Thursday, April 23, 2009

Comic 572: Keep Looking

find me a comic that doesn't suck
I feel a little conflicted on this one. I do appreciate the "ha ha, fuck YOU" element of the guy's whole life being for such a trivial thing as a scavenger hunt, but still: must everything end up with a destroyed romance?

The whole thing - this sort of lifelong charade of friendship, suddenly tossed away at the end - reminded me far too much of that recent PFSC that I loved so much. I know the Randall-Defenders will say that they are completely different, but I just mean the feel: Life progressing quickly and then suddenly being brought back to where we started. No? I think so.

Speaking of which, did anyone else think the most recent Penny Arcade seemed awful damn close to a recent Amazing Super Powers? Oh, well then read the title of PA and the alt-text of ASP again, and you will. COME ON, penny arcade, you are better than this. Thanks to secret agent PR for pointing that one out.

I don't usually write about art stuff because it's something I just don't care about as much, but I'm finding something starting to bug me about the shot of the front door with the stairs leading down from it, seen in panel 6. But also seen in this panel 1, these panels 7 and 8, and this whole comic. Also: the shrivled old people heads creep me out. Also: Why is the cane floating in panel 8. Also: do you think the other two old people in panles 7 and 8 are supposed to be the same as the people in the background of panel 1? I suppose it makes a little more sense.
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Um so: today is this blog's 1 year anniversary. I was going to write something long about it but then decided that would be boring. Goodness, April 2008, what a long time ago. Thanks to all of you readers, thanks for commenting if you did, unless you were stupid in which case go to hell, thanks to people who e-mailed me, thanks to guest writers as well. Thanks to Jonathan Harford, the first person to really comment on the blog, which was terribly encouraging.

Guys: let's keep making our little corner of the internet a less sucky place, for however many years it takes.

81 comments:

  1. Um. Branchin' out a little?

    Yeah, the ASP and PA comic look similar, but c'mon, people have been saying "TOO SOON" about Kurt Cobain jokes forever.

    Tell you the truth, I wasn't much sure of how to take this one either. It's random, unexpected, and reminds me a lot of the strips where he just plays around with the english language, but it didn't leave me laughing so much as just saying "Awww."

    Also, the alt-text feels a little forced.

    I assume that by next post, I'll be back to heartily disagreeing with you, incidentally.

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  2. Your PFSC link goes to the troubled romance page :3

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  3. I don't get it. Are you suggesting PA read that ASP comment and blatantly copied it? Or are you suggesting that PA should have had their crack research team scour the internet for Kurt Cobain jokes before they did this one just to make sure it had nothing in common with any of them?

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  4. I enjoy ASP, but PA's joke is funnier. That said, I detest PA.

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  5. This one seemed stupid to me for two reasons:

    1.) Anyone who's been on a scavenger hunt knows that you don't do everything in the exact order it's presented. You jump around and do them in the order that makes the most sense, or is the most efficient. If something you need appears by chance, you'll jump ahead and do that item instead. But that's a minor nitpick.

    2.) Their are much, much easier ways to find happiness than getting married a living an entire lifetime together. So, unless you're retarded, you'd probably chose something like "get a really good milkshake" or "have amazing sex" to find happiness rather than "waste my entire life on a marriage that is a lie to fulfill an item for a scavenger hunt". Plus, a marriage based on a lie probably wouldn't be "happy", and the conflict between wanting fulfilling the menial task of a scavenger hunt and the strains of maintaining a healthy relationship would likely lead to depression instead.

    On an unrelated note, Penny Arcade is pretty okay.

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  6. Referring to the anon above poore.

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  7. Ugh. "THERE are much, much easier ways". Not "Their". My bad, guys.

    Also, for clarification, in the first point I am implying that, even if a lifelong marriage were necessary for happiness, you would probably save it for last.

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  8. What the fuck is that other Kurt Cobain comic supposed to even mean? Kurt used to be a blind jazz musician? WHAT?

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  9. Um why did he need to be with her for like eighty years before he was truly happy? Wouldn't it have been better if one of the things had been "break someone's heart" or something? But then that would definitely be troubled romance.

    Um okay I wrote this comment before I read poore's comment GEE THANKS POORE god I'm so useless

    And yeah I think the two oldies at the end are the same two people from the beginning.

    Happy one-year! Why do the stairs bother you?

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  10. Nerdy shit + romantic shit go together about as well as soy sauce and chocolate. And if you like that combo... well, enjoy your fucking xkcd.

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  11. Have you tried that? and what inspired you?

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  12. Poore, on point 2, I hate to say it, but I thiiink you're kinda overthinking it.

