Died in a Blogging Accident has lived up to its name and died... in a blogging accident. That is to say it has concluded. You can still re-live the magic by clicking here to start at chapter 1. For genuine criticism of XKCD, please click the top link to the right (XKCD Isn't Funny).

Thursday, June 30, 2011


What? What is it Randall? What do you want? Name it! Make it stop! How could you...what is...I don't even...


Oh. Some of you may not know what my brain is melting for. Here.

Title: Tween Bromance; alt-text: Verbiage. Va-jay-jay. Irregardless.

The xkcd forumites (an apparently exiled people now that there's no forum link on the xkcd main page) have indicated that this strip is derived solely from a 30-page thread about words they hate. If that's true, that makes this the second worst comic Randall has ever made (beaten only by the infamous 631).

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, this comic was written ONLY to make the fans rage. Think about it! You have probably hundreds of people saying, "I can't stand this word, I can't stand that word," so what does Randall do? HE DRAWS A FREAKING COMIC STRIP WITH THE WORST OF THE WORST.

And he knows it, too! As evidenced by the reaction of Megan in the strip, this is an effort being made only to annoy, irritate, and liquefy the brains of whoever reads/hears it. Look. Sometimes Randall is just lazy. Sometimes he's so lazy that he'll just write out a sentence intended to bug the readers (one that doesn't even make sense, for that matter). But never, NEVER has he been so lazy and mean-spirited to take what HIS OWN FANS explicitly say they hate and just dish it up like that, with nothing else as context! (And if someone on the forums says "goomhr i hate those words too", so help me, I will rape that person with an angry porcupine.)

And when I say "nothing else as context," boy, do I mean it. If you don't know about the forum thing (and you probably don't, given that you CAN'T ACCESS THEM FROM THE MAIN PAGE ANYMORE), who can say what's going on? Was the stick man dictating something to Megan, changing up the words as a cruel joke? Was he quoting something he found on the internet? Does he just walk up to her and say that for no reason at all other than that he's Randall's avatar and Randall is a complete dick?

I couldn't figure out if Randall was trying to make fun of pre-teens and how they talk, or bad fanfiction writers, or furries, or if it was something else all together. Is he referencing something? Is there a precedent for this somewhere? Who knows?

My face started contorting in twitchy disgust by the time I hit the second panel. I haven't felt physical uneasiness from an xkcd since the milk strip (YOU MADE ME GOOGLE "XKCD LACTATION" TO GET THAT LINK I HATE YOU SO MUCH RANDALL DIE DIE DIE), but I did when reading this one. And then I get to the third panel to see Megan doing the exact same thing! Do you get what happened? RANDALL MADE ME IDENTIFY WITH ONE OF HIS CHARACTERS. I never want to be in an xkcd, and I especially don't want to be the stick representation of the girl he's stalking. It's bad enough when Randall includes the readers (me) in his strips unfairly (like here), but when I'm actually IN the strip, in anguish, that's all kinds of messed up. It's messed up that I'm there to begin with, and it's even more messed up that I'm there because Randall KNEW he'd be injuring he readers and put an avatar of us in the strip to prove it.

And the alt-text? What alt-text? It's just more words that we find offensive. Even after the strip is done, even after assaulting us with this supposed "joke" in the title and across all four panels, Randall still doesn't let up. It's like he doesn't even care about his readers! Then again, why should he, given that the original poster in this comic's thread said, "I understand every word but not the comic itself :(", following it up with "And thus my vexation has been alleviated," once the strip was explained. Really? You're okay with being reamed by Randall as long as you know why?

Luckily, not all of the forumites are like him. Most are confused, hurt, miss the point (attempting to sing the title to the tune of "Bad Romance"), or ask what happened to the forum link. Some speculate it's because Randall just posted a a bunch of personal information and wanted to dissuade discussion. He disabled comments for that particular post after all, so perhaps. But if so, that's just the feather in the hat of this awful, awful day for xkcd and xkcd fans. Randall's pulling the strings like a freaking puppeteer. "I'm going to say my piece, but YOU CAN'T TALK ABOUT IT! Oh, here's something to take your mind off that: BROMANCE GUESSTIMATE FRENEMY YIFFED PREGGERS BARBARA STREISAND".

