So What Happened in the SSQQ Jungle in 1999 ?
The SSQQ Christmas Party
On Friday, December 17, we had our
annual Christmas Party here at the studio. It was well attended by about 170 people.
Everyone looked festive in various shades of red and green. Many compliments were received
on the pretty lights, but my joy was tempered by the sly comments on my expensive train
set that never works. Hmmm.
Enjoying a complimentary pass the to Party were Susan
Schroeder, Pat Bradshaw, Chris Holmes, and Kristi Peterson. These four people were the
winners of the Christmas Carol Puzzle contest (see Brutal
Competition II a couple paragraphs below). This is a
picture puzzle where you guess the identity of a famous Christmas Carol based on clues in
the picture. If you are curious to see what I am writing about, click here.
I like to play Christmas dance music at my Christmas
Party. I think it is a hoot to Twostep to "Frosty the Snowman", polka to
"Walking thru a Winter Wonderland", and swing to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed
Reindeer'' and "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree". In addition many famous
Carols are also Waltzes, including such classics as "The First Noel", "What
Child is This?", and "Silver Bells". However in the past I have been
criticized for playing nothing but Christmas music, so this year I played about 40% normal
music as well. Hopefully that mix worked better.
In all, this year's party was a lot of fun. Now get ready
to do some Irish Jigs and Waltzes at the St Patricks Day Party, our next
George Wallace and Suzy Kish
Get Engaged !
The absolutely beautiful Ms Suzy Kish
shares this with us...
I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas. George gave me the
best Christmas present ever! He finally
proposed!! We had to spend some time apart
before he made up his mind. We havent
set a date yet...Maybe August or September, but it may depend on church availability. George is giving me his mothers engagement
ring. I am still in the shock and disbelief
phase! But I think I can get used to the
idea. Hope to see you out dancing soon!
Congratulations to a lovely couple !
Christina and Michael Get
On Saturday, December 18th, Christina
Graciela Cabello married Michael Anthony O'Briain. I do not know any other details since I
haven't seen these characters in over a year. However they were sweet enough to drop me a
card with the announcement. Christine, who is very Latin, and Michael, who is very Irish,
are a classic opposites-attract North-South couple. I actually reported their engagement
over a year ago !! Yes, they met here at the studio, but like many couples who meet
here then vacated the dance scene to pursue new phases of their life.
Christine is a beautiful lady whose classic
Latin features confused me constantly into calling her "Carmen". There are
always one or two people in my life whose names I get wrong no matter how hard I try and
unfortunately this lovely lady was one of those people. She and Michael took many classes
here back in 1997/1998. And then shortly after their engagement announcement, they
disappeared from my sight.
So I am very pleased that they have shared
this important information with me since it also clears up the mystery of their
disappearance. So wherever you are, Michael and Christine, Congratulations !!
Letitia and Jordan Get
On Sunday, December 19, the former Miss
Letitia Clark married Mr Jordan Kossack at the Junior League. Letitia met Jordan here at
SSQQ back in 1998. They became great dancers, then sometime around the spring of this year
they disappeared to pursue new phases of their life. (Yes, I used that line before, but it
was so easy to cut and paste, I decided I liked it enough to use it again). Apparently
they didn't forget everything they learned since rumor has it they got many compliments on
their dancing at the wedding reception.
Letitia's mother, Tish Clark, is a friend
of mine. She told me this lovely young couple is honeymooning on the shores of Costa Rica.
If memory serves, this is quite near the remote island where the cloned dinosaurs from
Jurassic Park are said to be. However, Tish says her daughter has made no reports of
Velociraptors just yet. My guess is they are too preoccupied to be paying any attention.
Congratulations to Letitia and Jordan !
MoJo Dance Shoes
Many of you have noticed the shoe table set
up in Room 6 as you enter or leave the SSQQ premises. This shoe company is known as MoJo
Unlimited. The pretty faces behind the corporate veil are Mo Hendrix and Jill Banta, two
ladies who are currently Assistant Instructors at SSQQ, members of the Heartbeat Western
Swing team, and SSQQ Registrars to boot (western of course).
If you would like to know more about Mo and
Jill's shoe company, I sat down and had an interview with them recently. Click here to see what the Shoe Impresarios had to say about their
first six months in the shoe business and the scandal that nearly ruined them before they
ever got started (just kidding).
1999 was quite an Eventful Year at
As 1999 comes swiftly to a close, I took the
time to review all the events from the year that took place at the studio. As I
transferred all my Grapevine stories to one central location, I discovered I wrote 83
pages of stories. Goodness gracious !! Certainly the chart below cannot do justice
to these important moments in the lives of these people who are listed, but I must say I
am truly amazed at all the good news. I can only say "thank you".
SSQQ 1999 Important
|John and Heidi Moynihan
||proud parents of Camryn
||October 17, 1999
|Renee Risinger and BJ Downs
||proud parents of Kaylee Ann
||November 5, 1999
Abueg and Rita Brown
Mendoza and Linda Bonnet
|"Oklahoma Ray" and
|Mario Ballesteros and Linda
|Ron Moore and Kathleen Wood
||April 9, 1999
|Renee Risinger and BJ Downs
|Ray Jahn and Kelly Bennett
||May 28, 1999
|Sylvia Key and Jeff Tucker
||June 26, 1999
|Bram Weisman and Katsumi
||July 24, 1999
|Judy Alexander and Clark
|Ben Liles and Diana Beasley
||October 23, 1999
Meadows and Bryon Thome
||November 20, 1999
Galletti and Michale O'Briain
||December 18, 1999
|Letitia Clark and Jordan
||December 19, 1999
|David Meinert and Eileen
and Verladyne Williams
|Jeff Hieber and
and Dave Bowman
and Troy Thornton
|Letty Molina and Patrick
|George Wallace and Suzy Kish
|Michael Gabrysch and Shannon Barton
|Donnie Jacobs and Kimberly
||resigned from SSQQ Staff
||resigned from SSQQ Staff
||resigned from SSQQ Staff
|Beth and Allen Hentges
||resigned from SSQQ Staff
|Linda and Rad Decker
||resigned from SSQQ Staff
||resigned from SSQQ Staff
||resigned from SSQQ Staff
||resigned from SSQQ Staff
Jamie gets an "A" in
Country-Western Dancing !!
