20 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Polar Bear Plunge or Farmer's Tan Pageant (see Friday)?
Polar Bear Plunge or Farmer's Tan Pageant (see Friday)?
Courtesy the Office of Councilmember Felipe Fuentes

The New Year is here and so are a bunch of fun goings on, from a Polar Bear Plunge for the brave, movie matinees for the hungover and a Yoga Expo for the bendy.

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Ring in the New Year and wring out your clothes after you take a flying leap into this year's Polar Bear Plunge. Local hypothermia enthusiasts will steel themselves for the coming year's adventures as they jump into various bodies of water — because there's no better way to build community than mutual suffering. The temperatures involved in the Plunge are largely relative — maybe 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to the frigid waters plaguing most of the country. Other Plunges are planned for Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and other seaside cities in the Southland. Hansen Dam Aquatic Center, 11798 Foothill Blvd., Sylmar; Fri., Jan. 1, 8 a.m.; free. (818) 899-3779, lacity.org/2016-polar-bear-plunge-hansen-dam-aquatic-center-01012016. —David Cotner

All of humanity's favorite things — by which we mean flowers, marching bands, war documentaries and national parks — meet in grand fashion at the 127th Rose Parade. To honor the centennial of the national park system, the Tournament of Roses' theme this year is "Find Your Adventure" — and what better place to start the adventure finding than the swarmed streets of Pasadena? Along with the Budweiser Clydesdales and a bunch of high school bands, there'll be the usual procession of organic floats, including a PBS SoCal float depicting the setting of popular period drama Downton Abbey. Grand marshal of the whole affair: mop-topped documentarian Ken Burns. Who says parades are for old fogies? Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Fri., Jan. 1, 8 a.m.; free sidewalk viewing. tournamentofroses.com. —Gwynedd Stuart

Don't condescend to True Romance, man. It'll fuckin' kill you, man. Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott, the early-'90s cult classic has endeared itself to a generation of genre fans via endlessly quotable dialogue and grisly violence acted out by a formidable cast: Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are the lovers/partners in crime, with everyone from Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson to James Gandolfini and Brad Pitt rounding out the ensemble. And if you've never seen the verbal showdown between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken, a trip to the Nuart's midnight screening is long overdue. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., Jan. 1, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com. —Michael Nordine

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Just because you're ballsy enough to go cycling in nature doesn't mean you have to be a dumbass about it. To this end, CORBA (Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association) presents its Basic Skills Clinic, which endeavors to teach riders about safety and survival in the backwoods, how to share the trails with other cyclists and what to do in a bike-breakdown emergency. State park trails are occasionally challenging, so mastering gear deployment and downhill braking can spell the difference between leaving in one piece or becoming bear bait. Malibu Creek State Park, 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas; Sat., Jan. 2, 8:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; free ($12 to enter the park with a vehicle). (805) 558-1606, corbamtb.com. —David Cotner

Harrison Ford recently helped prove that there's no such thing as an irreparably damaged franchise. The original Indiana Jones trilogy may not yet have its equivalent of The Force Awakens to erase the damage done by a newer, less well-received installment, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the Egyptian's triple feature of Raiders of the Lost ArkTemple of Doom and The Last Crusade. Not on the docket: 2008's Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. If you really want to revisit that one, just look up Shia LaBeouf's #ALLMYMOVIES performance/endurance test online and watch it with him. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., Jan. 2, 5 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

If you can't shake the holiday spirit, Santa Claus is Comin' to Motown is still running (see Wednesday).
If you can't shake the holiday spirit, Santa Claus is Comin' to Motown is still running (see Wednesday).
Photo by Jill Mamey

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Whether you're advanced or beginning, the Yoga Expo is the perfect place for yogis of all levels to de-stress after the frenzy of the holidays. Local and national teachers lead classes and workshops on Bikram, Ashtanga, Hatha and other forms of yoga, as well as aerobics, resistance training and meditation. If you're looking to detox from all the holiday meals, you can sample and take home organic, raw or gluten-free foods. The expo also offers an aerial yoga show, live music, children's yoga and a marketplace with exhibitors including Athleta and PETA. Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., downtown; Sun., Jan. 3, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; $25. theyogaexpo.org. —Siran Babayan

