"Even the ones who laugh are sometimes caught without an answer: these creatures who introduce themselves but we swear we have met them somewhere before. Yes, look in the mirror. What do you see? Is it a dream, or a nightmare? Are we being introduced against our will? Are they mirrors? I can see the smoke. I can smell the fire."

Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, alarm, amuse, or inspire us.

Hey, did you read

• About the ways in which the murder of Tayshana “Chicken” Murphy demonstrate New York City’s problems with racial segregation? Tal Rosenberg

• About the other stinky corpse flower that unexpectedly bloomed in Chicago last night? Sue Kwong

• About the spike in mushroom poisonings in Germany? Ben Sachs

• That this year’s MacArthur Foundation “genius grants” have been awarded and you probably didn’t get one? (But three Chicagoans did: photographer and video artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, U. of C. prof John Novembre, and community leader Juan Salgado.) Aimee Levitt

• About 19th-century theories of climate change? Aimee Levitt

• That Catherine Coulson, the actress who played the Log Lady on Twin Peaks, has died? Tal Rosenberg

• About the uses and abuses of book blurbs? (Memoirist Frank McCourt has reportedly used “you’ll claw yourself with pleasure” to sing the praises of three different books; Gary Shteyngart has written so many there’s a Tumblr of them.) Kate Schmidt