Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Comic 524: Wuzzle Wazzle

Oh how far we've come, from passing a meme along to pretending to be over it. There are a few humor eggs nestled together here, let's pick apart the yolks for starters:

-Mr. Hat hired Rick Astley to do some mischief! Not a bad start, even if it leans on an aging meme.
-Astley's going against the grain and not performing his most popular song. What, then?
-The girl can't stand a mute Astley and goes nuts waiting for him to sing. Mental torture ensues.
-Astley gloats for a moment and pulls a CSI: Miami by flipping sunglasses on during a one-liner.

This comic had appeal for me until that fourth panel. Mr. Hat's in action, Rick Astley is going to do something original...but the victim goes nuts all on her own. You could mute her computer speakers during a Rickroll and get the same reaction. The comic plays on people's obsession with memes, then spins around and endorses them by pretending Rick can beat the system.

Rick appears cool with his girl-maddening powers, but he should be more sad than anything. If the public has such a strong love/hate reaction to his claim to fame, then Mr. Hat must have paid him out of pity, because Astley has no choice but to embrace his Internet-fueled popularity. Why? Because of meme-passers like xkcd that repeat forum-born jokes until only the final person who hears of them is spared the vomit-inducing repetition of "Have you heard of ________ yet?" That's how Astley wound up performing the song during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and he was paid to sing -- he must roll both ways, then.

There's also the loose end of why Mr. Hat wants to drive a seemingly innocuous girl insane, anyway. It's not evil, clever, or in the name of piracy; it's just an anti-Rickroll.

Rickrolling was fun for its time, and like any punchline, can be forgiven in spare doses. But Randall, GET OUT OF ASTLEY'S HEAD. David Caruso thanks you.

Note about the alt text: Those are some lame-ass guesses for the next big trend. Even Urkel did better ("I've fallen, and I can't get up!"), and in my ultrabiased opinion, we folks have, too. While I don't expect anything born here to find a new home, calling Anonymous posters Cuddlefish and shouting down blind worship with "GET OUT OF MY HEAD" are both small, anti-internet-mob gestures (assuming we don't kill the new phrases, too). Randall asks us to place our bets, but only he knows what the Internet will hail next! Tell us, Randall! Deliver to us from on high the catchphrases of your drunk programmer friends, and they shall show us a funnier, more easily repeatable future!

*EDIT* What the hell is this?! We were first, forums!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Comic 523: Randall Speaks To Us

Hello chaps and chapettes, this is Thomas and I'll be providing a week of snarkiness in Carl's absence. I was nervous about what Randall would hit to me for the start of the week, but now I can rest easy and let his fly ball(s) land directly in my mitt.

This is a combination of "we broke up" + "math in unlikely places," which makes me as repulsed as the out-of-frame lady must be. And the relationship dipped because of the sort of graphing he's doing at this moment! This is like a roommate resolving his gluttony by telling you, "I know you hate it when I clean out the pantry" as he finishes the last slice of pizza and flattens the last beer can against his forehead. And, like a bad roommate, Randall's not very good at recycling, either. There is no charty joke like Randall used to do, just a jokeless chart with one visible character defending its crappiness. He's taken an empty can, pissed in it, and pretended he just found it in the fridge for us.

Nobody's buying you beer anymore, Randall, even if it makes your physics, math, and word games more fun for you. Sober up, climb the 12 Steps (no need to draw memes on them or stretch them out to a weird scale), and when you see the trash you've let accumulate beneath you, hang yourself from the 12th step as a warning to other webcomic authors.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Comic 522: Is There One For XKCD Sucks?

not even a chart comic

This one just doesn't do it for me. I doubt they are real figures, and even if they are, it just makes me say "so what?" And seriously, Randall? This one isn't even a chart comic. You didn't even draw anything. At all. You just put words out there. That is what blogs are for. Comics ought to at least be visual.

There's just nothing here for me to talk about. It isn't funny. And I am pretty sure none of that information is real. (It is not available on Google Zeitgeist. Google doesn't usually release this sort of data.) And the Wasilla jokes? What happened to being apolitical, Randall?

If it's fictional it's a bad joke. If it's real he didn't do anything interesting. LAME. ALL. ROUND.

Anyway, thank you all for reading. Thomas will be taking over next week. I am excited! You should all be, too. It has been a pleasure, and all of you are awesome, generally speaking. But while Rob season is over, I will always live on in your hearts and minds. And in my blog, which I won't link to because that would just be shameless. But every time you are making out in public places, think of me.

Hugs and kisses!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Comic 521: An XKCDsucks Christmas

xmas time is here

First off: Merry Christmas! I hope you are all enjoying yourselves, and not drinking yourselves into oblivion because this comic has brought you more despair than you can handle this holiday season. As my Christmas gift to you, I present you: It's A Wonderful Webcomic, a short story by yours truly.

Randall Munroe was a webcomic, authoring a niche comic that was increasingly less funny. Desperately, he tried to insert geeky references into his works, trying to service as many fans as possible in attempt to save his comic from the dark oblivion. Then, disaster struck. Christmas approached. He was unable to decide on a single internet-based joke for Christmas, and he didn't have time for a whole Christmas story!

Even if he did, his ideas had grown too disparate, too crazy to connect in a coherent plot. He needed a plan. So, late at night, Randall Munroe went out into the lonely bars of Cambridge, drank, and doodled on napkins. He was getting nowhere. He was doomed to write a comic that did not inspire vapid comments on his forums.

His pen broke. Ink started filling one of the panels--one where he had drawn the waitress telling him how she wanted to go ice skating on the Charles river. The resulting comic made no sense--and it was perfect. He immediately thought of a suitably nerdy pattern with which to black out the panels. He told the waitress he loved her, and ran home to write his Christmas special. He could make 12 panels look like 32! He could make the story completely nonsensical, just nerd reference after nerd reference, and everyone would think that was part of the genius!

It was the best Christmas ever. THE END. Happy holidays, loyal fans.

UPDATE: I am going to just make a list of better Christmas comics than this one. Feel free to suggest your own and I will add them, unless they suck, in which case I will cry.

COMIC THE FIRST: A Softer World - Oh, A Softer World. I love you.
COMIC THE SECOND: Cat and Girl - A++ would buy again
COMIC THE THIRD: Kate Beaton - As of this writing, the most recent one. Scroll down until there is Santa.

UPDATE AGAIN, INDEPENDENT OF THE FIRST UPDATE: ugh I forgot to complain. Randall. It is not 'the yggdrasil'. It is Yggdrasil. Just Yggdrasil. You are DOING IT WRONG.

STILL FURTHER UPDATE, RELATED TO THE SECOND UPDATE BECAUSE THAT STILL BOTHERS ME: Yggdrasil means "Ygg's Horse." Ygg means Odin. The Odin's Horse makes no sense. RANDALL FAIL.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

crappy xkcd contest finalists!

Remember that crappy contest where you had to finish an xkcd comic? I sure as hell do! They've posted the finalists, and while mine is not among them, they are still very, very bad:

Let's see who could make the best tasteful joke about mobile communications:

Terral Artis: 80% of my calls are to your mom because the other 20% are to your sister! They both have Palm Centros and we always stay connected.

--This falls into the "no joke, just an ad for a palm product" category. I would also say it's so bad it's funny, and I like to think Terral meant it that way.

Aaron Williams: Those are all incoming, She thinks you're having some kind of medical emergency whenever you text her something like "OMG LOL ROTFL"

---This is a "ha ha, old people do not understand the slang that we young people employ!" joke, and it feels so very old. Again, with the terrible constraints of the contest rules, I do not blame Mr. Williams.

Chris Routhe: Well I would have texted her, but I ran out of monthly texts.

--With the joke being....?

David Brown: Because I was using her as a engagement ring consultant. Now it is all ruined! RUINED I SAY!

--One of the better ones, because of the evil-genius'-scheme way he gets that last sentence in there.

Dirk Joseph: 2 reasons 1) I’m showing her how to use her new Palm and every 10 minutes I remember something I forgot to tell her 2) Because 100% would be stalking.

--The saddest one of them all. If he had just said "Because 100% would be stalking" this would be by far the funniest of the bunch. It technically answers the question without answering the real question, and it stays as a "your mom" joke without trying to innocent-ify the comic the way the "oh well i was helping her, i am not actually having sex with her as you may be imagining" comics do. But 1) totally ruins the whole thing. Not funny, not trying, deflates the energy of 2).

