From John Reed for Vice: "When I was four or five, sometimes I'd walk into my grandmother's bedroom to find her weeping. She'd be sitting on the side of the bed, going through boxes of tissues. People were always dying around Grandma—her children, her husbands, her boyfriend—so her lifelong state of grief was understandable. To see her sunken in her high and soft bed, enshrouded in the darkness of the attic, and surrounded by the skin-and-spit smell of old age, was to know that mothers don't get what they deserve. Today, when I think back on it, I don't wonder whether Grandma got what she deserved as a mother; I wonder whether she got what she deserved as a murderer."
Inside the capital of Lithuania there's a tiny micronation called Uzupis
From Daisy Alioto for Dirt: "The Republic of Užupis—a 7,000-resident micronation inside the country’s capital—is located adjacent to Vilnius’s Old Town, just across the Vilnia river. Since its founding on April 1st, 1997, the 148-acre micronation has captured the imagination of the world. Most of this fascination stems from the republic’s unusual constitution, which includes articles like “11. Everyone has the right to look after the dog until one of them dies.” Užupis was born from tragedy. The micronation was founded by Tomas Čepaitis and Romas Lileikis in an attempt to reclaim the derelict area known primarily for its high crime rate. What was once a thriving Jewish neighborhood had fallen into ruin after the murder of 95% of Lithuania’s Jewish population."
The only recorded case of poisoned Halloween candy was a family affair
From Dan Lewis at Now I Know: "On October 31, 1983, advice columnist Abigail Van Buren—better known as Dear Abby—published a Halloween-themed column titled 'A Night of Treats, not Tricks.' In that column, she wanted to remind readers that, among other things, “somebody’s child will become violently ill or die after eating poisoned candy or an apple containing a razor blade." Despite many reports of such terrible acts, however, they are almost entirely the stuff of myth. Almost entirely. For nearly 30 years, sociologist Joel Best has been investigating such allegations. One example of a person trying, explicitly, to poison children via Halloween candy was confirmed. However, the child who died wasn’t a stranger—it was the man’s son."
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A biologist turned amateur sleuth to solve a century-old art riddle
From Ignacio Amigo at The Guardian: "On a hot summer night in 2018, Javier Burgos stayed up late on his computer. His wife and daughters were already asleep when he decided to do another round of Google searches. This time the biologist’s quest to solve a century-old art riddle took him to a 2013 exhibition in Italy. Burgos dully watched the first seconds of a video of the show when something caught his eye. When he paused the video, the still image showed a museum wall hung with two portraits. He recognised one of them, a 19th-century painting called Le Medecin Chef de l’Asile de Bouffon by Théodore Géricault, one of the masters of French romanticism. But the other portrait was new to him."
When you love a recipe so much you have to put it on your tombstone
From Sam O'Brien for Atlas Obscura: "On a clear day at Nome City Cemetery, you can watch planes take off over the Bering Sea. Within the field of white graves, you might also see a small black obelisk that shines brilliantly when it catches the sun. Getting closer, you’ll note an unmistakable symbol engraved near its base. It’s a sacred container of sorts in many American households: a tub of Cool Whip. The grave belongs to Bonnie Johnson, a mother, former flight attendant, and creator of a cookie recipe whose batches always arrived at birthdays, holidays, and school events housed inside empty Cool Whip containers. Anyone looking to make Johnson’s classic no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies is in luck. Her recipe is also etched into her gravestone."
The Japanese architect who is completing Antonio Gaudi's legacy
From Trung Phan: "After Gaudí’s death, La Sagrada Família was essentially put on pause for the next five decades. This period included the Spanish Civil War, World War II, the Cold War and Spain’s re-entry into the international community after the death of the country’s fascist dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. On his first trip to Barcelona, Etoroo Sotoo was 24-years old and working as an art professor in Kyoto, Japan. He went to Spain to learn about stone carving but was so impressed by La Sagrada Família that it completely changed the trajectory of his life. He immediately moved from Japan to Barcelona and has dedicated the past 45 years of his life to completing Gaudí’s original vision. He even converted to Catholicism to better understand Gaudí’s mind."