Monday, April 25, 2011

Comic 890: You've Never Heard Of XKCD? (i envy you)

[Title: Etymology; alt text: For some reason, my childhood suspension of disbelief had no problem with the fact that this ancient galaxy is full of humans, but was derailed by language. There's no Asia OR Europe there, so where'd they get all the Indo-European roots?]

Jesus fucking Christ, Randall.

Listen, we get it, you're quirky and nerdy and live in a rich fantasyland with the well-developed imagination you never bother using on your webcomic. You don't need to keep making comics about these made-up quirks you have in order to get your fans to fellate you.

No matter how you look at this strip it is fuck-off terrible. At first it appears to be advocating that science fiction movies should not use Earth languages if Earth does not exist in them. If the alt text is to be believed, Randy has always thought that such things were implausible! "Where do they get the Indo-European word roots?" asks child-Randy. "Why do these people speak English?" he demands. It would appear that he has never read the Lord of the Rings and doesn't understand the basic narrative convention that, in stories where the characters are meant to be speaking another language, they frequently instead speak English (or whatever language is native to the speaker), so that the native speakers will understand. In some stories, like the Lord of the Rings, the "translation" is actually mentioned as happening. In others, it's just assumed to be completely irrelevant.

This convention isn't unique to speculative fiction. Fiction that's set in a non-English-speaking culture or time period does it as well. Films like Gladiator, TV series like Rome. I'd compile a list if there weren't so goddamn many examples out there. I'd be willing to bet Randy didn't even consider this possibility when filing this arbitrary complaint, however--but if SF bothers him, this should bother him just as much. And yet!

Once you're ready to dismiss Randy as a complete moron, however, you realize that the nature of the complaint is weirdly specific. He isn't complaining that they are using English, but that they are using words with Indo-European word roots, because these roots come from Earth, and there is no Earth in Star Wars. Except--EXCEPT! Every single word on Earth comes from an Earth-based etymology. THEY ARE WORDS ON EARTH. So why is he complaining about this weirdly specific thing which ultimately means the same thing as the broader "they aren't speaking alien languages" complaint?

Some have suggested that maybe he's only complaining that their proper nouns aren't alien, but that's at least as stupid--more so, I think, because it's arbitrary. He doesn't mind them conversing in our language, but he objects to them not making up words to refer to their proper nouns.

Click that link I just made, if you haven't already. Remember when Randy complained that books that make up a bunch of words are dumb? Now notice how he's complaining that sci-fi movies don't make up a bunch of words--either all of them, or just some arbitrarily chosen ones, depending on your interpretation of his fuck-off idiocy.

I'm going to be honest: I agree with the sentiment in 483. I find it offputting when my SF stories contain a bunch of made-up words. Or even just randomly changing English word conventions! One of my biggest complaints about A Song Of Ice And Fire is how he insists on "ser" instead of "sir," and "Your Grace" rather than "Your Majesty" to refer to a royal, and some other things that don't immediately spring to mind. Their only purpose is to say "wooo, you're reading faaaaantasy" and it's just obnoxious.

And a huge part of the reason this bothers me is because the narrative convention where foreign and alien languages are translated into English is so necessary to storytelling, so embedded and taken for granted, that when you constantly throw out these random made-up words and needlessly different conventions you shatter the suspension of disbelief by constantly reminding them of the fact that they are reading a story.

But I shouldn't be so hard. This is just another attempt by Randy at making people think that he's quirky. He doesn't actually advocate this position, he's just pretending to adopt it because he thinks it makes him more endearing or interesting as a person.

Or maybe that's worse? I don't know. Is it worse to be stupid enough to actually be annoyed by the use of English in Star Wars, or to disingenuously pretend to be that stupid so people will like you more?


  1. What are you, some kind of hipster linguist?

  2. Raven wrote a review and Rob's is up first?


  3. On made-up words in a book: A Clockwork Orange was a GOOD BOOK--I had to read it like two fucking times just to understand what the fuck was going on.

  4. raven was being a petulant little bitch about her review and also i wanted to post one.

    @anon 10:15: nice.

