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Paddle ball September 30, 2010

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

How exasperating are these things?  I have never been able to manage this game.  I might get in two or three good whacks before the ball bounces off my head or the string wraps around my neck.  Honestly, it’s a wonder this hasn’t killed me yet.  Give me ball-in-a-cup* any day.

Still, if I have to own a paddle ball, this is the one to own.  There’s a part of me that wishes it was yellow instead of pink, I admit, but a smiley is a smiley, and no matter how frustrating it is to play, it’s always fun to look at.

* Since I mentioned it:


Slap bracelet September 27, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Clothing & Accessories, Smiley.
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I remember when these things got banned from school.  Silly, really, since to us they always seemed so harmless–until you got slapped by one you weren’t ready for.  I don’t care what material these are sheathed in (this one is nylon), they leave a hell of a welt if you’re not careful!  Which, let’s face it, is why we thought they were so much fun back in our school days.

And also, they look cool.

Dress safely, kids!

Smiley simulacrum: “Smile at the sky” September 23, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Simulacra, Smiley.
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"Smile at the sky," simulacrum smiley on a rooftop. Rocks and scrap wire. Photo taken in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, May 2010.

Back in May, I was leaning out the window of our apartment, watching the neighborhood and sipping coffee, when I found this smile on the roof next door.

It’s the smiles I least expect to find that make me smile most.  🙂

Here’s a close-up:

Detail from "Smile at the sky" simulacrum.

Construction smiley September 20, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Public art, signs, & graffiti, Smiley, Travel.
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Construction smiley. Photo taken in downtown Amsterdam, near Spui, April 2010.

I love when people try to make their work a little happier.  My wife and I found this mischievous  smirk painted on the bashed-in front end of a city construction trailer in downtown Amsterdam, near the Spui neighborhood.  We’d been on our feet all day, trekking all over the city, and we were nearing exhaustion, but this little guy perked us right up.

BONUS: Pirate Smiley! September 19, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Food, Holidays, Smiley, Web smileys.
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pirate con leche

Image by Chris Blakeley via Flickr

Ahoy!  In case ye dinae know, today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

And this be a pirate smiley!


And that there on the starboard side be another pirate smiley!

(“Starboard” be on yer right, ye landlubber scalawags!)

Need more happiness than a barrel o’ rum?  Try openin’ this dead man’s chest and behold the treasure within:  Pirate Smiley @ Cafe Press.

But before ye leave, Uncle Smiley needs a crew! Sign the articles (you landlubbers call `em the “RSS feed”) and get yer smileys every week!

Now shove off, mateys, and don’ forget to talk like a pirate!  Arrr!!

Avast!!! Before ye be off, allow me to set yer course:  I’ve hoisted me Jolly Rogers in all its variations aboard the grand ship Skull-a-Day!

Bathroom sink set September 16, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Kitchen & Bath.
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Bathroom sink set (cup, soap dish, toothbrush holder). From my personal collection.

This bathroom set got me my own bathroom!  Okay, not really, but the timing was convenient:  Around the time I got this set, my wife and I moved into an apartment with a 1 1/3 bath, which meant that I had my own sink.  This was a great relief for both of us, because I wanted a place to display my smileys, but my wife had wisely pointed out how that bright yellow plastic clashed with our more adult bathroom decor.  With the spare sink (in another part of the apartment), it was a win-win.

In Mike Meyer’s interview on Inside the Actors Studio, he explained that he often comes up with movie ideas in the bathtub because, as he said, “bath time is silly time.”  I see no reason that should be confined to the tub; the bathroom sink can be just as silly, just as fun, as the tub.

