2015-12-31

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1623 - 2016 Conversation Guide

The real loser in an argument about the meaning of the word 'hoverboard' is anyone who leaves that argument on foot.

Hello everyone. I seem to have picked up Randy's cold, and I feel like my insides have liquidized and my throat is made of vomit, so I'm sorry in advance if this is just completely incomprehensible. BEST FOOT FORWARD FOR NEW YEAR, AMIRITE?

The presentation is lame, being text only, it's not even a flowchart. I do understand that he's probably got like, holiday stuff going on, so it's not that egregious. It's just a really boring way to present the last comic of 2015. Boring topically too, it's super preachy. "Turns out cities are heavy", I can almost see him sneering as he wrote that.

Who's asking for moon colonies or floating sky cities, anyway? I know there's a scientific push for Mars colonization, but I haven't seen people asking around for moon cities.

Also, wouldn't flying cars be planes, not helicopters?


Happy New Year, everyone! I hope it's a good one for all of you!

2015-12-29

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1622 - Henge

I've got the Craigslist post ready to go! I wasn't sure what category it should go in, so I listed it as property and put that it has 'good sun exposure.'

This is one of those comics that's set up like it's a parody of something, but it doesn't make sense that that something would be parodied. I mean, a good comedian can make humor out of anything, and you can get all postmodern and mess with formula and expectations. It just seems to me that Manhattanhenge is a weird thing to poke fun at.

The last two panels also feel weirdly disconnected from each other. The both follow from the original panel, but in different ways. I know he was going for a double punchline, but it seems jumpy I think it'd be better if there was a clearer transition between them, like "Oh yeah, well what's that?" and then the that would be the sun.

The sun gag is a really lame joke, but that's obvious. It kinda reminds me of a school of comedy writing that I'm given to understand exists in anime: A random thing happens and some guy says "This doesn't make any sense!". (I don't watch anime, this is based off of something my friend Lachlan told me once) And while I don't think Randy's graduated from that same school, I think he's done at least a semester there if you catch my drift.

In conclusion, my cat likes to be on my shoulders sometimes and it's adorable THESE EXIST.

2015-12-25

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1620 - Christmas Settings & #1621 - Fixion

SOUND DOGS MAKE: [BARKING] [HISSING] [LIGHTSABER NOISES] [FLUENT ENGLISH] [SWEARING]

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you're all in good health and good cheer. And hopefully, if you're not, a free iTunes giftcard code will cheer you up. Unless you weren't the first person to read this, in which case you're fucked.

This first comic is a good idea, but it has that classic XKCD problem of not actually showing the punchline action. It must be a Christmas tradition. I really want to see a confused guy looking at a kitchen faucet that's echoing out "Ho Ho Ho!"

Also, I know it's not supposed to be taken seriously, but shouldn't the panel for the whole universe be bigger than that? Maybe it's actually just really long on the front side, but the side sides are small.

My theory predicts that, at high enough energies, FRBs and perytons become indistinguishable because the detector burns out.

And this is a Christmas miracle. A genuinely funny XKCD. I love it, just the 'screw it, everything's fixed' attitude. It's so cavalier compared to XKCD's normal approach to science. The last two things on the right hand column don't go with the rest of the comic which is kinda lame, and I think the comic could have benefited from something like a "[name of problem]: SOLVED" caption under the descriptions, but overall this is a lovely gift to get on December 25th.

Merry Christmas, everyone. 

2015-12-24

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1619 - Watson Medical Algorithm


Two years ago (as of original time of writing, 2015-12-22), I posted "Birth". I remember thinking to myself as I wrote it: "I'm going to be writing three reviews a week, even if I write this to the absolute best of my ability it's gonna read like crap compared to my later stuff, since I'll get so much writing practice." And, proving that I am a genius in yet another way, it does.

You can actually see me steadily improve if you flip through the archives, like a text-only flipbook that took two years to make. At some point I'll probably have to go back and rewrite all the crappy early reviews, and fill in the missed updates.

I want to take a moment to thank all my readers. Your comments and views give me hella motivation to keep up this blog, I really appreciate it. I'd also like to thank Jon Levi and Rob Mason for endorsing and supporting my endeavors. xkcdsucks and Died In A Blogging Accident may have ended, but once an XKCD hateblogger, always an XKCD hateblogger. #FriendsTillTheEnd!

It's funny how it seems like I've been doing this blog forever, and at the same time, it seems like just yesterday I was first reading through Carl's 'angriest rants'. I'm looking forward to writing my five year anniversary post and thinking that this post reads like crap compared to what I've got going on by then.

In other news, the comic sucks because even though it's a graph joke it's got too many words and like half of them are forced wackiness.

2015-12-21

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1618 - Cold Medicine

Seriously considering buying some illegal drugs to try to turn them back into cold medicine.

Hey, Randy, if you're reading this, I'm sorry to hear that you've had such an elongated cold. Hope you feel better soon, man. If it makes you feel better, it's led you to create a fairly decent comic. It is an easy kind of relatable, but it's not GetOutOfMyHeadRandy-bait. And check out that actually well-done exposition in the first three comics! Check out that surprisingly detailed background decor in the first! (which unfortunately goes away in the second and third panels but you can't have everything)

Also, I'm very amused by the idea of Randy drawing this comic while incapacitated by his cold. Imagine him being all "I must be funny! But also I can't focus because of all my symptoms! woe is me! woeeee!"

2015-12-20

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1617 - Time Capsule


I just don't get these types of comics where Beret shows up and is wacky. It's like Randy's trying to be absurd but he's either trying too hard or not hard enough.

It kinda seems in this Beret-is-wacky comics, Randy just drops him into a random location and has him say incorrect statements. It's really easy and doesn't seem to have a point, like the comics could start and end at any point and we'd pretty much get the same effect, like a random selection from a bad Ricardo Villalobos song.

The best part of this comic is when Beret isn't just wacky: the whispered "Do you still have sandwiches?". I'm very much projecting emotion onto him and it is still bad writing, but it's funny to me to imagine his wonder and horror at the thought that sandwiches no longer exist. Everyone who knew him is long dead, but he's completely caught up on those sandwiches. In that moment, it almost approaches something that could be compared to being akin to Seinfeldian.

Also, that first panel is putting in a suprise last minute entry for "worst exposition in a 2015 XKCD comic". Reminds me of The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Speaking of, would you guys enjoy a top 10 / bottom 10 comics year-end list?

2015-12-18

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1616 - Lunch



Just look at that. We have another "simple words" comic, and then above and underneath it, advertisements for that same joke over and over in book form.

I don't have a problem with running gags. Actually, I don't even have a problem with reused jokes normally. If you make a comic for more than ten years you're going to hit the same joke twice eventually, it's just something that happens. But this isn't a running gag or an accidentally reused joke. This is Randy blatantly retreading old ground, except instead of old ground it's a tired joke and instead of retreading it he's using it over and over again.

A running gag shouldn't just be a joke that's used more than once. A running gag should be a joke that gets placed in new contexts and done in different ways. Friends has some great examples of this, like with "we were on a break", which partially derives it's humor from the stubbornness of the characters (i.e. there is a reason they continue to bring it up, and it is in character for them to do so) and partially from the situations into which it is implemented, like the end of "The One With The Girl Who Hits Joey", where it's used in conjunction with another joke to form a third, separate joke.

A running gag is kinda like a meme, except the writers make the derivatives on their own. A good one ("we were on a break" or the Loss.jpg edits) is different every time, a bad one (XKCD's 'simple words' comics, the "*takes a deep breath* I lo-" meme) is basically just copying the original joke and changing an unimportant element of it so that the joke remains the same. They're like palate swaps, essentially plagiarism; although at least in the case of XKCD it's only self plagiarism.

