If a Headline is in YELLOW, it is an article left over from last month.
Please read the Article entitled "Bitter
The SSQQ August 2004
Written and edited monthly by Rick Archer
Previous 2004 Newsletters
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WHAT'S NEW AT SSQQ THIS
AUGUST DANCE CLASSES BEGIN ON
SUNDAY, AUGUST 1ST.
PARTIES INCLUDE THE "LATIN SWING THIS BABY"
LATIN AND SWING PARTY AUGUST 14TH
THE SSQQ ALL-DAY EXTRAVAGANZA AND BEACH BALL PARTY
THE SSQQ SEPTEMBER DANCE CRUISE
ABOARD THE RHAPSODY IS UP TO 113 PEOPLE
SSQQ AND COMPETITION DANCING
SSQQ STAFF UPDATES FOR JULY 2004
DANCE CLASSES DO I NEED TO TAKE TO PREPARE FOR THE SSQQ
SEPTEMBER DANCE CRUISE?
SO HOW DID THE FIRST
SENORES AND SENORITAS CLASS (AKA THE SASS CLASS) TURN OUT??
UPDATE ON LAST MONTH'S STORY: SSQQ TO SEE
BELLAIRE'S FIRST-EVER SKY BRIDGE BUILT.
JOEL MCCLESKY AND VICTOR MARQUEZ DOMINATE AT
A RECENT WESTERN DANCE COMPETITION
CAN YOU IDENTIFY ONE OF THE MOST
BEAUTIFUL WOMEN IN THE WORLD??
CHANGES: SSQQ PHASING OUT SATURDAY SWING CLASSES STARTING IN
MYSTERIOUS CHANNEL 13 SSQQ FEATURE
COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH
COMPLAINT: WHY THE INTERMEDIATE WESTERN WALTZ CLASS WAS CANCELED
THE NEXT CHAPTER REGARDING
LAST MONTH'S COMPLAINT ABOUT THE VULGAR PROPOSITION
BEST NEW JOKES OF MONTH
||BEST NEW JOKES OF THE
MONTH: 8 NEW JOKES THIS MONTH!! -
Contributed by Anita Williams, Judy Walsh,
John Hall, Chris Holmes, Gary Richardson,
CHERYL CORMIER AND GARY DAVIS GET MARRIED!
SHARON CRAWFORD SHARES SOME INSIDE SCOOP ON HER ENGAGEMENT TO BILL SHAW.
FRAN LANDRY AND RICK JACOBS GET ENGAGED.
ssqq employee of month
MELANIE JONES AND JILL BANTA
ssqq logic club
||WHO WERE THE WINNERS
OF THE JULY PUZZLE?
NEW logic puzzle
tHE NEW SSQQ
LOGIC PUZZLE: PLAYING CARDS
joke picture of the month
ISN'T IT INTERESTING HOW YOU
REMEMBER CERTAIN PEOPLE?
WORST NEW PUN OF
LONE RANGER AND TONTO - Contributed by
Contributed by Rick Archer
VENUS AND MARS
WOMEN'S ASS SIZE - Contributed
by Patty Jones
CLEAN SIDE JOKES
Dog, Leopard, & Monkey"
BY CHRIS HOLMES AND PAT ROBERTS
AND WHICH 5 JOKES FROM LAST YEAR'S AUGUST NEWSLETTER JOINED THE
HALL OF FAME??
BLUE SIDE JOKES
Lessons on the Beach" - Judy Walsh
THE NEWS: Cruise Passengers Told to Abandon Ship
Mouse in the soup
THE NEWS: German court rejects man's brothel demand
MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR RAIL STOPPED BY FLOODING
STORY IN THE NEWS: HOUSTON CHRONICLE ARTICLE ABOUT MISSING
STORY IN THE NEWS:
The Most Beautiful Hotel in the World!! - contributed by
START OF THE HEADLINE STORIES SECTION
RETURN TO HEADLINES
NEW AT SSQQ THIS MONTH
WHAT'S NEW AT SSQQ IN AUGUST!!
WHAT'S NEW AT SSQQ IN AUGUST!!
July is the month we have our Sadie Hawkins Manhunt. In recent
years, this was becoming a ho-hum event until I decided to put a
bounty on the men's heads. Catch one and get a dollar. Now the
women have a real reason to track them down.
What we do is attach balloons to each man's ankle. Once the
second balloon is popped you are out of the game. This year we
had 25 women hunting 25 men.
SSQQ Staffer Mona Nashed and her cousin Yma were the real
killers. Together I think they hunted down nearly a third of the
men. I believed they worked together. One would slow the man
down while the other would sneak up behind and get the balloon.
This years Most Elusive Man Award went to Anton Solovyov. Anton
finished second back in 2000, but this year he was practically
uncatchable. He was so difficult to bring down he almost became
the first men ever to get to the end of the game (ten minutes)
with a balloon still intact. Impressive.
And Guess who finished second? I did. Not bad considering my
daughter Sam made it her one goal in life to put me out of the
race. She was after me the entire time. Ha! It was fun to make
The September SSQQ Cruise is amazing. We are way past the 100
threshold and continue to get nibbles. Believe it or not,
there's still room to join us.
In July 8 different SSQQ dancers either won or placed in the New
Orleans UCWDC Mardi Gras Dance Competition. The entire story is
in this email. It is a very interesting story. SSQQ may be on
the verge of developing a dance competition training program.
Let me know what you think of the story below.
The SSQQ Extravaganza is coming on August 28th in conjunction
with our annual Beach Ball Party. During the day we will have 24
dance workshops to choose from and at night we will dance to the
music of our first live band five years. HIT AND RUN is a
terrific dance band that will play Western, Swing, and Whip
music all night long. Plus my friend George Grega will bring in
his special light show for the occasion. This entire day is
going to be Something Special!!
You can read more about the EXTRAVAGANZA below.
We have a feature in the SSQQ Newsletter
known as "Stories in the News". As you know I have a weird
job that calls for me to work nights. In the evening while
you play, I work. However there is a flip side to this
coin. Many of you people are working very hard for a living
while I have nothing better to do at 8 AM than drink my coffee
and calmly read the paper.
As a result of this relaxed approach to the news, I catch lots
of stories that you might miss and I just love sharing them with
you!! Some are funny, some are serious, some are
tragic. I think they are all interesting.
SCHEDULE OF CLASSES
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE JUNE 2004 SCHEDULE
STORY ONE: AUGUST DANCE CLASSES BEGIN ON
HERE ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AUGUST 2004 SCHEDULE
By student request we will be offering Gloria Sanchez' INTERMEDIATE
SWING BALBOA. This class has been very popular, so be sure to join
in on Sundays in August at 4:30 pm.
After a very successful month of Acrobatics in July, we will offer
SWING ACROBATICs II as a follow-up on Sundays in August. Don't
forget you need a partner for this class. Don't miss it!
Beg Argentine Tango had 30 students, so we will offer INTERMEDIATE
ARGENTINE TANGO in August. This is your chance to learn more about
this flashy, mysterious and beautiful dance.
Speaking of Tango, BEGINNING AMERICAN TANGO will also be offered on
Mondays with Charlene.
ADVANCED DANCING IN THE MOONLIGHT on Mondays features many
sophisticated patterns to Waltz, Foxtrot, and Rumba. For those of
you taking the SSQQ September Cruise, this class is perfect for
dancing to the live Big Band Music at the Captain's Reception!
THREE LEFT FEET on Tuesday is a follow-up class to the better-known
Two Left Feet class. This class prepares you to dance at practically
any occasion - wedding reception, class reunion, or private party
with a band. It covers Western, Salsa, Freestyle, Zydeco, and Slow
WESTERN WALTZ V appears once a year. Many of the former graduates of
Sharon and John's Waltz program are now considered among the finest
Waltz dancers in the city. Reminder: In September Sharon and John
will start WESTERN CHA CHA.
Scott Ladell is a Competition Western dancer who has recently joined
the SSQQ Staff. So far Scott has gotten one compliment after another
for the choreography in his recent Ghost Town class. He will be
offering DEATH VALLEY 1 on Fridays in August. Should be exciting!
MARTIAN WHIP on Thursdays welcomes back Bethany Daniels from her
three-month absence while she starred on stage in "Suessical the
Musical". Did you know the Friday Martin Class known as MARTIAN XTRA
has begun to set attendance records? This excellent class is taught
by Houston City WCS champion Bryan Spivey and his partner Lisa
Palmer. There is no overlap between the two nights. This means you
pay one price and get the second class for free.
On Saturdays in August at 4:30 pm SSQQ introduces WESTERN LINE
DANCING!! Actually Mae Neihouse says the class won't be just Western
Line Dances, but all kinds of line dances. If the class is popular
enough, we will happy to offer follow-ups levels as well.
RHYTHM AND BLUES TWOSTEP is a popular dance used in African-American
nightclubs. Similar to Zydeco, the man and woman dance in closed
position, then the man swings her out. The basic is a 6-count
whereas Zydeco is an 8-count. Since the patterns are kind of
similar, it can get confusing to learn without some guidance. Also
known as Steppin' and Swing Out in different areas, R&B Twostep is
the perfect marriage between East coast and West coast swing. It has
east coast footwork but has a strong west coast flare. It is danced
mainly to R&B music such R Kelly's "Step in the Name of Love." This
class is being offered at SSQQ for the first time. Three different
students have stopped me at the studio to say how glad they are to
see this class offered. However the credit should go to Willie
Bushnell, our popular Zydeco instructor, who has previously taught
this class on a dance cruise with great results. Should be
interesting! Ronnie Alexander will help Willie !
team-teach this class.
SSQQ has recently introduced a new Saturday dance program known as
Senors and Senoritas from 1:30-3:30 pm. Taught by Milt Oglesby and
Susan Arevalo, the SASS CLASS features all kinds of dancing and has
a built-in practice night at the end of each class.
For a more detailed look, visit
http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/senors.htm. If you have any questions,
email Milt at MILTTGIF@aol.com
By the way, about a dozen people have stopped me to explain that I
have misspelled "Senors". Technically it should be "Senores". Well,
that's true, but tough. It's a play on words. Stop bugging me!.
PARTIES IN AUGUST
STORY TWO: SSQQ DANCE PARTIES
THE “LATIN SWING THIS BABY”
SALSA SWING DANCE!!
Saturday, August 14th,
9:15 - 1 am, Cover Charge $7.
Swing dancing will be in Room
1 and the Salsa dancing will be in Room 4.
CRASH COURSES FROM 7-9 PM:
(Note: To Register for a Crash
Course, show up the night of the party and sign up at the door!)
LATIN CHA CHA - Judy
CUMBIA - Linda
SALSA DIPS AND LUNGES - Steve/Danielle
LATIN HUSTLE - Kerry
SLOW DANCING - Marty and Adele (cpls only)
SWING CHARLESTON - Maureen
The SSQQ Extravaganza is an all-day Dance Event on Saturday, August
Doors open at 9 am and stay open till after Midnight!!
There will be six Crash Courses offered at 4 different times in the
day, meaning you have 24 classes in all to choose from!
The BEACH BALL PARTY later that night will feature the first live
band at SSQQ in 4 years. HIT 'N RUN is headed by Charlie Cotrone
featuring Rick Keith on Keyboards. George Grega has known Charlie
and his band for many a year. Earlier this year in January I went to
the wedding of George's daughter Tonya. While there I was very
impressed with how good the band was. I had no idea they were
personal friends of George. After I complimented George on the
selection of the band, George smiled and said, "Why don't you ask
them to play at the studio?" And that's how it happened.
Now thanks to George, he has made sure that Kirsten Chambers and
Kimberly Mendoza will be singing for us! Both ladies have sung for
the Houston Grand Opera as well as TUTS and the Gilbert & Sullivan
Society. In the words of George, they also enjoy the chance to let
their hair down and sing a few "done me wrong songs". Actually I
have cleaned up George's words. What he really said is they like to
sing in dangerous, off-the-beaten-path places. The exact word was
"slumming". I suppose next to the Grand Opera, SSQQ might be a step
in the wrong direction, but I bet these gals will be amazed at how
many people will be dancing. Rumor has it they may even bring some
more of their singing friends along to join in the fun!
As for the Extravaganza, there are four sessions offering workshops
in Beginning and Advanced West Coast Swing, Beginning and Advanced
Swing, Beginning and Advanced Western, and even some Hip Hop Line
I will be adding even more details in the next Newsletter as the
event approaches, but for now you can assume this will be a monster
event with several hundred people in attendance. And you never know
who you might meet at a dangerous place like SSQQ!
ON THE SSQQ SEPTEMBER RHAPSODY
STORY FOUR: THE SSQQ
SEPTEMBER DANCE CRUISE ABOARD THE RHAPSODY IS UP TO 113 PEOPLE.
THERE IS STILL SPACE AVAILABLE
AT THE ORIGINAL PRICES!
PHONE MARLA AT 713 862 4428 OR
SSQQ has scheduled a 7-day
Cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s floating palace known as the
“Rhapsody” at the end of September. The dates for the sailing are
Sunday, September 26, thru Sunday, October 3.
Something that makes this
particular trip out of the ordinary is that Marla and I will be
getting married aboard the ship.
Marla and I connected on the
SSQQ Cruise back in August 2001. I had known her for about six
months previously as a student, but had never actually talked. On
the first night of the cruise, there was a midnight dance at the
Disco. As I walked in, I saw Marla standing in the door watching
the dancing. She appeared to be getting ready to leave so I hustled
over and asked her to dance. We danced freestyle for a while and
then sat down. Over Margaritas we began a conversation. I was amazed
at how much chemistry we had right from the start. The rest is
We have never been apart
Originally Marla and I thought
we would get married in Estes Park, Colorado, since that is where I
proposed to her over Memorial Day 2003. We had intended to get
married in front of the Stanley Hotel (famous as the inspiration for
“The Shining”) with the Rocky Mountains as our backdrop. But on our
recent trip there this year, we realized how impractical the entire
plan was. I think the final straw was when I had to carry four
pieces of luggage up three flights of stairs at the Stanley. We
checked in at 10:30 pm after a long drive in the mountains only to
find their elevator was broken. I discovered it had been broken for
six months. Somehow the place didn’t seem quite as romantic any
So we went back to the drawing
board. Marla wanted to get married aboard the Rhapsody. After all,
we met on an SSQQ cruise, why not get married on one? Made sense
Unfortunately when we checked
in June for availability, there was already another wedding
scheduled! Amazing. It turns out they only do the weddings while
the ship is docked in Galveston each Sunday. Unfortunately someone
had already beat us to the punch.
But if you know Marla, she
doesn’t give up. It didn’t hurt that as the trip’s travel agent she
had access to people in high places. So for the first time, there
will be two weddings on the same trip!
The first wedding party gets
the “Shall We Dance” Lounge and we get the Disco. Makes sense. After
all, that’s where it started.
