Sunday, December 30, 2012

Comics 1150-1153: Randy's Paradox

1150. Randy stands up for the evil corporation trying to exploit the intellectual property of its users! It's good to know that someone is willing to defend Corporate America against the evils of the consumer. F-- for being a fucking class traitor.

1151. Ha ha she dumped her present on the other presents! F for not being remotely funny.

1152. Ha ha Randy is an EDGY ICONOCLAST!!! F for not being an edgy iconoclast.

1153. I would have liked this a lot more if he didn't bash us over the head with the joke. D for bashing us over the head with the joke.

Seriously, though, let's revisit 1150. This is the one where he compares Instagram changing their TOS so that they own everything you upload and have the right to use it commercially with no royalties paid to the user without any sort of notification (I think that the natural outcry against this bullshit has since convinced them to rescind this policy, but I'm too lazy to look for a link) to storing all of your stuff in your friend's garage. Apparently, in Randy-land, when you use a free service, you basically deserve whatever horrible shit happens to you when the assholes in charge decide to fuck you.

This was extra surprising because Randy's readerbase probably consists of a lot of people who are pretty big into the whole privacy thing. In fact, even among total douchebags, there are very few people who think that a corporation is totally within its rights to exploit your intellectual property merely because you're putting it on their servers.

It's doubly offensive because Randy literally makes his living off his intellectual (we are clearly using the word very broadly here) property. His work is licensed under a Creative Commons Noncommercial license. So this is not only stupid, it's hypocritical. "I don't want anyone using my work commercially, but you people who are using Instagram to take and upload pictures totally deserve asshole corporations using your work commercially."

I shouldn't be as surprised that the forumites aren't giving Randy a hearty "what the fuck, since when are you an apologist for these douchebags?", but I am. It's been a while since I paid any attention, I guess.

Finally: a fond farewell to ALTF, who is apparently leaving us on the eve of the year of our Lord 2013. Go bravely, ALTF. You will be missed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Comics 1145-1149: The Quality Is Falling

1145. Meh. C-

1146. Ha ha Randy doesn't know how to interact with other humans! He also doesn't know how to tell a joke. D+

1147. What if Pokemon evolution was just like real evolution? F, that's what.

1148. What if Winston Churchill just listed a bunch of bodily fluids instead of giving a speech? F, that's what.

1149. Here's another one for you, Randy: what if the eagles just flew everyone to Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings? WHAT A WACKY INSIGHT. F

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Comics 1139-1144: Everything Is Meaningless

1139. Trying to imagine a world in which any child would think that this was frightening and not just unimaginably lame. Failing. F

1140. The only good thing about this was the people complaining that he forgot to make dates like Christmas big, as if this were an oversight, like he just forgot that Christmas existed. F

1141. Negative bonus points for the "but caaaancer" line. F-

1142. no. F

1143. Can't be bothered to look up what he's referencing here. F

1144. It's like he wrote a sequel to 859 after it achieved unexpected commercial success. Like all unplanned sequels, it is even worse than the original. That's saying a lot. F

In other news, remember that redux guy? Me neither. But intrepid commenter "David" has sent me a link to a tumblr where he's reposting all of the guy's old reviews, if you're into that sort of thing. Relive the past! You can never escape it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Comics 1134-1138: A Map Of Terrible Things

1134. no. F

1135. I like spiders. C+

1136. Someone's been reading Ecclesiastes! C-


1138. no. F

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Comics 1130-1133: Fly Me To The Moon

1130. Contrived, but with a good heart. D+

1131. As fascinating as I find the inability of both the media and the political campaigns to understand how math works, this is not the best way to take a jab at that. C

1132. Hasn't Randy done a joke about p and .05 before? F

1133. Kind of amusing, I guess? B-

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Comic 1129: Ring, Ring

Man, it sure has been a busy couple of weeks, what with all the reviews I've been posting! But I missed 1129, so here it is:

1129. I frequently have this problem where people I need to call for work don't answer my cell phone because of its area code. Fun fact! Anyway, the point is this is a really boring observation. F

Monday, October 15, 2012

Comics 1116-1121: Time, Flight, & Etc.

1116. Traffic lights in the Boston metro area are frequently pretty weird. C+

1117. Haven't we, as a culture, gotten over the term 'cloud' yet? D-

1118. This is several years late, and not really a very interesting observation at that. F

1119. do not care. D

1120. Reasonably clever, I guess? B-

1121. The alt text: "not sure why I just told everyone how quirky I am, but you guys, I am so quirky!!" F--

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Comics 1113-1115: The Quality Is Falling!

1113. Meh. C-

11114. I'm sure I would find this more amusing if I were capable of feeling anything at all anymore. C-

111115. More of Randy staring into the void. Does beret man usually feature in these comics? C+

Monday, September 24, 2012

Comics 1110-1112: Deep, Man

1110. The interface was horrible but this was reasonably fun. B-

1111. Wouldn't it be hilarious if a reporter started talking about the fact that the universe is dying instead of the event they were covering? D

1112. Is the whole point of this really "lol people who complain about game balance just suck at the game" or am I missing something? F

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Comic 1109: Refrigerated


(image credit to muad)

i just want to say that i'm very proud of Randy for coming to terms with his obsessions. he always seemed so uncomfortable about it before. good job, Randy!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Comics 1106-1108: Spooky Shit, Man