I don't like doing the snarky insult bit. I don't think I'm good at it and I'm hoping that if Randy ever checks this blog out his reaction will be more "Oh, he has a point there" than "Christ, what an asshole". But I do have to say, that anyone who buys the Thing Explainer book is probably more easily entertained than someone who doesn't buy it.

2015-12-16

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1615 - Red Car

That guy only drives an alkaline car to overcompensate for his highly acidic penis.

I kinda feel like this was a deliberate attempt by Randy to avoid being CouldBeATweet. It's a neat example of how word choice can affect stuff. Because we only get the information that the car is red through the art, the line only makes sense in the context of the full comic. In contrast, the alt-text is totally an example of CouldBeATweet, but it's okay, because alt-text.

That said, 'cyan' is probably the most pretentious color he could have chosen. It couldn't just be 'green', like we all learned on the color wheel, it has to be the precise RGB opposite. Maybe it's supposed to bring contrast between the relative high level of the word 'cyan' and the fact the comic's a dick joke, but I think green would be funnier too, since it conjures up a worse mental image.

I asked my furry friend* how he would feel about a cyan penis and he (and by extension all other furries) would be into it. The cyan penis would obviously be a point of pride. XKCD has failed to do the research yet again. For shame, Randy, for shame.

Also, wouldn't he be just compensating, not overcompensating? Like, red and cyan would neutralize each other, his penis wouldn't become more red than cyan. Compensating is even the more commonly used word.

This comic kinda reminds me of the bits he'd add into What If? articles. I can't imagine the question that would've been asked to make that image relevant, but I imagine I'd be both interested and disturbed. This joke really feels like a side thing, a one liner as part of a larger set of jokes. There's nothing offensively bad about it, but it's not exceptional in any way. As it is, it's essentially filler.



*Who, by the way, thinks this comic is "retarded" and "impossible [to rewrite to make it good]".

2015-12-13

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1614 - Kites


I still don't get why Beret has these weird supernatural powers. See, if it was me, I'd have had a new guy in a wizard hat do all his magic stuff. It'd make sense because if you have a wizard hat you can do magic. The ignorance of this fact is actually my main problem with the Harry Potter film series.

The visual pun is kinda cute, but also kinda concerning. I can't tell if dog is wriggling and going "arf" because that's the in-the-air equivalent of walking or if it's scared or confused. I understand I'm not supposed to read that far into it, but I can't help it, I'm hardwired like that.

Looking at it from a purely mechanical standpoint, the reveal that it's a dog leash and not a kite line is too protracted*. It takes three panels and then a reaction shot kinda thing, which draws it out too much and makes it come off almost dramatically. If you imagine horror movie music over it, you can kinda imagine the middle two panels as the equivalent of the slow opening of a door right before a thing jumps out or whatever. (I have not seen many horror movies.)

Also, nitpick: it's not walking if there isn't at least one foot on the ground at all times, and the dog is in the sky where there is no ground.


*Much like a very low budget art class.

2015-12-07

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1613 - The Three Laws of Robotics


I have been like, super tired lately, it's awful. Is this what getting old feels like?

So, this is not a bad comic. I think it actually makes a really interesting commentary on how prioritizing things can affect things, but it does it in a subtle way so you don't necessarily feel like you're being preached at. If the comic was "why you should prioritize sinks in the workplace" or whatever, it'd be snoresville, but as it is, robots! The visuals also prevent it from just being a graph joke, and the captions help clarify what the visuals are meant to convey.

There are a few rooms for improvement, though. The killbot hellscape shouldn't have had the same reused art (especially not that reused art, those are some lazy as hell explosions), it should have gotten more intense with each appearance. And in the terrifying standoff, shouldn't the robot not be agreeing to make cars for the guy, since "obey orders" is so far down the list? Like, couldn't the robot just threaten him until he gave [robot pronoun goes here] more pleasant orders?

Also, more philosophically, in the frustrating world, wouldn't there be some robots who were willing to do it even though they'd die? There're humans who are willing to do it, but that raises the question of whether an artificial intelligence would be capable of selflessness. As someone who has not read enough sci-fi, I am ill-equipped to answer this question.

In conclusion, Isaac Asimov was a smart dude and I should probably read some stuff he's written.

2015-12-06

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1612 - Colds


By total coincidence I just had a bit of the sniffles earlier today. I'm pretty sure I'm fine now though, thanks for asking.

I think this is an idea that should've just been scrapped. It's too complex to be shown succinctly and too lame to be worth showing out in full as an understandable non-graph thing. There are way too many elements for this graph to be funny, on top of the usual axis/lines, there are extra labels that clutter things up. No good. It needs to be cleaned up but I don't see an easy way of doing that.

I'm trying out different ways of delivering this joke in my head and none of them are working. The best I can do is imagining a really rambling old man saying it to an increasingly annoyed younger person, but that takes a lot of the focus off the joke so it doesn't really count.

In conclusion, I've been watching through Scrubs and it is a pretty good show. However, I've been told by differing people that it's almost totally medically accurate and that it's barely medically accurate, so if any Isn't-ers could point me towards a reliable source that would be pretty cool, brahs.

2015-12-03

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1611 - Baking Soda and Vinegar

http://explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1611

If What If was still going, a full sized baking soda volcano would be a pretty cool.

My friend Lachlan, who's behind me as I write this, says: "It's not executed well, like it's a cute concept but I think the base issue is that you don't really know what's going on outside, like I initially thought that "BOOOOM" was a bomb outside he put there to simulate larger eruptions... it makes it seem like it's just an actual natural disaster so you don't know like, did the kid know this was going to happen or did he predict it... it kinda feels like a really shitty Calvin & Hobbes, often they'd have something being presented really naively or innocently but then at the end there'd be a darker twist that would touch upon a dark aspect of society or human nature, and that would be compelling. But because the dark twist mostly exists outside the action of this comic and because we don't know what exactly that dark twist is, and the potentially compelling part of what's occurring - like the natural disaster or whatever - is how the people react to it, but their reactions are primarily just saying what's happening rather than giving their interpretations of it."

(any garbling of his original message is the fault of my transcription and not of his dictation)

2015-12-01

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1610 - Fire Ants

 Here in the entomology department, we have a simple two-step formula for answering any question: (1) ants are cool, and (2) we forgot the question because we were thinking about ants.

As this one abridged series I found on YouTube this one time said: "Ah, at last, regular updates." Feels good man.

I really liked where I thought this comic was going at first. Guy is uncertain about his future and goes to Authority Figure for guidance, but the advice she gives is useless. Guy takes a beat panel to mull over the life choices that lead to this moment. It spoke to me as an angsty college student. But then that pesky fourth panel comes along and retroactively ruins the prior three.

Guy isn't reflecting or contemplating running away to join the foreign legion, he's actively absorbing the 'advice' and only realizes it's useless after running it over a few times. Authority Figure is still useless, but it's not in a satirical way. I was expecting her to say "If you have any other questions, please see the department that hands out colorful brochures, the department's name is available online" or something to that effect.

As it actually exists, the joke is rather toothless. It's just the story of the quirky adviser who liked ants. Although I do like the (possibly unintentional) pun in the last line, probably more than I should.

That fact about fire ants building a raft is so 2008, though. I remember seeing like five posts about it back in the day on Failblog. First there was the video, and then there were four screenshots of comments on the video, which if I'm remembering correctly, were all some variation on "I jerked off to this".

(2008 was a simpler time.)