The problem is that due to
9/11 restrictions, the ship will only allow 35 guests. And Marla and
I count in the total! That leaves 33. So most of our wedding
guests will be immediate family and a few landlubbers who aren’t
going on the trip.
Marla was depressed at having
to leave so many people off the list. Then she had the idea to
spring for a lavish Reception later in the day for everyone who is
going on the cruise. After pulling some more strings, we now have a
wedding reception for 113 people later the same evening in the
“Shall We Dance” Lounge in addition to our earlier party.
That makes two wedding
receptions in one day plus the huge “Tattoo Leather and Lace” Party
the night before at the studio. I imagine I will be a tired boy on
this trip. But you know what? I am looking forward to it. I think
everyone is going to have a great time.
Lately we have had several
women drop off at the same time that several men were joining. The
boy-girl ratio is definitely starting to improve. That makes me feel
good because that improves the chances that I will see some sparks
fly between some of our guests on our Honeymoon trip.
As they say, “Who’s next?”
BY THE WAY, SOME CRUISES CAN BE VERY EXCITING!
GUESS WHAT HAPPENED TO A CARNIVAL SHIP JUST BARELY OUT OF NEW YORK
CITY? CLICK HERE TO READ.
STORY FIVE: SSQQ AND COMPETITION
Written by Rick Archer
Although most of you think of
SSQQ as “Home” and take it for granted, in the big picture of things
you might be surprised to find our studio is one of the largest
dance studios in America. In terms of sheer numbers of students, we
might even be THE largest (does anyone know of a larger studio?)
And how did this come about?
We accomplished this impressive feat by being “different”. Right
from the start SSQQ separated from the pack by emphasizing social
dancing for the fun of it over dance competition.
Traditional dance studios
emphasize dance competitions and dance exhibitions. Through the use
of private lessons, most studios motivate their students towards
excellence by targeting various dance competitions. Although we
teach private lessons as well, our reputation has been built on our
Group Lesson program. It is the Group Lessons that account for our
attendance numbers, numbers I might add that are practically unheard
of in the dance industry.
SSQQ has always emphasized
Group Lessons with the aim of making dance fun to learn and fun to
use. I might add our Group Lessons are also a lot less expensive
than private lessons. This helps to make learning to dance a much
more affordable hobby.
Even our studio dicor is
different. Our walls are not lined with trophies from dance
competitions or with pictures of past dance champions. Instead they
are filled with pictures of countless students having fun dancing.
Over the years our main
measure of success has been the thousands of students we have taught
to dance. We are also proud of the several hundred couples that
have met here at the studio and gone on to get married. I might add
the Marriages are just the tip of the iceberg. Throw in a dollar
for every romance we have assisted and I could retire right now.
Still SSQQ has been the object
of much criticism over the years from Houston’s dance community. We
don’t teach styling, we don’t teach technique, we don’t teach frame,
we let our students dance sloppy without any correction. We have no
dance champions and we don’t stress excellence.
You get the idea.
It is true that we don’t train
dance champions. Dance champions will never emerge from a group
class, even if it is an “Elite Group Class”. I completely agree
that at some point, private lessons are a mandatory step for anyone
who wishes to achieve excellence in the world of dance. However as
you will see, our group classes are a marvelous place to get
One reason SSQQ has not
trained a dance champion is due to the simple fact that we haven’t
ever tried to. I have never had the interest to play that game, but
the main reason is that I never have had the time. Running this
enormously complex business has always been a full-time job. I gave
up teaching private lessons years ago simply because I no longer had
Nevertheless I have always
felt that if there were some teachers here at the studio that wanted
to put their mind to it, SSQQ could become a force in the world of
competition dancing as well.
This hunch became a fact last
January 2003. During a New Years 2003 Competition our wonderfully
gifted longtime dance teacher Susie Merrill took her legendary
Heartbeat Dance Team to the UCWDC World Dance Championship.
Over the previous six years
Heartbeat had been a consistent winner in dance competitions
throughout Texas and nearby states. The team had become so deep and
so talented that Susie decided to take aim at the highest target.
She set the Worlds Western Dance Competition as their ultimate
goal. To her delight, Heartbeat did indeed win the World
Championship in the “Team Category” despite some tough competition.
Susie has been an SSQQ
Instructor since the late 80s. Her original team started in 1997 as
an offshoot from fiddling with a Western dance known as “Triple
Two”. She recruited some SSQQ instructors and advanced dancers to
help her. Just by playing around they developed such a clever
routine that Susie asked permission to let them perform here at the
studio. After a big round of applause the whole group was hooked and
decided to get even more serious. They continued to practice for
another year and a half just for the fun of it. They honed and
modified their routine. In 1998 they decided to go on a road trip.
It began innocently enough as they were just going to go to a small
competition in nearby Austin to dance an exhibition. Their routine
was very well received, but something happened. As the team members
watched the other people compete, they began to imagine dancing just
as well as some of those people did. The fire was burning. The team
d to get serious and dance
competitively. From then on, each individual took it upon himself
or herself to do whatever it took to improve as dancers. Many of
them began taking private dance lessons in addition to their team
The 2003 victory at Worlds was
the culmination of all those efforts.
Heartbeat consisted of 24
dancers who trained right here at the studio. Let me point out that
all but one of these dancers was recruited from the ranks of current
and former SSQQ students. As I said, our group lessons may not be
enough to win a dance contest, but they give you a heck of a great
start. One question the competitors constantly asked was, “Where do
you find so many men who can dance so well?”
However it wasn’t easy. The
long hours of training plus the stress of keeping up with rules
changes and upgrading the routines took its toll. The struggle for
Heartbeat to win the Worlds was so great that Susie practically fell
apart from exhaustion after it was all over. She was offered a job
teaching science up in Longview, Texas, which is where she and her
husband Bill have their retirement home. The temptation to “get away
from it all” was too great so she jumped at the offer. For the past
school year Susie has been up in Longview, which explains why some
of you newer members of the studio may not have heard of her.
Losing Susie was a fatal blow
for Heartbeat. Unfortunately there was no obvious successor.
Without their charismatic coach, the members of Heartbeat decided it
was better to go out on top. After a tearful farewell party here at
the studio in January 2003, they disbanded. I have noted there must
be some serious fun in this competition game because ever since many
of the members speak to me of their yearning to start all over again
and raise the phoenix from the ashes.
One person who decided she
would keep going is Anita Williams. At the Austin competition that
really brought the team’s focus together, Anita was one of the
people who had been inspired to take private lessons. Her work paid
off in a big way.
While Anita and her 23 fellow
dancers were busy winning the team championship at World’s in 2003,
Anita was the only Heartbeat member to win an individual competition
(3 different people entered). With her teammates cheering for her,
Anita won first place in the West Coast Swing Worlds competition to
add to her victory as part of Heartbeat.
Unfortunately soon after her
victory, several of Anita’s body parts decided to give way. She
suffered an infuriating series of knee and foot injuries that
required several surgeries to fix. While her own dance career was
postponed as she healed, Anita decided she enjoyed competitive
dancing so much that she turned to coaching.
Her first student was Victor
Marquez who just happened to have been her dance partner on
Heartbeat. After the smoke cleared from the team victory, Anita
approached Victor with this request - She wanted to try her hand at
being a pro and compete with him as the “amateur”. Anita made it
clear to Victor that this was going to be a learning process for
her. She said that most of what she could offer was her experience
as a former competitor. Victor said yes and so it began.
Anita and Victor began putting
routines together in late February 2003 to prepare for their first
event in May at the Texas Classic. From there they went to New
Orleans, then another event in Houston and a final event in Dallas.
Working the competition circuit had two purposes - first to get
invaluable experience and second because they needed to compete in
at least three UCWDC sanctioned events to qualify to compete at
Victor and Anita had so much
success at the local competitions that they were encouraged to go to
Worlds. They spent November and December working hard at practicing
and structuring the routines. As a result, they were well prepared
for the Big Show.
Not only did Victor and Anita
dance the five required dances, they put two other dances on the
floor as well! They were very pleased by how comfortable they
felt. They knew they had danced well and by watching the other
couples knew they had a chance to place high. But first they would
have to suffer an agonizing wait for the results. After dancing New
Year’s Day, they had to wait three days for the awards ceremony!
Anita was a nervous wreck the entire time. She couldn’t stop
thinking about what the results might be. Talk about cruel and
Anita felt certain that Victor
had a great chance to win but the waiting nearly shot her nerves for
life. Finally the awards day came. Anita burned several more cat
lives when she discovered the ceremony had been delayed.
Finally the Awards Ceremony
began just one hour before they had to take a taxi to the airport.
Would this be enough time to get to Victor’s results?? Anita was
through with her fingernails so she started to bite her toenails
Fortunately after all that
waiting, Victor’s division was one of the first announced. Anita was
on pins and needles as they read each placement in reverse order.
When they got to the #3, she could hardly breathe. Then they
announced the #2 winner it wasn’t Victor. Since he was the only one
that hadn’t been named, this meant he was the last man standing.
Not only did Victor win, his
scores were superior. He had basically trounced the field. Anita
decided to call him “Victory” as his new nickname. The man
definitely deserved the moniker.
This impressive championship
motivated Victor and Anita to continue working together in 2004.
Plus Anita had something else up her sleeve - she recruited a second
dance partner!! Early this year, Anita began working with SSQQ
student Joel McClesky as well.
Not long after the big win at
Worlds Anita spied Joel in the SSQQ Martian Whip class. Using the
confidence she had gained from working with Victor, Anita persuaded
Joel to compete with her as well. Fortunately Anita’s stable of
thoroughbreds does not currently compete against one another. Due
to his previous victories, Victor competes at a higher level than
I have watched these two men
train with Anita on several occasions. Every now and then I drop by
the studio on a Saturday. Each time I see Anita and Victor dancing.
Usually Joel is also there sitting on the couch waiting his turn.
Or maybe I will see Victor watching while Anita works with Joel. Or
maybe Anita would sit and let Joel practice with his girlfriend Ruth
or Victor dance with his girlfriend Christine. They are always
The hard work recently paid
off. Over the weekend of Friday, July 16th, Victor,
Joel, and Anita had an exciting weekend in New Orleans at the Dance
Mardi Gras UCWDC competition. Mr. Victor was indeed the Victor again
in his competition, but Anita had a new thrill as well - this time
Joel won his competition as well. This means Joel has now won two
competitions, the first being here in Houston at “the Texas Classic”
in May. That’s a pretty good start.
Victor and Joel’s victories
are no accident. I happen to know that both men are “Naturals” when
it comes to dance. These men moved gracefully from the first time I
saw them. Nor is it surprising that Anita picked them - she can spot
talent! But you know what, I think Anita is a “Natural” too. Not
only is she a great dancer, it looks like she has the makings of a
Joel and Victor’s success was
not the only SSQQ news this weekend. In all there were EIGHT SSQQ
students and teachers who won or placed in their divisions.
In the C&W competition, Cher
Longoria, Christine Sandal, Joel McClesky, and Victor Marquez won
their divisions. Randy Winfrey came in second in his division.
Priscilla Hamic came in fifth in her division.
Cher Longoria was the only
person to enter both sides of the competition. After winning her
Western contest, Cher came in fourth overall in her division as
well. I loved her victory message to me, “I won”. My reply? “Good.”
While Joel and Victor are
indeed “Naturals”, let us not overlook another amazingly gifted male
dancer. The entire Houston dance community is aware that SSQQ Whip
Instructor Bryan Spivey is one of the finest young talents to come
along in many a year. When you see him dance, you realize he moves
his body better than most women, but somehow manages to look quite
masculine in the process. In the Mardi Gras West Coast Swing
competition, Bryan Spivey won his Pro-Am division in impressive
fashion. Dancing Pro-Am with Lisa D’Amico against a crowded, deeply
talented field, the odds were not in his favor. Nevertheless in
classic Julius Caesar fashion, Bryan came, saw and conquered.
When you put Bryan, Victor,
and Joel side by side, we are reminded of the classic query
mentioned earlier, “Where on earth do you find all these men who can
And guess who the top-rated
Coach was? Actually Anita is too modest to accept my praise. I
don’t know how anyone can beat a coach whose only two students both
won first place, but I learned long ago the world of competitive
dancing can yield some strange results. Nevertheless Anita insisted
I say that all she knows is that as a “Coach” she placed somewhere
in the top 10% out of 42 different dance professionals. Not bad for
a woman who dances wonderfully but can’t even walk without a limp!!
We have always know that SSQQ
is a great place to get started dancing if your objective is to
learn to social dance. After this weekend, it is no longer idle
speculation that we may have the seeds of a competition program as
We have three instructors who
are ready to roll up their sleeves and help all comers with Western
and West Coast Swing right now.
Anita Williams can train a
male dancer to compete Pro-Am either in Western or West Coast
Swing. If you are interested in learning more about details,
contact her at
Scott Ladell has recently
joined the SSQQ staff. He is a very experienced Western dancer.
Working in conjunction with Anita, Scott is ready to train a female
dancer to compete in a Western Pro-Am. You can reach him at
Our recent college graduate
Bryan Spivey still has Amateur dance status. He isn’t ready to go
Pro-Am just yet. I think he is thoroughly enjoying taking
everything one step at a time. However Bryan said he will be happy
to work with anyone male or female who wishes to improve their WCS
dancing with a future eye towards competition. You can contact him
And one more thing - the next
time someone corners you at Wild West and tells you the only way to
get any good at dancing is to go learn someplace else, set ‘em
straight. Thank you.
SSQQ STAFF UPDATES FOR
The major change at the studio staff
involved the retirement of Brian and Ann White from teaching. Ann
White, then known as Ann Bush, joined the SSQQ staff in the summer
of 1999. Brian joined about a year later in September of 2000.
Along with fellow SSQQ instructors Ben Liles, Anita Williams, Martin
Anderson, Jill Banta and Mo Hendrix, Brian and Ann were founding
members of the Heartbeat Dance Team coached by Susie Merrill from
1997 through January 2003. This was the dance team that won a
world UCWDC championship in January 2003. However the climb to the
top was so arduous that Susie decided to retire from coaching soon
afterwards. I might add it was during their time as members of
the dance team that Brian and Ann started going together.
After a four year courtship, last November 2003 Brian and Ann got
married. As they settled into married life, I imagine some of
the excitement of working every Friday night after a long work week
lost some of its allure. Ann and Brian were highly respected
teachers here at the studio for a long time. I know they will be
missed. However, once they recharge their batteries, I would
not be surprised to see them take another stab at teaching. I wish
I would like to welcome Scott Ladell to our staff. Scott will be
taking one of the open teaching spots on Friday. Scott is an expert
Western Swing instructor who has been a competition dancer for some
time. He is also an excellent Western Swing choreographer and
prefers to teach upper level Western Swing classes. So expect
some interesting patterns once Scott gets settled into teaching
here. He will start with Ghost Town 11 in July on Fridays.
