If your idea of a good time at the movies requires a three-act narrative consisting of the hook, the conflict, and the climax, followed by a quick resolution, then Amateurs of the Impossible is not for you. Filmmakers Margaret Rorison and Zach Iannnazzi are like painters — or, as Orson Welles suggested, poets with camera lenses for eyes. They reach beyond the presentational to build film-loop elegies, plein air panoplies, and celluloid sonatas that whip up dreams, memories, emotions, and musings. Rorison, co-founder of Baltimore's much-loved roaming experimental film series Sight Unseen, contributes six shorts, including a handmade study of Danish wind power, a collaboration with the Effervescent Dance Collective, a landscape portrait of Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal, and a 16-mm tribute to her grandfather that is saturated by field recordings of oil rigs and fishing lines on the Louisiana bayou. Iannazzi offers three shorts, including a found-footage scrapbook of fading Northern California and a superimposed diptych of home movies that explores "mid-century male bonding and the hubris of hunting culture."
"Amateurs of the Impossible" begins at 7:30 p.m. at Artists Television Access, 992 Valencia St., S.F. $10; 415-824-3890 or sfcinematheque.org. More
Scientists used to consider it balderdash, but the belief that humans can cause earthquakes has recently been validated by a significant increase in tremors occurring in the Central United States. Nearly twice as many quakes, magnitude 3 and up, have happened there in the last six years than in the previous 36 years; in 2014, more strong earthquakes jolted Oklahoma than California. Justin Rubinstein, a U.S. Geological Survey research geophysicist, believes oil and gas extraction is responsible for this. Hydraulic fracturing is part of the problem, but Rubinstein says the top culprit is the injection of wastewater from oil and gas operations into permanent storage areas underground. He believes that human activity of this sort could trigger a magnitude 7 shaker. All agree that San Francisco's expected Big One will be an act of nature, not industry, but anyone earthquake-curious should find Rubinstein's talk ("Yes, Humans Really Are Causing Earthquakes") of interest. The event is part of a USGS series of free lectures for non-experts.
Justin Rubinstein’s lecture, “Yes, Humans Really Are Causing Earthquakes,” is set for 7 p.m. at USGS, Building 3, Rambo Auditorium, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park. Free; online.wr.usgs.gov/calendar.More
At the risk of bringing hellfire on ourselves by not acknowledging the Bloody Mary at a different Mission punk bar (starts with Z, kicks you out a lot), we must recognize excellence when the situation demands it.
While Mah Jongg, a game of skill, calculation, and chance involving 136 tiles, may have originated in China (with alternate variations found in Japan and Korea), Gravity Goldberg, Manager of Public Programs at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, tells us that Mah Jong, or Mahj for short, happens to be "hugely popular with little old Jewish ladies." Further evidence of this truth rests in the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York and the Skirball Cultural Center in L.A., which both had recent exhibitions about Mah Jongg. Of course, it's not only Jewish elders who love the game, evidenced by the fact that the first Mah Jongg sets sold in the U.S. came from that bastion of hip, shirtless youth, Abercrombie & Fitch. All ages and skill levels are welcome to attend Mah Jongg Open Play, which is led by Mahj Maven Sara Linden. The event does tend to sell out, so get your tickets early because there's only room for 56 players. When asked whether the games tend to be competitive, Goldberg said, "The ladies (mostly ladies) do take it very serious -- they don’t like ambient noise other than the tiles -- play now, gossip later." Lest you think it's all business up in this house of tiles, we'd like to point you to its delightfully playful catchphrase: "Get your mahj on!" See you on the flip side.
Sun., Dec. 9, 1 p.m., 2012