Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Comic 616: Get Out of My Head, Batman

today i have entrusted JK with the responsibility of handling this blog like an adult.
Lose you lose you lose you LOSE

When I read the first panel of this comic, I thought I was doomed.

The fact is, I've had problems with landlords before. I've toured an apartment where the floor sloped at a thirty-degree angle, and all I could think about was how fast I could sign the lease. (FYI, someone beat me to it.) So when I read that first panel, I thought I had Randall Munroe in my head. I thought he was going to say something that would really resonate--and of course, it's hard to criticize someone who can pulp your cerebellum at the first sign of dissent.

Then Randall took a right turn onto Non Sequitur Plaza.

I would never criticize a comic for being too weird, wacky, or unrealistic. Of course a real person in this situation would never say what the main character of this comic says, but several good xkcd strips have worked just this way. There's no 'joke' per se, but the situation itself is enough to provoke a smile--the strip which is self-referenced in the title-text [alt-text! --carl] is an example. However, this type of comic, done poorly, sets itself up for a harder fall.

This comic seems to indicate a belief that growth means the sacrifice of that which is not grown-up. In other words, it isn't enough to gain new tastes as you age; you have to lose old ones, too. Playing with blocks is for kids; to grow up, you have to stop (never mind architects and engineers). Thinking about imaginary characters is for undeveloped minds (forget about novelists, filmmakers, and writers of webcomics).

What's really purile about this strip, in fact, isn't those few traits which are supposed to be childish--it's the whole frame of mind which is worried and eager to prove that it is very grown up. This is a topic which xkcd has handled much better in the past, as Randall evidently knows. That makes the current crudeness doubly disappointing: the strip which is referenced in the title-text is basically this one, but better.

"I'm pretty sure I stopped growing up in my teens." Yes, that is correct Randall. You go through the first years of life as a child, all the while accepting growing responsibility. At last, at the age of 18 or so, (earlier in many cultures) you become a full adult. With full legal rights, such as *signing the lease on a building*. This is how it is supposed to work.

"I've been faking..." Faking what? Faking growth after you've finished growing? That's like taking the trend line of your height between six and sixteen, noticing that it goes up, and deciding to wear higher and higher-heeled shoes for the rest of your life.

"..for years." Specifically, in Randall's case, for the years 20-24. I hope he wasn't expecting to see the wisdom of old age develop sometime in there. At this rate, by the time next year rolls around, he'll be senile.

I was going to say something unkind, to the effect that we wouldn't notice, but really, we would.

Take care of yourself, Randall. I read your webcomic.

[don't forget: the topic of living on his own but acting like a child was also present in 131 and 418 --Carl]

SMBC Theater

So we all read SMBC, of course, because it's great, so of course I was intrigued to see that it now has a spinoff sketch comedy site, SMBC Theater. It currently only has four videos, so I thought I should take a look and report my findings.

My findings are: They are bad.

"Genie" seems to be the one they are most proud of, given that it's the one embedded on the SMBC blog, the one he used for his votey image the other day, and the one that loads first on the main page (at least for me, every time - is that happening to other people?) It's mildly funny, but not really. Yeah, it's a parody of all those "unintended consequences of wishes" stories, but usually those stories themselves have such crazy logic (see: Simpsons Get a Magic Monkey Paw halloween episode) that they are parodies of themselves. And here the consequences aren't any funnier, it's just supposed to be funny that the people don't care. So I guess we are supposed to laugh at the fact that they are bad people?

"LOLcat 50 Years Later" was even worse. Even if I wasn't sick of lolcat humor, this hardly even had that: maybe 3 of 4 actual lolcat images. The rest was just: depressing. And why exactly are we supposed to believe that the cat was 50 years old? He looks as young as all the other people in the SMBC videos. PS the cardboard coffin just reinforces the super-low production values of all of this. Just saying.

"Gateway Drug" Just didn't feel original to me. And at this point I'm recognizing actors from previous skits. Still probably the best of the group though.

"Keyboard Kitty" does not deserve my time.

So yeah, in the end: Mostly disappointed. I've always been impressed that Zach Weiner could produce a consistently good, well drawn comic 7 days a week, so making a good sketch show on top would be more impressive still. I wonder how long it will continue for - it's got to be damn hard to do, and I don't know how good a response he'll get.

SO THAT'S THAT. Did you guys watch these? What do you think?

Are you all as surprised as I am at just how much Zach Weiner looks like a stoner?

In other news, I just finished reading Problem Sleuth. And holy crap, I don't even know what to think. I don't know what just happened to me. All I know is I'm going to be having some fucked up dreams tonight.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Comic 615: How About We Avoid Your Comic?

today's post comes to us courtesy of Professor Doctor Silas R.P. Wendlemeer the Third, man of distinguished class and style.

