Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Comic 562: Cut and Paste


In a vacuum, I like this comic. In reality, I don't. Here's why -

Taken on its own, it's not bad. It's a problem we all identify with (perhaps a bit overused for comedic purposes, but still) and we see Mr. Hat's usual brand of unneeded violence and hatred applied to it in a rather creative way. I like the visual at the end, it's ironic and destructive.

But here is my problem. Randall's already used this idea. And I mean really used this exact idea. It's right there in panel 2 of comic 496 (part 3 of the Secretary series):
Q: Is it true you completely disassembled someone's car outside a Starbucks?
A: It was parked across two spaces.
At the time, I wrote that the comic was just "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." Now, of course, we get to see this particular antic acted out, so I should just shut up and be happy.

But it doesn't work like that. Had today's comic come out before Secretary Part III, it would be ok - the Senate hearing that Mr. Hat has would be a callback to the earlier comic, which I think is funny enough and in character enough and relevant enough to deserve it. But it came in the other order, which leads me to suspect that Randy is either looking through old strips for ideas or has a list of Mr. Hat ideas and forgot to cross that one off. Or he really can't think of anything else. In any case, most people no doubt forgot that this idea was old (including me, thanks again Kurt for pointing it out...) so he'll probably get away with it this time, but man, he really shouldn't.

Cue cuddlefish telling me why the two jokes are totally different...

april fools with xkcd

I know he's going to do something. Last year going to xkcd.com sent you to Dinosaur Comics (having loaded all my comics in tabs at once, I didn't notice, alas) which I guess is funny? Anyway, I'm just going out there right now and saying I Know You're Joking, Munroe! can't pull that shit on me.

i bet it's going to suck.

update: wait, did he not do anything? did he just blow my mind???

Monday, March 30, 2009

xkcdsucks is proud to present HUMOR-SANS, the xkcd font!

guys this is awesome: everyone's best friend, commenter ch00f, has gone and made an xkcd font. And it's really good. It's called "Humor-sans" which is brilliant for oh so many reasons.

It was made with characters from the comics, and since xkcd is all caps, the font is all caps and lower case letters just type in a different version of the upper-case letter, so it looks a little more varied and a little more like handwriting. Here's a demo of it:

awesome!SO. COOL. This will make our re-done versions of xkcds so much better.

Download it from his site at http://antiyawn.com/uploads/Humor-Sans.ttf Install it like you would any ttf font, so if you need help look online for your how to install fonts on your particular operating system.

Details: ch00f recommends using it at sizes around 12-14 pts. It doesn't work if you make it too big, and also, if possible, add the slightest amount of blur (the example above was in GIMP at 14pt with a gaussian blur of 0.5). The special characters at the end are ¢, €, ±, ¬, and £, respectively.

Lastly: making this font took a bit of effort and a certain amount of actual money on ch00f's part. He invites you all to use the font and spread it all around for free, but if you are feeling like you would like to show him your appreciation, his paypal account is ch0000f at gmail dot com. (yes, the extra 0s are there on purpose, apparently).

alright guys: the bar has been raised significantly. Figure out what you all are doing to make this community more freaking awesome.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Comic 561: we've seen this shit before

Well   let's see what crap we have today
I don't think there's anything I can say here I haven't said about a previous shitty xkcd comic. Sad relationship? Check. Fanservice references? check! horribly construed contrived premise[fixed!]? check! alt-text that adds nothing! check, Check, CHECK!

Of course, today's comic goes into the "Troubled Romance" series. In addition, the "punchline" seemed highly reminiscent of comics 44 and 449. I suppose I should congratulate him for going so long without a comic about a relationship that might be in some trouble - 22 comics ago, by my count! Unless you count the Etch-A-Sketch one, in which case it was only 10 comics ago.

Why did the first two panels have random facts about nerds but in the second two panels the well told them things that fucked with their relationship? More like "the well that will randomly decide to be a bitch to you, or talk about firefly, whatever it's feeling like"


Remember guys: lots of fun is being had (at least by me) over at xkcd: Could be better! where there may or may not be BIG CHANGES SOON but i haven't quite figured it out yet. in any case, check it out, enjoy, contribute, etc.


I've been thinking about titles. xkcd has titles on all the comics, and I'm not sure why. They've long since stopped being interesting. The title is just a bland word taken to summarize the comic - I don't think anyone would miss it if, say, "Lithium Batteries" had been missing from the top of that comic. [and i'm just saying it again: that comic sucked].

What I mean is this: This comic was not too bad (and I even said so at the time!) and while I didn't so much like the no-words aspect, it made the title necessary. The title let the comic be wordless and almost (almost) elegant in its silence. But then you get comics that have titles like this one which actually telegraphs the joke and ruins it. They're mostly just boring, and I for one want them to leave right now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Comic 560: Who the fuck cares about lithium batteries?

more like lithium SHATerries

Apparently lithium batteries have been used in such a way that as time went forward, they became more prevalent in prodcuts that are generally used by younger people. So we see the Great Progression of Batteries, like the great Progression of Mankind, from Old, to Middle Age, to Teenage, to Child.