Also the lovely Gina Garza has joined the staff as an Assistant on
Fridays. In addition to holding down a full-time job, Gina is also
pursuing a master's degree in business at Rice University. She tells
me she comes to the studio to regain her sanity. Somehow, I
understand completely. Gina got her picture in this month's
Newsletter. Go visit the Sock Hop
DANCE CLASSES DO I NEED TO TAKE TO PREPARE
FOR THE SSQQ SEPTEMBER DANCE CRUISE?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Stefani Callihan"
Sent: Monday, June 21, 2004 12:23 PM
Subject: advice please!
I'm really looking forward to the cruise and would like some dance
I am new to the SSQQ scene, and although I have a lot of dance
experience, it's all solo,
ballet, etc. I am just completing the advanced swing class,
and those are the only classes I have taken. I would really
like to be able to dance a variety of
dances by the time the cruise rolls around, and take
all the classes I can fit in during the cruise.
Since new classes start in July, I have three months to take
classes to get ready for the cruise.
What classes would you recommend I take prior to the
I appreciate your assistance.
REPLY (RICK ARCHER)
Side Note: For all you people planning on
dancing with us on the SSQQ September Dance Cruise,
there are many opportunities for Ballroom Dancing on this trip.
For starters, there are two fabulous Ballroom Dance Parties in the
"Shall We Dance" Lounge complete with the ship's orchestra and
free cocktails. One is the "Welcome Aboard" Party and the
other is the "Welcome Back" Party. (Note: please forgive, but the
second party is only available to people who have cruised on RCCL
at least once before.) These classy events are often
dominated by the SSQQ group since very few of the ship's
passengers can even begin to complete with our trained dancers.
Our group puts on quite a show by dancing Foxtrot, Swing, Cha Cha
and Waltz to great music. Adding to our fun is a huge crowd
of well-dressed onlookers surrounding the circular dance floor who
watch in awe at our excellence. Do we feel guilty hogging all the
attention? Heck no, we revel in it! Our fellow
passengers love watching us dance!!
In addition to the two big parties, each night there is a
live band that sets up in the Atrium at the very center of the
Rhapsody. The band plays everything from
Foxtrots to Waltzes, Rumbas, and Cha Chas. Since
as I mentioned the majority of the
passengers can't dance , our group has
the floor to ourselves. Indeed, it is common for people to line
the railing on the deck above simply to watch the dancing in
Atrium below. Sometimes our dance group becomes as big an
attraction as the Band itself!!
on Mondays in July is the perfect class
to take to prepare for the Ballroom Dancing that occurs every
night of the trip!!
However since it is an "Intermediate" class, I
wouldn't just jump in unless you have some serious experience with
Twostep (similar to Foxtrot footwork and timing) or Western Waltz
(Ballroom Waltz has the same timing as Western Waltz, but you need
to learn Waltz patterns that don't travel!)
Another classes useful to prepare for the trip is any level of
Swing Dancing. Much of what the bands play are Big Band classics.
Many of the SSQQ group gets involved in after-dinner dancing and
after-hours dancing. The Rhapsody provides a live band for
social dancing every night in the "Shall We Dance" Lounge after
dinner. Unfortunately we have yet to find a good dance band in our
previous two tries aboard the Rhapsody. Maybe the third time
is a charm!
The band usually tries to play Western music although some of it
is hard to recognize. Even worse, one band played every song
at the same up-tempo speed of 130 beats per minute. Experienced
dancers recognize this as the LEAST FAVORITE TEMPO for dancing.
My point in writing this is the most fun dancing is often in the
wee hours of the morning to the SSQQ Jukebox. We bring along a
boombox and hook it up to a computer that can play thousands of
songs. Starting at Midnight or sometimes 1 am, we get the
"Shall We Dance" Lounge to ourselves and start smoking the place.
And you say, "There's no way I can stay awake till 1 am!!"
Wrong. You forget that many of our group can time-shift. It
doesn't matter what time you get up. Some people dance till
4 am, then get up the next day at 11 am. Who cares??
So like the kids in "Dirty Dancing" who specialized in hot steamy
dancing after all the resort people had gone to bed, many of the
SSQQ Dusk till Dawn Dancers don't actually perk up till the
Midnight Hour. The phrase "Dance the Night Away" truly applies to
some of the vampires in our group who run for cover about the time
the sun rises.
And look for them to dance Western, Swing, and lots of Whip.
SENORES AND SENORITAS
AKA THE SASS CLASS!!
(By the way, did you know the price of the class drops to 36 men/26 ladies
permanently after the first month??)
The SSQQ SASS CLASS is the
brainchild of Milt Oglesby. He believes there is a lot of
interest on the part of "Senior Citizens" (defined as anyone 50 and
above) to find opportunities to dance and socialize with people
their own age.
I don't know why I am so worried about being delicate. After all, I
am 54 and a card-carrying AARP member. Therefore I feel I have every
right to speak of this group as "us" and not "them". That
said, I will simply say this isn't exactly the Hip Hop crowd but
rather the Hip Replacement crowd. After that crack, I am sure
they love having me represent them!!
But let's face it, growing old ain't for sissies and a twisted sense
of humor is our main weapon in the battle against the ravages of
time. Another main weapon in the battle is Dancing.
Social dancing is good for the spirit, good for the exercise, good
for the concentration, and good for the waistline. It's also a great
way to visit with friends. And rumor has it that dancing is a
potent defense against Alzheimer's, but I forget who told me that.
months of planning, Milt's first Sass Class got off the ground this
past June 2004. Attendance was excellent: Milt told me there
were well over 20 people in attendance. There's 21 in the
picture and that doesn't include the countless volunteers.
Milt correctly anticipated there would be more women than men. I
don't mean to be indelicate, but demographics show that women begin
to outnumber the men after everyone turns 50. I would prefer not to
discuss the reasons behind this shift in the ratio, but Milt found a
good solution. He went out and recruited several of his friends here
at SSQQ to volunteer to be "Leads".
That clever idea seemed to make things go much better. Milt
forgot to list all his volunteers, but I know at least some of their
names: Susan Arevalo, Susan Waring, Phyllis Porter, and Gareld
McEathron. If I left anyone off the list, blame Milt.
Milt told me they were a very well-behaved group for about ten
minutes, then cut loose and got rowdy for the remainder of the
month. To put it lightly, they did everything possible to live up to
the name of their name. One of the few joys of aging is
getting to the point where you no longer give a D___. about decorum
and this group was definitely out of control most of the time.
Just between you and me, Milt can be a real pain in the
you-know-what with his smart-aleck remarks in class, so I am
thrilled that he was surrounded with 20 students all behaving just
as badly as he does. Karma in action!!
The Sass Class covers the basics to all sorts of dancing.
There's plenty of music during class and after class Milt has half
an hour of free Practice Time at the studio where everyone hangs out
and dances with each other for the fun of it.
Milt's goal is to
graduate each group to another level while opening the door for
newcomers with an easier class. As with many great adventures,
I expect Milt will change a few things along the way. I have
little doubt Milt's original vision will end up looking like a
winding Colorado river with all the twists and turns he will make as
he gets more experience.
Milt's eventual goal is to get all his
students familiar with the basics of several types of dances
so they will become more confident social dancers.
In July, his Numero Uno Assistant, Susan
Arevalo, will take the new beginning students and
he will take the "original 20" on to a new
level. Milt's goal is to have 75 to 100
Seniors in this SASS program in December.
After the great start he had in June, I wouldn't
bet against him!!
The following is a note from Susan:
I think the class was a great success. We had 20 students but needed
more men. Milt has a natural talent for keeping the class moving and
having fun at the same time. I'm sure everyone enjoyed themselves. I
hope I do as well with the new class next month.
I see this class becoming a place for seniors to come and have fun,
meet people, and learn to dance, a social skill, all at the same
time. In the months to come I hope we can get several levels going
at once and maybe see a little flexibility at that time where if a
person felt like one week he needed a level 1 class, say in Swing,
but the next week he'd like a level 2 class in C&W that they could
Next month I will be teaching the level 1 (with Garald
as my assistant), while Milt teaches level 2. I believe the plan is
too continue to add on to the dances we've started with levels 2 and
3, but then we'll get to a place where we'll let the students vote
on what dances they'd like to learn the next month. I hope this
let's us keep a continuing crowd of familiar faces coming to dance
on a Saturday afternoon, with new recruits working their way up the
UPDATE: BELLAIRE'S FIRST-EVER
June 29, 2004 Update:
The area around the former Door Warehouse building has been
completely encompassed by a chain-link fence. Obviously something
is afoot. In the meantime, the parking lot has eroded to a
series of potholes. Hopefully an upgrade to the parking lot will
be part of the plans for the massive overhaul of the area.
The Previous Article from the June Newsletter:
For the past two years, I have watched
with some concern as important real estate changes have taken place
around the Bissonnet shopping center SSQQ calls its home.
Last year I noticed when the tenants in the quiet building next to
Charlies BBQ were told to vacate the premises. After they left, that
building was expensively remodeled and is now home to "First Street
Surgical Center". You cannot have missed the iron gates and gorgeous
landscaping that now adorn its premises. So clearly this building
A big SSQQ story from a year ago was the illegal towing of SSQQ cars
from the abandoned Door Warehouse building at the edge of the SSQQ
parking lot. After the Door Warehouse went bankrupt, the space was
up for rent, but instead was purchased by the same people who also
own the First Street Surgical Center. The good news is the towing
threat seems to have disappeared. There are no threatening signs on
that building anymore and no incidents in over a year.
Two months ago I was informed by my landlord that he had decided to
sell the 4803 Bissonnet to Dr. Varon, who just happens to be the
owner of the First Street Surgical Center and the Door Warehouse
building. For anyone who has ever played Monopoly, Dr. Varon appears
to have accomplished a Monopoly of his own on the First
|Now comes further news that the Bellaire City Council has approved
plans for First Street Surgical Center to put up a Sky Bridge that
will connect the Surgical Center to the Door Warehouse building. In
other words, you will still be able to use that little secret
passage street that runs between the Surgical Center and Door
Warehouse, but there will be a sky bridge above your head.
The new owners of my building have not met with me yet so I am
uncertain as to the long-range plans. The rumor is they intend
to not disturb the leases of anyone in the 4800 Bissonnet
It has been suggested the reason they bid so aggressively on
this property was to acquire rights to the parking lot which
would in turn support their investment in the Door Warehouse
|This all remains to be seen. Another rumor is the addition of a
second story to the Door Warehouse building to meet the Sky Bridge
as well as added parking under and around the Door Warehouse
Further rumors have extensive new landscaping being added
to our shopping center by our obviously well-heeled new landlords.
That would be nice.
Now if they could just fit some of the potholes in our parking lot…
but let's give them time to ease in to the difficult task of
managing three extensive properties all at once.
I will keep you posted of new developments. In the meantime, here is
a story that I have reprinted from Kathleen Ballanfant's excellent
local newspaper, "Village and Southwest News":
CITY COUNCIL APPROVES BELLAIRE'S FIRST SKYBRIDGE
By Michelle Leigh Smith
Reprinted From The Village and Southwest
Bellaire will soon have its first skybridge, requested by the First
Street Surgical Center. Council voted unanimously to approve the
request after reconsideration of a previous direction given to the
Planning and Zoning Commission to determine whether the concept of
sky bridges should be allowed in the City of Bellaire.
Mayor Pro Tem Phil Nauert proposed an amendment directing City staff
to grant the permits for the skybridge since there was no existing
rules on the books about skybridges and secondly, to direct P&Z to
look into drafting skybridge guidelines.
"I could not support this amendment," said Pat McLaughlan. "I see
the City of Bellaire would be receiving no consideration for the
abandonment of street right of way.
Siegel explained that the amendment was not to abandon the ROW. The
ROW stays in our possession. I understood I may be a little slow,
but I'm having a real problem understanding what it is these people
want. The first few pages of the brochure are concentrated on the
Skybridge. They show extensive landscaping with palms and fountains.
It sounds like if they are doing this extensive landscaping over the
entire parking lot that they have an interest in the entire center
where Radio Shack is located. I think we need to deal with it in an
integrated manner. Cindy interjected, "Can I try to explain. The
issue is about the Skybridge. They have bought this whole area,
including the center. They bought the Door Warehouse, they are
putting $8.5 million in. The center will be upgraded and they will
add a new professional building where the Door Warehouse is."
Council voted Nauert had a point of order. "Public discussion is
closed. I don't think it's in our purview to tell them what to do
with the center. What an egregious extension of our effort beyond
what is legally allowed us. It is an opportunity only for us to make
a mistake. I would like us to continue only with discussion of the
matter at hand."
Davison said, "I think the one element that we're missing is fact
that we didn't do our housekeeping. I agree that in the absence of
an ordinance we should grant this."
Jeffrey asked if the city would be giving up any utilities
underneath the property.
"I think the way it is looks good," Jeffrey said. "I think it will
add tremendous value to our City."
Nauert's amendment passed 6 to 1, with McLaughlan dissenting.
The ordinance then passed unanimously.
TO BE CONTINUED IN OUR NEXT EPISODE OF 'AS
THE STUDIO TURNS'
JOEL MCCLESKY AND VICTOR MARQUEZ DOMINATE AT
Story written by Coach Anita Williams
Rick, we’re at it again! The 2004/05 competition year began with a
great start for SSQQ student Joel McCleskey and Victor Marquez.
First, I’ll begin with Joel. I met Joel when I taught WCS on
Thursdays and I was immediately impressed with his natural ability.
I don’t remember how we got on the subject of competition, but
somehow we did and I managed to persuade him to give it a try. We
began working in late January in preparation for a UCWDC event here
in Houston this past May. First time out, Joel won 1st place in his
division. He took first in Triple-Two, Two-Step, Waltz and WCS. We
got a 2nd in Night Club. Way to go Joel!
Our very own World Champion Male Crystal Newcomer,
Victor Marquez, placed second overall in
his division at the same event. He won three of his five dances,
Night Club, Cha-Cha, and WCS, came in 2nd in Two-Step and 3rd in
Waltz. Victor had to move up to a much more challenging division
this year because of his win at World’s last January and we have all
new, more difficult routines. Then to make things worse we got a
late start because of my knee operation. We’re just now getting
comfortable with the routines, so I feel pretty good about the
possibility of winning
"Overall" at some future event.
On that note I’d like to mention that your new addition to your
staff, Scott Ladell, is a fellow competition coach. If there are any
ladies out there who are interested in pursuing competitive dancing,
they may want to consider Scottie for an instructor. Scottie is an
excellent teacher. I might also add that he has won a few
competitions himself, he’s pretty impressive!
Both Scottie and I enjoy the process of taking people through the
competition circuit. If students are interested or have questions
about competing, we would love to talk with them!
