Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Comic 613: Group sex is just applied physics

Fred is our guest poster today. His wise words are below. Two quick things before we get there:

As long as people think like this, this blog will always have a noble pursuit in stopping them.

oh hey also i've added two new people to the guest post schedule, possibly more to follow...see the updated schedule back at the original post.

ew gross no

So, after enjoying this blog and its vitriolic criticism of XKCD for ages, I was all geared up and ready to guest post a scathing review of whatever drivel Randall would ooze out this time. But then a funny thing happened. As I sat down in front of my keyboard, I suddenly realized that Randall was a human being, and so I contacted him on MSN, and now we're going to have ice cream and play in the MIT fountain next week, because that's totally okay now that we're adults and can define our own rules about what adventure means.

Okay, that's basically all a lie. I went to XKCD with glee this morning, hoping for something that reached a new level of shark-jumping and fan-pandering, but instead we had ANOTHER DAMNED SEX COMIC.

Let's see. We have two people of opposite gender talking causally about group sex because people are totally not awkward about that. (I'm imagining that the woman is Megan, by the way, because then I can imagine that the other guy is Randall and that Megan keeps bringing up her promiscuity and sexual adventures to Randall and Randall has to act all casual about it while instead he's consumed with jealousy on the inside.) There's little else to say about the art, because there is none.

Instead, we only have the joke. It's a physics joke, which means it falls under the third of XKCD's four traditional pillars, because we all know that physics is just applied mathematics which is better than anything. The joke, of course, is how the three body thing both applies to a threesome and is some physics problem I had to look up on Wikipedia. If you read that Wikipedia page, by the way, you'll notice two things: first, that you still won't know what the n body problem is if you aren't already a physicist, and secondly, that there's no "In popular culture" section with a link to this comic, yet. Are they learning? Let's all pray it is so!

Anyway, the joke is probably worth a smile if you know about the n body problem, and if it was one of the first 300 XKCD's or so and not another one in a large row of lame sex jokes. But hey, if you've just discovered XKCD, it might be fun. That's all there really is to say about it: it's not great but it's not horrible either. If we're in want of something frustrating and annoying, though, the XKCD forums never fail.

(By the way, I was reading the forums this morning and saw the thread from this comic, and thought "Oh man, they really think like this? That is so going in my guest post." And then I saw that Carl linked to the thread in his placeholder thing, with a comment about how there's still work to be done for this blog us if people actually think like that. His link didn't go to any specific post, for me, but I'm pretty sure I know which one he meant SO THANKS FOR STEALING MY THUNDER, CARL.) [Ha ha, fuck you Fred! i am crafty little bastard. also I updated the link to a specific post, i am sure it is the one you meant --Carl]

Here we go. The very first reply is by pimanrules already wondering why there are so many sex comics lately. You don't want to know, pimanrules. sirtaco expresses a similar sentiment.
Pazi feels a need to share his enjoyment of group sex with the rest of the forums, but calls it polyamorism because that makes him look more interesting.

I don't get what 10nitro meant to say in his first paragraph at all.

obituary posts the post that makes my blood boil, and I suppose this is what Cheezy Wheeler also meant to link to. obituary doesn't get the comic, but hey, it's a sex comic so that's always good. The same goes for Eternal Density. NO, people. You DON'T DO THAT. YOU DON'T ENCOURAGE RANDY TO JUST CHURN OUT A BUNCH OF LAME SEX COMICS, DAMMIT.
I'm suspecting Simon17 to be a closet XKCD Sucks afficionado, because he's not only complaining about the lack of effort in what could be an otherwise decent joke, and berates the people who don't get the joke but sex lol.

I'm noticing an already explosive amount of trolling in the comments for the placeholder post, by the way. I suppose the fans didn't really have anything to discuss and the wikipedia page got locked, or something, so they decided to come here to troll the fuck out of us. Don't falter, guys. Remember the ass turds!

Anyway, that's all there is to say, really. It's committing all the basic sins of new XKCD: lame art, unnecessary dialogue after the punchline, and a joke that has the potential of fun if a little more effort was put in the comic.

On a positive note: there's no real head levitation here. Guy's head is teetering rather precariously on his pointy shoulders in the last two panels, but it's technically still connected as far as I can see. Also, with all our complaining of Randall talking about how something awesome happened instead of showing it, I for one am thankful that he neglected to show anything this time. I can't really imagine the horrible mess of tangled lines and circles that would have been, but I'm sure there'd be cunnilingus too, ladies.


  1. Think like what? I'm no forum connoisseur but there seems to be a fair bit of criticism.

    Anyone else notice the comments-past-the-punchline bit popping up again? Liek omg randies wtfz?


  3. I am amazed that none of the relevant Wikipedia articles have gotten into an edit war yet.

  4. Sorry Ramsey, I got the link wrong. It was supposed to be to a specific post; it is fixed now.

  5. Regarding the link: Oh, god.

  6. 1. Click the random button on Wikipedia.
    2. Pick a science subject.
    3. Become superficially acquainted with said subject.
    4. Work in a sex joke in there.
    5. Draw some shit a 8 year old could do better.
    6. Profit!

  7. The new xkcd comic was awesome, and I don't normally like xkcd. :D

  8. om nom nom how I love xkcd <3

  9. Sophie's sockpuppets ----^


    What the fuck is wrong with these people?

  11. The annoying thing is, this concept could have been executed a lot better without much effort! Couldn't the setup of the joke have described some sort of 'problem' that needed to be 'solved?' Referring to sex itself as the 'problem' was...jarring, to say the least.

    Perhaps this is what leads Randall to say 'people are complicated!'

  12. So, I've decided to take a stand for XKCD here in this blog. Why? To oppose the negativity, build critical thinking, and for a nightly pastime.

    Regarding all the above posts, nothing is really to argue except Wilhelm's.

    Your list there is based only in Randall's perspective, no ordinary person could do that and make it a smash hit. Sure, he "can" clickie on the rando button, doodle a little picture on paint, and work in a sex joke, and it becomes a hit. You make it sound wrong.

    Sure, it's easy. Sure, it's comparatively talentless to other comedians and webcomic artists. But it works for him. If you're trying to say he's overrated, well, at this point you're preaching to the choir.

    As for the comic itself - It presents elements of complex science, its complexity justified in the XKCD forums. Its worked in a sex joke, but sex jokes can be funny, no argument created there. It utilizes a pun in both the alt-text and the comic itself. The artistry is samey, but damned if that hasn't worked.

    Joke + Picture = Comic (You can even argue a joke itself is a comic, see survivingtheworld.net).

    Appreciation of target group = Good Joke. (See the forums, they like sex jokes and physics jokes. Are they delusional? Doesn't matter.)

    The picture contrives what it's supposed to = Good picture. (Ehh, a girl is slightly more likely to say it than a guy, and vice-versa, throughout the speech)

    Balancing the equation...
    Good Joke + Good Picture = Good Comic.

    Math is power?

  13. My post above argues that this comic of XKCD doesn't suck, but admits that it can be overrated.

  14. So, I've decided to take a stand for XKCD here in this blog. Why? To oppose the negativity, build critical thinking, and for a nightly pasttime. Let's just look at the latest xkcd...


  15. Sophie Schröder-DevrientJuly 22, 2009 at 12:35 AM

    Dear Wilhelm,
    It's easy to mock something when you reduce it to simplistic terms, but ask yourself this; if making an xkcd-quality webcomic is as easy as you claim, then surely you could produce one that is even better? I would love to see you try.

