XKCD Isn't Funny - #1518 - Typical Morning Routine

Hang on, I've heard this problem. We need to pour water into the duct until the phone floats up and ... wait, phones sink in water. Mercury. We need a vat of mercury to pour down the vent. That will definitely make this situation better and not worse.

"The battery could last for weeks". What kind of nuclear reactor do you have in your phone, Randy?

Man, this comic is just kinda... there for me. I don't really have any strong opinion on it, other than that the alt-text is better than the comic proper.

For those on Firefox, it's: "Hang on, I've heard this problem. We need to pour water into the duct until the phone floats up and ... wait, phones sink in water. Mercury. We need a vat of mercury to pour down the vent. That will definitely make this situation better and not worse."

I think I like it more because Bedhead is being stupid and not just clumsy in the dark. It's his own fault that he's about to die of mercury poisoning, so it's funny the same way that the Darwin Awards are funny. With the comic, Bedhead makes innocent mistakes, without them even being particularly bad or incompetent.

That last sentence in the alt-text sucks, though. It reminds me of SNL, like that one sketch where a girl just says semi-related, vaguely cliche lines, and you can just feel the writers staring directly into the camera and saying "GET IT. DO YOU GET IT. DO YOU GET THE JOKE.".


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1517 - Spectroscopy

 Although right now I'm more excited about ESPRESSO's radial velocity measurements, so I'm listening to This Kiss, her song about measuring "centrifugal motion" on "a rooftop under the sky".

I'm listening to Faith Hill's "Breathe" for the first time as I type this, and I was not expecting it to sound like this at all. "XKCD" and "pop country" had never been linked in my mind before, even tangentially. If there was any music genre I had expected XKCD to link itself, it'd have been chaphop or nerdcore or vaporwave* or something like that. But I digress.

I have to confess that I didn't get either of the references, so the crossover was completely lost on me. My usual criticism of XKCD's obscure jokes does still apply though. More people would understand this joke, and more people would find it funny, if the setup included the background information to the punchline. Obviously it'd make for a longer comic, but it's not like long, detailed, or complex comics haven't been made in the past.

Also, it's probably just my /mu/sical bias showing, but I'd have gone with the Pink Floyd song. It's the second track on the second-best selling album of all time! It's a more widely known reference, and a more dignified one too, more suited to the discovery of new planets. And -and- it's not like making the reference less esoteric would be handing the joke to the audience when the other half of the joke is about exoplanet spetctoscopy.

*I actually think vaporwave is a legitimate subgenre to plunderphonics, and I've done my own little experiment with it, but can't you just imagine Randy listening to it? This really intense look on his face, and he's going "yes, oh man, capitalism. Japan".


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1516 - Win By Induction

I don't know enough about math to get the joke here. I do, however, know enough about comedy to understand that you shouldn't make the title of a comic the punchline. That title is dying to be changed into a caption underneath that picture, without it, the picture looks almost dadaist.

I've seen XKCD comics shared on social media enough to know that word of mouth is a sizable audience-grower for it. Why then, would Randy create a comic that you need to have additional information to understand? Yeah, it's given to people viewing the webpage, but if it's a required part of the joke, why would he separate it from the rest of the comic?

The (even more humorless than usual) Pokemon nerd in me would also like to point out the following:

  • Pokemon in pokeballs cannot canonically be held in other pokeballs
  • Pokemon cannot take other actions after being released unless it is the opening turn
  • There are no canonical examples of pikachu being able to talk
  • The pikachu are missing their tails


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1515 - Basketball Earth

How many points do you get for dunking every basketball in existence at once?

Sometimes, when I write for this blog, I'll be going over a comic that's similar to one that Carl reviewed back in the day. "Oh man, this is my 'The joke has apparently been stolen'." I'll say to myself, reveling in how goddamn awesome I am.

And this, today's comic, is my "the fucking boomerang in space shit", which enjoys a happy life on the Angriest Rants list, leaving me a sizable legacy to live up to.

So, naturally, I'm two days late. Whelp, such is life.

