It's cringe worthy, and working my back into it seems scarce impossible. If you drew out the program logic, it'd look like an Eldridge terror. It just isn't good code.
But yes, if you're writing War and Peace in order to parse XML, it's unlikely you're writing good code.
Also, of two okay-looking pieces of code, I noticed that the shortest is almost always the simplest. Which makes size a pretty good metric.