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A cheeky Twitter challenge between 2 authors aims to raise $500k for refugees.

The velvet-voiced 'American Gods' author could soon be doing a very special reading.

Like so many of the world's great stories, this one involves a couple of well-known authors, half a million dollars in charity, social media, and The Cheesecake Factory.

It began when author and comedian Sara Benincasa issued a somewhat silly challenge to fellow author Neil Gaiman on Twitter: If she could raise $500,000 for charity, would Gaiman commit to hosting a staged reading of The Cheesecake Factory's (surprisingly lengthy) menu?

Much to Twitter's delight, Gaiman said yes and selected the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as his charity.


OK, but why Cheesecake Factory? Why Gaiman? Why that charity?

"Neil's a magnificent human," explains Benincasa over direct message on Twitter. "Cheesecake Factory is the greatest restaurant of all time. I love to contribute to good causes, though I surely don't have a half million dollars on hand."

For years, Gaiman has been an advocate for refugees around the world, so UNHCR made for an obvious choice. The whole project combines, as Benincasa writes, "the truly goofy with the truly meaningful."

You know you want to hear this man describe this piece of cheesecake. Photos by Darryl James/Getty Images and Paul Morigi/Getty Images for The Cheesecake Factory.

$500,000 is a lot of money to raise, but Gaiman feels confident Benincasa can deliver.

"Sara Benincasa is a powerful woman and I am glad she uses her powers for good," Gaiman says over e-mail. "At least, I hope she's using her powers for Good. Because I strongly suspect I'm going to be doing a public reading of the Cheesecake Factory Menu."

As a bit of a bonus, if Benincasa is able to raise a full million dollars, Gaiman has also agreed to read Dr. Seuss' "Fox in Socks" in his wonderfully warm and velvety voice.  (Here's a video of him reading Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" — you're welcome.)

While this is all in good fun, it's an important reminder that the refugee crisis is very much ongoing and that refugees need our help now as much as ever.

65.3 million people worldwide have been displaced by one crisis or another, and it's on the rest of us to pitch in and help — for the sake of humanity.

This 2014 photo shows a Syrian mother and son in a Turkish refugee camp. Photo by Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images.

Benincasa says the project is "a selfish way to marry [her] three favorite things (awesome art, a wonderful cause, and the world's most perfect food)," as well as a bit of a thank you to Gaiman and others who work hard to support refugees — even when there's no cheesecake involved.

Learn more details about the project and donate at the campaign's Crowdrise page.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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