Seriously, Randall, CARE A LITTLE. I know you've got a fanbase who'll generally lap up anything you put before them, but don't abuse that! When they made the "least favorite word" thread, it wasn't subtitled, "Give Randall ideas for his next fan hate strip!" If your fans want to shove drills into their ears and pour bleach into their eyes, they'll do it. Don't give them a reason.

P.S. As I was reading the xkcdsucks comments, someone mentioned Megan's transforming chair. Chalk up another point of failure for this comic (lazy, mean, and now quite possibly the future recipient of a stealth edit).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Comic 918: GoogleD=

Good evening, this is Ravenzomg of Ravenzomg fame here to review another mediocre comic! Mediocrity draws us together in a greater pact of apathetic dissent.

Title: Google+ . Tooltip: On one hand, you'll never be able to convince your parents to switch. On the other hand, you'll never be able to convince your parents to switch!

So there's this new site that's a social-networking thing, and it's not Facebook! But it's still in a beta mode, and you can only get in if you got a special invite, or if you know someone who got that invite. Randall, trying to champion the bizarre geek quality of liking non-mainstream, difficult, and obscure methods to do their shit, told us about it very subtly in his comic. The comic is called "Infrastructures", the number is the 743rd, and the site is called "Diaspora", and it is May of 2010.

Please read a few lines of that article. In fact, nevermind, you're not going to so let me copy/paste like some sort of first-year university student the night before an essay worth 25% of his final mark is due.

One of my favorite sites is XKCD, which features brilliant tech-related comics drawn by Randall Munroe.
By the way, if you haven’t visited XKCD before. You should. It’s good eaten’ for your mind.

I'm just going to let those comments sit on their own without commentary.

Let me begin by restating that XKCD #918 is mediocre. It inspires neither mirth nor rage in yours truly, and honestly the flaw is again the medium. I don't know who these two Void Creatures are, and I don't care. But if this were, say, Saphalia and Grim what the fuck did I just say there why didn't i just make up real names then I'd be more intrigued by this discussion and perhaps touched by panel 3's admission. Instead, all I get is two awkward stick figures puppeting Randall's thoughts. Characterization is essential in separating yourself from your creations. Hell, even WhiteHat has a distinct voice and I don't revert to saying, "It's Randall", but instead say, "It's goddamn bakery man" or whatever. The point here is that by virtue of their not possessing any recognizable traits except for the implicit ones in this comic, we don't really care at all and this may as well be a text update in the form of a chatlogue.

SP: you should join Google+! =D
GR: What is it?
SP: not facebook!
GR: What is it like?
SP: facebook!
GR: ...
GR: Oh, what the hell.
GR: I guess that's all I really wanted.

Please tell me what we lost in this transition. Well, besides crappy art.

To be positive, I'll admit that the joke is structured correctly. Panel 1 introduces the setting, panel 2 is a beat panel, and panel 3 contains the "joke". Panel 1's dialogue is awkward and stitled, but that is pretty well the point -- to illustrate how ridiculous the idea of switching to any other social-networking site is becoming and mocking the incentives geeks are willing to take to be more hipster. Going back to my awful transcription, the girl's dialogue really sounds more like a chat log to me. But maybe I'm just biased. But the stiltedness completely fits the concept of online chat.

And perhaps that's an issue here -- these are based on real conversations, but by "real" I mean "in a chat client", and Randall hasn't rewritten it to be a natural conversation, instead copying it nearly word-for-word.

But this is just supposition and cannot reaaally be confirmed one way or the other except hyperbolicly through repeated confirmation that this sounds valid.

Let me say upfront that I have a Facebook account that I check daily and do use. I managed to get rid of my old account bogged down with a hundred+ people I didn't give a shit about in favour of about 14 "friends". Let me also say that if I get an invite to Google+, I will bail like a rat on a sinking ship. Why? I don't even know anymore.

I AM THIS GEEK. That's me. In panel 3. I made a Diaspora account just because it wasn't Facebook, and it was awkward and clunky and I spent maybe 2 days using it before letting it fall into decay. I still have a Myspace profile full of angsty poetry dating back to like 2005 (although I only use myspace now for music purposes).

I distinctly remember, when Facebook was new and weird and not popular, telling people, "let's get in on this Facebook thing." Why? Because it was new and different from Myspace.

