Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I thought I'd introduce you to some of the principal characters who populated the dorm where Pud Stickles lived. These characters showed up in numerous strips over the years - and they just happened to resemble people I came in contact with while living in East Campus.

Ed was the hall tutor. Each floor in East Campus had one, and there was a master tutor for the entire dorm who was senior to the hall tutors. The tutors were graduate students - as were the teaching assistants (TA's) and research assistants (RA's). Their purpose was to organize events, keep the peace and help students solve their everyday problems - whether they were math, physics or the fact that their girlfriends had just dumped them. Ed had the added advantage of possessing a car, which meant he could help procure drinks for the hall parties.

Ed was from somewhere in Maine, which meant that he was a Mainiac and he had an accent that was even more distinct than the working-class Boston accents that all the locals had. To understand what a Maine accent sounds like, just put a half dozen cotton balls in your mouth and say, "Pawk the caw in Hawvawd Yawd". Combine that with Republican sensibilities from the Nixon era, an Izod golf shirt, a pair of brown corduroy pants from the L.L. Bean catalogue and Sperry Topsiders worn without socks and you had the quintessential Ed.

That's what distinguished Ed - that and his use of the words "Zyzz-zyzz!" to signify an event of some egregious nature (example: "Zyzz-zyzz! Commons is serving Ranch Style Stew again" or "Zyzz-zyzz! LSC is showing a Bahbawa Streisand flick tonight"). 
Ed's other distinguishing feature was a 400-watt stereo, which was just the kind of sophisticated equipment that one would expect a doctoral student in electrical engineering to possess (I think the only unit more powerful than Ed's was owned by David Hendry, who graduated two years ahead of me). It was a stereo from which the sounds of the Boston Symphony Orchestra blasting out Beethoven's Ninth, "The Pirates of Penzance" or Queen's "We Are the Champions" could be heard...all the way to the other end of the hall.

Ed had been the hall tutor and a PhD candidate before I had arrived at MIT. And Ed was a hall tutor and PhD candidate after I had graduated from MIT...and after I'd gotten my Master's degree from Stanford University and even after I had started my third job and gotten married. He was not one to be rushed.
Finally, sometime in the 1980's, Ed finally got his PhD and joined the faculty at Cornell which capacity he presumably met both Keith Olbermann and Ann Coulter when they were students, or perhaps not. When Ed finally moved away from MIT, his send-off was to receive the very last Stickles ever drawn. Some friends of mine put it on a microchip and gave it to Ed. Unfortunately, I lost my copy of it. No! Mudhead, I've found it! This is the Ed send-off strip from 1985:
I've found a few other choice items while rummaging around in my basement office, which I will be adding to the Blog at a later date.

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