Thursday, April 30, 2009

Comic 575: Forced Humor

Tag Shitination
Oh my god this comic violates so many standards of what makes decent comedy that I just want to throw up all over it.

The most fundamental flaw is that while something like this may be amusing if it was a real life challenge, in comic form, we all know that Randy just thought up some song title combinations. If he couldn't think of a good combination for lesbian voyeurism, he would have come up with something else for Girl to say, after being prompted by some other challenge from Guy. These things are funny when they happen in real life precisely because they are improvised, and so seeing it in comic form will never be funny, no matter how clever it is.

But that is not the only problem! We have the glaringly stilted exposition of "SO I HEAR YOU CAN COMBINE SONG TITLES TO MEET ANY CRAZY DEMAND, EH?" first line. Might as well start The Hound of the Baskervilles with "SO YOU'RE SCARED OF A BIG OLD DOG THAT'S ON YOUR PROPERTY?" it just thrusts the reader into this horribly contrived scenario that doesn't make any sense or have any resemblance to real life - and the terribly awkward phrasing of that sentence is an effect of this.

Obviously this comic fits all the usual xkcd problems of creepy (take normal songs and make them lesbian for me! and have me WATCHING.) but on the second one, hell, it's not even lesbian. You don't know what gender the narrator is. Sure the girl is female, but then any love song to a girl would become lesbian. You only have one and a half examples, here, randy!

Look: We all know what happened. You thought of this one only mildly amusing mash-up and constructed a comic to use it as a punchline. And forced yourself to think of a second title, and failed to make it fit the category. Good job! you do not understand comics.

In other news, hey! Randall posted something funny on his blog! ha ha, but it was just because it was a quote from Joey Comeau.

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heads up by the way that next week i will be off to Mysterious Lands yet again, and everyone's best friend Commenter Jay will be taking over posting. I don't think he's posted yet so play nice everyone.

89 comments:

  1. lol'd at the hound of the baskervilles reference

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  2. These "sudden conversation" formats work so well with Netizens because they're used to reading chat logs and operating on as little context as possible.

    LOOK OUT STEREOTYPE TRAIN CHUGGIN' THROUGH CHOO-CHOOOOOO

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  3. I enjoy xkcd to a degree. However, I disliked this comic.

    The set-up was very clearly forced, and it ruins the rest of it. I'm sure there's someway this could be made funny--I found the punchlines themselves mildly amusing. However, like I said, the set-up...

    Yeah.

    However, I really did like the comic after this comic.

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  4. I don't even think "I wish that Stacy's Mom had Jesse's Girl" even fits because they're just two people mentioned in songs. The actual song titles are just "Stacy's Mom" and "Jesse's Girl" respectively. He just took the most commonly used line in Jesse's Girl and replaced "I" with "Stacy's Mom"

    That's 0 examples, fuck off, Randall.

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  5. My god, Carl, you're exactly right.

    Whoa.

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  6. Did you know that Ian Curtis used to work for Hersheys?

    He was in charge of the Almond Joy Division.

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  7. I wouldn't have gotten this anyway even if it made any sense because I'm not much of one for the music scene, but darn it, Carl, I just finished The Final Problem and was about to get started on The Hound of the Baskervilles!

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  8. A Cuddlefish of Great DistinctionMay 1, 2009 at 12:44 AM

    You know, I'm kind of a fan of Frank and Ernest, the newspaper comic. Every single strip is based on wringing horrible facepalmy puns out of even more horribly contrived situations, but it just makes me laugh in spite of myself. It's charming.

    This is xkcd trying to be Frank and Ernest, but (needless to say) failing for reasons mentioned, among others.

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  9. Issue 1

    As mentioned, it is a contrived setup. A much better format for the same joke would be Guy: "[innocent mashup]", Girl: "[related lesbian mashup]", "[innocent mashup]", Girl: "[related lesbian mashup]".

    Issue 2

    The songs chosen aren't innocent enough to really make this work. Stacey's Mom is about an adolescent fantasy over an older woman, and I Touch Myself is about masturbation. Lesbian sex just isn't making it any naughtier.

