Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Comic 905: I'm Done With Pokemon For Now


[Title: Homeownership; alt text: New research shows over 60% of the financial collapse's toxic assets were created by power drills.]

The time sure does fly! It seems like only yesterday I was putting off writing this post because it's boring because it's fucking identical to 616. Don't believe me? Look:


That's all he's got. "Ha ha ha I am so quirky ha ha ha WHOOPS MY HOUSE FELL DOWN." I'm not even going to waste my time on this one.

In other news, Randy didn't learn from the last time his comic file name contained the word 'advertising.'

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Comic 904: You Fellate Me And I'll Pander To You, CUDDLEFIIIIIIIIISH

[Hated raven "Ravenzomg" sent this guest review, which is utter shit. -Ed.]

Hello everyone, this is Ravenzomg of Ravenzomg fame here to review XKCD number 904!

Title: Sports

Tooltip: Also, all financial analysis. And, more directly, D&D.

To which I reply

also all reviews written by Rob, but whatcha gonna do

For those pedants among you, the post-punchline dialogue is the comment that it's "all xkcd comics" because we saw that one coming a mile away.

This comic is a 2.36 on the Ravenzomg Scale of Wordiness™

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Comic 903: Cuddlefish! A Smugness So True, My Pandering Will Pull Us Through

extended mind

[Comic title: Extended Mind; alt text: Wikipedia trivia: if you take any article, click on the first link in the article text not in parentheses or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at "Philosophy".]

Little to say about this one: Randy once again admits that he relies on Wikipedia for all of his ideas. Woo. Also, I think someone posted this the comment threads (but maybe it was on our IRC channel, which is #xkcd-sucks on foonetic), but apparently this "philosophy" thing was on Reddit some weeks back. Which is also not surprising.

But that's all this is. 'Without Wikipedia I am a lot dumber.' GOOMH-bait and a confession that without Wikipedia, Randy is incapable of having any thoughts. It controls his life. It's a small wonder that his fanboys are so obsessive about vandalizing Wikipedia to praise the great one. Cuddlefish have a parasitic relationship to Wikipedia, and they hope that by making their host body acknowledge them (and Lord Cuddlefish Randy) they will be able to achieve greatness within the limited context of their sad little world.

Apologies for forgetting to continue the Pokemon theme in the last post. I know you were looking forward to more terrible half-assed lines.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Comic 902: More Star Wars References

darmok and jalad

[Comic title: Darmok and Jalad; alt text: I wonder how often Patrick Stewart has Darmok flashbacks when talking to Star Trek fans.]

As is traditional, shortly after Randy does something which is vaguely topical, the very next reference he makes is to a 1983 film you may have seen called "Return of the Jedi." The reference is to the part where Sir Alec Guinness is talking to Kalenda the Hutt's henchman about gaining entry to the palace so they can free Han Solo and his friends and then fly off and fight the Emperor.

The scene is famous for its decadent party sequences, including the extended edition which has a bunch of terrifying alien dancers, and Kalenda the Hutt indulging his voyeuristic necrophagia fetishes by having one of his dancers eaten by a monster named after how angry it is. So naturally Randy thinks it would be hilarious if the famous greeting "Darmok and Jalad at Kalenda's" actually referred to having a hedonistic orgy, which is basically a description of what's happening in the scene. I guess a straight up literal description is supposed to be funny now? Come on, Randy, make an effort.

Also, that doesn't even look like Sir Alec.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Comics 900 and 901: Cuddlefish! You're My Best Fans, In A Comic You Must Defend

Ugh. Let's get this over with, shall we? I'd apologize for my tardiness, but I'm not sorry.

900. First, observe that Randy's idea of a conversation with Megan (alas, she has returned) involves her fleeing him. This is not commented on in the world of the comic--as far as Randy is concerned, he has many conversations with Megan in this way, leaping into her path, talking to her, and her moving swiftly past him. He has never paused to consider why this might be.

But apart from that: internet atheists! How did you like your pandering? Was it good? Was it tasty? It seems to me that, as far as internet atheist mocking of religion goes, it's pretty weak. Randy often does this, where he tries to pander to multiple largely unrelated groups at once--in this case, people who know what error bars are and internet atheists. Boring.