This is the geek sickness, the desire for the new, the shiny, the different.

And in these barely creative scrawls Randall has captured this idea.

However, this does not make this a good comic. This is not funny, this is not entertaining, and this is not new. Everyone knows about this geek attitude, and he's just using a recent example to illustrate a point that everyone knows. We're talking syndicated newspaper comic level of humour.

"It's entertaining!" No, not really. "It's deep!" No, it's pretty shallow and uninventive. ....So where does that leave us? A mediocre sketch that is intended to illicit what we used to call "Agreement Chuckles".

This is exactly pandering to someone like me, someone who thinks Facebook is devilish but cannot switch until a viable alternative occurs. And yet here I am, saying that it's mediocre. It's not awful, it's just not INTERESTING in any way.

In other words, it's another XKCD update.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Comic 917: Failing Us; Cute Kinda?

Good evening to one and all, this is Ravenzomg reviewing today because Gamer has not been hulkified by this particularly uninteresting piece of.... work.

Title: Hofstadter; Tooltip: "This is the reference implementation of the self-reference joke."

I was going to write the review in one huge acrostic, but that'd just be stupid since this comic is not about acrostics, it is about abbreviations. (Do not look for a huge abbreviation either, you will not enjoy it.)

So the joke is about Hofstadter, and if you know who this guy is, then you already know we're going to get some stupid joke about analogies. If you don't know this guy, go to that article and read, like, 10 words in.

Hofstadter is a man who has published many quite official books and articles on language, logic, philosophy, as well as quite interestingly rewriting a classic Russian piece to retain its poetic charm. In short, he's taken his passion and he has run with it.

(I just set myself up for personal attacks, but that's not really where I am going with this).

Now, this comic is sort of okay. But the biggest problem is that it is entirely GOOMH bait for anyone who knows about Hofstadter. That is the point of this comic.

The joke, which is the cute little acronym (goddamn it, yes it is an acronym not that other thing) "I'm so meta even this acronym (IS META)". This is the joke. It's a cute little throwaway thing you write down in a particularly boring lecture.

But then it occurs in panel 2 of 3.

Panel 3 is useless Post-Punchline Dialogue, unless you think the acrostical "WIN" is intentional, which I do not. So we have a joke that is kinda okay if it weren't 33% of his workload for the week, sandwiched between two useless panels. Panel one? Oh, yes, I will get to that.

Now, in fact.

Panel one sets us up with an author we've already mentioned has proven himself to be quite capable of language games. Randall has created a little lark, and he legitimizes it by saying someone else created it.

You understand how fundamentally weird this is? It's like goddamn fan fiction. He's inserted his own words into Hofstadter's mouth, and in his created universe it is factual. No, you know what? This isn't like fan fiction. It is fan fiction.

The more I think about it, the creepier this gets. And this coming from the writer who wrote a fan fiction that was almost (but not actually) slash-fic between Rob and Randall.


I mean, let me try this out.

Awkward as shit, and not just because this was inked with a regular blue pen and took less time than perhaps an xkcd comic (hahah, who are we kidding).

The lesson here is that name-dropping is absolutely awful, and creating something and crediting it to someone else, regardless of how good you "think" it "is", is just abhorrent and weird. Why did I mention Randall? Couldn't I have just talked about the Llamas without pretending someone else famouser than I talked about llamas?

Yes. Yes I could.

Fuckin' weird.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Comic 916: Randall, the Security Expert

Well, well, well. Raven SO badly wanted to do a review, and I was ready to take a well-deserved break, but then she was all "I can't post it until Saturday!" Since I respect you guys far too much to force you to wait that long, I'll take over. I wouldn't want this to turn into xkcdsucks, and I'm sure none of you want that either.

So what have you got for us, Randall?

Title: Unpickable; alt-text: The safe is empty except for an unsolved 5x5 Rubik's cube.

Well, the good news is that Randall has ditched the wordy, drawn-out, monochrome format of yesterday's comic, and instead given us a half-colored single panel. At first glance, I like this: whatever point he's making is likely to be punchy, there are no characters so there's no stilted dialogue, and the art isn't awful. It's not his best work, but it's far from his worst.