    Aloria, I just tried that. It was actually pretty tasty. The saltiness of the soy sauce really offset the chocolate flavor perfectly. Granted, this was with some pretty dark chocolate, like 70+%, so maybe with milk chocolate it wouldn't work so well.

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  13. @Trismegustis:

    No, I'm saying that the premise for the "joke" in this comic is so contrived that it isn't funny, and then presenting the reasoning behind this point of view.

    Also, as to the soy sauce/chocolate thing, screenshots or it didn't happen. That being said, salty and sweet do compliment one another nicely - try chocolate-covered potato chips and you'll see what I mean.

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  14. Again, I can't disagree with you on the xkcd stuff.

    But the PA/ASP thing... they're similar because they're both Kurt Cobain killing himself jokes? Or because they both parenthetically refer to the very common phrase "too soon" that pops up whenever jokes are made about sad things? They obviously share a subject matter, but they're two different jokes, and the similarities are minute enough to have no effect on the quality of either. I think you're just in the habit of commenting on each and every coincidence involving webcomics. "Hey, look! Out of thousands of webcomics on the internet, two of today's were about the same thing! That's... disappointing?"

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  15. I didn't have too much of a problem with this XKCD, but there's something that's bugging me. All four people in the first panel are part of the scavenger hunt, right? So why is it only the guy leaving to go meet up with the other two? I think it'd make a lot more sense if it just showed the old couple come back to check off "happiness". Like they saw the item way back when they started and decided to team up and achieve happiness together. Not only does it make more sense that way, but it also takes the stupid "troubled romance" bullshit and makes it into a kinda silly, kinda sweet moment.

    Also, why is the wife so concerned at the end? The dude is just walking off to go finish a game with a couple friends. He's not leaving her for good or anything. Geez...

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  16. I thought it was only the three people who were playing the treasure hunt. You know, something like... "Okay, the next item is 'happiness'. Go!" and then the guy rushes over to befriend the girl who is unaware of his shenanigans as the other two bear witness.

    But I like your explanation more because I am a sucker for sweet things so I shall nab it.

    Also, the newest comic was annoying, because it felt like it could have been funny without significantly changing the dialogue or premise or anything. Like maybe it needed a silent beat somewhere, or one panel should have been split up into two, or something slightly reworded or something, and it would have been funny. The timing is all off, and that is a shame.

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  17. Also why does digg keep asking me for my password

    WHAT BARGAIN WITH THE DEVIL HAVE YOU STRUCK CARL

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  18. I think the main problem with this comic is that he spent like 50 years without ever feeling happy. You think he would be happy in panels 2,3,4, but NO! Apparently he was faking it. His life must've sucked! 50 years without being happy? Even emo kids grow out of it. This must've been one seriously disturbed individual.

    But what is worse, neither of his friends felt happiness during that time either! We have a clique of sociopaths here!

    Come on, this comic was shit, and didn't get the trashing it deserved.

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  19. My problem is he took all that time and never found a four-leaf clover. Is that supposed to be part of the joke?

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  20. First to comment about Friday's comic! :D

    Well, what can I say, other than that it's just horrid? Randall's magic wellspring of meme-based hilarity never runs dry, it seems.

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  21. Sorry to burst your Cuddlefishy bubble, but McAsh beat you to the punch.

    But yeah, lame. Though at least he learned a new hairstyle for ladies!

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  22. megan got a haircut
    he saw her on wednesday
    on friday, redefined creepy

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  23. Your haiku form is off, grasshopper!

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  24. I ignore the 5/7/5 convention for my haiku most of the time. It's usually a boring restriction.

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  25. The entire point of poetry is that you have to express yourself within narrow restrictions. It focusses the art. If it's not restricted, it's not poetry.

    Rhyme, metre, syllable count, and thought parallelisms are all common forms of restriction applied.

    And I liked this comic.

    TRiG.

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  26. TRiG I was a creative writing major. I know what poetry is. There are good restrictions and boring restrictions.

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  27. Well, write what you want. But if it's not a haiku, don't call it one.

    TRiG.

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  28. Also, "if it's not restricted, it's not poetry" is just not true. Poetry is all about the expression of feelings and ideas in a way that can't be told through prose. It's just as often about breaking rules as it is following them--indeed, I'd say the bulk of poetry written today is more about breaking rules than following them. It's about playing around with structure and rhythm and grammar and rules and expectations. Poetry is limitless in its expression. Even in strict forms such as the sonnet or the villanelle, the restrictions are not somehow there simply to make it poetry, but to play with a form, to give the poet the chance to add structure if she so desires.

