Thursday, January 29, 2009

Comic 536: Mind of Munroe

a nerd complaining about an idiot

I need to start by saying that Randall and I clearly agree on one thing: Carlos Mencia sucks. He sucks donkey balls, in fact. He steals jokes like nobody's business. He pretends he's Mexican and not half-German half-Honduran. And mostly importantly, he's criminally unfunny. Unlike xkcd, I'm not aware of any good stuff at all that's come out of Mind of Mencia (though, to be fair, unlike xkcd, my hatred has kept me from trying to consume more of his work). So...yeah. SUCKS.

Anyway, I think this comic probably breaks the streak of "comics randall munroe draws that make me want to punch people in the face." That's not to say I like it, just that it doesn't fill me with rage. So...good job? I don't know. The set up line seemed to set up a more intelligent joke, and then the punchline reveals that it's not going to say anything special about science or space elevators or the wonderfully quotable Arthur C Clarke. It's just "Carlos Mencia Isn't Funny." Which is all well and good on its own, but even more so than the last comic this feels outdated. Wikipedia tells me that Mind of Mencia has already ended so I wonder why now we get a joke making fun of it. There's still unfunny stuff out there (for example, Will Ferrell is still making movies and Dane Cook is still talking) but I think of Carlos Mencia as being so 2005.

Lastly, for a humorist to make jokes about other humorists being bad seems like a really tricky line to walk. Who among the xkcd haters out there didn't change the last panel so that it suggested disseminating xkcd to stop laughter? I know I did. And Randall has been known to commit the occasional act of unrepentant plagiarism too.

Credit where it's due: I like the art in this comic. Could have used some in the second panel but whatever. Stolen-from-the-forums discussion question: Is the art supposed to be (yet another) tribute to Calvin and Hobbes? I But maybe you disagree?

PS- Randy has a new blog post up but it's so damn boring it took me three tries to read it all and I don't want to talk about it anymore.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Comic 535: xkcd is not a political comic, no sir

look, it's a joke you won't get in three weeksIf I may quote Randy's endorsement of Barack Obama (and by the way Blogger, it's really time to add those two words to your spellcheck dictionary), way back when he was just Senator Obama - "I’m a political junkie, but I’ve largely kept that out of xkcd (other than occasional cracks about science and net-related issues)." And later: "I’m disabling comments because I don’t want xkcd to become a place for ongoing political argument, anger, and hurt feelings. The internet has enough political discussion threads."

Now I know that this is not the first time Randy has broken his own rule - for example, making fun of Sarah Palin, looking to 2012, and That Stupid Mr. Hat Goes To Washington thing. But this one is nothing more than plain old topical commentary. Nothing wrong with that in principle - the Daily Show and the Onion do it well - but a week of lag time is a little too much. The whole incident - which I don't think anyone, anywhere, considers a big deal - seems much too tiny to warrant making a joke off of. It's not like this comic says anything more than "ha ha, roberts fucked up in front of a whole lot of people." Oh sure there's all that "what if Randy had done the presidential oath" but that's not the point. The humor comes from Roberts fucking up (if you don't believe me, imagine the exact same comic had everything gone fine - or, for that matter, change "presidential" to "vice-presidential" and "john roberts" to "john paul stevens"). No humor there.

This is also another comic where we lose a lot by not having anything more than stick-figure art. I think that a nice picture of the Capitol and a throng of people behind them would have made the comic at least more interesting to look at, and would not have left us with the sense that these are just two (white) guys standing in a bleak room somewhere. However - I think that had Randall made Obama's skin brown but not had any facial features, it would probably have ended up just looking creepier. Are eyes really too much to ask? I can ever draw them if you want.

This is a textbook example of a comic that will not stand the test of time. It's topic is pettier than usual, more specific than usual, and quite frankly, makes me think Randall should just stay our of political humor altogether. People think that you can make fun of politics by going "ha ha, isn't this person stupid??" but it needs to be so much more than that. At the very least, "ha ha, isn't this person a giant hypocrite??" is a good place to start, but Randall "I'm not going to put politics into my webcomic" Munroe is hardly the person to start talking about hypocrisy.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Comic 534: A Fitting End to a Terrible Week

stupid letter and numbers

DON'T YOU GET IT? you don't get the joke, people? It's so obvious! Look! Skynet! 999999999! Fitness...something! Guys it's a brilliant joke.

