September 1999
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Sour Grapes
(retired Gossip Page)

Previous Month Gossip


The Official SSQQ News Source
Written, Slandered, and Misquoted by Rick Archer.

Any Dirt, Tidbits, Announcements, and Lies should be relayed
QQuickly (not SSlowly) to Rick at

Our Motto :
Surely there is no rumor too vicious to report !

So, what's happening in the SSQQ Jungle these days ?

posted 10-06-99

SSQQ Women Raced for the Cure on Saturday, October 2

SSQQ fielded a sizable group of walkers for the Houston Komen Race for the Cure. The pace was set by 2 of our 3   "survivors", Suzy Kish and Linda Osborne, followed closely by Debbie Awad (after working a 12 hour night shift). This inspired a quicker pace from the rest of the lollygaggers (Joanne Armstrong, Lisa Cloud, Indy Godoy, RuthAnn Manison, Karen Nowiejski, Rachel Seff and Verladyne Williams).

The SSQQ ladies walked the walk and talked the talk. At the finish line, we were divided on whether to polka or 2 step, so we did a little of each. We crossed the finish line chanting, Slow Slow Quick Quick. That would have been the highlight of our walk, but Joanne decided to try a new hair treatment.

It seems an overenthusiastic spectator was flinging strawberry yogurt around with his spoon and he managed to avoid the other 9 women in our group and target Joanne. Luckily, it was pink (and not from a bird, as she originally thought), so it was in keeping with the color theme. Her friend Lisa used the free Ozarka water to wash it out. So when you see Joanne, mention how shiny her hair looks after the Yoplait/Ozarka treatment. It didn't look like we got all the Yogurt out, so don't be surprised if Joanne shows up at the Halloween Party with a unique little flip in the front of her hair. (You know how trendy she is, Monica one year, Mary the next).

(Editor's note : Cancer is everyone's worst nightmare. SSQQ alone has three beautiful women who have been struck with this dreaded disease in the absolute prime of their lives. Add in the recent tragedy of Houston Comet basketball player Kim Perrot and it is easy to see that no one is safe. However Cancer Research has improved everyone's chances of survival enormously. It makes no sense to sit back and reassure ourselves that it won't happen to us. Instead it makes tremendous sense to contribute generously to a cause as worthy as this with good old-fashioned money. We need to fight this thing together ! It isn't too late to make a donation to Debbie, Rachel, or any of the other ladies in the group above).

posted 10-06-99

Crista Ruess Wins the August SSQQ Joke Contest !

I finally completed work on the joke contest for last August. I have been in an enormous Internet slump, but lately have gotten a second wind. I will be adding many items to the Grapevine in the days to come. In the meantime, congratulations to Crista Ruess for winning the contest with the first joke she ever sent in.

Crista is my daughter Samantha's ballet teacher. Crista also teaches Adult Tap here at the studio on Tuesdays. Crista has her dance activities located in our Business Affiliates section of the SSQQ web site (click here if you are curious to see it). One day she was visiting the SSQQ web site to check to see if the information listed there was correct when she noticed the Joke Page. After laughing her head off, she decided to send in a joke which promptly won the montly contest and beat out over 200 other jokes. Nice first effort !  If you would like to read here joke about the "Desert Island", click here.

Jill Banta and Sam DeMora won Second Place with their joke about Bill Clinton and "Judgment Day". With all the trouble Mr Clinton has been in, I imagine he will indeed need all the smooth-talking skills he is noted for when his personal visit with Saint Peter takes place.

Donna Ruth took Third Place with her humorous story of a lousy blind date.


posted 09-24-99

Something about Kathleen...

Occasionally there is a moment that is so unusual that it perhaps cannot be captured in words, but we must try anyway. The story starts on Saturday, September 18, when HBO broadcast the movie "Something About Mary" and I watched it for the first time. When I originally saw the previews, I thought this would be the worst movie in history. Well, I was wrong and I admit it. Action clips work pretty well because they are mostly visual, but humor depends too much on context to capture in "clips". The truth is, I laughed my head off !  I even went back and watched it again with Judy a day later.

So Monday night we are in dance class. I am dancing with a lovely lady named Mary. Recalling her name, I asked her if she had seen the movie "Something About Mary". She smiled and replied yes. Then after a moment I said one of the problems of having a movie named after you is if the character is terrible, the stigma of that name is attached to you for a long time. I said, "For example, the movie "Carrie" pretty much ruined that name for a generation."   And in fact that is true. I know absolutely no one named "Carrie". The only "Carrie" I know changed her name to "Kerry". Smart move.

Well, Kathleen Alexander is dancing right next to us. She has been having a tough time lately because an ear infection has ruined her balance. She doesn't like to be beaten by anything, but several times has been knocked woozy in Death Valley class from too many spins. And according to her friend Carolyn, Kathleen's hearing hasn't been too good either. So this sets the story. 

Kathleen is dancing with a guy, but trying to listen to Mary and I talk at the same time. Mary has just finished agreeing with me that she is fortunate her name was not "Carrie" when we change partners. The first thing Kathleen says to me is that is her favorite movie of all time. Mary and I exchange glances because all we have been talking about is "Carrie". Kathleen goes on and on about what a great movie that is, how she saw it several times and was fascinated. Well, Kathleen is a Kingwood School Teacher. Mary, who is also a school teacher, and I are both frowning because a movie about murdering the entire student body is no longer even a fantasy, but Kathleen insists this is the greatest movie of all time. Finally I get Kathleen to hush for a moment. I look her in the eye and say, "Are you telling us 'Carrie', where all those teachers and students get murdered, is your all-time favorite movie ?"

