Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Comic 845: Hobbyists

modern history

[Title: Modern History. ALT: During the week, I research the character by living in his house and raising his children.]

Someone once said that "all is fair in love and war," and Randall Munroe has been feeling the hurt of that anonymous truism recently. You see, as much as he would like to protest that it isn't fair that Megan has no fewer than seven hundred restraining orders filed against him, there is a quote which disagrees with him. So, meditating on this little truism, Randy has remembered that war is a thing that happens sometimes. And so our comic is born.

It is a little-known fact that the reason Randy's dialog is so terrible is that he starts with arbitrary restrictions. Much as with the famous "okay, middle school students" greeting, the phrase "will you please stop imitating everything I do" is not a phrase that any human being would ever utter. Why, then, does the brilliant writer, Randall Munroe, insist upon writing such dialog?

The answer is quite simple, my dear cuddlefish. Like many great artists before him--Hemingway with his famous six-word story, Kobayashi Issa's masterful haiku, and Nic Cage's acting only in terrible movies--he restricts himself to one frame. It is this restriction that creates such beautiful art. Though on many occasions, multiple frames would seem to be more logical, it would cease to be "Randall Munroe's Single-Frame Comics" if he did that. So he limits himself. He can't use frames to establish context that would allow for less forced dialog, or to use pacing. He must stick rigidly to his single frame.

Despite its obvious limitations--if not, indeed, because of them--Randy has here created a beautiful satire of modern warfare. Our soldiers are so pampered by their constant gayness and so on that they are more like war re-enactors. They are war enthusiasts. They are, in a word, hobbyist soldiers.

He contrasts this, incredibly hilariously, with the increasingly rare serious soldier--patiently requesting in stilted language that the hobbyists show some respect. They do not, of course. Our pampered soldiers know nothing of respect. Now all they know is gayness.

71 comments:

  1. Okay everybody, I would really like to have some more attention. Can everything please be about me again?

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  2. Looks like something in that Ke$ha song touched a nerve with Randall.

    A... dental nerve.

    *jazz hands*

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  3. The new Ke$ha comic is kind of dumb, but I must admit I like the alt text.

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  4. Holy crap, the Ke$ha comic is even more pointless than the Beyoncé/Sauron comic.

    I had no idea who this person was but I looked it up at the first frame, before reading on. It didn't help. Is she obscure? Where is she in terms of fame? Rank her among Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, all of which I have heard of.

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  5. she's probably a bit below Katy Perry, I think. she's like a cheap knock-off of Lady Gaga, is my understanding. nobody likes her (except for noted hell demon "shufti")

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  6. Why are you so bitchy about XKCD???!!! MAKE YOUR OWN COMIC IF YOU'RE SO SMART!!! THE SOILDIRES ARE FUNNY BECAUSE HE IS ANNOYING A PROPER ONE AND NOT A REAL ONE HIMSELF. YOUR ALL JUST RETARDS!!!!!!!!

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  7. My RA posts Ke$ha statuses on facebook all the time, if that counts for something.

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  8. @Kirk, your research assistant?

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  9. I went and saw Tik Tok on youtube. Lame! But took something from the comment thread:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=terrible+music

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  10. http://fora.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?p=2453596#p2453596

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  11. We know Ke$ha's lifestyle is mental
    But she should look after her dental
    Hygiene - using whiskey
    Might make her sound frisky
    But the price in the long term's not gentle.

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  12. I always have to laugh when you mention noted hell demon "shufti"
    Because that name sounds like German for "little rascal". It makes him so adorable. :)

    I bet it's Yiddish and I'm being anti-semitic right now

    the new comic sucks, but I giggled at the alt-text.. I don't know maybe I'm just easy to please today

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  13. Angus Darkstar Elven Wierd Words ShitJanuary 12, 2011 at 3:59 AM

    @HeartXDarkness: Only people with stupid fantasy emo non-ironic crap as their name are taken seriously on this blog. Well done, welcome to the inner circle.

