Sunday, September 20, 2009

XKCD BOOK PARTY: I came, I saw, I asked Randall Munroe about cocks

Here it is! Aloria's thrilling tale of being at the NYC party for the xkcd book. All your questions are answered....below!

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The xkcd book party. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Alright, maybe not. To be honest, though, I walked into this party expecting to be surrounded by the worst kind of nerd stereotype. Keep in mind that I went to an engineering school with a whopping 19% female population. I've seen the dark, stalkerish side of that world, the cheesy Monty Python references side, the "I'm better than everyone because I understand MATH" side, and the "soap? bah. I am growing anthrax in my armpits" side. Taking into consideration that was a) a party to celebrate the release of an xkcd book b) a party advertised as "Hang out with Randall Munroe!" and c) taking place on "Talk Like a Pirate Day," I had my defenses up.

I left around 6:10 and made my way to the subway. Some dude in the station was playing the Super Mario Bros. theme song on steel drums. I dropped a dollar in his case and thought "OH GOD, IT'S ALREADY BEGUN."

Arriving at and gaining access to the party location was pretty unremarkable. My first stop was the bar, as I knew I would need some serious hooch to get me through the evening and also over that speedbump of social anxiety that seems to plague most every nerd. The party was eerily quiet as people sipped their first drink of the evening. I noticed a disproportionate number of wine drinkers; I had this pegged for a beer crowd but only saw about 4 people with bottles throughout the night. As people became more, erm, socially lubricated (ew!,) conversations started to flow, mostly related to what we all did for a living, what everyone thought of The Watchmen, and our surprise at how inexpensive tickets ended up being. Only a handful of people wore xkcd shirts, nobody showed up with a black hat, and with the exception of a goth girl decked out in petticoat and corset, the party looked more like a career networking event than a celebration of a book release.

Throughout all this, there was no sign of Randall. Surprisingly, nobody really seemed all that interested in meeting him. I spotted him about two hours into the party, as we got closer to what was vaguely referred as the "presentation." He quietly approached the snack table, loaded up on cheese and crackers, and left. He could have been any other person there. He was not mobbed by drooling fans; I doubt if anyone even batted an eye at his presence.

TL;DR FOLKS: THIS IS WHERE THINGS START GETTING GOOD.

The evening ended with the "presentation"-- basically the event organizers telling us about Room to Read, Randall doing a little speech and a Q&A, and finishing with an auction. Readers will be comforted to know that NO, the school will NOT be named after xkcd, though there will be a plaque hung somewhere which mentions it. Randall repeated his opinion that it would be SUPER HILARIOUS to have kids work really hard on learning to read and then having no idea how to pronounce the name of their school. My eyes rolled so hard in my head that my eyelids began to cramp.

Randall's speech was run of the mill-- he'd always wanted to do a book, it was hard to do because he lost a lot of the originals, yadda yadda. He then revealed A GREAT TRUTH. You see, when Randall was a little kid, he liked to go down to the library to take out comic anthologies. Garfield anthologies. Yes, throughout the course of his childhood, Randall made a point to check out and read every Garfield book the library had to offer. There is nothing I can add to that revelation that would make it any more beautiful than it already is.

The Q&A started with some generic "quirky" questions that frankly, I don't remember, and don't feel like going back through my crappy video to transcribe. This is because, about three questions in, someone asked about the xkcdsucks blog.

AND I GOT VIDEO OF IT.



Is there really any more I can say? I mean, I basically had my job done for me. I did get to ask a question, which was "So far to count you have drawn 2 pictures of below the waist and 1 above the waist female genitalia. Do you have any plans to show your female readers some love and draw some male genitalia?"

Randall's response: "I wanted to, but then they kicked me out of TGI Fridays!" Then he stood there, thinking intently, for a few moments. I got video of that, too.



A few more questions were asked, including "who is Megan?" (Randall claims the name is just a female name he picked and not of anyone real,) and then the auction began. The top two bidders each won a one-on-one lunch with Randall, at $375 and $350 each, respectively. I put in a bid somewhere around the $200 mark thinking it would be cute to do an xkcdsucks interview, but was not willing to fork out more than that, even for epic lulz.