And notice how he's trying the shotgun joke effect here by working, by my count, four jokes and/or references into three panels--usually something reserved for his list comics. I guess he couldn't find a way to make these jokes into a list so he just threw them into a drive-by conversation.

901. Given Randy's oral fixation, I don't think this is actually meant as a joke, but as wish-fulfillment fantasy.

There's really nothing to be said for this one, except that some people are praising it for some reason--I think people are so used to Randy's godawful walls of text that when he produces a comic without words they feel such a wave of relief they mistake that for a well-made comic. It's not.

I think the mistake you're making is assuming that each hideous comic Randy shits out thrice-weekly is equal to the sum of its parts. That is, that Wall of Text + Floating Heads + Pandering + White-Knighting all add up to a specific level of badness, and that if you take away the wall of text or the pandering then it's slightly less bad. But it's less arithmetic and more cooking with hideous poisons. You can take the arsenic out of your arsenic/cyanide/chlorine gas cocktail and it will still kill you just as bad.

Oh, sure, you can damn this one with faint praise, but people seem to forget that the point of damning things with faint praise is the damnation part. These things are not good enough. They fall short. These little good bits are not good. They are crap.

This one is boring. In order for something to be good, it has to rise above completely failing to invoke any sort of reaction at all. It has to actually, at the very least, make me go 'if I weren't so hideously bloated with hatred I might have smiled at that once, in innocent times.'

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Comics 898 and 899: Cuddlefish! It's You And Me, You Know I'm Just Pandering

[Satanic hell-bird "Ravenzomg" threatened to kill me if I didn't post this guest review. -Ed.]

Hello, this is Raven "I need a real career-path/date/academic-field" Zomg of Ravenzomg fame, here with a dual review of XKCDs 898 and 899 so that comic 900 can have its own special! Let's get ready to be disappointed/confused/aroused, everybody!

For ease of reference:
XKCd #898

Title: Chain of Command. Tooltip: You know what the chain of command is? It's the chain I go get and beat you with 'til ya understand who's in ruttin' command here! Haha, just fucking with you--you WISH the original was that good instead of a faulty trainwreck of logic that just stops for no apparent reason (other than that it makes Randall's life easier/punchier (and the fact that trainwrecks are generally stopped (but this is a metaphorical trainwreck as well as a pun on the expression "train of thought" that went awry, so stfu))).

Title: Number Line. Tooltip: The Wikipedia page "List of Numbers" opens with "This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it."

Comment 1: At least Randall is admitting that this latest abortion was born of Wikipedian seeds. We've all suspected it, and here it is. The proof. But this doesn't feel remotely fulfilling. It's like having your party lose an election spectacularly, and then afterward admit to making some poor decisions. You've already been crushed by the poor show, and the post-failure admittance is little more than a cherry on top of the ruins of our democratic civilization.

{Interlude in which Raven wonders how obvious the country/political party which were lived in/voted for are}

Comment 2: #898 is nothing more than that arrogant "but really, it's scientists/engineers/mathematics/the academics (except the "Liberal" "Arts" "People" of course) who control the world, amirite or amirite?", met with a raucous round of one handed applause and cries of "Goomh, I was just telling my friend that we physics students are actually the ones who'll shape the world, but then our 5-minute break was over and we had to go back to serving customers at the Lard Grease 'n Fat Hut or Tony would've totally fired us".

{Interlude in which Raven admits to being poor/poorly employed enough to have lived a whole week off of discounted/expired baked goods}

Comment 3: #899 is nothing more than a short list of cute written references. The "graphic" element is a line and a hazy bubble. That's it.

Now, he has a bl(a)og, which is a place where words go with a few graphics. He also has a webcomic.

I want to hate #899 for being basically empty of content, largely non-sensical and not in an entertaining way, and entirely sourced by the cross product of Wikipedia and Randall's "imagination".

