2014-08-29

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1414 - WRITING SKILLS


My first idea for how to review this comic was to do the whole post in horrible, impossible to understand text speak, but no, this comic deserves more than a quick dismissive response.

I feel more than a little hypocritical hating this comic as much as I do, considering half of the reason I started this blog was to improve my XKCD Isn't Funny - #1414 - WRITING SKILLS, but no, I can absolutely justify hating this comic.

Does Randy do this kind of thing in real life? I'm picturing someone idly saying "What are you gonna do, people are stupid." offhand, and Randy's head just rotates towards them, completely independent of his body, his face turning as white as his stick figures, his eyes fading to two small black dots as his fully mechanized body grows to full size, shooting not-quite-applicable metaphors at anyone wearing a white hat. "YOUR OPINION IS MISGUIDED, HERE IS WHY." he will screech robotically, the innocent populace running away as fast as they can.

Jesus hell, that alt-text. Who allowed this to happen? It's not quite as bad as the alt-text to #1363, but it marks the second time that XKCD's had an alt-text long enough to cut out on some browsers. Sorry, all you people that still like Internet Explorer, you don't get to read the whole secret message! That's only for the good children, who use Chrome or Firefox.

I'd like all my readers to take a break from letting my words into your innocent brain and imagine something for a moment: You're a writer, you're trying to convay the message that social media and texting is a positive force. Do you, even for a second, mention sexting of all things?

Questionable Parenting:
Randy is apparently okay with children sending sexually explicit text messages to each other as long as they improve their writing skills while they're doing it.

R.P. Munroe Shows He Is Down With the Kids:
What's a good comparison to sexting? Why, avant-garde modernist James Joyce, of course!

Early 90s Cultural References:
Playing catch.

Memorable Cliffhanger Panel Ending:
Panel 3/4: Sexting/James Joyce.

Conclusions:
White Hat comics are just the worst. Has there ever been a more strawmany strawman to exist? I never feel like I'm hitting everything that needs to be hit when I'm reviewing a comic with him in it, there's so many layers of awful that I always forget to touch on a few.

2014-08-25

XKCD Isn't Funny - 1412 - TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES


This comic might as well have been called "List of eight-syllable phrases.". Sure, Randy probably trimmed the ones with less common words, but let's not kid ourselves, that's all today's XKCD is. Well, here's another eight-syllable phrase: XKCD Isn't Funny.

I don't usually do preemptive rebuttals, I find them presumptuous and kinda dickish, but in this case I will. On the off chance that anyone is going to argue that this is an informational comic: No. That is wrong. Say what you will about the informational comics in the past (I know I have) but they actually had information in them. This is literally the alt-text of #788, spread out into six hundred and five thousand and thirty one hideous pixels (number seven hundred twenty three is the ugliest, of course).

Fun fact: If you take a song, and get a text with the same number of syllables as that song, you can sing that text to the tune of that song. This works for anything, and most of us learned it in first grade, when we realized that "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and the ABC song had the same melody.

2014-08-23

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1411 - LOOP

 


















Hi! I'm Mark Prindle, coming out of retirement just to review the new release by Loop, my favorite shoegaze/fuzz rock band aside from My Bloody Valentine, The Boo Radleys, Slowdive, M83, Jesu, and Kitchens of Distinction.

Now, I was a bit weirded out when I found out that instead of releasing another lovely record full of fuzzed out rockers and mesmerizing feedback, our seventh-favorite shoegazers had decided to create an album that was just a single piece of paper that some fag kid named Craig told me to review.

Oh, haha, silly me! It turns out that according to wiki "I know everything" pedia, Loop has actually been an alternative rock band all along! So scrape those last two paragraphs from your memories, kiddies!!!... Scrape 'em!! with a flat edge razor and a needle, you fuckin junkie.

Loop's newest album, XKCD, is just a comic, with no music or way of getting music out of it, unless you wave the paper its printed on around in the air really fast,. Here, I'll show you: flplfpflfplfplfpppp

and so I was all set up to give this a one when I realized you're supposed to make your own music, by laughing at the joke portrayed on the album!……………………………..

………….Which is a pretty retarded idea, considering the joke sucks. What kind of loser tosspot would draw this? Back when I was in high school and listening to The Romones and that band that made Pink Flag and then got crap, I'd beat up twenty nerds like this in an hour!

Are we expected to identify with this pisshead? This guy that can't make his way through a news article in the fortnight of Ferguson, Gaza, and the destruction of games journalism? The guy that can't entertain himself with a smartphone, one of the most advanced developments of human accomplishment? The guy that doesn't fucking do something else when he's bored?

Maybe we're supposed to laugh at him, and I can't decide if that's less funny or not. Laughing at this guy would be like laughing at an incomplete being, unfinished, a sketch of a person. a husk, filled with cheetos, and caked with semen. The stick figure is worthy and deserving only of our pity, and then, not even that.

