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The UPS and DOWNS of Aging

We have large maple trees in the front and back yards that drop a ton of leaves every October. This means on a windy day when we open the garage door or let the dogs out on the back deck, maple leaves come blowing in. In past years, we would simply gather them up individually by hand. Now, however, we are at an age when bending and straightening repeatedly is a fading skill. Oh sure, for the occasional dropped spoon or dead mouse, we can still make the slow journey DOWN and UP, but for 10s, 20s, and 100s of orange and yellow maple leaves, nah-uh! Our backs decline to undertake it. Vacuum them, you say? Our Hoover is still good with dust and dirty bits, but with maple leaves, it just seems to push them gently forward. This way I could, of course, herd them into the far end of the living room beneath the bay window. We could tell visitors it was a new forward-thinking environmental strategy: the winter-indoor-mulch-pit. But we’re not that imaginative. And who’s kidding who; at our age we have no visitors. It’s not so bad though. In the evenings we scuffle through the autumn foliage to the living room couch with glasses of wine and pretend we’re enjoying Minnesota autumn glories all winter long. In another year or two, as our backs stiffen further, the dropped spoons and dead mice will join the leaf litter and we’ll have to invent a better fantasy to cover it.

Another bending chore is affixing electronic-dog-fence collars to Chester and Frankie each morning. You don’t have to bend dead-mouse low to do this, but the dogs never hold still for it, and the clasps on the collars can snap your fingers painfully while you’re stooping over them. Happily, cleaning up dog-poop in the yard is made easy by an ingenious, long-handled poop-scooper, no bending required. Some day soon after snapping my fingers yet again, I will fail at this chore too and send them forth sans collar. They will joyfully escape the yard then and head for the hills, ending all bending. In this idyll, I scrap the collars, pawn the scooper, and live happily-ever-after.

But those are just the DOWNS of aging. There are also UPS that fade from one’s skill set with age: lightbulbs that burn out in ceiling fixtures, for example. In the past, a short step stool, a wife to steady you, pass the bulbs, hold the screws, and cooperate would keep the halls and stairwells lit. Now, however, step stools and balancing acts ... not to mention cooperation ... are long gone. But, as it turns out, one can live fairly well by the glow of table lamps and moonlight. It’s somewhat darker without overhead lighting, of course, but we like to think of it as adding to the autumn-evening effect started by the maple leaves.

Another UP problem involves top shelves that can no longer be reached. It amazes me how much shorter one grows with age. “Yeah, our spines collapse with time,” says my happy physician on my yearly visit. So with step stools banished, we have bid adieu to our top shelves altogether. For a nostalgic trip down memory lane, once a year, Wifey and I throw wide the kitchen and pantry cabinet doors, and holding hands, walk slowly among them. “Oh look, Dear,” I say. “Isn’t that the old Crock-Pot slow-cooker up there? Remember the pot-roasts I made when we were young: carrots, onion, taters, cream-o-mushroom soup, and 4 pounds of chuck. Get it perkin’ right after breakfast ... sweet aromas all day ... and what a glory to sit down to at dinner! Yum! Remember?”

“Yes, I remember, Dear. Oh, and look. There’s the Cuisinart food thingy, and the old wok, and all that nested Tupperware,” she sighs, tears welling.

“Yes, and way in the back there?” says I with breaking voice as we make our way along the paths of yesteryear, “You can just see the old Walt Disney popcorn popper and the Hopalong-Cassidy lunch pail, sure as shootin’! You know, Sweetie, I can remember when ‘top shelf’ was a compliment for a person of promise. ‘That Harry, he’s top-shelf,‘ we’d say. Who knew it would finally name the eternal resting place of beloved kitchen appliances. And you know what else, Sweets?” I say squeezing her hand. “You’ve been a good old appliance your own self all these years. And one day soon ... Walt Disney willing ... you and I can join them again ... together ... forever ... TOP SHELF, Babe! I’ll make a pot roast.”

 

The Wifey Chronicles

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Thou Art That

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Just Desserts

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The Teeny Tales

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Wifey and I about to have a Chronicle moment




THE WIFEY CHRONICLES
INTRODUCTION

“So, how’s your marriage going, pal?”

“Great! Life’s sweetest joy, isn’t it.”

“Not even an occasional spat? A marital tiff... or two?”

“Oh, sure. That’s inevitable, of course.”

“Arguments, squabbles, wrangles, disputes, disagreements?”

“Sometimes, sure.”

“Miffs, tiffs, altercations, recriminations...slights, snubs, insults, rows, run-ins, raised voices, cheap shots...”

“Stop!”

“Denials, buttals, rebuttals, fallings-out, indignities...”

“Stop it!”

“Mockery, sneers, jeers, belittlings, hurt feelings, injured pride, verbal abuse, despair...”

“OK, OK! Yes! It’s just a shambles, but what’s to be done? What’s to be done?!”

“Good news, you poor wretch! THE WIFEY CHRONICLES lay all this out in frank transparency and show how the odd love pome, deftly placed, can salvage even the most strangulating routine of daily contretemps. Take heart, couples! Rhymes to the rescue!”

(Colored slides included!)

 





 

These PayPal buttons are the fastest, easiest way to get these volumes mailed quickly. Many have asked after the TEENY tales with the wonderful drawings of Michael Sooy. Here all three TEENY books are available for one low $12.00 price.
All these prices include tax, handling, and postage.

The Wifey Chronicles

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Thou Art That

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Just Desserts

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The Teeny Tales

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Of course, if you love fumbling with checks, stamps and envelopes, send them to him at: 1149 Pleasant Circle, St. Paul MN 55112. If you just want to tell him goodbye and good riddance, email him at: sladesch@comcast.net

 


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)