{Interlude in which Raven admits to thinking 899 was "okay". 898 was the arrogant/meaningless shit that is dragging the scientific academia down due to a sense of "entitlement" that is not inherited but earned by virtue of that combination of brilliance, passion, and determination that make the great scientists great.. But no, apparently by virtue of being accepted to a series of programs that accept the upper 35% of the population is enough to qualify you as "better than the filthy Plebs". It's bullshit, and if you want to actually be better than the common man, then you should actually go and prove your brilliance beyond an acceptance letter! Why don't I go do that? Well I'm not a science student -- I minored in math, and my major's in the social sciences. I have zero obligation to be a productive member of society, yessss.}

Comment 4: 899 was okay. Honestly, it's not great, but it's not awful. Passing marks! Why? Because this is the sort of lame joke you and a group of friends scribble between pages, and in a way this comic is terrifically true to the original XKCD spirit of "things from Randall's sketchbook". No, they weren't all diamonds, but this sort of crass and foolish creation (even given that it is a Wikipedian infection) is the sort of thing that is geeky and universally so.

{Interlude in which Raven admits to being awful as a geek, and awful as a human being in general}

Comment 5: Words. Fuckin' words everywhere. Going back to Comment 3, I present to you a graph of "word density" for the past 10 or so comics. Put simply, it measures how much space is taken up by words. The Y Axis is measured in "words per 10 Kpel" for you monstrous pedants. I didn't count numbers as words for some reason, which I honestly forget.

{Interlude in which Raven declares the necessity of going outside and interacting with real people}

Comment 6: The peak there is the abominable comic about female role models in science. Now then, just to quickly remind you: This is a blog post. There are words. That is what a blog is about. If this were a webcomic, I'd be FAILING. We're dealing with densities even above the "Subnormality" level this past month, really.

Say then, why don't we do a comparison to two other webcomics. I was going to list several Subnormality comics, but after reading the latest and counting well over 800 words I said "fuck you, Rob", so instead I did a series from a webcomic that I believe is doing it correct:

{Interlude in which Raven points out that MS Paint is an awful medium for saving image files}

Comment 7: Optipess is notable as a comic that is beautifully transcendent of culture pointedly because the wordcount is quite often "<1", or numbering in the single digits when we get asinine enough to count labels or unspoken words, and when words are used it's almost universally "efficient", in that the page is never bogged down with unnecessary text. Anyways, enough fan-writing from me, let's leave it to you fine monstrous caricatures of human beings:

Compare this with this. Tell me which one engages you more, and which one makes you simply think about closing the tab and pretending you know what I'm talking about.

{Exitlude in which Raven gestures at the graph again for emphasis}

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Comic 897: Teach Cuddlefish To Understand The Smugness That's Inside

elevator inspection

[Comic title: Elevator Inspection; Alt text: "Even governmental elevator inspectors get bored halfway through asking where the building office is."]

I'd like to first take a moment to note that Randy has stopped drawing Megan as his default female human. This might be a little premature, but it's been two comics, and the female human is his blonde-haired ponytailed female human who, to the best of my knowledge, has no name. If this is a trend and not merely a statistical blip, I'm going to go ahead and take credit. We've managed to make Randy (or, let's be fair, probably his girlfriend) feel so creepy about his obsession that he has changed his default female character's appearance (or been ordered to do so).

With that out of the way: Jesus fucking Christ this comic is boring. "Ha ha ha, I find the idea of elevator inspections boring, it's not like anyone ever looks that shit up, am I right?" I don't even know why this is supposed to be funny. Elevators get inspected. They get maintained. Take it from someone who is in them all the fucking time (rather than, say, Randy, who probably doesn't even leave his house to get groceries).

So! I decided to take a trip to the forodes for this one. They don't seem to think it's funny either--mostly it's "our building's elevator sucks GOOMH"--and at least one person wrote a lengthy "this isn't how things work, inspectors will hunt you down if your permits are out of date." And one person is arguing that Randy is a libertarian, which, not sure if that's the take-home message here, but all right.

Almost a wasted endeavor! However, the forodes have helped me understand why people think this is funny: they are smug cuddlefish who think they are smarter than the world, and Randy is affirming their smug notions by saying "yes, you are right in being smug about your elevators, there is totally no inspection permit." Even though he is lying like the dog he is.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Comic 896: I Will Shamble Across The Land, Pandering Far And Wide

[Hated carrion fowl "Ravenzomg" sent me this review, apparently. -Ed.]