The second auction was for a commissioned drawing by Randall, which ended up going for $700. Now, the winner can have Randall draw anything he wants, but the fact that someone was willing to pay that much for work by an artist whose specialty is stick figures... well, I'm sure you guys will have a great time with the snark potential therein.

With all that out of the way, we were left to collect our choice of free tshirts (Mine: "Stand back! I know regular expressions,") prints ("sudo make me a sandwich,") and xkcd books. They ran out of pre-signed books about halfway through, leaving the other 30 or so of us to stand in a line to get Randall to sign our copies. I thought I'd wait, thinking this would be a good opportunity to give him the hilarious book you guys put together. However, after standing there for about a half hour, the line hadn't moved. Randall was still chatting with the event organizers. On top of that, one of the dudes standing in line with me smelled like he hadn't mastered the concept of toilet paper. Luckily, I found a friendly waiter who agreed to take my parcel and deliver it to Randall. Whether it made it to him, was accepted, or was read will remain a mystery. However, I think I got my money's worth.
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A thousands thanks to Aloria for doing all this. I think the conclusion to the story with our book (which will be put on the blog in finalized form soon) is rather fitting and nice; Aloria tried to get it to him but we don't even know if it worked. Hopefully those of you who had worried about this operation/ thought we shouldn't do it are ok with how things turned out. Certainly aloria didn't embarrass him, and if thinking about this site ruined his day, it was because of that other guy who asked about us, not Aloria. So I think we are pretty good.

106 comments:

  1. HOW CAN YOU KNOW? It could have been Carl's long, acid-fueled fantasy. Though I think in that case it would have had more homoerotica.

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  2. How can we know that you are not Carl?

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  3. This is ok. But the big news is that my baby, the book thread, is now at 300 posts. all glory to asher.

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  4. "Above the waist female genitalia?"

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  5. Aloria, I love you and want to have your babies. Since we're both female I'm not entirely sure how that'll work out, but DAMN IT, we'll make it work.

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  6. Somehow I thought his voice would be higher pitched.

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  7. OMG 11:08 anonymous I thought the same thing! get out of my head

    I think what it is for me is confusing Randall with moot from the ROFLcon videos.

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  8. I'm going to accept my blatant hypocrisy and accept how excited I was to read this report and watch the videos. Oh, to be shrugged off!

    I can definitely respect Mr. Munroe for regarding us as he does, especially via a "Defending Your Life" analogy (love that movie) and tempered with the acknowledgment that it's dangerous to be around admirers all the time, too.

    Thanks for the vicariously good times!

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  9. Stop calling him Mr. Munroe.

    Anyway, I can't listen to the videos at work, so now I have to wait THE ENTIRE DAY before I can read all this and watch the videos. DAMN.

    Still, it sounds like it was a success. Congratulations, and thanks, aloria.

    Now can we download that PDF somewhere? I wonder what's in the book.

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  10. HOW CAN THE YOUTUBE THING BE YELLOW? BLACK MAGIC!

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  11. Above the waist genitalia? Is that of an animal or plant?

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  12. Aloria VICTORY is yours. Well done lass.

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  13. Everyone knows women have a second vagina under the boob flap. Maybe if you prudes ever got laid you would know such things. /scowl

    But yeah, I was pretty tore up when I formulated that sentence.

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  14. Thanks, aloria, for making my life slightly less incomplete =)

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  15. Is this book being released under a Creative Commons license (or similar)? I'd just like to know.

    TRiG.

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  16. I think the best part of today's XKCD is the alt-text plug for Kate Beaton's comics. Read them! They're great.

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  17. TRiG: Yes, it's under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5.

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  18. I loved how the room broke into spontaneous rapturous applause and laughter when Randall referenced one of his own jokes("someone is wrong on the internet")

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  19. He self-referenced A LOT, and got the same reaction pretty much every time.

    Oh, and one thing I forgot to add: he thought 631 was "hysterical" and was upset that a lot of people didn't get the joke.

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  20. Did he explain what the joke was that people weren't getting? Or did he just say "It's so lame that you guys don't get this joke" and not explain it?