    On the subject of haiku, since you appear to have never heard of Wikipedia: "Most writers of literary haiku in English use about ten to fourteen syllables, with no formal pattern. . . . It is impossible to single out any current style or format or subject matter as definitive." 5/7/5 does not define a haiku. It's a restriction some writers still take on but it's not a haiku. Please, please, please, please do your homework before you try to be elitist about poetry?

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  29. "If it's not restricted, it's not poetry."

    Read some William Blake

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  30. Right.


    I'll bow out at this point.

    I don't trust Wikipedia, but h2g2 agrees.

    TRiG.

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  31. Randall recently did a guest Wondermark comic.

    It sucked. And he misspelled "Michelangelo".

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  32. Oh great, another comic whose sole "joke" is a reference to an old meme. And just when I thought it couldn't be any worse, I read the alt-text. I thought the Wondermark guy has better taste than to use Randall's throw-away b-side comics that he wouldn't even use on his own site.

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  33. I was about to post about the Wondermark comic as well. Randall is ruining my internet.

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  34. We can provide you with a new one for $19.99 a month, Canadian. Just call the Cuddlefish Corporation of Great Britain and Canada now!

    So: that comic funny in a smirky way, today's not funny but not a crime against humanity either, PA/ASP accusations contrived, yada yada yada yada YYYDDOASIFGIGHDGHJDHJGHDJHJ *thump*.

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  35. Oh come on Rob. Poetry isn't about expressing feelings. That's for journal entries and bad xkcd comics. It's about conveying experience through craft.

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  36. @Ramsey:

    I hope you're being sarcastic, because otherwise I will peckerslap you.

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  37. The PA joke was incredibly similar to an old Ctrl-Alt-Del joke (cue the hordes screaming that CAD's not a real comic) about a syringe controller to rock your own overdose.

    I got a chuckle out of this one, it could fit into the destroyed romance category, though I thought it was done pretty well.

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  38. journal webcomics
    fucking up the internet
    xkcd sucks

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  39. I guess I should have known better to use a food analogy on the Internet. I could have said "nerdy shit + romantic shit go together about as well as lemon juice and milk" and someone would have been like "fuck you're so wrong I love my milk lumpy and cement mixers are my cocktail of choice"

    That being said, soy sauce and strawberry ice cream was revolting. I'm never letting my friends feed me when I'm drunk again.

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  40. I'm not sure what's worse anymore, the creepy romance comics or the old meme comics.

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  41. poore please do it anyway, i think it would make for Good Laffs

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  42. Also, John, I think they are both about the same level of suck but for different reasons. Like the creepster comics kind of give nerdy assholes the green light to continue being creepy and sad but at least kind of deliver emotion? The meme comics have zero joke at all, but at least reference something that was once funny, years ago.

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  43. Uh, Triggles, no it doesn't. From the h2g2 article you linked: "However, in English and in many other languages with a Romance or Germanic base, the 5-7-5 format is relaxed. This is considered acceptable because there is considerably more information, and often more sounds, packed into a single English syllable than there is in a Japanese syllable. A good rule of thumb for an English-language haiku is somewhere between 13 and 17 syllables."

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  44. I'm embarassed to share my birthday with your blog's.

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  45. "I don't trust Wikipedia, but h2g2 agrees."

    What part of the word but do you fail to understand? I don't trust your reference to Wikipedia, but I believe you anyway, because h2g2 agrees.

    How can you understand creative writing when you can't even grasp workaday prose?

    TRiG.

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  46. Or, read another way: "I'm bowing out because you used Wikipedia, but I am providing a link to an article that agrees with me in attempt to get a Parthian shot in."

    Don't blame me for your inability to articulate English properly.

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  47. And in the event that wasn't sufficiently clear to you: the 'I don't trust Wikipedia' people have some incredibly bizarre behavior patterns. While all of them react negatively to a mention of Wikipedia, it is generally unpredictable in what way it will happen. Some will refuse to continue a conversation, because they feel that anyone who uses Wikipedia is beneath their consideration, in rather the same way that many people refuse to talk to 9/11 conspiracy theorists because they are simply too ignorant to be worthy of consideration as conversation partners.

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  48. About Friday's comic...

    Isn't it the "we gave our baby diabetes" joke again? Randall's parenting jokes feel like branches of the "people being like machines!" jokes. Yes, if you programmed your daughter to sing Astley's songs every time she rickrolled someone, that would be sweet revenge. But it wouldn't be funny.