Hello everyone, this is Ravenzomg of Ravenzomg fame here with a very special review for 896!

Title: Marie Curie. Tooltip: although not permanently

Now then, first thing's first: it's a wall of text filled with random "goomh Randall!" references to famous female scientists/mathematicians. The ungenerous will call it "white-knighting". But no -- this is just pandering. He's not proclaiming the world we live in as a product of both women and men in science, no no.... he's dropping names, he's dropping them hard, and people will fall for it. "Goomh, Randall, my heroine in Science is ____" etcetera etcetera!

Now, to burn some negativity, a positive point: The tooltip is an independent "bonus" joke, that does not "make" the comic, but simply adds a little flourish. It's trite and expected, but it is half-entertaining at the least. So points!

Now, once he brought up "Zombie Marie Curie", I just kept thinking, When is he going to point out that her work killed her. When is it coming. When is it-- oh.

Positive point number 2: The "punchline" is at the end. Tarnished by the classic case of Post-Punchline Dialogue "I'll try", but that is succinct enough to be forgiven.

Now then, the negatives [again]. It seems like Randall wanted to drop a bunch of names tell us how awesome women are in science. So he made this huge blogtastic post, and scribbled on the premise of "Zombie Madame Curie" because he wanted to make it a joke.

We've been here before -- you don't HAVE to add a joke to everything, Randall! At the very least, I found some of these [predictable] anecdotes to be interesting. But as it stands, it's like you crashed a half-interesting series of stories into a half-formed joke that, really, everyone has thought of once Madame Curie is brought up.

Just... goddamn. The problem here is the final product. It's like a meal gone bad, where the contents sounded delicious but you just did the measurements all wrong, left it in the oven too long, and forgot to wash your plates so now it's all just gross, burnt, and awful. But there was some potential hidden in there!

Anyways, the moral of this is that he needs an editor more than ever. Luckily, the fine people at Microsoft are one step ahead of us, so I turn the floor over to Clippy.

Everyone give a round of applause for our special guest!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Comic 895: To Be Smug Is My Real Test, To Train Cuddlefish To Be Smug Is My Cause

[Your pirate "The Pirate King" has (placeholder pirate joke, fill this in) this guest review to my very inbox. -Ed.]

teaching physics

Oh gee, another boring-as-fuck comic. How great.

Right off the bat the dialogue in the first panel is terrible. "Understanding Gravity: Space time is like a massive rubber sheet". Is part of this a caption, and the other part is what the professor is saying? In which case why does it look like run together shit? Or is the professor actually saying the part with the colon? Because that would just be weird. At first I thought Randall was referencing a book or essay called "Understanding Gravity: Space Time". Because that would be like him, to start dropping references in the first panel.

So he's got a reasonable facsimile of the diagram commonly used to represent relativity, that's all well and good and sufficient art-wise.

And then in the next panel, generic stick #2 (who appears to be the only student in this classroom) comes up with an objection based on the way the metaphor and diagram are presented. But the wording of his metaphor makes me wonder whether he understands the way gravity works at all. He asks "because they're pulled down by what?", implying he doesn't understand that gravity works in three dimensions (let alone four!). So he is a generic straw-man for the scientifically unenlightened. Man, xkcd must be set on a farm, else how would it have so many straw men?

So I guess the "joke" is that inaccurate metaphors are often necessary to make higher-level concepts interesting and manageable, and that it doesn't matter that they're inaccurate so long as you grasp the basic concept. Well that's a fine premise, but there is absolutely nothing funny about it. Also, as Gamer_2k4 sagely pointed out, it is directly contradicting the message in comic 803.

The alt text is there so he can drop Richard Feynman's name for the freaking bajillionth time, and suck up to him a little bit more.

And undoubtedly, if you are a physics major, you will have to endure this comic being printed out and pasted on one of your professor's walls, or if you're really unlucky, shown to the whole class via projector. Bravo.

[I can't help but feel like Randy is actually siding with the smug student in this one, at least a little bit. -Ed.]

