22 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week
Go see Jack Frost on Wednesday, then explain to us what's happening in this picture.
A gruesome Christmas horror movie, a celebration of the suckiest things that happened in 2016, a glow sword fight downtown and more to do and see in L.A. this week.
Around this time last year, UCB hosted the 2015 It Sucked Awards and we were all like, "Yeah, ugh, 2015 — what a shitty year! Can't wait till 2016! Surely that will be a better year in which to be alive!" Holy shit, were we kidding ourselves. From Bowie to Miss Cleo, just about every cool famous person died; a reality TV star with a Twitter addiction became president; a mutant mosquito disease brought Central and South America to their knees; the list truly goes on. With only the symbolism of a new calendar year to put an end to this chapter of relentless misery, we may look back and have a laugh. At the 2016 It Sucked Awards, hosts Devin Field and Marcella Arguello and a slate of comedians — Jacob Wysocki, Ego Nwodim, Christine Bullen, Lou Wilson, Daniel Van Kirk, Shaun Diston, Peter Banifaz, Marques Ray, Beth Appel, Natalie Palamides and Carl Tart — separate the truly terrible from the actual worst of the worst in an awards-style show. The show runs for three performances — and we have a feeling they'll need three performances to cover everything. UCB Sunset, 5419 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Fri.-Sun., Dec. 16-18, 9 p.m.; $10. sunset.ucbtheatre.com. —Gwynedd Stuart
If you're tired of waging a War on Christmas but still want to engage in some kind of conflict, tonight's 18th annual Nihilist Film Fest is your recommended dose of noise, nonsense and the belief in nothing. Two hours of short and disquieting films regarding nihilism will be screened courtesy of Festival organizer Elisha Shapiro, who for the past 40 years has furthered the cause of nihilism, crystallized most trenchantly with the 1984 Nihilist Olympics, which included the Lazlo Toth Art Defacing Marathon and the Johanna Went Projectile Vomiting Marathon. Get there early, because at 8:15, Shapiro conducts the Annual Blessing of the Televisions — and that's not nothin.' (Bring your own TV.) Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; Fri., Dec. 16, 8 p.m.; free. (213) 484-8846, echoparkfilmcenter.org/events/2016-nihilist-film-fest. —David Cotner
Good or evil, which shall prevail? Glow Sword Battle L.A. 2016 is a colossal battle royale that shall determine once and for all the ultimate fate of our city, our country, indeed our very universe. Participants choose sides and fight it out wielding safe, plastic lightsabers in this ultimate nightfall knockdown (and relatively inexpensive psychotherapy session) produced by alternative public events group Newmindspace, whose admirable aim is to redefine public spaces via "living installations" using favorite childhood activities and super-massive gatherings of people. (Sword fetishists: Each glow sword changes up to six colors and is approximately three feet long.) Pershing Square, 532 S. Olive St., downtown; Fri., Dec. 16, 8-11 p.m.; free. glowbattletour.com/collections/los-angeles. —John Payne
Is Deckard a replicant? Will next year's sequel starring Ryan Gosling be any good? Ponder these and other unanswerable questions during the Aero's screening of Blade Runner, Ridley Scott's sci-fi neo-noir. Harrison Ford is the hardboiled detective circa 2019, forced, as his sort so often are, to come out of retirement and track down a gang of rogue robots who are indistinguishable from their human counterparts. Scott's vision of 21st-century Los Angeles is as striking now, as we approach the year in which it's actually set, as it was when Blade Runner first came out in 1982; ditto the famous "...like tears in rain" monologue. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine
