The Fright House

Garfield Historic Site doles out the dead Presidents.

Haunted house: Get the lowdown on all the scares - happening at Ghosts of the White House.
Haunted house: Get the lowdown on all the scares happening at Ghosts of the White House.
SAT 10/30

Shortly before his assassination in 1881, President James Garfield called his Secretary of War into the Oval Office. A believer in horoscopes and tales about Ghosts of the White House, Garfield asked to hear the secretary's prophecy again. "He had some premonition about [Garfield's] death," says Allison Sharaba, the operations manager of the James A. Garfield National Historic Site. "And [in a] few weeks, Garfield was shot."

The story is the centerpiece of the museum's annual Halloween walk-through of Garfield's boyhood home. The half-hour tour also shows off bronze casts of Garfield's arm and head, and recounts more spooky legends of ghosts in Washington, D.C. Like the one about a Civil War soldier who kept his leg pickled in a jar after he lost it in battle. After his death, there were reports of seeing his ghost around town.

"But it's not a haunted tour," clarifies Sharaba. "It's more about stories of sweet, sorrowful things that happened." The setting, more than the tales, will provide the requisite seasonal spookification. Ghost tours run 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site, 8095 Mentor Avenue in Mentor. Tickets are $20. Reservations are required by calling 216-255-8722. -- Cris Glaser

Storm Front
Celebrity culture blows through new book.

THU 10/28

More than a dozen years ago, Clevelander Michael Grant Jaffe moved to New York to work at Sports Illustrated and write Dance Real Slow, which was made into the 1998 film A Cool, Dry Place, starring Vince Vaughn. "The book was about a father and his son," explains Jaffe, who's back in Cleveland. "But the movie was [promoted as] a love triangle." Jaffe's latest novel, Whirlwind, takes a cue from his Hollywood adventure. A small-town weatherman, while covering a hurricane, goes missing. After nine days, he's found alive and becomes an instant celebrity, dealing with paparazzi and disposable fame. "I'm stunned by the reality-TV syndrome," says Jaffe. "I feel like a rubbernecker on the highway, watching all this happen and saying, 'When will people start to speed up and stop staring at this gruesome accident?'" Jaffe signs his book at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (24519 Cedar Road in Lyndhurst) at 7 p.m. Thursday. Admission is free; call 216-691-7000. -- Michael Gallucci

Cheap Thrills
A Cleveland filmmaker buys Stephen King for a buck.

THU 10/28

Filmmaker (and Scene staffer) James Renner paid $1 for the rights to the Stephen King short story All That You Love Will Be Carried Away. The 26-minute film, shot in Northeast Ohio, stars drive-in-movie fanatic Joe Bob Briggs as a despondent salesman who contemplates taking his life, local grump Harvey Pekar as a hotel clerk, and rocker/radio guy Michael Stanley as a cop. "Most of our $6,000 budget went toward Frostys and 99-cent Super Value meals at Wendy's," says Renner, who will be on hand -- along with the movie's cast and crew -- at Thursday's Cleveland premiere. Screenings are at 7 and 8:30 p.m. at the Cedar Lee Theater, 2163 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. Admission is $7; call 330-928-9486. -- Michael Gallucci

Let the Shopping Season Begin


The 34th annual Mrs. Claus's Closet opens its doors Wednesday, and it's jammed with holiday ornaments, clothes, wreaths, flowers, rugs, dolls, and toys. And, in typical Claus fashion, "95 percent of the items are handcrafted," boasts spokeswoman Ruth Hopkins. It's at Wagner's Country Inn (30855 Center Ridge Road in Westlake) 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, November 3 and 4. Admission is $5; call 440-871-5318. -- Lucy McKernan