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  21. re: 631 being hysterical.

    Technically he's right, since hysterical comes from the Greek for uterus.

    (That's true, Fact Fans! Medical & Linguistic Misogyny!)

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  22. But that doesn't make it FUNNY. I ought to make that clear.

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  23. ugh. stupid uterus.

    *ENTHUSIASTIC APPLAUSE*

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  24. Aloria, that means you just found the formula to be the next Randall Munroe? I mean, once you find your group of followers, ANY of your jokes will become funny by default. Then it's just a matter of repetition. It's like being a musician: people love you for playing the same song over and over and over. Except if you're Bob Dylan, in which case you're constantly trying to find new ways to confuse your audience.

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  25. I completely got 631. It was just ridiculously horrible.

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  26. So I was recently at the last show ever of Harvey Danger, of Flagpole Sitta fame. And they played Flagpole Sitta, and then after the song was over, Sean Nelson, their frontman, said something like, "I think we can all pause to appreciate the fact that we never have to play that song ever again."

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  27. Or also how Radiohead never play Creep any more.

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  28. HARVEY DANGER IS BREAKING UP? That makes me sad. I liked "Little by Little" a lot.

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  29. Cool. Creative Commons is good.

    TRiG.

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  30. has broken up. it was basically the greatest show ever.

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  31. Yeah, I think he's confusing "Didn't get the joke" with "Didn't think the joke was funny".

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  32. @Danny: they did at the Reading Festival last month. Chrissakes, people.

    (I know, I know, if I'm demanding alt-rock geekery from my blogs, I should be reading Pitchfork.)

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  33. @Ann

    Sorry, I've not been paying attention I have had stuff on my mind okay.

    But they don't like the song too much, I thought this was common knowledge.

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  34. Yeah, I think Randy makes the assumption that if we don't think the joke is funny, then we must not have gotten the joke. Which is the same mistake a lot of cuddlefish make when they come and post comments.

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  35. i would bet the scribblenauts one is one he would've dismissed as not getting it. and if you look in the comments, there are people explaining, disagreeing, etc.

    also 631. i maintain that the joke behind 631 is unfathomable to the human mind.

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  36. 631: the joke is on us.

    Biggest surprise? Randall is a lot more charismatic than you'd expect. I wouldn't have taken him for a public speaker.

    I guess that's naive on my part; after all, this isn't exactly his first public appearance.

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  37. Posting this from an iPod!

    in re 631, EVERYONE GOT THE JOKE. Everyone in the world. It just sucked shit.

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  38. Thanks, Jay. I don't think any of us could have respected what you had to say unless you were posting using an ipod.

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  39. Yeah, I was quite surprised at how quick-witted and sharp he was. It's unfortunate that it hasn't been translating to his comics.

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  40. So, I watched the videos now. It's.. yeah, pretty much as expected. It's a shame that his self-admitted insecurity and perception that we "just don't get the comic" probably means that he'll never agree to an interview with Carl, because I actually think that would be pretty interesting. He's apparently a likeable enough guy, and he definitely has interesting stuff to say, it's just that we disagree about his comic's decline in quality and humor. Which, frankly, I think would be a pretty interesting thing to hear about. More interesting than "Why are you so awesome?" anyway.

    Also, where can we read that damned XKCD Sucks book?

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  41. aloria, I don't even know what a "boob flap" is... I must really need to get laid.

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  42. boob=flap

    there is no mystery here

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  43. Justin, it is kind of like a mud flap.

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  44. It's more like a fin...

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  45. Or the rear spoiler on a Mitsubishi Lancer.

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  46. @Danny: yeah, it's a fair assumption (I mean, they wrote a song about how much they didn't like doing that song). But subversion! And throwing for a loop! And stuff!

    [I have little to add to the breast discussion, being unpossessing of a pair]

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  47. @Ann, Also, I have a pet theory that each album they record is an attempt to shed a number of fans but for some reason more people like them each time.

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  48. What Dasafrak, you're not as excited about my NEW IPOD TOUCH!!!!!! as I am?

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  49. I TOUCHED YOUR MOM'S iPOD

    oh snap COMEDY GOLD!