Okay, shit, shit shit shit shit shit. I don't even know where to begin. This comic is terrible on so many levels. Now see, I came into this with every intention to be as fair as humanly possible to Randall, but I really can't find much of anything that I like about this comic. I feel I still have an obligation to find something good about what has been put forth from Randall's obviously very massive and powerful mind, but it's really taxing on me right now. I will do my best to compile a list of what is good about this particular comic:

-It was posted on time
-The boxes around each of the panels (excluding the 2nd one, for whatever reason) are very straight and quite well done
-The earth did not crash into the sun while I was reading the comic

Oh man. That's really... um... about it actually. I don't even know if we can count the boxes one since it was done with a tool [Carl adds: "you mean, done BY a tool! zing! ha ha, randall is a tool"].

Okay, now that that's over with, let's talk about what Randall did wrong with this comic.

Number one and the biggest, baddest, worstest: This joke is old, not original, and not funny. This joke has been done so many times before and it wasn't even funny then, it was novel at best. I've seen it in the Simpsons, Family Guy; hell, even fucking Seinfeld did this stupid joke in a bit of a different way (when Kramer was impersonating movie phone). Ever since there have been automated services on the telephone there have been people making this joke. Listen, Randall, if your joke can be independently invented by 12 year old kids, you are not doing a very good job as a comedian. And yes, he is supposed to be a comedian, he's writing a COMIC, not a blog.

Interestingly enough, this leads me to another disturbing point. By my understanding, a visual comic, like xkcd, is one that should combine both artwork and written comedy in a medium specially designed to make people laugh. If you can't draw, like evidenced by xkcd, you are a stand-up comedian or a blogger and that is fine you just avoid the artistic medium. If you can't make jokes, as evidenced by xkcd, you are an artist and that is fine you just avoid jokes and sullenly sit in coffee shops all day. If you can't do either, why even try to combine them? It's like if I said I couldn't play tennis or the guitar, but if I try doing them both at the same time I'd be fantastic. That's just fucking stupid.

Now let's get into the really specific content here. First of all, Randall is continuing his unhealthy obsessions with:
1. Being creepy as hell in general
2. Pretending the people are machines oh ho ho isn't that funny
3. Completely missing an (actually many) important, real element (s) that detracts heavily from the joke

Let's get to 1. Clearly, from the alt text, we see that Randall has thought this situation through pretty completely and decides that, if he were in this situation, he would make it as uncomfortable as possible for the other person. It's very obvious in this comic that this poor girl is just trying to avoid this stupid dunderhead that she inexplicably gave her real number to despite him having the intelligence of a sack of bricks, not being able to figure out what she was doing. See Randall, the problem with you writing creepy things is that you take yourself so seriously that people take what you say seriously too.

2. Oh man, this joke never gets old. It's one of Randy's favorites and it's one of the stupidest things imaginable. Why? It's. Just. Not. Funny. It's not! I think it's been covered enough here on this blog that I don't really need to say any more about it. The fact that I need to bring it up again is pretty sad, though; maybe think of a few new jokes Randy. If you need inspiration, at just about any bookstore you want you can buy 1001 jokes for nerds or 1001 jokes about sex both of which I think you'll enjoy. Be sure to tell them I sent you everyone will know me I think maybe.

3. This entire situation is just not going to happen. Ever, okay? First of all, why doesn't the girl just NOT FUCKING ANSWER THE PHONE? Oh, wait, I forgot that we don't really know how people speak or act in this comic. It's an entirely contrived situation right off the bat, which makes it less funny.

Let me take you aside for a minute to tell you about my Uncle James. He was a very close person to me and there was a time where he saw a big bunch of bikers in a bar okay. Or wait maybe they were in a circus yeah a circus. Okay and so now he walks up to them and says "Oh no would you look at that I am out of money at this current and present point in time I need more" and the bikers all look at each other and they say "well gee whiz sir we can be your ATM for now" and James gives them his card and they look at it and they give him money. Oh haha did you see what happened there? I should be xkcd.

I'm sorry but that story was important to me. Back to this comic. Once again, this sort of falls into the category of Randall not understanding how people work, but clearly this main character is the dumbest sack of shit ever to um sit in a chair. Somehow, inexplicably, he knows what it sounds like when the call cannot be completed. Yet, also, amazingly enough, he fails to realize that there's a very loud, very noticeable BEEP BOOP BOOOOOOPP noise before that message plays. ALWAYS. Characters that stupid are too ridiculous to be believable.

And somehow, he also doesn't notice breathing on the other end of the line? This girl surely has to breath or make other noises than what is on the recording, which omits all of those types of things. Yeah, I really believe this whole situation. It's really coming together for me.

Okay hang on I'm being really unfair. I need to end on a lighter note because I promised myself that I would honestly and truly say things good about this comic. I think I will try to suggest improvements.