Joe Tunon: Have you noticed the other 20% are your Dad? Mark may not be on to us, but your parents are!


John Murray: Um – you say I know nothing about you, well, I’m learning. Your profile says little, your blog says less, but your Mom said a lot, including about that ONE TIME in college – Did you really?!?!


Jonathan Esten: Well, she's got some good advice for dealing with you when you freak out and she's the only person we know without a QWERTY smartphone and unlimited texting! ... And from the look on your face, I think I need to call her right now. Can I have my phone back?

--Too long. Some ok ideas but also some stupid unneeded words (what does unlimited texting have to do with any of this?).

Mark Zimmerman: Because she actually thinks my Treo is cool, and never scolds me when I take it out during dinner! There's nothing like a woman who appreciates hi-tech! Great lady, that mother of yours…

--If Mark is implying with "she actually thinks my treo is cool" that most people would not think such a thing - and I think he is implying that - than this wins lots of subversion points.

Rizwan Parvez: If you'd kept up on my Facebook profile, this wouldn't have been such a surprise...

--This originally said "If you'd kept upon my facebook..." which I thought was charmingly off grammar. As it is...it is pretty lame.

If any of these strike your fancy, you can vote for them, I guess. Instructions here. And of course, I'm still waiting for submissions so I can pick my favorite of your final lines, which of course do not need to conform to any standard of taste or decency.

update, 1/1/2009: OK I picked my favorites!

Ramsey, with: "81%. I like square numbers. Isn't math awesome?"

Thomas, with: "The Palm Centros has the most powerful vibration on the market, so every night after 10..."

Vlad, with: "I'm trying to tell her not to to buy any Palm products, they're complete pieces of shit."

And our big super special winner...

DoubleBlackbird, with: "Oh man you just worked out that percentage in your head! You are the most perfect woman ever and can I have a bottle of your sweat because I want to sniff it and fantasise."

Maybe you will all win prizes! (ha ha, you will not win anything). EXCELLENT WORK PEOPLE i think maybe I will have to think of some clever contest to do on a somewhat regular basis.

Comic 520: My Little Cuttle-Muffin

you are not ryan north

First: this is one of those comics that, during XKCD's high points, I probably wouldn't have thought twice about. It would have been unremarkable--not that funny, but not so bad that it merits attention. But we are past those days. You come here expecting me to mock and criticize--and YOU WILL HAVE IT, my friends! You will have it.

Okay, so, it is not exactly a new concept: cephalopods are scary. We all read Dinosaur Comics. I read Ryan North's news feed, I saw the video. I'm not going to say 'Ryan North does it better, so this one isn't good,' despite that being true. No, I am going to say 'this joke has been made before, so this one had better be clever.'

And it... wasn't.

There is actual art in this one, which is a plus. But the humor is lacking. I could go into this, but really I just feel like it is robbing the cuttlefish of its terror by making it something which can be trained by mere humans. I mean, the point is these are freakish alien monstrosities that can learn things on their own. Not that they are killer attack monsters that you can train.

And I am not much nourished by the whole 'scientist fight' thing, anyway. I mean, I have laughed at science fights before. But only when they were real. And if bio majors are going to take over the world, wouldn't they use some sort of horrible deathplague and not cuttlefish? I mean, haven't... hundreds of speculative fiction stories been written with that exact plot?

Basically, this was dull and not very well executed. Where are the cephalopods turning on their masters? Or, you know, doing creepy things besides killing physicists? Come on, Randall. Step it up a notch.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


thank god your image didn't load for some reason

I know it's Rob's week but good god we have got some problems here. Make sure you read his post, but christ I just couldn't avoid a horrible rant of my own.

Ok I guess I will make a list or something.

1. This is yet another goddamn chart comic, making two comics in a row where the most complicated shape drawn is a parallelogram.

2. It doesn't make sense at all. Who's career is he talking about? His own? I think his drawing and "comedy" are probably helping him more with this particular career he has chosen, and I do believe he began this comic with drawings done...in class! For example, when he was in 11th grade! In fact, there is nothing about his career as a cartoonist that would be affected how much perl he knows except that he wouldn't be able to make jokes about perl, which isn't that often and they usually are lame anyway.

2a. Perhaps I am being to harsh on him. Perhaps he meant in general. Or wait, no, that's even stupider than the original idea. Very few jobs need to know perl. Sure, some do, and for those people "messing around" with it might be more helpful than class (unless you went to some kind of KRAZY PERSON SCHOOL where they taught entire classes about computer science!). Some jobs - chemist, biologist, mathematician, physisict, writer, historian, to name but a tiny fraction - are very much served by what the learn in high school. SORRY THEY CAN'T BE MORE LIKE YOU, RANDALL.

3. This comic goes against everything I think as a nerd. School was where learning happened! It makes people smarter! Now you've got a whole bunch of shitty forumites saying things like "glad to be unschooling with my kids" (I don't totally know what that means but I don't like it) or "Screw History, I'm not going to be a History teacher or a Historian!" which just makes me -and I'm not a historian, except of xkcd- feel terrible just a person who values knowledge and intelligence.

4. Randall, you are 24 years old. You graduated from college two years ago. Are you really at the right age to decide what skills are best needed for a career? Your career is currently selling t-shirts with pictures and words to people who find them amusing.

5. Leaving aside what actually helps you in life, for you to say that you know better than all your teachers - even if, miraculously, you are right about all this and the graph is 100% accurate - is still ungodly arrogant and I want to punch you in the face.

6. Oh, alt-text. You loveable little motherfucker you. "And the ten minutes striking up a conversation with that strange kid in homeroom sometimes matters more than every other part of high school combined." AWWWW, YOU SHOULD TALK TO STRANGE KIDS. IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT THERE IS FOR YOU TO DO! This is another of Randall's condescending "oh please, don't worry your little self, I know what is best for you to do" comments, like when he said "you should kiss people more!" or "the other time he told you to talk to strangers, as well as a lot more stuff" You know, I remember reading a comic once where a nerdy guy does this, he goes to talk to a girl because she seems quirky in an appealing way, and then it turns out she sucks. OH RIGHT THAT WAS XKCD, BACK WHEN IT DIDN'T SUCK WITH THE FERCIOUS POWER OF 2000 VACCUUM CLEANERS AND 8 BLACK HOLES. it was right here. It was a good comic! It made fun of the whole idea that it is a good idea to talk to strangers. It made you think it was going to do that preachy shit but then it didn't. Ahhh, the good old days...

7. I'm sorry, I just keep coming down to the outright lie of this. Really randall? You never used physics in your career? The one you had at NASA? You don't think math is important? And don't give me that "uhhhhh well the important stuff I learned in college" bullcrap because you sure as hell have to learn the basic stuff first, and you have to learn it somewhere.

8. All the stupid forum posts are about "duhhh this is true duhh school wuz boring ah ahm glad ah didn't pay atenshun" but the point of this comic isn't "school is useless" it's "the only really worthwile thing to do is fuck around with perl." And what the hell happened to Randall's "ha ha, perl SUXXX i'm using python now, bitches!" mindset? what made him change his mind??

9. This comic is terrible. Truly terrible, on basically every level. Sometimes I wonder how I would react if I met Randall Munroe, and I used to think I would be angry but at least polite. Now I am thinking I would just punch him in the face and leave. TOO BAD YOU DIDN'T LEARN HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF FROM PUNCHES IN YOUR PRECIOUS SCHOOL

Comic 519: The Worst Comic Ever Made


I am making an official declaration: this individual comic is, with no exceptions, the worst comic I have EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. This includes print comics such as Garfield and the really bad political cartoons that crop up during election season. This is an abysmal piece of work and Randall ought to be ashamed of himself. ASHAMED. It is entirely indefensible. It is not funny, and it is far from insightful.

All right, stop me if you heard this one before. So an intelligent kid goes to high school and finds himself bored by all of his classes, assumes they are a waste of time because he is unchallenged, and in his free time adopts some other hobby that he finds to be challenging and rewarding, and he puts a lot more value on that activity and associates more positive memories with it, so he assumes it is a lot more important to the rest of his life. Then his parents take him to visit a college campus and when he meets with the admissions counselor he says "That's no admissions counselor, THAT'S MY WIFE."


So, it's a chart comic. Minus points for that. And it's not funny. I'm not even sure if it's trying to be funny, but if it's not it is even worse because it is also not insightful. Maybe he is going for (as the alt text implies) "It's amazing how much small decisions can totally change your life." And yes, true. I could tell you about countless tiny things that happened to me that have completely changed the course of my life. But this is (a) not a very insightful way of saying it, and (b) implying that these are the only decisions that actually matter.