In short, this album sucks more dick than Zoe Quinn.



Buy Loop albums over here, or from your local library. But don't buy this one 'cause it sucks.

Back to Mark Prindle's astonashing circus.

2014-08-22

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1410 - CALIFORNIA


I used to have a friend ("friend" being used in one of the loosest possible ways to use that word) who really hated California, hated everything about it, could literally (used in the literal way) talk about it for hours, how much he despised those 163,696 square miles that we call a state. He also hated any kind of vulgar humor, so the next three lines go out to him.

"I like how long and skinny California is..." Did he read that line after he wrote it? Because there is no way that someone who's made as many bad sex jokes as Randy could possibly look at that opening and not think "penis joke" in bright, flesh-colored neon lights.

It was nice of Randy to hide this awareness comic behind the thin vineer of an actual joke, but I don't think anyone was fooled. Much more worrying are the two Spaceballs references ("ludicrous" and the alt-text). To quote Yahtzee Croshaw's review of Duke Nukem Forever: "Not parodies, references. It's just pointing up a Master Chief helmet on a shelf and saying 'recognize this and laugh, you sheep.'".

I do like how California flattens out to start the big middle rectangle and then stretches out again, that's visually appealing and explains what the graph represents rather well. It doesn't excuse it for being an infographic with a lame joke slapped on top of it, but it sure looks pretty.

2014-08-18

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1409 - QUERY



Is it just me or is this comic pretty unusual for XKCD? Not in subject matter, but in tone, pacing, etc. It has a really slow setup (with actual forshadowing in panel 8!) and then a fairly dark punchline.

It reminded me instantly of those collections of short horror stories that I had when I was younger (think Goosebumps, but slightly more edgy). Like one where every mistake a kid makes on his schoolwork becomes true, so "barrel" is now spelled "barell", and then at the end of the story he mistypes "I don't have anybody." as "I don't have any body.", so he loses everything below his neck. Or another, where a kid buys a super deluxe remote control, learns it can control the world, and then when people try and take it away from him, he presses "OFF", leaving him in a world of black just as he runs out of battery.

So this type of idea has been done before, a lot. As with #1401, the question to be asked is whether this comic adds enough or plays with the idea to be more than tired old shlock. I'm tempted to say "Yes.", but I really can't justify that.

I find the idea that's being shown here interesting, but I just don't find the ending funny. I can see why someone might find it funny, though. Maybe I'm just used to this type of thing being used in horror stories that weren't supposed to be funny.

A quick perusal of the forums also reveals that Randy's presenting a very flawed and simplified version of actual table dropping.

So as forgiving as I want to be to this comic, I really don't feel it deserves a passing grade. I do want to say, though, that Randy did put effort into this one, and I like the way the concept is presented.

So... I don't know, D? D+? I feel like I'm being unfair to this comic. Anyone in the comments want to tell me what to think about it?

2014-08-15

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1408 - MARCH OF THE PENGUINS


Phew, I was worried there for a minute; after a comic I couldn't work up any sort of real opinion about and a stupid infographic, we finally have something I can get nice and worked up about.

Gamer_2k4 opened his triumphant return to xkcd-sucks with a brief sampling of just a small handful of the comics that our Mr. Munroe has made on the subject of aging, and feeling old, and how we're all going to die soon, etc. I'm not going to do that for the sake of being lazy and terrible brevity, but there is a long history of this kind of humor, is what needs to be understood.

There's such a history, in fact, that the second panel has to reassure us that this isn't more of the same. "I get it." she says, spitting right in the eye of her own creator.

Haha, something that'll only be mildly funny and even then only to me just happened! I'm listening to my iTunes on shuffle as I type this up, and one of the 'songs' that came up was just a British guy saying the word "incantations" and cutting immeadiately into the next song! Hahaha!

Black Hat is acting weird (or weird for him, so like... normal-er than usual?), I can't think of any other example of him apologizing or repenting for anything he's done before. He felt sorry for himself during the JOURNAL series, but that's about it.

Do you (yes YOU, the one reading this!) think XKCitizens will ever get tired of being shocked by Black Hat's capacity for cruelty? Will the tiny little "oh god"s and "I hope I'm on your side"s ever cease? Eventually Black Hat's going to come in and say something like "I stole food from the orphanage and used it to make a sculpture of Hitler." and the reaction, already down from "What the fuck is wrong with you!?", will just be "Again?".

Now, like all other losers that hate themselves and have no talents and whose best album was just a long list of ripoffs of other better songs and who will never know love because they're too busy hating successful webcomics, I love me some self-deprication, even if it will never love me back.

This comic comes off as something further than self-deprication, though, it seems more like self parody. The joke really only works if you're aware of XKCD's tendency for aging jokes and are expecting more.

