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Z is for Zelda, Zeppelin, Zombie and Zardoz "for comic relief"
January 22, 2014 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Alphabet Blocks for a Geek Baby "Amateur engineer/designer" Jonathan M. Guberman made his newborn son a set of custom engraved wooden alphabet blocks, with "things that his mother and I were looking forward to sharing with him" on 4 of the 6 sides. (See them all here) "The only real rule I followed in choosing subjects was trying to maintain an even gender balance" which makes them even more awesome. (Of course, your choices for certain letters may vary)
posted by oneswellfoop (43 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Adorable!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:52 PM on January 22


I was looking for Pabst, Trucker Hat, and Goatee.
posted by Curious Artificer at 12:53 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


where do I buy these?
posted by rebent at 12:57 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


I was with him at Ada Lovelace. I was cheering by Grandma Ben.

G is for the Great Cow Race!
posted by theweasel at 12:59 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


One-of-a-kind, but I expect the reaction will lead to Mr. Guberman at least considering mass production... of course, these are personal choices - customization would be most awesome... and virtually impossible.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:01 PM on January 22




Argh, also looking for a purchase link.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:03 PM on January 22


oneswellfoop is hereby awarded the Oak Cluster With Five Gold Stars for excellence/thoroughness in tagging this post.
- as awarded by the committee for obsessive cataloguing
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 1:07 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


T is for "Trafalgar".
posted by Redfield at 1:13 PM on January 22


I'm trying to imagine my reactions if my parents had made me play with toys festooned with references to the media properties that imprinted deeply on them in their youth and the three that keep coming up are 1. perplexity, 2. indifference, and 3. horror. Don't get me wrong, as a thing-in-itself this is super cool and I love most of the stuff on these blocks. I just hope the next generation of kids has enough cool things to discover on their own that they could give two shits about whatever timeworn geek touchstones mom and dad are trying to proselytise to them.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:14 PM on January 22 [25 favorites]


"things that his mother and I were looking forward to sharing with him"

When I was little, I classified about 90% of the pop culture my parents liked as Corny Parent Stuff and instantly dismissed it. This project is cute and well done, but I can easily imagine a real-life kid rolling his eyes at his dad's attempts get him interested in Buffy and Doctor Who.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:17 PM on January 22


These are beautiful and interesting, but I think I would want a child I was responsible for to be looking at and messing around with animals, plants, rocks, sticks, dirt and water until at least 4 before I gave them blocks of any kind.
posted by jamjam at 1:22 PM on January 22


Love these -- but I'm afraid that the Gameboy is somewhat equivalent to my parents giving me the same block with a gramophone. Interesting, but only in a purely historical sense.

Also, if you want to get your kid interested in Doctor Who, make it the show that is on late at night and has slightly terrifying theme music. Bingo, bango, works every time (except when it totally freaks them the fuck out)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:28 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


When my son was small I couldn't wait to introduce him to things like Lego, Foxtrot, Star Wars, The Simpsons, The Far Side, and any number of other things.

Now, most of the time, I want him to talk about things other than Lego, Foxtrot, Star Wars, The Simpsons...

Careful what you wish for, fellow nerds.
posted by bondcliff at 1:29 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


Dear Mom and Dad should you ever stumble onto Metafilter:

The above comment re: gramophone was made taking into account the quickening change of technology. I don't think of them as something that were new when you were children.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:30 PM on January 22


I think I would want a child I was responsible for to be looking at and messing around with animals, plants, rocks, sticks, dirt and water until at least 4 before I gave them blocks of any kind.

Well, they need stuff to do when it's raining, too.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:35 PM on January 22


I think I would want a child I was responsible for to be looking at and messing around with animals, plants, rocks, sticks, dirt and water until at least 4 before I gave them blocks of any kind.

Going by my own childhood, I think things like blocks are like learner-wheels that open up the possibilities of play with plants, rocks, sticks, dirt and water. A flax leaf becomes ten times more interesting for play once you learn you can use the fibres and weave into cord, but left to your own devices, you learn about fibre and cord from string, not leaves. String opens the door to leaves.
posted by anonymisc at 1:38 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


timeworn geek touchstones mom and dad are trying to proselytise to them.

This is true for everything except Star Wars.

Also I still don't see the gender neutrality, unless neutral means 80/20.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:54 PM on January 22


Printing things on blocks is too easy. Embossed is where it's at.

In short: Worst Blocks Ever.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:05 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Also, if you want to get your kid interested in Doctor Who, make it the show that is on late at night and has slightly terrifying theme music. Bingo, bango, works every time (except when it totally freaks them the fuck out)

This theory has been validated by mrs. light thief's early experiences with the video for Michael Jackson's Thriller. Her older sister would say "hey, you should see this!" and little miss light thief would scamper into the room, only to be terrified, and dare I say, a bit ... thrilled ... to see said video.

