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.


Warning: 'Side Effects' May Include Eye-Rolling

Feb 7, 2013

It's the drug's fault, man. That's the defense offered by the perpetrator brought to trial in Side Effects, a stylish, vaguely Hitchcockian dud. But what excuse does this fatally silly movie have?

The film, reportedly the final big-screen effort for prolific director Steven Soderbergh, begins in a New York apartment where something bad has happened. Blood on the floor, smeared and tracked by footprints, suggests murder, suicide or extreme clumsiness.

It's not the last option, of course. But then the story hits rewind, postponing the moment when we learn who was hurt, and how.

Three months earlier, Emily (Rooney Mara) is waiting for her husband's release from prison. Martin (Channing Tatum) isn't the violent type; he went away for insider trading. Yes, the beefy actor who usually plays dancers, thugs or thuggish dancers is now impersonating a Wall Street broker. It's dubious casting, but not nearly so implausible as the script.

Emily played the role of loyal wife while Martin was in the pen, but she seems to crack once he's free. An apparent suicide attempt puts her under the care of Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), the psychiatrist on duty when Emily is transported to a Manhattan hospital.

Her case is perplexing, and Jonathan soon consults Emily's previous shrink, Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Suspiciously prim in pulled-back hair and thick-framed glasses, Victoria gently guides Jonathan to prescribe a new antipsychotic drug for Emily. He's amenable and already has a cozy consulting gig with one pharmaceutical company.

Then something terrible happens and dispensing that pill no longer seems to have been a good idea. In fact, Jonathan's hasty decision may doom both his career and his marriage. But the British-accented, French-speaking, fashionably unshaven doc decides to fight. At which point, it becomes clear that it's Jonathan — not Emily and definitely not Martin — who's the protagonist of this saga.

Law's likability serves him well for much of the movie, keeping the audience on his side as many of the characters turn against him. But as Jonathan's defense of his reputation turns into an unethical offense, viewers may seek another character to admire. That search will be difficult.

A note about spoilers: Movie critics aren't supposed to reveal narrative surprises, so as to protect filmgoers from knowing too much. But suppressing the plot of this clunker protects only its makers, notably scripter Scott Z. Burns, who previously wrote Soderbergh's Contagion and The Informant!

Nonetheless, this review will not disclose who does what, or why. It won't say if drug-peddling corporations are fingered as villainous or at least sloppy. It won't even note that the movie has an archaically smirky attitude toward — nope, can't use that word. OK, how about this: Side Effects will not be winning any awards from gay-rights groups.

Soderbergh, who used to make a point of shifting methods from film to film, has lately settled into a — to put it nicely — groove. Like Haywire and Magic Mike before it, Side Effects is an elegantly composed, neatly edited handling of a screenplay that doesn't merit such directorial finesse. The movie maintains its sense of style throughout, but that hardly matters as the story just gets stupider and stupider.

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