Or perhaps he's making a comment about the education system. "Man, you don't learn anything important in school it's not like I'll be using any of this in my job, you don't know nothing this sucks" etc. This is not clever or insightful or useful; this is something high school students say when they don't want to do their work. Especially the intelligent ones who are doing other hobbies that they have decided they want to get paid for, like playing with Perl.

And now we move on to the feature known as "Rob Reads The Forums, So You Don't Have To." Not only is everyone agreeing with it "oh man that is so true," we have what counts as a Get Out Of My Head, Randall, and then an Obvious Troll who is my new personal hero (if you are this person PLEASE COMMENT I LOVE YOU). Mostly everyone seems to think that this comic is their new personal Jesus.

god why did i look at the forums i think it may have broken me YOU ALL BETTER APPRECIATE IT


UPDATE: I have replaced the link to the actual comic with a link to Carl's parody on his post. Which I am glad happened, because THERE IS NOT ENOUGH BAD STUFF TO WRITE ABOUT THIS COMIC. TONGUE NOR HEART CANNOT CONCEIVE NOR NAME THEE.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Comic 518: Diagram My Feelings

a diagram of bad humor

I should probably start by saying I was this close to liking this one. This is not a bad concept. I mean, it is not going to win any prizes for comedy, but it's a flowchart to explain flowcharts. That's amusing, right? Ha ha? So it has a decent structure. It starts as a flowchart, for one! While this might make it one of his many diagram comics at least it's not, like, "My hobby: making flowcharts to explain flowcharts." Bonus points for actually telling a joke!

Then he gets to the part at the end of a joke, it is the part which is supposed to be funny, what is it called, oh right THE PUNCHLINE. Right, he gets to the punchline and, uh. It is a random joke about... getting drunk and installing FreeBSD. FreeBSD is not a flowchart. It is an operating system.

So the flowchart joke never really happens. This is something you scribble on your napkin at the diner at 3 am, a half-formed idea in your head, its humor derived mostly from the context of the conversation, ultimately lost and discarded as the relic of a moment.

Am I alone in this one? I feel like jokes should have punchlines which are related to the premise of the joke. Unless it is a shaggy dog story, or The Aristocrats! etc, which is subverting the standard format of a joke. I mean, you could probably make a funny comic about recursive flowcharts. You might even be able to make one about 'woo I am drunk let's install FreeBSD' but I doubt it.

But you can't just say "uh, man, FreeBSD is a six drink minimum and, uh. Flowcharts? Yeah, man."

CARL SAYS: "Also, you have to assume it's going to lose some points for saying 'presented in flow chart form' at the top there when it's pretty danged obvious from the, you know, flow chart sitting below it that there will, in fact, be flow charts involved. This comic to me felt like he started with a good idea and then gave up trying to make it really great. My mind keeps going back to 'Screw it' --> 'let's go drink' and imagining Randall saying that while drawing the last few panels. Also, Rob, hope you don't mind me invading your post like this. I didn't change anything, just added stuff. PS you are doing a heckuva job so far."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Comic 517: An Agony In Ten Frames

bad ideas: the comic

Hello everyone! I am Rob, your friendly neighborhood guest blogger. I will do my level best to be at least as awesome as Carl. I have never failed at anything I have ever done before, so I am not worried. Today, in case today's strip went by too fast, I am giving you all of my cinematographic skills to present a FRAME BY FRAME ANALYSIS of the comic!

The premise of the comic revealed! Our hero has acquired a gun that shoots marshmallows. I wonder what wacky high jinks will ensue? (Here is a hint: it involves shooting marshmallows.)

Apparently I called it.

So apparently our intrepid hero really likes shooting at this girl! But she is frustrated. Is she doing important work? Laughing at the absurdity of our hero?


A supersoaker! In case you were not aware, Randall is fond of supersoakers. He keeps one in the desk. And in case you did not catch the reference, our intrepid hero informs us he forgot it was there! Because it is always there. It is important that you know he is making a reference to an older comic that he made. Guys, Randall has so much in common with you, he also reads XKCD.

Now everyone has one! Hurray etc. Also, I am pretty sure beret guy must be one of Randall's friends. He is making too many appearances otherwise.

Look, it's one of those "oh man is it two frames or one frame!?" effects! They are shooting streams of marshmallow at each other!

Ha ha ha he is talking about Ghostbusters! I, like many other people, watched those movies as a child! And do you remember the Staypuft Marshmallow man? He was a monster that appeared at the end, when they crossed the streams! And they are using marshmallows so it is A DOUBLE REFERENCE.

This is the sound of something very big appearing.

Aaaaand the joke got away from me.

This might have had the potential for a good joke, maybe--but it was very badly executed, if so. It went from 'look at the zany fun!' to 'ghostbusters reference!' to 'now there is a big monster off screen! Marshmallows are magical!' Ultimately I was mostly just vaguely confused. Maybe I just lack basic literacy!

But I feel that even the basic idea of a marshmallow gun is kind of a bad one. Anyway, there are much cooler things to do with marshmallows.

Comic 516: Ho Ho Hoax

remember to enter the wacky xkcd contest that we have to secretly win!
more like...wood shits!!! haHA!
This has been an interesting comic, because people I talk about xkcd with seem to like it less than I do, which makes me feel all confused inside. It's not great, but I get the idea at least, which is that he set up an elaborate hoax and the woman didn't notice or care. I know, you are thinking that is obvious, but apparently it is confusing people. Perhaps the confusion is that people are confusing his hoax with the possible hoax that originally possibly befell the Mary Celeste which you can read all about on wikipedia, not that it's relevant.

Where was I? Oh yes. I was wondering why explaining the entire hoax so early on is supposed to be subtle. Because...yeah that's kind of the opposite of subtle. As is dumping a bunch of mysterious woodchips somewhere. So...maybe it is a little weird. But I will give him credit for at least coming up with crazy details of a crazy plan, and not just alluding to the idea that there is a plan, and trust me guys, it's crazy.

So anyway, after reading the whole thing several times, I am just happy that it doesn't make me as mad as usual, though I'm getting a little annoyed at the "everything is about me and my crazy habits" formulation.

And in my continuing fascination with Abstruse Goose, I found comic 90 to be utterly unsettling and not in any way funny, made worse by the children's book style of drawing the author uses, all in a way that reminds me of the worst of the xkcd romance comics.

Anyway, with that particularly uninspired post, I am perfectly glad to hand the mighty reigns of this blog over to Rob for the next week or two. I'm still not totally sure how all this will work out, but I think I need a break. I will of course still be reading and managing everything, and no doubt commenting. But I think a temporary change of voice would do the blog well.

holy crap dudes, let's win this xkcd contest!

APPARENTLY there is a contest that some important computer people are having that involves completing the last line of an xkcd comic. Here it is:


Click it for a link to the site with the rules and stuff. The deadline is in like three days so enter, enter enter! How cool would it be if one of us won? It would be very cool, is the answer.

Comment with any ideas you think of / submit officially. I shall choose my own winner who shall win Fame and Pride and nothing else.

And if one of you gets to be a finalist I will work my ass off to get you thousands and thousands of votes so you win.

My ideas:
"I'm trying to figure out if your bitchiness is genetic."
"I wanted to tell her you were pregnant. By the way, you're pregnant."
"Why the hell isn't my hat black?"
"Oh, nothing...just warning her that her daughter's funeral was scheduled for next thursday..."
"Did you know that the Palm company makes thousands of high quality technology products, all available on their website, www.palm.com? It's true!"
"To remind her, once again, that you're the stupider sibling."
"Because the current state of mobile communications is....adequate."

Eh, these aren't all so good. I like #5. What do you guys have?

update: I forgot to write about how utterly stupid this whole thing is. How uncharacteristic of me. But yeah - the comic is basically finished as is, with no added punchline (and is actually better than most of the current comics). It is really, really difficult to imagine a winner to this contest that actually adheres to the rules being even vaguely amusing:

--It "may not be offensive" according to the details, yet it is fundamentally a your-mom joke. Good luck.
--You can't "invade upon the publicity rights or privacy of any person or otherwise infringe upon any person’s or entity’s intellectual property, personal or proprietary rights" so throw all those ghostbusters references out the window.
--"Use of the Palm logo or any intellectual property owned by or licensed to Palm is prohibited" and they're the freaking company sponsoring the contest.
Most limiting of all, "it should convey...something about the state of mobile communications." Woo, lots of room for some kind of cell-phones-give-you-cancer joke, I guess.