I think the premise was okay but it really lacked that extra zing that would make it truly something entertaining. Yes, it wasn't that original or really that funny, but there are ways to have made it work. Instead, he opts for seeking out a very cliched situation to put a very cliched joke into. I do know that Randall is capable of putting his characters in unique or strange situations, so why didn't he do that here? He tried to force the realism of the situation down our throats when there was so much more to gain from being an absurd, unrealistic comic.

Also, I know I've said this already, but really work on the artwork a little more. At least fill in something interesting happening in the background or add some little visual bits of entertainment. It's far too miserably empty for such a poor joke to stand by itself.

Oh, wait! I just remembered, one good thing. Randall used timing almost properly here! There's no text after the "punchline" and it flows pretty much properly. There! I've said something good about this comic.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Comic 614: Drill Baby Drill

Today's Special Writer is Jake. Let's see how he did.
Woodsucker oh ew that is gross too

It's 10:09 in the AM and this is XKCD Sucks. I'm your host Jake and with me today is XKCD's very own Beret Man.

Beret Man:
Thanks for having me, Jake.

So, Beret Man, we have you today in the comic. Tell us what's happening here.

Well, Jake, Randall has the dark haired chick (probably Megan, but as this isn't about sex today, I can't be sure) and me talking about a woodpecker (on second thought, maybe this is about sex... o.O). The dark haired chick tells me that the woody-- woodpecker was hatched about a year ago and I make the observation that it's the little guy's birthday.

Okay, some birthday action going on here. So then the dark haired girl takes off and we see you standing there alone. What's going through your mind at that moment?

Well, to be honest, not much. You see, right there in the panels after the girl leaves, Randall has me pondering if anyone told the woodpecker it was the little guy's birthday. So after pondering this a bit, I decide to run out and buy the avian a POWER TOOL! Because, you know, that just makes so much sense in Randall's mind as far as the joke goes, bird has a birthday, so I, Beret Man, will run out and spend some cash buying a power tool to make the little guy's life just a little easier. Ha ha! That's funny... right?

... see... I guess then the alt text is telling us that you'd go all the way to make it happen, you're even willing to splurge on an extension cord?

And if Randy would add yet another panel, I'd probably even be shown paying for the electrical bill or building a wind turbine. The possibilities are endless.

(Long story short: this comic blew. Hard. There's a lot of Randall's simple drawing and as far as I can tell, this comic is trying to be more existential than funny. Or maybe not... I usually get where Randall is going, even if I don't think it's very funny, but today threw me. I was going to totally analytical and go point by point through the comic, but today's was just so pointless that, well, you just read the result in this post. Kudos to SNL and Tim Meadows for providing the format for today's post and thanks go to Carl for giving me this shot.)

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.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Comic 612: Bad formulaic estimates & humor

Today's guest poster is PERSON #1. have fun guys.

Hello everyone. It's me, randall Person #1! In todays exciting post I will be reviewing the latest xkcd comic! Let's just look at it first:

but i will never let guest posters take over my precious actual alt textOh. Ergh.

Awesome, randall. A windows joke. About the file dialog. Yeah, that's never been done.

Before I start reviewing, I want to post a little log of me and my friend rune:
(10:54:11 AM) Me: oh
(10:54:14 AM) Me: i just remembered
(10:54:19 AM) Me: I'm guest posting on xkcdsucks today
(10:54:23 AM) Me: i hope todays xkcd sucks
(10:54:38 AM) Rune: ...k, i have no idea what xkcd is
(10:54:45 AM) Me: http://xkcd.com/
(10:54:54 AM) Me: actually
(10:54:58 AM) Me: you might not want to go there
Yes, I have found the one person who has never heard of xkcd. And I ruined him. Whose side am I on anyway?

Well anyway, the comic - I have kind of mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, the joke is well-executed and there aren't any excess panels. It's somewhat funny, even. Didn't make me laugh, but it's not as bad as, say, firefly fanfic. There is semi-good art by the standards of xkcd, though it could really use a background, it looks like the car is standing like this. But I forgive you, randall. It's not necessary for understanding the joke, so I will allow you this ridiculous level of minimalism you like to strive for.

Now, on the other hand, it's a Windows joke. Another Windows joke. About something that has been made fun of since Windows 95. Congratulations, Randall. Your humor is over a decade old. I was trying to find some examples of other comics doing similar jokes, but I couldn't find any. Maybe I suck at googling, or maybe other comics have self-restraint. Yesterday I said that xkcdsucks was turning into a sitcom, but I think the same might be true for xkcd. Old jokes, heavy recycling of material and weak fucking dialog.

Speaking of recycling of material, has anyone noticed that in this comic people behave like machines? That has never been done before in xkcd. Take the functionality of a machine, apply it to a person, and you get humor. It's Munroe's Law! A guaranteed xkcd classic!

Let's see what the forumites have to say about this;

fenrir_darkwolf: Just got an external hard drive and am putting up with a lot of this right now... Yet again good job on reading my mind Randall.