    I always hear people say "Oh I could do that" about many things, when really; no they probably couldn't. People who can't always mock those who can!


    Small problem, I'm doing it two-fold, one for my own respect of the comic, the other is playing devil's advocate. Sorry if I came across as thinking that every comic is good.

  17. "So, I've decided to take a stand for XKCD here in this blog. Why? To oppose the negativity, build critical thinking, and for a nightly pastime."

    Here's your fucking medal Mesosade, will you get the fuck out of here now?

  18. Sophie,

    Are you just trolling for your own entertainment here? "I'd like to see you do better" is not a valid response to criticism.

  19. Fortinbras,

    Bahaha. That amused me more than today's comic.

    I'm not doing it for a reward from you. Do you want a medal for criticizing the comic? No? Well, I see we're on the same page here.

    (Yeah, I'm posting antagonistically on a site. You love it)

  20. Sophie Schroder-DevrientJuly 22, 2009 at 12:45 AM


  21. *sigh*

    Mesosade, your arguments come down to three things:
    1. Randall doesn't have to care about his art.
    2. We all think it sucks, so stop telling us it sucks.
    3. It is, in all technicality, a comic.

    I'm not impressed. If you really want to build critical thinking, what did you think about today's comic? What makes it good? Why should we be wrong for thinking it's bad?

  22. Wow, ignore me, skipped a paragraph.

    Sometimes, I am dumb.

  23. No worries, excess abuse over simple mistakes isn't what I'm here for.

    Right now, mostly it seems that you might get a new person-a-day to argue against. Otherwise, you're just all standing around agreeing, and that's when this site stagnates. So, until I get bored of vouching for the comics, which can be sooner or later, you'll have to deal with... shall I say... The criticism of your criticism.

  24. Sophie Schröder-DevrientJuly 22, 2009 at 1:07 AM

    Dear Adam,
    When you claim or imply that you could do better, it actually is.

  25. Sophie: You're still fat.

    Meso: I've never gotten the impression anyone here is circle-jerking or whatever. I mean, I like arguing on the internet as much as the next guy (specifically so I can randomly abuse people because, turns out, I'm a dick) but you aren't providing a unique service. By all means, continue!

    Well, I take it back partly. There are very few intelligent proponents of XKCD on here. Mostly there are idiot white knight fanboys. It is nice when I am not just posting elaborate attempts to rile up the fanboys, and instead have something to discuss.

  26. Does the latest comic warrant a new category for "OMG SEX LOL" yet?

  27. So for a while I'd been trying to think of why I disagree with the recent spat of criticism about having dialogue after the punchline. Something about having good pacing and also letting the punchline have a chance to slip in before you expect it.

    But then I read this comic. "Ah, yes". That's really pretty inexcusable, isn't it. Ruined the pun for me, and I already don't particularly like puns, and particularly don't like obvious puns like this one.

  28. Hey, I actually feel like bringing one more thing to the table regarding this comic, before I go. (As well as many others)

    The art used in this comic, as well as many others, is part of what draws readers in. There is a common misconception that having higher quality art means that the comic is better.

    As someone pointed out a while ago, Randall has ability to draw, shown in the first few comics. What made readers entranced wasn't the sheer magnificence of these few artistic moments. Randall stopped most of that later in the comic.

    His 30 second art-style helps him tremendously more than people credit him for. If, for example, it was drawn like crappy, semi-realistic games from the 1990's, the comic would lose it's appeal. Similarly, even it were so good that it looked like real-life, it wouldn't be good for the comic.

    What I argue for is that XKCD's style allows us to infer whatever needs to be inferred.

    Let's backtrack to comic 612, a car with a white circle in the driver's seat. From that, we infer that there is a person driving the car, because sitting in a stopped car is uncommon. We know it's on a road, simply by reading the text (Flying cars are silly).

    However, leaving anything absent (As a whole), would make the comic far more unintelligible. So, not only is the artistry achieving it's goal, it's also efficient. Anyone who wants full-blown technicolor, top-quality graphics is asking for the comic to lose a lot, including but not restricted to: Its identity, reputation, efficiency, simplicity, and frankly, even originality (As far as webcomics go).

  29. @Mesosade
    My point is that Randall is a Garfieldian hack who just goes through the motions to produce mediocrity. (I just made that word up, I hope it catches on one day)

  30. TheMesosade: I shouldn't have to infer anything about the scene by reading the text. That's what separates web comics from fan fiction. At any rate, it says something when a single line automatically makes the scene look so much better.

    It's not so much the simplistic art style that I (and possibly others) take issue with, it's the fact that he uses it as an excuse to not include any detail what-so-ever.

  31. Oops, sorry, missed a point.

    Yeah, there are just two stick-figures, one a girl, one a guy, talking in this comic. That's all we really need to know, right? And as far as many of you are concerned, the visual representation of what is being discussed in the dialogue would be disgusting and wrong, right?

    Sorry, but he diverges from that, quite often. Comic 612, 611, 610, are just a few examples. (Find a Wiki article that covers those topics).

    On the occasions where he does manipulate Wikipedia-reminiscent articles, he still fields originality and creativity while doing it. I'm not too sure about you, but I think nerdy humour can be amusing, and what better resource pool than wiki?

  32. Oh, and Sophie. I just read your comments in the last thread and I wish I could've been there by your side as you typed those words, I'd tap you on the shoulder and you'd look horrified to see who it was. You'd try to scream, but the first blow would land on your throat. Then I would punch you some more until you're reduced to a weeping little girl in a fetal position. As I slowly take off my pants, you'd realize tha... oh fuck, there I go again daydreaming. Sorry about that.

  33. And one more for Sam Horn and I swear I won't clutter this place for at least another 12 hours.

    I think the imagination fills in whatever we need, no? Similar to Twilight, it's popularity was built on having faceless nobodies that people could cut-and-paste their own face onto. Sometimes, detail is actually bad (for popularity, quality may be different).

    One line certainly could have improved it, and it sometimes does fog my mind to wonder why he went against it (It's not too hard). I choose to believe that it's his characteristic, albeit minimalistic, art-style that created his success.

  34. @Meso
    Of course not all Garfield strips have him pushing Odie over the edge of the table. Sometimes Garfield hates mondays and something he even *gasp* eats lasagna. Crazy, I know.

  35. Oh god this was awful. To be honest, i don't even get the "joke," but the whole idea of "LOL LETS RELATE SEX TO NERDY STUFF AND PRETEND ITS FUNNY" is tired and old >.<.

    and never funny.

    at least when it's done by munroe.

    And what's up with that one guy who doesn't get it, but thinks sex is always funny?

  36. I'm a phycics dude, and it seems that this would work as a throw away at a department party after everyone is drunk. "Why don't you invite a physicist to a menage et trois? They can't solve the three-body problem!"

    At which point everyone laughs, drinks and promptly forgets about it. I guess in summary, mildly funny, mostly forgettable

  37. I didn't get the joke, and suspect there wasn't much of one, but I found the SophisticatedAsHell alt-text amusing.

  38. I thought this one was...ok? It is a bad pun (for people who didn't get the joke - you don't need to know what the three-body problem is to understand that it's being subverted from its true meaning to act as a pun in this case), and I do love me some bad puns.

    My main gripe is the extra quip after the punchline (where the guy goes, "Ahh, yes." It is unnecessary and awkward and does nothing to improve the punchline in any way). Just cutting that out would make this one a little better (not enough to propel it from "ok" to "good", but better).

