Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Comic 720: Recipe for Disaster

oh my, denizens of the webcomic critique blogosphere! How I have missed you all. So much has happened in my absence - some terrible comics, some crazy rants from Crazy Rob, the new Wigu Comics page got started (this is a big deal and I will write more about it later), and more importantly, there was some kind of crazy insanity which has turned the whole xkcd forum into some kind of stanford-prison-experiment-esque collection of childish nazis (i will write more about that later too). I CHOSE THE WORST WEEK TO LEAVE THIS BLOG.

Oh my, and of course, the first round of my own contest ended! I'll post in a few days with 3-5 finalists and explain (once I make up my mind) how we'll pick a winner. Is that all for now? I think so. I'm getting caught upon all the comments that were left while I was gone. I probably won't be able to respond to most or even any of them, but I do try to read them all. I also have to take a few more days to get caught up on e-mails. Alright - are we done here? I think so. Let's get today's comic.

recipes...FOR DISASTER???????

This comic reminds me of a joke. Here it is:

Q: How many Profession Members does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: X! 1 to change the bulb, and X-1 to act in a manner stereotypical of that profession.

(laughter all around).

I like that joke because it makes fun of actual, specific lightbulb jokes, most of which are pretty dumb (credit where its due: I forget where I heard that joke but it's pretty close to these comics). The point that lightbulb jokes are playing off of is, "what if people of a certain group acted in its stereotypical way while doing an ordinary activity?" Because obviously everyone changes a lightbulb the same way. And what this meta-joke is saying is, "hey, everyone who tells regular lightbulb jokes: You're all being pretty stupid."

That is, by way of very long introduction, my message to the author of this comic: you are basically being pretty stupid.

The joke is, what if computer scientists used computer science for everything? HA HA, it would lead to silly consequences.

--We had to stop inviting the medical school kids to our dinner parties, because they kept bringing us medicine instead of food!
--We had to stop asking the archaeology guys to come to dinner, because they tried to feed us on broken old shards of pottery which were gross and dirty and of historical value.
--We had to tell the graphic arts department not to come to our dinner parties because instead of food, they just brought crappy comics.

HA! it is so implausible!

It all reallly just reminds of the other dinosaur comic that my search brought up. Randall is like T Rex, and I am like Utahraptor. Does that make my point make more sense? I hope so.

Lastly, two words about the art:
-Look under the table. See all those lines? what the hell are they? You think they are going to be like the legs of the table or of the people at the table, but then they completely aren't.
-Why are there hearts coming out of the cup in the middle?

That is all the writing i am going to do for now, my new mission is to figure out what the HELL was happening on the xkcd forums while I was away!



  1. Carl, you forgot to mention how that guy is holding his laptop. Seriously, look how that guy is holding his laptop. A laptop should never be held like that by a a guy.

  2. maybe he's about to hammer the guy with the skittles over the head with it. that would be FREAKIN AWESOME RANDALL HOW COME YOU NEVER DO STUFF LIKE THAT

    captcha: witis. i.e. wit is not this comic's forte.

  3. Carl: those certainly could be their legs. The guy in the middle is turned to his right a bit, and the guy on the left (our right) of the table is turned to his right a little less.

  4. Michael: what are they sitting on

  5. This post's title is also a quest on a game that nobody should play. Runescape.

    How lame of you to title a post after something that already titles something else? FAIL

    LOOK! One quick google and most of the top ten results are Runescape! SEE!


  6. Anon 8:35: Good point.

  7. I could be silly and say "a giant keyboard drawer". :-)

  8. Okay, I lurk sporadically around here (alternately agreeing with you guys and thinking you're pretentious killjoys), but I just have to say this and then I return to the occasional shadows whence I came. When my advisor was a grad student, he worked on a (then) pretty new AI technique. Because an early example system for this technique was a recipe generator, his group actually did have an annual computer-recipe potluck for a while. My advisor can quote some truly horrible dishes that came out of this process, though as far as I know they never inflicted them on other departments.