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  10. To whoever said "However, I really did like the comic after this comic."

    The alt-text just hammers home the fact that it's a retread of his previous "eBay shenanigans" comic.

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  11. "Did you know that Ian Curtis used to work for Hersheys?

    He was in charge of the Almond Joy Division."

    Why the hell don't you have a webcomic, fluffy? That is a pun to be proud/ashamed of.

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  12. Hey carl, you should talk about how everyone buying a button with an ad for xkcd.com and a stick figure on it is a total tool

    http://imgs.xkcd.com/store/imgs/xkcd_buttons.jpg

    It's not funny or pretty or anything, it's basically just letting people know that you're internet savvy cause you know about that totally awesome hilarious nerd site. Plus I could hire a 3 year old to get me buttons with the same artistic quality. The worst part is that randall can draw. He just doesn't.

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  13. This one was my least favorite comic yet. But I've nothing to complain about that hasn't been brought up already, except that it cries for a background. Even a poorly drawn chair for people to hover over.

    The newest one... less horrible, but still bad. It is one of Randall's "Oh, hey, I have this interesting nerd story idea. But wait! This is a comic, so I'd better come up with a joke instead of a plot twist. My joke isn't funny but oh well." ones. Wasted potential.

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  14. I didn't rage at this comic; no forced nerdy-reference, old meme or intellectual masturbation. The only thing that comes close to making me rage is the fact that the two protagonists in the comic are a male and a female. It feels to me that Randy is forcing his views on sex down our throats in order to make some sort of quasi-feminist point. Heaven forbid two males or two females have a conversation, because, after all, men and women ALWAYS SHARE THE EXACT SAME INTERESTS!

    Aside from that, this comic is completely devoid of humour. It didn't even make me smile at some cuteness or think "Hmm, that's quite clever" as some XKCD comics do, it just fails to illicit any form of emotional response from me other than "meh"

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  15. @Anon: Wow, look how much effort Randall put into making those buttons! He must really care about giving his fans a quality product!

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  16. @AnonHubbard:

    This reminded me to look for the old xkcd blog that I read a long time ago (when I liked xkcd) that convinced me he was doing it intentionally:

    http://blag.xkcd.com/2008/04/10/two-female-leads/comment-page-1/#comments

    Behold Randall, champion of women's rights (the comments by him specifically)

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  17. @Ann Apolis,

    I do have a webcomic, although it's usually of the sci-fi/drama sort, because I mostly suck at coming up with jokes.

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  18. I'm willing to start a Furry sux blog.

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  19. Wow, you'd be the first person on the Internet to have the guts to say you don't like furry!

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  20. About the xkcd buttons: It's a good point, but I think a post about it would be very very similar to this post I wrote a while ago when he made a new shirt with similar problems.

    Guys: This may be the highest quality comment thread we have ever had (at least up until this comment...who knows where it goes next...)

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  21. @fluffy:

    It's not said enough how stupid, creepy, and immature furries are.

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  22. So bringing up your fixation about furries at the drop of a hat on unrelated threads isn't stupid, creepy, or immature?

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  23. Well, at least you're using plurals now.

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  24. RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!!! GET OFF MY LAWN RANDALL!! RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!!!

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  25. I'm going to copy this wholesale from the above-mentioned "blag" post because the whole thing is awful. URL is here --> http://blag.xkcd.com/2008/04/10/two-female-leads/comment-page-1/#comment-15924

    "I’m emphasizing the creation of characters here because when I start talking about gender, it hits too close to home and I have trouble being funny.

    But a bigger problem is that xkcd is so minimal that everything I put in there has a point. Sometimes I cringe a little when I make a pair of characters male/female, but I can’t think of a way to do anything else without grabbing the reader’s attention away from the punchline and ruining the joke — and the joke is tantamount. There’s so little context in the strip that people make huge assumptions based on small cues, and I’ve never been able to find a way to introduce gayness as a background to the strip without making it a focus. And then I run into the problem that I largely have trouble making the jokes themselves about gay issues without getting preachy, or without worrying too much about what readers from different backgrounds will understand what I’m talking about. There’s a big overlap between a lot of areas of nerd culture, but the xkcd readership will be coming from wildly different areas when it comes to gender and sexuality. This makes it hard to transition over to talking about gay stuff, because I have to talk to so many different viewpoints that it’s hard to get the familiarity needed for a joke to work — hence, it ends up being ineffective and merely preachy. This has been one of my biggest frustrations with xkcd — that it has ended up as hetero-focused as it is."