  5. Raven didn't show enough anger. Rob is 100% unjustified anger. Also, he jelly.

  6. "On made-up words in a book: A Clockwork Orange was a GOOD BOOK--I had to read it like two fucking times just to understand what the fuck was going on."

    that's the problem with rules of thumb--there's always exceptions. but in Clockwork Orange my understanding is the made-up words are kind of the point, and not just something the author threw in for flavor

  7. What's wrong with 'your grace' to refer to the king? It is already used to refer to dukes and was used to refer to the king and queen of scotland until the two kingdoms merged.

    I have to admit the 'ser' thing was pretty bizarre and inexplicable.

    Personally, (disregarding the terrible alt-text) I found the comic to be one of the most amusing in a long time.

    Just like the rest of the English-speaking world had no word for kangaroo until Australia was discovered, I can picture Star Wars' characters generally speaking English but a word for an animal specifically indigenous to Earth seems a bit odd to me.

    I get how it's still facetious nit-picking but I thought that's why it was funny.

  8. @Jonathan, and "a word for an animal specifically indigenous to Earth": It isn't. Yeah, that's hella obscure, but we're talking about XKCD fans here -- they're pretty well always all up on obscure nit-pickery.

  9. There was a bit in the novel version of Star Wars where Obi-wan uses some figure of speech about a duck, and Luke asks what a duck is. It's a similar joke except in that case the joke is that there'd be nothing remotely like a duck on Tattooine.

    One thing that does bug me in stories where the dialog is being implicitly translated from another language is the use of English-based puns and malapropisms. Like it always annoyed me in Rugrats that the babies would substitute one English word for another... How does that happen when the babies aren't actually talking? Shouldn't the magical translation that lets us understand the characters always get the words right?

  10. Ah yes, another example of Randal contradicting a previously held belief due to the fact that he has long since run out of ideas.

    It's a shame too, because when he is attacking longstanding nerd tropes he's usually right. But as soon as a few years go by, he's ready to forget he ever said it as he realizes that very trope is going to save his ass on a sunday night when he's late for his comic.

  11. Wait... you're complaining about the etymology in Rugrats?
    Well gee, I didn't think it was possible to be more pointlessly pedantic than Randall was in this comic, but you sure showed me!

  12. Also, a parsec is a unit of distance rather than time. Did you know that the loresmiths later changed the nature of the run so that it would make sense for achieving it in a short distance being something to boast about? I didn't, but xkcd regulars taught me, and they would never have taught me such a thing if not for this comic. So thankyou, Randall, thankyou for this comic.

  13. Never seen Star Wars... Does it take place in space or something?

    In the news today, SMBC and Cyanide and Happiness did practically the same joke, but C&H did it better!

    Compare SMBC with C&H.

    How very surprising!

  14. Rochambeau you moron that's Star Trek

  15. I thought both of those (SMBC and C&H) sucked.

    Captcha: Magin = Magical Megan

  16. So what, Randall's complaining that people shouldn't be speaking Indo-European languages because there's no Europe, but he's fine with all the main human characters being obviously of European descent? What a fucking racist.

  17. My biggest complaint about A Song of Ice and Fire is that Martin can't be fucked to finish the series...

    ...actually, wtf? He's set a publication date? Holy crap.

  18. Okay, please, please, someone explain the stupid C&H comic about cell phones. I read it yesterday and didn't get it, but now SMBC has done it and I really want to know.

  19. uh, so, what did raven do to be a petulant little bitch?

  20. "....I find it offputting when my SF stories contain a bunch of made-up words. Or even just randomly changing English word conventions!...."

    This is how I feel about the American version of the Queen's English.

  21. "and "Your Grace" rather than "Your Majesty" to refer to a royal"

    Rob: confirmed for monoglot.

  22. I'll have you know that Rob's glottis is far from mono.

  23. @Doof: Apparently, we, or a representative of the population, has such a short attention span that we either go into a full-on panic (SMBC) or experience extreme time-dilation (C&H) without access to the internet while doing mundane tasks.

    @Rob: Gorram and 'verse, two words that have slowly grown in how much I hate them over the years.

  24. Is Star Wars the film with the giant alien spiders?

  25. @David,
    You used 'we'; a plural, and 'a representative of the population'; a singular, as a compound object. Accordingly, your choice of the word 'has' is incongruent.

    I has a lot of training in grammar you know.

  26. I've been groaning over XKCD and lurking here for a while, but this is the first comic that has finally driven me to actually post. Randy clearly reads TVTropes, since he did a comic (609) about it-- or maybe he pretends to read it for GOOMH!!! value. Maybe he should read the fucking entry for Translation Convention.

