MainEvent: Local author Scott Francis is pretty scary

The Truth Is Out There Leonard Nimoy's bassy voice kept me fixed on my set as he opened every episode of TV's In Search Of... with a story about the hidden worlds lurking just below the sur

Oct 10, 2007 at 2:06 pm
Scott Francis

The Truth Is Out There
Leonard Nimoy's bassy voice kept me fixed on my set as he opened every episode of TV's In Search Of... with a story about the hidden worlds lurking just below the surface of civilization. It was a grainy primer for those of us who later delved into Buffy and the X-Files with the eye of a trained investigator.

If you have fond memories of those shows, too, and the hundreds of pulpy books that pressed into crevices of this genre, you'll want to attend author SCOTT FRANCIS' discussion of his book, Monster Spotter's Guide to North America, on Thursday.

The book has found its way into my back pocket and beside my commode for several weeks now — a high compliment in my opinion. Francis, a Cincinnati local, covers a galley of goons from the Mexican Goatsucker to the Black Dog of West Peak. Monsters are listed by region, such as Southwestern or Northeastern U.S., and are accompanied by rough illustrations. The monsters' vital statistics, including what they eat and precautions you should take when approaching are presented as well. It reads like an early Dungeons and Dragons monster manual, which is what makes it so fun.

A glance at Francis' blog ( reveals him as positively anal in his fixation on detail.

It's plodding as he takes you day-by-day through the tribulations of iPhone ownership, but works like gears when it comes to encyclopedic entries aimed at the sci-fi obsessed.

Immersing your self in this pit of vipers is strangely relaxing when taken in the context of our modern world, beset by so many real monsters. Those of Monster Spotter's Guide aren't treated as a joke — the author presents the possibility that they could be real — it's that what was a horror is now more of a pastime, and the scaly, fanged thing from the swamp is quaint in such a way that you'll want to load up on binoculars and maps rather than silver bullets and stakes.

Francis (or a reasonable apparition) appears at 7 p.m. Thursday, at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Norwood for a reading, signing and Q&A. 513-396-8960. (See Literary.) — STEVE CARTER-NOVOTNI

The Lightborne Lecture series at the Cincinnati Art Museum returns Wednesday with guest speaker ELINOR CARUCCI. Originally from Jerusalem, Carucci comes to Cincinnati via New York City, where she is professor of photography at the School of Visual Arts. Her photographs are large and bright and focus on the body — details of the body and physical relationships between bodies. Such physical connections take on mental and social meanings behind Carucci's lens. Her subjects are so human, lit in such beautiful and revealing light, that you can't help but walk away with a little melancholy. The Art Academy of Cincinnati has worked with the CAM to provide a short residency for Carucci, and the Art Academy's Convergys Gallery opens a solo show of her photographs, Crisis, Pain and Family, on Thursday. Carucci delivers a free lecture 7 p.m. Wednesday at the CAM (513-721-ARTS); opening reception at the Art Academy 5-7 p.m. Thursday. 513-562-6262. (See Art.) — LAURA JAMES


ROBERT SCHIMMEL is a survivor, and not just because he has lasted for 25 years in the challenging world of stand-up comedy. In June of 2000 he was diagnosed with a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The disease went into remission in December of 2003. The experience, of course, provided material for his act. "One of the side effects of chemotherapy," he explains, "is you can get open sores (in) your mouth ... once the doctor said, 'Robert you have a lot of open sores in your mouth right now and while you're like this it is really important to stay away from any kind of oral-anal contact.' Does everyone get this lecture? Why are you telling me this, what are you thinking?" It's that kind of candor that has made Schimmel a popular comic in clubs across America, and he still looks to his own life for comic inspiration. "We (were) trying to potty train my (then) 2-year-old (son), so his doctor said when I go to the bathroom I'm supposed to take him in there with me. I think if my dad would have done that with me they would have called children's protection services." Schimmel performs Thursday-Sunday at The Funny Bone on the Levee. $15. 859-957-2000. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — P.F. WILSON

Are you sick of the same old Cincinnati entertainment scene with the same old people? Well, here is something fresh that will intoxicate your brain! From 6:30-10 p.m. Thursday at Lightborne's studios downtown (212 E. 14th St., Over-the-Rhine) every aspect of your brain will be stimulated with color, movement and falsetto, not to mention foods pleasing to the palate. This is sure to be one of the best events on the Enjoy the Arts 20 Days/20 Nights art sampler calendar. The evening is titled TAKE 5 NIGHT LIGHTS and provides young professionals with a taste of UC's College-Conservatory of Music's amazing talents through numerous informal live performances by young CCM artists. They will be demonstrating their skills in performing arts that run the gamut — drama, opera, dance, Jazz, classical guitar, violin and musical theatre. Tickets for this event are $20. As if the sheer entertainment wasn't enough, the complimentary food and wine alone are well worth more than $20! Remember all those times that you wished you could meet more people with interests similar to you? Well, come and mingle and listen to good music while eating great food in a cool space. To purchase tickets online go to Tickets are $25 at the door. (See Events.) — KARI CAPEK

