Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Comic 544: Let's take a break

guess who is a nerd
Not a lot to say today. This comic has only the tiniest whiff of enjoyability to it. It's a generic feeling joke about a generic feeling topic. The nerdiness in it - particularly in the alt-text - feels forced in, for the sake of reminding us yet again that Randy is such a nerd, he is so nerdy that he is SO BAD at sports!

On other notes, I finally got around to finishing the Men In Hats archive, and I can now say with authority that for a good time, call Men In Hats.

Also, abstruse goose continues to disappoint, and Subnormality continues to fit entire novels into excellent comics.


  1. Subnormality is beautiful. When you realize the recognition that xkcd gets in comparison, it becomes clear that xkcd sucking is anything but "harmless." It pollutes the culture of the internet.

    Which is why it's so important that your crusade succeeds. Which is why you need to stop posting such milquetoast responses to abysmal comics, like this one.

  2. After going through your blog, I realize I have a new bookmark. I've only been going through the motions and reading xkcd thrice weekly for quite a while and now I know why.

    The only thing I can respectively disagree with you on is Men in Hats. Meh.

  3. I didn't think it was abysmal, but it certainly wasn't good. To be funny it needed a reason why, as in: why the fuck are they taking a break in the middle of the game? No one would actually do that. "Because they're nerds" is not enough.

    People behaving in completely unrealistic ways is not funny. It's why a comedy duo has a straight man.

  4. Realist, that is exactly right. It's completely crazy that the subnormality guy gets so little recognition for the crazy amount of work he does on a very funny comic, where Randy gets to draw a few stick figures and be Internet Famous (and I really hate people that are like 'oh well the beauty is in the simplicity' because that is bullshit).

    Sorry I just wasn't feeling it today, as usual I will be more than happy to post anything you think I should add...send me an e-mail...

  5. Regarding Abstruse Goose- have a look at this Valentines strip:


    Holy shit! Talk about an Xkcd wannabe- he's copying the absolute worst of Randall's stuff.

  6. abstruse has definitely been following xkcd, even down to the ZMG BEST COMIC EVER treatment it gets on digg.

    not much to say on this comic, but i can't wait for carl's thoughts on today's comic. it's so aggravating, especially the way it's destroying wikipedia. realist was right that the comic is polluting the internet, and today's does so.

    sorry, but i couldn't wait for carl's post. so angry..

  7. Men In Hats was great times! I was sad it stopped updating, but I wouldn't want to deal with internet fans either.

    Comic 544 is just kind of awkward. The punchline is too stupid to really laugh at.

  8. I feel like this one is an incomplete comic, as if this is one of the many possibly zany exploits that this team undertook... and if it were, this would have been one of the "filler" panel two particularly zany ones for pacing purposes.

    Not only that, but basketball is the type of game where your team could score 20-odd times in a single game against an opponent of comparable ability... so it was definitely also a bad sport to pick for this type of joke which isn't even that funny to begin with. There wouldn't be much celebration for an individual basket unless it was particularly skillful, but since they were already down 16 and weren't even playing... and it was a 2-point shot... I'm assuming it wasn't a very impressive shot.

  9. I was somewhat amused.

    @Jay: I think the demand for greater justification/realism is off-point... "That would never happen" is more of an after-the-fact response when a joke falls flat. Of course it would never happen; it's absurdist. It's not like there was ever a realistic panel of The Far Side either, but that doesn't stop it from being the gold standard for single-panel absurdism.

    @Carl: Subnormality intrigues me. For the time being, I hold with Dresden Codak as the most fascinating of the long-form comics.

  10. It's nice to be reminded that 'black hat guy' was lifted from Men In Hats. I had forgotten.

    Was the original Men In Hats site defunct or something? Is re-archiving it something you needed permission for?

  11. Pat: This is sort of the difference between verisimilitude and realism. And absurdity. This isn't exactly absurdist humor--it's the same basketball as happens in the real world--but it lacks verisimilitude. It doesn't feel like, in the world of this particular comic, this makes sense. And not in a funny way.

    It seems like Randall doesn't quite understand how basketball works. Which, while it is apparently the point, just isn't funny. Told the same joke in person, I can envision someone just staring blankly, mouth slightly open, before saying, puzzled, "Doesn't he know there are time-outs?"

    It's not just implausible--plenty of implausible things are funny. It's that it's implausible in a way which lacks verisimilitude. And it could have been pulled off better!

    Picture this: the players are huddled on the side of the court, receiving the coach's pep talk. Off-panel, you hear "Three points!" The coach says, "Maybe I should stop calling these meetings when we're out of time-outs."

    It is not comedy gold but, while still absurd, it creates an absurd scenario which does not raise the immediate question of "wait, what is he doing in the locker room while the game is still on?"

  12. After reading some Men In Hats, I realized how poorly Randal used Aram to create hat guy. I only wish xkcd would go the way of the dodo and Men in Hats continue somehow.

  13. you are completely right. At least Randy admits that Mr. Hat is based on Aram.

  14. I actually thought this one was kind of funny.

    I feel so alone.

  15. @Rob: but why would you take a three point shot when there's no defense on the court? You'd go for the dunk or the lay-up, same as in a fast break. At the very least the basketball players should stay plausible.

    Doesn't he know there are time-outs? Obviously not! What is he doing in the locker room while the game is on? Giving a pep talk! I realize what you're going for, but I still think you're flying straight into the face of the joke here.

    The sideline might still have been better, as you would assume the other team would have scored while they were walking to the lockers as well (thus violating plausibility within the assumptions of the joke). Still, the cinematic reference is to the climactic half-time pep talk followed by comeback (see: every basketball movie ever), so it's a mixed bag.

  16. If I have come to the realization my opponents are imbeciles, I, too, would play around and go for wild shots. Actually I was in a game like that once. We were winning so bad we just kind of played around the second half so they didn't look so bad.

    I'm not flying into the face of anything; it's just not a good joke. Certain things are patently obvious. Its entire premise is flawed. There is simply nothing that seems real about thinking it's a good idea to just wander off into the locker room. The absurdity isn't funny, it's just stupid.

    Also: a good number of sports movies also feature the climactic "clutch" time-out, where you try to make a last-minute comeback. This would also make more sense for the relatively low score difference--16 is easy to do in a half, not so much in a few minutes.

  17. Here's a good indication of what the author of Abstruse Goose is like:

    I criticized the comic civilly on Reddit.
    He then:
    1) Googled my username
    2) Kept looking for results until he found a several year old signature image.
    3) Edited it (very badly, I must add) to include a portmanteau of my username and an insulting noun.
    4) Included it on his homepage for several days.

    I found it terribly childish and hilarious since he made such a bad job of it.

  18. to be honest, that sounds like the kind of thing I would do.

    of course not a lot of people read my homepage compared to AG and I don't use reddit. other than that though...

    When was this? I have never noticed anything like that on AG.

  19. I don't know. I think that XKCD uses humor that shows like spongebob go for--so ridiculous, it throws your brain into conniptions (humour). and I think the whole point of taking a break during the game is, what the hell?!? because you think, oh, its a pep talk to get the team pumped up!... and then it's like, um, in the middle of the game? Confusion, Misdirection, HUMOUR. I understand why it's funny... maybe this humour just isn't for everyone.