September 2000
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Casino Night and Trivial Pursuit Fund Raiser a Big Success! 
PS- To read more about how Cole is progressing, click here

On Saturday, September 23, SSQQ staged a Fund Raiser Party for Ben and Diana Liles and their young son Cole. The party raised $2,000 plus many spirits as well. The party in a word was "Fun"! 

I was in charge of Trivial Pursuit. We decided to divide into SSQQ Staff versus the Intellects. Lindy Hop Triplett was the Captain of the Intellects while the Staff quickly suggested that Maureen Brunetti was far more qualified to lead the Staff into battle than the studio's owner. 

The Intellects included Lindy Hop, her very nice friend Lenny, Wilbert, SSQQ's smartest woman Debbie Awad (she won a contest last year to prove it!), Debbie's fiancee, Ralph Harp, and Mike Freidberg. 

The SSQQ Staff included Maureen, me, David Armand, Fran and Bill (who are not on the Staff quite yet), plus Margie Saibara and Ted Jones. 

Team SSQQ got off to a quick start largely through the efforts of David Armand who is currently a student at the University of Houston and still accustomed to using his brain on a daily basis. However when the Intellects discovered David got most of his information from watching the Disney Channel, they decided to tease him for the rest of the night. Jealous, I guess. 

It turns out that the Intellects did not "click well" as a team. Mike Friedberg knew many of the answers, but he was so soft-spoken that most of the time his suggestions were ignored. Too bad. For one thing, Mike knew that "Nantucket" was a better answer as the major fishing island of Massachusetts, but somehow "Martha's Vineyard" was submitted. Tsk. Another time Mike was pretty sure that "Mickey and Minnie" was Janet Jackson's tattoo in an unmentionable area of her body, but was overruled for "Chip and Dale". David was almost incontrollable in his delight - anyone who watches the Disney Channel would have gotten that answer easily. I might add the "Playboy Channel" might have been an equally useful venue in answering this one. (But I am just taking other people's words for it.)

However, the Intellects had an advantage. They knew our weakness. Me. I was the only person on my team who claimed to know anything about Sports. For the game winning question, they deliberately put me on the Free Throw Line by choosing the "Sports" category. The question: "What sport is covered in the Japanese magazine 'Waggle'?" My suggestions were sumo wrestling, gymnastics, volleyball, and badminton. These are all sports that the Japanese excel at. The team decided to choose "Badminton". The answer? "Golf". Phooey. 

So we proceed to roll the dice for another 30 minutes trying to land on the damn middle again. Instead of blaming me for suggesting "Badminton", I believe the dice roller was largely responsible for the Intellects catching up to us. Suddenly they too had six pies and were heading towards the middle. 

I was given another crucial sports question. "Who was the first black baseball player to become captain of his team?" I smartly dissuaded my team from Jackie Robinson and suggested Willie Mays and Roy Campanella. Largely because of his fabled reputation as a leader, I went with the Dodger's Campanella. Nope. Willie Mays. My team had lost all confidence in me, but not Team Intellect. They knew they could always count on me. 

Fortunately Team Intellect blew a game-winning answer themselves, giving us another chance. Naturally they chose "Sports" again. "Which was the winning-est college basketball program in the 1980s?" This one was pretty easy. Michael Jordan was their legendary player. Dean Smith retired as the winning-est coach of all time. The percentage guess had to go to University of North Carolina. Yes. That was correct. 

I looked around and saw that my team was stunned. I had finally gotten one right with the game on the line. They were so pleased they tried to carry me off on their shoulders, but I was humiliated when they dropped me on the floor. Gee whiz, guys!!  Still, the victory was sweet. 

My thanks to all who participated!

Casino Night!!

Largely through the coordinating efforts of Event Organizer Extraordinaire Susie Merrill plus the hard work of her Heartbeat Dance Team, Casino Night was a huge success. Susie and the Heartbeat went way way way out of their way to put together a highly-professional Gaming Room complete with Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, and Poker. The Dealers were slickly outfitted and the Cocktails waitresses were stunning in their short skirts. 

