Arts & Life

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Judith Leiber's handbags are meant for wowing — not schlepping. They're shaped like penguins, fruits, zebras, streetcars and firecrackers. First ladies and movie stars have carried them, and now they're the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design in Manhattan.

"I wanted to make something that was more interesting and more special than what other people made," explains Leiber, now 96.

But that also meant they weren't cheap.

Shtum is a Yiddish word that means silence. It's also the title of a novel that centers around three generations of men who get thrown together in a small space and can't talk to each other. Jonah, the little boy, has the best reason: He's profoundly autistic and can't speak. The story has a personal resonance for author Jem Lester, who says that while he bears no resemblance to the father in Shtum, Jonah's story has parallels to his own son.

You've seen The Royal Tenenbaums, right? I love that movie. It's Wes Anderson at maybe his third-most Wes Anderson-iest, telling the tale of a family of geniuses that live, grow, shatter and die in a magical version of New York City. It begins with a book being laid down and opened to page one: "Royal Tenenbaum bought the house on Archer Avenue in the winter of his 35th year," the narrator says, the camera cutting away, the voice fading, a gypsy cab pulling up to the curb.

When Roger Moore died last week at the age of 89, many tributes hailed him as the actor who'd played James Bond the longest. That isn't quite wrong, but it isn't exactly right.

It's a beach in Florida this time — I know you care because we're all here for the plot, right? — and head lifeguard Mitch Buchannon is now The Rock not The Hoff.

"Our team is the elite of the elite," Dwayne Johnson's Mitch tells his Baywatch recruits, "the heart and soul of this very beach."

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Kinder Eggs are coming to America.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Wee.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Kinder Surprise from Ferrero.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Mike and Amy Mills are a father-daughter team from southern Illinois.

Mike was trained as a dental technician. "I made false teeth — crowns, bridges, partials — this type of thing. It's what I did as a trade," he recalls. "Later on, I started barbecuing just for the fun of doing it."

And that's what made him famous.

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

According to NPR Music's Bob Boilen, this year's Tiny Desk Contest received 6,600 submissions from all 50 states. He joined host Ophira Eisenberg to introduce this year's winner: Tank and the Bangas, the New Orleans-based band that blends hip hop and R&B with poetry, humor, and storytelling. The band was the judges' clear favorite, because, as Boilen put it, "There's so much life there." He continued, "It takes care of the head, cause it's a lot of thinkin'.

What & Where Did I Eat?

May 26, 2017

In this game, contestants help Ophira remember what she ate and where she ate it. The trick is, wherever she goes, she only eats foods that rhyme with her geographic location. For instance, if Ophira said, "I ate a spiral-cut Honeybaked while getting baked in the capital of the Netherlands," the answer would be, "You ate ham in Amsterdam."

Heard On Tank And The Bangas: Tiny Desks And Disney Musicals

This, That, Or The Other

May 26, 2017

Is "Me And My Hormones" an old ABC Afterschool Special, a song from the "High School Musical" trilogy, or a tagline used to advertise men's grooming products? Those are the three categories in this troubled teens edition of This, That, or the Other.

Heard On Tank And The Bangas: Tiny Desks And Disney Musicals

Don't Quit Your Day Job

May 26, 2017

iIn this audio quiz, we play clips of famous people singing. The twist is, these people are not musicians! Guess the celebrities from listening to their attempts to carry a tune, some more successful than others.

Heard On Tank And The Bangas: Tiny Desks And Disney Musicals

Parents Just Don't Understand

May 26, 2017

On the Internet Movie Database, there's a section called "Parents' Guide" that helps parents decide whether to give their kids permission to watch a movie, or just let their kids watch the movie behind their back. Contestants must guess movies based on a real description of their risque content.

Heard On Tank And The Bangas: Tiny Desks And Disney Musicals

AHA!

May 26, 2017

In this final round, every answer contains the letters A-H-A in consecutive order, somewhere in the answer. For example, if the clue was, "Ashton Kutcher replaced Charlie Sheen on this CBS sitcom," the answer would be, "Two and A HAlf Men."

Heard On Tank And The Bangas: Tiny Desks And Disney Musicals

Wisdom Of The Crowd

May 26, 2017

It turns out that the Tiny Desk Contest isn't the only competition Tank and the Bangas vocalist Jelly Joseph has participated in. Jelly tells us about making Jennifer Lopez tear up on "American Idol," then we invite her to play a round of Wisdom of the Crowd. Jelly has to determine whose wisdom she trusts more: a recent live audience we polled or, the wisdom of puzzle guru Art Chung.