Ok fine, I'll admit it, I went to the forums on this one. No idea what the hell he was talking about. But basically the idea is: There's this movie called Terminator. Maybe you know it? And in it, robots take over the world! But they did it by evolving from not-taking-over-the-world robots. So Randy tells us this important message: You should tell your computer programs not to take over the world! If one of your computers turns into Skynet, that takes over the world, you should say, "No! Bad computer. Do not take over the world and kill all the people. That is bad." But the way that you tell this to the computer is by using that big number, the one with the nines. In this case, that big number means "Bad!"

To top it off, he ends by caging his joke as advice, so we get to have some of that typical Randall Munroe "oh it's nice that you are trying but here's what I know, as an expert 24 year old programmer. I know what you should do."


Most forum people had no idea what was going on. Randall, when your audience is this confused, you are doing something wrong. Oh and to this commentor: Thanks, you are totally correct. But add a link here next time!

This has been one of the saddest, most terrible weeks in xkcd in about as long as I can remember. This comic plus the last three (ok, so week and a day or two) have all been unmitigated comedic disasters. Two of them are lazy one-panelers, two refer to old nerdy movies and don't say much else, one refers to a dumb joke, one is just complaining about how Randy wants this one computer they used to have, sounding like a grumpy old man telling you that when he was your age, a computer was really a computer.

But there is hope! I think this week may be the day when we look back and say that it all changed. Several ardent xkcd-defenders have told me that even they are starting to wonder what's wrong. Oh they just call it an off week, but at least they are seeing the beginning of a problem. The audience on the forums is upset. The number of people who are getting to the website by typing "xkcd sucks" into google is growing rapidly. Soon, soon perhaps we will begin to see more and more revolt against the terrible sludge emanating from And when that angry swarm of disenchanted readers gets too big, perhaps xkcd will stop publishing, Randy will get a job in some office somewhere, the average comedy level of the internet will rise ever so slightly, and we can all sit back, relax, and have a toast to a job well done. Soon, I tell you!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Comic 533: Comic Hell

well damn it all but your picture won't load

So super-commenter and guest blogger Thomas was very angered by this comic. His phrase, in an e-mail to me that I hope he didn't think was private, called it "pandering to the point of self-mockery" and I think I agree. This comic is Randy saying "boo hoo, I liked this product and now it's gone. boo hoooooo also sony suxors"

I really have nothing else to say. This comic is just simple and dumb. "My product was great, whoever stopped making it should go to hell." xkcd needs to stop being a website that just complains about technology products that Randy doesn't like.

And for anyone who laughed at the tired old "someone is pretending to be me ON THE INTERNET" joke just know that it's from here:, # 5775. Remember when xkcd used to be about new jokes, not just copying another person's joke and going "hey, look, this funny thing happened to me also!" And seriously, how labored can you get? "I hope he doesn't get revenge by messing with what I type!" Why not just draw a cartoon bad guy going "Gosh, I hope a piano doesn't fall on my head today!"

Anyway, a trusted friend who usually likes xkcd a lot more than me has told me that the next comic is just godawful, so I am going to stop writing and read it now. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Comic 532: Stop me if you've heard this before...

dick jokes!
OK so here is the thing with the dick jokes: I'm just going to write a post about the general concept and list the xkcd examples, which aren't a particularly common thing but they are just so pathetic, so totally-desperate-for-humor that they seriously piss me off, to use a phrase which I realize now is a bit unfortunate in this context.

So in addition to all that other dick joke crap, which I've written about before but not as thoroughly as I plan to soon, there are some serious problems.

Now I don't know how many of you understand the context here, which is an old joke that is told more or less well on this forum post. We know that the comic is referring to the joke, because if you don't know about the joke, the logical conclusion is that he asked for a "miniature pianist" and then received a "miniature penis" which would in theory replace the current one. That of course would make the final line, from the woman, very confusing indeed.

So we know that the point of this comic is to refer to the old "Twelve Inch Pianist" joke. And the problem that that leads to is the same one we had with the horrible Bill-Watterson-would-be-rolling-in-his-grave-except-that-he's-still-alive comic from last week: All it does is refer to the previous funny thing (assuming you think the piano joke is funny) without adding anything new at all to it. What's the point? That he went the other direction, asking for a pianist and getting a penis not the other way around? That's not the point of the Old Joke. That's basically just a pun - "pianist" sounds like "penis." The end. What's the joke here? Same thing. Worse though, because it's not original and isn't even pretending.

Also: Using the shot in panel two for scale, assuming a vaguely normal sized human head, that grand piano is maybe 6 to 8 inches long, and the person playing it would be maybe 2 or 3 inches long, tops. So if he asked for anything larger than 2-3 inches, the little fellow would not be able to play the piano, and if he were 2-3 inches or less that girl at the end would not be so impressed. This actually bothers me almost as much as that other stuff.

