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.


'Hors Satan': A Singularly Devilish Vision

Jan 17, 2013

Bruno Dumont just wasn't made for these cinematic times. Rather than cajole and flatter his viewers, the French filmmaker intentionally alienates and mystifies them. Like his five previous movies, the new Hors Satan is stark, strange and uncompromisingly personal. It's also vivid and unforgettable.

Dumont's first feature, released in 1997, was The Life of Jesus. Satan and Jesus can be hard to distinguish in the director's work, which flaunts a harsh view of life and nature — human or otherwise — in the north of France. The central character in Hors Satan ("Outside Satan" in English) is a miracle worker who also happens to be a murderer.

Identified only as The Guy, and played by the impressively impassive David Dewaele, this apparently holy man lives outdoors, in the dunes of a national wilderness preserve near the Atlantic coast. His principal link to humanity is The Girl (Alexandra Lematre), a goth teenager whose home is a nearby farm. The only character in the movie whose name is ever mentioned is Hugo, a dog.

The Girl comes to the middle-aged Guy when she can't take her stepfather's abuse any longer. He takes care of the problem. The two then spend a lot of time together, although they don't devote much of it to conversation. (Dumont and his protagonists are all men of few words.) Sometimes, they kneel in prayer.

The deity to which they pray is unspecified. Although Dumont's worldview was clearly shaped by an austere French Catholicism, on one level Hors Satan is an act of nature worship. The story is told in rapturous widescreen images, and the sound, all recorded on location, treats breezes, burbles and chirps as a heavenly choir. Additional music is unnecessary.

It soon becomes clear that the Girl has a crush on the Guy. He, however, is not interested. Rather than take her as a lover, he'd rather train her as an apprentice saint.

Eventually, one of Dumont's trademark outdoor mating scenes reveals that the Guy is not immune to sexual temptation. This utterly unromantic encounter may say less about the Guy, however, than about Dumont. The director dryly reduces rural existence to sex and death, with few of the niceties city folk use to veil their essentially animal character.

The Girl isn't the only one who relies on the Guy. At one point, a distraught mother summons the man to help her daughter, who appears to be in some sort of trance. The Guy doesn't cast out demons with phrases in Latin — or any other language — but what happens does appear to be an exorcism. Later, the Guy shows the Girl how to deflect another threat, with a simple gesture that recalls a crucial scene in Andrei Tarkovsky's Nostalghia, a different sort of mystical film.

That 1983 movie, along with Carlos Reygadas's 2007 release Silent Light, are among the recent precedents for Dumont's work. But the director seems more in sync with such earlier predecessors as Robert Bresson and Carl Theodor Dreyer.

The latter's 1955 film Ordet prefigures Hors Satan's last act, in which some kind of supernatural force triumphs over mortality. This concluding development is not rationally plausible. It just has to be taken on faith — not faith in Jesus or Satan, but in the singular vision of Bruno Dumont.

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