In our first joke, Black Hat touches the miniature Earth in a way that causes a gigantic tsunami. I suspect that I'm going to get crap for saying this, but I didn't know what was going on with those panels until I checked explainxkcd. We don't see his hand or anything else that would show him as the cause of the tsunami in the forth panel, making it look disconnected from the previous one. It's also a strange artistic choice to have the "AAAAAAAA" above the waves, as opposed to being placed closer to the town from which it originates.

I'd like to point out that the exchange between Black Hat and Bald ("The Moon would be-" / "Hey, cool!" / "Um.") means that this comic passes the reverse Bechdel Test, but not the actual Bechdel Test.

It's also strange to me how Black Hat is the only one with a history of random douchebaggery, but he's the one who would have caused the least damage to the inhabitants of Mini Earth. In our second joke, Girl straight-up drowns the entire Mini Earth in ketchup for no reason, and that's not even a character trait of hers. It's like Randy wanted to do another Black Hat joke but couldn't, because he'd already used him. I wonder if this is supposed to be an expression of the angst that Randy feels when no one wants to hear him talk about dinosaurs.

I think the reason I'm so Let Down by the attacks on Mini Earth as a source of comedy is that it feels almost like squishing bugs, more Black Mage than Black Hat. They're tiny! We don't see them! This isn't Horton Hears A Who!

Why does the cat attack Mini Earth at all, anyway? I'm pretty well read on cat stereotypes, and I can't remember "enjoys attacking basketballs" being on the list. Yarn balls, sure, but not basketballs.

I guess the last set of panels is the best. The punchline follows naturally from the setup, instead of the punchline just being random assaults on a tiny planet. In the last joke, the punchline depends on the setup to make it make sense. With the other jokes, the setup could have been some other completely different things, "Black Hat is a dick for no reason" has been done before and better, with more visible consequences.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1514 - PermaCal

Okay, so he made a calender system with one, singular date that never changes. Why then, does he change it when someone points out that it never changes? If you'll go back and reread the comic, she doesn't even say "The date changed", she only says that he said it was the 19th yesterday.

This is a calender system, this is how it has worked and will continue to work for him, the date is constant. "You said it was the 19th yesterday" shouldn't result in him changing the date. If someone who used this calender actually heard that statement, they'd say something more like "Yep, I did. Because it was, and is, Sunday, April 19th, 3AM eternal.". If a calender's sole principle is that there is one constant date, then that date would never change.

What is this "drift", anyway? Is this calender also predicated on assuming that the Gregorian Calender gives the 'correct' date? I mean, it does (it was named after me, after all, and I am always correct all the time forever), but other calenders don't do that. You don't see the Jews going around saying "Yeah, the Sabbath's delayed this week because it's the Islamic New Year".

(apologies to anyone offended by my 'ten minutes on Wikipedia' knowledge of alternative calenders)

Leap days aren't even used that way. Leap days and leap seconds are used because our timetables are slightly out of sync in various ways with the rotation/orbit of the earth, and they bring us back in sync.

Btw, is anyone else hyped for the leap second coming June 30th? I was thinking of sleeping in since I was going to get the extra time, but I think I'm going to throw a party or something instead. It'll be like New Year's (real New Year's, not your heathen alternative calender New Year's) but special because it's not something that happens every single year.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1513 - Code Quality

I honestly didn't think you could even USE emoji in variable names. Or that there were so many different crying ones.

What a fucking bitch.

I'm aware that the humor is supposed to come from the quote unquote "wit" of the insults that Ponytail spews from her facehole, but all I can focus on is how completely unwarranted her rant is. He's self taught and he warned her his code could be messy because of that. This wasn't code that was messy out of apathy or malice, he just hasn't been taught the proper coding ways yet. He even looks like he's turning his head to see if anyone's watching in the third panel, as if to reassure himself that he's not imagining it (although that could just be the art).

This could have been funny if the joke was how horrible Ponytail's being, a la the first few scenes of Scrooged. However, that doesn't appear to be the case. "Okay, I'll read a style guide." he says, as beta as beta can be. I like how she talks so much that his words had to be shrunk down, making it look like he's mumbling it out of shame.

It's not even like a friendly teasing, he's not laughing or enjoying himself or rebutting with "At least my hair doesn't look like it was drawn by someone who doesn't know what a joke is."