Then Randall says that he wishes he could have aged in reverse - now I'm not sure why he wished this. I suppose he's saying that if he started old and got young, then he too could have followed the progression of lithium batteries.

What I don't get is why the FUCK HE CARES. Ok, woo, your portable electronics can have lithium batteries! whoop de damn do! take that, you fuckers who like alkaline batteries more! fuck you!

Look Randall. You are growing up in the 21st century (as you occasionally remember). You can age the normal way and still get to use lithium batteries all the time! You will be old, and you can use a pacemaker, with your beloved battery in it! Or maybe we will have invented something even newer and shinier for you to put in your heart. Then you'll be glad you were born like every other human, eh?

Honestly, your first attempt at living-backwards humor was funnier. Don't try again.

Ok i'm sorry to harp on it but seriously: Why not say "my life would be better if I were really rich" ? You could buy a businessman phone if you felt like it in the late 80s, it would just be expensive and a waste of money. You could have a pacemaker installed, too, but i don't know why you would. Why not "my life would have been better if lithium batteries had been used in different products at first, targeted at a younger demographic"

what still makes no sense is what the hell is so special about lithium batteries? Wikipedia tells me that they have "a liquid mixture of thionyl chloride (SOCl2) and lithium tetrachloroaluminate (LiAlCl4)" which "act as the cathodeand electrolyte respectively. A porous carbon material serves as a cathode current collector which receives electrons from the external circuit." Well hot damn.

Clearly, this comic is meant to express some important feelings Randy has been having recently, which is why I'm not sure why he didn't just come on out and say it:

randy hearts batteries

Monday, March 23, 2009

559 Guest Post: No Joke Intended

First off, everyone be sure to check out this blog's Exciting New Project, at XKCD: Could Be Better! that is where we are re-writing xkcd comics to be much, much funnier. check it out, e-mail me with any suggestions or comments or stuff.
the usual turd sandwich with a side of shit
Now - about this comic - Commenter Dan got real mad about this comic and e-mailed me about it! Dan is the wonderful human being who started the "xkcd sucks sucks" blog which is lovely. This post is on that blog too but he asked me to post it here and so here we are. DAN, everyone! My own thoughts are at the end.


It must be said that if trolling was the intention of this latest comic, then CONSIDER ME MOTHERFUCKING TROLL'D, RANDY, YOU FUCK.

In a suitably Carl-esque style, I want to relish ripping this one apart, piece by piece.

Well, well, well. As commentor luckykaa mentioned in the previous post: "Hell, why even bother drawing it? At best this is a twitter comment." and I could not agree more. The art is pretty unecessary, and it seems that Randall seems to think so too - just look at that 2nd panel.

Beret guy looks more like he's holding his head on than facepalming.

This, however, is what we've come to expect from Randall now, I won't carry on battering the drawings, because Carl does that plenty himself.

Overall message:
Randall is often made fun of in this blog for attempting to seem all "high and mighty", as it were, and until now, I've believed him to be innocent of this misdeed, but it seems clear to me now that his ego has gone too far this time. Frequent commentor poore noted the fact that the second panel is completely unecessary.
Unecessary as it may be, it shows us that Randall is now a fully-fledged wanker. I shall explain:

He EXPECTS people to be baffled hours later by his incorrect usage of "no pun intended" rather than just fleetingly bemused.

I mean, come on, if Beret guy was any average guy, after three hours, a nonsensical usage of "no pun intended" after a few impressive-sounding words would have faded entirely from memory. Randall seems to be having an "aren't I so clever!!" moment here, and not realizing that normal people have lives, and girlfriends and shit like that.

The Alt-Text:







Yes, this whole post is really just a build up to that rage about the alt-text.
So shoot me.

My own thoughts: The first thing I thought of was "The Producers" because this exact same thing happens there - a character (the director of 'Springtime for Hitler') adds "forgive the pun..." to one of his early lines, prompting confusion in the characters who hear it. Thomas pointed me to the far funnier pun-based screed from Maddox at the Best Page In The Universe. Also, the alt-text is stupid and not related to the comic; no one would actually care that much about a stupid pun, to all you forumites who are ending your posts with 'no pun intended!' or "I'm totally going to do this now...NO PUN INTENDED!!" you are all huge douches, and lastly, like all 'My Hobby' comics, you could change it to "My Hobby: Being Annoying" and it would not be very different.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Comic 558: Terrible, Times 1000

First off, you may be interested in knowing that this is the 200th post on xkcdsucks.blogspot.com. Hurrah! For my postaversary, randy has been very kind and given me an ungodly bad comic. It is bad in so many different and interesting ways. It has bad art. It has hardly any jokes. It demonstrates both condescension and a total lack of understanding of the subject. And it has him telling a dude he's going to sleep with the dude's daughter. And a crappy alt-text. In other words, on a scale of 1 to awesome, this comic is somewhere between 165 million and 173 billion. Let's take a deep cleansing breath, and begin.

