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my XKCD favorites

I should preface this by saying that I haven't read nearly all of them... so there are surely good ones out there I don't know about. And also it's biased towards more recent ones since I didn't start saving links to them till fairly recently and have probably forgotten a lot of good ones by now. But here's what I've got as far as the "best of the best":

1st Place:

(I've been meaning to put this on my profile for a while... maybe I will finally do it now.)

Sheeple http://xkcd.com/610/

2nd Place:

Godel's secret fetish http://xkcd.com/468/

3rd Place:

Explosion http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/principle_of_explosion.png

Runners up:

October 30th http://xkcd.com/656/

Regrets http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/regrets.png

Neutrality http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/neutrality_shmeutrality.png

Psychic http://xkcd.com/628/

Locke and Demosthenes http://xkcd.com/635/

Creepy http://xkcd.com/642/

Legos http://xkcd.com/659/

Two Party System http://xkcd.com/661/

Sympathy http://xkcd.com/660/

Revolutionary http://xkcd.com/675/

XKCD is the first (and unfortunately only) comic I have ever found to be reasonably funny. Although it's sad to say that, even with XKCD I think only maybe 20% of them are very funny. Most comics it's somewhere between 0% and half a percent at best. I think about this a lot... how come I find a lot of movies good, and a lot of music good, but almost never find comics funny outside of XKCD? It either says something about me or something about the world we live in, probably both. (Incidentally, when I say "comics" I'm only talking about comic strips, not stand up comedians... I do find plenty of them funny.)

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Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
daze39
Mar. 7th, 2010 07:14 am (UTC)
"Indecision" is one of my favorites: http://xkcd.com/330/ - also "Dreams": http://xkcd.com/137/
spoonless
Mar. 7th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, I do like Indecision. Would have put it there if I'd remembered it.

Dreams is one that my friend ikioi has had at the top of his journal for a long time. I have never gotten the joke, and had been meaning to ask him what it means, but never gotten around to it.

So maybe you could explain it to me? I've read it over and over, and do not understand the last line or what the joke is supposed to be. Which one of them says "Fuck that shit" and why?
pbrane
Mar. 7th, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC)
It's nto meant to be funny, Jeff. That's sortof the point. In fact, maybe 50-75% of XKCD comics aren't meant to be funny. They're actually meant to be *sad*, or poignant, or just make you think.

Pretend what that particular one ("Dreams") is not a comic at all, but someone's blog post, and read it seriously, written by someone you know online (like, for example, the comic author). Does it not mean anything to you? If not, maybe you've been in academia too long. ;)
spoonless
Mar. 8th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)

It's nto meant to be funny, Jeff. That's sortof the point. In fact, maybe 50-75% of XKCD comics aren't meant to be funny.

Hmmm... I guess I can see how a few of them are more meant to be cute than to be funny, but it seems to me that the vast majority are supposed to involve some kind of irony or humor.

I did remember hesitating whether to include "Revolution" in my list of favorites, because it's not really that it's that funny, it's more just that it's *so true*. But then again, it's funny *because* it's true. Life is just funny. Which is why I decided to keep it.

Pretend what that particular one ("Dreams") is not a comic at all, but someone's blog post, and read it seriously, written by someone you know online (like, for example, the comic author). Does it not mean anything to you? If not, maybe you've been in academia too long. ;)

I see what you're saying, thank you for the explanation. I had thought it was just intended to be a generic cliche blog post. I didn't see anything in it that sounded unique or different from what everyone says in their blog, although you're right... I think if a friend had written it I would have read it and taken it more seriously and thought about it more, rather than just waiting for the punchline.
spoonless
Mar. 8th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)

Does it not mean anything to you? If not, maybe you've been in academia too long. ;)

Perhaps. I definitely feel that I wouldn't want my employer, whether they be academic or not, to read most of my blog posts. I think I do identify with the idea of not wanting to hold back just because you're afraid someone will read it and not like what you wrote. On the other hand, it just seems like good practical sense not to have everything public.
pbrane
Mar. 7th, 2010 10:10 pm (UTC)
(The guy who does the monologue says, "Fuck that shit" to: mindlessly drifting from day to day, not trying to seize possibilities, watering down your dreams, staying in a rut, conforming to societal norms, etc.)
spoonless
Mar. 8th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
Ok, that definitely makes more sense than the interpretations I was thinking of.

I assumed the Fuck that Shit was a response to the blog post, either a reaction of the other guy who thought it was crazy and wanted to get away and back to work, or the guy writing it who decided after rereading what he'd written that he didn't want his employer to see it after all. But something didn't fit about either of these.