This comic makes a lot more sense if you read Ponytail as being a dominatrix and Beta as having a really specific kink for being humiliated for bad code. Not that I'd know anything about those sorts of things, of course.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1512 - Horoscopes

Wow, I missed it - I passed 200 comics since starting this blog. 200 comics since I went "Oh this looks easy. I bet it'll net me tons of fame and fans.". And it's all been downhill from there, you goddamn degenerates <3.

What is with Randy's weird thing about conception? Is this a common thing that I just don't have, this aversion to the knowledge that everyone's parents had sex to make them? That's my major beef with this comic, that it plays on this really immature attitude to when a boy puts his thingie in a girl's you-know-what.

My second helping of beef (served medium rare, with some barbecue dipping sauce and some nice salty fries on the side, and a root beer no ice to drink) is that this is entirely text. I'm not going to argue that every one of the signs should have a separate comic, but like, a few Easter eggs next to Capricorn, something like that?

By the way, I googled it and sexy Easter egg hunts are an actual thing. I don't get the appeal.

You know what could have been a good version of this? If it was a by year thing, and every year took the worst possible scenario rather than the most likely. Like "1974 - during your conception your dad wore a Jabba The Hutt costume". That's a detail I wouldn't blame someone for not wanting to know.

If anyone's wondering, I'm a Leo.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1511 - Spice Girls

Haha, you'll see!

It's ironic that as I write this, I'm listening to Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains, one of the least Spice Girls-like bands this side of Merzbow.

I got a really good first impression from this comic. Look at that: Depth! Details! Shading! Perspective! But then I noticed that the two side walls have different angles with the roof (and that they're not given the normal thick lines for some reason), that the speech line is really unclear as to who's speaking it and to whom, and that the joke sucks. Thus I shake my head sadly, a single tear glistening in the moonlight, before giving this comic a failing grade in spite of the effort that was put into it.

Boy, this is clumsily done. What is that box in the middle of the room even supposed to be? I'd say it was a safe but it doesn't have any dials or anything. Is it just a block of wood? Did they bring a block of wood into their hideout just on the off chance they'd be found out and would need enough cover for one person? And then there's just a torn bit of paper or whatever but the rest of the wall's perfectly smooth. But now I'm nitpicking.

The core idea, as per usual with XKCD, is fine. The execution, as hinted at repeatedly and explicitly throughout the previous two paragraphs, is not.

The spice girls reference feels dated as all hell to start, considering their last album came out in (checks Wikipedia) 2000, and their last good album came out in (checks TV Tropes) 1997. I'd have gone with something more current or timeless, like "90's TV shows" or "flavor of ice cream".

"The merciful one..." is a really clumsy phrase. Besides the fact that there're apparently only two Spice Girls in this alternate universe, as opposed to our full set of Kicking, Screaming, Gucci, Little, and Piggy, wouldn't someone in a stressful situation just leave it at "Which Spice Girl are you?"?

All of this is avoiding the obvious question of why someone is shouting this in this situation at all. I don't get it. Why does Randy like to imagine this? I could see it if it was a parody of the new Divergent-type dystopian teen fiction that's been popping up for a little bit now, where people are sorted by really arbitrary methods, but that's obviously not the case.

In conclusion, I don't know how to end reviews.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1510 - Napoleon

Pretty much my only (main) issue with this comic is the choice of target, which is a sentiment I remember expressing before, possibly with those exact words.

Seriously, why Napoleon of all people? He only came back one time, and I wouldn't even say that he's particularly known for that comeback. At least in my experience, Napoleon's more associated with "Exhibit A on why you don't invade Glorious Mother Russia", and "Waterloo defeat". That second one's important, because when one of the things he's most famous for is loosing, making jokes about how unstoppable he his seems a little off.

Here's an idea: As long as we're using people who've only come back once, why not Jesus? It's not like Randy's shied away from making religious jokes before.

That last panel is also fairly unclear. It almost looks like Napoleon's finally taken over the world and we're going to the moon by his command. I really don't think it would be spelling out the joke if "... but so we can finally get rid of this asshole" or something was added to the end of it.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1509 - Scenery Cheat Sheet

At the boundary between each zone, stories blend together. Somewhere in the New Mexico desert, the Roadrunner is pursued by a tireless Anton Chigurh.

