Thursday, January 27, 2011
[Comic title: Consecutive Vowels; alt text: But the windows! What if there's a voyuer (sic) watchi--wait, now I'm turned on too.]
Megan has another boyfriend. This has filled Randall with untold jealousy, and Randy will deal with it the only way he knows how: by writing comics in which Megan deeply desires to fuck him, but is also insane. She must be insane--what other reason could she have for loving a man who is not Randall Munroe?
"But my alt texts, Megan! Read them, and see how clinical, how stilted my love for you could be! MEGAAAAAN!"
This comic means a great deal to Randall. You can tell, because it has a chart in it, and also because it contains a swear in large and italic prints. But the most important way to tell is this: in the comic, Megan is rendered helpless before Randall's use of a word with five consecutive vowels in it. Yes, she is the one demanding that Randall employ his "Black Hat Guy" to "Install BSD" in her "ball pit," but he has all the power. The power of the word queueing.
In this fantasy Randy even pretends to be shocked as she flings herself at him. "Oh, no, we mustn't," he says. "No, don't, stop," he says.
"What's that? Don't stop?" she replies.
The chart is there, but meaningless, as Megan acknowledges in the first panel. This comic contains only two characters: Randy, and the unbridled lust-machine that is Megan.
Lesser men may read this most erotic of porns and assume that Randall forgot to put in an actual joke, or that he is too lazy to even bother with some basic spell-check on the word "voyeur," but they miss the point entirely. This is not a comic, but the fevered, inspired passions of a brilliant artist. It needs no joke--the burning passion of the characters, ripped directly from the tormented mind of the author, stands on its own as the greatest work of art since that one lady just sat there stared at a bunch of people in MoMA.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Rob fumbled with his keys, anxious to open the door to his apartment. The air was cool, but he knew he'd find warmth in his home. Sliding the door open, he tossed his fingerless gloves (so not Hipster, they're just really convenient) onto the table and pushed the door behind him, arching his back to stretch his stiff, swollen muscles.
The day of biking hadn't gone according to plan (the biking keeps me fit, he reminds himself, it's totally not a Hipster thing), and he'd just barely escaped a two-car collision that could've pounded him into limp, lifeless man-meat.
Rob took the time to slip the shoes of his perfectly formed feet, standing a moment as the blood flushed into them in the absence of their binding, his long, curved appendages now free to enjoy the hardwood floors (See? Totally not Hipster, he nearly said aloud to the room).
As he walked into the living room the hair on the back of his neck stood on end, raised with anticipation of the unforeseeable. He paused, as if stopped by a barrier, and pushed himself with concerted effort through the doorway into the dark beyond.
“Hello, Rob,” a voice called, and he gasped.
“It can't be!”
“But it is I, Rob, indeed.”
“That stilted prose! I'd know it anywhere!” Rob lurched forward, and with a jerk swung his arm at the light switch, hammering it on as his pulse raised. He could feel it, he thought, pulsing in his entire body. Despite his injuries— or perhaps because of them, he thought with a mad grin— he felt eager and ready to face his enemy. “Randall!”
“Yes it is, Rob.” He lay there, lounging on the couch with a laptop on the angular coffee table, the networking window still open, flashing with a pulsing necessity. His wi-fi! The bastard!
“How did you get in here?” Rob ejaculated hoarsely, gritting his teeth in a mix between shock and agony, tweaked with the slightest pleasure. At last, here was his chance to show the Man what he truly felt.
“I know quite a lot about you,” Randall moaned.
“The blog! You know how I feel about you?” Rob stepped closer, clenching and unclenching his fists in time with his pulse. Thump. Thump. Thump. The rhythmic beat was ecstasy to him, and he knew that it was only just beginning.
“I know how you think you would like me to think you think of me,” Randall replied with agonizing pronoun use.
“That's what she said!” Rob retorted, and Randall's face for the briefest moment, those perfect contours before so controlled and suave, slipped into wide-eyed pleasure.
“Number 174, it was always my favourite.” Rob sat down, mere inches from Randall, his eyes beginning to water. “I used to love your work, I used to be your holy warrior! But you've changed! And — I just can't stand to see you desecrate your holy relics, those sacred 300 comics of ere!”
“But Rob,” he says, his voice now a whisper, “It was all a lure. I'd become so popular, that I— I....” his voice broke and Rob's hand flung to Randall's bony shoulder, gripping it with an intensity he didn't think possible.
“I always thought you'd forgotten me...” Rob moaned, but Randall shook his head, eyes glistening.
“No, Rob, you were always my favourite. This was my way.... to reach you.”