    Troll.

    Captcha:
    Metab: Abbreviated MetalTab(TM) brand mineral supplements. Now with higher levels of Cadmium!

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  14. The new one was fairly inoffensive I guess, just kind of boring. Let's take music lyrics literally and see what wacky scenarios would result from it.

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  15. you know, i'm pretty sure brushing with jack would be kind of like brushing with mouthwash

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  16. But Rob, biology's not a REAL SCIENCE it's just a bunch of people playing with bugs what do they know about anything

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  17. fucking biologists
    think they know how life works

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  18. biology is just applied chemistry after all!

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  19. I wouldn't mind the alt-text so much if plaque actually rhymed with Jack. Maybe it does in American bastardised English, and that's why he used it. I don't know - the Americans in here will have to help me out on that one. But for those of us who speak English English it doesn't even come close, and just makes the whole thing even more pathetic.

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  20. plaque and jack do rhyme in American English--or at least they do in the dialects I'm familiar with.

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  21. I'm pretty sure in a lot of American dialects "plaque" and "Jack" rhyme. I know they do in mine.

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  22. Actually technically I don't think dialect is the right word but WHATEVER.

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  23. I'm English and they rhyme in my dialect

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  24. Plaque has a long a, Jack has a short a. Don't see how they can rhyme myself.

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  25. Define "long a" and "short a".

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  26. As I've heard it pronounced in America
    It's Plack and Jack
    Same ending sound.
    Plaque isn't pronounced play-ke.

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  27. I'm from Britain and it's definitely pronounced plack.

    I'm assuming the above commenter is a home counties wanker who says plarque?

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  28. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/plaque

    (Australia) IPA: /plaːk/
    (UK, US) IPA: /plæk/

    That explains my confusion, at least. I had no idea Australia's pronunciation was different to that used by the rest of the world.

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  29. WHO FUCKING CARES ABOUT HOW TO PRONOUNCE PLAQUE

    VALUABLE SECONDS ARE TUMBLING AWAY FROM OUR PRECIOUS TRANSIENT LIVES RIGHT NOW

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  30. ANYWAY THERE ARE NO DENTISTS IN THE U.K. THANKS TO THE COMMUNIST HEALTHCARE, AND NO ONE CAN AFFORD THEM IN THE U.S. THANKS TO THE FREE MARKET HEALTHCARE

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  31. Wow, Randall, really? Nitpicking the stupid lyrics of a Ke$ha song? How can you try and keep a straight face while doing that and trying to keep a genius cred?

    Also, this comics reminds me of that "Porn for Women" comic, right up to Randall/Megan missing the point, the same judgmental Megan and the same pause before stating the obvious in the last panel. That's Randall for ya, folks!

    I expect extreme rage and/or mockery by Friday, Rob!

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  32. Ouch. What happened to critical analysis? Xkcd sucks was good because it was intelligent. Now it would seem it's been high jacked by some sort of unhumorous internet troll. I was still a reader, until today when I came to the conclusion that this blog will never return to thoughtful review of xkcd. These posts are no longer well written, not to mention unfunny and lacking in focus; they offer little to no actual criticism of xkcd. It's become painful to read, so I'll be over at webcomics.me. Later all.

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  33. You will be sorely missed.

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  34. No, Anonymous 6:39, please reconsider! Don't leave us, we'll try harder!

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  35. truly he was the best of us

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  36. I WILL LEAVE THIS BLOG UNLESS ROB EATS A DOZEN DONUTS

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  37. why say that, its like saying i will leave this blog unless rob continues to breathe

    in fact rob probably finds breathing MORE difficult than eating

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  38. No human would ever use the phrase "Will you PLEASE stop copying everything I do?" I disagree. I would use this phrase. The soldier has obviously had this guy follow him for a while, and the italicised "PLEASE" show how he emphasises this word. It shows the soldier is fed up of the follower, fed up of asking him to go away nicely, but still trying.