Though the Year of the Monkey doesn't begin until Feb. 8, the Japanese American National Museum's largest annual celebration, the Oshogatsu Family Festival, is ringing it in early. Free and festive daylong activities include docent-led tours of exhibits, a scavenger hunt, storytelling, a Curious George bounce house and performances of hip-hop and lion dances. The festival also offers demonstrations and workshops on puppet making, origami, candy sculpting and rice pounding, which incorporates taiko drumming, as well as tastings of traditional Japanese food. Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave., downtown; Sun., Jan. 3, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; free. (213) 625-0414, janm.org/events/2016/oshogatsufest. —Siran Babayan

Besides the Sound of Music Sing-Along, Austria is best known for its other dance and music export, Salute to Vienna, which re-creates the Viennese Neujahrskonzert, or New Year's concert. Broadcast throughout Austria, with dancers performing in one of Vienna's elaborate palaces with live music (lots of Strauss waltzes), the event is on a par with New York's crystal-ball countdown and harkens back to an era when Austria ruled an empire. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Sun., Jan. 3, 2:30 p.m.; $35-$115. (323) 850-2000, salutetovienna.com. —Ann Haskins

All month long, Cinefamily invites you to recover from the weekend along with legendary power couple Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in the Hangover Matinees series. First up is To Have and Have Not, the World War II drama whose production hosted Bogey and Bacall's initial romance — this despite a massive age difference (he was 45, she was 19) and the fact that Bogart was married at the time. Howard Hawks directed this adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's novel and strongly disapproved of his stars' blossoming romance, not that it did much to stop them. Arrive an hour early for cocktails and a live set courtesy of DJ Mean Mr. Mustard. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Sun., Jan. 3, 2 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Michael Nordine

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In the class Knife Skills 101, chef Mary Bergin (ex-Spago, and a frequent guest on Julia Child's Baking With Julia) teaches aspiring cooks how to wield knives safely and efficiently in order to get the most out of the cooking experience. An arsenal of knives is available to use for practice as Bergin imparts her knowledge about things such as honing versus sharpening, the best cutting boards to use with certain foodstuffs and how to take proper care of blades when they're not cutting. These are not the kind of knife skills that will save your life, but you'll definitely eat a lot better. Westlake Culinary Institute, 4643 Lakeview Canyon Road, Westlake Village; Mon., Jan. 4, 6:30 p.m.; $45. (818) 991-3940, westlakeculinaryinstitute.com. —David Cotner

Upcoming Events

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We're about a third of the way through basketball season and one thing is clear: The Lakers are very not good. In fact, at the time this was written, they were ranked 15th out of 15 in the Western Conference, having won only four of 27 games. But since fair-weather fandom is for weenies, it's basically every Angeleno's civic duty to support the home team as they face off against the Golden State Warriors, the hateful Bay Area outfit that's currently sitting pretty at No. 1 in the conference. The tickets are still expensive as hell — go figure — but you can always throw on some purple and gold, crack a beer and send good vibes from the comfort of your couch. Every little bit helps. Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., downtown; Tue., Jan. 5, 7:30 p.m.; $91-$525. nba.com/lakers. —Gwynedd Stuart

Speaking of Hawks, the masterful director of Hollywood's Golden Era took screwball comedy to what many consider its zenith in His Girl Friday. About a newspaper editor (Cary Grant, who's been gracing the screen at LACMA quite often of late) doing his utmost to prevent his ex-wife (Rosalind Russell) from going through with her plans to remarry, it's the most highly regarded film of its kind ever made. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Jan. 5, 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine

His Girl Friday screens at LACMA on Tuesday.
His Girl Friday screens at LACMA on Tuesday.

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Christmas is over and done with, but that doesn't mean we have to throw the baby Jesus out with the bathwater. The Troubies certainly don't think so. The troupe is continuing to stage Santa Claus Is Comin' to Motown, a musical satire that mashes up the hokey Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town with the soulful sounds of the Motor City. Racial humor abounds and, as theater critic Bill Raden put it in his review, the "show soars as a surprisingly creditable and refreshingly jingle-free Christmas tribute concert." It's never too late for good humor. Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank; Wed., Jan. 6, 8 p.m. (and Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 & 7 p.m.; through Jan. 17); $29-$41.50. (818) 955-8101, falcontheatre.com—Gwynedd Stuart

