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5 Every Week: Awards Season, haunted mansions and the Smell turns 18




Kurt Russell, left, and Samuel L. Jackson star in Quentin Tarantino's
Kurt Russell, left, and Samuel L. Jackson star in Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight."
The Weinstein Company

Behold: Five great things you should do in Southern California this week, from art to food to music to an adventure we'll call "the Wild Card," from the makers of the 5 Every Day app. You can also get this as a new podcast in iTunes. If you want five hand-picked things to do in Los Angeles every day, download the free 5 Every Day from the App Store.

ART: Contenders at The Hammer

Well, 2015 is officially donezo, but in L.A. at least, its ghost carries over through the end of February. That’s right — we’re now knee deep in Awards Season, which means Hollywood’s about to be a mess of street closures, DVD screeners and For-Your-Considerations for at least a couple more months.

We recognize that this might be a confusing time even for cinephiles, but we’ve got a hot tip for getting caught up: This week, the Hammer kicks off its eighth annual Contenders series — a program of semi-mainstream films from the past year that the museum’s curators deem to possess "lasting historical significance".

It starts Wednesday with a screening of "Beasts of No Nation," with director Cary Fukunaga in attendance, followed by Thursday’s screening of "The Hateful Eight" with Quentin Tarantino, a cast-and-crew packed presentation of "Room" on Friday, plus a ton more throughout the following week.

CITY: Greystone Mansion

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Built by oil baron and Teapot Dome conspirator Edward L. Doheny in 1928, Greystone Mansion is one of the more recognizable landmarks of decadence in Beverly Hills. It's lived some lives, and ghosts hang heavy around there.

Greystone was a gift from Doheny to his son Ned, his wife and their five kids, and was christened with the noir-ready murder/suicide of Ned and his secretary Hugh Plunkett just four months after the family moved in.

It traded hands after that until it was  finally handed over to the city in the mid-'60s, which graciously opened its 16 acres of gardens and parks to the rest of us.

Greystone's eerily still common spaces have a weird, uneasy calm about them — a graveyardy kind of serenity, creepily singular to vestiges of old Beverly.

FOOD: Szechuan Impression

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Here’s the deal with the authentic Szechuan food of San Gabriel Valley: there is something borderline psychotropic in Szechuan peppercorns. Those spicy little bullets encrusting many foods east of Monterey Park numb your mouth into tingly oblivion.

And it feels good.

That is why there are lines, even on weeknights, out the door of every decent Szechuan place on Valley Boulevard, and Szechuan Impression, which caters to a younger, hipper SGV crowd than the old standbys, is no exception.

That spice? It's mind-altering. Pro tips: The cumin-encrusted toothpick lamb is a winner, and the crinkle-cut fried potatoes tossed in peppercorn, chili and cilantro — Chinese street food — are unreal.

You'll wait, and you'll get your fix, and you'll be grateful.

MUSIC: The Smell Turns 18

Jim Fischer/Flickr

Can you even imagine this city without the Smell? We wouldn’t want to.

The mythical all-ages venue that helped make this city livable for so many of us now-old people at the turn-of-the-century is legal this year — they’ve been at it for a full 18 years! Meaning that there's a whole generation filling its steamy brick walls who weren't even born when the Smell moved to South Main Street downtown.

Man, we're old.

Starting this Friday, Jim Smith and Co. celebrate the greatest all-ages venue in the world with two epic nights of family from both sides of the generational divide, featuring sets from Ty Segall, together with Pangea, Sex Stains, No Parents and many more, plus the promise of all kinds of surprises.

Bless you, the Smell — may you continue to do God's work for years to come.

WILD CARD: The Meltdown

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Of all the hole-in-the-wall stand-up reviews in town competing for your laughs, there are few tickets more categorically reliable than the Meltdown.

Always packed to standing room in the back theater of Meltdown Comics, clandestine pop-ins from big-name comedians are basically a given. But even on its less glamorous nights, Kumail Nanjiani and Jonah Ray's joke machine can vanquish nearly all comers.

David Koechner, Kate Berlant and Thomas Middleditch are all officially on the docket for this Wednesday’s show, and though technically sold out, they always hold a few rush tickets at the door.

Go early and read comics, hobnob in line with the fans, people-watch — it's half the fun.