AnnouncementDied in a Blogging Accident has lived up to its name and died... in a blogging accident. That is to say it has concluded. You can still re-live the magic by clicking here to start at chapter 1. For genuine criticism of XKCD, please click the top link to the right (XKCD Isn't Funny).
Friday, December 30, 2011
Alt-Text: You can't stab Karl Kasell. He sounds all slow and stentorian, but he moves like a snake.
Oh great, another shotgun humor strip, this time about possible headlines for when Peter Sagal does something "newsworthy" (I'll get to that in a minute) in 2012. Okay, no. First, why would Randall need to specify the year 2012? Is the show going away? Or does he believe the "2012 End Of The World" bullshit? Also, Who the hell stockpiles headlines in advance? If something actually happens, any reporter could come up with a headline, especially with such an easy target. Hell, even Randall could come up with enough of them to fill a shitty comic in only two days.
Okay, in Randall's case it was different, because he didn't have to match his stupid headlines to actual stories, and, to be honest, that actually sounds like the point of this strip, "to be prepared for the unforeseen", but in the end it just works against him. First, none of the headlines are funny (okay, the ACCIDENTALLY one cracks me up, but that's because I'm a basement-dweller who finds memes funny), and second, at least one of them directly contradicts the strip's premise, unless of course you think that a celebrity deleting his Facebook account is newsworthy.
In short, this is a very bland comic, with a few awful parts. When will Randall understand that qunatity over quality only works if you have at least some quality? Well, seeing that he's managed to shell out almost 1000 strips on a thrice-weekly basis, probably never.
But I can dream, dammit!
Edit: Notorious commenter Michael notes that stockpiling headlines, along with whole stories, is a real practice, employed, for instance, in presidential elections, in order to have all bases covered. However, as another commenter says, I don't think it is done in anticipation of improbable events.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
title: Making Things Difficult; alt-text: "Favorite mastectomy breast prosthesis idea: a fake boob containing a spare rechargable battery, accessed via a nipple USB port. Complete with a ring of LED charge indicators in the areola!"
I just can't understand the point of this comic. Okay, okay. It's obvious enough that Randall went to the doctor with Megan yesterday, so we all know the inspiration. But what's the joke here?
No, stop typing your response. There's a tradition that showing a man her breasts earns a woman a string of beads... during Mardis Gras. It's not Mardis Gras. It's not Mardis Gras for another 2 months. You wouldn't do a Halloween comic in Augus- well, maybe he would. Who knows.
Sorry, but I want to go back and mention the stupid first box again. Loo, we get it. Cancer. It's sad, but it adds nothing to this comic at all. In a comic that's already about twice as wordy as it needs to be, this is just more useless information crammed in for the sake of... I don't even know why. Clearly this isn't something that actually happened, so it's not for accuracy's sake. Maybe it's there so that fans can say it's not nice to criticize the comic.
I hate this comic's pacing. All this comic really needs to be is:
"You're looking great! Remove your top so I can check how the incision is healing."
"Sorry Doc, you know the rules."
Then the doctor pulls out some beads and she takes off her top. Also, the comic is published during Mardis Gras to establish context. That's all you really need (also I would change the doctor's awkward dialogue, but I'm just talking pacing).
As it stands now, it's just atrocious. NEITHER line of dialogue is necessary in the last panel, and the third panel actually makes me angry. "This is so ridiculous"? Of course it is, it's a joke in a comic strip. The cartoonists' goal here should be to make the reader think that, not to hamfistedly establish that the joke is funny before you tell it. Imagine a conversation like this:
"Wow man, what happened to you?"
"I broke my wrist and fractured my hip. I'm about to say something facetious, by the way. You should see the other guy."
Alright, that's all I have to say. I'm going to go have nightmares about Megan opening her coat to reveal some kind of wormhole now.
Also this turned out really long. You can use it as a guest review if you want.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
title: Coinstar; alt-text: "Plus they take like 9%."
