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Smiley simulacrum: drawer pull June 28, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Decor, Simulacra, Smiley.
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Drawer pull. From an end table at Target.

Jennifer and I were shopping at Target the other day when she pointed to this end table and said, “Does that look like a smiley face?”

Why yes, my happy, observant wife. Yes, it does look like a smiley face. 🙂

I’m not seeing this table on Target’s website, but here’s the whole table:


Smiley simulacrum: ginger iced tea June 11, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Food, Simulacra, Smiley.
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Smiley in a ginger iced tea. Noodle House Thai restaurant, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

This one is tricky and I almost didn’t see it. A few years ago, Jennifer and I were out to dinner with some friends of ours, Heidi and Rodney and their daughter Maeve, at a Thai restaurant in Abu Dhabi. One of us (I forget who) ordered a ginger iced tea with dinner, and when the waitress set it on the table, she placed a straw in front of the slender glass.

And then I saw it.

Two ice cubes were pressing against the inside of the glass, creating two tiny dark spot in all that gingery beige. And below them the curve of the glass reflected the white straw…. And viola! A smiley face!

Seriously, I see smileys everywhere! 🙂

Smiley simulacrum: wicker chair (back) April 30, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Decor, Simulacra, Smiley.
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Wicker chair (back). Portland, OR.

I was out walking the neighborhood earlier this week when I spotted this wicker chair on someone’s front porch. I only had my iPod with me, hence the Instagramish look; and I didn’t want to invade someone else’s yard to take creepy photos of their front door, hence the grainy quality (I love the iPod’s camera, but the zoom leaves a lot to be desired). Still, the smiley face on the back of that chair is unmistakeable, and I grinned the whole rest of my walk home.

Also, in case you’re starting to think my neighborhood is absolutely covered in smileys (it is): remember that happy taxi stroller from the last post? Yesterday, my wife and I went on a shopping run to our nearby mall (my wife has a fashion blog) and discovered a whole fleet of those same taxi strollers! Turns out that abandoned yellow stroller had been stolen from the Lloyd Center Mall! So if any mall cops are looking for that stroller, you might try patrolling Irving Park. It could still turn up. 🙂

Reader-submitted “Smiley Book of Colors” April 16, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Books, Reader submission, Simulacra, Smiley.
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My friend Anthony P. — a librarian — sent me a link to this wonderful article about a book called The Smiley Book of Colors, by Ruth Kaiser.

The Smiley Book of Colors, by Ruth Kaiser. Submitted by reader Anthony P.

I assumed from the title that it was a children’s book, but I was half wrong. It is a children’s book, of sorts, but it’s rooted in some pretty hard-core scientific research, “at once teaching (eternal) kids basic color theory and instilling in them the habits of optimism — a charming, light-hearted complement to the recent grown-up exploration of the science of smiles,” according to Maria Popova.

The book’s concept is simple: it pairs color-coded smiley faces with psychologically appropriate aphorisms about happiness based on the colors in the images. But what strikes me most about the book is that all the images are simulacra — examples of smileys occurring accidentally (or synchronistically?) in the world! To my mind, that approach invites children (and adults) to be on the lookout for hidden smileys everywhere, and with that mindset, we all wind up thinking about happiness a little more and becoming happy a little more often. 🙂

If you can’t afford to buy the book yet, or you tried to check it out from the library but it’s already on hold by someone else, at least check out the article about the book and browse some of the AWESOME smiley simulacra there!

Smiley simulacrum: gouges in the street February 13, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Simulacra, Smiley.
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Gouges in the street, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 2011.

This smiley simulacrum looks intentional, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t — as far as I can tell, this is a complete accident. Gouges in the asphalt like this were quite common in the streets of our old neighborhood in Abu Dhabi. Sometimes they were from wheel rims as cars with flat tires navigated into parking spots; other times they were boat trailers that had slipped off hitches or construction equipment that crashed to the street from the latest apartment construction site. In this case, the “eyes” of the smiley (which I suspect were from two separate occasions of a trailer hitch slipping) were already there when we moved in, but the “smile” turned up later, perhaps from a kid stopping a makeshift skateboard or perhaps from a dodgy wheel on a rubbish cart one of the street cleaners was wheeling through the street. Whatever the case, the smiley (I’m fairly certain) happened by happy accident. Which is the best kind of accident!

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! 🙂

Reader-submitted simulacrum: street lights November 21, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Reader submission, Simulacra, Smiley.
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Street lights a shopping center in Newnan, GA. Photo by Kristin Buck; submitted with permission by Beth Davidson.

Believe it or not, these are street lights in Newnan, Georgia. A friend of a friend, Kristin Buck, spotted this from inside her car and snapped the photo on a cold Georgia evening, and shared it on Facebook. Kristin’s original caption in Facebook: “There’s a little happiness everywhere, you just have to look ;)”

Which is what made our mutual friend, Beth Davidson, think of this blog — which is how it wound up here.

From the Deep South to the Pacific Northwest: that’s a long way for a smiley to travel!

Thanks, Kristin and Beth, for being so open to to the world that you see smiley faces even on a cold, dark night! And thanks, too, for sharing that little bit of happiness with the rest of us! 🙂

Smiley simulacrum: spare wheel hub November 14, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Car, Simulacra, Smiley.
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Spare wheel hub on an SUV, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Photo courtesy Jennifer Snoek-Brown.

My wife is developing as good an eye as mine for spotting smiley faces. Which is delightful, because it almost doubles my smiley intake!

She spotted this one grinning from the back of an SUV in Abu Dhabi, UAE, shortly before she flew back to the States early this summer. And for my money, this beats a “Have a Nice Day!” bumper sticker any day.

Hope you had a nice day, too, happy reader! 🙂

Smiley simulacrum: Hello Kitty cupcake November 3, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Food, Simulacra, Smiley.
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A few months ago, my wife and I attended a neighborhood party in the park across the street from our apartment. The party was a potluck (we brought potato salad), so we had a wide variety of foods to choose from, including cupcakes: chocolate cupcakes with little Dora the Explorer plastic rings stuck into the icing, and vanilla cupcakes with Hello Kitty rings stuck in the icing.

Vanilla cupcake with a Hello Kitty ring stuck in the icing.

I ate a Dora the Explorer cupcake, and I kept the ring — it now hangs, appropriately, from the mast of the ship that is the base of my bedside lamp.

My wife ate a Hello Kitty cupcake. And when she removed her ring, she discovered a smiley face in the icing!

A smiley face in the icing!


Smiley simulacrum: coffee burner September 12, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Kitchen & Bath, Simulacra, Smiley.
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My coffee burner. Photo taken August 2011.

If you’re new to this blog, I should tell you now that I love coffee. If you’re a long-time reader, I should tell you now that this is not the last coffee-related smiley you’re ever going to see. What can I say? Coffee makes me smile.

Even when spills over the pot and burns on the hotplate. Which, apparently, makes the hotplate smile, too. 🙂