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Poem for April

The Thousand Injuries of Fortunato

I don’t blame friends or family.
I’m not here to pass the buck.
This is just to tell the story
Of one man’s bout with LUCK.

I thought myself a genius
When just a youth in school.
I was a very Montresor.
Luchesi was a fool.

With this brave Self assertion,
I set out on my quest
Eager to conquer every foe,
Quite sure I was the best.

Fame, wealth, and glory was my goal.
I hurried to embrace it,
Selecting for my motto
Nemo me lacessit.* * No one treads on me.

And for a crest to guide me
On the pilgrimage I’d make,
I chose the mighty boot of gold
That treads upon the snake.

I donned a jaunty cap-and-bells
For the Festival-of-Flesh,
To blend in with the Carnival
Of fools and foolishness.

But soon enough I found the road
To glory and romance
Was fraught with all the hurdles and
Malign detours of CHANCE.

And when I’d borne as best I could
Each hapless hap I met
And suffered every hazard
Of calamitous kismet,

I cursed the Lord of Mishaps,
Of loss heaped up on loss,
Of life on a roulette wheel
Or a game of pitch and toss.

You face, in fact, such terrible odds
Questing to be the hero
When dice keep showing snake eyes,
The roulette wheel, double zero.

When you never fill that inside straight
No matter how you draw,
It’s all black cats and broken mirrors,
Always the shortest straw.

No four-leaf-clover, rabbit’s foot,
No talisman or charms
Are efficacious in the least
‘Gainst Luck’s malignant harms.

And it’s more than just chaotic Chance;
People are hostile too.
They didn’t seem to like me much;
What was I to do?

Reeling drunk through catacombs,
My chains were drawing tighter.
Death and damp surrounded me,
And the nitre! O, the nitre!

Then, just in time, a wise man said,
“Son, look what you have missed!
It’s the ancient Eden story,
And it’s right there on your crest!

“In Eden... remember... God put
Enmity between the Snake and Man;
Our eternal fight with Evil
Was apparently God’s plan.

“Man must tread on Evil’s head
With courage and with zeal,
But the snake, it seems, forever
Turns to bite him on the heel.

“Now, you must understand the meaning,
And very few men do.
That boot... that serpent rampant, Son?
BOTH of them are YOU!

“For Mankind’s greatest foe is Man.
It’s the story of The Fall.
Hubris, pride, and vaulting ego
Are the worst BAD LUCK of all.

“Yes, EGO is the evil wine...
Your own Amontillado...
And it’s a painful thing to learn
That YOU are Fortunato.

“And when you learn that it’s the Snake
Of SELF that bites the boot,
Then, Sir, you must take the ax
And lay it to the root!

“You must take the Evil One below
And seal him in a cave.
By killing Fortunato,
It will be You you save.

“It’s the irony of ironies,
The Pride that sank Titanic
Which thought itself unsinkable,
An arrogance gigantic.

“Desires and fears direct the Ego.
It must be the hero’s goal
To liberate his life of these
And liberate his soul.

“And when you right that sinking ship
And turn to serving Others,
The hurdles fall! You then stand tall
And walk upon the Waters.”



 

To Order

"Teeny and the Whale" Acclaimed

"The Teeny stories are remarkable tales, both funny and intellectual. Slade is a very understanding man and captures the reader with humor and art. I give it ten stars."
Maggie Osterbauer, '03

"Schuster's work is amazing! He is wise beyond his years, and that's high praise."
Eric Vidrine, '03

"Teeny and the Whale" is a masterpiece plumbing the ocean-depths of the human psyche."
James Byron, '03

"Mr. Schuster's droll wit and Mike Sooy's artistry make for a raucous romp through adolescence and the unconscious."
Ars Azam, '03

"Slade's combination of wry humor and sound moral instruction make his volume worth twice what I paid for it!"
Brian Libby, History Dept.




To Order

Critical Reviews of Teeny's Travels

"This fantastical world of Zander-snitches, horrid harpies, and blimple stones will be a source of pride to heroic teenagers everywhere . . . as long as they have a dead ear for irony."
Sonja Johnson '88

"Oh, the droll, drooling days of adolescence! What exactly are these minds we are concerned to mold? Slade lays it all before us. Here you have it, Dude!"
Molly Gilbert, Admissions

"A terrific poem describing a typical, modern teenager (I think it's Brett Wallnutt) on the symbolic journey of life, the same journey we have read this year in ancient tales."
Samira Abu-Ghazaleh '01

"Teeny's Travel's" is an exhilarating, verse tale delving into the adventures of an average, nutty teenager, probably Brett Wallnutt."
Chad Mayfield '01

"This is one of the greatest works of our times. Teeny is a complex, intricate, fascinating hero . . . as am I."
Brett Wallnutt '01


To Order

Readers Rave for "Teeny!"