2015-11-29

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1591-1609 - EPIC CATCHUP REVIEW OF SADNESS

I probably should have just done this directly after the hiatus. It'd have definitely been better than being behind for two months, but at least I'll be able to get back into the swing of things in time for December and the two year anniversary. For now I'll be channeling my inner Rob Mason (for there is a Rob Mason in all of us, right next to the Slim Shady) and giving you some shorter reviews that may or may not be fleshed out in future.

#1591 - Belle's Theorem
It's executed well, and I appreciate that I don't actually have to know what Belle's Theorem is to understand the joke, but the joke is just a preachy thing about how people don't understand science. D+

#1592 - Overthinking
It has footnotes. Might as well be Mallard Fillmore. F

#1593 - Play-By-Play
This reads like every pretentious 'I'm too smart to watch sports' comment I've ever seen, with a hint of the played-out 'common words' joke thrown in. Really boring art too; we should see at least a popup thing of the diamond. D-

#1594 - Human Subjects
Okay but why are her subjects awful? Are they criminals? Mentally disturbed? Republicans? (yuk-yuk) That context could add so much to this joke. We don't even get to see them do any of the things. C-

#1595 - 30 Days Hath September
I assume this is supposed to be a relatable joke but I don't have this problem since I'm a smart cookie. That wouldn't be an issue except no joke is made about the problem other than that it exists. F

#1596 - Launch Status Check
Why doesn't anyone ever oppose these things? There should be at least one guy getting progressively more and more frustrated at all the unprofessionalism. There should at least be some acknowledgement that this is immature. There are tumblr posts kinda like this that go like "me as a doctor: woah dude youve got like tons of bad stuff in you" or something like that. And they're kinda bland and interchangeable but they pretty much work because the structure of the joke makes it clear that the joke is their own immaturity or incompetence rather than just 'what if everyone was stupid'. D+

#1597 - Git
Would have been better if the third line just ended at "No idea." but then it would have been CouldBeATweet so hmmmmm. Nice use of that context that #1594 was missing and it's pretty much understandable even though I'm not Programming Guy so C+

#1598 - Salvage
Wow! Nice job on this one, excellent non-verbal exposition, pretty good art, and the punchline hits you all at once at the end. This is my favorite kind of XKCD. A+

#1599 - Water Delivery
Boooo on the reused building and water bottle art and kinda ugly colors but yayyy on most of the rest. It gives topical background and illustrates the idea well. Unfortunately, it does have that 'feels like a presentation' thing going on, similarly to #1400, where the idea is presented in the manner that's easiest to understand instead of the way that brings out the humor the most. The captions should have been the first and last panels and the comic should have been the middle panel. B

#1600 - MarketWatch
So they noticed it happening... but also they were doing it intentionally and didn't want to break the pattern? Huh? Why is this event occurring? I have so many questions. Also the newscaster's hairline clips through the side of her head. F+

#1601 - Isolation
First reaction: 'this is just #1227 but visual and not quotes. After getting to the punchline: "oh. that's okay then". Full credit where credit's due, my expectations were successfully subverted. Nice double meaning in the title, too. B+

#1602 - Linguistics Club
It's CouldBeATweet, but it'd be a funny tweet. It's got that rhythm that one liners are supposed to have, and that little line between the two halves helps bring that out, improving on what the text-only version would have. C+

#1603 - Flashlights
I really like how the person says "I guess?" because that's totally the reaction of everyone in the audience. Lighting a forest on fire seems more Black Hat than some random dude, though, who is he to burn down all our precious oxygen-generators? Anyway pretty lame punchline, we should see the burning forest, D+

#1604 - Snakes
Why did it have to be snakes? Haha, I'm being silly, I'm not actually Indiana Jones, I'm Greg Greenwell (for now)! It's a nerd joke, but it's a nerd joke most people will get, I think. It's CouldBeATweet though, which is of course unforgivable. Also it's weird that he'd color the snake considering how hard it is to see. C

#1605 - DNA
It's a White Hat comic. It strammans and simplifies the opposition so that Randy's OC can win. Nothing is new. F-

#1606 - Five-Day Forecast
Well. That's dark. I'm kinda sad now. Also that is some reused art assets. D

#1607 - Supreme Court
thewecomicsreview likes it! It'd have been funnier to see the supreme justice saying it from his podium thing though. C+

#1608 - Hoverboard
It kinda feels inevitable that XKCD would do a flash game comic, and honestly good for it, even if it is a blatant gimmick. The controls are pretty decent (although not as good as the controls for Cubified, the free flash game available through desura, that I did the soundtrack to) and it was a good choice to have an infinite jumping mechanic. It's also pretty neat that it lets you discover the true expanse of the game on your own.

It is, however, pretty lame that parts of the scenery are non-solid while looking exactly like the solid scenery, making some navigation a trial-and-error process. The bigger spaceship thing has too many interlocking corridors, meaning that it becomes confusing without a built-in area map. And that island in the sky with no indication that it's there but it has two coins? Dick move, Randy, how was someone supposed to discover that? Lern 2 level design.

but if you want to add a soundtrack, Randy, seriously, hit me up. Not even joking on this, I'll do it for pennies.

#1609 - Food Combinations
LIES, Randy, LIES. I've told people many times that red Doritos taste good with milk and/or dipped in chocolate pudding, and not a single person has ever even entertained the possibility that I am right (even though I am, as always). And likewise, no one could ever convince me to try ice cream with eggs. D-


So I know this isn't my usual thing, but if you don't like it, just remember that A) it's not going to be a regular thing, stick around for a typical review tomorrow, and B) the first comment on Rob's post about me existing was that my reviews are too long and this is my appeasement of them.

2015-11-23

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1590 - The Source


The hell kind of white void house does Randy live in? It's like Martin's alien blue sex cube but boring. And it hurts the joke, too. The guy should hear the high-pitched hum, check several of his electronic devices which aren't The Source, and then see the HPHG (High-Pitched Hum Generator).

But instead, we don't know there's a high pitched hum until we see the HPHG (Harry Potter & the Horrible Gorrible). The joke becomes as the decor in Randy's House: bland and nondescript.

And of course The Source is the HPHG (Hungry Patriots Hate Golf), it's the only thing he owns! Why would it have been plugged in at all? Unless it's a really bad white noise generator and he realized he doesn't want it anymore, in which case this is just a really boring story about a guy who bought a broken thing.

Also if you haven't heard, Ghost is back and you all need to spread it around like WAULDFAUR


2015-11-19

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1589 - Frankenstein

 "Wait, so in this version is Frankenstein also the doctor's name?" "No, he's just 'The Doctor'."

What a good comic. Let me tell you, college has been kicking my ass up and down the metaphorical b-ball court this week (two of the past four days were all-nighters) and it is just so nice to have a genuinely funny comic to read in my time of need.

I see people having this debate on tumblr about once a month (don't get a tumblr) and it's totally worthy of mockery. They just get more and more pretentious and 'clever' as they go on, it's awful (like everything on tumblr, don't get a tumblr).

The brevity of XKCD's Frankenstein just adds to the effect, as does the random "the moon landings were faked!" line. I do think there was a slight missed opportunity by not having the narration with images parodying a classic horror movie or show, a la The Simpsons Treehouses of Horror I-V., but it might have distracted from the main joke too much so I to the D to the K.

I do have to say though, Frankenthumb is still my canonical version, but also that's probably just because I haven't seen Young Frankenstein yet.

Probably the biggest issue with this comic is that he should have held this comic until it was the week of Halloween to post this. (for people reading in the future: this comic was uploaded on October 12th, I'm working through a backlog at the moment, I am not saying he should wait almost a full year, just two weeks)

2015-11-17

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1588 - Hardware Reductionism

My MRI research shows a clear correlation between the size of the parietal lobe--the part of the brain that handles spatial reasoning--and enjoyment of 3D Doritos®.