The basic idea here is that if you're going to be attacked by geeks, you're best leaving your stuff in an inconspicuous place while giving them a problem to keep them occupied. I expect this is a response to how hacking groups like LulzSec conduct their attacks; they hit high-profile targets just to show they can, so you're better off being under the radar. In short, Randy makes a semi-legitimate point about the nature of hackers, and he does it with color and the right amount of panels. Good job, I guess. You look at it, you laugh, and you move along.

However, this wouldn't be a criticism blog if I didn't dig deeper into the strip and pick it apart. Let's start with the obvious flaw. Anon 1:12 on the xkcdsucks blog said, "Security through obscurity does not a joke make." I disagree with the premise; it's solely because the idea is nonsensical that it becomes a joke. However, he has a very valid point about security through obscurity. It's AWFUL. It's probably the worst "security" there is, and if you're trying to keep your stuff safe, leaving it out in the (hidden) open is the worst thing you can do, regardless of who's attacking you.

Also, in the course of reading and reviewing the strip, I was reminded of another xkcd. If you can't be bothered to click the link, the summary is that nerds think that if they make their security system elaborate enough they'll be safe forever, when the reality is that all it takes is one weak link (in this case, the drugged and bludgeoned owner of the system) to get through. Today, Randall is saying just the opposite: If the security is elaborate enough, you can toss your valuable stuff in a shoebox, because the hackers will never get through the (incidentally unimportant) safe, and they won't think to go the easy route first.

That's why this strip fails when 538 doesn't. Comic 538 presented a stupid situation based on a geeky stereotype, but then it went deeper and showed the problem with that situation! Comic 916 shows no such self-awareness. It presents the stupid idea and just runs with it. Perhaps if the alt-text has said something like, "Of course, security by obscurity is doomed to fail. But a nerd can dream, can't he?", I might be more tolerent. But, much to my chagrin, it says nothing like that.

And having said that, we've reached my biggest annoyance with the strip: the alt-text. "The safe is empty except for an unsolved 5x5 Rubik's cube." But you just said the safe is unopenable! How did the cube get in there? How will it be gotten out? And why would the hackers bother with it? If you're breaking into a website, you're doing it to steal or screw with the data underneath. Remember when the PSN got hacked and credit card numbers were compromised? Do you think the hackers would've sat there and tried to defraud those accounts right then and there? No! If the Rubik's cube interested the hacker, he would take it and be on his way. He wouldn't sit there playing with it.

So, in summary: decent comic on the surface, lousy composition underneath. It's still one of Randall's better works recently (which admittedly isn't saying much).

P.S. The original image of the comic had an ugly, out of place line of color on the right side of the safe; you can see it on Raven's mock-up (get it? because she's MOCKING it? -_-) of the strip here (by the Z). As of the writing of this post, that's gone. Now, I don't really fault Randy for not going "DOO DOO DAH DOO! I MADE AN ERROR!" However, it just shows what a hack he is. He's sloppy and doesn't actually review his work before posting it for the world to see. I guess that's what you get when your brainstorming process starts at 11:50 PM.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Comic 915: Clueless Randall

Man, I was hoping for a break. I really was. I spent a ton of time writing two reviews, and I was kind of counting on Randy to serve up something boring so Raven could have her turn. Instead, I got this:

Title: Connoisseur; alt-text: Our brains have just one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit.

It's boring, yes, but it's boring for the wrong reasons. This isn't some one panel strip that Randall tossed out at 11:59. No, instead we're taken on a journey through five panels where Randall systematically blows past opportunities for legitimate jokes or criticism and falls on his face in Joe Biden's mayonnaise. Yes, it's as unpleasant as it sounds.

The first two panels are absolutely fine. Some snobby guy gets all high and mighty about wine and someone else is set to take him down a peg or two. So what does Randall do? Does he go the scientific route and cite experiments that prove how subjective wine tasting is? Nope! Rather than have the guy say, "If YOU'D pay more attention, you'd realize that your hobby is a complete sham," Randall has him AGREE with the connoisseur. Add a tally to the "missed opportunities" column.