    Also, can't wait for the fictional daughter to get into trouble (fire, molestation) and have nothing but jibberish to say. BECAUSE THAT'S HOW CONDITIONING WORKS RIGHT

    Been a pleasure, Carl! May it continue to be.

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  49. the 'I don't trust Wikipedia' peopleThat would be the majority of the world's academics, then? Wikipedia is often a very useful starting point, but it is not, and nor does it pretend to be, authoritative.

    I post links to h2g2 whenever they are relevant, because it's a project I support and of which I am an active member. It is also far less famous than it deserves to be. I do, usually, read the article before I post a link to it, and I was well aware that it, as I said, agreed with you. (Hint: this would explain my use of the word agrees.)

    I am also a member of Wikipedia, but I don't do much there beyond the occasional grammar or typo correction.

    TRiG.

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  50. the 'I don't trust Wikipedia' people.

    That would be the majority of the world's academics, then? Wikipedia is often a very useful starting point, but it is not, and nor does it pretend to be, authoritative.

    I post links to h2g2 whenever they are relevant, because it's a project I support and of which I am an active member. It is also far less famous than it deserves to be. I do, usually, read the article before I post a link to it, and I was well aware that it, as I said, agreed with you. (Hint: this would explain my use of the word agrees.)

    I am also a member of Wikipedia, but I don't do much there beyond the occasional grammar or typo correction.

    TRiG.

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  51. So, adding a full stop outside the italics tag stops Blogger from mangling your formatting. I'll keep that in mind for future reference.

    TRiG.

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  52. No, the bulk of academics only mistrust Wikipedia insofar as it is used in academic papers. Most of them are not going to reject its use in casual conversation--in conversation it's an incredibly handy reference guide, especially for matters of basic definition and introduction to a topic. If I were to be mentioning a specific historical fact concerning haiku based on the Wiki article--such as claiming their point of origin or when they were first used in the English language--you would be right to question my information (though it is far better to view the source as cited rather than simply say 'I don't trust Wikipedia'). If I link to a Wikipedia article for a basic matter of definition, you are just being a dick when you say "I don't trust Wikipedia."

    Imagine, for instance, I'm linking to the article about sonnets, because you don't believe that a sonnet refers to a specific form of poetry. The introductory paragraph contains more than enough information on this subject, and it is not the sort of specific information that Wikipedia shouldn't be relied upon. At this point it's really your responsibility to show that the Wiki definition of the topic is unreliable.

    Another reason this is a problem is because usually definitions are not being linked without any prior knowledge on the part of the person linking. In my case, I have studied haiku fairly extensively--I am merely providing independent verification of my position. There's really no reason to reject that verification--and especially on an article on a topic such as haiku, you are going to see people monitoring it fairly extensively for misinformation.

    Since you've shown that you fall under the field of people who (a) argue poetic theory with CW majors and (b) think Wikipedia can never be useful in conversation, I also filed you under people who (c) are likely to read articles with strong confirmation bias and only read the sentence which says that schoolchildren are taught that haiku is 5/7/5. Sadly there are plenty of people like that on the internet. I did so erroneously, though it was an error of filing rather than comprehension.

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  53. Hey... Does today's XKCD remind anyone of SMBC? The joke's not exactly the same, but they both deal with operant conditioning.

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=1496

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  54. AHAHHA at the smbc

    But I would agree with Thomas, that the joke's pretty similar to the diabetes joke, except the diabetes was to like keep her under control, while the gibberish is to bring up for revenge if one day she decides to be a bratty teenager.

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  55. This is pretty similar to >joke< at >website<. >Disparaging comment< Randall Munroe >extreme punctuation<

    >Non sequiter, preferably misspelled<

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  56. >"Non sequiter, preferably misspelled"
    >sequiter

    Please tell me that was on purpose.

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  57. It wasn't. :(

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  58. Oooh! Are we doing xkcdsucks mad libs? I LOVE those! They work so perfectly no matter what you say!

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  59. Rob... you do realise that it's 5/7/5 morae... not syllables, right? We don't really use the concept of morae much in English so it's really not a great idea to call any non-japanese Haiku and Haiku anyway.

    Of course people can define words to mean what ever they want, but in the traditional sense... it's not.

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  60. Fuck everyone. Poetry, as with any other form of media, is a means of expression. If the idea is clearly expressed in a way you can appreciate, it's successful. This is why xkcd sucks - it does not effectively convey the humor it is meant to. Rob's haiku, however, was able to convey it's point quite well, while simultaneously conforming to the loose structure of a typical non-Japanese haiku.

    TL;DR Rob and Amanda are awesome and everyone else sucks. Also, tequila is awesome.