    The art was shitty and lazy, but that's a given. I guess what I'm saying is...my standard have gotten a lot lower, as has my BAC, so I am unable to truly RAGE about this comic.

  39. Mesosade:
    You claimed earlier that if it is as simple as browsing Wikipedia for a few minutes and then making a joke about it, some critics here should do that and see if they can turn it into a "smash hit". I think their point is that Randall can only do that because of the goodwill he fostered with the earlier funny comics. They feel he is now just riding the earlier success and pumping out mediocre material.

    It is not a "smash hit" because of Wikipedia browsing. If someone tried to do what Randall is doing now, they would fail because it isn't funny. People are reading xkcd because it is popular, it is popular because it used to be funny. It's like a brand now.

  40. Ugh. I can understand some people wanting to defend XKCD, or something, but we've already got the earnest and therefore tolerable Fernie Canto and the completely awesome parody William Monty Hughes. Do we really need two douchebags who are almost as obsessed with their own intellectual prowess as Carl and I are?

    HYPOTHESIS: By boiling his art down to only the elements that are the ABSOLUTE UTTER NECESSITIES to understanding a scene, Randall is not just catering to the nerd crowd--he is explicitly catering to the autistic crowd. Identifying the relevant elements of a scene (two people are talking; a guy is sitting in a car; a robot is having sex with another robot) is exactly what autistic people cannot do when exposed to the richness and complexity of reality. Therefore, XKCD is tailored to filter out all that reality for them. By creating a stark, barren world, consisting only of highlights screaming "I AM IMPORTANT!" and emptiness otherwise, XKCD is ideally suited for an autistic audience.

    OTHER HYPOTHESIS: The jokes are tailored to, say, the Asperger's crowd. The entire "GOOMH" mentality can be traced to the lack of a sense of social propriety, an appreciation of machines with understandable rules over the biological confusion of organic life, the repetitive jokes (Asperger's syndrome patients tend to have an intense focus on simple, repetitive actions), the tendency toward long-winded monologues to other people that serve mostly to awkwardly express someone's interest in a topic (see early examples like 16 and 137 and every time Kimiko Ross opens her mouth in Dresden Codak (oops--different Asperger's comic))... So even the writing is helpfully tailored to the Asperger set.

  41. I like to think of myself as a fair criticizer too

  42. Malethoth (Mal from xkcdsucks): that makes an unnerving amount of sense.

  43. To be fair, similar arguments (at least artistic ones) could apply to most art that is simpler than reality. Anyway, here's a more comprehensive link dump, this time with text copied and pasted from Wikipedia's article on Asperger syndrome:

    For example a person with AS may engage in a one-sided, long-winded speech about a favorite topic, while misunderstanding or not recognizing the listener's feelings or reactions, such as a need for privacy or haste to leave.


    The cognitive ability of children with AS often allows them to articulate social norms in a laboratory context,[1] where they may be able to show a theoretical understanding of other people's emotions; however, they typically have difficulty acting on this knowledge in fluid, real-life situations. People with AS may analyze and distill their observation of social interaction into rigid behavioral guidelines, and apply these rules in awkward ways, such as forced eye contact, resulting in a demeanor that appears rigid or socially naive.


    People with Asperger syndrome often display behavior, interests, and activities that are restricted and repetitive and are sometimes abnormally intense or focused. They may stick to inflexible routines, move in stereotyped and repetitive ways, or preoccupy themselves with parts of objects.

    See all the "people like machines" jokes--or any other recurring theme, though "people like machines" is probably the most specific.

    Although individuals with Asperger syndrome acquire language skills without significant general delay and their speech typically lacks significant abnormalities, language acquisition and use is often atypical.[5] Abnormalities include verbosity, abrupt transitions, literal interpretations and miscomprehension of nuance, use of metaphor meaningful only to the speaker, auditory perception deficits, unusually pedantic, formal or idiosyncratic speech, and oddities in loudness, pitch, intonation, prosody, and rhythm.

    597 (Constant novelty saps my initiative, for god's sake)

  44. I propose that we start calling the thing that the person says after the punchline a "Randy Rimshot" or something like that.

  45. How about, since it seems that their entire job in life is to provide unfunny pre-joke setup and unfunny post-joke "yes, this was a joke" commentary, we could call them a "Randy Rimjob."

  46. Mal, I KNEW that someone was going to say that.

  47. I figured we might as well get it out of the way.

    We could call them the Omnipresent Peripheral Laughtrack.

  48. Okay. Usually, I like xkcd. It's the only webcomic I consistently read, because it often appeals to my strange sense of humor and short attention span. But seriously, ANOTHER SEX JOKE?!? They weren't funny the first time, and they're NOT going to be funny the other fifty times. Enough already.

  49. Yeah, "Laughtrack" was my second thought too, but I couldn't come up with a cute little alliterative nickname.
    At any rate, I think they deserve a category of their own.

  50. I can't stand it when he adds useless dialogue after the punchline. Look at the statistically significant other comic for example, which I thought was one of the few very good comics he's put out lately. http://xkcd.com/539

    Now imagine if the 539 comic had a "groan, that was a bad pun", "hmm", or "Ah, yes" added to the end. It would make it worse. A good writer knows when not to include unneeded dialogue.

  51. Why has no one commented on the "We had a threesome last night."/"How was it?" exchange. I don't have a lot of friends who regularly inform me of their sexual escapades, but I have a hard time believing people talk like this.

  52. @ Sophie

    I am an avid reader of this blog, and I think that I have done better with my webcomic stealmycomic.com. It also gets published in my school paper.

    That's part of the reason I read this blog, I'm frustrated that Randall's bullshit gets voted to the top of Reddit and Digg week after week, while I average maybe 20 visitors a day.

  53. Because everyone is already dull to the "Contrived context setting dialogue in the first panel" trope.

  54. my dream forumites: GET OUT OF MY HEAD RANDALL i was just having a threesome!

  55. hmm http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?noseen=0&threadid=2972680&pagenumber=5#pti11

  56. "My main gripe is the extra quip after the punchline (where the guy goes, "Ahh, yes." It is unnecessary and awkward and does nothing to improve the punchline in any way). Just cutting that out would make this one a little better (not enough to propel it from "ok" to "good", but better)."

    I didn't like the comic too much, but I actually think the "post-punchline" quit HELPS in this case. You know, leaving just the punchline in the last panel BEGS for a rimshot and cheesy canned laughter. The "aah, yes" line suggests that what she's saying is nothing absurd or stupid, but something perfectly predictable and understandable in that context -- which is meant to be plain absurd. By the way, I don't think it was a "pun", but a LITERAL application of the three-body problem in sex; that's why the alt text mentions a numeric approximation (which is the only amusing thing about the comic, in my opinion).

    But yep, it was a lame one.

  57. "Because everyone is already dull to the "Contrived context setting dialogue in the first panel" trope."

    1 UP.

  58. "Why has no one commented on the "We had a threesome last night."/"How was it?" exchange."

    I did, sort of, but you can't see it because Carl is probably asleep/dead/having a threesome.

  59. bah. i actually am a physicist, and whereas most of his comics suck, this is the first one to really offend me.

  60. Why has no one commented on the "We had a threesome last night."/"How was it?" exchange. I don't have a lot of friends who regularly inform me of their sexual escapades, but I have a hard time believing people talk like this.