On that note, we’re busy preparing for our next event in July in New
Orleans and for an event in Phoenix early August. I’ll pop you a
note to let you know how we make out…
(Rick's Note: Anita Williams is a long-time
SSQQ instructor. She was a member of the World Champion Heartbeat
Dance Team in 2003 and also won an Individual World Championship at
the same competition in the West Coast Swing division. Over the past
two years she has begun to put together an impressive resume as a
Western dance coach. If you have aspirations to compete, contact
Anita. If you are a guy, she can coach you. If you are a lady, Anita
can get Scott involved. If you are a couple, Anita probably won't
know what to do. The nice thing about Anita is that she is
honest and direct. If she doesn't think she's the right coach for
you, she probably can put you in touch with the right person.
Either way, contact Anita at
RETURN TO HEADLINES
IDENTIFY THE MYSTERY LADY??
|Okay, Smarty Pants. This
woman has made People's "50 Most Beautiful People" List several
times. Are you smart enough to figure out who she is?
After you give up, click here for
one of this month's interesting stories that have nothing to do
PHASING OUT SATURDAY SWING CLASSES STARTING IN AUGUST
Back in 1998 through 2000, Swing
Dancing was by far the hottest class on the SSQQ schedule.
Then came "Living La Vida Loca" which proved to be an even bigger
draw and turned out to have more longevity too boot.
Lately the Saturday Swing enrollments have dropped precipitously. In
May we had all of 2 students sign up for Beginning Swing on Saturday
and 7 for Intermediate. In June, Beginning did okay with 14, but we
only had 3 sign up for Intermediate.
Frankly, these numbers hardly pay the instructor's salary much less
go very far towards paying the rent and the AC Bill. Since
both classes are already offered on two other nights, I think it is
time to contract the Swing Program back to two time slots rather
My only regret is taking away classes from two very loyal
instructors, Kristi Peterson and Krista Johnson. Kristi's
tenure goes all the way back to the early part of 2000. This means
she has been on Staff for four years, which is quite a long run.
Kristi plans to take some time off from the Staff after the end of
July, but promises to return when her batteries recharge.
Krista - a card carrying member of the SSQQ Swing Femme Fatales (see
picture) - promises to stick around and grace us with her
presence on Sundays and Mondays.
This decision is not final, but I doubt it is controversial enough
cause much stir. Please forgive any inconvenience.
CHANNEL 13 SSQQ FEATURE
On Wednesday, March 16, Channel 13 came to film
our Western classes and do interviews. The following Monday,
May 21, they returned to film the Swing and Ballroom classes.
We were told the following:
1) The show would be run on their Sunday at 7:30 AM slot. Yes,
that is correct. AM.
2) The show would likely air on Sunday, July 4th.
3) They would call us or email us when it was ready to air.
The program aired on Sunday, June 27. I missed it. So did everyone
else. Oh well. So much for my blip with fame.
At first there was a total lack of Richter activity in my Email Box,
so I assumed no one
else in Houston saw it either.
However I did manage to get one email after all:
Sent: Monday, July 05, 2004 10:48 AM
Subject: channel 13 New Registration local TV show
Would it be possible to sign up for the Beg Feestyle taught by
Rick from 6-7pm Mon. July 5th and then also sign up for the Beg.
Swing/Jitterbug taught by Patty from 7-9 pm on July 5th? If so, I
would like to sign up for both. May I do that upon arriving this
I saw a "piece" done on your dance classes on Sun. June 27th on a
local station. Having looked on the web for dance classes, I had
come across your "SSQQ" and had read much of what you offered on
your website. Seeing the TV story affirmed for me that this is
indeed what I wish to do. If I don't hear from you, I'll show up
Thursday, August 4, I was picking up my shirts at the cleaners here
in the Heights. The quiet Hispanic woman who has been collecting my
shirts for about five years without saying a word looked at me in an
odd way. She asked, "Are you a dance teacher?"
I laughed and said yes. Then I asked how she had discovered my
"I saw you on TV." End of conversation.
This fifteen minutes of fame stuff sure is intoxicating.
I did manage to acquire a copy of the original tape. It is
actually very well done. I will start showing it at Break Time.
OF THE REGULAR FEATURES SECTION
COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH:
THE FRIDAY INTERMEDIATE WESTERN WALTZ CLASS
CANCELED FOR AUGUST?
Sent: Saturday, July 31, 2004 10:41 AM
Subject: Int. Western Waltz
Was checking out the schedule for August on-line & didn't see Intermediate
Western Waltz scheduled for Friday nights or for that matter any night. Am I
Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 4:43 AM
Subject: Waltz in August?
I thought I heard you say in Beginning Waltz on Fridays that there was going
to be an Intermediate Waltz this month. I don't see it in August or
September. Do you suspect there will be one coming up any time soon, or
should I look for some other track to get on?
Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 11:44 AM
Subject: Waltz Syllabus
Enjoyed the Waltz Class! Hopefully we can do an intermediate class in the
future. If possible could you email or mail a syllabus for the beginning
Sent: Tuesday, August 3, 2004 10:55 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Your Waltz Class
What happened to the Int waltz class
in August? You
were our instructor a couple years ago and we were ready to make a comeback
just because you were teaching it. My wife and I have been waiting for two
months to take your class!
(Editor's Note: Including four verbal discussions at the studio, I have now
had eight different inquiries unhappy about the loss of the Intermediate
Western Waltz class. Here is the story.)
Sent: Friday, July 30,
2004 10:55 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Your Waltz Class
read all of your complaints this month. Especially to see if they are what
I suspect they will be about. I have certainly heard a lot of complaining
from the Thursday and Friday night Whip people about it being TOO crowded
("and why would they take us out of room 1 when it was already crowded with
us"). Too, I am hearing the swing people complain (among others) about
room 1 being used for two classes at once...they don't like it at all.
I know for
one, I certainly find room 4 too small for our whip class...it is elbow to
elbow and I got my ankle hurt two weeks ago so much it was still hurting all
day at Six Flags a week later. We are just too close together to be doing
I know you
just love to hear me complain, too. I know, too, you have your reasons, I
Archer's Response to Susan Schroeder:
don’t know what else to do except cancel Friday’s Int Western Waltz in
August. Please take it off the Online List and refund the students
Sent: Saturday, July 31, 2004
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: August 2004 SSQQ
fast response. I am impressed! Hope it works out for the best.
Rick Archer's response:
You may be
impressed, but I had to fire an instructor plus refund money in addition to
irritating people who wanted to take the class.
now received seven compliants about canceling the
Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 2:38 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: FW: Waltz in August?
I assume you cancelled the class,
not due to my comments, but more so due to complaints about class size and
two classes having to be in one room. Am I correct? Do you feel you made a
wrong decision. I hope I didn't influence wrongly. You know, I hope, that I
only want to help.
From: Rick Archer [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 3:48 PM
Subject: complaint Waltz in August?
I canceled the class solely due to your complaint. It was a terrible
business decision, but I knew that in advance. It not only cost me money,
but more important it disappointed a lot of people including the teacher who
lost her position.
I have fielded many complaints about the studio, but I don't recall many
stronger than yours. What you said hurt a lot. I don't intend to use your
name. However the students deserve an explanation.
Note: Everything has consequences.
In the past several months
there has been an enormous amount of "Complaining" at the studio. The
incident regarding the Western Waltz class is merely the tip of the iceberg.
If I have the energy, I will list the others as well. For starters, simply
go to last month's July Newsletter and
read the SIX complaints from June 2004
In this case, I take
responsibility for the decision to offer two classes in Room One on Mondays
and Fridays. The problem on Monday was caused by the fact that we have to
find a way to make room for a Ballroom program. Monday was the logical
choice because Ballroom music and Swing music are compatible. However last
month listed an entire array of complaints from students forced to share
Room One on Mondays.
As I said before, more complaints will force me to cancel on of the Monday
Night Swing classes.
Now one month later we have an indirect complaint about the two classes in
Room One on Fridays. The complaint is not from a student forced to share
Room One, but rather a student in Room 4 who wants to have the Big Room for
their class without sharing the space.
know, too, you have your reasons, I am sure."
The complaint about the crowding in Room 4 hurt a lot because I was trying
desperately to find a way to offer Western Waltz (and Western Cha Cha) on a
night besides Wednesday. Not everyone has the chance to take Beginning
Western Waltz on the single month it is offered by Sharon Crawford on
Wednesdays. Too bad, wait till next year.
This important class needs to be offered at other times during the year as
well. I thought offering it on an alternate night (Friday) was a good
Unfortunately the situation on Fridays did not work out as I hoped it would.
Here is what happened. Due to Bryan Spivey's
charisma as a Whip dancer and teacher, July drew
the largest attendance in the history of Martian Whip.
The sudden increase of nearly 20 extra students took me by surprise.
Once I saw this increase, I knew the time would come when
I would have to phase out the double use of Room One on Fridays. However
because registrations always drop in August, I expected the size of the
August class to dwindle which would buy me one more month. I had
originally planned to offer Friday’s Western Waltz one more month,
then phase it out naturally in September.
I agree with the complainant that Room 4 was crowded in
July. I know this because I checked. I also know that there was enough room
to get the class taught. I teach the same group in an even smaller
room on Thursdays. If people are considerate of space, the class can work.
But I am sure the students would like to have had more room. I would like a
bigger studio too. Who is going to pay for more space?
There is an old saying: "Complaining
is good for you as long as you're not complaining to the person you're
Well, I took this complaint personally. It was one of
those "damned if you do and damned if you don't" feelings. I had not heard
one complaint about the crowding in Room Four. Not one single complaint.
Most people accepted the situation as uncomfortable, but something they
could live with.
However one student decided to complain... and complain strongly. Due
to the power of the
complaint, I felt I had no choice but to make the move
back to six classes for six rooms one month sooner.
Now as a Consequence,
currently received 8 different complaints about the Waltz class being
discontinued (with more likely to follow),
teacher has lost a job
studio will lose more revenue at a time when we are barely breaking even.
someone complains – which is always their right – they usually are not in
the position to see the big picture.
It is true that I stay in business because I try to make
my students happy. But sometimes it seems like every time I make one
person happy, I end up alienating someone else. In the process, this studio
gets less and less fun to operate.
There is a less than perfect situation for some
class every night of the week.
The Salsa crowd has put up with overcrowding and heat for
some time. The Swing people have to contend with two rooms on Monday. Some
classes are in rooms that are difficult to cool as well during the summer.
Other students in Room Two watch people endlessly walk through their room
with little consideration that there is a class in progress.
On the other hand...
Where else can you take the same class on two or three different nights a
week for no extra charge?
We could solve the crowding problem very easily by eliminating all Parallel
For example, in the case of the Thursday and Friday
Martian Whip class, our students enjoy the wonderful privilege of
being given two classes for the price of one.
This is why I get frustrated because some students want
it all. The situation in Room Four was not intolerable or desperate. It was
working as people adapted to less space.
But rather than accept that the class
was crowded as an inevitable by product of the
popularity, I got a strong complaint
which added of course
they were mostly speaking for “others” who
were too timid to speak for themselves.
Did you know that last year the studio lost money
in a weakened economy? Did you know our sister
organization - Leisure Learning - is in the same position and has reduced
the size of its schedule to cut printing costs?
You would think our students would cut us some slack, yet
instead I receive constant complaints.
“It is too crowded!!” “It is too noisy!!” “It is too hot!!” “It is too
cold!!” “There aren’t enough guys!!” "There aren't enough
women!!" "Why isn’t this class being offered?” “Why can’t we
have a bigger room?”
I even received a complaint in June that a class was too
small. Someone asked for their money back because there weren't enough
people taking the class to make it interesting.
Why all the
Oddly, the studio is LESS CROWDED than it was before 9/11.
We are down 20% from that point in time, but
perversely I receive more complaints about crowding.
That's right - less people and more complaints about
crowding. Don’t ask me why. Maybe we are all getting older and less
tolerant of discomfort.
For a business operating at a Break Even point, it is foolish
for me to consider renting more space… especially
considering how shaky the economy is and how serious the threat of another
So what do you want us to do? If the
complaints continue, these are the next steps.
time then to start putting restrictions on attendance?
wish for us to instill size controls in our classes?
ready for us to turn people away from the doors once a class fills?
Do you prefer we put an end to the parallel
dance class system?
Should we charge more money for our classes as
another way to boost income and simultaneously suppress attendance?
Do you like any of those choices? Of course not.
Fortunately for you and unfortunately for me, the problem will
correct itself. Any time there is this much negativity, the attendance in
the following month automatically drops. I cannot win for losing.
As I expected, my Martian Whip class on Thursday in August was only HALF its
size in July. And that class that complained about sharing Room One on
Mondays only had EIGHT people this month.
There lesson here is anytime you want to thin a class, just bellyache. That
will solve the problem.
I wish more people were grateful for what they have at this studio and
be more willing to periodically adjust to
less than perfect conditions. We are at the point where
practically any move I make will simply alienate just as many people as I
I will conclude this article with a little story.
Back in the early 90s, I had two very odd habits when I
taught class. If I needed a line of dance, I would put duct tape down on the
floor. It worked fine, but I suppose it would have been better if I didn't
always just leave it there.
When we installed our new floors in the late 90s I was informed the duct
tape habit was a thing of the past. That habit disappeared. Now I use a
carpenter's square instead.
My other curious habit was taking off one shoe whenever I needed to clearly
illustrate something that had to do with a certain foot. "Now watch where I
place my right foot on this move..."
Unfortunately it is often dark in my room when I dress for dance class. Nor
do I pay much attention. As a result, occasionally I have been know to
accidentally put on a sock with a hole in it. Big deal. Who cares? At
least that's what I thought.
One night I took off my shoe in class only to reveal a gaping hole in the
heel of my sock. I was roundly teased by the entire class who thought it was
the funniest thing that had ever happened.
I replied mostly in good humor, "Well, you can either learn to live with the
hole in my sock or we can raise tuition so I can buy some new socks!!"
Everyone immediately pointed out that maybe the hole wasn't as big as they
first thought it was. (Actually it was enormous.)
The following week when I entered the room I noticed a large grocery bag on
a chair in the middle of the floor. It was full of brand new socks. With it
was a note, "Please don't raise tuition!!"
Moral of the Story: If you guys will work with me and keep the complaining
to a dull roar, we can continue to have the best dance studio in the whole
wide world. Or you can drive me nuts with more complaints and I will
be forced to cancel parallel classes with a crowding problem.
||INCIDENT FIVE: THE
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 10:22 AM
Subject: A Message To Rick Archer
Good Morning Rick,
I hope this message reach you without delay/problem. I wonder if you can
give me a call at (W), so I can discuss several concerns with you.
My hours of work is Monday to Friday, 8:00AM to 5:00PM. I will be out from
1:00PM to 2:00PM for lunch. However, if you can just leave me a call back
number that I can get in touch with you.
I am in the Intermediate Salsa class, going on to the advance level
hopefully soon. However, there are several concerns popped up recently and
I hope you can assist in either resolving it, relieving it, or eliminating
I have talked with Linda one time about one of my concerns. She suggested
me to sent you a E-mail. I did not like the idea at the time, but now with
this other issue coming up, I believe it is necessary that I talk with
you, and soon.