I remember back in ninth grade (two days ago) when I had this idea of making a Let's Play channel with my at-the-time best friend. Because I didn't quite understand the concepts involved, I pre-planned what all the running gags, etc, were going to be, and it was only a few items in that it got to "I even pre-wrote this joke, look at how shit at comedy I am!" [not an actual quote but it might as well be]. At those levels of self-deprication, it stops being funny that the comedian is down to earth and able to mock himself a little, and starts being almost masochistic.

#1393 worked as a single time subversion of expectations, partially because of the background info an XKCD reader has, but mostly because it genuinely had a full setup and punchline. With this, the entire joke is "Look at how repetitive my material is!", which makes me wonder if there are any fans going "You know what, he's right, his material is pretty repetitive. That incredibly handsome genius over at XKCDIsntFunny.blogspot.com had a point.". A quick look through the forums says that it hasn't happened yet -or at least, no one's been vocal about it- but there's still hope that one day everyone will agree with all of my opinions, so there's that.

2014-08-09

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1405 - METEOR


I wasn't really sure what to say about this comic, until I followed the advice of Abraham Lincoln and "Simplified.":

MY HOBBY: LYING

No, that's not quite right, not in this internet age of Mouth Sounds and 4chan vs tumblr.

MY HOBBY: TROLLING

Once I realized that this comic really boiled down to that, I realized the problem that this comic has. The premise isn't the issue, which reminds me vaguely of The Onion in its subtle bitter satire.

The issue is that the idea isn't taken far enough. The humor in trolling (when it's done right) is in the shocked, confused, or offended reactions of the trolled. We don't see that, we just see one guy lying to another, followed by the caption.

2014-08-06

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1404 - QUANTUM VACUUM VIRTUAL PLASMA


The dialogue in this one is surprisingly good for XKCD. The second panel is pushing it, but it's not that incredibly blunt, almost wikipedian dialogue that we see in #1330, #1345, or any of the preachy comics. It still doesn't read completely naturally, but it's fantastic compared to the usual level of verbal realism XKCD has.

Sadly, in this case, the comic's best quality is also its worst. The dialogue could probably pass as part of, say, an early-ish comic from Questionable Content if you replaced all the science with obscure music references, but it would only be as the leadup to the actual punchline, with the C+ "If you put 20 kilowatts into me..." joke left in the second panel because Jeph couldn't think of a better bit to use before getting to the good part.

I appreciate the attempt at the double punchline with "I might be.", but if the first joke was a C+, that's a D. That kind of thing really does depend on having a character with more personality to hold it up, in this case a wacky or sarcastic archetype; "You don't know what I get up to, I could be under strange physics conditions, you just haven't seen me do it.".

That last line bugs me a lot, though; "I guess we can't be sure.". While the rest of the third panel was all in reference to the same thing, that line (according to explainxkcd) is in reference to the fact that science will always have 'blind spots' where it just doesn't know the answer to something. This comes out of left field, especially considering that the rest of the comic was pretty much self contained.

Given the subject matter, I'm more aware than usual that I could be entirely wrong with everything I've typed. Please tell me down in the comments what I might or might not have messed up.

2014-08-04

XKCD Isn't Crap - #1403 - THESIS DEFENSE


I think this is a good joke, with decent setup, fairly realistic reactions from the judges, and a somewhat clever basis. I can't think of any examples of this joke being done before either.

If I wanted to, I could probably be nitpicky and complain about the perspective being a bit weird or something like that, but really I don't see any noteworthy problems with this comic. It's good. Is the joke amazingly inspired? No, but it provides comic violence in a much better way than #1388 or #1395.

2014-08-01

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1402 - HARPOONS



A quick note before we begin: xkcd-sucks is currently focused entirely on Jon Levi's Died in a Blogging Accident (go read it, it's great). Once again, I become the only active XKCD hateblog, the end of a brief but lovely era, when xkcd antifans had both between my rapidfire, varied quality content and xkcd-sucks' slower, better researched material.

Today's comic is lame on multiple levels. For one, it's a graph joke. I have never seen a funny graph joke, and I don't think I ever will. They're like unicorns, mythical creatures only possible through unholy surgery or genetic experimentation. Graphs are intended to boil something down to its simplest and easiest to understand form. Putting jokes in that form leaves them in skeletal effigies of what they could be.

Not that the joke would be good in any other form. explainxkcd tells me that it's apparently a just a very vague pun: There's a brand of rum called "Harpoon". Now, I personally don't know that much about harder drinks (quote from my cousin Chris: "Is there a straight drink in your vocabulary?"), so I checked in with my cousin Morgan to see how well known that brand was. She'd only heard of Harpoon cider.

To top it off, the most accessable link explainxkcd could find leads to this website, which only has two pages, one which is just a link and a picture of a bottle, the other which is mailing information given in German.

This comic also shows the downside of alternating between serious informational comics and straight-faced graph jokes; a few people in the forums thought there wasn't a joke at all, that this was just a piece of trivia.