1000 Times i say stop making comics, and yet, he still makes comics

Ok, first off, this is an old old old idea. The idea that with numbers that big, the human mind does not have an instinctive sense of scale for them is called innumeracy, and was described by Douglas Hofstader (we meet again!) a while ago. While it makes sense on that instinctive level, for Randall to say that people can't tell the difference when they are thinking about it - say, when watching or reading the news - is just insulting. What, just because you went to some fancy math college you are the only one who knows how much bigger a certain number is? You think people are really like "durr, well 165 is close to 173, that's only different by like...uh....12 or something...so i guess 165 bamillion is close to 173 mabillion or whatever, sure ok"

Come on man! We know what numbers are! we know how numbers work! we're not idiots and you are not the only one who has unlocked the Giant Mystery of Which Number Is Bigger. This is an important lesson: People are not dumber than you just because you think you are smarter than them. The message of this comic is obnoxious and patronizing.


Also, it's not true. Media sources are giving context. I have spent a few minutes on google news finding this following:

- From one "Michael Lewis" at Bloomberg, a genuine member of the mainstream media, for example, makes, astoundingly, calls attention to the Big Number Problem: "above a certain number the money becomes purely symbolic. The general public has no ability to feel the relative weight of 173 billion and 165 million. You can generate as much political action and public anger over millions as you can over billions. Maybe more: the larger the number the more abstract it becomes and, therefore, the easier to ignore." This column was rereported in the New York Times, also an important "news organization" (and before you go 'see randy is right people can't tell the difference' they are making different points - Mr. Lewis is saying that we can't fully comprehend such differences of scale; randy is saying that people won't realize there is a difference.)

-Kiran Chetry of CNN -a part of the mainstream media- asked internet famous person Ron "Dr. Ron Paul" Paul about the mess, pointing out: "you know, all of this hemming and hawing back and forth over this stimulus, which, I mean, over these bonuses -- which is a lot of money; I mean, $165 million -- but then, on the same day, the Treasury just floods the market with $1 trillion." he asked him about this on CNN. On TV. note what Kiran did there! compared the amount of money to a bigger amount! it's almost like CONTEXT.

-One "Charles M Blow" wrote a column in the New York Times- noted member of the mainstream media - making the exact point randy says people aren't making, saying yeah, the bonuses pale in comparison to the amount we gave AIG. They even included a graphic explaining just how different the scales are. Mr. Blow says: "I know that there are bigger, more pressing concerns. I know that these bonuses are a mere pittance relative to the bailouts that A.I.G. has received. In fact, if A.I.G.’s bailouts totaled $100, these bonuses would amount to less than a dime. I know all this, yet I don’t care. I want that dime back to restore my faith in fair play."

Randy = fail, again.

Charles Blow (if that is his real name) is exactly right, and Randall is exactly wrong, for another reason: Here's why people care more about the smaller number: the 173 billion (or, for you dicks out there, 173,000 million) was to stop the company from dying and destroying the whole country and civilization as we know it from collapsing in fire and terrible destruction etc. But that 165 million was literally just handed out to dumbasses. The executives were like "well, now we've got lots of money, let's just hand it out to people" and then they went up to dozens and dozens of their high-level workers and were like "here! take a million dollars! do whatever the fuck you want with it." And that tends to....outrage people.

Here's the problem from another point of view: The bailout money, the 173 billion, was for the whole company. The company is, of course, operating at a different scale when it comes to money. AIG has more than 110,000 workers, according to wikipedia, and, whether you think 173B is reasonable or not, it's meant for a totally different purpose. The majority of the 165M was given out to (it looks like) less than 100 people. that's fucking insane. Especially given that these people all sucked at their jobs and destroyed their company it does not make any sense, in any way, to give all of them so much damn money. The problem with the 165M was not that 165M is a huge amount of money compared to 173B, it's that it's a huge amount of money to give out to dumbfucks just because you feel like it.

Let's look at it from a third angle. Suppose there was a fancy new internet cable that went from america to europe, and all the media were reporting on how spiffy this new cable was and how fast it would make the internet. And suppose they said "this awesome cable is 3500 miles long and nearly two feet wide." And then suppose that Our Good Friend made a comic where he said "DEAR STOOPID MEDIA: you are making it look too much like those numbers are similar. if you were smart like me you would say, 'the cable is 18,480,000 feet long and 2 feet wide' and then everyone would be able to compare them! that is what you SHOULD HAVE DONE."

You see, the point is, the numbers are each big in their own way, and each represent totally different purposes. they don't need to be compared like that.

but i am only getting started!