I spoke with this
woman for fifteen minutes by phone. She was upset because one of the men
in her class had propositioned her for sex. Apparently he did it in a very
crude, bold and vulgar way.
She was deeply offended. The man was highly disrespectful to her. And she
resented his continued presence in class so much that she would not return
until he was removed.
She only knew the man by his first name. I looked it up and found there
was only one man with this name listed. I looked up his history. He had
repeated Intermediate Salsa three times without bothering to move up.
My guess is he was no longer taking the classes simply to improve as a
So what do I in a situation like this? My gut told me she was
telling the truth. I have never received a complaint of this nature before
in all my years. Not that I am so naive as to think it hasn't happened
before, but simply no one has bothered to tell me about it.
Since the man appears to be a complete stranger to her, it also doesn't
seem likely she is getting back at him for anything.
So I wrote the man this letter:
I have received an extremely bitter complaint from a female student who
shares a class with you.
She has accused you of making a highly vulgar sexual proposition to her
on the premises of the studio in June 2004. She was deeply offended by
this gesture and angered enough to bring the incident to my attention.
I do not know your side of the story. I simply know she identified you
as the man who upset her. I also know that she provided enough
information to make me feel she is telling the truth.
That said, I can't prove it. I chose not to confront you at the studio
last week. As impersonal as email is, at least it allows us both to
communicate about a sensitive matter without embarrassing you at the
studio. If you feel this woman is in error, I am willing to hear your
side of the story.
For now, I would greatly appreciate it if you would refrain from taking
dance classes at SSQQ in July 2004.
This does not mean you are proven "guilty" or admitting anything. It
just means I would prefer you stay away and let this woman's anger
subside for at least one month.
Rick's Note: In the Special Features section of this month's
Newsletter, there are two incidents dealing with school supervisors who
suspend or transfer school personnel whose only guilt was trying to do their
jobs. In both cases I felt the Administrative people overreacted.
In this case, the man has yet not had a chance to defend himself. This
means I could be wrong. On the other hand, the punishment is pretty
light. He is not identified. He will not be fined. He will not be
imprisoned. And he will not be threatened in any way. I simply politely
asked him to give the woman a wide berth for a month. More than likely, we
will never see her again. Most women find it easier just to move on. I will
keep you posted on further developments.
In the meantime, let it be known that SSQQ is as much church as dance club.
We won't tolerate disrespect to anyone. We want people of all sexes, all
religions, and all races to feel completely at home here. And we don't like
sexual predators. Let's just leave it at that.
The following is a
succession of Email exchanges that left me very frustrated
with the entire situation.
I have just finished sending the following letter to “Mr
X”. I thought you would want to know.
(Editor's Note: Read letter in blue type above)
I tried to call the number listed on the bottom of your
earlier e-mail, 713-861-1906, but did not get any answer or
able to leave a message.
If it is possible please give me a call at
xxxx. If you have not sent out the
following message to "Mr.X".
Please hold it until we talk first. Thanks.
I am sorry, Ms X,
but it went out already per our conversation. I tried
calling, but no answer.
Can you tell me “HOW”
did it went out?
I mean was it went out
“DIRECTLY WITHOUT ATTACHMENT” to Mr. B’s e-mail address?
Was it strictly between you (SSQQ) and Mr. B. communicating
without “attachment” & “copying”?
name was in no way involved.
Thanks. That is my main concern, based on
the "offensive behavior " of Mr. X
with an age like his to act the way he did. That makes me
fear for his possible irrational and potential retaliation.
If I could have found you on
Thursday, 06/24/04, that might save you the trouble
of writing the letter. However, since I was not able
to find you, with the new
information I received on Thursday , I am considering the
(1) retaking the intermediate
Salsa class, ( 2) to call you and find out which day Mr.
X. signed up for advance class, so
I can sign up for the other day; I learned that the advance
class is different, student can only take the "registered
However, everything is too late now, I wonder if you are
aware of that Mr. X has already
signed up for the advanced
class, he did it on 06/24/04. I am also wondering "what"
reaction/response you received
from the e-mail from yesterday, or did you receive any at
At present time, I don't know which option I will take after
all these happened. I might just go some where else for the
I appreciate your concern, good intention, and the effort in
"confidentiality" of all parties involved. I did try my best
in finding you on Thursday, couple your staff also helped in
locating you for me but unsuccessful. I did not expect you
to do anything from the beginning. I kind of know the very
difficult position you are. I was just hoping may be you had
previous experience and could shad some light on helping me
deal with it. But, I was not expect an E-letter be sent out
in such a casual indifferent manner and way.
After all, thank you for your assistance.
left for my trip to California the day I sent you my last
email and have been too swamped since my return to respond
to your email.
incident you discussed with me involving
Mr. X has not been handled well,
but it was handled about the best it could be under the
and I specifically agreed to meet on Thursday, June 24, so
you could point out the man who was rude to you.
You did not meet me as you had
promised. Since you did not assist me, I was left
with three options:
confront the man at the studio
2. email the man
3. do nothing
Unfortunately I had only your description to go on. How
would you like to confront someone who might turn out to
be the wrong person? So I chose not to pull him aside and
decide such a sensitive issue in PUBLIC.
did not want to let the incident pass without doing
something, so I ignored Option 3. That left Email.
emailed the man at the only address I had for him. I did
not know for sure if I had the right man. I did not know
for sure exactly what he had said. And furthermore since
you did not even show up as you promised, my confidence in
you was undermined. This is why it occurred to me you had
decided to simply avoid the studio. (Your words: With this
newest development I can’t help but to think about the
last comment on your respond,” may be we will never see
this woman again.......she will just disappear and never
Despite all these misgivings, I wrote the man anyway and
sent you a copy as well. Your name was not identified nor
was your email address.
never responded. Why he is at the studio this month is
beyond me. Maybe his Spam Catcher deleted the message.
Email cannot be trusted.
And you didn’t show up. So what else was I supposed to
SSQQ Dance Studio
Sent: Wednesday, July 14, 2004 3:49 PM
With all you said below; fact or not, consistent or not,
agreeable or not, contestable or
not, etc.; I guess the main point is not being addressed.
Could you possibly tell me this, "Are you planning to
carry out and follow up the
"SUSPENSION" you posed on this person?
It's not matter one way or the other anymore after this
latest e-mail from you.
As I stated in my e-mail dated 07/14/04, I had technical
difficult while writing/sending my
last e-mail, dated around June 30 or July 1. If that
e-mail went out in one piece, and reached you without
problem, that should help clear
several major points in your e-mail below. Then, if you
would like to
response to my inquiry, I will be
more than happy to overlook this
On that last e-mail, I stated everything clearly about how
"impossible and unsuccessful" of
an mission I went through on Thursday, June 24, 2004
trying to find you. Not only that I can back myself
up with solid evidence, I also
have several witness to support my effort in trying to
find you that night.
It is more than disappointed to be accused of something that
is not true. It is more than
saddened to learn that as a business owner, your attitude
is this great indifferent and irresponsible.
"On that last e-mail, I
stated everything clearly about how "impossible and
unsuccessful" of an mission I went through on Thursday,
June 24, 2004 trying to find you. Not only that I can back
myself up with solid evidence, I also have several witness
to support my effort in trying to find you that night."
Ridiculous. Ask an instructor. Ask
the hall monitor. I run the place. I was there. Every
instructor was aware of the problem that Thursday night.
They even went to the trouble of pointing out who they
thought the man was. Therefore I don't accept your
statement. Bring on your witnesses.
"It is more than disappointed to be accused of something
that is not true. It is more than saddened to learn that
as a business owner, your attitude is this great
indifferent and irresponsible."
I have not accused you of anything.
What are you talking about?
Nor am I indifferent. I have gone to much trouble
attempting to accommodate you. This is my tenth email plus
I went out of my way to stop writing the Newsletter to
make one very significant phone call directly to you.
It is you, Ms X,
who dropped the ball by not showing up. Take some
Editor's Note: As you
can see, I was getting increasingly frustrated with this
woman's actions. To be told I was impossible to find in my
own studio was the height of absurdity. All Roads lead
to Rome and all doors at SSQQ lead to Room 2 which is where
I was teaching that night.
This story had several more twists and turns.
One of my Staff people took the time to identify the same
man as someone who had made her feel quite uncomfortable on
Then I was alerted to the fact that Mr X went ahead and
signed up for further dance classes in July despite my
He had specifically asked the Registrar what nights I was
not at the studio and proceeded to sign up for those nights.
Exasperated, I decided to do nothing.
Then on the final night of classes in July, an instructor
came up to me with a bizarre story.
It seems Mr X had been dancing with a woman in class and
commented on her "beautiful feet". He then added a
highly inappropriate comment about women's feet in general.
The instructor said the woman was on the premises so I
talked with her in the presence of her boyfriend. What she
said seemed sincere. I believed that she was telling the
That added up to 3 separate complaints.
By chance, Mr. X was dancing at Practice Night. I asked to
speak with him privately.
I confronted him with what had been said about him. As he
replied, I realized that not only had he gotten my original
email - AND CHOSEN TO IGNORE IT BY SIGNING UP FOR CLASS
ANYWAY - but he had also read my article about him in the
July Newsletter "Complaints" section.
He explained that he had received my email After he had
signed up for class, but I didn't buy it. The email was sent
nearly two weeks before he signed up. Not only was I
amazed at his nerve, but tThis is when I realized I was
dealing with someone who probably did not tell the truth.
He said the two specific complaints were wrong. He asked if
I would listen to his side of the story. I said no. I
said I had already made up my mind. I wasn't convicting him
of a crime. I simply did not want him at the studio. I
said he could return in October if he wished and left it at
He berated me for not listening to his side. Quite frankly,
the moment he said he had received my email after signing up
for class, he lost my trust. Now I just wanted to get it
The truth is I do not know what the real story was here, but
2 separate incidents and a complaint from someone I trust
was very difficult to overlook.
This entire incident had become a real energy drain.
Caught between the woman who kept criticizing me for
mishandling the affair and being insensitive and the man who
accused everyone of lying and me for being insensitive by
not listening to his explanations, I was starting to feel
BEST NEW JOKES OF THE
Over the years, we have
been sent countless numbers of jokes by our Newsletter Readers.
We have kept what we thought were the best. At this point
we have now have a Hall of Fame collection of over 600 jokes.
Many of them are real gems. We rotate these jokes on a monthly
basis so over the year you get to read them all.
In addition to our
"Classics", we also get many new jokes each month sent in by our
students. This section contains our favorites. At
the end of each year we add these jokes to the "Immortal
By the way, getting a
joke selected isn't very easy since we have been collecting
jokes for so long. It's tough to find a new one. So if you
send in a great joke and nothing ever happens, trust us - it is
already on the Web Site. If you don't believe us, email
and ask about your joke!! I am serious. I will show you
where the joke is.
We greatly appreciate any jokes you would like to submit. Send
them to Rick Archer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jokes August 2004
Bureaucracy - Gary Richardson
A man owned a small ranch in West Texas. The Wage and Hour
Department of Texas claimed he was not paying proper wages to
his help and sent an agent to interview him.
"I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them,"
demanded the agent.
"Well, there's my hired hand who's been with me for 3 years. I
pay him $600 a month plus free room and board. The cook has been
here for 18 months, and I pay her $500 a month plus free room
and board. Then there's the half-wit that works about 18 hours a
day and does all the dirty work. He makes about $10 a week and I
buy him chewing tobacco," replied the rancher.
"That's the guy I want to talk to; the half-wit," says the
The rancher says, "That would be me."
Wedded Bliss - Judith Williams
A newlywed couple had only been married for two weeks. They just
returned from a lengthy honeymoon.
The husband was very much in love. Nevertheless he could not
wait to hit some sports bars and party with his old buddies.
So, he said to his new wife, "Honey, I'll be right back."
"Where are you going, coochy cooh?" asked the wife.
"I'm going to the bar, pretty face. I'm going to have a beer."
The wife said, "You want a beer, my love?" She opened the door
to the refrigerator and showed him 25 different kinds of beer,
brands from 12 different countries: Germany, Holland, Belgium,
Japan, India, etc.
The husband didn't know what to do, and the only thing that he
could think of saying was, "Yes, lollypop, but at the bar...you
know...they have frozen glasses..."
He didn't get to finish the sentence, because the wife
interrupted him by saying, "You want a frozen glass, puppy
face?" She took a huge beer mug out of the freezer, so frozen
that she was getting chills just holding it.
The husband, looking a bit pale, said, "Yes, tootsie roll,
but... at the bar... they have those hors d'oeuvres that are
really delicious... I won't be long; I'll be right back. I
"You want hors d'oeuvres, poochi pooh?" She opened the oven and
took out 5 dishes of different hors d'oeuvres: chicken wings,
pigs in blankets, mushroom caps, pork strips, etc.
"But my sweet honey at the bar...you know... there's swearing,
dirty words and all that..."
"You want dirty words, cutie pie?
"LISTEN UP, DICKHEAD! DRINK YOUR FUCKING BEER IN YOUR GODDAMN
FROZEN MUG AND EAT YOUR MOTHERFUCKING SNACKS, BECAUSE YOU ARE
MARRIED NOW, YOU AREN'T GOING FUCKING ANYWHERE!
GOT IT, ASSHOLE?"
And they lived happily ever after. Isn't that a sweet story?
The School Play - Chris Holmes
Two little boys in first grade were chosen to be the leads in
their first school play. It was to be a Shakespearean Play.
The first little boy was to say "My fair maiden.... I have come
to snatch a kiss and fill your soul with hope".
The second little boy was to reply by saying "Hark! A pistol
Unfortunately the little boys didn't bother to practice their
lines. On opening night in the school auditorium, the boys were
a bit nervous, knowing that all the seats were going to be
filled with grown- ups.
The teacher told them to take their places on the stage and to
remember to speak very loud as soon as the curtain goes up.
The curtain rose and looking out upon the audience the two boys
were terrified. They stood there frozen. So the teacher
whispered for them to begin.
The first boy yelled out these unforgettable words. "My fair
maiden.... I have come to kiss your snatch and fill your hole
The second boy screams out... "Hark! a shistol pot, a postle
shiss, A pot of shit, horse shit, cow shit, bull shit. Ah heck,
I never wanted to be in this stupid play anyway!"
The audience left howling.
Why You Should Never Send a Woman to the Hardware Store -
Bubba was fixing a door and he found that he needed a new hinge,
so he sent his wife Mary Louise to the hardware store.
At the hardware store Mary Louise saw a beautiful teapot on a
top shelf. She admired it while waiting for Joe Bob, the
manager, to finish waiting on a customer.
When Joe Bob was finished, Mary Louise asked how much for the
Joe Bob replied, "That's silver and it costs $100!"