And this is the point where the strip starts to lose its focus (or gain it after being completely out of focus; I'm not sure which it is and I'm not sure it matters). Hat Guy makes a legitimate point that some things have more depth than others. This is TRUE, but it's also an opportunity for Randall to say, "Yes, and as far as that goes, wine tasting is ridiculously shallow." Okay? Randall's made no secret that he's an elitist when it comes to math and science and things of that sort. He likes tearing apart things he thinks are stupid and "less pure" than math. So why doesn't he do it? Yes, serious connoisseurs can be pretentious and make much too big a deal about things that don't deserve the attention. Wine tasting is especially egregious in that regard. But instead of calling them on it, Randy plays their game; rather than saying, "Your field sucks and I can prove why," he says, "Your field sucks, but so does everything else."

It's not the first time this has happened in xkcd. Randy sets up a straw man, but attacks it so clumsily that I find myself SIDING WITH THE STRAW MAN. That shouldn't happen! His approach is unnecessarily self-deprecating, and it totally misses the point. Unfortunately, that "missing the point" is what moves the comic forward, so I guess we might as well hang on for now and see where it goes.

So, instead of taking the opportunity to turn Hat Guy's point against him, Randy makes a nonsensical comparison. Here's where the comic gets completely out of control. He suggests locking people in a box. Instead of saying, "No, that's a stupid idea," Hat Guy CALLS Randy on it! He might as well be saying, "Prove it. Prove that locking people in a box with Biden photos will make them snobby connoisseurs." So we've gone from what could be a solid subject for decent ridicule (wine tasting) to a bunch of nonsense where a character ACTUALLY LOCKS PEOPLE IN A BOX FOR A YEAR.

This in itself isn't awful, strictly speaking. This is xkcd, quirkiness abounds, etc. etc. But it doesn't make sense! This isn't Mr. Hat. This is just some random guy (I've been calling him Randy, but he might be anyone.) He goes from (ostensibly) being the voice of reason to being the hand of insanity. There's a bit of humor in how far overboard the guy will go to prove his point, yes. But it's a point that doesn't need to be made! It's a point that only results from a series of missteps and bumbled opportunities for something better.

And I think that's the downfall of this comic. It's not the first time this has happened. Randall has a punchline, a situation that he finds funny. And yes, there's something inherently funny in a bunch of idiots arguing over pictures of Joe Biden eating a sandwich. But it's funny because it's someone ELSE. Unfortunately, Randall doesn't know how to set the situation up, so he fights his way to the punchline, and ultimately says, "Yeah, everyone is like this. THIS COULD BE YOU." This is the same reason I hated Comic 906. He shows us a stupid person in a stupid situation, but instead of letting us have a good laugh at that person's expense, he says, "Yeah, that's you. You're the stupid one." Look, I don't mind self-deprecating humor. I have tons of faults that are worth poking fun at. But I DO take issue with self-deprecating humor that DOESN'T APPLY. Sure, laugh at me for being a goofy guy on the internet who makes too big of a deal about a webcomic. Whatever. Doesn't bother me, because it's TRUE. But once the joke becomes, "Hey, did you hear about the time Gamer asked where the 'any' key was? What a moron!" I take issue with it. I KNOW where the 'any' key is.

P.S. It's a nice touch that the guy gestures so wildly in the third panel that he spills his wine. Unfortunately, that's all the good that can be said about this strip.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Comic 914: In which Beret Guy ISN'T the wacky one

Gamer_2k4, reporting in. The original plan for this blog was for Raven to review the weak, boring strips, and for me to take on the ones that really irked me. I figured, knowing Randy, that I'd get some nice downtime. I was wrong. Randy has seen fit to give us complete garbage twice in a row, so that means I'm on the job twice in a row as well. Here goes.

Title: Ice; alt-text: On the plus side, she wrote 'Welcome to the AAA Club!' in lipstick on the bathroom mirror, and left me a membership/roadside assistance card on the counter.

Well, my first thought upon looking at this was, "Oh hey, it's Megan and Beret Guy. This is going to suck." That's xkcdsucks' influence on me, I guess, because my first thought SHOULD have been, "Really? A banner that just says, 'PARTY'?" I'm not sure which way to be angry about this. Is it that Randall thinks we're too stupid to realize what's going on? Is it that he understands his art is awful enough that the stick drawings alone can't convey a real scene? (Actually that's something else that bothers me. More on that in the next paragraph.) Or is it that he just has no clue that "show, don't tell" is actually a thing that decent writers (and ARTISTS) should have a grip on? And you know what? We don't even need to be told it's a party. Who cares? Beret Guy needs to get ice. That's all we need to know.