For something more seasonally appropriate, head to Old Town Music Hall's Christmas Festival. Gather 'round the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ, watch classic comedy shorts, sing Christmas carols and settle in for 1913's Scrooge, a silent adaptation of A Christmas Carol that's rarely seen or screened. Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St., El Segundo; Fri., Dec. 16, 8:15 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 17, 2:30 & 8:15 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 18, 2:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 322-2592, oldtownmusichall.org. —Michael Nordine
Blue Bottle Coffee's downtown Arts District location means it's adjacent to a bunch of other super-hip establishments, a fact it uses to its advantage when planning events. The coffee roasting company sometimes — like this weekend — joins forces with neighbor the Spirit Guild for a Roastery & Distillery Tour, an opportunity to peek around both businesses and sample the respective fruits of their labor. The first portion of the tour delves into every step of the coffee-making process, and guests get a bag of beans to take home. Then it's off to learn about spirits distillation, with a tasting of both gin and vodka. The event is, of course, 21 and over. Blue Bottle Coffee, 582 Mateo St., downtown; Sat., Dec. 17, 1-3 p.m. or 2:30-4:30 p.m.; $20. bluebottlecoffee.com. —Katherine Spiers
On the album Christmas Queens 2, Michelle Visage and RuPaul's Drag Race season-eight contestant Thorgy Thor, a violinist, team up for a version of "O Holy Night" that's ready for midnight mass in a Gothic cathedral. It's gorgeous and almost shockingly traditional considering the Christmas Queens albums are filled with double entendres and campy sendups of holiday songs. No doubt this year's Christmas Queens event at the Novo will be an eclectic mix of glamour and wit, with Visage and Thor performing alongside other fan favorites Katya, Manila Luzon, Sharon Needles, Detox, Jiggly Caliente and Ginger Minj. Expect everything from synth-heavy dance to old-school–influenced hip-hop originals to the time-honored seasonal favorites. The Novo by Microsoft, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown; Sat., Dec. 17, 8 p.m.; $39.50. (888) 929-7849, christmasqueens.net. —Liz Ohanesian
Things look more mysterious when they're underwater, as images become dreamlike when light is filtered translucently through a liquid veil. At Corey Helford Gallery's final group exhibition of the year, "Beneath the New Waves: An Exploration of Underwater Reality and Surreality," more than two dozen artists are lured by siren muses to plunge beneath the surface and pursue the often-mythical and fantastic creatures that lurk offshore. The art ranges from Scott Musgrove's bronze sculpture of an octopus bearing lanterns and Lara Dann's colorfully glowing painting of an underwater nymph to The London Police's fanciful rendition of a cyborg mermaid. Bay Area painter Eric Joyner revels in his favorite totemic obsessions — doughnuts and robots — by placing them deep in a watery tableau. Corey Helford Gallery, 571 S. Anderson St., downtown; reception Sat., Dec. 17, 7-11 p.m.; exhibit runs through Sat., Jan. 14; free. (310) 287-2340, coreyhelfordgallery.com. —James Moreland
Elsewhere in wholesome entertainments, the New Beverly offers up Santa Claus: The Movie as a kiddie matinee. Not to be confused with Tim Allen's The Santa Clause, Jeannot Szwarc's holiday adventure is like an origin story for St. Nick that attempts to answer all our burning questions about how he came to reside in the North Pole and why it is that reindeers are able to fly. David Huddleston plays Santa, with Dudley Moore as an elf and John Lithgow as an evil toy-maker. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 17-18, 2 p.m.; $6. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine
Go swing around a glowing sword (aka lightsaber) in Pershing Square on Friday.