Ink stamp September 13, 2010

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

You know you love these.  When you were a kid, you yearned for them.  When you got your handwriting assignment back in first grade, the one in which you had to write a small story while also demonstrating how well you printed your letters, and which you meticulously decorated with doodles and illustrations in all the margins, so much so that you didn’t really pay attention to the handwriting and consequently dropped all your esses and tees below the baseline and made all your bees crooked and your ques backward, you knew none of that would matter because your drawings were vivid and your story was awesome, and you grabbed for the paper in full expectation of finding this–a little inked smiley face, faded on one side where the teacher didn’t quite press down hard enough–as a reward for all your creative genius.

Of course, you didn’t always get one, because that handwriting thing was kind of important.  Or maybe it was just me.

Anyway, I make sure I always have one of these around now.  Because I don’t care how bad my handwriting is (and it’s still awful)–I can always reward myself with a stamped smiley face!

Smile in prayer September 11, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Art, Smiley.
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"Smile in prayer." My own drawing, in Sharpie.

This blog project is supposed to be about injecting a little happiness into the world.  We do it because the world could always use a little more happiness, a few more reasons to smile.

Days like today–the 9th anniversary of truly horrifying terrorist attacks in the US–make it hard to smile, but they also remind us how important smiling can be.

Today, I offer only the simplest of smiley faces, a quiet, meditative sketch, a smile of the spirit.

But you have plenty more smiles to find:

Look to a friend or a loved one and find your smile there.

Remember the people you’ve lost, but remember them smiling.

Find your nearest emergency service person–a police officer, a fire fighter, a paramedic–and thank them, and see them smile in return.

Find others who serve and help us:  clergy, doctors, librarians, military personnel, postal workers, teachers, and so on.  Thank them, too.

Go outside and offer others your own smile.

Today is for remembering a lot of things, but we should never be forced to remember hatred or to dwell in sorrow.  And we should always remember the importance of spreading joy.

L’shana tova September 9, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Smiley.
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L'shana tova! Illustration I made on my computer, in celebration of Rosh Hashanah.

Today gets two posts because it is also Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, during which Jews renew their relationship with G-d*.  (My Jewish friends and readers, please feel free to add to or correct any explanations I’ve included here!)

This smiley illustration includes a shofar, a traditional horn used in Jewish religious services, and two apples, which are sometimes served during Rosh Hashanah to bring in a “sweet” and “fruitful” new year.  There are a number of traditional greetings, but the title of this post, “L’shana tova,” will serve you well today.

* In Judaism, depending on the tradition and the circumstances, it is considered at least poor taste (and more usually forbidden) to write the name of G-d, so when writing in English, many Jews choose to omit the letter “o” in order to denote the name without actually spelling it in its entirety.  I have followed this practice for this post out of respect.

Eid mubarak! September 9, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Art, Holidays, Smiley.
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Eid mubarak! Illustration I made on my computer, in celebration of Eid al Fitr.

Depending on where you live, this post is a day early:  Tomorrow is the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr.  It is a joyous celebration at the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.

(For those of you who might not know a lot about Ramadan, check out my short introduction in the post “Ramadan smiles!“)

It’s been a hot Ramadan here in Abu Dhabi, but it’s also been a serene, reflective month, full of traditional Ramadan kindness and charity, fellowship and community and celebration.

The three-day holiday of Eid al Fitr marks the end of the holy month and is celebrated by eating a modest morning meal then attending special prayers and a sermon in the mosque (similar to Easter Sunday services in Christianity).  To wish Muslims a happy holiday in Arabic, you tell them, “Eid mubarak!” (pronounced “EED moo-BAR-ahk”).

About the symbols in the illustration: Common symbols during Ramadan include lanterns, stars, and the crescent moon, which represent the “light” of the Qur’an as a gift to humanity.  The crescent moon itself, called hilal in Arabic, represents the moon phase at the beginning of each lunar month (Islam uses a lunar calendar) and is especially prevalent.  This style of archway (known as a horseshoe or keyhole arch, sometimes–as here–pointed) is common to Arabic, Moorish, Persian, and Indian architecture, and is also commonly used as a frame for Islamic decorations.  The archway in my illustration is actually the central arch leading into the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.