But, if you're not talking discrete components and just want something to act as more of a controller, these boards are pretty friendly:
http://beagleboard.org/ (slightly more advanced embedded controller)
http://arduino.cc/ (pretty basic and awesome community)
http://www.raspberrypi.org/ (never played with one, but another popular option)
You might want to come out to a SFHN event (https://www.facebook.com/groups/gosfhn/)
and Hackendo (http://hackendo.techendo.co/)
I have experience with C, but don't really know where to start with the lower level stuff.
I'm thinking I should start with a simple book like Electrical Engineering 101 (http://www.amazon.com/Electrical-Engineering-101-Third-Schoo...). Once I have a grasp on some EE basics I might be able to step into the Microprocessor programming a bit better, knowing a bit of what's happening behind the scenes.
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