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, October 21, 2013

Comics 1277-1279: My Secret Shame

If you are using a mobile device, then email me and I will personally send the alt texts to you. I am not even joking.

Comic 1279: Reverse Identity Theft

This is a good idea, ruined by bad execution. I would have liked to see a multi-panel comic in which someone with an email address in the format of firstname.lastname@ gets a deluge of emails from services he/she never signed up for, and eventually pieces together the puzzle at the same time as the reader does. But instead, this skips to the conclusion of the story. Randall gets paid by the poster, not by the panel.

B+ for idea. D+ for timing. D for wall of text. D- for essay length alt text. F for general laziness. And DETENTION for Gizmodo repost.

You may think I'm being too harsh, but I have noticed a lot of xkcds lately that fall flat because I don't actually realise what they're about until I read the punchline, and then I have to re-read the rest of the comic to complete the joke. It's sloppy. Someone brought up this same point about 1271 last week, and I have to agree.

Comic 1278: Giraffes

Now this is what I prefer to see from an xkcd comic. Simple yet effective. It's science-y, but not confusing or intrinsic. B for humour, which is enhanced by an A for standalone value. A for delivery - you don't need to overcomplicate a joke like this, and he didn't. C for the 'my hobby' format, which I feel it didn't really apply to this comic as much as some of the others.

Comic 1277: Ayn Random

I don't want to admit that I liked this comic. So I'll just get the grades out of the way first. F for people sitting at computers. D+ for stilted dialog. D- for White Hat as the obvious straw-man. F- for the external reference that will confuse many readers.

For those who don't know, Ayn Rand is an author who wrote some very preachy (and boring) books, most notably Atlas Shrugged (which Randall once referenced in comic 1049). He basically said that people are better when they work on their own and don't try to help each other. He explained the amount of unfairness in the world by saying that some people are intrinsically better than others. There. You've learned something. Did that make the comic funnier? No. You had to know that BEFORE you read the comic.

Fortunately for me, I already knew that. AND I LAUGHED MY FUCKING HEAD OFF. And it was an annoyingly high-pitched laugh. You haven't heard my laugh, but it sounds just like British comedian Jimmy Carr's famously annoying howl. It is the sort of thing that can't really be described in mere words, but this video will do:

I feel dirty now. I'm not sure if I can carry on as an Xkcd reviewer with the knowledge of this out in the public. Please tell me in the comments if there are any other Xkcd comics you laughed at, but shouldn't have. It might make me feel better.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Comic 1276: Angular Size

I want to like this comic, I really do. And I would like it, if it weren't for this one great big glaring error that I just can't look past.

You ignorant yankee schmendrick, Randall! The UK does not have any 'freeways'. We have motorways. It's like a freeway, except you drive on the left. I cannot understate the importance of this simple semantic error. You have disfigured an otherwise good comic with this grotesque transatlantic slur. FFFFFFFFF----------------------- for failing to brit-pick.

Ah, it's good to be back.

In all seriousness though, I should mark this comic down for being poster bait. But it's not visually appealing enough to be a poster. I don't personally think there is anything wrong with poster bait. They are usually the best Xkcd comics. However, I would get tired of looking at them if they were on my wall. Do I get annoyed that other people spend their hard-earned cash on them? Of course, but there will always be meshuginas in the world.

Comic 1275: int(pi)

F for dumb programming joke. A for it actually being quite good. F- for terrible artwork that should have been replaced by plain text. A+ for great alt text that should have been part of the actual comic. 

Comic 1274: Open Letter

Ughh, F for dumb programming... no wait, that's the previous comic. In that case I make it an F for plain text artwork. D for wall of text. C+ for a good joke, and B+ for it being topical.

To be honest though, topicality can go fuck itself. I prefer timeless to topical. And when every other news site is spitting out terrible knee-jerk reactions that will forgotten a day later, one begins to question how important it is for content to be current up to the hour.

And most of an Xkcd comic's audience probably comes from people looking through the archives, fingers on the random button until they can be sure they have seen every single one, and they don't care when they were made.

The best things last. Topical content is nice if we come across it years after the fact and it reminds us of the event. But its importance is overstated, particularly by detractors like me.

Comic 1273: Tall Infographics

A+ for taking a dig at infographic designers! This is also a field Randall himself has dabbled in, so A for self-deprecation. Another A for effective use of colour in an Xkcd comic (haven't had that for a while). I've said it before, but if every comic was like this, then there would be no Xkcd-sucks.

Comic 1272: Shadowfacts

C- for a rather silly Lord of the Rings reference, which I probably would have appreciated more if I'd remembered that Gandalf's horse is called Shadowfax, instead of mentally analysing the comic for a few minutes and coming to that conclusion. Still, I can understand the humour if you had heard the name 'Shadowfax', and thought that it sounds a bit like 'Shadowfacts', and then saw this comic. C+ for GOOMH-bait. B for the punchline of 'Shut up.' It's a cliche, I know, but when used in the right context, it's instant laughter.

Comic 1271: Highlighting

Yes, it's GOOMH-bait, but it's good GOOMH-bait. So have an A. You don't have to be a person who obsessively highlights text to appreciate the funnyness of this comic, but someone who has done anything a bit like this will understand the general idea.

Unfortunately, the joke is presented in a somewhat opaque way. It's difficult to see what it's about until you read the punchline. So that's a C- for clarity. Let me know in the comments if you found it as difficult to read. In fact, post anything in the comments. I'm so alone.

Comic 1270: Functional

I can't tell who is supposed to be the butt of this joke. My logical side is telling me that the stick figure sitting at computer is being mocked for his weird programming fetish. On the other hand, White Hat is always drawn as Randall's strawman, so are we mocking him. But if that's true then there is no joke really. Let's just call it an F for lack of a joke. F- for stick figures sitting at computers, AGAIN. And B+ for good alt text.

Comic 1269: Privacy Opinions

Since this is a multi-part comic, I'll review it in multiple parts. C for the philosopher. A for the crypto nut, because those people deserve to be mocked. B for the conspiracist, although conspiracy jokes are a little overplayed. C for the Nihilist. So are nihilism jokes. A+ for the exhibitionist. It's predictable, but I stand by the fact that this is the best humour Xkcd has to offer. D for the sage, and Beret's complete lack of character traits.

Comic 1268: Alternate Universe

B for the panel. A for the alt text. Again, I feel he could have done more with this premise, and the humorous potential idea of living in an alternate universe where only a few things are different. This should have been a multi-panel comic, not a single panel throwaway. For that, I'm giving it a D- for wasted potential