Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Comic 735: Natural Disaster

i have a floor RIGHT HERE
A lot of people in the comments have been saying they liked this comic more than they usually do, and I agree. This one is pretty good. It has a crazy situation that is resolved in a logical and understandable way, and while some people have claimed that makes it very much like a Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, I think it's a far broader category than just that one other comic, so it is not a problem at all for me.

I also particularly like the fact that he has conveyed a lot of energy in the drawing on this one. Though there are flaws with his artistic ability, as always (in this case, it's hard to tell whether the characters are children or adults, which is important), he still managed to convey a scene dominated by chaos. That's funny, as a general rule. It's easier to do in film, of course, where you have not only moving images but sound as well, but it is certainly possible in a static image as this comic proves. It's the various explosions, they are good for this task.

Anyway, since the comic is pretty straightforward and I don't have much else to say about it, I thought I'd talk a little about the newest blog post Randall has up. We'd been wondering what the purpose of that color survey was, and after two months he finally told us. Of course, the data has no actual value in any scientific sense, as the participants were self-selected (as was the extent of their participation), there was no control group that I can tell, and all the information was self-entered. Much like any online poll, the data is worthless. You'd think a "scientist" like Randall would care about this, but at the same time, I don't think he is trying to present the data as anything more important than it is.

My real point about the post is that all else aside, it's pretty interesting! And while it has a few bits of humor and sketching thrown in, that's clearly not the focus. The point is, Randall has some interesting ideas and he wants to tell you about them. In other words, it is a perfect post for the as-yet-theoretical Randall Munroe Illustrated Picto-Blog! We really have got to make sure he gets the message that a blog is the right outlet for his ideas.

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I think anyone talking about humor on the internet should really read the newest Overcompensating comic. And anyone looking for humor on the internet should really read every Overcompensating comic.
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To cover my lazy ass for the next week, the next three comics will be reviewed by guest HARRISON, who you may recall from this post, which, though he did not know it at the time, was actually his secret tryout for guest posting in the future. it was a tryout which he passed, clearly. enjoy folks. I AM WATCHING YOUR EVERY MOVE.

79 comments:

  1. Yea I thought the color survey results were presented in a very funny and amusing manner.

    Good job Randall!

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  2. Jimbobbowilly (Max William Gore)May 5, 2010 at 12:41 AM

    How could that headset conversation be misinterpreted as being about a dead person? The most recent comic would either be "My Hobby: Being An Asshole" or "My Hobby: Being An Idiot". I'm really not a fan of either.

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  3. Jimbobbowilly (Max William Gore)May 5, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    Of course people might assume that headset dude killed that person, but then he wouldn't be walking about in broad daylight.

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  4. Well, "You deserved this" doesn't really imply murder -- I think the idea is he's more or less directly facing the headstone (once again, it'd be nice if people had faces so we knew this stuff). I agree, though, that the comic would have been improved with a little less absurdism.

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  5. No, one could just assume that the headset guy was disrespecting the dead publicly, in a graveyard. And that works in the context of this joke.

    Now probably the main criticism that will be leveled here is that the joke has been done before. Now, to be honest, I don't mind that about XKCD - because I often haven't heard the joke before, or not so often that it feels tired to me. But that's just me...

    On an unrelated note, XKCD has been putting out better stuff on average than otherwise recently. At least that's my feeling...

    captcha: Shemi. Schemen. German for spectral shapes.

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  6. @Carl: You mentioned a control group. Not to be nitpicky (actually, to be very nitpicky) a control group in this scenario is actually not required. Not even sure how it'd work.

    @Jimbobby: I think it's quite natural for people to assume he's talking to a dead guy. People do that all the time. It's not illogical at all.

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  7. I found no great fault with concepts behind the last two comics (volcano kids and tombstone guy), but I thought the execution was a bit iffy. The one with the kids didn't really grab hold of me so to speak, and the tombstone guy should have said something simpler. It took me several reads to sort of get what it was supposed to mean, but when I subsequently read the caption, the joke sort of hit me, but weakly, since the build-up was so diffuse.