  27. ALTF you are such a faux-intellectual bitch. Literally noone here likes you. F'ing uppity women. Also you're not even white, you're Oriental; hence, GTFO the internet and return to the kitchen.

    Literally nobody cares about your grammar either, whore. We get it, you're "quirky" and "intellectual", and that's fine I guess if you stick to yourself, but you definitely ain't no Robert Howard and forcing yourself upon the internet is a real gay thing to do.

  28. I can't cook.
    But I do like to do gay things.

  29. So you can't cook, can't clean, and your only known skill is bitching about grammar on the internet. And pretending to be a member of the Asian intelligentsia. And you're a feminist lesbian.

    Good job; you are definitely one useful woman. Who wouldn't want to marry you. Oh wait.

  30. Pedicate and irrumate!
    When outfitted with my prosthetic penis that is.

    To which Robert Howard do you refer?
    There appears to be many of them.

  31. "a word for an animal specifically indigenous to Earth"

    I can sorta see the proper noun argument, but I just can't wrap my head around Randall's ability to suspend disbelief at having Homo sapiens everywhere (humans being specifically indigenous to earth) while having trouble with other earthly organisms. Dude, if humans are everywhere, there's no reason why honest-to-god feathered specimens of Falco peregrinus can't be there too.

  32. Sheesh, y'all are rather cranky today.

    "...your only known skill...."

    What of all the unknown skills? A girl has to retain some mystery, innit?

  33. Lovecraft's comrade. He was knowledgeable in phrenology and all the pseudosciences common of that time; he was also a purveyor of the darker arts.

    He was a bearable and even interesting intellectual. You, ALTF, pale in comparison to him: your intellectualism is fraudulent and your entire being seems despicable to me.

  34. And quit using innit: you're no archaic scot. You're some chinky chong from Myanmar.

  35. I'm pretty sure you're attempting to directly translate the chinese interrogative particle "ma" at the end of the sentence with "innit", but that's not how modern English works.

  36. Oh good. Someone just as annoying as ALT-F has decided to argue with her.

    Both of you, fuck off already.

  37. they ARE both ALT-F

    the sad thing is, so are you :(

  38. Can't we all stop fighting and agree the real enemy here is secondhand smoke? Look at it over there, just hovering and plotting.

  39. CP secondhand smoke is just a myth the LIEberals came up with to take away your freedoms and abort grandma like global warming

  40. @David: "Gorram" serves as useful a function as "frell" in that it exists to side-step television censorship, and " 'Verse", by absence of the "uni-", makes us curious enough about this setting to wonder if there ARE indeed parallel realities. Those were probably slated for season 2.

    Also,@Anonymice: Feeding dogs makes them come back for food later. Innit?

  41. @Anon 8:21
    Go to the Translation Convention page, and you'll see that some troper has already mentioned how xkcd has lampshaded it. My guess is that TVTropes has been overrun with xkcd fans ever since 609. I tried to write something bad about xkcd yesterday, on the Wall Bangers page, no less. And someone deleted it after 22 minutes.

    If you think I'm being biased, just look how many tropes are illustrated by xkcd comics.

  42. @Jon Levi: The best trope illustrations are always OOTS. ALWAYS.

  43. Not true Ann Apolis. Check with the blog administrator - he'll authenticate the separate ISP addresses for you.

    Anonymous @ 9:18 AM

    Thank you for using the word Myanmar. Those Brits and other anglophiles in the revolted colonies refuse to accept that the sun has set on the empire and my Motherland is no longer called Burma. And Aung San Suu Kyi is a caucasoid loving cunt.

    I like second-hand smoked salmon when I can get it.

    You always seem to be quite brave when you sense that your enemy is wounded. To keep with the canine metaphor, I reckon you place your self squarely in the middle of the pack.


  44. "CP secondhand smoke is just a myth the LIEberals came up with to take away your freedoms and abort grandma like global warming"

    Well, that's a relief.

  45. "If you think I'm being biased, just look how many tropes are illustrated by xkcd comics."

    Given how notoriously unoriginal and incapable of independent thought Randall has proven himself to be, is it any wonder that xkcd illustrates so many tropes?

