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.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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.

Pages

Chinese New Year: Dumplings, Rice Cakes And Long Life

Feb 8, 2013
Originally published on February 11, 2013 4:37 pm

About 3,000 years ago, give or take a couple of decades, the Chinese people began celebrating the beginning of their calendar year with a joyful festival they called Lunar New Year. They cleaned their homes, welcomed relatives, bought or made new clothes and set off firecrackers. And there was feasting and special offerings made to the Kitchen God for about two weeks.

While you'd be hard-pressed to find a two-week-long celebration anywhere these days, most families in China and in Chinese communities throughout the world take a few days off when the holiday begins, one month after the Winter Solstice. This year — the Year of the Snake — it starts with a big feast on New Year's Eve, Feb. 9. Then in many homes, after the feast is cleared, the whole family gathers to make dumplings late into the night.

There are many special foods of the New Year, says E.N. Anderson, anthropology professor emeritus at the University of California, Riverside, and author of The Food of China, a book about historic Chinese government food policies.

Long noodles are traditional, and they symbolize long life. Year cakes — glutinous rice formed into shapes — are also a tradition. Peaches and peach blossoms signal fertility, he says, but one of the most important things to include is food, clothing and decorations that are red. Red paper decorations line the streets, and red packets of money are given to children on New Year's.

"Red is the color of blood and therefore life, health and strength — the color of all good things in China," says Anderson. So citrus fruits like tangerines — the redder the better — are popular, as well as dried fruits and seeds.

Traditionally, the new year was the one time of year when the Chinese would eat sweets, although in recent decades, they've adopted a more Western diet the rest of the year, he says, including, unfortunately, our penchant for sugar.

And then there are the dumplings — traditionally these were made in homes in northern China, but now they've spread around the world. They are shaped like crescents or spheres, pan-fried (kuo tieh) or boiled (jiaozi). They resemble ancient Chinese money, are stuffed with humble ingredients like pork and cabbage, and are said to bring fortune to the household.

The whole family gathers to chat and make the dumplings, which are eaten between midnight and 2 a.m., says Grace Young, author of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, a book of Chinese recipes and stories, and the Chinese food lore book The Breath of a Wok.

"There's also a custom to place a candied chestnut in a dumpling served to newlyweds," she says. "If the newlyweds get the dumpling, it means they will be blessed with a male child."

In The Breath of a Wok, Lijun Wang, Chinese-American author Amy Tan's sister, shares her dumpling-making memories:

" 'As the jiao-zi boiled it was important not to remove the lid too soon,' says Lijun. 'If you did, it could mean that you'd lose your fortune in the coming year. Sometimes we would put a coin inside one dumpling for luck. On New Year's morning, it was customary not to cook but we were always happy to eat leftover warmed jiao-zi,' recalls Lijun fondly."

And historically, says Anderson, it just made sense to make dumplings when you wanted a little celebration but didn't have a lot of money or food. "In northern China, food was pretty scarce, especially this late in the winter. You're down to what little meat and flour you've got left. You stretch the meat as far as possible," Anderson says.

So why the Chinese new year obsession with wealth, long life and fertility?

"Remember, you're dealing with a place where until very, very recently, starvation was the main cause of death. Getting wealth, fertility and long life was what they wanted," Anderson says.

But really, don't we all want that?

Want to give dumplings a go? Try NPR contributor T. Susan Chang's recipes.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.