Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Comics 779 and 780: So Close, And Yet, So Far

I return! As I had called away mysteriously, I was unable to post about comic 779 on time and rather than skip it or post a full post, I'm going to combine it with the next one, a move that is only slightly precedented on this blog (but which is quite frankly not a bad idea). This is mostly out of necessity, but it also happens that they have some things in common which I think are worth touching on. Specifically, they both are in some ways closely approaching a joke, but each makes a crucial mistake that sets the comic's value back enormously.

Let's take a look!

no not this one
[Alt: Don't need any, thanks. I have a backscattering fetish.]

First, a note about the art - some readers expresses the theory that that four right-most men (not counting Mr. Hat) are all the same character, portrayed walking up to and away from the Viagra stand. Perhaps that is the case - they all look the same and do have the same suitcase. Alas, the art does not make it clear. I'm going to have to assume that they represent different people; that would be fitting with the general comic convention and without any evidence we can't pretend that he did anything else.

SO - on to the comic and its flaw. This is related to the fact that people seemed to be in one of two camps with regard to the joke here: Either the viagra is there because the men going through the scanner are worried about how their dicks will appear (ie, they will appear small, ie, they will appear correctly sized), or the joke is that it is there so that the guard will have to look at their dicks. Either way, it's a dick joke and we know how I feel about those. We also know how Randall Munroe feels about such jokes, or at least did, before he ran out of inspiration and started making the kind of comics that he had formerly railed against.

ANYWAY, the question is, which joke is intended? It's an important distinction because one joke is funny and one joke isn't. It's a question, I think, of power relationships - does the guard have power over the passengers, because he sees them naked and they have basically no choice in the matter? Or do they have the power, because the guard has to stay there and watch naked person after naked person, while the passengers get to fly off to exciting places? It can be taken in lots of different ways.

I think that if you have to make a dick joke - and you never, ever do - the common thing to do would be to play off of the widely spoken of idea that men are worried about the sizes of their dicks. So the idea that a man, thinking that a stranger would briefly be able to see a representation of his dick, would deliberately take prescription medicine to increase its size is, perhaps, a place where a joke might live.

Alas, that's not what the joke actually is. Randall could have made this comic quite easily, but instead, he added the security guard saying "oh god," making the joke "Ha ha, that man will have to look at larger dicks than he would otherwise have to." Which is just...stupid.

Link

i refuse to believe it!
[Alt: There are two or three songs out there with beeps in the chorus that sound exactly like the clock radio alarm I had in high school, and hearing it makes me think my life since junior year has been a dream I'm about to wake up from.]

This comic also has a serious flaw based on a good idea, though unlike the first comic, its flaw is more central and ultimately means that the comic is irredeemable.

The flaw is this: The joke is based on the idea that you make a very popular song, but you insert noises that make it annoying. If you think about this premise even a little bit, the problem jumps out: If the song is really annoying, it won't be popular. And, similarly, if a song gets really popular, then a lot of people don't find it annoying. It can't possibly be both, because people don't generally intentionally listen to music that they hate, over and over again.

A more realistic, and far better, version of this joke was done in comic #70, though like the original dick comic above, it's possible that that was so long ago that Randall has simply forgotten it ever existed.

Anyway, even if such a song did somehow become popular, after the first time hearing it, people would probably realize that the song has those noises and not be surprised each time they heard it. People aren't stupid like that. Surely people will begin to speak to one another and say: "Album [whatever] would be good, but what is up with the noises?" It's not like you could stealthily sneak the noises into the song, such that people only notice them after the song is popular. Though I do think that would be a fun idea. Alas, it's not what Randall is proposing here.

Also, wouldn't people get suspicious that the honking sound was coming not from outside the car, but from their speakers? One can tell from which direction sound is coming, after all.

Also, Anon pointed out that he spelled "brilliant" wrong, quite clearly missing the second "I." Take a look! To his credit, he did spell "guaranteed" correctly; that can be a tricky one!

------
So, there you have it. Two comics where, like so many, Randall could have used the editorial guidance of a friend or colleague, but didn't. His loss, really.

-----
i hope my next 500 posts are as much fun as my first 500! thank you all for reading. this would be a great time to reread the entire blog from the beginning.

141 comments:

  1. Congrats on 500 posts, I've gone back and read each one! I'm tired now...

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  2. The other great thing about #780 is that the drawing is entirely unnecessary. I saw the goatkcd version first and it did not change the joke at all.

    What's left is a sort of amusing idea maybe worthy of a Twitter post. Though, he'd have to remove some of the unnecessary words to fit it in 140 characters.