Dealers included Tom Flaherty, Andrew Wupper, Tony Hsu, Daryl Armstrong (looking resplendent in his Hawaiian Shirt Dealer's costume!), Paul Foltyn, Dan Carr, Brian White, Randy Goshorn, plus I believe Rocky Kneten and Laura Wilde. Forgive me if I get any of the details wrong because I was only in the Casino Room for 10 minutes before it shut down. Later I was told the moment I entered people started leaving so they had no choice. Thanks a lot. 

The fetching Saloon Girls included Vickie Huddleston, Ann Bush, Mo Hendrix, Candi is Dandy Angulo, and the legendary Swamp Fox herself Anita Williams.  Actually Anita was quite fetching indeed as she went to get several drinks for me during the evening. Later however Anita looked very tired. I asked her what was the matter and she said she was exhausted from counterfeiting a million dollars earlier in the day. 

Paul Foltyn had some very clever ideas for being a successful dealer. He said he kept his clients entertained with jokes. "Why did the coach flood the gym?- He wanted to put his subs in". "Why did the Coach send in the Second String? - He wanted to tie up the game."  There were only two people at Paul's table when I talked with him. ;-)

After Paul and I managed to shut down the place, Daryl Armstrong auctioned off the prizes. As you might imagine new Dad Daryl was hysterical. For example, every time his lovely wife JoAnne was about to win something, Daryl managed to keep the bidding open till another bid came in. Going one, going twice, going four times, going twenty times... Daryl had to stay on his toes because JoAnne bid on practically everything!!  (I honestly don't know how he affords her.) 

Some of the bidding was bizarre. For example, Marty Shea made a couple of music CDs to give away. JoAnne, as you might expect, immediately wanted them and put in a nice starting bid of 250. Sitting in a rocking chair, Leroy Ginzel then bid 25,000!!  As you might guess, that shut everyone else up quickly. What the guests didn't know is that Marty and Adele Raber had bet everything on their last throw of the dice and come up a winner. They had to leave early, so they gave their chips to Leroy and asked him to bid on the Music CDs as a proxy. Leroy was just doing what they asked, but the rest of the people were gasping. 'What was on those CDs?', they wondered. Poor Marty Shea predictably was besieged with requests to make copies for everyone else. He has since opened up his own music-production company. 

Another time Candi is Dandy Angulo made an enormous bid for some item. Immediately the bidders were suspicious because Candi had been a fetching high-heeled waitress all evening. When had she had the time to accumulate that much wealth?  No one had seen her gambling. Had she been raiding the coffers when no one was looking?  Or had she used her ample charms to beguile some besotted guest and separate him from his gambling lucre?  With dollar bills hanging from every conceivable spot, Candi at first was quite defiant. "I was very busy" was her initial reply, but when she saw all the eyebrows raised at that comment, she realized that maybe she had sent the wrong message. Candi quickly reminded everyone that maybe her handsome husband Manny standing nearby had contributed some to the family stash. Oh Sure. 

In fact all the bidding was very unpredictable. Things that were actually worth something were often obtained for practically nothing (unless of course poor JoAnne wanted it). Other items that in my diplomatic opinion were junk were hotly-contested items. Take the incident of the rocks. There was this stupid bag of rocks that Susie brought along. Apparently the Waitresses were expected to wear balloons as part of their costumes. The only problem was that Randy filled them with too much Helium and the Saloon Girls were turning into Balloon Girls. This was a real problem because one unnamed waitress had chosen not to wear underwear. Plus another waitress was looking at everyone's hand and signaling to the Blackjack Dealer. We had to get a ladder to pull them down off the ceiling. Then Susie solved everything by adding the Rocks to weight them down to everyone's obvious disappointment.  

However, that's not what the customers wanted. There was a lot of betting going on about which waitress forgot to wear underwear, but there was only one good way to find out. The bidders tried to buy the entire Rock Collection so the girls would float to the ceiling again. Thus the spirited bidding. Susie however put a quick end to this nonsense by popping everyone's bubble. Literally. The Air Waitress Team was grounded. 