Haha, what? How is this the first time he encountered a joke/humorous remark about that? I really didn't expect any "get out of my head" on this one.

Then a bunch of praises to randall and to themselves for how "look at me, I'm really really geeky" they are. (Which is pretty normal for randy's fanbase) Alright, the forumites are boring.

The alt-text:
They could say "the connection is probably lost," but it's more fun to do naive time-averaging to give you hope that if you wait around for 1,163 hours, it will finally finish.

Oh, uh, okay? This is classical randall-observational humor. Observe, retell, hope it's funny without a joke anyway.

Alright, that's all I have to say. Quite more than I expected, I hope I didn't bore you.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Readers! I have crazy news. CRAZY, I SAY! I solicited guest writers a little while ago and got a far larger response than I was expecting. So, rather than have to choose between a bunch of equally anonymous people, I decided "fuck this, let's let them do all my work" and so for the next few weeks we're going to have a new writer every comic. MADNESS ENSUES!

Here's the schedule, if anyone cares:

Comic Date Name
612 ---- 7/20 ---- Person #1
613 ---- 7/22 ---- Fred
614 ---- 7/24 ---- Jake
615 ---- 7/27 ---- Prof. Dr. Silas RP W. III
616 ---- 7/29 ---- JK
617 ---- 7/31 ---- Lompta
618 ---- 8/3 ---- TomR
619 ---- 8/5 ---- Rob <--updated 8/5 ROB HAS ABANDONED ME.
620 ---- 8/7 ---- dragon2041 <--updated 7/20
621 ---- 8/10 ---- Egoraptor
622 ---- 8/12 ---- Hourt Carding
623 ---- 8/14 ---- HateBottles <--updated 7/22
624 ---- 8/17 ---- Asher <--updated 7/22
625 ---- 8/19 ---- John Evans <-- updated 7/28
626 ---- 8/21 ---- Matt <-- updated 7/29
627 ---- 8/24 ---- Thomas \
628 ---- 8/26 ---- Thomas ---> updated 8/18
629 ---- 8/28 ---- Thomas /

All subject, of course, to revision if people are lazy and don't e-mail me posts. If you aren't on the list, it's 'cause you didn't respond to my e-mails.

Is this going to be awesome? Heck yes. It might be a horrible failure. but the one thing we know is...IT WILL BE MADNESS!

PS oh Kate Beaton, i love you so much. That new comic is glorious.

update: looks like the schedule is a little more fluid than I had thought - so I've been moving a few people around. Just so you know.

Comic 611: Destructive Behavior

mr hat has a big headI'm going to be honest. I read this comic and thought, "Really, this isn't so bad. I almost like it, a little." Upon more thought, I can't quite justify this - all sorts of little problems show up - but still, let the record show that I was, for some reason, positive about this comic. What can I say - maybe I'm a sucker for that sort of humor-through-exaggeration, the way each example Mr. Hat gives is an order of magnitude more complex and fucked up than the last.

Not that there aren't problems; for one thing, this "disaster voyeurism" as a concept is not so new as Randall may believe; Neil e-mails me to point out that George Carlin (one of the most popular stand-ups of the last few decades, of course) had a super similar concept in his 2005 "Life is Worth Losing" TV special. Read it yourself; go down to the last really long paragraph (or just ctr+f and look for "fire"). I don't think Randall deliberately copied it, of course, I just want to point out that it's not such a clever or new idea. Obviously, Carlin does much better things with it.

Then of course there's Randy's textbook "but wait, there's MORE" continuing to add dialog after the punchline. In this case it's that pesky "entirely different conversations" line. Why? Why does it exist? What does it add? You have Mr. Hat going off on crazy rants about hunting men on horseback and you have to end your comic with "WELL, GUESS HE'S JUST HAVING HIS OWN CONVERSATION, HUH" and it just brings down the level of the humor so much.

A little while ago I remember writing that Mr. Hat was basically a terrorist, and that seems to still be true in full force. What happened to him being just a classy asshole? Whatever, I can't be too picky I guess.

I've said before that I hate it when Mr. Hat stories just vaguely reference funny things he has done without showing us or telling us what they were; so I am glad that at least here Randall had to use a modicum of creativity and tell us what WACKY antics Mr. Hat was up to.


Many thanks to Mal (mal from xkcdsucks) for pointing this next part out in the comments last time:

Apparently there's this webcomic called "Sheldon" ? I dunno, I had never heard of it. But in any case, a comic from a few days ago bore a striking similarity to a certain xkcd from a few months ago. See the relevant Sheldon and the xkcd yourself. Now this phenomenon is nothing new to readers of xkcd sucks - ahem, cough, ahem - but what comes next makes the story different. The author of Sheldon, in a blog post, acknowledged that his comic was really similar to the xkcd, similar enough that it was reasonable to be suspicious. Read that post. How classy is that?