    I believe I mentioned that in yesterthread.

  61. @Mal: Eh, I stop reading the threads after ~100 comments.

    Also, why the fuck is this box not letting me copy/paste? God fucking dammit. Anyway, whoever did this is my new favorite person.

    Actually, this fucking comment box isn't even letting me go back and change that last sentence without deleting the URL I typed in by hand because I love you guys so much. What the fuck? Anyone else having this issue, or is FF3 just being bitchy for me?

  62. Christ, now it's working. Maybe I just have to type my comment before putting in my name.

  63. Seriously criticisms of this nature are a bit lame: "We have two people of opposite gender talking causally about group sex because people are totally not awkward about that."

    It's just as likely as the Pope and a Rabbi walking into a bar together, or a priest, George Bush and a 10yr old kid being on a plane that's about to crash. In other words, it's just set up. If you're going to criticise the comic for being unrealistic then there goes 90% of humour from "why did the chicken cross the road?" onwards.

  64. I've only had problems with copying and pasting when I'm not yet signed into my Google account. Probably not much help for people who don't use one.

  65. Well, at the very least, crap like that is either unrealistic situations, not people behaving unlike real people (which is a huge flaw even in speculative fiction about giant space whales shitting out walking mechas--if your people are flat and uninteresting or contradictory and boring, the rest of your work will be, at best, a tepid exploration of worldbuilding). Even when people behave unlike themselves, it's usually in the form of caricature: an exaggeration of extant, sometimes latent, but always real traits. Two people going "SO I JUST GOT SOME DVDA LAST NIGHT" "WOW WHAT A COINCIDENCE, I SAW YOUR WEBCAST" is not a recognizable exaggeration.

  66. Vijay - there's a difference between a set-up and the actual running of the joke.

  67. Operation alt-text: SUCCES!

  68. Why has no one commented on the "We had a threesome last night."/"How was it?" exchange. I don't have a lot of friends who regularly inform me of their sexual escapades, but I have a hard time believing people talk like this.

    I actually do know people who I could see having such a conversation. Appropriately, they all like to call themselves polyamorists, are computer science or math majors, and at least one of them has Asperger's.

    They like XKCD, and while correlation does not imply causation, they are also all complete douche bags.

  69. Seriously, having unrealistic situations\dialogue are not symptoms of a bad joke I'll give you an example of a contrived, unrealistic (really old) joke:

    A piece of string walks into a bar. The bartender says:

    "Hey you, you're a piece of string! We don't serve string here."

    So the piece of string runs into the bathroom, ties himself up, splits his ends, then goes back out to the bar. The bartender goes:

    "Hey, are you that same piece of string?"

    The string replies:

    "No...I'm a frayed knot."

    None of that was in any way plausible (a talking piece of string, really?) but it was a reasonable pun none the less. Further more, if you go further in the direction of "unrealistic", the humour comes from the absurdity. Ever watch any Monty Python?

  70. Vijay, you make a good point. However a priest and a rabbi and talking strings in bars are one thing, but this is a comic about PEOPLE and randy is trying to present it as a realistic episode. I think maybe there is like an uncanny valley of realism. If a nude woman walks into a bar carrying a watermelon under each arm, it doesn't bother me. I say "It's only a joke" but people do actually have sex and sometimes they even tell their friends about it. It's just the way that randy presents it that makes it almost unbearable to read.

  71. The reviewer both stated that everyone is akward about sex (not true) and that he had to look up the joke to get it. Sorry but you are just not the target audience and you fail, good day sir.

  72. >>bah. i actually a type like a ten year old and clearly have never even passed a math course, and whereas most of his comics suck, this is the first one to really offend me.

  73. Please don't compare XKCD to Monty Python.

  74. Yes, because one pile of shit is smellier than the other.

  75. As much as I enjoy reading Carl's boiling posts of rage, it's good to have some other people post from time to time since we sometimes risk falling into 'xkcd is always shit' unnecessarily.

  76. "Let's see. We have two people of opposite gender talking casually about group sex because people are totally not awkward about that"

    This is "Ugh, stupid uterus" all over again. Stop assuming that other people are as awkward, prudish, private, and uninteresting as you are. It's just embarassing.

  77. This is "Ugh, stupid uterus" all over again. Stop assuming that other people are as awkward, prudish, private, and uninteresting as you are. It's just embarassing.

    But isn't that Randall's entire M.O. when he makes those fucking GOOMH comics?

  78. And those resonate with some people, and not with others.

    None of them are blanket declarations (implied or otherwise) that "OMG NO ONE REALLY TALKS LIKE THIS"

  79. This is "stupid uterus" all over again.

    Just because there are people who have said a phrase before in actual life does not make it good dialogue in a comic strip.

  80. I have had experiences in which people casually mentioned engaging in group sex. These people were generally kind of gross, the people with whom they engaged in said group sex were kind of gross, and my reaction was not one of surprise, horror, shock or enjoyment, but rather of distaste as the image of their sexual escapades formed unbidden and unwanted in my brain. So no, perhaps it is not ridiculous to imagine certain people speaking to one another like this. It's just stupid. And the faceless stick girl is probably a lazy stand in for a pudgy co-ed with lumpy, ill-defined features (if my experience is a guide).

  81. John:

    Just because you would never say it doesn't make it bad dialogue in a comic strip. And when your entire argument for *why* it's bad dialogue is "No one talks like this", then demonstrating that people *do* in fact talk like this is a pretty good argument.

    If you had some other reason it was bad, maybe you'd have something

  82. You could justify any stilted dialogue that way, then.

  83. Hmm, I've had conversations about threesomes before. It's either been with a male friend while drinking, or with a girl I'm cuddled up to at the time in the process of talking about fantasies or previous adventures. So talking about it doesn't seem unrealistic.

    What is unrealistic is the way it's happened in this comic. At no point has a female friend or acquaintance just come out and said "I had a threesome last night." It does not seem like something a real person would say. Why would she be telling him? People just do not say it out of the blue.

  84. For those who are defending both the usage of a pun and the stick-figure drawings:


    A much better executed pun, and which could not be done by xkcd-level art. So yeah.

  85. "Why would she be telling him? People just do not say it out of the blue."

    And who guarantees she said that out of the blue? Perhaps you can see the comic as a brief, cut out snippet of a longer conversation -- but that's not good if you're really running low on ways to justify and stand for an argument that's falling apart.

  86. Actually I think this comic might have worked if it were two dudes or two girls.

    I think my main objection is that it doesn't work with two opposing genders.

  87. Wilhelm--
    "Oh and Sophie, I just read your comments..."


  88. Fernie, imagine if you will:

    "So how did last night go after I left?"
    "We... we ended up having a threesome."
    "Oh nice, how did that go?"
    "Well, you know Carol/Frank*'s a physicist?"
    "We couldn't solve the three body problem."

    I'm not saying it's perfect but it flows a little better.

    *I don't know.

  89. @Anon 1:28 PM
    The Internet is the only place I can express my pathetic sexual fantasies without facing charges. Randy and I similar in that regard.