Jamie Mabry is a darling young lady who has been
taking Western classes at SSQQ for over a year. She is so good at Western Swing that she
joined the legendary Death Valley class and did very well. This summer she saddened us
with the announcement that she would be leaving in September to resume classes up at Texas
However I have been secretly delighted to see her return
practically every weekend to join us for Friday night Western dancing throughout the fall.
My guess is Jamie hasn't completely adapted to life at A&M other than putting in the
time necessary to complete her education. Since she is a senior, I suppose she might be
reluctant to get too involved with student activities since she only has a limited amount
of time left till she graduates.
One day in October Jamie let it slip that she was taking
a C&W Dance class up at A&M for credit (unbelievable). I was immediately curious.
I peppered the poor young lady with questions about the class. For one thing, Jamie
suspected she knew more about Western dancing than her teacher did. The teacher was
apparently a jazz teacher who had been roped into doing this against her will and better
judgment. Jamie speculated openly about the chance her teacher had never been Western
dancing in her life. The course consisted mostly of line dances, some of which were pretty
corny. Furthermore the boys had no sense of rhythm at all. And they hated to be corrected.
Jamie was astonished at how bad the dancing was.
When December rolled around I was very pleased to
discover that Jamie did indeed receive an "A" in her dance class. I was curious
about what the Finals consisted of, but I think Jamie became suspicious about my interest
and started to be a little more reluctant to disclose any more damaging information.
I asked if the teacher ever noticed how good Jamie was
and Jamie's reply was something to the effect that she wasn't sure if her teacher ever
noticed anything. Well, whatever, SSQQ is very pleased to have contributed to Jamie's GPA
and if she ever applies at SSQQ for a job, she should definitely plan on bringing her
transcript with her.
How Rudolph the Red-Nosed
Reindeer put 6 Kids thru College
Judy, Sam, and I were fortunate to be
invited to see Christmas Lights courtesy of Larry Carlton a week or so ago. To our delight
we got to sit next to Ben Liles and his lovely wife Diana. Ben regaled us with many
interesting stories, but my favorite was the story he told about Rudolph. According to
Ben, the story Rudolph began in the late 50's as part of a Macy's advertisement campaign
featured several songs sung by Roy Rogers. I was fascinated by the tale, but a deep part
of me is sick and tired of being fooled by "urban legends", so I discussed the
story with my Death Valley class the following night. No one had ever heard this before,
so I chalked it up to getting fooled again.
Then Marty Raber, a distinguished member of
the DV class along with his lovely wife Adele, emailed me the location of a Rudolph web
site. Although Ben missed on a couple of the details, I agree with Marty that the essence
of Ben's story is correct after all. Thank you, Ben, and thank you, Marty !
How Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer came to be a favorite
Christmas icon is a story as magical as Christmas. In 1939 Montgomery Ward decided they
needed something new and wonderful to pass out to children in their stores at Christmas.
Robert L. May, an advertising copywriter who was known for his poems, was asked to take a
look at the idea. He was sure the poem needed to be about a reindeer, with a lovable,
shiny red nose. After a visit to the zoo with an artist, May convinced the company that
Rudolph was just what they wanted, and Rudolph's career began.
Montgomery Ward handed out 2.4 million copies of "Rudolph
the Red-Nosed Reindeer" to children all over the country. World War II interrupted
Rudolph's career, and he disappeared until 1946, when the booklet was reprinted, and 3.6
million children were delighted to receive the Rudolph story.
Amazingly, in 1946, Ward's chairman, Sewell Avery, gave the
copyright to Robert May, over the objections of staff lawyers. A hard backed book was
begun, and the famous hit song by Gene Autry was written by Johnny Marks. Since then there
have been 300 different arrangements of the song, and the first hard back book sold 100,00
copies in two years. Rudolph's story has been presented on television almost every year
May took leave from Montgomery Ward from 1951 to 1958 to
manage the Rudolph business, which paid for a college education for his six children. He
remained employed by Wards until he retired in 1970. He passed away at the age of 71,
August 11, 1976. Rudolph was 37.
Not everyone is always happy with our
studio. If there one policy that creates anger perhaps more than any other,
it would be our insistence that people rotate partners in dance class. At this point we
are to the point of "no exceptions" and we stick to our position very firmly.
The man writing the letter below refused to switch, a decision which created a no-win
impasse. He and his wife left the building feeling angry and misled. Unfortunately I do
not know what we could have done to appease him.
Dear Rick Archer,
I am writing to register a complaint about your school. This evening my wife and I
arrived at 7 pm to start our 4-week Salsa dance class and were told that the class was
actually scheduled for 4:30 pm and that we could take the crash course tonight and then
continue next week at the regular time. This really did not present a problem.
What really bothered me is, 15 minutes into the class my wife and I were told by the
instructor that if we did not switch partners we could not participate in the class. This
resulted in us leaving. Nowhere in your ad for the salsa class in the Leisure Learning
catalogue does it say that couples cannot dance together! The main reason we took the
class was to spend more time together. I had no interest in dancing with anyone except my
wife. I find it incredible that your program is so inflexible that couples such as
ourselves cannot dance together. If this is indeed your policy, you should state clearly
in your ad that no couples will be permitted to dance together. You can be sure that I
will tell anyone that will listen not to patronize your business. I am also registering a
complaint with LLU.
Rick Archer's Reply:
You are correct that in the specific description for the Salsa class
“partner switching” was not addressed.
For space purposes, it is impossible for Leisure Learning to list
every detail for each and every class, dancing and otherwise. The
cost of printing alone would be prohibitive. However in the Leisure
Learning catalogue, LLU gives a general description of the SSQQ
Dance Program before the class listings. This description says
clearly, “By switching partners throughout the class, students learn
to lead and follow with different people“.