I figured out a way for this to be funny... imagine Randall trying to explain this joke to someone.
"Can you imagine if some kid put chocolate coins in one of those Coinstar machines?"
"It would be all like WHIRRRRRRRR BZZZT KERCHUNK TSHHHHHHCLIKCLCIKCLCIKCLCIKC GRING POP BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!"
"Yeah, okay, I get it."
"And all the chocolate that got stuck in the machine would be like the 9% commission the machine takes."
"*Sigh* Just go make your stupid comic, dear."
"Oh Man! That would make a wiked sweet comic, this guy would walk up to the machine and it would be all like WHIRRR..."
I will grant that, thanks to my new tactic of imagining Randall trying to explain the joke, I was able to laugh at this comic.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
And now for the first bingo cards, which have been pointlessly decorated with coloured lights, which will only make them look outdated in a few months. A bit like Randall's humour - OHHH, SNAP!
Not much to see here, just a standard forum discussion about how much Star Wars SUCKED. And the comic was bashed, not just by Fernie (although he did give us a long discussion about the subjectivity of art). I think this quote sums it up:
"I Liked this comic as much as I liked the movie."
Xkcd presents: the Share-your-own-mnemonics Thread... for seven pages. They also argued about the validity of 'PEDMAS', which was tedious, but it gave us G2.
No language or grammar, but this guy was begging for it. I'll give him I2 anyway because it's Christmas.
This moderator redtexted because people were saying 'Bad boys rape our young girls but violet gives willingly.' THERE, I SAID IT.
Friday, December 23, 2011
title: Advent Calendar; alt-text: "I think you could get up to about 11:59:57 before you'd have trouble swallowing the chocolates fast enough. At that point, you'd need some kind of a liquify-and-chug apparatus to get up over the 11:59:59 barrier. Anyway, Merry Christmas!"
I don't know why this is supposed to be funny. If the goal was for me to look up Zeno on Wikipedia I guess he succeeded there at least.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Title: Brand Identity (Formerly Brand Awareness) alt: Legally-mandated information would be printed on the back or discreetly along the bottom. In small letters under the nutrition information it would say "Like our products? Visit our website!" There would be no URL.
Hey everyone, this is the Society of Russell Crowe Film Supporters (SoRCFS) back again with a review.
So....I really have no idea what the hell Randall is going for here. For that matter, not a lot of people on the forums do, either. A lot of the posts I've read across the first couple of pages have gone something like this:
"PretentiousGuy wrote: Mkay it's not really that funny but I laughed at the alt text. But hey, here's [some example of a white label product]
It really is beyond me how they've managed to turn out 4 pages of posts mostly like this (or, failing that, just the second part).
Is there much to say about this comic? No, not really. The only thing I really laughed at was the fact that Randall has apparently put his everything on one supermarket shelf. This including milk, which is generally supposed to be refrigerated. Also, second row down, a bit left of center: cervical caps. Because, you know, you absolutely have to put those in. It's totally not bad taste/irrelevant to the joke/more pointless seXKCD.
I'm going to do that thing where I criticize trivial parts of the comic composition now. If you really don't feel like reading this kind of stuff, then just know my general attitude towards this comic is that it's bland, and otherwise just plain out boring.
It took me a while to figure out that the comic was in color for a reason. Maybe it's just because I'm stupid, maybe because using white to contrast color here is a piss-poor decision. I mean, sure, I noticed the white label things right away (I'm not that stupid, apparently). But I cared a lot less because there were so many things to look at that the white label's uniqueness didn't hit me at first. If I was trying to tell this (admittedly bad) joke myself, I would sacrifice the bunches of objects for greater clarity. Here's some things I'd consider to achieve this goal:
- White stands out better against dark colors. Avoid light shades of grey.
- My audience reads left to right.
- I should try to place important things based on the rule of thirds or in the center.