1106. My favorite part about this one is the alt-text, where Randy implies that "focusing on one thing to the detriment of all others" is the same thing as having ADD. Go fuck yourself, Randy. F

1107. The Tweet in the alt-text is longer than 140 characters. The service described is also indescribably sad. The joke is also pathetically unfunny. D-

1108. Eh, not bad. B-

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Comics 1100-1105: Six Times As Terrible

1100. Randy has been trying for absurdism lately, but he's not very good at it. This one has the makings of something good but the execution is, as usual, pretty awful. D+

1101. I don't know why Randy thinks "sex dungeon" is not very sketchy. I also don't know why he thought this comic was funny. F

1102. Guess which Wiki article Randy has discovered? (Hint: it's this one.) D

1103. You know, I think it's actually been quite a while since Randy did the whole "LOOK HOW QUIRKY I AM, YOU GUYS" thing. For that I can forgive him. C

1104. Didn't Randy once say that birds literally are dinosaurs? This makes the whole "coming to terms with feathered dinosaurs" thing feel a little hollow. C-

1105. If you were to write a thesis on Randy's inability to use the alt text correctly, this would be the most important evidence in your favor. D+

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Comics 1097-1099: The First One Really Sucks

Well, with no guest reviews sitting in my inbox, I guess it's time I got back to the hard work of writing up a shitty one-sentence review for the comics. You brought this on yourselves.

1097. The thing that bothers me about this one: why is there a banana peel on the tarmac? Why is he walking in front of a jet engine? Why is the jet engine so low to the ground? D+

1098. This is occasionally a valid observation, but not a particularly useful one. Especially when it comes to reviews of movies and music. D-

1099. I get the feeling Randy has been reading House of Leaves again recently. He's been making some comics with jokes that hinge on a similar sort of absurd pocket infinity premise. Not terrible, but I actually liked the job interview one and this is just boring. C

Monday, August 20, 2012

Comic 1.21: Time Traveling Doom!

[This guest review comes from faithful reviewer "Vid." Gripping stuff. -Ed.]


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Comics 9-11: NEVER FORGET

[New guest review courtesy of "Capn." -Ed.]


Friday, August 10, 2012

Comic XXX OIympiad: Ann Apolis Does A Guest Post

[Nothing new to report today; here's Ann Apolis's guest post. Regular programming will return when I stop receiving these delightful commentaries on the modern world. -Ed.]


Monday, August 6, 2012

Comics Blah Blah Etc: Duck Milk

[More guest reviews! These come from "priority shitten" on the IRC channel, probably. The second one is actually a special political commentary about how freedom is dead, forever. -Ed.]



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Comics Whatever-Who Cares: Guest Review!

[Today's review comes from "Capn." I don't know if it's the real Capn or what, but I also don't care. So here it is, without further ado. -Ed.]


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Comics 1083-1086: Fuck You I'm On Vacation

1083. Randy has discovered Chuck Grassley. F

1084. Don't care. F

1085. This would have been good without the caption and alt text. B-

1086. Context plz. D-

Monday, July 16, 2012

Comics 1080-1082: Faulty

1080. Can you guess who has no interest in putting his face really close to the monitor so he can explore this useless little chart thing? (HINT: he is fat) F

1081. Can't decide if Randy is trying to suggest that you win by being the bigger man and walking away or if he thinks that responding to people with wacky non sequiturs is extremely hilarious. Don't care. D-

1082. Nowhere in the history time has anyone ever noticed that the word "cleavage" is used in geology sometimes! F

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Special Illustrated Picto-Blag Update!

So, this just popped up in my RSS feed.

Those of you who've been around for a while probably know that a common response to Randy's comics is "this would have been a lot better if it wasn't trying to be a comic." It's often just Randy puzzling out some problem or other, and in the end he tries to shoehorn in a joke or something and it just makes it annoying. We eventually started calling this concept Randall Munroe's Illustrated Picto-Blag, and assumed he would never actually do it.

This is basically that. There are two of them up so far: one about throwing a baseball at the speed of light, and one about guessing on the SAT. Predictably, the one about the baseball is better, but here's the thing: they're both pretty good. I mean, it's nothing to write home about, but it's something I can see being an entertaining read. He's doing them once a week.

Maybe he'll eventually give up on comics and the world will be a better place!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Comics 1077-1079: A Map Of Terrible Things

1077. Randy should take his own advice, except instead of for home organization it is for making comics! D-

1078. Eh. C-

1079. Daddy needs help paying the bills! F

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Comics 1074-1076: Infinite Badness

1074. She actually has a point. C+

1075. Of all the things that make cars dangerous, I don't think "evolution didn't prepare you enough" is the one we should be worried about. But it's a very Randy thing to complain about, I guess. D

1076. The only reason this one doesn't get an F is because I like to imagine that Bill Murray is actually the creator of the universe. D-

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Comics 1071-1073: Partyin' Partyin' Yeah

1071. Maybe someone out there is excited by the portrayal of exoplanets as uninteresting brownish circles, but I am not. D

1072. Randy, you have already used this exact joke before. F

1073. I think Randy just saw this SMBC and decided to get in on the hot Garfield joke action. This one is mostly interesting because the forums seem to think that Randy is somehow suggesting some new interesting profound thought, where it seems clear to me he's mostly just saying he thinks is absurd.  C-

Monday, June 18, 2012

Comics 1068-1070: Words For Terrible Comics

1068. Randy, nobody believes you when you tell them that your inability to maintain an erection when there is no milk involved is a novel experience. Give it up. D+

1069. I had no idea people gave a fuck about the order of the alphabet! Thanks for teaching me a new reason to hate the world, Randy. D-


Monday, June 11, 2012

Comics 1065-1067: A Laundry List Of Bad Comics

1065. This one actually surprised me. I totally pegged Randy for the sort of dude who would think Vibrams are the best thing ever.

