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"

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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.

46 comments:

  1. You left out that half of it doesn't even follow the premise. No one is uncomfortable about Dvorak keyboards sucking.

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  2. I guess I shouldn't post what few thoughts I ever have regarding comments on previous posts. I thus have nothing to add again but I like to get the e-mail notifications.

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  3. You know, reading this I thought you were some jealous overly critical douche with too much time on his hands. Reading the FAQ's has shown me that you are in actually fact, an intelligent, reasonable, overly critical douche and that you actually provide good reasons about why you didn't like a comic. This is actually a pretty good site. Keep it up.

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  4. I thought the title for this one was okay? Because it could be read as a noun or an interjection. If you read it before the comic, you just got that this was going to be a comic about a well. If you read it after the comic, it was what you'd say after a talking hole in the ground laid bare the basic problem with your relationship. In that sense, I liked it. A more obscure setup of "Hey! Three holes in the ground!" "Well well well."

    Other than that, I wasn't made uncomfortable by either of the first two statements, either?

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  5. Did the last two make you uncomfortable, then?

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  6. Point. Rephrase.
    The last two seemed like they could make a room uncomfortable to be in after their being said, but the front two seemed equivalent to "Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?" I parsed an uncomfortable truth as something that makes conversation grind to a halt, and neither of those struck me as a grinding halt of a statement.

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  7. Loved this reddit comment:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/comics/comments/88i11/parking_xkcd/c08jnp7

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  8. More like "the well that will randomly decide to be a bitch to you, or talk about firefly, whatever it's feeling like"

    More like "Randall Munroe."

    If this one doesn't prove he only writes about himself with the hope people will throw loose change at him, then nothing will.

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  9. If you get hold of a browser other than the heap of shit that is Internet Explorer, you might learn the difference between the alt and title attributes.

    I suggest Opera.

    TRiG.

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  10. just because everyone calls it the alt text doesn't mean they're using the wrong attribute

    please read the source of the page before posting that

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  11. I assume the titles are just so you can identify them on the list in the archive.

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  12. "construed premise"

    Would you please tell me what this phrase means? I think I get what you're saying, but construed wouldn't make sense here under any definition of the word I know. Maybe contrived is what you meant? If I'm wrong, I'm sure you'll let me know.

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  13. Carl, get out of my head!!
    I will say, good job with this one. You pretty much covered everything here.
    @ New comic: Oh god. Mr. Hat finally comes back... AND IT'S A REFERENCE FROM AN EVEN CRAPPIER COMIC (seen here at http://xkcdsucks.blogspot.com/2008/10/comics-494-498-mr-hat-gets-another.html)!! It actually would have been so much better if he had just had the first four panels without the fifth, because the last one just bludgeons you over your head with the joke, as Randall is such a fan of doing since he thinks most of his fans are too stupid to think creatively. And what the hell is that backpack there for? Also, it's not very accurate, considering the car would have caught fire... and how the hell did he move the thing over? All I have to say about the alt text is that it sucks. Majorly.

    Ok, I'm done. [/rant]

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  14. I agree with Kurt. And with Carl.

    This could have been improved with removing panel 2 or 3 and changing the remaining one to something like "she'll never feel the same way about you", or something that's actually an uncomfortable truth.

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  15. Funny that we have complaints about how the car would have caught fire, but none about how the previous comic had a FREAKIN' TALKING WELL*.

    *actually, wait, we did... you're all nerds, all of you.

    I don't know what my point is, but it probably boils to down to "just calm the freak down, people" and leads to y'all shouting at me. Meep.

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  16. cuddlefish: that is a great comment.

    TRiG: if you weren't a shit-filled fucktard, you wouldn't jump to conclusions about my browser. I am using Firefox (and using on Ubuntu) and I take your suggestion that I am using IE as the worst form of insult.

    I know the difference between "alt" and "title" on an image in HTML. But there is - or was, a little while ago - a habit online of people calling the text that html calls "title="" ", the one that pops up when you hover over an image, the "alt text" given that the actual alt-text of an image is rarely important - in xkcd, it's just the title of the comic - I stick with "alt text." For one thing, "title text" could be confused with the text of the comic's title, which is not what I am talking about.

    do you really think I am able to add my own alt-text on each comic without noticing that I have to put it in the "title="" " part of the code?

    THANKS FOR TRYING THOUGH!

    Anon - perhaps, but the titles aren't that memorable. They could still be there on the archive and be easy to find ("which one is the one with the Well...oh ok here it is") without needing to be on actual comic. In any case, I imagine more people find comics with the ohnorobot search function that with the archives anyway; the archives are mostly just good for finding when the comics came out. And there are certainly better ways to convey that information.

    Fake Smile: I think you are right. "Contrived Premise" is what I meant, I'll go change it.

    Kurt: thank you for that reminder, I had forgotten this idea was used before. Makes it much worse. I do think the last panel is important though.

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  17. Carl: yeah, sorry, I just flipped out. GWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! <-- like that.

    So now you know: the_cuddlefish's occasional politeness is all a faccedillaade! I am a boiling cauldron of RAGE!

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  18. the_cuddlefish: I am afraid I was referring to a different comment...your's is good too but I meant to compliment "If this one doesn't prove he only writes about himself with the hope people will throw loose change at him, then nothing will." That was written by "Cuddlefish" not "the_cuddlefish" which I assume is a different person...

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  19. Guys, don't you just HATE it when people double park?
    I didn't, until Randy told me to!

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  20. Carl: Oh, right, sorry, I assumed you were just too lazy to type "the_". NERD.

    (in a friendly way)

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  21. I'm not familiar with web comics. What is this alt text you speak of in your entry?