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  3. well, wait

    people who can't get erections but want them in line to be searched prior to boarding are paying $20 to get erections

    I said people who can't because that's what Viagra is. If just thinking about boobs doesn't get you erect, you have a disorder and there are drugs that can help. So these people are some of those with problems getting erections on their own.

    but they want erections in line, right there, so badly that they're willing to pay money for it. If this were about punking the security guy, it would be free. No, these people really need to get hard now.

    why do they need erections right now

    what

    the hell

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  4. Argh- please don't suggest reading the blog from the beginning- I've already spent weeks of my life re-reading the entire Sluggy Freelance archives to get up to speed after a long time away from the comic, and I'M ALMOST DONE! I'm moving on Friday and I need to do other things now than be on the Internet.

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  5. > If just thinking about boobs doesn't get you erect, you have a disorder and there are drugs that can help.

    a disorder called THE GAY

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  6. Re: 781
    Shitty joke.
    and then the alt-text fucks up the date
    its 1977, not 1973.

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  7. Yeah, inb4 he corrects that

    I mean, he's a nerd, this is one of the few things he's supposed to get right

    what a failure

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  8. If I recall correctly, the original first draft of Star Wars was written in 1973, which would explain how Randall fucked it up so bad, but it doesn't work for his joke so, yeah, alt-text isn't salvageable. Taking bets on how long it takes him to fix it without comment.

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  9. GOOD REVIEWS CARL.
    I feel they are harsh but fair.

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  10. Maybe it's another case of Randall screwing up deliberately just to troll us? I find it hard to believe that he could make such an elementary mistake, but then again, it is xkcd...

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  11. Here's to 500 more.

    On second thought, I hope Randall stops making xkcd before then.

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  12. carl have you ever heard of the crazy frog?
    i wish i hadn't

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  13. Carl, you'd be amazed at the stupidity of many people. Sadly, Randall's plan could actually work perfectly.

    These past two made me chuckle, but this latest one is just plain stupid.

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  14. "If just thinking about boobs doesn't get you erect, you have a disorder and there are drugs that can help."

    Or you are female and surgery can help.

    WV: undes

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  15. or maybe you just aren't incredibly horny all the time

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  16. We aren't all castrati like you, Rob.

    God damn the new comic is awful. The title gives away the joke, the period at the beginning of the first line gives away the joke, and this is another of the many "Randall ignores a simple explanation for a common thing in order to make a stupid joke about how he and his fans are superior to others."

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  17. it's fine, I like feeling superior to people who are completely ruled by their instincts

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  18. I think annoying sounds on radio would've been a perfect old-school Mr.Hat prank. Think about it, geeky electronic sabotage at the radio towers causing annoying traffic sounds in songs would be a much better use of Mr.Hat's time, instead of being a Viagra vendor.

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  19. When I went looking for the second alt-text and was greeted with "no not this one" I loled harder than at anything Randy has crapped out this year.

    THANKS CARL!

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  20. "No, these people really need to get hard now."
    I feel like this statement should be describing a funnier joke.

    "[...]some readers expresses the theory that that four right-most men (not counting Mr. Hat) are all the same character, portrayed walking up to and away from the Viagra stand." I don't think the word "some" applies here. Although, I am comfortable with the generic "they" to describe an unspecified person with unspecified gender, so why not "some" to describe a random reader?

    RE: 781... *shrugs*? I dunno. It's not enthralling in any way except for the idea that it'll take you a second to start reading upside down. But of all the messages to portray, you have to make it expository? For those of you shunning the XKCD site, here's the general picture you're missing. Could that be better? Certainly, but I am not making an income off of it, so screw off ^_^.

    Captcha: Benityol. That's a cough medicine I'm pretty sure?

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  21. The song "Summer in the City", has a part where there is horns honking, and pretty much every time I hear it while driving it scares the crap out of me. This song has become one of my favourite, yet paradoxically most hated song.

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  22. So basically, this is like rickrolling, only simpler?

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  23. Normally I don't post here but I have to say you are slightly wrong about the song/noises comic. I listen to this particular song (can't remember the name right now) and I love the song but somewhere towards the middle there is this soft car honk noise. It's not intentional. It's prolly just an instrument. But I still always react to it (when driving) thinking a car honked at me.

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  24. Anon 8:40 is right, but for the wrong reasons. If you need to get erect for an ugly ass 40-something probably dude, and thinking about boobs wont get you up, then you can be clinically diagnosed with Homo. Also, it is, in fact, fully treatable

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  25. I kind of like 781, if for no other reason than to find out that other people have the same issue I do with road text. I guess this makes me one of those GOOMHR people, huh.

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  26. gamer, I am pretty sure literally everyone who has ever looked at the road text and read it and thought about it for more than five seconds has that issue with it.