1066. Randy is apparently still stalking college girls. He tries to take advantage of the fact that they need to do laundry sometimes in order to meet them, and notices that the longer he stalks them, the less likely they are to spend time in the common laundry area for him talk to them about how he makes a webcomic and has sex all the time.

1067. The fuck?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Comics 1062-1064: The Greatest Evil Ever

1062. Did you know that people use the word "hawk" in a non-literal sense? It's true!

1063. It's getting hard to even come up with shitty two-sentence blurbs for these. That's how boring they are.

1064. Randy has given up on telling jokes and is now just trying for GOOMH-bait. The alt-text basically says that explicitly.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Comics 1060-1061: A Timeframe For Sucking

1060. I feel like we've seen an uptick in comics about douchey startup douchebags recently. Is Randy trying to start a startup? Is he finally diving full-bore into the realm of douchery? Or is he just hanging around these douchebags, and combining douchiness with them into some sort of mecha-douchebag?

1061. This reminds me of that one comic about approximations in that I do not give a shit about it at all, and I can't be bothered to figure out why anyone would. Discuss!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Comics 1056-1059: Leopards All The Way Down

I'd apologize for the uncustomary tardiness of the review, but we all know the only thing I hate more than you guys is Randy himself (aka me). If it helps, Diablo was involved.

1066. Randy has some interesting opinions on what names are cool.

1067. Can we skip the part about using whatever social network Randy is talking about and just punch him in the face?

1068. Randy's fetishes concerning his hot porn star daughter are seriously creepy.

1069. Randy has just discovered that "Philadelphia" and "Adele for ya" rhyme if you pronounce them with the correct accent, and he is offended that people would do such a thing, because only white Northeastern US accents are valid ways to speak English.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Comics 1053-1055: Letdowns

1053. Well, here it is, the comic that appeared briefly on Monday and then got replaced by that one about how Randy hates learning. How dull.

1054. Look at me, I can come up with incredibly contrived situations to relay a pun that only works if you are familiar with an obscure chemical!

1055. Randy has heard of Kickstarter, apparently, and he had a WACKY IDEA!!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Comics 1050-1052: Every XKCD Is Terrible

1050. I'm not sure where Randy is getting his data here, but: most of the people I know who have learned to play music still play music with some regularity; learning to cook is actually a valuable life skill; foreign languages also have actual utility for many people. I don't speak German at all anymore, but I still find myself occasionally using German words, and I occasionally find myself reading books that have German phrases I can piece together.

And people aren't "proud" of not learning math. They resent having to learn it and they feel justified when it turns out that much of it does not have any immediate applications to their real life (and everyone loves being right). And, as it turns out, knowing math isn't particularly useful to your garden variety human.

1051.  In case you forgot, Randy is quirky and goes to weird Wikipedia articles pretty frequently!

1052. When I first loaded this, it was a comic where he declared that ten thousand people learned something that "everyone knows" every day. Or something. Then a few minutes later it was this 'Every Major's Terrible' thing, which is all right, I guess. I can't tell if the bits where the rhythm falters are his fault or mine, but I'm going to assume it's his fault, because that's what I'm here for.

Did anyone else get this "the 10,000" comic or whatever? This comic switch is way more interesting to me than the actual comics. Is there a scandal? Were his maths so wrong he just pulled an entire comic? WHAT HAPPEN

Noted city-woman hybrid "Ann Apolis, MD" sent me these images:


Monday, April 30, 2012

Comics 1047-1049: Informative Updates

1047. In this comic we get a list of equations! I can't be bothered to check any of them to see if they are supposed to be funny or useful or what. I looked at this and basically lost interest immediately because I couldn't fathom a universe in which I would ever care about it.


1049. As much as I hate to be even remotely negative of anything bashing Ayn Rand, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't point out that Randy implies that he agrees with the majority of her philosophy except for the part about being a dick. This means he is a colossal moron.

And now, for your viewing "pleasure," here is a guest review of 1048 from possibly Jon Levi, possibly someone just pretending to be Jon Levi, who even cares:

Title: Emotion; Alt text: Fortunately, the internet has a virtually inexhaustible supply of code that doesn't work and people who are wrong, which bodes well for a return to normalcy. [Note: Click to read context for the cancer comics. She's doing well.]

Diagnosis report for Patient ID XKCD1048, who is hereafter to be referred to as 'Patient R'

During a productive therapy session on Friday 27th April, I asked Patient R to write down a list of all the things that made him emotional in the last six years. He quickly listed six items, but struggled to think of any more. I suggested he filled in the two blank spots with 'other' and '? ?'. He then insisted on plotting a graph of them, which is extremely troubling. If the graph is truly an accurate representation of how he feels, then Patient R is mentally ill and needs strong intervention.

