Mary Karr: When you consider the continued media backlash against revealing your troubled childhood, it's remarkable that award-winning writer Mary Karr earned such unanimous praise for her searing memoir The Liar's Club. Most likely, Karr's fierce rejection of sentiment and her unexpected flashes of humor in this tale of small-town Texas family hell wowed the naysayers into submission. Karr appears at 7:30 p.m. as part of the "Distinguished Writers" series of Arts & Letters Live at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. The show is sold out, but released tickets go on sale 45 minutes before the show. Call 922-1200. Karr also speaks Friday at noon at the Friends of the Dallas Public Library's annual meeting, which takes place on the Seventh floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young St. For info on that appearance, call 670-1458.
Dallas Auto Show: 1996 marks the 100th anniversary of the American automobile, a century that has changed the way we socialize, conduct business, maintain our families, and get laid. The automobile was instrumental in the four-wheeled evolution of each, and the Dallas Auto Show arrives to commemorate the past and help plot the future. North Texas car dealers are the lifeblood of each Auto Show, and for this anniversary year, they've provided not only soon-to-be-released models and radical improvements on existing cars, but dug into their private collections to showcase mint-condition, decades-old cars from the past 100 years. Show hours are Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-8 p.m. at the Dallas Convention Center. Tickets are $4-$6. (Kids under 12 get in free.) Call 637-0531.
Big D Festival of the Unexpected: Amid the media blitz over Dallas performances of Angels in America (which, while enjoying very healthy ticket sales, still has good seats available), the Dallas Theatre Center doesn't want one of its favorite annual events to slip through the cracks. Big D Festival of the Unexpected continues to be the coolest theater-arts festival with the lamest name--nine days of staged readings, fully produced one-acts, cabaret revues, and works-in-progress. Highlights include a production of Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill's Little Mahogany, a 1920s parody of rampant American consumption; The Bible Belt and Other Accessories, a one-man show about growing up gay in central Texas by Paul Bonin-Rodriquez; I Used to Be One Hot Number, a comic feminist monologue by Rhonda Blair; and the Austin-based Flaming Idiots, three guys who do strange and hilarious things with balloons, whips, and straitjackets. The festival runs through April 21. Tickets for the various performance are $7-$20. Bryant Hall and Frank's Place in the DTC's Kalita Humphreys space, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. For info, call 522-8499.
Wendy Liebman: She has a smile as eerily wide and enthusiastic as the Joker's, and a sense of comic timing that's subversive and even a little sinister in its sneak-attack effectiveness. Wendy Liebman talks about all the same stream-of-consciousness life debris every other stand-up comic addresses. But she manages to disorient her audiences with a peculiar blend of friendliness and anarchy, a warmth that sticks despite her talent for toppling any given sacred cow with one punch (line). Poised on the edge of her own weekly show for HBO, Liebman is a one-woman spoiler of the games adults play. She performs in the Main Auditorium of the University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson. Tickets are $10 per seat. Call UTD-2945.
Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival: For 11 years, the Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival has taken the "arts and crafts" element that's a part of every festival and transformed it into a reason for driving west. The more than 200 artisans who display their work all weekend long specialize in more than cotton-ball-and-popsicle-stick sculptures; their stuff includes photography, painting, woodcarving, ceramic, and glasswork. A special expanded family area marks the 1996 Main St. Festival, with help from the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, which provides hands-on experience with robotics, herpetology, and paleontology. For the adults, there's seminars by Belgian-by-way-of-Austin microbrew-pub great Celis and continuous live music. Festival hours are Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-midnight; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on historic Main Street, from the Courthouse to the Tarrant County Convention Center, in Fort Worth. Call (817) 336-ARTS.
Parsons Dance Company: Former Paul Taylor company member David Parsons is one of the most sought-after American choreographers of the '90s, mostly because of his audience-friendly blend of illusion and prowess. Perhaps you caught the PBS special in which David Parsons performed his most famous piece, 1982's Caught. Audience members regularly rise to their feet for this solo performance, which features Parsons in flagrant acrobatics while a massive strobe light flickers behind, seeming to catch him walk across air. This latest TITAS show by the Parsons Dance Company also features three Dallas premieres. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium, on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. Call 528-5576.