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Arts & Culture

What's making us happy: A guide for your weekend reading, listening and gaming

Usagi Tsukino happens upon Luna, a magical talking cat, who tasks Usagi with becoming Sailor Moon.
Naoki Takeuchi/PNP
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Toei Animation Co.,Ltd. via Viz Media
Usagi Tsukino happens upon Luna, a magical talking cat, who tasks Usagi with becoming Sailor Moon.

This week rogue flamingo Pink Floyd was spotted in Texas, Linda Holmes shared the wonders of Netflix's new game show Is It Cake?, and we tried our best to avoid the unending discourse about The Slap.

Here's what NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

Q-Less

I have recently discovered this game called Q-Less. It is designed by Tom Sturdevant – I found it on his TikTok page. The game starts with it twelve dice with different letters on them. You roll them all and then have to piece all twelve letters to make words that connect – so you make a crossword. It's like a word solitaire game. The words need to have at least three letters, and you can't use proper nouns or names.

This game is taking over my life, but in a good way. I used to spend my lunch break eating my sandwich and looking at my phone, and now I spend it eating my sandwich and playing this puzzle game. It's just been a delight. So shout out to my guy Tom and Q-Less. —Andrew Limbong

Box Office Game

A screenshot of Box Office Game.
/ Box Office Game/Screenshot by NPR
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Box Office Game/Screenshot by NPR

There are all these -dle games: there's wordle, there's chordal, there's hurdle. But there is also a different game that I have become obsessed with called Box Office Game. It's similar to wordle in that every day everyone gets the same game on the website, and there is only one game a day. But this game is a little bit more complicated.

Every day the game presents you with a particular weekend of movie releases from the past, except most of the details — including the name of the movies — are blank. So with the limited number of clues they give you and your knowledge of movie release calendars you have to guess the names of the top five films. Since the clues they give you are like how much it grossed, you can also choose to reveal certain clues until you can figure out the name of the movie, but each reveal costs a certain number of points. So it's all a little bit complicated, but I really enjoy it, even though my streak is terrible. —Aisha Harris

'Why Sailor Moon is beloved by so many, 30 years later' on NPR's All Things Considered

Sailor Moon debuted in Japan 30 years ago on March 7, 1992. To celebrate, NPR's Juana Summers talked to Briana Lawrence, fandom editor at The Mary Sue, about Sailor Moon about why the show still endures. The segment aired on All Things Considered last week.

The two of them have such good rapport, and Brianna talks about revisiting Sailor Moon as an adult and how differently you empathize with the characters. She spoke about how when she was younger, Usagi Tsukino – Sailor Moon – was just an annoying crybaby, but revisiting it as an adult, Lawrence realized that, oh yeah, this is a 14-year-old with the weight of the world on her shoulders – of course, she's going to cry. They also talk about the idea of queerness within the show. In the English dub, Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus are cousins, but in the original Japanese version, it's made very clear they are together, which would have been revolutionary for me to see when I was younger, instead of these...really close cousins. It was just such an enjoyable conversation revisiting and exploring new emotions and layers of this show I love. I would highly recommend it. —Mallory Yu

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

  • You know Wordle and maybe even Quordle ... but do you know Duotrigordle?
  • I enjoyed this retrospective about the Chicago era of The A.V. Club, the Onion's entertainment section, which features lots of writers I like — including my co-host, Stephen Thompson.
  • Obviously, in addition to our coverage, there was an awful lot of writing about Will Smith and Chris Rock. If you're still processing that story, some of the really good thinking I read this week came from Roxane Gay, Wesley Morris, and Soraya Nadia McDonald. —Linda Holmes

  • NPR intern Fi O'Reilly adapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment "What's Making Us Happy" into a digital page. If you like these suggestions, consider signing up for our newsletter to get recommendations every week.

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