    Look -- the world is hetero-focused. It's going to have to be for the sake of reproduction.

    The vast majority of human beings are heterosexual. When you do introduce homosexuality into the comic, it is almost always lesbian, and it is almost always in the sense that it's used in today's comic; that is, the "as a heterosexual guy I am interested in watching lesbian sex" sense. If this is your way of being PC, go die in a fire.

    Or you could just remember that as a comic that purports to be about romance (among other things), it is perfectly okay to limit yourself to heterosexual romance. After all, you don't seem to have any experience with the alternative.

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  26. Addendum: you also don't seem to have a lot of experience with heterosexual romance so maybe I spoke too hastily

    (rimshot)

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  27. @Adam

    Yes, for someone who's so sensitive about it, he hasn't hesitated to make crappy lesbian jokes since that was posted.

    Then again, xkcd has never been against eschewing reason in favor of a crappy joke.

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  28. if you start an anti-furry blog I think people will either accuse you of being a furry or challenge you to come up with a better fetish.

    Adam you tottally deserve a few more rimshots.

    Anyway I think also the problem he runs into is that it's easier to distinguish women stick figures from one another. Like one has lighter hair, or the other has crazy pigtails, etc. His guys, with the exceptions like Mr. Hat and Beret Guy, are all the same. So I mean I kind of understand, I guess? I do think he needs to come up with away to distinguish guys--the hats are a good start but he's made both hatted dudes memorable-ish characters.

    To sum up: Randall we know you can draw. Now just remind us every once in a while okay?

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  29. This talk of making distinguishing characters makes me want to see Randall adopt a drawing style where he uses hyper-realistically drawn faces on stick figure bodies. It'd be so creepy we'd barely notice the stalker comics.

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  30. Okay so guys I did some investigative journalism! Apparently Megan is Randy's roommate's name. I think a lot of his conversations on Randall's Illustrated Picture Blog are meant to just represent The Life And Times Of Randall Munroe, so that is why he tends to have a male/female conversation.

    No word on why he pretty much only mentions her in the creepy unrequited stalkerish love comics yet!

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  31. By 'investigative journalism' he means simply asking Carl aka Randall.

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  32. Cuz lol there the same pursun amirite

    PROVE ME WRONG

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  33. Wow. Who the fuck are you Carl? Someone creates a web comic based on their sense of humor and that inevitably leaves a niche for people like you to fill. By people like you, I mean people who feel they must spend all their energy criticizing and shitting all over the creative works of someone else when instead you could just pour all that energy into a creative project of your own. Seriously Carl, if you hate the comic that much, stop fucking reading it and shut the fuck up. No one is putting a gun to your head. It is Randall's comic, he can do whatever he wants with it. You're free to have your opinion, but you are whiny little bitch.

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  34. "Oh my god this comic violates so many standards of what makes decent comedy that I just want to throw up all over it."

    Fuck you Carl. You are not the president, chairman, or CEO of the International Committee of Comedic Standards. Your pretentious attitude and gay little Toby-McGuire-meets-Harry-Potter face make me want to throw up all over you. My point is simply that art, even comedic art, is entirely subjective. Why you can't just let people who like the comic read it and enjoy it is beyond me. I agree with the sentiment that if you don't like it, no one has a gun to your head forcing you to read it.

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  35. Are you saying I'm wrong? If you are seriously going to tell me that I'm wrong on this comic - that you actually found it funny for the reasons I said it sucked - than you are just a damn fool.

    Or do you really truly believe that all humor is entirely in the eye of the beholder? Surely you see why that can't be true. Surely.

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  36. Do you really look like Toby-McGuire-meets-Harry-Potter? 'Cos that would be awesome in a scary way.

