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Reader-submitted smiley figure October 15, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Reader submission, Smiley, Toys.
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Smiley figure at Tadpoles in Dallas, TX. Submitted by Rachael L.B. and her awesome son Clark.

Way, way back in middle school, my eighth grade year, I co-emceed the school talent show with Rachael, a girl I knew from around but not very well. She was totally cool, though (she listened to Mötley Crüe!) and we became friends. We made a great double act on stage, too — we played opposites, me the nerdy yuckster and she the cool rock-n-roll chick, and we got good laughs — but adolescence and those hazy college years being what they are, my friend and I lost track of each other until reconnecting a few years ago on Facebook.

It’s been fun reliving the old memories, but I was particularly thrilled when Rachael sent me this photo in an email the other day! “My son was checking out all these toys,” she wrote, “and I saw this one and thought of you!”

Hurray! What is it? Where is it? I was all questions.

“It was at a toy store in Dallas, I’m pretty sure named Tadpoles,” she wrote back. “Clark had asked me every day this week if we could please go to the toy store, so finally today I agreed. He was a very happy camper!”

Clark, who has good taste in toys.

Very happy indeed!

Thanks, Rachael! You’re still the cool chick. And thanks, Clark! You obviously inherited your mom’s great taste. 🙂


Dish brush September 10, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Kitchen & Bath, Smiley, Toys.
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Smiley dish brush (and My Little Ponies), courtesy of Lulu.

Jennifer and I went to a Pie Party hosted by one of her coworkers (excellent pear pie and plum pie, Amanda!), and among the many happy friends and colleagues and children who turned up was a pair of twin sisters, Mia and Lulu, who brought along their My Little Ponies. These ponies need a lot of care, of course, including regular mane-brushing, so the girls brought along an assortment of brushes, among which was this FABULOUS smiley-face brush (actually for dishes, but it worked great as a mane brush and later served as a toothbrush when the girls played “dentist”).

Obviously, I laughed and applauded the smiley face brush, and Lulu was nice enough to let me photograph it for my blog.

Thanks, Mia and Lulu (and I hope I’m spelling your names right)! 🙂


Kid-sized taxi stroller April 26, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Car, Smiley, Toys.
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Kid-sized taxi stroller. Near Irving Park, Portland, OR, 23 April 2012.

The other night, Jennifer and I were out for an evening stroll through the neighborhood when I spotted this decidedly happy little taxi stroller parked on the corner near our neighborhood park. It seemed abandoned, but I couldn’t tell if someone had left it out for our friendly neighborhood freegans or had simply left it at the park and someone was leaving it aside for them. But either way, the stroller looked happy (and in good condition), so I grabbed this quick pic. Not bad for such low light and a simple iPod camera!

Here’s the taxi from the side, so you can see the “checkered cab” design along the doors:

Pez dispenser April 2, 2012

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

I think Pez was invented to make parents insane. We call it “candy,” but really it’s just compressed sugar pellets, like kids are gerbils or something. And then we put the compressed sugar pellets into these fun, spring-loaded — and collectible! — toys, semi-complicated gizmos like the kind you see in lab experiments that reward test animals with “treats.”

And I totally love them!

I used to have a handful of these old Pez dispensers — a Tigger, a Batman, a Superman somewhere — but they’ve all slipped away over the years. This smiling guy, though, is still with me, feeding me the happy pills one (or a dozen) at a time! 🙂

Beach paddle ball February 9, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Smiley, Toys.
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Beach paddle ball (or Frescobol). From my personal collection.

I picked these up for the beach and the parks when we lived in Abu Dhabi. The game is kind of like a middle ground between tennis and table tennis, though I don’t know exactly what it’s called, if anything. To watch the game, you might think it’s a version of the Brazilian game Frescobol, but if that’s on purpose, this is a poor-man’s iteration. And to be honest, I played this with the cats in the house more than I played it outside, though in my defense, Abu Dhabi is usually REALLY hot outside! Here in Portland, though, the weather is much nicer, so now that I’ve pulled these out of storage, I’m just waiting for summer again. 🙂

Smiley domino keychain January 26, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Car, Decor, Holidays, Smiley, The Great Enabler, Toys.
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Domino keychain. New to my personal collection!

The Great Enabler has further enabled me! And this time she has an accomplice!

A couple of weeks ago, this domino keychain arrived in the mail. A long time ago, my father-in-law received this as a fun little Christmas gift — it is green, after all! And so for years, my in-laws had been hanging this as an ornament on their Christmas tree. But after dismantling and packing away the tree and ornaments this year, my in-laws decided to pass along this joyous game piece to me.

It actually is a domino piece, too — a double five:

Thanks, Enablers! 🙂

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!

Pac-Man … something … in a car November 10, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Car, Clothing & Accessories, Decor, Smiley, Toys.
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Pac-Man on the dashboard of a car in Portland, OR.

What better manifestation of the smiley face in three dimensions has there ever been than Pac-Man? Sure, the guy is so happy partly because he’s overdosing on those power pellets, and he doesn’t do much to help those poor ghosts have a nice day. But if you ever try to turn a wide-grinning smiley into a sphere, you inevitably wind up with Pac-Man. And he does always make me smile.

What exactly this is, though, I can’t tell you. I stumbled across it while walking the streets in my neighborhood back in August and grabbed this quick snapshot on my cell phone as I passed the car. Looking at it later, I thought for a while it might be this bizarre Pac-Man hat, but the seams are different and that Pac-Man hat is HUGE. This guy is more pouch-sized, almost like a small Pac-Man purse. But then, why is it out there on the dashboard for all the world to see?

To make all the world a happier place, you say? Okay, I’ll buy that. 🙂

BONUS: Reader-submitted superball August 20, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Reader submission, Smiley, Toys.
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Superball. Photo submitted by Dylan S.

My good friend Dylan (we went to high school together!) sent me this bouncy little happy face in Facebook the other day. “Ha!” he wrote, “Saw it and thought of you Sam.” He found it in a local grocery store in North Texas; it’s a suberball, “with glitter and a flashing light in it. It’s fab-u-lous!!

So are you, Dylan! Thanks for sending this! 🙂

Got a smiley you want to share? Check out the “About the blog” page and send me an email! 🙂

Balloon August 18, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Decor, Holidays, Smiley, Toys.
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On my wife’s birthday, we were driving across town when I noticed a bright yellow balloon skipping down the sidewalk like a runaway puppy. The cars passing on the busy city street buffeted the poor lost balloon, and I saw that soon it would drift into an intersection and perhaps be lost forever. So I whipped the car to the side of the road and ran down the sidewalk to catch the balloon, which jumped into my arms like it had been expecting me. And then I gave the balloon to my wife, because it was her birthday. 🙂

This week is my birthday (and the first anniversary of this blog!), and I, too, have a yellow balloon. But I’m Uncle Smiley, so my yellow balloon has a face.

Balloon. From my personal collection.