  46. The term trope derives from the Greek τρόπος - that is: 'tropos' "turn, direction, way".

    Dearest Gamey one, how is it meant here - in the pop-culture world that is.

    Forgive my ignorance.

  47. Re. Han's misuse of parsecs - I always preferred to think that he was an arrogant blowhard who didn't really have any idea what he was going on about. Same as people using "light years" to talk about a really long time, because it's got years in it duh. When I heard about the retcon explanation, it made me strangely angry...

  48. Raz, dva, tri, chetyre - a grammar war brings choate hysteria!

    My turn.

    @Aquarians Love Attention-seeking Names: "There appears to be many of them."

    to appear to be = complex copulative
    many = subject

    Now correct yourself.

  49. "And I'm a member of the homogametic sex."

    Must suck growing up with Turner's syndrome.

  50. The etymology of the word 'hysteria' is very interesting.

    "Четырехсопочные Острова"?
    Surely not!

    Anonymous 11:36 AM

    XX - Homogametic
    XO - Haplogametic
    XYY - You. And that is fantastic, right?

  51. And it's Turner Syndrome.
    You probably put an apostrophe in Finnegans Wake to doncha?

  52. If I beat a 5-kilometre race in only 4 kilometres, I've cheated and circumvented a full kilometre of the [intended] race. So I boast, "I beat the 5-k in only four kilometres," because I'm proud not of being particularly accomplished, but of being a cheat. Happy?

  53. I'm only concerned about you being caught using a performance-enhancing horse during the 5-k race.

    That would be embarassing.

  54. @Aquarians:

    Re hysteria - indeed. Perhaps Gandall can employ his artistic solipsism to produce a "Where's Wally? With Wombs".

    Incidentaly, when I was 13 or so I once wrote "harrass". Since then I recall that you har-ass her-ass. Unfortunately, the same does not apply to "embarrass". Harassing her ass's embarrassing! But only if you're caught.

  55. Actually homogametic just means one type of sex chromosome. Also, your second X chromosome is inactivated anyway. Cunt.

  56. You probably put an apostrophe in Finnegans Wake to doncha?

    Fake intellectual. I knew it.

    And by the way, I'm Slavic, and I greatly appreciate the slavic counting midear.

  57. @ALTF: I'll have you know I've been beating myself up about that grammar gaffe all day today :/

    @Ravenzomg: Good point about "gorram", but I think you give Whedon far too much credit with "'verse"; if everyone in the Firefly world was aware of multiple universes, why can't they just say "best in the multiverse" or some such phrase?

    And at any rate, it's not so much the practicality of those words as in, I dunno, how they come off especially in the fandom. Like an anime fan shouting "ne?" every time they ask a question, I seriously feel like punching someone whenever they use "gorram" and "'verse" in every day conversation.

  58. I'm starting to think ALTF has a Robertsonian translocation involving the p arm of chromosome 14 and the q arm of chromosome 21.

  59. "And it's Turner Syndrome.
    You probably put an apostrophe in Finnegans Wake to doncha?"

    >Start's sentence with and
    >what the fuck am I reading

  60. >Start's sentence with and
    *actually perfectly acceptable
    *ripping off my previous analysis
    *fuck you

  61. >Knit one
    >pearl one
    >drop one
    >curl one

    Kick it!

    Out-analling Randall is like shooting wine in a barrel... then drinking it... then shooting it again!

  62. >pissed off someone rips off analysis
    >claims previous analysis was actually his and not mine

  63. whoever is behind altf: shut up and fuck off.

  64. I miss the days when the comments were full of whiny XKCD fans.

  65. I've never understood the furore over the use of "parsec" in this scene, since both the shooting script and Alec Guiness' facial expression immediately after that line say, in no uncertain terms, "Go on, pull the other one." It doesn't matter what parsec does or doesn't mean, because the point of the line is just that Han is full of sh!t and Ben's not buying it.

  66. @ Anonymous 12:11 PM

    Oooops, I's a true dullard. I wondered why I had an 'r' left over. "Harassing her ass's embarrassing!" Great mnemonic. Thank you.

    @ Anonymous 12:18 PM

    I know and I know. And I am indeed a cunt with far too much medical training for her own good.

    @ Anonymous 12:22 PM

    You picked up on that? Good for you!
    You know what Hitler said about the Slavic races dontcha? Careful! And I am a 'fucking fake intellectual' - get it right.

