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.


The Splendor Of Suffering In 'The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne'

Feb 10, 2013
Originally published on February 11, 2013 8:16 am

Ann Leary's latest book is The Good House.

I tend to read funny books when I'm happy and tragic books when I'm sad, but when I'm truly depressed, when I want to be fully immersed in the horrible splendor of the most desperate human suffering, I always return to Brian Moore's The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne.

Judith Hearne, a middle-aged Irish spinster and the protagonist, is an alcoholic. But this novel isn't really about drinking. No, this book is about the underlying conditions of alcoholism — fear, shame and a desperate need to love and be loved. It's a short book about a lifetime of longing.

Moore uses brilliant economy in his writing; it's as if words are as scarce and precious as sunshine in this gloomy section of postwar Belfast, and by the end of the second paragraph, we know almost everything we need to know about poor Miss Hearne. She has moved to a small room in the latest of a series of cheap lodging houses and is unpacking and arranging her most cherished possessions — a silver-framed photograph of her deceased aunt and a cheap oleograph image of the Sacred Heart.

She carefully places the renderings of these, her harshest critics, where she can see them, and she is always aware of their presence. Aunt D'Arcy's photo is placed on the mantle. "The photograph eyes were stern and questioning, sharing Miss Hearne's own misgivings about the condition of the bedsprings, the shabbiness of the furniture and the rundown part of Belfast in which the room is situated." The image of Jesus is placed at the head of her bed. "His fingers raised in benediction, His eyes kindly yet accusing." Is it any wonder that, alone in her room, she awkwardly squirms into her clothes beneath the modest cover of her nightgown, never, in all her adult life, exposing her naked flesh before those dead, reproachful eyes?

As Miss Hearne, who was raised by her well-to-do aunt but is now poor, politely attempts to settle in among her rather crude and in some cases monstrous fellow lodgers, her awkwardness is almost too painful to witness. When she finds herself at a loss for words, she seeks comfort by peering down at her long, pointed shoes, which have little buttons on them, and the buttons amuse her by "winking up at her like wise little friendly eyes. Little shoe eyes, always there."

Her painful awareness that others are entirely uninterested in her is heartbreaking, but it is impossible not to love Miss Hearne for her quiet determination to press on, her meek refusal to abandon her dream that despite her advancing age and plain looks, an opportunity for love might still come her way.

After a brief breakfast conversation with a fellow lodger, Mr. Madden, just back from America, Miss Hearne is launched into this reverie about his returning home to her, to their home — sometime in the future, when she would be his wife: "He put his dressing-gown on and sat down in his armchair and she went to him prettily, sat on his knee while he told her how things had gone that day. And he kissed her. Or, enraged about some silly thing she had done, he struck out with his great fist and sent her reeling, the brute. But, contrite afterwards, he sank to his knees and begged forgiveness."

Yes, I cringe each time I read this and other passages — but I still want to read it again. I know what's going to happen to poor Miss Hearne, but it's like picking up a drink after swearing it off. It just tastes so good when it's going down.

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