Many people asked why I bothered to stay late for the Auction bidding. Although I didn't appreciate it, everyone had a big laugh at my expense when I lost all my gambling money early on with one pathetic throw of the dice. I replied that Susie would have auctioned off the furniture if I hadn't stayed. 

All in all, Casino Night was a very fun evening. I have not given nearly enough credit to all of the many people who worked hard to make it a success. For example, there was one gentleman who loaned his excellent Craps table for the evening, but I am sorry I forgot his name. Although Ray and Janet Wukman couldn't make the evening, they donated several wonderful auction gifts as did Larry Carlton, Helen Villasenor, and several other people. And Mitch Istre went to a lot of trouble to bring his entire CD collection and sound system with him to DJ the evening. I was sorry to see that he remembered to take his excellent equipment home with him. 

Other people with less glamorous jobs who were equally important included Donna Tillery who took care of the money (but didn't get to have much fun alone by herself!), Terry Hale who single-handedly cleaned up the big mess after an excellent Potluck Dinner, and Bill Merrill who performed countless duties such as carrying things in and out, decorating, cleaning up, and a million other odd jobs.

My point is that whether I chronicled their efforts or not, actually many people contributed a lot of time and effort into making the night terrific. However no one could ever have predicted the best contribution of all. In the middle of the night to everyone's shock and joy, Ben and Diana strolled in with their darling little son Cole!! 

I don't know about the other people, but I was astonished. I didn't realize Cole had become strong enough to be released from the hospital, but sure enough there he was all comfy and bundled up in a car seat. Naturally I was terrified to breathe on the little boy, but that didn't prevent me from grinning a lot!  It was so cool to have Cole there as the Guest of Honor on his own night!

Later Ben and Diana went back into Room 4 to get away from the noise and the evil influences of the gambling and wicked women of Casino Night. I hadn't seen Diana in two months ever since the emergency birth back on July 28th. Diana has been through so much herself that I was just as happy to see her as I was to meet Cole. She is a pretty amazing woman. Apparently Diana works as a pediatric nurse at Texas Children's hospital. If ever there was a home to be born premature into, I think Cole picked the right one!!  And watching Ben as he took Cole out of the car seat to hold against his shoulder, I could tell Cole was in good hands too!  Ben also exerts a magic influence over his son. The moment Ben held him against his shoulder, Cole grunted and turned purple with effort. I will spare you the reason why...

What a lovely, special evening!!  Thanks again to all who participated!
PS- To read more about how Cole is progressing, click here


Rick is Impressed with Modern Technology

Judy and I broke down and decided to get Caller ID. No one ever calls us, but just in case they do, we wanted to be ready. Judy in particular has trouble with names and thought if she could read the name, she could remember it better. Well, not surprisingly a week went by and no one had called yet. As I walked by the phone, I noticed Caller ID had been activated so I decided it was time to find out if it worked. With Judy keeping a close eye on the home phone, I went into the office and called from the studio phone. I heard the phone ringing in the other room.

So I went and asked Judy what it said. Judy had a very curious look on her face. She showed me the readout. 
It said, "SSQQ Dance Stud". I was amazed at just how sophisticated modern technology has become!  We should have bought this a long time ago. 



Rick Archer Disagrees with the Pope.

No one asked for my opinion, but I decided to offer it anyway. I think over-population is our planet's greatest problem and I also think very little is being done to deal with this time-bomb. My guess is at least a few other people out there agree with me. 

At some point countries will run out of enough water and food to feed their population. At this point they will wage war to steal another country's resources in a manner similar to Saddam's ruthless grab of Kuwait several years back. These predictable battles will of course solve the population problem in its own way. However I had hoped people far more influential than I would consider other less cynical solutions such as finding ways to curb population growth before the problem solved itself through bloodshed and famine. 

Unless some miracle technology comes along to change things as they are today, my attitude is each person should have the right to replace him or herself and stop there. However this simple idea appears to be just my wishful thinking. I also think being unprepared to raise a child properly is a far greater crime against society than most of the crimes people get locked up for. 

