206: Reno Rhymes

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Reno Rhymes
Did you shoot a man in Reno? Now, I don't mean to pry.
Title text: Did you shoot a man in Reno? Now, I don't mean to pry.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Needs a chart to explain each line. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
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This comic starts with a line from the song "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash. Cash is noted as saying "I sat with my pen in my hand, trying to think up the worst reason a person could have for killing another person, and that's what came to mind," which fits pretty well with the personality of Black Hat. Rather than react badly, Cueball starts a rhyming game, which they continue until Black Hat refers to the horrifying My Lai Massacre, which is apparently going too far for Cueball.

The title text continues the rhyme, but changes the roles: now the speaker is asking someone else if they shot a man in Reno.

Firefly was a TV series that aired on Fox during 2002. Its cancellation was a source of much annoyance to its fans, a fact frequently referenced in xkcd.


[Cueball and Black Hat stand facing one another. Black Hat is on the left.]
Black Hat: You know, I once shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.
Cueball: Really? Well, I once shot a man in Reno, but I couldn't tell you why.
Black Hat: I once shot a man in Reno, then I went home to cry.
Cueball: I once shot a man in Reno, then I watered his cacti.
Black Hat: I once shot a man in Reno 'cause they cancelled Firefly.
Cueball: I once shot a man in Reno, him and all his succubi.
Black Hat: I once shot a man in Reno and a bunch more in My Lai.
Cueball: I think we're done.

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my Lai may also be a reference to Lai's definition, " a lyrical, narrative poem written in octosyllabic couplets that often deals with tales of adventure and romance." Can anyone tell if the poem in the comic fits the Lai's definition? If so, then Black Hat might also be saying "I shot a man in Reno, and a bunch more in my poem", referencing the poem they're saying. ---- -- ‎Bluewin (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Interesting idea, but unfortunately the rhymes are not octosyallbic, which means to contain eight syllables. Bbruzzo (talk) 17:06, 6 March 2016 (UTC)

The "Now, I don't mean to pry" is a reference to "The Princess Bride" (Inigo says that to Westley). 21:44, 15 February 2015 (UTC) -- ‎Idanbhk (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Reno: where poets go to satisfy their homocidal urges. The murder rate is through the roof. RedHatGuy68 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't My Lai pronounced similar to melee? Would that not prevent it from rhyming in the comic? 07:42, 22 July 2016 (UTC)

Wikipedia gives three pronunciations: /ˌmiːˈlaɪ/ (me-LIE), /ˌmiːˈleɪ/, (me-LAY) and /ˌmaɪˈlaɪ/ (my-LIE). I guess Randall was using the last one. KangaroOS 12:02, 23 July 2016 (UTC)
Melee is pronounced as (MAY-lay), which does not rhyme with the poem, so that would prevent the rhyming scheme from continuing.

Finally. Finished the table. Herobrine (talk) 11:10, 7 April 2018 (UTC)

Why is the table bad? - Welp 17:13, 2 October 2018 (UTC)

A table is not bad, it's bad layout in this case. Try to read it on a smartphone, try it to read sequentially, use a screen with small resolution. And check this: Editor FAQ - In which cases are tables meaningful, and when are they not ?. --Dgbrt (talk) 17:51, 2 October 2018 (UTC)

Am I the only one who sees a connection between the line with the cacti and the potted plant of Leon - The professional played by Jean RENO?-- 16:06, 5 October 2018 (UTC)