    So... Reality may be approximately as strange, simplistic, or unfunny as Randall Munroe, in isolated cases, I guess? Or computer scientists are REALLY good at acting like stereotypical versions of themselves, which is an assertion unlikely to draw disagreement from me (but apparently offends by reason of MED STUDENTS AREN'T LIKE THAT THOUGH YOU GUYS AMIRITE? around here).

  9. So, a Flatland joke. It's pretty terrible but the alt text is hilarious. So props for that, Randall.

  10. Hey Randall thanks for letting us know about Some Game You Enjoyed! I appreciate the hot tip.

  11. Ha, I was just wondering if it was too early to start discussing the new one. I disagree completely with Sir Thopas - I thought the strip itself was pretty good (easily the most amusing xkcd in a while, and possibly even funny on a wider scale), but then the alt text reminded me why I want to punch Randall Munroe in the throat.

  12. @Femalethoth: There is no demo.

  13. To be fair, anon, he is Randall Munroe, and while not a gaming journalist, he still MIGHT have played a super early version.

  14. The new one seems kinda clever at first... but why does Randall have to ruin everything with lesbians?
    (I mean that in a sense specific to Randall, of course.)

  15. I have to agree with Steve here.

    I was pleasantly surprised at what I actually perceived as quality and enjoyed the comic even more when XKCD Explained pointed out that the square said "What's up?". The Alt text however makes me rage.

  16. I actually kind of liked the alt text, since instead of just beating a joke into the ground, for once it was actually developing the idea further: what a classic stick figure would be interpreted as in the Flatland setting. But yeah, the fact that it's another SEXkcd sours things a bit.

  17. I dont like the new one- The joke is essentially self contained in the last panel, and it feels like a shitty sitcom one liner.

    But that's just me

  18. Basically every Carl review is: "Oh ha ha! This is what happens when X does Y! Comic is terrible"


    And then more crappy sarcasm.

  19. Oh.My.God. 721 is one of the worst XKCD's ever.

    Especially the title text. Wow. Let's just make a really unfunny comic so we can add an orgy to the title text, shall we?
    Guys, I expect one hell of a rant on 721.

  20. This comic makes me think Randall discovered http://www.mezzacotta.net/mezzacafe/ and used it as "inspiration" (read: stole the clever idea and made it less funny).

  21. 721's comic is basically just http://marctenbosch.com/miegakure/ copied into smaller boxes with a spongebob joke at the end. To make it worse, another sex joke in the alt text. Urgh.

  22. What is so amusing about the latest comic? Randall is really just making a random observation that would make, at best, a completely boring blog post, and then adds a cheesy "joke" with a cheesy pun at the end to justify it as a comic? I suppose the alt text really plays off nicely the geometrical concepts of Flatland, but it's worrying that it's merely relegated to the alt text position AND it revels in obsession with sex.

    But yeah, at least it tries to actually DEVELOP an idea.

    Captcha: Vingsit. Vingsiting xkcd is a pain, but I always compensate it with a vingsit to xkcd Sucks.

  23. Hm, let me see... Randall played a new game and read Flatland. And then he ran out of punchlines, so he just threw out a random pop cultural based punchline.

    Frankly, this comic is just boring. I am interested in Megakure now, though...

    BTW, Gwers... I think a crucial point here is: were they actually making those recipes, or just quoting whatever came up?

    CAPTCHA: restore. Whoa, that's actually a word!

  24. ...for the record, I'm pretty sure the hearts over that one dish are actually flies.

  25. So, is this xkcd an advertisement for Miegakure (ill timed since a public beta is not out) or is it Randall bragging about being in a private beta?

  26. once upon a time, I was shown a comic that had a drawing of a horizontal line with a vertical line coming out of it in the middle. Underneath was the caption "Flatland lesbian porn"

    He said he wouldn't run it, which is understandable because on it's own it's a bit minimal. I'm not going to comment on that, because I'm not familiar with flatland.