I wish Randall would do something like that when he copied jokes. If he did, I would not hold anything against him. I believe - usually - that the mistake was wholly unintentional. But when Randall refuses to admit that his comic is so damn close to say, an SMBC from the week earlier, he just looks like a dick. I hope he sees that post on Sheldon and sees how damn classy the author looks when he writes it.


stay tuned later tonight for an announcement about crazy upcoming guest posts.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

let's all take a break for two seconds

Hi guys, I thought I might distract you all with something vaguely related to our purposes here - recently it was brought to my attention that a writer for The New Republic had taken to critiquing the jokes in Thomas Friedman's New York Times column. Obviously, that column is not nearly as important as the humor we talk about here, but still, it is rare enough that someone in the famous popular media attempts some humor criticism, so go, read the article, and tell me what you think. Myself, I like think most of analysis is pretty good, though the few jokes this author liked I would have been less forgiving with. But most were judged to be poor, and well, they deserved it.

Go! go forth and decide for yourself.
In other news, I got a ton of people who want to guest post, so it looks like what we'll do is just have a different writer every day for like 3 weeks! maybe more. This is going to start possibly as early as next monday. Maybe it will be a huge failure - but maybe not. Who knows? Anyway, they can't all IM randall and change their minds...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Comic 610: Independence

ding, doors are closingSO, as you know, Dr. Horrible has been guest posting here. But then a funny thing happened. Apparently, he decided he would send Randall Munroe some thoughts on xkcd, and ended up chatting with him on IRC, and then Randy made him feel so bad about this blog that he decided he couldn't keep posting on it. So that's....weird.

He did have something he wanted to share with you though, which was his proof that I am not Randall! Can you believe it? Finally! See what happened was that he was IMing both of us at the same time. And then to prove that we weren't just the same person switching between computers or accounts or something, I just started typing numbers in increasing order, just so he knew I couldn't be typing anything else at the time. Anyway, he took a screenshot of both of our conversations, here it is: FINAL PROOF. Hope that's good enough for you, you skeptical bitches.

Dr. Horrible did also send me his IRC chat log with Randy, but I don't really want to post it. Eventually I will (so don't let me forget I have it) but not right now.
OH HEY WHAT there's a new comic! I guess as long as I am here I should talk about it.

For some reason this comic seems to give off major Ron Paul vibes. Well, I guess I know the reason, it's that all the people have that same awful condescending way of thinking and existing. Of course, this comic is making fun of that, I suppose, so that's good. It still makes me feel irritated the way anyone who talks about "sheeple" does.

I guess the problem is that they are all just sitting on a subway (speaking of which - recognize it?). That's not the place I usually think of this sort of thinking happening. I tend to sit on subways and think about the other people there as being actual people with actual lives. Sure, they might be just sitting there doing nothing for a while but that's because they are on a freaking subway, what they hell are they supposed to do? Start shouting "9/11 was an inside job" right on the train?

So what I'm saying is, this comic would be better if there was there was this idea that that's what people on trains were thinking, and then this would be a clever comment on that. I suppose that you could say "well, he just chose a train because it's a simple example of everyday life" but I think it's a pretty bad one, because again, there's not much to do if you are alone on a train but sit there, and perhaps read or listen to music or something.

The alt-text does, however, help a lot.

This comic is better than some. That's good to see.


And, with Dr. Horrible retiring after one post, who else wants to write for this blog? Anyone? I just assume people are super sick of hearing me all the time. It's super easy to do and it's pretty hard to fuck up Send me an e-mail - czwheeler@gmail.com.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Comic 609: Contrivance: noun

welcome to exciting guest week with guest poster doctor horrible! woo
ewMan, you guys will like Dr. Horrible. He sent me this post 30 minutes after the new comic went up. Let's see if it's any good.

Okay. First off, hey guys, I'm Doc. Tor Horrible. I go by Doc. Now, let's get this done! Today's xkcd, 609, is a lot of things. Funny isn't one of them. If you guys have ever read Ctrl+Alt+Del, you know that Tim Buckley has a habit of using contrived dialog, saturated with unnatural references, to explain his jokes. "Haha! Oh wow! Man this deathmatch game of Halo 3 is fun. Oh, hey, gayman4245 is challenging me to a match! No hilarity could ensue there, I bet." Stuff like that. You wouldn't walk up to someone and go "Hey, who linked you to TV TROPES, the website that explains tropes you might see on TV?" It's really symbolic of xkcd dialog today. Did Randall forget how to talk after not having a real job forever?

Hey, can you do me without a condom?

"Aww, what an adorable stuffed giraffe!"



Aside from that, the joke isn't incredibly good; while it's better than Randall's average jokes as of late, it is still his routine. "Hey, this is something everybody knows about but not too many people comment on! I bet this could go on a shirt."