    "Hmmmm let's see... okay the three body problem... three bodies. A problem. Three bodies. Three people? Having sex? A THREESOME YES THAT'S IT! THE PERFECT PHYSICS PUN. THIS TIME MEGAN WILL HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO LET ME DO HER WITHOUT A CONDOM~ OH MEGAN <3"

  90. 10nitro said:
    "To clarify, that's not why I like it. I like it simply because it is an joke that I don't get. If every comic were like this, I would likely leave xkcd. However, once-in-a while, comic that I don't get is nice. When I first started reading xkcd many of the jokes were beyond my grasp, they represented some arcane deep magic that I was yet to understand. They represented the the strange foreign lands of understanding that I had only glimpsed. The information was shrouded, it held my awe with it's mystique, these were not ideas I was going to learn in school (anytime soon, anyway), they would be my own journey. They were thoughts of enlightenment, the thoughts of true wizards. As of recent, my sky has been getting a little small*, there seems less to explore. Sure, I don't claim to know everything, but I see the path. The knowledge I see myself learning no longer appears an adventure, but (except in moments of sarcasm)a walk down a (rather long) clear path. The comic was refreshing reminder that there is still some lands out there I haven't seen, some adventure.

    * yes, that was a Firefly reference"


  91. And who guarantees she said that out of the blue? Perhaps you can see the comic as a brief, cut out snippet of a longer conversation -- but that's not good if you're really running low on ways to justify and stand for an argument that's falling apart.

    Fucking fan wank. Disgusting. I choose to see every CAD as part of a deeply satirical in media res metaphorical reflection on the existential futility of meaninglessness in the search for post-modern angst. There's no evidence to support any of it, but it's sort of consistent with the text if I really try!

  92. Danny, yeah, that's a good suggestion. I think, though, that if the xkcd strip had exactly that dialogue, people would be complaining about it being too long.

    Ah, but enough with being reasonable: I'll just make really crude jokes about Randall wanting to have sex with Megan because I, like, totally have everything to do with his personal life and it makes me ULTRA-COOL to be so randomly mean.

  93. "I'll just make really crude jokes about Randall wanting to have sex with Megan because I, like, totally have everything to do with his personal life"

    Made only more hilarious by the fact that Randy 1) is in a relatively long term relationship where he is undoubtedly getting laid just fine and 2) doesn't, as far as I know, know anyone named Megan. Or hold out a torch for anyone in particular.

    It's so amusing to watch people draw the wrong conclusions from someone's work. It's like they think it's impossible for a writer to write something that isn't happening to them, right now.

  94. Who says that Randall's in a long-term relationship, anyway?

  95. I'm guessing Belial.

    Also: fuck off Fernie.

  96. "I'm guessing Belial"

    Good guess.

    Blog is amusing as always, for what I gather are all the wrong reasons.

  97. Right on, Belial.

    Now get back to sucking my dick, you little bitch. Don't forget to wear the Megan mask.

  98. Also, Fernie, I resent your accusation that we're randomly being mean. We're being mean for a quite clear set of reasons:

    1.) Randall makes a lot of terrible, terrible comics.
    2.) Randall makes a lot of terrible comics that are explicit fictionalizations of real-life events he's experienced (he's been, at the very least, inspired by actual IRC conversations and so forth)
    3.) Randall makes a lot of terrible comics that have an incredibly crude, monodimensional, immature, reactionary view on love and its impossibility and NEVERENDING PAIN.
    4.) Randall makes a lot of terrible comics that feature a Megan in some romantic capacity.

    The four of these combine to engender a dislike of Randall, the belief that he's possibly just been through a challenging breakthrough, and a penchant for insulting him.

    Note that none of this is an ad hominem attack on XKCD--we're saying "XKCD sucks, for these reasons, so probably Randall does too" not "Randall is a terrible person, therefore XKCD sucks"

  99. "Now get back to sucking my dick"

    Now see? This is exactly the kind of thing I mean. So amusing.

  100. GUY: "Man, I'm really mad at Lowe's."

    GIRL: "How come?"

    GUY: "They totally changed my favorite line of leafblowers. Now, they're capable of acting as vacuum cleaners, for feth's sake! It's terrible! It's a complete betrayal of their fanbase!"

    GIRL: "So, what you're saying is..."

    GUY: "They changed it. Now it sucks."

    GIRL: "Sighhhh"

  101. You amuse me is Internet slang for "You pissed me off but I won't admit it."

    Used by self-styled intellectuals as a condescending defense mechanism when they have been called out on their faggotry. Other favored forms include "You make me laugh," "Your arguments are risible in their inadequacy," and other forms.

  102. Mmm. How like a dictionary written by trolls to assume that their trolling is automatically successful.

    Clearly I have been cut to the very quick by the young gentleman's homophobic insults, and I only jest to cover the bleeding wounds on my very soul.

  103. OK, Anonymous/Belial, now square that with Rob mentioning that Megan's a friend/ex-roommate. Megan's a common name. It's not that unbelievable that he knows one.

  104. You know what would make this comic immediately better?

    One panel instead of three.

    Her: Menage a trois? Yeah, I tried it once, but it was... awkward. One of them was a physicist.

    Him: What's so awkward about that?

    Her: They can't solve the three-body problem.

    I mean it's not GOLD, but it's much more suitable for a sex pun. It presents the joke and leaves it hanging in the air. The three-panel layout tries to elevate the joke to a higher status, and it fails, because it's just a freakin' pun.

    Though this doesn't fix the underlying problem (joke's not funny), it does make things a bit clearer... a single panel would say "this isn't my best work and I know it. I'll bring my A-game on Friday". Instead, it's just... awkward. Does he think this is some of his best work?

  105. @Mal: Post-punchline dialogue! Take a shot.



    The three-body problem is:
    1) here are three bodies
    2) what are they doing?


  106. William James SidisJuly 22, 2009 at 3:22 PM

    Mmm how amusing that you believe yourself to be superior to the likes of us, "Belial". I really wonder what nameless university you attended. Please do tell me, I need to laugh.

  107. Woe is he who pisses of the mighty pseudo-intellectual.

  108. Ramsey:

    You could assume that. You could also assume he's *writing*, and that he pulled a name from thin air, and kept reusing it whenever he wrote a comic with a similar situation. It's like people don't understand how fiction works.....

    I've been watching y'all chase that shadow 3 times a week since I first noticed this blog was an entertaining way to kill 10 minutes at work, and the amusement value of this particular dig, even as a running joke (it gets funnier the longer they fail!), has worn off.


    I've lived either with him, or within rock-throwing distance of him, for nearly six years now, off and on. As far as I know, there has never been a megan. There has never been anyone who fit the description of the person you lot imagine megan to be. Certainly not anyone who remained a figure in his life across the move from Newport News to Boston.

    It was a name made up for one of the "sad love" comics that resonate with the sad fans, and then reused for lack of a better name whenever an appropriate situation came up.

    You're jabbing at nothing. Get a new joke.

  109. This comment has been removed by the author.

  110. After Randall gets a new one.

  111. Beloved Belial! Righteous Randall!
    Welcome to this...This hive of scum and villainry. Are you here to battle the forces of Evil with me?
    I can handle these primitives on my lonesome, but I'm grateful for your assistance. I trust you're proud of my efforts? Please respond.

    Mrs Sophie Schröder-Devrient... Greetings! How bizarre, a beautiful (I may only be assuming this from your writing, but I am an exceptional judge of character after all) intellectual female. You are truly a unique individual!
    Your posts, oh, your perfect posts!
    They scream to me. Do you know what they say?! "I am a respectable, intellectual, attractive female "Xkcd" fan seeking a satisfactory suitor to pleasure me both physically and mentally".

    Sophie, I know this may be sudden but:
    From the bottom of my heart and the top of my penis, I LOVE YOU!