This comic kinda reminds me of the comic that started the whole XKCD-hateblog thing, #398. It's almost not really criticizable, but it's got one tiny flaw that ruins it. It's kinda like that one Dara Ó Briain routine about how 2012 could have been the greatest movie of all time with a one-word change. It's not that drastic, but still.

If we talked about phone hardware the way we talked about brain hardware, we'd say things like "Researchers have finally discovered the connection between the button and taking a screenshot" or "Isn't it incredible what this software is capable of?". The comic should be captioned "if phone hardware was like brain hardware", because that is what is being portrayed.

Points are also deducted for not having a second panel captioned with "If we talked about brain hardware the way we talk about phone hardware". It doubles the entertainment value and you don't even have to think of a new joke really. It almost writes itself.

The Ghost Of Carl Wheeler further commands me to mention that this is yet another joke about blurring the line between humans and technology, and that this theme has been thoroughly explored in earlier XKCD strips to the point where it becomes boring.

2015-11-15

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1587 - Food Rule

 I won't eat invertebrates, because I can fight a skeleton, but I have no idea what kind of spooky warrior a squid leaves behind.

My food rule is no meat that breathes air but I'm allowed to get the General's Chicken Combo (D24) at Chinese places because it's really just MSG.

This is one of those comics that would be vastly improved if we just knew why it was happening. I get that it's a play on the 'don't eat anything with a face' rule, but it falls flat without any context.

The lack of context also makes it hard to tell if the "ew, food I don't recognize!" vibe is intentional or not. It's easy for me to read this comic like the person's choosing that rule so they don't have to eat things they haven't seen before. But because this is a presentation to the reader, floating in the void, I don't really know if that interpretation is right or not.

Instead of saying it directly to the reader, the comic should be a series of panels. One stickman would tell another stickman why he chose this diet, kinda like how one guy tells the other about The Martian in #1536.

Also, shouldn't oysters and shrimp both be in one 'shellfish' category?

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1586 - Keyboard Problems

 In the future, a group of resistance fighters send me back in time with instructions to find the Skynet prototype and try to upgrade it.

Randy totally did this twice before, but with worse punchlines. At least they're improving with time. And increasing in frequency, too. If the pattern keeps up, eventually XKCD will be nothing but amazing renditions of this same thing over and over.

So, anyone who's read Good Omens knows that this joke has been done well before. (and if you haven't read it, why the hell not, it's pretty good) However, in Good Omens, we got fairly detailed descriptions of how the guy tries to make technology work, followed by a description of the technology failing. It works for the same reason that so many Seinfeld gags work: failure is funny.

In this comic, the problems just happen to him, he doesn't cause them to happen. It's not even a particularly funny kind of problem. The idea of weaponizing it is nice, but it'd be so much better if we actually got to see it after a time skip.

In conclusion, I never really know how to end these things.

2015-11-11

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1585 - Similarities

 I just came from The Martian, and I just have to say: Forget BB-8; I want a pet Sojourner! It's always been the cutest of our Mars rovers.

The good people of explainxkcd tell me that this is meant as a parody of people who'll compare the plot points of two different movies and say that the movies are 'the same'. (Examples: Aladdin and Titanic, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, Jimmy Neutron and Chicken Little) And even though in the past explainxkcd have been LYING SMUCKS, I'm going to believe them, because I want to give Randy enough credit to assume he doesn't actually believe what's said in the first panel.

As with some previous things XKCD has parodied, my main reaction is to wonder why he's parodying them. Yes, when the example comparisons are looked at, you can easily find differences in theme and style between the movies, and they are not actually 'the same movie'. This is probably because most people don't mean 'the same movie' literally; rather, it exists as a simpler shorthand for something like 'these two movies share multiple similar plot points/characters/etc'.

Maybe it's because I'm a pretentious wannabe media critic, but I tend to find those kinds of observations interesting. It's neat seeing how the same plot can be used to deliver two completely different messages or have completely different styles. And sure, if it's a really badly done comparison, I can see that being worthy of parody, but the majority of 'the same movie' posts I've seen have been pretty well done.

This comic falls into the 'it'd be funny if it happened' crowd of XKCD comics (or, XKComics). Maybe this was in reference to a specific badly done comparison, in which case: cite your sources, Randy.

oh wait i forgot the last panel existed whopps

The ""Fifty Shades Of Red"" line isn't something someone would actually say. If you check out my examples back there in the first paragraph, you don't see the phrases "Aladditanic", "Toy Story 2½", or "Chickeneutron", and it's not just because those are all stupid phrases that should never be used. If two movies were already similar, there'd be no point in combining them.

Either Randy just wanted to be able to say "Fifty Shades Of Red" and he chose a really bad setup, or he wanted to extend things past just making fun of 'the same movie' and chose a really bad extension.

2015-11-09

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1584 - Moments of Inspiration

Charles, I just talked to John and Mildred, who run that company selling seeds and nuts, and their kids with MOUTHS are starving!

The idea behind this one is pretty solid. Even the execution isn't so much ruined as it is flubbed. The first two examples show a straightforward correlation between the moment of inspiration and what it inspired. (The demon that lives inside my brain and doesn't let anything slide forces me to point out that the Isaac thing is probably a myth and the Lise thing is pretty unknown) Then the last panel shows the comparatively absurd example often given to explain Al's thing that I vaguely remember from the report I did on him in the fourth grade.

Unfortunately, the Charles bit is almost completely incongruous with the rest of the comic. Either that or I got the really watered down version of the story when I was in middle school. The first two scientists are at least known to have the moments they had; his is needlessly surreal. It makes the actual punchline seem less funny because it's less surprising, and it is not funny on its own because of the context.

In conclusion, I just watched The Breakfast Club and it was really good and you should see it if you haven't already. You don't need to see Just My Luck, which I watched before it.

[EDIT: two days later]
I have been informed by my lovely commentators that the Lise thingy is not something that actually happened, nor is it a common myth about the development of atom-splitting. I, like a fool, trusted the 'explainxkcd' website, as if it would explain xkcd to me. But as they say, live and learn, and then die and stop learning.
Given this new information, I agree with both commenters that the last two panels should be switched, since it would create a steady rise in absurdity throughout the comic. I think Randy might have been ordering the panels from least to most funny, which in the process made the comic less coherent.
[/EDIT]

2015-11-08

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1583 - NASA Press Conference

 Why are we spending billions to ruin Mars with swarms of robots when Elon Musk has promised to ruin Mars for a FRACTION of the cost?

Is this based off of that one time Thom Yorke became a reporter?

More to the point, does anyone have recommendations for good alarm apps for the iphone? Preferably ones that would go off even if the idiot who owns the phone set it to silent.

This is one of the most inconsistent XKCDs ever, from an art standpoint. The first panel has a fairly faithful replication of the NASA logo (kudos to Randy for the non-dialogue exposition), but then we get a bunch of lazy lumpy half-ovals for panel two, and panel three doesn't even have that. Then we have a full crowd for panel four, but also the speaker's stadium is apparently floating in midair.

I'll admit I've never bothered to look into how Randy makes his comics, but it is just something digital, right? He's not painting these on fifty-foot canvases with ink made from pandas. I imagine he has the time and ability to correct his mistakes. I know that people have their own things going on and I'd understand if he couldn't make a better version because he got shot or whatever, but without any indication of such I don't get why he doesn't try harder to make things look good.