Also, WHAT IS UP with the layout? It's (4*6)-2=22 panels of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING followed by the half-joke made of gut-wrenchingly fake dialog! That's wasting our time. And yeah, it's free, so I can't complain, right? I'm tempted to buy a shirt so that I can say I "invested" in xkcd and that it should be good, damnit. MAKE IT LIKE THE OLD DAYS, MR. MUNROE!

http://www.isowantone.com/randy.jpg (This took me 10 minutes or so to put together.)


(Also, you guys, I'm not the ass turds troll. But I am going to hide "ass turds" in Wednesday's post; see if you can find it. If you like my posting, fuck you. If you hate it, thanks! I mean....)


((Carl's a really nice guy, but I'm pretty sure he's William Monty Hughes, Randall, AND the ass turds troll. Watch out for him. Randall's a nice guy too.))


(((William Monty Hughes can suck my Horrible dick.)))


((((I would mention that this joke has been used before, but it looks like the comment threads are already showing signs of this; discuss away!))))


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Comic 608: Breaking the Rules

from...shittown, usa!
Oh my goodness! The stick man is writing where he was told not to! And there are crazily extreme consequences for this minor action! Get it? Because they are disproportionate! Oh my, I am struggle to type through my tears of laughter and soon I will have laughed so hard that my body will be lying on the ground, twitching, in a joyous state of pure humorous glee.

My first thought, not counting the simple "ughhhhhhhhh" was "god, this seems similar to comic 499." Seemingly harmless action -> crazy violent consequence. They also have the same rhythm - panel 1 sets up the apparently simple situation; panel 2 and 3 show that the character has violated some basic rule, and panel 4 is the awful, awful reaction. In both cases the actual reaction is somewhat vague - we know that there are dudes with helmets and guns, but not what they are doing or why or anything like that. In 499, we just know that it is scream-inducing and involved blood.

That's ok, Randall, you don't have to think of funny things to happen! Just things that might be around if something funny did happen, and we'll fill in the rest!

But here's what really gets me: Click that link to my post on comic 499. When that comic came out, I made the exact same criticisms of it for being so derivative of comic 292! In other words, even the comic this is basically a copy of is a copy of another comic! fuck you, Randall. fuck you.


Anyway, that's it for me for a week. Dr. Horrible will be writing the posts for the next three comics. I'll still be around (posting them as he e-mails them to me, for one thing) but hopefully he won't suck. Also hopefully he won't turn out to be the ass-turd troll.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Comic 607: Panic

Not a lot to say today, I'm afraid. Today's comic presents us with a joke based on a situation that is not happening, and if it were happening, precious few people would care. Perhaps people should care that the Unix time problem would destroy the world, but they wouldn't. So I see this as little more than a dog whistle comic for serious computer nerds, using the tried (tired?) and true xkcd formula of "Maybe if I reference something that most people don't know about, the ones who do get it will think it is funny JUST BECAUSE OF THE REFERENCE!" It's a style xkcd has gotten super duper good at.

In other news, I tire of my own voice and so next week you will all get to hear from Guest Poster Doctor Horrible. I do not believe that is his real name. I do not believe he is related to any other Horrible Doctors you may have heard of. Anyway, god knows what he'll say or if he's any good at this but I guess we'll all find out next week, huh?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Comic 606: Being Annoying

Cutting My Wrists
Oh god it's more fucking memes. Oh hey guys, remember Portal? Yeah I do, too, maybe because it's not 2013 and we haven't forgotten about it yet and I think I speak for the rest of humanity we I say I am fucking sick of hearing about it. Yes it's fun, yes it's quirky and funny, yes, you've mentioned it before. So shut up already. I don't care if you are mentioning them in order to say that it is annoying to mention them; it's annoying to mention them. The end.

Remember when xkcd people used to talk like real people? I wonder what happened to those days. "Where have you been?" "Playing Half-Life 2" "Didn't that come out in 2004?" That's a real natural response - what's next? "What are you listening to?" "The Beatles?" "Didn't they break up in 1970?" People do play old games, you know. Is that so crazy?

I guess this comic is an example of what I've called Randall Munroe's Illustrated Picto-Blog - a place to write about ideas he has without the pressure of being funny. Not that this is a particularly interesting idea - but it's an even worse joke.

It doesn't stand up to even an iota of thought: The dude knows he is 5 years behind the times - so in 2013 he should know that everyone else has played Portal years ago. By spouting off the jokes, he isn't facing a "downside" to his idea so much as a "downside to him being fucking annoying."

Did Portal really come out in 2008? Because I remember playing it in 2007. Let's see if wikipedia knows - "The game was released in a bundle package called The Orange Box for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 on October 9, 2007, and for the PlayStation 3 on December 11, 2007." Ah, ok, good. Randall: Get an editor, or try harder yourself.

In xkcd world, people look the same 5 years into the future as they do now.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

do you all want some shirts?

First off, if anyone wants to do a guest week or so, send me an e-mail. tons of you have the ability to do this.