Clearer? I'd like to think so. Does it improve the joke any? No. Hopefully it does make it a bit clearer, though.
Eh, I'm done for now. There' not much to say and I feel like I'm forcing myself to blabber on pointlessly. Whatever.
Watch Man of Steel in 2013,
Monday, December 19, 2011
title: Mnemonics; alt-text: "'Sailor Moon's head exploded once' and 'Some men have explosive orgasms' both work for the Great Lakes from west to east (Paddle-to-the-Sea order)."
What's funny here is that in panel five Randall has carefully avoided a phrase that would have required someone as "sensitive" as Randall to issue a trigger warning at the beginning of the comic between making lite of a potentially tragic condition affecting 5-10% of the female population and proceeding to purposefully attempting to offend Christians in panel six. LOL offensiveness juxtaposition.
As far as reviewing the comic itself... it kinda comes off as a "meh" for me... Making up pseudo intellectual mnemonics was kinda fun in college (and making up dirty ones in High School... or when drunk and in college*)... actually that really explains it... this is the kind of comic you would come up with if you were getting drunk with other "intellectuals" and drawing accompanying doodles on napkins. If anyone reads this comic while drunk could you let us know if its suddenly hilarious? You know... for science?
(note: I never got drunk in college so I am basing my expectations for what people do when drunk, not from personal drinking experience, but on observations of people getting drunk and their depiction in popular media.)
Saturday, December 17, 2011
title: Phantom Menace; alt-text: "We could go to the theater across town and see if it's opened THERE yet, but we don't want to lose our place in line."
I was just as confused as you so I went to the forums... turns out in 2012 they are going to re-release the Phantom Menace in 3D and these people are waiting outside of this theatre and are unsure as to why no one else is camped out months in advance like last time.
Three interesting things about this one:
After quickly loading the individual panels into the Gimp and overlapping them and setting the transparency my suspicions were confirmed... Panels 1,2 and 3 are pixel perfect copies of each other. I'm fine with this aside from he usually doesn't do so.
Next is that he could have made this comic stand up on it's own if he had provided some kind of indication they were waiting for the "re-release"... even just a reference to "like last time" or something... or a mention of 3D so we had a clue that that's what they were waiting for... and if these people are there months in advance... where are their tents?
Finally is that I am actually quite impressed that he managed to do a recognizable Darth Maul head while maintaining his faceless stick-figure are style.
That said, maybe he could have used the time he saved (copy-pasting, leaving out useful detail and using
edit: Also... "give it one more month" makes it sound like they are there way ahead of time while "see if it's opened THERE yet" makes it sound like they are lined up for a show today... maybe I need to check out the forums and figure out how they have rationalized this disparity.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
title: Plastic Bags; alt-text: "The high I feel when I actually remember to bring my reusable bags to the store--and take them inside rather than leaving them in the parked car--can last for days."
Instead of reviewing I just attached a bunch of appropriate labels that express, in part, what is wrong with this comic.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
title: Cryogenics; alt-text: "'Welcome to the future! Nothing's changed.' was the slogan of my astonishingly short-lived tech startup."
On the bus this morning (or technically while I was walking from the bus stop to the office) I was thinking "Since no-one has reviewed comic 989 I suppose I should at least put it up so people don't start commenting on it in the thread for 988." but alas, I was too late.
The new comic is an interesting halfway breed between a subversion and a shoehorn. After reading the first panel, I thought, "Yet another comic about how technology is changing fast. This is stupid. Life is stupid." Then, Randall Munroe took me in a completely different direction by making the comic about cryogenics. It felt kind of weird but an interesting twist at the time, and that feeling actually won't go away for me. Every time I read it over, I seem to be able to process it as both a cool twist and some stupid right turn in a disjointed comic. I think this is because it is actually the exact halfway point between the two, and it mediates the spectrum. So, not ideal in the "I-wanna-read-a-good-comic" sense, but very interesting to analyze from the literary point of view. A sort of metaproperty. Something for those searching for the next level of meaning. Something for those too bored out of their minds to do anything but criticize a lame but somehow popular webcomic all day long.
