472: House of Pancakes

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House of Pancakes
Fuck it, I'm just going to Waffle House.
Title text: Fuck it, I'm just going to Waffle House.


Randall is parodying Mark Z. Danielewski's epistolary novel House of Leaves by renaming it to the International House of Pancakes. House of Leaves has an unconventional page layout and style, including the colouring of every instance of the word "house" in blue, as is done on the menu. It includes footnotes within footnotes like Randall did here.

In House of Leaves, protagonist Johnny Truant (whose meta-narration is marked by Courier font as mimicked in the comic) discovers a book called The Navidson Record (represented here by the pancake menu), which in turn details a film of the same name, which in turn details a horror story of a family living in a sentient house. Truant, who is clearly intelligent and cultured, probes deeper into notating The Navidson Record—and into insomnia—until The Navidson Record consumes his mind horrifically, the same way the film in the novel consumed the author of The Navidson Record, the same way the house in the novel consumed part of the family.

House of Leaves lends itself to many interpretations, but has been called a "satire of academic criticism," which makes this comic essentially a satire of a satire. Since part of the appeal of House of Leaves is that it takes itself extremely seriously with its intricacy, multitude of both real and made-up references to academic and popular culture, and layered emotional conflict, Randall's reduction of the House of Leaves to the (International) House of Pancakes cuts a humorous edge to a dark story. The tone of the comic parodies the tone of House of Leaves: lonely, fear-inducing, and increasingly insane, but using pancakes instead of darkness.

An alternate theory is that the pancake also stands for "pancake landing", which refers to an airplane crash.

Additionally, the mysterious "Mohawk Girl" referred to in the comic may be a nod to the House of Leaves character Delial.

The title text refers to the Waffle House, another US restaurant chain. The joke here is akin to if a heavily annotated copy of James Joyce's Ulysses, a notoriously difficult-to-read novel, suddenly carried a note that said, "Fuck it, I'm just going to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar."

The word "house" is in blue in every instance, which is a stylistic attribute of Mark Z. Danielewski's novel. Every Minotaur reference is marked out in red ink, and every use of "house" or a foreign language's equivalent, such as 'haus' and 'maison' is in blue. This is not a reference to hyperlinks. It is often thought that the house is printed in blue because houses have 'blueprints'.


[All instances of the word "House" are in blue.]
[Every day a new city, a new IHOP. And yet every night the dreams get worse. I ply the highways, a nervous eye on the rear-view mirror, the back seat piled with stolen menus. Their doors are opened 24 hours, but forever closed to my soul. This is what my life has become. This is my hell.]
[Sidenote left: International] House of Pancakes
[Scribbled-out sidenote right: BLOGSPOT] Strawberry Banana Pancakes Four pancakes filled with sliced fresh banana and crowned with cool strawberry topping, more [17] bananas and [23] whipped topping.
[17] Driven by a nameless fear, a whisper in the dark behind me, I flee ahead of I know not what. Whenver I turn, there's nobody behind me. And yet someone is clearly stealing the ketchup. WHY? (The footnote is covered in fingerprints.)
[23] My life is feeding, fleeing, fighting, and forgetting. (The above note is sandwiched in sideways in between the Stuffed French Toast and Ham and Egg Melt.)
[Rooty Jr. A kids only [19] version of our house signature Rooty Tooty. One scrambled egg, one strip of bacon, one pork sausage link and one fruit-topped buttermilk pancake.]
[19] The decision not to hyphenate "kids only" is likely connected to the omission of the serial comma. I wonder if the author is British. I wonder if he sleeps at night. (The following passages are have a red substance underneath them, probably ketchup.)
[Rise 'N Shine Two eggs, toast and hash browns served with your choice [21] of two strips of bacon or two pork sausage links.]
[21] (illegible) rent a storage unit. Sleep there. Fill it with pancakes. Leave. Stuffed French Toast Cinnamon raisin French [18] toast stuffed with sweet cream cheese filling, topped with cool strawberry or your choice of fruit compote and whipped topping.
[18] Nightmares again. I wake up covered in sweat, and what appears to be a thin sheen of maple syrup (Handwritten, underlined) WHO IS MOHAWK GIRL?
[Slanted 90 degrees left] Ham & Egg Melt Grilled sourdough bread stuffed with ham, scrambled eggs, Swiss and American cheeses. [20] (At normal orientation)
[20] Ordered this in at an IHOP in Rochester, New York. There was blood on the floor. Some of it was mine. (Comic strip) Enough with your pancakes. Enough with your GOD DAMN pancakes. The Big Steak Omlette Tender strips of steak, hash browns, (redacted) tomatoes and Cheddar cheese. Served [22] with house salsa.
[22] Woke up in Las Vegas. They're closing the Star Trek Experience today. The IHOP up the strip had pancake platters named after various states. None of them sounded like home.