However my idle hope that people who are in a position to make a difference might start preaching a message similar to mine was rudely dashed when I read the September 6th Houston Chronicle. 

On Tuesday, Pope John Paul II took to task married couples who decide to remain childless. John Paul decried that, in the face of many children who don't have parents, "there are so many couples who decide to remain without children for reasons not rarely selfish." 

The Pope went on to make further enlightened suggestions such as condemning in-vitro fertilization (I am sure the Liles family will appreciate this news), calling it "a morally reprehensible practice". He also pointed out that anyone who is not a faithful Catholic cannot expect to attain full salvation from earthly sin. The Vatican declaration added that other beliefs - including I assume Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and Protestants - have defects that render them inferior. 

Pardon me while I disagree with all three positions in disgust. But that's just my opinion. 

Email from Charles Masino





Rick Archer's Reply to Mr Masino.

Mr. Masino,

I am sorry you find my point of view upsetting, but I stick to my position - given a planet struggling to feed the people that are already here it is ludicrous to criticize people for not having babies, there is nothing immoral about having in-vitro children if you have the love and resources to care for them, and I doubt seriously a truly loving God would penalize someone for worshipping Him through another religion if the devotion was sincere.

I will agree the title of my article was disrespectful and perhaps should be toned down. However it reflects my sentiments so clearly that the title is likely to remain.

I also respect your right to voice your opinion. Furthermore, tomorrow I will add your comments to my web site so that you have the right to disagree.

(Editor's Note: I might add I decided to change the title of my original piece as a result of Mr. Masino's letter. However the content remains the same. For the record, I am not even remotely "anti-Catholic". I am however anti-stupidity.)


Amy Dryden Killed in Car Accident

This was sent to me by Ruth Ann Manison: 

Dear Dancers,

I got some sad news this morning from Katrina Burger and she asked that I pass it along to the group. Our friend and fellow dancer Amy Dryden was killed in a car crash yesterday afternoon in the Austin area. She was an architect and had gone up there to check on the job site for a project her firm was working on.  According to witnesses, it looked as if she just lost control of her car and swerved and hit the other car.  Two people in the other car were life-flighted. 

The memorial service for Amy Dryden is:

Thursday, September 14, 12 - Noon
George H. Lewis & Son’s Funeral Homes
1010 Bering (between San Felipe and Woodway)
(713) 789-3005

Please join us to pay respects to her Amy and support her family and friends at this difficult time. Feel free to forward this message to anyone you think would like to know about the service.  Thanks,  Ruth Ann


The following information was sent to me by Amy's friend, Katrina Burger, who copied it from the Houston Chronicle. 

You may or may not already know this. Amy Dryden, an SSQQ dance student of about three years (off and on) was killed Monday in an automobile accident. She had just recently begun taking the Western Cha-Cha class this month. I've copied the Obit from the Houston Chronicle below. Katrina Burger

AMY D. DRYDEN, a native Houstonian, died September 11, 2000 in Giddings, Texas, after an automobile accident. She was 41. Amy graduated from Westchester High School in 1978. She received her degree in Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. She was employed with Jackson & Ryan Architects, and was a member of Second Baptist Church. Amy was preceded in death by her father John P. Dryden. She is survived by her mother Bonnie R. Dryden; her sister Linda Dryden Battson & husband Joe and their children Stephanie and Brent Battson; brother Rodney Ray Dryden; and her fiancé Joe Gonzalez. A memorial service will be conducted on Thursday, September 14, 2000 at 12 o clock noon in the chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive. In lieu of flowers and for those desiring, memorial contributions may be directed to a charity of your choice. 

(Editor's Note: Amy's unfortunate car accident as well as Conrad Anderson's bicycle/car accident in May of this year (click here) are constant reminders about the frailty of life. 

It is especially sad indeed when someone leaves us in the prime of their life as Amy and Conrad have.  I wasn't aware that Amy was engaged to Joe Gonzalez, whom she met here at the studio. Certainly Joe, Katrina, Ruth Ann, and everyone else from the studio who knew Amy has to be a very sad person today.)


