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).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Comic 169: Randall Hates Riddles

Okay, Anon 8:26 has requested this review quite a while ago. Sorry it's taken me so long to get to it. Except I'm not sorry at all. I've been spending the last two weeks counting my money from the Facebook acquisition (artist's impression). Did I mention that we're owned by Facebook now? Good. We promise that not a thing will be affected by this.

Title: Words that End in GRY

Alt text: The fifth panel also applies to postmodernists.

So, we have another comic where it would be funny if it was just Black Hat being Black Hat. But instead of that, it has Randall's moral agenda strewn across it like a dirty towel.

But never mind that for now. I actually looked up the riddle in this comic. And it turns out that Strawman is saying it WRONG. What's that you say, a mistake in an Xkcd comic? Randall doesn't get do-overs, remember. Let me explain. It goes like this: 

Think of words ending in "-gry". "Angry" and "hungry" are two of them. There are only three words in "the English language." What is the third word?

Obviously you don't pronounce the quotation marks, unless you are a schmuck. Note that that version of the riddle actually has "language" as an answer. That wasn't so hard to research, was it? Surely Randall would never make an elementary mistake like this?

Oh, but there is another version of the riddle, which is a bit more like to what Strawman is saying. However this one has "what" as the answer.

"Angry" and "hungry" are two words in the English language that end in "-gry". "What" is the third word.

For the curious, my source for these can be found here*. 

So, why would Strawman get the riddle so badly wrong, and still gloat about it to Black Hat? Easy, because he's being written by Randall Patrick Munroe. The guy writes straw men for a living. And no, I won't be PC and call them straw people, because all the straw men in Xkcd are men.

It was actually Randall's craft of the written word that caused Strawman to get the riddle wrong. Because if he makes Strawman dumber than anyone with enough intelligence to form the syllables to tell a riddle, he is therefore making Black Hat look smarter. Intelligence is relative, boys and girls.

Take a moment to consider this: Randall is trying to make a psychopath who cuts the hands off people that tell annoying riddles seem more reasonable than the teller of said annoying riddle. It's clear that he hates the annoying riddle tellers so much, he is going out of the way to insult their intelligence. And it comes at the expense of this comic actually, you know, making sense.

Furthermore, are we to believe that Black Hat constantly carries around a knife that is shark enough to cut bone on the off chance that he will meet an annoying riddle teller like this? This all but shows the further ways Munroe has distorted the universe to make this scenario possible:

The only way it would make sense for Black Hat to carry around this absurdly sharp blade is if he was harassed by these riddle-tellers all the time. But wait, what if he was? As soon as you believe this, Black Hat becomes a much more sympathetic character. With this interpretation, do you not start to see the riddle-teller as less of a victim, and more of an outright villain? But don't believe it for a second. Randall weaves elegant lies.

Panels 4 through 6 are just pure Randall rants, with a backdrop of screaming. Make no mistake about it, this is Randall's power fantasy. He would like to do this to all his enemies, such as the people who claim that his comic sucks (come and get me, big guy!) or for those who claim that women are any less than a master race. If you offended Randall in a dark alleyway, and he had a little more courage (okay, a lot more), then he would do this to you. In the alt text, he even points out panel 5 as a warning to postmodernists, as if to say 'you're next'. I ask you what kind of rational person would do this?

The worst part is that the whole thing is incredibly smug, and yet Black hat seems completely oblivious to the irony of calling someone else smug while doing this.

So there you have it. Once again, I have shown you the true horror of a seemingly 'innocent' 'comic'. I'll leave you to think about whether anyone would listen to me if I had just cut off their arm.

Oh, and since I haven't given it a grade yet, I'll award a grade based on the above points: F+ 
Try some subtlety next time.

*It's nice being able to cite a source for once without using the fucking Harvard Referencing System.


  1. I really do consider that comic to be an indicator of Randall's true character. He likes people to believe him whimsical, but the moment something whimsical makes him wrong about something he is outraged and starts being the policeman from that episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. The one played by Chapman, who, as I'm sure everybody remembers, ran around chopping limbs off when the sketches started getting far too silly.

    There is a problem with that silly riddle in that everybody knows it and it gets bandied about too often, but that's not what the complaint is. The complaint is that Randall was once made to be wrong because someone played a game with syntax.

    I also seem to recall something about this particular comic once being key to drawing a lot of new regulars to xkcd, in that it was associated with some other riddle Randall was showing off. One that was far more pleasing to likeminded strictly-literal-but-really-very-clever-and-creative-honest-my-mother-told-me-every-day-when-I-was-a-child-and-oh-how-my-teacher-hated-me-for-being-so-smart individuals. As a comic that may be partly responsible for xkcd fandom, it deserves particularly stern disapporval.

  2. But deep down, wouldn't we all cut someone who annoys us if we were courageous enough and could get away with it?

    1. True. It's a little-known fact that the modern phrase saying you are "cut up" about something is actually a corruption of "want to cut somebody up."

    2. "Randall, get out of my head!"

    3. Let me guess, cptnoremac: you're a computer programmer? IT administrator? Database developer? Something in computing.

    4. I'm guessing you're only asking because you already know.

    5. Yea basically he's saying that only computer programmers/IT administrators/Database developers think that deep down everyone is a psychopath so you must be one, if I'm reading him right.

  3. Dunno if I'm too late, but what about 1354? I didn't like it that much.

  4. You're saying you don't think Black Hat carries around a knife? Actually read some xkcd, dude. I recommend "Classhole".