Kathleen starts to frown. She is confused. "Carrie ?  Who said anything about 'Carrie' ?  I thought you were talking about 'Mary' !"

So Carolyn, who is dancing right next to Kathleen, chimes in, "Rick, I told you she can't hear anything !"

Take a guess what Kathleen's new nickname is.


posted 08-25-99

Beth Hentges resigns due to demands of Motherhood

Beth Hentges will be retiring as a dance instructor at the end of August. Beth and her husband Allen are the proud parents of a darling girl named Rebecca.

Beth Hentges (nee Burns) began teaching at SSQQ in May of 1995. She was finishing up graduate work in Child Development at the University of Houston at the time. Although my memory is a little fuzzy, she met Allen Hentges shortly after she started teaching. They were married in the summer of 1997. They had a lovely wedding over at the chapel at Episcopal High School, then a great reception at the studio. Allen's decorations in the big room were so pretty that I left the lights up all the way to Christmas time.

Allen and Beth basically co-taught classes together. Then not too deep into 1998 we learned that Allen and Beth were going to become a Mom and Pop operation. Undaunted by the prospects of motherhood, Beth with Allen's help taught right up to the last minute through September. According to my notes, Rebecca was born on November 5, 1998. Then to my amazement, Beth was ready to come back to teaching in January of 1999. Talk about an incredible work ethic !

But the reality is that it is tough working a full-time job like Beth does, being a full-time Mom and a full-time wife, plus have a part-time job that involves driving across town and giving up a much-needed evening of rest. Although I was sad to hear the news, it didn't come as that big of a surprise. It is time for Beth and Allen to move on. We will sure miss them !  Maybe they will come visit us at the Halloween and the Millenium Parties !  Allen can come decorate any time he wants !   Bye, you two. Don't be Strangers ! 

posted 08-25-99

Ben Liles and Diana Beasley announce Engagement !

Ben Liles and Diana Beasley are getting married on Saturday, October 23. This much I know because Ben told me himself Wednesday night, August 24. Ben and Diane have been together for well over two years and I am very happy for both of them. Oddly, Diana's last name is one of the studio's best kept secrets.To me, she has always been "Diane" or "Diana". Sort of like "Cher" or "Madonna". I didn't know her last name and neither did five other people I asked. Finally Marla Jennings came through and solved the mystery. How Marla knows is beyond me. I think it is embarrassing to know someone for two years and not know their last name. Even more ridiculous is having worked so hard to finally learn her name, in two months she is going to change it anyway. I may just call her "DB" for a while longer to get a little more mileage out of my discovery.

This is a big step for Ben. If I am correct... (and I may not be), Ben has never been married. Mr Bachelor Ben is going to tie el knotto. Will wonders never cease !  I have known Ben since 1987, so I know for a fact he has been single for at least 12 years !  Ben of course has a reputation as Mr Outrageous. He is the long-time teacher of Dirty Dancing and Sleazy Bar Whip. In an odd coincidence, he and Diana planned a trip to England this year at the same time as Ben's annual Sleazy Bar class... Jack Benard stepped in and reportedly misbehaved terribly, so everyone was happy. Ben's first statement after announcing the wedding date was, "We picked that night because I wasn't scheduled to teach !"  My eyebrow raised a bit....

"Gosh, Ben, I think you are down to teach Dirty Dancing that night !"  Sure enough. Coincidence ? Maybe. Time to become Mr. Respectable ? Maybe. At any rate, SSQQ must now look for someone naughty enough to take Ben's place. I don't if I can find anyone as bad as Ben. He is loveably rotten.

Now as for Diana, I can't think of a lovelier lady. Sweet, beautiful, bright, any time Diana makes an appearance at the studio, I always smile. She is just a marvelous woman. Best wishes to both ! 

posted 08-25-99

Judy Alexander and Clark Blanco announce Engagement !

Robin Wagner has informed me that Judy Alexander and Clark Blanco have announced their engagement.  Judy and Clark met here at the studio. Judy is in accounting at Riviana Foods and Clark works for HL&P (now Reliant Energy). They made their own invitations and mailed them out to unsuspecting friends in July. Judy and Clark are both busy   doing all the things that need to be done to bring about this event. The date is set for September 18th.

Congratulations !

posted 08-25-99

Speaking of Future Husbands, an Important Public Announcement

This just in from Ruth Ann Manison : (Sorry, Guys, this is For Girls Only !)

For those of you suffering from acute anuptaphobia (the fear of staying single), here is something that could be entertaining and informative!  The title caught my eye and I figured it might be worth $10 or a fortune, depending.... There’s a seminar next Wednesday, September 1st from 7-9PM called "The Consumer’s Guide to Husband Material". Anybody want to go? It’s $10 advance or $13 at the door. 4100 Westheimer, Suite 235 (the Spectrum Center at Mid Lane). Make your own reservation by calling 281/496-3283. Rita Justice, Ph.D. will be the presenter. Let me know if you plan to attend and we can meet for dinner before. And they say women are hard to understand....