    Anyway, all humour is subjective. I mean, Jim Davidson still has a frickin' job.

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  37. ben shambrook can i gay marry you

    Someone needs to make various bingo cards, and we can give them out to all of the regular commenters that want to play, and then we can start playing bingo on the comment threads! And then when somebody wins everybody loses, because why are we paying attention to these commenters :(

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  38. I love the double-edged sword on which Cuddlefishies impale themselves.

    "If you hate xkcd, then stop reading it! [further whining about how bad xkcdsucks is]!"

    If you hate xkcdsucks, then stop reading it!

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  39. I know, right? I mean, nobody is putting a gun to their heads! We are just here doing our little support group thing, and these poor Cuddlefish wander in and are like 'WHY DO YOU MAKE JESUS CRY ETC'

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  40. I found two panels comprising slight humor. Too bad the comic had four panels.

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  41. My point is simply that art, even comedic art, is entirely subjective.Whoa, whoa, whoa. Are you really calling this xkcd art? Because wow. If that's art, then Carl is freaking Shakespeare over here and you really need to shut up.

    Also, why are you acting like Carl slept with your sister? Is there something we should know here?

    Why you can't just let people who like the comic read it and enjoy it is beyond me.Seems like a lot of things are beyond you (pause for laughter), but I'm impressed that you figured out Carl's secret plan to prevent people from reading xkcd and/or enjoying it. CARL, YOU BETTER CALL OFF THE NINJAS, ANONYMOUS IS ONTO YOU

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  42. "Your pretentious attitude and gay little Toby-McGuire-meets-Harry-Potter face make me want to throw up all over you."

    Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to XKCDsucks' new tagline.

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  43. That's my shtick, Anonymous Last.

    @Adam: He said it was art. And? Sunflowers is art, Composition with Red Yellow and Blue is art, ABC's The Lexicon Of Love is frickin' art. Nobody said whether it was good art or bad art*, but it's the net result of a creative process with the aim of inducing an emotive response from individuals - it's art. Calling XKCD art doesn't make it good, bad, funny, baby-raping, or anything.

    So, XKCD is art. Nyer. :P

    *good art is from blood transfusions, bad art is...

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  44. Agreed about art... the argument about the definition of "art" has gotten to be so hackneyed that it isn't worth bothering with. If someone want to call it art, fine, let's talk about it as art. That's what we have criticism for. Let's talk about beauty and challenging expectations and the interplay of ideas -- Hell of a lot more useful.

    There's also nothing wrong with being a critic as long as you maintain some intellectual honesty about it.

    @Ben Shamrock: color me stunned that web-comic-critic-criticism has progressed to the point where it can be so easily parodied (and it certainly is on-point as to poor critic-criticism).

    On the comic itself, I will also say that there is a school of thinking which argues that the more contrived the justification for the pun, the better the joke.

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  45. Carl, seriously, dude, you're WAY overthinking this. I read this comic and literally laughed out loud, unlike a lot of the recent comics in which I smiled and said "I wonder what Carl will say about this one."

    The only way for you to claim that this one isn't funny seems to be for you to overanalyse the situation. Your argument makes about as much sense as complaining that "Nobody in the REAL world talks about Taft slash fiction!" I've had conversations like this in real life, dude, and yes, they're funny because they're improvised, but this is equally funny, because it seems like a slice of life.

    Am I saying your commentary is invalid? No, you bring up valid points, but they're points you'd only notice if you were TRYING to find something wrong with the comic, which you ARE. Seriously, man, take off the shit-colored glasses every once in a while.

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  46. Also, to Amanda from earlier: Um. Why? I'm pretty sure the hatless guy is supposed to be an "everyman" character. He's not any specific dude, he's just a person posing questions. Are you saying that every time a male character is brought into xkcd, he should be immediately pigeonholed into expectations of "This is what Hat Guy is like" or "The Beret Guy is going to tak about a bakery"?

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  47. I don't think she means that they need more expectations, just as "girls with blonde hair" in xkcd don't bring expectations. I think she said that it's difficult for Randall to have two male characters in a strip because it's difficult for him to make them not look exactly the same.