We have found in dealing with large groups of people, partner
switching is what works best. You registered for a “group class“. If
we make an exception for you, then we have to make the same
exception for everybody. Then the “group” ceases to be a “group”. It
becomes a collection of individuals all following a private agenda.
This wouldn’t work in high school and it certainly has not worked in
the past in our dance classes. In this case, the needs of the group
supersede the needs of the individual. The majority of the class
would rather switch plus they learn more. We have experimented with
allowing couples to stick together in the past only to be greeted
with a new set of much larger problems. Our responsibility to teach
people to lead and follow as a “group” works best when everyone
trusts that we know what we are doing and cooperates.
Not everyone wishes to be part of a group. You are one of the them.
I completely sympathize with your point of view. You are not the
first person to express this identical concern. This is why we have
private lessons for people who feel the same way as you do.
I have enclosed an article I wrote explaining our position in
greater detail. You may not agree with it, but at least you will see
I have put considerable thought into the matter. Unfortunately we do
not always have the time to sit and explain our position in as much
depth as I have with you. Usually we have a group of dance students
waiting to get started. Thus the “take it or leave it” approach that
surely rubbed you the wrong way.
If you haven’t already contacted Leisure Learning, I will forward a
copy of this letter to them. They are aware of our policy, having
dealt with similar issues during our 18 years of working together.
SSQQ Dance Studio
Story in the News :
Jury Awards $66,000 to Danish Woman
from New York, NY
A Danish mother arrested or leaving her
baby outside a restaurant while she and the childs father drank margaritas was
awarded $66,400 in $20 million lawsuit against the city.
A federal jury rejected most of the
claims by Anette Sorensen, 32, who had argued that she was falsely arrested and that
leaving babies outside is common in Denmark.
The jury found only that she should not
have been strip-searched and that the city commonly failed to advise arrested foreigners
of their right to notify their consulates.
A misty-eyed Sorensen said she was
disappointed by the verdict. I wanted to be cleansed in this way, she said.
That didnt happen. I have to let go of it. I dont want it to ruin my
Sorensen was arrested on May 10, 1997,
outside an East Village restaurant along with the babys father, Exavier
Criminal charges that they had endangered their child were later dropped.
Sorensen claimed that police became
angry that the couple did not agree they were doing something wrong and arrested them
because of their attitudes.
Sgt. Gregory Ajose said he was grateful
that the jury realized we acted in good faith
to protect the interests of a
The police, answering a 911 call, came
to the restaurant after the baby had been in her stroller outside their restaurant for
more than an hour.
Sorensen and Wardlaw claimed the baby
girl, Liv, was sleeping comfortably in the stroller, which was outside the restaurant but
close enough tat Sorensen could see the babys face.
(Editor's note: I agree the strip-search carried things
too far, but to leave a child this small unattended in New York City is indeed neglectful.
That baby could easily have been kidnapped and run off with whether the woman was watching
or not. People will pay a lot of money for a healthy baby. Then that woman would have been
singing a completely different tune. And yet she is insulted, disappointed, and misty-eyed
to the tune of $66,000. What a world. Boo Hoo. Instead of $66,000, Ms Sorensen should have
been sentenced to watch 40 episodes of TV's "Law and Order" and "NYPD
Blue". Then let's see her leave the baby on the street.)
Brutal Competition I !!
On Wednesday evening, December 8th, 3 of SSQQ's Smartest
Dames participated in a brutal head-to-head Super bowl competition to determine the SSQQ
1999 Champion of Champions. Over the year, three ladies have consistently been the Best of
the Best at SSQQ's various quizzes and contests. Kathleen Alexander won the Geography
Contest and finished a close second in Einstein's puzzle competition. Debbie Awad won both
Halloween contests - the Monster Trivia Quiz and the recent Halloween Picture Quiz. Karen
Alexander found more mistakes than any person in history during a silly "find the
mistake contest" recently (scroll down the page a ways to read the story if you are
Wednesday evening I found myself in the presence of
greatness. All three lovely ladies were seated at the same table with me pen in hand ready
to take a truly difficult test : The SSQQ Christmas Carol Challenge !!
About 3 years ago someone brought me a page with 24 pictures on it. Each picture
depicted various famous Christmas Carols. I have to admit I was awful. I got about half of
them right. Part of my problem is that I didnt know very many titles. After
Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, I was
pretty much a blob. However my memory tells me SSQQ Staffer Marla Jennings was very good
at deciphering the titles. She solved practically every clue.
A few months ago I ran across an old copy of those pictures. I decided to put the
pictures up on our web site for fun. However most of the pictures were badly in need of
some touchup work. One Santa Claus in particular was so poorly drawn he could have easily
been mistaken for Count Dracula, so I decided to substitute a Santa picture from my own
art files. The puzzle was immensely improved. Pleased with my work, I looked for other
puzzles I could improve upon. After upgrading a half-dozen puzzles, I was tempted to make
up my own puzzles !! So I added 16 to the original 24 to make the new total 40
puzzles. I thought it might be fun to let my previous contest winners have a crack at the
puzzle first so I emailed them and all three ladies accepted the challenge.
Kathleen was so pumped for this contest she even heated up some coffee brought from
home in our microwave. Talk about looking for a edge !! Karen seemed the most
relaxed. Debbie Awad just looked plain tired. She is a nurse and came straight from work
wearing her green scrubs. I figured she was ripe for the taking. Wrong !!
Debbie Awad is a Killer !! Let me warn everyone, this lady is very bright. Out of
40 puzzles, she got 27 out of 40 in just 20 minutes. Kathleen was a close second with 24
correct answers. Karen also did well with 20 correct answers. However judging by her
philosophical smile, I think Karen sensed she was up against some Christmas Carol
geniuses. Karen decided to go dance during the half-time break, a decision that probably
cost her an answer or two as Debbie and Kathleen stayed behind to study their puzzles
pages some more. I doubt Karen was very concerned.