SO YEAH SHIRTS. I dunno. People tell me to sell shirts. I have always said "whatever." But then someone told me to sell shirts and I was like "ok, maybe. I'll maybe do that."

Do people want that? You people? Is this blog enough of a thing now that you want it printed on your chest or your back?

Or perhaps, if you do not want something xkcdsucks-specific, we could think of something cynical and hilarious that is sort of in the spirit of the blog, and write that on shirts? I don't know.

So - consider this a threat to debate whether you want me to do this at all (I guess on CafePress, unless you think of something better) and what you'd want it to have. I am open to all suggestions.

So far I thought of:

"xkcd sucks" back: "yeah, that's right, I said it, nerd, xkcd sucks. What are you going to do about it?"

"No one cares what webcomics you read"

"Capitalism: It works, bitches!"

[cast of xkcd characters, all in a big crossed out circle, "xkcd sucks" on the back]

"xkcd sucks: a blog of bile, cynacism, self-righteousness and cuddlefish"

And I got a great suggestions via gchat for a hat with a stick figure on it, and the words, "Randall get off of my head!"

what should I do, guys?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Comic 605: Why You Shouldn't Marry Randall


This comic didn't anger me so much as sadden me. It's just "oh hey here is some mistakes you can deliberately make with math." As though people don't know how damn easy it is to lie with statistics. What's he trying to prove? Are we supposed to laugh at the man for being wrong? Are we supposed to laugh at the idea, knowing the man doesn't really believe it? Are we supposed to laugh at how terrible this marriage is going to turn out? Or how she is all dressed up and he isn't?

The old "My Hobby" comics were some of the best comics he did (particularly 37 and 236, if you ask me, which you do). But this one (and that other one) is awful. Randall in essence has two "brands" with his comic, two concepts which have predetermined implications and associations for his readers: Mr. Hat, and "My Hobby." As far as I know, those are the only recurring ideas of this nature in xkcd, concepts that can be places in all sorts of contexts and all sorts of jokes and make a degree of sense (no matter how often he tries to make Mr. Beret a recurring character, he hasn't given him any amount of consistency yet, so we can't count him).

Anyway the point is, like xkcd itself, fans of the comic expect good things when they see "My Hobby" and Mr. Hat (assuming they are still fans, they probably do, that is. If you are like me, you have lost all faith. But Randy doesn't draw for me). They are things he can rely on to make fans a certain comic that they might not otherwise, if the joke had been presented differently. See for example this dude. And I think that's what Randy is taking advantage of, perhaps not consciously: Covering up a crappy comic by putting it in a popular series. Think "New Coke." This is all meant more as observation than criticism.

Continuing with using this rather bland comic as a springboard for more general xkcd discussion, let's talk about math.

Someone e-mailed me with a link to this forum post, demonstrating just how simple the math here is. Especially when the 9th grade author of the post corrects Randall's graph. I'm not meaning to criticize the fact that it's simple (so you can delete your "You complain when it's too hard and when it's too easy, you dumb fuck!" e-mails) but it did get me thinking:

Does it seem like the math in xkcd is getting easier? At the beginning we had Poisson distributions and Fourier transforms. Even after it graduated from Randall's Notebook Drawings, we still got complicated stuff like this equation, Karnaugh maps, and the Bellman-Ford equation. And the Reimann-Zeta function.

What have we had recently? There was 602, but that was more of a "generic math" thing - it could be replaced with anything and work just as well. Fibonacci numbers, statistics 101 -it's just simpler now. Do people agree with this, or am I being crazy? And is it crazy to think that maybe it's because he is selling out and wants to appeal to more and more people, and jokes about Karnaugh maps are not going to do that? MAYBE!

Again, not saying this is bad, or that he should do something else - just saying that it seems like he is selling out his original niche for a more commercially popular one.

Lastly, when looking through archives for old math comics I came across this, and it made me so sad:

remember THIS??

Oh, how we become that which we hate.

Friday, July 3, 2009

xkcd getting around; and not getting around

So a few weeks ago, Randall Munroe apparently added a sort of side project to his regular comic-ing - he wrote a comic for "Building a Smarter Planet", which appears to be a mind-numbingly boring website about, I dunno, stuff. Some exciting headlines currently on the frontpage include "June 24th Food Safety Forum on Capitol Hill was a huge success" (awesome!) and "Implementation of a livestock disease traceability system in the US" (woah! that one was written by super-celebrity Robert Fourdraine, PhD, COO Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium!! Awesome!)

Oh right this is an xkcd blog. Um yeah so Randall is apparently making comics for them now. He says that he will "occasionally produce a few extra comics" but so far there is only one:

You can see the blog post where they announce this new feature if you click on the comic.

