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, March 15, 2012

1029: Randall sucks at drawing

Alt-text: Screw these 36-degree angles. I'm converting to Judaism.

Oh look, it's another of those "something goes awry, accompanied by wacky commentary" strips. Remember when those used to be funny? Neither do I.

So not only is Randall unable to draw a pentagram, he apparently doesn't even know the word "pentagram". And the alt-text confirms that what he calls a "star" is indeed supposed to be the holy symbol. Either he's stupid or trolling me, but given his past record, I can't eliminate either option.

All in all, it's a pretty boring comic, in the simply-dumb category. And now you know why I usually don't review strips like this.

Monday, March 12, 2012

1028: What have I done to this comic?

Alt-text: Anyone who says that they're great at communicating but 'people are bad at listening' is confused about how communication works.

Oh, look, it's me again. Shocking, isn't it?

Today's review will be a bit different, because understanding this comic and its intended message requires thorough panel-by-panel examination, so this is what I'm going to do here. Keeping the alt-text in mind will be necessary, because it spells out the message, and therefore helps uncover just how much the comic fails in communicating it.

The alt-text states that some people are bad at giving information to other people, and while that's true, Randall seems to have gotten stuck at the term "communication protocol" and therefore thinks that people are like computers in this regard. Badly programmed computers. What do I mean by that? Well, let me show you:

Panel 1: White Hat Man (WHM) sees a hole in the ground and notes it.
Alright, so far so good.

Panel 2: WHM encounters Short Hair Guy (SHG) and tells him about the hole. SHG notes WHM's presence.
Panel 3: WHM continues warning SHG about the hazard. SHG continues thinking about WHM
Okay, hold on for a second. Really? Saying "Watch out, there's a big hole in the ground that way" takes two panels? And the recipient is still too dumb to understand that? Oh gods, these are strawmen, aren't they?

Panel 4: WHM leaves, thinking about SHG. SHG shrugs, thinking about WHM.
What is this, some shitty romantic comedy? "Man meets guy, they can't stop thinking about each other"? Also note that WHM has now completely forgotten about the hole. This is why I said that people in this comic are like badly programmed computers. Apparently, inhabitants of xkcdland are incapable of remembering more than one thing, which seems to be the most recent event they've experienced. They can't even assign a priority level to more important memories!

Panel 5: WHM encounters Token Woman (TW) and tells her about SHG. TW tells WHM about another hole in the ground.
This is where the comic completely falls apart. Why would the hat man tell her about the guy instead of the hole? There's only one reason and that's because he has a LIFO memory structure with the size 1. This is why you should never make an argument using strawmen.

Panel 6: WHM leaves, thinking about SHG and TW. TW leaves, thinking about WHM.
Okay, maybe I was wrong. Maybe he only told her about the guy because he wanted them to get together. Hey, remember how the last comic was about how you should never be sexist? Yeah, neither does Randall. And don't tell me it's because of the bad memory. If that was the case, WHM would only be thinking about TW.

And all that was only the first row. There's two more to go. Mommy...

Panel 7: TW meets SHG, both are thinking about WHM.
Apparently, since meeting hat man, the guy didn't move a centimeter from where he was standing. Further proof that xkcdians are not real people, because real people are perfectly capable of thinking about weirdos and walking at the same time.

Panel 8: TW and SHG tell each other about WHM.
Heyy, nice moves, bro.

Panel 9: TW and SHG walk towards the first hole, still talking about WHM.
Now he's walking! Why didn't he move before the chick caught up with him? Was he waiting for her? Is he trying to pick her up? Make sense, Randall!

Panel 10: Off-screen pain and two curses.
Gee, what could've happened? Durr, I don't know!

Panel 11: SHG and TW are stuck in the first hole. Off-screen pain and one curse.
Okay, how did they miss the hole? It seems big enough to notice. Hell, the hat guy noticed it, and he's intended to be the weirdo of the comic. Maybe they were too busy talking about him to pay attention? Okay, that would explain this, but then...

Panel 12: WHM is stuck in the second hole.
It doesn't explain this! He noticed the first hole, how did he fall in the second one? Was he too busy thinking about the soon-to-be happy pair he arranged?

And now, the great finale. Yeah, it's going to suck.

Panel 13: Beret Guy (BG) sees a hole in the ground and notes it.
What the fuck? Where did he come from? Is that the same hole that the hat man found? And if so, where are the man and woman who were stuck in it? Are... are they under the panel's border? Ye gods, what are they doing in there?!

Panel 14: BG walks away from the hole, not thinking about anything.
Oh, wait. Does that mean that his memory queue is empty or that its contents are "too hot for xkcd"? Was I right about SHG+TW??

Panel 15: BG encounters Randall's Author Avatar (RAA) and tells him about BG and RAA holding hands (meant to symbolize "follow me"). RAA thinks about BG.
No, every hairless stick figure is a Randall stand-in. Shut up. Also, it cracks me up to imagine the Beret Guy saying "Come with me if you want to see a guy nailing a chick in the sickest way possible" in a thick Austrian accent.

Panel 16: BG is leading RAA towards the hole. RAA is thinking about BG surrounded by deadly question marks.
Replace BG with Randall and RAA with Megan. You now have an accurate idea of how their date went.