Anyway, there are so many things wrong with this comic in so many very different ways. It sucks in all sorts of interesting ways.

Comic 531: Yes Randall, We Saw That Movie

dinosaurs are coooool

OK everyone: Raise your hands if you understood why this had anything to do with Jurrasic Park. Anyone? I know I didn't. Luckily the Internet came to my aid: You see, the man is saying that he will give the child diabetes (fun fact: diabetes does not work this way!) and then, should the child turn evil, the man will deny his child insulin such that the child will die. This is similar to the plan that the Scienticians had in Jurassic Park to keep the dinosaurs under control. You may not have noticed that element of the story if you, like me, spent all of Jurassic Park going "holy crap, those dinosaurs are SO COOL"

Anyway, I did not understand it. So I was just confused. I was just like, "Yeah, we get it, you love Jurassic park." Guys do you know how many times he has referred to it? Guess. According to the robots at Oh No Robot, it is at least four! That's a whole crapload. Not to mention the continual raptor stuff we get to put up with that grew out of it. Anyway I guess I'm just wondering how much more he is going to reference that specific book and movie.

Would that plan even work? As long as the child is dependent on you for insulin, won't they also be dependent on you for, you know, food and a home and stuff? Dinosaurs don't need that because they're freaking dinosaurs but it is my understanding that a human child would need that.

For some reason I would have expected this comic to generate more wrath from me, and yet now that I am sitting here writing, I have little more to say. So- what do you people think of this comic

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Comic 530: You Sure Are

you sure are!This is better than most recent comics. At least we get to see a crazy situation happening, instead of being told about it later. It seems like a variation on an old idea -I'm reminded of a no doubt fictional story of a group of Mensa members at a restaurant, attempting to think of a clever way swap the salt with the pepper, as had each accidentally been placed in the other's shaker, only to have the waitress, upon hearing their solution, simply unscrew both caps and switch those. Anyway it's still a bit fun if only for the clever ways he's trying to get the roommate's attention and the look on her face if he had succeeded. Of course, none of that is the point of the comic, the point is "ha ha he is stupid he loves computers so much that he didn't think of ringing the bell."

This is weird: look at panel 1, then look at panel 7. What happened to the backpack?

Also: really? there was nothing to throw at the window? Are you in some kind of sterile metallic world where there are no rocks or twigs anywhere? Or for that matter, since it's pretty cold right now here, snow?

And here's another thing I don't get: the title of this comic is "I'm an Idiot." So if you read the title first (and why wouldn't you, given that it's in big type at the top of the page) you are thinking, in the back of your mind, "this person is an idiot...I wonder why" and so the surprise, the "oh ha ha there was an obvious solution all along" is not as much of a surprise as it would have been had the title been something more mundane, like "Locked Out."

It's these moments that just make me go "Why, Randall?" Why would you telegraph the joke in the title and take away the surprising and funny(ish) element of the punchline?

Anyway, that's all I got, this is one of those comics that do show at least a spark of promise.

Did you all like the subtle little "hey guys...i got me a roommate who is a girl" thing there? CLEVER

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Comic 529: "Guys, remember that one funny thing? that thing was so funny!"

look. look at me.

A very long time ago, when I first started this blog, I was in a pissed-as-hell kind of mood. You'll see, if you go back into the recesses of the archives here, that the first post I ever made was this one, responding to the inanity of xkcd comic 409 (the posts that claim to be older than that - the category posts - are backdated by a few months). I was pissed because xkcd, which I had until what was then recently enjoyed, had decided to steal my favorite comic of all time (and I'm sure many of your favorite as well).

Two xkcdicks are riding along on a skateboard and talking about philosophy, with a layout that completely copied Bill Watterson and C+H. Then the characters crash into Calvin and Hobbes, as though Randall is saying "Don't worry guys, it's cool, I'm allowed to make my characters just copy other more famous more beloved characters so that you'll like them more! See the trick is that I KNOW I AM DOING THIS so it's ok! What, I need to end my comic with a joke, the way Calvin and Hobbes did? FUCK NO i don't. What, you think I should draw some goddamn eyes on my characters FUCK NO i don't. You want me to write 7 strips a week FUCK NO how does three sound, almost all black and white? Yeah 7 strips is TOO HARD." But it's OK, because it's just a reference you fucktards, he doesn't have to do anything new god forbid, just stick his characters in someone else's world and wait for people to adore him as they always do.