Now she loves zombies and horror movies. Scarred from a young age, the poor lady.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:12 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


1. perplexity, 2. indifference, and 3. horror

I'm with you. My immediate reaction was, "Great, instill cultural vapidity in a toddler. Never too early. Hit him with an iPad for the next birthday, too."
posted by ReeMonster at 2:13 PM on January 22


These are cute and all. But I am imagining two nerd parents vowing to raise their nerd baby right. Their daughter grows up and is a star athlete in high school. Their son can't even sit through an ironic viewing of the Star Wars Holiday Special. The nerd parents are disappointed in their not nerdy kids. They grow estranged from their children as they become adults and wonder where it all went wrong.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:23 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


rebent: where do I buy these?

He that 1) it took a ton of time just to make one set, so to make the effort worth his time, he'd be charging a ton, and 2) clearing licensing for all those different images would be even more time-consuming and expensive.


prize bull octorok: I just hope the next generation of kids has enough cool things to discover on their own that they could give two shits about whatever timeworn geek touchstones mom and dad are trying to proselytise to them.

I understand this concern, but I think you don't have to worry too much. Kids pick up all sorts of weird things on their own. Anything that parents give their kids only serves as an educational background, not as the One Truth (unless you're talking about serious indoctrination, where there really is only One Truth, and all else is but lies before Zuul).

My wife and I are pretty geeky, and we're super stoked that our little guy likes Totoro, but he would much rather watch dump trucks, monster trucks and school buses most of the time. Where did he pick up those things? We don't know, we didn't talk about them or offer him those toys when he was an infant. But lo and behold, he's two and a half, and he'll cuddle his little plush Totoro, but he's happy to spend all day putting things in and dumping them out of his trucks. And he's seen real records and listened to all sorts of music, but he'll only dance when he wants to, and sometimes it's to the tinny songs from his toys, or random snippets of music, or sometimes songs we really like.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:39 PM on January 22


I think I would want a child I was responsible for to be looking at and messing around with animals, plants, rocks, sticks, dirt and water until at least 4 before I gave them blocks of any kind.

Look how long it took humans and their predecessors just to get to the 'block' stage. They were surrounded by animals, plants, rocks, sticks, dirt and water for millions of years before some clever hominid came up with the whole 'block' thing. Our brains are exceptionally good at and even crave the act of combining things together to make new things. Restricting access to blocks out of some sort of idea that 'blocks are unnatural and natural is better' is like only teaching them only a few words and then expecting them to develop superior conversation skills. That age is no time for restricting the tools of creativity - it's a time to give them access to all variety of things, places, and environments possible and let their brains do what they do best.

Back to the subject at hand, though.

These are cute and all. But I am imagining two nerd parents vowing to raise their nerd baby right.

Those images still leave an impression though deep inside their subconscious. Worst case scenario: when that kid is in college, maybe intoxicated to some degree while hanging out with friends and watching some old movies that are "just messed up, man", it happens.
The kid is about to have some sort of serious Freudian-style recall event when he sees the face seen in the happy days of childhood that has been long since forgotten in a deep corner of the mind on the screen: the giant floating head of Zardoz commanding destruction and human sacrifices, proclaiming the evil of penises and the goodness of the seed-shooting gun.
That's going to be a weird conversation with the parents, for sure.
posted by chambers at 3:09 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


jamjam: "These are beautiful and interesting, but I think I would want a child I was responsible for to be looking at and messing around with animals, plants, rocks, sticks, dirt and water until at least 4 before I gave them blocks of any kind."

This shouldn't be either-or. Blocks are a pretty fantastically awesome toy for the cognitive development of very young children.
posted by desuetude at 3:19 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I love the Canadian content! Avro Arrow? Casey and Finnegan? Yes.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:52 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


My dad got me into Doctor Who, Hitchhiker's Guide, Monty Python, comics, classic movies, media piracy... It works for some kids.

Slightly disappointed that the "cats" on the C block wasn't this Cats
posted by davros42 at 4:09 PM on January 22


I was (and still am) hoping this thread could evolve into a "if you were doing this project, which icons would YOU exclude/include"? For me...

B for Babylon 5

D for Dana Scully

G for Grace Hopper

J for June 'Rocky' Foray

N for Neil (I would try to squeeze Armstrong, DeGrasse Tyson, Patrick Harris and Gaiman in the small pic... but then, I'd be likely to name a baby boy Neil...)

R for Rowlf

S for Spock (dumping the V for Vulcan in favor of B5's Vir) and Spider-Man

W for Weird Al (maybe D for Dr. Demento is there's room)

and Z, no way I'd leave Zardoz there, maybe Ziggy Stardust, Zappa (Frank), Zamboni, Z-Car (I remember you Datsun), even Mr. Zip...
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:15 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I have this little game I play in threads like these, where I try to separate the parents from the never been parents, too young to even think of being parents, and never want to be parents. Gotta say, you are all making this thread way too easy for me.

Oneswellfoop:
I think my kids would say Z is for invader Zim!