And of course you need to have this HILARIOUS PUNCHLINE appeal to the judges that Palm hires.

OH ALSO the entries are judged as so: "(i) Humor/Originality – 25%; (ii) clarity of Expression including spelling & grammar – 25%; (iii) Relevance to broader Palm community – 25%; (iv) Appropriateness to Contest Theme" Good luck with number iii there.

(incidentally I did send in my maximum allowed number of entries, namely one, and I tried to make it actually fit their guidelines to actually try to win. But it's so stupid I am not going to write it here.)

Clearly, this contest is destined for total and utter failure, and I am very excited for it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Comic 515: I wish I didn't know

secrets man was not meant to know

Here's our good friends Mr. and Mrs. Hat, continuing to descend into regular old violence. Remember when they used to be creative? When revenge for Mr. Hat involved trapping a sumarine under a lake just to steal back a hat? What's so annoying about this comic is that Mr. Hat's specialty is creative and nerdy ways of pissing people off or killing them or stuff, and so it should be an opportunity for Randall to come up with something like that (it's not hard - Telling the guy that Sarah Palin thinks his political blog is great so he kills himself seems like something we might see).

Frequent Commentor cow_2001 wrote about this comic: "I know this isn't the greatest xkcd EVAR but still, FINALLY we see hat guy (again) IN action instead of TALKING about his actions. At least that, right? RIGHT?!" It's true I complained about that during the Homerian Epic of a story a few weeks ago I was annoyed that we just heard a laundry list of exploits that weren't so exciting on their own, but isn't this worse? In the second and third panels they plan to kill someone, though we don't find out about it until the 4th panel when he's already dead. And it's a surprisingly violent death, too.

There's a whole discussion on the forums about whether it's ok to make jokes about murder. I say it obviously is ok; I'm of course more offended by lousy comics about murder because they're not funny.

By way of awkwardly segueing into something else I want to talk about, here is another comic that is technically about murder but you just see what happens before and after: Achewood of April 9th, 2003. I don't know how many of you read Achewood (you all should, though), but there was a time when the author had a whole bunch of blogs that he wrote in each character's voice. It was all part of his insane plan to make the achewood world as crazily real as possible. Anyway, he doesn't update it much anymore but I just noticed that the blog of Nice Pete (our murdering friend) has the same layout as this blog, which is both nice and freaks me out a little. THE END.

Fame comes in many forms

So remember how a week or so ago Randall Munroe wrote a blog post about various phrases that do and do not return hits on google? Well I happened to mention on here that the phrase "my bologna has a first name, it’s A-D-O-L-F" (which I will note was on the list of phrases Randall did not originate, thank you) made me laugh very hard in a public place.

Now given that he mentioned searching for these phrases on google, I expected a lot of people to search for them and see where they appeared. I did not expect this:

This blog is the first hit! That's absurd. It's right above the post I was referring to, the post I linked to, and most importantly, the post on Randall Munroe's blog which like 8 billion humans read. Incidentally it works without the quotation marks, too - that actually moves Randall down to #3 and I stay at #1. Nearly 200 people have found this blog by typing in that phrase. That's more, in the time since I wrote the post, than found this blog by searching for "xkcd sucks" which is the freaking url. Thanks for the info, google analytics!

Anyway, I don't know how long it will stay true so test it while you can. The internet is a strange place.

update: Well that's that. As nerodetoasabay writes in the comments, I have been overtaken, and not even by something cool, just some random page with little more than that quote, no explanation or anything. I'm still above the xkcd blog though! And I have my screen capture. My screen captures are enough for me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Comic 514: Relatively Funny

one panel joy
This has been an interesting comic for me to watch other people's reactions. Like many people, I did not get that it was about relativity at first (at least the forums are good for explaining jokes like this...) and of course, not getting it I thought it was incredibly stupid. But then I saw what the point was and thought "ok, that's a joke that is not going to appeal to that many people...but it's not bad."

And it's really pretty ok, once you see what's going on. But it's a pretty veiled reference. A very physics-y friend of mine just looked confused when he read it.

The thing is, I've seen a whole bunch of people laugh really hard at this, and then when I ask them what they think the joke is (i'm a pretty annoying friend) they can't really describe it. But they know it has to be funny! It's xkcd and there's sex! Try it on your friends and see what they say.

This is what we are up against, people: xkcd has such a reputation for Laffs And Giggles that people will laugh and think it's amazing even if they have no clue what it's talking about and totally miss what the author is intending.

I thought some variation on the phrase "Come On, Randall" might be a very clever title for this post but decided against it. Didn't want it to disappear entirely though, so here it is.

On a related note, the super intense arguing going on for comic 513 has somewhat overwhelmed me, and I do apologize again for not being able to respond to all the comments. It happens to be a busy week. In any case, I decided that I could use a short break from the blogging, for mostly creative artistic (ha!) reasons so starting next Monday (probably) we are going to have a guest contributor. It's...frequent commentor Rob! woo hoo! So you'll have to start paying attention to that line on the bottom of the posts where it says who wrote it. Or I could tell him to publish in a different font. Or something. Whatever. The plan is for this to last one or two weeks, and I will still be around commenting and maybe posting if needed.

Let's give a BIG XKCDSUCKS WELCOME to rob, everyone.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Comic 513: You're Breaking Up


[calm before the storm]
[breathe in]
[hold it]
[breathe out]

Oh good god randall this is such a creepy weird comic. I might feel better about it if you didn't have so many other comics about failed relationships, but this one just seems to confirm my suspicions that you are just fucked up.

Now I know it's possible you're joking with all of this, making fun of it, etc. And maybe you tell yourself you are kidding and you are not really like this. But there's some little hints. The fact that the girl in the comic calls the guy "this jerk." I feel like if the comic were totally kidding she wouldn't call him a jerk, because she doesn't think he is. But it feels like an artist putting words in her mouth. "Oooh, look at me, I'm a stupid woman who doesn't know what's best for me, I'm going to date this jerk."

The dude starts out by talking to the girl - which means that in the world of the comic, it's an imagined conversation. He isn't actually going to tell her any of this. It's an imagined conversation, from the main dude's head, and how does Randall write this unless he's been there? Most of the people I've talked to - and people seem to want to talk to me about this comic way more than other ones - have been reading it as "holy shit that freaks me out" and very few enjoyed it.

I would say he's vaguely kidding. To use a wonderful phrase that you should all get to know, he is kidding on the square. I say, it comes off as creepy and weird. Even some kind of your-mom joke at the end would make it at the very least, not creepy.

But don't take my word for it. Let's see how the fans reacted!

This comic has generated a veritable explosion of comments from the forumites, where the comments have stretched to 512 comments on 13 pages (for reference, Egg Drop Failure is currently at 119 comments, and Sleet is at 84). There are, truth be told, a handful of comments that say "GUYS this comic is MAKING FUN OF THOSE PEOPLE not making them look good y'all are weird" but there are a shit ton more "omg this is so totally my life right now randall get out of my head." And some of these people are downright creepy as hell. Some favorites:

This one, where all i can HOLY CRAP you turned to the internet for help? What the hell? And you moved to ANOTHER COUNTRY? What the hell???

Dnumde Setnad
is hopefully kidding because DO YOU KNOW HOW FUCKED UP YOU SOUND TALKING ABOUT BEING ATTRACTED TO A 14 YEAR OLD ON WORLD OF WARCRAFT??? update: Ok, this one's a bit unfair, as upon rereading the post in light of Sean's comment below, the dude is probably her age (I assumed that that "she was in my class" was a warcraft like half-breed shaman dwarf thing, but it looks like he means like in school). Still: He describes himself as being attracted to a girl who is " 'role-play-married' to God knows who as a night elf" so he's got to earn at least a bit of an honerable mention for weirdness, no?

has apparently tried this in real life! 5 TIMES. holy fucking christ! i guess he wins points for perseverence and sheer CREEPYNESS

"About the strip itself, I don't see why so many people think the comic is creepy. It's about a shy guy who really wants to date this girl, but he's afraid, so he's going to try to get close to her so maybe she'll see something in him. Seems like a good strategy to me" Yeah probably! Go for it! Not creepy at all, I totally agree.