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  27. There is a Beatles song that has the sound of a car passing—I want to say it's on Magical Mystery Tour, but I could be wrong—and I listen to it on headphones all the time (because parking in this city costs your eternal soul and I don't have one of those anymore.) Every time I hear it, I look around for the car. So it's been done in Real Life, the mythical bastion of supposed actual events that we sometimes read about on the Internet, and it's not particularly brilliant.

    Also, it makes the joke, what, 45 years too late?

    @Raven: I saw your edit of the new comic before I saw the new comic. It was an order of magnitude better, at the very least. The joke he was going for here wasn't inherently bad. Just the execution.

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  28. Anon1150: I'd like to say "thanks" but several orders of magnitude still do not make this comic particularly interesting. There's a math joke there that I'm not elaborating on successfully, so I am sorta like Randall, yes? If I were particularly witty I think a short sentence that reads both ways [but with different meanings] would be funnier. I'm sure such a phrase exists.

    Part of me feels like Randall's taking novice art classes and recently got to the part about perspective, and is now trying out that one-point method... I'm sure someone knows what I'm trying to ham-fistedly describe (I was not an art student -- I chose to fail at music as my "elective course" in high school). You know, that things where you draw a focus point/infinity, and all lines come out from it? Or something?

    Although, hey! Colour! Again, Randall is experimenting with "new methods".

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  29. I dislike that it forces an association with Star Wars in the Alt text, it did it in a really contrived way. Also, I never really thought that the infodump-to-music at the beginning of each starwars was all that entertaining, but that might be just me. Either way, reference humor is the lowest form of comedy. Even. Below. Mimes.

    My thirteen year old brother reads XKCD now, and constantly spouts quotes from it into my ear. I'm sinking slowly into painful madness.

    Ravens was indeed great.

    @Rob: Personally, I think the point of humor is to point out some shared experience and subvert it in an interesting way. This probably gets the first half, but the second half is slowly being murdered through blunt trauma. Sometimes the alt text makes up for it, but only when Randall doesn't try to make stupid nerd culture reference jokes.

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  30. I assumed there was some level of this where he was playing on the Backscatter machine and Backscatter as it relates to e-mail, and the ubiquitous cheap viagra spam. I read the entire Backscatter (E-Mail) wikipedia article and still didn't understand it. So that made it seem more likely that it was a joke by Randall.

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  31. To the anonymous above, I'm pretty sure you're thinking of Back in the USSR.

    There's this sort of screeching wheels on pavement sound that plays repeatedly at one point in the song.

    I love the song, but every time I hear it while driving, my hackles raise for a moment and I glance around trying to spot an oncoming collision.
    Certain sounds you can't always tell if they're coming from your speakers or not, and you probably react instinctively to them before you entirely register where they're coming from.

    Anyways, I have a feeling that comic is written about Back in the USSR.

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  32. I give today's comic a 4/5 ( on the xkcd curve). But since when is there a sidewalk alongside of a highway?

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  33. I love that Flimsy Whimsy comic. The expressions are amazing.

    New comic: on the "what's up with airplane food" level. Also he fucks up the release date for A New Hope. HOW DO YOU FUCK THAT UP RANDALL? WHAT KIND OF POSER-NERD ARE YOU?

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  34. http://echochamber.me/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=63462&start=40#p2282336

    I really hope this person is trolling.

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  35. 'brillant' is also a case of unreliable narrator. said narrator being a moron.


    randall can do no wrong, didn't ya know.

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  36. the unreliable narrator is only interesting if the narrator being unreliable is somehow interesting.

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  37. It would make a tiny bit of sense if they cut the noises out of the versions sent to radio but left them on the CD/download/whatever. That used to be my job, basically. Only with swear words, not horn noises.

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  38. Regarding the issue with the man with the bag, I would like to point your eyes to the Swedish children's book author Sven Nordqvist, who has mastered the art of putting several events into a single frame:

    http://www.hjelms.se/bilder/nyheter/703.jpg
    http://www.hawthornpress.com/images/spreads/9781903458877spread1.jpg
    http://www.nordankyrka.se/images/Petson%20p%E5%20vinden.jpg

    That's how it's done.

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  39. I cannot agree with you there. I sometimes think its the door bell or something if such a noise is in a song. Even if its my favourite song and i heard it like a thousand times ...

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  40. I actually quite like the alt-text for the new one - if the comic had been a dude driving down the motorway in a fudged attempt to do the opening titles scroll thing that'd've been a lot funnier.

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  41. I actually liked the alt-text for 781. Maybe just because I love the idea of of someone going "nah nah nanananah nah (the Star Wars theme) out their window while they drive backwards.