If you've yet to experience crazed, carnivalian Philly quintet MAN MAN in concert, there's not much I can do to prepare you for the adventure. When they performed at the Lite Brite fest at the Southgate House a couple of years ago, an explosion of kinetic energy, beards, '70s tennis-pro-headbands, tribal warrior face paint and unshackled, hallucinogenic Cabaret music enveloped the stage, which was overflowing with odd percussion, keyboards and various noise-making toys. It's a hypnotic experience, but not like how New Age is hypnotic — more like how a Pogues concert is hypnotic. It is almost as fascinating to watch an audience at a Man Man show. The crowd sways and heaves like they're drunk on the deck of a fishing boat in the middle of a Bermuda Triangle storm and you can always spot the Man Man virgins — they're the ones mouthing "What the fuck?" and scraping their jaws off of the floor. One thing's for sure — you've likely never seen anything like Man Man on a stage before. Unless you were alive 80 years ago in Germany and spent a lot of time in debauched speakeasies watching floorshows and drinking absinthe. So, um, yeah, you've never seen anything like it before. The band's current trek — bringing them to the Southgate again this Thursday — is a warm-up before they join the Modest Mouse tour on Halloween. 859-431-2201. (See Music.) — MIKE BREEN

Party like an animal at this year's ZOO BREW. From 6-8 p.m. Thursday, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens will open up their gates to local beer connoisseurs and animal enthusiasts alike. With your $25 admission ($20 if you're a zoo member) you get free parking and entry to the zoo, plus Sam Adams beer samples and munchies from Allyn's Café. Animal handlers will be in the crowd to show off their favorite "pets," and you can bid on items in the silent auction. Music from WOFX 92.5 will keep the event even more lively. The Zoo Brew is on — rain or shine. Even those who don't drink won't feel left out: Their entry fee is just $10, and includes all the fun stuff minus the drink samples. 513-559-7759. (See Events.) — CHRISTINE MERSCH

A year ago on a trip to Europe I spent some time in Amsterdam and visited the building where Anne Frank and her family hid from Nazi persecutors for several years. It was a moving experience; the rooms are bare and cramped, but it's easy to envision the frightening existence that young Anne and her family members endured. The visit added depth to the emotional impact of her story, a triumph of human nature over the evil surrounding her. Falcon Theater is presenting a stage adaptation of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. It's a powerful story, to be sure, and Falcon has landed a young but experienced performer, Charity Farrell to play the central role. She's just 17, but the Dayton native is already a veteran of 31 productions. Speaking about her opportunity to play Anne Frank, Farrell says, "I really like this show because it speaks more directly to teenagers since it's told through a different perspective than most shows in that the lead character is in her teens." Falcon presents this production this weekend and the following two at Newport's Monmouth Theatre. 513-479-6783. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — RICK PENDER

From 7 p.m. to midnight, THE HAIR BALL (pictured) at the Art Academy of Cincinnati will be a hotbed of art auctions, swank music from three bands throughout the building, film screenings of work by Kendall Bruns and Matthew Dayler and an incredibly appealing menu from A La Carte Dessert and Catering. The first two floors of the art school will be transformed with over-sized paintings, installations of drawings and a 20-foot-tall figurative sculpture sporting a "moving Mohawk," which creates an elaborate masquerade atmosphere themed around all kinds of wild hairstyles. Salon Urbanity will be on location through the evening creating fantasy hairdos for guests at the ball, complemented by AAC student Nicole Grenier painting "headscapes" on heads without hair. The silent auction in Pearlman Gallery will not only feature artwork by Art Academy sympathizers but also luxury items such as Tiffany's jewelry and autographed bottles of Sarah Jessica Parker's new perfume. Tickets are $100 per person, $65 for Enjoy the Arts Members and $50 for alumni. Proceeds will benefit the Alumni Scholarship Fund for undergraduate students. Call 513-562-8746 before 5 p.m. Friday to purchase tickets or buy them at the door the night of the event. (Buy tickets and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — MATT MORRIS