And the winner of the Creepiest Stalker of the Creepy Stalkers Award goes to...MR. KOKURO! Holy crap, kokuro, you are freaking weird! Way to tell everyone on the internet about your skeezy plans.

But of course, that's just my reading. How did you fine people react?

PS creepy! creepy creepy creepy creeeeeeepy creeping sketchy creepy CREEPY!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Comic 512: Worthless

worthless I say!
GUYS remember how Randall Munroe is not just a super-funny cartoonist but also knows everything about what is happening in the world? Probably you don't because the time he wrote a short story about the federal reserve was more than two months ago!

GUYS do you remember how Randall Munroe is aware of the traditions of the internet, which include humorous pictures? Probably you don't because the time he wrote a long comic series about it was more than one month ago!

GUYS do you know how sometimes instead of writing a full fleshed out idea for a comic he just had a little idea like "what if jpgs were currency?" Probably not because the last time he had a similarly lazy comic was more than one week ago!

GUYS remember the Onion book Our Dumb Century which had the headline, "Cambodia Switches to Skull-Based Economy”? Probably you do because Our Dumb Century is an amazing book and I trust that you've all read it.

Oh and also inflation is not actually really one of the problems with the US economy these days but whatever if Randall wants to think it is I'll be glad to buy his dollars.

Speaking of dollars, would people think I was selling out if I put up google ads on this site? I'm really just curious how much money they could make, and I would put the money back into anti-xkcd efforts (assuming I could think of any).

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Flotsam and Jetsam

Here's some stuff that I've been meaning to talk about that've been building up for a little while:

--If You See Something is apparently no longer updating? It was pretty good. It did a good job of making a comic that was about politics but still felt like a webcomic, not an editorial cartoon. One I particularly liked (though not political) was this one. I know he draws Alien Loves Predator but I didn't really like that one too much.

--Spanish xkcd is also apparently not updating anymore. I always found those amusing.

--Abstruse Goose #85 seemed like a pretty big ripoff of Isaac Asimov's short story The Last Question and annoyed me for that reason. Update: Ok, well apparently the author agrees with me, to judge from comic 87. At least the thing I thought it was a ripoff of was on there. In any case, copying an old concept, adding nothing new to it, and then saying "ha ha, this concept sure is old!" is not OK. Also, totally misconstrues the bible, which is usually something I condone. But that's not at all what that part of the bible is talking about.

--The Onion with Bush Gettin' Hurt stories: If the first two installments didn't convince, the third and fourth should: The Onion is, inexplicably, running a bunch of short news stories about Bush getting horribly injured. And...I don't get it. First off, having a running series like this strikes me as very unusual for The Onion. And none of them strike me as particularly funny. Maybe they are leading up to something at the end, when he leaves office, or maybe after like 8 of them it'll suddenly get funny, like Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes. What do other people think?

--Lastly, to connect this at least a little related to xkcd: Hurrah, Randall has written a new blog post. It's a bit funny, though in all honesty, only two made me laugh out loud and they were both on the "I didn't think of it first" list (they were “Spocktoberfest” and "my bologna has a first name, it’s A-D-O-L-F”) I was in a library, too, so laughing loudly may have been a poor choice.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Comic 511: Sleet

frozen rain more like frozen shitty comic
Ha ha, I sure do hate it when people are overly annoying about DRM! That reminds me of this webcomic I sometimes read that recently skipped writing a comic one day to write a bitchy little complaint about DRM. What was that comic again? OH YEAH it was xkcd #488 of approximately six weeks ago.

The nicest way to interpret this comic is that Randall knows that he can be annoying and preachy and this is his way of acknowledging it and thus, in theory, making it more OK. Whether that works is up to you, I suppose. I don't think it does.

Whenever I wonder if I'm really interpreting a comic right or not (in this case, Is Randall being mildly clever and ironic, or is he just oblivious and hypocritical?) I of course head out to the dreaded xkcd forums. Today's comic has had surprisingly little discussion - only 78 comments, putting it third on the list (usually the newest comic is first, occasionally second). There was hardly any discussion of the comic at all, and none about how Randall himself recently skipped comedy for a day to complain about itunes. Instead, they debated whether 0.999.... equals 1 (most of these posts have since been deleted, but evidence remains). Also the merits of Battlestar Galactica. Also whether Let It Snow is a christmas song. Idiots.

Speaking of Let It Snow, why did the first panel use its first line? It doesn't really set up anything about the joke or relate to the rest of the comic. It just makes you think the comic will be a song parody and leaves you (ok, leaves me) confused.

And of course, a relationship that is breaking up over DRM is pretty damn quirky, wouldn't you say? Not to mention just another depressing messed up relationship comic. I'm going to have to make a new category page for that I think.

update: A few commenters point out something I really should have noticed at first: This comic is, in addition to its many other flaws, very very similar to Comic 473. The rhythm of it is the same - four panels, the first three are basically serious and vaguely sad about a failed relationship, and then the 4th shows that the breakup was over a trivial issue (har! that's funny!). Not only that, but they both have basically the same image in all four panels. What the hell randall? It's been less than 3 months!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Comic 510: Egging The Question

I don't have much to say about comic 509. I found it boring and stupid, and I still don't know what the fuck is up with Mr. Beret. I guess his new thing is that he's really gullible? What the hell?

And anyway, the next day Dinosaur Comic made a waaaaay better comic about dangers to the earth's magnetic field. But moving on....

Look Randall. We all love the high school or earlier comics. But it's starting to get to be too much. We had elementary school geography lesson in this comic, we had ha ha classes are boring (funnier if you weren't out of school already Randall! ) and of course, we had oh man guys I have made the most witty and original observation about standardized tests EVAR.

So now we get jokes about elementary school science projects. What is the deal here? Have you been thinking of this joke since 6th grade? Have you gone back through all your old Notebooks O' Fun until you got back here? Can we expect "Ms. Lee Smells Like Poo" comics next?

And I'm also sick of the single-panel wordless comics. They aren't comics! they're just odd little ideas that you draw up in five minutes and put online. Look, let me show you something. You see this? That's the newest Subnormality comic. Read it. Look at how many words there are. Look at how much the artist drew. Look at how many jokes are jammed in there. Now hit back a few times. Notice how every single comic is like that. This is a weekly comic. It comes out once for every three xkcds. And it takes, it would appear, about 20 times as much effort. This from a cartoonist who does not do this full time, unlike you, Randall. This cartoonist does not just go "huh, remember back when in scicence class we had to make a contraption to protect an egg when we dropped it yeah well what if the egg hatched??" and call it a day.

Think about that.

update: OK what do you guys think of this idea for a more "complete," so to speak, comic based off this idea:

First panel is a broad view and shows a whole classroom working on their separate projects. Lots of little speech bubbles asking for various supplies (paper, tape, cardboard, string, etc). Next panel is a close up of one dude in particular, staring intently at his project. He asks for more bizarre stuff - a heat lamp, for example. Or a glass dome. Stuff like that. People look at him like he is crazy. A few panels of this, then a handful of him furiously working. Then you see all the traditional people dropping their cardboard shit, and they all make fun of him and are like "ooh hey what does Mr. I-need-some-glass have for us?" and he confidently drops his incubator, and it very quickly incubates and hatches the egg, and the baby bird flies out. Incubator crashes to the ground and is destroyed. Bird flies away. Student is silent, and smiles. End.

This is a much better comic, no?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Comic 508: oh my god what is happening to that woman's hair??

yarrr, ye comic be kidnapped by pirate ninjas
Ok am I the only one really creeped out by this comic? That woman's hair basically looks like it is being eaten by some pasta or something. This is what happens when you try to add other details to a stick figure. It ends up creepy. This happend before with the Pope and with Morgan Freeman and those were also pretty weird.

From a comedy standpoint, doing my best to avoid the horrible mess on that woman's head, it's just trying to be funny by being random. We're supposed to go "woah, what the hell does 'upholstery' mean here? HA HA I DON'T EVEN KNOW." I feel like the joke is either suppsed to be the woman's analogy does make sense, in which case we feel a little left out because she never explains what it is (because Randall has no idea, he just wants to present the CRAZY IDEA even if it makes no sense). OR the joke is that she also doesn't know what it means but she's using it as a convenient rebuttal to his question, but that doesn't quite feel like what the comic is going for. Also it's not that funny.