    And that Flimsy Whimsy comic comes from Raymondo Person if anyone's interested (http://www.comics.chickennation.com/2008/05/03/0064/). I didn't recognize it as a reference to XKCD. Just thought it was a weird "Our Child is a Freak" thing.

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  42. The stick figure, graph paper, and heart didn't strike you as an XKCD reference? You saw two women and a stick figure and figured "Yep, that's obviously their child"?

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  43. Yet another comic that is only funny if you refuse to think about anything for more than five seconds before declaring it nonsensical. Isn't xkcd supposed to be for smart people?

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  44. At first, based solely on the name of the site, I thought this was just a xkcd hate club with haters who hate. I was actually pleasantly surprised that there's good/noteworthy/critical analysis on individual strips. I also personally thought the Sample strip didn't make quite as much sense as Randall perhaps intended it to. He's become too lazy, or stuck-up.

    The funny should last more than 5 seconds.

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  45. Also if we really read it backwards it should be "READ I"

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  46. HA Randall fixed the year - alt text on 781 now says 1977

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  47. Anyone else notice that the comic links at the bottom of xkcd's main page were changed recently? The last two used to link to 55 and 77, now they're 688 and 556.

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  48. Here is my interpretation of 781:
    http://www.tehposse.org/brandon/mkcd/781.jpg

    Alt: "Randall actually started the no-joke practice in 2008 -- not for ease of comic creation, but because he wanted to appeal to a pseudo-intellectual high school audience."

    More at: http://www.tehposse.org/brandon/mkcd/

    @Anon 6:20am - um, no, that's not how those road markings work...
    @Anon 6:39am - I did notice that because just a few days before I was thinking that he had not done anything noteworthy enough in hundreds of comics to be worth considering for the bottom bar compared to the classics there. Well, 77 is okay to be gone, but I would have put 688 there and skipped on 556 (but he wanted the pretty art from it there I imagine)

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  49. 781's alt text could be a proper joke. Congrats to Randall for a) hiding it in the alt text and b) getting the release date of Star Wars wrong (for Christ's sake). But I suppose film studies would be a soft science, right?

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  50. "the question is, which joke is intended?"

    You know maybe you just think to lowly of Randall to consider this, but it's quiet likely both where intended.
    And even if only one was, both still exist at the same time so the result is the same.

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  51. @ Anonymous 7:33

    So what, like a Shrodinger's joke...?

    ...except, I would rather have a live cat than an only possibly alive one - and likewise with a joke strip joke.

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  52. *comic strip joke

    Also I realize that is, as usual, a gross misinterpretation of the Shrodninger's cat concept. OH WELL.

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  53. There's a song on the radio-- maybe a Train song, I can't remember. I'll get the name for you the next time it comes on. It's incredibly popular and I hear it all the time, but right in the middle of the song, there's this blasted siren noise that every time I hear it, I check all my mirrors to make sure there is no emergency vehicle trying to get through. It is not unheard of, and I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way.

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  54. http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=63462#p2282182

    AHHHHH WHY

    Why would you even CONSIDER that. Every time I read the official forums I'm filled with a blinding regret.

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  55. @8:11
    Fortunately for me, when I tried loading that page I was greeted with "503 Service Unavailable".

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  56. How does someone get the release date for Star Wars wrong? Seriously, 3 seconds on Wikipedia (Randall's favourite haunt) would've been enough. Jesus Christ.

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  57. GODJESUSFUCKCHRIST

    HOW ARE YOU GUYS NOT ANGRY AT THIS ONE?!

    I mean the joke is "It is funny that text on roads are written from down-to-up". I mean, I guess I might be over-reacting since it wasn't the punchline that was great, but the clever execution of it and creative imagery involved OH WAIT NO HE JUST FUCKING WROTE OUT THE PUNCHLINE BUT FROM DOWN-TO-UP!

    THAT'S THE ENTIRE FUCKING COMIC!

    That, and four errors:
    1: It's not backwards, it's down-to-up.
    2: It's not "backward", it's backwards. (backward is an adverb, but it doesn't mean the same thing)
    3: Getting the date wrong in the alt-text.
    4: You can't go the wrong way on a highway. You can go the wrong way on a highway lane, but if you say "Driving backward(s)" for on a highway itself, the only meaning is driving in reverse.



    As they say in xkcd: This is bullshit!

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  58. I think it's just that XKCD has been so bad so consistently lately that its hard to keep the passion up.

    I used to comment on every comic. I would voice my disdain and list all the faults.

    Now? now it's just tiresome. It's like beating a retarded, masochistic horse.