At any one time in the last six years, Patent R has felt strong emotion continuously and persistently towards five or fewer things at any one time (according to the graph). These are clearly obsessions towards unimportant emotional triggers. Perhaps he spends hours at a time reading all the political articles on a news blog, or poring over a piece of broken code. In his mind he is pressing the same metaphorical buttons again and again because he lacks the capacity to be bored by them.

His emotional ritual has no room for other triggers such as music, nostalgia, and injustice (beyond the narrow categories he has defined). It is likely that he does not care for anything that does not ft his predefined pattern of emotions.

Patient R's condition degraded significantly in November 2010, when he emotionally latched onto an issue that was entirely beyond his control. At any one time since then, at least 75% of his emotions have been related to his wife's cancer. This combined with his older obsession of romance. Having such a complete infatuation with one person is unhealthy, and leaves him unable to respond emotionally to any other aspect of his life.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect is how well he hides it. In fact no one knew he had a problem until today. Patient R has put on a facade by pretending to care about other things, such as DRM, space exploration and feminism. Although looking back through his comic archive one can begin to see that some of his drawings were nihilistic cries of help. But he did not express the true nature of his problem until he decided to make a graph of it.

If he accepts the therapy, he will be pleased to know the condition is quite curable. He will be able to revert to a childlike emotional state, and rebuild himself from there. However the alt text of his comic exposes none other than a wish to return to the 'normalcy' of his pre-2010 period. If he declines, then I will refer him to Dr Ann Apolis M.D. for more intensive treatment.


Dr Jon Levi

The contents of this letter are private and confidential, and are not to be posted on any hate blogs.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Comics 1044-1046: Is There Even A Difference?

1044. Instinct tells me that this is meant to be a biting commentary on those "is there any difference between (horrible person, eg Ron Paul) and (person with whose politics I disagree, eg Hitler)?" memes, but I can't actually see how. All I can see is how Randy probably thinks it's hilariously wacky and random comparing these two disparate entities. Perhaps it's meant as a subtle jab at Romney-bot? As a commentary, this doesn't have nearly enough thought put into it. And I'm pretty sure I've gone on record (cf. my interview in the New York Times, "A Blog About A Comic On The Internet: Rob Mason on Randy, Megan, And Milk") saying that lolrandumb is never funny.  (In that interview I also apparently go on record as saying that Randy and I aren't so different w/r/t milk fetishes, but I have no memory of saying that, and blame the fact that I was also on an absinthe binge that weekend.)

1045. This is kind of sad. Here is a bullet list of why:
  • Randy implies that writing shit on Twitter requires the expenditure of "so much energy." It does not.
  • Randy believes that an individual only has so much creativity available to them--is this another tacit admission that he has long since found writing his comic to be a chore?
  • In the second panel, Randy has taken the time to write out, on paper, something that follows an arbitrarily chosen rule (self-referentially, for bonus nerd points), and then, in the form of a comic that he has, on average, slightly more than two days to produce every week, tried to pass that thing off as something that someone said in an offhand fashion. Raise your hand if you believe that he didn't spend considerably longer on that sentence than coming up with it on the fly!
  • The aforementioned sentence is not particularly impressive, especially considering that he almost certainly spent some time on it.
  • In the last panel, he has his author-insert character respond to the aforementioned not-particularly-impressive sentence with awe. In case you missed the fact that he wants you to think that he is clever.
I also notice that in the first panel Randy's author-insert expresses disbelief in a fashion which is highly implausible, but also makes him look like a dumbass. I'm not listing this under "reasons this is sad" because at least he can accept that he's kind of dumb.

1046. Sometimes Randy has contact with people who have smoked "Mary Jane" or "weed," which are both "street names" for the dangerous hard drug "marijuana." He likes to write about these experiences as if he understands, to hilarious effect.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Comics 1041-1043: Revisionism

[Before I begin, I'd like to remind everyone of our IRC channel, which is #xkcd-sucks on Foonetic and is where all the interesting people from here hang out and the only reason I still update this place. Come for the fat jokes, stay for the verbal abuse. -Ed.]

1041. I'd comment on the actual quality of this strip but when I went to open it to write this review all I could notice is DEAR GOD WHAT IS ON THAT MAN'S FACE???

1042. I always like when Randy does these "I wish I were A Softer World" comics because it really drives home why I like ASW and don't like XKCD. At least he gets the three panel format right this time (he never does) but he still manages to fuck up the pacing, mostly by being too damn verbose. He could kill the text in the first panel and just make the text read "I will never have with anyone / what I had with you / thank God" and that would work better. (Still not great, but let's be fair, nobody thinks Randy is capable of great.)

1043. What always bothers me about these comics is that I can't help the feeling that Randy genuinely believes that Google Trends are a good way to predict the future (or the state of the world as it stands right now, etc.). There are people like that out there, and Randy seems to be affiliating himself with them. Incidentally, why did he include Wordpress and Livejournal? They have no bearing on the joke, and aren't relevant to his chart, either.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Comics 1038-1040: That's Deep, Man

1038. Why is this a comic?

1039. Why is this a comic?

1040. Why is this a comic?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Comics 1034-1036, and Special April Fool's Comic!