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  61. Poore is a meanie >:|

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  62. Anon: yes, and the reason schoolchildren are taught 5/7/5 syllables is because English doesn't have a direct analog. However, I reject all implications that a single language is the only language capable of a given art form, and there are plenty of contemporary and translated haiku in English that are awesome, and I reject all notions that the only haiku possible are in Japanese. It is like saying that you can't read Nietzsche except in German. Yes, it is better in German, but English is a perfectly versatile language and there are plenty of talented writers, and saying that English is too limited to express ideas is the demesne of people who do not know how to write.

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  63. ps poore I prefer newcastle brown ale

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  64. Rob, no one ever made those suggestions.

    Additionally, "a rose with any other name would be as sweet".

    It doesn't matter if the term "Haiku" defined as "a 5/7/5 morae poem" does not apply to your "Haiku" defined as [What ever the fuck you want]. It's a god damn expression of thought, that's all that matters.

    I was just pointing out that the traditional definition of a haiku would not (and does not) fit in with your poem, or what you were saying about syllables.

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  65. And I am just pointing out that anyone who has studied poetry in the English language disagrees with you, because you are an annoying Japanophile and not actually paying attention to the vast body of English language haiku out there, and ignoring the ability and propensity of poets to expand and push the boundaries of traditional forms of poetry.

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  66. Way to entirely misread what I am saying and attack with ad hominem someone who is taking your side against people who are being picky...

    I'm just pointing out that it all comes down to definition and that definition is not a inherent property of the universe but that people just have to be unambiguous when they use words and understand that people don't always use words the way you define them.



    A side note: Expression despite specific restrictions and limitations is a major part of some amazing art out there

    Art is mostly getting your point across while constricted to a limited form. If you weren't limited, it would just be telling people your point plainly...

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  67. Whatever I am drunk, leave me alone. The point is haiku is not terribly well defined in English and that is part of the fun of writing them.

    I still disagree that art relies on restrictions or limitations. Look at ee cummings--he wrote brilliant poems pretty much without any form of limitation.

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  68. (incidentally you say 'ad hominem' as if I don't regularly call people imbeciles, fuckwits, and shitfuckers because they vaguely disagree with me on some petty and insignificant point about a webcomic which is mostly only notable for its astounding mediocrity. I mean, I am clearly an egregious violator here, there are probably more productive uses of your time than calling me out on it. just saying.)

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  69. This is pretty similar to "a guy walks into a bar" at google. Asshole, Randall Munroe !!!!!!..;?!?!!??????

    I liek cake

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  70. the_REALcuddlefish (accept no substitutes)April 25, 2009 at 4:34 AM

    It was on purpose (I don't actually know how to spell "sequiter", see, so I thought I'd lampshade it). That other the_cuddlefish is a liar and a cheat.

    I shall return as Ann Apolis to stop people pretending to be me. (It's a pun, ya see? Annapolis, MD? No? ...I'm wasted on you guys)

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  71. Why are you people talking about me?

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  72. @Rob:

    I too am a fan of Newcastle. We should get together and beer it up at some point (though I think one of us will have to make a mighty trek along the East Coast to do so).

    @Anon:

    Actually, telling someone your point plainly, if done well, is still art, hence the phrase "the art of conversation". You seem to be limiting the term "art" to only the fine arts - painting, poetry, etc. - while ignoring all other applications of the term.

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  73. Kurt Cobain dying in PA and in some random webcomic the PA guys almost certainly don't read?

    Stairs in multiple xkcd comics? Seriously, stairs? Really?

    Your criticisms would be a lot more convincing if you just left out all the stuff about how X is vaguely similar to Y, and how that somehow invalidates X. You've just got to accept that in any creative endeavor, people are almost certainly going to end up with recurring themes, and despite their best efforts, they'll almost certainly end up copying somebody else.

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  74. [i]"I still disagree that art relies on restrictions or limitations. Look at ee cummings--he wrote brilliant poems pretty much without any form of limitation."[/i]

    Well, I wouldn't say "Anything which is not restricted expression is not art" but I think that expression within a limitation is often a major subject of art. But then questioning those limitations and saying "If I push the boundary, or try to remove the limitation, is it still art?"

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  75. I've got a haiku:

    My heart aches with pain
    I vomit when I see you
    Die away from me

    This is about Randall and xkcd. Probably.

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  76. That aughtta piss you off!

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  77. hahaha fuck you

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  78. guys here's the deal: i'm only deleting things if you sign them with "Carl". If you sign it as anything that isn't "Carl" or "Carl Wheeler" or "Carl Z. Wheeler" i won't delete it.

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