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.


'Parker': An Icy Thriller With A Satisfying Sheen

Jan 25, 2013
Originally published on January 25, 2013 3:26 pm

In the strictest terms, Jason Statham isn't the perfect candidate to play Parker, the single-minded career criminal created by the late Donald E. Westlake (working under the pseudonym Richard Stark). Statham, despite having built a career playing rough-and-tumble skull-busters, is just too much of a big pussycat.

As Westlake himself explained, Parker is angry: "Not hot angry — cold angry." Statham, with those inquisitive, cautious eyes and that slow-burning purr of a voice, can act cold, but he can never be cold. Even at his coolest, he's all heat.

Then again, you can use electricity to make ice, which is pretty much what Statham does in Taylor Hackford's jaggedly satisfying thriller, Parker. Based on Stark's 2000 novel Flashfire, this is a bruised knuckle of a movie; there are moments of unapologetic violence (including some nasty business with a scary little curved knife) that made me wince and squirm and want to leap out of my seat. Note to self: Must see it again!

The story is as basic as a right hook: Parker, the quintessential loner-freelancer, has taken a heist job that involves robbing an Ohio country fair. One of his cohorts (they include Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce and Clifton Collins Jr.) angers him by unnecessarily endangering regular townsfolk. Parker can be the most ruthless of killers, but he has to have a really good reason to take a life.

Apparently never having read a Parker novel, the thugs make off with Parker's share of the money. That sets him off on a stubborn quest that's less about the dough than about the principle of the thing; along the way his plan entangles struggling but superfoxy real-estate agent Leslie Rodgers (Jennifer Lopez), while his loyal, behind-the-scenes girlfriend Claire (Emma Booth) steps in to bandage the occasional wound.

Not as if he doesn't have enough of those already. If you've seen other film incarnations of the Parker character — most notably Lee Marvin in John Boorman's sharpened icicle of a movie Point Blank — you know that he's one of those guys who, as they used to say in the old Timex ads, takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Parker has no first name, but his middle name ought to be "That Guy Should Be Dead By Now!"

Hackford puts Statham's Parker through the paces here — even, at one point, dressing him in a powder-blue suit and an oversized cowboy hat. But there's almost nothing you can do to make Statham unappealing. Fans of the Parker novels might have trouble with the way some characters are fleshed out (or not) here: Shouldn't Claire be more of a no-nonsense moll and less of an ethereal hippie girl? And while Lopez is sunny and charming as always, her character doesn't have to be so downtrodden. She needs to be a lot more Karen Sisco (the Elmore Leonard character Lopez played in Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight) and a lot less Maid in Manhattan.

But Statham, while an imperfect Parker, hits enough of the right notes to keep the movie humming. In an early scene, he calms a panic-ridden young security guard by assuring him that, if he just stays calm, he'll live through the ordeal at hand and make it home safe. He describes what will happen after that: The guy will be sitting on the couch, watching himself on the TV news report, with his arm around his girlfriend. In that reassuring rasp of a voice, Statham's Parker paints a verbal picture of domesticity that sounds like nothing a tough guy like himself could ever have experienced. Or has he?

"It'll be a good night," he tells the guard, with finality. And Parker, that man of few words, always knows what he's talking about. (Recommended)

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