  27. He's probably just making a reference now so he looks cool and prescient when the game comes out. Trouble is, some people won't have a clue what's going on.

    (The lesbian orgy sounds a little funnier when explained.)

  28. Was I the only person annoyed that the "square" looks more like a trapezoid?

  29. Miss Dashwood, I think perspective is in play here. United with Randall's shoddy art skills, though, it's understandable.

    And I admit, the lesbian orgy thing is funny. Creepily sexually obsessed, but a bit funny.

    Also, guess what I got today on twitter? That's right, someone advertising today's xkcd as being "ingenious".


  30. So, today's xkcd: main was urgh (reads more like a reference comic than anything else: HAY, GUYS, FLATLAND WAS RIGHT), but I did like the alt-text. It had the right having-to-make-your-brain-click-thingy that Carl sometimes mentions makes for a good joke.

  31. Robby is very easy to antagonize, actually. All these years on the internets and he is still a n00b

  32. wait, isn't the internet for arguing and flame wars?

  33. Michelle, my belle, these are words that go together well, nigger hell.

  34. So what happens here is:
    Randy has heard about a game that revolves manipulating extra dimensions.
    Extra dimensions...extra dimen...HEY FLATLAND!
    Alright that is the set up dealt with!
    But there is no joke yet. Hm, a joke about a square...square...squ...HEY SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!

    The end.

    Post-punchline dialogue.

    And wait I just went to the Miegakure site and Flatland is explicitly mentioned there. So I guess what Randy has brought to the table is...Spongebob Squarepants?

    Alt-text meh. A rare visual joke but he opted to explain it with words.

  35. Damn. I wish I had read Flatland, because now I realize that the alt-text is something other than sex for sex's sake. I admit, I laughed.

    Also, does anybody else hate isometric platformers controlled by keyboard? They always have controls like "Push 'Down' to go down-left." I could never get my head around them.

  36. Me again, just realized that my previous post could be read as a negative comment.
    Just to clarify: I just wanted to say that Randall did the very same thing every author, comedian.. pretty much everybody on the planet does and his results were, as most of the time, pretty amusing.

    btw: "omgzorz!!! his head is totally OPEN and it's not ATTACHED to his body!!!!!!!" ...please don't put that in your critique again, that's just totally lame and oooold.

  37. fake Keep, you aren't very good at this, are you?

    and you aren't even making a compelling defense even apart from the fact that you are a clear fraud. "Randall did the very same thing every author, comedian.. pretty much everybody on the planet does." yes, that is why he is so incredibly boring--Randall is completely unoriginal and doesn't add anything new or interesting, at all. he is just distilled essence of other people.

    related: I think Randy saw Person #1's boxes and decided to try it out.

  38. See to me, the joke is not "What would computer scientists do if they cooked a meal?" Its "what would I do if I lost all perspective?"

    This sort of comic highlights something that I think this site sometimes misses in Randall's writing. I think he's trying to say "This is an impulse that I fight. The urge to zealously apply my own geeky impulses to ordinary situations."

    A lot of these guys are what Randall would be if he was a little less inhibited. He'd try to use smoke bombs to escape from difficult conversations with his girlfriend (I'll admit, its been a while since he's written a comic that funny.) He'd do detailed analyses whenever he went shopping. He'd use velociraptors in word problems while teaching math.

    I'm not saying its a great comic. I only found it mildly amusing, and I agree that this comic has not made me laugh hard in a long time (even less so since you guys started ruining it for me. CURSE YOU!!!)

  39. The text says the orgy is being overseen by, not participated in by, the priest. This is because his head is not attached to his body.

  40. Anon 8:38, point. It's something that grants him simpathy from the geek fandom, I think. It is also incredibly stupid in hindsight.

    Jon, that's a keen observation, but would that mean Randall KNOWS his heads aren't attached? Because it seems like he just doesn't care...

  41. Rob: "yes, that is why he is so incredibly boring--Randall is completely unoriginal and doesn't add anything new or interesting, at all. he is just distilled essence of other people."