George Wallace and Suzy Kish get Married!

Sharon Crawford reports about the George and Suzy's recent wedding:

The wedding was beautiful.  George got emotional when he first saw Suzy because she was so pretty.  They didn’t make any mistakes on their waltz, but Suzy had not had an opportunity to practice in her dress and veil and the veil kept getting caught in their arms.  George is so romantic.  They rode away in a horse drawn carriage with all of us blowing bubbles at them.  They went on a cruise to Alaska for their honeymoon. 

(Editor's Note: Congratulations to this lovely couple!  Some of you may not know that Suzy is not only beautiful, but even more important she is very smart too!  She won last month's SSQQ Picture Puzzle Contest which included a free trip to Alaska. To read about her victory, click here. And George is just as smart as Suzy as shown by his decision to ask her to marry him!

Suzy and George's wedding brings to 14 the SSQQ Wedding total for 2000. Although at the start of the year I thought we would be hard-pressed to surpass 1999's unbelievable total of 14, all the recent August weddings have pulled us into a tie with last year's total. And now with all the August engagements, this indicates we will probably blow 1999's total out of the water!!  Who ever said June was the big wedding month?  August looks like the Marital Sweepstakes winner to me.)


Michael Gabrysch and Shannon Barton get Married!

Proud Mom Maria Barton writes to confirm her lovely daughter Shannon indeed tied the knot with Michael Gabrysch on August 26th. Maria says that all the wedding preparations prevented her from visiting the studio the past several months, so I imagine it must have been quite a wedding!  Here is Maria's letter:

Michael Gabrysch and Shannon Barton were married at 6pm on August 26, 2000, at one of South Lake Tahoe's most majestic mountains, overlooking beautiful Emerald Bay.  The bride wore an elegant white strapless gown embraced in a floral, beaded bodice with a lengthy train made of a tulle floral design arrayed in delicately placed pearls and a matching veil.  The ceremony was attended by family and a few close friends.  Afterwards, the couple had an outdoor dinner reception at an elegant English Restaurant, The Dory's Oar.  The restaurant whispered romance with its white picket fence, rose covered borders, and candlelight tables. The cuisine was superb with a variety of selections. The cake was white, delicately designed with fresh cut flowers.  

And last, but not least, the couple had their first dance as Mr. and Mrs. Michael Gabrysch on the restaurant’s small but quaint wooden dance floor.  After all, they met on the dance floor, so they started their new life on the dance floor, followed by a romantic stay at Fantasy Inn's honeymoon suite.  All said and done, the evening became an unforgettable and magical moment!

(Editor's Note: Congratulations to both!  Michael and Shannon are indeed a lucky couple! And thank you, Maria, for sharing this sweet story with us.)


Rachel Seff Marries off Two SSQQ Couples!!

Last year Match Maker extraordinaire Rachel Seff announced to me that four of her friends were engaged to be married. Then Rachel, better known in SSQQ Circles as "Yenta", added she had "helped" spark these SSQQ romances (see the 1999 Grapevine for the stories if you are curious.)

With all the weddings in August, I noticed I hadn't gotten any feedback from Rachel about her friends Karen Murray and Dave Bowman and David Meinert and Eileen MacPherson. So I emailed Rachel to make a gentle inquiry. This is what Rachel sent me: 

Yes. Karen and Dave were married a few weeks ago.  Dave and Eileen were married in February.

Wow!!  I am very happy for both couples. I only wish Rachel could have included a couple more details. I guess all the excitement is in the engagement process. I would now like to take a moment to congratulate Rachel on several things:

  1. Rachel's new job in the Admissions Office at the Rice Business School. 
  2. Rachel's strong running for Team SSQQ in the recent Beach Ball Balloon Race.
  3. Tying SSQQ's Susie Merrill as SSQQ's top Matchmaker (Susie claims to have assisted the romances of Janet Wukman and Ray Meyers plus Tony Catalano and Karen Day)
  4. Tying SSQQ's Dennis Taupo as the studio's worst Wedding Announcement writer. (see below) 


Brady Paseman and Sarah Milford get Married!