    Randall needs to do that picto-blog thing, seriously.

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  8. I just thought of a possible problem with the color survey, regarding the differences between male and female responses. Randall says "The results were similar across the survey—men and women tended on average to call colors the same names." but I'm not so sure. Male or female, if you're taking the survey, there's a 99% chance (ok, maybe that's a bit of an overestimate) that you read xkcd. If you read xkcd, there's a 100% chance that you're a geek. Maybe this is an unfair assumption, but I would expect geek girls to be less likely to use 20 different names for "green" depending on the shade than I would the average woman.

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  9. 736
    Good god, that's an old joke...

    Also, in case nobody here has noticed it yet: http://www.swfme.com/view/1046212

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  10. color results were funny. comic is decent. last comic was decent. my world is turning upside down.

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  11. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence. Friday will tell if this is a pattern. Either way, good job on managing to make two quality comics in a row, Randall. It doesn't make up for the parade of failure that was the past 100 or so comics (or even the disaster of 631 [may we never forget]), but this is still pretty good. I'm starting to actually expect something other than exasperation when I browse to xkcd.

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  12. Dialogue is iffy, art is lacking (in a case where it does need it), and it has yet more needless fanbase pandering... but the actual joke is witty, and so is the alt-text (for once). It's still not quite the kind of comic worthy of its mass popularity, but it is at least good!


    And I'm with Veslfen. If Friday's is at least partially good, I'm gonna start saying that XKCD is getting better!

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  13. Wait, so everybody is pleased with a comic where the joke is "we were much more intelligent than those other kids" and where the artwork isn't good enough to even convey that the characters within are in fact children?

    It's mistakenly-superior shit like this that the blog should be ripping apart, instead of splitting hairs about whether or not HD TV is crap or not.

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  14. What the hell? Magenta is #FF00FF. Get with it, xkcd fans.

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  15. re. color names:
    > Despite some requests, I’m not planning to make a poster of any of this, since it seems wrong to take advantage of all this volunteer effort for a profit
    Holy fuck. I never expected that.

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  16. Wow, that color blog post was actually pretty cool. I particularly liked the disproportionally used color names for women vs men. Neat!

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  17. The problem I have with 736 ("Cemetery") is that headstones usually have writing on them, so my first inclination was to assume he's talking about the font on the headstone. That seems like a xkcd thing--being more concerned about a font than someone being dead, maybe?

    But of course that interpretation doesn't make sense as you continue reading, and it just ends up with an "eh" joke.

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  18. Wait, wait, I take back what I said about the new comic. As a friend pointed out, it's another really bad case of "show, don't tell", as Randall just TELLS you that the guy is talking on a headset instead of drawing a second panel showing it!


    Realising that sorta pushes my opinion away from "it's good enough" now.

    ...it was fun while it lasted...

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  19. "the artwork isn't good enough to even convey that the characters within are in fact children?"

    'Cause adults are often just slightly taller than the back of a chair.

    Use some fucking common sense, guy.

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  20. "As a friend pointed out, it's another really bad case of "show, don't tell", as Randall just TELLS you that the guy is talking on a headset instead of drawing a second panel showing it!"

    This is just sad. Your friend reminded you that there's only one proper way to tell a joke in web-comic form, and since this comic doesn't fit into that rigid rule, you suddenly changed your opinion of it?

    And you people call the XKCD fans mindless...

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  21. @Jimbbobbowilly: All of the My hobby comics are about being an asshole. It needs to be a little more specific. This one is "My hobby: Ranting on a cellphone in inappropriate places"

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  22. In your critique of comic 735, did you really criticize the artistic ability of a man who draws comics using stick figures? I mean, really?

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  23. Anon 8:49: What's wrong with that?

    The critiques here against the latest comic didn't really resonate in me. The basic thought I got was, well, Randall already did jokes with headsets. This one doesn't really add any new spin to it.

    Captcha: Skerbonp. A character from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I presume?

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  24. As said before, monday's comic was very good. Today's, not so much.