    I'd like to return that.. just replace "Randall" with "Rob".
    Your rants - uninspired and boring. Nothing I haven't read a million times before, written by people who are much more talented than you are.
    Your comments - predictable and childish.
    Your overall writing - meh. Most of the time one gets the feeling you're just trying too hard to sound sophisticated. And you're repetitive as hell.

    You see, opinions are like assholes..

  42. that's the fake Keep I know and love. "keep" it coming!

    "I'd like to return that.. just replace "Randall" with "Rob"."

    okay! I have never said that I was doing anything original here, but hey, anything to distract from the fact that Randy is boring as fuck, amirite?

    "Nothing I haven't read a million times before, written by people who are much more talented than you are."

    this is my favorite kind of insult, because it basically says "what you say in your rants is true/accurate/a valid insight, but I'm your fantroll so I have to complain about it."

    unfortunately it is necessary to write them, because your cuddlefish allies keep making the same arguments that these incredibly basic ideas that you have read a million times by this imaginary class of being you call "people who are much more talented than me." each one, by the way, has had a noticeable effect in reducing the number of comments complaining about the ideas I discuss. so.

    "Your comments - predictable and childish."

    that's the point, Margaret.

    "Your overall writing - meh. Most of the time one gets the feeling you're just trying too hard to sound sophisticated. And you're repetitive as hell."

    it's so cute that you claim to taken the time to read my other writing! though "sophisticated" is the last thing try to be or sound. you should probably shoot for another word if you want to sound plausible.

    overall, I give your comment a 6/10 on the fantroll scale. you could do better but a marked improvement over your latest efforts. "keep" up the improvements and you'll be my #1 fantroll in no time!

  43. "I have never said that I was doing anything original here" - You should have! THAT would have been really good comedy, dude!

    "this is my favorite kind of insult, because it basically says "what you say in your rants is true/accurate/a valid insight, but I'm your fantroll so I have to complain about it."" - A lot of things you say in your rants are accurate, I'll give you that. But on the other hand.. most of the time you write stuff like "You see, every story has pacing." - WOW, that's really something..!

    "each one, by the way, has had a noticeable effect in reducing the number of comments complaining about the ideas I discuss." - that's just pretentious. Show me the data or STFU?!

    "though "sophisticated" is the last thing try to be or sound." - haha, don't worry, you're not.

    All the other stuff you said - childish and predictable again, so no need to be addressed.

    Hasta luego

  44. that's not what pretentious means, dude

  45. "a : making usually unjustified or excessive claims (as of value or standing)
    b : expressive of affected, unwarranted, or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature"

    sounds exactly like what I was going for..
    but you're the native speaker so you probably know it better.

  46. "The joke is, what if computer scientists used computer science for everything? HA HA, it would lead to silly consequences."

    Silly consequences are the basis of situational humor, as far as I can tell. If the above quote was proof that this comic was unfunny then no sitcom would EVER be funny. Okay, so most sitcoms are unfunny, but they're unfunny the same reason this comic is unfunny: execution.

  47. Still waiting for a reaction! I want to improve my english here! So please.. could you, Rob, or anyone else tell me who is right on the whole "pretentious" thing?

  48. Keep you silly prat, excessive claims as of value or standing. Not 'excessive claims as of numerical data'.





  50. also can I just note that "show me the data" is kind of a bullshit demand? I'm not keeping statistics on the posts, dude. this is why I said "noticeable." I've simply noticed that after I've made a post on a subject, the arguments attacking what that post discussed decline.

    you can go through the comment archives yourself if you want? I mean, it's public data. if you really doubt my claims it's all there.

  51. also, fake Keep, you missed a perfect fantroll opportunity here. you could have said "I guess you're the expert on being pretentious." I am very disappointed.

  52. The thing is that the genetic algo would eventually give a nice output. Care to revise your jokes to show the generality of the comic to also be designed in such a way that the results would improve with time?