    @ David,
    I am sorry, I do feel bad having to be the hated pedant, but y'all will thank me in the end. At least this is how I excuse my own asshole-ish behaviour so I can sleep at night.

    Sheesh, R @ 12:39 PM, relax.

  67. * is the symbol I use

    > is what you use

    See a difference, dumbass impersonating me?

  68. "I know and I know. And I am indeed a cunt with far too much medical training for her own good."

    You don't have any medical training. You clearly skipped over 12:26 even though it's very straight forward for anyone who has ever taken a real medical class. I can only imagine that now you'll begin browsing the internet and try playing it off as though you missed it.

  69. Yeah Hitler was pretty much an idiot; he was way too restrictive.

  70. I use the name Anonymous. You use the name Anonymous. Other people use the name Anonymous. Nobody gives two shits who wrote it.

  71. See ALTF is a real dumb bitch, and she's being called out by like 3 dudes. That's how many people hate your boring, semi-"mystical" or whatever that shit is, writing enough to call you out on the internet, that's like 1000 people in reality.

  72. no, ALT-F is being called out by herself. and now she herself is calling herself out for doing it. wheels within wheels, maaaaaan.

    frankly I wouldn't be surprised if she kills me and starts using my account to deny everything

  73. @ Anonymous @ 11:27 AM

    Now I understand what you were saying/doing.

    Thank you.
    I am still learning the Queen's English. And every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.

    I did not see Anonymous 12:26. I know Chromosome 21 is connected to Down's Syndrome.

    I am a 'really fucking dumb bitch' - get it right.

    I know you young people speak like this: "and she's being called out by like 3 dudes." but I was not aware that y'all write like that too.
    Mercy me, what's the world coming to?

  74. Ann Apolis,
    I would not kill for an account.
    I would not kill for money - I have enough - nor whould I kill for love - mere dopamine and seratonin. I kill as a matter of taste. I like seafood, I like the colour beige and I like to kill - simple as that.

  75. "I did not see Anonymous 12:26. I know Chromosome 21 is connected to Down's Syndrome."

    Called it. What a cunt.

  76. *whould

    You are soooooo good at the "queen's" english. Oh wait.

    I assume you mean British english but want to seem quirky, perhaps to impress us or for the purpose of feeling superior to us. Well it ain't working, b*tch.

  77. Braaawrrr!

  78. "I am still learning the Queen's English. And every day, in every way, I am getting better and better."

    You fail the most important aspect of it which is communicating like a normal human being.

  79. @ Anonymous 1:03 and 1:07

    Yes I am a cunt(1:03) and yes I am a b*tch(1:07)

    You win!
    I assume the submissive pose and present with lordosis behavior.
    Be gentle.

  80. @ Anonymous 11:17 PM
    You can join in too.
    Mind you, I am not normal.

  81. I would prefer not to contract Trichomonas. Thanks for the offer though.

  82. Trichomoniasis?


    It's the Hep C you have to worry about!

  83. No, it's the b*tchy fat feminist with a superiority complex and the inability to converse normally that he has to worry about.

  84. @David way up there: Oh yeah, probably. But that's what geeks do, "give Whedon too much credit" ever since Buffy, isn't it? ;-)

    That said, I'll occasionally use "Frell" if everyone around me will get the reference because (a) I miss that show and (b) it's a funny sounding word.

    @anonymice: as far as I'm concerned this dialogue is entirely internal. Carry on.

  85. Complaining? About a Song of Ice and Fire? RRRGHH NERDRAGE

  86. @ Anonymous 1:34 PM

    I am morbidly obese.
    I apologise for not conversing in a manner commensurate with your level of reading comprehension.

    I am indeed arrogant - and for good reason.
    You are, of course, modest - also for good reason.

  87. No, woman, you're wrong. I've read Joyce. I've read Lovecraft. I've read Tolkien.

    All of these authors use complicated phrasing and choose their words diligently from a wide corpus of literature, achieving what effect they meant to achieve. None of them were difficult to understand; neither is your writing.

    But you are writing like some stuffy philosopher for no reason! Simply for to show off on the internet (before you bitch at me in feminist rage:

    That just makes people hate you, not for being smart but for being arrogant. And I highly doubt you have anything, anything at all, that justifies arrogance.