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  48. These kind of comics really want to make me stop posting anonymously but I'm so ashamed that I regular this blog

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  49. Guys, I have ANOTHER theory!


    Cuddlefish = Randall

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  50. Rob, that Bingo picture is maybe the best thing I've seen all week. Though I think one or two of those are legitimate criticisms.

    I think that one of these days we need to have a Talk about John Solomon.

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  51. PS. Carl, you're doing 576, right?

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  52. Triple-commenting to say I could have sworn Rob posted that Bingo picture. Sorry Ben Shambrook.

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  53. It's cool, dawg. Just don't let it happen again.

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  54. yeah ben shambrook is much cooler than rob

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  55. @Trismegustis:

    Am I saying your commentary is invalid? No, you bring up valid points, but they're points you'd only notice if you were TRYING to find something wrong with the comic, which you ARE. Seriously, man, take off the shit-colored glasses every once in a while.Are...are you fucking serious? You're joking, right? This is supposed to be a joke? Haha? No. No. It's not a joke, is it? You really are just that fucking stupid, aren't you?

    Evaluating every detail of something and saying what you find to be at fault with it is exactly what criticism is. Yes, a surface reading of something might not turn up any glaring faults. But criticism is much, much more than just a surface reading. It is, according to Webster's, "the practice of analyzing, classifying, interpreting, or evaluating literary or other artistic works". That's very different from "pointing out glaring faults with something and ignoring all the details." That's for dumb people. Like you. You are dumb.

    Are you saying that every time a male character is brought into xkcd, he should be immediately pigeonholed into expectations of "This is what Hat Guy is like" or "The Beret Guy is going to tak about a bakery"?That's kind of the idea of recurring characters in any form of media. In their initial introductions, their basic mannerisms and tropes are exhibited for the audience. Then, when they reappear later, the audience is immediately able to make large assumptions about these characters and the way in which these characters will behave.

    When you have a comic without a continuous story, like xkcd, character development is not really a focus, either, so the tropes/mannerisms of these characters are their ONLY purpose.

    So yes - they should be pigeonholed, and thus I shall pigeonhole them with all my might.

    TL;DR You're all dumb and I hate all of you.

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  56. You use too much italics

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  57. Carl -- can I call you Carl? -- let's be serious for a moment.

    Randall Munroe is Seth MacFarlane. You know, I know it, and your commenters know it. By now, Bob Dole has grown weary of it and demands it stop. Who could ever get tired of epic-length 1980s pop music references and memes only a manatee could love? (You couldn't tell whether I was talking about the show or the comic, could you? See? SEE? I told you.)

    I'm just waiting until Sandal MunFarroe does the ultimate crossover on each of his works, on the same day, and the fifty people who actually still watch Family Guy scratch their heads at the low(er) production value, while the ex-xkcd forums explode into the pinks and primary colors of "Stewie's Stick Figure Managerie."

    I have seen the end of the road, and Lo, it IS "Family Hat Guy".

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  58. Come back next week when poore reveals that saying he uses too many italics means you are a retarded tosspot who lives in his mum's basement if by "his mum's" you mean "Satan's" and by "basement" you mean "hell" and by "lives" you mean "is eternally tormented".

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  59. Trismegustis : For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure that I wrote that I really liked the line about taft slash.

    Jay: Yeah i'm doing 576, hopefully later today. might be actually a pretty long post. also fun fact: it won't be nearly as mean as most of my posts.

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  60. New theory

    Carl is actually randall

    BUT RANDALL IS NOT CARL

    *gasp*

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  61. Are the cuddlefish being more stupid lately?

    I blame the schools.

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  62. COVIZAPIBETEFOKYMay 3, 2009 at 1:43 PM

    I hope you're not too dense to see that the cuddlefish is parodying the cuddlefish, Schadenfreude.

    Unfortunately, it's not enough to hope, and I cannot conceive of any alternative theory for what you said in your post, unless it was addressing some other post than the one I think it was addressing.

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  63. I think he was just referring to a general increase in cuddlefish stupidity with no particular post in mind.