I asked Ruth Ann about this workshop. She said she was amazed at all the emails she got from guys about it. One man said he was going to stand outside before and after the workshop to see if the women treated him any differently. Another man offered to pay Ruth Ann to take notes and to prepare him for various moves the women might try on him. He wants to have a better defense, sort of like an anti-wedding virus preparation. Ruth Ann turned him down by saying if anyone needed to get married, he did.

Ladies, although it is none of my business, when it comes to finding husbands, I would imagine just hanging around SSQQ is as effective as attending the workshop above. For example, you might recall these headlines from just four months of the SSQQ Grapevine :

Mario Ballesteros and Linda Chalk married in May ! (Mario and Linda met at SSQQ)
Heidi is going to be a Mom !
(former SSQQ Staffer Heidi and her husband John Moynihan met here at SSQQ and were married last fall)
Ron Moore and Kathleen Wood get married ! (Ron and Kathleen met at SSQQ)
Renee Risinger and BJ Downs get Married !  (Renee and BJ met at SSQQ. They wed earlier this year. Renee recently left the staff because she is getting ready to have a baby !)
Letitia Taitte and Jordan Kossack Announce Engagement !
Sylvia and Jeff are gettin' Hitched 
(Sylvia Key met Jeff Tucker "elsewhere", but behind his back said lessons at SSQQ are what softened him up. What do you suppose she meant ?)
Ray Jahn and Kelly Bennett get married !
David Meinert and Eileen MacPherson announce engagement ! (see below)
Bram Weisman gets Married !  (see below)
Judy Alexander and Clark Blanco announce Engagement ! (see above)
Beth Hentges resigns due to demands of Motherhood
(Beth and her husband Allen met here at SSQQ and married in 1997)
Ben Liles and Diana Beasley announce Engagement ! (see above)

Now guys, I know an article like this is a little frightening. If a confirmed Bachelor like Ben can make a commitment, what hope do the rest of you have ?  Especially now that the SSQQ women are going to this Catch a Husband Workshop. I imagine you single guys will be looking over both shoulders in dance class in case someone is sprinkling "husband dust" on you with your backs turned.

As you know, Dance and Romance go hand in hand. You will just have to be vigilant. It is obvious the girls have got your number. You had best watch out for those fire-breathing, husband-snatchin' wild women of SSQQ or one of those hip-wiggling dames will catch you too !  

However I do have one suggestion for anti-marital self-defense. If you see a girl in class you are attracted to, immediately go over to her and teach her how to dance the girl's part correctly. You will be safe for a long time !

posted 08-24-99

Women Wonder Why Men Think They Know So Much ...

A note from a lady student speaks for itself :

I love my classes at SSQQ, but I wonder if you could give me some advice about something that has bothered me for awhile. I just read your Advice article about men who want to instruct their partners. As the woman in that situation, what would you advise me to do?

I am asking because the problem seems to be growing in the more advanced classes. Ironically, the guys giving the advice are the worst dancers in class, and sometimes their instructions are just plain wrong! I don’t mind friendly suggestions from a fellow student as we learn the patterns together, and on the dance floor I can always refuse a dance. In class, however, I have to dance with these guys many times, so I don’t want to create ill will, I just want them to stop acting like boorish dance teacher wannabes. So far I have said nothing (but tried to look appropriately irritated) as I ignored the free "lessons", but as the moves get more complex, it’s getting dangerous in addition to being annoying. Do you have any advice?

The main reason men take dance lessons is to meet women. It stands to reason when a man is attracted to a woman, he wants to talk to her. Since all he knows she and he have in common is dance, that seems like a reasonable place to start the conversation. Furthermore, men like to be in control. Teaching women is a way of being in control.

That much said, Is coaching women an effective technique in getting to know them ?  Sometimes yes, most of the time no. For the most part, women bristle when men try to teach them. For one thing, it is a violation of their peer status. Now someone thinks they are so good they not only know the boy's part, they suddenly think they know the girl's part better than they do. Bad move. (unless it is a cleverly disguised anti-marital ploy !)

Guys, here is my suggestion : Ask a lady to help you learn a move. Ask them to help you practice something you just learned in class. Women have always been pretty wonderful in this regard. They respect a man who attempts to improve. I might add that conversation you were secretly after has a better chance of getting off on the right foot, not the wrong one.

posted 08-24-99

Salsa Rueda invades SSQQ, Thousands Scream in Horror as
SSQQ Salsa Dancers Narrowly escape Death by Plague !

On Saturday, August 12, Aliene Rickard, Lupe Tamayo, Samantha Sharp, Shammi Venkatachalam, Tina Parker, Nancy Breunig, Willa Wou, Albert Navarro, Chuck Kastner, Larry Cardosa, Rodrigo Aranda, Tarkan Bozkurt, and Todd K narrowly escaped with their lives as a mysterious infectious virus code-named "Salsa Rueda" attacked the studio.