(There were more of these and even a "make your own Time Friends competition".... but it looks like the old halfpixel archives are broken... check out the creators latest endeavour, chainsawsuit, for what happens when a comic artist says "xkcd is making a tonne of money for doing nothing... I could do that!" and then does so ironically and realizes that it's profitable and so keeps doing it...)
What's more, the idea of trials of engineers cryogenically preserving themselves in order to see the future has been detailed in a Robert A. Heinlein novel titled The Door into Summer. I'm not saying that all that could be said about travelling to the future to see what advances happen and being disappointed has been exhaustively investigated... just that it's been done before.
Now, I'll grant that Randall is saying something I haven't heard before and we can summarize this as, "If all the smart people froze themselves so they could experience the future then the future would be no better then today." I'll even grant that he has said this in a way that (as Leacim mentioned) subverts our expectations.
Randall often seems to be of the opinion that subverting expectations is sufficient for humour to happen. I mean... that's what it sais on Wikipedia right? I didn't laugh at this "comic" even though I thought it was clever enough for what it was.
Breaking it down I think that last panel there is supposed to be the punchline when, to me, the "joke" had already landed (albeit wordily) in panel five. Given the stretching of the setup across four panels I think that this is probably just a symptom of his taking too many panels to present something that would have worked better in three and needing an additional punchline to make it work at that length.
But what really bugs me is that Randall here, "engineer" that he is, has presented us a false dichotomy. Real scientists and engineers work to bring about the future they envision, it's just us "smart" slackers who want to skip ahead.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Randy is really digging this early punchline thing. Then again, maybe I shouldn't complain if it means cutting out graph comics.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
title: Potential; alt-text: "The bunch of disadvantaged kids I was tutoring became too good at writing, and their essays were forcing me to confront painful existential questions, so I started trying to turn them on to drugs and crime instead."
(Did you ever notice that if you inspect the "img" element for these comics the "title" property contains the alt text and the "alt" property contains the title of the comic. I have, and it nearly causes me physical pain to label them wrong... but I suppose I have to stick with convention.)
If the execution didn't hurt so much I would likely have GOOMHRed at this one... at least ironically.
I was one of those kids who teachers always often used the "not working at your full potential" type of comments on. I was bright and clever and showed talent for many things and engaged in the classroom but then ended up getting mediocre grades. One time I worked out the math on the value of assignments in a "computer" course and got a perfect mark on the six assignments I wanted to do and just completely skipped the four I didn't... 60% was a C.
Now Randall here is either mocking me for believing that I ever had potential in the first place or giving me permission for having been a slacker because the world couldn't have handled me if I'd been motivated. The hover-text seems to be an indictment of the educational system for failing to help students meet their potencial or a nihilistic acceptance of the validity of said practice because thinking citizens tend to rebel when The Man tries to put them down. Hey... at least the comic made me think... so that's something.
But this brings me to the actual comic. Without the GOOMHR there's no funny in the comic itself. Framing the question of unmet potential as "they complain if you don't but complain more if you do" is pretty bland as a set up and punchline if you are not the kind of person who has failed to meet their potential and has come to terms with it. The giant robot isn't really a surprise because the lack of anything engaging in the first two panels makes the comic read as:
See comic as a whole:I will grant that elements of this comic entertained me... but the execution, taken as a whole, kinda falls flat.
Think - "Hey, a giant robot, I wonder what that's about?"
Read: When teachers complain, "You're not working at your full potential!"
Think - "Heh, if all the slackers who think they are geniuses were as smart as they think they are and actually met their narcissistic expectations, the world would be full of super-villains with giant war machines."
Read rest of comic: "Don't take it to hard, they complain way more when you do."
Think - "Uhm... was that the joke?"