So, Beret goes to a NASA conference and asks stupid questions, I can get behind that. Similar things have been done well before. The idea of Mars being ruined because it's gotten wet is actually a pretty good one. Unfortunately, it's poorly phrased: "water on Mars" won't translate to "Mars is wet" in the minds of most people. "Is it ruined?" comes off as a non-sequitur. The "when it dries out" line makes it a little clearer, but still not as much as it should be.

Beret's question in the fourth panel is also really incongruous with his previous questions. The first two are nonsensical but related to the idea of water on Mars, while the last is neither. It's like it was written for another reporter but Randy remembered that Beret was the one with the mic.

Was the Cantina scene really that confusing? They're picking the fight with him to A) show how tough they are and to try and rob the rich upper class white kid and B) to give the filmmakers a chance to show how badass Obi-Wan is and how Luke don't know nothin'. My friend Lightning adds "stahwaurz reffernce" and continues "once again it's that seth macfarlane type humor where it's 'hahah I recognize that so it's funny'".

In conclusion, I couldn't think of anything concrete to say about the writing in the second panel, and Beret's head still looks like an acorn.

2015-11-05

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1582 - Picture a Grassy Field

Wait, I can fix this. Picture another field. In the middle sits the only creature the first creature is afraid of. Now just-- wait, where did THAT one go?

Someone at Making XKCD Slightly Worse has probably already done this, but imagine if she started with "Picture a grassy field." and the guy was just like "No."

This comic should definitely have been split into multiple panels. The monologue would work much better if it had actual pacing instead of just slight breaks. And Guy could react to what Girl says in real time. It'd turn the comic from a monologue delivered by Randy to the reader into a dialogue between two characters.

Making it a dialogue would also have made the comic easier to understand. As it is I still don't really get how I'm supposed to react. Like, the creature isn't scary, it's not a creature that eats your brain when it travels to your frontal lobe. It actually sounds kinda cute (but not as cute as my cat). The consequence of picturing this creature is the harsh sentence of... possibly thinking about it at a later time.

I don't get it. :|


Also: brief, non- full-review -worthy notes on QC#3082: If she could predict herself crumpling up all the notes, why'd she bother writing them all? Like the first extra note is fine, but then she's suddenly in NOTEZONE and there's no logical reason for it. I wouldn't mind if Questionable Content was a wacky random dada comic (ex), but it's not, it has Intense Dramatic Moments that don't work with this kind of absurd humor.

2015-11-01

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1581 - Birthday

 I guess I need to apologize to my parents, friends, and the staff at Chuck E. Cheese's for all the times I called the cops on them.

As happy as I am that the copyright industry has lost this one, this is not something that deserved a whole comic to itself. And if it did, the comic deserved some context. Even the people who knew that "Happy Birthday" was copyrighted wouldn't know what this comic meant if they hadn't heard that said copyright had been declared invalid.

I understand that this isn't supposed to be a joke, but it isn't even cute. At least #1000 had all the different stick figures and we can nostalgia trip a little. This one only has twelve, and you can't tell who four of them are.

This comic is too long to be a tweet, but it definitely shouldn't have been a comic on its own. Everyone knows you have to thank the readers if you're going to make a content-less anniversary post.

I have to say, though, without XKCD, I think a lot of us would have a hate-shaped hole in our collective hearts. I wasn't around for xkcdsucks' golden age (I was a Cracked guy, before Cracked went to shit), but I'm betting any readers that came over from there can remember one comment section they had a particularly time in. One time I even met a former anti-fan from 2008 on Omegle and I got him back in by showing him XIF, it was kickass. And when you think about all that, how can you really truly want XKCD to end?

So, Happy Birthday, XKCD. And many more.

2015-10-29

XKCD Isn't Funny #1580 - Travel Ghost (also QC#3079)

And a different ghost has replaced me in the bedroom.

I like this one, probably more than I should. Maybe it's because I always expect the worst when White Hat shows up, but thankfully he doesn't say a word. The transition between the ghost being digital and physical is maybe a little too abrupt, like there could have been another panel where Original Dad (OD) and Ghost are both driving by someone who says "Hey" and it's not clear who it's meant for. 

I also think Randy missed out on a great opportunity for a second punchline where OD tries deleting the app, and then maybe it could be like "No, OD. You are the app" and then the final panel is the phone on the ground doing that spinny thing that things that are dropped do sometimes.

Well, since this review's kinda short (and also so I could try out something new on you guys), here's a Questionable Content.



(titles considered for this thing if it becomes regular: "Questionable Content Isn't Funny", "QC Isn't Funny", "QC Is Questionable", "JJ Meets GG". Which do YOU think is best???)

Faye's therapy must not be helping much if she wants to physically harm someone for making a joke. It wasn't even an offensive joke, it was just "Hey I put something in your milk haha no i didn't actually", no one was physically affected, much less harmed. Pintsize has done way worse in the past, why is this the one where Claire brings out the big guns?

And said guns are way too big. Like, think about it. This is literally the equivalent of threatening to give an epileptic person a seizure and then lobotomizing them when they pass out. It's especially fucked up after you consider all the stuff Jeph's previously written about human-AI bonds and the AI's having actual sentience, etc.

I get that this comic was meant to show that Claire's secretly hardcore for whatever reason, but it goes way too far. I'm now unable to read her as anything but some kind of psychopath. Even if there was no real muscle behind the threat, that doesn't make it okay. Going back to the epilepsy comparison (y'know, the one the comic gives us), if you went up to an epileptic person with a flashlight and were like "What'll happen if I swing this in front of your face really fast?", you don't get let off the hook if you took the batteries out first. It's still actually traumatic to the other person (assuming I'm not totally wrong about how epilepsy works).

I want to make it clear I don't dislike this because it's dark, I dislike it because it's dark without a reason to laugh at it. Maybe if Pintsize hadn't been humanized so much by this point, it would work. But as is, this comic is literally just a depiction of someone essentially being threatened with death and then begging to just be tortured instead. It's not even a funny kind of torture, like being beaten to death with a spoon.

Also, her face in the fifth panel totally makes it look like she's getting off on this. I bet she tortured squirrels in her backyard when she was a kid, too.

2015-10-28

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1579 - Tech Loops

 And when I think about it, a lot of "things I want to do" are just learning about and discussing new tools for tinkering with the chain.

I get that Randy probably intended for this to be confusingly organized, but he actually succeeded too well. It goes beyond being a convincing depiction of the nonsensical way he's organized his computer system and the comic just becomes hard to understand.

Most people in the Western world, which is where the majority of XKCD's audience lives, tend to read left to right and top to bottom. This means that most readers would read a contextless "supports" first, and like me, not realize it's meant to be a key. I learned it in seventh grade: you always label your keys when making a chart or graph or etc, just like you always label your axes. Also, the key shouldn't be in the top left, it should be available but nonintrusive in the top right, where the punchline is hanging out for some reason. The "Things I..." box should be moved to the bottom right, since it's meant to be the last thing the reader sees.

After the reader actually starts on the flowchart proper, they'll start at either "tool" or "updater", naturally pick the rightmost arrow on the latter, and end up at the dead end of "repository" a few arrows later. It's very counter-intuitively designed.

And when I'm done reading this I'm kinda just like "Okay, well, stop being shit at computers then." Maybe it's more relatable if you're a more techy person. Either way, it's a pretty lame joke made even worse by the presentation.

I mainly just feel bad for the people at explainxkcd that had to transcribe this.

XKCD Isn't Funny - #Bill Gates - XKCD Marks the Spot


"It's funny that XKCD did a thing for Polio Day because XKCD is also a disease.", I tweeted, shortly before realizing that I should review the thing and I'd just wasted a perfectly good opening line.