Part Two of the Puzzle Challenge included a list of 80 Christmas Carol titles. This
List made solving the puzzles much easier. Debbie got 11 more correct answers, Kathleen
got 13 more correct answers, and Karen got 10 more right. In all, Debbie got 38 of the 40
puzzles in just 30 minutes. Kathleen got 37 of 40 and Karen got 30 of the 40. All three
ladies did quite well. They politely asked how well I did. I was too embarrassed to tell
them how much better they had done than I did originally. Humbug.
Debbie Awad is this year's Champion Smarty Pants. Kathleen was a close runner-up and
Karen did extremely well. Kathleen also provided me with the solution to the Mystery Clue,
a clue from the original puzzle that I had never been able to solve. All these ladies are
so smart ! I am in awe.
If you would like to check out the SSQQ Christmas Carol Challenge, click here.
Brutal Competition II !!
On Sunday evening, December 5th, Judy Archer
and Leroy Ginzel participated in a fierce, brutally contested OATMEAL
COOKIE BAKE-OFF COMPETITION. Judy, of course, had an impressive home court advantage. Not
only has Judy been plying us with her famous oatmeal cookies for the past 10 years at
special events such as the Halloween Party, the Christmas Party, and the Sock Hop, but
also she enjoys a rather high profile as SSQQ's second-in-command. Leroy, the proverbial
outsider who loves to try the impossible, was undeterred by Judy's reputation. Knowing
just how good his own Oatmeal Cookies are, Leroy had the audacity to challenge Judy to a
Well, history is filled with tales of
underdogs rising to victory. From David and Goliath to the 1969 Joe Namath-led upset
victory in the Super Bowl to the current political struggle of John McCain to overtake
George Bush, America loves the underdog. Leroy was undaunted.
The Cookie Contest took place at Sunday
Practice Night. I personally set out the cookies on two sides of the table. I told about
70 students to put Cookie #1 in their right hand and Cookie #2 in their left hand. I also
wanted everyone to wait to eat their cookies at the same time, but alas I caught about a
Baker's Dozen munching away helpelessly before the official Munch Signal.
As the prodigious gasps of delight began to
diminish, it was time to vote for the cookies. Both cookies received generous applause. Of
course they had already received the highest honor : nearly 100% of the people there had
enthusiastically participated in eating both cookies with unabashed pleasure.
As for who won, the answer is obvious. We
the Cookie Eaters did !!! Both cookies were terrific. I might add that Judy brought
home several of Leroy's cookies after the party - he baked quite a few !! A
couple days later I was kind of hungry and I asked Judy where those cookies had gotten to.
Judy smiled and said they were gone. She and Samantha ate them. Leroy's cookies have three
big fans here at my house.
Brutal Competition III !!
On Saturday, December 11, 16 athletes came over to my house for an afternoon of
spirited volleyball. We had a blast. The weather threatened to rain, but instead gave a
cloud cover from the sun and a cool temperature perfect for outdoor sports. In fact, we
had such a good time no one wanted to stop. We played for 4 hours, an absolutely unheard
of amount of time in sports.
In addition to myself, we had in the first wave Gillian
Tilbury, Ann Bush, Mo Hendrix, Rocky Kneten, Jill Banta, Rodrigo Aranda, and Richard
Weisberg. Then came Glen Hilford, Nacer Sebti, Ni Teoh, and Tom Easley. Later arrivals
included Allen Hoffman, Reza Taherian, and two of his friends. Missing in action were
Marty Shea and Mike Gerstenberger who said they were coming, but clearly got better
The truth is we played so many games, I sort of lost
count of who won and who lost after a while. The teams were close and the games were all
competitive. Courage Award goes to Gillian Tilbury. On this same volleyball court 9 months
ago, Gillian suffered a freak accident when she ruptured her achilles tendon simply
turning around sharply to chase a ball. I believe this was the first time she played
volleyball since then and I thought she played very well.
Mo Hendrix as usual was outstanding. She is a terrific
athlete. Her business partner in the SSQQ Shoe Store, MoJo Inc, Ms Jill Banta, also played
well. A newcomer, Ni Teoh, amazed us with her spiking ability and tremendous volleyball
skill. She is only 5' 6", but she was able to spike effectively on an 8' net by
hitting the ball right at the peak of her jump. For those of you who don't know much about
volleyball, the timing required to do this is very difficult to achieve, but she succeeded
time and time again at drilling line drives all over the court.
Two people who I thought improved a great deal as the
day progressed were Glen Hilford and Ann Bush. Glen at 6' 3" has the height needed to
succeed at volleyball , but not much experience. However he just got better and better.
His team was the winner more often than not and Glen helped a lot. I just wish I could
stop calling him "Doug". I try very hard to remember people's names, but once I
remember the name "wrong", it takes me a long time to get it reversed in this
old brain of mine.
Ann Bush is also athletic, but inexperienced as well. At
first she looked a little intimidated by all those guided missiles that were flying back
and forth, but by the day's end it was Ann who was attacking the ball as her confidence
grew and grew. She had told me her boss specifically warned her not to get hurt since she
is considered "indispensable" at her job. Naturally she was the only person to
actually take a spill. A ball was hit softly just over her head. She jumped to try and get
it with her fingertips and actually fell over backwards. Fortunately she landed very
gracefully on her backside, rolled backwards till her feet were pointed up in the air,
then rolled forwards and stood up. She smiled at everybody to let us know she was okay and
play immediately resumed.
Goodness, we had fun.
Rachel Wins an Award at Texas A&M
SSQQ Staffer Rachel Seff, Matchmaker
Extraordinaire, Toga Party Reveler, and frequent Grapevine contributor, won a community
service award at Texas A&M recently. I stole this writeup from a TAMU web site :
1999 Harris Award Winner : Rachael Seff '92
Rachel Seff '92 received her BA in Religion and Political Science from George Washington
1991. A native of Westchester County, New York, Rachel relocated to Texas to attend Texas
pursuit of her Masters Degree. She received her Masters in Education Administration with
an emphasis in higher education from Texas A&M in 1992. She is pursuing her Doctor of
Education degree from the
University of Houston and is scheduled to graduate in May, 2000.