  88. 2:01, you do realize ALTF doesn't actually care if you hate her, right?

  89. I don't really give a shit what she cares about.

    She's an annoying little chinawoman to whom was given a dictionary and an internet connection, quite likely in her despised "Caucasoid" west. If she had stayed home, as her nationalism and race ought've compelled her to, she'd be a farmer's wife in some hellish locale in northern Burma.

    I only wish she had stayed back in that little village, where she could've remained hating the West without being a hypocrite, and not chosen to inflict her incredibly stupid and boring pseudo-philosophy on this otherwise funny blog.

  90. hot damn, ALTF brings me the very best hate

  91. She's such a bitch is why, Robdall, as I'm sure you know, fat one.

  92. man I used to be all like 'rr altf annoying rar' and it was frustrating, then it went away for a while and then it came back and i was like 'oh no i am going to be annoyed any minute' and then I was like 'oh hey I actually don't care,' so I was doing the whole 'ignoring it' thing and then just now I started reading how mad people got and it was like yessss

  93. Dear Anonymous 2:01 and 2:11

    Joyce, Lovecraft and Tolkien in the same sentence?
    Oh dear!

    Though I ostensibly respond and address my missives to you, I am not actually writing them for your erudition.
    Copy this comment string and save it.
    Review it in ten years time and you will understand what I mean. Or show it now to one of your smarter friends.

    Captain Cameron!
    I do care!
    I care a great deal!
    My thriving on rejection is just a poorly masked plea for love and acceptance.

    I am actually embarrassed (learned to spell that one correctly today!) that I have succumbed to the 'anonymous' types today.
    Forgive me.

  94. Rob said:

    "....then just now I started reading how mad people got and it was like yessss...."

    Welcome to the dark side Rob.

  95. Oh so now she's a troll too.

    Jesus Christ you're right Rob. This woman's some sort of faggotress and it is not worth my while to listen to her. Thank you so much, O massive one.

  96. As for ASOIAF I was under the impression that 'ser' and 'your grace' were common in ye olden tymes when english wasn't standardized and countries were much more religious. But that really only comes from reading a fuckton of historical fiction and watching the tudors.

  97. @ Anonymous 2:21 PM


    I like that word!
    Which syllable is emphasised? You know, so when you are not listening to me I can at least pronounce it in a correct way for others of your obvious enlightened ilk.

  98. I was amused by this comic but then I read the alt text and now I want to punch him in his neck

  99. I want to know what ALTF's profession is. If she's a student I want to know her major, where she went to University, whether she went to medical/graduate/law school, anything to shed light onto her most likely unwarranted sense of self worth. I want to know if she really has "far too much medical training for her own good" and why she is "indeed arrogant - and for good reason." Enlighten us.

  100. That's so stupid, if Randal thinks that SciFi should not have any english words because Earth does not exist, them he could just as well complain about SciFi having any and aspects that come from human culture just as well.

  101. I made a name for this postApril 26, 2011 at 4:55 PM

    ALTf's avatar makes it nice and easy to skim over his rubbish, but the thread is still ruined by everyone else talking to him :(

  102. What is the perfect XKCD sucks thread? Is it a slam-fest on XKCD-ers? Is it a thoughtful dissection of the critic's prose? Or is it the possibility of summoning demons forth from the nether regions of the human psyche? (Oh... already mentioned that.)

    Stay tuned!

  103. Rob writes a good review and the comments are pretty much

    ALTF- "I'm so quirky and intelligent, watch as I make a bunch of asinine comments"
    Group 1 Anonymous- "No."
    Group 2 Anonymous- "Just ignore it. But ALTF is terrible."
    Rob- "I ate an entire subway today"

  104. it was only half a subway, thank you

  105. xkcd 891: "Hey guys, were you aware that some popular movies have come out within the last 16-35 years? Boy, that sure is a long time. Golly."

  106. What is that "child prodigy" thing, too? He's brought that up before... does anyone else get the feeling randall regrets not being freakishly intelligent?

  107. The age bar seems highly unnecessary, and retarded. Also, no joke. He should have included a turtle.

  108. The whole thing seems highly unnecessary. And the chart format too. Randall has made these kinds of jokes before... I guess it was only a matter of time before he compiled them into chart form.