I actually do like the comic a fair amount, even if it does fit into the xkcd trope of "I say crazy things when on stage." It also suffers from the usual extra-dialog-stuck-in-after-the-punchline. But that's ok, those are minor complaints. Given the context it's in, this is a pretty good effort for Randall, and I am curious to see what others he comes up with. I think the lack of a set timeline helps him - I've often said that one of xkcd's flaws is that Randy forces himself to make comics more frequently than he thinks of good ideas. That of course won't happen here (unless we suddenly see "Randy makes a new environmentalism comic every June, July and August WITHOUT FAIL.")

My bigger concerns are with the post itself, written by one "Tim Washer" [holy crap, you can just add an E and change the H to T and his name is Time Waster! oh my god.]. Our friend is described as "the genius behind the web-comic XKCD." This just makes me vomit a little. Genius? Please. There's no reason to think he's particularly smart, certianly not from his comics or his studies of math or whatever. Ew gross. And using the hyphenated "web-comic" is probably the most succint way to say "I'm Old!" without using that exact phrase. But anyway.

Oh hey so remember how there is supposed to be an xkcd book? First off, notice how I used the phrase "web-comic" in that post - that is a crazy coincidence. I had forgotten all about it until I went to get the link right now after the previous paragraph was already written. Anyway, yeah, there was supposed to be one, according to the New York Times it was supposed to be out "sometime around june." Well clearly June has ended and so we are going to see just how "around" it is. Hey, it's not around at all! The Internet has no news at all on it since that first flurry of excitement in late April - unless I'm bad at searching, that is. If anyone has new information on it, I'd love to know what the status is. Despite what you may think, I really do have high hopes for a book of xkcd comics: As I will be glad to admit, there are a lot of very good comics on the site - they are just very few and far between after comic 350 or so.

And of course, I still need my review copy of the book...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Comic 604: Mistakes

hurr hurr sexI'll bet you like this comic. Or at least, a lot more of you like this comic than usual. But I didn't. SURPRISE.

Here's why - it's another situation that might be funny in real life (hell, it would be funny in real life) but given that it's a manufactured situation, it's not so great. You could come up with tons of these awkward phrases pretty easily. I went into more detail on this a few weeks ago, so I won't repeat it here. Awkward mis-typings are a key pillar of the Bash.org pantheon, but they are funny because someone actually made those mistakes. Comic 575 had a similar problem.

For example, suppose I am a webcomic artist who is kind of obsessed with a friend of mine named Megan, and I decide I am going to do something about it. I intend to type to my friend, "I really should go have a talk with Megan" but just at that moment, someone walks in the room and wonders why it smells gross and I say I need to take a shower. So what I type is, "I really should go have a shower with megan" HA HA whoops! how embarrassing! how embarrassingly sexual.

OR MAYBE I am sitting at my computer and a friend asks me if I have gotten a chance to play New Video Game X. And I want to say, "well I haven't had time yet" but JUST AT THAT MOMENT someone asks me why I keep drawing comics about Megan so I think about having sex with her and so I write "well I haven't had sex yet" oh my! how crazy!

MORE so suppose I am sitting at my computer and someone asks me if I want to go eat out at a restaurant tonight and I want to type "why, yes, I would love to eat out tonight" but (who can tell where this is going??) just at that moment My Beloved Megan walks into the room and asks me "why do you keep bugging me? what is your problem?" and I think "YOU! you, megan, are my problem, oh how I love you, megan" so I type "Why yes, I would love to eat you out tonight" and then BAM we've got the oral sex right there.

See how simple that is? Funny perhaps on a very fleeting, surface level reading. But it doesn't take much to look beneath that and see, oh yeah, this is really basic and simple and therefore stupid.

There's also a problem in this comic with the very awkward line between narrator and character - of course, the man at the computer is the narrator, with the opening explanation of the problem and then an illustration from his life. So far so good, except then we return to the narration at the end, separated from the story like the introduction is, yet...clearly a part of the story, but physically distinct from it. Perhaps a better way to have told the story would be closer to how I gave the examples above: Panel 1 would be "What I Meant To Type...", panel 2 would be "But Then..." with the giraffe coming out of the closet (so to speak?) and then Panel 3 would be "And So What Happened..." and you get the punchline there. As it is, the funniest line is the second to last one, not the last one, and so the humor is sort of softened.

Which way is the man facing in the last panel? I assume his head is turned around to look at the giraffe but you can't really tell.

Of course, it is not lost on me that today's comic features yet another reference to randall's favorite hobby, oral sex. It's not that I worry that he's too obsessed with it, I just wish he wouldn't share his obsession with his readers all the time, who maybe don't always want to be reading about someone blowing someone or something else?

And Last, the alt-text confirms for us all once more that Randall does read SMBC, making his copying of it the other day just that much worse. Honestly if you are going to refer to another comic, and steal its jokes, at least link to it along with your other "comics I enjoy." Maybe you could replace Perry Bible Fellowship, which has ended? Maybe?