1879: Eclipse Birds

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 21:15, 21 August 2017 by (talk) (Explanation: Total totality? Thats too total)
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Eclipse Birds
'Hey! Put her down!' 'No, it's ok! The next chance for me to be carried to a blood cauldron isn't until 2024!'
Title text: 'Hey! Put her down!' 'No, it's ok! The next chance for me to be carried to a blood cauldron isn't until 2024!'


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: More on birds/animals behavior during an eclipse. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

This comic is the fourth consecutive comic with a solar eclipse as the topic. This comic was released in the morning on Monday, August 21, 2017, when later a total solar eclipse was visible within a band across the contiguous United States from west to east. The other comics are 1876: Eclipse Searches. 1877: Eclipse Science, and 1878: Earth Orbital Diagram.

During an eclipse birds and other animals show a typical behavior like they do in the case of the darkness in the night and a following sunrise. Birds stop singing during totality, then greet the return of the sun with a "dawn chorus". Owls, however, become active as do mosquitos.

In this comic, Cueball tells Megan that this will happen. However, instead of just cheeping and screeching in a different pattern than birds actually do during an eclipse, in the comic, the birds begin to prepare to make a sacrifice to appease their gods, similar to how ancient cultures like the Aztecs, are said to have acted.

In the title text it turns out that the birds are about to sacrifice Megan, and Cueball tells them to stop. But Megan tells him it is OK as she wants to try experience of being carried to a blood cauldron as she won't get another chance until the next eclipse in the US on 8th of April, 2024. (A small region around Carbondale, Illinois will experience two total eclipses in 7 years).


[Cueball and Megan standing together looking to the right.]
Cueball: I heard that during an eclipse the birds all freak out.
Megan: I guess we'll see!
[Beat panel, the white background sky turns at the top slightly darker.]
[As the sky turns to dusk sounds can be heard. It's written above Cueball and Megan inside squiggly bubbles.]
Chirp Chirp!
Peep peep peep!
[The sky is now nearly dark, more at the top of the panel. The sounds continue, written in similar bubbles.]
Clank clank clank
The time is upon us!
Prepare the blood cauldron!
Cueball: Wow.
Megan: Isn't nature amazing?

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Looks more like Megan is the one being sacrificed to me, instead of a generic bird - "Put her down!" would be Cueballs line then. 06:35, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

Clearly that is the joke. Have corrected this --Kynde (talk) 09:07, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

It's strange the shadow is coming from the top and not from one side, isn't ? I would be frightened too... 07:56, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

Would "Kachunk" and "clank clank clank" be onomatopoeia to describe the moving of the blood cauldron, rather than the bird sound? Or, given that the sounds are shown in the same manner as the rest of the bird noises, could this be the birds deliberately mimicking the sound that moving a cauldron could make? Or am I just reading in far too much into this, there is no hidden meaning, and I really need to get out more? 11:17, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

I think they are preparing weapons. Chrullrich (talk) 04:53, 22 August 2017 (UTC)
Onomatopoeia is words that sound like the thing/action/whatever they describe, for example knock. Since Kachunk and clank are not words, but only sounds [citation needed] it is not onomatopoeia. But yes, it is not a word, but I think it is the sound of either the blood cauldron or from any device to get the blood out of megan. Lupo

Why are the "time is upon us" and "blood cauldron" lines labelled as coming from birds? I assumed they were just hysterical people talking from off-panel. --Flicky (talk) 12:12, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

I've changed the transcript. The sound may originate to birds but that's not clearly shown in the picture.--Dgbrt (talk) 13:22, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

Could it be worth mentioning this comic was released at midnight, before the eclipse? 13:39, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

It was released before midnight! I read it well before midnight yesterday, the day before the eclipse! I think it was closer to 9:00 when it was released. Definitely well before midnight! PotatoGod (talk) 16:16, 21 August 2017 (UTC)
The comic was released at 04:00 UTC on Monday, 21. August 2017. This is midnight at Randall's home (Massachusetts) and the earliest time new releases do happen. Of course more western it was still Sunday. Measured in UTC or EDT the release happened on Monday. --Dgbrt (talk) 19:55, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

I am surprised Randall did not do something animated and/or interactive for such a unique event. Anyone agree? --BigMal // 19:06, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

Aztecs were obviously professionals - that explains how they managed to execute someone before the eclipse ended. I think the birds won't be quick enough. -- Hkmaly (talk) 22:55, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

Hummm... Crocodiles are not mamlas, are they? 17:10, 22 August 2017 (UTC)

Uff, but often they eat some ;-) --Dgbrt (talk) 19:16, 22 August 2017 (UTC)
OK, let's say that we are what we eat. 23:33, 22 August 2017 (UTC)

I don't think the title text is Megan. It seems to be continuing what the birds are saying in the last panel (and yes, I feel it's clearly the birds "talking" and making noise in the last panel, that's the joke), so "her" would be a bird, and the one speaking up for her is also a bird. I feel the Megan / Cueball version is plausible, but the birds version was my first impression. NiceGuy1 (talk) 02:41, 25 August 2017 (UTC)