A team from the Atlanta Center for Infectious Disease Control were called out to help contain the virus, but alas, they quickly succumbed too. The former CDC members were recently seen in Tuesdays' Beginning Salsa trying to develop some immunity. You can easily identify them... they are the ones feebily counting out loud, "Quick Quick Slow, Quick Quick Slow" with mind-numbing repetitiveness. To find out how you can protect yourself,  click here


posted 08-24-99

The SSQQ Beach Ball is coming Saturday, August 28...
So What on Earth is the Balloon Race ?

Reprint from August, 1998 : In case you have never heard of the Balloon Race, this is an unpredictable event because grown human beings attempt to kick an inflated balloon from one end of the room to the other. When you kick a balloon, it operates in a fashion similar to the Scud Missile or a baseball knuckleball in that you can't always guess its eventual direction. This air of unpredictability makes it even more amazing that the SSQQ Dream Team continued its remarkable string of victories...

To read more about last year's Balloon Race, click here


posted 08-12-99

Houston City Whip Championships

click here

John Hall and Gary Richardson tie for First Place in the SSQQ July Joke Contest !

The results are official. John Hall and Gary Richardson tied for the July First Place award. With 40 people voting, John and Gary's jokes each received 18 votes. This was a very wide margin of victory. Past winners have usually been decided by one vote, 2 at most. By contrast, Mary Collin's naughty third place winner "Rodeo Romeo" (Blue Side) finished with 14 votes, 4 back of our two league leaders.

John and Gary took totally different routes to the top. John's joke, "The Blond and the Lawyer", was only the second joke he has ever sent me. His first submission, "The Burglary", won 2nd place in the May contest. In this sense he is very similar to April winner Tracy King. Her first joke "The Chicken Stud" won the April contest and her second joke, "Two Cajuns on de Bus" (Blue Side) took third in May. Both John and Tracy know a winner when they see one !

Now Gary is no stranger to the winners circle either. Gary is now a two-time winner, which is pretty impressive considering we have only had the contest for four months. Gary previously won our May contest with "The Final Exam" and has had many jokes in the running. Gary sends me several jokes a week. He was also a heavy contributor to our new "Punishment" joke page, for which he needs to be severely tortured in my opinion.

Jokes that also did well in the competition included Judy Walsh's "the Smartest Dog" in 4th place, Carole Nelson's "the Seeing-Eye Dog" in a 5th place tie with Sharon Russell's "Don't Fall Asleep in Church". All three missed catching "Rodeo Romeo" for third by just 1 or 2 votes.

People ask me about the "Blue Side". Many jokes are sent to me that have Adult themes. Ever since my 8-year old daughter Samantha checked out my Joke Page back in April and asked me a very embarrassing question about one joke, I realized a certain amount of censorship was necessary. I am sure she is not the only kid out there who cruises the SSQQ Joke site. Since then I have had several parents thank me. It is however very simple to get the address. Just email me at :  and ask me to send it to you.

Last month's winner of the July Contest, "Christmas in Connecticut" by Kathleen Alexander, actually won from the Blue Side, the first time a Blue Side joke won the contest. I felt the July Blue Side jokes were better than the Clean Side, but the judges apparently didn't agree. Only Mary Collin's joke from the Blue Side placed out of six winners.

I didn't do very well in this month's contest. Since I run the contest, unlike other people, it is very easy for me to get a joke published. I just talk to my alter ego and - poof ! - it gets published. Other people's jokes have to be funny, but not mine. Unfortunately, the judges hurt my feelings by putting my joke, "Aggie Obituary", in last place of the 30 jokes nominated. Last Place !  Nor did I do very well as a judge. Not one of the jokes I voted for finished in the Top 6. Is that pathetic or what ?  My wife Judy tells me all the time I have no sense of humor and after this month's results I may have to start believing her.   She said, "Who on earth put you in charge of the Joke Contest ?  You wouldn't know a funny joke if you saw one."  Thank you, Dear.

Like the proverbial dancer that can never hear the beat, but tries all the time, I admit I may not be the best person for the job. However I can assure you that at least I try hard. I might add that I am honest. I do my best not to rig the contest. Once I decide to add your joke to the list, I get out of the way and let the experts pick the Winners. I vote only to see if my humor is improving a little. Apparently not.

Now someone who is an Expert on Funny is SSQQ Staffer Joanne Spuck.  I asked each Judge to vote for six votes, but not to rank them. Joanne only voted for 4 jokes. In order, her picks finished 1st, 1st, 4th, and 5th. That is unbelievable in my opinion. Apparently Joanne must be a distant descendant of Nostradamus. I would do anything to be as funny as Joanne !  I am going to call her "Cassandra". Cassandra in case you have forgotten was a Trojan prophetess who warned the Trojans to leave the Trojan Horse alone. They should have listened to her !

Now Joanne is a stock broker during the day. I suggest you ask her about the market.
Or simply send Joanne your latest joke and ask if she thinks it's funny. Then send it to me and tell me "Cassandra" recommended that I publish it. I will understand.

posted 08-10-99

Kathleen's Riddle !

Kathleen Alexander decided to give me a taste of my own medicine. After being tortured by the SSQQ Geography Quiz, which she won, Amanda's Brain Teaser (for which, sadly, Kathleen was forced to grovel for the answer), and now Einstein's Puzzle, which she solved, Kathleen decided it was time to fight back !  So she sent me this very interesting riddle. I might add the answer is a fair one, not a stupid one. In other words, even I understood it.