She is the former Coordinator of Career Services for the University of Houston Law Center
and now serves as the Director of the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Career Services Center at the
University of Houston College of Business Administration.
Rachel has been involved in numerous volunteer activities with the Houston A&M Club.
volunteered with Habitat for Humanity (1997, 1999), International Festival (1997, 1998,
1999), Bevo Burn
(1998, 1999), the Houston Food Bank (1997, 1998). Rachel has also served on the following
committees: Coach's Night (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999), Muster (1997, 1998, 1999), Evening
with the President (1998), and Casino Night (1997). In her part time, Rachel is a
country-western dance instructor at SSQQ.
Editor's Note : I wonder where she
finds the time to work for us here at SSQQ. Nice going, Rachel. Now read the next story
for an insight into the social life of Rachel's friends.
Rachel Seff Shares an Interesting
Rachel Seff, SSQQ instructor and matchmaker
extraordinaire, contributes this tale :
JD Horne is a student of mine from law school. This
happened when JD and several of his friends were out in Austin recently. JD relates the
story in his own words below....
The Absolutely True, and Funniest Damn "J.D. Horne Pick-Up" story of all
time: (please read no further if your sensibilities are easily offended)
I was at Lucky Lounge (a 4th Street bar where exotic dancers and/or similarly beautiful
and shallow women go to meet men) and had been working on this girl for over an hour. She
was absolutely the bomb--way out of my league. I actually only approached her on a dare,
because these guys were talking to these other guys that we were with about how
"fearless" (read: stupid?) I was when it came to girls and that I would go up
and talk to anyone, making me the perfect "point man."
Well, anyway the conversation deteriorated into these guys picking the hottest girl in
the bar and "daring" me to go talk to her. My manhood challenged, I sauntered
over, fully expecting her to laugh out loud at my feeble approach and only hoping that she
would not humiliate me publicly. To my surprise and wonder, she was warm to my approach
and turned out to be genuinely nice and intelligent, in addition to being unGodly hot.
Like I said earlier, I talked to her for at least an hour, with these guys !!! standing
over in the corner in amazement the whole time. So anyway, it becomes time for her to
leave with her friends, so she gives me her card and asks me for my card which I promptly
provided and I went ahead and asked her out on the spot for dinner the next week. She said
yes & then I leaned in for a little swapping of spit--nothing short of ELECTRIC!
I turned and strolled over triumphantly to my minions, shit-eating grin on my face,
while they were literally doing the Sammy Sosa-esque "We're not worthy"
up-and-down flailing of the arms. Sounds like a great story, right?? WRONG!
We're standing there in a semi-circle a few minutes later and I see her from across the
bar stomping, and I mean literally STOMPING, over to the spot where I was standing with
her "posse" of girls. Before I could even say a word, she blurts out (and I
think I'm quoting): "Look here, asshole, the date's OFF and you can stick this up
your ass!" With that, she threw my card at me and stormed out of the building. To say
the least, I was absolutely flabbergasted. What, pray tell, would cause such a visceral
and spontaneous tongue-lashing?? I followed her out of the bar, running behind her like an
idiot, asking her "what happened? what did I do? etc. etc."
She absolutely would not even speak to me. Her and her friends jumped in a cab, and I
never saw her again. I walked back to the bar in absolute bewilderment, wondering what the
hell had happened. Alas, to my ultimate shame, I soon found the answer...
When I walked inside the bar, the six GROWN men that I was with that night were
literally sprawled out on the concrete floor of the bar in absolute hysterics. They had
even recruited curious total strangers who were similarly laughing at me. Upon seeing me,
they broke into spontaneous applause, the likes of which is usually reserved for rock
stars and/or athletes. The reason for the laughter, the applause?? On the back of my card
that I had given to this vision of beauty was the following notation, written down the
previous week from another night on the town:
Just call me "King of Smooth"....
Rachel did not have anything to add, so we will just have
to grin and bear it ! Thank you, Rachel.
BJ and Renee Downs
have a Daughter !
Tammy Pennington reports (Thanks, Tammy) :
Billy and Reneé Downs have a new daughter! Kaylee Ann Downs was
born 11/5/99 at 10:46 pm., 7 lbs. 4 oz., 21".
Editor's Note: Congratulations! Renee and BJ of
course met here at SSQQ. Renee was on the SSQQ Staff for several years until she retired
to prepare for the birth of her first child. Project completed ! This is wonderful
Kimberly and Bryan get
The lovely Gillian Tilbury sends this in :
Kimberly Meadows and Bryan Thome were married on Saturday,
November 20th and are spending their honeymoon in London. The happy couple met a year ago
on Halloween night. Obviously, Bryan could see right through Kimberly's costume to see the
wonderful girl beneath. Kimberly and Bryan were quite ambitious in planning the wedding,
they did just about everything themselves, including the wedding invitations.
JoAnne Armstrong and Gillian Tilbury were two of the Bridesmaids.
Dennis Taupo was also a part of the wedding party. Mitch Istre DJ'ed for Kimberly and
Bryon at the reception - he has quite a collection of music. Other SSQQ guests included
Matthew Tyson, Thom Downey, Rocky Kneten, Laura Wilde, Randy Goshorn, and Yim Szeto. These
great dancers had the crowd in awe as they tore up the dance floor.
Editor's note : Congratulations, Kim and Bryan !!! And
thanks for telling us about the wedding, Gillian, although we do wish you had added more
about Kim's Halloween costume. Plus a warning for all you single SSQQ people... better
watch out... love is in the air !
Merrill's Dance Team does Something Exciting !
But nobody knows what it is. click here for story.
Dolly ! Julio ! Heartbeat ! 10 Great Acts in All !