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My take on this (probably wrong in so many ways, especially as I'm British and obviously don't get some of the pop references that are obviously there), is that we are seeing this as if converted to a web-page (from a physical example that was scanned, with stains and marks and possibly even graffiti reproduced faithfully) and and given a number of hidden by successive editors and reviewers of the material, except they're made visible for our benefit. It may even actually be a "wikified". I've seen worse actual examples. (Although the "Yvette's Bridal Formal", the epitome of bad web pages, had vanished last time I actually went and looked for it.)

"House" being in blue makes me think that this word has been globally 'linkified'.

Does the scribble "International" indicate someone trying to make it relevent outside the US?

This was to have been published on Blogspot, at some point, but some reviewer nerfed that.

Some of the footnotes sound a bit Lovecraftian, others somewhat as if Hunter S. Thompson had written them.

Footnote 19 points out the error (in my opinion, as well as the unknown annotator) of missing out the hyphen in "kids-only". The hyphen makes it a single compound term, which in this context isn't as necessary to remove ambiguity as it could have been, but still ought to be there. The editor concerned thinks this is related to the lack of the Oxford Comma (the one before 'and' in something like "foo, bar, and baz"), although I'm British and personally dislike that form of grammar (prefering "foo, bar and baz", the commas being "chained conjunction" replacers, the last of the conjunctions not being replaced so needing no comma) and don't actually think it's a majority UK grammatical feature. Except where the lack of it produces ambiguity, in which case I'd re-write it so it no longer had such ambiguity.

"The Big Steak Omlette" has been censored of some of its ingredients. Too thoroughly to work out what has been censored, so the joke may rely on knowledge of what they might have been.

"Mohawk Girls" is a documentary film. I only know that it exists (not even sure that this is the reference intended, rather than both items referencing something else) and have no idea about the relevence.

"Enough with your (God Damn) pancakes" as voiced by the graffiti stick-figures sounds like a meme, but is too obscure for me.

The title-text is the voice of a person unable to handle the mess (figurative and actual) all over the menu and deciding to try another eating-establishment.

I never knew about House Of Leaves, before now. This probably explains why this comic befuddles me. Checking out the description of it I see the stylistic link being made, although can't rule out that I'd remained befuddled (or even become much more so) even if/when I've familiarised myself with the book itself. :-) 22:09, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

Many thanks IP for your comments. I did start this page exactly because I need hints like that you gave. This comic is still incomplete so me and others have work on it.--Dgbrt (talk) 18:55, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

Should "House" in alt text really be colored blue? It's definitely not blue in the original, probably just because of HTML limitations, but still. 02:11, 19 February 2017 (UTC)

I think this is the one example of an XKCD comic that had me completely lost. I knew nothing about the book in question, wasn't even able to infer its existence from the cues of the graphic itself. I was speculating that maybe Randall just hated IHoP or something, but that didn't seem right. Usually I come to Explain for some minor detail, or for one I do understand but am curious about others' reaction to. But in this case it was "I have no idea...please help me". I remember similar bemusement when it first came out. But I prefer Waffle House, anyway. — Kazvorpal (talk) 22:49, 7 August 2017 (UTC)

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