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  50. Hey I think Flagpole Sitta is really good, it's catchy and I like it.

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  51. aloria++, comedy gold. Make a book of your superior jokes, put the page numbers in hexadecimal, and then fool everyone into thinking you'll name a school in Thailand after you.

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  52. I always wanted to teach Thai ladyboys how to read.

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  53. Yeah, but YOUR MOM taught me how to read.

    She was my first teacher. Nice woman.

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  54. "However, after standing there for about a half hour, the line hadn't moved."

    So you basically chickened out. There he was right in front of you, and what did you do? You pulled out and ran away because you got tired or whatever. Good job, the book probably never made it to him.

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  55. Anon 4:31 it did indeed not make it to him, but I spoke to him on IRC last night and gave him a digital version.

    I wouldn't call being annoyed to wait forever chikening out. I am also fairly happy with how this all turned out. The conversation will be posted for your pleasure soon enough

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  56. Keep in mind that I already spent three hours at this party; the bar had closed down at this point and the waitstaff were already tearing down the presentation area. There were about 20 people in front of me, and none of them had gotten to see Randall yet, either.

    I'm disappointed that the book didn't get to him, but from Person 1's conversation, I got the impression that he would have took one look at the cover and thrown it away, anyway. He had the opportunity to read our book in PDF form and he declined.

    So if not wanting to spend another hour standing around waiting to see someone whose work I dislike is "chickening out," then I'm okay with that.

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  57. How did Person #1's conversation go? Dammit, people are conversing all over the place but here.

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  58. @Danny: It would sure explain a lot.

    Person 1: so Randall gets a copy of the PDF before we do, huh? Huh? Is that how it is? I see how it is. Fine. If that's how it is, then that's how it is. Isn't it? Huh?

    CAPTCHA: dychead. I can't compete with this sort of comedy.

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  59. I'm pretty sure the link has been available to everyone forever.

    (At least everyone who matters)

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  60. @Ann, what Sam means is that it has been publicised in the irc channel. It's nice in there. You should come on in.

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  61. Dammit, everyone keeps running away to pastures new. Although actually I guess IRC is older than this blog. Whatever.

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  62. I read the first part of the book. It's excellent stuff. It's a shame Randall is so uninterested. I'll only be able to read the rest when I get home, but I can tell the material is great.

    I'm also sad that, because of a serious fuck up with file formats and PDF conversion, my letter didn't make it in; I explained pretty much the "case study" from my own perspective. Thanks for the case study, by the way -- I'm genuinely, absolutely embarrassed by those first posts.

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  63. Fernie, your letter did get into the final version, along with WMH's story.

    captcha: formater.

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  64. That chatlog is really hard to read due to the fact that "Randall" and "Person1" look very similar in Courier New.

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  65. Fernie, I'm glad that you like the case study. I was worried the entire time I was writing it that you would hate it.

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  66. fluffy, I had the same problem. I copy and pasted the log into Notepad and replaced Randall with xkcd.

    CATPCHA: oblectan. What a gemoetric shape gets when it goes to the beach.

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  67. Yay! The blog matters!
    http://glassmelter.com/bookfinal2.pdf

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  68. @Ann Apolis: The IRC channel is good because we can have actual conversations there. The comments section is good for little quips and light debate, but most people don't want to page through a back and forth between two or three people.

    Also, the IRC folks got the first account of my party experience while it was fresh in my mind (though I still was a little toasty,) plus other tiny details that I couldn't cram into my writeup. For example, that girl who said she was going to dress up as an xkcd character didn't, and she REALLY wanted to get in Randall's pants.

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  69. She may get in his pants yet!

    (Or maybe she already has, depending on when the lunch occurred)

    (hi randall if you're reading)

    ((which you aren't))

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  70. Now that we are bff I could ask him

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  71. Sam, what in the hell was that. First that link bombarded me with pop-ups.

    And then it turned out not to be randy/Willy fic!

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  72. Yeah somebody else said that about a different pastebin link as well. No idea why it happens but I've never experienced it.

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  73. Can you guys redo a bunch of his comics and put garfield in place of megan? I feel like that would be awesome.