Lastly, I know Abstruse Goose is supposed to be similar to xkcd, but AG 81 just seems waaaay to close to xkcd 353.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Comic 507: It's all in the name of SCIENCE

inset hell freezing over here
I actually liked this comic a lot. I think the idea of experimenting with lesbianism in a scientific way is a pretty funny concept, even more so if it's clearly just an excuse to sleep with a lot of different people under the guise of scientific rigor.

That said, I think the drawing part leaves a lot to be desired. Was two people holding hands, one of them pointing, really the best idea for an illustration he could come up with? Why not like the guy looking really tiny next to twelve football players or something? Or her in bed with like three other guys and saying to her boyfriend (who is on the floor) "Hey! It's for SCIENCE, ok?" Or some kind of two panel thing, where the first panel is her in bed with a girl and the text is "I'm cool with her past lesbian experimentation" and the second panel is " but I wish she hadn't insisted [etc]" and it's her in bed with some other guy going "Hmmm.....not sure I recorded the results right that time, we'll have to do it again."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

what is happening at the Onion?

I generally think The Onion is amazingly wonderful. Often the short articles are one of their better features, perhaps because they get a few good jokes in without stretching the whole article too long. Efficiency of language, etc. This is why I was confused (not mad, not yet...) when two of their recent shorts were, as best as I could tell, utterly devoid of humor. Read them for yourselves -

Crocodile Bites Off Bush's Arm

Bush Tumbles Wildly Down Washington Monument Staircase

Not only are these both about Bush, but they are both about him getting hurt, and were released only a few days apart. What the fuck? Is it just that they want to get all their Bush jokes in before he leaves office (60 days and counting, bitches!) ? Still, you'd think they'd have better stuff than this. What do you all think?

Also, remember when I complained about Andy Rooney? I sure as heck do. The Onion has apparently also noticed this! I like their version better.

On a related note: Did anyone else notice something awfully similar between the newest Truck Bearing Kibble and a certain Perry Bible Fellowship? Just saying.

Comic 506: Randall MunrO. Henry

Theft of an o henry story
So first off y'all have to know that this comic is a parody of the O. Henry story Gift of the Magi. So read the summary on Wikipedia if you don't know it yet.

If you do read the wiki article, note that the vast majority of the article is adaptations. They've got about 15 there. It's not exactly new, what we see here. And it's not even close to the funniest adaptation - for my money, that is Steve Martin. I'll quote directly -
One of the short-short stories in Steve Martin's Cruel Shoes, "The Gift of the Magi Indian Giver," involved the husband selling his shinbones to buy his wife "cuticle frames," while she sold her cuticles to buy him "shinbone polish." The ending implied that the couple enjoyed a bit of light BDSM.
Shinbone polish makes me laugh very hard. Much more than "Roomba dueling harness." Maybe if it had been the first instance of such dueling, but it's not. And of course, for utterly absurd Roomba humor, you can't beat Achewood.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Comic 505: In one act play form!

here be some wacky ideas
THE SCENE: A COFFEE SHOP IN BOSTON. RANDALL, a webcomic artist trying to conitnue to ride his washed up talent to fame and fortune, is with two friends, BILL and JIM.

RANDALL: Guys! Listen! I have an idea. What would happen if you were on a desert island and you-
JIM: Ok I would bring um Lord of the Rings, um...a popcorn popper...um...
RANDALL: NO I'm not doing that. You're on a desert island and-
BILL: A popcorn popper? Seriously? Why the fuck would you bring that? Are you bringing popcorn kernels also?
RANDALL: GUYS shut up. You're on an island and all you have is rocks. Rocks and sand. And you-
BILL: Oh I remember this one. You have to guess your eye color. It's green!
RANDALL: NO IT'S NOT THAT. Shut up guys. You have rocks and sand. And nothing else.
JIM: I would probably just drown myself.
RANDALL. No, there's no ocean. OK it's not really an island, it's just a massive desert.
JIM: How massive?
RANDALL: Super massive. Like actually infinite.
BILL: And nothing but rocks and sand.
RANDALL: That's it, yeah. So would you-
JIM: Yeah I'd say you'd die pretty fast.
RANDALL: NO YOU CAN'T DIE. You don't have to eat, you don't have to drink, you just have you, the rocks, and the sand.
JIM: How did you get there?
RANDALL: You - you don't remember.
BILL: And how long do stay?
RANDALL: Forever. And you don't die.
BILL: Can you kill yourself?
RANDALL: You don't want to kill yourself.
BILL: Yes I do.
JIM: So ok you are super bored forever ha ha that sucks the end.
RANDALL: NO. You have rocks. So what do you do?
BILL: Don't tell me you do math. That would make it even more boring.
RANDALL: You do math. But you could do all the math ever.
JIM: No, you don't. Because you don't know it all.
RANDALL: Shut up. You do all the math ever. And then you do all the physics ever.
BILL: Oh ok, well that does make it sound fun...
RANDALL: Shut up. And then you make a computer.
JIM: Out of rocks.
RANDALL: YES it's all just algorithms and math and memory and stuff. Which you could all do with rocks and squares and stuff.
JIM: Uh ok maybe I guess. Why are we doing this again?
RANDALL: Because eventually - eventually you could simulate particles!
BILL: Yeah, nothin' more exciting than particles!
RANDALL: Shut up. You could do it! You could.
JIM: Is your brain infinitely large? I mean there's a lot to remember about all that stuff.
RANDALL: Look. The point is you could do it, right? I think you could.
JIM: I dunno.
RANDALL: I think you could.
BILL: Whatever.

Today's comic was, I will admit, thought provoking. It was not, however, funny. It's one of those comics that belongs not on a webcomic site but on "Randall's Random Ideas Illustrated: The Blog." The only part that's a joke is the last panel, which I think sort of brings down the whole thing to a "ha ha, that whole thing was for a dumb joke about school being boring" level. Sort of retroactively diminishes the rest of the comic.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Comic 504: Cryptic

Well, today's comic certainly wins the award for most obscure xkcd ever, I would say. From the forums and the rest of the internet I learn that apparently a form of encrypting messages (including internet content) used to be classified as a weapon for purposes of helping spies or something, and Randall is here saying that if it were still so classified than it would be legal under the terms of the second amendment.

I probably shouldn't even comment here because I don't know the subject matter at all, but for what it's worth, it strikes me as a pretty desperate joke on a pretty desperately obscure topic.

Reader ZZ points out that Jefferson had little to do with the Second amendment; he wrote the Declaration of Independence but was traipsing about in France when the Constitution was written. Nice try, alt-text, but your history is flawed!

Did any of you get the joke? If so, is it any good? On a related note, can anyone think of a more obscure xkcd? This and this strike me as close, but they were both very early ones, and probably drawn when he was in class learning about those topics.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Comic 503: Misguided

i actually am leaning pretty hard in favor of the name 'xkcd suxkcd' so yeah.

Oh man does this comic suck. Really, Randall? You really think this is funny? This is like one of those stupid old "WHY DO WE PARK ON DRIVEWAYS AND DRIVE ON PARKWAYS, EH? EH???" questions. Especially given that Randall is into like science history and stuff you'd think he'd know the answer is that the WEST is the WESTERN HEMISPHERE (and parts of western europe that are culturally and historically tied to it) and the EAST is the EASTERN HEMISPHERE and if you are towards the west of the western hemisphere, then yes, you may actually find that the westernmost part of the eastern hemisphere is closer to you if you went west than east. If that's actually something that bugs him, it's a little sad.

So clearly he knows the reason and he just wants to make a dumb little observational point, and yeah, observational humor is about people recognizing the truth in the observation but how many people are going to really say "ha ha, yeah, that bugged me too!, why the hell did they name it that way?"

One person who didn't laugh is frequent commenter Amanda, who e-mailed me shortly after this comic went up to say how much it bothered her. To quote -

What bothers me is that the Randall fans are like WOW I have once thought this very same thought and am remembering it now and oh it is just so funny to remember how stupid this concept is and since I identify with this comic I shall call it funny and Randall remains God so PLEASE GET OUT OF MY HEAD RANDALL. Okay. Perhaps that brief moment in which you learned that the "east" and "west" that were relative to your location in the Americas ARE NOT THE SAME as the ones that apply to "The East" and "The West," you may have chuckled briefly and thought, wow how silly. But I assumed everyone else, like me, eventually did get over it because we all realized that the coiners of these two names did not know of the Americas. I suck at geography and history and whatever, and I'm a stickler for accurate names but I got over it. And the observation itself is not that funny. At least, for me, not comic-writing funny. TELL ME RANDALL WHERE IS THE HUMOR.