If you get the answer by figuring it out, let me know. If you already know the answer from your sordid past, use Boy Scout/ Girl Scout Honor and sit this one out. And when you get irritated and want to know the answer, you are welcome to ask for it.  And if you want to beat Kathleen over the head with a rolled-up newspaper, just get in line !  

Based on some of the initial responses, just to save time, the answer has nothing to do with A&E's reproductive organs. Sadly, that's the first place my brain went too. 

A group of mountain climbers had been climbing one of the world’s tallest mountains for what seemed to be days, when they finally decided to set up camp. Over in the distance, one of the climbers happened to notice a mysterious looking icy mound. His curiosity getting the best of him, he decided to go over and check it out. He began to scrape the ice and snow away with his hands, and soon called his buddies in to help. When all was brushed away, the group just stood there in amazement at the two naked,  perfectly preserved human forms. "I can’t believe it," said one of the climbers, "It’s Adam and Eve !!!"  How did they know with such certainty ?

Disco Queen for a Night !

Recently Judy Archer and several other partners in crime met at Polyester's on August 5 to celebrate their Graduation from their Latin Hustle Disco class. Judy reports on all the wrong-doings !

I taught beginning Latin Hustle on Sunday afternoons in July and, dancing the steps, hearing the music and seeing the beaming faces of all the Boomers in the room brought back so many great memories for me. I remember, during my college years in Pensacola, Florida, frequenting a club called "The Firefly". It had a raised, light-up floor with walls that lit as well, a live band called "Lazy Day" and was, to me, both heaven and haven. The music was disco with an emphasis on funk (some may call this impossible) and I could, and did, dance all night. I well remember wearing the costume of the day, which was what all the girls my age wore at the time: well-worn Levi’s, tube tops, platform heels (not too outrageous) and a long, well-feathered shag haircut. I loved those years and was sad to see Disco go away.

With these youthful memories clouding my judgment, my Latin Hustle class and I decided to try to recapture a bit of the past. We met on Thursday at "Polly Ester’s" on Richmond, a 70’s and 80’s club. I went to the 70’s side, of course, and there, for the first time in mumble years, I saw a raised, light-up dance floor (it’s an original, too; the somewhat worn condition assured me of that). The owners have taken some care to decorate with reminders of the 70’s, although it’s done tongue-in-cheek and had none of the slick, sophisticated-for-the-era feel of a real disco. Several people from the class attended, including David Schroeder and his wife and Mo Hendrix. David and I danced several times and I was once again a Disco Queen, sans platform shoes. The one thing that drove David crazy was the fact that, in open position, my free arm was always extended out to my side (typical Hustle styling); catching my hand proved a difficulty. Still, we garnered more than our share of attention.

There was a group of unknown affiliation at the club (they were wearing the same t-shirt) and they obviously felt challenged by our dancing; since they didn’t know Latin Hustle they decided to dance free-style, which was fine, except that they would occasionally glare in our direction. Appropriate to the music being played and the era being depicted, I asked if anyone knew the Bump (c’mon, Boomers, you were there). Mo Hendrix was the only one willing to dance, so we stepped up on the floor and showed them how to do it. The t-shirts followed suit and, for a brief moment in history, the Bump was the dance of the moment yet again.

The t-shirts did yet one more thing: a one-step line dance. This line dance consisted of a jazz square danced several times, a raised arm which signaled a quarter turn to the left, and repeated. I watched, fascinated, for a change in footwork, positioning, a turn, anything, but no, this was the entire line dance. I figured Rick could teach it as a crash course.

My diet Coke having been drunk, my forehead perspiring from exertion, my dream of disco dancing on a raised floor again met, I decided to head home to fold laundry. And no, it wasn’t quite the same and yes, I’m still a Disco Queen.

Judy Archer

Possibly unbeknownst to the reader, a Jazz Square consists of four steps. No, not four moves, just 4 actual steps. Up till now, the Four Corners, sometimes also known as The Hustle, was the shortest line dance on record with 16 steps. After learning the Jazz Square Dancers meet on a regular basis always wearing matching t-shirts, as a community service I sent Judy back with a kind donation of free t-shirts. Each t-shirt had another Dance Studio's name attractively emblazoned on it. I am always looking for ways to help fledgling dancers.


This past week Judy Walsh sent me the following joke :

There was a family of moles that lived in a hole just outside a farmhouse. There was a Papa mole, a Mama mole and an itty-bitty Baby mole. One morning the Papa mole woke up and peeking outside said: "I smell pancakes!"

Hearing that, Mama mole scurried up the hole and squeezed in next to Papa mole, sniffed the air and said: "Mmmmmmmm, I smell maple syrup!"

This got Baby mole’s attention and he ran up the hole and tried to peek out but found his mother and father were blocking the entrance. Frowning, he said: "All I smell is molasses !"

This particular joke caught me completely off guard.  As a rule, I do not enjoy puns as jokes to read, but in this case it was well disguised, so I give this joke a lot of credit for fooling me. Some people really enjoy puns. Since I am open-minded enough to believe different strokes for different folks, I decided to publish an SSQQ page strictly for puns. If you would like to check it out, click here.  SSQQ will not accept responsibility for any subsequent feelings of anguish you might incur by visiting this site.