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  59. I used to enjoy it when XKCD had colors, but now I just know better and assume Randall will disappoint us in the next comic, so why bother?

    Rather, let's over-examine this "comic". First, that must be the narrowest highway I ever seen. Also, does a highway have sidewalks(and, seemingly, a house entrance!)? I don't think so! Finally, wouldn't the text be more separated, seeing that, in highways, cars usually run faster, so if one was to read that text, they might not even get to "Engineers" before leaving it behind without know what the heck those other words were.

    Now I'll admit I chuckled at the idea of people driving by highway text singing the Star Wars theme. But once again Randall had the choice of showing or telling and did the wrong choice. And there's no way I look at this comic that gives it more than 10 minutes to be drawn, so... did Randall really take two days to THINK of this? Or, even worse, to have several ideas and refine them into this?

    How can you not hate this person?!

    Mole

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  60. @Plasma

    I think he did mean "driving in reverse". That way the text would rise just like in the Star Wars overture.

    But all those instances of "backward" really get on one's nerves...

    Mole

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  61. So how about ambulances, huh? Did you ever notice how they've got "ambulance" written on the the front, except that it's written in reverse? What is up with that?

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  62. @Anon 6:20:

    I actually did read it that way first ("Highway engineers think read I backward") and was briefly confused.

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  63. @Professional Mole: You can definitely have sidewalks running along highways in areas where they go through towns. In many areas, there are also houses right along the highway, with driveways that open out onto the highway. If the comic said "freeway" or "expressway" I would be more skeptical.
    Note: This does not in any way detract from the total suckiness of this comic.

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  64. Addendum:

    re: speed- in the same places where you have sidewalks alongside highways, the speed limit on the highway might be only 25 mph, so you wouldn't want the letters to be too far apart.
    Oh God, am I actually defending this comic?! Just so my feelings are clear: it was BAAADDD!

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  65. All the GOOMH idiots on the forums are upsetting me. They seem to have a consensus that Randy is right, and Engineers are somehow too distanced from reality to think people might read fast enough to paint the words in the correct order. But none of them seem to understand. WHAT IF THERE IS A CAR IN FRONT OF YOU. Jesus Christ.

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  66. On 780: there are some songs on the radio that have sirens in them that always get to me while listening to them, even if I know it's coming. It's one of those things where you look anyways because you don't want to be that asshole who won't move over for an ambulance if one is coming.

    On 781: I guess I'm just so used to the way things are written on the road it doesn't bother me, but whatever.

    Two posts I found on the forums that amused me: http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=63462#p2282195 and http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=63462#p2282221. The last guy is giving us a bone! Oh how special.

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  67. Also I agree that it would be funnier if the whole thing was still a sentence when reversed, so you'd read it one way and think "Okay..." and then you'd read it the other way and shit bricks.

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  68. 781:

    Agh goddammit randy you were this close to making an acceptably mediocre comic.
    The period fucks everything up.

    781- reason 781 why randy needs to hire an editor.

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  69. Agreed that 781 could be funnier if it was a sentence both ways, but I'm not sure how you could pull it off. Or worse, how Randall could pull it off.

    I did see a picture once that worked on that level, you read it top-down it sounds very mean but bottom-up it's romantic. But it was rather lame because whoever made it did so by having it read essentially like this:

    I hate you
    I would never say
    I love you

    I'd imagine Randall's version would be even worse.

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  70. Last time I heard, "Backward" is American English. British English uses both "Backward" and "Backwards" in different circumstances.

    Of course, I just read this on the internet somewhere.

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  71. I live in America and I've heard "backwards" much more often than "backward."

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  72. I think I'll tackle #780 xkcd explained-style:

    The Author heard the song "Telephone" by Lady Gaga on the radio and thought his phone was ringing when it was not. He found this greatly annoying and wondered how it got popular. He fantasizes of doing the same to others.

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  73. Agree with anon 12:02. I hear "backwards" more often than "backward" in the US. We also definitely use both "toward" and "towards," which I would assume follow the same rules as "backward" and "backwards."

    Captcha: avoid= if only I had done this to 779.

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  74. People, learn to make links!

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  75. "ANYWAY, the question is, which joke is intended? It's an important distinction because one joke is funny and one joke isn't. It's a question, I think, of power relationships - does the guard have power over the passengers, because he sees them naked and they have basically no choice in the matter? Or do they have the power, because the guard has to stay there and watch naked person after naked person, while the passengers get to fly off to exciting places? It can be taken in lots of different ways."

    So I actually thought both jokes were intended -- that the male passengers were taking Viagra because of their anxiety at being seen naked, and Mr. Hat was exploiting their anxiety to make the security guard anxious.