  109. Did you realize that XKCD #631 came out almost 2 years ago?

  110. I've never realised any of those things, and I'm younger than thirty. Maybe I'm just temporally retarded. Still, thirty five isn't very old at all so how is that the upper limit to feeling old?

  111. "Did you realize that Shrek came out ten years ago?"

    Yes, Randall. I did. And there came three sequels, too. Your point?

    Okay, people: facts! Randall is 26 years old. He's not 30 years old yet and far from a mid-life crisis. What the heck is up with him and feeling old? Remember that one about 9/11? The one with the two stick figures on a gray background that was horrible? Yea.

    There's a few things I have a hard time standing, and one of these is people who feel old or are incredibly nostalgic at ages before 40. Stop that. You haven't lived even half your life expectancy, stop looking back at life and ENJOY IT, DAMN IT!

    Oh, and the comic is actually a shoddily drawn chart. Fuck Randall and all that.

  112. it's not too uncommon for (American) twenty-somethings to start feeling old well before the are, in fact, actually old. weird landmarks like "people who were born in 1990 are now legal adults now." it's sort of a relative thing.

  113. Maybe Randall lamenting his age is a sign that he's starting to realise he may never achieve anything substantial in life. Maybe he'll move on to something better, or at least try to deserve the acclaim he receives in the field that he has had unwarranted success in.

    Personally, I hope he doesn't. It makes me feel better that at least one cocksucker out there is a worse person than me regardless of how successful he is. That's why I come here to glory in his failures.

  114. Thought this comic was pretty good, altogether. None of the usual xkcd awfulness.

  115. You know your comic is getting old when you reuse the same joke over and over. "Heaven" was pretty uninspired, but this is just a total rehash of some of his previous comics.

  116. Joyce is pretentious, Lovecraft is ridiculous with his fake archaic language and Tolkien is so boring that you WILL be put to sleep. Good thing about him, though, is that you can easily make yourself a bed - or at least a comfortable nest - from the torn pages of his dreck.

    Also, Lovecraft and Tolkien were racists, but even that's not helping them.

  117. Jon Levi's forum-watchApril 27, 2011 at 3:46 AM

    I'm willing the bet the official thread's full of people saying 'GOOMH, I feel old because of this!'
    Well the comments weren't as bad as I expected. No one yet has used the tired mantra, and there's nothing shockingly bad that I can point out. I'll just leave you with some 'normal' quotes instead.

    "Great, now I feel old..."
    "I had no idea that some things came out a while ago, thank you Randall for saving me a trip to IMDB."
    "Dammit! I'm going to be 'off the chart' in five days!"

  118. The average 35 year old US citizen around 1960 had a challenging past and an exciting future.

    The average US citizen of the same age fifty years later has shitty movies to look back on and the waning of an empire (which will not strike back) to look forward to.

    I like Randall. He reflects justice, and justice gives me hope: his popularity confirms that this nation sucks and deserves to fail. As certainly as desperation and poverty will sweep the nation and those without privilege begin to cry for help on the streets, I shall look them in the eye and ask what they did when they first saw an xkcd strip. Then I shall tell them:

    You had your chance to choose your fate. You could have walked the straight and narrow, fighting the demons of mediocrity and unwarranted self-satisfaction, but you chose to snigger at masturbatory humour and rest on the laurels watered by the sweat of your ancestors.

    You're in hell now, son.

  119. Rob, when you say you ate half a subway, do you mean that you devoured a good portion of an underground train, or that you messily consumed part of a sandwich shop (and its unlucky customers)?

  120. this IS rob we're talking about, why does it have to be 'or'

  121. Anon 5:28, I take a few flaws in what you say. I have trouble seeing Randall standing up for those without privilege, because he is pretty privileged. I'm cool with people making money off of personal projects, but he's not exactly someone who spent years developing a real product and is now finally seeing some fruits of their labor. He's a guy who throws together three strips a week, and that's about it. He doesn't even proofread.

    As far as the average us citizen having more possibilities than us now, the white and male citizens maybe. The rest were still trying to get rights for equal pay, and higher paying jobs were few.

    Also you are actually comparing bad movies with poor economy? Really? There are people losing their jobs and wondering how they'll make ends meet this month. I doubt most of them care that there's nothing good coming out in theaters this May.