You'd think that Randy would see the opportunity to get a comic published on Bill Gates' blog as a chance to expand his audience. This isn't something throwaway, this is essentially a commission. So I really question why Randy didn't put more effort into this.

One of the main things wrong with this comic is the lack of context. Who are these people? Why is this being presented to them? Why is the presentation so short? None of these questions are actually answered, we're left to guess. Maybe the guy is supposed to be Donald Trump since he keeps saying stupid things and has bad hair.

Another thing is that the stupid character we're presumably meant to laugh at isn't stupid in any kind of realistic way. He's almost acting like a bad political cartoon's depiction of millennials, with the way he only seems to understand exciting new technologies. And then on top of that he just keeps going even after being corrected multiple times. Half the panels are redundant. No one who'd passed 9th grade would do this! If someone did, I'd commend Randy on his exemplary satire of them. But 'they' don't exist.

Art-wise, the polio arrow things look kinda neat, but everything else is pretty dire. Panels one and three in particular, they look scribbled. As if those three people behind the desk didn't seem stupid enough, what with their silence and not doing anything. And in panel four, the line for they guy's body goes over the panel border! These are amateur mistakes! On Bill Gates' blog.

Less unforgivable but still bad: the idiot guy would have to stand up for panel six to be composed the way it is, but he's sitting back down in panel nine. This would seem to represent an increase in intensity or passion, but no other verbal or physical cues are given from him or the presenter chick to indicate that.

This is a comic that I just think Randy didn't think through or even work very hard on. Maybe he got tired after doing the diagrams for panels two and seven. I'm frankly amazed that Bill Gates didn't ask for something better.

Also the line about smallpox is wrong, the government keeps some in a vial in a coffee can in the White House refrigerator so that they can kill us all if we start a large-scale rebellion.

2015-10-26

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1578 - Squirrelphone

After a while, the squirrel starts making that beeping noise and doesn't stop until it hops back up onto the stump.


Before we start today, I'd like to thank everyone that's ever posted a correction to something I'm wrong about, whether it was an error of grammar or logic or factual accuracy. I only just now realized how nice a compliment that is, that someone would not just read what I have to say, but also help me improve. You probably know that I'm not going through the easiest time in my life right now, and I just wanted to say that you're the best audience I could ask for. Thank you.

ALTERNATE, LESS WEIGHTY, OPENING LINE:
"xkilnkivhgdcvjkubol" - my cat.

My reaction to this comic is kinda summed up by the last panel. I don't get why this is supposed to be funny. It's almost like what Making XKCD Slightly Worse would do to a comic about using squirrels for phones: "What'd you expect if you pick up a squirrel and hold it to your ear, ya dingus?" But it's not as funny when Randy's making Reality Ensue on something he made happen. When someone gets hit in the face with a pie, they aren't the one throwing it. You can't spray your own pants and then be embarrassed that you look like you wet your pants. That'd be almost like reading a webcomic you tend not to enjoy and then complaining that it's not good.

If this is supposed to be a parody of like, bananaphones, it's not clear enough. The setup should include some people picking up bananas, and then this guy desperately tries to fit in by grabbing the nearest thing, which ends up being a rabid squirrel.

In conclusion, here's a video of 10th grade me playing my friend's keyboard. 

2015-10-22

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1577 - Advent

 The few dozen doors that have little Christmas trees on them are a nice touch.

I'd like to see what it would look like if Stickman Jones didn't have that slight white aura around him. I don't want to criticize it even though it looks bad because I can totally imagine the comic looking even worse without it.

I do appreciate that Jones is there, though. Without him, this comic would have naturally had the reader as the assumed receiver of the gift, and it would have come off like one of those annoying "you are wasting your life" things. I'm the guy behind XKCD Isn't Funny, I know I'm wasting my life, I don't need to be told!

And while I also appreciate the effort I presume went into drawing the calendar, why is the calendar all we see? Why isn't there a bow on top and someone presenting it really happily? It doesn't look like it's a gift, is what I'm saying. It looks like this is just something he's owned and is contemplating before he opens the next flap thingy.

Another thing that would have added to the joke: A single flap visibly undone, and a piece of stale chocolate in Stickman Jones' hand. Just picture the scene: He now knows exactly how long he's got to live, and all he has with him to console himself is a sub-butterfinger slab of processed cocoa and vegetable fat.

This comic is technically Could-Be-A-Tweet (coming eventually to a TVTropes page near you!*), but I'm feeling the need for the art on this one. It could just be the way the caption's phrased, but wouldn't it be a bit confusing to just have "Unsettling gift: Life Expectancy Advent Calendar"? It could still definitely be fleshed out into a multi-panel comic, but that doesn't feel necessary to me here.

I'm also glad that Randy didn't make it into an infinite birthday cake or something like that, with a candle for every day of life. Because that would have meant that there would have been infinite birthday wishes, and I really hate SJWs (Stickman Jones Wishes).


*if my audience becomes big enough to influence such things.

2015-10-19

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1576 - I Could Care Less

 I literally could care less.

Wow that's a lot of words. I didn't sign up for this! I'm down for unfunny attempts at deep observations, but if I wanted long unfunny attempts at deep observations, I'd be reviewing Subnormality! Or possibly Least I Could Do.

I want to make it clear that I'm not just criticizing this comic for having the Wall Of Text thing going on, I'm criticizing it for not really being a comic. It's an essay disguised as a comic. And in my opinion, that results in a poorly delivered message and an unfunny comic.

Randy probably could have taken the preachiness and shortened the monologue and made this into a less smug, actually funny observation. That's a probably, I don't know how, but it probably could have been done by someone with some comedy talent in them.

This could also have been a somewhat interesting blog post. I don't know how much I'd have agreed with it, but it'd have made me look at something in a way I hadn't before, which is never a bad thing. (This is assuming the smugness is toned down at least a little) Unfortunately, either because he thought it would be more marketable or more palatable or more interesting in this format, he made it into a smug, unfunny, I might go so far as to say pretentious, comic. ("Everything else is pointless" is heavy phrase, I'd have saved it for something about like, overpopulation or something.)

It's also kinda hypocritical, isn't it? He's made so many jokes about taking turns of phrase literally, are they now all cancelled out by this one? On top of that, like, the dictionary is a thing. I used to think "acrimonious" meant "friendly", and that was my understanding of it, but that was demonstrably wrong and I needed to be corrected on that so I could let go of my hope of The Clash ever getting back toegether.

In conclusion, I could care less about this comic, but I could also care a lot more about it.

2015-10-14

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1575 - Footprints

 "There's one set of foot-p's cause I was totes carrying you, bro!" said Jesus seconds before I punched him.

I'm torn on this one. One half of me says that a graph is the best way to tell this joke, because the joke is specifically in reference to alterations in a number, and it would get tedious to have every panel captioned with "Sets of footprints: [X]". The other half of me says that no, that way would be totally fine, and we're missing a great visual gag seeing your Lord being carried by some schlub.

I consulted my good friend, Lightning, and he says, yes, the graph/text thing is straightforward and easy to understand. He also points out that the "Jesus disappeared..." gag wouldn't work since the reader would see the same panel five times and get bored.

My favorite part of the comic is the end: "Went home", which brings to mind the image of Jesus and Friend having gone on this epic adventure thing. Like Lamb, only good.

2015-10-11

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1574 - Trouble for Science


I was so pleasantly surprised when I first read this comic. I thought to myself "Oh, a science comic that doesn't require you to know much actual deep science for you to get the joke, cool!". And then I got halfway through my review before checking explainxkcd and finding out that the first four are true things that have happened.