    On the other hand, given that the only person we really see being anxious is the guard, I may be giving Randall too much credit.

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  76. Nobody in particularAugust 18, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    This is almost the exact same as getting mad at ambulances for writing "Ambulance" backwards.

    "STUPID HOSPITAL CARS SEEM TO THINK I READ IN REVERSES."

    More importantly, however, is the fact that this highway, apparently, has only one lane. Why would the text stretch across both lanes otherwise?

    Insanely, people driving in the opposite direction (And, assuredly, into oncoming traffic) would experience the words in the correct order! of course, they would be upside down. But maybe that is the cool new way to read, I don't know.

    Seriously though. Who has ever seen a one lane highway, let alone a one way highway with sidewalks?

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  77. "The joke is based on the idea that you make a very popular song, but you insert noises that make it annoying. If you think about this premise even a little bit, the problem jumps out: If the song is really annoying, it won't be popular. And, similarly, if a song gets really popular, then a lot of people don't find it annoying. It can't possibly be both, because people don't generally intentionally listen to music that they hate, over and over again."
    I wouldn't say that. The Flaming Lips' "Mr. Ambulance Driver" is a great song, but every time I listen to it on the road I think there's an ambulance somewhere around. I didn't realize this until I put it on a CD and listened to it in the car, and I'm too lazy to create a new CD without the song. :P

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  78. Engineers should start coming up with word-level palindromes, so this won't happen. Same with ambulances (well, more or less, perhaps symmetry would be a better word?). Sheesh.

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  79. @Anon 8:11 --

    John Williams did borrow a lot of the Star Wars soundtrack from Holst's "The Planets". But that was written well before 1973, so even if that guy in your link knows this, he's referencing it quite ineptly.

    Which hey. He's an xkcd fan. I guess that's to be expected.

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  80. well, given that the only painted-on-the-road signs I can think of are 'STOP AHEAD,' 'BUS ONLY,' and 'ONLY ->', it doesn't really matter in what order you read them. AHEAD STOP still works okay, ONLY BUS works, -> ONLY only has one word and the only is just an accompaniment to the arrow, maybe it's not really a big deal and they already thought of that?

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  81. There's also "XING PED" and "TURN LEFT NO" which are still pretty intuitive.

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  82. Well there's also signs on the interstate that say things like "EXIT LANE 1000 FEET" or something, but those are generally spaced such that it'd be pretty awkward to try to read them all at once instead of as you get to them.

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  83. Reading text in the order you drive past it? Madness!

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  84. NIP@12:38. So we've got inverted word order and mirror writing already covered. You want upside down?

    So, I just closed my laptop and what the hell? The manfacturer's logo says 'dy'. This was sold to me as an 'hp'. Office Depot ripped me off. I'm going to write them an angry email [opens laptop]. WTF? Now it says 'hp'? But when I close it says 'dy'. OMG, this is blowing my mind.

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  85. Maybe we just lack the budget to switch every highway to the right way.

    Or, like almost all public services, its a socialist plot to annoy the crap out of us.

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  86. I went ahead and fixed the comic for Randall:
    http://imgur.com/u8oKY

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  87. @LostInSpace

    Fine. But I still have an issue with the speed thing. Unless they expect the cars to be driving at walking speed, those fragments of a sentence are too close. One would drive past half of the sentence while reading the other half.

    And, yep, it's a baaaaaad "comic", indeed.

    Mole

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  88. UndercoverCuddlefishAugust 18, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    randall on fuck the come

    the xkcdexplained for the new comic is much funnier than the comic itself and i hope that the phrase "agreement chuckles" will continue to be used often in the context of randys obvious pandering to the goomhbas

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  89. Tyler:
    Is that right? I didn't realize. Is there a link on this? I've heard both but I don't see the connection, besides both being orchestral and generally grand in nature.

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  90. I also loved the phrase "agreement chuckles". Those two words are some potent distilled mockery.

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  91. @Professional Mole: Yes, looking at the comic again, the words are really pretty close together. You'd have to read pretty fast to get it, even going 25.
    Also, someone else pointed out that the fact that the words stretch across the whole road implies that it is just one lane. So, you can have highways with sidewalks. You can also have highways whose different sides/directions are far apart and separated by a bunch of stuff. But not both at the same time. Little dinky bits of highways that run through towns do not "separate" like that, they will usually just be one or possibly two lanes on each side of a double yellow line. At least as far as I have seen. And you definitely would not have houses and sidewalks *between* the two sides of the highway. So it doesn't work anyway and Randall sucks.

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  92. Basically in 780 Randall thought everyone thinks like him.