I asked SSQQ Staff Dennis Taupo if his friends Brady Pasemann and Sarah Milford got married yet and if he could share any information. Dennis replied with this lengthy writeup: 

"They sure did!  They got married on August 11".  

Although I was hoping Dennis would possibly remove any doubt, I will go out on a limb and say I believe that Brady and Sarah met here at SSQQ.  I am very happy for this lovely couple and I am equally pleased Dennis didn't get that job he applied for writing wedding announcements for the Chronicle. ;-)


Peggy Head and Anton Solovyov get Married!

Peggy Head shares her adventures with us: 

Anton and I were married at beautiful Lake Tahoe on August 26. It was a fantastic experience that I highly recommend to other happy couples.

During the wedding trip, we stayed in Stateline, NV for a few days—we combined the wedding trip with the honeymoon. Other than our wedding, Lake Tahoe seemed to be the center of our attention. We enjoyed a sailboat ride on Lake Tahoe, a hot-air balloon ride 2000 feet over Lake Tahoe, and a tram ride to the top of Heavenly mountain overlooking Lake Tahoe. Our little wedding reception was held at a cute little park on the beach of Lake Tahoe. What wonderful photo opportunities! 

After our stay in Nevada, we returned home for a few days to catch up on work and Waltz class, then we jetted off to NEW YORK CITY for the Labor Day weekend.  To celebrate our marriage, Anton’s family treated us to a fantastic evening of dining and dancing in a high-class Russian restaurant. I even learned a few Russion words. Do you know that “voda” means “water” in Russian? 

In New York, we visited Anton’s family in the Brighton Beach community. It has become a haven for Russian immigrants and the diversity certainly adds cultural interest to the area. Brighton Beach is also the home of Coney Island Amusement Park and the New York Aquarium.

During our stay in New York, we boarded a “Circle Line” tour boat at the Manhattan docks to sail around “The Island.” It was fun viewing the Big Apple from a safe distance.

While on the boat ride, I was awe-struck by my first view of the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor.  My mind turned to thoughts of how immigrants, such as my new family members, might have felt at their first view of the statue.

After much family fun in New York we returned to Houston on Labor Day, one of the hottest days of the year. And the sultry blast of air that greeted us as we left Hobby airport, felt good because it meant we were home. Yep, back home in Texas to “live happily ever after.”


Tony Catalano and Karen Day get Engaged!

Susie Merrill stopped me at the studio on Friday with a grin so wide it exceeded her face. She said that Tony Catalano and Karen Day had just told her they were getting married! 

I have known Tony and Karen for many years. They are two of the nicest people I know and I must admit I thought they made a terrific couple the moment they started dating about two years ago. 

I of course would never have told them that, but Susie on the other hand thinks she is the reincarnation of Cupid. Susie is a huge matchmaker at heart. She has had her eye on Tony and Karen for a long time. Now that they have made it official, Susie said she can finally be at peace... except that now Susie has her eye on another couple!  Poor Susie. 

In the meantime, I am extraordinarily pleased for Tony and Karen!  What a lovely couple! 


JoAnne and Daryl Armstrong are Parents!!

SSQQ Staff Rachel Seff shares this announcement: 

Congratulations to Daryl & JoAnne Armstrong, proud parents of Austin Reed, born at 3:08 pm on Friday, September 1, 2000, weighing in at 7 lbs, 5 oz.  He is 19 inches tall.  Mom and Dad are doing fine and resting up at Memorial Herman Hospital for the next day or so. 

And the Star of the Show, JoAnne Armstrong, sends this in:

To see our latest little miracle, go to, click on online nursery, advanced search and select Sept. 1st, JO Anne Armstrong, or Austin Reed and you can get all the updated stats, etc......more details to follow.....Thanks to everyone for all their support!

Daryl, Jo Anne & Austin

Please excuse the improper grammar on the e-mail.....I’m still on some very good drugs and I hit send before I proof read! 

Jo Anne


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