Read alt-text: "The bunch of disadvantaged kids I was tutoring became too good at writing, and their essays were forcing me to confront painful existential questions, so I started trying to turn them on to drugs and crime instead."
Think - "Uhm... what?"
Monday, December 5, 2011
Hi, it's me, T-Jack, and I'm back with another idiotic xkcd strip. Do you ever get in those situations, where you drink from a water fountain and then you're like "Oh my god, I have to pee like RIGHT NOW" and then you go and then you're like "Wow, that peeing sure made me thirsty, better drink from that water fountain again" and then you drink and pee and drink again? If not, then congratulations, you live in a real world. Unfortunately for all of us, Randall doesn't and he wants us all to know.
The biggest problem with the strip is its premise. Yes, it's true, drinking (or, for that matter, experiencing running water in any way) may make you want to pee, but it's not that simple. See, I'm not a physiologist, but even I understand that this only slightly amplifies your already present need to relieve yourself. So, unless your bladder is, shall we say, considerably full, this won't send you to the bathroom. (Geez, I'm explaining the mechanics of taking a piss. I hate you, Randall Munroe.) Of course, you could say that this is just some paranoid madman's fear instead of reality, but then said madman should seek help instead of drawing shitty comics for the internet.
Now, the main problem dealt with, we approach nit-picking. First, could you imagine worse drinking sound effects than "drink drink"? Well, of course you could, but still. Couldn't Randy use "slurp" or "gulp" or "I was too lazy to think of a good sound effect"? Or, better yet, how about not using anything and drawing the picture better, instead? Huh, how'bout that?
Then there's the word "WATER" just floating there next to the bottom picture. Maybe it's supposed to mean something, but I think Randall simply messed up and he's going to silently remove it later. Above, of course, is the original picture in all its shameful glory.
Just a minor detail, but why does the bathroom door stay open in the upper right picture? I don't see a knob on it, so it must be one of those closes-on-its-own doors.
The alt-text... the less said the better. All I'll say is that it transforms a relatively harmless piss joke into a disturbing venture into Mr. Monroe's mind.
Whoa, the paragraphs are getting shorter.
In short, my problem with the strip is that it has too much text, or rather that it has text at all. The situation depicted is kinda amusing on its own ("kinda" being the key word here) and coupled with a "sloppy programming" joke, it could've been an actually good strip. But Randall, being Randall, had to totally overdo it. Here, I'll show you ("WATER" left in out of nostalgia):
Tooltip: God must be a sloppy programmer if he left in an infinite loop.
Let it be known that I am not a master of comedy.
PS: No, I did not steal the title of this review from Not Always Right, I just borrowed it. Shut up.
title: Drinking Fountains; hover-text: "I've always wondered whether you could drink slowly enough, and eliminate fast enough, that you just sort of peed continuously. But I'm afraid to try because I worry someone might call while I'm doing it and ask what I'm up to, and I won't be able to think of a lie."
My Monday morning routine tends to vary depending on my shift but when I finally got around to checking xkcd-sucks for an update and noticed there wasn't one yet I figured I would sacrifice a little bit of myself by at least posting my reaction to today's comic so people could comment... but then I saw it.
If the purpose of xkcd is to illicit a reaction from those who see it... this comic succeeds... the furrowing of my brows, the confusion and finally the "you can't be serious" laugh... I mean... this can only be an attempt to drive the masses to hysteria.
The comic itself is probably supposed to be a play on the "the water cycle" charts that over simplify the movement of water as being part of a closed system and the subtitle is probably supposed to re-contextualize the chart as a literal description of someone's trip to the bathroom and subvert our expectations. The art and execution isn't so bad... but if we deconstruct it and examine it in parts there are a lot of issues you could nit-pick on this one but really it's the hover-text that breaks my brain... first off, I've tried this, it's a completely normal thing for a human to do at some point in their childhood before they understand the basics of human biology but Randall seems to think that it is an abhorrent little sick fantasy that he has... but if he would be embarrassed to admit to trying it... why is he broadcasting the fact that he has wanted to on the internet?
