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2011 in review December 31, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Smiley.
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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,100 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


BookSmile sign in Thailand December 29, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Public art, signs, & graffiti, Smiley, Travel.
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BookSmile sign. Phuket Town, Phuket, Thailand, November 2010.

Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles, so it’s no wonder I found so many smiley faces there. This one was a sign for a Thai bookseller, BookSmile. Apparently, they’re pretty widespread, but they’re not a huge bookstore like Barnes & Noble or our massive Powell’s Books here in Portland. They’re more like the Starbucks of books, small operations that can stand alone but are perfectly happy to tuck into corners of other businesses. This one was in the back of a convenience store. Which was very, well, convenient!

T-shirt December 26, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Clothing & Accessories, Smiley.
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T-shirt. From my personal collection.

This is probably my largest smiley face, in terms of the size of eyes and mouth. And it seems to be up to something. I wonder if I should be worried. I wonder if, like Spider-Man’s black alien suit, this shirt will change my personality when I put it on.

Now I’m the one who’s up to something! 😉


Christmas coffee mug December 22, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Holidays, Kitchen & Bath, Smiley.
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Christmas coffee mug. From my personal collection.

What would the winter holidays be without a hot beverage in a holiday mug? Whether you enjoy hot cocoa, hot tea, hot buttered rum, hot glühwein, or — like I do — hot coffee, you need a holiday mug to drink it from! And in my case, that mug had better have a smiley face on it!

Happy holidays in general, everyone! And if, like the smiley on this mug, you believe in Santa Claus, then Merry Christmas.

And to all a good night! 🙂

Christmas kitchen towel December 19, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Holidays, Kitchen & Bath, Smiley.
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Christmas kitchen towel. From my personal collection.

I do a LOT of baking around the holidays. Any holidays, but especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So I go through a lot of kitchen towels as I make messes in and clean up (repeat as needed!) my kitchen.

But this towel is just for decoration! And for smiling. 🙂

Smiley simulacrum: Arabic “smiley” in holiday lights December 15, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Public art, signs, & graffiti, Simulacra, Smiley.
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The Arabic letter "ta" in lights, outside the Al Wahda Mall, Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 2010.

Back toward the beginning of the year, I posted an example of how the Arabic character “ta” resembles a smiley face. It’s turned out to be one of my most popular posts! So now that it’s December, I thought I’d post another version of the “smiley” Arabic letter. In the United Arab Emirates, where we used to live, December 2 is National Day, which commemorates the founding of the country, and every year they light up the whole nation in elaborate decorative displays. And they leave the lights up for most of the month, so for my wife and I (and hundreds of thousands of other expats), the December atmosphere feels a bit Christmasy!

This sign is outside one of the malls in Abu Dhabi, and the character, “ta,” forms part of an Arabic word for “sale.” You can see that word — and this “smiley” — on loads of signs inside the mall, but I wanted to make sure I snapped this photo (which is pretty poor quality because it’s a camera phone image) to capture the happy holiday spirit in the city! 🙂

Clog heels December 12, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Clothing & Accessories, Smiley.
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I miss these shoes.

Clog heels (or so my wife tells me). Formerly from my (wife's) personal collection.

Okay, they weren’t actually my shoes. Several years ago, when we lived in Denton, TX, my wife and I spied these clog heels in a vintage clothing store and I insisted she get them. My wife is wonderfully indulgent! And she actually wore them a few times, too, but come to find out, wood soles and plastic uppers aren’t as comfortable as you’d think. Still, we kept them in storage and lugged them around all our various moves around the country until this summer, when we both began streamlining our wardrobes. And it was time to let the smiley shoes go.

But the whole point of collecting smileys — and of this blog! — is to share the happiness, so I take comfort in the knowledge that somewhere out there, someone is getting happiness out of their footwear!

Walk on, happy feet!

Reader-submitted child’s drawings December 8, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Art, Reader submission, Smiley.
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I get my share of reader submissions (mostly from friends and family but I’m always happy to receive them!), but they usually come via Facebook or email. Today I got a reader submission by mail!

