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.


'ABCs Of Death': Alphabetically Horrific

Mar 7, 2013

Despite a reputation for unevenness, anthology films still hold a certain appeal. There's the opportunity to see a few shorts — a form that tends to get bulldozed by feature films due to the economic realities of the industry. There's also the chance to see a number of directors all in once place, trying out something different; it's the cinematic equivalent of a rock 'n' roll supergroup.

If one film in an anthology is weak, it doesn't have to ruin the whole thing; a really good short or two can help to elevate the whole even with a few lackluster efforts in the mix. And so The ABCs of Death, a new collection of horror shorts assembled by producers Ant Timpson and Tim League, would seem to have a good chance at success: With 26 films, one for each letter of the alphabet, one might expect enough gems in the mix to make up for any stinkers. That's sadly not the case.

Timpson and League assembled an international crew of directors, assigned each a letter, instructed each to choose a word starting with that initial, and asked them to make a film about death associated with that word. In concept, it's Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies for the big screen, with each director receiving a $5,000 budget and no other restrictions on how to carry out the task.

The list of directors is full of young filmmakers with impressive titles already in their brief filmographies: Names like Ti West, Nacho Vigalondo, Ben Wheatley, Jorge Michel Grau, and Adam Wingard should create anticipation for horror fans. And many of them deliver.

Grau's film, Ingrown, is one of the strongest, the final interior monologue of a kidnapped woman dedicated to the thousands of women like her abducted and murdered in Mexico over the past decade. It's thoughtful, haunting and tragic.

Wheatley also turns in an interesting effort with Unearthed, a short showing the death of a vampire from the vampire's point of view. The switched perspective is an unusual and effective way of creating sympathy for a monster.

With so little time to tell a story, however, most of the films necessarily hinge on a singular event or concept, or create a horror-infused joke to which the assigned keyword — which always displays after a fade to red at the end of each film — is the punch line. And while some of the directors are able to make that simplicity work for them, some ... not so much.

The overly talkative parrot in Banjong Pisanthanakun's Nuptials is a solidly executed bit of horror comedy. And even though it telegraphs its final gag a little too obviously, Marcel Sarmiento's highly stylized Dogfight works nicely as well. But Ti West's short depends far too much on the display of its title to work, and feels like a hastily assembled afternoon project.

Humor threads its way through many of these films, as there's a natural inclination in films this short — averaging less than five minutes each — to just tell a long joke or lead up to a wryly ironic twist. Adrian Garcia Bogliano's Bigfoot manages the horror-humor balance well, with a manufactured urban myth told to a scared little girl coming back to haunt the couple telling it. Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett's Quack, one of two shorts to include the filmmakers themselves, is a metafictional look at the creative process that manages to be genuinely funny.

Mostly, though, with so little time, the filmmakers either go for cheap gags — somehow, three of the movies literally end up in the toilet, and that doesn't even include Noboru Iguchi's uncomfortably wacko ode to Japanese schoolgirls and teachers' flatulence — or over-the-top horror shocks. The one entry from the New French Extremity school of horror, XXL, has an obvious and not unimportant message about unreasonable standards of beauty, but it submerges it in a pool of blood under a pile of torn flesh.

Perhaps inevitably, I started counting how many letters were left in the alphabet after the grisly end of Simon Rumley's Pressure. And while there were still a few good shorts to come, things started to get numbing and dull after that point. Only about a third of the shorts in this collection are the kind I'd go back to; another third are mediocre, and a final third are just plain awful. There are just too many stories to fit into two hours — and even with fewer weak links, The ABCs of Death might have fallen short all the same.

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