TMBG – They Might Be Geniuses

As a parent of a 3 year old I am in constant need of having a wide array of exciting media experiences on hand to entertain him. The trick is to find things that will captivate him, be educational, can hold up over time, and perhaps most important, not drive his parents crazy. If it can be portable, even better. Over the last 3 years I have chosen or been subjected to numerous videos/TV shows and listened to dozens of music CDs. As you would expect (or know) there is no shortage of content, but the production value and approach vary widely.

The musical team of John Flansburgh and John Linnell, who are They Might Be Giants, produce music for adults that is intelligent, quirky, somewhat punkish and always entertaining. They were childhood friends and have amassed an impressive song catalog over the last two decades. You may know some of their more popular songs; Birdhouse in Your Soul, Istanbul (Not Constantinople) and I Palindrome I. If you watch Disney Playhouse you have already been exposed to them through the theme songs for Higgleytown Heros and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as well as the closing song Hot Dog.


They have been furthering their foray in the children’s area for some time, releasing Here Come the A,B,C’s in 2005. It’s a two disc set (one audio CD and one DVD) that combines the John’s voices and music with other first rate musicians, sprinkled with children’s voices. All of it is brought to life using “motion graphs,” computer generated cartoons created by small independent shops across the world. This format is a perfect fit to the sensibility and free-wheeling-style of TMBG. Just this week they released the follow-up CD titled, can you guess? Here Come the 1,2,3’s. This one surpasses the first in my opinion. So smart, so interesting, and my son becomes fully engrossed when it’s playing. The audio CD and DVD combination is such a good idea, as the art is as easily accessible whether you are watching or simply listening in the car.

It’s obvious that they put the same effort and orchestration energy into the songs for kids as they do their rock albums. I find myself listening to the kids songs myself, when I need a quick pick-me-up. Killer tracks are Zeros and High Five.

So if you’re looking for great children’s entertainment, and I know you are, choose They Might Be Giants. They also podcast a weekly family program every Friday. To subscribe as well as learn more go to their page on the Disney site here, or the official TMBG site here. Don’t forget to check out the music for adults. Highly recommended.


One Laptop Per Child Update

In an earlier post I wrote about the One Laptop Per Child Foundation and their Give One Get One donation program. Simply support the cause by purchasing a laptop for a needy child in a developing country, and get an XO laptop for yourself. Apparently they have had tremendous response, which is great news. And although my laptop has yet to arrive, I am happy to report this group has absolutely nailed the customer experience by keeping in regular communication. I received 4 emails from Dec 22nd through January 31st, informing me of what was happening. The latest email told me that additional laptops were being built and would be delivered in 45 to 60 days.The OLPC Foundation mission:

Empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-aged child.

Here is where it really gets good. They gave me the option to reconsider my contribution and offered to issue me a refund by calling a dedicated 800 number. In the same message they told me where recent laptop shipments have gone; Mongolia, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Rwanda and Haiti. The Give One part of the deal has not been delayed. They included a link to photos of children using the XO laptops delivered this January to Mongolia. I snagged a couple of these amazing photos for this post.

Photo Credit
: Carla Gomez Monroy

Of course I will NOT be asking for a refund. The whole motivation for me, a strong believer in their mission, was to help them distribute the device. They have done that. Getting one of their laptops is a nice perk, but my 3 year old son who already has everything, can wait as long as necessary. I am sharing these photos and the foundation’s efforts with him so he can make a connection as he learns along with these other children.

Photo Credit: Carla Gomez Monroy

Nicholas Negroponte and OLPC, thanks for staying “on mission” as well as remembering to treat me with respect. If you are reading this and inspired to help, or simply want to find out more, go here.

One Laptop Per Child

I’m sure many of you know of this visionary project from the OLPC Foundation to distribute laptops to less fortunate children across the world. Their goal is to…

Empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-aged child.

OLPC was founded by Nicholas Negroponte, most famous for his work at the MIT Media Lab. I was first introduced to Mr. Negroponte in 1995 when I read his book Being Digital. It was an attempt to decode the mysteries of multimedia, virtual reality, bandwidth and of course the Internet. It was a book about the future. Indeed Mr. Negroponte, it seems, is mostly about the future. Referring to OLPC he states…

“It’s an education project, not a laptop project.”

In a rare moment I was watching TV this evening (The Simpsons) and saw an ad for a program that the OLPC Foundation is running called, Give One Get One. Donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and receive one for the child in your life as recognition of your contribution.


A fantastic idea! What better way to help spread the word than to actually get your hands on one of these laptops. I immediately went online and donated one. Go check it out and if you can, help them out. If you do, you get an email with Mr. Negroponte’s signature.