Alt-text: Ha ha, NOPE. you can refer to other, funnier examples of innumeracy that you found online but it does not count as being funny yourself! good try. PS guys look at this dude Leroy Jenkins fuck shit up for some world of warcraft nerds! LOVE ME FOR THIS LINK


Assuming that by using the right numbers but not accounting for imagined stupidity is "dishonest" is a pretty crappy thing to do. Really? Those numbers are correct, right? It's dishonest because they don't go "...and one of those numbers is a whole heck of a lot BIGGER than the other! do you see why, viewers?" To say that leaving out some non-relevant information is "dishonest" is bullshit. THEY DIDN'T SPECIFY AMERICAN DOLLARS, NOW DID THEY? that's dishonest! some people might assume canadian dollars! DID THEY SAY WHO GAVE OUT THE MONEY? the government gave out the 173B, the company gave out the 165m! yet you are comparing them?? how very DISHONEST. Hell, you used the word "million" when some people will not know that that means 1,000,000! And you used "173" and "165" when some people will not understand that those symbols stand for numbers, and that "0" represents the concept od nothing, or, in this case, is a placeholder for the ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, and hundred thousands place! COME ON, MAINSTREAM MEDIA! STOP BEING SUCH FUCKING LIARS.

why, i do believe that you will always leave something out of the story! t-rex sure found this out the hard way! Anyway, i say that if you assume basic definitions of math in most viewers, that is ok. Not dishonest. not at all.


The art: oh god, the art. Why is that girl there? Is that a girl? Is that hair covering half her face? Is she at a desk? Sticking out of a coffin? In a bathtub (maybe spending 30 seconds with Randy!) A plank of wood supported by two sticks? Why in the first panel does her stick figure body end so far above the desk-tub-casket? she looks like she is only the top half of a person, and she is lifting herself up by the arms and swinging back and forth. Is she supposed to be on TV? Why is there so much empty space? Don't tv reporters tend to look at the screen? Don't they also tend to have faces?

Reddit user "Daizaru" had an excellent comment on this particular issue...

why did you just take this girl and put there as some random object in your little comic? Your stick-figure art is so devoid of detail, meaning and relevance that you would have been much better off without it. I feel terrible for the girl.


And saving the best for last, what a creepy fucking comparison to make there at the end. Is this why you say your comic is about "romance"? Getting drunk and spending the night with some girl whose dad you know? Who the hell still talks to fathers about their daughters, are you 16 years old and living in the suburbs of the 1950s? Do realize that if you somehow worked up the courage to actually tell a father this you would immediately get the shit beaten out of you? Why would you do such a thing? Do you realize how sketchy it is? Referring to "my" daughter, or the reader's daughter, just makes people feel gross inside. it's not funny. it's threatening, or would be, if i had kids and you were at all a threatening person.


There are times when I will admit that xkcd is so bad, I kind of enjoy it. I don't think I've hated one this badly since that "how i spent 11th grade" comic. Channeling so much rage into one massive blog post is in some twisted way a lot of fun. So thank you, Randall Munroe. It takes a lot to get so damn much wrong in a single comic, and not even a long one. It is a rare talent indeed.

so, in this moment, as i finish this, my ungodly long 200th post on this Website of Love - and as I near my one year anniversary! - i say to you, Randall:

thank you. for all that you do.

hears make it allllll better

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Comic 557: Nightmare

look at me
Really? You know what dreams we'll be having decades after we leave school? Once more, Randall attempts to be a wise old man, telling you truths about life. Like how he said you should kiss people more, because people don't regret that. Once more, all I can say is how the hell would you know. Randy is what - 25? A few weeks ago we were talking about whether or not it was creepy that he still hung out with college students, and the general consensus was no, he's young enough for that to be ok. But you can't have both "i'm young and cool" and "i'm old and wise in the way of life" at the same time! that's crazy.

Sure, the art in this comic is ok (xkcd: your #1 source for basic photoshop gradient skills!) but the effect worked better the first time.

Anyway, livejournal crusader-for-humor-justice teapotdome e-mailed me some thoughts on the specific joke in this comic, so here they are:

I think with this strip, Randall has found himself on a comedic and intellectual level with the kind of family-friendly standup comics who perform on cruise ships. 'Hey, you know that dream that everyone has? Well, everyone has it!' is the sum total of what's going on here. The art is somewhat interesting, but this one is purely joke-driven, and the joke is so milquetoast and shabby that I can hardly believe it. I suppose it's only the natural evolution of the last couple strips, where warmed-over '80s references are used as a substitute for original humor; but now instead of pop culture we get the greatest hits of the collective unconscious!

Do you see what's going on here? It's critical that Randall be able to evoke those 'hey, I recognize _____' and 'this is SO MY LIFE!' responses, because that's all what he has to offer the reader, rather than novel or funny ideas. So by playing it as safe as possible, and referencing a dream that almost everyone who has ever attended school has experienced, he ensures that the most glimmers of recognition will be sparked for the least amount of energy invested. It'd be impressive, if it weren't so lazy and stupid.