Apologies for the delay in posting this one. My netbook imploded so I spent most of this weekend trying to fix it (read: despairing of all hope, staring blankly at the wall, and vainly googling in the hopes that someone would post a useful fix when they encountered the problem I did). Without further ado:

1034. Randall has observed that various internet communities have different demographics.

1035. In which an analogy is turned on its head to allegedly hilarious effect!

1036. Randall's closet luddite shines through.

1037? I think Randall is trying to say something philosophical here, but the only thing I care about is the comic about Wellesley students ends up portraying them as a mostly-male group, which seems like a pretty big oversight.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Comics 1032 and 1033: Noted Douchebag Writes Comic About Douchebags

[Just for the record, this post is expressly for the use of Ann Apolis, MD. Anyone else who reads it or comments on it is in violation of this site's EULA; by reading or commenting on this post while not being Ann Apolis, MD, you agree that you are a pathetic human being and also dumb. -Ed.]

1032. I've decided to start interpreting Beret Man's comics as being, in essence, Randall's attempt to document a friend's tragic descent into madness. Perhaps he's trying to raise awareness of mental illnesses like the one depicted here--this poor man has clearly lost all grip on reality, and has started eating business cards and carrying around suitcases full of cash. Mental illness is not funny, and it's clear Randall is trying his best to help his friend. It's admirable, and I'm glad that Randall has finally found a good cause to support.

1033. Perhaps Randall's awareness-raising efforts are also a cry for help. It's clear from this comic that he believes that issuing instructions that rely on jargon most drivers won't understand will prevent people from honking at him for being such a terrible driver. This plea for silence is as sad as it is dangerously erratic. Randall's seclusion from the real world is finally taking its toll on his mental health. This is no time to mock the man. Let us instead pity him.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Comics 1029-1031: Bang Head Against Leopard

1029. This is what xkcd has been reduced to: Randy is making jokes about how sometimes drawing a five-pointed star is difficult, if you are twelve.

1030. Have I complained about Randy's attempts to do character humor before? They are awful. There are those who theorize that Beret Guy is based on an actual human being, but as far as anyone has been able to tell, his only personality trait is that he is lolrandumb in a way that Randy finds admirable--he personifies what Randy thinks a whimsical person is like. Randy, unfortunately, has long since forgotten what whim is like. He has shackled himself to making terrible comics for a living--comics where he thinks 'MAN WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH DRAWING STARS?' is something worth putting up for his fans to adore. At this point I imagine he hates it, but the life of a webcomiceur has caused any skills he may have had to atrophy. He is trapped, and one day fears that making really big useless posters will not be enough, that his fanboys will abandon him, leaving him alone, with not even the milk of his beloved Megan to comfort him.

1031. Every March, the xkcd forodes do a thing where the mods introduce a bunch of wordfilters for "fun." This lasts for a week or so, and the mods are hella defensive about it. I believe standard practice is to ban anyone who complains, and the wordfilters tend to make things pretty much unreadable--this year, one of many replacements is "word" -> "bread". When you add enough of these "replace a word with a random other word" together it gets to the point where reading things is impossible.

But these are XKCD fans we're talking about--and not just any fans, but the sorts of fans who become moderators on the echochamber. They find this sort of thing funny. And Randy, who has apparently been hella short on ideas (to recap, the previous two comics have been about drawing stars and lol what if instead of keying someone's car you DREW A KEY ON IT????), decided to borrow their wordfiltering fun and apply it to his favorite things in the world: Reddit and Wikipedia.

(As an aside: I never visit Reddit, ever, so maybe I'm wrong, but why is there a Reddit thread where people are just randomly talking about their keyboards? There's no sort of context or continuity, ust 'here's a thing about keyboards I wanted to share!')

Monday, March 12, 2012

Comics 1026-1028: Miscommunication

1026. More shotgun humor, though this time he builds up to a punchline that is stilted as fuck. Nobody says they are "in" a summer's day. But he needed to make a sex joke (God knows why) so he forced it anyway. Also: am I crazy, or didn't he used to have the "short" box of "a summer's day" ticked?

1027. Hey look, more white knighting! I guess Randy has just discovered pick-up artists and "negging"? This one is mostly useless--random Black Hat Guy saying he's going to go crush some people's toes (so classy!), a strawman attack on an eminently douchey subcategory of humans, etc--though I really liked the penultimate panel.
Apparently the forums on this one are really fucking alive. I looked briefly and ran away, too scared to read anymore. It was already shaping up to be a glorious battle between the White Knights and the Aspie PUAs Who Think Calling PUAs Douchey Is Sexist Against Women (I Wish I Were Kidding).

1028. Some of you in the previous thread have made an effort to piece together what's happening here. I'm not going to make the attempt. After a few reads and aided by the valiant cuddlefish that attempted to interpret I'm pretty sure I have the narrative, but it's so not-intuitive that trying to explain it to you would be like trying to explain irony to the people who tell me that they're very sad that I'm such an angry person.
Suffice it to say, this is a comic about miscommunication, and Randall has successfully failed to adequately communicate what's going on! Indeed, were it not for the alt text and title, likely it never would have become one of earth's greatest mysteries, like whether the aliens or the Illuminati built the pyramids or whatever. The moral of the story is "successful communication is communication where people understand what you are saying, so if they don't understand, they fail, and Randy is one of the people he's complaining about in the alt text."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Comics 1023-1025: Xkcd Sucks Dot Tumblr Dot Com

Some reviews for you, including a very special guest review of 1025 by some cuddlefish named CrazyCod (coddlefish?).