Our November 20 Lip Sync Show was very
entertaining. The Lip Sync Show was inspired by a show we saw on our Caribbean Cruise back
in the summer of 1998. I laughed my butt off on the cruise and decided we definitely
needed to give it a try here at the studio! This was our third show and it was
To find out what happened and who
performed, click here
The SSQQ Balloon
Race Curse Continues !
Do you believe in curses? No,
of course you dont. Neither do I. But maybe there is something to curses. When I was
growing up, in professional basketball back in the 60's the legendary Boston Celtics of
Bill Russell and Red Auerbach were supposed to have a curse on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Those Lakers, led by Hall-of-Famers Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, were a very good team.
But year after year after year they always lost to the Celtics. Almost every series went
seven games, but the Celtics won every one of these suspense-filled showdowns. Eight times
in a row the Celtics came out on top despite the fact that the teams were pretty evenly
matched in talent.
That is an amazing story. But
the story of the SSQQ Curse is even stranger. The events from the SSQQ Balloon Race back
in August were so bizarre, it took me four months to come to grips with what transpired.
But now I have finally gotten the courage to write about it. Are you curious ?
Then read what happened !! This story is stranger than any Twilight Zone or X-Files
episode ! And it is all True !!! Click Here
The Floppy Wizard Computer Store Moves to a New Location
After 17 years, Gary
Richardson and his wife Betty have decided to leave the Memorial City Mall for a new
location at 2551 North Gessner, about 3 miles from their old location. As I write this
article, the store is being moved.
Many of you know Gary and
Betty as the Midnight Waltzers every Friday or you may know them from Death Valley classes
or possibly the Martian Whip classes. Gary and Betty have taken classes at SSQQ for three
years. What you might not know is that Gary has sold 17 computers to SSQQ staff and
students including SSQQ Staffers such as Daryl and Joanne Armstrong, Linda Cook, and
Maureen Brunetti. That is a lot of computers !!
Now that Gary is moving his
store, he has decided to start offering computer training classes. I think this is a great
idea. Now SSQQ students who are lost trying to decipher the mysteries of computer software
can get some much needed assistance from the experts. If any of you have ever struggled to
unlock the secrets of Microsoft Word, negotiate the treacherous territory of Windows
95/98, or negotiate the unfamiliar territory of Email, here is a great chance to add these
highly valuable skills to your bag of tricks. The Computer classes will be held in the
evenings at his store from 7-9 pm starting in December.
For more information, you can
call Gary at 713-461-8660 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org You can
also read more about his store on the SSQQ Web Site if you click
here or click here.
Killer Whale Lawsuit
reprinted from the Houston Chronicle
Tuesday, October 5, 1999
The parents of a man found naked and
dead on the back of a killer whale at Sea World Orlando have dropped a lawsuit alleging
Sea World caused their son's death by portraying the dangerous orca as safe and huggable.
They voluntarily dismissed the
lawsuit, Sea World executive vice president and general manager Vic Abbey said.
this was a very tragic accident that occurred, but as weve said all along we
felt the lawsuit had no merit.
Patricia and Michael Dukes of Columbia,
South Carolina, had filed suit on September 10 seeking several million dollars for pain
and suffering at the loss of their only son, Daniel, 27, a drifter who was found drowned
to death in July in the whale tank. Heavy intoxication apparently contributed to this
Editor's Note : Our legal system has got
to be changed. This loser gets drunk, he breaks into Sea World at night, jumps into the
whale tank, and drowns trying to kiss a killer whale. Then the loser parents turn around
and sue Sea World for millions of dollars, claiming the whale was friendly and huggable.
Didn't these idiots ever see "Orca, the Killer Whale"? Who do they think
Orca is, Barney's best friend ?? And some idiot lawyer agrees to represent
them? What in the hell is wrong with our legal system ?
I think Sea World should sue these idiot
parents for any damages to their park caused by raising a child without a brain. Even
though I am sure the lawsuit had no chance in hell of winning, that doesn't mean that
someone should have the right to aggravate the living daylights out of the Sea World
people. After all, it surely could not have been fun to find what amounts to a suicide
victim floating around in their waters. And I doubt the publicity was very helpful
although some cynics might disagree. I wish there was some sort of penalty for filing a
ridiculous lawsuit like this. Oh, by the way, you should see
Daniel's picture. He makes Charles Manson look loveable and huggable.
Don't you agree Orca
the Killer Whale should be allowed to file a sexual harassment suit while we're at it ??
Tales from the Crypt
Judy and I faced a mystery last week. Dracula had
been "disturbed". Dracula is a big part of SSQQ Halloween. More people have had
their Halloween pictures taken with Dracula at the studio than any other monster. It must
be because he is so cute and photogenic.
I credit Southern Importers for giving me the idea
to have a semi-realistic Dracula. At their store one year around 1991, they had an
incredibly realistic Dracula one year. People would just line his coffin to marvel at how
realistic the sleeping Dracula looked, only to suddenly flinch in terror as Dracula's hand
would raise as if to grab them. It turns out a policeman who runs security at the store
had wired up Dracula's hand using fishline. From a remote vantage point 20 feet
away, he could wait for the perfect moment to jerk the wire. Screams were not uncommon as
I would shop at Southern Importers. He would certainly have gotten me too, but I was in
such a hurry, I just glanced in admiration and kept on going. Then when I kept hearing
screams I decided to see what was going on. One poor lady really "bought it".
She was just ranting and raving about how great Dracula looked. She had 5 kids with her
and a girl friend. Just fooling around, this lady was actually leaning over the crypt
exposing her neck and daring Dracula to bite her. The policeman's timing could not have
been better. Up leapt that hand and out came a blood-curdling scream that would have made
Janet Leigh proud (her scream in "Psycho" is probably the most famous movie
scream and her daughter Jamie Lee carried on the family tradition in
I hoped to duplicate this horror magic at SSQQ.
