Thursday, March 08, 2007

Jorge Cham Visits UIUC

This evening I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by the creator of the web comic known as Piled Higher and Deeper. This comic, if you haven't read it, is a very inspiring/depressing/comedic take on the life of a graduate student(that is, my life). What I enjoy about these comics is that I can relate precisely to many of them. Jorge Cham has indeed been through grad school at Stanford, has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, and understands the plight of the grad student.

The gist of a Jorge Cham talk is to use many comedic devices shown through his various cartoons and a fairly well-reasoned argument why procrastination is healthy for grad students. Supposedly 1 in 200 graduate students makes an attempt at suicide O_O How lovely, indeed. That's what happens when you don't procrastinate! No, really! :-P

A few highlights. In his talk, Jorge brought up that only 4 Hollywood movies about grad students have ever been made. These are: Hulk(2003), A Beautiful Mind(2001), Real Genius(1985), The Seniors(1978). In the question session following his talk, I asked approximately: "Since you brought up the scarcity of movies made about grad students, would you ever consider turning your comic strip into a movie?" His answer was, roughly: "Well, that would be very interesting to try, and since I live in Pasadena, which is right near Hollywood, you pretty much have to be working on a screenplay. So maybe I'll give it a shot." Pretty promising answer I think :-)

An undergraduate Linguistics student I know, Ben Lawitts, found me after the talk and told me he was going to try and get Jorge to go to The Blind Pig and have a drink with the Linguistics grad students who meet there every Thursday night. Jorge wasn't against the idea, but methinks he won't end up there tonight. What was funny is that this Ben Lawitts just got his head shaved, and had Jorge sign his head! Jorge was a bit taken aback at first, but drew a lightbulb and signed Ben's head, giggling the whole time. The director of the Graduate College asked to take a couple pictures of Ben, which I was promised to receive in due course, so you will get to see this. A funny quote from Jorge after agreeing to sign Ben's head: "This doesn't mean you'll be in my comic!"

Lastly, a school newspaper journalist interviewed Ben and me about the talk, and I expect my comments will appear in The Daily Illini tomorrow. ^_^

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