1750: Life Goals
Title text: I got to check off 'Make something called xkcd' early.
All visible goals except the last one on this to-do list feature one or more strange words containing an excess of the last three letters of the alphabet (X, Y and Z), often using several of them in the same words, even several of the same rare letter in a row. (See Table of life goals below).
All of these words can be looked up in the English version of Wikipedia, but only a few are common nouns, three of them weird animal names, the rest being proper nouns, i.e. persons names (fictional or artist) or obscure names for places or video games. The first goal is the one with fewest of these letters, only using two x's, and only the first word is strange, Skrillex being the artist name of a musician. All later entries have at least three of these letters, which are most often used in very strange, often difficult-to-pronounce, words.
The punchline, in the final and ninth goal, expresses that the writer of this list often uses these unexpected and bizarre words in Scrabble games, which exasperates his opponents to such a great extent that he has yet to finish a game without getting punched. All of these words would theoretically earn a player many points in Scrabble, but outside of casual play it is not allowed to use proper nouns (see Scrabble points below).
In the title text, a reference is made to the fact that none of these goals have been checked off yet. It also turns out that it is indeed Randall's list, since the writer of the list did (at least) manage to check off the goal Make something called xkcd early. Sadly there are neither y's nor z's nor even more than one x in that four letter combo.
This comic was published the week after the what if? Flood Death Valley, which referred directly to the city Zzyzx in one of the pictures. It's the second comic in that week after the what if? post that references it more or less directly, the previous one being 1748: Future Archaeology. It seems likely that Randall created this comic after doing research for this what if? post, and came across the city Zzyzx as the shortest way to dig a channel to flood Death Valley.
Table of life goals
- The number of letters X, Y and Z is in the entire sentence.
- The total is the total number of these three letters in the entire sentence.
|Meet Skrillex in Phoenix||Randall's goal is to meet the musician using the artist name Skrillex in the city of Phoenix. Not that Skrillex has any specific connection to that city.||2||0||0||2|
|Study zymurgy||Zymurgy (or zymology) is an applied science which studies the biochemical process of fermentation.||0||3||1||4|
|Get a pet axolotl named Hexxus||Randall's goal is to obtain a type of pet Mexican neotenic salamander (an axolotl) and name it after the malevolent Hexxus from the animated film FernGully: The Last Rainforest. (Hexxus has been mentioned on xkcd after this, namely on 1767: US State Names and 1918: NEXUS.) The axolotl is a critically endangered species in nature, but they are relatively popular in captivity, with well established captive breeding populations.||3||0||0||3|
|Observe a syzygy from Zzyzx, California||Randall's goal is to observe an astronomical event in which three celestial bodies form a straight line (known as a syzygy), from the Californian city of Zzyzx. That city had recently been mentioned in the last what if?: Flood Death Valley, released less than a week before this comic.||1||4||4||9|
|Port the games Zzyzzyxx and Xexyz to Xbox||Randall's goal is to port (i.e. adapting software from one platform so it can be used on another platform) two old video games so they can be used on the modern video game platform Xbox. The first game is Zzyzzyxx, a 1982 arcade video game about navigating a labyrinth, and the second is Xexyz, a 1988 game for the Nintendo Entertainment System with platform and shoot-em-up game-play. Multiple emulators already exist that can run both of these titles, although an actual native port would be a lot more difficult.||5||3||5||13|
|Publish a Zzzax/Mister Mxyzptlk crossover||A crossover means that two different stories (often comics) are mixed together, mixing either characters from the two, or the world of one and the characters of another story. In this case Randall's goal is to make a cross over of Zzzax, a Marvel comic book villain, with that of Mister Mxyzptlk, a DC Comics villain. Since Zzzax and Mxyzptlk come from different companies, a crossover story involving them both might run into license problems if published commercially, though the two companies have come together on several occasions for similar projects. Alternatively, Randall could choose to do a crossover with Zsasz instead, both being DC villains would make it easier to make and publish.||2||1||4||7|
|Bike from Xhafzotaj, Albania to Qazaxbəyli, Azerbaijan|| Randall's goal is to bike from Xhafzotaj, a village in Albania in eastern Europe, to Qazaxbəyli, a village in Azerbaijan in the Caucasus. The distance between Xhafzotaj and Qazaxbəyli is about 2800 km (1700 miles). Doing this trip by bike would be challenging, but possible.
Note: the Azerbaijani village is misspelled as Qazaxbəylı (QAZAXBƏYLI) in the comic with a dotless ı at the end; a dotted i would have its dot even in the uppercase version in Turkish and Azeri, i.e. QAZAXBƏYLİ.