Next week, I predict, we will see several stick figures pondering just why it is that we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway, or perhaps the guy in the black hat raising his hand at a Steve Jobs press conference to ask just what IS the deal with airline food, anyway?

To which all I can add is: we went through all this nonsense a few months ago, and it's just as bad now.

oh wait that's a lie, i have something else to say: I went and took the words out of this one, not sure how well it turned out, so you tell me what you think. But I'm not going to keep doing this for you guys, if you want it to be a regular thing you will have to take it upon yourselves.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Comic 556: 21st century threats require 17th century solutions

shit don't make no sense

So after my solicitation for guest posts I received exactly one e-mail with some commentary on the comic in question. But it was damn good so I don't mind. I didn't particularly like this comic, woo hoo big surprise there, but lots of usual haters did, so I guess it must be better than usual. In my opinion, the situation ("argggg killer windmills!") is a bizarre enough set-up that the punchline (hey, Don Quixote could totally fight killer windmills!) isn't funny. The situation would have to be a bit more realistic. For me, anyway. Oh and the Al Gore line is terrible.

But enough of my lame old opinions, let's see what instant blog celebrity arremmdee has to say. You'll remember arremmdee from the terrible horrible wonderful livejournal snark-off debate that will feel familiar to all those who are sympathetic to the causes of this blog. The e-mail, sort of at the author's request, has been edited for length.

I have followed xkcd for a really long while and while almost all of the recent ones for the past few years I've easily been able to recognize where the humor is at least *supposed* to come from, Alternative Energy Revolution didn't even seem to have an actual punchline to it. So I checked the LiveJournal feed hoping to see some more 'huh, what?'s. Instead, post after post was an endless flood of 'best xkcd ever', which genuinely just confused me, and I posted asking what exactly the appeal of the comic was to these people. Ignoring the usual useless responses anyone gets whenever they question the infallible stylings of Randall Munroe, and a mindless argument with someone who thought they were in high school debate class (xkcd certainly has found its target audience), it ended up being nothing more than "there are more references to this comic, so that makes it even funnier."

At what point do any of these references actually become funny is what I don't get. By the same logic, if Randall drew the xkcd guy that wears a hat saying 'Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Cory Doctorow, and the Large Hadron Collider' it'd apparently be the best webcomic of all time. (If he said this while holding a girl's hand I'm sure some of the readers would run into the streets shouting with joy, but that's another matter.)

I'm not going to be entirely against AER though since that would be bashing xkcd solely for the sake of bashing xkcd-- if this were done by any other webcomic artist, I would probably have no problem with it. But another webcomic artist would probably drop the throwaway Al Gore namedrop, and the webcomic would probably be one like Buttercup Festival where the point of the comic is far more often atmosphere than humor. If Randall thinks he can suddenly achieve some higher level of artistic atmosphere with a stick figure webcomic by throwing in some sepia, he's really overestimating the abilities of Photoshop's Gradient Fill tool.

AER starts off with a guy and a girl staring at some wind turbines. Guy alleges that wind turbines are creepy, and then makes two references to sci-fi books. I honestly can't imagine anyone finding turbines creepy, and it honestly just seems forced so that these two sci-fi references can be shoved in (War of the Worlds continuing on and becoming the point of the alt text.) Following this reference, the wind turbines that exist in the Wonderfully Whimsical World of Randall Munroe and His Stick Figure Friends, as if having just heard these references, come alive and start attacking the city.

"Al Gore, you've doomed us all!" probably could've been the last line of this comic. Then there would've been a punchline. A really bad one, but people would laugh and say it's a wonderful xkcd. I'd be annoyed, but I'd get where the supposed humor is supposed to be coming from.

Anyways, I guess the 'punchline' for this xkcd is that Don Quixote (in the style of a sketch done by Picasso) shows up.

Props for Randall being clever enough to reference the Picasso sketch, since it only works with his stick figure webcomic, but what actually makes this funny?

Don Quixote has showed up. Alright. Cool. Am I supposed to laugh now?

I have been on the internet since 2001 or so. I have never seen anyone say anything about Don Quixote, but all of a sudden xkcd is praising their longtime hero. Kind of like when everyone suddenly thought Chuck Norris was so awesome, or any other 80s TV hero suddenly became the biggest in-joke amongst 15 year olds far too young to remember what they were pretending to laud. I don't see any more coming out of this. It's little more than a bunch of -- and I really should be careful because there's hardly that much differentiating me from these people -- socially awkward geeks high fiving themselves for catching a reference.