"My goodness, that sure is a lotta money!" Mary Louise
exclaimed. Then she proceeded to describe the hinge that Bubba
had sent her to buy, and Joe Bob went to the backroom to find
From the backroom Joe Bob yelled, "Mary Louise, you wanna screw
for that hinge?"
To which Mary Louise replied, "No, but I will for the teapot."
The Curse - Gary Richardson
An old man goes to the Wizard to ask him if he can remove a
"Curse" he has been living with for the last 40 years.
The Wizard says: "I will try. First, tell me the exact words
that were used to put the curse on you."
The old man says without hesitation: "I now pronounce you man
The Lawyer, Rabbi, and Holy Man - John Hall
A lawyer and two friends--a Rabbi, and a Hindu holy man--had car
trouble in the countryside and asked to spend the night with a
The farmer said, "There might be a problem. You see, I only have
room for two to sleep in the house. So one of you must sleep in
"No problem," chimed the Rabbi. "My people wandered in the
desert for forty years. I am humble enough to sleep in the barn
for one evening." With that he departed to the barn, and the
others bedded down for the night.
Moments later a knock was heard at the door; the farmer opened
the door. There stood the Rabbi from the barn. "What's wrong?"
asked the farmer.
He replied, "I am grateful to you, but I just can't sleep in the
barn. There is a pig in the barn, and my faith believes that is
an unclean animal."
His Hindu friend agrees to swap places with him. But a few
minutes later the same scene reoccurs. There is a knock on the
"What's wrong?" the farmer asks. The Hindu holy man replies, "I,
too, am grateful for your helping us out, but there is a cow in
the barn. In my country cows are considered sacred and I can't
sleep on holy ground!"
That left only the lawyer to make the change. He grumbled and
complained, but went out to the barn.
Moments later there was another knock on the farmer's door.
Frustrated and tired, the farmer opens the door, and there stood
the pig and the cow.
The Coincidence - Judy Walsh
A man went into a local tavern and took a seat at the bar next
to a women patron. He turned to her and said, "This is a special
day, and I'm celebrating."
"What a coincidence," said the woman, "I'm celebrating, too".
She clinked glasses with him and asked, "What are you
"I'm a chicken farmer," he replied. "For years all my hens were
infertile, but today they're finally fertile."
"What a coincidence, the woman said. "My husband and I have been
trying to have a child for years... Today, my gynecologist told
me I'm pregnant! How did your chickens become fertile?" she
"I switched cocks," he replied.
"What a coincidence," she said.
Abbott Buys a
New Computer - Anita Williams
If Abbott and Costello were still around today their famous
sketch "Who's on first?" might have turned out something like
THE PHONE RINGS. IT IS COSTELLO CALLING TO BUY A COMPUTER FROM
ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm
thinking about buying a computer.
COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.
ABBOTT: Your computer?
COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.
COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.
ABBOTT: What about Windows?
COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?
ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?
COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look in the
COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and
ABBOTT: Software for Windows?
COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to
write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What have
COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?
ABBOTT: I just did.
COSTELLO: You just did what?
ABBOTT: Recommend something.
COSTELLO: You recommended something?
COSTELLO: For my office?
COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?
COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!
ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.
COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, lets just
say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal.
What do I need?
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: Word in Office.
COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?
ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".
COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start
with some straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies
on the Internet?
ABBOTT: Yes, you want Real One.
COSTELLO: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is
none of your business. Just tell me what I need!
ABBOTT: Real One.
COSTELLO: If it's a long movie I also want to see reel 2, 3 &4.
Can I watch them?
ABBOTT: Of course.
COSTELLO: Great! With what?
ABBOTT: Real One.
COSTELLO: OK, I'm at my computer and I want to watch a movie.
What do I do?
ABBOTT: You click the blue "1".
COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?
ABBOTT: The blue "1".
COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue w?
ABBOTT: The blue "1" is Real One and the blue "W" is Word.
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: But there's three words in "office for windows"!
ABBOTT: No, just one. But it's the most popular Word in the
COSTELLO: It is?
ABBOTT: Yes, but to be fair, there aren't many other Words left.
It pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there.
COSTELLO: And that word is real one?
ABBOTT: Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn't
even part of Office.
COSTELLO: STOP! Don't start that again. What about financial
You have anything I can track my money with?
COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?
COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?
ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer
COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?
COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?
ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.
COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?
ABBOTT: One copy.
COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?
ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy money.
COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?
ABBOTT: Why not? THEY OWN IT!
A FEW DAYS LATER . . .
ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?
ABBOTT: Click on "START"...
SSQQ EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH
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This award goes to an SSQQ Staff member who does something beyond the
call of duty. In any given month, there are always at least 100 quiet
acts of simple kindness performed by someone who works at SSQQ for which the
person gets no credit, but our organization benefits from the gratitude.
The problem for me is that these many moments usually occur way under my
radar. So if you have an instructor to nominate, please
let me know and why!!
On the other hand,
sometimes the move is dramatic enough to catch my eye so I can say something
In August SSQQ has two
winners of the highly-coveted "SSQQ Employee of the Month" Award.
Melanie Jones was part of the
great Swing era here at SSQQ. A natural athlete, Melanie was
especially gifted at Acrobatics. She helped Paul Foltyn teach
his Acrobatics class on a regular basis.
In the summer of 2001 Melanie greeted me with a long face. An employee
of Continental Airlines, she had decided to accept a transfer to their
offices in New York.
Indeed just a couple days after Melanie reported for work in the Big
Apple, 9/11 hit. You don't suppose Melanie missed home a little bit?
Recently Paul got a late start
looking for an assistant to help him teach his summer Acrobatics class
here at SSQQ. He emailed me wondering if I knew anyone. I made a
couple suggestions then forgot all about it.
On Sunday, July 11, I was shocked to see Melanie Jones in class as
Paul's assistant. She had FLOWN all the way from New York to help!
Talk about Dedication!
Although it is correct Melanie likely flew for free, it is still
pretty impressive to come several thousand miles to teach a dance
class. Thank you, Melanie.
And as for you other instructors who give up the thought of driving to
class at the sight of a raindrop, let this be a lesson!
It is my belief that Jill
Banta is the answer to a mystery I have been mulling over. By
accident, I ran across a story about missing dogs in the Houston
Chronicle because there was a "hit" on the word "SSQQ" when I was
researching their archives.
The story said an SSQQ instructor had found a missing dog, taken
it home, and reunited the dog with its owner. For the longest time
I thought Maureen Brunetti - who lives in Bellaire near the studio
and loves dogs - had been the finder. But when I re-read the
article, I noticed it said the instructor (who was unnamed) in the
story lived in the Heights. Jill Banta, former instructor Gillian
Tilbury, and I are the only three instructors I know of who lives
in the Heights. It wasn't me. It might have been Gillian. But my
money's on Jill, our Good Samaritan.
Story of Missing Dog
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THE WINNERS OF
LAST MONTH'S SSQQ LOGIC PUZZLE
STORY SIX: THE JULY LOGIC PUZZLE WINNERS
1. Sorrell Warren (Second
month in a row!)
2. Susan Arevalo (Eleven months in a row!)
3. Ritesh Laud (Fifth month in a row!)
4. Ann Faget (One Year in a Row of Victories!)
5. Connie and Jeff Woodman (One Year in a Row of Victories!)
6. Mara Rivas (Third month in a row!)
7. Marlies Whitmoyer (Welcome back to a previous winner!)
We can always use some new players in the SSQQ Logic
Club. Check out this month's new puzzle and send me an answer!!
You can be a Contender!! And as an added bonus you
never know whom you might end up living with!
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THE WORST SSQQ PUN OF THE MONTH
(There is no such thing as a
||THE SSQQ PUNS OF THE MONTH
The Lone Ranger and Tonto - Ralph Volz
The Lone Ranger and Tonto walked into a bar and sat down to
drink a beer. After a few minutes, a big tall cowboy walked in
and said "Who owns the big white horse outside?"
The Lone Ranger stood up, went face to face with the stranger,
and said, "That horse is mine. Now what's the problem?"
The cowboy looked at the Lone Ranger and said, "I just thought
you'd like to know that your horse is nearly dead outside!"
The Lone Ranger and Tonto rushed outside and sure enough Silver
was ready to die from heat exhaustion. The Lone Ranger got the
horse water. However Silver still looked pretty sick.
Seeing this, the Lone Ranger began to run circles around the
over-heated animal in a desperate attempt to help create a
breeze to help him feel better. It seemed to make a difference,
but the Lone Ranger began to tire. After 15 minutes, the Lone
Ranger turned to Tonto and said, "Tonto, do you mind taking over
for a few minutes?"
Tonto said, "Sure, Kemosabe" and took off running circles around
Silver. Not able to do anything else but wait, the Lone Ranger
returned to the bar to finish his drink. A few minutes later,
the cowboy came over and tapped the Lone Ranger on his
Irritated, the Lone Ranger stood up, turned around, and said,
"Okay, what's wrong with my horse this time ?"
The cowboy looks him in the eye and says... "Nothing, but it
looks like you left your Injun runnin'."
THE SSQQ VOCABULARY WORD OF THE MONTH
SOLIPSISM - Submitted by Rick Archer
Okay, admit that you don't know the answer. Let's try multiple
c) the religion of the people in "The
g) folk singing
h) the latest Salsa Dance
I) a fable
If you want to know the answer, click here.
By the way, everyone gets to play this game. Ann sent hers in
just a couple weeks ago. If you have a good vocabulary word,
send it in!! Best word each month gets a free practice night. Be
sure to add a sentence!
SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND
SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE: CHERYL CORMIER AND GARY DAVIS
On Saturday, July 10,
Gary and Cheryl got married at Cheryl's church in Wallis,
Marla and I were invited to the wedding. It turned out
Wallis is practically a suburb of San Antonio. It is so
far west of Houston that it isn't even on my key map!
Naturally we got lost and arrived a little late. We got
what we deserved - there were so many cars we parked so
far away that practically needed a shuttle!
The ceremony had just started when we arrived. We saw many
familiar faces. I must have counted over 30 people from
the studio, but I really never got a good look so there
could have been more. In fact, there were so many people
at this wedding that they were literally OUT THE DOOR!
Marla and I stood in a reception area just outside the
chapel with about 25 other people. We took turns poking
our noses in to watch the ceremony.
I have to be honest. I think Cheryl and Gary
got married, but I didn't exactly "witness"
it. All I can say is I heard someone getting married.
From what I was told
by people who could actually see what was going on, Cheryl
and Gary made an unusual fashion statement by wearing
hunting outfits. I happen to think that was a great idea!!
I am going to ask Marla if we can do that for our wedding
A couple days ago Cheryl and Gary took one of my Ghost
Town classes. I have to say Gary was the best dancer in
the class. That Cheryl knows how to bring out the best in
SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE: SHARON CRAWFORD
AND BILL SHAW ANNOUNCE THEIR ENGAGEMENT!
Story written by Sharon Crawford
Bill and I met about 10 years ago when
he was in my whip class, but we didn't really get to know
each other until about a year and a half ago. He had
returned to the studio after a long absence and signed up
for my waltz class. A few weeks later we ran into each
other at a play at the Hobby Center and he realized (1)
that I was single and (2) that I enjoyed doing things
other than dance.
Although we both love to dance, we also both enjoy many
other activities. Bill has an infectious zest for life and
we have enjoyed traveling, snow skiing and wake boarding
(well he wake boards, I just ski).
In April, Bill surprised me with an engagement ring. We
had gone to Fredricksburg to spend the weekend with my 3
sisters and their husbands. We had all just sat down for
dinner when he placed this box in front of me.
It was very special having all of my
family there and of course before long everyone in the
restaurant knew what was going on.
There was a very good duo playing
music at the restaurant so naturally Bill and I
had to get up to dance. I suppose
we danced fairly well.
I was very amused when a lady at the table next to us
whispered to Bill that I was very lucky to have found
a man who likes to dance.
(Editor's Note: Speaking of how lucky Sharon was to
find a man who can dance, can you imagine the
pressure on Bill when it comes time to Waltz at
their wedding? Sharon Crawford of course is
the Most Famous Waltzer in Houston, Texas.
Everyone will be watching. I mean EVERYONE!!
One mistake and he's gonna hear about it for a long
time. If I were Bill, I would just let Sharon
lead. Who's gonna notice?? I would never
SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE: RICK
JACOBS AND FRAN LANDRY
ANNOUNCE THEIR ENGAGEMENT!!
Monday, August 02, 2004 9:06 AM
Email from Fran Landry to Rick Archer:
Jacobs and Fran Landry met a little over 2 years ago in May
2002 at SSQQ & we are getting
married on September 18th, 2004.
Thanks for giving us the opportunity to meet and fall
(Editor's Note: This couple has been in many of Sharon
Crawford's Western Waltz classes, but I am embarrassed I don't
know them by name. I emailed Fran to send me more information,
but haven't heard back yet. Congratulations to both!!)
VENUS AND MARS
WOMEN'S ASS SIZE STUDY -
Contributed by Patty Jones
There is a new study out about women and how they feel about
I thought the results were pretty interesting:
85% of women think their ass is too big...
10% of women think their ass is too little...
The other 5% say that they don't care, they love him, he's a
good man, and they would have married him anyway.
(Rick's Note: I
welcome any and all contributions.
Bring it on!!
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THE SSQQ CLEAN
SIDE JOKE PAGE
Clean Side Jokes
Over the years, SSQQ has been fortunate to
receive many jokes sent to us by our Newsletter readers. We have
compiled them into our Monthly Joke Page. At the end of the
year, I will add the jokes that appear in our "Best New Jokes"
column into this monthly "Hall of Fame" section. This way your
jokes will become immortal!!
Okay, everyone, a round of applause for the
August CS 28:
Being an Elementary School Teacher - Pat Roberts
August CS 29: The Safari Dog, Leopard, & Monkey - Pat Roberts/C
August CS 30: Old Ladies Driving - Andre Faust
August CS 31: The Short Hot Love Letter - Chris Holmes
August CS 32: The Baby Photographer - Judy Walsh
These five jokes were part of our "Best New
from last year's August issue. This year they have made it to "Hall of Fame"
and will be viewed by many generations to follow. Joke
Immortality is very important!
