Books and Authors

ROBERT MERRY -- Thursday at 7 p.m. The Congressional Quarterly publisher discusses his book "Sands of Empire," which looks at theories of history and how they apply to current U.S. diplomacy efforts. Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. 202-364-1919.

Comedy

LAUGH OUT LOUD -- Friday at 8 p.m. BET's TL Fitz hosts comics Kevin Heart, Talent, and Mike Brooks. Lincoln Theater, 1215 U Street, NW. $30. 202-397-7328.

Concerts

MEREDITH BRAGG & THE TERMINALS -- Today at 9 p.m. The local rocker plays a CD release show. With the Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers. Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $5. 202-667-7960.

PARTYLINE -- Wednesday at 9 p.m. The local punk trio plays with Australia's Love of Diagrams. Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $6. 202-667-7960.

SUNSET SERENADES -- Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. The zoo's summer concert series continues with blues rock from the Mary Ann Redmond Band. National Zoo, Lion-Tiger Hill, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. 202-633-4480.

DEL CIELO -- Thursday at 7:15 p.m. The Fort Reno concert series continues with the local indie-punk trio. With Kathy Cashel and Eyeball Skeleton. Fort Reno Park, Nebraska Avenue and Chesapeake Street NW. Free. 202-521-1493.

WEEKEND'S WEEKENDS -- Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Brooks Tegler Big Band and the J Street Jumpers play at "Swing Night," the last of three summer concerts presented by The Post's Weekend section. Carter Barron Amphitheatre, 4850 Colorado Ave. NW. Free. 202-334-4748.

FORT DUPONT SUMMER CONCERT SERIES -- Saturday at 8 p.m. The outdoor series opens with "A Night of Classic Soul" from Russell Thompkins Jr. and the New Stylistics. Fort Dupont Park, Fort Dupont Drive at Randle Circle and Minnesota Avenue SE. Free. 202-426-5961.

Exhibits

CAROL LAREUSE & DENNIS CRAYON: TWO CONTEMPORARY PAINTERS -- Opens Tuesday. Through July 31. Lareuse shows her landscapes of local scenes. Crayon shows his cityscapes and still lifes. Spectrum Gallery, 1132 29th St. NW. Free. 202-333-0954.

SELF-PORTRAITS -- Opens Wednesday. Reception Friday, 6-8 p.m. Through Aug. 7. A group show centered around interpretations of the theme "the self." Touchstone Gallery, 406 Seventh St. NW. Free. 202-347-2787.

HIDDEN TREASURES: BLACK ARTISTS OF D.C. -- Reception Friday, 6-8 p.m. Through July 31. More than 50 artists of African descent show their paintings, sculptures, ceramics and photos. Graham Collection, 3518 12th St. NE. Free. 202-832-9292.

For Children

PALISADES FOURTH OF JULY PARADE -- Monday at 11 a.m. The 39th annual old-fashioned parade includes bands, clowns and vintage cars. A picnic follows at the Palisades Recreation Center. The parade starts at Whitehaven Parkway and MacArthur Boulevard NW. Free. 202-363-7441.

TRAITS OF LIFE -- Through Aug. 21. Interactive displays with living and virtual organisms explore cells, genes and the other essential elements of life. National Geographic Society, Explorers Hall, 17th and M streets NW. Free. 202-857-7588.

Movies

A NIGHT OF SHORTS -- Wednesday at 9:15 p.m. The theater's local filmmaker nights continues with five short thrillers from various directors. The Avalon Theatre, 5612 Connecticut Ave. NW. $8.50. 202-966-6000.

Theater

PETTICOATS AND POLITICS: NEW PLAY FESTIVAL -- Opens Thursday. Through July 10. The Washington Women in Theater company presents the full-length play "Stella Adler" and a festival of new one-acts: "Out of Body Experience" by Rose-Mary Harrington, "A Musical Satire" by three local composers, and "A Moment with the Xerox Man" by Caleen Sinnette Jennings. Warehouse Theater, 1021 Seventh St. NW. $12-$22. 703-237-0711.

STUPID FRAILTY -- Opens Thursday. Through July 31. Laura Zam's one-woman play offers a comic take on Internet dating in the District. Includes dinner. Sweet Mango Cafe, 3701 New Hampshire Ave. NW. $16. 800-494-8497.

GET LISTED. The Sunday Source lists events as space permits. E-mail or fax notices -- with dates, times, address, cost and phone number -- to sourcelist@washpost.com or 202-496-3537. Or mail them to Listings, Sunday Source, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071-5650. Deadline is two weeks before publication.