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.
Historic Walking Tour Montrose makes the National Historic Register. The Westmoreland Addition, on the east end of Westmoreland Avenue, is added to the list of historic districts for its late Victorian and early 20th-century dwellings. The Greater Houston Preservation Alliance tour covers homes once owned by ex-U.S. president and one-time Sam Houston High School teacher L.B.J., Judge Roy Hoffeinz, Humble Oil magnate Walter Fondren and media king and former governor William P. Hobby. You also get to see a house that was moved, piece by piece, from downtown, plus homes built according to George Barber's mail-order architecture. Tickets go on sale at 1:30 p.m. on the far east end of Westmoreland Avenue. The tour begins at 2 p.m. For more information call 216-5000. $7, children under 12 free. (Tour-goers who join the Alliance at the tour will receive free admission.)
Deadly Currents In his biography of Damon Runyan, Jimmy Breslin made the chilling observation that ethnic hatred was a man's most precious possession. In something like the same vein, Simcha Jacobovici's documentary Deadly Currents explores the long and bloody conflict between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East. Certainly, the length of the Israeli-Palestinian drama and the violence shown in this film support a dark view of our species. On the other hand, the very existence of this film -- a result of stoic work by the filmmaker -- and its aim to begin a dialogue offer some faint hope.
Deadly Currents shows Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and 9:40 p.m. On Sunday; there will be a special matinee, followed by a panel discussion including Randall Czarlinsky, director of community relations at the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston; Samir S. Ashrawi, brother-in-law of the former chief Palestinian spokesman at the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations; and University of Houston sociologist Bill Simon. Film screens Sunday at 2:30 p.m.; discussion follows. Rice Media Center, Rice University, entrance 8 off University Boulevard, 527-4853. $5.
Cancer Counseling, Inc. golf tournament This generous competition will award prizes for all sorts of things. There will be several winning teams and additional prizes for the closest to the pin, longest drive (men's and women's categories), most accurate drive and best putting. The big prize in the hole-in-one contest is a deluxe round trip for six to Maui.
The big benefit begins at 10:30 a.m. with registration and a preview of the items up for silent auction. At 11:30 the driving range opens and luncheon begins. The shotgun start for this Florida Scramble-format tournament is at 1 p.m. Cocktails are served and the silent auction beings at 5. The buffet is at 6, followed by a dinner banquet at 7 p.m. Country-club attire required. (If you want to play, sign up before June 24.) For information on the tournament or to make a donation, call Cancer Counseling, Inc. at 520-9873. Banquet tickets $50.
City Council gripe session The public session is a place where concerned Houstonians go to vent their spleens and voice legitimate complaints. Some recent spleen-venting has included a complaint from one of your fellows on the tax rolls who is convinced that his organs are being mined, via TV, by well-known anchormen. Is a news hen after you? Are you receiving strange messages via your fillings? Are your precious bodily fluids in peril? Walk right in, sign right up, and baby let your hair hang down, in chambers. You, as a citizen, are of course more than welcome if you have other worries. Are you unsure about the tentatively approved big oogly tax hike ostensibly designed to put 500 more police officers on the street? Wondering how well this money will be spent, given that the current tax package includes no extra money, except the option of putting in even more overtime, for the officers who spent the last two years on the streets? Hardworking officers who, if the latest city figures are to be believed, should be getting some credit for a 30 percent decrease in crime? These little weekly meetings are for us. Call the city secretary for sign-up info at 247-1840. 9 a.m. City Council Chambers, 901 Bagby. Free.
"The Lesser Gods of Earth" Paul Kittleson is the champion of the under-god. Kittleson's meticulously executed pieces have been seen around the country, in our MFA, under the freeway and on a playground. Kittleson created the whimsical burlap stegosaurus under 59 at Montrose -- just a gift for the people. Tragically, that creature was cremated. His happy triceratops, a treat for the children of Travis Elementary in the Heights, is still bleaching its bones in the sun. Currently, the Minnesota-spawned, UH-educated artist has a show at Hiram Butler full of thrills for art fans who know you don't have to be somber to make a serious point. Petrified Semi, a fine piece in Kittleson faux-paleo style, is on display, along with Recycled Virgin -- a 14-foot-tall Madonna made from old cans and reuseable refuse -- and a very special Monument to the Suburban Landscape sized for strip centers. On view now through July 16. Hiram Butler Gallery, 4520 Blossom, 863-7097.
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