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Hackysack August 30, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Smiley, Toys.
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Hackysack. From my personal collection.

I was never any good at this, but like every college guy in the `90s, I spent hours and hours (and hours) hanging out in the quad, in my friends’ front yards, in the street outside my parents’ house–pretty much wherever, whenever–kicking around the old hackysack.  It took me a long time to find one that felt good on my foot, though.  Enter the hemp-woven smiley face, which was my constant companion for a number of years.  It became such a comfort item that I still carry it around with me–even when we moved overseas, more than 7,000 miles from our former home, I made sure I packed this hackysack, and it now sits on a shelf in our living room.  (Except this summer:  I actually packed the hackysack and took it back to the States during our vacation, just so I could kick it around with my brother for a while.  In the middle of the street.  In front of our parents’ house.  Good times.)

Hackysack is a great way to kick back and let go of some stress, and stress-free people are happy people.

A note on spelling: A lot of sources choose to spell “hacky sack” as two words, but I suspect none of these authors ever owned a hackysack.  No one who’s ever kicked one of these around has ever used the expression “I’m going to hacky,” and no one, period, would ever, ever say “I’m going to kick around the sack.”  No guys, anyway.  Trust me on this.  The morphemes “hacky” and “sack,” then, are utterly inseparable.  It is hackysack, one word, period.


Backpack August 26, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Clothing & Accessories, Smiley, Travel.
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Backpack (someone else's). Photo taken on the rooftop of the NEMO museum in Amsterdam, April 2010.

Staying with the back-to-school theme:  Here’s a little something to put your smiley pencils in!

BONUS: Coffee Pot Films August 24, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Smiley, Web smileys.
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Logo for Coffee Pot Films, Irving, TX. http://vimeo.com/coffeepotfilms

Earlier today, I was nosing around Facebook when I stumbled across a combination of my two favorite things:  Coffee, and smiley faces!  This is a small, local film group doing short films for the Web (much like my brother [shameless plug], Jon Snoek).  Plus, they’re a great excuse to pass along a pot of coffee and/or a smile to anyone looking for a morning pick-me-up.

Pencils August 23, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Office, Smiley.
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Pencils. From my personal collection.

Remember the first day of school?  I always had mixed feelings about starting a new school year.  On the one hand, every year I spent the last weeks of August psyching myself up, telling myself that this year I would reinvent myself.  I would get all new clothes, all new gear, a whole new haircut, and I would stride confidently onto campus that first day and prove to everyone just how cool I really was.

And then, every year, well…  No.  Same old dork.

And I knew this, so a part of me always dreaded the first day of school.  But then, I was a huge nerd, absolutely loved learning, and so however anxious I was about making a good impression, I was always also excited to get back into the classroom.  (These days, nothing’s changed:  I still have those nervous dreams the week before a new semester, in which I miss all my classes or teach all the wrong material or wear all the wrong clothes–if I’m wearing clothes at all, because let’s face it, we’ve all had that dream–but during my waking hours, I’m poring through syllabi and earmarking textbook pages and devising whole new first-day speeches.  I teach college because I still love to learn!)

One of my favorite pre school-year activities, then, was shopping for school supplies.  The smell of a new pencil, the sound of plastic coming off a new ream of college-ruled notebook paper, the impossibility of ever figuring out my calculator….  I love it, even now.  So, here you go, kids:  Stuff your Trapper Keepers into your backpacks, check your hair in the mirror on your way to the bus, and don’t forget to take a smiley-face pencil.  May your new academic year be a happy one!

BONUS: Child art August 20, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Art, Reader submission.
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“Happy faces.” Art by Taylor Steele. Drawn on 19 August 2010.

My friend Heather Steele sent me a message in Facebook yesterday that her two-year-old daughter had begun drawing her first “happy faces” — on the very day this blog launched! I asked if I could post them for you all to read, and she said sure, so here they are: two-year-old Taylor’s first drawings of happy faces.

I adore child art for its simplicity and its honesty, even if I have a hard time deciphering it. Heather herself seemed unsure about the subject matter of this work, but her daughter assures her these are happy faces. For me, the drawing that most resembles what we’d call a “smiley face” is on the bottom, just right of center, but the joy of creation is evident throughout the page, isn’t it?

Thanks, Heather and Taylor, for sharing the happy!

Cheeseman August 19, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Art, Smiley.
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"Cheeseman." My own doodle, in Sharpie.

This is not your typical smiley-face, I know, but I had to begin with it for personal reasons.  When I was in high school, I wound up with the odd nickname of “Cheeseman” (which I seem to remember sometimes spelling with a z).  My old high school friends insist I gave myself the name, though I don’t remember why.  But I do remember doodling this face, all grin and gleaming eyes, as the face of my sobriquet.  I used the doodle so frequently back then that, among my group of close friends, it sometimes served as my signature on passed notes or as a mark of ownership scribbled into notebooks and binders.  This grinning guy was, in many ways, my not-so-alter ego.  So I thought it would make a fun first smiley.

:) August 19, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Smiley, Uncategorized, Web smileys.
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WordPress loves smileys, too! To be honest, this is one reason I chose to start blogging here.

I’m Sam Snoek-Brown, and I love smiley faces.

If that sounds like a confession of some sort, I suppose it is.  My wife calls my mother-in-law (who kindly supplies me with the majority of my smiley face collection) my “enabler,” so clearly it’s a kind of sickness.

But it’s a delightful sickness, one based on the appreciation of happiness.  Better still, smiles are contagious, and my passion for smiley faces is also rooted in my compassion for others–I want to spread smiles everywhere.

So, this blog.

My goal is to post twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, a different smiley face each post.  This is both easier and harder than it sounds.  Finding smiley faces is the easy part–they’re everywhere, a proliferation for which I am always grateful!  But I want each smiley to be unique, which isn’t going to be easy at all.  The smiley, as an icon, has only so many variations, after all–deviate too far from the recognizable shape and it no longer serves its function.  But that simplicity of design is one of the greatest thing about smileys:  You can put them on anything!  I own dozens and dozens of objects bearing the smiley face or designed in the shape of a smiley face, and objects like these (my own and others I find) will make for the bulk of the posts.  But the smiley is also popular art, so in addition to smileys I’ve created in some unconventional places, I’ll also be posting smiley faces I find in public, too.  And every now and then, I find a smiley in nature–a splotch on a rock, a twist in some tree bark, the drape of a chain lock or some debris in the street that happens to form a little bit of happiness in the world.  So I’ll post those too.

But I don’t want to have all the fun.  The point of all this is to share the smiles, and I’m just as happy to receive as to give.  So please, if you’ve bought, made, or seen some smileys you want to share with me, send them along.  I’m always happy to see more smileys!