  122. @GenericGeek: My implication was that Randall acts as a rusty figurehead for the sort of people who believe they are privileged until the shit hits the propeller. And the more shit your country generates - as opposed to real production - the more chance your ship'll get caught up in the effluent.

    Those blessed with true privilege, i.e. that inherited either through direct injection of money or the fortune of good genetics and early parenting (sorry, egalitarians!), will either laugh at Randall or ignore him.

    tl;dr Randall is a petty lucifer.

    captcha: ledbut. Grasp onto him and he'll sink you with his ledbut.

  123. ALTF seems to have fled. Alle ist gut.

  124. I think Randall is legitimately depressed upon realizing he will accomplish nothing with his life now that he works full time on XKCD-- a comic which started mediocre, became promising/good, then spiraled down to the depths of hell. That's why his comic ends at age 35. If Randall is still writing XKCD full time by age 35 I am certain he will kill himself.

  125. "Did you realize that XKCD #631 came out almost 2 years ago?"

    Wow, THAT makes me feel old. I had no idea I'd been coming to this site for that long.

  126. made up words in a fantasy book are bad...

    But what about Watership Down?

  127. Rob, if you've finished eating the other half of your subway, there must be a guest review sitting in your inbox now. Go publish it, dammit!


    "made up words in a fantasy book are bad...

    But what about Watership Down?"

    True, but I think Richard Adams would have got in trouble if he didn't find a stealthy way to say "eat shit" in his book. So it's for a greater good, I suppose. :P


    Captcha:Surap, the sound it makes when you hit someone while drunk.

  129. Watership Down is not Fantasy, it's Natural History

  130. I made a bingo for 890. Here it is.

    By the way, I don't know what you're talking about but my mental state is *TWITCH* absolutely fine.

    If you're looking for an idea to replace bingo, how about Xkcdsucks Wordles (image here). We get to see which words commenters are using the most, and make a pretty picture out of it.

    Captcha: saten. I can haz saten?

  131. Uhh, wrong blog.

  132. The joke in the comic is absurd, which I think could allow to it work under some circumstances, but any opportunity for that was ruined by the alt-text. I could see this joke working in something like Space Balls, followed by the actors giving an aside glance to the camera and then moving on. I actually laughed at this one, but then I read the alt-text and the joke became less funny.

    I'm new to the idea of xkcd sucking. It's been one of the three webcomics I read regularly for the last few years. I guess I've been reading it out of habit, because I can't really remember the last time I got a really good laugh out of it. The idea that it isn't quite as good as it's made out to be has been creeping under the surface. I remember I was showing it to a friend and I was just clicking "random" to give him a good idea of what the comic was about, and none of the ones that were popping up were very good at all. I forgot about it and continued to read it regularly without a thought, until I came across this blog. I think xkcd still puts out some good comics here and there, but this blog has pointed out to me that it might not be worthy of my regular readership.

  133. "I'm new to the idea of xkcd sucking. It's been one of the three webcomics I read regularly for the last few years. I guess I've been reading it out of habit, because I can't really remember the last time I got a really good laugh out of it. The idea that it isn't quite as good as it's made out to be has been creeping under the surface. I remember I was showing it to a friend and I was just clicking "random" to give him a good idea of what the comic was about, and none of the ones that were popping up were very good at all. I forgot about it and continued to read it regularly without a thought, until I came across this blog. I think xkcd still puts out some good comics here and there, but this blog has pointed out to me that it might not be worthy of my regular readership."

    that is the service this blog provides, I think: it doesn't convince anybody that the comic sucks (nobody ever changes their mind on the internet) but it does allow people to see the elephant in the room: this comic that you've been reading for so long isn't really good, and hasn't been for a long time.

  134. The alien! In the first panel!

    It has eyes!

  135. "One of my biggest complaints about A Song Of Ice And Fire is how he insists on "ser" instead of "sir," and "Your Grace" rather than "Your Majesty" to refer to a royal"

    That's one of your biggest complaints about GRRM's sprawling tumor of a series? Really? Gosh.

  136. "ser" isn't made up. Its just trying to be period speak. If you read any English Early Modern Drama around late 1500-1600's you see them dropping "ser" all the time. It does annoy me though because it is like sticking e's on the end of words to make it sound/look medieval.

  137. i never said it was made up, i said it was annoying.

  138. the elephant in the room is you, Rob. You are so goddam fat