I think that's all for the first panel. That takes us to Panel 2, where there's a LOT more to hate. Remember what I said about Randy's art being too awful to present a scene? Well, the thing is, it doesn't HAVE to be that way! Look at the second panel! A sidewalk! A street! A store with brick walls, a sign, and stuff inside! PERSPECTIVE! So Randall CAN draw, and he's just too freaking lazy to do it!

And boy, that really irks me. Why? Because he has his priorities all wrong! When it might be important to establish a setting, the best he can do is give us a freaking sign that says, "PARTY". When the setting doesn't make a darn bit of difference, he goes all-out in drawing it. I just don't even know what to say about that. It's mind-numbing. It leaves me speechless. How can someone write a comic strip (and I use the words loosely) for YEARS and not figure something like this out? You know one reason why I hate xkcd when I used to like it? It's because Randall is REGRESSING. He's not getting better, and he's not even staying level. He's going downhill, and he's going fast. Every day amazes me with how deep he manages to dig this cesspool.

Okay. For the second time in as many strips, I need to actively force myself to calm down. That's something I'm not used to. Relax, Gamer...

Let's put the art behind us for now. (It'll be back.) What else is wrong with the second panel? Well, how about the dialogue? Or rather, how about the situation in general? Why is Beret Guy walking in the middle of the road? Why is the girl pitching her "party" to random passersby? Do people, even people with ulterior motives, even do that? Would anyone listen and think anything other than, "I should probably keep moving"? Is Beret Guy really swayed by the "hey sexy" line? Well, to be fair, that's probably all it would take to get Randy to follow her, so I guess I can see where the notion came from. And Beret Guy is known for being kind of clueless, so maybe I'll let that slide. Still, the situation feels awkward to me. There's got to be a better way to set up the punchline.

Panel 3 isn't bad. For xkcd. You can kind of see what's going on, and for stick figures, that's good. Well, it's tolerable. Moving on.

Ah, Panel 4. You confusing mess of non-humor. What's going on here? Couldn't Randy have channeled the artistic effort in Panel 2 into this one instead? Maybe then we wouldn't have forum posts like:

"are those kidneys or weenies in the bathtub?"

"or is it shit?"

"I thought it was bloody ice. did he get his organs harvested or something?"

"Are those potatoes?"

"Weenies, in cocktail sauce."

No joke, those are the first five responses to the original post. Wow. Really, Randy? You can spend time filling in BRICKS on a freaking STORE WALL but you can't draw the panel with the actual PUNCHLINE in a manner that people can understand it? Can you imagine if he didn't use color? Oh, and that's not to mention that the punchline is, "Hey guys, instead of stealing kidneys and leaving the Beret Guy in a bathtub full of ice, she stole his ice and left him in a bathtub full of kidneys. It's an inversion of a not funny concept and therefore is funny!" "A bar walks into a guy" isn't funny, is it? You have to work harder than that, Randy. Randomness is not the same thing as humor. And, okay, there's a bit of a subversion of expectations at work here; you're expecting something terrible to happen to Beret Guy because he's functionally retarded and accepts offers from random strangers, and something rather quirky and innocuous happens instead. But if you're going to do that, it has to be punchy! It has to be instantly obvious to the reader what's going on. If they spend two minutes staring at the panel trying to figure out what's going on, like I did, the reaction is going to go from "haha, lulz" to "Uh, that's just stupid."

And sadly, we're not done yet, not even after a 1000 word blog post. There's still the alt-text to deal with. I admit I didn't get the reference at first, but the same trip to the forums that got me the above quotes also pointed me to the urban legend that the text is referring to. On the plus side, it does exactly what alt-text is supposed to do; it provides an additional, relevant joke that's not simply an explanation of the earlier punchline. Unfortunately, the alt-text suffers the same problem as the last panel: readers probably aren't going to get it right away. They'll have to look it up or ask someone before it makes any sense. You know the phrase, "It's not funny if you have to explain it"? Yeah. It's not.