    Luckily, it's not "My Hobby: talking to people on a headset looking at tombstones", but let's get this straight: is he looking at the tombstone? Because, being a faceless stick figure, he could just be walking along it. But if he is... why? There's no reasonable situation that could explain this. Who the hell talks on a cell phone(or on a headset) facing a tombstone?

    Also, isn't it obvious? I mean, how disrespectful is it to be talking on a phone in a place of reverence to the dead, and you'd be surprised that people would be bothered?

    So, it's goody, but not very good. It's a contrived and forced execution, and it could really use a horizon line or a background. And faces!

    Mol uit.

    PS.: damned OpenID is moody...

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  25. The colour survey was bad. It was pretty much just "Look, I can annoy people to the point where they write funny things in boxes!"

    The comic, yeah, it's pretty good for xkcd standards. I disagree with you Carl, I believe that the fact that you don't know whether the figures are children or adults just makes the last line more funny.

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  26. Anon 7:52: yeah I thought that was the joke too, but from the dialogue in the comic I can't actually derive both "he's arguing with the corpse" and "they're arguing about the tombstone font".

    Anyone up to trying to parse it?



    Given what the punchline is, a better delivery would be:
    A series of shots of apparently unconnected, odd places - a graveyard; a psychiatric evaluation room; a Pentecostal service; an auction.
    And then the text at the bottom, "I've discovered the worst places to argue on a hands-free headset".

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  27. This is a good hands-free joke.

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  28. I am in general agreement here, and the color names was pretty funny, but nobody got pissed off at the white-knightyness of "I weep for my gender?" I wouldn't have found it annoying if not for the unbelievably irritating trend he has of making comments like this all the time. Which isn't to say that his point (about the most common male color names) isn't funny. But it would've worked fine without the reference to "ladies, I'm much better than all other men" that Randall is so into.

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  29. I'll admit it. I laughed out loud for a good minute at the most common color names by gender. See, Randy, THIS is how you do deadpan humor. Maybe it helped that he didn't supply the material?

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  30. Oh haha Keep, that was great, thank you.

    I dunno, this comic was meh for me. I wasn't irritated by it and it wasn't poor, maybe "fair" is a good descriptor. Could be that I still live like that so I didn't find it unusual or absurd enough to be funny, maybe.

    What I did like is, though, that Carl liked it! And the blog post! Nice to see you being so constructive and positive Carl, if you're reading this. (No I'm not a Randall Fan... Ranfall... Fandall... Ahem, where was I? Yeah, rage rage rage kinda gets old at one point I guess.)

    By the way, since you're reading this, how about making the future comic posts in advance, with just a number? Just put up a "745 Discussion" page so the topics stay in their posts. I know it's a kind of a meme here by now but it gets really confusing.

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  31. what is a scrotum

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  32. Pretty sure "Holocaust Memorial Museum" or "Vietnam Veterans Memorial" (lol US-centrism) would both be worse places than a boring ol' cemetery, Randall. But those would be hard to draw.

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  33. I thought the "I weep for my gender" wasn't so uncalled for. I mean I HATE white knight Randall, but I don't really think this is an instance of that.

    It's like when your school's football team does really, really bad and you're like "I weep for fellow ___ University fans." (or something. I don't have realistic dialogue either, but I hope you get my point.) It's not like you're saying I COULD PLAY FOOTBALL BETTER, but you are just commiserating with the shame felt by your team's pathetic display.

    Anyways I thought it was a not necessarily superior statement.

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  34. 736: At first, I was reading it as a zombie complaining about the typeface on his tombstone. Didn't work and sort of ruined the joke for me. I also thought 476 did the joke better.

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  35. 476 did the joke fucking terribly, largely because it was dense and inscrutable. There's a bunch of half-jokes and visual tidbits, none of which add up to much of anything, and then there's unbearably dated Topikality that wasn't particularly clever two years ago. I mean, if it had just been the two stick figures having a conversation and the caption below the panel, it might've been unremarkable, but the graph just makes everything madness.

    It would be particularly sad if such a botched telling of a joke-oid actually WERE better than 736. I'm undecided on the matter.