Full disclosure is that I have never read Don Quixote and I only recognized it at all because of a TV series for children that introduced kids to classic literature (Wishbone, I'm sure most people saw it at some point in their life if they grew up in North America), but if I remember it right, Don Quixote wasn't even all that competent at fighting the windmills, and he didn't even think he *was* fighting windmills. Right there are two potentials for jokes ("oh, wow. we're doomed." / 'i will defeat the giants!' "what giants?"; something like that) but AER ends with nothing more than Don Quixote appearing. And it's everyone's favorite xkcd. If Randall put a print of it in his store he'd make a killing.

As angry as this makes me, I don't actually see anything in this xkcd that I couldn't have done myself. I can do stick figures. I can do some Photoshop gradients. I can make just as many references in 12 panels as Randall did. Really, how hard could it be to make xkce.com? I could make a killing.


excellent points, all. arremmdee, please do stick around and join the loving family that we have here. And to the rest of you: where are your dissertations on this comic? where are they

the fact that this comic is currently listed on the wikipedia page for Don Quixote makes me literally - and i use that word literally - sick.

update: Ha, I totally forgot that a very wise man already took it upon himself to make fun of just copying other characters and their stories and calling it your own.

Monday, March 16, 2009

one big xkcdsucks family

yeah so I am not sure what to say about the current comic. It didn't make me laugh, just because the whole situation was so horribly contorted to make Don Quixote make sense as a punchline that the comic was lame. But that's just me. So I think I'll ask all of you out there to do my work for me: if you are so inclined, send me an e-mail with a paragraph or two about what you think of this comic.

think of this as a bold new experiment in collaborative blogging.

your ticket to fame.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Comic 555: bloody hell

ad nauseum
Ha ha, score another win for SCIENCE! you clever spirits think that you can haunt us, well, have we got a little solution for you! Your little haunting scheme will be entirely subverted when we put two mirrors next to each other!

Now I'm going to be honest: I can't tell exactly what's happening here. Is that the same ghost getting reflected back and forth? Is it lots of different ghosts from lots of different mirrors flying out at once? Why is she flying at all? I kind of figured she would just sort of appear there, or maybe appear in the mirror or something.

I think it's tricky to make a joke like this off of a childhood urban myth: everyone knows a different version of the story, and unless you are thinking of the same one as Randall, it might not make sense.

Honestly the biggest problem I see is that it feels too damn much like comic 537, in that a character goes and tries to set up a needless loop by exploiting some property of the thing in question. They just felt similar to me.

Lastly, no, you're not the only one who was reminded of it, I was reminded of it, too.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Comic 554: Get back to work

look at me, i'm a comic
ha ha, computer people waste time! that's how good they are at their jobs, they do them so fast that they can afford to waste time.

I found the first two panels basically worthless, the third to be mildly clever, and the last to be far too smug. I usually like meta-humor (see: the meta box on the left panel of this blog). But has xkcd ever done it before? I feel like in many ways it takes itself a little too seriously to do, say, something like this. Not a problem on its own so much, but out of character. Can anyone find anything else like it in the archives?

lots of points to the forumite who wrote "get out of my head! i was just reading a webcomic!"

that is all.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

emergency, late-nite Abstruse Goose post

hello all. carl here, again. take a gander at the new Abstruse Goose (or you could remain happy and just skip it):
(throw up)
this almost makes me throw up right here on my keyboard. This is terrible. This is everything that is wrong with xkcd, copied, in AG's usual way, into even more crappiness. Does anyone think this is funny? Does anyone care about the story? Does the author really think he should be posting "comics" that have to be immediately followed by apologies? fuck that shit, man.

In Other News: Check out Pictures For Sad Children if you haven't already. To be honest, I can't quite tell if he's kidding or not - I hope that tomorrow I go to the comic and it's back to normal, because that is a pretty funny and surreal thing for a comic - especially that comic - to do for a day. April Fool's would have been better, of course, but whatever.

update: Commenter Lint of Death points out that if you click the vertical ad on the page (you'll have to disable AdBlock, if you use that, as I do) it's a little clearer that it's a joke. Well done.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Comic 553: (Pirate) Baying at the Moon

Oh hello there! Have you heard of this new comic 'XKCD?' I have not read through the archives but it appears to be kind of not very good! Like this one from just today, for instance! It is about how the Pirate Bay people are being tried, and how the Swedish legal system doesn't have a jury, and because hey! these guys are Swedish! there is a hilarious misunderstanding because it's a jury of his peers! OH MAN, did you know peers is a term used in torrenting? And guys, the Pirate Bay people run a TORRENT WEBSITE.

Okay, so seriously. Normally I'm a big fan of puns. This just doesn't do it for me. A good pun is natural. It flows. It plays on words in a clever way. It should come from a natural conversation. This seems forced. First: the Pirate Bay people would never be wishing that the trial was happening in America, because they are actually breaking American laws. Second: I don't think anyone, ever, has been sitting in a jail cell (which--hey, they haven't been convicted yet, why are they in a jail cell?) and said to someone else "man, I sure wish this was in some other country." I mean, that's just not a natural setup for a joke. The setup to a pun is important, Randall. Make an effort.

