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The Slade

Poem for January


“Is it the music of my breathing
As I sleep that you adore?”
“Abhor, Dear. Not adore, Dear.
Let’s be frank.   YOU SNORE.”

Yes, Wifey’s night adventures
Are a symphony of sound
Ranging from a bag of
Baby kittens being drowned

To a trombone solo or a bagpipe-
Nose-flute serenade,
Or a float of Gay-Pride screamers
On St Patrick’s Day parade.

Such clicks and snorts and snorkles
Such zips and tweets and bumps
Hoots and toots and chortles,
Whistles, chirps and thumps,

You’d think the Hallelujah Chorus
And eleven lords-a-leaping
Were dancing on her pillow.
And you needn’t plan on sleeping.

For years I listened to it.
It seemed a language all its own.
Then one night I said, “Just talk to it,”
And threw the dog a bone.

“What’s for dinner, Dear?” I said.
She snorked, “Opity pan-mandy-tam.”
Did you hear it?     I did!
Baked pork chops and candied yam...

A meal I’d often fixed for us
And though she spoke in tongues,
I began to think I understood
This language of the lungs.

So I starting asking questions
When the symphonies got good
To see if she was prescient
Or just snoring... if I could.

“The Red Sox play the Yankees, Dear.
Can you predict the score?”
“Oxen forky-pooh,” she squeaked,
And nailed it: Sox by four!

“Where shall we vacation, Dear?” I asked.
“Soaky-boo-ratty-dum Dee.”
So we went there and had a wonderful time
In Boca Raton By the Sea.

As I learned to interpret her chirping,
The language came perfectly clear.
If she chortled, “Lager-bahger-bo-broosky,”
I’d buy a case of my favorite beer.

“If I bought a lottery ticket,” I asked,
“What are my chances to win it?”
“Your chance if you buy a ticket,” she snorked.
“Is the same as if you didn’t.”

My amazement at her wisdom
Soared upward by the hour.
It was clear that while she chirped away,
She was tapping some mystical power.

As rumors of her clairvoyance spread,
Town folk lined up to be near her,
To learn their fortunes, futures, and fate
From their precious community seer.

“What shall we name our baby boy?”
Pled a mom with a child one day old.
“Midas,” we told her, “and when he is older,
He’ll turn all his toys to gold.

“More gold than you ever could dream of!
And you won’t even have to declare it.”
But they named the rascal Quentin instead,
And Quentin produced not a karat...

Which I tell as a simple warning to all,
Never question or quibble
When you’re lucky enough to get answers
From your fabulous, neighborhood sibyl.

And as only I could interpret her words...
So mythic, profound, and historical...
I had to fashion myself as the priest
Of Minnesota’s phenomenal oracle.

She sang most ecstatically just before dawn,
And, of course, I let nobody near,
But recorded her snorts on my iPhone,
To assure her predictions were clear.

Supplicants gave their queries in writing,
On chits I supplied them for free,
But, of course, for the answers I brought them
I charged a small tariff or fee.

“Is my lover true or unfaithful?”
Was asked many times each year.
“She never answers this one,” I’d say,
“But for you she sheds a tear.”

“Is Trump really greedy and venal?” one asked.
“Does he truly love only money?”
“Zit-zit.     Whoopie-doopy,” she crooned.
“Does Winnie-the-Pooh love honey?”

“How am I doing as priest?” I asked,
As we lay there together in bed.
Fiddledy-diddledy gargledy-zip,
“Double the fees,” she said.

So I did, and we made a good living...
For a time, but as you may guess,
Whom the jealous gods would destroy,
They first delude with success.

So one night I brought her a question
About what investment to make.
Should he buy GE or IBM
Wondered a neighbor named Jake.

“Urpity-burpity Gargledy-pop,” she sang.
“Homina-pomina Pun.”
“When the working day is through,
Oh, girls just wanna have fun.”?

“That can’t be right,” I said to myself
And gave her a shot with my knee.
“It’s an investment question, Dear!
C’mon!    IBM or GE?!”

“Beepity-bibbledy Tweedledy-tweet,
Ziggledy Burgundy-bun.”
“Daddy Dear. Oh, daddy Dear,
Girls just wanna have fun.”

And so it went from that day on,
And I ask, “What good is an augur...
To a world hungry for answers...
Who can only predict Cyndi Lauper?!”

We were toast!   Kaput!   Finito!
But we had a sizable stash,
For I hadn’t declared a penny
And only took payments in cash.

In retirement, we live now in Boca
In a modest home by the sea,
Where every dawn we waken to song,
Cyndi Lauper, Wifey, and me.




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 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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Samuel Johnson Collection

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

A Dictionary of the English Language
by Samuel Johnson
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
by Samuel Johnson
Printed by J. Nichols (in ten volumes)

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