    Can you not remember a time (Probably childhood) where you have used:
    "Will you do so and so"... etc
    then "Will you pleeaaaassssseeeee do so and so"?

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  39. 845 was slightly humorous, nothing terrible. I thought the weekend warrior comment from the last set of comments was pretty funny, although I feel I would give randy a bit too much credit for that kind of high brow subliminal humor.

    Anonymous 6:39 ;_;

    If only redux. If only.

    xkcdsuxredux.wordpress.com is no longer available.

    The authors have deleted this blog.

    *Incredible Hulk Ending Theme*

    I don't care how much of a sore loser, attention whore, hypocrite he was. It was dammed entertaining. But where redux is that fling that breaks your heart on the whims of a gentle breeze Rob is that modestly hot (FAT!) girl that's always going to be there no matter what (HOW CAN HE NOT AMIRITE).

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  40. @jhum

    In the time it took you to type that, he had eaten 32.

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  41. I can't believe nobody's mentioned how untimely this comic is (per Randall's usual untimeliness). Tik Tok was released about a year and a half ago and hasn't been #1 on the Hot 100 since *February*. Hell, Kesha's released a whole 'nother album since then.

    But it still would've sucked if he'd done this reference a year ago or a more relevant reference now.

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  42. All the anons who say they're leaving and never coming back are actually the same guy.

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  43. Can I write a guest post for the Ke$ha comic? Please? I promise it will be good.

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  44. @Welsh Mullet: I will assume you are learning English as a Second Language because it makes you a sympathetic "character". In English we use the word "that" to fill in for more than just nouns, but whole noun clauses. So since, as you are suggesting, the reënactor has been following him around for some time, repeating his phrases and actions with a momentary delay, we can assume that the request/demand will have been uttered before; even if it hasn't, any subsequent request would be clear to the rational human being [eg: Real Human] in its intention. So given that the phrase is now familiar, the rational human being [eg: Real Human] will now merely say, "Will you PLEASE stop doing that?" rather than the long clunkier phrase as propositioned by the Prophet of Truth, since "that" is without formal definition quite well defined in this situation.

    Regarding your hypothetical infant parallel, I'm pretty sure the child will say the second time, "Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease?"

    I'll give you the same warning I give everyone: Do not underestimate the common person's willingness to drop thoroughness in favour of sloth and brevity. In short, don't overestimate people, you'll just be disappointed.

    Fact: Rob is actually a spambot programmed to insult users at random, just nobody's caught on yet.

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  45. I don't get it. This one went way over my head. Clearly I'm not intelligent enough to appreciate xkcd.

    I don't listen to pop(ular) music. I didn't think nerds listen to/follow pop music. As a young nerd in high school, I listened to industrial, while my friends listened to metal; both appropriate genres for social outcasts. I imagine if I'd grown up to be a mature nerd (rather than swerving into hippiedom), I'd probably be listening to filk, nerd-core, and chiptunes. The most "popular" artist in my collection might be Weird Al, but I'd only know enough about pop music to know the original titles of songs he was parodying.

    tl;dr Nerds don't follow pop music. Why would you expect your audience to get this, Randall?

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  46. randall should do some more kanye west comics, like letting his audience know that kanye, jay-z and rick ross are not actually **monsters**. (alt text: "however, the evidence is still inconclusive for nicki minaj")
    then nobody will make a fool of themselves at his fancy cocktail parties!

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  47. Look, if people don't start talking about me I'm going to have to hack this blog.

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  48. We're just tsundere for you redux-sama.

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  49. This review started poorly but ended hilariously.

    Also, who the hell is kesha?

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  50. Why are certain letters capitalized in the alt-text for the Kesha comic? I guess Randall thinks we're too dumb to know how to sing along ourselves...?

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  51. Randall has discovered this really bizarre thing where people talk in some kind of repeating pattern and he's at a loss as to how to express it in text form.

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  52. Just like recent xkcd, once in a great while recent xkcd sucks turns out an entry that isn't garbage. Today's blog post is like one of those rare times where Randall is funny.

