Saturday, October 25, 2008

Comics 492 and 493 Double Feature

insert dirty, dirty words here!
I have a kind of biased reaction here, because my favorite math teacher in high school told us a story about playing Scrabble with her family that was basically identical to this (the word was "erection" though) so I personally felt a sense of "oh I've seen this before" when I read this comic but obviously no one else would feel that way (unless you were in my class). But hey, I laughed at the story my teacher told so I assume that had I not heard it I would have laughed here.

And at least he got the scrabble board details right, unlike SOME people I know, ahem, Mr. Douglas "the scrabble board I talk about is 13 by 13 squares" Adams! that's right I called you out, Adams!

I was amused to see how the Spanish-translation of xkcd
worked on this one - see for yourself. It sees the need to change "hi" to "si" so there's a short word with an "i" but I guess there's no good way to get an eight letter word that will upset your family without changing the whole comic. Brings to mind interesting ideas about translating words vs. ideas.

update: A commenter writes, "
The Spanish word for "clitoris" is "clitoris", so there's no need to find a different eight-letter word." This proves, once again, that I am an idiot. Sorry gang. Still interesting to think about what they would do if spanish didn't have the word "clitoris"! right? maybe?

But moving on....

Finally, the Mr. Hat we know and love has returned, if only for a short while. He's got all his usual characteristics - nerdiness, meanness, and a willingness to do far too much work in order to get clever revenge. Hopefully we never hear about his terrible romance ever again.

That said - I can't say I like the way this comic was presented. Mr. Hat's scheme is funny, but why have him just telling it afterwards? Why not show him at his computer messing with the trolls himself? Just seems like Randall kind of crippled the humor potential by just showing the post-prank discussion.

Still, this whole week has had well above average comics - perhaps there is a glimmer of hope after all! I wonder how many good comics in a row it would take to convince me I've done my job and my mission was completed.


  1. Come on, man. Grow a pair. I'm not reading your blog to hear "well gee this one was kinda okay actually".

  2. What should I do if I actually think they're ok? Pretend I don't?

    What in particular do you think I should say sucked about these two comics?

  3. The title should be "Comics 492 and 493 Double Feature." Comic 491 was the Burma Shave Twitter comic.

  4. well holy crap you are right. is has been fixed. I guess I was so busy not having balls that I forgot, eh anon? EH?

  5. I dunno about you, cuz you made no mention of it, but his little "this always happens to me in family scrabble games" totally irked me.

    But it was still a funny concept.

    I miss when Mr. Hat chopped people's arms off for speaking incorrectly! Though I was glad he actually had lines, though.

  6. Randall seems to have this problem where he is more interested in explaining things than just showing funny things happening.

    I was pleased with W/F this week. M was shit. Fuck Monday.

    I missed an opportunity to meet Randall yesterday. I'm not as disappointed as I would have been several months ago.

  7. I liked Wednesday, hated Friday. C'mon, Mr. Hat is supposed to be hardcore. I want him to be out there, slicing off arms and killing people. Not telling you when your childhood heroes will probably die. Maybe, soon, he'll start a blog where he critiques webcomics! In a mean-spirited way! He'll be really evil then.

    Wednesday was fine, though I'm still reeling a little from the shock of seeing a webcomic that started out like this turning into this. Not that Wednesday's anything that offensive, but still, I do think we're seeing more R-rated comics lately.

  8. Amanda - hm. It didn't really matter much to me one way or the other. I guess the comic may have been more interesting if he'd left it out and you just see his grandma or whoever across the table from him. It might not be clear what's happening though. What if it had been a multi-panel comic, where he sees this and really, really wants to play it but in the end sheepishly plays like "shirt" or something boring. I dunno. What is it you hated about the title? I am persuabable.