Chad Ivan Manorina
Smorgasburg is one of the hottest things going in L.A.'s food world. The Sunday market is an import from Brooklyn, sure, but the best coast version has carved its own path since its summer arrival, highlighting the tastiest of SoCal food, from bánh mì to biscuits, Filipino food to pies. And plenty of oysters. Through December, the weekly food playground gets in the spirit with Holiday Market at Smorgasburg. This week's event will also a be full-fledged holiday market. There will be crafting and face-painting stations and live music, and if you came without kids, you can belly up to the bar for wintry drinks. Plus, there are plenty of booths offering gifty things, and you can drop off unwrapped, new toys for a Toys for Tots donation. And then eat some noodles. Smorgasburg L.A. at Alameda Produce Market, Alameda and Bay streets, downtown; Sun., Dec. 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; free. la.smorgasburg.com. —Katherine Spiers
The bake sale is an easy and delicious way to raise money for a good cause, whether it's a high school debate club or your local animal shelter. The Depressed Cake Shop was begun in 2013 as a way to spread awareness and raise funds for mental health issues by offering sad cookies, melancholy cupcakes and despondent pies. Its L.A. pop-up, organized by Art Against Assault, will feature forlorn delicacies — mostly gray-toned with a hint of hopeful color — from 20 local bakers. All proceeds will go to the Los Angeles LGBT Center's Mental Health Services Program, benefiting the queer community, for whom the holidays can be an especially trying time. The Hive Gallery, 729 S. Spring St., downtown; Sun., Dec. 18, 1-5 p.m.; free. facebook.com/events/345373479163731. —Matt Stromberg
Reviving the illicit allure of the late-night beverage establishments of the 1920s, Lost Angels: Winter Solstice Darkest Night is a swanky-chic speakeasy held in a très élégant wine cellar. A fully immersive theatrical nightlife experience and art salon taking place downtown once a month, Lost Angels this night offers fine wines, small-batch spirits and plates of "decadent charcuterie" to warm the cockles of your heart as you watch or interact with Lost Angels characters and performances wisping in and out of the venue unannounced. Featured artists: La Dulcinea, Elle L. Fauntleroy, Eric Malcolm Schreek, Sir Fin and Victoria Lane. Dress code strictly enforced; "dark haute couture encouraged." The Overflow, 210 W. Fifth St., downtown; Sun., Dec. 18, 9 p.m.; $15, $12 in advance. facebook.com/events/1162640713817781/. —John Payne
There's little glamour in the world of professional wrestling outside of WWE. Documentarian and noted mark Robert Greene explores an especially lo-fi promotion in his second documentary, Fake It So Real, which is finally receiving its Los Angeles premiere nearly five years after its initial release thanks to Acropolis Cinema and Cinefamily. A postscreening discussion will be moderated by special guest referee David Shoemaker, perhaps the preeminent pro wrestling journalist of our time. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Sun. Dec. 18, 4 p.m.; $14. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Michael Nordine
Be it the dead of winter (not that that's a thing here) or heat of summer, Tony Thaxton and Todd Cooper's podcast Feliz Navipod — a sendup of the celebby, song-and-dancy Christmas specials of yore — delivers holiday cheer all year 'round. But when the holiday season actually does roll around — especially when everything seems so bleak — it's cause for celebration. On Monday, Thaxton and Cooper host Feliz Navipod's Feliz Navidad Variety Show benefiting Planned Parenthood. At this Christmas extravaganza IRL, guests include comedians Jimmy Pardo, Daniel Van Kirk and Paul Rust; fellow podcasters Matt Gourley and Mark McConville of Superego; and musicians (Thaxton used to be in the band Motion City Soundtrack) Sean Watkins, Sara Watkins, Tiny Stills and Garfunkel & Oates. Even with the apocalypse looming, spirits will be made bright. Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., Dec. 19, 9 p.m.; $15. nerdmeltla.com. —Gwynedd Stuart
Beer and cheese are two things that were already really great independent of the other, but then some mad genius Sumerian (or whatever) combined the two and life was never the same. Oh, so that chain restaurant beer-cheese soup came out of a bag? Who cares — feed it to me! Roving local cheese shop Vagabond Cheese is teaming up with Angel City for Angel City's Ale Academy: Guided Cheese & Beer Pairing with Vagabond Cheese. Sample five of Angel City's featured beers with an artisan cheese paired to each while cheesemonger Alex Ourieff and beer pros Dan Shapiro and Keith Ely explain why the pairings work. Angel City Brewery, 216 S. Alameda St., downtown; Mon., Dec. 19, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; $20. angelcitybrewery.com. —Gwynedd Stuart