    I will be ESPECIALLY surprised if the next entry isn't about how Randall is pushing Megan's superiority to Kesha and all other women. Because that never gets old!

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  53. Could someone please link to the relevant song? I think I'm missing the reference.

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  54. GUYS IT IS PLAQUE LIKE SNARK
    THAT IS ALL

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  55. You mean snark with the R pronounced or snark pronounced like you have a speech impediment?

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  56. I didn't think this comic was all that bad. It gave me a chuckle, and the art's good for XKCD standards.

    As for the Kesha one: It would have been better if it was actually relevant. Besides that, not terrible, but not great either.

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  57. Either it is just a handful of people that thing they can subvert our beliefs by saying, "Gee this one was actually pretty good," for each new XKCD or there's a lot of people that need to shoot themselves.

    I cannot, for the life of me, imagine a scenario where I would find these funny. Even the typical excuse people use, "Maybe it's because it's 1 A.M. and I'm really tired, but this is FUNNY," that still fails to justify finding any of these funny. I've read this shit at 4 A.M. and it's just as awful as ever.

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  58. "I WILL LEAVE THIS BLOG UNLESS ROB EATS A DOZEN DONUTS "

    true story, i just had a dream about donuts

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  59. 3:45 you sound like an xkcd fan :(

    845 is still the best comic in ages. it's not hateable and doesn't feature any of randall's iconic flaws. also it has an actual joke and a decent alt-text. the execution is a bit off/lazy though. this one gets the prestigious 'it's ok i guess' award.

    trivialising war? really?

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  60. Why are certain letters capitalized in the alt-text for the Kesha comic? I guess Randall thinks we're too dumb to know how to sing along ourselves...?

    10:26 Anon - in this case I'm pretty sure Randall added the capitals because that's exactly how affected and stilted her lyrics sound. One of the reasons I liked the alt text, actually.

    Captcha: fuqlg - precisely the sound one makes while brushing their teeth with a bottle of Jack.

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  61. I had a nice long response to you, @1:57 A.M., but I accidentally refreshed the page and I'm too lazy to re-write it. So, here's a summary:

    If it's the best comic in ages then that's just really sad and I despise his fan base all the more for liking this shit.

    It is hate-able. Just because it doesn't feature his regular mistakes doesn't mean it isn't bad. Have you ever seen that Chris Rock skit where he talks about people saying, "Well, at least I take care of my kids," and he's all like, "You're SUPPOSED to take care of your kids."

    So, Randy didn't drag the joke on for an unnecessarily long time, he didn't fill it with bad dialogue (oops, yes he did), he didn't make it excessively wordy, the art isn't hellish. So, that means this comic is a huge improvement, right? Not exactly, seeing as how we all agreed in previous reviews that those were minor nitpicks compared to the God-awful joke/humorous situation/pun/fuck you he presented us with, and that still stands.

    I wouldn't go so far as to say the alt-text is decent, but I will say, "It's okay, I guess," and give the comic itself the prestigious, "Not as bad as 840" award.

    This turned into a full review itself, so I guess I lied about summarizing.

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  62. This review doesn't make any sense. Why would you even TRY to say that it sucks because it wouldn't make sense in real life? Seriously? So most web comics do, amirite? For the love of God, get over yourself. "LOL THAT WOULDN'T REALLY HAPPEN" isn't a valid complaint. Also, how would you know that the sentence is something ABSOLUTELY NO HUMAN BEING would utter? It seems like a perfectly reasonable sentence to me. This is just ridiculous.

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  63. ^ ...And that is why YOU fail.

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  64. OH SHIT HOISTED ON MY OWN PETARD
    I DEFINITELY DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING

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  65. I think the mindset of "I'm going to say you're wrong without elaborating because I'm too good for you" also contributes to it.

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  66. I simply posted the same way you did. Same mindset. LOLOL

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  67. well, I /am/ too good for you.

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