What all this reminds me of is, unsurprisingly, a Dinosaur comic. Click it for more readability.

AND THEN i was inspired to make my very own dinosaur comic in response to the xkcd

click it for a version you can actually read
this corrected version of my original was made by cow_2001
thanks, cow_2001!

And then lastly, more of a tangent than anything else, since a mildly better joke would ask why the Midwest is in the eastern half of the country (it was named when all the area to the west of it was not lived in mostly!), I give you The Onion.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

some random housekeeping stuff

Hey guys-

1) Some dude named George sent me an e-mail to recommend the webcomic Subnormality, and I can say having read through the archives: it is very spiffy. Be warned though - there's an ungodly amount of text in a lot of them. Places to start: this one, this one, this one, and this one. It can be very PBF-like at times.

2) Why has Spanish xkcd not updated since Scrabble? Did they just get intimidated by the Secretary story and give up?

3) I think it's high time I changed the title of this blog (not the url, the title part up at the top) to xkcd sucks (or maybe even "xkcd suxkcd"). I have lost most of my faith that it can get better.

4) I still think just hearing what I have to say gets boring after a while - if you want to say anything even mildly interesting about xkcd (in general, over time, the newest comic, and old comic...) I will probably post it unless you write like a stupid person. czwheeler@gmail.com .

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Comic 502: Another WACKY Beret-based adventure!

ugh, you should be glad this image isn't loading. don't bother refreshing, trust me

Looks like our good friend Beret Dude (maybe I should call him Mr. Beret) is back, and he once again makes no sense as a character! Last time, I was confused because he had gone from kind of off-beat and meaningful (much like early xkcd as a whole) to obsessed with bakeries and then oddly quiet. Is there a pattern here that makes him a consistent character in anyway? Hardly seems like it, and in the unlikely event that there is some continuity here it's almost certainly obliterated with today's comic.

Seriously, what's going on here? Mr. Beret is, we now discover, a total idiot, and he apparently thinks his fat mom is outside the known universe pulling him or something. I mean I guess the joke is he is very stupid, to the point that he takes the other guy's joke seriously, but that doesn't strike me as all that funny. Anyone have a better sense of it?

As far as I can tell, we have at long last another addition to the "ha ha, bitches, I'm getting all serious on you WITH NO WARNING" series. What I would have liked to see was the comic appear to take a turn for the Serious and Meaningful in the last panel, but then after "pull harder, mom" the dude from the first two panels yells, off-screen, "That's what SHE said!" thus destroying the meaningfulness and messing with the readers in a far more amusing way.

Anyway, what the fuck is up with the Beret guy? He really has nothing to do with any of his other appearances, ever. That's not how characters work, at least not this soon after they've been introduced. It just makes no sense.

I also see that the seated character manages to lose his legs in between the first and second panels. How 'bout that.

Update: Reading over the comments, you can see that a lot of people who usually think the way I do disagree with me on this one and like this comic. This may very well be one of those situations where my inherent anti-xkcd bias is not something I can overcome, and so I will simply point out that I am aware of it and let it be what it is. Come to your own conclusions, folks!

If you did not come upon it on your own in your daily webcomic perusal, note that Overcompensating made a joke on this same topic on the same day. Amazing! But Jeffery Rowland has some proof that he at least came up with the idea before he saw this. Just an odd story, and in any case, you should read Overcompensating if you aren't already.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Comic 501: Someone's Sold Their Soul

honestly just read good omens, that's always fun times
Ah, the infamous End User License Agreement. A rich, totally untapped source of humor.

It feels these days like I need to do two parts to every post - all the reasons this joke is so old and a list of places it's been done first and better, and then a more theoretical "ok well what if this were the first time, would it still suck?" kind of thing. So-

Part one:
Ughhhhhhh another EULA joke? Good god. Someone please tell me how this is any possible way better than this bash.org quote (note that it also is an EULA which, by the time you read it, you have already agreed to according to the terms of the agreement). And no, snotty old german folk legend references do not make the joke better, they in fact make it worse. In my opinion. For further EULA fun on bash.org, see right here (this one is not as similar to the comic, or as funny, as the first one).

And of course, the realiable old xkcd forums reminds us of an incredibly similar line from the wonderful book Good Omens, which is disturbing because not only is it about the absurd nature of legaleese filled contracts it's about that in the context of demons making deals with people for their souls which is not exactly the most common topic in the world. And I'll be damned if Randall Munroe hasn't read Good Omens. If he hasn't, that's an even worse problem.

Part two:
Ignoring all the better versions of this joke, it's not a bad comic. For some reason the signpost right by this guys desk amuses me, as does the specificity of the agreement. I mean, how often can the dude be in a situation where that agreement is needed? The Devil being just a stick figure with tiny horns strikes me as a little artistically lazy, though. I mean, at least a tail, if not a pitchfork. Some color or fire or stuff could have been fun.

So I guess that were this the first EULA joke I had ever seen, it would be a tiny notch above average. As is, it's several notches below. Like with the last comic, Randall has to keep in mind that if he's going to tread well worn comedic ground, he's got to do it in a new way. Otherwise it's just tired and old, like the last two comics.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Comic 500: Woo hooo! comic 500! oh wait no it's just some election thing

So clearly all my super-intelligent and brilliant theories about how we would celebrate Comic 500 were wrong.

I guess - as a politics nerd, among the other kinds of nerd I am - that I identify with the sense of relief in the first two panels. Though the joke strikes me as not so much a joke but basically reality (See: Bloggers discuss 2012. Hell, it's basically a given that you don't even wait till the election ends to debate the next one).

And anyway, if the joke is that people say they want to be done with the stress politics but really they don't, I feel like a better joke might revolve around the game "Guess who the president is going to have work for him" or other political speculation.

In any case, it's not a bad comic - it just feels like as far as political humor, it falls far short of some of the great stuff out there. I feel like this election gave us so much to mock - I'll be bipartisan and mention both Sarah Palin and Mike Gravel - that this feels subpar. Randall has yet to succeed at political humor, and I think he should stop trying.

update: Oh god it's worse than I though. It didn't even take long for me to find way more examples of lame 2012 humor. Let me be clear - I don't think any of these are funny. I think all of them are based on a stupid, obvious joke that you have heard and will hear after every election.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Comic 499: I keep misreading "Scantron" as "Scranton" as in the city where The Office takes place

epic story post is now finished!

xkcd: your source for standardized test laffs
Well, for those of you hardcore nerds wondering when we'd finally see Miss Lenhart, you are probably a little too obsessed. For the rest of you: Randall probably had a beloved elementary school teacher named Lenhart (no doubt she changed it when she got married and he refuses to accept that) and so he uses that all the time, much like he often refers to a mysterious girl named Megan.

This comic is exactly the same premise as comic 292. Person innocently thinks a minor mistake will be harmless, it ends up being catastrophic. The rhythm is even disturbingly close - even to the point of having the third of four panels have no border. Read them both together - it's crazy! The blood everywhere after a seemingly innocent action is also very reminiscent of comic 419.

Anyway, it just kind of feels like he needed to fill in space between his Epic Story Of Magical Awesomeness and his Post Election Comic Spectacular That Turned Out To Be Nothing Special so he went for some tired old everyone-jokes-about-this-their-junior-year joke.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Nerdier Take On Comics 497 and 498

While I am catching up on stuff I missed since last week, why not read this very nerdy and very angry take on the end of the Secretary story arc that a reader e-mailed me:


I was genuinely offended by these two comics. Randall claims to be a geek, yet he totally fucked up his representation of the LightCycle.

Firstly, a LightCycle is always represented by some sort of portable stick when not in use. To activate the bike, the user simply holds the stick out in front of them horizontally, then that stick becomes the handlebars and they lean forward as the bike grows around them. Somehow, Tron Paul here just rezzed a LightCycle out of nowhere. Especially bad because he was just holding a cane which could easily have become a LightCycle.

Then, in comic 498, he fucked up again. LightCycles are perfectly capable of steering outside of the Game Grid. In the film, Tron, Ram, and Flynn escape the game grid and have no trouble out-maneuvering several tanks and recognizers. Sure, the bikes no longer have the 90 degree movement that is so characteristic of them, but they still steer just fine. As a smaller note, they don't have jet walls outside of the game grid either, but I'll let this slide because it was more of a parody of Ron Paul.