I think I understand, although if the Fuck That Shit is regarding the last line, is it a part of his blog post or is it something he says out loud? And actually, is the whole thing supposed to be a post he wrote or something he is saying to the other guy? Or is he reading it to him? Or is the other guy reading it? I feel like this is one of the most ambiguous comic strips I've seen, where it's really hard to tell what's going on in it.

Also, what is the point of the first box in the strip? Why not just have the monologue by itself?
pbrane
Mar. 8th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
Also, what is the point of the first box in the strip?

The way I read the strip, given my familiarity with the author's "emo-ness", is that the first part is just lead-in, and to serve as contrast: when writing a blog post, you could a) wonder whether you should even write it at all, because Your Boss could read it, and you could Get In Trouble (oooooh), with that oh-so-important (NOT!) Job. Or b) you could actually think about what the fuck you're doing with your time, and maybe question underlying assumptions, and actually think about whether they make any sense to be spending all of your time on.

I don' think much is to be taken from the focus on privacy.

The drawing / cartoonery is pretty clear that it's the blog author saying "Fuck That Shit" (the other guy could have been standing on the right to have a clear line from his head if he was saying it), although it's unclear if he's putting it as the last line of the blog post (I think so), or saying it out loud to the guy next to him (summarizing the blog post), but I think the meaning is the same in both cases - it's "punctuation" emphasizing how strongly he feels about the post.

I think the less ambiguous way to visualize reading the strip is that you're in the mind of the guy sitting at the computer, and someone comes up and interrupts you in the middle of these thoughts , with the whole inane, "What about your future career prospects?!?" (to which my initial thoughts would *immediately* be "Fuck That Shit!" - I'm not going to censor myself because of some stupid _job_) question, and then "you" redirect your stdout from the keyboard through your voice as you continue (now verbally) composing the blog post, getting more and more annoyed until you punctuate with "Fuck That Shit".

Given this view, the initial frame is just lead-in and a little bit of contrast. I tend to read XKCD not assuming there's a punchline, as it it were a blog which is often rather funny.
spoonless
Mar. 9th, 2010 12:12 am (UTC)
Incidentally, one piece of irony that hit me today is that as I was reading your explanations of this at work today (and responding to them) I was also instinctively casually glancing over my shoulder now and then to make sure my officemate wasn't reading it too =)

Not so much because I cared about him seeing it, just that it would have looked bad to be reading lj at the office in the middle of the day instead of getting work done. Eventually I realized I should finish responding to it when the workday is done so I can actually get some work done.


Given this view, the initial frame is just lead-in and a little bit of contrast.

Hmmm. Actually, now that you mention this possibility, I think the contrast may very well be the joke. It does seem a bit ironic that the guy happens to warn him about conforming to work standards while he's ranting about why he wouldn't want to conform. Now that I see that, I'm wondering how I didn't see that before.

I tend to read XKCD not assuming there's a punchline, as it it were a blog which is often rather funny.

I think more of them are jokes than you're giving them credit for, even if it is just mild irony. And usually, there is a setup and then a punchline. Of course, I think the best are often the ones where there is just a single phrase and a picture, where you put them together and it's funny.

I think I also may just be biased against anything longer than a certain length. I don't like having to read that much for what I might get out of it. I'll have to think about why that doesn't (or does?) make me a hypocrite, considering I prefer livejournal to facebook to twitter (in order of the length of stuff you're expected to write).
spoonless
Mar. 9th, 2010 12:16 am (UTC)
I think I have a built in rule that I follow for jokes... the longer it is, the better the punchline ought to be. If you spend a lot of time setting it up and then it's disappointing, I get pissed that I wasted that much time with the setup!

Then again, I guess the basic problem here may be that I view XKCD as a source of humor and you seem to be saying it's a source for something else. Not sure to what extent I disagree with that. I also never realized the "emoness" of some of it until just now when you pointed it out. I've never been completely sure what that word means, but I think I see what you're saying. Of course, emo may be best understood as a source of humor too =)
pbrane
Mar. 7th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
Bobby Tables!
what about little bobby tables?

You mean you got into XKCD, and never did the "full afternoon reading them from #1 all the way to the end game? Kinda puts you in a weird mood for about a week. :)
spoonless
Mar. 8th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Bobby Tables!
Yeah, I should do that some time! Honestly, I think I've probably seen at least 90% of them, I just miss them once in a while. And I may have read all of them at some point a long time ago, but that was when there wasn't nearly as many of them.

Yeah, I do remember little Bobby Tables. I guess that's another one I should put on the list, it is pretty funny.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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