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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!


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. 🙂

School supply set January 19, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Office, Smiley.
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School supply set with pencil, eraser, ruler, and storage case. Photo taken in Carrefour hypermarket in Abu Dhabi, spring 2010.

My winter term of teaching began last week, but because of all the introductory material we covered last week and our second-week holiday on Monday, I feel like we’ve only just got rolling in my writing classes. So, here are some writing utensils to help you get started.

I actually spotted these back in Abu Dhabi almost a year ago, while shopping for luggage at the Carrefour hypermarket. I cannot tell you how badly I wanted to grab this set — it was cheap, too! — but I was shopping for luggage because I was preparing for my super-massive move back to the States, and every cubic inch and every ounce of luggage space was precious, so I just couldn’t risk trying to stuff even this small, lightweight item into my already over-packed bags. *sigh* Still, I had to at least take a photo of it, just to share with you.

You’re welcome. 🙂

Now get to writing! (And maybe doodle a smiley face in the corner of your paper. Couldn’t hurt.)

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! 🙂

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! 🙂

Sale signs (English and Arabic) August 8, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Public art, signs, & graffiti, Smiley.
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Sale signs, in English and in Arabic, in The One furniture store, Abu Dhabi, February 2011.

When I lived in the United Arab Emirates, one of my favorite coffee shops was the café in The One, a chic furniture store in Abu Dhabi. They have some cool furniture and decor, and their advertising in the café contains all kinds of cool slogans, icons, and signage. But I was especially happy to find this smiley sign advertising a major sale just a couple of months before I moved back to the US.

(Seriously, go check out the website for The One — you might not like all their furniture, but their sense of style on display in their advertising is awesome. The “guru” in the Afro is especially nice!)

BONUS: Reader-submitted sand smiley and poster February 6, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Art, Reader submission, Smiley.
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These smileys come from 4-year-old Maeve, daughter of our friends Heidi and Rodney.  They’d come to visit us from Dubai this past weekend, and while they were here Maeve decided to make a poster for our front door with images special to Jennifer (the ladybug and cat) and me (the two smiley faces).  Later, we all went out into the desert for a “safari” adventure with dune-bashing and camel rides, and Maeve made a second smiley in the sand for me.

Thanks, Maeve!  These both are awesome!  🙂

BONUS: Reader-submitted laptop December 19, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Office, Reader submission, Smiley.
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Smiley face sticker on laptop. Submitted by Jennifer S-B.

My wife used to groan every time we’d even see a smiley face, because she knew I’d want to add it to my collection.  But ever since I started this blog–with her encouragement!–she’s become my biggest supporter, and sometimes I think she finds more smileys than I do!  She’s truly awesome.

This sticker is on the laptop of one of the student workers in the university library where my wife works, in Abu Dhabi.  Laptop stickers are HUGE on that campus–all the students have them in all shapes and sizes and themes.  So when my wife saw this smiley in the library one day, she knew it belonged in the blog, and she grabbed these photos with her camera phone.  Below are two more angles on it.

Thanks, Jennifer!  🙂

Even MORE bonus: computers and laptops have become a kind of theme here!  Check out the reader-submitted video from October 13 and the magazine cover from October 15 (the latter was also from my wife!).