You can read #29, "The Safari Dog, Leopard, & Monkey",
The August Clean Side Jokes
August CS 01: A Marriage Maid in Heaven - Hieronymous Anonymous
August CS 02: The Mole Family - Judy Walsh
August CS 03: The Magician and the Parrot - Judy Walsh
August CS 04: Southern Magnolias - Pat Roberts
August CS 05: Marital Bliss - Sam DeMora, Robin Wagner, Rick
August CS 06: Al Gore - Richard Bevis
August CS 07: Blind Date - Donna Ruth
August CS 08: The Son-In-Law - Debbie Awad
August CS 09: Take Me Out to the Ballgame! - Gary Richardson
August CS 10: Pulling a Fast One - Kathleen Parker
August CS 11: Desert Island - Crista Reuss
August CS 12: The Lone Ranger and Tonto - Ralph Volz
August CS 13: What's Heaven Got To Do With It ? - Kendra Heath
August CS 14: Conscience - Debbie Awad
August CS 15: Bill Clinton and Judgment Day - Jill Banta and Sam
August CS 16: Inviting a Friend to Dinner - Robin Wagner
August CS 17: Down by the Cemetery - Richard Bevis
August CS 18: Case Dismissed - Sharon Russell
August CS 19: The Terrible Food - Jackie Chang
August CS 20: The Cuckoo Clock - Judy Walsh
August CS 21: Gorilla up a Tree - Jill Banta
August CS 22: The Magic Elevator - Donna Cook
August CS 23: The Pope & the Hairdresser - Andre Faust/M
August CS 24: A Lawyer Dies Young - Donna Cook
August CS 25: Bill Gates in Hell - Jill Banta and Carole Nelson
August CS 26: The Pope and the President - Dana Pattison and
August CS 27: Houston Evacuation Plan - Sam DeMora
August CS 28: Being an Elementary School Teacher - Pat Roberts
August CS 29: The Safari Dog, Leopard, & Monkey - Pat Roberts/C
August CS 30: Old Ladies Driving - Andre Faust
August CS 31: The Short Hot Love Letter - Chris Holmes
August CS 32: The Baby Photographer - Judy Walsh
Each month I reprint one of my favorite jokes of all time in the
Newsletter. This month I shine the SSQQ Hall of Fame Spotlight
August CS 29: The Safari Dog, the Leopard, and the Monkey - Pat
Roberts and Chris Holmes
A wealthy man decided to go on a safari in Africa. He took his
faithful pet dog along for company. One day the dog starts
chasing butterflies and before long he discovers that he is
lost. So, wandering about he notices a leopard heading rapidly
in his direction with the obvious intention of having lunch. The
dog thinks, "Oh Boy, I'm in big trouble now." Then he noticed
some bones on the ground close by, and immediately settles down
to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat.
Just as the leopard is about to leap, the dog exclaims loudly,
"Man, that was one delicious leopard. I wonder if there are any
more cats around here?"
Hearing this a look of terror comes over the leopard. He halts
his attack in mid stride and slinks away into the trees. "Whew",
says the leopard. "That was close. That dog nearly had me."
Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a
nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use. He
decides to trade news of the deception for protection from the
leopard. Off goes the monkey in hot pursuit. But the dog hears
the commotion and notices the monkey heading after the leopard
with great speed. He figures that something must be up and
begins to analyze the possibilities.
Meanwhile the monkey soon catches up with the leopard and
reveals how the dog tricked the cat. Then he strikes a deal for
himself with the leopard.
The cat is furious at being made a fool of. He wants revenge!!
The leopard says, "Here monkey, hop on my back and come with me
to watch what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"
Angry and impatient, the leopard doesn't even bother with
stealth. He just comes roaring through the jungle with the
finesse of an elephant.
The dog hears the leopard coming with the monkey on his back. He
has decided on his plan. Instead of running, the dog sits down
with his back to his attackers and pretends he hasn't a clue as
to their presence.
Just when they get close enough to hear, the dog says, "Where is
that damn monkey!?! I am so HUNGRY!! He takes too long. I sent
him off half an hour ago to bring me another leopard and he's
still not back yet!!"
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BLUE SIDE JOKES!
The Blue Side Jokes are one of the great
secrets of the SSQQ web site. It is
your reward for taking dance classes at SSQQ.
Anyone who is on the SSQQ Registration List is welcome to have
All you need to do to get the address is to email me from
the email address you use to register for classes and request it.
Although the Blue Side is off-limits to the outer world
and only SSQQ Students are invited into the inner sanctum of
“Dirty Jokes”, each month we manage to find one that is
printable. Please see below!!
(Editor's Note: The Blue Side of Town Joke Page is one of the
great secrets of the SSQQ web site. Anyone who is on the SSQQ
Registration List is welcome to have access. This means if you
get the Newsletter, you are invited to visit the naughty jokes
Bad news - I discovered some kids were circulating this address
around town, so I have moved it to a new location. In the
meantime, you can still read the three "Newest" Blue Jokes at
April BS 22: It Could Get Worse - Chris Holmes
April BS 23: The Dangerous Looking Biker - Chris Holmes
April BS 24: The Mini Skirt - Gary Richardson
All you need to do to get the new address is to email me from
the email address you use to register for classes and request
August Blue Side
August BS 01 : Potential versus Realistic - Judy Walsh
August BS 02 : The Little Old Lady and the Bet - Richard Bevis
August BS 03 : Lessons on the Beach - Judy Walsh
August BS 04 : The Secsy Camel - Mickey Hammond and Richard Bevis
August BS 05 : The Cold Nights on the Farm - Suzy Kish
August BS 06 : Artificial Insemmination - Maureen Brunetti
August BS 07 : Little Billy - Judy Haley
August BS 08 : King Arthur's Court - Richard Bevis
August BS 09 : The Kinsey Report - Carole Nelson
August BS 10 : The Alligator Bet - Judy Walsh
August BS 11 : Pussywillows - Mickey Hammond
August BS 12 : Lessons from School - Richard Bevis
August BS 13 : Wedding Night Jitters - Chris Holmes
August BS 14 : The Bakery - Judy Walsh
August BS 15 : The Duck - Kendra Heath
August BS 16 : Hillary and Bill - Gillian Tilbury
August BS 17 : The Magic Sandals - Debbie Awad
August BS 18 : The Smart-Mouth Parrot - Patrick Steerman
August BS 19 : The Man from Iowa - Judy Walsh
August BS 20 : The Little Fireman - Mike Gerstenberger and Gary
August BS 21 : Ladder to Success - Bill Mayo
August BS 22 : The Winners! - Dana Pattison
August BS 23 : Turner Brown - Mike Guillory
August BS 24 : How God Takes People to Heaven - Judy Walsh
August BS 25 : The Lost Episode of Gilligan's Island - Kathleen
Although the Blue Side is off-limits to the outer world and only
SSQQ Students are invited into the inner sanctum of "Dirty
Jokes", each month we manage to find one that is on the edge of
printable. This next joke is one of my very favorites.
Contributed by former SSQQ Instructor
Mary Collins, it is a classic
display of very poor judgment on my part by printing it… which
automatically means it's a great joke!
August BS 03 : Lessons on the Beach
- Judy Walsh
A mother and father take their 6 year old son to a newde beach.
As the boy walked along the beach, he noticed that many of the
ladies had brests far bigger than his mother's. Frowning, he
informed his mother of this fact. She told her son, "The bigger
they are, the dumber the person."
The boy, pleased with the answer, goes to play in the ocean but
returns to tell his mother that many of the men have larger
pointy things than his dad does. His mother replied, "The bigger
they are, the dumber the person."
Again satisfied with her answer, the boy returns to the ocean to
play. Shortly after, the boy returned again, and promptly tells
his mother, "Daddy is talking to the dumbest girl on the beach
and the longer he talks, the dumber he gets!"
START OF THE SPECIAL FEATURES SECTION
SPECIAL FEATURE ONE
Contributed by Anne Marchetti, SSQQ Crusier
Cruise Passengers Told to Abandon Ship
Thursday, August 05, 2004
A thousand cruise-ship passengers got the fright of their
lives when a prankster took over the vessel's public-address
system and told them to "abandon ship."
The Miracle, a Carnival Cruise Lines (search) vessel, was only
hours away from arriving in New York last Saturday after a
week-long Bahamas jaunt, reports the New York Daily News.
Suddenly, at 3:45 a.m., came the "abandon ship" announcement,
jolting passengers out of bed.
"People freaked out," Chris Vig, 36, of New Hyde Park, N.Y.,
told the Daily News. "It was absolute panic."
Thinking terrorists had taken over the ship, hundreds of
formerly relaxed vacationers in their pajamas gathered on the
third deck, waiting for further announcements.
Ten minutes later, according to Vig, another voice came over
the PA, telling passengers everything was fine.
It turned out someone had snuck into a room that, as Carnival
officials later put it, was "normally locked and unoccupied,"
switched on a microphone and made the scary statement.
"Multiple announcements were made by ship's personnel,
including the vessel's captain, assuring guests that the
initial announcement was an apparent prank and to disregard
it," a Carnival statement said. "The captain then personally
met and talked with numerous guests to offer further
In reality, said Vig, it took the captain about 40 minutes to
show up to calm down the panicked passengers.
The identity of the prankster remains unknown.
June 2, 2004, 11:01PM
Mouse in the soup - Customers accused of trying to hoax Cracker
By PETER DUJARDIN
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - A woman who said she found a mouse in her
soup at a Cracker Barrel restaurant last month made up the whole
story, the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office announced this week.
Carla Patterson, 36, and her son, Ricky Patterson, 20, both of
Hampton, Va., were both charged Tuesday with attempted extortion
and conspiracy to commit a felony after they tried to get
Cracker Barrel to give them money in the hoax, said Howard Gwynn,
Newport News' commonwealth's attorney.
Carla Patterson was eating at the Newport News restaurant on May
8 when she said she discovered the mouse in a bowl of vegetable
soup. Her screams prompted other patrons to leave the
restaurant, and the incident caused Cracker Barrel to stop
serving vegetable soup at all its 497 stores nationwide.
The Pattersons were arrested Tuesday after a sting operation in
which officials from Cracker Barrel met the Pattersons at an
undisclosed location and handed them a check, with law
enforcement officials witnessing the handover from nearby, Gwynn
said. The police department's economic crimes unit had developed
the plan for the arrest after gathering evidence in recent days,
Julie Davis, a corporate spokeswoman with Cracker Barrel's
headquarters, near Nashville, Tenn., said the Pattersons had
demanded $500,000 from the company,
Under the deal that Cracker Barrel had arranged with the
Pattersons for the sting, the restaurant chain was to turn over
the money in exchange for pictures of the mouse that Ricky
Patterson had taken with his cell phone camera. Also as part of
the deal, Davis said, Ricky Patterson was to publicly admit that
he had made up the story.
But instead of getting to keep the check, the Pattersons got
The Newport News store suffered greatly in the incident, she
said, with business slowing down substantially. The store's
workers lost tips, and some were transferred to other stores to
make up hours they lost to the slowdown.
Davis said Cracker Barrel had undertaken an in-depth
investigation as soon as the mouse was found in the soup.
But when the laboratory analysis of the small, black mouse came
back, Davis said, it was clear that something was amiss.
For one thing, she said, the autopsy showed that the mouse had
not drowned, and was not cooked. The mouse did not have any soup
in its internal system. The mouse, Davis said, died of a skull
Also, an audit of the vendor that provided the soup indicated it
would have been impossible for the mouse to make it through the
soup-making process in one piece, Davis said.
Patterson, the vice president of athletics for a youth football
and cheerleading association with the city's parks and
recreation department, could not be reached for comment.
SPECIAL FEATURE THREE
March 5, 2004, 8:22PM
German court rejects man's brothel demand -
Welfare recipient wanted state to pay
A court Friday rejected an unemployed man's demand for four
government-paid brothel visits a month to ensure his "health and
bodily well-being" while his wife is abroad.
The 35-year-old welfare recipient sought about $3,050 a month to
fund the brothel trips, along with eight pornographic videos and
transport costs to and from a video store. He sued the state
after authorities refused to pay for his Thai wife to fly back
A court in the town of Ansbach threw out the claim, saying
social security benefits already cover "everyday requirements."
It said the man, who was not identified, would appeal -- at
Amid Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's drive to broadly trim
welfare-state programs, court decisions in favor of welfare
recipients have recently caused an uproar in Germany.
In August, an unemployed Frankfurt man won state-funded
treatment with the impotence drug Viagra. Later, another court
ruled that German social services must pay a 64-year-old
expatriate's $875-a-month rent in Miami.
June 16, 2004, 1:07AM
Rain delay: 'Told you so' premature on light-rail line elevation
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
Heavy rains temporarily washed out MetroRail line service this
weekend, prompting proponents of building light rail above
ground to say, "I told you so." However, few responsible
taxpayers would agree that spending millions of additional
dollars on elevated tracks would have been worth it to avoid
last Sunday's few minutes of transit downtime.
The past few days' rain served as a useful test of how well the
Main Street rail line could cope with torrential downpours over
the famously flood-prone Midtown and Texas Medical Center areas.
Rail service was down only about one hour Sunday, despite a
slow-moving storm that dumped several inches of rain along the
rail route that day.
High water along the 7 1/2 -mile rail prevented trains from
passing at a stretches of track downtown, in Midtown and in the
Museum District. It was the train's first instance of impassable
The interruption in service prompted a monorail advocate to
point out that an elevated train would not have flooded. That's
true, but taxpayers would have shelled out millions of dollars
more per rail mile to have avoided that scant hour of disrupted
High water stalled buses along Main Street, too, by the way.
A more massive storm, such as Allison in 2001, might cause much
longer interruptions of rail service, but that sort of weather
system is rare. It would take an awful lot of rainfall - more
than even Sunday and Monday's generous downpour - to cause
flooding severe enough to stop trains for extended periods.
If anything, the recent rains showed that elevating the four
voter-approved light rail extension routes to be built in coming
years is probably not worth the expense.
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RETURN TO SPECIAL
Paper: Houston Chronicle Date:
SUN 06/01/03 Section:
WHEN A BELOVED PET
GOES MISSING, IT'S LIKE LOSING A MEMBER OF
By DANIEL J. VARGAS
At the corner of Tuam and Whitney in the Montrose area, a
black-and-white flier is secured ever so carefully to a utility
pole, a thumbtack for each corner to hold it in place for the
days or maybe weeks to come. Not even blustery, warm breezes
It reads in capital, bold letters: "LOST DOG . . . REWARD!" You
can just sense the anxiety, the uncertainty behind those words
scrawled in black marker.
The pooch has been missing since April 29, the flier says. She
was last wearing a silver choke collar with a blue dog-bone tag.
Small black lab / dalmation with white on her chest and paws.
Approx. 25-30 lbs. Brown eyes, and big ears. Answers to Julie or
Julianne. Family misses her terribly and offers reward. Please
call (713) 869-1540 or (281) 654-6063 and ask for Juanita.
Every day, countless pets from dogs, cats to birds - across the
area and the country - go missing, whether they wander off or
are stolen. Each day, new heart-tugging fliers go up at corner
utility poles or stop signs. And new, frantic searches commence
- sometimes lasting days, months. Years even.
Some families eventually give up hope. Others press on.
Sonic and Perky On Jan. 31, Hallie Vanderhider's sons arrived
home from school about 3 p.m. They let out the beagles, Sonic
and Perky, to play in the back yard before they left for the
When Vanderhider, a chief financial officer for Merchant Bank,
got home about 6 p.m. there was no sign of the dogs.
