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.


'Yossi': Out In Israel, And That's Just Fine

Jan 24, 2013
Originally published on January 27, 2013 9:18 am

In the decade since Israeli director Eytan Fox made Yossi & Jagger, the precursor to his sublimely tender new drama Yossi, Israel has undergone two significant changes. A tacit and active homophobia has given way, at least in the open cultural climate of Tel Aviv, to a matter-of-fact acceptance of gay rights. At the same time, Israeli cinema has bloomed, becoming a thriving international presence in just about every genre.

True, Israeli film leans toward the arty (Footnote) or toward sober political self-scrutiny about the nation's conflict with the Palestinians; no fewer than two documentaries about the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza have been short-listed for Oscars this year.

Fox, by contrast, is Israel's most beloved pop filmmaker. He's openly gay, and his films are colorful, boisterously irreverent box-office hits whose small-p politics also catch the anguished spirits of younger generations who have little use for the pioneering collectivism of their elders, yet still yearn to create guiding values for their infinitely more fragmented lives.

Fox's 2004 thriller, Walk on Water, plunges a Mossad hit-man into a crisis that forces him to re-examine the meaning of the Holocaust and his own desiccated existence. The Bubble (2006) repurposes the romantic comedy to examine a gay love affair between an Israeli and a Palestinian against the background of alienated Tel Aviv youth. And Yossi & Jagger (2003) is framed by a love affair between two male soldiers during Israel's war with Lebanon — an affair that ends with the death of one lover in a botched ambush.

Yossi & Jagger told the story of a secret love; its sequel turns on a painfully gradual coming-out. Ten years on, the titular survivor (played, as before, by a very good Ohad Knoller) is a cardiologist with his own heart frozen in grief — cheesy symbolism that Fox pulls off with cheerful aplomb.

Though he's competent at work, Yossi functions at just above zombie level in his private life. His bodily pleasures are furtive and tawdry, and not even those who pass for friends — a lonely nurse with a crush (Ola Schur-Selektar) and a colleague who tries to drag him into the sex-and-drugs party scene (the excellent Lior Ashkenazi, who starred in Walk on Water and last year's Footnote) — can rouse Yossi from his torpor.

Until, that is, two somewhat creakily staged chance meetings promise either to make his misery worse or to set him free. A heart patient (Orly Silbersatz) who turns out to be his dead lover's mother and is, like him, stranded in quiet sorrow, inadvertently confronts Yossi with a long-delayed decision about whether to reveal his past with her son.

And then, on a forced vacation in the resort town of Eilat, Yossi meets the model-handsome Tom (Oz Zehavi), a proudly out gay soldier whose happy-go-lucky hedonism and confident overtures take the older man by surprise. As does the casual acceptance, unthinkable during Yossi's own military service, of Tom's sexual identity by his comically macho fellow soldiers.

Funny, exuberant and shamelessly seductive (the soundtrack is by Keren Ann, who shows up to perform wistful covers of the Israeli songs Yossi and Fox grew up with), Yossi is an unabashedly populist entertainment with a spirit conciliatory enough to melt the heart of any naysayer. In Yossi's slow awakening to a world in which he has little to hide lies the moving story of a man emerging from grief and secrecy, and by extension a celebration of a society maturing into tolerance.

That's no fantasy: I just returned from Tel Aviv, where gay life is a nonchalantly urbane presence and no one turns a hair. Yet tucked into Fox's rejoicing is the articulation of qualms that runs through all his movies, taking inventory of the price in urban alienation that Israel has paid for jettisoning at least some of its founding values.

In Yossi's nightmarish sexual encounters — there's no reasonable way to call them dates — with a woman pushed on him by his boozy colleague, and then with a hard-bodied gay entrepreneur obsessed with appearances, lies a whiff of Fox's distaste for the cold hedonism and isolation that lie in wait for the free spirits — gay or straight — of an open society. There's an ambiguous moment late in the movie, when Yossi asks Tom if he's come out to his parents, that made me squirm. "I haven't," he says. "It's none of their business." Really?

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