"Breaking News: Turning the Lens on Mass Media" is a starkly timely group exhibition that examines how artists look to the news media for inspiration and create works that comment on the human condition from the 1960s onward. Martha Rosler, Alfredo Jaar, Catherine Opie, South African artist Adam Broomberg and others take images from all points of the 20th-century experience — ranging from news headlines to bourgeois living to in-depth visual studies of people who report the news — and transform them into something greater and more insightful than they ever were expected to be originally. Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood; Tue., Dec. 20, 10 a.m.; runs through April 30; free. (310) 440-7300, getty.edu. —David Cotner
Dancing dreidels spin to a klezmer interpretation of Tchaikovsky's beloved Nutcracker score in The MeshugaNutcracker. The ballet's tunes are put into service for this warm and whimsical theatrical mashup of Hanukkah lore with songs and dances (those dreidels, leaping latkes and citizens from Chelm, a fictional town of fools). In keeping with the holiday, performances extend for eight nights and include the lighting of a life-size human menorah, the singing of the Hanukkah blessings, and a sing-along of Hanukkah songs. The New Year's Eve show boasts a postperformance meet-and-greet with sparkling cider, desserts and a near-midnight toast. Gindi Auditorium at American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Brentwood; Tues., Dec. 20 (through Jan. 1); $72, $63 seniors, students & children. (408) 404-7711, themeshuganutcracker.com. —Ann Haskins
Anyone enamored of Cabaret, All That Jazz and Star 80 looking for a chance to explore Bob Fosse's back catalog will have the chance to do just that thanks to LACMA, where Sweet Charity screens early in the afternoon. Based on Fosse's musical of the same name (which was itself based on Fellini's screenplay for Nights of Cabiria), it stars Shirley MacLaine in the title role of a taxi dancer for whom little is going as planned but hope springs eternal nonetheless. We should all be so lucky. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Dec. 20, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine
The lovely ladies of Sweet Honey in the Rock perform a program of holiday music on Wednesday.
For those of you who may be experiencing varying levels of nausea, cynicism and depression because of the holiday season — people get bummed out around Kwanzaa, too — comedian Jane Lynch launches her new album, A Swingin' Little Christmas!, along with some renditions of the songs on the record by Lynch with Kate Flannery and Tim Davis, backed by The Tony Guerrero Quintet. Flannery (Meredith on The Office) and Davis (former Glee vocal arranger) operate in comedic counterpoint to Lynch, whose gift to you this horrible year is a kind of empathy that really swings. Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Grove; Wed., Dec. 21, 8 p.m. (doors 7 p.m.); $30. (310) 855-0350, largo-la.com/event/1381629-jane-lynchs-swingin-little-los-angeles. —David Cotner
Sweet Honey in the Rock: Celebrating the Holidays features the Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble in a program of songs chosen to lift us sky-high and chase away the wintertime blues. The rightly venerated all-woman African-American a cappella group is an electric powerhouse of athletic singing skills, wondrous musicality and superb taste in repertoire — and a gale force for good in a world that could use a little uplift and affirmation right about now. So: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever's your thing, Sweet Honey in the Rock are bringing the gifts. Arrive early for holiday treats, seasonal cocktails and photo booth. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Wed., Dec. 21, 8 p.m.; $37-$97. (323) 850-2000, laphil.com. —John Payne
1997's Jack Frost has literally never been screened on 35mm before. Some might say there's a reason for that — an exemplar of the VHS era, Michael Cooney's horror film isn't exactly regarded as a holiday classic — while others are sure to relish the opportunity to see both the director and star Scott McDonald in person following this momentous occasion. Holiday horror may not be for everybody, but a little counterprogramming never hurt anyone. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Wed., Dec 21, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine
For all the banal and boring horrors of '80s popular culture, deep within those piles of awful offal shine constitutionally beautiful films such as The Princess Bride. On the cusp of its 30th anniversary, tonight the swoonable glamourpuss who played the hero Dread Pirate Roberts — Cary Elwes himself — will sign his memoir, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride ($16, Touchstone). You'll also get to watch the film, which showcases the entire cast at their finest, including Christopher Guest as Count Tyrone Rugen, a role that doubtless drew on his own experience as actual nobility. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Thu., Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m.; $11, $9 seniors and students, $7 members. (323) 461-2020, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —David Cotner
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