    Rob - this is an interesting point. I will have to pay attention for it. He sure seemed eager to explain the airplane-on-a-treadmill thing on his blog a few weeks back. Where could you have met Randall? I would say you should have gone for it though. There is a miniscule chance I will see him fairly far into the future, but it probably won't happen, which is just as well, because I don't know what I'd do. I'm leaning towards "just be a stupid fanboy" as opposed to "announce my presence as critical blogger and challenge him to a humor duel right then and there"

    Jay - while this is not as hardcore as the best of Mr. Hat, you must admit it's better than all the recent stuff. I mean, he figured out a simple way to fuck with people in a way that really bothers them, so it seems at least in the spirit of the character.

    I think Randall feels he has a duty to make things R rated. Not sure why, but every time it always takes me aback a little. Not that nerds aren't dirty but they aren't usually that open about it, you know?

    As to the various worth of this week's comics, looks like you three can fight it out yourselves.

  9. He was at the Information Superhighway this Friday. It is now a monthly party of geeky types in Boston. Very fun actually. I saw him wandering around but didn't bother with going to say hello.

    I'm not sure what I'd do either but I'm a thrilling conversationalist so, you know, like you do. I think it would be more interesting having a conversation about the comic in the context of 'hey, your latest stuff has not been as good'.

    But eh, yeah. It's easier to explain something than actually show something being funny. DO YOU HEAR ME RANDALL. YOU ARE TAKING THE EASY WAY OUT AND IT IS COSTING YOU.

  10. I think I didn't like it cuz I think it could have been funnier if he'd just titled it "Family Scrabble Night," or something. And if he'd kept the extra explaining line, he could write something like "This always happens."

    Shrug. It just sort of seemed to make the joke deadpan for me..?

  11. In that particular instance, I think he just felt like making sure the situation was extra awkward. Not only is he playing with an obviously older woman, it's family scrabble night! And oh man it just gets extra awkward because of it, LET ME TELL YOU.

    To his credit: at least lately he isn't doing too little text. I mean, right? Carl at least really disliked most of his text-free comics lately. Now he is making sure there is always text there!

    And it's not like the caption in that one really detracts, in my opinion. It's just not entirely necessary.

  12. Regarding the R-rated comics... I wonder how long it will be before we see Mr Hat getting his leg over?

  13. amanda said: "I miss when Mr. Hat chopped people's arms off for speaking incorrectly!"

    Thanks goodness he doesn't do that anymore. I hated that comic, definitely my second-least-favourite XKCD. It's just too obvious that Mr Munroe fell for that 'three words in the English language' puzzle, realised his super-logical-linguistical armour had been breached, said 'A BLOO BLOO BLOO', and then drew some stick-figure revenge. I'm pretty sure he butchers the actual riddle to make it nonsensical, as well.

    But anyway, let's step away from that dark place, because I liked Black Hat Man in this one - he's conducting psychological warfare with idiots, which is what he was designed to do. And not a single mine under anyone's car. The Scrabble one was pretty funny, too.

  14. Carl: The Spanish word for "clitoris" is "clitoris", so there's no need to find a different eight-letter word.

  15. Blackbird - I actually really like that comic with the GRY puzzle. The puzzle is really really stupid no matter how you phrase it, and I think he phrased it about as well as I've ever heard it. But of course you force me to ask - what's the worst xkcd ever? I bet I hate it too. But who knows.

    Anon - well crap again, I guess I should probably delete that spanish part...

    As to the caption debate, I really don't feel strongly one way or the other. It does make it a step better than the wordless comics (which aren't a problem because they lack words per se, it's more that they are too simple and more about vaguely funny ideas than anything else).

  16. Well, the way I've always heard it is :

    "'Angry' and 'hungry' are two words that end in 'gry'. There are three words in the English language. What is the third?"

    Yeah, alright, silly, but it works - you've just got to detach the first sentence from the last two. Now here's how Randall did it:

    "There are three words in the English language that end in 'gry'. 'Angry' and 'hungry' are two. What's the third?"