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  22. Jacob: It's a thing which, when you mouse over it on XKCD, makes you cry because it sucks so bad.

    Obscure: The highest form of compliment!

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  23. Why do you people hate on IE? It's fantastic.

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  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  25. TRiG: if you weren't a shit-filled fucktard, you wouldn't jump to conclusions about my browser. I am using Firefox (and using on Ubuntu) and I take your suggestion that I am using IE as the worst form of insult.

    -Carl



    I am sad because I still use IE even though I hate it.

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  26. OOOOHHHHH.... yeah, I'll go ahead and remove that last post.

    IE still sucks though. I suppose I would use it if forced brutally by a man with a gun/knife/torture rack/ect.

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  27. I kind of liked 562. The last panel is needed because it's not inherently obvious what Mr Hat was going to do. And it references a lot of those "carpet riddles" that require cutting the carpet into triangles.

    I think it's easy to get into a reflexive HATE, and a lot of the more recent ones haven't been funny -- at all, but we also need to give credit where due.

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  28. But he is encouraging road rage! This is punishable by death, by Mormons, in Utah.

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  29. THE STUPID PART IS THAT I HAVE FIREFOX

    I AM JUST

    I DUNNO

    LOYAL TO IE OR SOMETHING

    BUT IT HAS CRASHED ON ME INFINITELY MORE TIMES THAN FIREFOX HAS CRASHED ON ME

    =(

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  30. But IE8 doesn't crash! And if it does, it allows you to restore your last session exactly where you left off!

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  31. AMANDA ALL CAPS IS NOT CRUISE CONTROL FOR COOL THIS MEANS YOU SUCK I AM REVOKING YOUR AWESOME PRIVILEGES

    Schadenfreude: Firefox has done that for some time now.

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  32. @Kurt: [total confusion]
    If you think the car comic doesn't need the last panel, I have a joke for you.

    "Two guys walk into a bar. One of them."

    Thanks, I'll be here all week.

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  33. It's like the second and third panels are from one comic and the last two are from another, a fact that's probably been hashed and hashed again by this point.

    The last two panels are bitter, and some people like bitter. They're the sort of people who read about train crashes and hotel bombings with hungry eyes. Feel a little disgusted. Can't help it. Alright. Some people like bitter. I'm not one of them. I always order white chocolate.

    The other two are nerd jokes, and that's alright as far as nerd jokes go. I suppose the first fellow was a fellow who held Firefly high, and the girl was a girl who held Dvorak keyboards high. Alright.

    That's good enough.

    But this comic should be two comics that are half as long. All I'm asking for is consistency, as far as talking wells are concerned. I have nothing against talking wells otherwise generally.

    Incidentally, did Timmy actually fall down a well once, or was that something that was invented out of the ether?

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  34. I get the feeling that Randall has been meaning to get those first two "uncomfortable truths" off his chest for a while now, and he finally just went, "Fuck it, I'll put them next to each other, add some awkward romance, and call it a comic."

    Also, why on earth would the second girl throw a coin in after the well just told her that her boyfriend apparently doesn't really love her? Wouldn't she at least realize the obvious potential for an awkward punchline and veer away from it? I guess this is kind of a minor criticism, since comics make you suspend disbelief for the sake of a punchline all the time, but the pattern of characters almost self-consciously playing into their own jokes gets to me a little bit.

    This is a sort of different example, but it's sort of related--I've always hated XKCD 12 for similar reasons, and only recently realized that it proves that yeah, there were some really sucky comics back in the old days (apart from the really random sketches and the like). It's just--why would he be saying that he's a poisson distribution? The answer is that he's saying it for the sole purpose of leading up to a punchline that only works in comic-land, and it still bugs the hell out of me.

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  35. Kristen: maybe she was throwing a really valuable coin, and it was his.

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  36. This, for the first time in a while (I'm a fan of xkcd, so to say) sucked so badly it was funny. For this reason, I consider it good, whether or not intentional. "The well that will randomly decide to be a bitch to you, or talk about firefly, whatever it's feeling like" got a little chuckle out of me when I realized the folks were being conned.

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  37. I do generally like XKCD, but I agree with Carl on this one. It was a few shades less than brilliant.

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  38. the_talkingwellfishMarch 31, 2009 at 1:15 PM

    "I have nothing against talking wells otherwise generally."

    You'd better not... *cracks knuckles*

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  39. @Rob: They're equal now! Isn't it time to let bygones be bygones?

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  40. Whatevs, I'm on a Mac.

    Seriously though does IE8 finally comply with web standards as well as Firefox 3 does? Because if so I will forgive them with all of my web developer heart.

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  41. Woo! An insult. An impressive one, too, if not particularly eloquent. I must come here more often.

    I take your point. We all know it isn't alt text, but we call it alt text anyway. We do this because IE has seriously messed up our understanding of what alt text is for. Yes, let's all hate IE together.

    I was trying to get an embedded video to work today, and learned to hate IE even more than I did before. (Appeared fine in Firefox/Ubuntu, Opera/Ubuntu, Safari/Win, GoogleChrome/Win, Firefox/Win, Opera/Win. Complete mess in IE 6 and 7.)

    For my own browsing, I use Firefox or Opera as the mood takes me, and yes, I'm on Ubuntu. Must get hold of a Mac one of these days, just for the variety.

    TRiG.

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  42. Prescriptivism is bad, anyway. IE has its own reasons to be hated without everyone being all prescriptivist about the term 'alt text.'

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  43. Schadenfreude: does IE8 follow web standards as well as Firefox 3? That is my primary beef with IE: it is a bitch for web developers.

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