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.


'Leviathan': Of Fish And Men, Without Chats

Feb 28, 2013

Undersea things — iridescent creatures, mossy rocks, silky-slimy plants — are just weird. They're fascinating by their very nature, often barely resembling anything we have on land. Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel's half doc, half art project Leviathan capitalizes on that strangeness while linking it to the more prosaic world of commercial fishermen plying their trade off the coast of New Bedford, Mass.

The result is a self-conscious tone poem concocted from oblique camera angles, shots held longer than it takes a tadpole to reach maturity and nighttime images enhanced with a psychedelic glow. An alternate title for it might be David Lynch, Gone Fishin'.

Is the film food for thought or an art-house gimmick? Leviathan tilts heavily toward the latter, although particularly at the beginning, it does feature some astonishing, "what the heck am I looking at?" visuals, ostensibly intended to make us rethink the whole man vs. nature equation. Castaing-Taylor and Paravel give us blurry close-ups of things like bright green fishermen's slickers and red work gloves, and show the blue-white wave crests that spring up in the boat's wake.

The abstraction of these images is at first captivating. It's as if the filmmakers are inventing a new visual language, a vocabulary that will be useful only until the end of the movie; the images are temporal and dreamy at once, suggesting, maybe, the link between the world of human work and the mysterious allure of the sea.

But as Leviathan trundles on, it's hard to really know what Castaing-Taylor and Paravel are trying to say. There's no strict narrative here. Castaing-Taylor previously made the 2009 Sweetgrass, the major plot dynamic of which involves shepherds tending sheep in Montana. And both Castaing-Taylor and Paravel have arty pedigrees; Castaing-Taylor is director of Harvard University's Film Study Center and Sensory Ethnography Lab.

The ethnography in Leviathan is sensory, all right. There's no dialogue in the film, though the sound design — burbling water, clanking chains — does give an aural sense of what life on a fishing boat might be like. Castaing-Taylor said in a recent interview with The New York Times, "If life is messy and unpredictable, and documentary is a reflection of life, should it not be digressive and open-ended too?"

But digression and open-endedness can take you only so far, and Leviathan begins to run aground early on. The fish are the big victims here: The camera shows us they've been dumped from their nets and tossed into a floppy pile, their mouths gaping as they gasp for breath.

What are they really thinking? We can't know for sure, but their deep unhappiness is more than implied. The camera lingers, interminably, on their suffering. Later they're gutted — their heads are tossed aside and swept out to sea — and the lens closes in on one of the fishermen doing the deed, his face weather-worn and blood-spattered with a cigarette dangling from his lips.

In order for us to have fish to eat, they must be caught and cut up — Leviathan isn't shy about showing us that reality. But if there's a difference between showing reality and milking it for art's sake, Leviathan crosses that line. And while people who eat fish ought to be aware that an animal died for that human privilege, Leviathan exploits the real-life suffering of those fish for effect — those long takes amount to a thinly disguised shock tactic. Similarly, when the filmmakers zero in on the wrinkly eyelids of one fisherman, they hold the shot for a long time, to the point that the human eye begins to look like something belonging to a creature of the deep.

Maybe Paravel and Castaing-Taylor want to blur the difference between humans and denizens of the sea, to make us think harder about man's connection to nature even as he thinks he's controlling it or putting it to good use. But you can't help wondering how these hardworking fishermen feel about being used as part of someone's heady visual experiment. There's something a little cushy about the movie's view of them; basically, you've got a couple of Harvard-affiliated cameras contemplating the plight of the little guy with lots of Dutch angles and color-enhanced extreme close-ups.

At the end of the day, one party heads to the editing room while the other goes back to dry land (and a paycheck) with a haul of fish. Leviathan, striving for reality by exaggerating it to the point of visual artificiality, is an interesting novelty rather than a work of spectacular depth. Does it tell us what the lives of commercial fishermen are like? In an open-ended and digressive way, maybe. But probably not.

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