Anyways... this comic has broken my brain so I'm going to go drink a coke and take a piss in retaliation.
Friday, December 2, 2011
title: Percentage Points;alt text: Grayton also proposed making college scholarships available exclusively to sexually active teens, amnesty for illegal immigrants who create room for themselves by killing a citizen, and a graduated income tax based on penis size. He has been endorsed by Tracy Morgan, John Wilkes Booth's ghost, and the Time Cube guy.
You know what I occasionally enjoy doing? Pretending I'm Robin (the Burt Ward one) from the old campy Batman series. And by saying that, I mean I enjoy imitating his overused "Holy [something fancy], Batman!" catchphrase. That said, don't look at me strangely when I say this:
Holy four lines of alt-text, Batman!
I did something weird a few days ago: I reread the early archives of Xkcd. Okay, so there's not too much to say about it. It was way back before Randall had a huge fanbase to pander to and otherwise appear nerdy at. I've alluded to reading a lot of webcomics before, so what I saw was nothing unexpected for a fledgling artist--a little less consistent art, less of a feel for what the comic is about, that kind of thing. But you know what struck me most? Brevity. The first comic's alt-text is three words long. Tiny. It added a little something meaningful to the comic, but didn't distract the reader from what they had just read.Compare that to today's. Ew. 985 shows up as a whopping 4-line, 50 word, 317 character (268 excluding spaces) monster.
The joke isn't one I find funny, but humor's subjective so I'll let that one slide (in this case). Even if I found this joke humorous, I still wouldn't laugh. Why? Because I had no clue where the comic was going. My eyes followed, in order, the title, text in panel, the caption under it, and finally the monstrous tooltip.
Here's a brief view of what's going on in my head at that point:
Title: "Percentage points" Okay, so it's all about--
Panel: um--drunk drivers? Drone strikes on Christmas? I what is going on--
Caption: Wait polls now?
Tooltip: What is going on??!?!?!
Afterwards: Okay, I need to reread this. Dammit.
The Alt-text is busy. So is the panel. In fact, it's so busy that I forgot about the title (which foreshadowed the allegedly funny caption) on the way down. It's not that I have ADD or something--I just couldn't see how it was funny through the thicket of other jokes. When the focus of the comic--"Percentage points" as the now-forgotten title had told me about--hit, I was just confused because it seemed like the joke hadn't been set up everywhere.
One thing I sincerely hope Randall will learn is that you can't always fit more than one joke into a comic. Of course it's possible: see this Brawl in the Family (and commentary!) for an example of a secondary joke in the background that doesn't detract from the what the author's been building up the whole strip. But in this Xkcd? The extras distract from the joke that the title indicates he wants to make fun of or complain about or something. As a result, the actual joke feels underdeveloped or, in my case, not there at all.
Here's a "Sucks (not that much) Less" from me:
title: Percentage Points;alt text: Don't we all.
Okay, Still not funny. But it's clear on what joke it's trying to get through. That's at least a step in the right direction.
tl;dr: the alleged joke is buried inside a mountain of other jokes. The two parts are bad for each other.
Addendum: The sharper-eyed members of the audience will notice that I reused the til-now solitary "list comic" tag. Well, to be fair, the list isn't exclusively on the comic. It extends through the tooltip as well.
And another thing: The tooltip! I just realized I started talking about the tooltip and didn't really go back to it. Uhm, that's totally intentional. See what happens when you start with one thing, distract the audience with something else, then go back where you started? They're confused as hell! This was totally a self-demonstrating article! Right, guys?
Thursday, December 1, 2011
alt-text: The SLS head engineer plans to invite Shania Twain to stand under the completed prototype, then tell her, 'I don't expect you to date me just because I'm a rocket scientist, but you've gotta admit--this is pretty fucking impressive.'
EDIT: I Made an edit for this one.