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Friday, August 17, 2012

On today’s show: Baratunde Thurston talks about the craft of political humor and offers tips from his comic memoir, How to Be Black. Ben Lerner discusses his new novel, Leaving the Atocha Station. We’ll look at the complex history—and occasional misuse—of educational films in the United States. Plus, Please Explain is all about pigeons!

Politics, Humor, and How to Be Black

Baratunde Thurston, the former director of digital at The Onion, talks about humor, politics, and his book How to Be Black, part memoir and part guidebook. He tells stories of his politically inspired Nigerian name, his hippie mother, his drug-abusing father who was murdered, and his wisdom and expertise in how to be black. Baratunde Thurston is participating in "Tell Your Friends!" with Janeane Garofalo and others at the Cornelia Street Café on August 19 at 8:30.

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Ben Lerner

Ben Lerner talks about his novel Leaving the Atocha Station, winner of The 2012 Believer Book Award. It follows Adam Gordon, a brilliant but unreliable young American poet on a fellowship in Madrid, who is struggling to establish his sense of self and his relationship to art.

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Learning with the Lights Off

Dan Streible, Devin Orgeron, and Marsha Orgeron discuss how educational films, the influential form of filmmaking seen by millions of people, reveal 20th century preoccupations and values. Learning with the Lights Off: Educational Film in the United States is a collection of essays that address the role of educational films inside and outside the classroom.

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Please Explain: Pigeons

Pigeons seem to be everywhere in New York City, and they fill city squares in London and Venice. We’ll take a look at why these birds thrive in urban areas around the word and how they’re able to find their way home from hundreds of miles away. Andrew Blechman, managing editor of Orion magazine and author of Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird, and Courtney Humphries, author of Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan…and the World, join us.

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