The way I was reading this comic, the headlines start realistic before getting progressively more absurd, making the reader go back and realize they're all lies. Now that I know the actual meaning behind the comic, I feel like it was supposed to be a "What next?" type of punchline. Like Randy's a standup comic all of a sudden*, and he's saying "So what's the deal with these things in the scientific community? Antibodies don't work, rat testing doesn't work... what's next, Bunsen burners cooling things down?"

The problem is, nothing differentiates the last headline from the others besides the heightened level of absurdity. Without anything to distinguish why that absurdity is there, the reader is left assuming that all other headlines are similarly absurd.

My suggested fix is that we go to the two people walking thing that Randy does occasionally. The setup is something like "Did you hear...", "Yeah, and..." etc, and the punchline is "I bet next year we'll find out Bunsen burners make things colder.". It wouldn't be a great comic, but I'd have nothing of substance to complain about, and any day I can't complain about a comic is a good day for Randy.



*Obligatory joke: I knew he could do comedy, I just didn't know he could stand up.

2015-10-07

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1573 - Cyberintelligence

We had gathered that raw information, but had yet to put it all together.

First off, how does one pronounce "FY2015"?

Mainly though, where did Randy get the idea that people don't say "cyber"? I see that like every time I go on Omegle! In addition, there's this (credit to Robert Mason for bringing that to my attention via retweets). I could kinda see it if he's saying that people don't use it in the technical sense, but even then a quick google search reveals a decent amount of NERDS saying it.

The idea of someone sinking eight billion dollars into something and not realizing that one of their base assumptions is flawed is kinda funny, but none of the money was actually wasted, they're still going to give results, it's not like they have to admit that cyberintelligence doesn't exist, nothing is actually lost. If Mel Brook's quote "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall down an open sewer and die." (and it is), then what's the death here? Nothing. It's not like that one study that tried to find a correlation between autism and vaccines for like four years before concluding there isn't one. (I really wish I could link you but I can't find it)

The joke is just #1258 in a Halloween costume. It's just an observation of something being less prevalent, and it doesn't actually do anything with that observation, although it at least pretends to, kinda.

In conclusion, could "XKCD Isn't Funny" be abbreviated to "XIF"?

2015-10-05

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1572 - xkcd Survey


Introducing not a joke and not an interesting not joke either.

I really feel like this is the kind of thing that should be regulated to What If?. Like, end one column with this, mention it in a blog post or a tweet, and it'll already be spreading because people love sharing XKCDs, and then have the next What If? be about the data. But instead, a perfectly good comic space is wasted forever (unless Randy changes this comic to show the data in which case I'll re-review it but it still won't be a joke).

I just don't get the point of this. Like, it's not a joke, it's not artistic, it's not even one of those kinda interesting ideas he has from time to time. It's not even informational, all of the questions are 'quirky' and don't actually give any interesting demographic information. I'd be genuinely interested if there were questions like "how did you find XKCD?", "how long have you been reading", "what is your favorite comic", etc, but instead we get "do you know your astrological sign (y/n)", "type 'cat'", and "When you first saw The Dress, what color was it?" (seriously, Randy, even the people that cared about that last one don't remember that by now). There are "How many older/younger/twin siblings do you have?", "How old are you?", and I guess a few others, but they're like five questions out of fifty so it doesn't count.

In conclusion, my answers to the questions as currently given by explainxkcd:
Yes; No but I might someday; What dress?; lobster; Yes, occasionally; No; cat, dog, fish, bear, bird; Pleasent; Run in high heels, Ice skate, Cut vegetables with a knife, Swim; Recieve; No; Warmer; a t-shirt, a hoodie, and a necklace; No; 23; 9; No; No; 0, 1, 0; Yes; Angelina Jolie; No; No; Yes; sdfa; 2; No; Yes; Vanilla; 23; No; No; Yes; 18; White; iPhone; fries and a baconburger with cheese; No, Yes, Yes, No, No, No, Yes, No, No, No, No, Yes, No, No, Yes, No, Yes, Yes, No, No; no; Yes; No; Neutral; Yes; Beer, Tomatoes; Caffinated soda, Fruit juice, Milk, Water; like, if, you've, ever, jumped; No; 4; Sub, Hamburger, Open-faced sandwich; Cat person; No; No.

2015-10-04

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1571 - Car Model Names

CLIMAX is good, but SEXCLIMAX is even better.

It's like a better version of the Planet Names comic. I can really appreciate the math that went into this too*. I was all set to complain about it just being a graph joke, and then he used the information in the graph joke to make a series of mini-punchlines. My favorite is the 2chainz/3chainz! I do feel it ends kinda weak with "Cervixxx" which strikes me as the "ew sex" thing Randy does occasionally. Additionally, the more gibberishy ones tend to fall flat since obviously you can stack the deck if you know which letters lead to which outcome. Overall, though, pretty enjoyable!


*Assuming the math is accurate. I'd appreciate an actual explanation of how the numbers were reached.

2015-10-02

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1570 - Engineer Syllogism


I totally had to look up what syllogism meant, but that's totally a personal failing on my end.

This comic is thirteen letters too long to be used as a tweet, but it's still one of the most "could be a tweet" comics XKCD's put out. Look how text-driven it is, to the point where it lists out the segments of the joke. It might as well be labeling panels one through three with a big caption saying "SETUP" and panel four with one saying "PUNCHLINE". It's so dry. I understand that keeping it as a syllogism requires the different statements to be numerically labelled, but why does it have to be a syllogism? It just subtracts from the humor the joke could have had without adding anything.

The punchline is also actually impossible. He hasn't even finished deciding to enter the stock market, and he's already lost all of his money to it. Is exaggeration for comic effect a thing? Sure, but there's a limit. Like, it could have been funny if he got a few more words in and had his hands on the keyboard with little "type type" sound effects, but when he clearly hasn't actually started it's a lot less fun to see him get cut off.

In conclusion, it's more like an engineer sylloJISM!

2015-09-28

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1569 - Magic Tree

 Since people rarely try to cut down cell phone towers, after millions of years, as cell phone towers have gotten more treelike, trees have started growing fake cell phone tower attachments and shiny gray bark to protect themselves. This is a standard textbook example of convergent evolution.

Fun fact about cell phone towers and trees! In some areas of Britain, early cell phone towers that looked like trees had real trees planted around them so the illusion would look better. BUT, eventually those trees grew higher than the tower, and the tower became useless since the trees cut off the signal! For more fun facts like this, follow the No Such Thing As A Fish Podcast, featuring not me. (Would any of you be interested in a podcast actually featuring me?)

I like the setup for this one, probably more than I should. It's cute! If Beret is gonna have weird supernatural stuff happen around him, I am totally down for it leading to MAD-style parodies of classic fairy tales. But I don't feel like this is a full parody, it seems more like the outline for one. We should see Beret on the cloud above the beanstalk, and the giant is the president of Cox (and not Verizon because this is #1569). The comic as it is feels a little cut short.

Two nitpicks:
1) Why is she surprised she doesn't have a signal if the cell tower just sprouted recently? Shouldn't she be used to not having a signal in that area? [EDIT: This is very dependent on the amount of time between the tower growing and Beret chopping it down. We can assume it's simply been long enough that Hair got used to the signal's availability.]
2) How did Beret chop down the cell tower if all he had with an ax? I'll admit I'm not an expert on metal hardness, but from what Google is telling me the ax would break way before the tower.

By the way, does anyone else remember that The Thief and the Beanstalk book? That book was the bomb dot com when I was a kid (except not really, because it turns out that thebomb.com is just a redirect to thechive.com, and thechive.com is crap).

