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PHD – Piled Higher and Deeper

During the Fall semester of 1997 an advertisement was placed on the Stanford daily inviting comics. Grad students on seeing this discuss about the ad and one among them says that these Comics are basically depicting the struggle of under-grads and their change in environment. Now one among the Grad student says, “is it just under grads? We the grad students have more things to worry and we have lot more struggles” this idea led to the inception of a comic strip which first featured in October 1997 in Stanford daily. The name of the comic strip is “Piled Higher & Deeper” and the Grad student is Jorge Cham. The comic strip went online and gained a lot of praise, it is even called as Calvin and Hobbs of Academia. Now you can check all the collection at www.phdcomics.com. The comic strip team made a movie out of it at 2011. The movie didn’t hit the theatres but was shown in various special screenings and DVD was released. In this post I am going to a talk a little about the characters, story and so on. (It is better you skip it and enjoy the movie and read the post later if you so determined to read).

I came to know about this comics around third year of my college and at that time I am able to relate most of the parody and mocking to myself and thus the comic struck a hard note in my head. Then I tried to read all the comic strips in archive starting with 1997 and went on. I loved their parody on Matrix and Star wars. The comic appealed to me because of its impeccable timing I got the exposure of it. Although it deals with lots and lots of Academic Jargons we can get some clear idea of how the Academia of works in US but as an Indian I can eliminate few jargons and can completely relate it to myself or any other of my friends.

The movie starts a famous Congo drums video of Richard P. Feynman and a quote of his. Then the movie enters to the plot showing a young Grad student requests a professor to join in his research group and his journey afterwards and a parallel story of a Science grad student Cecilia and Humanities grad student Tajel. The lead characters are nameless Protagonist, Cecilia, Tajel whom I told about in the previous lines. Apart from them my favourite or the most interesting characters are Mike Slackenerny, a grad student of Prof. Smith who is also the guide of our protagonist. I don’t want to divulge more into the story and revealing plot points and totally wasting all your time in reading my blabbering and sucking out the pleasure of watching the movie.

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Everyone one of us who had the curse of spending four or more years on Engineering education will particularly like this movie and others too. After watching this movie you will really feel something inside about the college, education and the quality time spent by you if you are an Old student, if you are a current student you will enjoy on mocking yourselves. To the comic readers this movie is not a big thing but still they made it quite interesting as most of the jokes are read by every reader. I have to say a few words about the creator who has a PhD. In Mechanical engineering quit his job as a Post-Doc and has become full time cartoonist and he gives talks on various aspects of Academia. One of his famous topics is “Power of Procrastination” (Like it, if not then you don’t qualify as a College goer at all). They have a Youtube channel named PHDTv too which is very much interesting to know more about the academia. This movie isn’t a work of artistic world cinema or any award winning kind of movie. This movie is just a sheer entertainment and a way of looking at the academia and looking at ourselves. Watch it and sure you won’t regret for the time spent.

P.S: To all those who don’t know the source of the name, it comes from B.S,M.S,PhD expanded as Bull Shit, More Shit and Piled Higher and Deeper.

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