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  64. COVIZAPIBETEFOKYMay 3, 2009 at 2:20 PM

    Hey! A theory! There is hope!

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  65. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was...

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  66. It stands for Carl's Own Very Irascible, Zealous Acolytes "People Internet Badly, Earning This Eejit Fame! Oh Knockers!" Yell.

    Admittedly it's Subject-Object-Verb rather than the usual Subject-Verb-Object. Perhaps it has been transliterated literally from Latin.

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  67. Fluffy...

    Enough said.

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  68. Raine Dog.

    http://www.rainedog.com/

    Dammit, didn't take link.

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  69. Wow, you sure showed me, what with a single example of a horrible furry comic, and I still have no idea why you brought it up to begin with.

    Seriously, what the hell is your point?

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  70. All furry comics are like that. Good and furry in the same sentence is an oxymoron.

    Not to mention they're talentless hacks who can't draw real people, like you for instance.

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  71. Wah, someone who likes a stick-figure comic doesn't like my art.

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  72. Who says I like a stick-figure comic?

    Check the name of this blog again. You should probably put on some glasses. (Really should have done that when you sat down to draw.(actually that implies you can get off your fat ass)).

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  73. The sitting down thing, not the glasses thing. Although that might, and I certainly don't want to rule any things out.

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  74. Wow, forgive me for not knowing which one you are of the 10 billion "anonymous" idiots have been crapping up the comments here lately. A thousand pardons, Your Idiocy.

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  75. It's common sense, dumbass. It's not my fault you make stupid assumptions.

    And no, you are not pardoned.

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  76. Anon, a good half of the posters (and probably like sixty percent of anonymous posters) are XKCD lovers here to tell us we are bad people because of how much we hate it.

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  77. If he wants to make an insulting claim that I like xkcd (still only one notch below furry), he should wait till I say something along those lines.

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  78. Well shit, maybe you should try doing something to DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF FROM THE OTHER DOZENS OF ANONS.

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  79. Yeah while I am sympathetic to the plight of those who have people assume they hold to beliefs that they don't, you're sort of not doing yourself any favors in this field.

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  80. ALL CAPS IS CRUISE CONTROL FOR COOL!

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  81. COVIZAPIBETEFOKYMay 4, 2009 at 5:20 AM

    So is italics. Not only that, it's not criticized as often. Let's try it.

    Anon:

    Differentiate yourself from the other dozens of anons.

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  82. @Carl

    I know. That was why I brought it up.

    @poore

    And again, at least I have chicken. The thing is, you guys are going into each strip looking for something to criticize, which isn't criticism so much as an entryway sensationalism. You can't claim xkcd is pure, unmitigated, freewheeling crap if you have to overthink it to get there.

    Also, I think I've got the hang of arguments around here. Ahem:

    You're an idiot.

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  83. @Trismegustis:

    No...no..."looking for something to criticize" is EXACTLY what criticism is. You are saying that "X != X". That is, unequivocally, the dumbest statement you can possibly make.

    Also, something that's enjoyable at a surface level can still be called crap from a critical perspective. Hell, I absolutely loved "Snakes On A Plane" when I saw it in theaters, precisely because it WAS mindless crap. But if I were to evaluate it critically, I could come up with plenty of reasons why it's a shitty film. Again, that's the difference between a surface reading and actual criticism.

    Also, you do have the hang of arguing here: go eat a dick.

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  84. Ben Shambrook! You made me guffaw.

    Adam I really like you.

    Trismegustis, meet Ann Apolis.

    Ann Apolis, I really like you also, but your name and then you saying that you are not a girl is giving me the strangest image of you as a half-city-half-man creature-thing. Filled with apples.

    poore! <3
    Need I say moore?



    Jay I'll read your posts tomorrow, I really need to finish my homework and sleep

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  85. heh rage@xkcd. Everybody's a h8r.

    It's a free webcomic. The author isn't asking you to read their comic. It provides some of us with welcome respite and we appreciate it...

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  86. i'll make you a deal: if you and every other xkcd fan just SHUT THE HELL UP about how much you like xkcd, I'll stop.

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