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.


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


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)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.