Apparently Randall looked up the Swedish legal system on Wikipedia and read they don't have juries there, and thought he'd show off his newfound knowledge with his loyal fans. It's like using the word flautist. Yes, it's technically correct, but mostly it's a useful word if you want to show off that you know things.

So, before I go, a shout out to the Cuddlefish who posted here a long time ago complaining that we here at xkcd sucks ignore the alt text, which is the punchline, and ignoring the alt text means we are not getting the joke. I am writing this next part just for him:

this alt text is really incredibly dumb and i hate it

Anyway yeah, congratulations on perfecting your distillation methods for mediocrity, Randall!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

xkcd sucks wants YOU

Guys I am going to make the Profiles of a Cuddlefish page but this is clearly a communal thing. So, I need you to write a sarcastic and disdainful profile of the various Cuddlefish types we routinely battle, and then you can post it in the comments here or email it to me at mysterioustaffer AT gmail DOT com.

This is similar to but distinct from the Frequently Annoying Questions. okay go

Friday, March 6, 2009

Comic 552: Causing Problems

more like correlaSHIT

Well, looks like someone has been taking statistics classes. What we have is a basic little statistics joke. He is noticing a correlation about correlations! and he is wondering if learning about causation has caused him to...um...think that way about causation I guess. It's a simple joke, told in simple pictures, and I suppose it's clever for what it is. I can't get very excited about it (it's not as clever as the last statistics comic) but I can't say it's terrible either. Certainly better than memes + wikipedia, and nerdy in the way xkcd used to be. This one totally feels like he could have written it in his notebook in stat class.

A different angle: like with some previous comics, this one seems like a general attempt to make an easy joke that stat people will like, print, cut out, and put on their walls. "A special xkcd, just for me!" they will think. Please: do not blindly e-mail this comic to all of your friends who use statistics. It is annoying. It is not nearly funny enough, or faliing that obscure enough, to warrant spreading like beer pong herpes.


My heartiest laugh that was correlated to (and caused by) a comment about correlation and causation was when Nate Silver was debating John Zeigler on some dumb online tv-type show. The conversation went something like this:

JZ: But 75% of the people who heard [X] voted for [Y]!
NS: Ok, but that doesn't mean they voted for [Y] because they heard [X]. You of all people should know that just because two data points are correlated doesn't mean one caused the other.
JZ: But with numbers as high as 75% ??? Come on!

This made me laugh, because JZ was being a giant idiot. You can have as much correlation as you want and it still can mean nothing. ha ha, stupid people.


From nowhere: I find that God's eyes blinking on this Overcompensating freaked me out. A comic like that, that is just about always static, should stay static. This is crotchety-old-man me speaking, but I just think it's weird. (this dinosaur comic is a little better because the movement is so obvious, it doesn't sneak up on you all of a suddent)

update: See how up there I predicted that statisticsy people would spread this comic around to all their friends because hey, look, it's a statistics comic! ? Yeah well I was at least a little right: Noted smart person Steven Levitt has apparently broken his "no cartoons" rule for the very first time to bring you you-know-what. curse you, levitt!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Comic 551: Etch-a-Sketchy

honestly my favorite part of this post is the title
The worst thing about this creepy-as-hell comic is that I knew, when I first read it, that xkcd fans were going to love it. It's so adorable! Look at how very lonely that man is; don't you just want to give him a big ol' hug??

No. I do not. I want to give him an informational pamphlet entitled "So you fall in love with tiny women inside toys: A guide for the fucked up." Honestly, how messed up is this guy? He's sitting with a kid's toy. He imagines that there is a tiny woman trapped inside the toy. And not even a normal looking girl, it's girl who looks scary as hell. And she is desperate enough that she immediately falls in love with him and he is so pathetic that he does the same.

How can you say that's an adorable thing to imagine? I don't know about Randy, but when I see old toys I do not immediately think "perhaps this item contains a potential love interest!" Well, when I see child's toys at least.

Anyway, I guess now I should just sit and wait for the anonymous commenters to tell me why I'm wrong and why this is actually totally sweet.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What's that cyanide and happiness? you suck? oh, ok, good to know

I have long felt that most of Cyanide and Happiness is basically worthless crap. Occasionally funny, but usually not. But take a look at today's comic:

appears funny at first...

Remind you of anything? It sure as hell reminded me of something - check out one of the last Perry Bible Fellowship comics to be produced:

...but this is the true source of the joke!

