7 Great Things to Do in L.A. This Week for $10 or Less

Northern Lights Over Mount HaldeEXPAND
Northern Lights Over Mount Halde

Long considered lost, Frank Borzage's After Tomorrow was eventually returned to the land of the living after an archivist at Fox happened upon the sole remaining nitrate print in one of the studio's mysterious vaults. It was handed over to UCLA for preservation and, along with Song O' My Heart, is screening tonight as part of its Borzage retrospective. Made during (and largely about) the Depression, After Tomorrow concerns an engaged couple trying desperately to save enough money to tie the knot and start a new life. In the second half of the double bill, an Irish singer who retired after heartbreak finds his voice again. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Fri., Aug. 14, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu. —Michael Nordine

Los Angeles Filmforum's Mush! to the Movies series comes to a close with Eskimo and Northern Lights Over Mount Halde. Still never released on DVD, Eskimo can lay claim to many firsts: W.S. Van Dyke's melodrama was the first feature narrative shot in Alaska and the first in the Inupiat language, and it was the recipient of the inaugural Academy Award for film editing. Northern Lights, an eight-minute short made in Norway two years ago about the ever-alluring aurora borealis, will be shown in 3-D. (Note: This screening will be held at the Velaslavasay Panorama.) Velaslavasay Panorama, 1122 W. 24th St., University Park; Sat., Aug. 15, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 466-3456, lafilmforum.org.

In his new book, Word Nerd: Dispatches From the Games, Grammar and Geek Underground, John D. Williams Jr. spells out the 25 years he spent as executive director of the National Scrabble Association, which included overseeing more than 200 national Scrabble clubs and nearly 300 tournaments. Williams chronicles the board game's invention in 1938 by Alfred Mosher Butts, and the beginning of his career as a freelance writer for Scrabble News. He looks back on some top-scoring games, run-ins with overzealous players and dealings with celebrity fans including Martha Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel and Jack Black. Williams also lists an appendix of the banned words from the official Scrabble players' dictionary, including "bazooms," "jism," "stiffie" and "willie." Vroman's, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Mon., Aug. 17, 7 p.m.; free, book is $25.95. (626) 449-5320, vromans0x200Bbookstore.com. —Siran Babayan

California reduced its water use by 27 percent in June. Isn't that nice? What more can we do besides levy fines and guilt? Can We Engineer Our Way Out of the Drought? is the question asked at this evening's Zócalo salon, which tackles multiple proposed solutions to the crisis, from desalination and rainwater capture to William Shatner's notion of a water pipeline to Seattle. Clearly, we're desperate — and desperate times call for desperate measurers, including Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority general manager Celeste Cantú; Water Planet CEO Eric M.V. Hoek; Trussell Technologies chairman R. Rhodes Trussell; and Madelyn Glickfeld, assistant director of UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Grand Central Market, 317 S. Broadway, downtown; Tue., Aug. 18, 7:30 p.m.; free. (424) 229-9487, zocalopublicsquare.org.—David Cotner

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Far be it from the genre mavens at the New Beverly to forget about the dearly departed Christopher Lee. The Oblong Box and The Return of Captain Invincible are the latest in their tribute to the late actor, whose work in low-rent fare predates his Lord of the Rings and Star Wars work by many decades. Lee shares the screen with Vincent Price in Oblong and Alan Arkin in Invincible, so you'll be in good company all evening long. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Tue., Aug. 18, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine

In May, Phillip Washington was appointed CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Originally from Chicago, Washington served in the U.S. Army for 24 years and later become CEO of Denver's Regional Transportation District. As head of L.A.'s $36 billion transportation infrastructure program, Washington will oversee various construction projects, including five new rail lines, the widening of the 5 freeway and a bike-share program. Co-presented by Zócalo Public Square and Metro, NBC4 reporter Conan Nolan moderates a discussion with Washington: What Is the Future of L.A.'s Transit? El Pueblo de Los Angeles, 125 Paseo de la Plaza, downtown; Wed., Aug. 19, 7 p.m.; free, resv. required. (213) 628-1274, zocalopublicsquare.org. —Siran Babayan

Author and L.A. Times columnist Michael Hiltzik presents his latest opus, Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention That Launched the Military-Industrial Complex. It's the story of scientist Lawrence and how his Nobel Prize–winning invention, the cyclotron, changed the nature and momentum of scientific research. Ever since the resultant atomic bombs led to science becoming shackled to industry and government, the world continues to labor over the tensions of that singular change. Chevalier's Books, 126 N. Larchmont Blvd., Windsor Square; Thu., Aug. 20, 7 p.m.; free, book is $30. (323) 465-1334, chevaliersbooks.com. —David Cotner

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