    Now, the only way you can make that work, unless I've missed something big, is to ignore a lot of the words (you can't really look at 'that end in 'gry'' for a start, but then the next sentence doesn't make sense). Bluntly put, there is no way that you could answer 'language' to that riddle and seem clever. What I'm saying is, that's probably what Mr Munroe was aiming for. And notice that Black Hat says 'cleverness'. Not 'wit' or 'humour' or 'cause for celebration', but CLEVERNESS. It reeks too much of an ego-bruise

    I don't mean to sound too vicious - I certainly don't have a whole lotta beef with poor old Randall like you seem to - but that particular comic makes my heart hurt, so there we go.

    As for the worst XKCD ever - why, it's 'It turns out you can't take responsibility for other people's happiness' of course!

  17. 492 relies on needing a dirty sense of humor. Ok, so he could spell anatomy on the board, but what about some shorter word, like "short?" Is he embarrassed to use all his letters and seem perverted? If so, then the joke would work better if he HAD TO spell something embarrassing. If he's just a prankster of a wordsmith here, then there's no punch to the joke. "I use dirty words in Scrabble, go me."

    493 works pretty well, I like it. Small snag: how does he know some troll's childhood heroes? Even if he does, why would actors' mortality be such a blow to the spirit? Mr. Hat's kind of a dick to what appears to be his roommate, too -- a roommate freaked out by actors' deaths. How about the date for the final release of the original Star Wars on video media? It would probably also reveal the date before civilization's collapse.

    Would Mr. Hat be frightened to know the expiration dates of today's innovators in science and technology?

  18. "The English language" puzzle that I have always heard is phrased basically like this:

    "Think of words that end in 'gry.' Hungry and angry are two of them. There are three words in 'The English Language.' What is the third?"

    Annoying trick question? Sure. Randall's version, as blackbirdblackbird was so kind to point out, completely destroys the intended meaning behind the riddle. That has always bothered me about that comic.

    Also, comics where people are randomly violent because of annoying people bother me. That's a Ctrl+Alt+Del trope. Don't be like CAD.

  19. I maintain that the xkcd version is different. Randall very rarely does the random violence thing, and when he does, it has style. When CAD does it, it's just lame (and frankly pretty disturbing, since I get the feeling it's all a wish-fulfillment thing for the author).

    I can't believe I'm defending Randall here, but I liked that comic.

  20. I dunno, I think the GRY puzzle is really stupid in either phrasing. It's based on tricking people, making them think of a word that ends in -GRY when really the point is that you are being confusing with the phrasing and asking for the third word in "the English language" which isn't difficult at all once you know it's what they are asking for, so the point is to figure out what they want, which they trick you about, so it's stupid the end.

    You Can't Take Responsibility is...just godawful. blegh. Oh lord.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I've got the first in a five part story to mock.

  21. Well, see, in Randall's version of the phrasing, he is actually saying that there are three words in the English language that end with -gry and asking you to name the third. You cannot semantically extract the two in his version.

    In the actual version, the sentences are not technically linked except by proximity. There are no connecting verbs. It's annoying but at least it's semantically correct.

    I've never felt that random violence is funny. And also, Randall's version didn't do it right.

  22. Ok, the "real" version is a little better. But I still think it's stupid. Basically I liked this comic because the violence Mr. Hat shows is basically the same as the violence I felt like showing when I heard this puzzle. Anyway I am super sick of this debate.

    Rob, I say the next time you see Mr. Munroe you confront him as an operative of the site. At some point we have to take this noble battle to the next level, after all.

  23. DoubleBlackBird:
    > As for the worst XKCD ever - why, it's 'It turns out you can't take responsibility for other people's happiness' of course!

    Well, personally liked this one because I like sad stuff about suicidal people. I even like the japanese animation series called Charcoal Feathers Federation which features too much of this kind of touchy stuff.

  24. Cow_2001:

    Yeah, alright, that's reasonable. It's pretty jarring, though, when you come across that one hidden in a (primarily) humourous comic.

    Personally, I want to laugh when I read my XKCD in the morning. (Yeah, I read webcomics in the morning! Laptops are weird.)