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  93. UndercoverCuddlefishAugust 18, 2010 at 9:07 PM

    @tomr you must be a first time reader of xkcd

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  94. YOU GUYS. TOSH.0 JUST DID THE KINDLE BOOK BURNING JOKE FROM COMIC 750. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN

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  95. Heh, nice observations Sepia and Nobody In Particular. And burma shave anon of course.

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  96. So, Randall's foolishness aside, why did they decide to put lots of words on roads in the first place? I think the only word I've ever seen on the road over here is "BUS" when it's a bus lane. Everything else is just lines on the road to indicate you should slow down, and road signs if you need more info. Wouldn't that be a lot easier than "PED XING AHEAD"?

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  97. People complaining about a highway having a sidewalk? I have news!

    "Highway engineers" refer to people who build highways *and* roads. That looks reasonable for a one-way street in a residential area (which would likely also have a slow speed limit). It's not René Magritte but it's recognizable.

    The problem with this comic is that it's missing a joke, not what highways look like.

    I did find the alt-text amusing. And I didn't really know when Star Wars came out so I didn't care.

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  98. http://img834.imageshack.us/img834/9247/xkcd780.png

    Is that any better?

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  99. Did you know that there is a text-only description of every XKCD comics hidden in the source code of the page? Do you think of makeing fun of these as well? :)

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  100. I thought the comic itself was a text only description.

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  101. "brillant" was a meme on thedailywtf.com for a while... seems like the kind of site randall would visit.

    Not sure how it would fit here though.

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  102. http://machineofdeath.net/a/archives/date/2007/07

    randall fuckin monroe is contributing a story to an anthology centered around a death machine. this concept was thought up by ryan north (gotta change your pants now, Carl?), and the book comes out in october. short stories are a vastly different medium from webcomics, although im sure monroe plopped his stinker out in 10 minutes like the rest of his work. cant wait for the book, and of course the review from you wonderful people.

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  103. I can't wait for that. XKCD's writing is atrocious, a short story must be mindbendingly awful.

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  104. and most of his story arcs -well, anything more than a single comic- are awful.

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  105. "• “MURDER,” by Randall Munroe, asks a dangerous question: what happens when physical science rejects the idea of precognition?"

    haha

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  106. Hasn't he already written short stories? Reviewed somewhere on this very blog?

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  107. http://xkcdsucks.blogspot.com/2008/09/look-at-me-i-can-write-short-fiction.html

    there we go

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  108. I'm even more excited about it now that I've read that. He's trying way to hard to be witty and quirky in that one and just seems to patch a bunch of ideas he had together with dialogue. The fourth wall thing for instance is clever, but completely out of place in sthat story.

    This ought to be amateur hour. Promising!

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  109. apparently, Ben Yahtzee Croshaw (of zero punctuation fame)submitted a work to THE MACHINEOFDEATH as well, but it will not be published
    http://fullyramblomatic-yahtzee.blogspot.com/

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  110. Randall wrote that short story [Sep. 2008] for the reason he writes most webcomics. He had a joke in his head, and couldn't expand it into any appropriate medium but decided to do so anyways. The whole story was created out of the idea that mostly likely occurred to him at 3am between pirating films which was throwing a piece of gold at someone and sniping that "fiat money can't be used as a projectile".

    Carl, you're better at economics than Randall but I do believe this is accidental intuition. You said what the problem ISN'T, so I mean, if you'd said the problem wasn't three-toed sloths you'd also have done as well. All the same, congrats?

    That said, that short story has nothing to do with economics or the financial crisis. As was pointed out then, this was just another setting Randall took advantage of [read: violated] to express a series of jokes which had no appropriate medium and, strung together as they were, really should have stayed that way. Because they still don't have an appropriate medium.

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  111. In form of Ravenzomg's rewrite
    http://shrubtech.gotdns.com/xkcd781c.gif

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  112. Shrub: Your directory better be ironically devoid of content or else we're revoking your web-site building card.

    Otherwise you've pretty well summarized half of my experience with XKCD in the past 4 years between that edit and your DIR. Except you did it succinctly with about one minute of my time, thus keeping the hilarity in its proper concentration as opposed to ridiculous titration drip by unexciting update -- er, drip.

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  113. UndercoverCuddlefishAugust 19, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    @raven there is an appropriate medium which is really fucking far away from randy

    i will grudgingly admit that randall may have a knack for identifying things that are interesting and offer great potential for humor or insight but the recurring problem with xkcd is that he has no fucking clue what to do with these gems after he unearths them

    almost anybody could take the seeds of these jokes and put them into a randomly selected format and make them work much better than randall "we dont need no steenkin editors" munroe can

    but hey who needs intelligent writing and pacing to make people laugh when you can have "agreement chuckles" instead

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  114. http://machineofdeath.net/a/archives/17

    Fortunately Randall is absent from the list of illustrators. But there are Mitch Clem and Brandon Bolt and a bunch of other cool people.