They sat in silence only a moment before the inevitable occurred, and Rob was all too pleased that he lurched forward first, his lips all to eager to meet their match, the match he knew was always destined —Fated! He wanted to scream. This union was ordained by a Fate the universe could not explain.
Randall pushed Rob back, straddling him in one fell motion before Rob could feel slighted, instantly knowing that that riding position had been used on no other before him. Randall leaned in, and Rob sighed, tasting his breath on his lips. Cheetos. Not the cheap knock-off brand, but the real thing. But as Randall leaned closer, their lips mere inches apart, Rob's joy a throbbing reality that threatened to envelope both of them, when Randall paused, uncertain.
“What is it?” Rob whispered softly, his hand caressing Randall's side.
“You.... you want to try that?” Rob asked, his cheeks flushing. How did he know his every desire? Truly, no other man could love Rob like Randall could.
But Randall had swung his shapely thigh over Rob's tender midsection ( and not from the accident, he realized, grabbing the laptop and typing away hurriedly.
“You know gravity's different depending upon where you are?” Randall asked rhetorically— he was at work now, and he needed no input.
Rob sighed, tears flowing all too eagerly. But these were not the tears of anticipation, nor ecstasy: They felt like his lifeblood, flowing straight out of his eye sockets. His hand reached all over Randall, daring a response.
But none would come; the man was at work now, with no time for that sweet distraction. His fans depended upon him, Rob realized. And that's why there could never be a Mrs. Randall.
“What if someone re-evaluated the old records based upon that?” Randall's voice called from the living room, as Rob poured himself a heaping mug of whisky.
“I bet they'd be really aaaaaaangry!” he continued. Rob was silent. He knew it had to end, he always knew it. But he'd bought a second laptop, and damn straight he was going to use it. Holding the whisky in one hand, he walked to his room and withdrew that laptop, used only the night before.
“And, since they're athletes, they'd be great at athlete stuff! Y'know?”
Rob sat down next to Randall, setting his laptop besides his. He opened the window and typed the words into his browser slowly.
He closed his eyes, and opened them to see the XKCD site on the computer in front of him. To the right, the second laptop was open to XKCDsucks, ready to post a scathing comment on the thread he'd created. But that would come later— for now, he had to draw his XKCD comic and upload it before midnight.
As he sat alone in the room, his midsection still numb from an accident he barely remembered, he started to wonder: Did I create Randall, or did I create Rob? Who did I used to be before all this?
But there never would be an answer. Just as there could never be a Mrs. Randall, there could never be a Mrs. Rob. The dichotomy of the man meant that he would be all that he ever required.
With a sigh, he hit upload and scuttled over to his second laptop, loading the XKCD site as if it were something new. His comic was up; of course it was. Ready to be torn apart with meaningless ad hominem attacks, because really: what in this perfection could genuinely be disenchanted?
Title: Local G. Tool-tip: In Rio de Janeiro in 2016, the same jump will get an athlete 0.25% (>1cm) than in London four years prior
Monday, January 24, 2011
[Comic title: Na; alt text: I hear that there are actual lyrics later on in Land of 1,000 Dances, but other than the occasional 'I said,' I've never listened long enough to hear any of them.]
I was conflicted when I started writing up the HTML for this post (I, too, am a programming enthusiast, Randall!). For, you see, I could not decide which version of the comic to link to, or which image to display. As a diehard originalist, I naturally opted for the original, but it was a near thing. This marks the first time that Randall Munroe has ever changed his comic or alt text in any way, and I wanted to commemorate it somehow--perhaps I will still do so, with a song, perhaps featuring the word "na" prominently.
In any case, this comic continues Randall's attempts to tell jokes by being as unfunny as possible--this time without any subversion of any kind to speak of! I expect that the subversion is on a much deeper, more "meta" level than any other subversion--you are expecting a joke, and he fails to deliver. Surely that is why, when I walked through the labyrinthine corridors of MIT this evening, the only sound I heard was peals of laughter.
The comic came about, as so many of Randall "My Ping Is Measured In Months Rather Than Milliseconds" Munroe's comics do, when he was reading through some old things on the internet, and discovered the actually rather amusing Hey Jude Flowchart.
"That's good," thought Randall to himself, "but it's not quite hamfisted enough. And it doesn't have enough references. What if my readers, who, let's be fair, have the cultural awareness of a bag of potato chips, haven't ever heard of Hey Jude?" It was not too difficult to come up with some other songs which contained the word "na." And so the flowchart was born.