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  36. number 735 was awesome; number 736 was terrible

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  37. Seconded; the joke in 476 would have been funnier without the graph, which could be said for maybe 70% of xkcd comics with graphs (including, ironically, several of the comics that contain only graphs).

    I do like 736 though. The dialogue is a bit stilted, and I agree that the cemetary is not the worst place to hold that conversation (alternate caption: "the cemetary is a horrible place..."), but I did laugh when I saw it at first, and that's always a plus. For some unscrutible reason, my morbid mind enjoys the idea of someone getting assassinated for choosing the wrong font.

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  38. Look at the stick figure on the far right. His height compared to the chair makes it obvious that he is a child, not an adult.

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  39. So the other two are adults?

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  40. The other two are about the same size?

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  41. Yeah, 476 would be better if it were more focused (remove graph), but I still found it better than 736. Even if 476 should've picked one joke and ran with it, I didn't have to stop and figure out what the author was trying to say.

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  42. 476 suffered from really poor pacing. Two panels would have worked better, the first one with a shot from behind the guy (since it is stick figures, maybe a girl so that you could just draw the hair where the face should be), apparently ranting at the headstone...then you switch the view and see that he (or she) actually has a hands free.

    It would certainly read better than the way it is now, and it wouldn't be that hard to draw.Of course, as has been said a lot for other comics, this joke really suffers from the limitations of stick figures.

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  43. And by 476, I mean 736 naturally.

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  44. ah so i need to get to the end of the comic to realize they're all children. makes sense.

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  45. Did the kindergarten-level dialogue not give it away?

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  46. 735. My god yes. I had a good monday, and that strip did nothing to dent it.

    736 - I quite liked it. I read it as the shocked onlookers seeing him rant at the dead person. As in, YOU WOULDN'T BE DEAD IF YOU'D USED COMIC SANS.

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  47. "We need to cool and solidify the surface layer" = super kindergarten.

    Plus dialog has never been xkcds strong point.

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  48. 735 is of the "Hey guys remember this cool thing" variety, something Randall really needs to stop doing.

    736 would have been considered "clever" (if still not funny) about a decade ago, but not now.

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  49. I really liked one thing about 736: the joke was on me. I was legitimately expecting Randall to have done a comic about killing something over typography, so I was especially surprised when I got to the caption.

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  50. wow i was surprised this week. All three comics aren't lazy pass-offs and actually made me amused.

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  51. What, it isn't Friday yet how would you know.
    Although I will say that first Monday's amused me, which I enjoyed but didn't think really meant anything, then the blog post interested the hell out of me, meaning he'd done two good things in two days, so Wednesday I was a bit hopeful, and then, admittedly for the reason anon 7:38 stated, I enjoyed Wednesdays. I do think it was clever in its own right, if flawed. If Friday's is legitimately good once again, "I will remove three of my spinal columns and eat my own assshole".

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  52. Well, he's, um, he's doing something different with his art. The lines are fatter, and wobblier. And, um, hrm.

    Let's just kind of go back and imagine that we're still on 735, but with "As a child, I knew this day would come" instead of the actual caption.

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  53. Jimbobbowilly (Max William Gore)May 6, 2010 at 9:12 PM

    MOST RECENT COMIC: My ability to smell was removed, that is why I have a hole in my head.

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  54. Well, I guess it was too much to ask for a whole week of non-suck.

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  55. "We need to cool and solidify the surface layer" = super kindergarten.

    Believe it or not, it was for some of us. This is is still a horrible comic though. I don't see why Carl likes it.

    I actually like the two that came after this.

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  56. No, that is not kindergarten for anyone.

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  57. guys i just wanted to say

    it's rob's fault entirely my post for wednesday's comic isn't up yet. fuck that guy amirite?

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  58. son, you haven't emailed me shit. I can't post a review that I don't have.

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  59. Holy crap this yogurt shit is cheap 90s sitcom material to begin with, but then it goes and presents the joke so badly that it is actually even less funny than it should be.

    When I first got to the final panel I thought it was supposed to be a flashforward to some insane future where people masturbate their irradiated rectangular penises while wondering whether they have passed the expiration date.

