Treasures of Our Earth The 41st annual event held by the Houston Gem and Mineral Society opens today, filling the AstroArena with treasures. Special Exhibits Chairman Ron Talhelm says, "Not only will we have the popular Burning Tree Mastodon that had people lined around the block in Denver, we'll also have an area where potential prospectors can actually pan for gold, not to mention the sunken-treasure exhibit of Houston's own treasure hunter, Alfred Van Fossen." The Harvard University Gold Collection will be on display, and gold and jewelry will be sold by dealers. Many of the more than 100 dealers there will also sell raw gems for those with a DIY attitude toward adornment. Kids with an interest in science can pick up rocks and minerals, plus plenty of books and literature about minerals, earth sciences and lapidary arts. Today thru Sunday, June 26. Thu., Fri. & Sat., 10 a.m.7 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.6 p.m. AstroArena. $5, $1.50 children. Free for seniors today.
Moving Beyond Words Gloria Steinem, still skinny-legged in jeans and sporting a frosted semi-bouffant do, will sign copies of her new collection of essays. Most of these sketches first appeared in Ms. magazine. Given that Steinem was a founder and is still a consulting editor, her essays are quite lengthy. Despite having spent a couple of decades as a writer, Steinem is not sure this is a book. In the preface for her latest offering, a collection of six essays titled Moving Beyond Words, she explains: "Each of these six parts is rather like a condensed book.... Since there appears to be no genre for this, I've found myself explaining it this way: if you add water to any of these, it would become a book." Arrive early -- the bookstore is small, and Ms. Steinem's fans are legion. 78:30 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701. Free.
"Magic and Make-Believe" An original variety program welcomes the theater crowd at the first annual gala for Houston Repertory Theatre.
Even though the Rep is a brand-new theater, this opening celebration pays homage to Houston stage notables associated with a variety of venues, including Jeanette Clift George and Chris Wilson. "Magic and Make-Believe" is also a kick-off party for the Rep's first play, The Night Hank Williams Died. Playwright Larry L. King, who wrote The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, will be on hand for schmoozing. 7:30 p.m. The Houston Engineering Society (H.E.S.S.) Building, 3121 Buffalo Speedway. Call 668-5407 for details. $35$100.
The Grasp of Unreason -- The Flannery O'Conner Piece Sue Schroeder's latest dance premieres as part of the Next Decade of New Performance Festival hosted by the Several Dancers Core dance group. Schroeder's movement piece for seven dancers appears on a program with excerpts from Robert Davidson's award-winning Egyptian Dances and his Deserted Temple Dances.
Davidson has long been involved with the Skinner Releasing Technique, and has also worked outside of traditional dance, choreographing and composing musical scores for the plays of Shakespeare, Beckett and Chekhov. Egyptian Dances, according to Davidson, "concern the quest for eternal life both in ancient Egypt and in the era of AIDS." Deserted Temple Dances deals with the homeless crisis. Schroeder's work, of course, deals with the writings and creative processes of the Southern writer. 8 p.m. tonight, 9 p.m. Saturday. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 223-8346. For tickets call Several Dancers Core, 520-5530. $10, $7 students, seniors and artists.
Greater Houston Soapbox Derby Modern-day consumer goods are shipped in cardboard or wrapped in plastic, but kit cars live on. A Dayton Daily News photographer by the name of Myron E. Scott created the first official All-American Soapbox Derby in 1933, probably on a slow news day.
Kids' wheels have come a long way. The Greater Houston Soapbox Derby is a youth racing program: kids build the cars from kits. The kids who win (not "the boys who win" -- this is an equal-opportunity race) will go on to the All-American World Championships in Akron. Go soapbox racers go! Opening ceremonies and parade 9 a.m. On Westpark between Weslayan and Newcastle. Free to spectators. Call 522-3239 for more information and registration forms.
Congress on Spiritual Development Masses of multi-disciplinary thinkers and seekers descend upon the J.W. Marriott to collectively reawaken the knowledge that will produce the enlightenment to guide humanity's entry into the 21st century (or so say the press materials). And what a pack of thinkers they have. Betty Eadle, a near-death-experience expert fresh from Oprah and 20/20, presents a workshop to answer that age-old question, "What's it like to die and live again?" The general-assembly panel also includes Dannion Brinkley, whose workshop is entitled "The Near-Death Experience -- The Funny Side." And, despite all the turmoil in what passes for Russia these days, Olga Oleshchyonok will leave Boris Yeltsin's side to speak to us. (She's his chief spiritual adviser.) Limited child care may be available. Registration is from 7 to 9:45 a.m. The weekend ends with a gala performance from 9:30 to midnight on Sunday. Registration fee includes meals. J.W. Marriott Hotel, 5150 Westheimer. Call Ticketmaster, 629-3700, for tickets. $250 per person.
Michael K. Colyar One of Colyar's current projects is the rather serious business of producing an AIDS awareness video. Perhaps an odd business for one who does standup comedy, but then Colyar gave half his $100,000 Star Search prize to churches and food banks that help the homeless. As soon as his schedule permits, he plans to embark on his "Michael Colyar & the Sisters of Comedy Tour." He and 12 black comediennes will tour the country and donate half the profits to minority AIDS foundations and the United Negro College Fund. (And, one assumes, Colyar might benefit from having 12 fine ladies as his constant companions.) This week, however, the man who lists an HBO One Night Stand, Def Comedy Jam, Comic Relief 5 and Showtime at the Apollo on his resume is on tour with his own self and will appear at the Hip Hop. Tonight Colyar performs at 8:30 & 10:45 p.m. Hip Hop Comedy Stop, 4816 Main, 437-8444. $12.