William Mulholland was a self-taught civil engineer who designed the Los Angeles Aqueduct and was head of the then-named Bureau of Water Works and Supply. He also built the St. Francis Dam near Los Angeles, which collapsed in 1928, releasing a deadly flood that killed nearly 500 people. It was one of the worst civil-engineering disasters of the 20th century and the second-worst natural disaster in California history. Author and documentary filmmaker Jon Wilkman revisits the events surrounding the collapse in his new book, Floodpath: The Deadliest Man-Made Disaster of 20th-Century America and the Making of Modern Los Angeles. Wilkman leads an illustrated discussion about his book, which includes more than two decades' worth of research, eyewitness interviews, theories as to why the dam broke and a profile of Mulholland, whose career came to an end after the catastrophe. Buena Vista Branch Library, 300 N. Buena Vista St., Burbank; Wed., Jan. 6, 7-8:30 p.m.; free. (818) 238-5620, burbanklibrary.com/events/floodpath-st-francis-dam-disaster. —Siran Babayan

Tom Stoppard's 1993 play Arcadia is generally accepted to be among the finer works of contemporary theater, which probably means it deserves a little extra attention. Give the text a close listen when the actors of the classical repertory company A Noise Within perform a staged reading of the sci-fi–esque play, which takes place in an English country house during two different time periods: the early 19th century and present day (or 1993, as it were). Directed by Stephen Rockwell, the reading is preceded by a lecture by Caltech professor Julia R. Greer, who, according to her bio, "focuses on creating three-dimensional nano-architectures and designing experiments to assess their properties." It's an evening for smart people if ever there was one. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena; Wed., Jan. 6, 7 p.m.; free with RSVP. (626) 356-3100, anoisewithin.org. —Gwynedd Stuart

Much is lost in translation, but occasionally something is found as well. This, by all accounts, is the case in Cinema Shiró, a recording of an experimental Japanese film that Vienna-based artist Albert Allgaier saw on TV late one night and decided to preserve. Dubbed into German, the bizarre movie became a talking point among Allgaier's peers, eventually leading him to take it elsewhere: Batumi on the Black Sea; Hokkaido, Japan; the Catholic Workers Union of Porto in Portugal; and a Lithuanian nudist colony all have hosted screenings. It now makes its way to Los Angeles courtesy of the Echo Park Film Center, with Allgaier in tow. Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; Wed., Jan. 6, 8 p.m.; $5 suggested donation. (213) 484-8846, echoparkfilmcenter.org. —Michael Nordine

Lost & Found Film Club returns to Cinefamily with Doc-U-Mania, an assortment of independent documentaries shot on 16mm. Subject matter ranges from plants to drugs to tour guides to nudists and beyond in such films as Jerry's Deli, Hard Core Home Movie, Sneakin' N Peekin' and God Respects Us When We Work, But Loves Us When We Dance. The last of these was directed by the legendarily blissed-out Les Blank, who once documented Werner Herzog eating his own shoe in the appropriately titled Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Wed., Jan. 6, 10:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Michael Nordine

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As part of the Annenberg Space for Photography's Iris Nights Lecture Series, National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore discusses his animal photography project, "The Photo Ark." Sartore, who's contributed to Time, Life, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated, began his pictorial collection in 2005. Using studio lighting and simple black or white backgrounds, Sartore is on a mission to capture on camera every captive species on Earth — as many 12,000. Currently his collection houses images of more than 5,000 at-risk or endangered animals, from the bald eagle to the panda to the monarch butterfly. Skylight Studios, 10050 Constellation Blvd., Century City; Thu., Jan. 7, 6:30-8 p.m.; free with RSVP. (213) 403-3122, annenbergphotospace.org. —Siran Babayan

UCB's sketch play George Washington: The Original American Badass gives props to our nation's first president, leader of the American Revolution and Chuck Norris of colonial times. Writers-actors Alex Hanpeter and Jude Tedmori (who plays Washington, complete with costume, wig and guitar) originally staged their not-so-accurate biopic in Chicago. Together they join a cast of fellow Chicago transplants to interpret the most ass-kicking moments of GW's life, from his Virginia youth to the Boston Tea Party to the Revolutionary War. Along the way he also meets Hitler, JFK and Michael Jordan, and saves rock & roll. UCB Franklin, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood Hills; Thu., Jan. 7, 9:30 p.m.; $5. (323) 908-8702, franklin.ucbtheatre.com. —Siran Babayan

As is its custom, the Aero is screening all five nominees for the Golden Globes' Foreign-Language Film Award this week. If you missed its theatrical run, the penultimate selection is a must: Mustang. (The other four, starting Jan. 4: The ClubThe Brand New TestamentSon of Saul and The Fencer.) Debuting writer-director Deniz Gamze Ergüven will appear in person to discuss her devastating coming-of-age drama about five sisters whose ultra-conservative family overreacts to a small incident and begins marrying them off one by one lest they sully their good name. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Thu., Jan. 7, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

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