6 Great Free Things to Do in L.A. This Week

NASA-JPL opens it's doors to the public this weekend.
NASA-JPL opens it's doors to the public this weekend.
Courtesy of NASA

Since its former life as a magazine and in its current existence as an art gallery and store, Giant Robot has a reputation for championing up-and-coming artistic talents, many of whom have gone on to acclaimed careers. Now the fourth edition of the Giant Robot Biennale returns to the Japanese American National Museum, bringing together some of the best known artists associated with the brand. James Jean's sketchbooks will be on display. Edwin Ushiro will have a re-creation of his own studio as part of the exhibition. Katsuya Terada is providing live art and the husband-wife duo kozyndan is creating a mural in the museum. Plus there will be works from the likes of Luke Chueh, Audrey Kawasaki and Yoskay Yamamoto. The show runs through Jan. 24, but hit up the opening party to catch a live set from Daedalus and more festivities. Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave., Little Tokyo; Sat., Oct. 10, 7-10 p.m., through Jan. 24; free. (213) 625-0414, janm.org. —Liz Ohanesian

After the recent reopening of Clifton's Cafeteria following an extensive renovation, Edmond J. Clinton III will discuss his book Clifton's & Clifford Clinton: A Cafeteria and a Crusader. Clinton's grandfather Clifford Clinton opened the L.A. landmark at the height of the Depression, feeding everyone who came in, whether they could pay or not. Clinton was a firebrand: A staunch Christian, he led a campaign to recall the mayor and lived a life the secrets of which will be laid bare before you this afternoon. Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Sun., Oct. 11, 4 p.m.; free, book is $30. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com. —David Cotner

NASA-JPL's annual Open House couldn't have come at a better time. After all, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter recently spotted evidence of water on the red planet. The discovery raises a lot of questions, including: Will we be able to send humans to Mars? And is our neighboring planet home to life? At the open house, guests will have the chance to ask JPL's experts about this and other projects. Throughout the weekend, space fans can check out a full-sized re-creation of the Mars Curiosity Rover. NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, La Cañada Flintridge; Sat.-Sun., Oct. 10-11, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; free. (818) 354-1234, jpl.nasa.gov. —Liz Ohanesian

Whether you're a die-hard fan of Game of Thrones or just want to learn how to say the word "nerd" in Dothraki, join David J. Peterson as he discusses The Art of Language Invention: From Horse-Lords to Dark Elves, the Words Behind World-Building. Peterson, the tirelessly creative mind behind the barbarian Dothraki language used in the hit HBO fantasy saga, also invented the alien languages of Irathient and Castithan for the Syfy series Defiance, and he'll tell you everything you need to know about that eldritch synergy that happens when ear and imagination entwine. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Mon., Oct. 12, 7 p.m.; free, book is $17. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. —David Cotner

Part of Hammer Conversations, L.A.'s Red-Light Era features Liz Goldwyn discussing her new book, Sporting Guide: Los Angeles, 1897, with The New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean. Set in the underbelly of 1890s Los Angeles, Goldwyn's short-story collection is filled with prostitutes, corrupt politicians, entrepreneurs and immigrants — with "sporting guide" referring to a guidebook to the city's brothels and ladies of the night. Though fictional, Goldwyn's characters are based on historical figures, namely the real Pearl Morton, a madam who ran a bordello in downtown at the turn of the century. Goldwyn's book also includes more than 100 historical photographs and illustrations. Granddaughter of MGM Studios co-founder Samuel Goldwyn, the author and filmmaker directed HBO's 2005 burlesque documentary Pretty Things. Orlean is writing a book on the history of L.A.'s Central Library. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Tue., Oct. 13, 7:30 p.m.; free, tickets required. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. —Siran Babayan

Cal State Northridge's semesterlong Orson Welles retrospective continues with Mr. Arkadin, known by some as Confidential Report. Welles wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in this story of a smuggler making inquiries into the death of a billionaire, at great personal risk. As there have been more versions of this film than Blade Runner, it should interest you to learn that CSUN will be showing the "Comprehensive Version" put together by the Munich Film Museum just under a decade ago; it's also available on DVD from the Criterion Collection. CSUN, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Thu., Oct. 15, 7 p.m.; free. (818) 677-1200, csun.edu. —Michael Nordine

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