    Please contact me! Send me electronic-mail at Iloathecarlwheelerimmensely@gmail.com ! Please, I beg of you!
    Please also send me a photograph of yourself. Preferably naked.

    Farewell, soul-mate. I will be thinking of you as I attempt to slumber tonight!

    -William Monty Hughes (soon to be William Monty Schröder-Devrient, possibly)
    IQ 224
    "Cogito Ergo Sum"

    PS there is a photo of my identical twin at xkcdisaparagonofhilarity.blogspot.com
    Feel free to masturbate to my visage, you have my permission. Enjoy!

  112. Everyone on the internet should have to play this game:

    If you play it til the end, you'll see why.

    I hate all of you.

  113. Oh good, sockpuppet satire. The height of messageboard comedy.

    I dunno. Bored now. Wander back in a few days. Maybe there will be more original attempts at criticism.

  114. HateBottles, I think you are my new favorite commenter.

  115. Randall, please stop with your pathetic attempt at sexual humor. You're embarrassing yourself.

  116. Belial, don't hold your breath. You couldn't recognize good criticism if you saw it.

  117. belialsucks.blogspot.com

  118. To be fair, a lot of good criticims is said here.

    Of course, bad criticism is, as well.

    So if you're going to paint xkcdsucks with a wide brush, as you're doing, you're no better than what you accuse this place of being, namely biased past the point of reason.

  119. The Internet is a wondrous place where people can have fun releasing tension by hating popular things through a semi-anonymous screen while being assured that concerned third parties with no vested interest in the subject matter being ridiculed will decide to interact with them and expect to be taken seriously.

    In other words, Belial, you are a fucktarded piece of whale shit blowing about wildly in the shitstorm that is these blog comments, convinced of the superiority of your own stench. Smell and fury, signifying nothing.

    Thanks for playing. I still hate all of you*. Have a nice day.

    *'cept Amanda

  120. "you are a fucktarded piece of whale shit blowing about wildly in the shitstorm"


    So who's up for some Yahtzee?

  121. He reminds me of Belphegor, a dicksnout who kept posting pretentious violent nonsense on the Powerup Comics comment section. Mostly because he's a pretentious dicksnout named after a demon that starts with B.

  122. Apparently Randy's ex-roommate! I would Google this sort of thing but you know how it is.

  123. (Meanwhile, I will stick with my sources, thank you. Roommates, especially ex-roommates, are seldom reliable sources of information.)

  124. unrelated:
    http://xkcd.com/32/ is probably one of my favorite xkcds ever.

  125. Funny how the Internet Elite are all closet trolls. Shouldn't this drudgery be beneath them? I can't figure out if it's a good thing they're posting here: on the one hand, they might have a stereotypical Change of Heart(TM), but on the other, their idiocy knows no bounds and causes my brain to leak from my ears.

  126. I am Belphegor. I know twenty languages and I am a genius. I am posting from an asylum. I will kill you, Shadow.


  127. uuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

  128. nnnnnnnnnnnnnn


    did i guess it?

  129. kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

    Anyway, Belial (if that is who you actually are), maybe if you
    a) stopped acting like a pretentious douchebag who is better than all of us
    b) had a look at some of the actual criticism (it's there, believe it or not)
    c) relayed this to Randall
    xkcd would get better and everyone would be happier.

    I'm probably just falling for the trollbait, but whatever.

  130. pretend for a moment that I don't know anything about metallurgy, engineering, or physics, and just tell me what the hell is going on

  131. Belial! So nice of you to stop by. Now, since you apparently visit us often and read the blog and comments ever so carefully, I would like to ask a favor of you! As Randall's presence near you is ever-constant, would you mind recommending that he find an editor, or at least give his updates a quick read-through before posting? Or better yet, offer to be his editor? I am sure he would appreciate assistance in improving his work, and as his very close and trusted friend you would be the best man for the job.

    Everyone else: I love you!*

    *'specially poore

  132. Or actually suggest me for it. I, unlike you, am not a pretentious fuckwit. (Just pretentious.) I'm also the best living copy editor and have a well-developed sense of humor. Also, the irony! THE WACKY HIJINKS.

  133. I'm slow, but this line made me die a little inside:

    "As for the comic itself - It presents elements of complex science, its complexity justified in the XKCD forums."

    He does realize that the mean age of the forum members is 14, right?

  134. @Mesosade

    I don't post here much, I do read the blog regularly tough, but I appreciate your playing devil's advocate. There's little better than a debate IMO to try foster critical thinking. I have a couple problems with your argument though.
    You want to build critical thinking. So do we. The problem is that the folks over at XKCD forums seems not to look critically at any comic but think "it must be good, Randy drew it. It has sex and physics" etc. You say its not a problem if they are deluding themselves. Your own words. How do you plan to build critical thinking by defending mindless fanboyism? Especially toward something that (you have to admit)has greatly declined in quality as of late to a point where the former wit and humour is practical absent?

    Yes, many of the posters are intentionally cruel, which I don't necessarily condone, and I did prefer the title XKCD: overrated. But we aren't being negative just to make ourselves feel better. We (I hope I speak for all of us)want to build critical thinking, as you claim you do too. If enough people begin to see XKCD for what it has become, then perhaps Randall we realize that his comic is losing its appeal and make necessary changes ie update less frequently so he isn't just churning out mass-produced punchlines. Or convert it into the picto-blog idea that has been suggesting many a time on this blog. Or something, anything that would make us laugh and think the way it used to.

    Or at least we can help a few XKCD fans to think critically.

  135. Please excuse the typos and grammatical errors above. I do that sometimes.

  136. Insert any math, law, engineering, chemistry, biology, medical, astronomical, botanical, computer, sewage, pretzel-vending, etc.- -professionals in place of the word physicists...

    And place any law, principle, concept, idea, philosophy, aspiration, common trait, etc. into the final panel's explanation.

    "We had a threesome"
    "How was it?"
    "Awkward. It was with BOTANISTS"
    "Why's that awkward?"
    "Ah yes"

    Actually, it doesn't even have to be a person in the first Joke-creation slot.

    "We had a threesome"
    "How was it?"
    "Awkward. It was with FRACTIONS"
    "Why's that awkward?"
    "Ah yes"

    I'm reminded of a recent Qwantz comic where-in T-rex makes jokes about PROFESSION MEMBERS.
    It's that same cookie-cutter bullshit that makes this the most infuriating XKCD in a long while.

    Sex? Awesome I love sex. Nerd references? Irregular webcomic proves they can be done well.
    Sub-knockknock joke puns? You're stretching it Randall, but fine whatever.
    But this is just fucking unbelievable. The man draws stickfigures for christ's sake. How the hell can he have so much time to spend on this yet produce PROFESSION MEMBER jokes?

    Tomorrow on XKCD, Randall does a "What do you call 1000 physicists on the ocean floor?" joke! But its totally original because he said physicist and not lawyer!
    On Friday, Randall's taking a break, so make your own XKCD!!

    Make your own XKCD!

    "We had a threesome"
    "How was it?"
    "Awkward. It was with X"
    "Why's that awkward?"
    "Ah yes"

  137. While the criticism of XKCD might get a bit repetitive lately, I have to say that the trolling gets more and more hilarious with each blog post. The passive aggressive pseudo-intellectualism! The logical fallacies! The wild flailing!

  138. This is one of those annoying ones. I get it. The three body problem applied to physics and sex works as a concept. It just isn't as funny as I feel it should be.