1023. Some notes: first, Randy definitely wants you to know that he and his milk plant watch (watched?) Downton Abbey. This is important because last time he told you that he watches this popular British show on PBS he was intentionally getting the name wrong and you guys he was doing it to be funny.
This is one of the many XKCDs where I can see it being funny if it were written by someone who wasn't Randy. The execution is terrible--it reads like a pitch for a joke rather than an actual joke. I can see a number of webcomiceurs (or webcomiceusses) pulling it off. Randy didn't really try. He just described a scenario and said "wouldn't that be funny?

1024. It took me a while to realize that the pond wasn't supposed to be like a bunch of pacmen eating each other or something. I hear rumor that the fanboys think this is brilliant art instead of a passable "I guess you can tell this is supposed to be a pond and it's not fuck-off hideous" drawing.

1025.  [NB. the rest of this post is a guest review -Ed.]

Hello! I’m CrazyCod and I'm just now sending this review of Randy's latest comic-on-the-Internet to Rob (oh god i hope rob posts this i don’t want to have written it for nothing). Apparently, our collective sigh after 1024 turned out not to be a lame throwback to 1000 was loud enough that Randy picked up on it and decided to make 1025 even worse just to spite us.
So, let’s get straight to the point. Does 1025 have any comedic merit? I think it is pretty clear that it does not. There are several problems with the comic, the most important of which that it is simply not funny. Randy takes a hackneyed snowclone, which was arguably never funny to begin with, and substitutes it with another snowclone of his own creation. So, instead of “X would be a good name for a band”, we get “”! This is supposed to provoke hearty guffaws from the readers.
Well, given that my Internet habits revolve almost exclusively around xkcdsucks and assorted pornography, I thought that there might be a joke hidden in there that maybe I was just missing out on. Maybe, like certain bands that people worse than me would derisively attach the label “hipster” to, Tumblr blogs have long and pretentious names. As such, I travelled to the strange land of Tumblr in the hopes of understanding this comic. After navigating through the site’s utterly unintuitive design, I started reading through the blogs’ names, hoping to discover Randy’s source of inspiration. Even after browsing through the most pretentious of categories (I’m looking at you, Art and Film), I failed to find any blog names that were more than six words long, much less awkward, yet complete sentences about raccoon orgies.
And that brings us to another issue: the phrase “turns out some raccoons got in and were operating this, like, raccoon sex dungeon” is not funny! It's actually creepy and disgusting! I cannot fathom why anyone would think “that IS a good name for a band!” in the first place, much less make Randy’s mental substitution and think that it is a good name for a Tumblr blog. Most damning is that Randy could have used any other phrase for the “setup”, since the “punchline” works with any phrase whatsoever, but he chose to refer to raccoon orgies. Make of that what you will.
I’m not going to criticise the joke’s execution, because the joke itself is so bad that any execution would actually do it honour. The fact that there is a contemplative man saying “dot tumblr dot com” to a woman who is saying clearly inappropriate things to him doesn’t warrant a mention in the context of such a terrible joke. I would like to comment on the alt-text, however, that makes use of the deliciously self-referential idea that there could be a blog called (get this) dot tumblr dot com, because then its URL would be difficult to say out loud. Gee, Randy, that was hilarious when Slashdot did it, back in 1997.
I think you will agree with me when I say that a joke is less funny the more broadly applicable it is. As an example, take lightbulb jokes. Lightbulb jokes that can be applied to any group (how many republicans/democrats/whatever does it take to change a lightbulb just one but it doesnt matter they’ll never see the light anyway please like me guys) are infinitely less effective than lightbulb jokes play on a particular group’s characteristics and that wouldn’t work if said group was substituted with any other (how many kids with ADD would take to change a lightbulb HEY LET’S GO RIDE BIKES). Okay, that’s not a particularly funny example, but it gets the point across: change “kids with ADD” for “atheists” and the joke doesn’t work. Much like a friend to everybody is a friend to nobody, a joke that can accommodate any setup isn’t really a joke.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Comics 1020-1022: So It Has Come To This


1021. So, on the one hand, I can't tell what the joke is supposed to be here. On the other hand, it doesn't actually bother me. It's a decent pencil sketch and though it fails to capture the murderous look in the eye of every seagull, you know, whatever. Reminiscent of the very early XKCDs, back before he felt like he had to make every comic into . . .

1022. This one isn't abnormally terrible but it is pretty much representative of what XKCD is now. This is something I've seen people say before, and as a genre of joke it's pretty common as well: say something unnecessarily dramatic in response to something mundane as a way to generate humor. Whereas most people will be content with making this joke from time to time, Randy decided, probably after seeing someone use it, to codify it into his comic forever. Randy thinks that mundane, not-really-that-funny ways of being funny are worth putting into comic form and sharing with the world. It's hard not to think that maybe he's not actually trying to be funny here. Maybe he's just trying to hijack a common joke so that every time his fans make a common joke they think of him. Regardless of whether or not he's trying, it works, and it's becoming a problem.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Comics 1017-1019: Apparently This Is Still A Thing

1017. Randy thinks that imagining something he thinks is cool is an extreme sport! He also wants us to think that he imagines something he thinks is cool while he's waiting for something. This is pretty sad.

1018. lolrandumb is not funny, Randy.

1019. Whenever Randy gets political he always does it in a really dumb way, and he gives everyone with left-leaning politics a bad name. This one has the traditional old Randy smugness--"it's totally dumb to buy advertising that everyone who views a site will see when you can just hire people to shill for you on a section of the website that most people don't read unless they want to argue with people"--where he thinks he's smarter than, you know, people who actually know what they're talking about, by drawing a completely unrealistic comparison between two things that are completely unrelated.