2015-09-22

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1567 - Kitchen Tips

 Household tip: Tired of buying so much toilet paper? Try unspooling the paper from the roll before using it. A single roll can last for multiple days that way, and it's much easier on your plumbing.

I actually make scrambled eggs in a microwave, but that's apparently less-than-common so I'll forgive the glaring oversight.

I like this one! Infomercials are kind of an easy target, but anyone reading this blog should know how hypocritical I'd be if I criticized this comic for that.

The comic escalates very nicely, starting out as normal and getting more destructive with each panel. And the last panel jumps the level more than the previous jumps, giving it more of a punch. I particularly enjoy the "but there's a better way..." even as he sprays water full force at an open freezer. You can really imagine him looking right into the camera as he says it, doing that "infomercial" smile (you know what I mean don't pretend you don't).

I have a minor nitpick in that panels one through three show the guy using the better way, but panel four shows him using his old method. It's totally worth it in my opinion though.

In conclusion, David Cameron fucked a pig. [EDIT: A dead pig]

2015-09-20

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1566 - Board Game

Yes, it took a lot of work to make the cards and pieces, but it's worth it--the players are way more thorough than the tax prep people ever were.

<review>

See, this is a prime example of a perfectly good idea that just needed someone else to look at it and say "Hey, Randy, this doesn't really work, how about this instead?". This could be great, but not the way it's executed. Board games and taxes are fairly separate in most peoples' minds (I imagine), This comic either needs more buildup/description to exposit on how Randy turned taxes into a board game, making it like a modern version of the Tom Sawyer white fence thing, or 'board game club' into 'high school math team' or something similar, although that sounds like it's been done before.

</review>

2015-09-17

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1565 - Back Seat

Hang on, let me scare the live raccoon over to the same side as the dead one.

Anyone who needs a good art draw thing done for them should contact my good friend this guy since he has good rates and is pleasant to work with.

Phew, with that first sentence out of the way the rest of this review should be a piece of cake!

I understand exaggeration for comic effect is a thing, but it feels too abrupt here.

It reminds me of part of one of Dara O Briain's stand up sets, where he talks about how some midwives are really dumb but think they're smart. And he gets to how one dumb broad (read: "woman") thought that tears were better than cuts for pregnancy thing, and he follows that with "...in fact, some doctors prefer to use a bear."

Now, I love Dara O Briain, I think he is a top quality entertainer and all four of the shows he has out on DVD had me in stitches the whole way through. But that one joke didn't hit right for me because of how it wasn't phrased like "Yeah, in a couple years I bet they'll just have fuckin' bears getting women ready for pregnancy, right?". It was presented like he was making fun of something actually happening, when it should have been him bringing a train of logic to it's illogical conclusion.

I can totally see this joke working with a different setup (not as a Dara joke though, it strikes me as more Dylan Moran). But the setup would have to put the punchline in a point of reference. Like his friend had said the thing before disappearing for three hours, and the decaying raccoon is his imagined description of what's really going on.

This comic kinda hints at a similar background but doesn't follow through. A statement this broad should at least have some supporting evidence to it.

Also, the placement of the comic between "Protip:" and the rest of the comic stunts the flow a little, although I can see why he felt like "protip" should be read first.

At least this comic's better than Andrew Jackson Jihad's "Back Pack". What a godawful album that came from.

2015-09-12

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1564 - Every Seven Seconds

 Every few months, I think about sex every seven seconds and how weird and implausible it would be.

I actually kinda like this comic. I wish I didn't, though. That way I could use the line "Every seven seconds I think about how awful XKCD is".

It's not super duper funny, but I like how it doesn't spell out the joke, while giving just enough infomation to get across what the statistic is. It doesn't go out and say "the statistic which states that men think about sex every seven seconds", it says "seven seconds" in reference to something else and "how often men think about sex", and we instantly know exactly what it's referring to.

The thought bubbles, while conveniently keeping this from being Could Be A Tweet material, are realistically phrased and add to the joke. I'm especially pleased to see the masculinity line, given Randy's previous examples of near inferiority complex when it comes to gender relations.

I do, however, have to admit to bias here: my mom was (possibly still is?) a statistician, and her detest of fake stats like this one absolutely rubbed off on me. It is entirely possible that someone less bothered by misinformation would read this comic and go "The hell do you care if someone believes an obvious lie?", which would be absolutely valid as a criticism of this comedic piece.

It's definitely true that the joke doesn't really go beyond "That statistic is stupid" and I could also see why someone would read this as a preachy comic, but since we're lacking White Hat, this does seem to just be a decent joke that wasn't taken as far as it could've been. Like what if the comic was about a man who actually thought about sex every seven seconds, and the hilarity that ensued when he went to a funeral?

2015-09-08

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1563 - Synonym Movies

Fans eagerly await 2015's 'Space Fights: Power Gets Up', although most think 1999's 'Space Fights: The Scary Ghost' didn't live up to the hype.

This was such a good joke that I did it almost exactly the same except nine months ago and better.

And it's not like this is new material for XKCD either, really it's the same joke as #444#547, #722, #1133, and #1436. And of those, only the first two took it beyond just "using simpler words". Furthermore, #1133 was an entire poster of the joke, essentially doing the most with it at one time as can be done.

I can see the appeal to this joke, really, I can. But I can't think of any one-part jokes that wouldn't get old after five executions (at least when one of them was as big as #1133). It's not even a running gag, it's just doing the same bit again and again, and it's just boring at this point.

And way to spoil the ending of The Empire Strikes Back, Randy.

2015-09-07

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1562 - I in Team

There's no "I" in "VOWELS".

The other day I walked up to my good friend Randall Munroe and asked him how things were going. This being my good friend Randall Munroe, he immediately punched me square in the jaw, knocking me to the pavement. It hurt a lot, since he'd recently drawn a comic with color, which strengthened up his drawing arm to at least twice its usual muscle density.

"'How's it going?'" he repeated, looking down at me with a sneer so large that the sides of his mouth started to bleed, "What do you mean, 'How's it going?'? What is 'it', and where would it be 'going'?"

"Please, my good friend Randall Munroe," I begged him, "It's just a turn of phra-"

The tip of his steel toed boot made brief contact with my teeth, and suddenly I was displaced by about a foot or so, face down now. I tasted gravel, then blood.

"And how... the... fuck...." my good friend Randall Munroe said, kicking me full force in the side with every word, "Do you turn... a... phrase?" I heard him clearing his throat before spitting, the slimy result dripping down the side of my neck.

"I mean, Jesus Christ," he continued, a beam of light straight from Heaven shining down upon him as he spoke the name of the son of God, "What do you do, write down the words and then rotate them? You fucking idiot."

"I'm- I'm sorry..." I pleaded, the words slurred by blood and a missing tooth, "I was only using a figure of speech..."

My good friend Randall Munroe pulled a carton of cigarettes out of his pocket and tapped one out. He looked around as he smoked it before putting it out, half-finished, on my cheek.

"Please..." I said. He barely glanced down at me before walking away.

After a minute I was about ready to stand up when I heard a rapidly approaching roar of an engine. I looked up just in time to see my good friend Randall Munroe run over my legs with his 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT-8. I teared up as I looked down at the mess of crushed muscle and bone that were once my trusty shins. The pain wouldn't hit for another minute or so, I was still in shock.

"So like, the body shape of a word? Huh? Huh?" He called out, his voice muffled from inside the car. "Or are you saying the speech has a number?" Not waiting for a response, he gunned the engine, the back wheels spraying dirt and cloth and me onto my gaping wounds. I could faintly hear sirens in the distance.

Flecks of darkness crowded my vision, and sounds became more distant. "See you later... my good friend Randall Munroe." I slurred out, and everything went black.