ANIME EXPO: It's called "the largest anime and manga convention in North America" and the big statement fits. The gathering, which fills out much of the Los Angeles Convention Center from July 3 through 6, summons the greats of the industries, from the voices behind "Sailor Moon" to the people who write and design and create. Oh, and many, many fans in very, very elaborate costumes. Cosplay is big, as is the admiring of over-the-top togs. Which character are you?
FOURTH OF JULY: The fireworks shows around Southern California? They're oh-so-plentiful, but you might want to start your Independence Day with a kid-sweet bike ride in Long Beach or a music-filled brewery bash downtown. If you do want the pyrotechnics, they'll burst and boom all across the region, from the Rose Bowl to Exposition Park to all of those water-close programs (the Queen Mary is one good spot to watch). And will some of the parties go straight through the weekend? For sure: Check out what the U.S.S. Iowa has on for the holiday (the daily doings run through Sunday, July 6).
LABYRINTH MASQUERADE: Let us also pay homage to another centerpoint of great costuming and elaborate fantasy scenarios. The Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball -- that's the official name -- does find its inspiration from the whimsical '80s film classic, but adult attendees show up in a host of elegant and strange and sexy and fairy- and elf-like outfits, whether their chosen looks hail from the movie or not. The fairyland isn't so far-off, however: It's at the Park Plaza on July 4 and 5.
"A HARD DAY'S NIGHT": It's the 50th anniversary of one of the great music flicks, and the Cinefamily on Fairfax Avenue wants to celebrate. Wants to celebrate so much, in fact, that they're running the music-filled treat for a full week, through Thursday, July 10. That means that, much like fans did in 1964, you can go sit in the audience every night, swooning and sighing. Oh, did we say "The Beatles" yet? We didn't? This is The Beatles. Of course. Everyone knows that, like they know their own name.
FREE MOVIES OUTDOORS: What arrives with July? Warmer temperatures, a holiday weekend, and the Old Pasadena Film Festival, which launches a whole caboodle of free films over the month, many of them screened in one of the area's atmospheric alleys. The shebang opens on Saturday, July 5, and while not all of the flicks are al fresco, many are. On this year's docket? "Gravity."