicted I was to Dan Curtis’s supernatural gothic soap opera, DARK SHADOWS.  It used to scare me – one episode gave me such nightmares my mom wouldn’t let me watch it for a week (thus making me a miss an integral plot and character shift; when Cassandra comes back as Angelique – thanks a lot, Mom!).

In the course of its run, DARK SHADOWS jumped the shark over and over again, but the basic premise is the stuff that most modern day paranormal romances are made of: sexy vampire finds reincarnation of his lost love and vampiric hijinks ensue. There were witches (Lara Parker, who no doubt gave many a young boy ideas), werewolves (and didn’t Quentin have the beefiest sideburns you’ve ever seen?), troubled children (de rigour for a gothic), innocent governesses (did I mention reincarnation of lost love?) lovelorn doctors (“show me your neck, Julia!), scientists with questionable motives (Professor Stokes, played by the same actor who was Count Sacknussem in JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH)., time travel, parallel universes and a dream curse.

And of course, there was Barnabas Collins, centerpiece of the show.  Played by Jonathan Frid sporting a black double cape and silver wolf-headed cane, Barnabas Collins was an icon in those days.  I didn’t find him sexy (I was 4 years old when the show started so perhaps this is no great shock), but the whole concept of undying love certainly made an impact.  And, as mentioned above, the show scared me.  I liked being scared, so this was not a huge problem (unless I kept Mom up with my nightmares).

I watched an episode a few years back and was amazed at the glacial pace.  Sample dialogue between two characters:

“Is that the key?”

“The key?”

“Yes.  The key.  The key to the room.”

“The key to the room?”

“Yes, the key to the room.”

” The key to the room that hasn’t been open in a hundred years?”


And so on.  The scene ends after a close-up on someone’s feet walking on tiled floor, ominous music building with each step until the feet stop and the music gives a resounding ‘Da DAH DAAAAHHHHH…’

Ah well.  What scares a four year old cannot be held up to the critique of a grownup.  And even with the silliness, stilted dialogue and on-screen boo boos caused by single takes per scene), DARK SHADOWS  definitely helped shape my imagination into the rather scary place it is today.