Not Everything you Read on the Internet or hear about in your Email is True !

I have heard that the Internet is riddled with lies and inaccuracies. For example, the truth is I tell all sorts of fibs in this Grapevine Column. So I lie a lot !!  Big deal. It is okay if I lie, but I hate it when someone pulls one over on me. Since I have a bad habit of saving everything, I occasionally have a chance to go back and compare notes. You might be amused to see what I have learned !  Click here


posted 08-08-99

Einstein's Puzzle Solved !

Six SSQQ geniuses have sent in the correct answer to Einstein's Puzzle (see next story below). Richard Bevis was the first to succeed, sending in his answer the same day I posted the puzzle on Wednesday, August 4. He mentioned something about the joys of self-employment and that the gentlemen at E.I. Dupont would understand. I wonder what he meant ?

Debbie Awad might have beaten Richard, but she felt it was "more important" to go to her Waltz class with Sharon Crawford. Now I like her priorities !  Debbie's Louisiana friend, David Powell, aka the Cajun Whipstud (now that is a tough nickname to live up to !), finished it in 45 minutes or so on Thursday. Soon after Page Brunkhorst sent in the correct answer on Friday ("Page Brunkhorst" may be an alias. l am not sure, but I am very suspicious). Sylvia Tucker, aka the recently married Sylvia Key, took time off from organizing her new house to solve the puzzle on Saturday. She said it only took her 28 minutes. Kathleen Alexander finished it off on Sunday. She would have finished it much earlier in the week, but first she had to have her hair dyed brown which meant waiting till the weekend. Actually, if anyone should not be sensitive about blonde hair, it is Kathleen. First she won the June Joke contest, beating out 32 other jokes for the honor, then she won the SSQQ Geography Quiz by a wide margin (see below), then she solved Einstein's Puzzle. Not bad !

Congratulations to all of you ! 

By the way, I suppose my big mistake was saying the puzzle took me five hours to do. Maybe that scared some of you off. The truth is the puzzle did take me an hour, but I was going very slowly since I didn't have the answers. I figured I better get the thing right if I was going to put it in the Grapevine. Nevertheless each puzzle solver took great delight in pointing out how much faster they did it than I did. Well, thanks a lot !  As if I needed yet another reminder how stupid I am becoming.

I have decided we are going to get all the winners together and have a giant game of Clue. Then we shall see who the best detective really is ! Ha !

Einstein's Puzzle : Donna submits a Brain Teaser  !

Donna Ruth, numero quatro in the SSQQ tenure department (this means she has lots and lots of seniority) recently submitted a brain teaser that claims to have been created by none other than Albert Einstein himself. Oh sure. And it carries the caption that Albert felt that 98% of all humanity didn't have the smarts to lick this problem. Well, that's the kind of challenge that gets my blood boiling !   Anything Mental Gordian Knot that proves I am smarter than the next guy is right up my alley. Well, five hours later and about half a dead tree in paper, yes, I got the correct answer.

Humbled, but grateful I have managed to stumble into the elite 2%, I must say the logic test was a worthy one. If you too desire to see if you belong in the upper 2% of the world's brain jocks, then go for it !  Click Here for Albert Einstein's Puzzle !


SSQQ Gets Turned Down for Credit Cards !

In some ways, 1999 has been a tough year for SSQQ business-wise. Our business has grown this year remarkably. We have had probably 40% more business this year than last. And last year was a very good year ! 

We have poured most of our excess profits back into the studio to the tune of two unbelievably beautiful dance floors, new ceiling tiles, new music equipment, new pictures, and new air conditioners. As a result, the studio looks like a palace.

On the other side, I have never received so many complaints in any one year as I have this year. Sadly many of the complaints were justified. Yes, some of the classes were over-crowded. Yes, sometimes the studio was too hot. Yes, sometimes parking was a problem. Yes, sometimes registration was slow. Yes, sometimes it was hard to see or hear the teacher.

As many of you would agree, it is not that easy to change the nature of your business overnight. For the past twelve years, SSQQ had so much space that we were able to handle all-comers. Walk-in registration was our style of registration. People were welcome to come to the parallel classes at no extra charge. "The more the merrier" was our motto. And the system worked for twelve years. Then came 1999. What an enormous headache this year has been.

The only logical solution to overcrowding is to control registration. This room can hold x number of people, that room can hold y number of people, and you show your registration slip each night you come to class. No coming twice a week... Sunday people come on Sunday, Monday people come on Monday, Sunday people coming on Monday get sent home. Realistically, isn't that the obvious solution ?  

One way to be fair, of course, is to let people get a headstart. For example, if only 30 people can take a popular class, then the people say in Intermediate should be given first shot at Advanced before opening it up to the general public. Well, this means pre-registration. And the major tool for pre-registration in 1999 is CREDIT CARDS.

So I decided to get Credit Cards for SSQQ "just in case" it came to that point where I had to change the nature of my business. First I tried my own bank. Nations Bank sent me to some BS company that fed me this line, "We don't handle dance studios. If you ever become a restaurant, then we can help you." True story.