    I think the problem is we just end up with a pun. Nothing particularly clever or bizarre or unexpected. Only the observation that we may get a problem with the same name in physics and in sex.

    Perhaps something along the lines of
    "I was up all night with two scientists trying to solve the three body problem"
    "you mean the particle physics problem?"
    "Uhm no... threesomes"

    This still needs a little more work. It's a little too long winded still, but it's shorter, has more of a twist and keeps the naughtiness to the end.

  139. I'm a bit late to the whole Belial argument, but can I say that I'm amused by all of this (including the randy troll)? 'Cause I am


    Add "machine people" to the repeat offender category on the left

    and make a new "too much dialog/people talking after the punchline" repeat offender page.

    I am taking over this blog's management

  141. Now there comes the justification for "insulting random people is perfectly alright ON THE INTERNET".

    "1.) Randall makes a lot of terrible, terrible comics."
    As far as I recall, artist != person, so I'll proceed with caution.

    "2.) Randall makes a lot of terrible comics that are explicit fictionalizations of real-life events he's experienced (he's been, at the very least, inspired by actual IRC conversations and so forth)"
    Which means he HAS stood on a supermarket contemplating the phallic-looking vegetables with a tube of K-Y in hand? Ooh, that's like TOTALLY true because I read it on the Internet.

    "3.) Randall makes a lot of terrible comics that have an incredibly crude, monodimensional, immature, reactionary view on love and its impossibility and NEVERENDING PAIN."
    Because people always totally believe in the things they do on their comics. The Explosm guys like totally kill people for silly reasons and take deadly illnesses all very lightly. Humour is SERIOUS.

    "4.) Randall makes a lot of terrible comics that feature a Megan in some romantic capacity."
    Because a name obviously always refers to a real, specific person, instead of an overall idea of fictional character.

    It all comes down to the conclusion that the Internet IS, after all, SERIOUS BUSINESS, and not to the fact that some people hate xkcd because their sense of humour is incompatible with Randall's, which is perfectly understandable. No: there always HAS to be a way to justify needless personal insults, because otherwise life would be boring and uninteresting.

    And I'm saying this because I *DO* think it's extremely valid, and even constructive, to criticise THE COMIC, and I believe that is the original intent of this blog. I may entirely disagree with the way Carl sees the comic, but he is in his right to state that, and it's important to guarantee that right. But you know what? It's sort of like football in Brazil: if you're not acting like a violent irrational animal, you're a pussy and you're not "enjoying it properly".

  142. http://www.rockpapercynic.com/

    It's like someone wanted to be xkcd and managed to be funny at the same time.

  143. Except for the first bit. And the second.

  144. TLDR, but personally I needlessly insult people on the internet because I enjoy it. I also enjoy reading it. Crazy, I know.

  145. I like luckykaa's suggestion above - touch on the physics concept, THEN throw in the sex reference. There's more impact to that than a conversation about sex turning into a physics reference.

    It's a little sad that the majority of the oiginal post is not about the comic, but the people who read the comic and comments in the forum - seems like this blog is now just a place to flame forum members from the sidelines.

  146. Looks like this is the gathering of unimaginative people who don't give a shit about science and are too lazy to educate themselves. Stop complaining about XKCD, you're not it's target audience, anyway.

    You're just angry that Randall doesn't do computer related stuff only.

  147. Anonymous 8:17


    Oh my God, are you a parody?

    "you're all unimaginative, lazy science-hating retards because you don't like xkcd"

    "you're not its target audience therefore you can't criticise it"

  148. Fernie, all of your arguments are stupid. When we "insult Randall here," we are insulting his creation of a comic rather than his own person*, and very often it is in a joking manner. So yeah, we aren't insulting him because the internet is SRZ BZNS. When we call him emo, it is because the latest comic (or latest 5000 comics) clearly depict a hugely emo scenario. And we know that much (but not ALL, you missed that important distinction between "a lot" and "all") of his comics are based on happenings in his real life. Most of these comics show some sort of behavior that we find annoying, and so we insult them; also, since it is often quite obvious that the stickman in said comics is a stand-in for Randy, I would say it's apt to call Randy out for having such annoying behavior and thinking it's cool.

    Second, when we bring up the topic of Megan, we are actually doing this thing that we call "making a joke." "Megan please be with me" is a recurring theme (an aside to Rob: can you please use your clear explanations of literary terms to tell me what the difference between a motif and a theme? I never quite understood that), and we took that theme and made it into a joke here. Since Randall likely roomed with a lady named Megan, that makes the joke all the more hilarious as it is likely a reality. So tell me, since when was a joke about a guy pining after some lady about whom he constantly makes comics and references an insult? Since when was that SO SERIOUS?

    Basically, shut up and stop making shit up. I am tired of it. None of your arguments ever really have substance.

    *except things like "Randall is a fag" I guess. But isn't that just something you hear on the Internet all the time? And maybe if you have thicker skin you don't get insulted?

  149. I normally love xkcd, but this one was just a new level of aweso-- *gets shot*

    As I was saying, I really am a fan of xkcd, but this one was just extreme suckage! Also, thanks for mentioning my forum post! I feel special now.

  150. Is there a good breakdown somewhere of why the whole "You are not the target audience" argument sucks?

    I seem to remember reading one somewhere but that may have been a dream.

  151. he couldn't even go to the trouble of explaining his shitty "joke"

    that is just plain lazy writing

  152. Danny,

    The target audience argument makes sense if someone, for example, is complaining about too many science/computer/nerd jokes, because that's what the intent of the comic has always been.

    When it doesn't make sense is when someone claims that not thinking everything about xkcd is great in itself demonstrates that one isn't part of the target audience.

    Apparently everyone in the 'target audience' loves everything about xkcd, because the target audience, by definition, is everyone who loves everything about xkcd. It's meaningless and a cheap excuse to dismiss any criticism.

  153. Why are you even complaining about this blog? You're not in the target audience!

  154. OKAY Amanda it is something kind of like this:

    A motif is a recurring element/symbol/structure. So if you have a story and candles keep popping up at significant moments, candles are a motif. Motif is a literary device. Sometimes they can be used to help convey the theme, or sometimes they can just tie together scenes and thoughts or otherwise underscore their significance. An example is the repeated phrase "so it goes" in Slaughterhouse-Five.

    A theme is the unifying idea/message behind a story. (I paraphrased that one from Wikipedia!) A theme is basically "the point." You can use motifs to help convey the message--Vonnegut uses "so it goes" to satirize how much war trivializes death and life.


  155. This comic (613) is the worst thing I've ever seen, ever, in my entire life, ever.

    Randy's comic is bad and he should feel bad.

  156. so would the constant mention of Megan be a motif then

    captcha: imings omg rob it knows i am IMing you WHAT THE HELL BLOGGER

  157. im so glad im not the only one who thinks that XKCD is a worthless pile of shit on the internet...

  158. It would have been better if the comic depicted someone talking about having stayed up all night with two of his colleagues trying to solve the three body problem (just that single line of dialogue), like luckykaa suggested, and then there were a caption at the bottom making fun of how what physicists do is so much less fun than it sounds.

  159. Cuddlefish PrimeJuly 23, 2009 at 3:45 PM

    Even better, have the comic show a (male) physicist attempting to get involved in a three-way by proposing to two female colleagues that they go work on the three-body problem back at his place, complete with mischievious wink and snap-into-gun-point gesture

    Then the two colleagues proceed to beat the shit out of him for several panels

    Also the guy is Randall

    The best kind of thinking is the wishful kind

  160. I like how there are already two or three off the cuff suggestions for different execution of the joke in this comic, and practically all of them are better than the original.