That's piggybacking off the insane amount of work that Bill Watterson did to earn his millions of fans. That's the guy at the party who just quotes Borat and expects people to laugh. (full disclosure: I am sometimes that guy. But I sound exactly like borat when I do it so it's ok.) What that is is a guy taking a picture of Calvin pissing on something and making it into a bumper sticker. Most importantly, what that is is utter shit.

I guess I should say something about the current comic, but it's basically the same idea. Except shittier than the last, even, for a few reasons: Worse art, even more obvious shoved-down-your-throat reference, and a nonsensical plot - "you not knowing a language reminds me that our anniversary is coming!" (on that last one, I realize that it's possible she's saying that "I am sad that my options are closed off and that is what reminded me of our anniversary" but that makes it a sad relationship comic and that would be even worse.)

On a related note, I have to say that Digg has really stepped up to the plate on this one. Sure, it put the comic on the frontpage, as always, but most of the comments are pretty good. Examples here, here, and here.

And then there are those like this, which remind me that my cause here is just and we must continue our crusade against this shitty, shitty comic.

If there was ever a sign that a comic was out of ideas, this was it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Comic 528: Such a very, very old joke

blinkin' hitler
Christ. Remember how everyone is sick of Sarah Palin jokes because they are all unoriginal? Remember how jokes about airplane rides are always met with groans and rolling eyes? You know how lawyer jokes, or helen keller jokes, or dead baby jokes are all based on the same tired old premises (which are lawyers are greedy and have no morals, helen keller is blind, and you feel uncomfortable, respectively).

If a joke is tired and old, you can still pick out humor in it. It's possible to make a joke about George Bush being stupid that still manages to say something new or insightful and thus still be funny. But if it's just "ha ha bush is dumb and says words wrong" you are just going to be a sad little humorless nothing that makes people wonder "why are you doing this to us?"

So that's what we have here. As though the world did not yet have enough "ha ha windows vista sux" jokes. Not that they were all good, but the point is lame jokes about vista were everywhere. Two years ago.

Oh true we have one other element: Hitler. Dammit I am sick of hitler. He just gets stuck in as the default "horrible thing that nothing is worse than." There ought to be a law against it. And then a comic about that law.

This comic is a terrible stand up comic saying "hey guys I've noticed some differences between genders, I am going to list them now" and the audience is rolling their eyes.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Weekend Party Mix #1

Welcome to a new irregular feature. I have a bunch of links and commentary relating to various comedic things or non-specific-comic xkcd things, and now you are going to read them.

The comic Abstruse Goose continues to fascinate me, alternating wildly between really good and utterly terrible. For example, 92 I liked. But 91 and 96 struck me as having really, really old and tired jokes. Also I just want to state this for the record: Given the interesting ways he's been messing with a traditional comic format (i particularly enjoyed this and this) I am predicting right now that soon enough we'll see a cubic comic. I don't know how, I don't know why, but AG is going to give us a 3x3x3 cube of panels (boxes?) and that will be his comic one day.

I know the shitty Palm contest is over (congratulations to MR. RIZWAN PARVEZ) but just so you know that I hate other things besides xkcd, have you ever seen anyone try so hard and fail so hard to appeal to young people as the folks at palm?

I hate it when people are like "well hey maybe xkcd is being serious today HUH how about that" and so I love it when chainsawsuit makes fun of that shit.

Oh digg. You suck when it comes to trying to out suck-up other xkcd fans, but sometimes that leads to humorous times.

I know there's no way I can show this to you but I have acquired a George Carlin daily calendar and despite the fact that George Carlin has said way more than 365 hilarious things, the calendar sucks so far. But I've only seen 9 days of it. It's pissing me off.

You really should check out The Hourly Comic. For one month only! Read about it here, and read about participating here. There is a strong chance I will do an hourly comic on hourly comic day, and if I think it's any good, I'll upload it and show it to y'all. It would be fun if a few of you did it too...

And lastly, it's always frustrating to see someone else express themselves so much more clearly than you, but in this case I agree so completely wholeheartedly with what Biff Boulder is saying that I can feel totally good about linking to it. A consice, intelligent, and scathing critique of xkcd: it's official

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Comic 527: Current Event Laffs

just some fat people jokes!
If I could embed pre-recorded sitcom laughter here I would, but I can't set it up so that it plays exactly when you read the comic, so you have to read it and then imagine pre-recorded laughs.

