37: Hyphen

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Original title: Friday's Drawing - Hyphen
I do this constantlyOriginal caption: Tune in Monday for the conclusion to the story of the boy and his barrel.
Title text: I do this constantly

Original caption: Tune in Monday for the conclusion to the story of the boy and his barrel.


This was the twenty-fifth comic originally posted to LiveJournal. The previous one was 23: T-shirts, and the next one was 25: Barrel - Part 4.

This is the first comic in the My Hobby series. In these comics, Randall suggests an obscure activity or pastime he enjoys that he declares as his "hobby". The semi-scatological suffix "-ass" is used as an intensifier in informal US English speech, usually attached to an adjective directly modifying a noun, as in "big-ass car" or "funny-ass comedian." In this comic, Cueball is exploring the increased humor aspect of changing "-ass" from a suffix modifying the adjective, to "ass-", a prefix modifying the noun, yielding a "big ass-car" or a "funny ass-comedian," the former presumably being a large car for carrying buttocks, the latter being a humorous comedian specializing in jokes about lower backs. The prefix "ass-" may also have a negative connotation, indicating that something is disliked. An "ass-car" may be a very terrible car, for example. On an interesting note, there used to be a car company called "A.S.S.". Another explanation would be that, since this suffix/prefix refers to an element of human anatomy, the car would be in the shape of said anatomical piece. (Or, conceivably, something to do with donkeys.)

In the original caption, Randall said the next comic would be the "conclusion" to the The Boy and his Barrel series. However, 25: Barrel - Part 4 would turn out to not be the last comic in the series, as 31: Barrel - Part 5 and 20: Ferret would be included later likely to give an unplanned good ending to the story. Three hours and four minutes after posting 25: Barrel - Part 4, he made a new post, titled Barrel series, where he advertises the new page he created for "all the barrel comics", implying it was supposed to be the end of the series. He also jokingly implies that Barrel Boy passed away, which will be found to be incorrect in the actual last comic in the series. The entire post can be found in that comic's explanation.


[Cueball (on the left) is talking to his Cueball-like friend (on the right) about a car (left to both of them) that resembles a Volkswagen Beetle. Above the drawing is a statement:]
My hobby: whenever anyone calls something an [adjective]-ass [noun], I mentally move the hyphen one word to the right.
Cueball: Man, that's a sweet ass-car.


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the later Randall would have used regular expression... ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

There is a community portal discussion of what to call Cueball and what to do in case with more than one Cueball. I have added this comic to the new Category:Multiple Cueballs. Since Cueball has the hobby, I have listed the other as Cueball-like. --Kynde (talk) 14:32, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

Should this be in Category:Substitutions? 23:10, 9 January 2016 (UTC)

No this is not a substitution but a change of what is being said in relation to the placement of the same word. So nothing is substituted, but the hyphen is moved. Not the same. --Kynde (talk) 20:45, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

"Outside of North America, most English speakers use "arse" to mean the buttocks, so to them, it may sound as if Randall's talking about donkeys." is a reasonably amusing joke, but I don't think it really works as part of the explanation as it stands. Can anybody rework it so that it fits better in the explanation flow? 16:52, 9 January 2018 (UTC)

If "ass-car" is pronounced "asscar" then it sounds kind of like "Asgard". Just saying 16:37, 29 January 2023 (UTC)