Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

5,000-Year-Old Chinese Beer Recipe Revealed

May 23, 2016

A 5,000-year-old brewery has been unearthed in China.

Archaeologists uncovered ancient "beer-making tool kits" in underground rooms built between 3400 and 2900 B.C. Discovered at a dig site in the Central Plain of China, the kits included funnels, pots and specialized jugs. The shapes of the objects suggest they could be used for brewing, filtration and storage.

It's the oldest beer-making facility ever discovered in China — and the evidence indicates that these early brewers were already using specialized tools and advanced beer-making techniques.

Susan Silverman, the older sister of the irreverent comic Sarah Silverman, grew up with a crippling fear of losing people she loved. Her fear wasn't completely unfounded: When she was 2, her infant brother Jeffrey died inexplicably in his crib.

The Colorado River has been a major source of water in the Southwestern United States region, but many worry that it's beginning to dry up. Some observers point to population growth, climate change and water mismanagement as causes in discussions regarding the dwindling river.

Could the water crisis that has struck many Western states be a sign of what's to come for the rest of the nation? And who decides how much water is used or who controls it?

Give the man credit: Congressman Anthony Weiner, having inspired countless headline puns a few years back when he was caught texting crotch shots, put himself out there when most people would've run for cover.

Ralph J. Gleason is my hero.

It's impossible to put an exact date on it, but I think I started reading his column in Rolling Stone in the summer of 1973. I was 14 years old and already immersed in music. Reading him, I discovered you could write about music and get paid for it — and then I discovered his writing was just as immersive as the music we both loved.

Sherman Alexie's new children's book stars Thunder Boy Smith, a little boy who was named after his dad. "People call him Big Thunder," the boy says of his father. "That nickname is a storm filling up the sky. People call me Little Thunder. That nickname makes me sound like a burp or a fart." Over the course of Thunder Boy Jr., the boy emerges from his dad's shadow to become his own person.

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In the 1980s, Raymond Douglas had been living in Ireland when a priest invited him for a drink. This was not an invitation to partake in Holy Communion. Rather, the priest — whom Douglas, then 18, had come to know as the unofficial chaplain at his school — had invited Douglas out to a party.

'Smoke' Author Dan Vyleta Keeps It Messy

May 22, 2016

The river Avon is crowded: swans, boaters, a swimming dog or two. On the bank, an excited old man waves at each boat like a castaway sighting rescue.

Stratford is all pubs and thatched roofs and sweet shops, with its daytrippers and slightly suffocating, kitschified Shakespearean pedigree (I say that: I still contemplated buying an "Out, damn spot" novelty eraser). The author Dan Vyleta teaches in nearby Birmingham, but lives here with his partner, a literary translator. We're sitting on a bench on the opposite bank from the happy castaway, looking at the Avon.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Novelist Joe Hill has a pronouncement to make: "The world is really divided into two kinds of people. People who adore plague novels and wimps."

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Known mostly for graphic novels, Fantagraphics has ventured occasionally into prose — including His Wife Leaves Him, the 2013 novel by award-winning author Stephen Dixon. Letters to Kevin is Dixon's second book for Fantagraphics, and while it's also a work of prose, it veers a bit closer to the publisher's wheelhouse: It's profusely illustrated by Dixon himself. It's a risky move; most of Dixon's rudimentary sketches are of the don't-quit-your-day-job variety.

The blog "Goats and Soda" obviously has big love for goats.

And so we were very excited to learn about the new book GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human.

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