But so caught up was he in the joy of references that he forgot the most important reference of all: the one to the original flowchart that he ripped off in an inferior fashion! And, since Randall Munroe is a conscientious individual who would never just go back and change errors or quietly add a "zing!" to the end of an offensive alt text, he made certain to point out his error and add a link to a corrected version. The world was right once more.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
[Comic title: World According to Americans; alt text: It's not our fault we caught a group on their way home from a geography bee. And they taught us that Uzbekistan is one of the world's two doubly-landlocked countries!]
If there is one thing Randall Munroe dislikes more than being rejected by Megan, it is being told that he is dumb, even indirectly. And while he enjoys laughing at the stupidity of others, he is also dimly aware that he, too, is an American, and he certainly doesn't match the stereotypes presented in one of the maps he is here satirizing. Affronted by this, uh, affront to reality, Randy set out to prove everyone wrong.
Of course, Randy doesn't know the first thing about geography, but this is the webcomic "Randall Munroe Knows The First Thing (And Several Subsequent Things As Well) About Everything," so he couldn't let his readers know that. So he opened up Wikipedia and possibly some previously unused books, and began his work. He ultimately spent several hours of painstaking research to bring us his final product, a map which is meant to look as if it was drawn in a few minutes by some people who have an expert level of familiarity with the subject.
Then he sat back and did that thing people do when they're done with projects where they dust off their hands, even though there's no actual dust on them, and said, "Yes. Yes, I am incredibly brilliant and clever. Nobody could have ever done this, and now the world knows how smart I can appear to laymen when I have unlimited and undisclosed time to do the research."
But then a disaster occurred--how could he convey this message to the world while making them (a) want to buy it as a poster and (b) burst into fits of hideous laughter, Natalie Portman-style? Fortuitously, his original inspiration would serve him there. Randall "I Know My Audience Exceedingly Well" Munroe did not earn his nickname by not knowing his audience exceedingly well--they had no doubt laughed at the maps that earned his ire, just as he once did before his startling revelation. So he would prepare them to laugh at the stupid, as is their wont, and to marvel in the greatness of Randall Munroe, at the same time.
And then, because Randall Munroe is a firm believer that the only element to humor is subverting one's expectations, he would pull an epic subversion on them by making the map in no way funny. Oh, how they would laugh!
UPDATE: Noted Hitler fan "ray" has sent me this map, which removes all of Randy's sad attempts at commentary on this one.
On an unrelated note, I was watching Fox News the other day, as is my wont before I write angry, racist comments anonymously on news items about the president and go to bed, and I was alarmed to hear about this new, terrible thing which is happening online, called "trolling." I wanted to warn you all about this serious problem, and to assure you that if any of these so-called "trolls" are found here at xkcdsucks, they will not be given a "bridge" to "hide under"! You have my assurance of that!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
848. If there is one thing that makes Randall feel better after getting rejected by Megan again, it's talking about nerdy things. And while Randall Munroe is an enthusiast of all things nerdy, there is no nerdy thing he likes better than physics in all its many forms. But Randall wouldn't be Randall if he didn't remember that the "X" in "XKCD" stands for "crossover." Merely mentioning physics will invoke joy in his devoted followers, of course, but he wants more than joy. He wants rapture so complete that they are rendered listless--and what do nerds like more than physics? Complaining about things. So Randall deftly went to work satirizing 3D movies and their decadent wastefulness.
But it felt incomplete. What else was missing?
The answer, of course, was Black Hat Guy, everyone's favorite well-developed fictional character. He would be responsible for the movie which was technically 3D! Will his sinister plots know no bounds?
849. Randall has discovered a pun, and delivered it with uncharacteristic subtlety.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
[Comic title: "Stingray Nebula"; alt text: Earendil will patrol the walls of night only until the sun reaches the red giant stage, engulfing the Morning Star on his brow. Light and high beauty are passing things as well.]
Say what you will about Randall Munroe, he knows woe. Not only does he have a relative who has a debilitating illness (which apparently makes his head turn into a freakish polygonal abomination as seen in panel 1), today marks the one millionth time he has been rejected by Megan. But there is always hope, burning bright in the distant galaxies.
Until it explodes, anyway. (oh man i am so hilarious)
The comic in question is derived from that greatest of life experiences, Knowing Someone Who Is Kind Of Sick But Will Be All Better Eventually. Randall has found this to be a veritable font of comics both hilarious and poignant. And he has apparently read Tolkien's The Chronicles of Narnia, which honestly surprises me, given his obvious predilections towards religion. I should not doubt him in the future.
He starts, as many of his comics do, with a completely unironically serious comic. The idea, of course, is to make you think that this is going to be an uplifting story about having a star that will give you comfort or whatever. But then he pulls an entirely unexpected twist and is like "YEAH TOO BAD IT WENT SUPERNOVA, MOTHERFUCKERZZZZZZZZ" and kind of grabs his crotch and makes painful thrusting motions with his face all scrunched up like he's in pain.