|Paint an Archaeopteryx fighting a Muzquizopteryx||Randall's goal is to make a painting of two flying Ornithodirans fighting. Unfortunately, Archaeopteryx, a famous small feathered dinosaur, and Muzquizopteryx, a pterosaur (the famous flying "dinosaurs"), lived in different time periods, so such a fight (most likely) could not have ever taken place; therefore, a painted picture of it would require a fair amount of artistic license. The feathered dinosaur was only about half a meter long, but with clear feathers. It is a clear candidate for a transitional fossil between non-avian dinosaurs and birds. It lived in the late Jurassic epoch around 150 million years ago. The pterosaur had a wingspan of about 2 m, was one of the first (and smallest) of this type of pterosaur, and lived in the Coniacian age about 86-90 million years ago. This means the two ornithodirans live as far apart in time as we live apart from the last of the dinosaurs. Since Muzquizopteryx was larger, it seems likely that it would have won such a fight. Randall has previously made several comments on the feathers of dinosaurs, as recently as the comic released a week before this one 1747: Spider Paleontology; see more there. (This scene has been drawn after the comic was published.)||2||2||2||6|
|Finish a game of Scrabble without getting punched||Randall's final goal is to avoid getting punched during a Scrabble game. As he uses these unexpected and bizarre words mentioned in his other goals when playing Scrabble games, he exasperates his opponents to such a great extent that he has yet to finish a game without getting punched. This sentence is the only one with zero of the three letters.||0||0||0||0|
|Make something called xkcd||Title text: Here it is made clear that this is Randall's list, as this is his only xyz goal that he has succeeded, and quite early, as he has already celebrated its 10 years anniversary.||1||0||0||1|
All of these strange words would theoretically earn a player the prize of many points in Scrabble (Go to the table of words below). However, most of them would not be found in SOWPODS (the combined list of all words valid in either British or North American Scrabble tournaments). Also, many include too many X's, Y's or Z's (there's 1 X, 2 Y's, 1 Z in a standard set), meaning at least one would have to be substituted for a blank (which is not worth any points). Some words would also be very difficult to play in reality, since there are only 7 letters in a Scrabble hand, so they could only be played in extremely rare circumstances (there are only a couple of ways to play MUZQUIZOPTERYX: for instance, from MU and OPTER; or MU, QUIZ and ER; or an astonishingly unlikely set of crossing letters). Many are long enough that, in theory, they could net the player the additional 50 point bonus for using all seven letters in a hand if played right.
Table of words
- Explanation of the columns:
- Word: With xyz
- Definition: Of the word
- Notes: Part of speech (noun or proper noun) and origin of the word
- In SOWPODS?: Is the word a valid Scrabble word.
- Enough tiles (...): Are there enough tiles in the standards English version of Scrabble to write the word?
- Score: What would the maximum possible score in Scrabble be for this word. (Without any bonuses.)
- Score (with blanks): What would the maximum possible score in Scrabble be for this word, taking into account the fact that some words need extra blank tiles, which aren't worth points.
- 50 points possible?: Is it possible to use all seven letters writing the word? If so it will give 50 points extra.
|Word||Definition||Notes||In SOWPODS?||Enough tiles (in English version)?||Score||Score (with blanks)||50 points possible?|
|Skrillex||A dubstep musician||Proper noun, stage name||No||Yes||19||19||Yes|
|Phoenix||A city in Arizona (or the mythological bird)||Proper noun (but noun for the bird)||Yes (but only because of the bird)||Yes||19||19||Yes|
|Zymurgy||The study of fermentation.||Noun||Yes||Yes||25||25||Yes|
|Axolotl||A kind of water-breathing salamander which lives on the bottom of lakes.||Noun, name of animal species||Yes||Yes||14||14||Yes|
|Hexxus||An evil spirit from the animated movie FernGully||Proper noun, fictional name||No||Yes, with a blank as X||23||15||No|
|Syzygy||An astronomical event where three celestial bodies form a straight line.||Noun||Yes||Yes, with a blank as Y||25||21||No|
|Zzyzx||An unincorporated community in California||Proper noun, name of city.||No||Yes, with both blanks as Z||42||22||No|
|Zzyzzyxx||A 1982 arcade video game about navigating a labyrinth||Proper noun, name of game||No||No||64||26 (assuming four blanks)||Yes|
|Xexyz||A 1988 game for the Nintendo Entertainment System with platformer and shoot-em-up gameplay.||Proper noun, name of game||No||Yes, with a blank as X||31||23||No|
|Xbox||A series of home video game consoles developed by Microsoft.||Proper noun, name of game console||No||Yes, with a blank as X||20||12||No|
|Zzzax||A Marvel comic book villain.||Proper noun, fictional name||No||Yes, with both blanks as Z||39||19||No|
|Mister Mxyzptlk||A DC Comics villain.||Proper noun, fictional name||No||Yes||42 (8 for Mister, 35 for Mxyzptlk)||42||Yes|
|Xhafzotaj||A village in Albania||Proper noun, name of city||No||Yes||38||38||Yes|
|Qazaxbəyli||A village in Azerbaijan||Proper noun, name of city||No||No, because it's spelled with a schwa (ə, upper case Ə) and a Turkic dotted i (i, upper case İ), this word would be impossible to spell in English-language Scrabble, although you could put an E tile down upside down (Ǝ) for the schwa and an I for the İ or use blanks. It can alternatively be spelled "Kazakhbeyli".|| 38 (at least, unclear)
36 for Kazakhbeyli
|Azerbaijan||A country in the Caucasus||Proper noun, name of country||No||Yes||28||28||Yes|
|Archaeopteryx||A famous small feathered dinosaur||Noun, name of animal species||Yes||Yes||30||30||Yes|
|Muzquizopteryx||A pterosaur||Noun, name of animal species||No||Yes, with a blank as Z||55||45||Yes|
|xkcd||From title text. See 207: What xkcd Means.||Proper noun, name of web comic||No||Yes||18||18||No|
- [A to-do list with a caption above:]
- Life Goals
- ☐ Meet Skrillex in Phoenix
- ☐ Study zymurgy
- ☐ Get a pet axolotl named Hexxus
- ☐ Observe a syzygy from Zzyzx, California
- ☐ Port the games Zzyzzyxx and Xexyz to Xbox
- ☐ Publish a Zzzax/Mister Mxyzptlk crossover
- ☐ Bike from Xhafzotaj, Albania to Qazaxbəyli, Azerbaijan
- ☐ Paint an archaeopteryx fighting a muzquizopteryx
- ☐ Finish a game of Scrabble without getting punched
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