It just pisses me off that Randall would screw something up like this. He claims to be a geek, and yet he makes jokes about things that are far beyond his level of understanding just hoping that we other geeks out here wouldn't notice his mistakes and instead think of him as a god just for bringing up 24 year old sci-fi fantasies.

This movie was a huge piece of my childhood, and he totally fucked it up.

Just thought you might like to know.
This is a good time to mention that e-mailing me is always a good idea. czwheeler@gmail.com.

apologies for me being SUPER behind here

yeah so it turns out my election-related work this weekend and early this week was far more intense than I had realized, so updating will all probably happen tomorrow afternoon. So - when I do that, go back and read all about my Detailed Analysis of the end of that Secretary story and the comics since. I actually wrote my whole thing about the end of that arc but then lost it.

On the plus side, I singlehandedly turned an entire state from red to blue for this election, so I say it was worth it all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Comic 500 Speculation

Guys - I'm leaving this up here for a bit - the Mr. Hat story arc post, which I'll still update, is just below - but what do you think is going to happen for xkcd's 500th comic? Something self-congratulatory and clip-show-y? By by count, the comic will run the day after the election - something relating to that, perhaps? Of course, it will presumably go up at midnight EST, as usual, so we may not know the winner - perhaps he'll make a joke off of that. Two comics, one for each possibility.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Comics 494-498: Mr. Hat Gets Another Story

Well hey hey hey it's time for another fun story about Mr. Hat! Didn't we all love the last one? why yes, yes we did. So I have very high hopes for this time.

I think I'll just keep this as one long post and update it each day. So what do we have in the first installment:

Day 1:
Well, not a lot, but who knows, this is just the first part! So...the tubes are clogged. I'll give Randall credit for good timing - his story about unclogging the internet happens to come on the same day that Senator Ted Stevens, the guy who first thought the internet could be clogged, is convicted on seven counts of making false statements.

So basically this comic has no humor besides the anticipatory humor of wondering what crazy thing Mr. Hat will do to unclog the internet! Will he tell people when their heroes will die? Will he complain about music services he doesn't understand? WILL HE STAND SILENTLY NEAR LINES???

Most importantly, will he be more than just a sad shell of his former self?

All this and more could be possible in this, the most exciting of all weeks! Keep checkin' religiously, gang!

Day 2:
ughhhhhhh of COURSE the Ron Paul blimp makes an appearance. It's perfect for xkcd: An internet meme, five months out of date. Hell, Ron Paul didn't just drop out of the presidential election, he already endorsed some dude so really, come on, find a new joke already. Seriously, this is so spring-2008.

I guess the only even mildly amusing moment is seeing that Mr. Hat has a moat outside his apartment. I guess. The rest of it is just the usual xkcd repeating other people's memes. Yes, Randall, we know you read 4chan. We know.

Day 3:
Act III of our Shakespearean Drama that is "Secretary" is essentially a list of Patented Wacky Mr. Hat Hi-Jinks and Shenanigans! Yep, no less than SIX such shenanigans! Of course, we don't get to see any of these, meaning that Mr. Munroe has done basically no more work than just....coming up with a list of Wacky Antics. With some Supreme Court and Constitutional Amendment name dropping thrown in. Heck, if all we're going to do is ask questions about stuff Mr. Hat has done, hell, any of us can do that.

"You set up ten thousand laser pointers to draw your name on a cloud?"
"You replaced your arch-enemies houses with realistic cardboard cutouts?"
"You somehow managed to make sending dollar bills to your house the most popular meme on the internet?"
"You tricked an audience of webcomic fans into thinking you weren't a washed up hack?"
"You disguised yourself as a nun for four years to embezzle from a church?"

But I digress.

Why does Ron Paul have a cane? He's a pretty sprightly fellow. He doesn't need a cane.

Anyway, the comic is like what the rest of the week has been - Excuses for Mr. Hat to showcase his usual wackiness. It just feels...forced to me. Too much of just a list of Wacky Things, desperately seeking the love this comic used to feel.

You'll all be glad to know that I am CLEARLY in the minority as there is no one more excited about this comic than its own author! Mr. Munroe writes on the forums: "Oh man I'm excited about the rest of this arc. I'm tempted to scan and post them right now."

Also, goddamn forumites- they have declared that this comic is "So much awesome" [honestly, you'd think a fan of a webcomic ostensibly about language would know a noun from an adjective], that is contains "like, 5 types of epic in it" , "made of awesome" "so much win" and "made of roflsauce." what the fuck, people. Try to have some independent thought, ok?

Day 4
Ok - I'm going to start by admitting that this has actually been my personal favorite comic this week. Only because I actually do like the projectiles hitting Cory Doctorow making a "boing boing" noise. And I see that the blimp makes a "pew" sound - if that is a reference to the Pew public research survey comapany which does presidenial polling than I have to say that I actually think that's clever too.

As I said in a comment below, it's really weird to read that "bloggers" watch out for their own - no blogger ever agrees with another so it's weird to think of them teaming up for anything. I guess the idea is that it's so preposterous it's funny? But it seems a little too crazy, even given that you have a blimp fighting a balloon.

It is not cool to make a high point of your story arc Cory Doctorow in a balloon if you were the one who invented that idea and are the only one promoting it. Look Randall, you have to wait for the meme to be accepted by the world and then mock it.

When did Mr. Hat become a blogger?

Now a note on the series as a whole - this is hard to phrase but the pacing feels wrong. For a five part series, it doesn't feel 4/5 over. The first panel made it seem like unclogging the tubes would be the focus of the arc, and Mr. Hat's KRAZY ways of fixing the problem. Now it feels like it's shifted to DR. R0|\| P4VL!!1 and his KRAZY adventures up in the air. So in theory, tomorrow, for the arc to feel completed, Ron Paul has to get to Washington and do whatever it is he's going to do and we have to see Mr. Hat get confirmed and solve all the internet problems. Now this is possible - these comics have been longer than usual anyway so maybe we'll have a comic that is actually epic and is way super long.


Here's what I think - I think it's a longer than 5 day story. I think it's going to end with a cliffhanger tomorrow, be continued on monday, and end with some massive 500th comic post-election insanity or something. Maybe he even has two different comics ready, based on which person wins the election.

And then Friday's is "Well, that's enough for me!" and he quits the webcomic business....

Day 5:
OMGZ it has been MORE THAN ONE HOUR PAST MIDNIGHT and the new comic is not up! oh me oh my whatever is happening? Maybe Randall was kidnapped by PIRATES oh no! All we have is a message saying "The comic will be up shortly! (within the hour)" better see how the forumites are handling it!

"I want my... I want my...I want XKCD"

"Me Want Part 5 Comic!!!1!"

bah, humbug. I'd say they were being ironic...but then, they are the ones checking xkcd at midnight...and commenting on it...of course, I'm in that camp too so I guess I'm a hypocrite. Except I don't really care when the comic comes out 'cause I won't write about it till tomorrow anyway.

Day 5:
Well I guess you all are probably looking for more than a commentary that points out that the US Senate has no authority to sentence anyone to death (or even act as a jury unless you are president). So here goes:

I guess with a story that was chock full of masturbatory references to his own HILARIOUS earlier jokes (Cory Doctorow in a balloon! Mr. Hat is just so UNPREDICTABLE!) I should have assumed the climax would be another one - in this case, a ball pit in the Capitol.

Yes, dear readers, it appears that the ultimate lesson of all this is that all that stupid fighting in Washington can be solved if we would just follow Randall's advice and put ball pits everywhere. I mean, do we really care that the original ball pit comic was all sweet and cutesy and here's it's being done by a dude who is essentially a terrorist? Of course we don't! It's just one of those crazy xkcd ideas that will always be funny and never be old!

As to the story as a whole, I think the biggest problem with the story arc is that the first four panels set up a whole bunch of stories and didn't go nearly far enough in terms of advancing a 5-part story. So the last installment is super-rushed. We have Ron Paul - who took up a full 1.5 comics and a little bit of another - basically serving only to accidentally help Mr. Hat escape. We have Cory Doctorow basically dropping out of the story in the middle of his plot, and the whole "oh noes the internet is clogged" turning into "ha ha, but we aren't going to do anything about it because Mr. Hat doesn't care."

So much for my brilliant theory about the story extending a few more days. I really shouldn't have been surprised, I suppose. Had the story gone towards "vigilante Mr. Hat is given free reign to do anything he wants to internet trolls" it may have been fun. As it is, we might as well just hit "random comic" a few times and enjoy some of these ideas the way they were first presented.