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.


'Snitch': Johnson And The Rock, At Odds In A Drug Drama

Feb 21, 2013

"Inspired by true events" — a phrase that implies the greatest possible distance between something that actually happened and what's about to happen on screen — Snitch tries to be two movies at once.

One is an earnest social drama about the cruel, arbitrary nature of mandatory minimum sentences for first-time drug offenders. The other is an action movie starring Dwayne Johnson, the sometime wrestler popularly known under his nom de headlock, The Rock. Rather than attempting to reconcile these two very different agendas, co-writer and director Ric Roman Waugh opts instead for a cake-and-eat-it approach that compromises Snitch from both ends.

Whatever was relatable and down-to-earth about a father doing everything possible to save his son from injustice is obliterated by a succession of big shoot-'em-up set pieces that no normal dad could expect to survive. And whatever lizard-brain fun might have been had in watching Johnson do battle against a drug cartel is weakened by the occasional hard tug at the social conscience. The film winds up divided against itself.

As John Matthews, the owner and operator of a small construction business, Johnson plays a self-starter whose belief in toughness and discipline doesn't resonate with his 18-year-old son Jason (Rafi Gavron). When Jason gets coerced into accepting a drug shipment that's being monitored by the feds, the quantity of drugs in the package requires a judge to give him a 10-year sentence, despite his otherwise clean record. His only chance to reduce the sentence is to set up a friend or lead the authorities to a bigger fish, which he is, respectively, unwilling and unable to do.

"Into this situation charges John, eager to redeem himself to the son he's been neglecting in favor of a new wife and family. John manages to convince a federal prosecutor (Susan Sarandon) to allow him to frame a drug dealer in exchange for a lighter sentence."

Uncertain at first — he actually starts by looking up "drug cartel" on Wikipedia — John presses one of his ex-con employees (Jon Bernthal) to introduce him to local slingers and earn their trust as a courier. But as he goes further up the chain, John's life as an informant grows more perilous for him and his family, and it's not long before he's in way over his head.

Waugh doesn't do enough to emphasize John's vulnerability in this situation, though his star's musclehead presence may have something to do with it. John may be a tough guy — and the film is relatively subtle about how that braggadocio works to alienate his family — but ordinary people generally subjected to a fusillade of machine-gun bullets or car chases out of The Fast and the Furious. A father summoning the courage to save his son is one thing, but feats of superhuman strength and agility take him out of the everyday realm. Dwayne Johnson can be a fine, effortlessly charismatic actor, but for much of Snitch, he's The Rock.

Still, there's much to savor on the sidelines, particularly in supporting performances that suggest a richer, pulpier thriller than the movie ultimately turns out to be. Buried behind a scraggly goat beard, Barry Pepper brings soul to an undercover drug operative who shrewdly attempts to satisfy the federal prosecutor while protecting his informant from a near-suicidal mission. And Michael K. Williams, now and forever Omar from HBO's The Wire, brings his trademark swagger to a midlevel dealer who's angling to get ahead.

But such grace notes are overwhelmed by the noise Waugh traffics in on Johnson's behalf. Snitch wants to shine a light on heavy-handed sentencing laws and the absurd lengths necessary to reduce time, but it's too big a movie for that story. Sober messages on social justice may come in many forms, but the dumb spectacle of a runaway semitruck swatting cars off the expressway isn't one of them.

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