Now, one thing that gets me about this joke in general is that it seems to be set up for one of his recurring characters, either Mr. Hat or Beret Guy himself. (It's actually kind of a problem that I can't figure out who it would fit better). On the one hand, Mr. Hat seems like the type to cook up an elaborate plot like this (bathtub full of kidneys? really?), where the preparation outweighs the actual effect. On the other hand, Beret Guy seems like the sort to be all "lol randumb" and simply invert the expected kidnapping situation. But neither happened. Beret Guy was in the comic because he's stupid enough to fall for a stupid trick like this. It's a waste of a character.

Really, this strip is just one massive miscue for Randy. He explicitly describes a scene that doesn't need it, puts detail into a scene that doesn't need it, doesn't put enough detail into a scene that DOES need it, forces the readers to do research for a punchline that needs to be gotten quickly or not at all, and puts in characters but doesn't make the most of them. It's a jumble of misplaced priorities that adds up to four panels of complete garbage.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Comic 913: You're Out Of Your Head, Randall

Hello all, and welcome to the very first installment of XKCD SUCKS. I'm Gamer_2k4, half of the dynamic duo that's taking charge here. For those of you who don't know, I made a guest post here and there on the original xkcdsucks blog. Now, I'm helping Ravenzomg (the other half of the duo) with a new blog, to give you what xkcdsucks couldn't: timely, topical reviews that aren't complete garbage.

Anyway, that's it for introductions! Let's see what Randall's given us to work with today.

Title: Core; alt text: If you're a geologist or geophysicist and you don't introduce yourself by saying your name, then gesturing downward and saying "... and I study that", I don't know what you're doing with your life.

Annnnd it's a doozy. Good thing, too, because I'd rather not write a review if an xkcd is just meh. Right away, this feels like GOOMHR bait (for the uninitiated, that's "Get out of my head, Randall," a common saying among the author's fanboys). Why do I think that? Because if he's not expecting to garner empathy from the strip, he's just announcing that he tweaks out for no good reason, and it's not like Randall to admit (or even recognize) his weaknesses.

So what's the problem with this? Well, the main thing is that there are a LOT crazier things to get freaked out about than being above a hunk of iron. Think of all the insects crawling around under the ground! Think of the fossils that no doubt exist buried deep down! Think of the mineral veins and the fossil fuels! Heck, if you want to go with man-made things, it gets even better. Any time you walk down a street, you're going over sewer mains, electrical cabling, gas and water piping, perhaps even subways! There's a whole WORLD right beneath your feet, and if you want to freak out for fifteen minutes, do it over something worthwhile!


Okay, I'm not done. You want to freak out? Look up. Above you, right now, there are hundreds of satellites that make everything YOU do possible. TV, internet, radio, GPS, phone calls, freaking everything! You can't live without them, and yet you want to get worked up about freaking IRON? You really suck.

Deep breath. Calm down, Gamer. Okay. The next problem with this comic is, believe it or not, the fact that it's colored. Now, this wouldn't be a problem, except that, since the bar is set so low already, people react to the inclusion of colors like it makes up for everything else. Consider the opinion of one "Anonymous" from xkcdsucks:

Also I thought that despite the lack of actual humor, the Magic School Bus comic was better than most of his other ones just because of the inclusion of pretty colors.

Sarcasm or not, it's a pretty major problem when people think your comic is good simply because it has splashes of color here and there. People say, "this is awesome," Randall thinks "I am awesome," and the vicious cycle continues. No, Randall, you're not awesome. You went from an F- to a solid F. That's nothing to be proud of. And of course, the Magic School Bus coloring took so much out of him that the next comic (one that wasn't just stick figures, and actually alright for coloring) was monochrome, and today's had three, count them, three, colors outside of his usual spectrum. And yet, people will praise him for it.

Moving on to the alt-text (title text for you pedants). "If you're a geologist or geophysicist and you don't introduce yourself by saying your name, then gesturing downward and saying '... and I study that', I don't know what you're doing with your life." You know what they're doing with their lives? Not being complete tools like you! I'm a software engineer. You know what I don't do when I'm introducing myself to people? I don't POINT AT A COMPUTER AND SAY "UH HURP DURP I STUDY THAT." But I guess you'd know that if you ever interacted with people.

So, to sum everything up, this is a new blog, we're the best xkcd hate blog out there, and Randall is in top form for our first post. Tell your friends.

P.S. I like how he drew himself with a book, as though that was where he was reminded of this tidbit. Don't kid yourself, Randall; we all know you were inspired by this page.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011