Larry Carlton helped enormously. He teaches shop at a Cy-Fair high school. His teams have
won many state contests under his guidance. I told him about needing a coffin, so as a
class project his students made SSQQ a terrific life-size coffin. Unfortunately for my
purposes though the body proved more problematic. I bought an inflatable body, but the
results were mediocre. Again Larry came to the rescue by bringing body parts to the studio
: arms, torso, head, legs... all held together with stakes. How ironic. Unfortunately the
SSQQ Dracula proved too flimsy to jerk around with fish wire, so over the years we have
been content just to admire the impressive coffin with Dracula lying peacefully in repose.
Judy is the only person with any talent for making
Dracula look good. She "brings him to life" every year. It takes about half an
hour of careful concentration. This year was no exception. So it was with great
bewilderment one Friday when I discovered that our Dracula didn't look right. Someone had
obviously been messing with Dracula. I showed Judy who agreed he had been
"disturbed". Frowning, Judy immediately set about redoing Dracula. Neither of us
could figure out what had happened.
The mystery was solved a few days later as I worked
on the SSQQ Haunted House. My carpenter friend Solomon and his cousin Luis were helping me
put together the maze. As we walked through Room 2, Solomon pointed out Dracula to Luis
and said something to him in Spanish. Luis frowned deeply as Solomon laughed. I asked
Solomon what the deal was.
The story went like this. Every Wednesday night
around midnight Solomon's son Joel cleans the studio with the help of his mother Rosalva
and his sister Dulce. Apparently Joel was sick, so they enlisted Luis to take Joel's
place. Now you need to know the studio is a scary place late at night after the lights are
off. All you have to see by is the eerie glow of the red exit lights. Last year as I was
leaving I glanced over and was frightened to see a man crouching ready to leap at me... it
wasn't till after I had jumped back into a "ready for battle fighting" stance I
realized it was the new standup Wolfman we had just bought for the studio. Hmm. Well, that
didn't stop my heart from beating furiously for quite a while !
Dulce, Solomon's daughter is about 21 and very
pretty. She is very short (5 feet) and very thin. She also has a sneaky side. Using her
mother to set Luis up, Dulce turned out the lights in Room 2. She put a broom right next
to Dracula's coffin, then actually crawled into the coffin with Dracula and closed the
lid. A couple minutes later Rosalva asked Luis to go into Room 2 and get the broom. More
than happy to help, Luis walked into the dimly lit room.
Just as he reached for the broom, Dulce's arm
reached out of the coffin to grab Luis as she roared, "I vant to suck your blood
!!" Luis screamed bloody murder and exploded into a dash out of the studio for
the street ! Rosalva, who was convulsed with laughter, had to chase him outside to
calm Luis down and explain what had happened. Luis eventually pulled himself back
together, but I am sure he visited a place in his psyche most of us would rather not
The 1999 SSQQ
The Halloween Party this year was just fabulous. I
would guess we had 200 people in attendance, but that number could be even higher. As
usual the costumes were just fabulous. Just as everyone reports on the dresses at the
Oscars, I think we should comment on the costumes.
Talk of the night centered around Karl Rorabacher
who came in drag. Now men dressing as women at Halloween are fairly common place. For
example, John Anderson always comes dressed as a woman despite his mustache, hairy-legs,
and a walk that resembles Popeye the Sailor Man. What set Karl apart from the rest is that
Karl was possibly the most beautiful woman at the entire party... and there were many
beautiful women at this party. Karl was so pretty I think RuPaul would have been envious.
Everyone who saw him just shook their heads in awe. I certainly did !
Steve came as a Satyr. He had whip scars all over
his back. He described himself as a "Satyr Masochist". Steve looked
incredible. Taught about a hairy guy !
Another couple who caught my eye came as Little Red
Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf in pajamas. Great outfit !
Daryl Armstrong was resplendent as Austin Powers
with his lovely wife Joanne as escort.
There was a stunning Anthony and Cleopatra. I mean,
they looked good !
Andy and a lovely young lady wore beautiful matching
Renaissance outfits. For that matter, there were so many Renaissance outfits it looked
like the entire cast from the Renaissance Festival had decided to hit the SSQQ Halloween
Jack the Ripper was frighteningly
authentic. I liked the tall lady, I think her name is Barbara Herndon, who came as the
Witch Doctor, spear and all. I was told
her costume took about three hours to assemble (and weeks beforehand!) and about two hours
after to wash off all the makeup!
There was a Latin "Carmen Miranda" couple
who looked fabulous. There was a couple as a Sheik and face-covered woman in traditional
royal Arab attire that was wonderful.
There were many body parts on display. Anita
Williams had a butt so big it appeared on the satellite feed as the eye in the sky passed
over Houston. Sharon Crawford (Dolly Parton) and Marla Jennings had breasts that they
happily displayed to anyone curious enough to ask. There was a guy dancing with a plastic
butt attached to his jeans. Everyone says, "I don't have a costume !!"
Well, next year buy a body part. Or get a hockey mask. Really. Stop the whining. It takes
15 minutes at Target or Southern Importers to buy something. You don't have be the best.
Most of the fun is just participating.
There was a lady with a Hoop dress the size of your
average kitchen. There was a Mermaid with a dress made of turquoise sequins. Theresa,
Daryl's sister, was gorgeous with her pink hair as a girl with a dubious reputation.
Rocky was a Mexican Superstition that goes around
and eats goats. His outfit had a sequined mask and cape with red tights and knee pads for
muscles that would make Conan envious. His sidekick Laura came along simply to explain the
concept of Rocky's outfit which I thought was a hoot. Now we can have one person in
costume who doesn't say anything and another person as a spokesperson. Very creative.
Ben and Diane Liles came as Bride and Groom. Ben had
a ball and chain. He has clearly grasped the concept of his lifestyle change quickly.
Marty and Kim came as the Dance Teacher and Dance Student from Hell. Marty had some
interesting dance suggestions on his shirt and Kim's shirt said, "that's not the way
Ben explained it." Marty had thumbs he was forced to sever because his students
had trouble with the concept "no thumbs". I like that ! Keeping with the
dance theme, Linda and Rad Decker came as dance police to issue citations for fast
dancing, slow dancing, and reckless dancing. Too bad they weren't around the put the man
in jail who decided to dance in roller blades.
