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.


A Political 'Knife Fight' With All The Edge Of A Spork

Jan 24, 2013

Framed for television and photographed in faded panels of astonishing blahness, Knife Fight is a dull political dramedy that ping-pongs between caustic misanthropy and soapy sentiment. Playing like a mashup of tropes from far superior small- and large-screen entertainments (Scandal, House of Lies, Ides of March), this clunky feature from Bill Guttentag is satire at its most soft-bellied and toadying.

Relying on hoary setups and speeches that might have seemed fresh decades ago — before audiences had glimpsed the slimy realities of our political process in everything from The War Room to The West Wing — the film feels more tired than topical. At its center is Paul (a perfectly fine Rob Lowe), an oily campaign consultant who relishes his reputation as a "master of disaster." When politicians break, he fixes them.

Paul's current breakages include a smug Kentucky governor (Eric McCormack) and a bland California senator (David Harbour). Both are running for re-election, and both are mired in accusations of extramarital shenanigans. While one fends off a gold-digging masseuse and the other denies involvement with a fragile intern — whose tragic arc will be milked for unearned pathos — Guttentag cuts jaggedly between their storylines with inexcusable clumsiness.

Though seemingly designed to appeal to liberals — the governor's anti-Wall Street platform is emphasized, as is the lesbianism of Paul's Korean-American assistant, Kerstin (Jamie Chung) — Knife Fight avoids partisan stumping. The story (by Guttentag and political consultant Chris Lehane) is too busy lathering itself up over moral choices that someone like Paul would have made peace with long ago.

And when a saintly doctor (Carrie-Anne Moss) decides that toiling selflessly in a poor-folks clinic is excellent training for a gubernatorial bid, and Paul harshly attempts to dissuade her, the film's tonal schism widens to Grand Canyon proportions.

This is a shame, because when Guttentag and Lehane get things right, the results are pleasurably sharp. A series of fake campaign ads peppered throughout are perfectly tuned just a hair over the top, and scenes with West Wing veteran Richard Schiff, playing a grizzled private investigator, are impossible to fault. But not even Schiff can rescue a film so intent on laying claim to both sides of the moral divide.

Are we supposed to be pleased that Kerstin is so moved by the doctor's determination to serve that she willingly risks innocent lives to garner media attention for her candidate? And how do we respond to a screenplay that includes both a high-mindedly complex political wife and a crudely lingering shot of Kerstin's pencil-skirted behind?

Soulless and two-dimensional, Knife Fight is a black hole of disillusion and spin. Unable to decide if Paul deserves our contempt or admiration, the writers turn him into a smooth-talking cipher whose successes are presented as both laudable and deplorable. He's a shark who freezes midbite to ask, "What would Machiavelli do?" even as Kant is tugging at his perfectly tailored sleeve.

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