    I also like how people (Fernie, particularly) keep going "IT'S A COMIC, A JOKE DOESN'T HAVE TO BE REALISTIC AND IT CAN BE FICTION" whenever we complain about stuff like that, but you make a joke about Randy's obsession with Megan, and everybody is all "HE DOESN'T KNOW A MEGAN AND HE IS IN A STEADY RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMEBODY WHO IS DEFINITELY NOT MEGAN SO YOUR JOKE DOESN'T MAKE SENSE!"

  161. Fernie, you dumb fucker, it's not random. Also your exaggerations are really stupid pathetic strawmen.

  162. ... Woodpeckers aren't even that strong...

  163. I didn't feel much toward this comic, although I resent Mr. Beret because he's sort of an idiot. I also have a feeling that the joke of replacing a woodpecker's beak with something more practical has been done seven billion times, but I can't think of specific ones.

    First eight panels work kind of nice on their own. The conversation almost feels authentic.

    Alt-text does nothing but overexplain the punchline. :|

  164. This isn't that bad. And it's sort of fun, if not funny :). He made a better effort with the art, too.

  165. @Maletoth (Mal from xkcdsucks)
    :| is a good expression with which to define xkcd.

    CAPTCHA: berpl, the grossest color in the rainbow.

  166. I have no comments about today's comic that don't start with "WTF?"

    At least there's art. And..uh... art? WTF?

  167. "... Woodpeckers aren't even that strong..."

    A five ounce bird can't carry a five pound coconut!

  168. I'd hate to be the guy that has to post on friday.
    Friday's comic is actually good.

  169. Today's comic was so-so. Could have been done much better by removing half the frames. The beret guy needs to be more fleshed out as a nihilist as he was introduced and less as a socially awkward weirdo.

  170. Existentialist. Randy's idea of an existentialist is someone who is adventurous and impulsive.

  171. Haha, I'm glad I didn't volunteer for the 614 slot, cause I like it.

  172. "... Woodpeckers aren't even that strong..."

    A five ounce bird can't carry a five pound coconut!

    It could carry a one-pound coconut if it grips it by the husk.

    Also I thought it was kind of cute. I like the Beret-guy comics, they are generally cutesy and clueless and much harder for me to hate. I just hate that the only consistency in Beret-guy's character is inconsistency. Also cluelessness, I suppose.

  173. I found the most recent comic to be quite cute, a real "awwwwww" kind of comic. Not really any joke in there, but still quite cute :) I liked it.

  174. I actually thought today's had potential. The execution sucked, as always, but if he had removed half the frames and replaced beret guy with just any generic bald guy, it would've been a cute throwaway gag.

    Of course, an editor could've told him that before it was posted.

  175. This one made me do half a smile and go "heh," which makes it the one of the least shitty comics in at least several months.
    I think it had way too many frames though and I'm not particularly fond of the beret guy. What kind of pretentious dickwad wears a beret?

  176. Cuddlefish Prime:
    You mean something like this?

  177. Is it just me, or does the current comic imply that Beret guy is currently a guest at Megan's house. If I were Randall I would take notes to see how I too could be so close to that goddess of a woman.

    Captcha is dilypo, which is usally what I think about the comic.

  178. GUYS I LOLED AT TODAY'S XKCD! (xkcd#614)

    But guys, it's so different than what golden age xkcd used to be all about. (romance,
    sarcasm, math, and language)
    I guess I could put it under language and sarcastic criticism regarding our human rituals etc etc.

    I loled at how not-woodpeckerish the present was.

  179. can we please have a woodpecker as our next "is this a nail y/n" post

  180. @ Oberon: I had a message going, but it disappeared and I'll just sum it up. I'll stop bringing in the opinions on XKCD forumers, because even I noticed that they can be sheep.

    Rather, I've already pointed out my views, and would rather deconstruct today's blogwriter.

    First off: Yes, it is rather awkward to bring up your own sexual encounters. It was the set-up for the joke, and I think that another situation would sound just as forced (Assuming the three-body problem can be applied to any group of three people doing any activity, if not, then wouldn't it be obligatory to include sex in the joke?). Point is, the whole thing was a joke and not really a story, which gives license to talk about sex so nonchalantly.

    Secondly: The review moves onto a paragraph talking about how Randall reverted back to his timewithstanding jokes (Math, Science, Romance, Language). Ehh, it's almost neither here nor there to argue with.

    After this, the blogwriter (I'll be a little less pretentious now and call him Fred) pretty much stops reviewing, and moves onto a three-paragraph (It could be called four, but I hardly count one of them) slander of people. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is XKCDsucks, not XKCD forums suck?

    Fred moves back to the review after he gets himself riled, which I assume was the purpose of the last four paragraphs. The review ends with an airy-hand towards all the typical flaws.

    (Yes, I do agree with strange anomaly of having unnecessary dialogue at the end. It almost undermines my theory that a joke doesn't need to have realisitic speech by virtue of it being a joke. However, with the "Ah, yes" at the end, it sounds like it intended to be a possible conversation between two people.)

    As for head-levitation, what's the big deal? It's not laziness (I really don't think it is), it's still perfectly understandable that the man is alive. I think it's one of those things you really have to be nitpicky about, because before I read critical reviews, I really didn't mind or notice.

  181. Pretty much only the Indiv Comics Forum folk are fanboyish. Everyone else looks down on them.

  182. Cuddlefish PrimeJuly 24, 2009 at 1:08 AM


    Haha, very good. I think it's an improvement on my suggestion, too; I envisioned a protracted scene of needlessly explicit ultraviolence, but actually it's even funnier to merely suggest that's what happened by showing only the final outcome.

    See, Randall? Most of your ideas aren't inherently unfunny; it's all (well, mostly) in the delivery.

  183. the image of a woodpecker using a drill is amusing. there is like 16 worthless panels there though.

  184. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is XKCDsucks, not XKCD forums suck?

    correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't you defending the comics instead of criticizing the blog posts?

  185. Fuck anyone who laughed at xkcd 614.

  186. I don't understand 614. A man buys a drill for a woodpecker. That's not funny and it's hardly cute.

  187. Yeah I don't get what is cute about it, the forumers are fawning over it saying woodpeckers are kawaii-hawaii whatever fucking retarded thing that is.

    Man has throwaway conversation with girl who's only reason for existing is to set up the scene. Then has imaginary conversation with a bird and gives the bird a drill. GET IT?

    amusing if only for the image of a woodpecker using a drill but hardly cute.

  188. also fuck woodpeckers. asshole bird woke me up whilst camping sunday morning waaay to early.

  189. I liked it. Especially in comparison to what we've been served recently


    Romance, sarcasm, math, and language, my fucking ass.

  191. @Jay

    Now that's more like it.

    Something identifying them as physicists would make it pretty much perfect though.

    Alt text could be something implying that their idea of the three body problem is how to dispose of them.

  192. The only thing that seriously disappointed me about the latest comic is the lack of references to Woody Woodpecker.

    But otherwise, I'm just going to artificially dissect the strip and make a boring description of it because that makes me so awesome, and because TOTALLY this only works with xkcd because every real joke still remains funny when you take it at face value.

  193. Oooh sarcasm, good one!