The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

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The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.


A '70s 'Playroom,' Without Much Room For Fun

Feb 7, 2013

There's a sequence early in the laughable drama The Playroom that epitomizes everything wrong with it: With her parents out of the house, 16-year-old Maggie Cantwell (Olivia Harris), the eldest of four latchkey kids, sneaks into the garage with her boyfriend on a determined quest to lose her virginity. While the two fumble around clumsily on the floor, Maggie's youngest brother, Sam (Ian Veteto), sits outside the garage door, trying to sew a merit badge onto his shirt but struggling to thread the needle.

The visual metaphor could hardly be sillier — might as well have the kid hammer a nail through a board or blow a slide whistle — but it's no less subtle a show of parental neglect. Forget about the sex: What kind of parent leaves a Cub Scout to sew his own merit badges?

Unfolding like a cheap, off-brand version of The Ice Storm, The Playroom takes place in the same decadent milieu of mid-1970s suburbia, when the college hippie set has grown up enough to have jobs and kids of their own, but hasn't fully embraced the restrictions of traditional family life.

It's a perilous situation: Agreeing to an "open marriage" doesn't alleviate the sting of cheating, and the responsibility of raising children entails a commitment some restless souls cannot abide. So while the parents are off drinking and carousing and hurting each other, the kids are left to experiment with sex — or maybe to jam a fork in an electric socket.

Director Julia Dyer, working from a script by her late sister, Gretchen, lays it on thick from the start. Before the camera even cranes up to the face of Donna (Molly Parker), the boozy matriarch of this dysfunctional clan, all we get is her midsection as she strides through the living room to the liquor shelf, pours herself a tumbler full of Scotch, and gets the evening started with a sharpener.

Dinner is whatever's not rotten in the bare refrigerator — in this case eggs and bacon, which is feebly passed off as a special treat — and the dining table conversation is as brittle as, well, the ice-cube trays in The Ice Storm. At one point, when Donna's cuckolded husband, Martin (John Hawkes), tries to ease the tension by having the kids practice spelling, one of them asks Martin to give her a word. His choice? "Matrimonial."

As the excruciating evening wears on, the neighbors (Jonathan Brooks and Lydia Mackay) show up for bridge and more drinking, until everyone is so sloshed that Donna and her male guest don't even bother hiding the fact that they're having an affair. Meanwhile, Maggie, Sam and the other two kids, a brooding teen (Jonathon McClendon) and a goody-two-shoes type (Alexandra Doke), retreat upstairs to escape the Edward Albee play happening on the floor below. And once again, the Dyers provide another metaphor worth blocking, as the siblings make up a "Once upon a time ..." fairytale about four children with missing parents who embark on a fantastical journey together.

Did I mention that all this happens on the day Patty Hearst is apprehended?

The performances in The Playroom are all strong, with Hawkes doing a solid variation on Kevin Kline's pitiable Ice Storm character, and Harris the clear standout as a teenager who's old enough to see through her parents' nonsense but impressionable enough to imitate them anyway. The decor, too, feels lived in and specific, as if drawn from vivid childhood memories.

But between the loaded conversations and metaphors, and the phony overlay of a children's fairy tale, The Playroom can't stop telegraphing themes and interpreting itself. There's nothing left for the audience to do.

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