This comic feels like something written for a sitcom - I'm not talking about the specific, ha-ha-steve-jobs-has-a-terrible-illness-and-maybe-will-die part, just the rhythm of the joke. Simple "Hey did you hear the news" set up and then "ha ha, witty retort" response. It's like something David Letterman or Jay Leno would do. Actually, now that I think about it, what it feels most like is Frank and Ernest. Which is not to say it's a bad joke (it didn't suck as hard as some recent ones) as much it made me roll my eyes and go "ok, we get it, what's next..."

I also was annoyed at the alt-text because as we established the last time Randall talked about DRM and Apple, he doesn't know shit about the topic and Apple has been selling non-DRM music for a long time now. Knowing Randall, he'll probably take credit for this "new" development.

In any case, this gives me a great excuse to link to this video from I guess January 2008 and say the best apple-products-are-thin-what-if-they-were-like-people joke is this one.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Comic 526: I'm back, bitches!

Hello again my loyal readers. It's been quite a while since I've written a post here, and I'd like to thank Rob and Thomas for filling in while I sat around and sat on my fat ass.

woo hoo, i'm back....
Well I certainly have no shortage of things to write about with this one. Hell, I don't even know what it's supposed to be - since 80% of the entries aren't even trying to be funny, I wonder if maybe Randall is actually trying to be helpful, but then I yell angrily "argh then why the HELL is he putting it in the space normally reserved for some kind of COMIC" and then I kick a wall for a few minutes until I feel better.

Seriously, under "temperature" we have "jokes" like "ha ha what if i measured temperature in terms of the cursing you would employ in that temperature" and "spit making funny noise" (fun fact: at that temperature, -40C, you would actually not need to convert, as -40C is exactly equal to -40F! amazing. If only Randall knew some science)

Under "length" we get a dick joke, which is nice because we haven't had those before. We also get some Firefly references, which is nice because we haven't had those before.

Under "speed" we LOOK RANDALL WE GET IT YOU ARE SCARED OF RAPTORS IT WAS PRETTY FUNNY FOR A WHILE but look of you want it to stay funny instead of suck like it is now you need to do something new with it. Just "I'm scared of raptors ha ha is funny joke because are extinct ha ha" over and over and over and over again is stupid.

Under "volume" we have a HILARIOUS throwback to comic 434 and then we have some more of xkcd not being a political comic by having xkcd make fun of politicians.

And under "mass" we get a your mom joke. GOOD ONE. forefront of comedy, right there. Honestly, and I mean this one seriously, the your mom joke is really just pathetic, and almost makes me sad for Randall. It's just such an old, tired, stupid idea that I can't believe it was the climax of this "comic." Christ.

Anyway, it seems I must be in the minority here, I mean, forumite BRNZ had "at least five times when I put their discussion on hold due to my uproarious laughter" so i guess I am just missing the jokes!

Lastly, is there any good reason why Randall is talking about the metric system now? As far as I know there has not been any major push to switch recently. In any case, for my money, the best metric-conversion jokes were in an old SNL skit, which you need to find a video of somewhere - it's from the April 24th, 1976 episode, and if you really want to there is a transcript but it's not very funny without the video.

ahhhhhh it feels good to be back

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Comic 525: Imaginary Friends

Randall has taken an amusing, semi-OCD behavior and drawn it out for us. It's one of the more charming things he does, in my opinion, mainly because -just like counting floor tiles- I used to do it, too! Fun fact: I also push in all of the drink bubbles on fast food cups, but that's as a secret message to my family in case the place where I eat is ever gunned down to let them know I thought about being gunned down before it happened. And one day, I may be right! But this comic has some underling freaking out at a console, so that's something. His reaction probably wears out after the 500th empty room announcement (who'd listen in during reading time, anyway?), but the fantasy is what counts.

My complaint with this one, which is a fairly common one from me, is that Randall felt the need to write out his joke in narration instead of using, you know, the comic to deliver the punchline. He even drew little scribble-words in the panels where the actual lines could have gone, perhaps like this:

Stick-Randall: "I know you're listening."
Underling: "He's onto us! Abort mission! ABORT!"

But I get the feeling Randall had trouble fitting this joke into a multi-panel story on its own merits, so we get the "let me explain my joke" version instead. At least with the floor tiles, we went into then out of the OCD guy's head. Here, we're just in Randall's head.

I'd tell Randall to get out of my head, but I know he's listening.

Alt-text Hoedown: Sure, it's exactly like Pascal's Wager, right down to how funny it is. Ask the conspirators to do housework from time to time -- couldn't hurt, right?

And that's my week! Thanks to everyone who read my posts, no matter what degree of love you commented. You're all special, special snowflakes in the circle of Blog. Fractal-snowflake thanks to Carl and Rob for buffing this site to a shine before my week.