So my next avenue was to ask another business who they use. Mokarow Credit Cards was suggested to me. Now to be honest, I had compiled a list of perhaps 10 companies prior to contacting Mokarow. You might be surprised at the number of phone solicitations I receive on a weekly basis. They all wanted to come visit me. "No, I am not ready yet", but I still wrote down all the numbers just in case. At the same time, my email was getting spammed like mad by Credit Card companies. I mean, it was like there was blood in the water !  The volume of credit card spam was equivalent to one every two days. I was shocked. But I don't trust anyone on the Internet...

So I call Mokarow. I get a rude woman who acts like she is doing me a favor to talk to me. Hmm. We set up an appointment for Friday, June 25, two days away. I arrange my entire day's schedule around this meeting only to get stood up. Furious, I call to ask what the problem was. After all, couldn't they at least call ?  Well, they dropped the ball, but I get put in touch with Glen, the president, who apologizes and says he will come visit me himself Personally in one week on July 2. Wow !  El Jefe himself.

So instead of the President, Michael shows up. Michael is brand new. He has been with the firm a week. It seems Glen got held up at the last minute. Oh sure, Michael. Nevertheless after putting off 10 credit card companies, it is time to talk to someone. We have a very nice conversation. I point out that SSQQ has been in business over 20 years. I mention we are the largest dance studio in the city. I let him know we pay our bills and have a good credit rating. Blah Blah Blah. Michael says it is a done deal; he just has to go back to the office to work up the details.

Three weeks later I still haven't heard back from Michael. So I email him to ask what's been happening. He's been busy. So one week later I get this email from him. Enjoy !


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m afraid that’s what I have. The president of the company wants you to have a history of processing before we take you on. This means you have to go with another company for a few months so we will have a better idea of the volume you will be doing. It will also give us a chance to complete all of the things that we have started on the internet. In a few months we will have all the bugs worked out and will be ready for the type of volume I’m sure you will be creating online. Someone at the office has a friend at NDC, another processor, and I have asked him to get in touch with you. I know you have been talking with other companies, this is one of our better competitors. I recommend that you do not get into any long term contract. Most companies have a 90 day addendum that they can offer to let you try their service before you make a long term agreement. Definitely, do not get into a long term equipment lease. As I told you before, we sell our equipment at cost + shipping & handling. If someone is trying to sell you something, call me and I can let you know if it’s something you need and what it cost. I can’t sell you anything until you’re online with us, so this is just to make sure that you get a fair deal. If they aren’t offering a good selling price on the equipment, it’s possible that you could rent it by the month. Just call me when you have some options and I’ll be of any help I can. I’ve seen too many people that made bad decisions because of their lack of knowledge of this business. I don’t want you to become another one. I’ll be happy to answer any question you may have. I’m sorry that I can’t do more at this time. Do you know how you feel when one of your dance classes gets full and there’s someone else wanting to take it? That’s how I feel right now. If there was anything else I could do, I would.

Can you, the reader, believe this email ?   This company actually expected me to find some other company, sign a short-term contract, prove my value, then re-contact them and beg them to take me ?  'Oh, please, Mokarow, oh please take my company and give me the privilege of funneling you 3% off the top all our earnings !  We beg you to accept us !'  I don't get it. First I get one phone call a week from someone begging to come over and make a presentation, then I get one email spam every two days asking the same, then I finally agree to talk to a company and they say we need to establish our value. Good grief. I can't figure this game out !  Somebody please tell me the rules !

Well, anyway, if anyone out there knows a reputable Credit Card company, please have them contact me at the usual :  Maybe I'll have better luck the next time.

Bram Weisman gets Married !

Bram Weisman is a long-time friend here at SSQQ. He has taken a number of classes over the years. Most recently he was taking the Martian Whip class on Friday nights until a mysterious disappearance a couple months ago. It turns out that instead of pursuing his Whip career, he was pursuing his future wife instead. Here is the email he sent to me :

Just wanted you all to know that I married Katsumi Matsumoto on July 24, 1999 in Chicago, IL with my immediate family watching. Katsumi is from Japan. She’s very sweet and a wonderful dancer. I hope you all can meet her someday. Please forgive the lack of invitations. We wanted to get married right away, so we could begin her immigration process. We were going to get married at the Justice of the Peace, but my family wouldn’t hear of it, so we flew to Chicago. The whole thing was pulled of in about 5 days.

P.S. I’m working offsite, so any correspondence will be read more rapidly at if addressed to

Congratulations to a very nice guy and good luck !


Two SSQQ Women have some Negative Things to say to SSQQ Men !

Unfortunately, this isn't going to be a fun column either. I received two disturbing emails last week. The senders shall remain anonymous, but you have my word I didn't make anything up. I am simply relaying the messages to our general reading public.

Last night I asked a very pretty lady to dance the Whip. She turned me down, but took the time to talk to me about it.  She told me that she took one month only of Whip at SSQQ, then quit. I asked her why she quit because it takes several months to really feel even amateur and that surely she would love it if she only gave it a chance (she certainly has the figure for it !).

She said she was turned off by the men in the class who kept making comments telling her to move more sexy … that they wanted to see her grind and comments like that. She said it really just turned her off. She said she realizes that some men are just crude, but there were too many comments for her to feel comfortable continuing. I should say that this lady is very pretty and has a very nice figure. This is a loss to all men because of a few bad apples that don’t realize how they come across.

Our next contribution comes from the world of Latin Dancing.