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Comic 894: I Want To Be The Very Best, Like No One Ever Was


[Comic title: Progeny; alt text: I tell my children 'it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.' I'm trying to take the edge off their competitive drive to ensure that I can always beat them.]

Randy has been doing more research on lactation, and it turns out that only pregnant females lactate under normal circumstances. This, in turn, has caused him to begin fantasizing about having children--not just because he wants his daughters to turn out to be sexy porn stars, but because getting Megan pregnant is the easiest way to have access to her delicious, delicious milk.

We have mentioned before that Randy lives a rich fantasy life, so this fantasy quickly went from not just having a child (his sexy porn star daughter is now a regular staple of his masturbation fantasies), but to having children. Can you imagine how glorious it would be to have Megan perpetually lactating? She could pop out dozens of kids and all that delicious milk would be Randy's, forever and ever. Yeah.


Of course, even Randy can achieve orgasm sometimes, and when that happens his thoughts turn to how he can abuse his fantasy children. This time around he's decided to take the straightforward route, and ensure that he can consistently beat them. And Megan's there, milk flowing from her exposed nipples, saying, "You can teach them whatever you want, Randy, because you're awesome and I love you."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Comics 892 and 893: Charts Charts Charts

[I'm having intermittent connectivity issues so I had the inestimable "Sethy" write these. -Ed.]


[Title: Null Hypothesis, Alt text: "Hell, my eighth grade science class managed to conclusively reject it just based on a classroom experiment. It's pretty sad to hear about million-dollar research teams who can't even manage that."]


[Title: 65 years, Alt text: "The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space--each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision."]

Hey you guys, I've got something to show you.

Take a look at this:


That's the family circus. You remeber the family circus, right? You know, from back when you read comics on things that weren't the web? I want you to look at that comic, and then I want you to look at the first one I posted here. Then, I want you to tell me which one is funnier.

I'm pretty sure now you know the gravity of this dilemma.

That's right. Family circus, as lame and as terrible as it is, is now actually funnier than xkcd. I was looking through their archives, expecting to find one on par with that comic, if a little behind. I soon realized, however, that I could not find one that would meet that criteria, because they all were funnier than that comic, even if by some small degree. And the worst part is, Family Circus specializes in the same type of joke that comic just used! Family circus points out the obsurdity of normal concepts by taking them literally, and through the eyes of a child. That xkcd does the same thing, only it uses acadamic concepts in a really lame way to make a terribly unfunny joke. Let's face it guys, xkcd has slowly but surely progressed to become the Family Circus for nerds. The Family Nercus, if you will.

And the thing about it is, that comic is what I usually describe as "Grade A" xkcd. "Grade A" in this case not referring to quality but instead it's possible use. This comic was practically desgined to be stapled to the notice board in some professor's office (just as family circus is designed to be clipped from newspapers and put into an old scrapbook for spinsters to chuckle at). Grade A xkcd is geared toward acadamia, for the sole purpose of "Look at this! Your stuffy professor has a sense of humor about his subject, too!" (Grade B, for those of you that are curious, are references to nerd culture. There are more grades, but I don't really give a shit about them)

It's just lame, is what it is. And I could go on about how the fans would recieve it (they would probably chuckle at the novel and strikingly literal way this concept has been taken, as if that was "humo(u)r"), or the fact that, as xkcd becomes more popular and slides closer and closer to permanent Family Nerdicusdom, fans will be more insufferable for promoting lame jokes like these as works of talent and genius. The thing is, though, I don't give a shit about how popular xkcd is or what the fans think or what Randall was thinking when he made this crappy comic. What I give a shit about is now I have to recognize that compared to some things, Family Circus is actually funny. Dammit.

As for 893, it's not funny, but then it's not supposed to be funny. Randall's making a point here, and the point is that not spending money on space exploration is stupid. I don't really have much to say to this one (other than that, like many of his chart "comics", this would make a welcome addition to a high school teacher's classroom poster posse), mainly because trying to analyze this is a waste of time. Randall's got opinions. Sometimes he puts them in chart form. You can agree with them or not. Okay.