Teeny is an hilarious character, portrayed perfectly to relate to young adults. Well worth reading! Very clever! Very funny!
- Ruthie Sudderth, '02

Finally, a story that lays open the truth about adolescence: materialism, power, and sloth. Things come to closure, Chaucer. The curtain is closing, Shakespeare. Move over, Freud. Slade is here!
- Lars Jensen, '02

This is why Schuster's Teeny Series is so critically acclaimed.
- Stephen Van Pelt, '02

A comical tale of teenhood and the complete idiot's guide to Christian selflessness.
- Erik Thunem, '02

An exemplary tale that warns teens of the "hockey" generation to be cautious when touching "pastry." It will grate the nerves of the boorish adolescent, but touch the heart strings of "special" students who interest themselves in literature.
- Mary Stenson, '02

The Legends

Teeny's Travels reprises the "wasteland theme" which informs so many ancient, medieval, and modern tales, including Oedipus and Hamlet. In this story line, a youthful hero on a spiritual quest enters a strange land wasted by a plague afflicting vegetal, animal, and human vitality. The hero visits the castle of the doomed country where he finds an ailing king. The king's infirmity is the source of the plague (king and country being magically one vitality), and it is the hero's task to restore the king's vigor by curing or replacing the ailing king. The king, though infirm, is wise and can grant the hero a vision of the spiritual truth if he judges the young man's heart to be pure. In medieval versions, the vision often involves the mystic grail or sword (inverted cross) of Christian import. At the moment of revelation, the hero must make a correct response, often by asking the right question. Quests imply a climactic question. The hero fails to cure the wasteland as often as he succeeds, but the moral lesson is imparted as forcefully in either case. "By men who won't be taught by other men, shall other men be taught."

Teeny and the Green Knight satirizes a long, 14th-century poem, "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," written in Middle English by an unknown author, a contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer. In it an untested, young hero is confronted by a giant, green horse and rider. The menacing figure challenges Gawain to cut off the green man's head with an axe. However, Gawain must first agree to visit the green giant's domain within a year and have his own head hewn off. Fair is fair. Gawain accepts, seizes the ax, and chops off the man's head. The adventure that follows is marvelous, ominous, full of Christian lore, but not without its humorous implications. Gawain's honor, bravery, and chastity are sorely tested by several trials, most but not all of which he passes. Narrowly escaping death, Gawain returns home, as spiritual heroes must, with a boon, prize, elixir, symbol, or code to enrich his society. Gawain's prize is a simple, green garter, the meaning of which, were it imparted, would benefit young men in any society, especially our own. The Gawain story is the source of a knightly order still revered in England and awarded by her monarchs, the order of the garter.

Teeny and the Whale, like most whale, great fish, or monster-of-the-deep stories (Jonah, Leviathan, Pinocchio, Moby Dick), has a symbolic interpretation. Read psychologically, water (the deep) represents the unconscious, dark regions of the hero's psyche, from which the monster rises to menace him. The monster, of course, is the unmastered excess of the hero's own ego (hubris). Male hubris is the tragic flaw that again and again these tales are concerned to render. As long as the hero remains unaware of the danger his own desires pose (as human desires have no bounds), he will be dragged under and devoured. When he masters fully his own nature, he will rise up and walk upon the flood unhindered. As Thomas a Kempis says, "Know that the love of thyself doth hurt thee more than anything in the world. Forsake and resign thyself, and thou shalt enjoy much inward peace." Teeny is a failed hero in all three adventures.



To Order

Alumni Review

"Straight River Anthology is an insight into the heart and mind of the great Slade. We all wondered what was going on in his head during high school. This is your chance to find out."
Sara Huntley, class of '94

"Slade captures the sublime in everyday occurrences. I enjoy his poetry immensely."
Bob Irby, class of '60

"Slade's poetry isn't Classical...or Romantic...or even Modern (thank God), but it often makes me laugh, sometimes cry (a bitter tear...no loud boo-hooing) and mostly reminds me that the Grim Reaper lurks behind every tree like a boogie-man in the park. Jus'skidding! You must have this book!"
Sonja Johnson, class of '88

"I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of poems, a glimpse at the quirky yet intriguing Mr. Schuster. My favorite,"Violins," perfectly shares the unique and amazing experiences this school offers; the emotion this poem conveys is truly touching."
Katie Simonson, class of '01

"I don't read poetry, and if Slade's mortgage is indeed twice his monthly pay, you'd be a fool to feed that monkey. Nevertheless, I bought some copies of his book. One levels the game table in my basement; the other is shimming the bar fridge."
Tim Gillin, class of '68



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Rare!
Samuel Johnson Collection

For Sale (16 volumes total): $19,900.00


A Dictionary of the English Language
by Samuel Johnson
London
printed by W. Strahan
MDCCLV (1755)

FIRST EDITION, with contemporary boards (1755), restored spines and a double signature at 19K, considered the most pristine copy one book dealer had seen in his career of selling Johnsonalia.


Prefaces, Biographical and Critical, to the
WORKS OF THE ENGLISH POETS
by Samuel Johnson
London
Printed by J. Nichols (in ten volumes)
MDCCLXXIX (1779)


The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.
by James Boswell, Esq.
The third edition, Revised and Augmented,
in Four Volumes
London
Printed by H. Baldwin and Son
MDCCXCIX (1799)