The gates were closed. No holes at the fence line.
Vanderhider guessed that a technician with a utility company may
have come to read the meters and the dogs snuck out. But those
companies said none of their employees visited her home that
"We truly don't know how they got out," she says.
Sonic is a 2-year-old male. Perky, a female, is 6 1/2.
Sometime between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., the inseparable dogs
wandered away or were snatched. "I said, `At least they have
their tags,' " Vanderhider recalls.
Or so Vanderhider thought. One of her 16-year-old twin sons gave
the dogs a bath the night before and forgot to put the gold,
dog-bone shaped tags back on.
"All of a sudden my son got this terrible look on his face and
said, `Oh, my God, I forgot to put the tags on,' " she says.
The search began immediately. They canvassed the neighborhood.
They walked the banks of nearby Spring Creek, where dogs are
known to play. They pounded the asphalt, calling their names
until 1 a.m.
Vanderhider and her sons went home and made signs to post around
the neighborhood. After a couple of hours of sleep, she was back
They posted laminated fliers on bright yellow paper all around
the Spring Creek Oaks subdivision:
LOST BEAGLES, SONIC - M, PERKY - F, $$REWARD$$ Vanderhider
ordered six specially made signs - about 2 feet tall and more
than a foot wide. She made another dozen on large plywood. The
signs and fliers cost $500. Her reward offer was another $1,000.
"They are just tremendously important to me," Vanderhider says
of her pets. "They're part of the family."
Almost five months later, the loss and the not knowing still
weigh heavily on her.
"I'm still so emotional," Vanderhider says. "They are truly like
They searched all weekend. Vanderhider even took two days off
from work to walk the creek. She put out food hoping it would
draw them out of the nearby woods. She visited pet shelters to
see if they had been turned in and went so far as to call
shelters in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Austin and Dallas.
She posted ads on the Internet and in local newspapers. She
called Beagle Rescue.
Vanderhider could only find solace in the fact that road
maintenance in her area had not picked up any deceased beagles
along the roadways.
"You hope someone is taking as good of care of them as you
would," Vanderhider says.
She guesses her 200 fliers - in English and Spanish - cover
about 15 square miles.
Vanderhider received about 100 phone calls but only one held
promise. Someone had found two beagles - one male, one female.
The Vanderhiders rushed over but oddly it was another set of
lost beagles. They were heartbroken.
"But I have to say I'm very grateful to the people who called,"
Vanderhider says. "They were gracious enough to take the time to
Because the family was so close to the beagles, the breeder who
supplied Sonic and Perky offered the Vanderhiders two more
beagle puppies - Chad and Natalie, Sonic's half-siblings. After
some thought, the family took them.
"They have the run of the house," she says. Just like the
Initially, she ran a lost classified ad in the paper for more
than three months straight. But as the costs piled up, she now
only runs the ad occasionally. She also runs an ad in the
neighborhood newsletter Spring Creek Oaks Scoop.
"I just can't give up," she says. "I still call the shelters and
try to (visit) them once a week or so, thinking, `Just maybe.' "
Four years ago, on a stormy May 13, the
weather let up just enough so that the Keenan family could let
the family dog, Gizmo, out to do her thing.
About 15 minutes later, they called for her. And called. And
"We went to let her in, and she never came," Evan Keenan
There was no sign of her in the back yard. Not a trace.
She had always been terrified of lightning, and there were
plenty of thunderous strikes that day. And she had been known to
sneak out every now and then.
They searched their Spring neighborhood. Checked with neighbors.
The vet. And looked under the backyard deck.
They put up computer-made fliers with the Lhasa apso's picture.
Despite their best efforts, "she never came home," Keenan says.
As the family looked for their missing pet, they discovered
search resources were disconnected. Keenan, who is in Web
development, created www.houstonlostpets.com.
"I thought, `There has to be a better way to do this,' " he
recalls. "There was no central location or hub to post your
The site will re-launch this month and offer free postings of
lost-and-found pet announcements. He plans to add a similar
e-mail alert system to let people know when a pet in their area
becomes missing. All he hopes for are some success stories.
The search for a pet can take a toll on a family. The Keenans
had Gizmo for more than eight years. The family's four children
"She was part of the family," Keenan says. "We have family
pictures. She was a good ol' lap dog."
Gizmo slept with the girls. Every other weekend she had a
standing appointment with a groomer who put colored bows,
depending on the season or holiday, in her hair.
"You go through a period like you would a loved one who is
missing," he says. "You start to get very depressed, and you
feel kind of hopeless.
"Then you get into the lull of waiting and waiting."
As the days went by, the family searched the area some more.
More inquiries to the neighbors. Surely she couldn't have gone
About a month after Gizmo went missing, the first report of a
sighting came in.
When the family went to see the dog, it was the right breed.
"We were excited," says Kristin Dancy, the Keenans' 15-year-old
daughter, who was closest to Gizmo, "just to get let down."
Even the family's other dog, Sadie (part golden retriever, part
cocker spaniel), mourned Gizmo's disappearance.
"She cried," says Nicki Keenan, the mother. "They were buddies,
and Gizmo acted like her mother. Sadie didn't know what to do
After about five months, Evan Keenan pulled all the fliers. But
while the active search has stopped, it's hard to quell hope.
Every once in a while, Keenan makes a point to look around for
Gizmo, in that off-chance that she just might be around.
"I've kind of given up on it," he admits. "We can only hope
someone found her and is taking good care of her."
That gives them some comfort, but they needed more.
On June 12, 2002, Douglas entered their lives. He's a cute,
goofy basset hound Keenan bought for his wife's birthday.
Really, it was a gift for them all - to fill the void left by
"To this day, we can be out somewhere and see a dog that looks
like (Gizmo) and wonder, `Is that our dog?' " he says.
New search tactics With 68 million dogs and 73 million cats in
the United States, there are plenty of opportunities for pets to
There are not hard statistics on the numbers of pets lost each
year. However, one estimate goes as far as saying that 2 million
dogs are stolen annually.
Now, the Internet is helping pet owners cast a wider net in the
search for their beloved cats and dogs, pet advocates say.
More Web sites are popping up, such as www.houstonlostpets.com
and Pets 911 (www.1888pets911.org) to help owners find their
pets faster. There are several dozen on the Internet, and each
seeks to be more of a clearinghouse for lost-pet resources.
"The Internet is simplifying that process so you don't have to
go to all the shelters or make fliers," says Julie Pasquinelli,
spokeswoman for Pets 911.
Pets 911 is technically nationwide, but it is more locally known
in Scottsdale, Ariz., where it is based. Its services are free,
including posting a lost or a found announcement or locating
The site, which went nationwide in 2000, is ZIP-code driven.
"It's a timesaver and covers more area," Pasquinelli says. "It
absolutely does work. And we want to be that one-stop place (to
look for pets)."
She says, in general, pets don't end up very far away from home,
but when they do, posting on the Internet can lead to faster
happy reunions if they have traveled a long distance.
According to National Pet Recovery, a paid pet-finder service on
the Internet, more than
80 percent of dogs recovered by them are 12 to 40 miles away
from where they became lost. More than 90 percent of the cats it
recovers are found within six miles.
Houston residents who own a dog or cat must license the pet with
the city's Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care. Those living
outside city limits must license pets with Harris County Rabies
/ Animal Control.
Licensing is more than just a requirement - it's an avenue to
reunite lost pets with owners, says Kathy Barton, spokeswoman
for the Houston Department of Health and Human Services. If a
pet is picked up by the city's Animal Control, the license can
be read and the owner tracked down.
Of course, the city can also find owners through a rabies tag or
a simple identification tag. Pets are held at the city's Bureau
of Animal Regulation and Care (BARC) shelter until the owner is
reached or for up to two weeks, Barton says. After that the pets
may be put up for adoption or transferred to the Houston Humane
Society or the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals for adoption.
However, if a pet has no tags, is in poor health and has no
potential for adoption, the animal is euthanized, Barton says.
BARC picks up about 20,000 cats and dogs annually, and last year
about 10 percent of that number - mostly dogs - were reunited
with owners, city statistics show.
The county also picks up about 20,000 pets, and last year about
8 percent (once again, mostly dogs) were reunited with owners,
says Colleen Hodges, education/public relations coordinator for
the county's animal control. More than 2,000 were adopted or
sent to a rescue shelter. The rest, about 15,000 cats and dogs,
were euthanized in 2002.
The county, at a minimum, holds animals without tags for three
days. Animals with tags, six days.
"You have about three days, but don't plan on more than that,"
Hodges says, adding that shelter space is an issue. "Don't wait.
Unfortunately for pet owners, the city no longer posts pictures
of pets picked up on the Internet, Barton says, because of
potential liability in the event the city fails to post a pet's
photo. The city's legal department is working on appropriate
disclaimers to resolve that issue. Until then, owners must call
the shelter or visit in person.
The county does post pictures of animals brought into its
shelter at www.countypets.com.
Other methods of tagging your pet include tattooing and
inserting a microchip. Barton says the chips are not fail-safe.
"There is no universal scanner (for chips)," she says. "And the
chip can migrate around a pet."
She suggests the old-fashioned tag. Just make sure the tags are
always secure. "If you put a tag on, a 6-year-old can read it,"
Some pets do make it back to their owners, whether they guide
themselves home or a kind stranger takes them in until the
rightful owner is found.
Wayne and Susan Snow are two of the lucky ones.
One day in late March, Wayne Snow was unloading groceries and
left the front door open so he could make trips to the car.
During the unloading, the family's Brittany spaniel, Penny,
The Snows were worried. They live in Bellaire off busy
Bissonnet, which can be unkind to pets.
They searched the house first. Then the back yard. Then, they
jumped in the car to see if they could spot Penny, an older dog
who needs daily arthritis medicine and is deaf.
Three hours later, no sign.
The next day, the Snows posted about 50 fliers with a photo of
Penny lying in the grass. They called nearby veterinarians and
neighbors, frantically searching for their beloved Penny.
Penny, named for her copper coat, didn't have her tags on. She's
a house dog, and the Snows would put them on her only for walks.
They held off calling their son Paul, a Texas Tech University
sophomore, who had initially received Penny as a gift from a
friend. They didn't want him to worry. They were worried enough.
Three days later, the Snows got a break. A woman who sometimes
manages Susan Snow's antiques shop noticed a "found" poster
board with a description similar to that of Penny. She jotted
down the number and gave it to Snow.
The description of a brown-and-white dog on the poster board was
hopeful. She called and described Penny. It was a match.
The woman, a dance instructor, found Penny wandering the parking
lot of SSQQ Dance Studio on Bissonnet where she teaches. She
took her home that night.
Snow recalls driving by that parking lot, not seeing Penny. "She
could've been walking by a car's wheel while we were driving by,
and that's why we didn't see her," Snow says.
The dance instructor, who lives in the Heights, said she would
bring Penny to the studio just before her class so the Snows
could pick her up.
As Wayne Snow pulled up to the studio, he could see through the
large glass windows. "Penny had her nose stuck to the window,"
he recalls, as if she knew he was on his way.
"When I saw her, I knew it was her. It was pretty
Snow says the woman's teenage daughter looked heartbroken when
he arrived. Apparently, she had grown attached to Penny, who
smelled of a young girl's perfume.
The instructor refused to take a reward. Instead, Susan Snow,
wanting to show her appreciation, bought her a $50 gift
certificate to the Mason Jar restaurant.
"I think it was meant for (Penny) to be back home with us,"
Susan Snow says.
That night, the Snows tore down all the fliers. They didn't want
to clutter the poles and stop signs.
Soon, other missing-pet fliers will take those spots.
RETURN TO HEADLINES
RETURN TO SPECIAL
SPECIAL FEATURE SIX
The Most Beautiful Hotel in the
contributed by Gary Richardson
This is actually not a story, but
rather some fun pictures.
Gary sent me pictures of the unbelievable Burj
Al Arab Hotel. This hotel is in
Dubai which is in the United Arab Emirates.
The Emirates are neighbors of Kuwait and Saudi
Arabia. I believe that is
the Persian Gulf in the picture.
This hotel is obviously one of those places where if you
have to ask how much it costs, then you probably shouldn't
bother. But since you are curious, Rates
start at $2000 USD per
night and go up to $7000+ per night!!
are some brief facts and figures.
are 202 suites, each with it's
own concierge and butler assigned.
- It's $75 U.S. just to get in the gate to look at this
- built on an island accessible only by
bridge from the mainland.
- entrance on mainland includes an elaborate water park.
- it took 18 months to build, and had the top 5 architects
in Europe to design it.
- the cost of it, is estimated at over 80 million U.S.
- the hotel opened this June 2003 for tourists.
- take a good look at the design & detail, its
- There are no AAA discount rates.
- complete with its own water park!
Click here to enjoy the awesome pictures:
Beautiful Hotel in the World!!
RETURN TO TOP AND HEADLINES
RETURN TO REGULAR FEATURES
RETURN TO SPECIAL
a Special Note
from Rick Archer about Email, the SSQQ Newsletter, and Spam.
I now receive an average of 150 spam emails a day. Because
I run a business where people email me at random from all over the world on
a variety of subjects, I am reluctant to install filters.
The problem with this kind of volume is the potential I
can accidentally delete valuable emails from ssqq students, especially when
I don’t recognize the name. To minimize this possibility, please be sure to
put a title with some thought behind it in the “Subject” box when you are
trying to contact us.
As for the SSQQ Email Newsletter, more and more people
report that it is being blocked at their jobs as “Spam”. This leaves me no
choice but to make the Email I send out as innocuous as possible.
For that matter you may stop receiving the SSQQ Email
Newsletter at any time for reasons that are out of my hands. A month ago, I
had over 600 Newsletter Emails sent to students with Yahoo accounts bounced
back to me. I contacted Yahoo and was given no explanation why the emails
bounced. It is tough to correct a problem when you don’t even know what is
In the future, I suggest you automatically go to the
Newsletter on the SSQQ Web Site a couple days before classes start and read
the latest news whether you get an email reminder or not.
NO STANDING IN LINE – SIGN UP ON-LINE (SSQQ ONLINE
||AND THAT’S A WRAP FOR THIS ISSUE (AND DON’T FORGET TO GO
TO THE WEB SITE FOR THE COMPLETE NEWSLETTER!!)
As you can see, the SSQQ Newsletter is written to a large
extent by its readers. Many people contribute jokes, pictures, and
interesting items each month. Anyone is welcome to join the fun!
If you have any comments, suggestions, requests, complaints, jokes, pictures
or poetry to share, please send it to me, Rick Archer, at
And thanks for reading all the way to the bottom! …. I
might add I do have reason to believe some of you simply scroll to the
bottom to look for any little surprises I hide down here. ;-) Anyhow,
thanks to all for making it this far!
SSQQ Dance Studio
Answer to solipsism:
the philosophical theory that the self is all that you know to exist.
"My solipsistic meditations lead me to realize what a clever boy I really am.