Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
This comic is a parody of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. The name of the horse, Shadowfacts, is a pun on "Shadowfax", the name of the horse Gandalf rides in the novel. As the name "Shadowfacts" suggests, this horse interjects into conversations various facts about shadows. There is a possible deeper level to the pun, referring to the Cat Facts meme.
The three parts of a shadow are the umbra, penumbra and antumbra.
In the title text, Gandalf continues to speak, and is interrupted again by the horse with another fact about shadows. "Look to my coming on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the east." is what Gandalf said before the battle of Helm's Deep when he went to get reinforcements. The horse notes that if the sun is in the east, the shadows will be to the west of the objects that cast them.
A similar talking horse appears in 936: Password Strength.
- [Gandalf sits on a horse, addressing three hobbits.]
- Gandalf: This is Shadowfacts, lord of all horses, and he–
- Shadowfacts: The outer part of a shadow is called the penumbra!
- Gandalf: Shut up.
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Reminds me of the Cat Facts meme. --Rael (talk) 05:11, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
Wow, a talking horse! That puts poor old Bill The Pony in the shade... 22.214.171.124 08:32, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
- Ok, I'm done with the internet for today. I don't think anything else is going to match this pun. 126.96.36.199 14:38, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
Is this the same horse from Correct Horse Battery Staple? 188.8.131.52
- That battery staple casts a shadow. --Rael (talk) 16:41, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
Hang on, hobbits? I know they look short, but when is this supposed to happen? Wouldn't Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas be more likely choices, given the chronology? 184.108.40.206 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- Yeah but they're clearly not as differentiated as Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas would be, and if they were human/elf height then Gandalf and Shadowfacts would be enormous. -Pennpenn 220.127.116.11 01:10, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
Is that a LEGO Gandalf? Porkypine (talk) 17:49, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
- Shoulda had a LEGO Legolas in there tooDiszy (talk) 14:22, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
Nitpicking: changed "trilogy" to "novel". Trilogy is a set of three novels with a common theme or characters and each novel from the set can be read separately without knowing the other ones. The Lord of the Rings is a single novel (divided into six books, by the way) that just happened to be published in three volumes originally. The tradition is often maintained, but often not. You can hardly understand what's going on in The Two Towers (the second volume) without reading The Fellowship of the Ring first. 18.104.22.168 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- If we're being picky, Tolkien said LOTR was "not a novel, but an heroic romance, a much older and quite different variety of literature". [Letter 329] 22.214.171.124 18:01, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
I removed this line about BBC Ceefax: "It is possibly related to the BBC's Ceefax system, but this is not as likely". I can't see any link between the comic and Ceefax. If anyone disagrees, reinstate it, but please explain how it is relevant. --Pudder (talk) 12:13, 13 November 2014 (UTC)
I suppose it could be relevant to mention the etymology of the original name. Shadowfax is a phonetic adaptation of Old English Sceadufæx "shadow-(colored) mane/coat" (though in the movies his hair is very much white). LOTR typically uses Old English to represent the language of the Rohirrim. 126.96.36.199 18:05, 9 October 2015 (UTC)