The envelope my smileys came in. (Addresses blurred, of course.)

The Zoey in the return address is my four-year-old niece. She sat down a short while ago and drew some smileys at her kitchen table then insisted her mother, my sister, send them to me.

I wound up with several sheets of drawing paper covered in bright, happy faces!

Reader-submitted smiley art, by Zoey. (Thanks, Zoey!)

I love the smileys that children draw. I’ve had child art here on the blog before, and I’ve seen a lot of other drawings elsewhere, and they always make me happy. One thing I find interesting, though, is that smileys drawn by very young kids always seem to focus less on the grinning mouth and more on the eyes — the eyes in most young kids’ smileys are HUGE, the gigantic circles almost as big as the whole “face” of the smiley face. It’s as though they can instinctively tell fake smiles from true smiles, which, research tells us, actually does involve the eyes as much as or more than the mouth!

Kids are so smart. 🙂

The snack that smiles back! December 5, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Food, Kitchen & Bath, Smiley.
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When I was a kid, I always enjoyed giving gifts to my teachers at the holidays because my mother was a teacher and I marveled at the piles of small gifts she brought home each Christmas and each summer. But grade school kids are cool about that. College kids aren’t always so thoughtful, and when I began teaching college I certainly didn’t expect to receive gifts myself. But sure enough, once in a while a student will get generous and bring me a Christmas card or a coffee mug or flag from his home country.

Today, I got a giant Goldfish cracker.

Goldfish cracker container. New to my personal collection!

A few weeks ago I caught a student nibbling Goldfish in class. I don’t mind food in the classroom, but I mock-scolded her for not sharing her crackers with me. I wound up revealing to the whole class that I love Goldfish crackers, partly because they’re addictively (and probably unhealthily) delicious, and partly because I love smiley faces. Plus, I take a macabre pleasure in their bizarre slogan, “The snack that smiles back — until you bite their heads off.”

One of my students remembered that conversation and today, after she finished her final exam, she gave me this Goldfish snack container and a couple of tiny boxes of Goldfish crackers!

Goldfish cracker container (opened). New to my personal collection!

Thanks, my student, for thinking of me! That was genuinely awesome. 🙂

Bouncy ball bowling ball video game! December 1, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Smiley, Toys, Video.
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You’re reading this post’s title right: I’m writing about a bouncy ball, which functions as a bowling ball, inside a video game.

That is just layers of awesome!

The other day, I was poking around Apple’s Mac App store for free games to try out on my MacBook, and I found this bolwing game called Gutterball — Golden Pin Bowling. I tend to stick to card games (solitaire, blackjack) and word games (TextTwist, Scrabble, crosswords) for simple leisure games on my computers, but something about this bowling game made me think of my old Ten Pin Alley game on my now-antique PS1. The games aren’t at all the same, really, but I did remember how much I enjoyed blowing hours and hours playing computer bowling, so I figured I’d give this game a shot.

Turns out, this isn’t a standard bowling game. It can be, if you play it straight, but the designers give you all sorts of fun options to jazz up the game, including a “steering wheel” to direct your ball down the lanes, bombs that produce exploding strikes, and wild custom balls you can buy by collecting “golden pins” during game play. I skipped to the end of the custom balls list just to see what the priciest options were (a fireball, a disco ball, the earth), and then I worked my way back through the list.

Which is when I discovered the smiley face bowling ball.

My smiley face bowling ball, which serves as my player icon, is in the upper left corner of the load screen.

Here's a close-up of my bowling ball.

The smiley face is only on one side of the ball and faces you when you place the ball on the lane to begin bowling:

Here's my bowling ball on the lane, ready to strike!

A close-up of my bowling ball on the lane.

But here’s the best part: the smiley face bowling ball is also a giant bouncy ball! Seriously — this thing is jumpy, bounding down the lanes and, if you throw it right, ricocheting around inside the pin housing after a strike!

When you win the game (which I always do, because right now I’m playing solo), the game shows the winner’s ball rotating across the score screen, which gives me my best view of my giant smiley face bouncy ball bowling ball!

Every winner deserves a smiley face!