    "What happens then?" I wondered. "Can they purchase a fresh penis or have they flouted their only opportunity to reproduce within the window period mandated by their fascist government?"

    I didn't know, but I dreaded the xkcd fanfic which may have presented theories.

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  60. I've never seen a perishable product with an expiration date that did not include the year, just like I have never heard a news anchor or television presenter use the term backslash when a forward slash was intended.

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  61. Then again, I do not live in the U.S. so I am not the target audience for these 'jokes'. Disregard everything I said.

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  62. I'll take your cheap 90's sitcom material and raise you a cheap 80's Garfield strip:

    http://garfield.nfshost.com/1987/01/01/

    Go out in a blaze of Dadaist glory Randall, there is still time

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  63. I'd like to note that the alt-text for 737 is just a repetition of the joke in the strip.

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  64. oh, and @anon 12.52: you have to not live in the US for this one. Expiration date: May 12th? It's a clear reference to the death of Labour Party leader John Smith of a heart attack on May 12th 1994. He's basically saying, "is the Labour Party still good?". And because it's May 7th and the hung parliament means Gordon Brown is still PM, Third Panel Guy says, "yes, it is". But satirically: the yoghurt (the party) is still rotten to the core, no matter how much they reason that it isn't!

    ****, "Phenomenal" - Ebert

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  65. I wish it was phenomenal, because then it wouldn't last very long.

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  66. Wait, why does the guy who's complaining about the age suddenly change his mind? Is there supposed to be some kind of reverse-psychology thing going on? Did Randall actually eat some expired yoghurt today and hallucinate that this comic was a good idea? At least I know I'm not hallucinating, because otherwise I'd be laughing.

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  67. also why does the guy sitting down offer to throw it out when the other guy is the one complaining/already has it in hand? Surely not just so the yogurt hater could say "NO IT STILL MIGHT BE GOOD." surely not.

    Terrible comic on all fronts from the uglier than usual stick figures to the dialog to the actual "joke" itself.

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  68. 737 is like a little ball of everything xkcdsucks complains about. When I saw those stick figure heads and read the title text, I thought Randall was trolling.

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  69. wow

    that was bad
    -alt text explaining the joke
    -post punchline dialoge
    -conversational humor (that even then wouldn't be funny)
    -garfield-style humor

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  70. 737 was just pointless, meaningless. Boring.

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  71. #736 - Best one in a long time!! I kept expecting him to take a good idea nad mangle it like RanDULL always does but he didn't and the alt-text even made it better. I even had an honest GOOMH moment because I've had people look at me with their bluetooth on and I can't tell who they're talking to: me, their spouse or the phone.

    #737 - Did I mention how much I liked #736?

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  72. Re: the stick figures changing their minds,

    That part does make sense to me. The guy sitting down relents to say "Okay, I'll throw it out," then
    the complainer says "no, it might still be good!" with heavy sarcasm now that his point has been made.

    Doesn't really make it any funnier, though.

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  73. Oh no Randall has dashed my hopes and dreams I don't know how I can go on now.

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  74. artist at a drawing board, drawing a bluetooth headset causes awkward situations strip
    friend : when was that joke written?
    randall: May 4th
    friend: were they using the gregorian or julian calendar that year?
    randall: it might still be good!

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  75. I have never seen a food product with an expiration date that doesn't include the year. But then he doesn't even need to have done that, since the "joke," such as it is, is "this item is so old it predates our current calendar system." The alt text is more of a joke than the strip is.

    Also, an unopened yogurt shouldn't have stink lines coming out of it, no matter how old it is.

    I wrote my own XKCD-style dialogue for this strip based on the premise of ambiguous expiration dates, that may not suck less but at least makes more sense:

    A: Gross! I just found a yogurt in your fridge with the expiration date 12/5/08.
    B: For all you know that yogurt is still good until 2108.
    A: The only thing more expired than this yogurt is a Y2K joke.
    B: And how do you know Bryan Adams wasn't singing about the summer of 2069?

    And then the alt text would read "KILL ME NOW"

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  76. I really don't know what the fuck is up with those yogurt characters' motivations.

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