This is, of course, the very peak of brilliance. You see, Randall Munroe has finally captured the formula. The way to make the greatest possible joke is to set up something which could be completely unironically serious, and then lay out a tired and predictable punchline that demonstrates an impressive lack of imagination and doesn't really add humor to the joke by any possible stretch of the imagination. Add some post-punchline dialog, and you are fucking set. As is traditional in these cases, the joke is neither funny, and the attempt at a serious comic is ruined irredeemably. SCORE.
The impressive part, of course, is how he ignores the obviously badass opportunity to say "do you have any idea how awesome it is that I picked a star that went supernova? THAT IS THE MOST BADASS THING EVER." That would have been obvious, so Randall "I Would Never Do Anything Obvious" Munroe rejected it outright.
And that is how the latest masterpiece is made. Namárië, bitches.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Now, we all know Randa££'s ability to tell a topical joke on time is questionable at the best of times. And dealing with Pop Culture, which by its very function fluctuates to fit the needs of the sad mass of teens who are "rebelling" "against" their "restrictive" "parents". Please note that there is a clear inverse trend between What is Cool [the real cool, not the Nerd concept of "Cool-Uncool"], and What Geeks like [Which is Uncool, or "Uncool-Cool"].
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
[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.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
[ALT: "You can either hang out in the Android Loop or the HURD loop."]
I should start by pointing out that I did not follow the helpful step-by-step guide that Randall constructed to aid in the reading of flowcharts--most notably, I did not go drink, nor did I install BSD. This may have had an effect on my understanding of the latest comic.
When last we left our intrepid Megan-stalker, he was laid up with convulsions after having had to interact with "wrong people." Still weak from the fit, he was unable to exert the usual, grueling effort that he puts into his comics. Fortunately, for just such an occasion, Randy keeps a secret weapon up his sleeve--the chart comic! And of all charts, there is no chart better than the flowchart (where by "better" I mean "easier," and Randy definitely needed some rest).
So it was only a simple matter of finding a subject for his flowchart. As a programming enthusiast--he likes programming so much he has hired a programmer to handle the code-related aspects of "Randall Munroe's Comic About Nerdy Things Such As Programming"--the decision was easy. But how, he found himself asking, could you transfer something so mysterious and godly into an amusing flowchart? The question contained its own answer: by marveling at the mystery of someone producing good code.
He started with the common truism: "good, cheap, fast, pick two." As Randall's comic is one for lesser programming enthusiasts--ones who are not enthusiastic enough to hire their own programmers--he chose, wisely, to remove "cheap" from this selection. And, since the question was how to produce good code, he would have to change "good" to "right." As every programming enthusiast knows, it is an easy choice to make when you begin a project--do I wish to do this the Correct Way, as approved in the Book Of Correct Solutions To Programming Problems, or do I wish to shave time off it?
He carried on like this for some time, ultimately generating a loop which indicates that completing a project is impossible (without, the implied message seems to suggest, hiring your own programmer to do it like a true programming enthusiast should)--really he has no idea how to make good code! And therein lies the joke, of course. Good code is a mystical creature that no mortal can attain. Such raw perfection--it is to the true programming enthusiast what faster than light travel is to the astrophysics enthusiast. A beautiful dream, something that makes for good stories, but far beyond the realm of possibility.
The difference, of course, is that, while wormhole drives are the stuff of science fiction, programmers are real. Randall has even met one once. And that has given him much joy in these dark times.
EDIT: Also! Mysterious commenter "Intro to Jhum" has created a blog where he does XKCD/Dinosaur Comics mashups, and I like it. It is here.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
[ALT: 'Grandpa, what was it like in the Before time?' 'It was hell. People went around saying glass was a slow-flowing liquid. You folks these days don't know how good you have it.']
This weekend, Randall went to a party at the insistence of his parole officer--perhaps spending time in the company of other humans would help him to not think about Megan for even the briefest of moments (his current record is 2.2 seconds). The experiment was an unqualified success--but unfortunately it forced Randall to interact with people who don't have perfect knowledge of the universe. It forced him to interact with people who were . . . wrong.
I've met these "wrong people" before in my life, of course. My general solution is to politely correct them, and if they persist in their erroneous beliefs, to shrug and let it pass. (The exception, of course, being the erroneous belief that XKCD is enjoyable. My reaction to that is to begin frothing at the mouth and leap at them with a terrifying speed that belies my hideous bulk, and rip out their jugular vein with my teeth.) There are worse things in the world. It doesn't bother me or stick with me--certainly, such people are not "my people," but I hold them no more ill will for it than anyone here holds me ill will for posting my opinion in a polite and reasonable way on the internet.