For me:
A for atom, with the symbol
B is for Babylon 5, but no idea how to illustrate that!
C is for carbon- in fact, why not a set of periodic table blocks? Symbol, name, number.
D is NOT for DC because Marvel comics are the best comics!
E for the Star Trek Enterprise (TOS).
F is, of course, Firefly.
posted by misha at 7:07 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


What is with the shitty nerd elitism going on here? Do you all hate the ABCs of Star Wars posters and other geek culture goodies for kids, too? Your snobbery is way more tacky than these blocks.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:17 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I thought the blocks were beautiful and lovingly made, great for a baby to play with. I'm surprised at the way this thread has gone.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:25 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Seriously. When I was a kid I LOVED hearing about the stuff my parents were into as kids. I don't get the disdain.
posted by OolooKitty at 10:29 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I agree! I think the blocks are gorgeous to look at and a great toy for a kid to grow up with. Really don't get the hate here.
posted by misha at 10:33 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I don't like Star Wars myself, but the Jeffrey Brown picture books for kids are very very cute.

Not sure why people coming up with their own Nerd Alphabet here is 'trying too hard'. I love the idea of periodic table blocks.
posted by mippy at 5:00 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


These are beautiful blocks, but as a parent I cringe when I see passé pop culture forced down kids' throats. There are enough reboots to satisfy parental nostalgia. Let the kids have their own heroes.

Maybe I'm old fashioned. We didn't have the same easy access to the media our parents grew up with. The long term marketing strategies for various franchises weren't as prominent in the kid market. I think the only thing we shared with my parents' generation was Barbie.
posted by Violet Femme at 5:49 AM on January 23


[Folks, don't doom the thread and go to MetaTalk if you just need to complain about MetaFilter and not comment on the links.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:34 AM on January 23


My comment that was deleted was on-topic, but perhaps I phrased it poorly. It's one thing when a parent has decided that his children must be into the same nerd things he himself was into. Then it's seen as amazing epic nerd dad. But if the exact same proselytizing were done with alphabet blocks based on sports teams or religion, I think a lot of the currently supportive people would roll their eyes at how the dad is brainwashing or otherwise ruining his kid.

In my opinion, they'd be right to do so, and should do so now. Obviously we can't let pre-literate kids choose their own entertainment; they can't exactly buy their own alphabet blocks or DVDs, but there's no reason to put a toddler on a path towards appreciating Babylon 5, any more than there is to smother them in Disney Princesses.
posted by Legomancer at 10:03 AM on January 23


Well now I need to bring up the blocks I've been working on and see how they're received. They're geeky in a different way.

There are sixteen of them with three patterns on each (one block per column)

0   | 1   | 2   | 3   | 4   | 5   | 6   | 7   | 8   | 9   | 10  | 11  | 12  | 13  | 14  | 15
    |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |
0x0 | 0x1 | 0x2 | 0x3 | 0x4 | 0x5 | 0x6 | 0x7 | 0x8 | 0x9 | 0xA | 0xB | 0xC | 0xD | 0xE | 0xF
    |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |     |
00  | 00  | 00  | 00  | 01  | 01  | 01  | 01  | 10  | 10  | 10  | 10  | 11  | 11  | 11  | 11
00  | 01  | 10  | 11  | 00  | 01  | 10  | 11  | 00  | 01  | 10  | 11  | 00  | 01  | 10  | 11

I've also been thinking about producing some others with +, -, *, /, |, &, %, ^ and the like.

So other than producing the most confused/confusing nieces and nephews in the history of kindergartens, do they pass the socially appropriate children's block test?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:18 AM on January 23


How is it brainwashing to share something you love with your child? My parents wanted to share their love of children's books with me when I was born, so my nursery and many of my toys were a reflection of that. My mom was a zookeeper and as such I had a ton of stuffed animal toys so that I would know the names of as many animals as possible. I do not understand how being true to what you love as a person and sharing that with your child makes you a bad parent.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:33 AM on January 23


That's my point, TBoF. It's not brainwashing until someone else is doing it to their kid with something you don't personally like.
posted by Legomancer at 11:37 AM on January 23


That's ridiculous, Legomancer. Just introducing your kids to something, even if it is your own niche interest, isn't brainwashing!

To truly qualify as brainwashing, you wouldn't just give them "nerdy" toys. You would immerse them so deeply they couldn't climb out of the nerd pit. You'd strictly limit their exposure to anything that wasn't nerdy. You'd keep a tight rein on what influences they were exposed to, making sure they always kept away from other kids who weren't nerdy, either, and that they were not taught about anything but nerdy stuff in school. Or you would keep them at home, even denying the existence of anything counter to nerdy culture existed in the outside world (except among the unwashed common masses who didn't know any better, etc.).

In short, brainwashing is about indoctrination, not education.
posted by misha at 1:40 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Another artist (or in this case, cartoonist) is working on his own Geek Alphabet for kids. He's not finished yet, needs to fill in the letters F, G, I, L, N, Q, R, U, V and Z. (yeah, I know, Zombie should be so obvious...)
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:17 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Love those, oneswellfoop! For V or R, obviously a velociraptor is called for?

Now I feel like I need to make my own alphabet!
posted by misha at 1:45 PM on February 5


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