1419: On the Phone

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 11:04, 10 September 2014 by (talk) (Explanation: Corrected a minor grammatical error.)
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On the Phone
'No idea what I was thinking! Haha! But anyway, maybe we should check out what this Ba'al guy has to say.'
Title text: 'No idea what I was thinking! Haha! But anyway, maybe we should check out what this Ba'al guy has to say.'


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Megan is wandering around the house, and discovers things which have been left in strange places, or arranged in piles. On questioning an out-of-panel person (presumably Cueball), he responds that he tends to pick things up and fiddle with them while on the phone.

Fiddling with objects, doodling on the nearest surface, or otherwise getting distracted are fairly common habits which many people can probably relate to.

The final panel takes this to the extreme, where an obelisk inscribed with worrying prayers to 'Ba'al, The Soul-Eater' has been erected in the garden. Ba'al the Soul-Eater is also in the title-text of 1246: Pale Blue Dot.


[Megan is standing looking off-panel in one direction and pointing in the other.]

Megan: Why is there a teapot in the bathroom?
Off-panel voice: Sorry. When I'm on the phone I always zone out and pick stuff up and carry it around.

[Megan is in front of an open fridge. She holds a hammer.]

Megan: There's a hammer in the fridge.
Off-panel voice: Another phone call. I was just fidgeting.

[Megan walks through small, curious towers of household objects: first tower have lightbulb on one book, second tower have blender on three books, third tower have uh six books ?, last tower have two tennis ball on three books]

Megan: Did you put all our stuff in weird stacks?
Off-panel voice: Long call. Sorry.

[Megan, outside, looks up at a large straight-sided object]

Megan: ...Why is there a giant obelisk in the backyard?
Off-panel voice: Phone again. My bad.
Megan: It's carved with prayers to "Ba'al, the Soul-Eater."
Off-panel voice: Haha! I'm so absentminded.

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Starting to wonder who Cueball was on the phone WITH. Maybe he's possessed... 18:28, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

'It seems to me that the off-panel character is most likely Cueball. The way he says 'Haha. I'm so absentminded' makes me think that the obelisk is intentional, and hes trying to dismiss it lightly having been found out. --Pudder (talk) 09:43, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

I agree, the title text "But anyway, maybe we should check out what this Ba'al guy has to say." seems to reinforce that he's trying to get Megan to think more about Ba'al's teachings or some such while passing it off as a joke/casual remark. Djbrasier (talk) 13:04, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
I disagree, but appear to be outvoted. If doing all that other stuff without realizing it is in character, building the obelisk on purpose would be out of character. Cueball's suggestion to find out more about Ba'al could just be naive curiosity. "I built this? I wonder what it's about." Smperron (talk) 20:01, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

I can relate to this, and for what I've heard, I'm not the only one: it seems it's rather common for people to wander around the house rearranging stuff while on the phone. 10:35, 10 September 2014 (UTC) AK

This seems to refer Miller's Law again, like #1417. Maybe Randal is looking for his car keys or something else he has put down somewhere while doing something else... Tier666 (talk) 12:12, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

It seems to me that Randal just missed an opportunity to throw a jab at driving while on the phone, something like Megan: "Do you make phone calls while driving?" "Cueball": "Sure, but I sometimes arrive in a different car..." Bigfatbernie (talk) 13:31, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

I got the impression that this is saying that Ba'al is subliminally guiding our actions while distracted... something along the lines of "Idle hands are the devil's plaything." 14:38, 10 September 2014 (UTC)Ozy

I added the reference to 872: Fairy Tales if you disagree feel free to change it. 14:51, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Personally I'd say its a pretty tenuous link --Pudder (talk) 15:16, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

I wonder if the fact we don't see the character off the "screen" is highly related to his apparent desire to "check out what this Ba'al guy has to say" - perhaps She's assuming it's Cueball, but it's not... at least not entirely... I think this could only work if this is a series, which Randall seems to have shied away from in recent years... -- Brettpeirce (talk) 15:11, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Maybe this comic is something to do with subliminal messaging or hypnosis or blackmailing? Any thoughts? —Artyer (talk) 16:22, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Probably nothing to do with the inspiration for this comic, but from yesterday's news: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-29126161 ...a teapot. Enjoy. 18:30, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Ba'al? As in Bocce? - Col. Jack O'Neill - two "L"'s. =8o) Jarod997 (talk) 12:57, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

The off panel character always sounded more like Beret Guy than Cueball. Beret Guy always seemed much more willing to accept strange and unnatural occurrences than Cueball. The "Ha-Ha, I'm so absent-minded." also sounds more like Beret Guy considering his exceptionally positive demeanor. Also, I wonder if the hammer in the fridge is a reference to the Arm and Hammer product used to deodorize refrigerators. Anyone have thoughts on this? 02:48, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

No, it's certainly Cueball.  In the third panel Megan says "Did you put all *OUR* stuff in weird stacks?", and Megan and Cueball have been a couple since the early days of xkcd; see also xkcd #162, xkcd #420, and xkcd #572, for example. 15:58, 27 September 2014 (UTC)