Dear Mr. Archer:

I would like to offer two suggestions/comments for your studio. The first one is a safety issue, the second an etiquette issue.

1. The men at SSQQ need to be taught that safety on the dance floor is their responsibility. They need to be taught to make sure there is enough room to do a move before they do it. Countless salsa dancers from SSQQ do not heed this and it ends up with the woman being sent spinning into others on the dance floor. This can be very dangerous as well as embarrassing. They should also be instructed that at times there may be enough room when the move is first started, but something may happen in the middle of the move and it is the lead’s responsibility to stop the move if necessary to protect the woman and other dancers. When a woman is in the middle of a spin or other move, she does not always have her bearings. Please have your instructors cover this with the classes and cover it again and again. It is so important and so many guys from the studio just don’t get it on their own. They must be told. It must be stressed.

2. Most men from SSQQ (those from your Latin classes), when out in the nightclubs, do not lead the woman out to the dance floor. The usual scenario for them is to ask the girl to dance and when she says yes he goes out there and waits for her there. Another common scenario is for the guy to want the woman to head out first to the floor. This is not proper. I think as part of your dance class instruction, etiquette should be covered and men should be told that they should lead the woman out to the floor. By leading the woman out there by hand, he makes a path for her through the crowd. I am a salsa dancer. The "regulars" (nonstudio dancers) at the night clubs always lead the ladies out. I have taken several classes at your studio and never heard this issue covered. I urge you to get your instructors to discuss it with the classes.

I like the operation you run and have really enjoyed taking classes at your studio. I offer these comments to make your students better. The better they are, the better you and your business look. Thanks for reading.

I will simply say this : In my experience, the only reason men take dance lessons is to meet women. Given this, certain behaviors are obviously counter-productive. Crude comments and poor manners are clearly not the way to impress women. Respect, courtesy, and a regard for their safety are imperative. Women have their faults too, but I can't think of any mistake women make that would ever justify the treatment alluded to in the above writeups. For further discussion on the subject of Dance Etiquette, please consider reading the SSQQ article, "Advice to Men".

For you readers out there, I always enjoy hearing your comments.

Kathleen Alexander wins the SSQQ Geography Contest !

Kathleen Alexander won her second SSQQ contest in a row last week and had a birthday all at the same time... July 23, the same as my daughter Samantha. Kathleen is a school teacher in the Kingwood School District and very proud of the new pond she put in her classroom. HISD also has ponds in their classrooms, I have heard, but I doubt they are as attractive as Kathleen's.

Earlier in the month Kathleen won the June Joke contest with "Christmas in Connecticut", an excellent joke about a mailman who gets a surprise at Christmastime. Unfortunately, her joke is listed on the SSQQ Blue Side, an unpublished location where I put jokes I don't particularly want my 8 year old daughter reading yet. (If any of our readers would like to read Kathleen's first place-winning joke, please email me and I will send you a link).

Well, school teachers love to take tests and Kathleen jumped right into the SSQQ Geography Quiz. She didn't get a perfect score. She had a little trouble with some of the questions that were more of a "puzzle nature" and less of a research question, but basically she answered 19 out of 21 questions right on the button. Not bad. Not bad at all !

I hear Kathleen has a daughter at A&M...well, someone should tell her daughter she has a very smart Mom !  Nice going, Kathleen.

I have little doubt she will try to be the first to solve Einstein's puzzle as well !  But, now that I think of it,  Kathleen has never solved Amanda's riddle (see the bottom of the page). Gosh Kathleen, what's the holdup ?

You see, folks, that's the problem with success. The moment you do something good, everyone raises the damn bar on you. Now the next time you have to jump even higher or here come the critics.

Kudos also to Debbie Awad. She finished in second place in the contest, but was clearly disappointed she didn't win. Debbie is also mad that she is going to have to skip dancing for a couple of weeks. Well, Debbie, you can still be the first to solve Einstein's Puzzle !  Oh, by the way, no one has told me what a Morlock is yet. To see what I am talking about, please read the next article written mostly by SSQQ's second best Geography Person, Ms Debbie Awad ! Ta Da !

Riddle of the Sphinx or Why I hate Amanda !

Amanda Keiser submits this brain teaser :

What is greater than God, more evil than the Devil, poor people have it, rich people
need it...... and if you eat it you will die. What is it ??

(Amanda adds that 80% of a class of Stanford students got this wrong, and 80% of 4th graders got it right. I think she just added this to make me feel more stupid. It worked. I am so stupid that not only did I not have a clue what the answer was, I assumed I was as smart as a Stanford student because I got it wrong just like they did. Amanda then pointed out that just because I got it wrong doesn't mean I am as smart as a Stanford student because their wrong answers were smarter than my wrong answers. Anyhow, if you want the answer, see at the bottom of the page)


Now I bet you were hoping the answer to Amanda's stupid brain teaser was down here. Nope. You obviously don't know how I operate !  I ain't telling you nothing until you email me with some gossip if you want the answer. No gossip, no answer, no nothing. You don't have any gossip ? Well, for crying out loud, don't let that stop you ! Just make some up ! That's how I do it...

(Pssst - Want to read some old Dirt ?  Want to find out who your boy friend was dating a year ago ?  Undoubtedly a tramp. Find out ! Just click Sour Grapes !)


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