Now for all I know this joke didn't originate with PBF - it may be even older. If anyone can think of an older incarnation of this joke, mention it. But PBF sure as hell did it before C&H, and given that PBF is one of the most popular webcomics of the last few years, and given that this particular comic is 7th from the top on their mainpage list of comics, I have no choice but to call MAJOR LEAGUE BULLSHIT on those cyanide and happiness people. BULLSHIT.


update: ok what the HELL - I am minding my own business on Digg when I see this comic, which according to the url is from March 1st. But not less than two weeks ago Amazing Super Powers had this, from Feb. 19th. I'm not going to say anything about it, besides the fact that ASP's is significantly funnier. But what do you guys think is going on here?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Comic 550: This does indeed ruin my life

fuck me but this sucks
Today I am happy to say that frequent commenter poore has stepped up to the bat and will knock this ball of shit comic out of the park and into the cesspool in which it deserves to live. I have some thoughts at the end; as usual, interested guest-bloggers should e-mail me. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you....poore!

Ok, as a former /b/tard and someone who has been called a "meme machine" on multiple occasions, I feel unusually qualified to comment on today's xkcd.

Let me first say that meme humor in general is difficult to replicate in ANY form other than its most common - forum threads. The simple reason for this is that much of the humor derived from memes is the real-time generation of the content, and the interplay between all the posters contributing to a given thread. Like a Tristan Tzara performance, a good jazz set, or Foxy Shazam, it's an experience you can't really appreciate until you get to see it live.

Once you translate the living, breathing concept of meme humor to a static medium such as a webcomic, you've already removed a large part of what makes this particular brand of humor special. That being said, static meme humor CAN be done well; it's difficult, but not impossible.

Actually, let me elaborate: it's not impossible for someone who takes the time to really analyze the nature of Internet humor and then dedicates a large span of time to carefully crafting a joke that fully utilizes the knowledge they've gained.

Randall Munroe is no such someone.

What Randall failed to realize is that just quoting memes is not funny. As it turns out, this fact is part of the genesis of the moniker "/b/tard". While there are a few truly brilliant comic minds lurking in the shadows of Anonymous, most of them are drooling idiots whose only method of communication is "Ctrl+c", "Ctrl+v" and whose pathetic brains are utterly incapable of generating anything vaguely resembling an original thought.

Randall - you just dove headlong into the midst of this pathetic, throbbing mass of humanity, and I (and most of your readers, I should hope) am left wondering,"why?" Is this some elaborate attempt at self-parody? Are you trying to be meta? Are you just throwing a bone to the /b/tards to buy their loyalty?

I suspect the latter, but I digress.

As I said before, just quoting memes at random is not that funny. However, Randall did try to spice it up a bit by making himself (err, the anonymous stick figure in this comic) bring up a bunch of random memes in an inappropriate situation. Unfortunately, quoting memes in inappropriate situations is only occasionally funny, typically when there's a high shock value. While bringing up random memes during sex might be kind of inappropriate, it comes off as more "wow, that guy's dumb" than "oh my god, did he REALLY just say that?"

Think of it this way: it's the difference between saying "So i herd u liek mudkips?" in the checkout line at the supermarket (which is just stupid and not all that funny), and yelling "That's what she said!" during a solemn silence at your grandmother's funeral.

If you want to really be funny with memes, you have to apply them in highly-appropriate, well-timed situations, but these opportunities very rarely present themselves, and even then it requires that everyone involved be familiar enough with the particular meme being referenced to understand why said meme is appropriate and well-timed in the current context in order for maximum humor saturation to occur.

Had Randall spent the time to craft such a situation, this comic could have been great. Instead, it's just retarded.

As a final note, why would messing up a single sexual encounter with a woman completely ruin your life? Do I detect a little bit of insecurity, Randall? Perhaps a sense that yet another failed relationship will cast doubt upon your sexual orientation? Have you just given me another piece of highly-speculative, grossly-misinterpreted piece of evidence for your latent homosexuality?


OH NOES PEOPLE poore used all caps at the end there! Attack! attack my loyal commentors, ATTACK!

I'll add just a few comments to the end here:

Part of the issue with the memes, as poore alluded to but didn't, I think, say explicitly, is that they work in conversation, as part of the interplay between people. Part of it is also that it is fun to try to twist a meme into new situations (think lolcats --> lolphilosophers, lolpresidents, lolinsects, etc). this is why I enjoyed rickrolling: people got really creative in terms of how and where and on what scale they tricked people into hearing that song (a meme from 4chan going all the way to a Mets game is freaking awesome).

Putting memes into a comic generally destroys both of those: The conversation is not present, of course, and also the artist can construct however many crazy situations he wants in order to work his meme of choice in. Clearly, this is what happened a few months ago. There's humor in taking the situation you are actually in and applying an outside idea to it; when you create the set up for your own hi-larious punchline, no one cares.

And it should go without saying, but I am just damn sick of meme comics in general. In addition to all the problems above, Randy just relies on them too damn much.

Also: Dammit randall, we know that you are trying to influence the culture of the internet. You told us at the end of the year that you wanted "yo dawg" and "accidentally ____" to be the New Hit Memes of 2009 so when you jam them into your comic two months later it just reads as transparent and pathetic. We know that you are a 4chan reader randy, but that doesn't make you cool no matter how much you think it does.