See, the point of political advertising on websites (or most advertising, really) is not to win people over to your side. It's about name and brand recognition. Whereas the point of hiring someone to shill for you on the internet is to sway opinions about something people are already aware of. The comment sections of news articles aren't particularly good for this since discussion doesn't actually happen there. You want to go to active forums and things, build rapport, enter a community, and subvert from within. This was my plan with joining the xkcd sucks community, for instance. In a few weeks I'll write a post about how much I love xkcd and instantly all the haters will revert to drooling fanboys, and Randy and I will high-five while he slips me a ten dollar bill for a job well done.

Totally worth it.

It seems likely that Randy may be instead (additionally?) suggesting that many or most political comments online are in fact astroturf comments as described in the comic. This has always been one of the dumbest features of online communities--the accusations that people who disagree with them are just shills--and I'd say I'm disappointed in Randy for encouraging such behavior but let's be honest. It's impossible for me to be any more disappointed in Randy than I have been for the last, oh, thirty-four years.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Comics 1013-1016: Oh Look At The Time

I usually try to do these on Saturdays but I was doing something I actually liked this weekend instead (jk jk i am incapable of experiencing pleasure). Here is a special bonus pack of FOUR shitty one-sentence reviews!

1013. Without the last panel, this one would be pretty good, relatively speaking.
1014. The situation in this comic is so contrived I can't even think about anything else.
1015. In which Randy admits that he hates his readers.
1016. Did you know that nerds hating/overthinking Valentimes is a thing?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Comics 1010-1012: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

1010. Here we have a lame superhero, Etymology Man, giving an etymology in an inappropriate situation! How wacky! As the wave comes crashing in to drown our heroes, he is still giving an etymological lecture, and generally scoring a great victory for pedantry in the process. Too much setup, not enough joke. Though as an aside: I've never encountered someone who whips out their pedantry penis about 'tidal wave' vs 'tsunami.' Is this a thing?

1011. The worst part about this one is I'm terrified this means that Randy is one step closer to bringing his hot porn star daughter fantasies to fruition. More shotgun humor from our intrepid comics auteur. How dull.

1012. Apparently Randy was so thrilled with the joke in 1010, he decided to use it again! "I can make this better," he said to himself. "The people at xkcd sucks always complain when I use too many panels. Well I'll show them! I'll put this wall of text in only one panel!" This joke wasn't particularly interesting the first time. Stop trying to make it happen, Randy.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Comics 1008-1009: One Of These Is Self-TItled

[Comic title: Suckville; alt text: Suckville is considered by the Census Bureau to be part of the Detroit metropolitan statistical area, despite not being located anywhere near Detroit.]

This comic opens with some banter that I've basically heard before, and then carries on in that Randally tradition of "LOL WHAT IF WE TOOK IT LITERALLY" for boring results. Honestly the joke in this one didn't bother me much, but there are two glaring flaws.

First: making fun of Detroit is like making fun of creepy white knight webcomic artists. It's obvious, predictable, and boring, and real comedians steer well clear.

Second: what the fuck is going on in panel 3? Why is she turning into some eldritch monstrosity? Apparently it's meant to be "motion blur" where she turns over or some shit but... what the fuck? It was sufficiently bad that one of the forumites made this. So good.

Finally, let's visit one of the echochamber's resident aspies to see how they feel: "I still don't get it, mainly because I don't get how this is possibly taunting in any way. Telling someone that they live in a ghost town doesn't sound so much taunting as plain old bizarre. A distraction, maybe? Rather than a taunt? Similar to 'I need a pee/beer/new hat'."


[Comic title: Sigh; alt text: "If you're annoying enough, you can get them to respond with an involuntary second sigh and get a rhythm going."]

This comic right here is why this blog exists. It's not enough for Randall to be plastered all over the internet, no. He has to subsume reality, and encourage his legion of cuddlefish to turn everything into an XKCD reference. And mark my words: there are even now cuddlefish out there who are now saying "girllookatthatbody" every time they hear someone sigh. Randall is actively trying to replace reality with an awful, XKCD-inspired hyperreality.

This is probably one of the more egregious examples, because he is encouraging them to simultaneously reference both XKCD and LMFAO. It's hyperreality at its worst: ultimately the objective is to make it so that people can no longer sigh, or hear a sigh, without thinking of this manufactured pop culture. This is what Randall does for all of his references. This is what his fans willingly do. They are trying to turn the world we live in into nothing more than a series of references to other things.

He's carefully crafted a following which eats up references. He makes a comic which relies heavily on reference-based humor, and creates punchlines which are easily used as references in certain situations. References are the lifeblood of XKCD, and given the nearly religious quality XKCD takes on in nerd circles, making something as common as sighing into a reference must be a goddamn spiritual experience for them.

This sort of thing happens all the time. Something pop culture happens and you can never do a thing again without people thinking you are making a reference to that thing, or, alternatively, making the reference for you if you don't. Previously, though, these acts have been avoidable--nobody will force you to drink White Russians, and you can work words you once used that are now catchphrases for popular television shows out of your vocabulary. But you still had to change yourself in some way in order to avoid the hideous creeping hyperreality.