  53. @anon 12:19pm

    Now if THAT had been the alt-text I would have chuckled (something like "sorry about the comic, my G Algorythm needs about 700 more comics to optimize")

    Sadly, thanks to the fanbase of xkcd, this comic has probably reached its evolutionary peak.

  54. silly randall, doesn't he know that "time as the 4th dimension" is an outdated concept that was rendered obsolete by the concept of spacetime?

  55. Rob: You're the one with the unproven claim.
    Prove it or live with people like me who say you're full of shit. Your choice, I don't care.

    btw: I claim that your rants increased the "Rob is a fucking idiot" and the "Rob is a talentless hick" type of comments by a noticeable amount! That means your rants actually decreased your IQ and talent! That's statistically significant!!

    Okay, now we're even on pointless and unproven shitty statements.

  56. I dunno, Rob might be a fat, pedophiliac monster but I never really thought of him as a hick.

  57. you always gotta stay open-minded buddy

  58. okay, first:

    the only claim I made is that there was a noticeable decline in the comments of the nature I am complaining about. I made no attempt to interpret this information,


    "I claim that your rants increased the "Rob is a fucking idiot" and the "Rob is a talentless hick" type of comments by a noticeable amount!"

    um, this is true. they increase my visibility and directly attack the commenters, and make thorough arguments.


    you are really asking me to prove something which is unprovable. I mean, it's an observation that several other people have made which is easily explainable--most likely, reading the posts and/or having them be visible on the sidebar makes people realize how incredibly obvious it is to post these objections. it also encourages them to channel their objection into the post in question, disputing the post rather than making the same rote objection.

    but I mean, you can keep thinking that they've had no effect if you want.

  59. dehdesh: "Recipe For Disaster" is actually the name of a kick-ass song by Career Suicide. I'd like to think that the title of Carl's post is a homage to this great hardcore punk band from Toronto, but it's more likely that he just used a common expression which is loosely related to the xkcd comic that is being reviewed.

  60. Professional Mole: No, they actually made them. I mean, you can't tell just by looking at recipes sometimes, right? Things that sound terrible wind up actually being pretty good. Who knows, maybe deep-fried Skittles are really tasty.

    Anyway, I gather some of the computer recipes were unexpected gems and others were the culinary equivalent of that sex-dice cartoon.

  61. deep fried pickles are great, as is deep fried:
    ice cream
    candy of any kind

    Also, hamburgers + nutella is pretty great too.

    so yeah, you never know.

  62. Rob, now you're TOTALLY going to show numerical and statistical data on the complaints, and you're going to draw it as a chart with funny jokes and shit, just like Randall, because Randall rules, haha, DUDE, lol, GOOMH GOOMH GOOMH

  63. The acronym "GOOMH", when read as an onomatopoeia, sort of sounds like a zombie grunting.


  64. About 720 :
    This is another Rabdall strip that I would be passionate about if HE ACTUALLY DID IT!
    This kind of stunt or pet experiment is a great thing to do, then blog about. But the thing is, when just blurted out as an idea that would have odd consequences, then it doesn't mean much at all.
    With my some friends at uni, we often joke about this kind of thing, I came up with an idea of having a genetic-algorithm for picking out clothes to try and develop the optimal style for picking up girls (length and success of conversation with identical opening lines as a survival factor) and while this is funny when you point out some funny situations I wouldn't make a blog or a comic about it unless I actually went through with it.
    It's as though David Blaine, instead of doing his stunts would make comics of a guy holding his breath for ages, that really wouldn't get the same attention.

  65. Actually, I think it's funny because of the plausibility. Yes, there really are comp sci people who would do things like that.

  66. @Timofei Perhaps, or perhaps you are just trying to cause an argument on the internet! I dare you to challenge my athority. You can't because athority isn't a word (even if 60,500 web results say it is)! Plus Google never lies (except maybe 23,500 times), and it never fails (except for 36,700,000 times). Google will conquer all! (via all to be exact) Don't know what they want with a little stretch of road, but hey who's to judge?