This reaction is not possible for Randall Munroe. No, Randall will loudly correct them, veins bulging, eyes twitching. And then the world will spin and go dark for him, and he will have to lie down for a while, gently convulsing, until the fit passes. Even then he is aggravated for days and days on end. That someone out there exists who could be wrong--this is unacceptable. They ought to be rounded up and shot. Perhaps one day they will.
But Randall Munroe is not a violent man. He has only ever raised his hand against another when they tried to enforce one of the dozens of restraining orders Megan has against him. There must be a way to be rid of these wrong people . . . proactively. But how? He has spent his entire life in pursuit of facts. Not everyone can be as dedicated and brilliant as he.
The answer, of course, lay on Wikipedia. Surely this absolutely inerrant source of knowledge could be put to use! And it already had a list of things about which people are wrong. No doubt that list would expand as more "wrong people" were discovered--a task to which he could dedicate himself endlessly. He would be as loyal to this as he was to Megan--and it would never file any restraining orders against him (though it would probably never forget to close the blinds when changing at night, which was definitely a drawback).
Distributing this idea to the masses would be trivial, of course. All he would need to do is subtly pick a not-too-distant date in the future and post it on his popular webcomic, "Randall Munroe Tells You What Is Funny Today (You Should Probably Laugh At It Or He Will Cry)". His loyal fans--all of whom suffer from the same symptoms when confronted with a "wrong person"--would quickly snap up the idea.
In a month's time, the internet will be filled with people reading the greatest Wikipedia article of all time. I am utterly confident that they will be polite and considerate about this, and will in no way be smug or condescending--and certainly not sycophantic. And as there is absolutely no precedent for a suddenly popular idea (or "meme," as internet scholars refer to it) becoming insufferably obnoxious, I can only level praise on Randall Munroe's great idea. Well done, Randy!
Sunday, January 2, 2011
[ALT: I'm a solipsistic conspiracy theorist. I'm sure I must be up to something, and I will not stop until I find out what.]
At first I thought this was going to be a reasonably boring comic where Randy does an elaborate build-up for a useless nerdy reference, and I was going to be disappointed. Imagine my pleasure when instead it was an elaborate build-up for a penis joke. How I laughed! I am actually still laughing now, and it has been an hour and a half since I read it.
As you well know, penis jokes are the single greatest form of humor, and arguably the greatest form of art in general. Merely uttering the word "penis" makes what you have to say instantly hilarious--suggesting it with subtlety makes you into a god. A god, not just of humor, but of all things. "Pen 15." HOW INCREDIBLY HILARIOUS.
So, I take back every bad thing I've ever said about Randy. I'll even ignore that he is showing his pen15 to mini-Megan, which a day ago I would have said was creepy and weird. No longer! Randy is above reproach--he has finally come around.
I'm going to tell you all a story. (Think of it as my XKCD equivalent of those creepy and uncomfortable Christians telling you about the time in high school they sacrificed their best friend to Satan but ultimately came back to Jesus because why not?) When I was a young lad, I read XKCD every day. Then came the comic that I know only as The Black Day.
Yes, that's right. Comic 194, known only as "penises." I am not ashamed to tell you that I laughed to the point of hospitalization upon reading the title. And then, when I came back home, still grinning like a mad fool, I read the comic. Was this--RANDY? HOW COULD YOU CRITICIZE MY PENISES? ROAORASKFLASNFASFSAFSAFLASKFNAFf
So I started hating XKCD. How could I not? Randy criticized the one thing I love: penises, and jokes thereof. Sure, I found justifications like "Randy is the worst writer and artist in the world" and "these jokes are actually offensive," but we all knew my heart wasn't in it. No, I hated XKCD for one reason and one reason only: he mocked penis jokes.
But then today happened. Today! This glorious today! Randy made the most epic of all penis jokes! I am hereby changing the title of this blog from "xkcd sucks" to "xkcd sucks... PENIS LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL," and it will be a breathless chronicle of xkcd and its penis joke potential. Truly this will be a wonderful day.
I hope that you, too, will see the light of penises and join me, cuddlefish no longer, but penisfish, eager to probe the depths of XKCD. Together.
EDIT: Intrepid xkcdsucks adept "procto" informs me that joining the "pen 15 club" is a thing that children do to each other, thus making this a penis joke about children!!!!!!!! Truly this is the greatest joke that has ever, will ever, or could ever be penned. Long may Randall reign!