Then the band joins her onstage to play their song "Walmart."

Award-winning writer Denis Johnson died Thursday at 67, according to his publisher, Farrar Straus and Giroux. The prolific writer explored many forms during his career, and in 2007, novelist Nathan Englander wrote about Johnson's short story collection Jesus' Son for NPR.

Ever since the twin surprises of Brexit and Donald Trump's political rise, Western media has been obsessed with what's going on in the minds of rural and working-class people. In America, this helped make a star of J.D.

Afghanistan has been dubbed the "graveyard of empires" for punishing the hubris of powerful invaders, but eight years after the 9/11 attacks lured American forces to Afghanistan, it had become more like a purgatory. With anything like a clear-cut victory long off the table and the "coalition of the willing" whittled down to half-hearted, qualified commitments from U.S. partners abroad, the mission had lapsed into dangerous inertia. The new President, Barack Obama, was looking to draw down troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but ending the war completely was never a viable option.

Beijing's 1989 Tiananmen Square protests ended with a military massacre that left hundreds dead. Hong Kong's 2014 Occupy Central movement ended with a pizza party. Talk about one country, two systems.

That's too flippant, of course. As depicted in the friskily titled Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower, the Hong Kong protests do appear something of a lark. But the Occupy Central protesters were attacked with batons, tear gas, and flash grenades, and the encampments were eventually destroyed. Unruly-haired Joshua Wong, now 20, was one serious teenager.

Updated at 3:12 p.m. ET

Denis Johnson, the author behind the seminal collection Jesus' Son, has died at the age of 67. A protean stylist who made a career of defying readers' expectations, he crafted fiction, poetry and reportage that was often as unsparing as it was unconventional.

Because of a scheduling snafu this week, it's just me and Stephen Thompson sitting down with our sci-fi buddy Chris Klimek to talk about Alien: Covenant, the film that dares to ask: "Is it okay if I put this little thing in your ear? I promise it won't grow into something that will burst out of your chest."

Then, we move on to a visit with Selina Meyer and friends as another season of Veep finds the group out of office and loving it. Or ... not really loving it, more like tooth-grittingly enduring it until something else can be arranged.

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Wired For Altruism.

About Larissa MacFarquhar's TED Talk

Larissa MacFarquhar writes about extreme altruists, people who make great sacrifices to help others. She says most of us aren't prepared or willing to do that — which is why we don't give more.

About Larissa MacFarquhar

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Wired For Altruism.

About Peter Singer's TED Talk

Philosopher Peter Singer's work focuses on "effective altruism" — how to do the most good to make the world a better place. He argues effective giving involves balancing empathy with reason.

About Peter Singer

Cheryl Steed: Can Altruism Be Learned?

May 26, 2017

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Wired For Altruism.

About Cheryl Steed's TED Talk

At the prison where Cheryl Steed works, certain inmates are chosen to be caregivers for elderly inmates. The program has made her wonder — can altruism be learned?

About Cheryl Steed

Thirty-nine real-life years passed between Rocky and Creed, a film about the scion of Rocky Balboa's rival-turned-friend. The span dividing the original Pirates of the Caribbean from its latest sequel, Dead Men Tell No Tales, is about a third of that. But life moves faster at sea, apparently, because the ersatz, angular hero of this fifth Pirates cruise — 27-year-old Brenton Thwaites — is playing the adult offspring of lovers Keira Knightley (current age 32) and Orlando Bloom (40) from the initial trio of Pirates pictures.

The time was right to revisit the Buena Vista Social Club. The blockbuster 1997 album and 1999 documentary, chronicling the recording sessions of an ad-hoc group of remarkable Cuban musicians, set off a global wave of appreciation for Son cubano music in the late '90s. The principal players, many of whom had begun their musical careers before the Communist revolution and had been retired for years before making the album, became overnight celebrities.

As I hurry home battling the rush hour traffic in the evening, I see a queue in front of the gates of the local mosque. Men in white skull caps, women clad in saris and burkas, young children with school bags on their backs — all are waiting with containers in their hands for a share of the nombu kanji. Mosques in the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala distribute the kanji, a lightly spiced rice and lentil porridge, before the sunset prayers during the fasting month of Ramadan, which starts Friday evening.

When you think about the 16 years America has been fighting in Afghanistan, "funny" probably isn't a word that comes to mind. So, at first blush, the new dark comedy War Machine feels a bit risky. It stars Brad Pitt as a revered but semi-clueless four-star general who's appointed to oversee the entire war effort in Afghanistan.

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