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  115. Wow. I don't know how I missed Randall's Bernanke story before. It's terrible.

    And it looks like the awful messing with field biologists hobby strip had it's origins in that story. Randall had that idea kicking around his head for more than 18 months and the best he could do with it was the abortion that was 733?

    I'm really hoping he's not going to mine that story for another comic, but I wouldn't be surprised if "secret agent's high tech device needs a flash plug-in to work" shows up in a comic in the next few months.

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  116. About the highway text comic, I wonder if Randall just discovered this post from six years ago?
    http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001183.html
    (He mentioned Language Log in alt text for the infamous Malamanteau comic.)

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  117. being from the UK this comic sorta made sense- but I'd never seen road markings like that before.

    a quick google search leads me to think that in GB road markings are either single words, arrows, or in randall's so called 'correct' order.

    http://www.eliteroadmarkings.com/images/imagescontent/content/IMG_0637.jpg

    This isn't me boasting, I just got a little puzzled by this comic- like randall was making fun of something that doesn't happen (he does that sometimes doesn't he?)

    But no it does happen so that's an improvement.

    however I'm sure if you're ment to be some kind of NASA super genius then I'm sure that you can figure out what STOP BUS is ment to mean.
    Unless you have autism, of course.

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  118. I just want to point out that the song Rain Smell by Baths seems to sample the Facebook chat message sound, and it has confused me at times.

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  119. Try listening to Breakeven by The Script. There is a siren sound in it, and is played constantly on the radio.

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  120. After drawing 781 comics, don't you think Randy could've read at least one book on how to draw them? The line art in 780 is simply atrocious. The foreground and background have the same line weight, making the comic look like a jumbled mess of lines that takes a second to figure out. Also, the speech bubbles and text have thinner weights than the art. This, of course, looks simply awful.

    This one could have really benefited from color. The interior of the car, the man, and the sky all look the same, and again, the image takes a second to interpret. With most comics, what you're looking at it is immediately obvious. This is because artists vary line weight, use color or texture, and use a reasonably-sized art space to help the viewer's eye differentiate between shapes. Randall did not do any of this, which is why his comics, 781 in particular, are absolutely hideous.

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  121. What a waste of net-space... A superficial analysis of an online comic... You think it sucks? Woo hoo! Who the fuck cares what you think, about anything, much less an online comic?

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  122. What a waste of net-space... A superficial analysis of an online comic... You think it sucks? Woo hoo! Who the fuck cares what you think, about anything, much less an online comic?

    Also I am a fucking idiot and a hypcorite... Ellipsis... What is this thing... Called periods?

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  123. Blogs are... Completely different?

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  124. 783 is a worse version of Girl Directions by Psychostick.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5_HhqcbF_0

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  125. I'm pretty sure 779 is a joke about small dicks... hence the name of the comic, "Anxiety." The reason the security guard's saying "oh god" is because he noticed there's a guy scamming anxious men by hawking over-priced viagra, not because he's gonna have to look at bigger dicks.
    It's an amusing comic, give Monroe a break.

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  126. I thought this one was pretty funny. I think that the idea is that the song is on the radio, so the man in the car has no control over when it plays.

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  127. yes, perhaps if radios had on/off switches it may be different, but since any driver is forced to listen to the radio, he has no control over it. Oh well.

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  128. or even if you just had a dial which could tune into different radio stations. perhaps radio stations could broadcast on different frequencies, and the radios could only receive signals on the frequency that is currently selected??

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  129. Rob, what you are saying is so far removed from possibility that it is basically worthless

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  130. YOU MAY SAY THAT I'M A DREAMER
    BUT I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE
    I HOPE SOMEDAY YOU'LL JOIN US
    AND THE WORLD WILL LIVE AS ONE

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  131. lord how i hate it when that song comes on the radio, because i cannot turn it off or change the station. i am forced to listen to it, over and over again.

    won't someone invent a way to make it stop?

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  132. I've got an idea for how to make it stop. Why don't you go stick your head in a toilet and drown?

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  133. that won't make it stop. that will make me stop. And that's the opposite of what i want.

    thanks for the suggestion though.

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  134. Yes but making you stop is what I want

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  135. hey anon, if you don't like this blog, don't read it!

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  136. So seriously, are you retarded? You are arguing over what kind of dick joke is funnier right after bitching about dick jokes not being funny. You really just need to stop with your dribble.

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