For anyone who wants to loose a little bit of respect for me: Of all the (non-animated) movies on here, I've only ever seen A Christmas Story.

That's my first issue with this, actually. It's captioned "A cheat sheet for figuring out where in the US you are by recognizing the background from movies..." but it contains TV shows like Duck Dynasty and The Truman Show, animated works like Princess And The Frog and All Dogs Go To Heaven and even Oregon Trail, a video game. On top of that, a lot of the movies selected aren't filmed on-location.

If the intent was supposed to be that the information is intentionally incorrect, then it needs to be more obvious. I don't think even the most knowledgeable movie buff would know the filming locations of every movie listed.

It also needs to be more consistent. Most of this has the appearance of being a genuine attempt at an informational comic, but then we take a sudden switch into mocking movie trends with "Every movie with a big budget..." and "[generic city]".

Also, it just doesn't look good to have parts of the oceans, Mexico, and Canada under the circle. It'd look a lot better if the lines ended at the borders (with the possible exception of Jaws).

It's kinda funny that he added The Hunt For Red October, though. Although I suppose the same joke could have been made with the aforementioned Jaws.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1508 - Operating Systems

One of the survivors, poking around in the ruins with the point of a spear, uncovers a singed photo of Richard Stallman. They stare in silence. "This," one of them finally says, "This is a man who BELIEVED in something."

This is a joke that I do not know enough about computers to understand. I just saw something called "Blood Drone" and I have to admit that attracted most of my attention.

You can only imagine my disappointment when I checked my dutiful and loyal sidekick, explainxkcd, and found that it was a development hell joke. Haven't we used all of them up by now, what with the finally released Chinese Democracy, Duke Nukem Forever, My Bloody Valentine's third full length album, and The Avalanches' second- oh wait

This is just a very easy joke to make, and it can be made in a lot of different ways and about a lot of different subjects, so I find it hard to comprehend why Randy decided to present it this way. Why not do it on a more popularly known subject, or ramp up the scale a lot. I vaguely remember getting pleasantly caught by surprise by a lesson on how the universe will progress before heat death happens.* At the end it added on "[X] is finally released". That didn't feel copied because it improved so much on the concept, like a cover that blows away the original song.

Ah, memories of better jokes. Good times. Goooooooooooooood tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimes.

*There's a wikipedia page for "timeline of the far future" which includes such things. Don't read it. It gets depressing fast.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1507 - Metaball

At first I was all set to call this a ripoff of Calvinball, but it's actually more like the opposite: instead of no rules there's all the rules of every 'ball' game.

It's been a little while since we've had a comic that I just don't understand what the joke is supposed to be. We've had our "I don't know enough about the subject to understand the joke"s, but here I just don't get where the punchline is.

Like, I see that it's supposed to be somewhere in the last two panels, when the sports that aren't soccer show up, but I couldn't pin it down more than that. I think the last panel might be what's throwing me off. If it just ended at three panels then I can see the joke being the sudden switch into a different sport, or something where the soccer ball was accidentally kicked out of a soccer game and into a basketball game, etc. As is, the ending seems almost like a retcon, suddenly the switch was intentional and boring, as opposed to the fun improvised nature of the aforementioned Calvinball.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1506 - xkcloud


I prefer Epicloud, myself.

As with the last April Fool's comic, this is an interactive thing that depends on reader content. And like last the last April Fool's comic, I think it was a pretty awful idea. In fact, it's probably worse.

Whereas last year's comic had premade art for people to caption, this time people are making the art and the captions. Since they're all essentially randomized pairs, the humorous contrast between the picture and the caption is actually destroyed, rather than enhanced. The picture and the caption are equally off the wall and meaningless. Every picture might as well be white noise, and every caption might as well be a series of underscores. 

Compare this chaos with the controlled absurdity that Monty Python, Light And Dark The Adventures Of Dark Yagami, or even dril, has achieved. There's a specific reason for why crazy things happen, it's not just because "lol, random, monkey tacos", it's more like a really really warped setup that makes sense with an eventual punchline or subversion thereof.
(two bonus shoutouts for the hell of it: raocow, PurpleEyesWTF)

Also, I feel like it's worth noting that the first set of caption options I saw included "#notallmen" and a Queen lyric.