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  74. Hay jayyyyyyyyyy i got one recently toooooooooooo

    i was posting with it like a few days ago and i was so proud of mahself

    BUT I DIDN'T BRAG ABOUT IT

    (til now)

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  75. OH MAN MY CRAPPY BLOG GOT REFERENCED.
    That has actually kind of brightened up my shitty day that he mentioned our whole "meta-community" in that video.

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  76. Oh man I just read the PDF and am as proud of you guys for making it as I am in myself for not contributing a wordy essay and watering down the final product. Good job, everyone involved!

    I'll have to hang out in IRC more; surely that's a good way to meet people!

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  77. Thomas it really is and now you and I can finally be the bffs I always dreamed we would be

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  78. Right, guys, next time I'll try to get my facts straight before I start whining. Apology for the goof. :)

    It's all great stuff. Again, if Randall still refuses to read this, I'll be sorry.

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  79. well, he said he might. I'll ask him in a few days if he ever did.

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  80. Also ask him if that pink haired girl who was all up in his grill tried to jump his bones when he went to lunch with her.

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  81. aloria is that the girl who had the acne (that girl from twitter) or a different girl?

    captcha: torso

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  82. Oh, yeah, Danny? Well, YOUR MOM captcha'd MY torso!

    The day I jumped off a building to try to kill myself, she grabbed me and broke my fall. The woman saved my life. I have the greatest respect for that lady.

    (whee, now I have a totally quirky subversion of a well known joke. I should TOTALLY make my own webcomic)

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  83. Fernie,

    I quite like your subversion especially the last line. "I have the greatest respect for that lady."

    Moar plox.

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  84. oh Amanda you did

    I don't feel like digging back through the blog posts but you TOTALLY did

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  85. That conversation between Person #1 and Randall was surprisingly boring. The thing about the vagina comic was enlightening, by the way. He did that one because "his friends laugh". I'd imagine that when your friends know you're the funny comics guy, they'll laugh at anything you show them, because they don't want to hurt your feelings. A better technique for gauging wether or not a comic is funny is SHOWING IT TO YOUR EDITOR.

    also, I hate it when people in IRC chats
    insert line breaks for no reason

    Thanks for FINALLY posting a link to that book, Capn. Jesus Christ people! Anyway, I liked Carl's Hitchcockian introduction.

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  86. Getting the book now. "Flipped through the pages" earlier, good job guys. :D

    Also, I found someone I know in the "xkcd sucks sucks" section. Awwwwwkward! XD

    CAPTCHA: "ovispota". A tyrannical chicken.

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  87. William Monty Hughes' words continue to be head and shoulders above all others. But I really did like all of the book a lot; it wasn't overly critical and was lots of fun to read.

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  88. New one: what's with the inking? Is it just me?

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  89. yeah it's weird but i think he is taking advice on switching up the line weight. at least you can tell that the characters aren't a part of the car, or the tornado.

    i liked it.

    alt text was stupid tho

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  90. I also like the new one, except for the ridiculously terrible inking. And the alt text.

    I wonder if he couldn't find his normal pen and ended up using something with a thicker tip or something.

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  91. Latest one is acceptable if you can ignore the alt-text

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  92. Looks like MS Paint instead of inking.

    CAPTCHA = sadgenes

    ...it's like they want me to make a joke about it

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  93. You mean "Watchmen", not "The Watchmen".

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  94. aloria - I have already asked him something of the sort, lemme find the log

    (08:43:07 PM) me: when is that dinner with the girl who wants to get in your pants and spent like 370$ anyway?
    (08:43:16 PM) randall: I don't know
    (08:43:18 PM) randall: it's funny
    (08:43:20 PM) randall: in silicon valley
    (08:43:24 PM) randall: all the bidders on the dinner were dudes
    (08:43:30 PM) randall: and all the bidders on the comics were girls
    (08:43:36 PM) randall: it was the reverse of the new york event

    I am not sure why I am suddenly the channel of communication here, though. You could just message him on IRC, he'll respond once he gets back

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  95. Well, the thing about NYC is that the ratio of single women to single men is like 50:1. So chicks out here can get REALLY desperate.

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