Now Randy is trying to make it happen for something that is almost involuntary for most people. Maybe you could avoid ever sighing, but it's the sort of thing that happens without thinking. And you never know when an XKCD fanboy will be waiting to strike. A red mist will descend on you, and when you emerge, you're covered in cuddlefish blood and hear yourself screaming 'WHERE ARE YOUR NERD REFERENCES NOW?' at their lifeless corpse.

No jury will convict you. Maybe this isn't so bad after all.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Comic 1007: Unsustainable Humor


[Comic title: Sustainable; alt text: "Though 100 years is longer than a lot of our resources."]

Oh boy, another graph comic! This one's got it all: Randy has done the same joke before, the graph implies that the average sentence is 100 words long (15-25 is more common), and Randy is covering all his bases to make sure he doesn't accidentally make any of his fanboys angry--not only does he complain about the word "sustainable" being overused (using a graph that does not reflect the actual source in google ngrams), he throws in a token comment in the alt text about how we'll run out of a lot of resources in 100 years' time anyway to appease the sustainability fans out there. I bet Randy was pretty pleased with himself for that one.

The forums seem to think the point of the graph is that it was badly made. I think Randy just hoped he could get away with cherry-picking data and presentation to make his point. It must be nice having fanboys who interpret everything you do as something incredibly brilliant.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Comics 1004-1006: Worse Than SOPA

Here are two shitty one-sentence reviews and one actual review for you!

1004. I think this is Randy's way of saying he thinks he's finally outgrown superhero comics.

1005. This is not a comic.

1006. Every time I call Randy on bullshit like this some cuddlefish is all like "so, the strawmanner has become the strawmanned," even though I do not make "strawman arguments" (I just hurl "unnecessarily hostile invective" at Randy). But this is probably one of the best examples of his strawman smugness yet. See how he has created a fictional character to say something annoying, just so he can say something smug about him. And see how his smugness also isn't actually very accurate: an unlikeable character doesn't make a movie any less believable (cf. Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?). And the dialog offered isn't exceptionally unbelievable (by XKCD standards, anyway), either. Annoying, sure. But unbelievable?

I always like to pretend that these comics are the result of some serious staircase wit on Randy's part--he was subjected to someone who said something that vaguely resembles what his strawmen say in the comics, and much later he thought of something witty to say. Of course, by the time he actually thought up a response, the original comment has been run through his brain so many times it's nothing more than a hideous caricature of what it once was--not something an actual human would say, but something that, in Randy's mind, the Other might utter.

Of course, the point here isn't to be accurate, but to be an AMAZING ZING at the strawman. "Ha ha, you are unlikeable!" Which, of course he is--he's a Randall Munroe character.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Comics 1001-1003: Back In Black

Some shitty one-sentence reviews for you!

1001. Dear sweet Christ, Randy should never draw perspective.

1002. Has Randy compiled a list of facts to set up a handful of stupid and not-remotely-worth-it joke, or has he simply appended a handful of stupid jokes to the end of a list of completely uninteresting facts?

1003. Incest is funny!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

So much news

So, the big anniversary came and went, and all Randall gave us for comic 1000 was a shockingly self-congratulatory image that was pretty much entirely devoid of humor.

In contrast, I'd like to show you Dinosaur Comics #1000 (I know Dinosaur Comics is too often my go-to reference, but in this case I can't think of many other comics that even bother to number their instalments, so I'm somewhat limited here). It's a perfect contrast - it works perfectly fine on its own as a comic, but if you happen to realize that it's #1000, then you also realize that "kicking a kangaroo 1000 times" becomes a metaphor for "posting a comic with the same 6 panels 1000 times." This is particularly obvious if you read the alt-text. Comic 2000 similarly marks this new milestone (upping the kangaroo kicks to 2000 as well) in much the same way. I look forward to the next instalment at 3000. Whereas with the next big xkcd milestone, what can we expect now? Just a giant "2000" written out? At that point, why not just draw a picture of a neon sign and write "LOOK HOW GREAT I AM" ?

Now I suppose we could all be in for a surprise and there will be a suitable milestone marker at 1024, as this comic suggests. I guess I'll deal with that in a few weeks when we get there, but it seems like it would be a case of having his cake and eating it too - getting to 1024 is only marginally more impressive that getting to 1000, which he's already celebrated here, as it were.

In other, better news, there could be no greater christmas present than the news that Michael Firman will be updating Moe every weekday this year! This is fantastic. I've long been a fan of Moe and it was most difficult to trudge through the long months that went by with no updates. As he says, if he's going to succeed in this, he will also try to sell some stuff, so I strongly encourage you to go and buy that stuff when it comes out. No - I encourage you to read the comic. Then you will convince yourself to buy his stuff.

Truly, this is an exciting time for comics.

ps - i have like 1000 unread e-mails in my e-mail box! ha ha, I am almost certainly never going to read them, unless they are printed out for me and I am incarcerated.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

One Thousand

I see that at some point tonight xkcd will hit the big one oh oh oh and publish its thousandth comic (really the 999th, since he cleverly skipped #404, because, you know, it was not found).

This seems an auspicious time and one where I, the only good thing that has happened to this site, should comment on it. But I can't think of anything to say besides "hey guys come look at THAT" so perhaps I'll just have to wait until the comic itself comes out.

Meanwhile, this is exactly the 700th post on this blog. Weird, huh?

Happy birthday-ish thing,