2578: Sword Pull

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 14:16, 8 February 2022 by (talk) (it's --> its)
Jump to: navigation, search
Sword Pull
Merlin really shouldn't leave his dirt bike lying around.
Title text: Merlin really shouldn't leave his dirt bike lying around.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a DIRT BIKE WITH UNBREAKING II AND CURSE OF VANISHING (I SHOULD REALLY LEARN S.G.A.)- Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

A surprised Cueball walks up to a stone where the hilt of a sword is sticking out. The sword thus appears to be stuck in a stone, like Excalibur from the legends of King Arthur. Usually the one that can pull the stone out becomes king of England, see for instance Disney's The Sword in the Stone. This was featured in 1521: Sword in the Stone, where Megan decides to return the sword back into the stone after reading about England on Wikipedia.

Cueball thus crawls on to the stone and pulls hard yanking it almost out of the stone. But then his surprise is even greater than before, as he finds that the pull of the sword starts a motor inside the stone, and soon after the stone starts moving to the right with Cueball on top. He did not manage to remove the sword from the stone, and after he release it the sword is retracted back to its original position inside the stone.

According to the title text the sword is actually the rope starter for Merlin's dirt bike. Merlin, a wizard, is typically known as King Arthur's advisor. The title text mentions that Merlin really should not just let his dirt bike lie around, indicating that this is a bad habit. Since rocks are usually not dirt bikes in disguise,[citation needed] Randall may be meaning this literally, as in a stone-bike that travels through the dirt, which appears to be represented in the last panel.

Since Merlin is an ancient person, then if this comic is set today, then maybe it is not really a stone, but rather a pile of dirt that has covered Merlin's old dirt bike. Of course rope starters (and engines) were not invented in Merlin's time[citation needed]. However, he was a wizard so who knows what was possible for him.

Some similarly-sized stones, namely sailing stones, do move spontaneously with up to 0.3 km/h in precise conditions. However, the stone in the comic appears to be moving at a higher speed, and sailing stones require no rope starting[citation needed].


[Cueball walks towards a large stone on the ground from which the hilt of a sword is protruding. The ground he walks on is uneven, with small plants growing and small stones lying on the ground.]
Cueball: ??
[Cueball stands on the stone and attempts to pull the sword out of the stone using both hands and leaning a bit back away from the sword.]
[Cueball manages to pull the sword partially out of the stone, still using both hands, and now he is almost standing in full height, but still leaning a bit back. Both he and the sword is vibrating from the effort, as indicated by several sets of two lines around the sword and Cueball's arms. The pull gives off a loud sound, and also a snoring sound comes because of the pull. And three small lines above the right part of the stone indicated that other sounds are coming from the stone]
Pull: Yank!
Sword: Zzzzz
Stone: Put put put
Stone: Brrrrrrr
[Cueball is still holding on to the sword, with the tip still inside the stone. But he is not pulling anymore and is now looking down on the stone beneath him. There are now several lines from both sides of the stone indicating noises coming from the stone, which now is written on both sides of Cueball on the stone.]
Cueball: ?? ??
[Cueball has released the sword which has then returned to the original position deep in the stone. The stone is now clearly moving to the right of the panel, with Cueball on top of it. He is looking behind him and holding his arms out to the side to keep his balance. The patch where the stone lay to start is dark. Four large lines behind the stone indicates how it is moving. The stone is already partially outside the right edge of the panel. The sound from the stone is floating behind the stone as it moves to the right]
Stone: Rrrrrrrrrrrrr

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


I was going to opine that the title text should have said "mini bike" instead of "dirt bike" since the former is usually started by a recoil pull rope and the latter by a kick start. But I guess technically neither one is started by a magic sword so kind of a toss up. 22:48, 7 February 2022 (UTC)Pat

I know nothing of these machines but a quick google search brought me to this page with three items listed as "Dirt Bike Pull Start" so seems that is a thing? --Kynde (talk) 07:56, 8 February 2022 (UTC)
I just thought it was a motor boat. Those pull start, and are partially submerged in the substrate. 09:57, 9 February 2022 (UTC)

There is a pun with dirt mound / mount.

Hope u like my explanation (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I though the sword belongs to Lady of the Lake ... -- Hkmaly (talk) 23:29, 7 February 2022 (UTC)

The sword from the stone (proof of lineage/fate) really should be considered differently from the one from the lake ("strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government (Citation)", but they do tend to be conflated by some versions of the storytelling. The various myths were already that confused/contradictory/clashing centuries ago. (Some versions have Excalibur drawn from the stone to start his destiny, but ultimately then have him (...have a trusted but reluctant knight to) 'return' it to the Lady Of The Lake, from whence it presumably came (before being set in the stone), at the end of his life.)
But I choose to go with the strand of canon that says that the 'kingmaker' sword was separate, got broken in a personal combat he should not rightfully have fought, and that only after reparations for the incident was he directed to go receive Excalibur, as its replacement, from its watery source.
Really though, it probably is all a mistelling (and probably very Freudian, in every way!) of what never quite happened anyway. Except for the version where the time-traveller does the setting up of the contest with tidally-powered electromagnets and possibly an unintended recipient of the legend made true... ;) 00:34, 8 February 2022 (UTC)
I thought Lancelot (possibly one of the others?) received Excalibur as a proof of valor, and chose to pass it on to his king as a sign of respect; no longer the knight whose pride in his own virtue stops him bowing to a higher authority. Guess there's more versions than I know. Returning the sword I remember; but I thought he originally obtained it second hand, so the Lady accepting the sword back was the final proof that he had been worthy to have it. Angel (talk) 02:03, 8 February 2022 (UTC)
Honestly, there are so many versions of the story, and so many unrelated stories merged into it, that it's probably impossible to identify the "canonical" version. Monty Python's version is no less valid than Geoffrey of Monmouth's. 16:02, 8 February 2022 (UTC)

Merlin is a brand of motorcycle produced in Spain from 1980-1984. KingPenguin (talk) 01:36, 8 February 2022 (UTC)

Wow, I heard of them but didn't realise the brand was so short-lived. Angel (talk) 02:03, 8 February 2022 (UTC)

"Dirt bike" could also be interpreted as an -apparently motorized- bike made of dirt. Condor70 (talk) 16:25, 8 February 2022 (UTC)

Anyone else reminded of the weird moving rocks in Chronicles of Amber? The ones Random rode out of Chaos? I mean, the comic is probably not a reference to that (doesn't need to be in the explanation or anything), but still, similar vibe. 21:47, 8 February 2022 (UTC)

I was reminded instead of the moving rocks in Death Valley, which further reminded me of 505:_A_Bunch_of_Rocks. There aren't many xkcd comics that contain stones as a focus object. (I forgot to sign my comment, 23:25, 9 February 2022 (UTC).)
I was actually reminded of a clip from Spongebob Squarepants. "It's not just a boulder, it's a Rock! Pioneers used to ride these babies for miles!"-- 11:10, 11 February 2022 (UTC)
I don't think it was Chaos. Well, not Court of Chaos. Obviously, there are lot of different places under control of Court of Chaos, so it could be one of them, but if I remember correctly we never got full explanation of who was behind what, and even if we did, it's not like we could trust it. In fact, I don't think we can trust Corwin to not alter the story before telling Roger. -- Hkmaly (talk) 22:18, 12 February 2022 (UTC)

Did the title change? I see "Sword Pull" now, Feb 11. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I don't know if I'm missing something, but please explain what you thought it was before. 19:30, 11 February 2022 (UTC)