Pat Steerman was dressed as a Ghoul. He took a few
turns in the Haunted House. He was so well attired that he looked like a lifeless
decoration... until he suddenly sprang to life !! There are still M&Ms all over
the Haunted House floor from the poor M&M girl who tossed her entire bag of candy into
the air out of fear when Patrick reached for her !!
Other SSQQ staffers in attendance were Timm and
Linda in combat fatigues, Joanne Spuck as Catwoman, Julie Downey in black with
Sunglasses... she said she was movie character. I am sure she will explain it to me next
week. Dennis Taupo I think was a monk, Maureen was a gypsy, Rachel as Elvis, Shannon Iles
as a smooth operator (ER type), Ann Bush as Renaissance???(I forget, but she was pretty
!), Paula Blaisdale as a biker chick, plus Rodrigo Aranda and his wife Nelly as matching
monks. Andrew Gordon, the handsome gentleman who took all the pictures, looked terrific as
a Sultan (nice turban !) along with his beautiful wife Donyce as a Belly Dancer.
Listen, I cannot do justice to all the fabulous
costumes. I have decided to hire a fashion writer for next year's party to carefully take
notes and names. Rocky of course will have his interpreter to explain his outfit and
probably the rest of you might do the same.
Judy and I worked mighty hard on the Haunted House.
It was a labor of love which turned out pretty well. Contributing huge efforts were Anita
Williams, Tom Flaherty, and Aliene Rickard. I think the Haunted House will be even better
next year ! I was walking through the Haunted House when I noticed a really cool
monster that I hadn't see before. I stopped to admire it, thinking I needed to compliment
Judy on her new monster when suddenly the damn thing grabbed me !! It turned out to
be Patrick. So just like Luis, the M&M girl, and the poor lady at Southern Importers,
yes, I bought it too... I screamed !
Wonderful party. I love Halloween.
By the way, the pictures from the 1999 Halloween Party are still posted on
the SSQQ Web Site. To see the pictures, Click
This Story was originally published
back in June, 1999. It was sent in by an SSQQ student via email.
As you know, Tuesday at the Longhorn
is "SSQQ" night. Well, last night seemed like a typical night. Many of us were
there, dancing and having a good time. Then came the whip music. Normally thats no
big deal. Theres always a little two-step, a little polka, a little waltz, a little
swing, and then a whip set. Thats when I always sit down to take a breather, since I
have had absolutely no whip lessons. None. So I was just sitting, enjoying the rest, when
a guy came up and asked me to dance. "No, thank you," I replied, "I
dont know how to whip." To which came many "Aw, come ons," and
"Its really easy". All the time I continued to say "No, thank
you." He then said, "Well why dont you just let me show you a few
steps." So taking him at his word (what an idiot), I walked to the dance floor. BIG
MISTAKE! First of all, those whip sets are long, and secondly, he proceeded to throw me
around like a sack of potatoes. I mean, he jerked me up, down, over, and under, and I lost
count of how many times my feet came up off the ground! I realize that Im no spring
chicken anymore, but he would have destroyed the joints of a 20-year old with these moves!
Not to mention all the nasty, sleazy moves he tried. Every time I would try to pull away
from him or tell him to stop he would just laugh and not let go of my arm. When that song
was over I just stormed over to my chair and the jackass had the nerve to tell me to save
him a two-step. If Id had my wits about me, I would have ground my boot into his
A fellow from ssqq told me he has
seen that guy before at other places and he does the same thing to other women.
Well, all I can say is I felt like
whip got its name from "whiplash"! I couldnt even turn my head last
night it was so sore. And thats coming from a woman who went through childbirth 3
times with no drugs - and one of those was a 37- hour labor.! So I am no
not really sure how to spell that, but Im still not one!) He just really ran me
through through the mill.
Now you know why I just had to thank
SSQQ. It is an incredible place for many reasons. But its the respect for other
people thats taught along with dancing that, and I think I can speak for many women,
that is really appreciated.
Longhorn Jackass Revisited
Recently I received this email from another
SSQQ student who had read the original story printed above.
One Thursday evening we were at City Streets dancing. There was a
guy there that usually shows up at Longhorn or wherever SSQQ dancers dance. Someone had
submitted an article about him earlier this year. His usual tactics are slithering through
a crowd, sizing up victims, and striking quickly. Then he drags his victims out to the
dance floor and then proceeds to dance several levels above theirs.
It is a pitiful sight to see! He will do Twilight Zone Whip steps
with someone who barely knows Two-Step. He never does the footwork of a dance, just the
arm work. His footwork is a simple Step-Step-Step-Step, so he can drape himself around the
girl, and touch as much of her as possible.
If a woman were to say, "Im just a beginner, could you
dance at my level?" it would not be heard. He would just continue mauling and
On this particular Thursday he was slinking and slithering
himself through the dance floor. It was like watching a vicious animal positioning himself
on unsuspecting prey and then pouncing on them. The attack is quick and clean, but the
death is slow.
He found his latest victim and dragged her to the dance floor and
began his "dance of love". He had her in Sweethearts and Cuddles and all sorts
of neck wraps. She was totally confused and started the hysterical laugh women use when
they are overpowered. At one point I thought her arms were going to pop out of her
The dance set was a long 15-20 minute set of Whip music. The
songs went on and on. Her hair was a mess and her blouse was un-tucked. How long could she
endure this punishment?
Then out of nowhere a Knight-In-Shining-Armor appeared. A man
walked up to him, tapped him in the shoulder and said, "May I cut in?" He took
the woman away from him, pretended to dance with her, and then walked her back to her
The entire crowd cheered!
Yea for the Good Guys!
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
This got Baby moles
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
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
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
Humbled, but grateful I have managed to stumble
into the elite 2%, I must say the logic test is 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 !
Riddle of the Sphinx or Why I hate
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...
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