Panel 17: BG and RAA have arrived at the hole. BG is pointing at it.
So he's capable of saying "come with me", but he can't say "look, a hole"? No, wait, he's totally not telling him about the hole. He's showing him the depravities going on inside it and is silent because he doesn't want the happy couple down there to notice him. Geez, what have I done to this comic?

Panel 18: BG and RAA are walking away from the hole, both thinking about the hole.
Or, y'know, about its contents.

This comic's intended message seems to be "Don't tell others about dangerous situations, take their hands and show them first-hand", which is both wrong and undermined by general strawmanotisis. It is clear that Randall only drew this to make himself feel superior to other, more stupid people, but, well, that does not a good comic make. So I guess if you're only going to take one lesson from it, let it be "if you see a guy nailing a chick in the sickest way possible, do not keep their location for yourself, but instead share it with as many bros as possible".

Friday, March 9, 2012

1027: The Hat in the Hat

Alt-text: Son, don't try to play 'make you feel bad' with the Michael Jordan of making you feel bad.

Did you know that there are these men who call themselves "pickup artists"? What these guys do is that they go to bars and use these methods to, y'know, pickup women, and it apparently works. This is of course very offensive and so Randall, a self-admitted feminist, simply had to address it in his comic. He of course did it about 7 years late (as a quick Google search tells me that the term has "entered the popular lexicon in 2005").

The topic is handled with the usual grace and subtlety we've come to expect from xkcd, so the comic's target is presented as a run-of-the-mill loser who only knows the "art" from reading about it on an internet forum and who backs off immediately after being "confronted" "with" "the" "sad" "truth" "about" "his" "pitiful" "existence". So, you know, like every other man in xkcd-land except Mr. Hat and Beret Guy.

Oh, and don't get me started on Mr. Hat. Whoops, nevermind, too late. Mr. Hat's presence in this strip is totally pointless, and in fact uncovers another glaring flaw of xkcd's premise as a stick webcomic. You see, because nobody has any distinguishing body features in xkcdland, except for women's hair and, well, their sudden human anatomy when viewed from close up as evidenced in The Strip We Don't Talk About, the only way we can recognize recurring characters is via external characteristics. For some it is their headwear, like the Beret Guy's beret, or Mr. Hat's, well, you know. Mr. Hat's girlfriend, though, has no such thing, therefore the comic needed to waste a whole panel extablishing that it was in fact her. That's right, Mr. Hat has become his girlfriend's hat. And the worst part is, this whole ordeal actually has no point to it, since when it comes to being asked out, all xkcdland's women are pretty much like this. The only reason why it needs to be this particular character is for the alt-text to make sense, and it sucks anyway.

The reason why I'm writing this, though, is because it directly ties into one topic that I'd wanted to discuss for a while in a separate post (and didn't do because that would basically be emulating the non-hyphenated blog's "Rob's Rants"), which is xkcd's almost complete lack of both style and substance. The reason why I said "almost" is that the comic sometimes contains both hints of style, like the recent 1021, and substance, which is actually present in today's comic.

You see, the comic could be vastly improved by cutting out all the stupid pickup artist crap and only leaving the fourth panel in, and maybe changing the Girlfriend's dialogue into something more appropriate. The reason is that this panel, and this panel only, contains some worthwhile substance - character building. It offers us a sample of how Mr. Hat and the Girlfriend spend their free time. Plus it's a classic Mr. Hat moment.

I know it sounds stupid to talk about character development in such a plotless comic, but don't you think that it would make xkcd better? I do.

Monday, March 5, 2012

1025: How's that working out for you?

Title: Tumblr; Alt-Text: "Dot Tumblr Dot Com, on the other hand, would be an awful name for a band, if only because of how hard it would be to direct people to your band's website."

I get that some people out there feel like criticizing someone else's creative work is sour grapes but today's comic is a good illustration of what is so often my motivation to do so.

Today's comic is just mildly disappointing in the grand scheme of things but I expect better from a guy who has so many adoring fans. I'll grant that no one is perfect all the time but I can't help feeling cheated when someone who has proved his ability to entertain me in the past fails to do so in a given instance. I can't help feeling like I have been denied something despite Randall not owing me anything.

I imagine myself in this comic as the long haired fellow on the left. I'm at a party and trying to tell an interesting anecdote to my friend who thinks he's clever and instead of him empathizing with my plight and helping me laugh at the human condition because it's the only thing that'll make it stop hurting... he tries to be clever and then goes on to drive the conversation into his own wheelhouse making lame follow up jokes.

I haven't done an edit in a while but any time a comic can be improved by someone getting punched in the face I feel... stirrings...

So, if I were to do this comic... after the fellow on the right says "...DOT TUMBLR DOT COM." the long haired fellow on the left would say, "How's that working out for you?" and then the fellow on the right would say "What?" and then the long haired fellow on the left would punch the fellow on the right in the face.

All that said... divorced from the context of being a terrible follow up to a weak joke... that Alt-Text has a pretty good point... but now I want to start a band called "Would be a Good Name for a Band".

Incidentally, the last band I was in was called "176½".