Mary Karr: With the release of such highly touted recollections as Marion Winik's First Comes Love and Kenny Fries' Body, Remember, critics are already lamenting that America's young scribes have succumbed to talk-show fever. Trouble is, these and other titles are a hell of a lot more entertaining than much of today's new fiction, less concerned with narrative form than scooping out the pulpy essence of experience. Mary Karr's The Liars Club is a raucous, bitterly funny, sometimes insufferable ode to the hard-drinking, violent East Texas rednecks among whom she grew up. Karr comes to Dallas for a reading as part of the Dallas Institute of Humanities & Culture's season. She reads at 4 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Tickets are $13-$15. Call (214) 871-ARTS.
Flirt: As part of its Independent Showcase, the USA Film Festival presents a film by a man who's outleisured in indie cinema only by the likes of Jim Jarmusch. To really appreciate a Hal Hartley film, you have to find life itself pretty damned funny; his quasi-comedies about people and their quietly percolating obsessions don't make use of a lot of movie-movie conventions. Flirt is Hartley's latest romantic misadventure, the story of several couples and wannabe couples whose lives, intertwined across three continents, spill over into violence. Flirt screens at 7:30 p.m. at AMC Glen Lakes, 9450 N Central. Tickets are $5.50. Call (214) 821-FILM.
Kenda North: Toward Blue: Perusing some of Dallas' recent high-profile photo exhibits, you'd think the resistance photographers showed to color film when it was first invented had been revived. University of Texas at Arlington Art History chair Kenda North, who is also an internationally exhibited photographer, arrives with a little relief from all that austerity. Photographic Archives Gallery offers her latest one-woman retrospective Kenda North: Toward Blue, a photographic series taken of largely natural landscapes and images from all across the country during the last five years. North is enchanted not just by Western landscape but by the color blue in all its shades and emotional connotations. She is an expert in color and dye transfer color printing, which captures colors with unbelievable vibrancy. The show runs through March 22 at Photographic Archives Gallery, 5117 W. Lovers Lane. Call (214) 352-3167.
Freedom and Responsibility in a New Media Age: What do Michael Irvin and Erik Williams have in common with Richard Jewell? Certainly not similar sex lives. No, these three gentlemen were victims--with the indispensable aid of America's law enforcers--of what might be called "trial by media." In an age of increasingly fast information and increasingly stiff competition among local and national, network and cable news services, one unintentional media slip-up can ruin a person's life. Exactly when does the responsibility part of freedom of speech kick in? SMU'S Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility has invited Jill Abramson of the Wall Street Journal; Ed Turner of CNN; and Roger K. Newman, scholar at New York University of Law, for a day-long conference to discuss "Freedom and Responsibility in a New Media Age." The conference happens 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center at Southern Methodist University. Registration is $25. Call (214) 768-4255.
Thunder Knocking on the Door: Dallas Theater Center combines forces with two other top regional theaters, Baltimore's Center Stage and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, for the world premiere of a new blues legend that incorporates the mystery and fury of America's most important musical form with the appeal of a down-home romance. Thunder Knocking on the Door is Keith Glover's gutbucket fantasia about a brother and sister challenged by an ominous, guitar-plucking conjurer. Performances happen Tuesday-Thursday, 7 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. through March 9 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. $16-$44.50. Call (214) 522-TIXX.
Balancing Acts: Providing For Today, Preserving For Tomorrow: We don't expect you to be interested, but we most certainly expect you to act interested when you haul your favorite ankle-biter to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History's "Balancing Acts: Providing For Today, Preserving For Tomorrow." If seeing a recyclable car and a worm farm doesn't thrill you the way it will your kids (it will, trust us), then spend a few minutes envisioning a Mad Max-like future where whole cities are built atop hundred mile-high mountains of soiled diapers. It's enough to make the staunchest litterbug hug the nearest tree. "Balancing Acts" runs daily through May 4 at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, 1501 Montgomery Street, Fort Worth. Tickets are $3-$5; kids under three get in free. Call (817) 732-1631.