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).

Monday, April 30, 2012

1049: Pot, meet kettle

Alt-text: I had a hard time with Ayn Rand because I found myself enthusiastically agreeing with the first 90% of every sentence, but getting lost at 'therefore, be a huge asshole to everyone.'

Before I get to today's abomination, let me just quickly address the last comic: Boo hoo cancer. Who even cares at this point?

Today's comic is horrible in all aspects, except maybe that it has decently drawn bookcases. First, it's an Ayn Rand bashing, so another reference that's late by, uh, lemme see... *A quick Google search later* HALF A CENTURY??? Geez, talk about dated. Also, way to go after the easy target, Randy. This is why you haven't grown as a creator.

So what exactly is happening in the strip? I can see that the guy tries to take Atlas Shrugged from a bookshelf, but it spins around like one of those secret passages in ye olden movies to show him a very special message. Makes sorta sense, I guess, but why does he keep holding the book? Does the bookcase just spin 360° in a single motion or does it stop on the other side to let the guy read the message on the wall? If so, does it spin back again by itself, or does he have to pull on the book again? Oh, and that's a very smooth transition between the third and fourth panel. Okay, I guess I'm just nitpicking here, but details like these really kept me from understanding what was exactly going on here for a while, and that's bad when this is not even the main focus of your strip.

Also, way to pick on people, who want to buy the book for any reason that is not "I like Ayn Rand's books". For instance, they can buy it because they want to know what the big fuss is all about, or because they want to review or analyze it. But I guess the reason just doesn't matter. If you buy Atlas Shrugged, you have a terrible taste (almost sounds like a review Randall would actually write).

The alt-text, oh man, way to call the kettle black, pot. ("Ooh my god, T-Jack, you said black, you're racist!" No. Fuck you.) Because, you know, it's not like Randall has ever needed a reason for being a complete and utter douchebag before, right? (That's probably not the best example I could've used, but eh, I'm too lazy to look for a better one.)

Now that I think about it, this comic isn't that horrible, it's merely bad and stupid. Randall fails hard to stay topical and offer any new argument to the Ayn Rand debate, or rather, any argument at all. For any criticism to have any real weight, you need to say what exactly is right or wrong with the criticized work and then support it with evidence taken from said work, you can't jump straight to the rating. Of course, this strip isn't about that, it's just about a new and wacky way to shame fans of a bad book. And I guess that's why I hate it so much.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

1044: Randy Satirist

Alt-text: Charlie actually delivered the Medicare line almost verbatim in the 1971 movie's Fizzy Lifting Drink scene, but it was ultimately cut from the final release.

I have to start this review with an admission: I don't live in the United States. I'm a European, so a lot of your political statements only make vague sense to me, and I have no idea who most of the well-known American politicians actually are. In other words: Ha ha, you are all dumb because you live in a different country than me!

So there are these "quizzes" that usually compare their authors' unfavorite politician to either a cartoon character or a hisorical villain (guess who the most common one is) through a list of quotes by both, that is supposed to show that said quotes are difficult to connect to the correct figure, and therefore the things they both said are basically the same.

Of course Randall, being who he is, immediately though that it would be unconventional to the point of Hillarity to do the same thing, but instead of comparing someone named Mitt Romney (seriously, who IS that?) to Adolf Hitler, use a fictional child, say, Charlie from that chocolate factory flick.

Do I even need to explain why this is stupid? Okay, here's the thing: Political satire usually tries to convey a message. It may be stupid, or even wrong, but it still says something the author deems significant. Here, the only message I can see is "The former Massachusetts governor is completely different from a child character from a kids' movie", to which I can only say "Well, DUH."

And that's the problem with today's strip. It has no meaning when it should. It is satire that satirizes nothing, except maybe for Randall's inability to come up with a good comic.

Oh yeah, and the alt-text is dumb. Heard that joke a million times, and a million times better at that.

Monday, April 9, 2012

1040: On the Origin of the Merchandise

Alt-text: James Cameron has said that he didn't know its song would be so beautiful. He didn't close the door in time. He's sorry.

Oh, look, another poster comic. Someone needs more money. Hint hint.

Sarcasm aside, since there's not much to review about today's comic, I'd like to talk about why exactly Randall's practice of creating these "merchandise bait" comics seems so reprehensible to us xkcd haters (or at least to me, anyway), and I'll use... hmm, let's say The Spoony Experiment, as an example.

So, here's how internet merchandise usually works: A creator introduces an element to his work that the fandom really enjoys, usually to the extent of becoming a minor meme in the fandom. Now, either a fan posts on the forum "I want to have X on a T-shirt" and is meet with approval of his peers, or the creator himself thinks "Gee, they really enjoy X. I better put that on something". The important part here is that said element wasn't created with its merchandising in mind. That only came about later as a way for the fans to support their favorite work and get something they'd enjoy in return. Take TSE's "Giant Dizzy Gillespie". That comes from the time when Spoony intorduced his figurine of said musician in a couple of gags and it completely stole the scene. "I heard that, Curtis", "You're in my way, sir" and "Fuse Box #42" are various running gags, "Doctor Insano" is a recurring character on the show, and many more relate to various works The Spoony One has reviewed.

And that's why I hate comics like this one. Merchandise should be introduced because the fans want it, not because the creator thinks he should have more money. And yes, I do realize that some (or most) of the stuff in the xkcd store fits the description of "merchandise done right" above, but does that really excuse this poster bait?

Friday, April 6, 2012

1039: Ja, das ist Super!

Alt-text:Bruce Schneier believes safewords are fundamentally insecure and recommends that you ask your partner to stop via public key signature.

Aren't the SM folks strange? They just treat someone like crap for whatever reason and when that other person has had enough, they say a "safeword". Man, wouldn't it be funny if someone had wacky long safeword? Like chemists, they do have super long words, don't they? Man, this is comedy gold!


No, it isn't. It's not even remotely funny*. Look, there's a difference between chemistry jokes and jokes about chemistry, the distinction being that the former is what a foolish person would expect from xkcd and the latter is completely dumb.

What baffles me is the unseen context of the comic. Is the SM couple in another room, or are they in the other half of the same room? Why are they doing their thing in the vicinity of Randall and Megan? Or, rather, why don't Randall and Megan mind them? What the fuck is going on? I mean, judging from the armchair and the computer, this is happening at someone's house, which means that they're doing whatever they're doing either while they have visitors or while they're visiting someone else.

Das ist nicht normal.

*Mistyped as gunny at first; I first considered leaving the typo in, but the comic actually is gunny, as in I'd like to shoot someone in the face.

Monday, April 2, 2012

1037: Well played Randall

Title:  Umwelt ; Alt-Text: "Umwelt is the idea that because their senses pick up on different things, different animals in the same ecosystem actually live in very different worlds."

So yesterday I went to the site and saw a comic (this was April 1st) and today I went to while connected to my office VPN and saw a comic with the same title and alt-text... but a different image. I clicked back and forward and refreshed a few times and then decided it was time to check the forums...

Forum Thread Discussing the "Gag"

We now know why xkcd has sucked so blandly in the recent past... never quite bad enough to incite rage or good enough to love. Randall must have been working on all the variations and scripts to generate a unique xkcd experience for every visitor... frankly I can't help but giving kudos to the guy... he really HAS been screwing with us and now we know WHY!